In Nietzsche's first book The Birth of Tragedy (1872), cultural renewal is paramount among his concerns. In the person of Richard Wagner, Nietzsche saw someone who might bring together a fragmented and directionless modern society through the creation of tragic festival that, through its mythic content, would allegedly give renewed meaning and purpose to human life. The standard story about Nietzsche's philosophical development is that he becomes disillusioned with this project and his mature philosophy undergoes a radical shift. Instead of reposing his hopes in a broader culture, he comes to occupy himself instead with the fate of a few great individuals, or, at the extreme, perhaps mainly with his own quasi-artistic self-cultivation. On these readings, to the extent that he remains concerned with culture at all, it is only as something whose noxious influence threatens this cadre of elite individuals. Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture questions this individualist reading that has become prevalent, and develops an alternative interpretation of Nietzsche as a more social thinker who sees collective cultural achievements as no less important. Great individuals are not all that matter. Andrew Huddleston uses Nietzsche's perfectionistic ideal of a flourishing culture and his diagnostics of cultural malaise as a point of departure for reconsidering many of the central themes in Nietzsche's ethics and social philosophy, as well as for understanding the interconnections with the form of cultural criticism that was part and parcel of his distinctive philosophical enterprise.
nietzsche on the decadence and flourishing of culture
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The late German historian considers all forms and movements of human affairs as he predicts the inevitable eclipse of Western civilization, in an abridged edition of the classic study, first published more than eighty years ago. Reprint.
Gary Hatfield examines theories of spatial perception from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century and provides a detailed analysis of the works of Kant and Helmholtz, who adopted opposing stances on whether central questions about spatial perception were amenable to natural-scientific treatment. At stake were the proper understanding of the relationships among sensation, perception, and experience, and the proper methodological framework for investigating the mental activities of judgment, understanding, and reason issues which remain at the core of philosophical psychology and cognitive science. Hatfield presents these important issues as living philosophies of science that shape and are shaped by actual research programs, creating a complex and fascinating picture of the entire nineteenth-century battle between nativism and empiricism. His examination of Helmholtz's work in physiological optics and epistemology is a tour de force. Gary Hatfield is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Examines Nietzsche's thinking on the virtues using a combination of close reading and digital analysis.
Lively and well written, Bread and Circuses analyzes theories that have treated mass culture as either a symptom or a cause of social decadence. Discussing many of the most influential and representative theories of mass culture, it ranges widely from Greek and Roman origins, through Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Ortega y Gasset, T. S. Eliot, and the theorists of the Frankfurt Institute, down to Marshall McLuhan and Daniel Bell, Brantlinger considers the many versions of negative classicism and shows how the belief in the historical inevitability of social decay—a belief today perpetuated by the mass media themselves—has become the dominant view of mass culture in our time. While not defending mass culture in its present form, Brantlinger argues that the view of culture implicit in negative classicism obscures the question of how the media can best be used to help achieve freedom and enlightenment on a truly democratic basis.
This book is the first comprehensive interpretation of Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations. It argues that the four Meditations—which Nietzsche said “deserve the greatest attention for my development”—are not separate pieces, but instead form a unified philosophic narrative that constitutes his first attempt to diagnose and cure the spiritual ailments whose causes he traced to modern culture and science. Taking Nietzsche’s commentary on the four essays in his autobiographical work Ecce Homo as its interpretive guide, this book also shows that the Untimely Meditations contain early expositions of concepts like the last man, the overman, the new philosopher, the creation of values, and the malleability of nature—all staples of his later philosophy.
NEW YORK TIMES Editors’ Choice • THE TIMES BIOGRAPHY OF THE YEAR • WINNER OF THE HAWTHORNDEN PRIZE A groundbreaking new biography of philosophy’s greatest iconoclast Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts—the Übermensch, the will to power, slave morality—have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche—beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingering association with nihilism and fascism? Where do we place a thinker who was equally beloved by Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, Martin Buber, and Adolf Hitler? Nietzsche wrote that all philosophy is autobiographical, and in this vividly compelling, myth-shattering biography, Sue Prideaux brings readers into the world of this brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man, illuminating the events and people that shaped his life and work. From his placid, devoutly Christian upbringing—overshadowed by the mysterious death of his father—through his teaching career, lonely philosophizing on high mountains, and heart-breaking descent into madness, Prideaux documents Nietzsche’s intellectual and emotional life with a novelist’s insight and sensitivity. She also produces unforgettable portraits of the people who were most important to him, including Richard and Cosima Wagner, Lou Salomé, the femme fatale who broke his heart; and his sister Elizabeth, a rabid German nationalist and anti-Semite who manipulated his texts and turned the Nietzsche archive into a destination for Nazi ideologues. I Am Dynamite! is the essential biography for anyone seeking to understand history's most misunderstood philosopher.
Renowned scholars explore and discuss Nietzsche's desire to challenge the very conception of philosophy, and his methods of doing so.
Known for his essays on culture, aesthetics, and literature, Walter Benjamin also wrote on the philosophy of language. For Alexander Stern, his famously obscure—and, for some, hopelessly mystical—early work contains important insights, anticipating and in some respects surpassing Wittgenstein’s later thinking on the philosophy of language.