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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

There are passages in Nietzsche that can be read as contributions to the free will/determinism debate. When read in that way, they reveal a fairly amateurish metaphysician with little of real substance or novelty to contribute; and if these readings were apt or perspicuous, it seems to me, they would show that Nietzsche's thoughts about freedom were barely worth pausing over. They would simply confirm the impression—amply bolstered from other quarters—that Nietzsche was not at his best when addressing the staple questions of philosophy. But these readings sell Nietzsche short. He had next to no systematic interest in metaphysics, and his concern with the question of freedom was not motivated by metaphysical considerations. Rather—and as with all of Nietzsche's concerns—his motivations were ethical. He was interested, not in the relation of the human will to the causal order of nature, but in the relation between freedom and the good life, between the will and exemplary human living. Read from this perspective, Nietzsche's remarks about freedom actually add up to something. And what they add up to is one aspect of his attempt to understand life after the model of art. Beauty, for Kant, was an image of the moral.1 For Nietzsche, by contrast—and the contrast can be hard to spell out—art was an image of the ethical.2 My hope here is to begin to explain why Nietzsche might have thought that the issue of freedom was relevant to that. In sections 1–3, I attempt to show why Nietzsche is not best read as a participant in the standard free will/determinism debate; in sections 4–6, I try to spell out the ethical conception of freedom that he develops instead.


1. Threats to Freedom

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

I have suggested that Nietzsche was not much of a metaphysician, and I think that that is true. But in order to make clear what I mean by this, and so what swings on the suggestion, it may be helpful to start with a quick sketch of the sort of debate that I do not believe that Nietzsche was primarily interested in.

In modern philosophical discussion, human freedom and responsibility are often thought to be threatened by what might be termed ‘physical determinism’. Freedom to act appears to involve, at a minimum, the ability to choose how to act. And a choice does not seem to be a genuine choice unless an agent has more than one alternative course of action open to him. So freedom to do something seems to require that, at the very least, the possibility of not doing it (as a result of choice) should also be open. But this minimum sense of freedom to act, and the notion of responsibility that goes with it, would seem to be threatened if it were true that the physical state of the universe is predetermined at every point in time, as certain views about the laws of physics, together with certain views about causation, suggest that it is. For on these views it would follow that the physical state of our bodies is also predetermined at every point. And if this is right, then, given that actions generally involve the body, it seems that in general an agent can never be free, for he never has a genuine choice open to him: at any given time, there is only one possibility concerning the state of his body. There are several standard responses to this apparent conflict between freedom and determinism. Incompatibilists think that the conflict is real, with some denying that we are really free and others denying that determinism is or could be true; while compatibilists, on the other hand, deny the reality of the conflict, either rejecting the view that freedom to act requires more than one option, or claiming that the kind of determinism at issue, when properly understood, does not exclude the possibility of alternative courses of action.

With this brief sketch in mind, let's turn to a well-known passage from Beyond Good and Evil, in which Nietzsche denounces the idea of a self-causing will: ‘the causa sui’, he says,

… is the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far, it is a sort of rape and perversion of logic; but the extravagant pride of man has managed to entangle itself profoundly and frightfully with just this nonsense. The desire for ‘freedom of the will’ in the superlative metaphysical sense …; the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one's actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance and society involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui and … to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness. Now, if someone can see through the cloddish simplicity of this famous concept ‘free will’ and eliminate it from his mind, I would then ask him to take his ‘enlightenment’ a step further and likewise eliminate from his head the opposite of the non-concept ‘free will’: I mean the ‘unfree will’. (BGE §21)

—a point that he makes again later, most notably in The Anti-Christ (AC §15). It is just about possible to see how these claims, taken together, might be construed as a statement of compatibilism.3 The claim in the first two sentences might be taken as a denial that the will is capable of traducing the causal order of nature; the claim in the final sentence as a denial that the will is consequently ‘unfree’. It may then seem natural to conclude that Nietzsche thought that the will was a part of the causal order of nature, and that it was ‘free’ in some strictly unsuperlative, unmetaphysical sense—perhaps, in fact, in a sense much like Hume's, where one's choices are construed as ‘free’ to the extent that they are caused by one's character.4

So Nietzsche can be seen as responding to the worry that human freedom is threatened by what I have called physical determinism. But this would surely be an odd way to read the passage. For not only does Nietzsche fail to root his argument in reflections about physics or causation,5 he quite explicitly roots it elsewhere—in talk of ‘God, the world, ancestors, chance and society’, terms that, with the possible exception of ‘the world’, have little to do with the debate within which a position such as compatibilism has its natural place. Nowhere, moreover, does Nietzsche even hint at what sort of compatibilism he might have in mind. Does he think that our freedom to act does not require that we have more than one option? Or does he deny that determinism, properly understood, excludes the possibility of alternative courses of action? He is perfectly silent on the matter. And this strongly suggests that his remarks here are not best understood as a contribution to the standard philosophical debate.

It is altogether more plausible to read him as addressing a different way in which freedom and responsibility might be thought to be threatened, a way that is, as it were, orthogonal to the worry about determinism. Here, freedom is thought to be seriously diminished, if not entirely eliminated, by (one or several of) such things as one's history, character and temperament, personal genetic make-up, economic position, the conventions of one's society, peer pressure, God's influence, and even by the very fact of being a human being, given the various physiological and psychological limitations that come with that. This is a worry to which 19th century novelists, for example, appear to have been particularly prone. Zola is of course is a rich source of illustrative material; 6 but here, just as characteristically, is a passage from Tolstoy:

Do not the very actions for which the historians applaud Alexander I—the attempts at liberalism at the beginning of his reign, his struggle with Napoleon …—proceed from those very sources—the circumstances of his birth, breeding and life that made his personality what it was—from which also flowed the actions for which they censure him, like the Holy Alliance … and the reaction of the 1820s? (Tolstoy 1982 Epilogue, Part 1, §1)

And he summarizes the point a little later on: ‘Free will’, he says, ‘is for history only an expression connoting what we do not know about the laws of human life’ (Tolstoy 1982: Epilogue, Part 2, §10).7

A view of this sort does not arise from the worry that a plausible minimum requirement for freedom might be inconsistent with a certain conception of the physical universe. It arises, rather, from a certain conception of what being free would ‘really’ amount to.8 In its most radical form, this conception involves the idea that one is not free at all unless one is free from every kind of constraint that one's circumstances might seem to impose; perhaps even from the constraint of being oneself. Here, a free choice is the choice of a free will, a will liberated, in effect, from everything. And this conception is nothing but the causa sui—the view that an act of free will is not caused or affected by anything other than itself. On this reading, therefore, Nietzsche rejects as unintelligible a particular conception of ‘freedom’—freedom in the ‘superlative metaphysical sense’—and rejects too the sense of ‘unfreedom’ which would mark the lack of this.9

