A few weeks ago I was stopped in mid-sentence when I was asked what fundamental differences are there between Continental and Analytic Philosophy. I paused for a moment and asked myself the same question. It seems that I was at a loss for words. The razor-sharp distinctions with which I always treated the two approaches became as dull as gumdrops as I rapidly work through the issues in my head. Obviously, there are differences as every philosopher will attest; however they appear to be a bit foggy.
He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.
There are, roughly, three ways in which scholars have attempted to interpret Nietzsche’s philosophy. First, some have adopted a topical approach where Nietzsche’s views on a particular issue are mined from his various works. The aim of this sort of approach is to collect Nietzsche’s scattered reflections on a particular topic in the hopes of offering a cogent account of his views on the issue and of demonstrating the ways in which such insights may be relevant to contemporary philosophical debates. Second, some have taken a systematic approach in which a central philosophical doctrine, such as the eternal recurrence, the will to power, or the affirmation of life, is seen as the central motivating or animating feature of Nietzsche’s work. Interpretations of this order attempt to show the centrality of a particular doctrine by claiming Nietzsche’s complete oeuvre is best seen when viewed from this particular vantage point. The third eschews the former two options in favor of a close analysis of a particular text, by focusing on, for example, Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals. Krzysztof Michalski’s book treads the second of these interpretive paths: “The subject of this book is eternity, the concept of eternity. The point of departure is Nietzsche. I contend that Nietzsche’s thought can be organized into a consistent whole through precisely this concept of eternity” (vii). Continue reading