More than eighty years after his death, Nietzsche’s writings and his career remain disquieting, disturbing, obscure. His most famous views—the will to power, the eternal recurrence, the Übermensch, the master morality—often seem incomprehensible or, worse, repugnant. Yet he remains a thinker of singular importance, a great opponent of Hegel and Kant, and the source of much that is powerful in figures as diverse as Wittgenstein, Derrida, Heidegger, and many recent American philosophers.
Alexander Nehamas provides the best possible guide for the perplexed. He reveals the single thread running through Nietzsche’s views: his thinking of the world on the model of a literary text, of people as if they were literary characters, and of knowledge and science as if they were literary interpretation. Beyond this, he advances the clarity of the concept of textuality, making explicit some of the forces that hold texts together and so hold us together. Nehamas finally allows us to see that Nietzsche is creating a literary character out of himself, that he is, in effect, playing the role of Plato to his own Socrates.
Nehamas discusses a number of opposing views, both American and European, of Nietzsche’s texts and general project, and reaches a climactic solving of the main problems of Nietzsche interpretation in a step-by-step argument. In the process he takes up a set of very interesting questions in contemporary philosophy, such as moral relativism and scientific realism. This is a book of considerable breadth and elegance that will appeal to all curious readers of philosophy and literature.