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The Irony of Pity: Nietzsche contra Schopenhauer and Rousseau

The Irony of Pity: Nietzsche contra Schopenhauer and Rousseau The Irony of Pity: Nietzsche contra Schopenhauer and Rousseau MICHAEL URE t has almost become an unwritten law among those who defend Nietzschean ideals of self-cultivation to skirt the issue of his critique of pity, dismissing it as an extraneous diatribe or an embarrassing fulmination.1 On the other hand, critics who denounce Nietzsche's ideal of self-cultivation as a dangerous solipsism that all too easily gives license to indifference or outright contempt for others seize on this aspect of his thought as cut-and-dried evidence for the claim that, as Charles Taylor coyly phrases it, "Nietzsche's influence was not entirely foreign [to fascism]."2 Rather than dismissing or denouncing the "pitiless" Nietzsche, this essay carefully examines his subtle psychological analysis of pitié/Mitleid. It does so by training a spotlight on his principal object of criticism: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Arthur Schopenhauer's ethics of pity. I shall argue that Nietzsche's psychological analysis presents a compelling case for interpreting Rousseauian and Schopenhauerian pity not as a sign of living for others or as a form of mutuality and recognition, as its defenders routinely assume, but as a veiled means of assuaging narcissistic loss at the other's expense. In this respect, I claim that Nietzsche http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of Nietzsche Studies Penn State University Press

The Irony of Pity: Nietzsche contra Schopenhauer and Rousseau

The Journal of Nietzsche Studies , Volume 32 (1) – Nov 6, 2006

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
1538-4594
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Abstract

The Irony of Pity: Nietzsche contra Schopenhauer and Rousseau MICHAEL URE t has almost become an unwritten law among those who defend Nietzschean ideals of self-cultivation to skirt the issue of his critique of pity, dismissing it as an extraneous diatribe or an embarrassing fulmination.1 On the other hand, critics who denounce Nietzsche's ideal of self-cultivation as a dangerous solipsism that all too easily gives license to indifference or outright contempt for others seize on this aspect of his thought as cut-and-dried evidence for the claim that, as Charles Taylor coyly phrases it, "Nietzsche's influence was not entirely foreign [to fascism]."2 Rather than dismissing or denouncing the "pitiless" Nietzsche, this essay carefully examines his subtle psychological analysis of pitié/Mitleid. It does so by training a spotlight on his principal object of criticism: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Arthur Schopenhauer's ethics of pity. I shall argue that Nietzsche's psychological analysis presents a compelling case for interpreting Rousseauian and Schopenhauerian pity not as a sign of living for others or as a form of mutuality and recognition, as its defenders routinely assume, but as a veiled means of assuaging narcissistic loss at the other's expense. In this respect, I claim that Nietzsche

Journal

The Journal of Nietzsche StudiesPenn State University Press

Published: Nov 6, 2006

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