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BY BRIAN LEITER

INTRODUCTION
Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900) is one of the major figures of 19th-century European philosophy, whose
influence on 20th-century thought was rivaled only by Marx. Trained as a classical scholar of antiquity, he was
forced by ill health into an early retirement from his academic career while still in his thirties. Until his mental
and physical collapse in early 1889, he spent his time writing his most celebrated works (including Thus Spoke

Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, and On the Genealogy of Morality) while living in various inns in Italy, France,
and Switzerland. Little recognized during his productive lifetime, by the time of his death in 1900 he was
quickly becoming the most influential figure in European intellectual life. His scathing attack on morality, his
penetrating psychological insights into human behavior, and his startling views about truth and knowledge, all
presented in some of the most brilliant and memorable prose ever written by a philosopher, made Nietzsche
one of the most important intellectual forces with which to be reckoned at the dawn of the 20th century. Freud,
Hesse, Gide, Mann, and Heidegger were among his admirers, and political movements of every stripe
anarchist, socialist, and fascistall claimed the mantle of his influence. The political triumph of Nazism, and
the efforts of his proto-Nazi sister to align him with its cause, tainted his reputation: illiberal and
anti-egalitarian, to be sure, Nietzsche was also an enemy of nationalism and capitalism, which he saw as fatal
obstacles to the realization of human genius and cultural excellence. In the post-World War II era, Nietzsche
gradually reemerged as a thinker of profound importance, read variously as a forerunner of existentialism,
post-structuralism, and philosophical naturalism, among other philosophical movements.

GENERAL OVERVIEWS
These studies differ in methodology and philosophical ambition, but they all cover some of the most famous
themes in Nietzsches philosophy, such as the will to power, eternal recurrence, and perspectivism (though they
differ on how central these themes really are to his philosophy). Clark 1990 is unusual in focusing almost
entirely on the books Nietzsche published, whereas the other studies draw heavily (sometimes very heavily, as in
Deleuze 1983, Heidegger 19791982, Richardson 1995) on the notebooks that were unpublished at the time of
Nietzsches collapse (the Nachlass). See Editions of Nietzsches Work and Controversies about the Canon for
more on the controversy surrounding the Nachlass material. Of these books, Clark 1990 has had the most
impact on subsequent work, revolutionizing Anglophone scholarship especially, both by engaging with
Nietzsches texts at a level of philosophical sophistication not seen previously, and by advancing, on the basis of
careful readings of texts, an important hypothesis about the development of Nietzshes views on truth and
knowledge.
Clark, Maudemarie. Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University

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Press, 1990.
Argues that Nietzsche moved from skepticism about the possibility of truth based on neo-Kantian doubts
about the accessibility of the world as it is (the noumenal world) to a repudiation of this idea and
renewed confidence in the senses and empirical science. Also contains important chapters on will to power
(arguing that it is mainly a kind of psychological hypothesis and not a metaphysical thesis) and eternal
recurrence.

Deleuze, Gilles. Nietzsche and Philosophy . Translated by Hugh Tomlinson. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1983.
English translation of Nietzsche et la Philosophie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962). Drawing
heavily on Nachlass material, Deleuze treats the ideas of activity and reactivity as central to a systematic
reading of the corpus. Not for beginners, but worth the attention of scholars and graduate students.

Heidegger, Martin. Nietzsche . 4 vols. Translated and edited by David Farrell Krell. San Francisco:
Harper and Row, 19791982.
Heideggers lecture courses on Nietzsche between 1936 and 1941, transcriptions of which first appeared
in two volumes in German in 1961. Essential reading for students of Heidegger, more controversial as a
guide to Nietzsche, though it has been influential, especially in European scholarship. Heidegger relies
heavily on Nachlass material and treats Nietzsche as the culmination of the tradition of Western
metaphysics that begins with Plato. Will to power and the problem of nihilism are central in Heideggers
reading.

Magnus, Bernd. Nietzsches Existential Imperative . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.
An important defense of the idea that Nietzsches doctrine of eternal recurrence ought to be understood as
a kind of ethical imperative about how one should aspire to live ones life (roughly, live in such a way that
one could will the eternal repetition of ones life).

Nehamas, Alexander. Nietzsche: Life as Literature . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
1985.
An elegant synthesis and restatement of what came to be known as the French post-structuralist
Nietzsche associated with Paul DeMan, Jacques Derrida, and Sarah Kofman. Ascribes to Nietzsche a view
Nehamas dubs aestheticism, according to which Nietzsche views the world as like a literary text and its
occupants as like literary characters. The chapter on eternal recurrence remains influential, though the
central interpretive thesis about aestheticism has not won much favor over time.

Reginster, Bernard. The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism . Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 2006.
An impressive recent attempt to give an overview of Nietzsches philosophical corpus, organized, like
Heideggers, around the themes of will to power and nihilism, though with much greater sensitivity to the

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texts than Heidegger and far more lucid. Very illuminating on the role of responses to Schopenhauer in
Nietzsches work. Not always sensitive, however, to the philosophical plausibility of the views ascribed to
Nietzsche. Its treatment of will to power is usefully contrasted with the account in Richardson 1995.
Accessible to advanced undergraduates.

Richardson, John. Nietzsches System . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.


Gives, as its title suggests, a systematic account of Nietzsches entire corpus, organized around the
Heideggerian theme of will to power, and the Deleuzian theme of activity/reactivitybut does so with
much greater clarity and care than either of his European interpreters. The account of will to power as the
teleological tendency of any drive to co-opt other drives for its ends is the most compelling account in the
literature, which all others must address. Accessible to advanced undergraduates.