Now of course one might choose to label a supporter of the causa sui a sort of ‘radical incompatibilist’, and Nietzsche a ‘compatibilist’ on account of his rejection of that view. But this would not turn Nietzsche's remarks into a contribution to the standard debate. It is true that some participants in that debate might be thought to espouse a version of the causa sui, in the sense that they do not believe that an act of will can be caused by anything other than an agent.10 But the ‘radical incompatibilist’ claims more than this: his claim is that no act of free will is caused or affected by anything other than itself. And it is this sort of ‘incompatibilist’ that Nietzsche has in his sights. It would therefore be misleading to label Nietzsche a ‘compatibilist’, for at least three reasons. First, as I have said, it would resituate the disagreement between Nietzsche and his opponent in the context of the free will/determinism debate, a debate in which—for the reasons I have given—it does not belong. Second, it would obscure the fact that Nietzsche clearly agrees with the ‘radical incompatibilist’ that freedom in the ‘superlative metaphysical sense’ is incompatible with the constraints imposed by ancestors, chance, society and the like. And third, it would wholly occlude Nietzsche's real reason for picking the quarrel in the first place—to which I turn in a moment.11

2. Varieties of Necessity

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

First, though, and in light of the foregoing, it would be sensible to say a little about the way in which notions such as ‘constraint’ and ‘necessity’ need to be understood if Nietzsche's position is to be appreciated. He does not, as I have remarked, confine his attention to—or even seem especially interested in—the sorts of constraint or necessity that are imposed by ordinary physical causation. Rather, he is interested in the role that factors such as ‘God, the world, ancestors, chance and society’ may play in our lives—in the ways, that is, in which our peculiarly human circumstances may shape what we do, or don't do. And constraints or necessities of this kind come in a wide variety of forms. At the most causal end of the scale we might consider facts such as that we are incapable of unaided flight, or that too many carrots will make us sick (physical constraints, incidentally, that are quite different from, and which may or may not presuppose, the kind of physical determinism that concerns the standard incompatibilist). Less causally, we might pass from constraints such as having to speak English if one wants to be understood in England, say, or the strong likelihood of not winning the lottery this week, through the influence upon us of the social discouragement of murder, theft and undressing in public, for instance, until we arrive eventually at constraints and necessities of a sort that are, as one might put it, purely normative. Examples at this end of the scale might include the constraints imposed by the norms of proper spelling, say, or by the laws of tennis concerning tie-breaks, or by the rules for voice-leading in counterpoint. Here, factors that might be glossed in terms of ‘ancestors’ and ‘society’ move centre-stage, and ordinary physical causation drops from view (which is not, of course, to deny that the operation of these normative constraints and necessities presupposes the regularities of nature that ordinary physical causation brings with it). Nietzsche himself does not trouble to make these distinctions explicit, but, as will become clear—and as one might anyway expect, given the general character of his concerns—it is the more normatively structured constraints and necessities that primarily engage his attention. And this emphasis, of course, serves further to underline the difference between Nietzsche's interest in the issue of freedom and that which motivates the standard debate about the compatibility or otherwise of freedom with ‘physical determinism’.

3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

So what is the point of Nietzsche's claims about freedom and unfreedom of the will? He tells us what it is at the end of the same section:

It is almost always a symptom of what is lacking in himself when a thinker sees in every ‘causal connection’ and ‘psychological necessity’ something of constraint, need, compulsion to obey, pressure, and unfreedom; it is suspicious to have such feelings—the person betrays himself. And in general, if I have observed correctly, the ‘unfreedom of the will’ is regarded as a problem from two entirely opposite standpoints, but always in a profoundly personal manner: some will not give up their ‘responsibility’, their belief in themselves, the personal right to their merits at any price (the vain races belong to this class). Others, on the contrary, do not wish to be answerable for anything, or blamed for anything, and owing to inward self-contempt, seek to lay the blame for themselves somewhere else. The latter, when they write books, are in the habit today of taking the side of criminals; a sort of socialist pity is their most attractive disguise. (BGE §21)

Nietzsche's point, then, is not very surprisingly an elaboration of the notorious claim he had made fifteen sections earlier, namely, that:

… every great philosophy so far has been … the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown. (BGE §6)

In the context of the causa sui argument, therefore, his point is simply that those who insist that they are free in the ‘superlative metaphysical sense’ do so out of vanity; while those who insist that the will is radically unfree—i.e. who share the radical view about what freedom would amount to, but deny that they have it—do so out of ‘inward self-contempt’. It is true that Nietzsche thinks that both parties hold views that are incoherent.12 But this is more or less incidental. His central concern is with the way in which those views spring from, and also reinforce, certain formations of character. His concern, in other words, is ethical—it is about the connection between one's views about oneself as an agent (as radically free, or as radically unfree) and how one sees oneself as a self (with vanity, or with contempt). And—since Nietzsche was not a fan of either kind of self-relation—neither of the views that he canvasses strikes him as symptomatic of a well-lived life.

We can conclude, then, that where Nietzsche speaks positively of freedom and of freedom of the will—and he often does speak positively of them—he does so not in order to advance a metaphysical thesis, but in order to recommend a kind of self-relation that might support, and be supported by, an understanding of freedom that has nothing, in its primary motivations, to do with the free will/determinism debate at all.13

Before moving on from section 21 of Beyond Good and Evil, let me quote again a sentence that I have already quoted, but this time prefaced by the sentence that immediately precedes it:

The ‘unfree will’ is mythology; in real life it is only a matter of strong and weak wills. It is almost always a symptom of what is lacking in himself when a thinker sees in every ‘causal connection’ and ‘psychological necessity’ something of constraint, need, compulsion to obey, pressure, and unfreedom; it is suspicious to have such feelings—the person betrays himself.

Two things are worth highlighting here. The first is that, in insisting that the important issue is the strength or weakness of will of individual agents, Nietzsche is once again underlining the distance that separates his concerns from those that motivate the standard debate. Within that debate, after all, everyone is either equally free or equally unfree, and there is no place for consideration of the relative qualities of different individuals' wills. This point, I think, should allay any remaining temptation to read the causa sui passage as if it were concerned to mark out a position within the debate about free will and determinism.

