Link of the Day: Katsafanas on Drives in Nietzsche

Primary version of this post, with visual content, at Barry Stocker’s Weblog.

Nietzsche’s Philosophical Psychology, by Paul Katsafanas.

Hat tip, Philosophical Papers

This is a final draft Katsafanas has posted on his personal page at the Department of Philosophy in the University of New Mexico, of an entry for the Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche (edited by John Richardson and Ken Gemes).

It’s part of Katsafanas’ general work on ethics, action and agency.

The paper’s title might be considered a bit misleading as Katasafanas very largely concentrates on the issue of drives in Nietzsche, though free will comes up as well.. The discussion of drives is very good, though ‘drive’ is not a word that Nietzsche uses very often, and not at all in some books, so it’s a bit of a stretch to take that as the dominat issue in Nietzsche’s philosophical psychology. This may reflect other aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophical psychology being included in other entries in the handbook, things like the relation between mind and body, the nature of the self, concept possession etc.

The account of drives includes a good discussion of recent positions and a clear account of Kakasanas’ preferred position. Some of his positions rests on assumptions of continuity between Nietzsche and Freud, which is in danger of distracting from Nietzsche’s texts. There’s also an assumption of continuity between Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, which is less distracting from Nietzsche’s own texts, since Schopenhauer is discussed in those texts. The claim is that ‘drive’ includes reflection, though it may refer to very automatic reactions, even at low levels of life there must be a conscious sensation in the argument. Darwin and James are also brought in to justify this position, so we end up with an account of a general approach in philosophy, biology, psychology and psychoanalysis. That opens the question of the relative merits of broad context and the details of text as the centre of focus. Anyway Katsafanas does a god job of integrating that, and other material. Katsafanas draws a sharp line between the material and the psychological, coming down on the psychological in his study of drives. I don’t see that as completely wrong, but I would argue that consciousness and psychology are emergent from material forces in Nietzsche and that these are mutually intertwined.

I very much approve of the account of free will, where Katsafanas argues that Nietzsche is a determinist, but not in a way which completely excludes agency. i might find more to disagree with on further study, but the broad sweep of argument looks correct to me.


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