Nietzsche and Modern Subjectivity

Dissertation, University of South Carolina (2004)
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Abstract

The dissertation is a discussion of Nietzsche and Modernity with an emphasis on subjectivity. In the Part One I attempt to define Modernity as an historical era and a set of values and claim that the notion of subject, with its basic characteristics such as particularity, universality, self-determination and reflexivity, is the most important notion in modern philosophy. I follow the extension of the notion of subject from epistemological subject in Descartes to the moral subject in Kant and, finally, to the absolute subject in Hegel . My view is that Descartes opened the space for the modern subjectivity with his Cogito which emerges on the epistemological ground. I see Kant as the real father of modern subjectivity since he gave us a three-part investigation of subjectivity with the primacy of the moral subject. Finally, Hegel developed the notion of subject to its maximum consequences. ;Part II discusses Nietzsche's critique of Modernity and subjectivity. In chapters 1, 2, and 3 I give a methodological account of how to approach Nietzsche and discuss some of his introductory thoughts such as death of god and his notion of truth. Chapter 4 deals with Nietzsche's critique of Modernity which he sees as nihilism. According to Nietzsche Modernity is nihilistic because the highest values have devaluated themselves. In chapters 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 I construct Nietzsche's implicit critique of the epistemological, moral and absolute subjects. Nietzsche sees the epistemological subject as an illusion which is a prerequisite for life and the moral subject as constituted by ressentiment and cruelty. In his implicit critique of the absolute subject Nietzsche claims that life is that which overcomes itself. In chapter 5.4 I explore the notions of performativity and dramatization as alternative clues for understanding Nietzsche's philosophy and my topic, since the aestheticism is one of the hallmarks of the Nietzshean project. In Chapter 5.5 I conclude by arguing that Nietzsche's philosophy has the notion of Dionysus as its decentered center, as the subject which overcomes itself

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