The second thing to notice is that we have here the only hint in the entire passage of Nietzsche's positive conception of freedom, and of the self-relation that it expresses. What it tells us is that weak-willed characters experience every sort of ‘necessity’ in the wrong way: the vain weak ones experience it as ‘constraint’, as a threat to ‘their ‘responsibility”, to ‘their belief in themselves’; while the self-contemptuously weak ones experience it as an opportunity ‘to lay the blame for themselves somewhere else.’ Both, that is—whether chafing against it or welcoming it—experience necessity as, precisely, ‘unfreedom’; and this is what Nietzsche finds objectionable, and signals his objection to by labelling ‘weak’.

We can take it, then, that Nietzsche's ‘strong’-willed characters respond to necessity differently—neither as a threat to some fantasy of a metaphysically superlative sense of responsibility, nor as an excuse to abdicate responsibility altogether. Indeed, we can take it that, for the ‘strong’-willed characters whom Nietzsche admires, the sense of necessity must somehow be integral to taking responsibility for oneself, and must—also somehow—be integral to the proper experience of freedom. Section 21 of Beyond Good and Evil can get us no further than this. But the hints that it offers do tell us where to go for more, and, in following up on some of the most obvious of these, we will start to see how the issue of freedom is indeed central to Nietzsche's understanding of the relation between art and ethics.

4. Style and Necessity

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

A natural first port of call is section 290 The Gay Science, where the notion of ‘art’ is brought together with the notions of ‘constraint’ and strength of character. The passage goes as follows:

One thing is needful.—To ‘give style’ to one's character—a great and rare art! It is practised by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until … even weaknesses delight the eye … [W]hen the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small …. It will be the strong and domineering natures that enjoy their finest gaiety in such constraint and perfection under a law of their own … Conversely, it is the weak characters … that hate the constraint of style: they feel that if this bitterly evil compulsion were to be imposed on them, they would be demeaned—they become slaves as soon as they serve; they hate to serve.

Constraint, in this passage, is equated to the discipline of ‘style’, to the exercise of a ‘single taste’; and the effect of that discipline is the imposition of form, where the imposition of form—any form—is regularly treated by Nietzsche as synonymous with artistry as such.14 So the artist of character is one who imposes form upon himself, and gains the ‘most exquisite pleasure’ from doing so.

His is a strong character, we are told; and the connection to the ‘strength’ alluded to in the causa sui argument is evident. Unlike ‘the weak characters’ whom Nietzsche mentions, self-stylists do not regard the necessity that they impose on themselves as a threat to ‘their belief in themselves’—as a sentence of slavery—and still less, for obvious reasons, do they regard it as any sort of excuse to abdicate responsibility for themselves. Rather, they experience it as the condition of being ‘perfected under their own law’—of which more in a moment.15 So these characters welcome the constraint of style. We should also note that that constraint is structured dialectically.16 On the one hand, there is the form that is imposed; on the other hand, there is the resistance of the relevant material—that is, the elements of the self-stylist's character—to having any given form imposed upon it.17 That the latter is also a constraint that Nietzsche recognises is clear: ‘Here’, he says, ‘the ugly that could not be removed is concealed; there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views’ (GS §290). So the ‘exquisite pleasure’ that the self-stylist takes in constraint derives from the interplay between the constraint of the form that is imposed and the constraint, or resistance, of the material that is to be formed.18 The significance of this second sort of constraint is noted by Nietzsche, in several registers, elsewhere.19 As a prelude to self-stylisation, it features in Daybreak, first as an injunction to ‘reflect on one's circumstances and spare no effort in observing them’, since ‘our circumstances do not only conceal and reveal’ our power ‘to us—no! they magnify and diminish it’ (D §326); and then in the observation that ‘One can dispose of one's drives like a gardener and … cultivate the shoots of anger, pity, curiosity, vanity as productively and profitably as a beautiful fruit tree on a trellis … All this we are at liberty to do: but how many know we are at liberty to do it?’ (D §560). More famously, and from the midst of the stylising process itself, the place of the second constraint is evoked wonderfully in Nietzsche's finest remark about the love of fate: ‘I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things’, he says; ‘then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth!’ (GS §276). The self-stylist thus imposes a necessity upon himself, his style, in the very process of accommodating, of understanding and even affirming, ‘what is necessary in things’, himself included.20 And this, says Nietzsche, is an ‘art’—a source of ‘exquisite pleasure’ for those who are ‘strong’ enough to engage in it.

5. Artistic Agency

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

Art, ‘strength’ and necessity, or constraint, are thus brought together here, and in some potentially fruitful ways. But we seem to have lost sight of freedom. And to get it back into view, we need to return to Beyond Good and Evil; for there, in a very significant passage, things begin to crystallise. The passage in question—section 188—must be quoted at some length. It goes like this:

… one should recall the compulsion under which every language so far has achieved strength and freedom—the metrical compulsion of rhyme and rhythm. How much trouble the poets and orators of all peoples have taken …—‘submitting abjectly to capricious laws’, as anarchists say, feeling ‘free’, even ‘free-spirited’. But the curious fact is that all there is or has been on earth of freedom, subtlety, boldness, dance, and masterly sureness, whether in thought itself …, or in rhetoric and persuasion, in the arts just as in ethics, has developed only owing to the ‘tyranny of such capricious laws’; and in all seriousness, the probability is by no means small that this is ‘nature’ and ‘natural’—and not that laisser aller. Every artist knows how far from any feeling of letting himself go his most ‘natural’ state is—the free ordering, placing, disposing, giving form in the moment of ‘inspiration’—and how strictly and subtly he obeys thousandfold laws precisely then, laws that precisely on account of their hardness and determination defy all formulation through concepts … [G]iven that, something always develops, and has developed, for whose sake it is worth while to live on earth; for example, virtue, art, music, dance, reason, spirituality.

Nietzsche's point here can be summarised, crudely, in three related claims. The first is that fully effective agency—or ‘masterly sureness’, as he puts it—has, as one of its necessary conditions, the ‘tyranny of … capricious laws’. The second is that the artist—whose most characteristic laws ‘defy all formulation through concepts’—is exemplary of such agency. The third claim is that the exercise of fully effective agency, so conceived, equals ‘freedom’—that is, freedom in the ethical sense with which Nietzsche is concerned. I will try to say something about each of these claims in turn.

