A unique introductory guide to the rich, complex and diverse tradition of Islamic philosophy, this book comprises over a hundred concise entries, alphabetically ordered and cross-referenced for easy access. All the essential aspects of the Islamic philosophical tradition are covered here: key figures, schools, concepts, topics and issues. Articles on the Peripatetics, Isma'ilis, Illuminationists, Sufis, kalam theologians and later modern thinkers are supplemented by entries on classical Greek influences as well as Jewish philosophers who lived and worked in the Islamic (...) world. Topical entries cover various issues and key positions in all the major areas of philosophy, making clear why the central problems of Islamic philosophy have been, and remain, matters of rational disputation. (shrink)
This comparative examination of Nietzsche and the Islamic philosopher al-Kindi emphasizes their mutual commitment to the recovery of classical Greek and Hellenistic thought and the idea of philosophy as a way of life. Affiliating both thinkers with the Stoic lineage in particular, I examine the ways in which they appropriate common themes such as fatalism, self-cultivation via spiritual exercises, and the banishing of sorrow. Focusing primarily on their respective conceptions of self and nature, I argue that the antipodal worldviews of (...) al-Kindi and Nietzsche can be understood as a bifurcation of Stoic philosophy. (shrink)
This paper initiates a dialogue between classical Islamic philosophy and late modern European thought, by focusing on two peripheral, ‘heretical’ figures within these traditions: Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyāʾ al-Rāzī and Friedrich Nietzsche. What affiliates these thinkers across the cultural and historical chasm that separates them is their mutual fascination with, and profound indebtedness to, ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. Given the specific themes, concerns and doctrines that they appropriate from this common source, I argue that al-Rāzī and Nietzsche should (...) be read as Epicureans and seen in relation to their predecessor as part of the subterranean tradition of philosophical naturalism. However, while each figure appropriates the philosophy of Epicurus, they ultimately transform it in important ways: al-Rāzī offers us a qualified “Platonic” Epicureanism, while Nietzsche forges a radicalized “Dionysian” Epicureanism. The point of such a comparative examination is twofold. First, analyzing the divergent paths of these “wayward” Epicureans sheds new light on the historical trajectory of naturalism as a philosophical stance (as well as its current prospects and limitations). Second, by initiating a dialogue between the classical Islamic and modern European philosophical traditions, we can better understand the antagonisms and shared concerns between these two horizons, as well as the ambiguities and self-questioning that occur within them. (shrink)
This paper examines Nietzsche’s conflicted relation to Epicurus, an important naturalistic predecessor in the ‘art of living’ tradition. I focus in particular on the Epicurean credo “live unnoticed” (lathe biōsas), which advocated an inconspicuous life of quiet philosophical reflection, self-cultivation and friendship, avoiding the public radar and eschewing the larger ambitions and perturbations of political life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea looms largest and is most warmly received in Nietzsche’s middle period writings, where one finds a repeated concern with prudence, withdrawal (...) and concealment, and where the primary emphasis is on private pluralistic experiments in therapeutic self-cultivation among small groups of free spirits. The idea of the Epicurean Garden appeals greatly to Nietzsche at this time as well, and I suggest that Zarathustra’s Blessed Isles are best understood as a friendship community along these lines. However, Nietzsche’s growing impatience with human imperfections and the siren song of great politics eventually lead him away from Epicurus and back to Plato. Beginning with Zarathustra, the paradigm of the modest, hidden helpful philosopher-therapist is replaced by the more ambitious philosopher-legislator who takes upon himself the task of determining the future of humanity. Nonetheless, I argue that we can profit more from the modest, practical insights of Nietzsche’s Epicurean art of living. (full version). (shrink)
The last twenty-five years or so have seen the emergence of exciting comparative work on Nietzsche and various philosophical traditions beyond the bounds of Europe. So far, however, the emphasis has been primarily on the cultures of India, China and Japan, with an almost exclusive focus on Buddhist, Hindu, Daoist, and Confucian traditions. Surprisingly, little work has been done on Nietzsche and the Islamic tradition. In this paper, I sketch out Nietzsche’s understanding of Islam, the ways in which he uses (...) it as a resource for his critique of Christianity and European modernity and the criticisms he has to make of it as one of the great monotheistic world religions. I then argue for the need to engage Nietzsche with specific Islamic falāsifa of the classical period (9-12th c.) rather than Islam itself, as some recent scholars have attempted to do. Although Nietzsche himself seems to have had no direct familiarity with any of the falāsifa, there are, I argue, many entry points for productive comparison and dialogue. This is at least in part because they share a significant common heritage: both were careful students of classical Greek and Hellenistic thought, and both put the insights they encountered there to work in bold new ways. Indeed, they appropriated, transformed and reanimated Greek ideas in new contexts and towards new ends that their progenitors would scarcely have recognized, and that were often radically challenging to their contemporaries. I focus here on a few select themes—the idea of philosophy as a “way of life,” the ideal of “becoming like God so far as it is possible” and the Platonic figure of the philosopher-ruler, all of which get taken up and re-imagined in radically novel and sometimes antipodal ways. (shrink)
