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Nietzsche’s Earth

Great Events, Great Politics

We have Nietzsche to thank for some of the most important accomplishments in intellectual history, but as Gary Shapiro shows in this unique look at Nietzsche’s thought, the nineteenth-century philosopher actually anticipated some of the most pressing questions of our own era. Putting Nietzsche into conversation with contemporary philosophers such as Deleuze, Agamben, Foucault, Derrida, and others, Shapiro links Nietzsche’s powerful ideas to topics that are very much on the contemporary agenda: globalization, the nature of the livable earth, and the geopolitical categories that characterize people and places.
Shapiro explores Nietzsche’s rejection of historical inevitability and its idea of the end of history. He highlights Nietzsche’s prescient vision of today’s massive human mobility and his criticism of the nation state’s desperate efforts to sustain its exclusive rule by declaring emergencies and states of exception. Shapiro then explores Nietzsche’s vision of a transformed garden earth and the ways it sketches an aesthetic of the Anthropocene. He concludes with an explanation of the deep political structure of Nietzsche’s “philosophy of the Antichrist,” by relating it to traditional political theology. By triangulating Nietzsche between his time and ours, between Bismarck’s Germany and post-9/11 America, Nietzsche’s Earth invites readers to rethink not just the philosopher himself but the very direction of human history.

264 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Philosophy: General Philosophy, Political Philosophy

Political Science: Political and Social Theory


"For some time now, Shapiro (Univ. of Richmond) has been one of the most thoughtful and innovative writers on Nietzsche, and Shapiro’s earlier works, including Nietzschean Narratives (1989) and Alcyone (CH, May'92, 29-5059),​ are essential reading for anyone who is drawn to Nietzsche’s astonishing ideas or his brilliant sense of style. Shapiro’s new volume offers another profound discussion of Nietzsche, this one focused on his thinking about nature, his continuing relevance as an important political thinker, and his account of the radical conflict between different global civilizations. Shapiro is himself an excellent writer, and publication of this book is an important event in contemporary Nietzsche scholarship. Chapters cover a variety of different but related themes, including globalization, the end of history, the great politics, modern ideas, post-theology, nomads, hybrids, and what Nietzsche called “the century of the multitude.” Shapiro also situates Nietzsche in relation to recent thinkers like Badiou, Agamben, Deleuze, and Foucault. Overall, Nietzsche’s Earth does an excellent job of showing how Nietzsche remains contemporary, and how his thought still illuminates the world of the early 21st century, with all of its complexities and struggles. Shapiro makes it clear why Nietzsche must still be read. Highly recommended."


"Gary Shapiro’s remarkable new book draws attention to and articulates the many ways in which Nietzsche celebrates the actual earthen characteristics of
human habitats: the concrete places, locales, climates, and environments that sustain our dwelling on earth. Here, geology and geography are brought to bear and expanded into an enriched, meaning-laden 'geo-philosophy.'... [A] brilliant analysis of how Nietzsche’s thought can be brought to bear on urgent
planetary questions facing our own time on earth."

Journal of the History of Philosophy

Nietzsche’s Earth is an important and compelling book. It is a strikingly original and genuinely exciting contribution to the study and extension of Nietzsche’s political thought that will appeal to a wide swath of scholars. Shapiro’s scholarship is first rate, and his argument is brilliantly innovative. In the context of current political philosophical discussions of Nietzsche, his book comes as a breath of fresh air, for it opens up Nietzsche’s texts in new ways that speak with powerful relevance to contemporary issues.”

Robert Gooding-Williams, Columbia University

“Shapiro offers us something more interesting than an intellectual biography. What we have here is an incisive, innovative, provocative, and above all enlightening reading of Nietzsche’s work in light of some contemporary challenges, including the Anthropocene, the war on terror, the clash of civilizations, the end of nature, and the sixth extinction. These readings, or what Shapiro calls ‘philological investigations,’ reveal an impressive, extensive, and secure knowledge of the Nietzschean corpus as well as the secondary literature. Because of Shapiro’s deep knowledge of Nietzsche’s work, he is also able to correct many mistranslations and misunderstandings of his work. The result is a masterful reinterpretation of Nietzsche by a life-long Nietzsche scholar that reads like the manifesto of a scholar who is bestowing on us the gifts of exemplary creative appropriations and generative exegeses proving that Nietzsche can be a resource for an ethical and political engagement with the earth and other peoples.”

Eduardo Mendieta, Pennsylvania State University

"Shapiro's scholarly book is written with passion and wit...It exhibits an admirable honesty, as when it acknowledges that not every Nietzschean text fits his thesis of a strong earth/world contrast...Readers of Nietzsche, whether friendly or hostile (or both), will benefit from Nietzsche's Earth."

Review of Metaphysics

"I have been studying Nietzsche for fifty years, and it is rare that I come across an interpretation that opens up something truly new to me. Shapiro’s book has done that. His close reading of texts was impressive in showing how frequent and extensive earthen references are in Nietzsche’s writings...Shapiro has given a brilliant analysis of how Nietzsche’s thought can be brought to bear on urgent planetary questions facing our own time on earth."

Journal of the History of Philosophy

"A compelling case for reconsidering Nietzsche’s political thought and rehabilitating Nietzsche as a political thinker...Shapiro takes seriously Nietzsche’s claim to be a philosopher of the future."

Comparative and Continental Philosophy

Table of Contents

Nietzsche’s Works and Key to References

Chapter One                Introduction: Toward Earth’s “Great Politics”
Chapter Two                Unmodern Thinking: Globalization, the End of History, Great Events
Chapter Three              Living on the Earth: States, Nomads, Multitude
Chapter Four               Whose Time Is It? Kairos, Chronos, Debt
Chapter Five               “The World Awaits You as a Garden”: A Political Aesthetic of the Anthropocene?
Chapter Six                 Earth, World, Antichrist: Nietzsche after Political Theology


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