5.1

The first claim connects agency to the notion of ‘law’, or, as Nietzsche also terms it, ‘compulsion’. ‘Law’ or ‘compulsion’, here, can be regarded as equivalent for our purposes, as indeed for Nietzsche's, to the kinds of (normative) ‘constraint’ and ‘necessity’ that we have primarily been discussing so far. And submission to such laws or constraints is taken to be a (necessary) condition of ‘masterly sureness’.21 This is a highly significant move, which for the first time marks clearly the distinctive relation of Nietzsche's ‘strong’ characters to the forms of necessity that interest him. Rather than regarding such constraints or necessities as limits on their powers—as those ‘weak’ characters do, who ‘feel that if [these] bitterly evil compulsion[s] were to be imposed on them, they would be demeaned’—the ‘strong’ recognise such constraints as essential to the effective exercise of those powers. And it is reasonably easy to see that Nietzsche must be right about this. My quotation from section 188 picked it up at the point at which Nietzsche mentions language, and speaks of ‘the metrical compulsion of rhyme and rhythm’. But we needn't appeal to poetry to see what he means. A person who insisted, for example, that ‘submitting abjectly’ to the ‘capricious’ rules of grammar and punctuation inhibited or limited his powers of linguistic expression would show that he had no idea what linguistic expression was.22 Like Nietzsche's ‘weak’ characters, he would fail to recognise that it is only by working with and through those rules—by taking the ‘trouble’, as Nietzsche puts it—that effective linguistic expression is so much as possible. And as for linguistic agency, so for agency in general. Nietzsche's highly plausible thought, in other words, is that fully effective agency requires the acknowledgement, and indeed the internalisation, of the norms or necessities constitutive of the practices through which that agency is exercised; and on this picture, clearly enough, ‘constraint’, ‘law’ or ‘compulsion’ feature, not as limits on our powers of acting, but as their sine qua non.

Now it might be objected here that this is such a weak claim as to be barely worth making: of course one must play by the rules if one is to play the game at all. But this isn't a well-directed objection. Nietzsche's claim at this point is weak, deliberately so. He merely intends to steer off the ‘laisser aller’ conception of freedom—the thought that any and every constraint necessarily curtails one's power to act.23 Nor, by the way, is he concerned to distinguish here between admirable and despicable forms of agency. It may well be that some of the norms and constraints constitutive of our practices are unwelcome, or even offensive—as, for example, I might conclude when I find that I have to work with and through the rules of an appeals process that I think defective against a decision that I consider unjust. But the offensiveness of these norms does not preclude the possibility of ‘masterly sureness’ in the navigation of them, as the existence of certain kinds of lawyer attests. The shyster's powers are made possible, rather than limited, by the norms constitutive of our legal practices, however much we might deplore some of those norms and his sort of mastery. And Nietzsche's point at this stage requires no more than this. He is claiming only that the acknowledgement of ‘capricious laws’ is a necessary condition of engaging effectively in any human practice whatsoever, a point that the ‘laisser aller’ conception of freedom wholly obscures.

5.2

The second claim was that artists are exemplary of fully effective agency, so conceived, and that they are so, at least in part, because their ‘thousandfold laws … defy all formulation through concepts’. Nietzsche is clearly drawing, here, on the Kantian claim that genius gives the rule to art—or, more strictly, the claim that nature gives the rule to art, and does so via genius. Nietzsche modifies Kant's thought in one respect: for Nietzsche, the ultimate source of the rule that is given to art is not ‘nature’, in Kant's sense, but rather what we might term ‘second nature’, the ‘nature’ that is constituted by our practices and the ‘tyranny’ of the ‘capricious laws’ that constitute them.24 Otherwise, though, his claim about the ‘thousandfold laws’ of art is substantially the same as Kant's—namely, that since exemplary artistic activity is neither arbitrary nor chaotic, but rather appears law-like (to be a matter of ‘giving form’), and yet since the procedures for such activity cannot be codified, the ‘rule’ that is given to art cannot, in Kant's words, have ‘a concept for its determining ground’ (Kant 1952: §46): it cannot be taught, but must instead ‘be gathered from the performance, i.e. from the product, which others may use to put their own talent to the test, so as to let it serve as a model, not for imitation, but for following’ (Kant 1952: §47).

Why, then, does Nietzsche regard the exercise of a form of agency whose enabling necessities are not merely ‘capricious’ and numerous, but also unformulable, as exemplary of agency as such? There are a number of ways in which one might answer this question, but the most economical—for present purposes—is the following. The laws that are in operation here are, because unformulable, also inconceivable except as internal to what Kant calls the ‘performance’, that is, to the exemplary exercise of artistic agency itself; therefore those laws cannot be held up as a standard external to the exercise of that agency, and so cannot be chafed against, from the perspective of that agency, as any kind of limitation upon it. Artistic agency is exemplary for Nietzsche, then, because it is a form of agency that simply cannot be engaged in effectively by those ‘weak’ characters who construe every kind of necessity as a ‘demeaning’ constraint, as a threat to ‘their belief in themselves.’25 To exercise artistic agency at all, in other words, just is to acknowledge that necessity is a condition of (pointful, artistic) action. So, since necessity is integral to every type of agency, this kind of agency is exemplary of agency as such—or so Nietzsche concludes.

Again, though, an objection suggests itself, this time in the form of a dilemma. Either these ‘laws’ are indeed laws, it might be said, in which case they must be formulable and capable of being held up as an external standard; or else they really are unformulable, in which case they aren't laws at all, and can be said to be ‘internal’ only in the uninteresting sense that they refer to the whims or preferences of some individual agent.

But this is a false dilemma. As Aristotle argued, the fact of unformulability does not, by itself, indicate the absence of norms that transcend the idiosyncrasies of individual agents: the good man ‘perceives’ what a situation requires of him, even though there is no statable rule that allows him to do this.26 Now of course we might choose to withhold the name ‘law’ from what the good man is obedient to in seeing what is demanded of him. But this would be a merely terminological decision. It would not affect the fact that the good man's perception is independent of—and has a normative force that is independent of—his whims or preferences, despite the fact that there is no formulable procedure for perceiving what he perceives. And this, translated into an artistic register, is Nietzsche's point. When Beethoven saw, for example, how the coda to the finale of his C-minor symphony had to go, he was answerable to the demands of his material: he could have got it right, he could have got it wrong. But prior to his compositional act no one, himself included, could have stated a rule for arriving at what he arrived at. Rather, he ‘strictly’ and ‘subtly’ obeyed laws that emerged only in the course of his ‘performance’—that were, as I have put it, internal to the exercise of his agency.27 Now of course these laws might, in one sense, be stated ex post facto—which is to say, Beethoven's compositional acts can be made retrospectively intelligible in terms of musical logic (rather than in terms, merely, of his whims or preferences). But—so stated—such laws would provide material only for ‘imitation’, as Kant had it, not for ‘following’. When Beethoven followed them, those laws were unformulable.28

