12 January 2013

Nietzsche's criticism of anti-Semitism and nationalism


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Nietzsche's criticism of anti-Semitism and nationalism

Peter Gast would "correct" Nietzsche's writings even after the philosopher's breakdown and so without his approval - something heavily criticized by today's Nietzsche scholarship. Although Nietzsche has famously been represented (some strongly argue misrepresented)[17]as a predecessor to Nazism, he criticized anti-Semitism, pan-Germanism and, to a lesser extent, nationalism. Thus, he broke with his editor in 1886 because of opposition to his anti-Semitic stances, and his rupture with Richard Wagner, expressed in The Case of Wagner and Nietzsche Contra Wagner (both written in 1888), had much to do with Wagner's endorsement of pan-Germanism and anti-Semitism — and also of his rallying to Christianity. In a March 29, 1887 letter to Theodor Fritsch, he mocked anti-Semitics, Fritsch, Eugen Dühring, Wagner, Ebrard, Wahrmund, and the leading advocate of pan-Germanism, Paul de Lagarde, who would become, along with Wagner and Houston Chamberlain, main official influences of Nazism.[3] This 1887 letter to Fritsch ended by: "— And finally, how do you think I feel when the name Zarathustra is mouthed by anti-Semites? ..."[18]
Section VIII of Beyond Good and Evil, titled "Peoples and Fatherlands", criticized pan-Germanism and patriotism, advocating instead the unification of Europe (§256, etc.). In Ecce Homo (1888), he criticized the "German nation", its "will to power (to Empire, to Reich)", thus underscoring an easy misinterpretation of the Wille zur Macht, the conception of Germans as a "race", the "anti-Semitic way of writing history", or of writing "history conform to the German Empire," and stigmatized "nationalism, this national neurosis from which Europe is sick", this "small politics".[19]
Nietzsche heavily criticized his sister's husband, Bernhard Förster, and his sister, speaking harshly against the "anti-Semitic canaille.": "I've seen proof, black on white, that Herr Dr. Förster has not yet severed his connection with the anti-Semitic movement...Since then I've had difficulty coming up with any of the tenderness and protectiveness I've so long felt toward you. The separation between us is thereby decided in really the most absurd way. Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world?...Now it has gone so far that I have to defend myself hand and foot against people who confuse me with these anti-Semitic canaille; after my own sister, my former sister, and after Widemann more recently have given the impetus to this most dire of all confusions. After I read the name Zarathustra in the anti-Semitic Correspondence my forbearance came to an end. I am now in a position of emergency defense against your spouse's Party. These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!!" Draft for a letter to his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (December 1887)
Georges Bataille was one of the first to denounce the deliberate misinterpretation of Nietzsche carried out by Nazis, among them Alfred Baeumler. He dedicated in January 1937 an issue of Acéphale, titled "Reparations to Nietzsche," to the theme "Nietzsche and the Fascists.[3]" There, he called Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche "Elisabeth Judas-Förster," recalling Nietzsche's declaration: "To never frequent anyone who is involved in this bare-faced fraud concerning races."[3]
Nietzsche titled aphorism 377 in the fifth book of The Gay Science (published in 1887) "We who are homeless" (litt. "We who are without Fatherlands" — Heimatlosen), in which he criticized pan-Germanism and patriotism and called himself a "good European". In the second part of this aphorism, which according to Bataille contained the most important parts of Nietzsche's political thought, the thinker of the Eternal Return stated:
"No, we do not love humanity; but on the other hand we are not nearly "German" enough, in the sense in which the word "German" is constantly being used nowadays, to advocate nationalism and race hatred and to be able to take pleasure in the national scabies of the heart and blood poisoning that now leads the nations of Europe to delimit and barricade themselves against each other as if it were a matter of quarantine. For that we are too open-minded, too malicious, too spoiled, also too well-informed, too "traveled": we far prefer to live on mountains, apart, "untimely," in past or future centuries, merely in order to keep ourselves from experiencing the silent rage to which we know we should be condemned as eyewitnesses of politics that are desolating the German spirit by making it vain and that is, moreover, petty politics:—to keep its own creation from immediately falling apart again, is it not finding it necessary to plant it between two deadly hatreds? Must it not desire the eternalization of the European system of a lot of petty states? ... We who are homeless are too manifold and mixed racially and in our descent, being "modern men," and consequently do not feel tempted to participate in the mendacious racial self-admiration and racial indecency that parades in Germany today as a sign of a German way of thinking and that is doubly false and obscene among the people of the "historical sense." We are, in one word—and let this be our word of honor!— good Europeans, the heirs of Europe, the rich, oversupplied, but also overly obligated heirs of thousands of years of European spirit: as such, we have also outgrown Christianity and are averse to it, and precisely because we have grown out of it, because our ancestors were Christians who in their Christianity were uncompromisingly upright; for their faith they willingly sacrificed possessions and position, blood and fatherland. We—do the same. For what? For our unbelief? For every kind of unbelief? No, you know better than that, my friends! The hidden Yes in you is stronger than all Nos and Maybes that afflict you and your age like a disease; and when you have to embark on the sea, you emigrants, you, too, are compelled to this by— a faith! ..."[20]

Views on women
Nietzsche's views on women have served as a magnet for controversy, beginning during his life and continuing to the present. He frequently made remarks in his writing that some view as misogynistic. He claimed in Twilight of the Idols (1888) "Women are considered profound. Why? Because we never fathom their depths. But women aren't even shallow."[21] He is also quoted as saying "Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent".

