Nietzsche's affective perspectivism as a philosophical methodology

Mark Alfano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Like many of Nietzsche’s striking words and phrases, “perspectivism” (“Perspektivismus”) has received a great deal of attention in the secondary literature. However, Nietzsche uses the term only once in his published and authorized manuscripts, twice in fragments from 1886 to 1887, and once in a fragment from 1888. While tantalizing, GS 354 and the three fragments from 1886 to 1888 radically underdetermine what Nietzsche could have meant by “perspectivism.” In order to shed light on Nietzsche’s perspectivism, I approach it from two angles. First, I explore some of the rhetorical tropes that Nietzsche uses to reorient his audience’s perspective. These include engaging the audience’s emotions, apostrophic address to the reader, and what I’ve elsewhere called “Nietzschean summoning.” Each of these methods tugs at the affects and values of the audience, positioning them to notice, find salient, and be disposed to act in relation to certain (aspects of) things while ignoring, finding less salient, and being disposed to neglect (aspects of) other things. This suggests that, for Nietzsche, perspectivism has less to do with cognition than the painterly metaphor of a visual perspective suggests. Second, I employ the digital humanities methodology pioneered in my recent work to further elucidate the concept of perspectivism. I argue that, for Nietzsche, perspectivism relates primarily to agents’ motivational and evaluative sets, and that it is meant to offer a methodology for achieving various epistemic goods.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNietzsche's metaphilosophy
Subtitle of host publicationthe nature, method, and aims of philosophy
EditorsPaul S. Loeb, Matthew Meyer
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781108381338
ISBN (Print)9781108422253, 9781108435024
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Emotion
  • Epistemology
  • Inquiry
  • Knowledge
  • Nietzsche
  • Perspectivism


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