Deakin University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Unifying, Comparative, Critical and Metacritical: Domenico Losurdo’s Nietzsche as Aristocratic Rebel

journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-30, 00:02 authored by Matthew Sharpe
This review essay responds critically to the English translation of Domenico Losurdo’s monumental Friedrich Nietzsche: Aristocratic Rebel. It sets out to clearly identify and examine Losurdo’s two tasks in Nietzsche: firstly, his reconstruction of Nietzsche’s intellectual itinerary, from his earliest works until his descent into madness, in the context of later nineteenth-century social, political, philosophical, and eugenic sources; and secondly, to “interpret the interpretations”, and understand how Nietzsche’s avowed “aristocratic radicalism” could have informed thinkers from across the political spectrum, at the same time as Losurdo contests the cogency of “progressive” readings of Nietzsche as based upon a selective “hermeneutics of innocence” which involves suppressing the recurrent, darker registers of his texts. The essay also unpacks Losurdo’s two hermeneutic strategies in this magnum opus. Firstly, we examine his “unifying” claim that Nietzsche, as a great thinker, had a coherent but evolving vision, from Birth of Tragedy through to his final works, unified by his metapolitical intention to overcome democratic, liberal and socialist modern egalitarianisms, by tracking them back to their roots in the Old Testament and classical antiquity. Secondly, we critique his contextualizing methodology which resituates the author of the “untimely meditations” within the debates of his day concerning modernity, slavery, liberalism, socialism, massification, Darwinism, and eugenics. To close, I proffer some brief comments concerning the significance of Losurdo’s work in the present moment, as the Far Right globally reasserts itself.



Critical Horizons