•  3133
    Both Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin borrow from Freudian theory in their analyses of fetishism’s relation to the contemporary reception of cultural products. I will argue that both authors have confused the Marxian and Freudian theories of fetishism, resulting in mistaken conclusions about artistic reception. By disentangling the Marxian and Freudian elements in both authors’ positions, I want to show that 1) Adorno’s characterization of regressive listening implies, contrary to his intentio…Read more
  •  1702
    Nietzsche implicitly endorses a positive value system grounded in his concept of the will to power, a “noble” alternative to the “slavish” and life-denying values that he believes characterize modern European morality. His own power-affirming value system is usually presented amorally: as an alternative to morality, rather than as a competing morality. Most commentators believe this is necessarily so: because Nietzsche founds his values in the affirmation of power, they are incompatible with t…Read more
  •  810
    Freud or Nietzsche: the Drives, Pleasure, and Social Happiness
    Dissertation, University of Toronto. 2004.
    Many commentators have remarked upon the striking points of correspondence that can be found in the works of Freud and Nietzsche. However, this essay argues that on the subject of desire their work presents us with a radical choice: Freud or Nietzsche. I first argue that Freud’s theory of desire is grounded in the principle of inertia, a principle that is incompatible with his later theory of Eros and the life drive. Furthermore, the principle of inertia is not essentially distinct from his…Read more
  •  681
    In this paper, I directly oppose Nietzsche ’s endorsement of a morality of breeding to all forms of comparative, positive eugenics: the use of genetic selection to introduce positive improvement in individuals or the species, based on negatively or comparatively defined traits. I begin by explaining Nietzsche ’s contrast between two broad categories of morality: breeding and taming. I argue that the ethical dangers of positive eugenics are grounded in their status as forms of taming, which prese…Read more
  •  627
    Nietzsche contra Freud on Bad Conscience
    Nietzsche-Studien 39 (1): 434-454. 2010.
    While much has been made of the similarities between the work of Nietzsche and Freud, insufficient attention has been paid to their differences. Even where they have been noted, the degree of these differences, which sometimes approaches direct opposition, has often been underestimated. In the following essay, I will suggest that on the topic of conscience Nietzsche and Freud have radically opposed views, with profoundly different moral consequences. Despite superficial similarities, Nietzsche’s…Read more
  •  546
    A Nietzschean Case for Illiberal Egalitarianism
    In Barry Stocker & Manuel Knoll (eds.), Nietzsche as Political Philosopher, De Gruyter. pp. 155-170. 2014.
    This paper draws on Friedrich Nietzsche’s work to defend the (admittedly non-Nietzschean) conclusion that a non-liberal egalitarian society is superior in two ways: first, as a moral ideal, it does not rest on questionable claims about essential human equality and, second, such a society would provide the optimal psychological and political conditions for individual wellbeing, social stability, and cultural achievement. I first explain Nietzsche’s distinction between forms of egalitarianism: …Read more
  •  363
    Nietzsche's Will to Power as Naturalist Critical Ontology
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (3): 251-69. 2013.
    In this paper, I argue that Nietzsche’s published works contain a substantial, although implicit, argument for the will to power as ontology—a critical and descriptive, rather than positive and explanatory, theory of reality. Further, I suggest this ontology is entirely consistent with a naturalist methodology. The will to power ontology follows directly from Nietzsche’s naturalist rejection of three metaphysical presuppositions: substance, efficient causality, and final causality. I show that a…Read more
  •  201
    In the following essay, I argue that in the case of some works of art, moral evaluation should not play a role in artistic appraisal. While I reject the strong ethicist’s view—the view that moral evaluation may inform the artistic evaluation of any artwork—I will not do so in favor of the aestheticist’s position. The aestheticist argues for a rigid distinction between the moral and aesthetic evaluation of an artwork. On this view, the moral status of the work is independent of and irrelevant …Read more
  •  186
    The Equivocal Use of Power in Nietzsche’s Failed Anti-Egalitarianism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (4): 1-32. 2014.
    This paper argues that Nietzsche’s anti-egalitarianism depends on equivocation between conceptions of power as quantitative superiority and qualitative feeling and between associated conceptions of equality as similarity and opposition or resistance . Nietzsche’s key arguments against equality fail when applied to the qualitative form of power, since the feeling of power does not directly correlate with quantitative ability and requires relatively equal or proportional resistance. Consequently, …Read more
  •  174
    Ethical debates about liberal eugenics frequently focus on the supposed unnaturalness of its means and its supposed harm to autonomy, an emphasis that leads into irresolvable disputes about human nature, free will, and identity. In this paper I draw on Nietzsche’s work to critique eugenics’ ends rather than its means, as harm to abilities, rather than to autonomy. I first critique subjective eugenics, the selection of extrinsically valuable traits, using Nietzsche’s notion of ‘slavish’ forms of…Read more
  •  127
    Nietzsche’s late writings present a value opposition of health and decadence based in his conception of organic life. While this appears to be a moral ideal that risks the naturalistic fallacy of directly deriving norms from facts, it instead describes a meta-ethical ideal: the necessary conditions for any kind of moral agency. Nietzsche’s ideal of health not only evades but also dissolves the naturalistic fallacy by suggesting that the specific content of morality is irrelevant. If health is me…Read more
  •  123
    The Equivocal Use of Power in Nietzsche’s Failed Anti-Egalitarianism
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 12 (1): 1-32. 2015.