Schacht, Richard. Nietzsche . London: Routledge, 1983.


Comprehensive and carefully documented overview of every aspect of Nietzsches philosophy, giving equal
weight in its interpretation to both published and unpublished work. Schachts methodical canvassing of
textual evidence makes his book a useful check on any interpretive hypothesis about Nietzsche.
Sometimes long-winded, and not philosophically sophisticated, but a valuable resource for beginners and
advanced students.

ANTHOLOGIES
There are a huge number of anthologies of essays on Nietzsches philosophy, most of poor quality. Those listed
below have either been influential or offer enough good chapters to be worth the time of student and scholars.
Allison 1977 is a good representative of the French Nietzsche that was popular for awhile in literary theory
circles, though many of these approaches have not survived philosophical or scholarly scrutiny. Richardson and
Leiter 2001, Ansell-Pearson 2006, Gemes and Richardson 2010, Schacht 1994, and Solomon 1973 feature
essays spanning a wide array of topics, whereas Gemes and May 2009 and Leiter and Sinhababu 2007 represent
state-of-the-art approaches to more specialized topics given by their titles.
Allison, David, ed. The New Nietzsche . New York: Dell, 1977.
A collection of translations of mostly French secondary literature on Nietzsche by figures such as Blanchot,
Deleuze, Derrida, Haar, and Kofman. A useful representation of a style of reading Nietzsche that was
influential in literary theory circles in the 1970s and 1980s, though one now largely discredited in
philosophical scholarship on Nietzsche.

Ansell-Pearson, Keith, ed. A Companion to Nietzsche . Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.

Very uneven collection of new essays on Nietzsche. Essays that are especially recommended include Came
on The Birth of Tragedy, Clark and Dudrick on philosophical naturalism in Beyond Good and Evil, Loeb on
eternal recurrence, Poellner on phenomenology and science, and Staten on will to power, among others.

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Gemes, Ken, and Simon May, eds. Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy . Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2009.
Mostly new essays on Nietzsches theory of the mind and action, with a particular focus on questions of
free will, autonomy, and responsibility. Some essays are accessible to advanced undergraduates, but this is
mainly a collection for specialists.

Gemes, Ken, and John Richardson, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche . Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2010.
Promises to be an essential resource for scholars, graduate students, and even advanced undergraduates.

Leiter, Brian, and Neil Sinhababu, eds. Nietzsche and Morality . Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2007.
New essays examining Nietzsches normative and meta-ethics, as well as his moral psychology, with
contributions by leading Nietzsche scholars and moral philosophers (including Simon Blackburn, Thomas
Hurka, and R. Jay Wallace). Some essays are accessible to advanced undergraduates, but this is mainly a
collection for Nietzsche specialists and moral philosophers interested in Nietzsche.

Richardson, John, and Brian Leiter, eds. Nietzsche . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Reprints a dozen essays and book chapters representing opposing interpretive views on such topics as
truth, will to power, the critique of morality, the self and self-creation, and genealogy. Widely used in
undergraduate classes, so most contributions are accessible to undergraduates.

Schacht, Richard, ed. Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality: Essays on Nietzsches On the Genealogy of
Morals. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
Contributors focus quite a bit on Nietzsches Genealogy, but many of the essays range much more widely.
Essays that have generated substantial discussion since the volumes publication include Clark and Foot on
Nietzsches immoralism, Bittner on ressentiment, Nussbaum on pity, Williams on moral psychology, and
Leiter on perspectivism.

Solomon, Robert C., ed. Nietzsche: A Collection of Critical Essays . Garden City, NY: Anchor,
1973.
Mostly reprints of essays and book chapters by a diverse cast of both Anglophone philosophers (e.g.,
Danto, Kaufmann, Schacht, Solomon) and European literary figures and philosophers (e.g., Hesse, Mann).
Many of the philosophical essays have been superseded by later work, but this is still a useful book for
those new to Nietzsche.

BIOGRAPHIES

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Kaufmann 1974 is an early effort to introduce Nietzsches life in conjunction with his philosophy to a modern
audience, whereas Safranski 1992 is a more recent attempt to integrate the life with the ideasneither is
particularly satisfying for advanced students of philosophy, but both are helpful for novices. Janz 1978 and
Hayman 1980 are very different but useful biographies, while Schain 2001 challenges the widespread claim that
Nietzsches madness was the product of syphilis.
Hayman, Ronald. Nietzsche: A Critical Life . New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
The best short biography in English, with some attention to Nietzsches ideas. Accessible to beginners.

Janz, Curt P. Friedrich Nietzsche: Biographie in drei Banden . 3 vols. Munich: Hanser, 1978.
The most exhaustive biography of Nietzsche in existence, often reporting Nietzsches activities day by day!
A rich repository of details and information for scholars, but somewhat dreary reading for the beginner.

Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist . 4th ed. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1974.
Integrates an account of the main themes of Nietzsches philosophy with a biographical account and
attention to the history of the publication of Nietzsches texts, with particular critical scrutiny of his sisters
efforts to misrepresent him as a proto-Nazi. Discussions of sublimation and will to power still have value
for contemporary scholars, but Kaufmanns whitewash of Nietzsche as a kind of secular humanistwhile a
useful antidote at the time to the even worse Nazi caricature of his ideasis now very dated and
implausible.

Safranski, Rdiger. Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography . New York: Norton, 1992.


