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Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia

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BORNEDAL, Peter. On the institution of the moral subject: on the commander and the commanded in Nietzsche's discussion of law. Kriterion [online]. 2013, vol.54, n.128, pp.439-457. ISSN 0100-512X.

The article discusses how Nietzsche understands the institution of law and morals in distinction to Kant and the Christian tradition. It argues that Nietzsche to a large extent is inspired by the paradigm-shift toward a evolutionary biological thinking introduced by several of his peers in the late 19th century, among else F. A. Lange, who sees this shift as a sobering scientific-materialistic alternative to Kant. In Nietzsche, the Kantian moral imperative is replaced with a notion of a morality emerging thanks to historical, or pre-historical, civilizational processes, imposed on a feebleminded human without any inherent rational dispositions to obey Law. It is also a process, which rather than universalizing the human, splits it in a duality where one part obeys old immediate self-interests and another part obeys new 'commands,' having been shouted 'into the ear' by a so-called 'commander.' The compliance with law takes two radically different forms in Nietzsche: servile and mediocre individuals need to be exposed to discipline and punishment in order to adopt Law; while so-called 'sovereign' individuals are able to impose law upon themselves. The figure of the 'sovereign' has consequently been an issue for vigorous debate in especially the Anglo-Saxon tradition of Nietzsche research, since his apparent 'respect for law' and 'sense of duty' reiterate typical Kantian qualities. Relating to these discussions, I suggest that Nietzsche's 'sovereign' (in one context) is identical his 'commander' (in other contexts). When the 'sovereign' as such imposes law upon himself and others, his act is conventional and arbitrary (like language in Saussure), and is rather irrational than rational as in Kant. His will is not a good will, nor a rational will with a vision of human autonomy. His command of himself and others is a performative, thus without truth-value (like illocutionary speech-acts in Austin and Searle).

Keywords : Nietzsche; Kant, F. A. Lange; Sovereign individuals; moral legislation; naturalism.

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