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The฀Poverty฀of฀the฀Regent:฀฀

Nietzsche’s฀Critique฀of฀the฀“Subject”

WILLIAM฀MCNEILL

DePaul฀University

ABSTRACT:฀This฀essay฀seeks฀to฀accomplish฀three฀things:฀First,฀to฀examine฀Nietzsche’s฀

critique฀of฀the฀“subject”฀in฀modern฀philosophy,฀with฀particular฀reference฀to฀Descartes.฀

Second,฀to฀present฀an฀interpretation฀of฀Nietzsche’s฀alternative฀conception฀of฀“the฀subject฀ as฀multiplicity.”฀And฀third,฀to฀argue฀that,฀for฀Nietzsche,฀this฀account฀of฀the฀“subject”฀ as฀multiplicity฀does฀not฀lead฀to฀a฀kind฀of฀atomistic฀or฀anarchic฀ view฀of฀the฀“subject,”฀ contrary฀to฀what฀is฀often฀supposed.฀The฀essay฀focuses฀in฀particular฀on฀a฀number฀of฀ aphorisms฀from฀The฀Will฀to฀Power฀that฀articulate฀most฀forcefully฀Nietzsche’s฀critique฀

of฀Cartesian฀subjectivity฀and฀its฀aftermath.฀Thinking,฀as฀interpretation,฀Nietzsche฀sug-

gests,฀is฀an฀activity฀undertaken฀not฀by฀a฀unitary฀“subject”฀that฀is฀conscious฀of฀itself,฀but฀

by฀a฀much฀more฀subtle,฀largely฀concealed,฀and฀complex฀interplay฀of฀drives฀as฀forces฀of฀

domination฀that฀together฀constitute฀the฀phenomenon฀of฀the฀living฀body.

A฀ popular฀construal฀of฀the฀radicality฀of฀Nietzsche’s฀critique฀of฀the฀“subject”฀runs฀

something฀like฀the฀following:฀In฀stark฀opposition฀to฀modern฀philosophy฀from฀

Descartes฀to฀Hegel฀that฀accords฀primacy฀to฀the฀thinking฀subject,฀to฀consciousness,฀ as฀the฀unitary฀seat฀and฀substratum฀of฀ideality฀that฀determines฀and฀grounds฀the฀ being฀of฀the฀world,฀the฀“subject”฀for฀Nietzsche฀is฀but฀a฀fiction,฀a฀belief฀that฀may฀ indeed฀be฀useful฀for฀life,฀but฀that฀remains฀a฀fiction฀nevertheless,฀an฀interpretation,฀ but฀not฀an฀ultimate฀fact฀or฀truth.฀The฀centrality฀of฀the฀idea฀of฀the฀“subject”฀for฀ modern฀thought฀is฀symptomatic฀of฀the฀nihilism฀of฀Western฀thought฀in฀general,฀ which,฀beginning฀with฀Plato,฀posits฀the฀true฀world฀in฀the฀realm฀of฀an฀“eternal”฀ and฀quasi-divine฀ideality฀accessible฀only฀to฀pure฀thought,฀thereby฀devaluing฀the฀ realm฀of฀the฀sensuous,฀of฀materiality,฀of฀the฀flux฀of฀lived฀appearances.฀In฀keeping฀ with฀the฀task฀of฀overturning฀Platonism,฀Nietzsche’s฀thinking,฀by฀contrast,฀would฀ abolish฀any฀conception฀of฀the฀“subject”฀as฀an฀underlying฀unity฀or฀substratum,฀ positing฀ instead฀ the฀ notion฀ of฀“the฀ subject฀ as฀ multiplicity” 1 ฀ and฀ interpreting฀

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this฀multiplicity฀in฀terms฀of฀the฀phenomenon฀of฀the฀body฀as฀an฀ultimately฀more฀ certain,฀more฀indispensable฀“truth.”฀In฀place฀of฀any฀permanent฀or฀enduring฀“self ”฀ transcending฀and฀outlasting฀all฀temporal฀experiences,฀the฀“subject”฀would฀thereby฀ become฀reconceived฀as฀but฀a฀momentary฀fiction,฀a฀transitory฀moment฀of฀being฀ posited฀by฀the฀will฀to฀power฀only฀to฀be฀overcome฀in฀favor฀of฀the฀life-enhancing฀ dynamism฀of฀sensuous฀bodying-forth,฀giving฀way฀to฀another฀moment,฀another฀ fiction,฀another฀perspective,฀another฀“subject.”฀Such฀a฀conception฀abolishes฀any฀ belief฀in฀an฀enduring฀self฀that฀would฀transcend฀the฀moment฀of฀becoming;฀the฀ assurance฀of฀self-identity฀through฀time฀now฀gives฀way฀to฀an฀atomistic฀view฀of฀the฀ “subject”:฀the฀subject฀“is”฀nothing฀other฀than฀the฀moment,฀its฀being฀is฀radically฀ temporal,฀finite,฀and฀destined฀inevitably฀to฀oblivion฀in฀the฀next฀moment.฀“The฀ subject฀as฀multiplicity”฀installs฀a฀view฀of฀the฀subject฀as฀punctuality฀that฀leaves฀ no฀room฀for฀any฀metaphysical฀consolation฀or฀comfort,฀exposing฀us฀instead฀to฀the฀

Dionysian฀excess฀of฀life฀itself฀that฀shreds฀us฀to฀pieces฀even฀as฀it฀creates฀the฀condi-

tions฀for฀its฀own฀rebirth฀through฀the฀emergence฀of฀the฀Apollonian. 2 This฀popular฀construal฀of฀Nietzsche฀is฀undoubtedly฀correct฀in฀certain฀respects:฀ What฀reader฀of฀Nietzsche—and฀here฀I฀mean,฀above฀all,฀the฀later฀Nietzsche฀of฀The฀ Will฀to฀Power—what฀reader฀of฀Nietzsche฀would฀deny฀that฀Nietzsche฀seeks฀to฀ rethink฀the฀“subject”฀in฀terms฀of฀the฀body,฀restoring฀it฀to฀the฀realm฀of฀the฀sensuous฀ and฀reinterpreting฀it฀as฀multiplicity,฀abolishing฀the฀fictional฀“subject”฀of฀modern฀ philosophy฀whose฀roots฀stretch฀back฀to฀Plato?฀And฀yet,฀I฀shall฀argue฀here,฀this฀ popular฀construal฀of฀Nietzsche’s฀critique฀of฀the฀“subject”฀is฀also฀in฀certain฀respects฀ a฀romanticized฀reading฀that฀remains฀at฀the฀level฀of฀an฀incomplete฀nihilism,฀of฀an฀ overly฀reactive฀inversion฀of฀Platonism฀that฀fails฀to฀accomplish฀the฀“twisting฀free”฀ of฀Platonism฀that฀Nietzsche’s฀philosophy฀sees฀as฀its฀proper฀task. 3 ฀In฀its฀pretended฀

radicality,฀it฀overlooks฀the฀way฀in฀which฀the฀unity฀of฀the฀“subject”฀is฀not฀so฀much฀

abolished฀by฀Nietzsche,฀but฀dislocated฀and฀reinscribed฀within฀the฀dominion฀of฀

the฀body฀and฀its฀becoming.