5.3

The third claim was that fully effective agency, conceived on the artistic model set out above, equals ‘freedom’. At one level this claim is now trivial, given what has been said: it is obviously true that to be ‘free’ is to be able to ‘act’. But the point goes deeper than this. Recall that the laws or necessities through which artistic agency is exercised are, as I have said, internal to the exercise of that agency, and so cannot be adduced as independently specifiable standards against which any given instance of that exercise can be assessed. We can now put the same point in a different way. We can say: in the exemplary exercise of agency, success is marked by the fact that the agent's will—his intention—becomes ‘determinate’in its realisation, and only there. This point, which is essentially Kant's,29 directs us to a picture of willing that culminates and crystallises only in the moment at which one can say ‘Yes!—that's what I was after’. One knows what one's intention is, determinately, only in realising it. And it is this kind of exercise of the will, which is also a process of self-discovery, which Nietzsche equates with freedom.30

Consider Beethoven and his coda again. Presumably he could have said before starting to compose it that he meant the coda to be as emphatic as possible and that he wanted to ram home the tonic as unignorably as he could. In this sense, he had a perfectly clearly formed intention before he began—and one which he indeed went on to realize in ‘the performance’. But his sketch-books show in a very vivid way how difficult he found it to arrive at such performances—how much labour and revision went into finally getting it right, into making the rather abstract intention with which he may be supposed to have begun into something concrete and determinate. As Stuart Hampshire helpfully puts it:

I may very easily make a mistake in the description or identification of my activity … without being confused in my practical intentions … [That this is so] would be shown when I recognised something as happening contrary to my intentions, or recognised it as happening in accordance with them. I might say truthfully ‘This is not what I intended,’ even though I point to something that accords precisely with my own declaration of my intentions … But it does not follow from this that I did not know what I was doing, in one familiar sense of this treacherous phrase. (Hampshire 1959: 95–96)

Beethoven knew what he was doing, all right. He was trying to compose an emphatic, tonic-heavy coda to his symphony. But he couldn't know what precisely would count as that—what would conclude this symphony in a satisfyingly emphatic, tonic-heavy way—until he found, or came up with, the coda that we all know, and recognized it as what he was after. He therefore discovered the determinate character of his intention only in (finally) realizing it. And in doing so he exercised—by Nietzsche's lights—free agency at its exemplary best.

Again one might ask, why? The obvious answer, which isn't wrong, is that to do as one intends is to be free. But I think that we can also say a little more than that. For a certain sort of metaphysician, the central question about freedom of the will is ‘Could I have done otherwise?’ For Nietzsche, by contrast, the central question is ‘Would I have done otherwise?’—or: ‘Would I will it otherwise?’ I am free, on this conception, if my answer is ‘No’. My exemplary exercise of agency results, ex hypothesi, in an action in which my intention is crystallised precisely in its realisation. Therefore—since my action simply is, exclusively and without remainder, the expression of my intention—there is no room, at this level, for my willing that the action were otherwise. The action is not only the action that I intend, but, in performing it, I discover exactly what my intention is.31 To call this ‘freedom’ seems to me to be entirely natural. My action is ‘mine’, as it were, all the way down; and, in acting thus, I find myself—realise and recognise myself—precisely in so acting.32 Nor, to reiterate, is this any sort of metaphysical view: freedom, as Nietzsche construes it, is consistent with any minimally plausible account of the relation between the causal order of nature and the human will.33 Rather, and again to reiterate, it is an ethical view, a normative conception of human agency at its best. And it is this conception of agency that Nietzsche repeatedly glosses, for reasons that should now be apparent, in terms of ‘becoming what one is’.34

Two final worries must be addressed, however. Perhaps the more serious of them, which concerns the scope of Nietzsche's account—that is, the applicability of his account to agency in general—I defer to the following section. The other worry is essentially a request for clarification. It is this: doesn't Nietzsche's conception of freedom-through-constraint—as one might put it—set up those constraints as so fundamentally independent of the agent (of his identity, preferences, etc.) that they really do function as limits on his action, even if they are, as a matter of fact, unformulable in advance? And, if so, mightn't this more plausibly be regarded as a model of unfreedom—of action curtailed rather than action enabled?

The answer to both questions is ‘No’. And both questions stem from the causa sui fantasy with which we began. Their grounding assumption is that freedom of willing and acting is possible only in a vacuum, only if what an agent chooses and does is explicable—exhaustively explicable—with reference to the agent's will alone. And this assumption, or so Nietzsche has given us reason to conclude, is absurd. Human agency requires a human world for its possibility.35 It requires Nietzsche's ‘tyranny of … capricious laws’. And this point is quite general. If anything can be described as free, after all, an intentional action can be; and one acts intentionally when one acts for a reason. One can only act for a reason, however, if one has the capacity to give and respond to reasons; and that capacity depends upon one's participation in a set of social practices whose norms are, in the relevant sense, wholly independent of one's own whims and preferences.36 The very possibility of intentional action, that is, requires a context made up precisely of factors such as the ‘ancestors’ and ‘society’ to which Nietzsche refers. So freedom presupposes an explanatory context to which the agent's will is essentially incidental, and to the norms constitutive of which the agent is answerable. Freedom is therefore acquired through, rather than eroded by, laws that are not of one's own making (even if they are laws that one can come to recognize and acknowledge as one's own).

This is, as I say, a general point, and it applies to formulable and unformulable laws alike. Many such norms can of course be formulated very easily. I have the freedom to castle my king, say, only in virtue of my acknowledgement of some readily statable rules of chess. These rules are conditions of, rather than limits upon, my freedom to do as I intend. But rules that are formulable in this way bring with them the danger of self-misunderstanding. For example, I might idly lament the fact that it is impossible to move my rook diagonally, or that my rook and my queen cannot both occupy the same square at the same time, and mistake this for an irritating restriction on my freedom. But what I would really be minding is the fact that I am playing chess, not that my freedom (to make chess moves) is curtailed. And this is why Nietzsche regards artistic agency as exemplary. For where (many of) the relevant norms are unformulable, this sort of self-misunderstanding is ruled out. I can't chafe in advance against the fact that this or that artistic act is impossible, since I could only know that it was impossible if the rule that it breached could be formulated. The most that I can do, therefore, is to lament the fact that there should be any constraints on my activity at all; and that, in a peculiarly direct way, would be simply to renounce my (real) freedom in favour of the fantasy of freedom in ‘the superlative metaphysical sense’. It is true, then, that the freedom-through-constraint account sets up those constraints as fundamentally independent of the agent. But it does not follow from this that they function as limits upon the agent's freedom to act. Rather, to say it once again, they function as conditions of that freedom.

