Abstract

Recent scholarship on Nietzsche's ethical naturalism has acknowledged that a better understanding of his ethics requires a fuller account of his paradoxical reasoning. Continuing this line of thought, this article establishes a fulcrum between Nietzsche's unconventional ethics and mode of argumentation by examining an overlooked motif in his thinking: danger. Danger is the threat of complacent thinking and entrenched belief systems disintegrating under their hidden self-contradictions. It emerges as a key concern in Nietzsche's early works and brings with it a persistent challenge to our thinking and our ethics; refusing to be deceived, we must live courageously by identifying the paradoxes that beset our knowledge and moral beliefs. In his middle works, Nietzsche takes on the persona of the intellectually honest free spirit that attacks any systematic metaphysics, and thus offers a dangerous proposition: an ethics is only possible (yet may still fall short) in moments when metaphysics collapses and paradox rears its head.

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