To฀begin฀with,฀let฀us฀recall฀some฀of฀those฀aphorisms฀from฀The฀Will฀to฀Power

that฀articulate฀most฀forcefully฀Nietzsche’s฀critique฀of฀Cartesian฀subjectivity฀and฀

its฀ aftermath.฀ It฀ is฀ important฀ to฀ note฀ that฀ this฀ is฀ for฀ the฀ most฀ part฀ a฀ blanket฀ critique฀of฀the฀“subject”฀whose฀scope฀is฀meant฀to฀encompass฀subjectivity฀in฀all฀ its฀transformations฀from฀Descartes’฀cogito,฀ergo฀sum฀to฀Hegel’s฀absolute฀spirit฀ (Geist).฀Indeed,฀its฀scope฀extends฀even฀beyond฀modern฀subjectivity,฀in฀certain฀ respects฀ stretching฀ back฀ to฀ the฀ concept฀ of฀ the฀ soul฀ (psuche)฀ that฀ emerged฀ in฀ Greek฀philosophy.฀An฀indication฀of฀the฀intended฀scope฀of฀this฀sweeping฀critique฀ is฀evident฀by฀the฀fact฀that฀in฀a฀number฀of฀aphorisms฀in฀The฀Will฀to฀Power฀we฀ see฀Nietzsche฀straightforwardly฀equate฀the฀terms฀“soul,”฀“spirit,”฀“consciousness,”฀ and฀“subject,”฀at฀least฀insofar฀as฀they฀are฀susceptible฀to฀the฀same฀criticisms.฀In฀

§659,฀for฀example,฀contra฀Descartes฀who฀locates฀ultimate฀certainty฀in฀the฀pres-

ence฀of฀the฀ego฀cogito,฀Nietzsche฀argues฀that฀“we฀have฀always฀believed฀more฀in฀

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the฀body฀as฀our฀most฀proper฀possession,฀as฀our฀most฀certain฀being,฀as฀ego,฀than฀ in฀the฀spirit฀(or฀the฀‘soul’฀or฀the฀subject,฀as฀the฀language฀of฀the฀schools฀now฀says฀

instead฀of฀soul).”฀The฀same฀equation฀of฀“soul”฀and฀“subject”฀occurs฀in฀§485;฀and฀

§480฀opens฀with฀the฀still฀more฀sweeping฀statement฀“There฀is฀neither฀‘spirit,’฀nor฀

reason,฀nor฀thinking,฀nor฀consciousness,฀nor฀soul,฀nor฀will,฀nor฀truth:฀all฀unusable฀ fictions.”฀I฀mention฀this฀aspect฀of฀the฀scope฀of฀Nietzsche’s฀apparent฀critique฀here฀ because—despite฀his฀evident฀aversion฀to฀the฀term฀“soul,”฀or฀perhaps฀to฀what฀that฀ term฀has฀come฀to฀signify฀in฀the฀course฀of฀the฀history฀of฀philosophy—one฀might฀ question฀ whether฀ Nietzsche’s฀ own฀ understanding฀ of฀ the฀ body฀ as฀ the฀ ultimate฀

“subject”฀does฀not฀in฀fact฀come฀very฀close,฀at฀least฀in฀certain฀respects,฀to฀a฀certain฀ Greek฀understanding฀of฀the฀soul. 4 Yet฀what฀exactly฀is฀Nietzsche’s฀critique฀of฀the฀“subject”?฀How฀can฀Nietzsche,฀in฀ one฀sweeping฀statement,฀simply฀dismiss฀an฀entire฀chain฀of฀signifiers฀designating฀

everything฀that฀philosophers฀for฀two฀thousand฀years฀have฀taken฀to฀be฀most฀sa-

cred,฀the฀very฀ground฀and฀foundation฀of฀the฀world฀and฀its฀existence?฀The฀force฀of฀ Nietzsche’s฀critique฀can฀be฀neatly฀expressed฀in฀just฀a฀few฀aphorisms฀(let฀us฀recall฀ here฀Nietzsche’s฀identification฀of฀one฀of฀his฀virtues฀as฀being฀able฀to฀say฀in฀a฀few฀ lines฀what฀others฀take฀an฀entire฀book฀not฀to฀say). 5 ฀In฀§477฀he฀writes:

“Thinking,”฀ as฀ epistemologists฀ conceive฀ it,฀ simply฀ does฀ not฀ occur:฀ it฀ is฀ an฀

altogether฀arbitrary฀fiction,฀arrived฀at฀by฀selecting฀one฀element฀from฀the฀pro-

cess฀and฀subtracting฀all฀the฀rest:฀an฀artificial฀arrangement฀for฀the฀purposes฀

of฀intelligibility.฀.฀.฀.

The฀“spirit,”฀ something฀ that฀ thinks,฀ where฀ possible฀ even฀“absolute,฀ pure฀ spirit”—this฀ conception฀ is฀ a฀ second฀ derivative฀ of฀ that฀ false฀ introspection฀ [Selbstbeobachtung]฀that฀believes฀in฀“thinking”:฀first฀an฀act฀is฀imagined฀that฀ simply฀does฀not฀occur,฀namely,฀“thinking,”฀and฀secondly฀a฀subject-substratum฀ in฀which฀every฀act฀of฀this฀thinking,฀and฀nothing฀else,฀has฀its฀origin.฀That฀is,฀ both฀the฀doing฀and฀the฀doer฀are฀fictions.

Nietzsche’s฀critique฀here฀is฀not฀only฀a฀refutation฀of฀the฀concept฀of฀the฀subject฀as฀

“substance,”฀that฀is,฀as฀a฀substratum฀conceived฀as฀a฀“thing”฀that฀does฀the฀think-

ing฀when฀we฀think;฀its฀radicality฀lies฀in฀the฀way฀in฀which฀Nietzsche฀sees฀that฀this฀

conception฀of฀a฀“subject”฀is฀intimately฀interwoven฀with,฀and฀indeed฀presupposes,฀a฀

certain฀conception฀of฀thinking.฀We฀would฀never฀arrive฀at฀the฀thought฀of฀ourselves฀

as฀thinking฀subjects,฀Nietzsche฀is฀claiming,฀unless฀we฀already฀conceived฀of฀think-

ing฀as฀a฀process฀emanating฀from฀a฀determinate฀center฀or฀origin,฀an฀origin฀that฀

governed฀it฀and฀coincided฀with฀the฀presence฀of฀thought฀itself.฀The฀concept฀of฀the฀

subject฀as฀a฀thinking฀“thing”฀(the฀res฀of฀the฀res฀cogitans)฀is฀indeed฀not฀primary,฀

but฀derivative฀upon฀a฀certain฀interpretation฀(or฀self-interpretation)฀of฀thinking.฀

