Volume 8, No. 1, Spring 2013
Jaspers, Nietzsche, and Arendt
Index and Editors' Introduction
The Flame of Eternity
Alan M. Olson | Boston University
This volume contains four critical reviews of the English edition of the late Krzysztof Michalski's The Flame of Eternity: An Interpretation of Nietzsche's Thought, Princeton University Press, 2012. The book has also been published in Polish, Russian, and in French. The reviews are by senior scholars, Babette Babich, Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University; Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iceland; Lydia Voronina, US Department of State, retired; Tom Rockmore, Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University; and James Dodd, Professor and Chair in the Philosophy Department at the New School of Social Science in New York. Also in this volume, an original novella by Herbert Mason, Professor Emeritus at Boston University, on the classic myth and medieval folktale "Seven Sleepers of Ephesus" casting new light on the development of Islamic Studies in the United States, especially studies in Sufism.
Keywords: Babich, Babette; Dodd, James; Gadamer, Hans Georg; Heidegger, Martin; Mason, Herbert; Massignon, Luis; Michalski, Krysztof; Nietzsche, Friedrich; Olson, Alan M.; Rockmore, Tom; Schimmel, Anna-Marie; Thorgeirsdottir, Sigridur; Voronina, Lydia; being; time; eternal return; overman; will to power; embodiment; relational metaphysics; Muslim; Sufism; Islam; Hallaj; Harvard; Paris.
Krzysztof Michalski as Educator
James Dodd | New School for Social Research, New York
A reflection on the late Krzysztof Michalski (1948-2013) as a teacher and intellectual, written by a former student.
Keywords: Michalski, Krzysztof; Nietzsche, Friedrich; Patocka, Jan; education; Institute for Human Sciences; Boston University.
Flamme bin ich sicherlich—Flame am I…: To Eternity
Babette Babich | Fordham University
Krzysztof Michalski's The Flame of Eternity: An Interpretation of Nietzsche although engaging the Nietzschean themes of the body, eros, the soul, life and death, amor fati and nihilism, as well as the overhuman, oversprings Nietzsche's readings or scholarship on the same in order instead to institute Michalski's own Christian and literary more than exclusively philosophical account. Where scholars (and believers) like Biser, Birault, Valadier, as well as the late Ernest Fortin and indeed Pierre Hadot, were able to engage Nietzsche's text, Michalski's flame dances in his own light.
Keywords: Michalski, Krzysztof; Nietzsche, Friedrich; eternity; nihilism; eternal recurrence; amor fati; Overhuman; Übermensch.
On Michalski's Nietzsche, Christianity, and Cognition
Tom Rockmore | Duquesne University
Above all through Heidegger's influence on the debate, Nietzsche has been extensively studied, most often as an anti-christian thinker. In his recent book, The Flame of Eternity: An Interpretation of Nietzsche's Thought, Krzysztof Michalski offers a new interpretation in which Nietzsche is superficially anti-Christian but in fact on a deeper level a profoundly Christian thinker. According to Michalski, Nietzsche's central conception is eternity. Michalski considers Nietzsche's entire corpus and much of the surrounding debate. I reconstruct Michalsk's argument in pointing to what seems to be a manifest tension between two incompatible conceptions of time: the Christian view of time as linear, and the eternal return of the same that is intrinsically circular.
Keywords: Nietzsche, Friedrich; Christianity; eternal return of the same; eternity; cognition.
Philosophical Pathos and Spirituality
Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir | University of Reykjavik, Island
The Flame of Eternity by Krzysztof Michalski is first and foremost an attempt to think Nietzsche's philosophy further. On the basis of existential aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy of the eternal return, Michalski elaborates his own concept of eternity as existential discontinuity. Eternity manifests itself in ruptures caused by death and love that allow us to begin a new. Eternity is thus a spiritual, philosophical pathos that enables to question and challenge every form of humanity. Michalski embeds eternity in embodied life, but fails to account for relational implications of embodiment, rendering this interesting idea of the philosophical pathos onesidedly solipsistic.
Keywords: Eternity; philosophical pathos; existential spirituality; embodiment; love, death; discontinuity; flame.
Comments on Krzysztof Michalski's The Flame of Eternity
Lydia Voronina | Boston, MA
Emphasizing romantic tendencies in Nietzsche's philosophy allowed Michalski to build a more comprehensive context for the understanding of his most cryptic philosophical concepts, such as Nihilism, Over-man, the Will to power, the Eternal Return. Describing life in terms of constant advancement of itself, opening new possibilities, the flame which "ignites" human body and soul, etc, also positioned Michalski closer to spirituality as a human condition and existential interpretation of Christianity which implies reliving life and death of Christ as a real event that one lives through and that burns one's heart, i.e. not as leaned from reading texts or listening to a teacher. The image of fire implies constant changing, unrest, never-ending passing away and becoming phases of reality and seems losing its present phase. This makes Michalski's perspective on Nietzsche and his existential view of Christianity vulnerable because both of them lack a sufficient foundation for the sustainable present which requires various constants and makes it possible for life to be lived.
Keywords: Nietzsche, Friedrich; life; eternity; spontaneity; spirituality; Romanticism; existential Christianity; death of God; eternal return; overman; time; temporality.
The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus
Herbert W. Mason | Boston University
The novella is based on a Medieval legend whose narrative source is found in both Christian and Muslim religious texts. The legend and its evocation enacted by an Austrian woman and an American man combine Herbert Mason's scholarly knowledge of Near Eastern literatures and his literary retellings on the ancient theme of protest against death. The author is best known for his Gilgamesh, A Verse Narrative, a finalist for the National Book Award, and his The Death of al-Hallaj. The latter was drawn from his Bollingen Series XCVIII translation of Louis Massignon's four volume The Passion of al-Hallaj. The novella extends his profound grasp of ancient myth into the drama of a contemporary spiritual love story and pilgrimage. Copyrights reserved © 2013 Herbert W. Mason.
Keywords: Muslim; Quran; Christianity; myth; drama; witness against evil; suspense; love story; soirees; desert encounter; pilgrimage.