Translation of Nietzsche: Biographie seines Denkens (Munich: Hauser, 2000). Integrates a detailed
biographical account with generally serviceable and sensible summaries of Nietzsches works. A good
place to start for someone wanting both the life story and a very introductory overview of the main themes
of his books.

Schain, Richard. The Legend of Nietzsches Syphilis . Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001.
A medical doctor offers a detailed examination of all the available evidence pertaining to Nietzsches
collapse in 1889 and his subsequent physical and mental decline until his death in 1900. Schain argues
the breakdown was not the consequence of an early syphilitic infection, but instead paranoid
schizophrenia. The attempts to draw connections between the medical detective work and Nietzches
philosophy should be ignored, but the book is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to determine the
cause of Nietzsches mental and physical collapse.

EDITIONS OF NIETZSCHES WORK AND CONTROVERSIES ABOUT THE CANON


Three kinds of issues have arisen about Nietzsches corpus. First were the efforts by his sister Elizabeth Frster-

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Nietzsche, after Nietzsches collapse in 1889, to present a selective version of the corpus that would make him
more palatable to German nationalists and proto-Nazis. Kaufmann 1974 documents the violence this required
her to do to the texts, especially given Nietzsches loathing for Germans, German nationalism, and anti-Semites
(the issue is also taken up in various essays in Montinari 2003). Second, there were for many years competing
editions of the corpus, but the Italian scholars Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari produced the definitive
edition between 1967 and 1977 (Colli and Montinari 1988). Third, and finally, questions have arisen about the
weight to give to Nietzsches enormous Nachlass, the notebooks that were unpublished at the time of his
collapse and which he had requested be destroyed. We know that Nietzsche compiled his published works from
his notebooks, so the material he did not use, and wanted destroyed, is arguably not probative of his considered
views. We also know that he abandoned the idea of writing a book titled The Will to Power, though after his
collapse, his sister spearheaded the production of a book with that name. Magnus 1988 and Montinari 2003 are
informative on these issues.
German Editions
Italian scholars Colli and Montinari have produced the authoritative editions of Nietzsches published and
unpublished works (Colli and Montinari 1986), including his letters (Colli and Montinari 1988).
Colli, Giorgio, and Mazzino Montinari, eds. Smtliche Briefe: Kritische Studiensausgabe . Munich:
Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.
Nietzsches complete letters.

Colli, Giorgio, and Mazzino Montinari, eds. Smtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe in 15

Bnden . Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988.


The authoritative edition of Nietzsches complete writings (apart from letters), including all his notebook
material, as well as all the books he published. A digital version is available online.

English Editions: Kaufmann Translations


Walter Kaufmann produced generally good-quality translations (sometimes with R. J. Hollingdale) of most of
Nietzsches major works between 1954 and 1974. These are now all available in paperback editions from
Vintage (the paperback imprint of Random House), some volumes including more than one book (Kaufmann
1954 includes four). Although Kaufmann frequently sacrifices literalism in translation in order to capture in
English the flavor of Nietzsches German, his translations are undoubtedly the most enjoyable to read in English.
Kaufmann, Walter, ed. and trans. The Portable Nietzsche . New York: Viking, 1954.
Includes translations of four books ( Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist, and

Nietzsche contra Wagner). Zarathustra was Nietzsches own favorite, and the first two parts sound many
important Nietzschean themes taken up in later works; it is a difficult work to interpret (in part because it
is a parody of The New Testament, with Zarathustra an anti-Christ figure) and is not a good place for those
new to Nietzsche to begin.

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Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil . Translated by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage,
1966a.
One of Nietzsches most important works, in which all the major themes of his philosophy are developed.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner . Translated by Walter
Kaufmann. New York: Vintage, 1966b.
A useful volume for those interested in Nietzsches aesthetic views; The Birth of Tragedy was his first book,
and reflects the profound influence of Schopenhauer and Wagner.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo . Translated by Walter Kaufmann
and R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage, 1968a.
The Genealogy is one of Nietzsches most important works and is unusual in that it consists of three essays
that develop sustained arguments about the different origins of morality. Ecce Homo is a brilliantly
entertaining autobiography, with lots of philosophical content as well, and is at the same time a parody of
this self-congratulatory genre (hence its chapter titles like Why I Am So Clever).

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power . Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale.
New York: Vintage, 1968b.
Nietzsche abandoned the idea of writing a book with this title, but after his death, his sister and his friend
Peter Gast compiled this volume from his unpublished notebooks. Although it has some continuity with
themes in the published works, many of the strangest ideas or weakest arguments are found only in this
material that Nietzsche had, perhaps wisely, wanted destroyed.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science . Translated by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage, 1974.
A richly aphoristic work of the early 1880s, it is also one of Nietzsches most important books. It is
noticeably less polemical than work from later in the decade.

Other English Editions


Cambridge University Press has begun publishing (mostly) new translations of Nietzsches books, with
introductions and editorial apparatus by various scholars. All also include a chronology of Nietzsches life
prepared by Clark and Leiter for Nietzsche 1997b. There is some variation in translation quality, but they are all
generally reliable; significant variation exists in the quality of editorial apparatus (the materials accompanying

Writings from the Early Notebooks and Writings from the Late Notebooks, The Birth of Tragedy, Daybreak , and
The Gay Science are particularly recommended). Finally, Hackett has produced an important edition of On the
Genealogy of Morality (Nietzsche 1998), notable for both the translation and the editorial apparatus.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Human, All Too Human . Translated by R. J. Hollingdale, edited by Richard
Schacht. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
The major work of Nietzsches so-called positivist phase, in which his break with Schopenhauer and

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Wagner gave way to a somewhat uncritical celebration of science and scientific knowledge.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Untimely Meditations . Translated by R. J. Hollingdale, edited by Daniel


Breazeale. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997a.
These early essays are interesting in their own right and sometimes shed light on Nietzsches mature
views.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Daybreak . Translated by R. J. Hollingdale, edited by Maudemarie Clark and


Brian Leiter. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997b.
First published in 1881, this book marks the arrival of the mature Nietzsches critique of morality; understudied but philosophically rich, it introduces many themes developed in later work.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morality . Edited and translated by Maudemarie Clark
and Alan Swensen. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1998.

