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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 84, Issue 2, Spring 2010

Friedrich Nietzsche

Dale Wilkerson
Pages 257-281

A “Dictatorship of Relativism” and the Specter of Nietzsche
Between Heidegger and Fink

What contemporary social and political significance, if any, can we draw from Nietzsche’s philosophy? The present essay looks into this question by first examining the broader debate regarding anti-foundational tendencies in post-Nietzschean discourses and their alleged threat to liberal democracies. That these tendencies can indeed be traced back to Nietzsche, specifically through Martin Heidegger’s problematic transmission, will then be discussed along with the more general theme of how metaphysics stands in socio-political practices and why metaphysics should be overcome. The sorts of problems stemming from Heidegger’s transmission of Nietzsche are philosophical and historical in nature, both of which make the contemporary socio-political significance of Nietzsche’s philosophy difficult to discern. The essay examines some of these problems through a discussion of an historical encounter between Heidegger and Eugen Fink. The essay concludes with the thought that despite the various ways in which the name of Nietzsche haunts contemporary discourses, a promise for liberal democracy is also contained therein.

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