Nietzsche's Ethics of Power and the Ideas of Right, Justice, and Dignity
In this article, I first show in which ways Nietzsche’s doctrine of the will to power informs his understanding of practical ideas, such as right, justice, and dignity. Subsequently, I challenge his view by contrasting it with approaches that emphasize the significance of thinking beyond power relations. Particularly, I draw on arguments brought forward by three major figures of the philosophical tradition, namely Plato, Kant, and Schiller, all of whom Nietzsche criticizes. While they maintain the unique reality and far-reaching impact of ideas of reason that defy any given constellation of powers, Nietzsche does not accept orders independent of the fabrics of power. I discuss the implications of Nietzsche’s position and finally argue, in accordance with the tradition, that there is a specifically human capacity for reflection that reaches beyond the antagonisms of power. Nonetheless, it is neither obscure nor weird nor dogmatic, but provides for a kind of orientation that is indispensable.
Accepted manuscript version. Published version available at https://doi.org/10.5325/jnietstud.48.2.0171.