You are on page 1of 19

Northeastern Political Science Association

NielzscIe's BadicaIizalion oJ Kanl
AulIov|s)· WiIIian W. SoIoIoJJ
Bevieved vovI|s)·
Souvce· FoIil¸, VoI. 38, No. 4 |Ocl., 2006), pp. 501-518
FuIIisIed I¸· Palgrave Macmillan Journals
SlaIIe UBL· http://www.jstor.org/stable/3877079 .
Accessed· 24/01/2013 02·50
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
.
Palgrave Macmillan Journals and Northeastern Political Science Association are collaborating with JSTOR to
digitize, preserve and extend access to Polity.
http://www.jstor.org
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Polity
*
Volume
38,
Number 4
*
October 2006
(0
2006 Northeastern Political Science Association
0032-3497/06
$30.00
www.palgrave-journals.com/polity
Nietzsche's Radicalization
of Kant*
William W. Sokoloff
Chapman University College,
Santa Maria
Valley Campus
According
to liberals and
postmodernists,
Nietzsche and Kant
occupy opposing
places
on the theoretical
spectrum.
I
challenge
this
assumption
and
argue
that
Nietzsche is
working
both with and
against
Kant in terms of his new
morality
Nietzsche's harsh rhetoric
against
Kant serves as a mask
that,
on closer
examination,
conceals similarities.
Through
an
analysis
of some of his
texts,
I demonstrate that Nietzsche works within a Kantian
conception
of moral
autonomy
in terms of two of his most
provocative
formulations:
pathos
of distance and law of
life. Nietzsche's
critique
of
ressentiment, moreover
illustrates his commitment to
Kantian
assumptions
about moral conduct.
Bringing
Kant and Nietzsche
together
yields
a new
image
of
autonomy
that overcomes the
sovereign subjectivity
central
to the Kantian
conception.
Polity (2006) 38,
501-518. doi:10.
1057/palgrave.polity.2300061
Keywords autonomy; experience; Kant; law; Nietzsche; pathos
of
distance;
ressentiment
William W
Sokoloff
is Assistant
Professor
of Social Sciences at
Chapman
University College,
Santa Maria
Valley Campus.
He has
published
in the American
Journal of Political
Science,
Political Research
Quarterly, Theory
&
Event,
and
Political
Theory.
He is
currently working
on a book entitled
Right
of Resistance. He
can be reached at
wsokoloff2000@yahoo.com.
Introduction
Nietzsche does not
reject morality
but
re-figures
it
beyond good
and evil and
alongside
a Kantian
conception
of
autonomy.'
He does not
stay
within Kant's
*The author thanks Amanda
Roya Modesta-Keyhani,
Nicholas
Xenos,
Susan
Shell,
Karen
Zivi,
E.C. Graf,
O. Bradley Bassler,
an
anonymous Polity reviewer,
and the editor for comments on earlier drafts
of this article. I also thank the
librarians
at Whittier
College
for
allowing
me to use the
library
1. Nietzsche citations refer to sections and not
pages.
I use the
following
abbreviations: GT = Birth of
Tragedy,
trans. Walter Kaufmann
(New
York:
Vintage Books, 1967);
UB
=
Unfashionable
Observations,
trans. Richard
T
Gray (Stanford:
Stanford
University Press, 1995);
MA
(I
&
II)
=
Human,
All Too
Human,
trans. R. J.
Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); M
=Daybreak, trans. R. J.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
502
NIETZSCHE/KANT
framework for
practical
reason but radicalizes it. This is clear in terms of his
critique
of
ressentiment, presentation
of
pathos
of
distance,
and articulation of a
new foundation for ethical
practice.
Nietzsche's radicalization of Kant overcomes
some of the
shortcomings
of his Prussian forefather and
challenges
the
way
Nietzsche has been received
among
liberal and
postmodern political
theorists.2
For
liberals,
Nietzsche is an
irrational, sadistic,
and undemocratic
political
thinker
of dubious worth. For
postmodernists,
Nietzsche is valuable because he does
away
with transcendental
ground
and frees the
subject
from conventional
morality
Both
camps
have clouded his
significance
for
rethinking autonomy
because
they
view him as
rejecting law. My essay
scrambles the association of
Nietzsche with
postmodernism
and Kant with liberal
thought (and opens
a
space
between and
slightly beyond
the two
sides)
insofar as it demonstrates the
profound affinity
between Kant and Nietzsche on the
question
of
autonomy
Interrogating autonomy
in Nietzsche's
writings (with
Kant in the
background)
could
help
to
forge
a
dialogue
between liberal and
postmodernist
readers of his
work. It also raises the stakes of what it means to be an autonomous moral
agent.
Nietzsche does not conceive of the human as an amoral blonde beast but as a
historically
constructed free
agent capable
of autonomous action. The
persistent
claim that Nietzsche breaks with Kant is not
only
inaccurate in this
regard
but
prevents
a fundamental
aspect
of Nietzsche's
thought
from
being
clarified. In the
words of
Nancy, reading
Kant in Nietzsche is
"indispensable."'3
Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982);
FW= The
Gay Science,
trans. Walter
Kaufmann
(New
York:
Vintage Books, 1974);
JGB =
Beyond
Good and
Evil,
trans. Walter Kaufmann
(New
York:
Vintage Books, 1989);
GM = On the
Genealogy
of
Morals,
trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J.
Hollingdale (New
York:
Vintage Books, 1989);
GD =
Twilight
of the
Idols,
trans. R. J.
Hollingdale (New
York:
Penguin Books, 1968);
AC
=Antichrist,
trans. R. J. Hollindale
(New
York:
Penguin Books, 1968);
EH=Ecce Homo,
trans. Walter Kaufmann
(New
York:
Vintage Books, 1989);
PTG
=Philosophy
in the
Tragic Age
of the
Greeks,
trans. Marianne Cowan
(Washington
D.C.:
Regnery Publishing, 1962);
WM = Will
to
Power,
trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J.
Hollingdale (New
York:
Vintage Books, 1968);
WL = "On Truth
and Lie in a Non-Moral Sense" in
Philosophy
and
Truth:
Selections
from Nietzsche's Notebooks
of
the
early
1870s,
ed and trans. Daniel Breazeale
(Atlantic Highlands,
NJ: Humanities Press
International, 1979);
Z= Thus
Spoke Zarathustra,
trans. R. J.
Hollingdale (New
York:
Penguin Books, 1961).
2. Postmodernists find Nietzsche
appealing
because he criticizes
sovereign subjectivity
and
embraces
becoming. They
find Kant
unappealing
because he
subjugates
the
empirical
world to the
transcendental realm. For the
relationship
between Nietzsche and
postmodernism,
see Lawrence
J.
Hateb,
A Nietzschean Defense of
Democracy:
An
Experiment
in Postmodern Politics
(Chicago: Open
Court, 1995)
and Mark
Warren,
Nietzsche and Political
Thought (Cambridge,
MA: MIT
Press, 1988).
Liberals find Kant
appealing
because he defends
rights-based conceptions
of
politics.
