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Unmodern Thinking: Globalization, the End of History, Great Events

Unmodern Thinking: Globalization, the End of History, Great Events

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter 2 Unmodern Thinking: Globalization, the End of History, Great Events
Source:
Nietzsche's Earth
Author(s):
Gary Shapiro
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226394596.003.0002

This chapter focuses on Nietzsche’s Unmodern Observations, reading these four essays as polemics against late and quasi-Hegelians (especially D.F. Strauss and E. von Hartmann) who posit some version of an “end of history” thesis. Nietzsche’s critique is relevant to more recent discussions by thinkers like Alexander Kojève and Francis Fukuyama, which attempt to update the Hegelian argument. Strauss’s smug triumphalism at the consolidation of Bismarck’s Reich is the optimistic side of the position. Hartmann takes the pessimistic, Schopenhauerian view that the “world-process” eventuates both in something like “globalization” and a final realization of the impossibility of human happiness. Nietzsche attempts to save Schopenhauer from such appropriations, praising his alternative to the time’s journalistic philosophers (or “public intellectuals”) who desperately seek to be contemporary. In contrast to the Hegelians and journalistic thinkers, Wagner is celebrated as ushering in a new “great event” of global significance. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Nietzsche’s apotheosis of Wagner was more Hegelian than he realized at the time. While this impasse interrupted the Unmodern series, it set the stage for Nietzsche to develop the concept earth in opposition to world and to rethink the idea of “great events” in that context.

Keywords:   Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, modernity, Georg W. F. Hegel, Richard Wagner, end of history, world history, globalization

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