Nietzschean Monism? A Pandispositionalist Proposal

The Monist 104 (1):108-124 (2021)
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I argue that Nietzsche puts forward a pandispositionalist view that can be seen as the conjunction of two basic claims: that powers are the basic constituents of reality, on the one hand, and that the only properties things possess are relational qua dispositional, on the other hand. As I believe that such a view is, at least in part, motivated by his rejection of Kant’s notion of things in themselves, I start by sketching the metaphysics of Kant’s transcendental idealism and by presenting Nietzsche’s critical reaction to it. After that, I start to work out Nietzsche’s pandispositionalist view by considering first the case of physical reality and second that of psychological reality. I then argue that in both cases that view does not conflict with Nietzsche’s naturalism. In the last part of the paper I explore how his notion of will to power fits into such a pandispositionalist picture. Here, I shall argue, some serious tension does arise, for the claim that Nietzsche sometimes makes to the effect that the will to power is a fundamental physical force seems to clash with central aspects of his mature thought. However, whereas he repeatedly entertains that claim in his unpublished notes, it is far from clear that he ever meant to endorse it in his published work. Thus, I conclude that the available textual evidence only justifies attributing to Nietzsche the kind of pandispositionalist view spelled out in the first sections of the present paper, and not also the further claim that the will to power is a fundamental physical force.

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Mattia Riccardi
University of Porto


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