Monday, October 5, 2009
Revised and Penultimate Draft of "Who is the 'Sovereign Individual?' Nietzsche on Freedom" Now On-Line
Here. It incorporates in the footnotes several references to the very illuminating, but so far unpublished, paper by Donald Rutherford (UC San Diego) on Nietzsche, Spinoza, and the Stoics and their conceptions of freedom, about which I'll write some more before too long.
Posted by Brian Leiter at 8:08 AM
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Maybe worth noting that among the earlier work Nietzsche cites in section four of GM's Preface is D 112, which features this passage:
...the feeling of duty depends upon our having the same belief in regard to the extent of our power as others have: that is to say, that we are able to promise certain things and bind ourselves to perform them (“freedom of will”).
This might undermine the plausibility of the first of your "Deflationary Readings" (page 3) since the intended reader is, I take it, supposed to be familiar with the earlier work cited in the Preface, including this straightforward equation of "freedom of will" with the common ability to participate in, as you put it, "petty commercial undertakings" (ibid.). Or is it that the mockery involved in the first "Deflationary Reading" is not directed at the intended reader?
That's an interesting passage, thanks for catching that.
I am curious how you would read the Eternal Return in light of this paper.
The question in each and every thing, 'Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?' would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight.
If one is not able to choose one's actions in any significant sense, what do you believe N. means with this passage?
We may not freely choose our actions, but they are causally determined by, among other things, our affects. And the image of the eternal return can, of course, arouse our affects, and thus affect our actions.
I agree with your stress on "type-facts" and that, in truth, Nietzsche regards "freedom" (as traditionally conceived), as an impossibility and a convenient (for some) fiction. However, I find it odd that, in relation to Nietzsche's conception of "freedom" no mention of Caesar was made in your paper? Given that this is the explicit topic of TI.Exp.38.,and that here Nietzsche states clearly that the "highest", and "finest type" of "free man" is Caesar, why the omission?
You quoted earlier parts of this section, yet ignored Nietzsche's evaluation of Caesar in this context. I find this strange because you rightfully acknowledged Nietzsche's high estimation of the plainly illiberal Napoleon, when so many commentator's, in an attempt to soften Nietzsche, usually point to the far less controversial Goethe as Nietzsche's highest exemplar of "drive unification".
Richardon also, in his 'Nietzsche's Freedoms' makes no mention of Caesar and wrongly offers Goethe as Nietzsche's greatest model of "freedom" and "self-responsibility" etc.
In plain words, why is Caesar's relevance for Nietzsche being avoided? (see also BGE.200).
p.s. Nietzsche's endorsement of Brutus' killing of Caesar (GS.98)(though Caesar is still here regarded as "an ornament of the world, a genius without peer"), solely because he "threatened the freedom" of other "great souls", is entirely consistent with Nietzsche's elitism; but it is also entirely consistent with his very high estimation of Caesar.
Is there any other passage in which Ceasar is discussed? Goethe is quite correctly cited in this regard, and Goethe is I believe discussed far more often than Caesar.
There's a quite different approach to "men of action" (including Caesar) in Daybreak549, which has more in common with the tone of BGE269's unflattering analysis of "great men" in general.
But in WP544, Caesar is again described as one of "the highest human beings". See also WP1026 where, it seems to me, Napoleon is rated 'below' Caesar. See also WP776 & WP684.
I'm not arguing that Nietzsche rated Caesar 'higher' then Goethe, since Nietzsche has several, not always harmonious, definitions of what constitutes greatness, but that, regardless of the paucity of references to Caesar, the references themselves are typically of the very highest praise.
GS98 seems particularly instructive of Nietzsche wanting to have it both ways, and the fact that he subsequently pays no attention to the 'political' problem this raises seems further evidence of his 'irrelevance' to political theory. This, I suspect, is why Caesar is often marginalised. Left unchecked this type of greatness becomes self-refuting and threatens the agonistic model Nietzsche embraces, the idea, expressed in the 'Homer' essay that the best protection against the genius is "another genius".
There's a small typo in the second line of page 3: the 'me' should be 'we'.
High praise for Julius also comes in TI, Expeditions, 31 - just seven sections before the one David first mentions.
It's the one called "Another problem of Diet".
The diet of Caesar, that is, his continuous outdoor military life, Nietzsche here reads as a "preservative and protective" measure in support of what he calls "that subtle machine working at the highest pressure which is called genius."
Caesar is thus an example of such a genius for Nietzsche.
And given section 38, Nietzsche would likely say that Caesar as genius, as a "finest type", needs such healthy dietetic measures for support because like all great geniuses, he is "five steps from tyranny", that is, five steps from being overrun and rent apart by the tremendous storehouse of instincts inside him.
Presumably he earns his freedom by declaring war on these instincts, by subjugating them, then mobilising them for other wars and winning a space for freedom.
It's like when Alexander defeats Darius - he achieves not just a space of freedom for all Hellenes, but also for himself; he is able to resist destroying himself by mobilising the force and sending it elsewhere for a while, and for a worthy purpose.
But contrary to what a different David, a David N. McNeil* argues - I don't think Socrates belongs in this great, free-genius category for Nietzsche [*see "On the Relationship of Alcibiades' Speech to Nietzsche's 'Problem of Socrates'", in ed. P. Bishop, 'Nietzsche & Antiquity', 2004].
No doubt the instincts of Socrates for Nietzsche are also in anarchy, "five steps from excess"(TI, Problem, 9), but he only masters them by becoming a master decadent, which Nietzsche conjectures he may have with the willing manner of his death even admitted to in the end - as if saying to himself,
"Socrates is no physician... death alone is a physician here... Socrates has only been a long time sick..."(TI, Problem, 12)
The problem with Socrates was that his way of coping, his solution, was an anti-nature, hyper-rationalising morality, and hence a bad diet – more a prison than a freedom - that's what I think Nietzsche is saying. David N. McNeil seems to want to sneak Socrates into the same category as Goethe-Caesar, etc., plus attribute this to Nietzsche.
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