Guest Editor’s Note: “Nietzsche’s Philosophy and Values”
Keywords:Nietzsche, Nietzsche’s philosophy, Nietzsche’s values
What is philosophy? What are values? What is the relation between philosophy and values? These are the principal questions introduced by Plato and taken up by Nietzsche in his bid to overthrow Plato’s legacy. Under the influence of Socrates, Plato prioritizes reason and goodness as the keys to answering these questions, but the “Darwinist” Nietzsche responds by emphasizing instead the instincts and the struggle for power. No one has done more to illuminate this response than John Richardson, and in this issue, we celebrate the publication of his third monograph on Nietzsche, entitled Nietzsche’s Values (Oxford University Press, 2020). In line with Nietzsche’s own agonistic conception of philosophical activity, we have asked three leading scholars who have been especially interested in Richardson’s work to examine, discuss, and interrogate the ideas in this new book: Tsarina Doyle, Robert Guay, and Paul Katsafanas. John has graciously agreed to offer some replies to their commentaries and evaluations.
Many aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy that once seemed especially odd or dubious have recently become more palatable due to the patient and persistent efforts of a community of dedicated scholars. For example, there is now less paradox associated with Nietzsche’s critique of truth and his perspectival approach to knowledge; there is less puzzlement about his emphasis on psychological drives and affects; and there is less controversy surrounding his conception of values and his genealogical investigation of morality. Maudemarie Clark should certainly be credited with much of this progress. Her analytical skills, hermeneutic sensitivity, and appreciation for contemporary philosophical sensibilities have helped us to understand aspects of Nietzsche’s thought that once seemed alien to the philosophical tradition. My essay examines and evaluates what I think is Clark’s most interesting and influential interpretive proposal. This is her claim that the start of Beyond Good and Evil shows how philosophers, including Nietzsche himself, cannot help but construct their pictures of the world in their own image and in the image of their preferred values.
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