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ISSN 0869-5377
The Logos Journal

Systems, Values, and Egalitarianism

Author: Geuss Raymond

About author:
Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. Address: Sidgwick Avenue, CB3 9DA Cambridge, UK. E-mail: phil‑

This article challenges Malcolm Bull’s “Anti-Nietzsche” and the claim that there is a “transcendental argument” in Nietzsche’s. The author distinguishes between two traditions of interpreting Nietzsche, the systematic and the perspectivist traditions. Geuss suggests that Bull follows the first tradition, the difficulties of which Nietzsche had warned about. It is possible that the transcendental argument may not amount to anything because one cannot reduce all evaluations to a single homogenous space. Geuss believes that some kinds of indifference, or absence of evaluation, do not fit the transcendental matrix of the Bull-Nietzsche argument, i. e. they cannot be presented in the form of a negative evaluation or refusal. One example is the absence of religious belief; Rorty points out that we should discuss not atheism itself, but rather the disappearance of the very categorical space in which there could be such a thing as religious belief. Ultimately, the single logic of “evaluating” can be treated as a consequence of the very linguistic trick Nietzsche had cautioned against. In discussing the question of egalitarianism and its treatment by Nietzsche and Bull, Geuss highlights the fact that Nietzsche distinguishes between two kinds of egalitarianism: factual and ascriptive, i. e. real and normative. Nietzsche does not oppose real egalitarianism, but challenges normative egalitarianism. Geuss contests Bull’s radical egalitarianism and argues that one should decide which kind of egalitarianism is worth supporting on a case-bycase basis.

Keywords: valuation; egalitarianism; Nietzsche; transcendental argument; Malcolm Bull

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