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Nietzsche's Zarathustra

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Overview

Nietzsche's Zarathustra takes an interdisciplinary approach to Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, focusing on the philosophical function of its literary techniques and its fictional mode of presentation. It argues that the fictional format is essential to Nietzsche's philosophical message in his work. Part of that message is Nietzsche's alternative to the Western worldview as developed by Plato's dialogues and the Christian Gospel, which he presents through the teachings of his hero, Zarathustra. Another part of...

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Nietzsche's Zarathustra

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Overview

Nietzsche's Zarathustra takes an interdisciplinary approach to Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, focusing on the philosophical function of its literary techniques and its fictional mode of presentation. It argues that the fictional format is essential to Nietzsche's philosophical message in his work. Part of that message is Nietzsche's alternative to the Western worldview as developed by Plato's dialogues and the Christian Gospel, which he presents through the teachings of his hero, Zarathustra. Another part of that message is that any doctrine, including those of Zarathustra himself, has an ambivalent nature. Although doctrinal formulations are designed to preserve and communicate philosophical insights, they can become dead formulas, out of touch with the live philosophical discoveries that they aimed to capture. Thus Spoke Zarathustra explores Zarathustra's own vulnerability to this risk, and his way of regaining real connection with living wisdom. The doctrine of eternal recurrence, which is particular prominent in Zarathustra, is a case in point. The doctrine is offered in opposition to the worldview that Nietzsche associates with the Christian doctrine of sin, which in his view promotes a view of this life as devoid of intrinsic value. However, certain ways of adhering to this doctrine themselves rob life of its value. The book also defends the importance of Part IV of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which many scholars have seen as unimportant by comparison with the first three parts. Nietzsche's Zarathustra argues that Part III would not have been a culmination for the work, and that Part IV is essential to Nietzsche's project. Part IV's allusions to Apuleius' The Golden Ass, an ancient Menippean satire, suggest that it should be read as a satire in which Zarathustra falls into and recovers from folly. It is thus the culminating statement of the point that there is always a discrepancy between the living philosophical insight and any attempt to articulate it

"This elegantly produced book is a well-written, perceptive...study of Nietzsche's masterpiece... ."--Julian Young, Australian Journal of Philosophy

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Gooding-Williams
The publication of the second edition of Kathleen Higgins's Nietzsche's Zarathustra is a great boon to Nietzsche scholars and Zarathustra specialists alike, for Higgins's consistently subtle analysis of Nietzsche's bold experiment in philosophical writing —especially her groundbreaking interpretation of Zarathustra, Part IV—is replete with invaluable insights. More than twenty years after its initial appearance, Nietzsche's Zarathustra remains an indispensable point of reference for philosophers and critics who take seriously Nietzsche's judgment that Zarathustra is his most significant work.
Alexander Nehamas
Thus Spoke Zarathustra is Nietzsche's most popular and yet least comprehensible book. Many have left the matter there, deriding both the author and his public. Kathleen Higgins refuses to take this easy path. She reveals the complexities underlying the work's apparent lack of organization and argues that these complexities, far from being gratuitous, are telling and significant. She argues that Zarathustra breaks the boundaries that separate a number of genres from one another. Her own interpretation, reflecting the features of its subject, breaks the boundaries that separate a number of academic disciplines. Higgins has written an engaging book, which will prove indispensable to Nietzsche's many readers.
Joan Stambaugh
This book contains the kind of original insights into Zarathustra that can only be gleaned from a very close, intuitive reading. Higgins is sensitive and sympathetic to the 'religious' or spiritual dimension of Nietzsche's thought, which most writers on Nietzsche ignore, neglect, deny, or don't even see.
Library Journal
To put it mildly, Nietzsche had an extremely high opinion of his Zarathustra, an opinion not shared by many recent scholars. For it is a difficult and obscure book lacking determinate genre and easily extractable conceptual content. Higgins's project is to show that Zarathustra should be taken seriously. Her central insight is that Nietzsche uses various devices to distance himself from a rigid allegiance to his hero's doctrines. The most novel claim is that Part IV is modeled on Apuleius's Golden Ass , indicating Nietzsche's awareness of certain limitations in Zarathustra's message. Nietzsche scholars will want to read this clearly written and illuminating book. Richard Hogan, Southeastern Massachusetts Univ., North Dartmouth
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739120866
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 3/16/2010
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Marie Higgins is professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Foreword to the Revised Edition

Preface

1 An ad Hominem Introduction to Nietzsche 1

2 Nietzsche's Conception of Tragedy and the Tragic Worldview 11

3 Nietzsche's Case Against Christian Morality 27

4 Why Zarathustra Speaks 45

5 The Ambivalence of Zarathustra's Doctrine 75

6 Eternal Recurrence Versus the Doctrine of Sin 103

7 Where Zarathustra Ends Up 131

Conclusion: Taking It Seriously 153

Abbreviations 161

Notes 163

Selected Nietzsche Bibliography 189

Index 213

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