Luc Ferry

“Nietzsche's case is an especially interesting one for whoever wishes to undertake a critical examination of the “neotraditionalist” path. Two main reasons justify this evaluation:

― Nietzsche's work, on the one hand, explicitly and in an exemplary manner articulates the critique of democratic modernity and the denunciation of the argumentative foundation of norms: in this way it permits us ―better than does the work of other philosophers― to grasp all that is involved, within the choice between tradition and argumentation, in the rejection of the latter.

― On the other and perhaps more important hand, the way Nietzsche went about this rejection illustrates in a particularly significant fashion one of the main difficulties this type of philosophical projects comes up against: the neotraditionalist avoidance of democratic modernity makes it necessary to look for and ―we insist on this― whatever could be today's analogue of a traditional universe: the analogue, for (as Nietzsche knew better than anyone) it is out of question that in a time when “God is dead”, tradition should function as it does in theological cultures, in which whatever renders the value of tradition “sacred” and gives it its power is never unrelated to its rootedness in the divine will or in the world order supposed to express this will.

Situating as he does his reflections at the same time after the “death of God” and after the (inseparably associated) discovery that the world once “dedivinized”, appears to be devoid of any order and must be thought of as “chaos”, Nietzsche take into account the end of cosmological and theological universe, an end that in general defines the intellectual and cultural location of the Moderns: we are thus dealing here, by definition and, we could say, at the stage of working sketch (since Nietzsche is, in philosophy, the very man who declared the foundations of the traditional universe to be antiquated), with a very peculiar mixture of antimodernism and modernity, of tradition and novelty ―which is why the expression “neotraditionalism” seems perfectly appropriate here, right down to the tension expressed within it. The question is of course one of knowing what such a “mixture” could consists of, both in its content and in its effects. Since, more than most of the representative of ordinary conservatism, Nietzsche cannot contemplate a naïve resumption of tradition, his “neo-conservative” approach permits us to submit the traditionalist option to an interrogation that can best examine its limitations and unintended consequences ―namely: what would a modern analogue of tradition consist of?”


Luc Ferry, Why We Are Not Nietzscheans
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Why We Are Not Nietzscheans Why We Are Not Nietzscheans by Luc Ferry
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