Brian Leiter is Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy, & Human Values at the University of Chicago. He works on a variety of topics in moral, political, and legal philosophy. His current Nietzsche-related work concerns Nietzsche's theory of agency and its intersection with recent work in empirical psychology; Nietzsche's arguments for moral skepticism; and the role of naturalism in Nietzsche's philosophy.
In your Philosophy Bites podcast, you had made the case that 'will to power' wasn't central to Nietzsche's philosophy.
Yet, Julian Young seems to give it a lot of weight in his comments in this interview.
Julian's wrong about lots of things, but it's still a very good philosophical biography!
Nietzsche's description of what music can do one of the best I've heard. "Music … frees me from myself, it sobers me up from myself, as though I survey the scene from a great distance … It is very strange. It is as though I had bathed in some natural element. Life without music is simply an error, exhausting, an exile"
I am happy to have found this blog focused on Nietzsche. I feel that he is misunderstood by many. I look forward to learning more of him.
Though I am weary of attributing too much significance to music when it comes to Nietzsche…His later, “mature writings” if you will, seem to point in the direction of a revaluation of music along with much else. Nietzsche’s attempt to translate aesthetic experience along psychological/physiological lines leads him to become suspicious that music perhaps is nearly always the expression of decadence. Both the 1888 fragments in the Notebook ( early 800’s tend to deal with aesthetic phenomena ), the section in Twilight dealing with Aestheticism, and of course, The Case of Wagner, all seem to point in this direction. As Young does point out though, N. still appeals to certain types of music, “light” music that he often associates with Voltaire, Bizet, and his close colleague Heinrich Kostelitz, music which deifies the beauty of life in quite simplistic ( classical taste ) terms.
For Nietzsche’s mature thought, and potentially his philosophy moving forward if he had not lost his mind, aesthetic experience becomes nothing more than a expression of the “Human type fact” ( per Leiter ) that one is. The Twilight section dealing with aesthetics ( well…they are scattered throughout, but if you have Twilight on hand its hard to miss the aphorisms dealing with aesthetics ) I think makes this clear. This is not to say that N had no place for music, or that music did not have a profound impact on his life, but rather that music in his later philosophy is important only as a means of reading the physiological/psychological needs and drives at work within a human being…also of the need for a “life promoting” music ( see above ) that will seduce us away from decadence ( life negation…Romanticism, Wagner, any type of Redemption in music ) and back to good health ( life affirmation ).
University of Victoria Grad Student
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