Thursday, October 1, 2009

Clark and Dudrick on BGE 19

Rob Sica and another correspondent (whose name I'm now forgetting, sorry!) had asked about my reply to Clark and Dudrick's reading of BGE 19 in the Gemes & May volume, in which they critique my reading in "Nietzsche's Theory of the Will." I have added a long footnote to the penultimate version of the paper on "Who is the Sovereign Individual?" (which should be on-line in a day or two) about their paper. I post that footnote here. I may write more about this on another occasion, but for those who might be interested:

Clark & Dudrick (2009) challenge my reading of BGE 19, and so I should say something briefly about why I find their alternative unpersuasive. The crux of their argument is to deem Nietzsche’s “phenomenology [of willing] simply implausible” (251), which then opens the door for them to re-read the passage as limited to “actions performed in opposition to temptation,” and thus as implicating “one’s commitments or values” (251). This reading, alas, finds no support in the text at all, and is motivated entirely by the claim that as a phenomenology of willing simpliciter, Nietzsche’s account is implausible, and so must be read otherwise. I do not find the account implausible (phenomenology does require careful introspection!), but even if one concurred with Clark & Dudrick about this, it would not follow that the passage has a meaning not to be found in the text: perhaps it is just bad phenomenology. But the evidence that Nietzsche holds the view of the will I attribute to him (Leiter 2007) is overwhelming, and BGE 19 as I read it fits nicely with the view that Nietzsche articulate elsewhere in his work (Clark and Dudrick confine their attention to this BGE passage). Curiously, Clark & Dudrick make an
issue (251 n. 3) out of my translation of “ich bin frei, ‘er’ muss gehorchen” as “I am free, ‘it’ must obey” instead of “he” must obey. While Kaufmann follows Clark & Dudrick on this point, Judith Norman (in the Cambridge edition) translates it as I do (“it”), and she is surely right to do so, for contrary to Clark & Dudrick’s claim that there is “no masculine noun in the passage for which the masculine pronoun substitutes,” it is, I would have thought, obvious in context that the “er” that obeys is the body (der K├Ârper), which of course is a masculine noun.


Rob said...

For what it’s worth, Kate Sturges’ translation of 38[8] on page 36 of Writings from the Late Notebooks reads ’I am free, he must obey’; and Marion Faber’s translation of BGE 19 (Oxford, 1998) reads ’I am free, “he” must obey’.

Also, I wonder if it’s not a shortcoming that you don’t integrate the ending section of BGE 19 in your reading of it – as Clark & Dudrick do, which I think may belie your claim that their reading finds no support in the text. (On the other hand, it's also striking to me how Clark & Dudrick’s reading of the ending section resonates with some of the unpublished material, e.g. WLN, 37[4], pp. 29-31).

Brian Leiter said...

Let me clarify my translation point: "he" obviously isn't wrong. But "it" makes perfectly good sense in context.

My claim is that there is no support in the text for thinking the phenomenology is *only* the phenomenology of resisting temptation. I don't see how the ending of the passage helps with that, but perhaps I am forgetting some pertinent point they made about that.