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Nietzsche's Political Skepticism [Kindle Edition]

Tamsin Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Political theorists have long been frustrated by Nietzsche's work. Although he develops profound critiques of morality, culture, and religion, it is very difficult to spell out the precise political implications of his insights. He himself never did so in any systematic way. In this book, Tamsin Shaw claims that there is a reason for this: Nietzsche's insights entail a distinctive form of political skepticism.

Shaw argues that the modern political predicament, for Nietzsche, is shaped by two important historical phenomena. The first is secularization, or the erosion of religious belief, and the fragmentation of moral life that it entails. The second is the unparalleled ideological power of the modern state. The promotion of Nietzsche's own values, Shaw insists, requires resistance to state ideology. But Nietzsche cannot envisage how these values might themselves provide a stable basis for political authority; this is because secular societies, lacking recognized normative expertise, also lack a reliable mechanism for making moral insight politically effective.

In grappling with this predicament, Shaw claims, Nietzsche raises profound questions about political legitimacy and political authority in the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews


Shaw has written a very clear and easily intelligible book addressing one main question: given Nietzsche?s distrust of the authority of the state, what alternative source of normative authority does he offer?


Shaw has written a very clear and easily intelligible book addressing one main question: given Nietzsche?s distrust of the authority of the state, what alternative source of normative authority does he offer? (C.A. Colmo Choice )

Shaw's book is well written and well argued and Nietzsche scholars and social and political theorists would benefit from his insights. (Richard Findler European Legacy )

Product Details

  • File Size: 1021 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 9, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WJM6BI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,451 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, Insightful, Indispensable March 5, 2013
In Nietzsche's Political Skepticism Ms. Shaw offers a detailed, nuanced and focused reading of Nietzsche's political philosophy, bringing into relief the irreconcilable tension the dynamics at play thereby evidenced. Grounding Nietzsche's work within the depths of 19th century debates on political theory she exposes with disciplined authority his skepticism regarding politics. Shaw defines Nietzsche as a political skeptic given how his philosophy markedly intensifies an unavoidable conflict between the demands of political legitimacy and those of a requisite genuine normative authority. Nietzsche, according to Shaw, was skeptical that with the demise of religion it would be possible to achieve a practically effective normative consensus necessary for the state to establish the required hegemonic sway upon which its legitimacy depends.

In her book Shaw surveys the extent scholarship on the subject and its disparate renditions of Nietzsche's philosophy: she admirably rehearses her conclusion while proceeding to adopt arguments from across the various vantage points endeavoring to allow for a convergence to reiterate the same skeptical stance - irrespective of the interpretation espoused. Shaw cogently evinces the rationale which problematizes any political prescription Nietzsche might have subscribed to, and she explains away any lasting vestige that Nietzsche might be "apolitical", and any selective construal that he is indirectly championing either a democratic or a radical aristocratic ethos.
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