Title

Ecce Homo: A Theory of Nietzsche as Comedian

Authors

Sidney Whitten

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

In 1886, Nietzsche began the project of writing new introductions for 4 of his works, and continued to write prefaces in the same manner until his descent into madness. In this paper, I propose a new viewpoint from which to read these introductions, as comedic disavowals of the seriousness of his philosophic project. Nietzsche presents us with many falsities, jokes, and prankishness, and it is often difficult to know what to make of such witticisms in a scholarly work. But, in following Damian Stocking's theory of comedy, I try to show that comedic techniques such as this release us from whatever objectifications might oppress us, and according to Michel Foucault, the most potent form of objectification of the modern day is being made into a subject. In forever reinventing and often undermining his own self, it is Nietzsche?s deliberate and provocative deceit of his own philosophic identity that releases our perception of him from the objectification of subjectivity. As readers, we are the benefactors of this style, and in reading Nietzsche with an ear attuned to his mischief, we are released from the encumbrance of searching for philosophic truths and may engage in a playful conversation with his writings. In this paper I hope to suggest a different method of reading Nietzsche that will open up new possibilities for coming to terms with much of his more elusive texts.

Advisor

Damian Stocking

Department

ecls

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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