Monday, September 13, 2010

"Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy" Reviewed... Mark Jenkins in Journal of Nietzsche Studies. He makes a number of interesting points, including about Clark & Dudrick's critique of my reading of BGE 19, though he generally has a more generous appraisal of more of the papers in the volume than I do. It's also an entertainingly written review, of which the world can always use more!


Rob said...

The feature of Clark & Dudrick's critique of your reading of BGE 19 that remains for me, until the appearance of their book, most conspicuously in their favor is their coverage of the final portion of BGE 19, which you ignore but of which they at least offer an interpretation connecting it to earlier sections of the book's first chapter (as part of their pending synoptic reading of the book).

By the way, for what it's worth, on page 177 in Gardner's essay on Hartmann in in this recent volume, I was struck by the apparent kinship between Gardner's invocation of Dennett to elucidate Hartmann's postulation of sub-personal agency and that of Clark & Dudrick's to flesh out their quasi-homunculi interpretation of Nietzschean drives -- both of which bring to mind nachlass material (e.g. pp. 29-31 of Writings from the Late Notebooks) contemporaneous with material from which BGE 19 emerged.

Lastly, I'm eager to read Jenkins' paper from last year's Oxford conference -- the abstract for which is here (on page 14).

Brian Leiter said...

The issue is whether there's anyything in the remainder of BGE 19 that is inconsistent with my reading (and, as far as I can see, there isn't). Beyond that, I don't have much to add to what I said in note 12 of the "Who is the Sovereign Individual?" paper, which I'll just repost here for anyone 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 is certainly of a piece with that (Clark and Dudrick confine their attention to this one passage). Curiously, Clark & Dudrick make an issue (251 n. 3) out of my translation of “ich bin frei, ‘er’ muss gehorschen” 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.