See
Rawls,
"Kantian Constructivism in Moral
Theory"
The Journal of
Philosophy
77
(September 1980). They
find
Nietzsche
unappealing
for the reasons listed above. See also Richard
Rorty, Contingency,
Irony,
and
Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
and
Jilrgen Habermas,
The
Philosophical
Discourse of
Modernity.
Twelve
Lectures,
trans. Frederick G. Lawrence
(Cambridge,
MA: The MIT
Press,
1987)
for
interpretations
that
emphasize
Nietzsche's corrosive effect on moral discourse.
3. Jean-Luc
Nancy
"Our
Probity!
On Truth in the Moral Sense in
Nietzsche,"'
trans. Peter
Connor,
in
Looking after Nietzsche, ed. Laurence A. Rickels (Albany: State University of New York Press), 80.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 503
The reason
why
commentators overlook the connection between Kant
and Nietzsche is
simple.4
The closest Nietzsche came to
directly working
on
Kant was an abandoned 1868
project
called "Zur
Teleologie"
After
that,
Nietzsche
criticizes Kantian
precepts calling
him, among
other
things,
a
"moral
fanatic,'
"scarecrow," "philosopher
for civil
servants,'
"moralist,
"cunning
Christian,'
and "deformed
conceptual cripple" (WM
I
95;
WM
I 127; GD
"Expeditions" 29;
AC
10;
GD "Reason"
6;
GD "Germans"
7).
Nietzsche never misses an
opportunity
to rail
against
the "horrible scholasticism" of Kant
(GD "Expeditions"
49). Despite
the
polemical rhetoric,
Nietzsche's relation to Kant is more
complicated
than these
quotes
from his later
writings suggest.5
As Deleuze
states,
"there
is,
in
Nietzsche,
not
only
a Kantian
heritage,
but a
half-avowed,
half-hidden,
rivalry.6
We can understand Nietzsche in a more
profound way
if we entertain the
possibility
that he and Kant are
doing something similar,
if to different
degrees.
Indeed,
we see a radicalization of Kant
taking place
in
Nietzsche,
especially
in
terms of his
re-conceptualization
of human
autonomy
Nietzsche's
concept
of
autonomy
radicalizes Kant because it
displaces sovereign subjectivity.
After I
examine Nietzsche's views on
ressentiment, pathos
of
distance,
and
law,
I contest
Bernstein's and
Connolly's readings
of Nietzsche in order to make the case for
Nietzschean
autonomy
Nietzschean
autonomy
overcomes the
shortcomings
of the Kantian version and
re-positions
Nietzsche's
significance beyond
both the
liberal and
postmodern interpretations
of his work.
4. Even if Nietzsche's
understanding
of Kant was filtered
through
Arthur
Schopenhauer's
The World
as Will and
Representation (1844),
F A.
Lange's History
of Materialism
(1866)
and Kuno Fischer's Kant
(1866), many
authors
prematurely shy away
from the connection. That Nietzsche denounces Kant is
accepted
at face value. For David
Owen,
Nietzsche attacks Kant's
conception
of
morality;
see
"Nietzsche,
Enlightenment
and the Problem of Noble
Ethics,'
in
Nietzsche's Futures,
ed. John
Lippett (London:
MacMillan Press
Ltd., 1999).
Keith Ansell-Pearson
opposes bringing
Kant and Nietzsche
together
in
"Nietzsche: A Radical
Challenge
to Political
Theory;"
Radical
Philosophy
54
(Spring 1990).
Ansell-Pearson
also maintains that "Nietzsche's
thinking
on
justice...runs
counter to the entire modern tradition from
Rousseau to Kant and
Hegel";
see "Toward the
comedy
of existence: On Nietzsche's new
justice,"
in The
Fate of the New
Nietzsche,
ed. Ansell-Pearson and Howard
Caygill (Aldershot,
UK:
Avebury Press, 1993).
William E.
Connolly places
Kant and Nietzsche on
opposite
sides of the
political spectrum.
This is
discussed later. In contrast to the
tendency
to
separate
Nietzsche and
Kant,
J. M. Bernstein discusses Kant
and Nietzsche in terms of
autonomy
See
'"Autonomy
and
Solitude,"
in Nietzsche and Modern German
Thought,
ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson
(New
York:
Routledge, 1991).
5. It is untrue that Nietzsche
rejects
"the
great Chinese
of
Koenigsberg" (JGB 210).
In a
spirit
similar
to
Kant,
Nietzsche maintains: "To
grasp
the limits of
reason-only
this is
truly philosophy" (AC 55).
Recall
"Kant's
joke"
in
Gay
Science: "Kant wanted to
prove,
in a
way
that would dumbfound the common
man,
that the common man was
right:
that was the secret
joke
of his soul. He wrote
against
the scholars in
support
of
popular prejudice,
but for scholars and not for the
people" (FW 193).
6. Gilles
Deleuze,
Nietzsche and
Philosophy
trans.
Hugh
Tomlinson
(New
York: Columbia
University
Press, 1983),
52. He also claims that "Nietzsche's relation to Kant is like Marx's to
Hegel";
89. This
flip-flop
comparison
obscures the
specificity
of each relationship.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
504
NIETZSCHE/KANT
Ressentiment:
Feeling Crossing
Itself Out
A word that is
interchangeable
with slave
morality,
ressentiment is linked to
a network of
concepts
in
Genealogy, including suffering, guilt,
bad
conscience,
debt, will,
and
meaninglessness.'
This
feeling
is a
problem
that
goes
back to
Untimely
Meditations where Nietzsche claims that
people
can "bleed to death
from a
single experience,
a
single pain, particularly
even from a
single
mild
injustice,
as from a
tiny
little
cut"
(UB "History" 1).
With ressentiment in
Genealogy
he
explores
its conditions of
possibility
and its relation to the birth of
moral
categories.
In the
history essay,
he avoids the
question
of
subjects
who want
to bleed on
others,
display
their
wounds,
and make others suffer. In
Genealogy,
he examines the
impact
ressentiment has on one's self-relation and on one's
relations with others.
Ressentiment is a
feeling
that collects in the
body
as well as in human
consciousness.
Although
all sensations are linked to
specific empirical
events that
take
place
at
particular moments,
this is not the case with ressentiment. It breaks
the link between
feeling
and time. The memories of
unpleasant
events
accumulate in the
body
and are felt as
festering
wounds. This has a
profound
impact
on
subjectivity
In terms of one's relation with
oneself,
the immediate
effect of ressentiment is self-hatred. Ressentiment also has an
impact
on one's
relations with others. Once self-hatred runs its
course,
the self's
feeling
of distress
is directed at others:
"They
make evildoers out of their
friends, wives, children,
and whoever else stands closest to them"
(GM III 15).
Mr. Ressentiment views others as evildoers because he wants someone
to blame for his
suffering: "Every
sufferer
instinctively
seeks a cause for his
suffering...
a
guilty agent
who is
susceptible
to
suffering" (GM
III
15).
