Nietzsche. That joy and vision should be brought to bear even in the darkest corner of the human soul — and especially upon that within it which surges upwards and beyond the human species entirely; above the world, and so finally able to see, from a vision born of flight. –To “survey” reality as though from an impossible distance, an incommensurate height.
Joyful wisdom. Science is such that it can only truly be said to exist once many powerful and warring social and psychic desires have been tamed, coerced into accord, allowed to achieve their fragile pact. (A difficult enough thing; and, indeed, the conditions for a joyful science are still far from ripe!) The result being that a scientist, insofar as he or she is a scientist, is precisely the one who is unconcerned about whether another agrees to the “truth” of this or that proposition; in every instance it is rather the force or real function which counts, which is to say: the manner in which a given idea alters, amplifies, and re-assembles already existing systems of ideas. The production of a new semiotic system is always coupled to a wide variety of psychic and social machines, together forming a new regime of ideas along with an appropriate “pragmatics” of desire. This “image of thought,” for our purposes here, can be considered simply as a series of collective practices interwoven with a multiplicity of signifying systems, the coupling of productive processes with anti-productive processes, a conjoining of systems of pure affects with order-words. A pragmatic then is precisely a ‘process’ which can be said to function ‘structurally’ only in a heuristic and reductive sense. Indeed, the reality of thought is not a stasis or immanent emptiness but rather (or more fundamentally) a transfinite process of conception, first and fundamentally a flight into new pragmatic regimes. This a conceiving of new practices may be realized or constituted in any particular case, but only insofar as it tends to produce novel and singular functions. It is not true that the repetition of a similar effect is the origin of thinking; rather it is precisely a difference, in the last instance a shift in perspective, sometimes infinitesimal, which is required.
“…all superior men who were irresistibly drawn to throw off the yoke of any kind of morality and to frame new laws had, if they were not actually mad, no alternative but to make themselves or pretend to be mad—and this indeed applies to innovators in every domain and not only in the domain of priestly and political dogma…” (Daybreak, 14).
In contrast to some of the shrewder commentary on Nietzsche’s politically charged philosophy, I would like to try and sketch out my case that Nietzsche’s middle works (Human, All Too Human and Daybreak) do not constitute anomalous representatives of the whole, but a much more thoroughly nuanced discussion of politics than Nietzsche grants his other books. It would be facile to say that Nietzsche is only concerned with morality in these works, and that his true political ruminations will come later. Even if the tone of these works does not immediately resemble that of the later works, there is no viable reason to avoid theorizing some of the most provocative statements I have come in contact with in reading Nietzsche’s oeuvre. Understanding how morality brings about the political conditions of its overcoming will help us to posit a vision of the world and community that does not at all lead to the “great politics”: instead of the latter, in these two books it is always a question of law, history and transformative universalism.
Nevertheless, the importance placed on the middle works is only relevant here to me as a secondary interest (read: they are being used as material or as a foil) insofar as they promote a general (problematic) reciprocity between the political theorization of Nietzsche and Aristotle; it is above all in Human All Too Human’s infamous section “A Glance at the State” where we see Nietzsche coming close to a classical description of the different forms of government which were relevant for his time (hence the critiques of socialism, utilitarianism, and above all democracy).
In fact, a quick skim of Aristotle’s Politics against this section may give some the impression that Nietzsche slept with a copy of the Politics under his pillow during this time. Yet, as I intend to show, the methodology with which these two thinkers approach the subject of politics are almost diametrically opposed: we could say that Nietzsche’s politics here is “open,” whereas Aristotle formulates a “closed” view. This is the same as arguing that Nietzsche, in the middle works, operates according to a logic of transformational politics, and Aristotle is mainly concerned with a generative outlook.