May 31, 2005

Nietzsche for the money men

Whilst academic philosophy continues its retreat to the dim margins of our public culture, Nietzsche, that all-too-human philosophical critic of our disturbed and contradictory modernity, continues to fascinate a wide spectrum of thinkers and writers.

In his account of Nietzsche in The Australian Financial Review Martin Leet goes beyond painting Nietzsche as lonely, troubled soul who collapses into madness. He goes beyond biography of a man living a life of solitude beset by relentless, debilitating illness and severe eye problems. He says:

"Nietzsche painted an amoral picture of human life, not to serve immorality but to establish a surer ground for moral development. Nature consists of endless struggle. Individuals seeks power. Even in casual conversation there are subtle attempts to establish superiority over others. A superficial, moralistic understanding ignores the reality of commanding and obeying. Everything obeys, and if you do not obey yourself then you will be obeying another."

I read that and say. Well, yes, it's rough but okay.This is Nietzsche for the finance capitalists after all.

However, what does moral development mean here? Self-development is the answer given by Leet. And what is the commanding about. Our explorations and struggles with the unconscious, says Leet.I presume he follows Curtis Cate's recent biography of Friedrich Nietzsche in this. Nietzsche in popular culture becomes a proto-psychoanalyist; not the demented genius; the amoral Franco-German existentialist; or the philosopher of free-spiritedness who allowed no moral or religious constraints to hinder his full development.

Leet's account is too individualistic as it downplay the way that Nietzsche as a critic of culture wanted to renew a nihilistic culture not just engage in self-development through a philosophical therapy modelled on the Greeks.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 31, 2005 09:47 AM | TrackBack
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