Nobles are
hated and blamed
by
the slaves because
they
exceed norms and
expose
conformity
as weakness. The
superiority
of nobles illuminates the
mediocrity
of
slaves. That makes slaves suffer. Slaves
congregate,
herds
form,
and nobles are
attacked. It is not the bird-carnivores who
go
on the
rampage
but little
hungry
lambs that devour birds of
prey
It is not nobles who are cruel but the followers
of slave
morality.
Their wounds make them lash out at others. When slaves
encounter
others, they
demand immediate
recognition. Everything
must conform
to their mental schemas. Nietzsche
adopts
the
perspective
of the lamb and
speaks:
"You shall be
knowable, express your
inner nature
by
clear and constant
7. For an
interpretation
of
ressentiment,
see Max
Scheler's
On
Feeling, Knowing,
and
Valuing,
ed. Harold
Bershady (Chicago: University
of
Chicago Press, 1992), 116-43.
For a
variety
of
readings
of
ressentiment,
see
Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality: Essays
on
Nietzsche's
On the
Genealogy
of
Morals,
ed. Richard Schacht
(Berkeley: University
of California
Press, 1994).
For a discussion of the
relationship
between
ressentiment and
politics,
see
Wendy Brown,
States of
Injury:
Power and Freedom in Late
Modernity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1995).
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 505
signs-otherwise you
are
dangerous.
We
despise
the secret and
unrecognizable"
(WM II 277).
Nietzsche claims that "the actual
physiological
cause of ressentiment" is
a "desire to deaden
pain by
means of
affects"
(GM
III
15).
With
ressentiment,
the
body
becomes its own
enemy. Sensibility wages
war
against
itself.
Mr.
Ressentiment is a
prisoner
of human
sensibility, comparable
not to the
dog
who
chases its own tail but to the
dog
who bites it. Unable to
forget
and sublimate
pain
into creative activities that
discharge
it,
slaves feel all events as insults and
injuries:
One cannot
get
rid of
anything,
one cannot
get
over
anything,
one cannot
repel
anything-everything
hurts. Men and
things
obtrude too
closely; experiences
strike one too
deeply; memory
becomes a
festering
wound.
(EH
"Wise"
6)
Getting
over
something depends
on the
capacity
to embrace the
unexpected
turns of human
experience.
The failure to
change
in
response
to events that
frustrate our
expectations generates
ressentiment: "The wish to
preserve
oneself is
the
symptom
of a condition of distress"
(FW 349).
Ressentiment is not
only prone
to infect the self who
posits
itself as a fixed
identity
but it
gives
birth to moral codes that
sprout
from wounded
subjectivity.
It
propels
the
subject
to create values from a defensive relation to the world:
The slave revolt in
morality begins
when ressentiment itself becomes creative
and
gives
birth to values: the ressentiment of natures that are denied the true
reaction,
that of
deeds,
and
compensate
themselves with an
imaginary
revenge.
While
every
noble
morality develops
from a
triumphant
affirmation
of
itself,
slave
morality
from the outset
says
No to what is
"outside:'
what is
"different:'
what is "not
me";
and this No is its creative deed.
(GM I 10)
Slave revolt in
morality
undermines the
possibility
of autonomous action because
it internalizes the drive for outward
expansion.
Slaves cannot act.
They
want
revenge.
Nietzsche defines Mr. Ressentiment as one who
"understands
how to
keep
silent,
how not to
forget,
how to
wait,
how to be
provisionally
self-
deprecating
and humble"
(GM I 10).
Once self-denial reaches its
breaking point,
the
stage
is set for reactive attacks
against perceived
enemies. In contrast to the
Kantian
imperative
of
self-legislation,
the slave receives his
ground
for action from
an external source and then creates moral
categories
that value
reactivity.
Incapable
of
being
the source of his own
grounds
for
practice, objects
determine
his actions. He is
only capable
of
"re-action."'8
8. It is instructive to recall Kant's definition of
heteronomy.
Like
ressentiment, heteronomy
refers to
instances when the will does not
give
itself the law but receives the
ground
for
practice
from an
object.
See Groundwork of the
Metaphysics
of
Morals,
trans. and ed.
Mary Gregor (New
York:
Cambridge
University Press, 1997),
47.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
506
NIETZSCHE/KANT
Pathos of Distance:
Feeling
is Not a Name
Nietzsche's
critique
of ressentiment should not be viewed as a terminus
but as a
preparatory
task. The
outstanding question
is how ressentiment
can be overcome. Nietzsche does not
appeal
to the
supersensible
realm
as the
ground
for
practice
to overcome ressentiment but
presents
the
possibility
of a non-reactive mode of human
affectivity (pathos
of
distance)
as the
alternative. Pathos of distance is an aesthetic-affective dimension of
experience
that
suspends
the
pull
of ressentiment.' This
feeling
elevates the human
above
pathological
determination but without
severing
the link to
sensibility
It moves Nietzsche closer to Kant and also
paves
the
way
for Nietzsche's turn
to law.
As
early
as 1873 in "On Truth and Lie in an Extramoral
Sense',"
Nietzsche tries
to articulate a
feeling
that would
put
the
stability
of the
conceptual
order
permanently
into
question.
The "Truth and Lie"
essay,
in this
regard,
is a
critique
of the
concept
in order to
open
a
space
for life in an extra-moral sense.
Deconstructing
the
conceptual
world was the first
step
to human liberation.
Concepts, "graveyard
of
perceptions" (WL 2), prevent
humans from
feeling
the
uniqueness
of life.
They impose commonality
on dissimilar entities in order to
help
the human
cope
with
complexity through
the "identification of the non-
identical."10
The world is
given
the illusion of
comprehensibility through
conceptual
violence but becomes disenchanted in the
process. Thinking
in
concepts may
be
impossible
to
totally escape
but
concepts
nonetheless
prevent
humans from
feeling
the force of the
unique.
Panicked
by
incursions of
otherness,
clutching concepts
as a
way
to assail
it,
the human is de-sensitized and
prepared
for battle. Out of
fear,
he
imprisons
the world in
cognitive
9. Oliver
Conolly
in
"Pity Tragedy
and the Pathos
of
Distance"
defines pathos
of distance as "the
painful
distance that
necessarily
lies between my suffering
and that of
others";
in
European
Journal of
Philosophy
6
(December 1998):
290. In Nietzsche and the
Political, Conway
states: "The
pathos
of distance
signifies
an enhanced
sensibility for,
or attunement
to,
the order of rank that
"naturally"informs
the
rich
plurality
of human
types"
He continues: "The
over-arching goal
of his
politics
is to
preserve
the
diminished
pathos
of distance that ensures the
possibility
of ethical life and moral
development
in late
modernity" (New York:
Routledge, 1997), 40,
47. In a more critical
vein,
Bernstein
suggests
that the
pathos
of distance is a
"perpetual distancing
of the self from itself that enforces
solitude, mask,
and
irony";
see
'"Autonomy
and
Solitude,"'
213.
Interpretations
of
pathos
of distance can also be found in the
work of Sarah Kofman and
Werner Hamacher.