This฀is฀evident฀already฀in฀Descartes,฀who฀institutes฀the฀most฀radical฀attempt฀at฀

a฀separation฀and฀purification฀of฀the฀mind฀from฀the฀body.฀In฀Discourse฀Four฀of฀

the฀Discourse฀on฀Method,฀Descartes฀writes:

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[I]f฀I฀had฀only฀ceased฀to฀think฀.฀.฀.฀I฀would฀have฀had฀no฀reason฀to฀believe฀that฀

I฀existed;฀I฀therefore฀concluded฀that฀I฀was฀a฀substance,฀of฀which฀the฀whole฀

essence฀or฀nature฀consists฀in฀thinking฀[penser],฀and฀which,฀in฀order฀to฀exist,฀

needs฀no฀place฀and฀depends฀on฀no฀material฀thing;฀so฀that฀this฀“I”฀[ce฀moi],฀

that฀is฀to฀say,฀the฀mind฀[l’âme],฀by฀which฀I฀am฀what฀I฀am,฀is฀entirely฀distinct฀

from฀the฀body,฀and฀even฀that฀it฀is฀easier฀to฀know฀than฀the฀body,฀and฀moreover,฀

that฀even฀if฀the฀body฀were฀not,฀it฀would฀not฀cease฀to฀be฀all฀that฀it฀is.

The฀essence฀of฀the฀“subject”—what฀the฀subject฀is,฀its฀essential฀being฀or฀essen-

tia—is฀inseparable฀from,฀and฀indeed฀nothing฀other฀than,฀the฀activity฀of฀thinking,฀

the฀way฀of฀its฀being.฀The฀Cartesian฀“subject”฀is฀thus฀not฀primarily฀a฀“thing,”฀but฀the฀

being฀or฀presence฀of฀thought฀conceived฀in฀a฀certain฀way.฀This฀point฀is฀made฀more฀

emphatically฀by฀Descartes฀himself฀in฀the฀Second฀Meditation.฀In฀the฀attribute฀

of฀thinking,฀Descartes฀writes,

I฀discover฀an฀attribute฀that฀belongs฀to฀me;฀this฀alone฀cannot฀be฀detached฀

from฀me.฀I฀am,฀I฀exist฀[Ego฀sum,฀ego฀existo]:฀this฀is฀certain,฀but฀for฀how฀

long?฀For฀as฀long฀as฀I฀think฀[Nempe฀quandiu฀cogito],฀for฀it฀might฀perhaps฀

happen,฀if฀I฀ceased฀to฀think,฀that฀I฀would฀at฀the฀same฀time฀cease฀to฀be฀or฀to฀

exist.฀.฀.฀.฀I฀am,฀therefore,฀precisely฀speaking,฀only฀a฀thing฀which฀thinks฀[res฀

cogitans],฀that฀is฀to฀say฀a฀mind,฀or฀soul,฀or฀understanding,฀or฀reason฀[mens,฀

sive฀animus,฀sive฀intellectus,฀sive฀ratio],฀terms฀whose฀significance฀was฀

hitherto฀unknown฀to฀me.

Descartes฀himself฀is฀only฀too฀aware฀that฀the฀subject฀as฀the฀“I”฀of฀the฀res฀cogitans฀ is฀not฀really฀a฀substance฀at฀all฀in฀the฀strict฀sense฀defined฀in฀the฀ Principles฀of฀ Philosophy,฀namely,฀as฀having฀independent฀existence. 6 ฀Its฀existence฀is฀all฀too฀ dependent฀on฀thinking.฀It฀is฀striking,฀indeed,฀that฀the฀being฀of฀the฀subject฀is฀here฀ seen฀by฀Descartes฀as฀altogether฀temporal:฀it฀is,฀as฀he฀says,฀nothing฀other฀than฀the฀ presence฀of฀thinking,฀and฀not฀a฀thing฀in฀the฀sense฀of฀an฀independent,฀material฀ entity.฀The฀Cartesian฀subject,฀we฀might฀say,฀has฀to฀bring฀itself฀(temporally)฀into฀

being฀in฀and฀as฀a฀certain฀self-interpretation฀of฀thinking:฀it฀is฀not฀at฀all฀a฀“given”฀ prior฀ to฀ or฀ independent฀ of฀ thinking.฀ How฀ does฀ thinking฀ come฀ to฀ understand฀ “itself ”฀in฀this฀way?฀Is฀thinking฀“itself ”—conceived฀in฀this฀way—a฀fiction,฀as฀ Nietzsche฀would฀have฀it? It฀is฀important฀to฀note,฀in฀this฀context,฀that฀when฀Nietzsche฀identifies฀the฀“act”฀of฀ “thinking”฀as฀a฀“fiction,”฀he฀is฀not฀denying฀either฀that฀there฀is฀such฀a฀phenomenon฀

as฀thinking,฀or฀that฀thinking฀is฀a฀process,฀a฀temporal฀event฀in฀an฀as฀yet฀undeter-

mined฀sense;฀rather,฀what฀he฀is฀refuting฀is฀a฀particular฀interpretation฀of฀this฀process฀ as฀an฀activity฀undertaken฀by฀and฀grounded฀in฀a฀“subject.”฀This฀becomes฀clear฀in฀

aphorism฀§484฀of฀The฀Will฀to฀Power,฀where฀Nietzsche฀writes:

“There฀is฀thinking:฀therefore฀there฀is฀something฀that฀thinks”:฀this฀is฀the฀upshot฀

of฀all฀Descartes’฀argumentation.฀But฀that฀means฀positing฀as฀“true฀a฀priori”฀our฀

belief฀in฀the฀concept฀of฀substance—that฀when฀there฀is฀thinking,฀there฀has฀to฀

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be฀something฀“that฀thinks”฀is฀simply฀a฀formulation฀of฀our฀grammatical฀custom฀

that฀adds฀a฀doer฀to฀every฀deed฀[Tun].฀.฀.฀.

If฀ one฀ reduces฀ the฀ proposition฀ to฀“There฀ is฀ thinking,฀ therefore฀ there฀ are฀ thoughts,”฀one฀has฀produced฀a฀mere฀tautology:฀and฀precisely฀that฀which฀is฀in฀ question,฀the฀“reality฀of฀thought,”฀is฀not฀touched฀upon—that฀is,฀in฀this฀form฀ the฀“apparent฀reality”฀of฀thought฀cannot฀be฀denied.฀But฀what฀Descartes฀wanted฀ was฀that฀thought฀should฀have,฀not฀merely฀an฀apparent฀reality฀[scheinbare฀ Realität],฀but฀a฀reality฀in฀itself.

