Nietzsche's Genealogy: Nihilism and the Will to Knowledge

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Cornell University Press, 1995 - Philosophy - 247 pages
In this provocative book, Randall Havas articulates an approach to Nietzsche which demonstrates that the authentic individual need not stand apart from his or her culture in order to resist the demands of conformism. On Havas's reading, the task of the Nietzschean individual is instead to replace the illusion of culture - "herd morality" - with real community, and in this way to avoid nihilism. It is such community that Nietzsche aspires to establish with his readers - a claim that, in the author's view, suggests that Nietzsche's conception of the nature of community and, hence, of individuality must be understood in terms of his theory of reading and interpretation.
Nietzsche holds that the category of the individual is itself a historical construct. Havas's interpretation of this view dissolves the threat it appears to pose to individualism. By treating genealogical method as a response to this threat, he shows how Nietzsche's defense of individualism, his conception of history, and his commitment to truth reinforce one another. On this reading, Nietzsche's more properly ethical concerns lie at the heart of his understanding of the will to knowledge. Havas argues that, for Nietzsche, ostensibly epistemological questions can be assessed only in the light of an understanding of the interdependence between individual and community.

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Nihilism and the Will to Knowledge
The Philosophical Significance of Nietzsches Attack
The Problem of Socrates

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About the author (1995)

Randall Havas is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Yale University.

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