taking Nietzsche very seriously?

 Brian Leiter writes:

This is very odd, and, one hopes, it is simply the product of just bad writing:  NEH summer stipends may not be used for “projects that seek to promote a particular political, philosophical, religious, or ideological point of view.”  Won’t this prevent most philosophers from applying, unless they’re writing a survey piece?  One assumes that, given the list, by “philosophical” they mean something closer to “political” and “ideological,” and not someone proposing to defend four-dimensionalism or compatibilism or epistemic internalism …

I thought BL must be right until I remembered a comment on one of our recent posts.  SeanH quoted Leiter quoting Nietzsche:

“[Philosophers] all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic…; while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed, a kind of ‘intuition’…that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact. They are all advocates [Advoktaen] who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudice which they baptize ‘truths’–and very far from having the courge of the conscience that admits this, precisely this, to itself…”

Is, then, all philosophy ideology?  Or at least as practiced today?  Is the NEH just taking Nietzsche very seriously?

(Since the net is infamous for failure in communication, perhaps I should note this post is something of a joke.  But not entirely.  For example, Cartesian assumptions about what isolated philosophical reflection can discover seem still alive and well.  I myself regard much of philosophy of mind as the product of woefully unexamined  dogma, though the details of this are not necessarily germaine.  Do readers have other examples of the ideology present in today’s philosophy?  Maybe with a little more detail than I have given so far?)

6 thoughts on “taking Nietzsche very seriously?

  1. I read articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia, on ethical or political topics, and they are almost all obviously written from the standpoint of a liberal, middle-class Anglo-Saxon male person (even if written by a woman or by a non Anglo-Saxon working in Anglo-Saxon universities). They are full of
    assumptions about the way the world is that no one in Latin America, among other places (imagine Africa), would assume.
    And the people who write them are blissfully unaware, as far I can see, that the culture and life-style middle-class Anglo-Saxon males does not represent that of all humanity, not that any specific culture can represent all humanity. I realize that there are exceptions and that there are women (and people in other cultures) developing philosophy from distinct viewpoints, but the mainstream does not seem conscious that they, the mainstream, represent an ideology, the product of class interests, gender interests, a specific cultural background, not the standpoint of universal reason.

  2. So, Amos, do you claim more for your viewpoint than that it, too, “represent[s] an ideology, the product of class interests, gender interests, a specific cultural background”, etc.?

  3. I suspect that, even in jest, you give the NEH too much credit! If *only* they took Nietzsche that seriously…

  4. Rob: No, I don’t claim to represent universal reason myself nor do I believe that the standpoint of universal reason exists.
    My viewpoint represents my background, my class, my gender, my upbringing, my generation, my culture or cultures: I try to be aware of that. Being aware of the factors that form my worldview is essential to understanding who I am and to understanding who others are.

  5. I’d just like to say that the charge that one’s viewpoint in, say, philosophy of mind, is the result of “unexamined dogma” can be a silencing tool — it can be a way of saying “I don’t care to engage your so-called arguments — I choose instead to dismiss you altogether.” And by the way, Descartes rocks. Ask Elizabeth.

  6. Louise, silencing is such an important problem. I worry about it a lot, particularly here with the very imperfect medium for discussion that the ‘net provides. So your reminder is important.

    That said, I guess I’d assume that whoever said what I said did have lots of what she at least considers arguments, which she just didn’t think were especially worth detailing here. Still, it is very good to learn that one’s assumptions won’t necessarily be shared.

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