In this paper I focus on the figure of the ape in Nietzsche's texts, and how it fits into his putative naturalism. I examine the lowly status and ignoble qualities that he associates with this animal and argue that they betray a residual anthropocentricism profoundly at odds with Nietzsche's dehumanized conception of nature. Accordingly, I suggest a reading of Nietzsche's ape remarks that brings them more into accord with his non-teleological and non-hierarchical conception of species. Ultimately, I argue that a (...) robust, thorough going Nietzschean naturalism would require the affirmation of the ape, including everything it comes to represent for Nietzsche. (shrink)
This article re-exams the old tension between the philosopher and the city. Reading Ibn Bājja’s Governance of the Solitary and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra against the background of Plato’s Republic, I argue that they both embrace several key aspects of Platonic political philosophy: the assumption that philosophical natures can grow spontaneously in sick cities, the ideal of the philosopher legislator and the correlative project of founding a virtuous new regime. Yet in preparation for this final task, each prescribes a regimen (...) of solitude for philosophers, so that they might preserve their own health and autonomy. While this spiritual exercise at first appears merely temporary and provisional—aimed at the cultivation of a philosopher ruler and the eventual establishment of a healthy political regime —I argue that both Ibn Bājja and Zarathustra ultimately abandon their Platonic ambitions and opt instead for the apolitical contemplative life. (shrink)
This article considers the significance of the Blessed Isles in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. They are the isolated locale to which Zarathustra and his fellow creators retreat in the Second Part of the book. I trace Zarathustra’s Blessed Isles back to the ancient Greek paradisiacal afterlife of the makarōn nēsoi and frame them against Nietzsche’s Platonic conception of philosophers as “commanders and legislators,” but I argue that they represent something more like a modern Epicurean Garden. Ultimately, I suggest that Zarathustra’s (...) Epicurean impulse toward withdrawal (whether into a sequestered friendship community or mountain solitude) undermines his Platonic attempts at great politics. (shrink)
This paper examines the significance of Epicureanism for Nietzsche’s critique of Christian monotheism and his subsequent attempt to reanimate a kind of this-worldly, affirmative religiosity of immanence. After a brief overview of the pivotal role that Epicurus’ thought plays in the death of God, I focus on Epicurus’ own residual conception of the gods and the ways in which Nietzsche strategically retrieves it and puts it use in his writing. Nietzsche juxtaposes the distant, serene, indifferent Epicurean gods with the omniscient, (...) intrusive, jealous and needy God of middle-Eastern monotheisms. One might say that they constitute a ‘halfway house’ of sorts between Christianity and Nietzsche’s new Dionysian religion of the earth. But they also figure prominently in his own conflicted desire to intervene in the aleatory course of natural history and legislate the the future of humanity: Nietzsche finds he cannot simply look down with “the mocking and aloof eyes” of an Epicurean god upon the degeneration and diminution of the human being under Christian ascetic regimes of cultivation. Ultimately, Nietzsche fails to achieve the divine temperament of the Epicurean gods (looking down from afar on human ignorance, desire and suffering with a noble pathos of distance). Forthcoming 2022. (shrink)
The author of this unusual and fascinating monograph is an intellectual historian whose interests extend well beyond Nietzsche to encompass Weimar classicism, 20th century analytical psychology and classical Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. Although this may at first sound like a strange juxtaposition, Bishop’s previous studies have made a compelling case that vital aspects of Nietzsche’s thought come sharply into focus when he is read in relation to figures such as Goethe and Schiller on the one hand and Jung on the (...) other, with an eye to certain formative themes and metaphors in the Platonic tradition. What we find when we set these thinkers in dialogue with one another is a distinct intellectual-spiritual lineage predominantly concerned with the possibilities of self-transformation. Bishop’s interpretative approach is perhaps closest to Pierre Hadot in this respect, albeit more oriented towards modern German thought and uniquely informed by Jungian depth psychology. (shrink)
This paper examines Nietzsche’s conflicted relation to Epicurus, an important naturalistic predecessor in the ‘art of living’ tradition. I focus in particular on the Epicurean credo “live unnoticed” (lathe biōsas), which advocated an inconspicuous life of quiet philosophical reflection, self-cultivation and friendship, avoiding the public radar and eschewing the larger ambitions and perturbations of political life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea looms largest and is most warmly received in Nietzsche’s middle period writings, where one finds a repeated concern with prudence, withdrawal (...) and concealment, and where the primary emphasis is on private pluralistic experiments in therapeutic self-cultivation among small groups of free spirits. The idea of the Epicurean Garden appeals greatly to Nietzsche at this time as well, and I suggest that Zarathustra’s Blessed Isles are best understood as a friendship community along these lines. However, Nietzsche’s growing impatience with human imperfections and the siren song of great politics eventually lead him away from Epicurus and back to Plato. Beginning with Zarathustra, the paradigm of the modest, hidden helpful philosopher-therapist is replaced by the more ambitious philosopher-legislator who takes upon himself the task of determining the future of humanity. Nonetheless, I argue that we can profit more from the modest, practical insights of Nietzsche’s Epicurean art of living. (short version). (shrink)
I examine Zarathustra's increasing ambivalence about his role as philosopher-prophet-legislator, connecting the speech "On Passing By" (Z III.7) with his doctrine of amor fati (GS 276) as a pivotal moment in his gradual ascent up the ladder of love/affirmation and consequent overcoming of great politics. Forthcoming 2022.