Relation to Søren Kierkegaard
Nietzsche knew little of the 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.[22][23] Georg Brandes, a Danish philosopher, wrote to Nietzsche in 1888 asking him to study the works of Kierkegaard, to which Nietzsche replied that he would.[24][nb 1]
Recent research, however, suggests that Nietzsche was exposed to the works of Kierkegaard through secondary literature. Aside from Brandes, Nietzsche owned and read a copy of Hans Lassen Martensen’sChristliche Ethik (1873) in which Martensen extensively quoted and wrote about Kierkegaard’s individualism in ethics and religion. Nietzsche also read Harald Høffding’s Psychologie in Umrissen auf Grundlage der Erfahrung (ed. 1887) which expounded and critiqued Kierkegaard’s psychology. Thomas Brobjer believes one of the works Nietzsche wrote about Kierkegaard is in Morgenröthe, which was partly written in response to Martensen's work. In one of the passages, Nietzsche wrote: Those moralists, on the other hand, who, following in the footsteps of Socrates, offer the individual a morality of self-control and temperance as a means to his own advantage, as his personal key to happiness, are the exceptions. Brobjer believes Kierkegaard is one of "those moralists".[25]
The first philosophical study comparing Kierkegaard and Nietzsche was published even before Nietzsche's death.[26] More than 60 articles and 15 full-length studies have been published devoted entirely in comparing these two thinkers.[26]

Relation to Schopenhauer
According to Santayana, Nietzsche considered his philosophy to be a correction of Schopenhauer’s philosophy. In his Egotism in German Philosophy,[27] Santayana listed Nietzsche’s antithetical reactions to Schopenhauer.
The will to live would become the will to dominate; pessimism founded on reflection would become optimism founded on courage; the suspense of the will in contemplation would yield to a more biological account of intelligence and taste; finally in the place of pity and asceticism (Schopenhauer’ s two principles of morals) Nietzsche would set up the duty of asserting the will at all costs and being cruelly but beautifully strong. These points of difference from Schopenhauer cover the whole philosophy of Nietzsche.
These emendations show how Schopenhauer’s philosophy was not a mere initial stimulus for Nietzsche, but formed the basis for much of Nietzsche’s thinking.

Legacy
Perhaps Nietzsche's greatest philosophical legacy lies in his 20th century interpreters, among them Pierre Klossowski, Georges Bataille, Leo Strauss, Alexandre Kojève, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze (and Félix Guattari), and Jacques Derrida. Foucault's later writings, for example, adopt Nietzsche's genealogical method to develop anti-foundationalist theories of power that divide and fragment rather than unite polities (as evinced in the liberal tradition of political theory). The systematic institutionalisation of criminal delinquency, sexual identity and practice, and the mentally ill (to name but a few) are examples used to demonstrate how knowledge or truth is inseparable from the institutions that formulate notions of legitimacy from 'immoralities' such as homosexuality and the like (captured in the famous power-knowledgeequation). Deleuze, arguably the foremost of Nietzsche's interpreters, used the much-maligned 'will to power' thesis in tandem with Marxian notions of commodity surplus and Freudian ideas of desire to articulate concepts such the rhizome and other 'outsides' to state power as traditionally conceived.
Certain recent Nietzschean interpretations have emphasized the more untimely and politically controversial aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy. Nietzschean commentator Keith Ansell Pearson has pointed out the absurd hypocrisy of modern egalitarian liberals, socialists, feminists and anarchists claiming Nietzsche as a herald of their own left-wing politics: "The values Nietzsche wishes to subject to a revaluation are largely altruistic and egalitarian values such as pity, self-sacrifice, and equal rights. For Nietzsche, modern politics rests largely on a secular inheritance of Christian values (he interprets the socialist doctrine of equality in terms of a secularization of the Christian belief in the equality of all souls before God" (On the Genealogy of Morality, Ansell-Pearson and Diethe, eds., Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 9). Works such as Bruce Detwiler's Nietzsche and the Politics of Aristocratic Radicalism (University of Chicago Press, 1990), Fredrick Appel's Nietzsche Contra Democracy (Cornell University Press, 1998), and Domenico Losurdo's Nietzsche, il ribelle aristocratico (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2002) challenge the prevalent liberal interpretive consensus on Nietzsche and assert that Nietzsche's elitism was not merely an aesthetic pose but an ideological attack on the widely held belief in equal rights of the modern West, locating Nietzsche in the conservative-revolutionary tradition.