There฀ is฀ thinking,฀ but฀ wherein฀ the฀ being฀ of฀ thinking฀ consists,฀ the฀ being฀ and฀ ground฀of฀its฀truth—this,฀far฀from฀being฀a฀given,฀is฀a฀matter฀for฀thinking฀itself. 7 ฀ The฀ground฀of฀what฀Nietzsche฀calls฀Descartes’฀“very฀strong฀belief ”฀in฀the฀truth฀ of฀the฀cogito,฀far฀from฀being฀an฀immediately฀intuitable฀certainty,฀proves฀to฀be฀a฀ historical฀product,฀or฀by-product,฀of฀thought฀itself:฀another฀belief,฀the฀belief฀in฀ the฀a฀priori฀truth฀of฀substance,฀of฀an฀underlying฀substratum฀or฀hupokeimenon฀ behind฀or฀beyond฀appearances:฀a฀“logical-metaphysical฀postulate,”฀as฀Nietzsche฀

calls฀it.฀In฀§483,฀Nietzsche฀writes:

Through฀thought฀the฀ego฀is฀posited;฀but฀hitherto฀one฀believed,฀as฀most฀people฀

do,฀that฀in฀the฀“I฀think”฀there฀was฀something฀of฀immediate฀certainty,฀and฀that฀

this฀“I”฀was฀the฀given฀cause฀of฀thought,฀from฀which฀by฀analogy฀we฀understood฀

all฀other฀causal฀relationships.฀However฀habitual฀and฀indispensible฀this฀fiction฀

may฀have฀become฀by฀now—that฀in฀itself฀proves฀nothing฀against฀its฀imaginary฀

origin฀[Erdichtheit]:฀a฀belief฀can฀be฀a฀condition฀of฀life฀and฀nonetheless฀be฀

false.฀[Emphasis฀added]

Notice฀that฀here฀Nietzsche฀emphasizes฀how฀the฀ego฀or฀“I,”฀as฀subject,฀far฀from฀

being฀prior฀to฀thought,฀is฀something฀first฀posited฀through฀thought,฀a฀product฀ of฀ thinking,฀ neither฀ something฀“given,”฀ nor฀ its฀ a฀ priori฀ condition฀ of฀ possibil- ity.฀Nietzsche฀here฀appears฀to฀reverse฀the฀claim฀he฀has฀just฀made฀regarding฀the฀ “subject’s”฀dependence฀on฀a฀prior฀belief฀in฀substance,฀when฀he฀writes฀of฀other฀ causal฀relations฀being฀understood฀by฀analogy฀with฀the฀subject,฀but฀this฀apparent฀ reversal฀merely฀corresponds฀to฀the฀ascendancy฀of฀the฀“subject”฀within฀the฀modern฀ Cartesian-Kantian฀era฀where฀the฀truth฀of฀the฀external฀world฀has฀to฀be฀grounded฀

in฀and฀through฀the฀subjectivity฀of฀human฀knowledge.฀It฀is฀in฀this฀sense฀that฀Ni-

etzsche฀explicitly฀invokes฀this฀reversal฀in฀aphorism฀§485:

The฀concept฀of฀substance฀is฀a฀consequence฀of฀the฀concept฀of฀the฀subject,฀not฀the฀

reverse!฀If฀we฀relinquish฀the฀soul,฀“the฀subject,”฀the฀precondition฀for฀“substance”฀

in฀general฀disappears.฀One฀acquires฀gradations฀of฀beings,฀not฀beings฀them-

selves฀[Man฀bekommt฀Grade฀des฀Seienden,฀man฀verliert฀das฀Seiende].

Again,฀this฀genealogical฀reversal฀makes฀sense฀only฀within฀the฀epoch฀of฀modernity:฀ It฀would฀not฀make฀sense฀within฀the฀Classical฀age฀of฀Greek฀philosophy.฀Nietzsche’s฀ earlier฀ point,฀ identifying฀ the฀ origin฀ of฀ the฀ concept฀ of฀ the฀“subject”฀ in฀ that฀ of฀

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“substance”฀remains฀valid,฀for฀it฀is฀this฀genealogy฀that฀itself฀first฀enables฀the฀epoch฀

of฀Cartesian฀modernity.

The฀“subject,”฀then,฀as฀Nietzsche฀indicates฀in฀these฀aphorisms,฀is฀not฀a฀fact฀or฀a฀

“given,”฀but฀something฀imagined฀or฀fictioned,฀a฀product฀of฀thought฀itself,฀but฀never฀

that฀which฀thinks.฀That฀the฀“subject”฀is฀a฀fiction฀having฀no฀ultimate฀truth฀does฀not฀

preclude,฀however,฀as฀Nietzsche฀has฀also฀pointed฀out,฀that฀this฀fiction฀may฀be,฀or฀

in฀a฀certain฀epoch฀may฀have฀been,฀necessary฀as฀a฀condition฀of฀life—something฀

needed฀by฀life฀itself.฀Yet฀if฀thinking฀is฀for฀Nietzsche฀not฀the฀activity฀of฀a฀“subject,”฀

what฀is฀it?฀How฀are฀we฀to฀conceive฀of฀thought฀itself,฀if฀we฀wish฀neither฀to฀simplify฀

it฀as฀an฀isolated฀activity฀of฀the฀mind฀or฀spirit,฀nor฀to฀seat฀the฀event฀of฀thinking฀in฀

a฀hypostatized฀subject฀as฀its฀ground฀and฀origin?฀What฀is฀“it”฀that฀thinks,฀accord-

ing฀to฀Nietzsche,฀when฀he฀writes:฀“Not฀‘I฀think,’฀but฀it฀thinks฀in฀me”?฀Nietzsche’s฀

answer,฀in฀short,฀is:฀life฀itself,฀conceived฀as฀the฀unitary,฀perspectival฀appropriation฀

of฀will฀to฀power฀and฀eternal฀return฀of฀the฀same.

To฀conceive฀of฀thought฀as฀intrinsically฀“fictive”฀or฀poietic,฀in฀the฀sense฀of฀pro-

ducing฀apparent฀truths฀or฀necessary฀fictions฀such฀as฀that฀of฀the฀“subject,”฀is฀for฀

Nietzsche฀equivalent฀to฀claiming฀that฀all฀thought฀is฀interpretation.฀And฀we฀can฀

in฀this฀sense฀legitimately฀characterize฀Nietzsche฀as฀a฀hermeneutic฀philosopher:฀ Nietzschean฀genealogy฀is฀intrinsically฀hermeneutic.฀In฀aphorism฀§481฀of฀ The฀ Will฀to฀Power฀Nietzsche฀writes:

Against฀positivism,฀which฀halts฀at฀phenomena—“There฀are฀only฀facts”—I฀

would฀say:฀No,฀facts฀is฀what฀there฀precisely฀are฀not,฀only฀interpretations.฀We฀can-

not฀establish฀any฀fact฀“in฀itself ”:฀perhaps฀it฀is฀folly฀to฀wish฀to฀do฀such฀a฀thing.

“Everything฀ is฀ subjective,”฀ you฀ say;฀ but฀ even฀ this฀ is฀ interpretation.฀ The฀

“subject”฀is฀not฀something฀given,฀it฀is฀something฀added฀and฀invented฀[Hinzu-

Erdichtetes]฀and฀projected฀behind฀what฀there฀is.—Is฀it฀ultimately฀necessary฀ to฀ posit฀ an฀ interpreter฀ behind฀ the฀ interpretation?฀ Even฀ this฀ is฀ invention฀ [Dichtung],฀hypothesis.