A vast historical, cultural and philosophical chasm separates the thought of the 10th century Islamic philosopher al-Farabi and Friedrich Nietzsche, the progenitor of postmodernity. However, despite their significant differences, they share one important commitment: an attempt to resuscitate and reappropriate the project of Platonic political philosophy, particularly through their conceptions of the “true philosopher” as prophet, leader, and lawgiver. This paper examines al-Farabi and Nietzsche’s respective conceptions of the philosopher as commander and legislator against the background of their Platonic source, (...) and reflects upon the human cost each thinker is willing to abide in order to establish a regime that would be conducive to the perfectibility and flourishing of the human being. (shrink)
Given its title, one might expect Roy Jackson's Nietzsche and Islam to offer an examination of Nietzsche's views on Islam. Such a volume would be welcome indeed, since with the exception of a short but excellent article by Ian Almond there is a striking lacuna in Nietzsche studies on this particular topic.1 However, while Jackson frequently notes Nietzsche's surprisingly positive assessment of Islam, his concerns here are not so much historical and philological as contemporary and political. The stated aim of (...) the book is twofold: first, to demonstrate (contrary to popular belief) that "Nietzsche is not the standard bearer for atheism" and second, to make the case that his philosophy "has particular relevance for .. (shrink)
Nietzsche's use of metaphor has been widely noted but rarely focused to explore specific images in great detail. A Nietzschean Bestiary gathers essays devoted to the most notorious and celebrated beasts in Nietzsche's work. The essays illustrate Nietzsche's ample use of animal imagery, and link it to the dual philosophical purposes of recovering and revivifying human animality, which plays a significant role in his call for de-deifying nature.
In this essay I examine the tension between Nietzsche's doctrine of amor fati and his political project of Zuchtung. As philosophical naturalist, Nietzsche espouses a love of fate and a respect for necessity and reality. However, as philosophical legislator, he apparently denies the fatality of the human being in his attempts to cultivate or perfect it. I argue that Nietzsche's Zuchtung differs importantly from "idealistic" varieties of legislation in that it both requires and aims at the affirmation of fate. On (...) my reading, Nietzsche's nomothetic project neither contradicts nor undermines his naturalistic project: rather it represents its apotheosis and culmination. (shrink)
In this book, Parkes presents the first full-length study of Nietzsche's psychology. He argues that Nietzsche does not entirely reject that "most ancient and venerable" of hypotheses--the soul--but rather retains a considerably less metaphysical version of it. The book comprises a rigorous philological investigation of Nietzsche's psychological images and discourses, ultimately culminating in an examination of his most revolutionary psychological idea: his hypothesis regarding the irreducible multiplicity of the soul.
The present stage in the development of our society is marked by serious changes in social morality. The building of communism is entering a new stage. The man of the communist future is taking shape and being perfected before our eyes. Under these conditions, the Party - and this was emphasized at its Twenty-Fourth Congress - requires of a worker in the arts a thorough examination of contemporary life and of its hero to the full extent of his talent, and (...) demands that his ethical convictions and awareness of spirit be developed. Since this is the case, it is natural that literary criticism faces new, lofty tasks: tasks of analyzing literature in connection with those economic, societal, and moral processes which characterize social existence today. This was stated clearly both at the Party Congress and in the Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU "On Criticism in Literature and the Arts" [O literaturno-khudozhestvennoi kritiki]. (shrink)