with the support of Mercy Manhattan College presents
WRITING THE FUTURE / READING THE SELF
A TALK BY HORST HUTTER
to celebrate the release of his new work,
SHAPING THE FUTURE:
NIETZSCHE?S NEW REGIMES OF THE SOUL
MODERATED BY RACHAEL SOTOS, NEW SCHOOL UNIVERSITY
At this event, Horst Hutter will explore Nietzsche?s usage and advocacy of reading and writing as ascetic techniques of self-shaping. Mr. Hutter argues that Nietzsche did not consider writing to be the same as philosophy, but that reading and writing were instruments of philosophy. Philosophy itself is a striving for wisdom and for self-transformation to which reading and writing are important but not the only means.
Nietzsche is identified as a late heir of a long tradition of writing the self, in which the formation of personal identities involved references to interpretations of texts authoritative within the tradition. He was raised within a worldview based on a religion of the book. He was trained within the Christian religion of the book to become an exegetical mediator between textual authority and the shaping of personal identities. However, he came to experience Christian identity, both in himself and in his culture, as a structure that was disintegrating into decadence and nihilism. He diagnosed this process of disintegration as a general malaise of which his own dis-ease was a symptom and focal point. Understanding himself as a decadent, he also understood himself as possessing within himself the means for overcoming decadence and thus to move toward the ?great health?. In his effort to heal himself and to become the philosophical therapist of his culture, he saw that convalescence required first a deconstruction of old modes of self and identity, to be followed secondly by envisioning new forms of selfhood. This required an attack on those historical figures that he perceived to be at the origin of the Christian written self, namely Jesus and St. Paul, as well as Socrates and Plato. His war for a new healing culture thus required a dislodging of these figures as founding icons of decadent Socratism and decadent Christianity.
Nietzsche?s problem was that he had to become his own Plato to his own Socrates, as well as, and to a lesser extent, his own evangelist to his own Jesus. He had to recover the orality that lay at the origin of a powerful tradition of writing. Moreover, he had to do this in writing. This in turn required him to develop new styles of writing in which the author Nietzsche would imitate and supplant the authority of St. Paul and of Plato. His aphoristic books are meant to move beyond the Platonic dialogues, and his Zarathustra is the ?fifth gospel? meant to replace St. Paul and the evangelists. Thereby he hoped to initiate a new authoritative tradition in which books had to carry readers beyond all books. Free spirited disciples of Nietzsche are exhorted to use his books to deconstruct themselves and then to move toward new versions of selfhood beyond books. Reading Nietzsche then is to move toward an explicit affirmation of oneself in amor fati, based on an implicit No to one?s slavish features.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11th at 7 PM
MERCY MANHATTAN COLLEGE
66 W 35th St, Rm. 704 (near Broadway)
Horst Hutter holds a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University and an M.A. in Political Science from Hunter College, and is currently Professor of Political Philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal. He has taught at McGill University, Stanford University, Loyola University of New Orleans, University of Alberta, and the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany. Dr. Hutter has published on friendship in classical antiquity, care of the soul in Plato?s Charmides, philosophy as self-transformation, and Cynicism.
Rachael Sotos, PhD, New School U.; has taught at The New School and Eugene Lang College; research interests span classical, early-modern, and contemporary political theory.
Added by jcrocamo on January 30, 2006