Nietzsche and Contemporary Philosophy

20 February 2008 at 12:42 am 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

“Nietzsche is peachy,” according to a bumper-sticker I once saw. Nietzsche is sometimes cited in management research as an authority on power, complexity, time, or relativism (e.g., Singer, 1994; Kilduff and Mehra, 1997; Mainemelis, 2001). But what did Nietzsche really say about these things? What are his main contributions to philosophy? Professional philosophers can’t seem to agree, as witnessed in this roundtable conversation with Peter Bergmann, Teodor Münz, Frantisek Novosád, Paul Patton, Richard Rorty, Jan Sokol, and Leslie Paul Thiele. Bergmann calls Nietzsche “the culture hero of modernism, a cultural revolution comparable to the Reformation or the Enlightenment. His critique of herd values is reflected in the posture of the avant-garde: elitist to the present, democratic to the future.” But Nietzsche was no nihilist, says Sokol; he was rather “an excessively sensitive person horrified by a world where nothing has rules and stands for nothing.”

All agree that Nietzsche bears no personal responsibility by the appropriation of his ideas by German nationalists, but Schrift notes that Nietzsche “chose to write in a style that invites misunderstanding — his use of metaphor, dissimulation, and hyperbole in particular, all make it easier for his words to be taken to mean something other than what he might have intended.” A warning to those of us who like jargon and are guilty of bad academic writing. (HT: 3quarks)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Jargon Watch, Management Theory, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science. Tags: .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • [...] letto la frase in questa vecchia tavola rotonda sull’attualità di Nietzsche (via Organization and Markets). La usa lo storico Peter Bergmann, che però non sembra averla [...]

  • 2. Wirkman Virkkala  |  27 February 2008 at 10:34 pm

    An odd moral for the observation that Nietzsche is open to multiple interpretations. Odd, in that Nietzsche was not a bad writer in any way similar to modern academese.

    He was, it is commonly ballyhooed and not uncommonly admitted, a great writer. His stylistic peculiarities may make him harder to understand than, say, G.E. Moore, but let’s remember: he was not writing for the usual philosophical (or almost any other) audience. He was trying to get his readers to think. And he asserted his notions in multiple ways.

    The biggest trouble with reading Nietzsche is that too many readers exhibit this propensity to want to agree with Nietzsche, even when Nietzsche offers very little good reason to agree. The tendency to treat him as a prophet WHO MUST BE RIGHT rather than a provocateur to be admired even when wrong, has led to all sorts of trouble.

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