For the
former,
the
metaphor
of the
abyss
is a
metaphor
for
pathos
of
distance;
see Sarah
Kofman,
Nietzsche and
Metaphor,
trans. Duncan
Large (Stanford:
Stanford
University Press),
20. For
Hamacher, pathos
of distance refers to a moment when "the will is no
longer
one with
itself."
For
him, "individuality speaks
from the
undecidability
between
determination and
indeterminacy
thus from a
'pathos
of
distance'";
see Werner
Hamacher,
Premises.: Essays
on
Philosophy
and
Literature
from Kant
to
Celan,
trans. Peter Fenves
(Cambridge,
MA: Harvard
University Press, 1996),
121,
176.
10. Kofman, Nietzsche and Metaphor, 36.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 507
compartments.
Nietzsche contrasts
"rational
man,'
or Mr.
Concept,
with "intuitive
man." Mr. Intuition
Reaps
from his intuition a harvest of
continually inflowing
illumination, cheer,
and
redemption-in
addition to
obtaining
a defense
against
misfortune. To be
sure,
he suffers more
intensely
when he
suffers;
he even suffers more
frequently,
since he does not understand how to learn from
experience
and
keeps falling
over and over
again
into the same ditch. He is then
just
as irrational in sorrow as
he is in
happiness:
he cries aloud and will not be consoled.
(WL 2)
Mr. Intuition lives
cheerfully.
The external world does not suffer from the
projection
of rational
forms,
but remains a source of wonder because it has not
been transformed into
objects
of
knowledge.
Intuitive man nonetheless suffers
because he
adopts
a
non-pragmatic approach
to life. He is unable to learn from
experience
because he fails to calculate and base future actions on
past
ones. He
trusts his
feelings
and he
reaps
the harvest of cheerfulness but he
"keeps falling
over and over
again
into the same
ditch." However,
what
exactly
does he feel?
Nietzsche answers: "There exists no word for these
intuitions;
when man sees
them he
grows
dumb,
or else he
speaks only
in forbidden
metaphors
and in
unheard-of combinations of
concepts" (WL 2).
Nietzsche locates an
expression
for these intuitions in
Beyond
Good and Evil.
Straining language
to its
limit,
Nietzsche calls it
"pathos
of
distance:"
Every
enhancement of the
type
"man" has so far been the work of an aristocratic
society-and
it will be so
again
and
again-a society
that believes in the
long
ladder of an order of rank and differences in value between man and
man,
and
that needs
slavery
in some sense or other. Without that
pathos
of distance which
grows
out of the
ingrained
difference between strata-when the
ruling
caste
constantly
looks afar and looks down
upon subjects
and instruments and
just
as
constantly practices
obedience and
command, keeping
down and
keeping
at a
distance-that
other,
more
mysterious pathos
could not have
grown up
either-
the
craving
for an ever
widening
of distances within the soul
itself,
the
development
of ever
higher,
rarer,
more
remote, further-stretching,
more
comprehensive
states-in
brief, simply
the enhancement of the
type
"man'
the continual
"self-overcoming
of
man,'
to use a moral
formula
in a
supra-moral
sense. To be
sure,
one should not
yield
to humanitarian illusions about the
origins
of an aristocratic
society (and
thus of the
presupposition
of this
enhancement of the
type "man"):
truth is hard."
(JGB 257)
11.
Why
is truth
hard,
as
opposed
to cheerful? As we shall
see, pathos
of distance is the condition of
possibility
of
affirming
new
experiences
that establishes its connection with the intuitions Nietzsche
strains to name in 1873.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
508
NIETZSCHE/KANT
Nietzsche
distinguishes
between two
types
of distance:
"pathos
of distance" and
"that
other,
more
mysterious pathos,"
one with distance within the soul itself.
Pathos of distance
grows
out of the
"ingrained
difference between strata" and
flourishes in aristocratic societies. That other
"more
mysterious pathos"
facilitates
continual
self-overcoming.
After
introducing pathos
of
distance,
Nietzsche
goes
on to
point
out the benefits and
dangers
of distance.
At a time when differences between
people
were
compromised by
the
demands of
equality
and social
democracy,
Nietzsche
argues
that
re-establishing
distances could hold the
homogenizing
tendencies of his
age
within
proper
limits.12
A certain level of distance
interrupts
identification and
may
even
permit
one to see
something
more
objectively.
And
yet,
Nietzsche realizes that distance
isolates. In the
chapter
"The Free
Spirit"
in
Beyond
Good and
Evil,
Nietzsche
advises his reader "not to remain stuck to one's own
detachment,
to that
voluptuous
remoteness and
strangeness
of the bird who flees ever
higher
to see
ever more below him-the
danger
of the flier"
(JGB 41).
Taken to its
extreme,
a self with too much distance is
disengaged, irresponsible,
and
incapable
of
feeling. However,
disavowing
distance
altogether
risks
compromising space
between self and other. In
pathos
of
distance,
Nietzsche invents a
feeling
that
avoids the
pitfalls
inherent to both distance and
proximity.
Distance need not
imply sovereign mastery
over one's
environment; pathos
is not identical with
pathological
determination and
reactivity.
As a
feeling
that
signals engagement
with world but without
being
determined
by
it,
pathos
of distance
points
to the
possibility
of an
open-ended
relation to one's
self, other,
and world.
Hence,
it
generates receptivity
and a sense of
expectation.
Pathos of
distance, then,
is an enhanced
sensibility
for the transience of life
that allows the
particularity
of entities to
appear. Proximity
and
concepts
suffocate and
grind
down world and other. The
possibility
of
experience
is
betrayed
when we fail to
recognize
that we stand too close to someone or
something,
when we domesticate the
particularity
of entities with
general
formulas of
cognition.
The will to
immediacy
and drive for
familiarity
annihilates
experience:
Our
eye
finds it more comfortable to
respond
to a
given
stimulus
by
reproducing
once more an
image
that it has
produced many
times
before,
instead of
registering
what is different and new in an
impression.
The latter
would
require
more
strength,
more
"morality."
Hearing something
new is
12. Even
though
Nietzsche criticizes
equality
and
democracy,
this does not
necessarily
mean he is
an
enemy of democracy
As
Wendy
Brown
notes, Nietzsche's
critique of
democracy may prevent liberal
democracy
from
becoming self-satisfied, dogmatic,
and reactive: "Nietzsche is the antidemocratic
thinker whom
democracy
cannot live
without";
see Politics out of
History (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton
University Press, 2001),
137.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 509
embarrassing
and difficult for the
ear;
foreign
music we do not hear well.
When we hear another
language
we
try involuntarily
to form the sounds we
hear into words that sound more familiar and more like home to us.
(JGB 192)
Whether it is with a new
language
or new
music, projecting
the familiar onto the
unfamiliar is a tactic of domination. The
yearning
for comfort transforms the
structural
openness
of the ear into a
filtering
device that
homogenizes
the non-
identical. Scratch the surface of the will to comfort and one finds
panic
that is
linked to the need to contain the world. The new is a threat
necessitating
colonization and
subjection. Anything
that lacks a determinate
place
must be
given
one. Old
images
are
projected
onto new
phenomenon
in order to fend
them off. The will to comfort makes one deaf and blind. For
Nietzsche,
we need
"new
eyes
for the most distant
things"
and
"new
ears for new
music" (AC
Foreword).
