Nietzsche's Jewish Problem: Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism

Princeton University Press
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For more than a century, Nietzsche's views about Jews and Judaism have been subject to countless polemics. The Nazis infamously fashioned the philosopher as their anti-Semitic precursor, while in the past thirty years the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. The increasingly popular view today is that Nietzsche was not only completely free of racist tendencies but also was a principled adversary of anti-Jewish thought. Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem offers a definitive reappraisal of the controversy, taking the full historical, intellectual, and biographical context into account. As Robert Holub shows, a careful consideration of all the evidence from Nietzsche’s published and unpublished writings and letters reveals that he harbored anti-Jewish prejudices throughout his life.

Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem demonstrates how this is so despite the apparent paradox of the philosopher’s well-documented opposition to the crude political anti-Semitism of the Germany of his day. As Holub explains, Nietzsche’s "anti-anti-Semitism" was motivated more by distaste for vulgar nationalism than by any objection to anti-Jewish prejudice.

A richly detailed account of a controversy that goes to the heart of Nietzsche’s reputation and reception, Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem will fascinate anyone interested in philosophy, intellectual history, or the history of anti-Semitism.

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About the author

Robert C. Holub is Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor of German at Ohio State University and former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The author of several books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literary, cultural, and intellectual history, he is also the editor of editions of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 20, 2015
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781400873906
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Criticism
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
Religion / General
Religion / Philosophy
Religion / Religious Intolerance, Persecution & Conflict
Social Science / Jewish Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Friedrich Nietzsche is often depicted in popular and scholarly discourse as a lonely philosopher dealing with abstract concerns unconnected to the intellectual debates of his time and place. Robert C. Holub counters this narrative, arguing that Nietzsche was very well attuned to the events and issues of his era and responded to them frequently in his writings. Organized around nine important questions circulating in Europe at the time in the realms of politics, society, and science, Nietzsche in the Nineteenth Century presents a thorough investigation of Nietzsche's familiarity with contemporary life, his contact with and comments on these various questions, and the sources from which he gathered his knowledge.

Holub begins his analysis with Nietzsche's views on education, nationhood, and the working-class movement, turns to questions of women and women's emancipation, colonialism, and Jews and Judaism, and looks at Nietzsche's dealings with evolutionary biology, cosmological theories, and the new "science" of eugenics. He shows how Nietzsche, although infrequently read during his lifetime, formulated his thought in an ongoing dialogue with the concerns of his contemporaries, and how his philosophy can be conceived as a contribution to the debates taking place in the nineteenth century. Throughout his examination, Holub finds that, against conventional wisdom, Nietzsche was only indirectly in conversation with the modern philosophical tradition from Descartes through German idealism, and that the books and individuals central to his development were more obscure writers, most of whom have long since been forgotten.

This book thus sheds light on Nietzsche's thought as enmeshed in a web of nineteenth-century discourses and offers new insights into his interactive method of engaging with the philosophical universe of his time.

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