Is it time for yet another ‘new Nietzsche’? Any such vogue might be no more that a distraction, compared to what really matters, which is that splinters of Nietzschean insight refuse to quietly date, and instead re-make themselves as our contemporaries, commenting with astonishing perspicacity upon the unfolding chaos of the times.
There might never have been a thinker more deserving of a short, ragged, and inconclusive blog post. Here are some Nietzschean themes that are still with us — or with us more than ever.
(1) Will-to-Power. Power is abstract means, or instrumental capability. To make of it the determining object of the will, therefore, is to twist ordered teleological structure into a reflexive, paradoxical circuit. Will-to-power says that means are the ultimate end, and even those disposed simply to reject this disturbing formula are challenged to accept that it is at least thinkable.
(2) Slave Revolt in Morality. To discriminate between good and bad, as they were once understand, is evil, and only those opposing such discrimination are good. Has anyone before or since approached Nietzsche’s acuity in grasping the systematic insanity of our dominant value systems?
(3) Nihilism as Destiny. In the final years of the 19th century Nietzsche declared that nihilism was the interpretive key to understanding the Occidental history of the two hundred years to come. Christianity, mortally wounded by its own tolerance for honesty, was passing into eclipse, with nothing positioned to replace it. (Not only nothing, but Nothing, lay ahead.) Has anything happened since to disconfirm this vision of gathering civilizational ruin?
(4) Overman. Humanity is something to be overcome, Nietzsche proclaimed, and transhumanism was born. Cyborgs are his mind-children.
(5) Eternal Recurrence. We have misconceived the topology of time, and in doing so closed the gates connecting time with eternity. The recovery from this greatest of errors will sift the strong from the weak, setting the capstone of the ‘Great Politics’ that open at the end of nihilism. Eventually, the philosophy of time will decide.