6. The Limits of Artistry

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

If what I have argued so far is plausible, section 188 of Beyond Good and Evil encapsulates particularly crisply some of the main strands of Nietzsche's positive thoughts about freedom of the will. It also casts light retrospectively on the other two passages that I have devoted most space to (i.e. BGE §21 and GS §290).

The causa sui argument (BGE §21) now emerges as a sketch of two ways in which one can fail to relate to oneself properly as an agent. The devotee of the ‘superlative, metaphysical sense’ of freedom of the will vainly holds himself aloof from the constitutive necessities of human practices, and in doing so forfeits the capacity not only to realise, but so much as to arrive at, anything worth calling an intention with respect to them (as opposed to a wish, say). Bound up in his fantasy of himself as a law above all laws, he can neither legislate effectively nor act. The self-contemptuous character, on the other hand, who seeks to ‘lay the blame for’ himself ‘somewhere else’, recognises the necessities constitutive of human practices as necessities, but takes this, not as an invitation to work with and through them so as to discover himself in expressing himself, but as an excuse to abscond from the field of agency altogether. For the stylist of character, by contrast, whose one needful thing is to realise himself as an exemplary product of his own artistry (GS §290), the compulsions shirked by the weak are to be embraced. In learning to make a beauty out of necessity, as it were, he ‘perfects himself under his own law’, and discovers the determinate character of that law—and hence his freedom—precisely in the process of perfecting himself.37

Clearly much more might be said about all of this, and there are many interesting implications to be drawn out. But I can't draw them out here. Instead, and by way of conclusion, I propose to return for a moment to the centrality of art to Nietzsche's thoughts about freedom. The activity of art-making, recall, does not serve Nietzsche merely as an example of agency at its best, or at its most free. Rather, he takes that activity as exemplary of such agency. And—to press the point harder—the exercise of artistry may even be the only fully convincing exemplar available to him. Except, perhaps, for chess, and certain other games,38 it is only in art that we find obvious instances of the kind of mastery that Nietzsche is concerned with—not least because artistic activity offers a possibility of closure not readily available elsewhere. And art far exceeds chess, or any other game, in the range and depth of mastery that is capable of being expressed through it.39 In this much, then, since art has the field pretty well to itself in the relevant respect, Nietzsche's constant invocations of it may seem more or less self-justifying. But this—while it may well explain Nietzsche's tactics—might perhaps also make one wonder a bit about the applicability of those tactics to agency in general. One of the main reasons, after all, why we have and need art, according to one very plausible cliché, is that life is simply too disorderly and contingent to be borne neat.40 Art joins the disparate pieces up, and makes them mean something—it completes them. And to think that closure of this sort might reliably be achieved through the flow of life itself is surely to posit as exemplary an ideal that may be entirely unrealisable—precisely the kind of move, in other contexts, that Nietzsche roundly and rightly denounces.41

This is the worry about the scope of Nietzsche's account that I mentioned in the previous section; and I think that it is right to take it seriously. But I also think that Nietzsche can go a good way towards meeting it. When he commends (the exemplary) Stendhal for regarding art—beauty—as ‘a promise of happiness’ (GM Essay III §6), he is in the midst of criticising points of view from which that possibility is altogether invisible. And his response, in the context of the present worry, should have something of the same structure. He has shown, after all, that certain prevailing perspectives—for instance, those canvassed in the causa sui argument—are incapable of making sense of agency in general, in virtue of their failure to recognise that every kind of agency requires the acknowledgement and internalisation of the norms or necessities constitutive of the practices through which that agency is exercised. From these perspectives, that is, the very possibility of mastery is rendered invisible. Nietzsche also has good grounds to suppose that the same failure must undermine even more decisively the capacity of such perspectives to support convincing accounts of artistic agency, specifically, since the relevant norms or necessities are not only integral to the practices concerned, and so to be acknowledged and internalised, but are unformulable as well. He has good grounds, that is, to conclude that from these perspectives the possibility of artistic mastery must be the most invisible of all. And, from here, it is a short step to a relatively modest conclusion, which is this: if there are forms of mastery in other types of agency, and if these forms of mastery depend for their possibility upon the acknowledgement of unformulable necessities constitutive of the practices through which those types of agency are exercised, then to that extent artistic agency is exemplary of agency as such.42 Nietzsche's conclusion, then, as I read him, is that it is reasonable, within these limits, to regard the freedom exemplified in the exercise of artistic mastery as at least a regulative ideal for the exercise of agency in general.43 And it is in this sense, I suggest—to which his thoughts about freedom are central—that Nietzsche regards art as an image of the ethical.44

NOTES
  1. 1Kant 1952: §59. For an excellent discussion of this thought, see Henrich 1994.

  2. 2I follow a number of recent writers here in distinguishing the ‘moral’ from the ‘ethical’, and in construing the former as a special—or allegedly special—case of the latter. For discussion, see, e.g., Clark 1994: 15–34; Williams 1985: ch.10; Raz 1999: 273–302.

  3. 3—or even, perhaps, as a statement of some other position within the relevant debate. Brian Leiter, for instance, takes the passage to be part of Nietzsche's defence of a view that he (Leiter 2002: ch. 3) calls ‘causal essentialism’, although the distinction between that position and out-and-out determinism (and indeed incompatibilism) collapses in the course of his own argument. (For discussion, see Owen and Ridley 2003: 74.) For recent treatments of Nietzsche on freedom that are more consonant with the line that I go on to develop here, see, e.g., Gemes 2006 and Janaway 2006.

  4. 4Hume 1977: §8.

  5. 5Nietzsche does in fact mention causation a little later, but not in a way that should offer much encouragement to those who would see him as a compatibilist. He was committed at this point to a version of Lange's neo-Kantian scepticism about causation, as he makes clear a couple of sentences further down: the concepts of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’, he says, are ‘conventional fictions for the purpose of designation and communication—not for explanation. In the “in-itself” there is nothing of “causal connections’” (BGE §21). So he didn't think that there was a causal order of nature—and so, a fortiori, cannot have worried whether there might be a conflict between it and human freedom, and so cannot, in this sense at any rate, have been a compatibilist. (At most, he might be said to be a libertarian.) Nietzsche later changed his mind about causation, and accepted that it was real (partly through coming to reject the thought that there was any ‘in-itself’ of things [see Clark 1990: 103–106 and 109–117 for discussion]). But once he'd done that, he continued to insist, in exactly the same terms, that both the ‘free’ will and the ‘unfree’ will were ‘monstrous conceptions’, or—as he has it in The Anti-Christ—‘imaginary causes … purely fictitious’ (AC §15). Following this line of thought, we might then conclude that Nietzsche's remarks in Beyond Good and Evil about freedom of the will are neither a statement of compatibilism, since compatibilism is inconsistent with scepticism about causation, nor a specific consequence of his temporary allegiance to Lange, since he remained committed to the remarks in question even once he had become a causal realist. But, as I argue in the main text, even this line of thought must be, at best, incidental to Nietzsche's principal concern.