Genealogy is one of Nietzsches most important works and is unusual in consisting of three essays that
develop sustained arguments about the different origins of morality.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy . Translated by Ronald Speirs, edited by Ronald Speirs
and Raymond Geuss. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

The Birth of Tragedy was Nietzsches first book and reflects the profound influence of Schopenhauer and
Wagner.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science . Translated by Josefine Nauckhoff, edited by Bernard
Williams. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
A richly aphoristic work of the early 1880s, it is also one of Nietzsches most important books. It is
noticeably less polemical than work from later in the decade.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil . Translated by Judith Norman, edited by Rolf-Peter
Horstmann and Judith Norman. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
One of Nietzsches most important works, in which all the major themes of his philosophy are developed.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Writings from the Late Notebooks (18851888) . Translated by Kate Sturge,
edited by Rdiger Bittner. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
This volume partially overlaps with material in the posthumous book Will to Power, compiled by
Nietzsches sister and his friend Peter Gast. Bear in mind that Nietzsche wanted his notebooks destroyed,
and that they largely consist of material he chose not to publish.

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Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, The Case of Wagner,

Nietzsche contra Wagner . Translated by Judith Norman, edited by Aaron Ridley and Judith
Norman. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Four late works, of which Twilight is the most philosophically important.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra . Translated by Adrian Del Caro, edited by Robert
Pippin and Adrian Del Caro. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Zarathustra was Nietzsches own favorite, and the first two parts sound many important Nietzschean
themes taken up in later works; it is a difficult work to interpret (in part because it is a parody of The New

Testament, with Zarathustra an anti-Christ figure), and not a good place for those new to Nietzsche to
begin.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Writings from the Early Notebooks . Translated by Ladislau Lb, edited by
Raymond Geuss and Alexander Nehamas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Bear in mind that Nietzsche wanted his notebooks destroyed, and that they largely consist of material he
chose not to publish. Still, there are continuities here with published work.

Controversy and Questions about the Canon


Schaberg 1995 is a detailed history of Nietzsches efforts to get his work published, while Kaufmann 1974 and
Montinari 2003 review the ways in which, after his collapse and death, others, especially Nazis and proto-Nazis,
repackaged his writings for political and other purposes. Magnus 1988 and Montinari 2003 address the status
of Nietzsches unpublished notebooks, the Nachlass.
Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist . 4th ed. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1974.
Useful documentation of the malign influence of Nietzsches proto-Nazi sister Elizabeth on the selective
editing and presentation of Nietzsches corpus after his collapse. See the prologue and chapter 1.

Magnus, Bernd. The Use and Abuse of The Will to Power . In Reading Nietzsche . Edited by
Kathleen M. Higgins and Robert C. Solomon, 218236. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
A briefer version of the story told in Montinari 2003 regarding the nonbook The Will to Power, compiled
after Nietzsches mental collapse and based on notebook material he had wanted destroyed. Draws,
however, some dubious conclusions about how excluding this material would affect an interpretation of
Nietzsche.

Montinari, Mazzino. Reading Nietzsche . Translated by Greg Whitlock. Urbana: University of


Illinois Press, 2003.
Translation of the collection of essays and lectures Nietzsche Lesen (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter,
1982) by the co-editor of the authoritative edition of Nietzsches complete works. Most useful on the

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history of the texts and their publication, especially regarding Nietzsches intention that his unpublished
notebooks not be published but destroyed. Also covers the misappropriation of Nietzsche by the Nazis
and deals with some of the editorial and publication issues also treated in Kaufmann 1974.

Schaberg, William. The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication History and Bibliography . Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Well described by its title; a useful resource for scholars of the canon.

INFLUENCES ON NIETZSCHE
Trained as a scholar of the classical worldits history, literature, culture, and philosophyNietzsche was largely
self-taught in other parts of philosophy. In the 1860s his readings of Arthur Schopenhauers The World as Will

and Representation and Friedrich Langes massive History of Materialism had a profound influence on his
philosophical thinking, as did later readings in German materialist and neo-Kantian philosophy of the time
(Brobjer 2008 is a detailed accounting of what he read and when). It is useful to divide these influences on his
philosophy into those deriving from his background as a classicist and those traceable to contemporaneous
philosophical, scientific, and cultural developments.
Brobjer, Thomas. Nietzsches Philosophical Context: An Intellectual Biography . Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 2008.
A very detailed accountinggoing year by year, sometimes month by monthof Nietzsches reading in
philosophy and cognate fields. Extremely useful resource for scholars, but Brobjers own philosophical
judgments and opinions are not always reliable.

