Anthony K. Jensen; An Interpretation of Nietzsche's On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life

Mark Alfano

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Anthony K. Jensen has successfully undertaken an essential project for the fields of Nietzsche studies and philosophy of history. In his interpretation of Nietzsche's second "Untimely Meditation," On the Uses and Disadvantages for Life[1] (henceforth HL), he demonstrates an attention to detail and meticulousness sometimes bordering on obsessiveness. This textual work is based on Jensen's comprehensive familiarity with the philosophical, philological, and historiographic culture in which Nietzsche was trained and to which he was in part responding. Unlike many Anglophone philosophers interested in Nietzsche, Jensen is fully at home with German language and idiom. He combines this linguistic facility with philological expertise and encyclopedic archival research to bring sober clarity to a field often plagued by flights of interpretive speculation. Jensen is knowledgeable of not only the Anglophone but also the Germanophone secondary literatures, and he uses this expertise like a wide-angle lens to give his readers a synoptic perspective on the last thirteen decades of reactions to and interpretations of HL. I hasten to add, though, that his monograph is not simply a summary of the production, content, and reception of one of Nietzsche's early works; it is also a judicious philosophical evaluation of Nietzsche's views and arguments. It may not be the last word on HL, but the prospect of adding anything new and valuable is now daunting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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