April 25th, 2014

Nietzsche’s Soul: 6.1-2

I’d like to summarize sections 1 and 2 of the sixth chapter of Clark/Dudrick’s The Soul of Nietzsche’s BGE, and discuss some concerns about their theory of drives as politically ordered.

A bit of background: the magnificent tension of the spirit involves the tension between the will to truth and the will to value. As Clark defines it, “The will to truth is the will to represent reality in terms of what is actually there” (Clark ‘Princeton paper’ p. 4). She remarks that in her book with Dudrick, by contrast, the will to value is described as “a will to represent reality in terms of what the philosopher takes to be valuable” but that “it would be better to characterize this second will as a will to represent reality in ways that lend support to one’s values” (ibid.).

Read More

April 19th, 2014

Stanford Publishes BGE/GM Volume

Translation by Adrian Del Caro; this seems like a fantastic new volume from the Stanford University Press complete works of Nietzsche.  

April 18th, 2014

Nietzsche, Value, and Self-Constitution Conference [Oxford]

An amazing looking conference is coming up next month.  The conference features abstracts of the recent books by Katsafanas and by Clark/Dudrick and papers that engage ideas in the texts presented by a really fantastic list of Nietzsche scholars.  Also impressive is the list of scholars chairing the talks.

Date: May 17-18, 2014
Location: St. Peter’s College, Oxford, England
Program: here

At the conference, Berry who has previously written widely on Nietzsche and ancient skepticism will be talking on agency, Riccardi who has written on Nietzsche’s epiphenomenalism will be tackling “the space of values” (I don’t know what the talk is on but the title is reminiscent of the space of reasons, and I’d imagine it intersects with the Clark/Dudrick discussion of it), Leiter will be engaging what I take to be the Clark/Dudrick distinction between an exoteric and esoteric reading of Nietzsche, Huddleston who worked on a dissertation at Princeton under Nehamas on Nietzsche and culture will be presenting on what I assume is Katsafanas’s Nietzsche inspired constitutivism, Katsafanas himself will be discussing Nietzsche’s conception of freedom, and Clark/Dudrick will also be presenting a paper whose title is yet to be determined.  

I wish I could attend this conference.  I’d encourage anyone out there to make their way to this mecca of Nietzsche scholarship.

April 15th, 2014

Four Questions About Drives

Some issues that I was thinking to discuss for the presentation:

1. What sorts of activities are drives involved in?
This would be a good way to start the presentation, as it would show how important and pervasive Nietzsche thinks the influence of drives is on us.  For example, drives affect our (i) perception, they affect our (ii) emotions, they influence our (iii) values, they lead us to (iii) philosophize on their behalf, etc.

2. What is the structure of a drive?
This could be led in with the question, (i) how do we discriminate among drives?  This could then bring up the aim/object distinction.  Drives could be distinguished on the basis of their general aims, yet Nietzsche still tells us that, because they are unconscious, drives admit of a certain obscurity. Also, in discussing the structure of a drive, I want to mention (ii) how drives show up in our behavior and psychology. The effect of drives show up as symptoms in the person that can be studied and traced back to the underlying drives behind the symptoms. Like Freud uses interpretation to get down to the drives (manifest content, latent content, drive wish), Nietzsche also uses an interpretive method to reveal the psychology at work in the philosopher (metaphysical beliefs, values, drive hierarchy). These can each then be thought about in reverse to wonder how our psychology worked to produce that manifest content and those metaphysical beliefs (including religious beliefs).

3. How do drives relate to each other?
This looks at the (i) causal versus (ii) political models of drive interrelations.  Here is where the strictly dispositional versus homuncular readings come to the fore.  In discussing the homuncular reading, I wanted to address the sort of capacities conceiving drives as homunculi requires drives to have, how having such capacities may present some problems, and how the homuncular reading could be reenvisioned to avoid those problems (perhaps by saying not that drives must be minimally conscious to recognize authority, but that drives can be involved in a political structure by virtue of being part of a person with self-reflective capacities and a disposition that makes them care about values.  A person’s self-reflection can then be understood as an instrument that can be appropriated by drives).