Distance,
not the search for
comfort,
is the condition of
possibility
of
experience
because it allows the new to come forth. It cultivates
openness
and
receptivity
to otherness.
Registering
what is new and different in an
impression
depends
on one's
willingness
to be transformed. In order to be
transformed,
one
must cultivate the art of distance. This is the mark of one's
strength:
"With the
strength
of his
spiritual eye
and
insight grows
distance
and,
as it
were,
the
space
around man: his world becomes more
profound;
ever new
stars,
ever new riddles
and
images
become visible for him"
(JGB 57).
Riddles are invisible and stars are
unseen when the human
grinds
down
experiences
to fit
pre-established
schemas.
Distance allows them to
appear.
In contrast to
pathos
of
distance,
ressentiment constitutes a
subject ready
for
revenge. Revenge
on others and on oneself is the result of the
incapacity
to affirm
the existential
pain
that
inescapably accompanies
human
experience. Operating
on a
register
similar to Kantian
respect, pathos
of distance holds the
subject
in
a state of
suspension;
it does not
produce
determinate action. This is clear in
Nietzsche's ideal of
nobility.
Nobles are
always
one
step
above determination
from
empirical
sources.13 This is
why
Nietzsche claims that nobles
respect
their
enemies as
opportunities
for
productive engagement. They
are not determined to
despise
them. For
nobles,
enemies
may give
us a new
way
of
seeing
ourselves that
can lead to
self-overcoming.
Slaves do not
engage
their enemies but
pray
for their
untimely
demise. For
slaves,
their
enemy
is evil because it is a source of
discomfort. Mr. Ressentiment "has conceived 'the evil
enemy,'
'the Evil
One,
and
this in fact is his basic
concept,
from which he then evolves"
(GM I 10).
13. Recall Kant's
conception
of
autonomy
as
non-empirically generated self-legislation.
The closest
Kant comes to
devising
an
empirical
basis for
morality
is the
feeling
of
respect.
For the
paradoxical
character of Kantian
respect,
see
my
"Kant and the Paradox of
Respect,"
American Journal of Political
Science 45
(October 2001).
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
510
NIETZSCHE/KANT
If
affirming
one's enemies illustrates the noble
capacity
to rise above
immediate
stimuli,
the
incapacity
to resist a stimulus is
reactive,
a
symptom
of
"vulgarity" (GD
"Germans"
6).
Filled with life and
passion,
nobles do not have to
receive external affirmation because
they
do it
spontaneously They
are distant
and distance announces the
possibility
of human freedom: "For what is freedom?
That one has the will to
self-responsibility.
That one
preserves
the distance which
divides us. That one has become more indifferent to
hardship, toil, privation,
even to life"
(GD "Expeditions" 38).
The
preservation
of the "distance which
divides us" is not a formula for civil war but the condition for relations
grounded
on the art of
"separating
without
setting against
one another"
(EH
"Clever"
9).14
A
community grounded
on distance is a
paradoxical conception only
if one
conceives of
community
as
commonality
Nietzsche
replaces oppositional
groupings grounded
on ressentiment with
non-oppositional
relations in order
to invent a
community grounded
on
distance,
not
commonality:
"It is not how
one soul
approaches
another but in how it distances itself from it that I
recognize
their
affinity
and relatedness"
(MA II 251).
The art of distance marks the
quality
of
relations.15
Distance
ruptures
the drive for
homogeneity, recognition,
and
identification. Distance also
interrupts
the
cognitive
colonization of the other.
The
quality
of the relation with the other
depends
on the
capacity
to affirm the
other as
other,
even if it threatens our
identity
As a non-reactive
feeling, pathos
of distance does not involve
oppositional
but affirmative relations: "Establish
distances,
but create no antitheses"
(WM
IV
891).16
And
yet,
these relations find
their
ground
in
separation.
Pathos of distance is the "will to be
oneself,
to stand
out"
(GD "Expeditions" 37).
Standing
out
suspends
the
imperative
of
equality
that
grinds
down differences
between dissimilar entities. Nietzsche criticizes the instinct of
homogenization
in
equality
because he sees it as an attack on
justice.17
The call for
equality
is not
neutral and innocent but conceals the desire for
revenge.
It lacks an
appreciation
of the
"between;'
the critical distance that lets entities be what
they
are. As a
concept form,
equality
is a declaration of war that eradicates individual
aspects
14.
Jacques
Derrida asks how a
politics
of
separation
could be founded that would not
give
in
to
proximity
and identification. See Politics of
Friendship,
trans.
George Collins (New
York:
Verso, 1997),
55,
65.
15. See Nietzsche's Zarathustra: "My brothers,
I do not exhort
you
to love of
your neighbor:
I exhort
you
to love of the most distant"
(Z
I "Of Love of One's
Neighbor").
16. For how distance could be the condition for
relation,
see Maurice Blanchot's
Friendship,
trans.
Elizabeth
Rottenberg (Stanford:
Stanford
University Press, 1997).
For
Blanchot,
our friends reserve "an
infinite
distance,
the fundamental
separation
on the basis of which what
separates
becomes
relation";
291.
17. For
Nietzsche, equality endangers justice:
"The doctrine of
equality!
But there exists no more
poisonous poison:
for it seems to be
preached by justice itself,
while it is the termination of
justice.. .'Equality
for
equals, inequality
for
unequals'-that would be the true voice of justice.. .'Never
make
equal what is
unequal'" (GD "Expeditions" 48).
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 511
and naturalizes
mediocrity.
This
prevents
the
emergence
of individuals who
exceed common measures:
"Equality,"
a certain actual
rendering
similar of which the
theory
of
"equal
rights"
is
only
the
expression, belongs essentially
to decline: the chasm
between man and
man,
class and
class,
the
multiplicity
of
types,
the will to be
oneself,
to stand out-that which I call
pathos
of distance-characterizes
every
strong age.
The
tension,
the
range
between the extremes is
today growing
less
and less-the extremes themselves are
finally
obliterated to the
point
of
similarity. (GD "Expeditions" 37)
Equality
is an attack on
multiplicity
and a
symptom
of decline that annihilates
individuality. Sustaining
the tension between extremes is
necessary
because it
fosters difference. In this
regard,
Nietzsche's
critique
of
equality
is the affirmation
of
plurality.
Whether this constitutes a
rejection
of
democracy
is discussed later.
Nietzschean
plurality requires
one to stand out and be who one is. This
requires
courage:
"No one
any longer possesses today
the
courage
to claim
special
privileges
or the
right
to
rule,
the
courage
to feel a sense of reverence towards
himself and towards his
equals-the courage
for a
pathos
of distance"
(AC 43).
