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Whose Time Is It?: Kairos, Chronos, Debt

Whose Time Is It?: Kairos, Chronos, Debt

(p.100) Chapter 4 Whose Time Is It?: Kairos, Chronos, Debt
Nietzsche's Earth
Gary Shapiro
University of Chicago Press

Nietzsche rethinks and adapts the classical insistence (Stoics, Machiavelli) on the importance of discerning the right time (kairos) and seizing the opportune moment to his analysis of the changing human-earth. Those open to the possibility of great events, the “philosophers of futurity,” must be vigilant, because opportunity is typically fleeting. Beyond’s concluding chapter asks “What is Noble?” One answer is that noble vigilance today specifically requires apotropaic discipline that distances us from the multitude’s passing enthusiasms and illusions. Nietzsche’s concept of multitude is clarified by a contrast with homogeneous masses and by exploring some of its sources in the Gospels and Goethe. A related obstacle to the possibility of seizing the time is the subjection of personal and political time to the philosophico-economic logic of debt and credit. Acculturation to a universal debt economy involves a regularization of time, now measured out or mortgaged in terms of regular payments. Nietzsche analyzes the logic of debt and its temporality in several complementary studies. These include notably Zarathustra’s metahistory of philosophy (“On Redemption”), and the Genealogy’s tracking of debt’s transformations from archaic forms to hyperbolic excesses in state and Christianity, the two bulwarks of “world-history.”

Keywords:   Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, time, kairos, multitude, debt

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