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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 84, Issue 2, Spring 2010

Friedrich Nietzsche

Gary Shapiro
Pages 205-230

Nietzsche’s Unmodern Thinking
Globalization, the End of History, and “Great Events”

In his four Unmodern Observations (Unzeitmässige Betrachtungen) of the 1870s, Nietzsche confronted early philosophical versions of positions more recently discussed under such rubrics as globalization and the end of history. What he intended by marking these essays as “unmodern” or “untimely” was to designate their critical stance toward both the philistine self-congratulation of the era and the Hegelian philosophy with which it explained and justified itself. Basic to this Hegelian conception of history is a concept of the world-historical “great event,” a turning point that manifests itself in the world of political states. The Unmodern series broke off with Nietzsche’s essay on Wagner, where he attempted to articulate his own non-statist version of a great event. The current essay diagnoses the interruption of this project as a failure to fully abandon Hegelian thinking, and outlines a reading of Nietzsche’s later, more compelling (and unHegelian) concept of the great event.

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