Genealogy deepens
Nietzsche's
depiction
of
pathos
of distance:
The pathos
of
nobility
and distance...the
protracted
and
domineering
fundamental total
feeling
on the
part
of a
higher ruling
order in relation to
a lower
order,
to a "below"-that is the
origin
of the antithesis
"good"
and
"bad"
(GM 12)
The
"good/evil"
value antithesis
sprouts
from
ressentiment; pathos
of
nobility
and
distance
generates "good/bad"
valuations. In the
"good/evil" dichotomy, good
is
only
the after-effect of a
designation
that labels someone evil. The
denigration
of
the other is the basis for the elevation of the self. In the
"good/bad" opposition,
calling something good emerges independently Putting
someone down is not the
precondition
for self-elevation. The distinction
"good/bad"
overcomes the
oppositional morality
of slaves
("good/evil")
because nobles affirm their own
critique
as a source of
pleasure:
"The
superior spirit
takes
pleasure
in the acts of
tactlessness,
arrogance,
even
hostility perpetuated against
him"
(MA I 339).
Out
of the
feeling
of
distance,
nobles create the
"good/bad"
value antithesis
independently
of all external
grounds.
It was not slaves who
spontaneously
created values:
It was "the
good" themselves,
that is to
say,
the
noble, powerful, high-stationed
and
high-minded,
who felt and established themselves and their actions as
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
512
NIETZSCHE/KANT
good,
that
is,
of the first rank. It was out of this
pathos
of distance that
they
first
seized the
right
to create values and to coin names for values.
(GM
I
2)
Nietzsche does not
argue
that nobles have free
reign
because
they
feel
differently
He connects
pathos
of distance to ethical
obligations. First,
nobles
have a
"readiness
for
great responsibilities"
and "the affable
protection
and
defense of whatever is misunderstood and
slandered,
whether it is a
god
or
devil"
(JGB 213). Second,
noble
philosophers
have an
obligation
to the future: "The
most
comprehensive responsibility
. .conscience for the over-all
development
of
man"
(JGB 61).
Pathos of distance also
disrupts
instrumental
relationships
that
perpetuate sovereign mastery
and
degrade
others as
objects:
The
higher ought
not to
degrade
itself to the status of an instrument of the
lower,
the
pathos
of distance
ought
to
keep
their tasks
eternally separate! They
[nobles]
alone are our
warranty
for the
future,
they
alone are
obligated
for the
future of man.
(GM
III
14)
For
Nietzsche,
the future of human existence is threatened if nobles are
degraded
as tools. Kant also
prohibits
instrumental
relationships.'"
Both authors are
concerned with human
dignity,
even if Nietzsche's
opposition
between nobles
and slaves seems to undermine it.
Treating
humans as
objects
robs them of
autonomy.19
It would be difficult to miss a certain resemblance between
pathos
of distance
and Kantian
respect.
Pathos of distance
is, among
other
things,
a condition of
possibility
of
experience,
an
imperative
of
individuality,
a
critique
of
equality,
and
an affirmation of value creation. It is a
strange feeling
because it de-constitutes
the
subject
and
generates receptivity.
It
is, moreover,
a
feeling
of our
"conclusive
transitoriness"
(M 49).
On these
points, pathos
of distance is not
equivalent
to
Kantian
respect.
And
yet,
both
pathos
of distance and
respect require
a certain
distance from
empirical reality
and are
potential
antidotes for nihilism. For
Kant,
"The
principle
of mutual love admonishes men
constantly
to come closer to one
another;
that of
respect they
owe one
another,
to
keep
themselves at a distance
from one another."'20 Nietzsche,
in contrast to
Kant,
grounds
distance on
pathos,
18. For
Kant,
"all rational
beings
stand under the law that each of them is to treat
himself
and all
others never
merely
as means but
always
at the
same
time as ends in themselves"
Kant, Groundwork,
41.
19. In
Groundwork,
Kant states: "In the
kingdom
of ends
everything
has either a
price
or a
dignity
What has a
price
can be
replaced by something
else as its
equivalent;
what on the other hand is raised
above all
price
and
therefore
admits
of no
equivalent
has a
dignity";
42. Kant continues:
"Autonomy
is the
ground of
the
dignity
of
human nature and of
every
rational
nature";
43.
20.
Kant, Metaphysics
of
Morals,
trans. and ed.
Mary Gregor (Cambridge,
U.K.:
Cambridge University
Press, 1991),
244. The rest of the
quote
reads: "Should one of these
great
moral forces
fail,
'then
nothingness (immorality),
with
gaping throat,
would drink
up
the whole
kingdom
of
(moral) beings
like
a
drop
of
water'"
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 513
a mode of
distinctly
human embodiment that is more
worldly
than ethereal
Kantian
respect.
Nietzsche's distinction between nobles/slaves
(in
contrast to Kant's more
egalitarian tenor) may
be one of the reasons
why
liberals embrace Kant and are
reluctant to take Nietzsche
seriously
There is also evidence to
suggest
that there
is
something
too
ingrained
about
pathos
of distance
implying
that it is
passed
down
through
the correct
breeding
habits of an ethical
aristocracy Dismissing
Nietzsche on these
grounds may
be understandable but it would nevertheless be
a mistake. There is more evidence to
suggest
that
pathos
of distance is self-
generated,
not
ingrained.
It is what one feels as an autonomous
agent.
Nietzsche's
apparent contempt
for some of the core values of democratic
culture, moreover,
should not be construed as the
rejection
of
democracy
His
critique
of
equality
can
actually strengthen democracy
insofar as it
incites,
in the words of
Wendy
Brown,
a "richer
practice
of
democracy.'21
Specifically,
Nietzsche is a "useful interlocutor of
democracy offering precisely
the
challenge
that
might
lead
democracy
to 'climb' in the manner Nietzsche insisted was the
sole
purview
of
culture."22
We should entertain the
possibility
that ressentiment is
the real threat to
democracy
insofar as it
prevents
the
type
of
independent
thought
and action that democracies
depend
on for
political
invention. Far
from
destroying democracy,
Nietzsche
might
be able to
keep
us on the
lookout for traces of ressentiment in the
political sphere
so that
they
can be
identified, engaged,
and
negotiated politically.
Nietzsche's own form of nine-
teenth-century
ressentiment should not be mistaken for iron fist
hostility
for
the demos. Pathos of distance is not a sickness
triggered by democracy
and aristocratic indifference to the
suffering
of the weak but an
elevating
sensibility
that allows one to make distinctions
(EH
"The Case of
Wagner" 4).
Pathos of distance is Nietzsche's alternative to ressentiment and is connected
to his defense of
autonomy.
Law of Life: A New Law
Nietzsche has a
profound
interest in law that dates back to his
writings
from
the 1870s and continues in his later work.23
In
Daybreak,
Nietzsche claims we
21.
Brown,
Politics out of
History,
136. For
Brown,
"Liberal
democracy rarely
submits its cardinal
values of mass
equality
and tolerance to
interrogation
without
dismissing
such
challenges
as anti-
democratic";
136.
22.
Brown,
Politics out of
History,
136.
