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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Multiculturalism, Cosmopolitanism, Globalism: A Nietzschean Perspective on Postcolonial Culture

Daniel White.


Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy of culture provides strategies for the simultaneous construction of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. These strategies are suggested by four key Nietzschean ideas: the Overman (Ubermensch), eternal return (ewige Wiederkunft), play (Spiel), and power (Macht).

The Overman is Nietzsche's idea of a transpersonal identity linking the individual to the larger patterns of culture and cosmos: an ecological self. The eternal return is Nietzsche's idea of history that is at once all inclusive and recursively differentiating: the interface between "natural" and "cultural" history in the coevolution of "humanity" and "nature". Play is Nietzsche's key idea linking art, style and culture, so that individual and history merge in a process of ecological semeiosis. All three of these concepts may be read as anticipations of a communicative cultural practice generating a viable ecology of culture.

Nietzsche thus provides a European pattern that may be readily woven into a global tapestry of cultures. Nietzsche's philosophy suggests cultural identities whose borders are designed to be crossed by the threads of intercultural and interspecies communication. Forms of international rivalry - particularly the violent conflict of warring powers - may be seen, in Nietzschean terms, as wills to power combating in an international political framework that obstructs peaceful cultural exchange.

The ethnocentric assertion of dominance on the part of colonial, neo-colonial, and now globalizing powers has created a "new world order" that prevents the emergence of a dynamic postcolonial culture. In Nietzschean terms, this has happened because the dynamism (Macht) of Dionysian creativity has been usurped by colonialist constructions of self, ethnicity, class, and culture, resulting in the expression of power as violence instead of power as life-enhancing communicative exchange. Hence arises the need to develop a cosmopolitan multiculturalism where global power is reinfused into the diverse patterns of cultural and biotic life making up the biosphere. It is in these terms that the Nietzschean postcolonial subject should practice its self-making (autopoiesis).

Presenters

Daniel White  (United States)
Professor
Honors College

Daniel R. White is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities in the Honors College of Florida Atlantic University. He is author of Postmodern Ecology: Communication, Evolution and Play, and Labyrinths of the Mind: the Self in the Postmodern Age (both on SUNY: Albany, 1998). He is currently writing a book on Nietzsche’s philosophy of culture.

Keywords
  • Globalism
  • Multiculturalism
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Power
Person as Subject
  • Nietzsche



(30 min Conference Paper, English)