Philosophy Workshop: Professor Matthew Meyer on "Reconstructing Nietzsche, Contextually"
Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103
Lecture given by Matthew Meyer, The University of Scranton.
I defend a contextual reconstruction of Nietzsche’s philosophical project. My contextualist reconstruction contrasts with the rationalist reconstruction predominant in contemporary Anglo-American scholarship. After discussing the differences between the two approaches, I show how the rationalist reconstruction has distorted our understanding of Nietzsche in at least two respects. First, in trying to extract theories from Nietzsche’s corpus that will be attractive to contemporary philosophers, it has caused scholars largely to neglect the nature, structure, and argument of Nietzsche’s published works. Here, I make my case by focusing on common misunderstandings of Nietzsche’s free spirit works. Second, it has caused scholars to tame Nietzsche’s project by dismissing Thus Spoke Zarathustra as mere poetry and distancing Nietzsche from controversial ideas such as the will to power and the eternal recurrence. In contrast, I argue that by reading Nietzsche as a naturalist through the lens of a historical influence like Schopenhauer, rather than anachronistically through Quine, we can begin to make sense of these essential features of his project. I close with some remarks about why a contextual reconstruction may not only be truer to Nietzsche, but also more philosophically satisfying than the rationally reconstructed Nietzsche currently on offer.
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