Influences from Antiquity


Nietzsches own views are nicely represented in Nietzsche 2006, whereas Barnes 1986 assesses Nietzsches
early scholarship on Diogenes Laertius. Berry 2010a and Cancik 1995 give general overviews of Nietzsches
engagement with ancient philosophy and (especially in Cancik) culture and literature. Berry 2010b makes a case
for the relevance of Phyronnian skepticism to Nietzsches philosophy, while Mann 2003 examines the
importance of the Sophists.
Barnes, Jonathan. Nietzsche and Diogenes Laertius. Nietzsche-Studien 15 (1986): 1640.
Leading contemporary scholar of classical philosophy favorably reviews Nietzsches dissertation work on
Diogenes Laertius.

Berry, Jessica. Nietzsche and the Greeks. In The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche . Edited by Ken
Gemes and John Richardson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010a.
Helpful and authoritative survey of the different ways in which Greek philosophy, from the pre-Socratics
onward, influenced Nietzsches philosophical work. Accessible to advanced undergraduates.

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Berry, Jessica. Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition . New York: Oxford University Press,
2010b.
A systematic examination of the role of ideas derived from Phyronnian skepticism in Nietzsches
philosophy, including his perspectivism and ethics. For scholars and graduate students.

Cancik, Hubert. Nietzsches Antike: Vorlesung . Stuttgart, Germany: Metzler, 1995.


Probably the best single-volume resource on Nietzsches engagement with (mainly) Greek antiquity, from
his early education as a classical philologist through his writings and lectures on the pre-Socratics and
Greek tragedy, and then his later philosophical work (the somewhat polemical lectures on Nietzsches later
work can be safely ignored). Also useful on the influence of contemporaries such as Wagner and
Burckhardt on Nietzsches conception of ancient literature and culture. Cancik is erudite and informative
but not always attuned to what is philosophically important.

Mann, Joel. Nietzsches Interest and Enthusiasm for the Greek Sophists. Nietzsche-Studien 32
(2003): 406428.
Useful in documenting the important influence of the Greek Sophists on Nietzsche, with due appreciation
for the centrality of Thucydides in Nietzsches understanding of the Sophistic movement.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Pre-Platonic Philosophers . Edited and translated by Greg Whitlock.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.
A compilation, with helpful editorial apparatus by Whitlock, of Nietzsches lectures on the pre-Socratic
philosophers as well as Socrates.

Influences from the Modern Era


The best-known influences on Nietzsche were Schopenhauer (Janaway 1998, Silk and Stern 1981, Young 1992),
Lange (Salaquarda 1978, Stack 1983), and Wagner (Silk and Stern 1981), but recent scholarship has drawn
attention to Nietzsches engagement with neo-Kantianism beyond Lange (Green 2002) and to the importance of
developments in 19th-century biology and medicine to Nietzsches thinking (Moore 2002).
Green, Michael Steven. Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition . Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 2002.
Systematic and philosophically ambitious study of the influence of neo-Kantian philosopher Afrikaner Spir
on Nietzsches thought. Essential reading for graduate students and scholars considering the neo-Kantian
background to Nietzsches thought. Interesting critical questions about Greens interpretation are raised in
the review by Nadeem Hussain in Philosophical Review 113 (2004): 275278.

Janaway, Christopher, ed. Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsches Educator .


Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
A collection of new essays examining different facets of Schopenhauers influence on Nietzsche. The

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introduction and chapter 1, both by Janaway, a leading Schopenhauer scholar, are especially good places
to start.

Moore, Gregory. Nietzsche, Biology, and Metaphor . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,
2002.
Illuminating about the themes in 19th-century biology and medicine that would have informed Nietzsches
frequent use of physiological and medical language (such as health and sickness). Its interpretive
hypotheses about Nietzsches philosophy are debatable, but its portrait of the contemporaneous scientific
culture is a useful corrective to readings that dismiss Nietzsches interest in these matters. The
bibliography of the work is also a valuable resource in its own right.

Salaquarda, Jrg. Nietzsche und Lange. Nietzsche-Studien 7 (1978): 236253.


An overview, with citations, to many points of actual and possible influence of Langes ideas on Nietzsche.
An important starting place for graduate students and scholars.

Silk, M. S., and J. P. Stern. Nietzsche on Tragedy . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,
1981.
Helpful discussions of the impact of Schopenhauer and Wagner on the young Nietzsche, especially with
respect to his first book, The Birth of Tragedy. Chapter 1 also illuminates the scholarly culture of
19th-century German classics, against which Nietzsche, in large part, reacted.

Stack, George. Lange and Nietzsche . Berlin: de Gruyter, 1983.


An even more comprehensive version of the task begun in Salaquarda 1978, though Stack systematically
overstates Langes influence on Nietzsche. Defects notwithstanding, a necessary resource for scholars
looking at the LangeNietzsche connection.

Young, Julian. Nietzsches Philosophy of Art . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Provocative and often ingenious defense of the contrarian view that despite Nietzsches claim to find in art
a way to resist Schopenhauers pessimistic verdict about the senselessness of human existence, in reality
Nietzsche, without perhaps realizing it, ends up endorsing that verdict. Essential reading for scholars and
graduate students interested in The Birth of Tragedy and the NietzscheSchopenhauer relationship more
generally.

