University of Minnesota Rochester, EE. UU.
Rebecca Bamford is an Assistant Professor of Humanities in the Center for Learning Innovation at University of Minnesota Rochester. She is the author of several articles on Nietzsche. Currently, she is working on a book manuscript entitled Nietzsche’s Method: Reconciling the Science and Culture of Mind.
Nietzscheanizing Dennett: A New Look at How and Why Freedom Evolves
The available scholarship dealing with Daniel Dennett’s reading of Nietzsche remains fairly minimal, even though what is available is helpful. Richardson (2004) has offered the most sustained discussion of Dennett on Nietzsche published to date, and Richardson (forthcoming) makes two further connections between Nietzsche and Dennett; he suggests that (i) Nietzsche’s attempt to «naturalize» freedom is comparable to that of Dennett in Freedom Evolves (2003), arguing that this Nietzschean freedom corresponds to the notion that «freedom is not, it becomes», and (ii) that in e.g. WLN 20-21, Nietzsche takes Dennett’s (1992) view of the self as fictional. However, Richardson’s (2004) account is limited to the remarks on Nietzsche offered in Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995), and is largely subordinate to a broader discussion of Nietzsche and Darwinism, which holds that Nietzsche’s «pointed animosity» to Darwin and Darwinism conceals his «appropriation of the central idea of Darwinism», namely natural selection (2004: 4). Richardson (forthcoming) rightly likens Nietzsche’s account to the one developed by Dennett; yet his analysis does not make it clear whether and how Nietzsche’s account differs from and/or challenges that of Dennett.
This paper argues that a critical interrogation of, and potentially a Nietzschean supplement to, Dennett’s account may be derived from a detailed comparative analysis. In so doing, it accounts for one way in which Nietzsche may make a direct contribution to contemporary compatibilism. The key aspects of Nietzsche’s positive and negative accounts of freedom will be (i) differentiated from one another and (ii) synthesized into an account commensurate with Nietzsche’s search for a counter-ideal to the ascetic ideal, using a range of material from GS, Z, BGE, GM, and TI, which will be read in light of positive accounts of Nietzschean freedom by Loeb (2005), and Richardson (forthcoming). Nietzsche’s view will be compared with Dennett’s engagement with Nietzsche’s remarks on freedom in the course of developing his account of freedom in Elbow Room (1984), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995), and Freedom Evolves (2003). A clear explanation of why Dennett’s views on Nietzsche are problematic will be offered, and some ways in which Dennett’s account of freedom might be strengthened by adopting Nietzsche’s positive conception of freedom will be identified.