As฀opposed฀to฀the฀fiction฀of฀the฀“subject”฀as฀the฀secure฀and฀certain฀ground฀of฀a฀

rational฀knowledge฀of฀the฀world฀that฀could฀be฀ascertained฀as฀a฀system฀of฀ultimate฀

facts,฀Nietzsche,฀then,฀offers฀us฀the฀alternative฀hypothesis฀of฀interpretation฀as฀

intrinsically฀perspectival฀and฀grounded฀in฀the฀needs฀and฀drives฀of฀life฀itself:

Insofar฀as฀the฀word฀“knowledge”฀[Erkenntnis]฀has฀any฀meaning,฀the฀world฀is฀

knowable:฀but฀it฀can฀be฀interpreted฀otherwise,฀it฀has฀no฀one฀meaning฀behind฀

it,฀but฀countless฀meanings.฀“Perspectivism.”

It฀is฀our฀needs฀that฀interpret฀the฀world;฀our฀drives฀and฀their฀For฀and฀Against.฀

Every฀drive฀is฀a฀kind฀of฀desire฀to฀rule;฀each฀one฀has฀its฀perspective฀that฀it฀would฀

like฀to฀impose฀upon฀all฀the฀other฀drives฀as฀a฀norm.฀[Emphasis฀added]

Thinking,฀interpretation,฀is฀an฀activity฀undertaken฀not฀by฀a฀unitary฀“subject”฀that฀

is฀conscious฀of฀itself,฀but฀by฀a฀much฀more฀subtle,฀largely฀concealed,฀and฀incredibly฀

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complex฀interplay฀of฀drives฀as฀forces฀of฀domination฀that฀together฀constitute฀the฀ phenomenon฀of฀the฀living฀body.฀The฀body฀itself,฀Nietzsche฀proposes,฀should฀be฀ taken฀as฀the฀guiding฀thread฀of฀any฀interpretation฀of฀the฀“subject”฀or฀the฀world.฀As฀

he฀writes฀in฀aphorism฀§489:

Everything฀ that฀ enters฀ consciousness฀ as฀“unity”฀ is฀ already฀ tremendously฀ complex:฀we฀only฀ever฀have฀a฀semblance฀of฀unity.

The฀phenomenon฀of฀the฀body฀is฀the฀richer,฀clearer,฀more฀tangible฀phenomenon:฀

it฀is฀to฀be฀placed฀first฀methodologically,฀without฀coming฀to฀any฀decision฀as฀to฀

its฀ultimate฀significance.฀[Emphasis฀added]

When฀Nietzsche฀here฀writes฀of฀the฀phenomenon฀of฀the฀body฀being฀“clearer”฀and฀ more฀tangible฀or฀more฀graspable,฀he฀means฀this฀only฀in฀the฀sense฀that฀the฀drives฀ and฀forces฀of฀the฀body฀assert฀themselves฀irrespective฀of฀the฀interpretations฀or฀ fictions฀to฀which฀they฀give฀rise.฀In฀this฀sense฀the฀body฀is,฀as฀we฀have฀already฀heard฀

him฀indicate฀in฀§659,฀“our฀most฀proper฀possession,฀our฀most฀certain฀being,฀in฀

short,฀our฀ego,”฀more฀certain฀than฀the฀cogito.฀As฀Nietzsche฀notes,฀while฀we฀can฀

very฀well฀conceive฀of฀our฀thoughts฀as฀emanating฀from฀God฀or฀our฀judgments฀as฀

“inspired฀by฀a฀god,”฀“it฀would฀never฀occur฀to฀anyone฀to฀understand฀his฀stomach฀

as฀an฀alien฀or฀divine฀stomach.”฀Yet฀in฀another฀respect฀the฀body฀is฀anything฀but฀

“clear”:฀Nietzsche฀would฀certainly฀agree฀with฀Descartes฀that฀the฀“I฀think”฀is฀“easier฀

to฀know฀than฀the฀body.”฀Granted,฀Nietzsche฀notes,฀that฀the฀old฀idea฀of฀the฀“soul”฀

was฀an฀attractive฀and฀mysterious฀idea,฀the฀body฀is฀perhaps฀something฀still฀more฀

seductive฀and฀mysterious:

The฀human฀body,฀in฀which฀the฀most฀remote฀and฀most฀recent฀past฀of฀all฀organic฀

development฀[Werden]฀comes฀to฀life฀and฀becomes฀body฀once฀again,฀through฀

which฀and฀out฀beyond฀which฀a฀tremendous฀[ungeheurer],฀inaudible฀stream฀ap-

pears฀to฀flow:฀the฀body฀is฀a฀more฀astonishing฀thought฀than฀the฀former฀“soul.”

The฀becoming฀of฀the฀body,฀Nietzsche฀indicates฀here,฀is฀a฀unitary฀becoming:฀it฀is฀ that฀of฀one฀tremendous,฀inaudible฀stream—what฀he฀will฀otherwise฀identify฀as฀the฀ singular฀will฀of฀the฀will฀to฀power฀which,฀as฀the฀very฀being฀of฀life,฀must฀come฀again฀ in฀one฀singular,฀tremendous฀moment฀[Augenblick]฀as฀the฀eternal฀return฀of฀the฀ same. 8 ฀Yet฀the฀unity฀of฀this฀becoming,฀as฀the฀unifying฀struggle฀of฀embodied฀life,฀ is฀altogether฀other฀than฀the฀supposed฀unity฀of฀the฀“subject.”฀“Subject”฀in฀the฀latter฀

sense฀is,฀as฀Nietzsche฀puts฀it฀(§485),฀“the฀fiction฀that฀many฀similar฀states฀in฀us฀

are฀the฀effect฀of฀One฀substratum:฀but฀it฀is฀we฀who฀first฀created฀the฀‘similarity’฀of฀ these฀states;฀our฀adjusting฀them฀and฀making฀them฀similar฀is฀the฀point,฀not฀their฀ similarity฀(—which฀ought฀rather฀to฀be฀denied—).” 9 ฀Such฀making-similar฀is฀an฀ essential฀accomplishment฀of฀thinking,฀for฀Nietzsche,฀as฀a฀mode฀of฀incorporation฀ and฀assimilation. 10 ฀All฀thought฀and฀interpretation,฀as฀fictioning,฀for฀Nietzsche฀ entails฀such฀assimilation,฀“the฀insertion฀and฀ordering฀of฀new฀material฀into฀old฀

schemata”฀that฀give฀the฀semblance฀of฀unity฀(§499).

