Virtue Beyond Morality is distinctive in that it brings a broad knowledge of ethics to bear on Nietzsche, bridging the gap between analytic and continental traditions. It argues that Nietzsche deserves to take his place in the ranks of such ethical thinkers as Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes and Hume, Kant and Mill; for he has important contributions to make in a number of areas, both critical and constructive. He shows us why and how we need to move from “the peculiar institution” of Christian-Kantian morality to an ethical approach that is aretaic and naturalist. He has intriguing things to say about the genealogy of our moral concepts, the death of God and its implications, and what is at stake in embracing egoism and determinism. His ideas about “life” and “value” are still relevant to the naturalist meta-ethical project. His ambivalent reflections on contractarian justice are a worthy supplement to Hobbes and Hume. He challenges us to think critically about pity and altruism, and his treatment of the sentiments of benevolence is richer and more subtle than is generally acknowledged. And I would argue, he is the greatest philosopher of virtue since Hume—if not Aristotle—with original and instructive things to say about intellectual honesty, the modern virtue of autonomy, the world-affirming ideal of amor fati, and the outlook of abundance which is central to the motivation of all virtues.
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Craig Beam is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
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