Chapter

Aestheticist Ethics

Peter Poellner

in Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199583676
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745294 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583676.003.0003
Aestheticist Ethics

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This chapter seeks to clarify the normative grounds and some of the contents of Nietzsche's evaluative commitments. It is argued that attempts to ground these commitments in the psychology of the will to power are incomplete, since, on the plausible assumption that the will to power is a type of second-order desire, it generates insufficient constraints with respect to first-order evaluation. Nietzsche, however, is clearly committed to evaluative distinctions among first-order ends and values, upon which, in his view, the value of specific instances of will to power partly depends. It is argued that Nietzsche's reasons for evaluative distinctions among first-order values are ultimately to be found in intentional affectivity, more specifically in essentially world-involving affective experiences which are best analysed as aesthetic in a broad, but clearly delimited sense. Nietzsche's ethics can therefore be said to be aestheticist. A number of typical examples from Nietzsche's texts are analysed in order to demonstrate the fecundity of this approach for understanding the contents of Nietzsche's own ethical and other evaluative commitments. The final sections of the chapter seek to show that and why the most significant positive and negative values are, for Nietzsche, essentially associated with human or relevantly similar subjectivity. While his ideas and arguments on this issue warrant the judgement that Nietzsche's ethics is humanist, his humanism differs from mainstream enlightenment humanism — say, of Kantian provenance — in important and illuminating ways.

Keywords: ethics; aesthetics; aesthetic experience; emotion; affectivity; value; humanism; transcendence

Chapter.  14709 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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