References
1.    The Gay Science, Section 108, provides an exception.
2.    See Beyond Good and Evil.
3.    abcdef Georges Bataille, "Nietzsche and Fascists", in the January 1937 issue of Acéphale
4.    Mazzino Montinari,Friedrich Nietzsche (1974; transl. in German in 1991, Friedrich Nietzsche. Eine Einführung., Berlin-New York, De Gruyter; and in French, Friedrich NietzschePUF, 2001, p.121 chapter "Nietzsche and the consequences"
6.    see Steven Luper's introduction on Nietzsche in Existing for a detailed analysis of these efforts
7.    Dennett, D. C. (1995), Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Simon & Schuster
8.    "For a clear reconstruction of Nietzsche's uncharacteristically careful deduction of what he once described as 'the most scientific of hypotheses,' see Danto 1965, pp. 201-9- For a discussion and survey of this and other interpretations of Nietzsche's notorious idea of eternal recurrence, see Nehamas 1980, which argues that by 'scientific' Nietzsche meant specifically 'not-teleological.' A recurring—but, so far, not eternally recurring—problem with the appreciation of Nietzsche's version of the eternal recurrence is that, unlike Wheeler, Nietzsche seems to think that this life will happen again not because it and all possible variations on it will happen over and over, but because there is only one possible variation—this one—and it will happen over and over." Dennett, D. C. (1995), Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Simon & Schuster
9.    For ex. Beyond Good and Evil, first section, §19
10.  Bernd A. Laska: Nietzsche's Initial Crisis. In: Germanic Notes and Reviews, vol. 33, n. 2, fall/Herbst 2002, pp. 109-133.]
11.  Conclusion of Stirner et Nietzsche by Albert Lévy, op.cit.
12.  Patrick Wotling, Nietzsche et le problème de la civilisation, PUF, 1995 (2nd ed. 1999)
14.  Letter to Overbeck, 30 July 1881
16.  Olivier Ponton, ""Mitfreude". Le projet nietzschéen d'une "éthique de l'amitié" dans "Choses humaines, trop humaines"", HyperNietzsche, 2003-12-09
17.  Keith Ansell-Pearson, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The Perfect Nihilist, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp 33-34.
19.  Ecce Homo, "Why I Write Such Good Books", The Case of Wagner, §1 and 2
20.  The Gay Science, aphorism 377, transl. by "We who are homeless" (litt. "We who are without Fatherlands"), read here
22.  Angier, Tom P. Either Kierkegaard/or Nietzsche: Moral Philosophy in a New Key. ISBN 0-7546-5474-5
23.  Hubben, William. Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Kafka.ISBN 0-684-82589-9
26.  ab Miles, Thomas. Rival Visions of the Best Way of Life in Kierkegaard and Existentialism, Jon Stewart, ed. p.263.
27.  Chapter XI, “Nietzsche and Schopenhauer”

Notes
1.   Brandes and Nietzsche wrote letters back and forth between 1886-1888. In 1886 Neitzsche sent Brandes copies of Beyond Good and Evil (written in 1885) and later Genealogy of Morals and Human, All Too Human. (p. 314). Brandes sent Nietzsche a copy of Main Currents in 1888. (p. 331-331) Nietzsche wrote in May of 1888 that “Dr. George Brandes is now delivering an important course of lectures at the University of Copenhagen on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche! According to the papers these lectures are having the most brilliant success. The hall is full to overflowing each time; more than three hundred people present.” (p. 227). “They were ready for my theory of “master morality” owing to the thorough general knowledge they possess of the Icelandic sagas which provide very rich material for the theory. I am glad to hear that the Danish philologists approve and accept my derivation of bonus: in itself it seems rather a tall order to trace the concept “good” back to the concept “warrior”. (p. 229) On January 11, 1888 Brandes wrote the following to Nietzsche, “There is a Northern writer whose works would interest you, if they were but translated, Soren Kierkegaard. He lived from 1813 to 1855, and is in my opinion one of the profoundest psychologists to be met with anywhere. A little book which I have written about him (the translation published at Leipzig in 1879) gives me exhaustive idea of his genius, for the book is a kind of polemical tract written with the purpose of checking his influence. It is, nevertheless, from a psychological point of view, the finest work I have published.” (p. 325) Nietzsche wrote back that he would “tackle Kierkegaard’s psychological problems” (p. 327) and then Brandes asked if he could get a copy of everything Nietzsche had published. (p. 343) so he could spread his “propaganda.” (p. 348, 360-361) Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche 1st ed. edited, with a preface, by Oscar Levy ; authorized translation by Anthony M. Ludovici Published 1921 by Doubleday, Page & Co

Further reading
On Nietzsche's view on women, see Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, trans. Barbara Harlow (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1979).
 On Nietzsche and biology, see Barbara Stiegler, Nietzsche et la biologie, PUF, 2001, ISBN 2-13-050742-5.

External links
The Nietzsche Channel (include letters, section on Nietzsche's library, etc.)
Nietzsche Quotes Searchable database of Nietzsche quotations, with daily quotes
The Nietzsche Pyramid Nietzsche discussion for a on various levels of expertise.

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