Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Friedrich Nietzsche

The Left Can’t Even Agree on What Politics Is

In helping my undergrads prepare for their exams the last few weeks, I’ve noticed something–one of the major obstacles to successful left-wing organising is the left’s inability to agree on what politics itself is. Different political theorists understand “politics” differently. You can broadly divide conceptions of the political into two realms. Some people think politics is about pursuing the truth and the good, and other people think that politics is about managing disagreement about the truth and the good. Then within those camps you can make further divisions on the basis of what strategy people prefer to use to pursue the good or manage disagreement. Here, let me chart this out for you:

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On Free Speech and Religion, Pope Francis’s Views are Part of the Problem

Pope Francis recently made some comments about the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Unfortunately, the view he expresses is precisely the view I took issue with a few days ago, blaming the attack on the proximal cause (the cartoons) instead of on the wider socioeconomic inequities that drive alienated people into the arms of violent extremism. But that’s not even the end of it–there’s quite a bit wrong with what the pope said, when we examine it closely.

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The Intellectual Poverty of the Nietzsche Hipster

I have been seeing a lot of casual quoting of Nietzsche lately, and I think I have discovered a new breed of amateur philosopher: the “Nietzsche Hipster”. The Nietzsche hipster loves quoting the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, embracing Nietzsche for the very simple reason that Nietzsche is very different from most other philosophers, both in the content of his ideas and in the style in which he conveys them (he is famously polemical). These Nietzsche hipsters are no different form hipsters in the ordinary sense–they are drawn to Nietzsche not because he has something worthy to say, but because he is different, against the mainstream, and radical. Nietzsche declares that “God is dead” and “Plato is boring”. He declares modern ethics to be a “slave morality” that keeps people down, and makes war on metaphysics (the notion that there is a truth that can be known) as a branch of philosophy more broadly.

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