23. In his
unpublished
notebooks
dating
from the time of
Untimely Meditations,
Nietzsche claims that
"Perishing
and
coming
into
being
are
governed by laws";
see
Nietzsche, Unpublished Writings
from the
period
of Unfashionable
Observations,
trans. Richard T
Gray (Stanford:
Stanford
University Press, 1995),
103. In
Philosophy
in the
Tragic Age
of the
Greeks,
Nietzsche
praises
Heraclitus because he saw the
"teaching
of
law
in
becoming" (PTG 8).
In Birth of
Tragedy,
he refers to the "law of eternal justice" (GT 25).
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
514
NIETZSCHE/KANT
must
"construct
anew the laws of life and action"
(M 453).
At this
point
in his
thinking,
it was not clear what these laws of life and action would be. One
possibility appears
in Will to Power as the call for a law of
critique.
Nietzsche
views this as the most sublime form of
morality:
"This demand for a
critique
of
morality,
as
precisely your present
form of
morality,
the sublimest form of
morality" (WM II 399).
The law
demanding
a
critique
of
morality
was
incomplete
because it lacked an affirmative dimension. He
argues
that
only
a law with a
critical as well as an affirmative
component
could
adequately ground
moral
practice.
The reason for Nietzsche's hesitation is obvious. Given his
critique
of
transcendental norms that suffocate the
creaturely aspects
of
humanity,
how
could Nietzsche reconcile the demand for law with his own
critique
of the
repressiveness lurking
in law? After
all,
Nietzsche criticizes law
getting
out of
control and
negating expressions
of life.
Legal
orders that
prevent
all
struggle
are
"hostile to life" and "assassinate the future of man"
(GM
II
11).
And
yet,
"law
represents
on earth...the
struggle against
the reactive
feelings" (GOM II 11).
Nietzsche does not
reject
law but nor does he
praise
it
unreflectively.
He has to
invent a law that affirms
life,
battles reactive outbursts of
ressentiment,
and
opens
spaces
of self-transformation.
Nietzsche envisions this
type
of law in the
concluding pages
of
Genealogy
Similar to Kant's
categorical imperative,
Nietzsche's new law is not concerned
with the result of action but with the
principle
for ethical conduct.
Hitherto,
the will
grounded
itself on ascetic ideals because it lacked
meaning
and
purpose.
Ascetic ideals
give
the will a
goal
in order to overcome the
curse of
meaninglessness,
but ascetic ideals
negate
the
possibility
of
worldly
happiness
and
beauty
Nietzsche does not turn the world
right
side
up
and
provide
new
ground
for the will in the realm of
sensibility Grounding
practical
ethics in this
way
was
still,
as he states in an 1868
fragment
"On
Ethics',"
"like a doctor who is
merely combating symptoms."24 Taking
directives from
the
empirical
world is
incompatible
with
self-legislation
and risks
perpe-
tuating
ressentiment. If
practice
cannot
ground
itself in the
empirical world,
Nietzsche's
critique
of
Christianity
rules out transcendental solutions
because
they
hold the human
up
to standards that devalue the worldliness of
the human condition.
Nietzsche's solution had to be
non-empirical
but
without
resulting
in a loss of
sensibility;
non-transcendental but without
breaking
the link to law.
Nietzsche's "law of life"
bridges
the
gap
between the
empirical
and
transcendental realms and maintains them in a state of
reciprocal tension;
this
24.
Nietzsche,
Gesammelte
Werke,
vol.
1 (Munich, Germany:
Musarion
Ausgabe, 1922),
404
[my
translation].
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 515
collision
grounds practice.
It calls for modes of action oriented to
liberating
the self:
All
great things bring
about their own destruction
through
an act of self-
overcoming:
thus the law of life will have
it,
the law of the
necessity
of
"self-
overcoming"
in the nature of life-the
lawgiver
himself
eventually
receives the
call:
"submit
to the law
you yourself proposed." (GM III 27)
This is not a
way
to
disengage
and secure one's
identity against
events that
threaten to shake it but an
experience
of the self's
contingency triggered
over
and over
again through self-legislation.25
In
contrast
to the Kantian
version,
Nietzschean
autonomy
is not an
experience
of the self's
sovereignty
over the flux
of the world.
Rather,
Nietzschean
autonomy
is the flux of the world
transposed
into the core of the self.
Acting
under the law of
life,
the will wills its
non-identity
to
itself;
it wills its
transformation, disintegration,
and reconstitution in ever
changing
forms. The law of life
grounds practice
but it also takes it
away:
'An
abysmally deep ground
behind
every ground,
under
every attempt
to furnish
'grounds'" (JGB 289).
Law of life names the need for a new mode of
lawgiving
based on
autonomy.
Or,
as Nietzsche states in
Daybreak:
"I submit
only
to the law
which I
myself
have
given" (M 187).
Nietzschean
autonomy
annihilates all
grounds
for conduct that are constituted
on the basis of
life-denying
ideals. The
lawgiver
is
placed
in a realm free from
violence to self and other that stems from
reactivity,
the search for
permanence,
and the will to comfort. This
opens
the
possibility
of a future
beyond
the horizon
of ressentiment. In order to
lay
down the law of
life,
one must be
autonomous;
that
is,
free and distant from one's
identity.
Law of life is the
key component
to Nietzschean
autonomy
and consists of self-
legislation,
freedom,
and
willing
the
disintegration
of the will.
Although
it shares
the
principle
of
universalizability
with Kant's
categorical imperative,
it
goes beyond
Kant because
agency
conceived as
sovereign subjectivity
is dethroned
by
law of
life. Nietzschean
autonomy
instills distance to oneself which
perpetually displaces
the
subject
conceived as
master.
Pathos of distance reinforces the loss of
sovereign
subjectivity
and
replaces
it with a
receptive, open,
and non-reactive
subject.
Nietzsche and Kant
Even if Nietzsche
ultimately goes beyond
Kant insofar as he
rejects sovereign
subjectivity,
Nietzsche's
critique
of
ressentiment,
defense of
pathos
of
distance,
25. For
Kant,
"the
dignity
of
humanity
consists
just
in this
capacity
to
give
universal
law,
although
with the condition of also
being
itself
subject
to this
very lawgiving" Kant, Groundwork, 46-47.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
516
NIETZSCHE/KANT
and reflections on law add
up
to
something
similar to Kant's reflections on
law,
autonomy,
and will. As
Nancy
notes,
"To introduce Kant into Nietzsche is
provocative
or
paradoxical only
at a
very superficial
level."26
The
writings
of Kant shifted
philosophical activity away
from theoretical reason and toward
practical
reason. The
question
of freedom became the
philosophical problem par
excellence. Nietzsche
clearly recognized
both the
importance
of Kant's contribution to moral
philosophy
in his turn to
practical problems
and
pursued
his own
project by working
both with
and
against
his Prussian forerunner.
Actively giving
oneself a law is the
highest
principle
of
morality
and
grounds
the
dignity
of human
beings
for both Kant and
Nietzsche. Given Nietzsche's Kantian framework for
ethics,
it is not
surprising
he
claims Kant's work led to
"an
infinitely deeper
and more serious view of ethical
questions" (GT 19).
