CultureLab • Public lecture

Is Nietzsche a Metaphysician? On Heidegger’s Reading

Robert Pippin (University of Chicago)

In his lectures on Nietzsche from 1936 to 1940, Heidegger’s claim that Nietzsche is a metaphysician, indeed the last metaphysician in the Western tradition, is puzzling for several reasons. For one thing, he often makes the same claim about Hegel, and sometimes Schelling. For another, the claim is not, as one might expect, that Nietzsche is committed to the enterprise of a priori knowledge of substance. Instead, Heidegger means his own notion of metaphysics and its failures; i.e., ignoring the “ontological difference” and therefore understanding the meaning of Being by attention to the beings, and by a commitment to the “metaphysics of presence.” This means that understanding his charge will require an explanation of what Heidegger means by this characterization and why he thinks it amounts, in its very explication, to a “destruction” of the possibility of that tradition. Then we will be in a position to assess whether Heidegger is right to include Nietzsche in that doomed enterprise. Those are the two goals of this paper.

Free entry. All welcome.