Digital humanities for history of philosophy: A case study on Nietzsche

In L. Levenberg T. Neilson (ed.), Handbook of Methods in the Digital Humanities. Rowman & Littlefield (forthcoming)
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Nietzsche promises to “translate man back into nature,” but it remains unclear what he meant by this and to what extent he succeeded at it. To help come to grips with Nietzsche’s conceptions of drive (Trieb), instinct (Instinkt) and virtue (Tugend and/or Keuschheit), I develop novel digital humanities methods to systematically track his use of these terms, constructing a near-comprehensive catalogue of what he takes these dispositions to be and how he thinks they are related. Nietzsche individuate drives and instincts by the type of actions they motivate. One way in which the “translation” of man back into nature might succeed is through naturalistic explanation and reduction of moral notions such as virtue in terms of amoral, naturalistic notions, such as drives and instincts. I go on to show that this is indeed Nietzsche’s project: for him, a virtue is a well-calibrated drive. Such calibration relates both to the rest of the agent’s psychic economy (her other drives) and to her social context (what’s considered praiseworthy and blameworthy in her community).
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