GENEALOGY, NATURALISM, AND QUESTIONS OF PHILOSOPHICAL METHODOLOGY


Nietzsches rhetorical styleinflammatory, provocative, dispensing with conventional philosophical
discursivenessraises a number of puzzles about his conception of philosophy and its proper method. Janaway
2007 is a powerful and plausible argument for the centrality of this style to his project of a revaluation of values,

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though he also takes partial issue with another strand in the secondary literature, namely, reading Nietzsche as a
kind of philosophical naturalist, who thinks of philosophical inquiry as proceeding in tandem with the empirical
sciences (such as psychology and biology). Janaway 2007, though agreeing that Nietzsche is a kind of
philosophical naturalist, disputes the presentation of Nietzsches naturalism in Leiters Nietzsche on Morality
(Leiter 2002, cited under Moral Philosophy). Leiter 2010 sets out the naturalist reading and responds to many of
Janaways concerns. Kail 2009 helpfully compares Nietzsches naturalism to that of the other great philosophical
naturalist in the modern tradition, Hume. Others associate Nietzsches philosophical practice with the
genealogical method, an idea that was influentially articulated in Foucault 1977; Foucaults treatment is
usefully compared with that in Geuss 1994.
Foucault, Michel. Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice:

Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault . Edited and translated by D. F. Bouchard,
139164. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977.
English translation of the 1971 essay Nietzsche, Genealogie, Historie, laying out an influential account of
genealogy, which is also illuminating about Foucaults own practice. Usefully contrasted with Geuss 1994.
Also reprinted in Richardson and Leiter 2001 (cited under Anthologies).

Geuss, Raymond. Nietzsche and Genealogy. European Journal of Philosophy 2 (1994): 275292.
Nice counterpoint to Foucault 1977; helpful discussion of the idea of a family genealogy and what it
illuminates about Nietzsches practice. Also reprinted in Richardson and Leiter 2001 (cited under
Anthologies).

Janaway, Christopher. Beyond Selflessness: Reading Nietzsches Genealogy . Oxford: Oxford


University Press, 2007.
Discusses the main themes of Nietzsches On the Genealogy of Morality, which emphasizes the role of
Nietzsches stylistic devices for arousing the passions and emotions of his readers, a practice central, by
Janaways account, to effecting a revaluation of values. Views Nietzsche as a naturalist, but takes issue in
particular with the influential naturalistic reading of Nietzsche in Leiter 2002 (cited under Moral
Philosophy). See especially chapters 1 and 3.

Kail, Peter. Nietzsche and Hume: Naturalism and Explanation. Journal of Nietzsche Studies 37
(2009): 522.
Leading Hume scholar offers a systematic overview of the role of naturalistic themes in the works of Hume
and Nietzsche.

Leiter, Brian. Nietzsches Naturalism Reconsidered. In The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche .


Edited by Ken Gemes and John Richardson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
A defense and elaboration of the reading of Nietzsche as a naturalist from Leiter 2002 (cited under Moral
Philosophy); responds in several places to Janaway 2007 and is usefully read in conjunction with the latter.

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MORAL PHILOSOPHY
Issues in ethics are at the center of Nietzsches philosophical corpus: his critique of morality, his understanding
of moral agency and psychology, his views on the objectivity of morality, and his conception of higher men and
the ideal kind of person. Leiter 2002 and May 1999 are general overviews, whereas the other references address
particular themes in Nietzsches moral philosophy, such as his meta-ethics (Hussain 2007), moral psychology
(Risse 2001, Williams 1993), and positive ethical vision (Hurka 2007).
Clark, Maudemarie. Nietzsches Immoralism and the Concept of Morality. In Nietzsche,

Genealogy, Morality . Edited by Richard Schacht, 1534. Berkeley: University of California Press,
1994.
What is Nietzsches target in attacking morality? Clarks account may be usefully compared with Leiter
2002.

Foot, Philippa. Nietzsche: The Revaluation of Values. In Nietzsche: A Collection of Critical

Essays . Edited by Robert C. Solomon, 156168. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press,
1973.
A useful introduction to Nietzsches attack on morality by a leading moral philosopher, both sympathetic
to and critical of Nietzsches views. Also reprinted in Richardson and Leiter 2001 (cited under
Anthologies).

Hurka, Thomas. Nietzsche: Perfectionist. In Nietzsche and Morality . Edited by Brian Leiter and
Neil Sinhbabu, 931. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Leading moral philosopher reconstructs Nietzsches positive ethical vision as a kind of perfectionism,
based on a conception of human excellence.

Hussain, Nadeem. Honest Illusion: Valuing for Nietzsches Free Spirits. In Nietzsche and

Morality . Edited by Brian Leiter and Neil Sinhababu, 157191. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2007.
Important recent account of Nietzsches meta-ethics as a kind of moral fictionalism.

Leiter, Brian. Nietzsche on Morality . London: Routledge, 2002.


Systematic and influential account of Nietzsches critique of morality, his conception of higher men, his
moral psychology, and his meta-ethics. Later chapters include a commentary on Nietzsches On the

Genealogy of Morality. Accessible to advanced undergraduates and patient beginners. There is a


compressed version of the account available online.

May, Simon. Nietzsches Ethics and His War on Morality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Useful overview of Nietzsches critique of morality, though it often betrays its origins as a doctoral thesis.

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Accessible to advanced undergraduates and patient beginners.

Risse, Mathias. The Second Treatise in On the Genealogy of Morality : Nietzsche on the Origin of
Bad Conscience. European Journal of Philosophy 9 (2001): 5581.
[DOI: 10.1111/1468-0378.00130]
Important and much discussed analysis of the most difficult of the three essays of Nietzsches Genealogy.
Essential for scholars and graduate students.

Williams, Bernard. Nietzsches Minimalist Moral Psychology. European Journal of Philosophy 1


(1993): 414.
[DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0378.1993.tb00021.x]
Moderately interesting account of Nietzsches moral psychology from a leading Anglophone philosopher
who had a sustained interest in Nietzsches work.

