Nietzsche’s Earth: Great Events, Great Politics (2016)

by Gary Shapiro 

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We have Nietzsche to thank for some of the most important accomplishments in intellectual history, but as Gary Shapiro shows in this unique look at Nietzsche’s thought, the nineteenth-century philosopher actually anticipated some of the most pressing questions of our own era. Putting Nietzsche into conversation with contemporary philosophers such as Deleuze, Agamben, Foucault, Derrida, and others, Shapiro links Nietzsche’s powerful ideas to topics that are very much on the contemporary agenda: globalization, the nature of the livable earth, and the geopolitical categories that characterize people and places.
Shapiro explores Nietzsche’s rejection of historical inevitability and its idea of the end of history. He highlights Nietzsche’s prescient vision of today’s massive human mobility and his criticism of the nation state’s desperate efforts to sustain its exclusive rule by declaring emergencies and states of exception. Shapiro then explores Nietzsche’s vision of a transformed garden earth and the ways it sketches an aesthetic of the Anthropocene. He concludes with an explanation of the deep political structure of Nietzsche’s “philosophy of the Antichrist,” by relating it to traditional political theology. By triangulating Nietzsche between his time and ours, between Bismarck’s Germany and post-9/11 America, Nietzsche’s Earth invites readers to rethink not just the philosopher himself but the very direction of human history.

Reviewed by Gabriel Zamosc, University of Colorado Denver
in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“This book offers a valuable and provocative contribution to the growing literature on Nietzsche’s political philosophy. It invites us to understand Nietzsche’s politics as consisting mainly in a kind of political program calling for a radical transformation of our earthly habitation. On Shapiro’s reading, this program principally requires reconceiving our relation to temporality, and, in particular, to the future, by cultivating a kind of openness that can make us receptive to those rare opportunities for radical change Nietzsche called “great events”. Nietzsche’s politics of futurity, however, requires displacing the way of thinking prevalent in the petty politics of nation-states. In each chapter, Shapiro investigates different aspects of Nietzsche’s critiques of this way of thinking, trying to articulate, at the same time, its positive alternative.”

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