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Anna Ezekiel – Nietzsche’s Attempt at a Philosophy of Affirmation

McGill Philosophy Workshop Series

Nietzsche’s Attempt at a Philosophy of Affirmation: Getting from language as trope to Romantic and Christian themes in Nietzsche’s conception of the self

Anna Ezekiel

Monday, March 30 at 12:00 PM in Leacock 927.


This workshop is part of the planning stage of my upcoming PhD thesis, and discusses the conclusions of my MA thesis, which inform my  research for my PhD. The idea is to talk about strategies for approaching, in the PhD thesis, problems and questions in Nietzsche’s philosophy highlighted by, but not investigated in, the MA thesis.

In my MA thesis I identified six tropes that characterise Nietzsche’s theory of language, and used these to compare Nietzsche’s critique of epistemology with that of the early German Romantic, Novalis. This comparison revealed a negative aspect to Nietzsche’s overtly positive attitude to human creativity, as well as a tension affecting his thought on language and creativity between his earlier expressivism and later perspectivism. These characteristics underlie well-known difficulties in Nietzsche’s project of providing a philosophy that affirms human life without recourse to any realm trancending human experience.

In my PhD thesis I propose to take up these difficulties in order to investigate the nature of the self in Nietzsche’s philosophy, and the relationship of his conception of the human condition to Christian models of the subject. Both Nietzsche and Novalis present human beings and the world of their experience as emerging from an immanent process of self-creation. However, while Nietzsche attempts to establish a model for human existence on the basis of a denial of a realm beyond human experience, and hence to counteract what he views as the damaging implications of (among other things) Christianity, Novalis and the other early German Romantics explicitly retain Christian themes in their philosophy. My PhD thesis aims to examine potentially Christian themes in Nietzsche’s conception of the self through a comparison with the overtly Christian models of selfhood in early German Romanticism, thus contributing to existing discussions about the relationship of Nietzsche’s thought both to Romanticism and to Christianity.

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