Nietzsche according to Losurdo

Elyeser Szturm, from the Heavens series
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By IVO DA SILVA JUNIOR*

Commentary on the book “Nietzsche: the rebel aristocrat”, by Domenico Losurdo

Nietzsche is an entirely political philosopher. This is how Domenico Losurdo – like many, by the way – understands Nietzschean philosophy. Of Marxist lineage, the author of Nietzsche: the aristocratic rebel does not agree, however, with those who also place the philosopher in a political key. And the point of disagreement lies, above all, in a methodological issue.

Losurdo carries out his work in philosophy without prioritizing the immanent analysis of discourse. not doing stricto sensu history of philosophy, he approaches his object of study through the historical-dialectical method. It makes use of conceptual analysis while at the same time inquiring into the political and social relations from which the concepts came or declined. It thus establishes a dialectical relationship between these two dimensions, the conceptual and the materially given, the philosophical and the historical.

Pursuing this path of work, Losurdo was able to understand Nietzsche as a political thinker in the full sense of the term. It thus distances itself from those political readings that, on the one hand, with Lukács and Nolte, considered the philosopher an irrationalist thinker and precursor of Nazism and, on the other hand, with French commentators (particularly those marked by Foucault) and Ottmann who considered Nietzsche, in a simple exchange of signs, an apolitical thinker.

The readings that point to Nietzsche's dangerousness, either because of the presence of the irrational element in his work, or because it contains a proto-Nazi seed, sin, according to Losurdo, for not correctly resorting to history. By establishing an intellectual continuity between Nietzschean thought and the Nazi movements without reconstructing the troubled end of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXth, they ignore the enormous distance between the philosopher's statements and the formation of extreme right movements after the First World War. . If they were to rebuild, they would not find the much-vaunted continuity; would not bring Nietzsche's philosophy closer to events strictly limited to the XNUMXth century.

Thus, when Nietzsche praises slavery, for example, these interpretations do not take into account the repercussions and impact in Germany of events such as the end of slavery in the United States, the abolition of serfdom in Russia, etc.; these facts circumscribe Nietzsche's letter to a well-determined space and time.

The readings that refuse this dangerousness consider Nietzsche an innocent hermeneut. By transforming many of the controversial statements into metaphors, they contribute to building the postmodern image of the philosopher. Thus, with regard to this eulogy of slavery, these interpretations immediately and definitively transform a socio-political issue into a metaphor that would refer to the morals or psychology of particular individuals. Something that French scholars, mainly, did and still do with mastery.

Thus, both those who consider Nietzsche as a prophet of the Third Reich, and those who, with “well intentions”, seek to combat the Nazi image of the philosopher, thus suppressing the factual element of his statements, abstract from the historical moment of the XNUMXth century. In order not to make the same mistake, Losurdo opts for a methodology that exempts him from having to criticize/demonize or safeguard/deify Nietzsche.

At the bottom of this quarrel is there just a methodological question? Certainly not. There is something else at play, as Losurdo hints at. If Nietzsche is not a dangerous thinker, nor is he an innocent hermeneutic, who is he? Nietzsche is, as the title of the book clearly indicates, an aristocratic rebel, or if you like, at the same time dangerous and innocent, but in another sense. Losurdo makes dialectically coexist, on the one hand, the radical criticism that Nietzsche makes of the new Germany that then emerged after the victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, which definitively opened the “Prussian way” for German development, and, on the other hand, , the aristocratic positions of the philosopher whose foundation, more than anachronistic, was found in ancient Greece.

It thus shows the existing tension between the bourgeois Nietzsche and the aristocratic Nietzsche of the spirit: just by being very rebellious, the philosopher would be able to turn against his social extract (bourgeois); only by becoming an aristocrat of the spirit would he be able to maintain a current social segment that was on the verge of extinction (the aristocracy). In short, Losurdo clearly shows us that Nietzsche is far from not only the Third Reich, but also the postmodernism that he constantly relativizes and interprets.

In a systematic work, which even discusses the critical establishment of the work, Losurdo presents us with a philosopher who would be even more radically political than Marx. By working against the grain of the other specialists, the author unfortunately will not find – I believe – the place that fits him within the Nietzschean societies. Just look at the repercussion that this 2002 book initially had among foreign specialists. a nietzsche out of his time or a true hermeneutic of innocence seems to be more in tune with the our time; seem to be much more palatable to our ideological lack of taste. This is, in fact, the point that is only glimpsed in this instigating and important work that, certainly, will not fail to be celebrated by many others.

*Ivo da Silva Junior is professor of philosophy at Unifesp. Author, among other books, of In Search of a Place in the Sun – Nietzsche and German Culture (Editorial Discourse, Editora Unijuí).

Originally published on Journal of Reviews no. November 10, 2010

 

Reference


Domenico Losurdo. Nietzsche: the aristocratic rebel. Translation: Jaime A. Clasen. Rio de Janeiro, Revan, 1.108 pages.

 

 

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