Individuality and Beyond: Nietzsche Reads Emerson

ISBN : 9780197607473

Benedetta Zavatta
296 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Though few might think to connect the two figures, Ralph Waldo Emerson was an important influence on Friedrich Nietzsche. Specifically, Emerson played a fundamental role in shaping Nietzsche's philosophical ideas on individualism, perfectionism, and the pursuit of virtue, as well as his critiques of social conditioning, religious dogmatism, and anti-natural morality. With Individuality and Beyond, Benedetta Zavatta offers the first philosophical interpretation of Emerson's influence on Nietzsche based on a sound philological analysis of previously unpublished materials from Nietzsche's private library. Nietzsche's collection reveals numerous copies of Emerson's essays covered with annotations and marginalia as Nietzsche revisited these works throughout his life. Through close-reading, Zavatta casts a new light on the ways in which Emerson's work informed Nietzsche's defining ideas of self-creation, the relation between fate and free will, overcoming morality of customs and achieving moral autonomy, and the "transvaluation" of such values as compassion and altruism. Zavatta organizes these concepts into two main lines of thought: the first concerns the development of the individual personality, or the achievement of intellectual and moral autonomy and original self-expression. The second, on the contrary, concerns the overcoming of individuality and the need to transcend a limited view of the world by continually questioning one's own values and engaging with opposing perspectives. Ultimately, Zavatta clarifies the surprising contributions that Emerson made to 20th century European philosophy. She provides a fresh portrait of Emerson as an American thinker long stereotyped as a naive idealist disinterested in the social issues of his day. Seen through the eyes of Nietzsche, his acute interpreter, Emerson becomes an incisive cultural critic, whose contributions underpin contemporary philosophy.


Chapter One: The Reception of the Emerson-Nietzsche Relation
Chapter Two: The Struggle Against Fate
Chapter Three: Self-Reliance as Moral Autonomy and Original Self-Expression
Chapter Four: Society or Solitude?
Chapter Five: Making History and Writing History
Conclusion: Individuality and Beyond
A companion website contains an appendix of high-resolution photographs of Nietzsche's marginalia and other hand-written commentary.


Benedetta Zavatta is Marie Curie Fellow Researcher at the ITEM (CNRS/ENS) Paris. She is currently a member of the HyperNietzsche Association, the International Society for Nietzsche Studies (ISNS), and the Seminario Permanente Nietzscheano. Her principal research interest is German philosophy of the 19th Century, with attention to Nietzsche and his sources. Zavatta has been Research Fellow at the Weimar Classics Foundation, the Deutsches Seminar of Basel University, the LMU Munich, the University of Oxford, the New University of Lisbon, and Columbia University in New York. She has also participated in various European projects in the field of Digital Humanities (HyperNietzsche, Discovery, Agora, among others).