Philosophy in the manner of Plato should rather be defined as an erotic contest, as a further development and inward intensification of the old agonal gymnastics and their Presuppostions. —Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Sum 23.”
“He who teaches is mostly incapable of doing anything for his own good: he is always thinking of the good of his scholars, and all knowledge delights him only insofar as he is able to teach it. He comes at last to regard himself as a medium of knowledge, and above all as a means thereto, so that he has lost all serious consideration for himself. – Human, All Too Human, §200″
Welcome to the Spring 2019 issue of The Agonist. Included are three distinct essays that explore feigned insanity, the futility of time travel, and species extinction. Nietzsche is often misunderstood by his detractors as a prophet of doom, but only a shallow reading discovers an irreducible nihilism in his texts. That said, we readers of Nietzsche cannot fail to ignore his more prescient warnings about the dangers of nostalgia and the allure of self-destruction—both bodily and psychic ruin. In other words, what unites our essays is the respective authors’ ability to capture the broader pre-apocalyptic anxiety that seems to haunt public discourse in the early days of the 21st century: ecological ruin, mental illness, the failures of democracy, a misguided (and thus scientifically impossible) romantic longing to return to an imaginary past.
In lieu of climate change, continued social injustices, and the resurgence of nationalist fantasies, perhaps we still have much to learn from Nietzsche regarding foreboding prognoses. He reminds us that philosophy can and should contend not only with metaphysics and epistemology, but also cultural diagnosis. And few philosophers and physicians of culture have better gauged the temperature of our zeitgeist past, present and future.
We would like to thank all of our contributing writers, the members of our new advisory board, the editorial staff at The Agonist, and, of course, our readers. We look forward to hearing from you along with suggestions for any future topics.
The Editorial Board, May 2019