Nietzsche Studien 38 (1):182-206 (2009)

Herman Siemens
Leiden University
The concept of Umwertung, central to Ecce Homo, is marked by discrepancies and incongruities that seem to defy philosophical comprehension. This paper focuses on the problem of Yes-saying and No-saying at the core of Umwertung. How can total affirmation be combined with radical critique, as Nietzsche claims? Nietzsche's favoured idiom of warfare exhibits the incommensurability of these positions, but it also points to a deeper problem: in waging war against idealism, Nietzsche risks repeating idealism, conceived as a war to the death against other forms of life and thought. In §2 idealist warfare is analysed more closely, and in §3 it is contrasted with Nietzschean warfare, cinceived as an agonal form of oppositional thinking that avoids repeating idealism. This model of warfare is, however, undermined by the affirmative and destructive excesses of Nietzsche's text, and §4 proposes a different approach to the problem of Yes- and No-saying. On this approach, the affirmation of reality as war or conflictual multiplicity demands 1. the adoption of antagonistic positions with destructive intent against life-negating positions , but also 2. the overcoming of every antagonistic position in favour of an 'impossible' or fictional standpoint in the relation between antagonists; this alone allows all antagonistic positions to be affirmed. This approach is proposed as a general way to make sense of the fictional qualities of Ecce homo, its excesses and incongruities, and in §5 it is applied as a corrective to the account of Umwertung as a comparative practice proposed by Gerd Schank
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DOI 10.1515/9783110208924.1.182
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