Robert Holub, Ohio Eminent Scholar of German and Chair of Germanic Languages and Literatures, has recently published a book on Nietzsche’s connections with various discourses of his times. Titled Nietzsche in the Nineteenth Century: Social Question and Philosophical Interventions, the book counters the myth that Nietzsche remained a lonely and isolated individual unconnected with major developments in the social and scientific world.
“This monograph is the culmination of many years of work,” Holub reported. “I began work on it during the early 1990s and produced a small volume on Nietzsche for the Twayne series in 1995. When I moved into academic administration, however, I was unable to make much progress on it until I returned to the faculty when I came to Ohio State in 2012. On my way to completing this more encompassing work, I published a volume on the “Jewish Question”: Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem: Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism (Princeton UP, 2016), but I’m happy that I was finally able to complete the larger study and see it in print.”
The book approaches Nietzsche through a series of “questions” involving education, nationhood, social issues of the working class, women’s emancipation, colonialism, and the role of Jews and Judaism. In the final three chapters Holub deals with Nietzsche’s dialogue with evolutionary biology, thermodynamics and cosmology, and the new “science” of eugenics. The focus of the volume is not how these “questions” influenced Nietzsche, but rather how he developed his philosophy in dialogue with the discourses prevalent in late nineteenth-century Europe.