4. How do drives relate to the self?
Here I’d be curious to look at the different ways drives can constitute the self and the problem of not being able to account for akrasia faced by the strictly dispositional reading.  If drives are dispositions, organizing according to brute causal force, then how is one to account for cases of either strength of will and weakness of will, as according to a dispositional reading a person’s will would merely be the strongest drive at some time (which goes against our intuitions of a person identifying with some desire that comes in conflict with a stronger desire in cases of akrasia). I want to mention how drives constitute the self in Clark’s account and how Katsafanas adds consciousness as a means for establishing agential unity.

I was thinking that those four questions could potentially guide the presentation.  I plan to spend the most time on the third question as that works closest with the material in the debate between the strictly dispositional (Katsafanas/Richardson) and the homuncular (Clark/Dudrick) reading of drives.

April 14th, 2014

Recent Nietzsche Scholarship

I wanted to mention some recent and new secondary literature that may be of interest.  

First, Katsafanas’s recently published Agency and the Foundations of Ethics, has a review by Alex Silk in NDPR.  Andrew Huddleson’s Nietzsche’s Philosophy of History also has a review in NDPR, this one by Anthony Jensen.

The Journal of Nietzsche Studies is now publishing selected papers from the North American Nietzsche Society annual meeting.  The recent JNS issue has also published some really interesting papers from a symposium on Clark and Dudrick’s The Soul of Nietzsche’s BGE.  

Finally, the collection by Janaway and Roberston Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity has reviews you should check out by both Leiter and Katsafanas.

April 13th, 2014

Prelude to Nietzsche on Drives

Maudemarie Clark asked me to present in two weeks on the secondary literature on Nietzsche on drives for her seminar this quarter.  I’m planning on looking at the Katsafanas/Richardson (dispositional) versus Clark/Dudrick (homuncular) accounts of drives.  Any suggestions for what to further look at would be much appreciated.  I’ll also update with my presentation once I’ve gotten it organized.

I plan on starting my research by revisiting the paper Clark/Dudrick gave at the first Boston Workshop in Late Modern Philosophy, in which they respond to Katsafanas’s account in his paper, “Nietzsche’s Philosophical Psychology”.  I also want to revisit Katsafanas’s review of their book in the recent issue of the Journal of Nietzsche Studies.  

March 24th, 2014

Olive Tree Sketch


A sketch of mine contrasting the organic with the geometric.

March 4th, 2014

Nietzsche and Kant on Religion [National University of Ireland]

This is the seventh in a series of conferences examining the relation between the philosophies of Nietzsche and Kant. I have mentioned the sixth previously.  Each conference has been on a different topic, the topic of this one being the views of these philosophers on religion.

Date: March 19-20, 2014
Location: National University of Ireland
Program: here

The conference is organized by Tom Bailey, and from what I can see, promises to present and further research on the very exciting intersection of Nietzschean and Kantian philosophies.  

January 23rd, 2014

The Nietzsche Group

I’ve put together a Nietzsche reading group at Riverside in which we are presently reading through some secondary literature.  Here are the readings for this winter quarter:

1. Reginster: “The Psychology of Christian Morality: Will to Power as Will to Nothingness”
2. Katsafanas: “Value, Affect, Drive”
3. Richardson: “Nietzsche on Life’s Ends”
4. Leiter: “Nietzsche Against the Philosophical Canon” (accompanying talk at UCR)
5. Leiter: “The Truth is Terrible” (accompanying discussion at UCR)
6. Hussain: “The Role of Life in the Genealogy
7. Hussain: “Nietzsche’s Metaethical Stance”
8. Riccardi: “Inner Opacity: Nietzsche on Introspection and Agency”
9. Poellner: “Nietzsche’s Metaphysical Sketches: Causality and Will to Power”

January 12th, 2014

Bernd Magnus Lecture [Riverside]

Nietzsche scholar Alexander Nehamas will be giving the Bernd Magnus lecture this year at the University of California, Riverside. The lecture is titled, “Nietzsche, Intention, Action”, and going on the fact it has the same title, it sounds like the lecture will be a more developed version of the talk he gave at Katsafanas’s late modern workshop in 2011.

