Postmodernism's Use and Abuse of Nietzsche

Authors


Abstract

I focus on Nietzsche's architectural metaphor of self-construction in arguing for the claim that postmodern readings of Nietzsche misunderstand his various attacks on dogmatic philosophy as paving the way for acceptance of a self characterized by fundamental disunity. Nietzsche's attack on essentialist dogmatic metaphysics is a call to engage in a purposive self-creation under a unifying will, a will that possesses the strength to reinterpret history as a pathway to “the problem that we are”. Nietzsche agrees with the postmodernists that unity is not a pre-given, however he would disavow their rejection of unity as a goal. Where the postmodernists celebrate “the death of the subject” Nietzsche rejects this valorization of disunity as a form of Nihilism and prescribes the creation of a genuine unified subjectivity to those few capable of such a goal. Postmodernists are nearer Nietzsche's idea of the Last Man than his idea of the Overman.

I define postmodernism as incredulity towards meta-narratives.

Jean-François Lyotard. The Postmodern Condition.

When the past speaks it always speaks as an oracle: only if you are an architect of the future and know the present will you understand it.

Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life.”

Ancillary