On a Democratic Future: Nietzsche, Derrida, and Democracy to Come

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In this paper I analyse and critically assess Jacques Derrida’s political reading of Nietzsche. Derrida’s reading of Nietzsche’s multiple styles and their ramifications for how we read philosophical texts is well known. But Derrida also maintained that Nietzsche’s addresses to an unknown future readership evidenced a democratic aspect to Nietzsche’s work. Derrida’s is a heretofore unexamined interpretation, and in this paper I aim to show that his emphasis on the democratic style of Nietzsche’s writing raises different questions about the kind of political values that support Nietzsche’s critique of modernity. I argue that Derrida’s reading merits discussion, particularly in virtue of its intriguing account of what it means to experience the future democratically. However, I think Derrida’s reading has its own exegetical and philosophical problems. In sections one and two I explain why Derrida thought that Nietzsche’s hopes for the future of Europe constitute a democratic comportment; in section three I show how this reading of Nietzsche can be defended against a philosophical objection to its plausibility; and in section four I suggest exegetical reasons for questioning Derrida’s interpretation. I will end by drawing on Nietzsche’s work to raise an objection to the political quietism of democracy to come.
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Archival date: 2014-11-21
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