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Against฀the฀“semblance฀of฀unity”฀that฀enters฀and฀appears฀to฀consciousness฀as฀ the฀“subject”฀of฀modern฀philosophy,฀Nietzsche,฀proceeding฀from฀the฀phenomenon฀

of฀the฀body,฀counterposes฀what฀he฀calls฀“the฀subject฀as฀multiplicity”฀(§490):

The฀assumption฀of฀One฀subject฀[of฀a฀single฀subject]฀is฀perhaps฀unneces-

sary;฀perhaps฀it฀is฀just฀as฀permissable฀to฀assume฀a฀multiplicity฀of฀subjects,฀

whose฀interplay฀and฀struggle฀[Zusammenspiel฀und฀Kampf]฀is฀the฀basis฀of฀

our฀thought฀and฀consciousness฀in฀general?฀A฀kind฀of฀aristocracy฀of฀“cells,”฀in฀

which฀dominion฀[Herrschaft]฀resides?฀To฀be฀sure,฀an฀aristocracy฀of฀equals,฀

used฀to฀ruling฀jointly฀and฀understanding฀how฀to฀command?

My฀hypotheses:฀the฀subject฀as฀multiplicity.฀.฀.฀.

An฀aristocracy฀is฀not฀in฀itself฀a฀single฀subject฀or฀substratum,฀but฀it฀is฀nevertheless฀ one฀body฀comprised฀of฀and฀enabled฀by฀a฀multiplicity฀of฀forces฀or฀“subjects,”฀each฀ striving฀for฀dominion,฀and฀whose฀interplay฀and฀struggle฀first฀constitutes฀the฀fragile฀ unity฀and฀harmony฀of฀the฀political฀body.฀At฀any฀given฀moment,฀one฀particular฀ subject฀gains฀ascendancy฀over฀the฀others,฀taking฀the฀remaining฀cells฀into฀its฀service฀ in฀the฀name฀of฀something฀greater,฀over฀and฀beyond฀itself.฀In฀this฀way฀the฀“subject”฀ that฀Nietzsche฀critiques฀can฀be฀reinterpreted฀in฀terms฀of฀multiplicity:฀In฀place฀of฀ one,฀homogeneous฀subject฀conceived฀as฀a฀substratum฀underlying฀many฀similar฀ states฀of฀being,฀we฀have฀multiple฀subjects฀corresponding฀to฀multiple฀states฀that฀

might฀appear฀similar,฀yet฀in฀truth฀are฀anything฀but.฀In฀§492,฀Nietzsche฀refines฀this฀

vision฀of฀an฀aristocracy฀of฀cells฀comprising฀multiple฀regents:

Our฀starting฀point฀the฀body฀and฀its฀physiology:฀why?—We฀gain฀the฀correct฀

idea฀of฀our฀subject-unity,฀namely฀as฀regents฀at฀the฀head฀[Spitze]of฀a฀communal฀

body฀[or฀communality:฀Gemeinwesen]฀(not฀as฀“souls”฀or฀“vital฀forces”),฀and฀

likewise฀of฀the฀dependency฀of฀these฀regents฀upon฀the฀ruled,฀and฀of฀an฀order฀

of฀rank฀and฀division฀of฀labor฀as฀the฀conditions฀that฀make฀possible฀the฀whole฀

and฀its฀individual฀parts.฀In฀the฀same฀way,฀how฀living฀unities฀continually฀arise฀

and฀die,฀and฀how฀the฀“subject”฀is฀not฀eternal;฀in฀the฀same฀way,฀that฀the฀struggle฀

expresses฀itself฀in฀obeying฀and฀commanding,฀and฀that฀a฀fluid฀defining฀of฀the฀

limits฀of฀power฀belongs฀to฀life.

The฀subject฀as฀regent฀is฀not฀a฀permanent,฀enduring฀subject฀that฀would฀maintain฀

itself฀as฀such,฀as฀self-identical,฀across฀or฀throughout฀many฀different฀states฀of฀being.฀

And฀yet฀each฀of฀these฀“subjects”฀is฀a฀perspectival฀unity,฀each฀is฀a฀living฀unity฀that฀

emerges,฀rules฀for฀a฀time,฀and฀dies,฀giving฀way฀to฀another฀subject,฀another฀regent.฀

The฀subject฀as฀regent฀is,฀moreover,฀dependent฀for฀its฀existence฀upon฀the฀ruled,฀upon฀

its฀“subjects”฀(in฀the฀political฀sense),฀which฀sustain฀and฀enable฀it,฀defining฀and฀

situating฀its฀place,฀and฀thereby฀limiting฀its฀power.฀Indeed,฀the฀veritable฀poverty฀

of฀the฀regent฀lies฀in฀precisely฀this:฀that,฀as฀thus฀dependent,฀it฀ultimately฀has฀no฀

power฀over฀its฀own฀being:฀abandoned฀to฀rule,฀it฀cannot฀even฀know฀its฀own฀time;฀

it฀controls฀neither฀the฀point฀of฀its฀own฀emergence,฀nor฀the฀moment฀of฀its฀own฀

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demise.฀In฀this฀sense,฀Nietzsche฀continues,฀“The฀relative฀ignorance฀in฀which฀the฀ regent฀is฀kept฀concerning฀the฀individual฀activities฀and฀even฀disturbances฀within฀ the฀communality฀is฀among฀the฀conditions฀under฀which฀rule฀can฀be฀exercised.” 11 Now฀this฀poverty฀of฀the฀regent฀that฀underlies฀Nietzsche’s฀conception฀of฀the฀ subject฀as฀multiplicity฀might฀lead,฀and฀frequently฀has฀led,฀readers฀of฀Nietzsche฀ to฀regard฀this฀“subject”฀as฀a฀subject฀in฀sheer฀dispersion,฀as฀an฀atomistic฀subject฀ that฀ exists฀ in฀ and฀ for฀ the฀ moment,฀ yet฀ arises฀ and฀ disappears฀ without฀ a฀ trace.฀ Yet฀this,฀as฀I฀indicated฀earlier,฀is฀not฀at฀all฀what฀Nietzsche฀proposes.฀Quite฀to฀the฀

contrary:฀In฀aphorism฀§488฀he฀argues฀precisely฀against฀an฀atomistic฀notion฀of฀

the฀subject,฀emphasizing฀once฀more฀that฀the฀subject฀as฀multiplicity฀is฀but฀part฀of฀

a฀much฀greater฀system:

Not฀subject฀“atoms.”฀The฀sphere฀of฀a฀subject฀constantly฀growing฀or฀decreas-

ing—the฀center฀of฀the฀system฀constantly฀shifting฀[sich฀.฀.฀.฀verschiebend];฀in฀

cases฀where฀it฀[the฀system]฀cannot฀organize฀the฀appropriated฀mass,฀it฀breaks฀

into฀two.฀On฀the฀other฀hand,฀it฀can฀transform฀a฀weaker฀subject฀into฀its฀func-

tionary฀without฀destroying฀it,฀and฀to฀a฀certain฀degree฀form฀a฀new฀unity฀with฀ it.฀Not฀“substance,”฀rather฀something฀that฀in฀itself฀strives฀after฀greater฀strength,฀ and฀that฀wants฀to฀“preserve”฀itself฀only฀indirectly฀(it฀wishes฀to฀surpass฀[or฀ exceed]฀itself). 12

