Philosophy Talk: "Nietzsche’s Psychology of Metaphysics (or, Metaphysics as Revenge)"

Scott Jenkins
Department of Philosophy
University of Kansas

Nietzsche often maintains that while philosophers take their theoretical activity to be guided by reason alone, their work is best explained through appeal to needs and desires that they share with other human beings. Jenkins will consider one dimension of this psychological explanation of philosophical activity that appears in Nietzsche’s writings in 1887 and 1888—his attempt to explain metaphysics through appeal to ressentiment. Drawing on a recent article (Jenkins, “Ressentiment, Imaginary Revenge, and the Slave Revolt”, PPR, 2016), he will compare the roles played by ressentiment in creating moral values (GM I:10) and in creating the metaphysician’s belief in a ‘true world’ behind, or beyond, the one we experience through the senses (KSA 12:8[2], KSA 13:15[30], TI passim). He will then trace Nietzsche’s attempt to eliminate from his philosophical activity all concepts that have originated in ressentiment. Approaching Nietzsche’s psychology of metaphysics in this manner has two principal benefits: it unifies his apparently dissimilar accounts of the creative activity of ressentiment in ethics and in metaphysics, and it reveals why Nietzsche assigns great importance to our choice of a philosophical vocabulary.

Monday, March 20 at 4:00pm to 6:30pm

Eliot Hall, Eliot 207

Event Type



Faculty & Staff, Students, General Public



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