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Nietzsches apparent illiberal and anti-egalitarian sentiments have raised vexing questions about what kind of
political philosophy, if any, he had. One view (well represented in Detwiler 1990) is that Nietzsche was an
advocate for the restoration of an aristocratic political order, one in which the herd of humanity would be put to
service on behalf of geniuses such as Goethe and Nietzsche. Some (like Brobjer 1998) question the textual basis
for ascribing this political program to Nietzsche, whereas others (Hunt 1985 is representative) call attention to
Nietzsches astonishing hostility to politics and political philosophy: he may have been more the esoteric
moralist, looking to transform the consciousness of select readers, than the proponent of a political program.
Shaw 2007 suggests a new approach to the question of Nietzsches political philosophy, treating him as
interested in the problem of how the modern state could be legitimate.
Brobjer, Thomas H. The Absence of Political Ideals in Nietzsches Writings: The Case of the Law
of Manu and the Associated Caste Society. Nietzsche-Studien 27 (1998): 300318.
A shrewd, skeptical analysis of a famous passage from The Antichrist often adduced as evidence of
Nietzsches commitment to an aristocratic political order.

Detwiler, Bruce. Nietzsche and the Politics of Aristocratic Radicalism . Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1990.
An accessible and careful assembling of textual evidence in support of the idea that Nietzsche was, as his
contemporary Georg Brandes dubbed him, a proponent of aristocratic radicalism.

Hunt, Lester. Politics and Anti-Politics: Nietzsches View of the State. History of Philosophy

Quarterly 2 (1985): 453468.


An important paper making the case that Nietzsche had no interest in politics or political philosophy.

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Shaw, Tamsin. Nietzsches Political Skepticism . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.
Makes the novel argument that Nietzsche was concerned with the problem of how legitimate political
authority is possible in a secular era, when religion is no longer a credible source of normative guidance
and philosophy itself is ineffective in the public arena. The textual basis for ascribing these concerns to
Nietzsche is debatable, but Shaws account is provocative and essential reading for graduate students and
scholars interested in the question of Nietzsches political thought.

ART AND LITERATURE


From Schopenhauer, Nietzsche inherited the fundamental existential problem of how life could be justified in
the face of widespread and continued suffering. In his first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), he introduced the
idea that art could justify existence in the face of human suffering. This problem occupied Nietzsche throughout
his corpus and plays a particularly important role in his conception of art. Schacht 2001 is a valuable
introduction to the central issues, while Young 1992 offers a contrarian view of the role of The Birth of Tragedy
in Nietzsches corpus. Silk and Stern 1981 is a systematic analysis of The Birth of Tragedy, while Whitman 1986
is helpful in explaining Nietzsches intellectual upbringing and its role in the development of his view of Greek
tragedy. Benjamin 1977 remains the most important work of literary theory influenced by Nietzsche.
Benjamin, Walter. The Origin of German Tragic Drama . Translated by John Osborne. London: New
Left, 1977.
Translation of Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (Berlin: Rowohlt, 1928), one of the most influential
works of literary and cultural criticism of the 20th century; it contains several extended discussions of
Nietzsches views on tragedy, but the influence of Nietzsche on Benjamins own views can be felt in many
other places. Strictly for scholars and graduate students.

Schacht, Richard. Making Life Worth Living: Nietzsche on Art in The Birth of Tragedy . In

Nietzsche . Edited by John Richardson and Brian Leiter. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Reprint of a hard-to-find 1977 essay that provides an excellent starting point for those new to The Birth of

Tragedy and Nietzsches relationship to Schopenhauer.

Silk, M. S., and J. P. Stern. Nietzsche on Tragedy . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,
1981.
Still the best single-volume commentary on The Birth of Tragedy, in both its intellectual background and
its detailed argument. Usefully evaluates Nietzsches claims about Greek tragedy for their soundness,
finding both faults and real insights.

Whitman, James. Nietzsche and the Magisterial Tradition of German Classical Philology. Journal

of the History of Ideas 47 (1986): 453468.


[DOI: 10.2307/2709663]
Illuminating about the German academic culture of classical philology against which The Birth of Tragedy

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was written.

Young, Julian. Nietzsches Philosophy of Art . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Provocative and often ingenious defense of the contrarian view that despite Nietzsches claim to have
found in art a way to resist Schopenhauers pessimistic verdict about the senselessness of human
existence, in reality Nietzsche, without perhaps realizing it, ends up endorsing that verdict. Essential
readings for scholars and graduate students interested in The Birth of Tragedy and the Nietzsche
Schopenhauer relationship more generally.

TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, AND PERSPECTIVISM


Perhaps no subject has been as interpretively vexed as Nietzsches views about truth and knowledge, which are
often lumped under the rubric of his perpectivism (though the most famous passage on perspectivism from On

the Genealogy of Morality is concerned only with knowledge, not truth). Under the influence of
post-structuralism, Nietzsche was often associated with a radical skepticism about truth and knowledge, but
that reading is now largely in disfavor. Clark 1990 marked a turning point, though many scholars (Poellner 1995
and Anderson 1996 are representative) have taken issue with its reading. Anderson 1998, Berry 2010, and
Janaway 1997 have all tried to develop alternative accounts, paying heed to the influence of Kant, Schopenhauer,
and even ancient skepticism on Nietzsches philosophy. Gemes 1992 is an important source for the idea that
Nietzsche has no interesting contribution to make to metaphysics and epistemology, but is illuminating on the
question he really cared about, namely, the value of truth.
Anderson, R. Lanier. Overcoming Charity: The Case of Maudemarie Clarks Nietzsche on Truth

and Philosophy . Nietzsche-Studien 25 (1996): 307341.


