Contesting Nietzsche

Contesting Nietzsche

Christa Davis Acampora

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226923901

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This work offers a rethinking of Friedrich Nietzsche’s crucial notion of the agon. Analyzing an array of primary and secondary sources and synthesizing decades of Nietzsche scholarship, it shows how the agon, or contest, organized core areas of Nietzsche’s philosophy, providing an appreciation of the subtleties of his notorious views about power. By focusing so intensely on this particular guiding interest, the book offers a vantage point from which to view this iconic thinker. Though existence—viewed through the lens of Nietzsche’s agon—is fraught with struggle, the book illuminates what Nietzsche recognized as the agon’s generative benefits. It imbues the human experience with significance, meaning, and value. Analyzing Nietzsche’s elaborations of agonism—his remarks on types of contests, qualities of contestants, and the conditions in which either may thrive or deteriorate—the book demonstrates how much the agon shaped his philosophical projects and critical assessments of others. The agon led Nietzsche from one set of concerns to the next, from aesthetics to metaphysics to ethics to psychology, via Homer, Socrates, Saint Paul, and Wagner. In showing how one obsession catalyzed so many diverse interests, the book sheds light on some of this philosopher’s most difficult and paradoxical ideas.