In an 1872
piece
called
"The
Philosopher',"
Nietzsche views
Kant's
categorical imperative
as a
"virtueS'
one of those
"impossible
demands"
through
which mankind
"propagates
itself.'27
Even if Kant's
purification
of will from the
influence of
anything
sensible
goes
further than in Nietzsche's
work,
both thinkers
free the will from modes of contamination that render
autonomy impossible.28
This is where
my interpretation
differs from Bernstein's in
'Autonomy
and
Solitude."
Although
he detects similarities between Kant's and Nietzsche's
reflections on
autonomy,
he
opposes
the
project
of
autonomy
itself. This leads
him to miss the
complexity
and richness of the Nietzschean version. For
Bernstein,
"Nietzsche's radicalization of Kantian
autonomy
terminates in the
worldless,
death-
in-life solitude of the
philosopher-legislator.'29
He adds: "Nietzsche's
formalism,
like
Kant's,
demonstrates the
emptiness
of the moral
will.'30 By collapsing
both
positions,
Bernstein obscures differences that
complicate
the threats he detects.
Bernstein overstates the extent to which Nietzsche's view of
autonomy
isolates the
will. Nietzsche's
presentation
of the
dangers
of distance adds a crucial dimension
to his
thinking
on
autonomy
and saves it from the formalism and alienation
Bernstein sees in Kant. Pathos of distance is not a
feeling
of alienation that
"enforces solitude, mask,
and
irony."31
Rather,
it
is
a
heightened receptivity
that
accompanies
one's connectedness to the world and results in a
greater
attunement
to the realm of
sensibility
but without
being pathologically
determined
by
it.
Contra
Bernstein,
Nietzschean
autonomy
is not about solitude but rather a call
to transform oneself and for non-reactive
engagement
with others.32 It
is
easy,
but
26.
Nancy "Our Probity!" 80.
27.
Nietzsche, Philosophy
and
Truth,
"The
Philosopher,"
136.
28. See William E.
Connolly Why
IAm
Not a Secularist
(Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota
Press,
1999), 164-66 for a discussion of the sacrifice of
sensibility
in Kant.
29.
Bernstein, '"Autonomy
and
Solitude,"
213-14.
30.
Bernstein, 'Autonomy
and
Solitude,'
214.
31.
Berstein, '"Autonomy
of
Solitude:'
213.
32. For accounts of Nietzsche that emphasize the individualistic dimensions of his
thought,
see
Alexander Nehemas, Nietzsche, Life as Literature
(Cambridge,
MA: Harvard
University Press, 1985)
and
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
William W. Sokoloff 517
ultimately
incorrect,
to read Nietzsche as a radical
individualist,
as someone who
advocates a
philosophy
of solitude. Nietzsche criticizes modes of
inter-subjectivity
predicated
on
conformity
and the denial of
individuality.
He does not
reject
community
tout court. Nietzsche is the first to admit that distance threatens the
possibility
of
community.
And
yet,
distance is also the
negative
condition of its
possibility.
A
community
without distance between members is a
cult;
one with
too much distance
disintegrates.
A Nietzschean
community
could
exist, then,
as
the tension between
imperatives
to
congregate
and
separate
but without ever
resting
on either side. It would
preserve
a
space
for
individuality
and autonomous
action but without
forsaking engagement
with
others,
even one's
enemies.33
Taken
together, autonomy
and
pathos
of distance
yield
a more
complicated
and
appealing
Nietzsche than the one
posited by
Bernstein.
Connolly
widens the distance between Kant and Nietzsche. He
praises
Nietzsche because he has left the Kantian
imperative
tradition behind and
advocates arts of the self.34 This claim is at odds with
my reading
of Nietzsche that
emphasizes
his debt to the
imperative
tradition in law of life.
Connolly,
moreover,
has a difficult time
affirming
Kant. He reads him as
proffering
a mode of
justice
conceived as a code
involving discipline.
He finds Kant's
morality
too
certain,
grounded,
and fundamental. It does not
easily
harmonize with his
postmodern
version of liberalism that calls for an
ever-increasing emergence
of new identities.
The
opposition Connolly
makes between arts of the self and
justice
conceived as
code
(Nietzsche
contra
Kant) may unnecessarily
drive a
wedge
between them.
This could have the
counter-productive
effect of
reinforcing
the liberal
rejection
of Nietzsche which
simultaneously
lets liberals have their
way
with Kant. In
my view, Connolly pays
insufficient attention to the dimensions of Nietzsche's
thought
that would
challenge
the basis for the
opposition
between aesthetics of
the self and transcendental commands.35
For
Nietzsche,
an ethic
grounded
on aesthetics is an insufficient basis for
moral conduct because it is
incompatible
with autonomous
practice.
Since
pathos
of distance is not
enough,
Nietzsche turns to
law.
Nietzsche's new
image
of
law is
positioned
between the
empirical
and the transcendental realms. This
could be viewed as a de-radicalization of Kant insofar as it blurs the
boundary
Leslie Paul
Thiele,
Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of the Soul: A
Study
of Heroic Individualism
(Princeton:
Princeton
University Press, 1990).
33. Romand Coles
emphasizes
the Nietzschean themes of interaction and relations with others in
Rethinking Generosity:
Critical
Theory
and the Politics of
Caritas (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).
34. See
Connolly's
The Ethos of Pluralization
(Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota
Press, 1995), Why
I Am Not a
Secularist,
and
"Beyond
Good and Evil: The Ethical
Sensibility
of Michel
Foucault,"
Political
Theory
21
(August 1993).
35.
Connolly may
have moved
beyond
the
opposition
he has created between Kant
("moral codes")
and Nietzsche
("arts
of the
self").
For
him,
moral codes and arts of the self
operate
in a relation of
"dissonant interdependence";
The Ethos of Pluralization, 187.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
518
NIETZSCHE/KANT
between the
empirical
and transcendental
realms,
thereby taking
the teeth out of
Kant's moral
imperatives.
I see it as a radicalization of Kant because it
pushes
Nietzsche
past
"will
to
power"
and toward a more
appealing
ethical
position
that
rejects sovereign subjectivity
Conclusion
What are the
implications
of
my interpretation
of a Kantian Nietzsche?
First,
it corrects a
widespread interpretive
error about
Nietzsche's
"rejection"
of the
Enlightenment
and
provides
a more nuanced
reading
of his moral
significance.
Second,
it clears the
way
for a
reading
of Kant
by way
of Nietzsche in order to
reclaim Kant from
domesticating
liberal
interpretations
and
realign
him with
radical
political thought. Finally, my essay opens
the door for a defense of a richer
conception
of
autonomy
Grounded on
freedom,
autonomy
remains the best
antidote for ressentiment.
Autonomy only
becomes a mode of ressentiment if it
holds the human
up
to transcendental standards that reinforce a
conception
of
the
subject
as
sovereign
master.
Using
Kant as his
point
of
departure,
Nietzsche
gives
us a new
image
of an autonomous self that is
receptive
and
free,
one who
renounces his own
sovereignty
and affirms his own transformation
leading
to
improved
relations with self and other.
This content downloaded on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:50:12 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions