Nietzsche, Swiss Thinker

by John Holbo on August 10, 2015

In teaching Nietzsche I joke he was a Swiss philosopher – like Rousseau and Calvin. (Like them, he believed autonomy is paramount and impossible. “Girls, girls, you’re both pretty!”) The biographical basis is not just that he taught at the University of Basel and got a small medical disability pension from that institution. A Swiss institution funded his major work, so credit is due. The basis is also that he renounced his Prussian citizenship when he took up his professorship in 1869. This is a fun fact about our Fred. He was stateless for the last 30 years of his life. Citizen of no modern European nation. I’m sure that was just how he wanted it. But this morning I was thinking: it fits oddly with one fact. In 1870 he was a volunteer medical orderly in the Prussian army. He was at the Battle of Metz. So he first renounced his citizenship, then participated (didn’t fight) in the Franco-Prussian War. I had transposed that order in my mind, because it made more sense the other way. Now, checking the timeline not just on Wikipedia but in Safranski’s biography … yep, renounced citizenship first. Curious. Oh, well, it’s traditional for the Swiss to help put folks back together after the battle. I’m curious now whether Nietzsche was officially attached to the Prussian army, as medical orderly, even though he had renounced his citizenship. I haven’t actually read any biographies of him for a while; details slip.



Anderson 08.10.15 at 1:43 am

Young says N was med orderly in Felddiakonie, “a forerunner of the Red Cross” – odd since ICRC founded 1863. Nothing at a glance about army service, but idk about that outfit.


Anderson 08.10.15 at 1:49 am

Middleton, Selected Letters of FN, at 67 n.37: “N had been permitted by the authorities at Basel to join the Prussian forces as a medical orderly (other military service was out of the question, since he was officially a Swiss citizen).” Swiss citizen???

He also caught diphtheria two weeks after finishing his 10-day training program.


Anderson 08.10.15 at 1:52 am

… Hollingdale’s bio seems to say Middleton is incorrect. N “ceased to be a citizen of Prussia” 17 Apr 1869 but “never subsequently fulfilled the qualifications for Swiss citizenship.” Idk if Middleton is talking about some technicality of Swiss professorship.


john c. halasz 08.10.15 at 1:54 am

Do you mean his cheese is full of holes?


Anderson 08.10.15 at 1:55 am

…Ok I gotta stop this comment-storm, but even the freakin’ (online) Britannica says N became a Swiss citizen. Young agrees w Hollingdale, tho in less detail, so Britannica is wrong?


LFC 08.10.15 at 2:00 am

so Britannica is wrong?

I’m sure it’s not unheard of. Even the 1911 edition might have nodded once or twice. It also might be one of those questions on which the extant evidence is murky.


Anderson 08.10.15 at 2:02 am

I sent them a correction – via my Twitter account, so I hope they love the Taylor Swift t-shirt that is now my avatar (@ThusBloggedA).

It fits: I cut Madonna’s head off the cassingle cover (yes, “cassingle”) of “Justify My Love” & taped it over N’s photo on my old Portable Nietzsche, the one with the blue cover.


LFC 08.10.15 at 2:12 am

In teaching Nietzsche I joke he was a Swiss philosopher – like Rousseau and Calvin. (Like them, he believed autonomy is paramount and impossible. “Girls, girls, you’re both pretty!”)

Even by Holbo’s wink-wink-aren’t-we-initiates-all-clever standards, these sentences strike me as opaque (puzzling, whatever). I don’t think of Rousseau and Calvin as having much in common, except for the Geneva connection (have read some Rousseau; knowledge of Calvin is largely second-hand).

“Autonomy both paramount and impossible” — I’ll have to think about that one. And as for the line in quotes (“girls, girls…”), I have no idea what it means. But then I know rather little about Nietzsche’s writings, a state of ignorance in which I intend to remain, barring something very unforeseen.


John Holbo 08.10.15 at 2:13 am

Rousseau thought freedom was paramount. Calvin thought it was impossible. They are Swiss (well, they lived there.) Ergo, Swiss thinkers regard freedom as paramount and impossible. Nietzsche did. I really don’t see the problem.


John Holbo 08.10.15 at 2:21 am

As to the confusion: I think it is quite likely records and standards of citizenship were a bit flexible, and subject to local interpretation, by today’s rigid standards.

I’ve been reading Chamberlain, “Nietzsche in Turin”. On arrival in Turin he fired off a letter to Köselitz:

“I am regarded as ufficiale tedesco (whereas last winter in the Nice Visitor’s Directory I figured comme Polonais.”

Nietzsche had this thing where he said he was descended from Polish nobility, on the basis of his name, although I gather that turns out to be nonsense.

It seems likely that, somewhere, there is erroneous or inconsistent documentation about his actual citizenship. So Britannica probably has a paper trail of some sort to back their claim.

So far as I can tell, the only time he actually claims citizenship anywhere, in his later writings, is in a letter to Peter Gast, in which he reports that his ‘fellow citizens’ in Messina are treating him very well.


john c. halasz 08.10.15 at 2:31 am


” I don’t think of Rousseau and Calvin as having much in common, except for the Geneva connection”

Umm… only a dyed-in-the-wool Calvinist could spend his whole life trying to prove his essential innocence.


Anderson 08.10.15 at 2:31 am

Well, my guess about the Middleton reference seems unlikely. Basel wanted N to renounce Prussian citizenship bc they didn’t want their professor having to go do compulsory military service, so there can’t have been anything about being a prof that made one any “technical” Swiss citizen automatically.

Still, Britannica shouldn’t state categorically that N was a Swiss citizen if there’s doubt on the subject.


John Holbo 08.10.15 at 2:56 am

For the record: Nietzsche actually referred to Rousseau, not as ‘pretty’ but as a ‘moral tarantula’. I don’t know whether he comments anywhere on Calvin, but he’s pretty hard on Luther.


LFC 08.10.15 at 2:56 am

Holbo @9
Rousseau thought freedom was paramount. Calvin thought it was impossible. They are Swiss (well, they lived there.) Ergo, Swiss thinkers regard freedom as paramount and impossible. Nietzsche did. I really don’t see the problem.

This is funny, obvs. intentionally. (I didn’t realize the opening of the OP was also intended to be, but now I do.)


LFC 08.10.15 at 2:58 am

Holbo does say “I joke…” right up front. So I guess my eye slid over that or some reading disability strikes after 10:30 p.m. EST. Whatever. My bad.


Harold 08.10.15 at 3:24 am

I immediately think of them as having something in common, though I have read much more by and about Rousseau than about Nietzsche. (I wish I could take John Holbo’s course.)

Calvin was, of course, French. But wasn’t Prussia originally Calvinist? And also Slavic (if not Polish)? Technically, as pedants are wont to point out, either there was no Switzerland at the time of Rousseau’s birth, or if there was, Geneva was not officially part of it. However that may be, after the public burning of Emile for heresy, Rousseau had to flee to Motiers (in what is now Switzerland), then under the protection of Frederick the Great of Prussia.

They both liked animals:


LFC 08.10.15 at 3:44 am

My comment on commonalities or lack thereof had to with Rousseau/Calvin, not Rousseau/Nietzsche. I think I’ve pretty much avoided any substantive comments on Nietzsche, period. But I prob. shdn’t have said anything about Rousseau/Calvin either. (I’m on some kind of negative roll here.)

I will say this though. It is a little hard, isn’t it?, to imagine Calvin writing, as Rousseau did: “The man who meditates is a depraved animal.”


Harold 08.10.15 at 3:50 am

I was under the impression that Calvin believed all men were depraved, whether they meditated or not. But did Rousseau really write that? What was he doing during his “rêveries du promeneur solitaire” then?


Harold 08.10.15 at 4:03 am

Yes, I see he did — and it is discussed in Damrosch’s book, too, which I read but obviously forgot all about. But it just goes to show how thoroughly Calvinist Rousseau was. Weren’t both Rousseau and Nietzsche both fans of Machiavelli? He, too, was concerned with freedom and took a dim view of mankind.


Harold 08.10.15 at 5:30 am

Shelley thought that Rousseau, although classed as a philosopher, was “essentially a poet” (Defense of Poetry, 1821). It seems to me that this could be said of Nietzsche as well, and Machiavelli, too, as a matter of fact. All three were master stylists who created such arresting turns of phrase that readers tended to remember them out of context, causing their works to be misunderstood by much of posterity.


Chris Bertram 08.10.15 at 6:37 am

Pedantically, Rousseau wasn’t Swiss, as Geneva didn’t join the Swiss Confederation until 1815.


John Holbo 08.10.15 at 6:39 am

“as Geneva didn’t join the Swiss Confederation until 1815.”

I didn’t know that! This is even more complicated than I thought!


Jim Buck 08.10.15 at 6:47 am

“The man who meditates is a depraved animal.”

I recall Robert Ardrey addressing this in his own version of The Social Contract .

According to Ardrey, Rousseau ‘s initial reaction to a depiction, by the painter Maurice Quentin de La Tour, was hurt and dismay. What supposedly upset Rousseau was the calculation that he discerned in the eyes of the portrait. Perhaps Rousseau meant meditation in the sense of a dissembling presentation of the self, rather than the studious plumbing of thought?


Harold 08.10.15 at 7:10 am

@23 That is a very good point, Jim. I just looked meditate up in a French dictionary, which gives the synonym “to reflect about something for a long time” — whereas in English meditation tends to connote thinking about nothing — i.e., emptying one’s mind, as in transcendental meditation. At least it does now. Perhaps the English meaning used to be closer to the French at one time, having more overlap with the words “premeditate” or plan.


Peter T 08.10.15 at 7:19 am

It’s a bit confused, but my sources indicate that Geneva was an associate city (not full member, but still part) of the Swiss Confederation from 1526. Before that, it was presumably an imperial free city. A map of late medieval Europe needs a lot of pixels.


Chris Bertram 08.10.15 at 7:54 am

@Jim Buck, iirc Rousseau’s negative reaction was not to the de la Tour portrait, but to the one by Allan Ramsay. So I think Ardrey has that one wrong.


Jim Buck 08.10.15 at 8:41 am

I no longer have Ardrey’s book and so it is a case of me having that one wrong.


Jim Buck 08.10.15 at 8:43 am


LFC 08.10.15 at 1:06 pm

The “meditate” sentence is in the first part of the Discourse on Inequality. (The editors of the 1988 Norton critical edition of R’s political writings have a footnote (p.13) in which they briefly discuss it, ending with the hedging remark that “Rousseau’s evaluation of reason is a crucial but elusive aspect of his thought.”)


Plume 08.10.15 at 1:33 pm

Rousseau, at one time, converted to Calvinism. There is the connection.

Also, Rousseau had to flee from Geneva, and other nations. He was a bit of a wanderer, too, like Nietzsche. Forced, more often than not. But I’ve always really thought of him as French. He wasn’t born there. But I think Paris made him. And he kept returning to France over time, even after being forced to leave now and then.

John Holbo, the Chamberlain book is very good. Perhaps too short. But that can be an advantage for a teacher trying to get to as much material as possible. Were you able to find some of the other books we mentioned in the previous thread about N?


Yan 08.10.15 at 1:35 pm

I think he had to renounce Prussian citizenship in order to accept the post in Basel. Then when the Franco-Prussian war started, he wanted to fight, but because of Swiss neutrality, the university would only give him leave to be an orderly. (If my memory of Julian Young’s biography serves me correctly.)

Another nice feature of Young’s biography is that it shows more ambivalence in young Nietzsche’s early relation to Prussia. His embrace of statelessness is, like so many things, making a virtue of necessity, or affirming a fate wouldn’t necessarily have chosen.


Yan 08.10.15 at 1:42 pm

LFC 08.10.15 at 2:12 am

“Even by Holbo’s wink-wink-aren’t-we-initiates-all-clever standards, these sentences strike me as opaque (puzzling, whatever). I don’t think of Rousseau and Calvin as having much in common, except for the Geneva connection (have read some Rousseau; knowledge of Calvin is largely second-hand).”

I got it and enjoyed it, but I’m guessing not too many undergrads do either.

“Rousseau thought freedom was paramount. Calvin thought it was impossible. They are Swiss (well, they lived there.) Ergo, Swiss thinkers regard freedom as paramount and impossible. Nietzsche did. I really don’t see the problem.”

From a comedic standpoint, I suspect the problem is that the punchline relies on a suppressed 5-point syllogism.


Plume 08.10.15 at 1:46 pm

Sidenote: Speaking of the confusing map of Europe. Graham Robb’s The Discovery of France (2007) taught me that it wasn’t until fairly recently that “France” even existed. It was for the longest time a collection of separate cultures, “colonized” by Paris over time.

From a Harvard online review:

A number of works have described the explosion of unifications in the late nineteenth century—Germany, Italy, even post-bellum America—but Graham Robb’s The Discovery of France may be the first book to explore the
unification of France. Well into the nineteenth century, no more than ten percent of the population spoke what
we think of as French. Before the birth of the French nation state, there was no “France,” per say, but rather territory vaguely controlled by the “French” government; even the absolutism of Louis XIV loses its certitude when
faced with Robb’s magnificent deconstruction of the creation of France. To assuage any semantic quibbles before
the substance of the review, you will forgive this reviewer the use of the term “France” to mean the territory of
the country currently known by that name.

