Nietzsche: Life as Literature

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Harvard University Press, 1985 - Philosophy - 261 pages

More than eighty years after his death, Nietzsche's writings and his career remain disquieting, disturbing, obscure. His most famous views--the will to power, the eternal recurrence, the ‹bermensch, the master morality--often seem incomprehensible or, worse, repugnant. Yet he remains a thinker of singular importance, a great opponent of Hegel and Kant, and the source of much that is powerful in figures as diverse as Wittgenstein, Derrida, Heidegger, and many recent American philosophers.

Alexander Nehamas provides the best possible guide for the perplexed. He reveals the single thread running through Nietzsche's views: his thinking of the world on the model of a literary text, of people as if they were literary characters, and of knowledge and science as if they were literary interpretation. Beyond this, he advances the clarity of the concept of textuality, making explicit some of the forces that hold texts together and so hold us together. Nehamas finally allows us to see that Nietzsche is creating a literary character out of himself, that he is, in effect, playing the role of Plato to his own Socrates.

Nehamas discusses a number of opposing views, both American and European, of Nietzsche's texts and general project, and reaches a climactic solving of the main problems of Nietzsche interpretation in a step-by-step argument. In the process he takes up a set of very interesting questions in contemporary philosophy, such as moral relativism and scientific realism. This is a book of considerable breadth and elegance that will appeal to all curious readers of philosophy and literature.


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Alexander Nehamas, a Princeton professor, examines Nietzsche's thought by exploring the paradoxes found in his writing and in what is produced by his writing. He investigates Nietzsche's perspectivism ... Read full review

Nietzsche, life as literature

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Deriving inspiration from both continental and American scholarship, Nehamas penetratingly discusses Nietzsche's style and his views on truth, knowledge, the will to power, morality, and the self. The ... Read full review


The Most Multifarious Art of Style
Untruth as a Condition of Life
A Thing Is the Sum of Its Effects
Nature Against Something That Is Also Nature
The Self
This LifeYour Eternal Life
How One Becomes What One Is
Beyond Good and Evil
A Note on Texts and Translations

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About the author (1985)

Alexander Nehamas is Edmund N. Carpenter II Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature, Princeton University.

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