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"Some Third Thing": Nietzsche's Words and the Principle of Charity

Stern, TJ; (2016) "Some Third Thing": Nietzsche's Words and the Principle of Charity. Journal of Nietzsche Studies , 47 (2) pp. 287-302. 10.5325/jnietstud.47.2.0287. Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to begin a conversation about how we read and write about Nietzsche and, related to this, other figures in the history of philosophy. The principle of charity can appear to be a way to bridge two different interpretative goals: getting the meaning of the text right and offering the best philosophy. I argue that the principle of charity is multiply ambiguous along three different dimensions, which I call "unit", "mode" and "strength": consequently, it is not a single, neutral or independent principle to which we can helpfully appeal and it cannot, in itself, perform this bridging function. Nietzsche, I suggest, is particularly ill suited to some forms of charitable reading. I compare charity to what I call "misreporting" a philosopher’s words, in order to highlight some problematic structural similarities. Finally, I assess what charity might be doing instead, if it is not intended to bridge meaning and best philosophy.

Type: Article
Title: "Some Third Thing": Nietzsche's Words and the Principle of Charity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5325/jnietstud.47.2.0287
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5325/jnietstud.47.2.0287
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 The Pennsylvania State University. All rights reserved.
Keywords: method, principle of charity, interpretation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1543242
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