Writings on Friedrich NietzscheClick on a title to learn more.
Liberating the Animal
Theory & Event (2010). Review of Vanessa Lemm's Nietzsche's Animal Philosophy
The animality of humans has been a basic axiom of philosophical thinking at least since Aristotle characterized the human being as the animal having logos. Logos is sometimes translated as speech, so that humanity is distinguished as the animal having language. Others, building upon Kant, translate logos as reason, itself a multi-faceted idea that alternates between the sense of calculative rationality and logic on the one side and a higher and less-well-defined sense of freedom and knowing on the other. Ambiguous as it remains, the appeal to man’s logos has for millennia named a hierarchical relationship, one in which human beings stand above irrational animals lacking logos.
The Aristotelian-Kantian elevation of the human as the animal who reasons is under attack. In part, the dissent results from our changing views of animals. At a conservation camp for the endangered Thai elephants in northern Thailand, elephants have been taught to paint. You can watch these amazing animals carefully administering brush strokes on internet videos. Elsewhere, scientific studies on mirror neurons in both humans and animals suggest that animals—especially elephants who are regularly observed in acts of empathy and grief—share the same neurological basis of the human moral faculty. The painting elephants and the grieving elephants—to take just two examples—raise questions about the traditional hierarchy of man over animal as the rational animal.
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Friedrich Nietzsche, the Code of Manu, and the Art of Legislation
New Nietzsche Studies v. 6 (2006)
- Expanded version, originally published in Cardozo Law Rev. v. 24 (2003).
Political and legal theorists ask the question: What should law be? In so doing, they implicitly or explicitly overlook what law is. This preference for the normative as opposed to the ontological approach to law is rooted in the assumption that law serves social and political ends.
Indeed, in deference to its normative interests, legal scholarship has embraced a diversity of social sciences to assist in the discovery of the best laws. For example, the marriage of law and sociology seeks social norms of fairness according to which particular laws should be understood and interpreted. Similarly, the science of moral philosophy strives to isolate intersubjective moral norms that will guide legislation and legal interpretation. Positivist legal science strives to determine rules of recognition for the identification of valid laws that guaranty the certainty and security promised by the rule of law. Most recently, the sciences of both rational and behavioral economics have emerged as powerful tools, facilitating the discovery of those laws that maximize efficiency.
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The Spring of Law: Some Thoughts Inspired by Nietzsche's Doctrine of the Sittlichkeit der Sitte
Rechtsgeschichte v. 6 (2005)
The man from the country stands before the door of the law. The man confronts the law as an open door through which he cannot pass. Law, as Rainer Maria Kiesow has written, is an open book that begs to be read even as it simultaneously announces its impossibility. The man of law is confronted with the paradoxical injunction to read what can't be read. That is the law.
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History and the Noble Art of Lying
Rechtsgeschichte v. 4 (2004)
Wozu Rechtsgeschichte? To ask is to accuse. Is there any doubt about the answer? Why is a rose a rose? Because it is (Martin Heidegger, Der Satz vom Grund).
In 1886, Friedrich Nietzsche reissued his first, youthful, brash and yet fragwürdiges book. Die Geburt der Tragödie, he informed us in the newly written critical preface, was in many ways a book infected with the passions of youth. Nevertheless, Nietzsche deemed it worthy of republication because it posed a valuable question, one of the »first rank«. Not only of abstract worth, the question was »a deep personal question«. The book asked: Wozu – griechische Kunst? … In approximate English translation, »What for – Greek art?…« (Geburt der Tragödie [GdT], Kritische Studienausgabe [KSA] I, 12).
Nearly 120 years later, the editors of Rechtsgeschichte have asked us to think about the question, Wozu – Rechtsgeschichte? What for – legal history? With Nietzsche reverberating in the background, the question imposes itself: is this a question of merely abstract worth? Is it a personal query? Is it an opportunity for selfjustification, or does it scratch beneath the surface of a scabrous wound?
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Journal of Politics, v. 65 (2003). Review of Laurence Lampert's Nietzsche's Task
Nietzsche prophesied that “people may be able to read [Beyond Good and Evil] around the year 2000” (301). In Nietzsche’s Task: An Interpretation of Beyond Good and Evil, Laurence Lampert seeks to make good on Nietzsche’s prophecy.
Lampert’s fifth book dedicated to Nietzsche, Nietzsche’s Task, should serve as one important model for future Nietzsche scholarship. Nietzsche’s Task proceeds chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph (with the exception of the aphorisms in (chapter four), offering a systematic and pathbreaking way through one of Nietzsche’s most challenging texts. No other secondary source I know of has successfully given such a coherent and meaningful reading of one of Nietzsche’s books. We need more books that seek a way through the labyrinth of Nietzsche’s thought through close readings of his texts.
View the full PDF here. (See page 6).