8 Pages


At the opening of this book I drew attention to a remark by Philippa Foot: “Why do so many contemporary moral philosophers, particularly of the Anglo-American analytic school, ignore Nietzsche’s attack on morality and just go on as if this extraordinary event in the history of thought had never occurred?” (1994: 3). In truth, I think that the main reason for this failure of engagement is the commitment of much, perhaps most, analytic moral philosophy to an ahistorical conception of their philosophical activity in which morality is taken as a given. The grounds for this claim are given by considering an alternative mode of moral philosophy that is historical in character, not in the merely instrumental sense of having an awareness of the history of moral philosophy but as seeing philosophical reflection on ethics as itself having an irreducibly historical dimension. In relation to this historical mode of philosophical reflection, Nietzsche appears as a pivotal figure, whether as a friend or as an antagonist. In this conclusion, I should like to sketch some features of this mode of historical philosophy as a way of reflecting on Nietzsche’s own practice of philosophy and his contemporary significance.