Nietzsche฀ here฀ identifies฀ the฀ subject฀ as฀ but฀ one,฀ unstable฀ moment฀ that฀ exists฀ only฀as฀a฀component฀of฀a฀much฀greater฀system,฀a฀system฀that฀strives฀for฀unity,฀ yet฀whose฀center฀is฀constantly฀shifting,฀deferring฀itself.฀The฀subject฀as฀regent฀is฀ not฀something฀that฀could฀emerge฀or฀exist฀in฀atomistic฀isolation฀from฀the฀other฀ parts฀of฀the฀system.฀The฀regent฀is฀not฀the฀center฀of฀the฀system,฀but฀a฀function,฀

albeit฀a฀governing฀function,฀thereof.฀The฀system฀itself฀strives฀for฀unity:฀it฀is฀in-

trinsically฀unity-forming฀or฀synthetic,฀although฀it฀does฀not฀of฀course฀assimilate฀ or฀appropriate฀everything฀(it฀is฀selective,฀discriminating);฀the฀self-preservation฀ of฀the฀system,฀Nietzsche฀suggests,฀is฀secondary฀or฀“indirect”:฀its฀primary฀goal฀is฀ self-surpassing,฀the฀intensification฀and฀enhancement฀of฀life.฀This฀“system”฀is฀of฀ course฀the฀will฀to฀power,฀that฀“insatiable฀appropriation,”฀as฀Nietzsche฀calls฀it,฀that฀ organizes฀the฀aristocracy฀of฀the฀body 13

CONCLUSION:฀SYMBOLISMFORTHE฀EYE

On฀Nietzsche’s฀interpretation,฀then,฀consciousness฀and฀everything฀that฀appears฀ to฀consciousness฀as฀a฀unity,฀including฀that฀of฀the฀“subject,”฀is฀ but฀a฀transitory฀ and฀somewhat฀fleeting฀epiphenomenon฀of฀the฀will฀to฀power. 14 ฀As฀he฀puts฀it฀in฀

aphorism฀§674:

In฀the฀tremendous฀multiplicity฀of฀events฀within฀a฀single฀organism,฀the฀part฀

that฀becomes฀conscious฀to฀us฀is฀a฀mere฀corner.฀.฀.฀.

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Our฀entire฀conscious฀life,฀the฀spirit฀along฀with฀the฀soul฀.฀.฀.฀in฀whose฀service฀

does฀it฀labor?฀In฀the฀service฀of฀the฀greatest฀possible฀perfection฀of฀the฀means฀

.฀.฀.฀of฀basic฀animal฀functions:฀above฀all,฀that฀of฀life-enhancement.

What฀one฀used฀to฀call฀“body”฀and฀“flesh”฀is฀of฀such฀unspeakably฀greater฀im-

portance:฀the฀remainder฀is฀but฀a฀minor฀accessory.฀The฀task฀of฀continuing฀to฀

spin฀the฀entire฀chain฀of฀life,฀and฀in฀such฀a฀way฀that฀the฀thread฀becomes฀ever฀

more฀powerful—that฀is฀the฀task.

The฀subject฀as฀regent,฀as฀perspectival฀unity,฀is฀but฀the฀head฀(Spitze)฀of฀the฀vast฀ serpent฀“life,” 15 ฀the฀moment฀whose฀self-sameness฀is฀only฀apparent,฀and฀which฀ serves฀to฀maintain฀the฀self-deferring,฀self-exceeding,฀self-recuperating฀becoming฀ of฀the฀will฀to฀power฀that,฀via฀the฀“eternity”฀of฀the฀moment,฀returns฀as฀the฀same฀ throughout฀ all฀ appearances.฀Yet฀ the฀ poverty฀ of฀ the฀ regent,฀ Nietzsche฀suggests,฀ the฀relative฀ignorance฀in฀which฀the฀regent฀is฀kept,฀is฀not฀something฀that฀could฀ be฀overcome,฀but฀something฀that฀must฀be฀affirmed฀as฀absolutely฀essential฀to฀the฀ self-maintaining฀of฀life฀as฀will฀to฀power.฀The฀relative฀ignorance฀of฀the฀regent,฀he฀

writes,฀entails฀that฀(§492):

In฀ short,฀ we฀ also฀ come฀ to฀ value฀ not฀ knowing,฀ seeing฀ things฀ broadly฀ and฀ crudely,฀simplifying฀and฀falsifying,฀the฀perspectival.฀The฀most฀important฀thing,฀ however,฀is฀this:฀that฀we฀understand฀the฀ruler฀and฀his฀subjects฀[Untertanen]฀ as฀the฀same฀in฀kind฀[gleicher฀Art],฀all฀feeling,฀willing,฀thinking—and฀that฀ wherever฀we฀see฀or฀espy฀movement฀in฀a฀body,฀we฀learn฀to฀conclude฀that฀there฀is฀ a฀subjective,฀invisible฀life฀belonging฀to฀it.฀Movement฀is฀symbolism฀for฀the฀eye:฀ it฀indicates฀that฀something฀has฀been฀felt,฀willed,฀thought.฀[Emphasis฀added]

That฀whenever฀we฀see฀the฀movement฀of฀a฀body฀before฀us฀we฀have฀the฀illusion฀that฀

it฀is฀the฀movement฀of฀someone;฀that฀we฀ascribe฀the฀self-sameness฀of฀a฀subject฀

to฀the฀body฀as฀it฀appears;฀that฀we฀conclude฀that฀there฀must฀be฀someone฀who฀is฀

doing฀the฀feeling,฀willing,฀or฀thinking—this฀is฀not฀some฀arbitrary฀mistake฀on฀our฀

part฀that฀could฀be฀corrected.฀Rather,฀such฀selectivity฀and฀simplication฀is฀part฀and฀

parcel฀of฀the฀conditions฀under฀which฀there฀can฀be฀rule฀at฀all,฀under฀which฀the฀will฀

to฀power฀can฀be.฀That฀we฀do฀draw฀such฀inferences฀is฀indeed,฀as฀Nietzsche฀says,฀

“the฀most฀important฀thing,”฀namely,฀for฀the฀purposes฀of฀life-enhancement.฀The฀

semblance฀of฀unity฀is฀necessary฀to฀life,฀yet฀it฀can฀also฀mislead฀us฀into฀seeing฀in฀

such฀semblance฀an฀ultimate฀truth฀or฀foundation฀of฀knowledge.฀The฀refinement฀

of฀such฀an฀appearance฀can฀even฀be฀dangerous฀to฀life฀itself.฀Nietzsche฀indeed฀sug-

gests฀that฀just฀such฀refinement฀eventually฀led฀to฀the฀notion฀of฀the฀“subject”฀as฀the฀

doer฀behind฀a฀deed฀(§547):

Psychological฀history฀of฀the฀concept฀“subject.”฀The฀body,฀the฀thing,฀the฀“whole”฀

constructed฀by฀the฀eye,฀awakens฀the฀distinction฀between฀a฀doing฀[Tun]฀and฀a฀

doer;฀the฀doer,฀the฀cause฀of฀the฀deed,฀conceived฀in฀an฀ever฀more฀refined฀man-

ner,฀finally฀left฀us฀with฀the฀“subject.”