Sustained critique of the developmental account of Nietzsches views in Clark 1990.

Anderson, R. Lanier. Truth and Objectivity in Perspectivism. Synthse 115 (1998): 132.
[DOI: 10.1023/A:1004984312166]
Careful analysis of the perspective metaphor, attempting to situate Nietzsches views of truth and
objectivity in the context of both reactions to Kant and contemporary philosophical debates about realism
and antirealism. For scholars and graduate students.

Berry, Jessica. Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition . New York: Oxford University Press,
2010.
Provocative brief for the idea that the only kind of skepticism at work in Nietzsche is the Phyronnian kind,
which demands a suspension of belief.

Clark, Maudemarie. Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press, 1990.

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The starting point for all work on this topic. Argues that Nietzsche abandons the (incoherent) view of truth
in the early essay On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (popular with post-structuralist readings),
and that Nietzsches views undergo a remarkable development: he moves from an early skepticism about
the possibility of truth and knowledge based on neo-Kantian doubts about the accessibility of the world as
it is (the noumenal world) to a repudiation of the idea of a noumenal world and a renewed confidence in
the senses and empirical science.

Clark, Maudemarie. On Knowledge, Truth, and Value: Nietzsches Debt to Schopenhauer and the
Development of His Empiricism. In Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsches

Educator . Edited by Christopher Janaway, 3778. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Revises aspects of the account in Clark 1990, arguing that Nietzsches confidence in the deliverances of
the senses predates his works of 18871888.

Gemes, Ken. Nietzsches Critique of Truth. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52


(1992): 4765.
[DOI: 10.2307/2107743]
Argues that Nietzsche is neither much interested in theories of truth and knowledge, nor very good at
formulating philosophically interesting positions on these topics; instead, his real contribution is in raising
questions about the value of truth and our pursuit of it.

Janaway, Christopher. Beyond Selflessness: Reading Nietzsches Genealogy . Oxford: Oxford


University Press, 1997.
Exposition of Nietzsches critique of the idea of disinterested knowledge and the overvaluation of truth,
as well as Nietzsches alternative perspectival account of knowledge and objectivity; skillfully situates
these themes against the backdrop of Nietzsches reaction to Schopenhauer and Kant. The account in
chapter 12 of the role of affects in the kind of knowledge the Genealogy aspires to impart to select
readers is especially insightful, as is the explication of the connection between knowing and Nietzsches
attack on the idea of the unitary subject. See also chapters 11 and 13.

Poellner, Peter. Nietzsche and Metaphysics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Erudite and philosophically demanding examination of Nietzsches views on causation, truth, and
skepticism. Essential reading for scholars and graduate students. See especially chapters 24.

MIND, AGENCY, AND FREE WILL


Nietzsche denigrates the significance of consciousness, emphasizes the importance of the body, expresses
skepticism about our ability to know our own motivations, and often denies the possibility of free will and moral
responsibility. Leiter 1998 gives a radical interpretation of the import of these remarks, whereas many of the
contributors to Gemes and May 2009 find room for putatively Nietzschean notions of freedom and

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responsibility. Katsafanas 2005 and Katsafanas 2010 offer careful treatments of Nietzsches conceptions of the
unconscious and of drives, while Poellner 1995 is equally illuminating on Nietzsches philosophical psychology,
especially the idea of the unconscious.
Gemes, Ken, and Simon May, eds. Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy . Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2009.
Most, not all, contributors are sympathetic to the idea that Nietzsche has room for meaningful ideas of free
agency and responsibility. Essays by Gemes, Richardson, and Poellner give systematic articulations of the
idea that Nietzsche has a substantive account of freedom and/or free will; Leiter represents the more
skeptical view, which is then contested in the chapter by Clark and Dudrick. A natural starting point for
graduate students and scholars interested in these issues.

Katsafanas, Paul. Nietzsches Theory of Mind: Consciousness and Conceptualization. European

Journal of Philosophy 13 (2005): 131.


[DOI: 10.1111/j.0966-8373.2005.00220.x]
Important recent treatment of how Nietzsche conceives the distinction between conscious and unconscious
mental states; argues provocatively that the key lies in the idea of conceptual articulatibility. Essential
reading for scholars and graduate students working on this topic.

Katsafanas, Paul. Nietzsches Philosophical Psychology. In The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche .


Edited by Ken Gemes and John Richardson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Careful and philosophically informed exposition of Nietzsches idea of a drive and its role in his picture
of agency. Accessible to advanced undergraduates, and clearly essential for future work on this
undertreated topic.

Leiter, Brian. The Paradox of Fatalism and Self-Creation in Nietzsche. In Willing and

Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsches Educator . Edited by Christopher Janaway, 217256.


Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
A widely discussedand disputed (see Katsafanas 2005 and some of the contributions to Gemes and May
2009)account of Nietzsche on freedom and agency, according to which Nietzsche embraces a kind of
fatalism that involves the denial that agents are ever responsible for what they do. Argues that Nietzsches
talk about self-creation must be read in a radically revisionary way as describing a causal process in
which no self makes any autonomous contribution.

Poellner, Peter. Nietzsche and Metaphysics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Erudite and sophisticated exploration of select themes from Nietzsches philosophical psychology. Suitable
for graduate students and scholars. See especially chapter 5.

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