Against Nietzsche’s Theory of Affirmation

In Daniel Came (ed.), Nietzsche on Morality and the Affirmation of Life. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 170–192 (2022)
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This paper presents affirmation as the central normative category of Nietzsche’s positive ethics. The paper argues in particular for two interpretive claims: first, that from Beyond Good and Evil onwards, we find a new variety of Nietzschean affirmation (‘natural affirmation’), which is crucial to the strategy of his later works; and second, for reasons internal to his own philosophical aims, Nietzsche’s new variety of affirmation is seriously flawed. The author argues for the second claim on the basis that Nietzsche himself requires that affirmation not perform exactly the role he requires that it perform. The author contends that we are thus faced with a major challenge to Nietzsche’s late philosophical project—that (late) Nietzschean affirmation fails by Nietzsche’s own standards.

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Tom Stern
University College London


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