  6. 6See, for example, his preface to the second edition of Thérèse Raquin.

  7. 7Tolstoy makes it clear in the same section that his conception of ‘complete freedom in man’, as he puts it, is a version of the causa sui: ‘To conceive of a man being absolutely free we must imagine him outside space, … a being uninfluenced by the external world, standing outside of time and independent of causes’.

  8. 8—a conception now perhaps most closely associated with Jean-Paul Sartre. See Sartre 1969: Part 4, chapter 1.

  9. 9One might characterize Nietzsche's target here as the style of thinking that would connect an exaggerated notion of responsibility to an exaggerated notion of the voluntary. For a contemporary version of Nietzsche's complaint, see Williams 1993: ch.3. For an excellent discussion of the affinities between Nietzsche and Williams, see Clark 2001: 100–122.

  10. 10This is the idea known as ‘agent causation’, which—crucially—does not include the thought that the agent's will is hermetically sealed from the rest of the world.

  11. 11None of this is to say, of course, that Nietzsche mightn't in fact have been a compatibilist. It is only to say that, if he was, passages such as the one that I have been considering cannot be taken as evidence of that.

  12. 12Of course, in one sense there needn't be two parties here. Someone might vainly hold himself to be radically free while reserving ‘a sort of socialist pity’ for others whom he regards as lacking that freedom; and, in this case, his ‘pity’ will be a form of contempt.

  13. 13It is worth noting the strong affinity between the structure of Nietzsche's interest in the issue of freedom and the structure of Hegel's, and, specifically, the way in which both regard questions concerning a possible conflict between free will and the causal order of nature as a red herring in this context. For an excellent discussion of Hegel on these matters, see Pippin 1997.

  14. 14See, e.g., GM Essay II §§17 and 18. For discussion see Ridley 1998: ch.4. For broader discussions that make or presuppose the same point, see, e.g., Young 1992 and Pothen 2002.

  15. 15See also GS §335, where the task of imposing a law upon oneself is tied, importantly, to ‘the intellectual conscience’, to ‘self-knowledge’ and to ‘honesty’.

  16. 16Or, in more overtly Nietzschean terms, ‘agonistically’. See his early essay, HC.

  17. 17Nietzsche is often concerned with this kind of reciprocal relation. For a particularly clear example, and one that has an evident bearing in the present context, see GM Essay II §12.

  18. 18Jenkins 1998: 213 makes a similar point.

  19. 19And is overlooked, on the whole, by, e.g., Nehamas 1985: ch. 6. For a corresponding overstatement of the force of this constraint, see Leiter 2002: ch. 3.

  20. 20For a more extended discussion of GS §290, which seeks to make explicit the connections between self-stylisation and the ‘intellectual conscience’, see Ridley 1998: 135–142.

  21. 21See D §537 for a gloss on ‘mastery’.

  22. 22For a contrasting account of Nietzsche's views about language, see Jenkins 1998: 231–235. Jenkins gives primacy to a pair of very thorny passages, BGE §268 and GS §354, which are badly at odds with the (genuine) insight expressed in BGE §188.

  23. 23In Twilight of the Idols he describes this as the ‘modern concept of “freedom”’: TI Raids §41.

  24. 24This point—which is forcefully brought out by Schacht 2001: §4—brings Nietzsche's understanding of the connection between normativity and human practices rather closely into line with that defended by John McDowell: see, e.g. 1998a and 1998b. For Nietzsche's conception of ‘second nature’, see D §38.

  25. 25Kant would agree with Nietzsche about this, at least in so far as artistic agency is concerned. He remarks: ‘Now, seeing that originality of talent is one … essential factor that goes to make up the character of genius, shallow minds fancy that the best evidence they can give of being full-blown geniuses is by emancipating themselves from all academic constraint of rules, in the belief that one cuts a finer figure on the back of an ill-tempered than of a trained horse’—op.cit., §47.

  26. 26Aristotle: II.9.

  27. 27I say ‘emerged’ here in order to leave open the question whether these laws, and the coda that obedience to them made possible, are better thought of as creations or as discoveries. And there are at least two reasons why this question should be left open. First, and very locally, nothing that I want to say here depends upon the answer: either will do. But—second—it is quite uncertain whether we understand the terms ‘creation’ and ‘discovery’ perspicuously enough for the question to have a clear sense. Did Rui Lopez, for example, create or discover the chess opening named after him? Did he come up with it or come across it? I simply don't know how one would go about answering this.

  28. 28And what Sibelius ‘gathered from [Beethoven's] performance’, in composing the coda to his own fifth symphony, wasn't formulable either. Sibelius followed; he didn't imitate.

  29. 29—and which has been widely taken up: by Hegel, of course, in The Philosophy of Right (for a superb discussion of this aspect of Hegel's thought, see Pippin 2000) and following Hegel by, e.g., Taylor 1985 and by Collingwood 1938: ch.6 in his account of art as expression. For the same point in a slightly different context, see, e.g., Hampshire 1959: ch. 2.

  30. 30For an excellent, and closely related, argument to similar effect, see Owen 2003: 259–261.

  31. 31Of course, I may not like what I find when I make this discovery, and may, in that sense, prefer that my action were otherwise. But, if so, this merely shows that, while my agency in this instance may have been fully effective, there is nevertheless something about the sort of person I am that I do not care for, and would like—and may, as a self-stylist, come to intend—to change.

  32. 32Again, this is a strikingly Hegelian thought. As Pippin puts it: Hegel's conception of agency is ‘expressive’, and his ‘most frequent example … is an artist and his art work. In some sense of course, the artist causes the statue to be made, but what makes it “his” is that it expresses him and his artistic intentions adequately’ (Pippin 2000: 158).

