Feminist Interpretations of Friedrich Nietzsche

Edited by Kelly Oliver, Marilyn Pearsall

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 April 1998

Length of book:

352 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271017648

Nietzsche has the reputation of being a virulent misogynist, so why are feminists interested in his philosophy? The essays in this volume provide answers to this question from a variety of feminist perspectives.

The organization of the volume into two sets of essays, "Nietzsche's Use of Woman" and "Feminists' Use of Nietzsche," reflects the two general approaches taken to the issue of Nietzsche and woman. First, many debates have focused on how to interpret Nietzsche's remarks about women and femininity. Are all of Nietzsche's comments to be read literally, or is he being ironic, perhaps even parodying and subverting stereotypes about women? Second, is his philosophy useful to feminist theory? Can we separate his philosophy from his seemingly derogatory remarks about women? Can feminists use his criticisms of truth, objectivity, reason, and the autonomous subject to challenge the exclusion of women from the history of philosophy? Some view his critiques of dualism and essentialism as well as his perspectivism and social constructivism as adumbrating later feminist positions. Others find troubling his privileging of masculinity and paradigms of domination; they see Nietzsche's sexual dualism as countering otherwise transgressive themes.

Contributors are Debra Bergoffen, Maudmarie Clark, Daniel Conway, Jacques Derrida, Jean Graybeal, Kathleen Higgins, Luce Irigaray, Sarah Kofman, Tamsin Lorraine, Kelly Oliver, David Owen, Marilyn Pearsall, Ofelia Schutte, Linda Singer, Lynne Tirrell, and Kathleen Wininger.

“The perspectives presented in this anthology are as varied as they are delightful, with selections that will satisfy both ‘continental’ and ‘analytic’ thinkers alike. . . . Nietzsche’s ambiguous, multilayered, and maddeningly ‘veiled’ writings on women (what I call his ‘mirror writing’) continue to reveal the values we hold toward women (and Nietzsche!) by showing us which aphorisms we relate to, which we barely tolerate, and which send the book sailing across the room to thump against the opposite wall. After reading the essays in this volume, I have the feeling less Nietzsche books will be airborne.”

—Linda L. Williams, APA Newsletter