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Yet฀symbolism฀for฀the฀eye,฀or฀interpretation,฀does฀not฀give฀us฀ultimate฀truths,฀but฀ rather฀meanings,฀meanings฀that฀stand฀and฀fall฀in฀the฀service฀of฀life฀itself.฀Against฀

the฀construction฀of฀the฀“subject,”฀Nietzsche฀writes฀(§675):

My฀demand฀is฀that฀one฀should฀take฀the฀doer฀back฀into฀the฀doing.฀.฀.฀.

[A]ll฀“purposes,”฀“ends,”฀and฀“meanings”฀are฀only฀expressions฀and฀metamor-

phoses฀of฀the฀One฀will฀that฀inheres฀in฀all฀occurrence:฀the฀will฀to฀power.

The฀ unity฀ of฀ the฀ will฀ to฀ power,฀ however,฀ as฀ One฀ will,฀ is,฀ as฀ we฀ have฀ seen,฀ not฀ that฀of฀a฀static฀unity,฀but฀rather฀that฀of฀a฀striving฀for฀and฀creating฀of฀unity฀in฀ and฀through฀the฀creation฀and฀overcoming฀or฀metamorphosis฀of฀meaning.฀Once฀ again,฀the฀creation฀of฀meaning฀is฀not฀something฀undertaken฀by฀us฀as฀“subjects,”฀ but฀by฀life฀itself฀as฀will฀to฀power.฀In฀this฀sense,฀the฀unity฀of฀the฀will฀to฀power฀as฀

a฀unifying฀and฀organizing฀power฀is฀never฀a฀secure฀achievement฀or฀accomplish-

ment,฀but฀something฀that฀must฀renew฀itself฀continually,฀“eternally,”฀as฀the฀rebirth฀

and฀self-enhancement฀of฀embodied฀life.฀Meaning฀something,฀in฀the฀sense฀of฀an฀ underlying฀striving฀for฀meaning,฀Nietzsche฀suggests,฀is฀indeed฀the฀very฀meaning฀

of฀the฀body฀as฀will฀to฀power฀(§561):

All฀ unity฀ is฀ unity฀ only฀ as฀ organization฀ and฀ interplay฀ [or฀ co-operation:฀ Zusammenspiel]:฀no฀differently฀from฀the฀way฀in฀which฀a฀human฀community฀ is฀a฀unity:฀the฀opposite,฀therefore,฀of฀an฀atomistic฀anarchy,฀thus,฀a฀structure฀ of฀dominion฀[Herrschafts-Gebilde]฀that฀means฀One,฀but฀is฀not฀one. 16

In฀conclusion:฀We฀have฀heard฀Nietzsche฀insist฀that฀the฀world,฀while฀knowable,฀has฀

no฀one฀meaning฀behind฀it,฀but฀countless฀meanings;฀it฀can฀always฀be฀interpreted฀ otherwise.฀The฀possibility฀of฀multiple฀interpretations฀is฀itself,฀however,฀only฀the฀ counterpart฀of฀the฀self-surpassing฀dynamic฀of฀the฀body฀as฀will฀to฀ power.฀The฀

body,฀as฀opposed฀to฀consciousness,฀Nietzsche฀argued,฀is฀to฀be฀placed฀first฀meth-

odologically,฀yet฀without฀coming฀to฀any฀decision฀as฀to฀ its฀ultimate฀meaning฀ or฀significance. 17 ฀Indeed,฀as฀we฀now฀see,฀the฀body฀has฀and฀can฀have฀no฀ultimate฀ meaning,฀no฀single฀meaning,฀and฀yet฀it฀means฀something.฀It฀appears฀as฀a฀structure฀ of฀dominion฀which,฀giving฀rise฀to฀the฀subject฀as฀multiplicity,฀as฀regent,฀“means฀ One฀but฀is฀not฀one.”

NOTES

(Endnotes)

1.฀

The฀Will฀to฀Power,฀§490.

2.฀

Cf.฀ibid.,฀§1067.

3.฀

On฀“incomplete฀nihilism”฀see฀§28.

4.฀

Cf.฀§12฀of฀Beyond฀Good฀and฀Evil,฀where,฀rejecting฀the฀concept฀of฀an฀atomism฀of฀the฀

soul,฀Nietzsche฀insists฀that฀this฀rejection฀need฀not฀preclude฀a฀certain฀rehabilitation฀of฀

the฀concept฀of฀soul,฀“one฀of฀those฀most฀ancient฀and฀venerable฀hypotheses.”฀In฀particular,฀

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he฀proposes฀the฀“new฀and฀refined”฀concepts฀of฀“mortal฀soul,”฀“soul฀as฀multiplicity฀of฀ the฀subject,”฀and฀“soul฀as฀a฀social฀structure฀of฀drives฀and฀affects.”

5.฀

Twilight฀of฀the฀Idols,฀§51.

6.฀

See฀the฀Principles,฀Part฀I,฀§51฀and฀§53.

7.฀

Cf.฀Beyond฀Good฀and฀Evil,฀§§16–17.

8.฀

Nietzsche฀speaks฀elsewhere฀of฀a฀“tremendous฀moment,”฀an฀“ungeheurer฀Augenblick.”

See฀The฀Gay฀Science,฀§341.

9.฀

Cf.฀Beyond฀Good฀and฀Evil,฀§16.

10.฀ Cf.฀§§499–501. 11.฀ On฀ignorance฀(Unwissenheit)฀as฀a฀condition฀of฀life฀cf.฀§609. 12.฀ On฀splitting฀into฀two,฀cf.฀§656. 13.฀ §660. 14.฀ Cf.฀§490. 15.฀ Cf.฀§577:฀“Against฀the฀value฀of฀what฀remains฀eternally฀the฀same฀(Spinoza’s฀naivity,฀ Descartes’฀too)฀the฀value฀of฀the฀shortest฀and฀most฀transitory,฀the฀seductive฀flash฀of฀ gold฀on฀the฀belly฀of฀the฀serpent฀‘life.’” 16.฀ On฀creating,฀cf.฀§661. 17.฀ §489.

16.฀ On฀creating,฀cf.฀§661. 17.฀ §489. 08--McNeill.indd฀฀฀296 3/11/2004฀฀฀9:06:53฀AM

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16.฀ On฀creating,฀cf.฀§661. 17.฀ §489. 08--McNeill.indd฀฀฀296 3/11/2004฀฀฀9:06:53฀AM
16.฀ On฀creating,฀cf.฀§661. 17.฀ §489. 08--McNeill.indd฀฀฀296 3/11/2004฀฀฀9:06:53฀AM

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