Philosophy as ‘free-spiritedness’: Philosophical evaluative judgments and post-Kantian aesthetics in Nietzsche’S Beyond Good And Evil

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The chapter argues that, if one takes as valid Kant’s distinction between cognitive, moral and aesthetic judgements, then one should see Nietzsche’s philosophical judgements as aesthetic judgements; and even if one does not take that distinction as valid, the analogy between Nietzsche’s philosophical judgements and Kant’s view of aesthetic judgements in the third Critique is illuminating. This claim assumes two crucial facts about Nietzsche’s conception of philosophy: (a) because he conceives of philosophy as an evaluative and creative activity, a ‘revaluation of all values’ carried out by ‘free spirits’, he sees philosophical judgements as evaluative judgements, indeed as creative evaluative judgements; (b) he sees the ‘free-spiritedness’ or ‘high spirituality’ of ‘free spirits’ as basically aesthetic - or, in other words, as ultimately a matter of taste. This does not mean, however, that for Nietzsche philosophical judgements are the expression of merely individual, idiosyncratic taste. For the reason why Kant’s view of aesthetic judgements of taste is illuminating for the understanding of Nietzsche’s view of the nature and modality of philosophical judgements is precisely because Kant conceives of aesthetic judgements as the reflective judgements par excellence, that is, as based on a ‘reflective taste’ (KU §8, 214). That they are judgements of ‘taste’ means that they are evaluative and are affective, but also that they are reflective in a way which is not exactly cognitive, and yet makes them intersubjectively meaningful and, to some extent, intersubjectively constrained. And that is precisely, as the chapter claims, the status of Nietzschean philosophical judgements. Because they express feelings, they are not a pure reasoning about value (as in Clark’s and Dudrick’s rationalistic view of the autonomy of value); but, because they are reflective, they are not merely subjective, individual judgements about phenomenological properties (as in Brian Leiter’s naturalist view of philosophical evaluation). © 2018 selection and editorial matter, Paul Katsafanas; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Nietzschean Mind
EditorsPaul Katsafanas
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-85168-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Nietzsche
  • Genealogy
  • Eternal recurrence


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