In this groundbreaking work, Christa Davis Acampora offers a profound rethinking of Friedrich Nietzsche’s crucial notion of the agon. Analyzing an impressive array of primary and secondary sources and synthesizing decades of Nietzsche scholarship, she shows how the agon, or contest, organized core areas of Nietzsche’s philosophy, providing a new appreciation of the subtleties of his notorious views about power. By focusing so intensely on this particular guiding interest, she offers an exciting, original vantage from which to view this iconic thinker: Contesting Nietzsche.
Though existence—viewed through the lens of Nietzsche’s agon—is fraught with struggle, Acampora illuminates what Nietzsche recognized as the agon’s generative benefits. It imbues the human experience with significance, meaning, and value. Analyzing Nietzsche’s elaborations of agonism—his remarks on types of contests, qualities of contestants, and the conditions in which either may thrive or deteriorate—she demonstrates how much the agon shaped his philosophical projects and critical assessments of others. The agon led him from one set of concerns to the next, from aesthetics to metaphysics to ethics to psychology, via Homer, Socrates, Saint Paul, and Wagner. In showing how one obsession catalyzed so many diverse interests, Contesting Nietzsche sheds fundamentally new light on some of this philosopher’s most difficult and paradoxical ideas.