Robb organizes his exploration of France into two roughly chronological parts. The first describes the
various routines, attitudes, beliefs, and dialects that comprised the daily existence of most people living within
the boundaries of what is now France. The second explains how the mapping—both literal surveying and mapping by Cesar-Francois Cassini in the late eighteenth century and figurative mapping by domestic and international tourists—of these “undiscovered” regions led to France’s eventual cohesion into a fairly close-knit modern nation-state. Robb employs the concept of “mapping” to describe both the actual act of cartography and the more figurative sense of knowing or understanding those disparate regions.


Yan 08.10.15 at 1:48 pm

“Nietzsche had this thing where he said he was descended from Polish nobility, on the basis of his name, although I gather that turns out to be nonsense.”

My memory of this one is fuzzy, but I seem to remember that this idea was either initiated or further encouraged when he discovered a painting of a Polish noble that someone said resembled him. Can’t find it in the Young bio at the moment.


oldster 08.10.15 at 3:17 pm

Jaysus, what eejits. Sure but your Swiss Thinker looks like this:


bianca steele 08.10.15 at 4:21 pm

My limited knowledge of French leads me nevertheless to think that “l’homme qui” can introduce a relative clause. “Man, the planning animal, is a depraved animal.”

Plume, my memory is that Rousseau was born Calvinist, converted to Catholicism, and later converted back.


Ed 08.10.15 at 4:30 pm

If Nietzsche had turned up in Geneva during the period when Calvin was in charge there, he would have been burned at the stake. Probably Rousseau as well. I’m not sure if this is relevant.


Harold 08.10.15 at 4:54 pm

Rousseau was a citizen of the Calvinist (Huguenot) republic of Geneva, however, he converted to Catholicism in his teens, after leaving that city. He converted back to Calvinism in his thirties in order to move back there but had to leave after suggesting that all religions were equally worthy (the heresy of indifferentism). The Calvinist (or former Calvinist) Frederick II of Prussia permitted him to live in Motiers in Neufchatel, of which he was the official protector, but the pious citizens of that city stoned him and he had to flee to England where David Hume had offered him a refuge.

Hume remarked that Rousseau “has not had the precaution to throw any veil over his sentiments; and, as he scorns to dissemble his contempt for established opinions, he could not wonder that all the zealots were in arms against him. The liberty of the press is not so secured in any country… as not to render such an open attack on popular prejudice somewhat dangerous.'”

I understood that one reason Rousseau didn’t marry his mistress Therese after his return to France, was because it was illegal there for a Protestant to marry a Catholic.

Rousseau belongs to French culture in the sense that (like Calvin) he was a master of French prose, but he always considered himself a citizen of Geneva, where artisans and tradesmen had voting rights and where a person’s thoughts didn’t have to be concealed by veils of premeditated aristocratic politeness.

“Hail to thee blithe spirit … that from heaven or near it pourest thy full heart / In profuse strains of unpremeditated art” — Shelley

Meditate – Oxford English Dictionary: 1. intr. To exercise the mind in thought or reflection; (freq.) to engage the mind in religious or spiritual reflection, contemplation, or other discipline


Dave 08.10.15 at 4:56 pm

“Details slip”: The John Holbo Story


Nachasz 08.10.15 at 4:59 pm

Oh, well, it’s traditional for the Swiss to help put folks back together after the battle.

It was also traditional for the Swiss to help tear folks apart during the battle.


bianca steele 08.10.15 at 4:59 pm


We still have phrases such ad “meditate murder”, though, which always mean “plan (a heinous act)” thus clearly not the spiritual meaning.


LFC 08.10.15 at 6:08 pm

bianca s. @36 (this addressed to Harold also):

Man, the planning animal, is a depraved animal.

Whatever the ‘meditate’ line is intended to mean, its context in the Second Discourse indicates that it has little to do w ‘planning’. It occurs in a lengthy passage where R. is arguing that ‘savages’ in his (hypothetical) state of nature don’t suffer from illness, that civilization causes illness, and that humans cd have avoided nearly all illnesses by “preserving the simple, uniform, and solitary manner of living which was prescribed for us by nature.” Then: “If nature destined us to be healthy, I venture to affirm that the state of reflection is contrary to nature and that the man who meditates is a depraved animal.” (Norton ed., p.13, and see editors’ attached footnote.)

