Nietzsche's Naturalism

Nietzsche's Naturalism : Philosophy and the Life Sciences in the Nineteenth Century

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This book explores Nietzsche's philosophical naturalism in its historical context, showing that his position is best understood against the background of encounters between neo-Kantianism and the life sciences in the nineteenth century. Analyzing most of Nietzsche's writings from the late 1860s onwards, Christian J. Emden reconstructs Nietzsche's naturalism and argues for a new understanding of his account of nature and normativity. Emden proposes historical reasons why Nietzsche came to adopt the position he did; his genealogy of values and his account of a will to power are as much influenced by Kantian thought as they are by nineteenth-century debates on teleology, biological functions, and theories of evolution. This rich and wide-ranging study will be of interest to scholars and students of Nietzsche, the history of modern philosophy, intellectual history, and history of science.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139990829
  • 9781139990820

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. Varieties of Philosophical Naturalism: 1. Introduction; 2. The neo-Kantian stance; 3. Nietzsche's 'anti-Darwinism'?; 4. Psychology, experiment, and scientific practice; 5. Three kinds of naturalism; Part II. Evolution and the Limits of Teleology: 6. Introduction; 7. Problems with purpose; 8. The politics of progress; 9. Naturalizing Kant; 10. Genealogy and path dependence; Part III. Genealogy, Nature, and Normativity: 11. Introduction; 12. 'Darwinism's' metaphysical mistake; 13. Living things and the will to power; 14. Toward a natural history of normativity; 15. 'Naturalism in morality'; Bibliography; Index.show more

About Christian J. Emden

Christian J. Emden is Professor of German Intellectual History and Political Thought at Rice University. He is the author of Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of History (2008), and Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (2005), and recently co-edited Beyond Habermas: Democracy, Knowledge, and the Public Sphere (2012), and Changing Perceptions of the Public Sphere (2012).show more

Review quote

'Emden manages to convey the broader historical and scientific backdrop against which Nietzsche was operating, and he offers the reader new material with which to assess Nietzsche's thought. His work - well-written, accessible and meticulously researched - has an impressive command of the secondary research, and it will be considered a welcome addition to the recent arsenal of naturalist perspectives on Nietzsche.' Dirk R. Johnson, Hampden-Sydney College 'This is an important, timely study that throws fresh light on the formation and development of Nietzsche's thought by examining it in the context of contemporary German debates about the 'philosophy of nature' (Naturphilosophie) and Darwinism. Emden intelligently combines close readings of individual works with more general discussions of the changes in philosophy and science that took place in the second half of the nineteenth century to arrive at a new interpretation of Nietzsche's unique brand of naturalism.' Martin A. Ruehl, University of Cambridge 'Although recent years have witnessed a renaissance of interest in Nietzsche's naturalism, we lack in English-speaking commentary an adequate appreciation of his relation to the life sciences of his time. Christian Emden's study corrects this situation and provides a concerted reconstruction of Nietzsche's philosophical naturalism. His insights into Nietzsche's relation to Darwinism and into what it means to naturalize Kant are amongst the most subtle and incisive I have encountered. This is a fine and important study and will appeal to readers across the disciplines, including intellectual history, philosophy, cultural studies, and German studies.' Keith Ansell-Pearson, University of Warwick 'Christian Emden has written the book on Nietzsche's biological naturalism which many of us have been waiting for. Situating Nietzsche's later work amidst the shifting currents of nineteenth-century cell theory, embryology, neo-Kantianism, and evolutionary thought brings out new philosophical complexity and depth in his genealogical project, and reinforces Nietzsche's relevance to philosophy today.' Joseph Rouse, Wesleyan Universityshow more

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