June 28, 2008
What does Nietzsche mean to philosophers today?
Kritika&Kontext: What do you take to be the morally and politically most offensive passages in Nietzsche's writings? How do you interpret them? Do you think they are representative of his general attitude toward morality and politics?
Richard Rorty: I am most offended by the passages in which Nietzsche expresses contempt for weakness, and especially by the passages which argue that there is something wrong with Christianity because it originated among slaves. So it did, but those slaves had a good idea: namely, that the ideal human community would be one in which love is the only law. So it would. One can separate this Christian ideal from the ressentiment characteristic of the ascetic priests, but Nietzsche never made that distinction.
Paul Patton: Some of his remarks about women are among the most offensive of Nietzsche's writings. I take these to be indications of the extent to which he was a man of his time who could not see beyond the existing cultural forms of the sexual division of humankind. Like the vast majority of nineteenth century European men, Nietzsche could not divorce female affect, intelligence and corporeal capacities from a supposed "essential' relation to child-bearing. His views on women are representative of his attitude toward morality and politics in the sense that they are in tension with possibilities otherwise opened up by his historical conception of human nature. For example, at times he recognizes that supposedly natural qualities of women or men are really products of particular social arrangements. We can conclude from this, even if he could not, that these qualities are not natural but open to change. In this domain as in other of his social and political views, he was not able to foresee some of the ways in which the very dynamics of human cultural evolution that he identified could lead us into a very different future.
Posted by Robin Varghese at 05:50 PM | Permalink