  33. 33This might be disputed. It might be said, for example, that, for Nietzsche's account to be convincing, certain metaphysical presuppositions need to be in place, and that these should be made explicit (e.g., as it might be, that we inhabit a compatibilistic world, or an indeterministic one). But this would be to reverse the order of the argument. My claim is that, if Nietzsche's account of freedom is convincing (as I believe it is), that account furnishes a constraint on what can and cannot be regarded as a minimally plausible story about the relation between the causal order of nature and the human will. It is not, therefore, incumbent upon Nietzsche to tell such a story in order to make the points that he wants to make about freedom; and nor, if what I have argued earlier is correct, does he attempt to do so. The position that I attribute to him is therefore similar, in certain crucial respects, to that famously advanced in Strawson 1974.

  34. 34See Ridley 2005 for further discussion of this point.

  35. 35It also, of course, requires a natural world—a world structured by causal regularities and so forth. But, for the reasons given in the earlier sections of this essay, Nietzsche's attention is focused on the peculiarly human world of norms and practices.

  36. 36For a compelling defence of these claims, see Kenny 1989: ch. 3.

  37. 37Nietzsche first began to develop his conception of the process of self-perfection in the third of the Untimely Meditations, and the idea that I am attributing to him here is continuous, at least, with the one expressed there. For an excellent discussion, see Conant 2001.

  38. 38For the special sense of freedom that the (competent) participation in games allows, see Cavell 1979: 307–309.

  39. 39Examples are legion; illuminating commentary upon them rather rarer. Two noteworthy and accessible instances of the latter, both concerning the art that Nietzsche cared most about, are Charles Rosen's discussion of the B/B-flat conflict in Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata (Rosen 1971: 413–420) and Stephen Davies's discussion of the role of the unexpected C-sharp in the opening theme of the same composer's Eroica symphony (Davies 2002: 353–354).

  40. 40As Nietzsche himself insists: see, e.g., GS §§107 and 109.

  41. 41—not least in the causa sui argument.

  42. 42And it is very plausible to think that these antecedent conditions are often met. Consider, for example, Aristotle's discussion of the virtues: the virtuous man undoubtedly exhibits mastery, and his sort of mastery depends precisely upon the acknowledgement of norms that cannot be formulated. Again, see Aristotle 1980: II.9.

  43. 43A strong case could be made for regarding Max Weber's ‘Vocation’ lectures as attempts to spell out what ‘mastery’, in this sense, amounts to in non-artistic contexts: see Weber 2004.

  44. 44A version of this paper was first read at the 2003 conference of the Friedrich Nietzsche Society, held at Warwick, and I am grateful to the participants in that event for their questions and suggestions—as, too, to Ken Gemes and Chris Janaway, both of whom commented very helpfully. My particular thanks, though, must go to Maria Alvarez and David Owen. It was through discussion with the latter that many of the ideas advanced here were had in the first place, and through discussion with the former that the exposition of those ideas acquired whatever clarity it now has.

REFERENCES

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works

Works by Nietzsche

  • AC—The Anti-Christ, trans. R. J. Hollingdale. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968.
  • BGE—Beyond Good and Evil, trans. W. Kaufmann. New York: Vintage, 1966.
  • D—Daybreak, trans. R. J. Hollingdale, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • GM—On the Genealogy of Morals, trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale, New York: Vintage, 1969.
  • GS—The Gay Science, trans. W. Kaufmann, New York: Vintage, 1974.
  • HC—‘Homer on Competition’, in K. Ansell-Pearson (ed.), On the Genealogy of Morality [and other writings]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994: 187–194.
  • TI—Twilight of the Idols, trans. R. J. Hollingdale. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968.

Other Works

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. Threats to Freedom
  4. 2. Varieties of Necessity
  5. 3. Strong Wills, Weak Wills
  6. 4. Style and Necessity
  7. 5. Artistic Agency
  8. 6. The Limits of Artistry
  9. REFERENCES
  10. Other Works
  • Aristotle (1980), Nicomachean Ethics, trans. D. Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Cavell, S. (1979), The Claim of Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Clark, M. (1990), Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Clark, M. (1994), ‘Nietzsche's Immoralism and the Concept of Morality’, in R.Schacht (ed.), Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1534.
  • Clark, M. (2001), ‘On the Rejection of Morality: Bernard Williams's Debt to Nietzsche’, in R.Schacht (ed.), Nietzsche's Postmoralism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 10022.
  • Collingwood, R. G. (1938), The Principles of Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Conant, J. (2001), ‘Nietzsche's Perfectionism: A Reading of “Schopenhauer as Educator”’, in R.Schacht (ed.), Nietzsche's Postmoralism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 181257.
  • Davies, S. (2002), ‘Profundity in Instrumental Music’, British Journal of Aesthetics, 42: 343356.
  • Gemes, K. (2006), ‘Nietzsche on Free Will, Autonomy and the Sovereign Individual’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. LXXX: 321338.
  • Hampshire, S. (1959), Thought and Action. London: Chatto and Windus.
  • Henrich, D. (1994), Aesthetic Judgement and the Moral Image of the World. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Hume, D. (1977), An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Indianapolis: Hackett.
  • Janaway, C. (2006), ‘Nietzsche on Free Will, Autonomy and the Sovereign Individual’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. LXXX: 339357.
    Direct Link:
  • Jenkins, F. (1998), ‘Performative Identity: Nietzsche on the Force of Art and Language’, in S.Kemal, I.Gaskell and D.Conway (eds), Nietzsche, Philosophy and the Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 212238.
  • Kant, I. (1952), The Critique of Judgement, trans. J. Meredith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kenny, A. (1989), The Metaphysics of Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Leiter, B. (2002), Nietzsche on Morality. London: Routledge.
  • McDowell, J. (1998a), ‘Virtue and Reason’ in his Mind, Value and, Reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 5073.
  • McDowell, J. (1998b), ‘Aesthetic Value, Objectivity, and the Fabric of the World’, in his Mind, Value and, Reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 112130.
  • Nehamas, A. (1985), Nietzsche: Life as Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Owen, D. (2003), ‘Nietzsche, Re-evaluation and the Turn to Genealogy’, European Journal of Philosophy, 11: 24972.
  • Owen, D. and Ridley, A. (2003), ‘On Fate’, International Studies in Philosophy, 35: 6378.
  • Pippin, R. (1997), ‘Hegel, Freedom, the Will: The Philosophy of Right, §1–33’, in L.Siep (ed.), Hegel: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
  • Pippin, R. (2000), ‘What is the Question for which Hegel's Theory of Recognition is the Answer?’, European Journal of Philosophy, 8: 155172.
  • Pothen, P. (2002), Nietzsche and the Fate of Art. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Raz, J. (1999), ‘The Amoralist’, in his Engaging Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 273302.
  • Ridley, A. (1998), Nietzsche's Conscience: Six Character Studies from the ‘Genealogy’. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
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