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Nietzsche Contra the Atheists
An Analysis of the Popular Reception of Nietzsche’s Atheism in English-Speaking Countries

CHEUNG, STEPHEN,PETER (2022) Nietzsche Contra the Atheists
An Analysis of the Popular Reception of Nietzsche’s Atheism in English-Speaking Countries.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 06 September 2025.


This analysis of the English-speaking popular reception of Nietzsche from 1895 to the present will follow Nietzsche in bringing history and philosophy together. I will argue that Nietzsche’s philosophy provides explanatory power for understanding the reception of his atheism and that his reception history in turn sheds light on the meaning of his atheism. Chapter One explores how Nietzsche employs form and style to establish the event of God’s death as the chasm of understanding that lies between himself and other atheists. Chapter Two considers the defining features and concerns of Nietzsche’s atheism – nihilism, Dionysianism, asceticism, naturalism, eternal recurrence and the übermensch – in the context of Nietzsche’s soteriological project. Against this backdrop, the remaining chapters will explore the reception of Nietzsche’s atheism that has not been conveyed to a popular audience through the details of his philosophy but rather through the themes and categories that naturally arose between the established poles of debate of the broader culture of the time. Chapters 3–5 demonstrate how Nietzsche’s popular reception has been shaped through debates over Nietzsche’s alleged madness, nationalism, social Darwinism, decadence, warmongering and nazism, while chapter 6 explores why most authors attempting to popularise atheism today either make little mention of Nietzsche or conspicuously do not mention him at all. The question throughout this account of Nietzsche’s reception is not simply ‘How has Nietzsche been received?’ but rather ‘What would Nietzsche make of his own popular reception?’ A Nietzschean evaluation of his own reception history is made feasible by Nietzsche himself who not only predicts that he and the majority of atheists who read him will remain at a vast distance from each other, but having measured the distance that lies between them, he also takes the trouble to explain why that distance exists.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Nietzsche, Atheism, Philosophy, Reception history.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Sep 2022 12:16

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