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Nietzsche's EarthGreat Events, Great Politics$
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Gary Shapiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226394459

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226394596.001.0001

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Earth, World, Antichrist: Nietzsche after Political Theology

Earth, World, Antichrist: Nietzsche after Political Theology

(p.166) Chapter 6 Earth, World, Antichrist: Nietzsche after Political Theology
Nietzsche's Earth

Gary Shapiro

University of Chicago Press

This concluding chapter rereads Nietzsche’s notorious text The Antichrist through the lenses of political theology, mediated in part by his affinities and exchanges with theologian Franz Overbeck. It reviews Nietzsche’s reductive natural history of religions, emphasizing their geographical and ethnic roots. Beyond this, he contests both a naively “secular” world-view and the Hegelian claim that modernity has attained a spiritual/secular synthesis. So-called contemporary political secularism, Nietzsche maintains, is still theological, so far as it relies on “world-history,” conceived as a metanarrative culminating in some combination of modern state, market, and Protestantism. “World” is a political notion. Essential to The Antichrist’s polemic against Christianity is its understanding of the political foundations of its predecessor, Judaism, and the politico-theological work of Paul and following Christian thinkers until Constantine’s Christianization of Rome. Earliest Christianity, Nietzsche and Overbeck agree, either lived in a blissful present or expected an imminent end of the world. When developing Christian theology put off the predicted end by hundreds of years, positing Rome as a force warding off the Antichrist, an opening was created for the concept of world-history. The great event and great politics of fully affirming the earth requires demolishing that story from within.

Keywords:   Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Franz Overbeck, Antichrist, political theology, secularism

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