Btw, as long as we’re still on R., Chris B’s intro to his 2012 Penguin ed. Of The Social Contract and Other Political Writings appears to be compact, well written, and interesting.


LFC 08.10.15 at 6:12 pm

In other words, the logic (for lack of a better word) seems to be: ‘Savages’ are largely unreflective, savages are also healthy, therefore, by some inference, reflection is bad for us ‘as animals’, i.e. bad for physical health. This seems to be the Norton editors’ preferred gloss, at any rate.


Harold 08.10.15 at 6:31 pm

@43 LFC

It clearly means, in the context, reflect or “think about”, as Rousseau says himself. Even today in France if you don’t want, say, to buy something at the moment, you might say “I need to think about it” — using the verb “réfléchir” — “to reflect”. Also, as you probably know, “sauvage” in French doesn’t (or didn’t) carry the same connotations as “savage” does in English, but merely means wild.

Also, no disrespect to the excellent editors and translators of the Norton edition, there are also many many other solid and reliable books in English about Rousseau’s writings, including Leo Damrosch’s biography mentioned above, not to mention our own Chris Bertram, and also the late and lamented Robert Wolker, Lovejoy’s famous essay about Rousseau’s supposed primitivism, and on and on.


Harold 08.10.15 at 6:40 pm

I particularly liked Mario Einaudi’s The Early Rousseau (1967), which first opened my eyes to the works of this thinker. (I feel that both Rousseau and Nietzsche were really Italian at heart.)


TM 08.10.15 at 7:13 pm

“Pedantically, Rousseau wasn’t Swiss, as Geneva didn’t join the Swiss Confederation until 1815.”

The Swiss Confederation before the 19th century was never more than an alliance of independent states (similar to Germany btw – Goethe was never politically a German). A citizen of Geneva or Zurich would have identified with that city more than with any “Switzerland”. Geneva was a Republic, allied with the Swiss Confederation, except that in the Napoleonic era, the state was annexed to France. Napoleon also tried to unite most of Switzerland for the first time as a unified state called the Helvetic Republic, which was unpopular (an understatement) and was dissolved in 1803. Switzerland as a unified country and citizenship really dates from the 1848 constitution, which was adopted after a brief civil war in which the liberal Protestant states were victorious.

Re Nietzsche’s citizenship: Swiss citizenship is, even today, linked with citizenship in the state and municipality. These are taken very seriously. Nietzsche would have had to acquire the Basel citizenship. If he did, there must be records of it which shouldn’t be too hard to find. Citizenship usually requires a waiting period of several years and a significant financial investment. Maybe there were special rules for people like professors.


bianca steele 08.10.15 at 7:24 pm


To add to what Harold said, I think you’re taking “meditate” as a synonym for “ruminate”, but I’d say something like “plan” fits pretty well in the passage you cite. R. is saying that it would be better to be able to live a life where what we need to do is obvious at every moment, where it’s not necessary to think, and he thinks that Nature provides in that way for every species that hasn’t fallen away from Nature, as human beings have.

As Harold points out, one way to describe the difference is to say that the thinking animal reflects on what to do, and why, and on all kinds of things.

Another way, I think, is to say that the thinking animal plans what to do, considering ends and means and likelihood of failure or success, and thinking up new goals. Only a creature that can plan can commit a crime, innovate, or use deception. We still use a similar concept when we recognize the idea of a “hidden agenda”.

I’m thinking more about Émile, though. It’s been a long time since I read either of the Discourses.


TM 08.10.15 at 7:31 pm

“wasn’t Prussia originally Calvinist? And also Slavic (if not Polish)?”

Prussia adopted Lutheranism.


TM 08.10.15 at 7:37 pm

Here’s an article stating unambiguously that N. was never Swiss citizen. Alas no evidence is cited.–todestag-von-friedrich-nietzsche/1626616


LFC 08.10.15 at 7:50 pm

Harold @44
It clearly means, in the context, reflect or “think about”, as Rousseau says himself

And “think about” is distinct from “to plan,” though as bianca says @47, both senses may fit or work here.

not to mention our own Chris Bertram

Well, I mentioned him @42.
The Damrosch bk is, I assume, v. readable. I have read his bk on Tocqueville; not the one on Rousseau.


john c. halasz 08.10.15 at 7:55 pm

““wasn’t Prussia originally Calvinist? And also Slavic (if not Polish)?”

