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Nietzsche's Naturalism Reconsidered


Brian Leiter


University of Chicago

January 16, 2009

Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche, 2009
U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 235

Abstract:     
According to one recent scholar, "Most commentators on Nietzsche would agree that he is in a broad sense a naturalist in his mature philosophy" (Janaway 2007: 34). This may come as a surprise to those who think of Heidegger, Kaufmann, DeMan, Kofman, Deleuze, and Nehamas, among others, as "commentators" on Nietzsche. And yet there are, indeed, clear signs that in the last twenty years, as Nietzsche studies has become more philosophically sophisticated, the naturalist reading of Nietzsche has come to the fore, certainly in Anglophone scholarship. In Nietzsche on Morality (2002), I set out a systematic reading of Nietzsche as a philosophical naturalist, one which has attracted considerable critical comment, including from some generally sympathetic to reading Nietzsche as a philosophical naturalist. In this paper, I revisit that reading and respond to various objections. Topics covered include the role of "speculation" in Nietzsche's naturalism; the difference between the Humean and Therapeutic Nietzsches; the role of culture in naturalistic explanations; the status of claims about causation in Nietzsche's naturalism; whether the apparent metaphysics of the will to power is compatible with naturalism; and how Nietzsche's speculative naturalism fares in light of subsequent work in empirical psychology.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Nietzsche, naturalism, moral philosophy, moral psychology

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Date posted: July 24, 2008 ; Last revised: November 13, 2009

Suggested Citation

Leiter, Brian, Nietzsche's Naturalism Reconsidered (January 16, 2009). Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche, 2009; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 235. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1171285

Contact Information

Brian Leiter (Contact Author)
University of Chicago ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
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