Nietzschean legacy and Foucaldian thought

jashan deep singh


One thing we can rely on is that thought does not exist in vacuum and its genesis lies in earlier thought, changing social circumstances or any need in society which demand immediate attention of social scientists. Out of these impact of earlier thought is quite important. Famous philosopher Karl Marx epitomizes the fact the intellectual geniuses build their theories on the perfect blend of existing thought. Another example of this fact is exemplified by famous social theorist Michel Foucault. His writings were based on thought of famous philosopher Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche. In his writings he often quotes these two scholars and some of his research papers are based thought of these scholars. In this research paper I am going to write about the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche on Michel Foucault.

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Notes and References:

Spinks, Lee. Friedrich Nietzsche. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

This concept was given by Nietzsche criticizing then prevalent Positivism. He viewed that knowledge has not a single meaning but countless meanings. It is interpretable according to one’s own perspective.

Edward Said used Nietzsche and Foucault’s idea in his famous book ‘Orientalism’ to show that during zenith of British colonial period there was an outpour of scholarly knowledge about India and Africa and that knowledge , which served colonial interests , was considered as ‘authentic’.

Plato viewed that truth is an absolute value before and beyond life.

It was antagonistic to the prevalent thought in which history was viewed as progressing linearly towards an end. Such was advocated by many scholars including Marx.

Spinks, Lee. Friedrich Nietzsche. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Adams, Bert N. and Sydie, R.A. Contemporary Sociological Theory. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press, 2002.

Spinks, Lee. Friedrich Nietzsche. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Gilles Deleuze explains that in Nietzschean philosophy of hierarchy of forces, active forces are those of domination and form-giving; while reactive forces are those of obedience and form-receiving. In other words, an active force is one which dominates while reactive force is that which is dominated.

‘Man’ is the being who serves to center the increasingly disorganized representations of the classical episteme and comes to be the privileged object of philosophical anthropology.

End of man basically means developing a new way of describing events and interpretation without drawing on the humanist ideas of individual. Foucault himself focuses on functioning of discourses, outside the influence and control of humans.

This concept of Overman is similar to concept of “magnanimous man” as envisaged by Aristotle. He defines Magnanimous man who will neither bother about success nor about failure, speaks his mind openly and boldly when occasion calls for, does not care about his praise, and does not craves help from none.

Zarathustra was founder of Zoroaster religion which revolted against the Mithraian religion of Iran and “created the error of morality” and thus ‘he must also be first to recognize it’.

Spinks, Lee. Friedrich Nietzsche. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Nietzsche defined Nihilism having two types. Passive Nihilism is used to describe a way of life characterized by moral decadence and lack of aristocratic values. Active Nihilism is a way of life where we accept our creative role in constituting the ‘truth’ of the world for promoting ascending form of life.

Nietzsche views that mankind clings to faith, God because it no longer feels able to create new values and style of living. So death of God envisages a life where one is able to create new values of his life without external morality. Overman is concept to define such life in poetic way.

That’s why he never wanted people to write his biography as it would give authoritative role to the author. ‘It is form of power that makes individual subjects.’ Thus his aim was to deconstruct authority of author.


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