Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Young, Julian. Review of Jonathan R. Cohen, SCIENCE, CULTURE AND FREE SPIRITS. NDPR (July 2010).

Cohen, Jonathan R. Science, Culture, and Free Spirits: a Study of Nietzsche's Human, All-too-Human. Amherst, NY: Humanity, 2010.

Jonathan Cohen's thoughtful interrogation of Human, All-too-Human asks many of the right questions. Often (though perhaps not always) it gets the answers importantly right. As Cohen remarks, there are relatively few studies of individual Nietzsche texts, and Human, marking as it does the transition from the early, metaphysical romanticism to the naturalism that characterised the remainder of his career, is surely a crucial work. Cohen's study does not, however, attempt to be comprehensive. There is no discussion of Human's praise for the 'noble' religion of the Greeks, its account of the role of art in a reformed culture, its advocacy of euthanasia and eugenics, its critique of the modern state,[2] its advocacy of the disappearance of petty nationalisms in a united Europe, nor of its ambition that a reformed Western culture should take over the entire globe. Nor does Cohen discuss either Assorted Opinions and Maxims or The Wanderer and His Shadow which together, in 1886, became volume II of an expanded Human, All-too-Human. Instead, he discusses, as his title promises, the interrelated themes of science, culture and free-spiritedness as they appear in the original 1878 work. Human, All-too-Human: Central Themes might be an alternative title. In addition to examining these -- indeed central -- themes there is a discussion of the 'literary integrity' of the work (chapter 6). Here, Cohen is at pains to show that the work is no mere rag-bag of 'aphorisms' but has a literary, even logical, structure. He makes the original and plausible suggestion that the model for the 1886 expansion of Human into a two-volume work was Schopenhauer's 1844 addition of a volume II to the 1818 The World as Will and Representation. A final chapter argues, correctly in my view, that the basic relationship between science, culture and free-spiritedness established in Human remains with Nietzsche for the rest of his career. . . .

Read the rest here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=20647.

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