Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Nietzsche as a Writer

Date: May 15 - 17, 2003
Scientific organizer: Rüdiger Bittner (Bielefeld)

The idea of the conference "Nietzsche as a writer", 15 - 17 May 2003, was to go back to Nietzsche's writerly techniques and achievements to retrieve a common basis for discussions of his work, given that Nietzsche interpretations have been sharply divergent in recent times.

Contributors took up this task from a variety of angles. J. Hillis Miller (UC Irvine) investigated Nietzsche's aphorism, using the literary tradition of this genre as his background. Rüdiger Bittner (Bielefeld) discussed Nietzsche's aphoristic technique especially in "Gay Science". Paul van Tongeren (Nijmegen) turned to "Zarathustra" and uncovered the hidden structure of the discourse on friendship. Diana Abad (Bielefeld) showed ideal figures of human life in various of Nietzsche's writings and examined their coherence.
Others took a broader point of view. Luca Renzi (Urbino) discussed Nietzsche's style and concept of style. Glenn Most (Pisa) looked at how Nietzsche revised his texts for publication, a process accessible now thanks to the Colli/Montinari edition of Nietzsche's writings. Richard Schacht (Urbana, Illinois) finally showed that perspectivism in Nietzsche is not a philosophical doctrine, as widely assumed, but rather a technique of the writer Friedrich Nietzsche.
Talks were arranged so as to leave ample space for discussions which occasionally went beyond the precise limit of the talk in question. The conference owes helpful contributions to Elke Axmacher (Bielefeld), Susanne Kaul (Bielefeld), Elisabetta Mengaldo (Leipzig), and Kamiel Verwer (Berlin).

Participants considered the conference a success. Clearly, going back to the writer Nietzsche could not solve the disputes over this author's doctrines, or indeed over the question whether he has any doctrines. But the conference itself, bringing together authors with quite different background, made evident that a clear understanding of Nietzsche's writerly procedures and achievements could provide a basis for a fruitful discussion of these controversies.

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