The Prussians were originally a Balto-slavic speaking pagan people who were conquered in a crusade by the Teutonic Knights during the Middle Ages and Christianized. When the Elector of Brandenburg decided to declare himself an independent king in the late 17th century, (since the Hapsburgs had the imperial title all sewed up, so what was the point of just being an Elector), he declared himself the King of Prussia, since those territories were outside the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. The kingdom was officially Lutheran, but they actively recruited persecuted French Huguenots, who were especially concentrated in the high skilled and professional strata, to help them modernize.


Harold 08.10.15 at 7:58 pm

Bianca, Yes, that is how I interpret it. And Rousseau certainly hit a nerve with his hankerings after sincerity and spontaneity in an age of protocol and ceremony — not to mention censorship.

As far as Prussia, I gather the Royal Family were Calvinist — also known as Reformed or Huguenot. In the 17th and 18th c’.s yheir children had refugee Huguenot tutors who instructed them in French, as did much of the aristocracy of central Europe as Marc Fumaroli describes in When the World Spoke French. Of course, both Calvin and Luther professed the doctrine of total depravity (but Fumaroli says that the aristocratic refugee tutors adhered to a broad, rather libertine outlook, in honor of the example of Henri IV, le galant vert.)

According to wikipedia:

The Calvinist (Reformed) and Lutheran Protestant churches had existed in parallel after Prince-Elector John Sigismund declared his conversion from Lutheranism to Calvinism in 1617, with most of his subjects remaining Lutheran. However, a significant Calvinist minority had grown due to the reception of thousands of Calvinists refugees fleeing oppression by the Catholic Counter-Reformation in Bohemia, France (Huguenots), the Low Countries, and Wallonia or migrants from Jülich-Cleves-Berg, the Netherlands, Poland, or Switzerland. Their descendants made up the bulk of the Calvinists in Brandenburg. At issue over many decades was how to unite into one church.

Frederick William III, King of Prussia and Prince of Neuchâtel [in what is now Switzerland]
One year after he ascended to the throne in 1798, Frederick William III, being summus episcopus (Supreme Governor of the Protestant Churches), decreed a new common liturgical agenda (service book) to be published, for use in both the Lutheran and Reformed congregations. The king, a Reformed Christian, lived in a denominationally mixed marriage with the Lutheran Queen Louise (1776–1810), which is why they never partook of the Lord’s Supper together. A commission was formed in order to prepare this common agenda. This liturgical agenda was the culmination of the efforts of his predecessors to unify these two Protestant churches in Prussia and in its predecessor, the Electorate of Brandenburg, becoming later its core province.


LFC 08.10.15 at 8:00 pm

p.s. (to Harold):
I have two English versions of the Second Discourse on the shelf. I used the Norton simply b.c it was easier for me to find the relevant passage there. I was not intending to cite those editors as some kind of ultimate authority. It’s just that I needed to cite an English translation and that’s what I happened to have handy. I referred to the footnote b.c it happened to be attached to the sentence in question. I’m aware that there’s an enormous amt of good secondary stuff on R., so your implication that I was somehow slighting everyone except the editors of the Norton edition is quite misplaced.


Harold 08.10.15 at 8:24 pm

@53. My apologies, LFC, no insult intended. It is just a question of Rousseau’s preternaturally vivid rhetoric, since if you read the whole thing, it is clear that R.’s so-called natural man is really a kind of solitary ape.


Harold 08.11.15 at 4:47 am

I apologize again to LFC as I didn’t notice that he had already mentioned Chris Bertram. Mea maxima culpa. I confess I was a little annoyed at the Norton editors’ comment bringing up reason, when Rousseau was clearly talking simply about “thinking” — not reasoning, a later development.


LFC 08.11.15 at 12:36 pm

@Harold: no problem, I did not think you were intending an insult.


Nicholas Martin 08.11.15 at 5:59 pm

Nietzsche may have been a Swiss thinker in another sense, too: I remember Martin Ruehl years ago in his lectures on Nietzsche at Cambridge speculating about the possible connection between the socio-political circumstances of Basel (industrialization; a big socialist working class; congress of the first Internationale) and Nietzsche’s, for want of a better word, reactionary aristocratism. I’ve never read Burkhardt, but if I recall those tutorials correctly, Burkhardt had essentially similar views, and Nietzsche formed a close connection with him at the time.

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