Monday, August 08, 2011

Reginster, Bernard. Review of Ken Gemes, et al., eds. NIETZSCHE ON FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY. NDPR (July 2011).

Gemes, Ken, and Simon May, eds.  Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy Oxford: OUP, 2009.

Nietzsche's views on freedom and autonomy are confined to short, provocative statements dispersed throughout his writings. For this reason, they have not been the object of much focused, systematic scholarly treatment. This collection of essays by some of the finest Nietzsche scholars, edited by Ken Gemes and Simon May (whose helpful introduction also outlines its contents), is a spirited attempt to fill that scholarly gap. The contributions collected in Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy can be divided into two groups, each focusing on one basic aspect of the question of freedom and autonomy. The first concerns the nature of the self to which freedom and autonomy are attributed: contributions that concentrate on this question tend to treat freedom as a defining feature of selfhood, or agency. The second question bears on what it is for that self to be, or to achieve, freedom and autonomy: contributions that consider this question tend to treat freedom as an ethical ideal to be pursued by individuals who already are selves or agents. More than half of the contributions (those by Sebastian Gardner, Ken Gemes, Christopher Janaway, Brian Leiter, Aaron Ridley, David Owen, and Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick) are primarily devoted to the Nietzschean conception of the self, specifically of the self understood as will or agency. And almost all of the remaining contributions (those by Robert Pippin, Simon May, John Richardson, and Peter Poellner) examine Nietzsche's conception(s) of freedom and autonomy as an ethical ideal. I will review each group of essays in turn, and, for ease of presentation, not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the collection. . . .

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