    In this paper I argue that Nietzsche’s rejection of egalitarianism depends on equivocation between distinct conceptions of power and equality. When these distinct views are disentangled, Nietzsche’s arguments succeed only against a narrow sense of equality as qualitative similarity (die Gleichheit as die Ähnlichkeit), and not against quantitative forms that promote equality not as similarity but as multiple, proportional resistances (die Gleichheit as die Veilheit and der Widerstand). I begin …Read more
  •  111
    Feeling, Not Freedom: Nietzsche Against Agency
    Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47 (2): 256-274. 2016.
    Despite his rejection of the metaphysical conception of freedom of the will, Nietzsche frequently makes positive use of the language of freedom, autonomy, self-mastery, self-overcoming, and creativity when describing his normative project of enhancing humanity through the promotion of its highest types. A number of interpreters have been misled by such language to conclude that Nietzsche accepts some version of compatibilism, holding a theory of natural causality that excludes metaphysical or “l…Read more
  •  109
    Nietzsche’s psychological theory of the drives calls into question two common assumptions of ideology critique: 1) that ideology is fetishistic, substituting false satisfactions for true ones, and 2) that ideology is falsification; it conceals exploitation. In contrast, a Nietzschean approach begins from the truth of ideology: that capitalism produces an authentic contentment that makes the concealment of exploitation unnecessary. And it critiques ideology from the same standpoint: capitalism pr…Read more
  •  102
    A Ground for Ethics in Heidegger's Being and Time
    Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 38 (3): 261-79. 2007.
    In this essay I suggest that Heidegger’s Being and Time provides a ground for ethics in the notion of Dasein’s ‘Being-guilty.’ Being-guilty is not a ground for ethics in the sense of a demonstration of the moral ‘ought’ or a refutation of moral skepticism. Rather, Being-guilty serves as a foundation for ethical life in a way uniquely suited to a phenomenological form of ethics, a way that clarifies, from a phenomenological point of view, why the traditional approach to ethics is misguided. The t…Read more
  •  94
    Art as Self-Origination in Winckelmann and Hegel
    Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 27 (1): 129-150. 2006.
    Eighteenth-century art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) shared with Hegel a profound admiration for the art and culture of ancient Greece. Both viewed ancient Greece as, in some sense, an ideal to which the modern world might aspire—a pinnacle of spiritual perfection and originality that contemporary civilization might, through an understanding of ancient Greek culture, one day equal or surpass. This rather competitive form of nostalgia suggests a paradoxical demand to produce an…Read more
  •  87
    The Blood of Others begins at the bedside of a mortally wounded Résistance fighter named Hélène Bertrand. We encounter her from the point of view of Jean Blomart, her friend and lover, who recounts the story of their relationship : their first meeting, unhappy romance, bitter breakup, and eventual reunion as fellow fighters for the liberation of occupied France. The novel invites the reader to interpret Hélène and Jean’s story as one of positive ethical development. On this progressive reading…Read more
  •  78
    Both Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin borrow from Freudian theory in their analyses of fetishism’s relation to the contemporary reception of cultural prod- ucts. I will argue that both authors have con- fused the Marxian and Freudian theories of fetishism, resulting in mistaken conclusions about artistic reception. By disentangling the Marxian and Freudian elements in both authors’ positions, I want to show that 1) Adorno’s characterization of regressive lis- tening implies, contrary to his in…Read more
  •  69
    The evasion of gender in Freudian fetishism
    Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Society 8 (2): 289-98. 2003.
    In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Freud rejects the notion of a biologically determined connection of instinct to object, a position which helps him avoid the designation of all variations from heterosexuality as either “degenerate” or “pathological.” However, the gender roles and relations commonly attributed to heterosexuality are already implicit in his understanding of sexual instinct and aim. Consequently, even variations from the normal sexual object and aim exemplify, on his int…Read more
  •  33
    The Blood of Others begins at the bedside of a mortally wounded Résistance fighter named Hélène Bertrand. We encounter her from the point of view of Jean Blomart, her friend and lover, who recounts the story of their relationship : their first meeting, unhappy romance, bitter breakup, and eventual reunion as fellow fighters for the liberation of occupied France. The novel invites the reader to interpret Hélène and Jean’s story as one of positive ethical development. On this progressive reading, …Read more
  •  33
    Nietzsche contra Freud on Bad Conscience
    Nietzsche Studien 39 434-454. 2010.
    In the following essay, I argue that Nietzsche’s conception of moral conscience is opposed to Freud’s view in a number of important respects. Freudian moral conscience is essentially and irredeemably a bad conscience, based in an insurmountable conflict of desire and morality and characterized by repression, subordination to prohibition, and inevitable feelings of guilt. Nietzschean conscience, on the contrary, is grounded in affirmation, memory, individual sover- eignty, and the feelings of pri…Read more