Date: January 17, 2014 
Location: University of California, Riverside

From what I remember the paper was a controversial one as I recall it downplaying the role of intentions in action.  I look forward to hearing the updated version of the talk, and updating here on the lecture afterwards.

November 26th, 2013

Two Openings at UCR

The University of California, Riverside is currently looking to hire for two positions.  The first is for a junior faculty in Early Modern Philosophy.  The second is an open rank hire in 19/20th Century European/Continental Philosophy.  I’m really hoping to see some Spinozists, Humeans, Schopenhauerians, and Nietzscheans applying and coming in to give job talks!

November 18th, 2013

Conference on Nietzsche and Kantian Politics [John Cabot University]

This is the sixth in a series of conferences examining the relation between the philosophies of Nietzsche and Kant.  Each conference has been on a different topic, and the title of this one emphasizes the focus on political themes including “autonomy and rights, equality and democracy, morality and politics, war and cosmopolitanism, history and anthropology”.

Date: December 6-7, 2013
Location: John Cabot University, Rome, Italy
Program: here

The conference is organized by Tom Bailey, who also has a paper in the recent Oxford Handbook, appropriately titled “Nietzsche the Kantian?” Looks to be quite a good conference, and overall seems like quite a fantastic series to open up more discussion about the important relationship Nietzsche holds to Kantian thought.

November 14th, 2013

Social Intuitionism vs Embodied Principles

According to rationalism regarding the psychology of moral judgment, people’s moral judgments are generally the result of a process of reasoning that relies on moral principles or rules. By contrast, intuitionist models of moral judgment hold that people generally come to have moral judgments about particular cases on the basis of gut-level, emotion-driven intuition, and do so without reliance on reasoning and hence without reliance on moral principles. In recent years the intuitionist model has been forcefully defended by Jonathan Haidt. One important implication of Haidt’s model is that in giving reasons for their moral judgments people tend to confabulate – the reasons they give in attempting to explain their moral judgments are not really operative in producing those judgments. Moral reason-giving on Haidt’s view is generally a matter of post hoc confabulation. Against Haidt, we argue for a version of rationalism that we call ‘morphological rationalism.’ We label our version ‘morphological’ because according to it, the information contained in moral principles is embodied in the standing structure of a typical individual’s cognitive system, and this morphologically embodied information plays a causal role in the generation of particular moral judgments" (2007: 279).

Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons (“Morphological Rationalism and the Psychology of Moral Judgment”)

November 13th, 2013

The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche


About three weeks ago I received this magnificent monstrosity: the long awaited Oxford Handbook.  The anthology is fresh off the press and contains thirty-two papers that are going to keep me busy for quite some time.  

The anthology is divided into six parts: the first includes biographical essays on Nietzsche’s family, his illness, his relation to women; the second part discusses historical influences from the Greeks through Schopenhauer, as well as Nietzsche’s influence on analytic philosophy; the third part includes essays on a broad selection of his individual works, which is very nice as it’s not common to see a paper focus singly on the Untimely MeditationsAntichrist, or Ecce Homo; the forth has papers on value theory; fifth on epistemology and metaphysics; and the sixth and last on his theory of the will to power.

I’ve read a handful of the included essays in their pre-published versions, so although I’ll have more to say about these and the essays I have yet to read when I get to go over them in print, I can already throw in some strong words of praise.  

Read More

Die Philosophie ist ein Kampf gegen die Verhexung unsres Verstandes durch die Mittel unserer Sprache.