Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 8, 2020

The Will to Synthesis: Nietzsche, Carnap and the Continental-Analytic Gap

Felipe G. A. Moreira
From the journal Nietzsche-Studien


This essay presupposes that Friedrich Nietzsche and Rudolf Carnap champion contrasting reactions to the fact that, throughout history, persons have been engaged in metaphysical disputes. Nietzsche embraces a libertarian reaction that is in agreement with his anti-democratic aristocratic political views, whereas Carnap endorses an egalitarian reaction aligned with his democratic and socialist political views. After characterizing these reactions, the essay argues for two claims. The first claim is that the stated contrasting reactions are to be considered, not only by the few scholars who are interested both in Nietzsche’s and Carnap’s writings, but by a far larger group that includes those who have addressed the continental-analytic gap; those who are concerned with the development of contemporary philosophy; and/or those who are interested in the writings of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, David Lewis and/or Peter van Inwagen. The second claim is that we have to entertain a synthesis of Nietzsche’s libertarian and Carnap’s egalitarian reaction in order to overcome the continental-analytic gap.


Apel, Karl-Otto: Selected Essays, vol. II: Ethics and the Theory of Rationality, Atlantic Highlands, NJ 1996Search in Google Scholar

Carnap, Rudolf: Intellectual Autobiography, in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, ed. Paul Arthur Schilpp, La Salle, IL 1963, 3–86Search in Google Scholar

Carnap, Rudolf: Logical Syntax of Language, trans. Amethe Smeaton, London 1937Search in Google Scholar

Carnap, Rudolf: “The Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis of Language”, in Logical Positivism, ed. A. J. Ayer, trans. Arthur Pap, New York 1959, 60–81Search in Google Scholar

Carnap, Rudolf: The Logical Structure of the World and Pseudoproblems in Philosophy, trans. Rolf A. George, Chicago 2003Search in Google Scholar

Carnap, Rudolf: “Überwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache”, Erkenntnis 2 (1931), 219–241Search in Google Scholar

Chalmers, David: The Character of Consciousness, Oxford 2010Search in Google Scholar

Chalmers, David: The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford 1996Search in Google Scholar

Churchland, Paul: The Engine of Reason, Cambridge 1996Search in Google Scholar

Davis, Angela: The Angela Y. Davis Reader, ed. Joy James, Cambridge 1998Search in Google Scholar

Dennett, Daniel: Consciousness Explained, New York 1991Search in Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques: Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles / Eperons: Les Styles de Nietzsche, trans. Barbara Harlow, Chicago 1979Search in Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel: History of Madness, ed. and trans. Jean Khalfa, trans. Jonathan Murphy, Oxford 2006Search in Google Scholar

Friedman, Michael: A Parting of the Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger, Chicago 2000Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Gottfried: “Carnap’s ‘Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis of Language’: A Retrospective Consideration of the Relationship between Continental and Analytic Philosophy”, in Paolo Parrini / Wesley C. Salmon / Merrilee H. Salmon (eds.), Logical Empiricism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, University Park, PA 2003, 30–42Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Markus: I am not a Brain: Philosophy of Mind for the Twenty-First Century, trans. Christopher Turner, Cambridge 2017Search in Google Scholar

Gabriel, Markus: Why the World Does Not Exist, trans. Gregory Moss, Cambridge 2012Search in Google Scholar

Gutting, Gary: Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy since 1960, Oxford 2011Search in Google Scholar

Gutting, Gary: What Philosophers Know: Case Studies in Recent Analytic Philosophy, Cambridge 2009Search in Google Scholar

Habermas, Jürgen: The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence, Cambridge 1990Search in Google Scholar

Hales, Steven D.: “Nietzsche on Logic”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56.4 (1996), 819–835Search in Google Scholar

Heidegger, Martin: “Was ist Metaphysik?”, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. IX, Frankfurt a. M. 1976Search in Google Scholar

Inwagen, Peter van: “Freedom to Break the Laws”, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 28 (2004), 334–350Search in Google Scholar

Keller, John A. (ed.): Being, Freedom, and Method: Themes from the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen, Oxford 2017Search in Google Scholar

Lawlor, Leonard: From Violence to Speaking Out: Apocalypse and Expression in Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze, Edinburgh 2016Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, David: “Are We Free to Break the Laws?”, in Philosophical Papers, vol. II, Oxford 1986, 291–298Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, David: On the Plurality of Worlds, Malden, MA 1986Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, David: Philosophical Papers, vol. I, Oxford 1983Search in Google Scholar

May, Todd: Between Genealogy and Epistemology: Psychology, Politics, and Knowledge in the Thought of Michel Foucault, University Park, PA 1992Search in Google Scholar

May, Todd: Reconsidering Difference: Nancy, Derrida, Levinas, Deleuze, University Park, PA 1997Search in Google Scholar

Moore, Adrian W.: The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things, Cambridge 2012Search in Google Scholar

Moreira, Felipe G. A.: “Overcoming Metametaphysics: Nietzsche and Carnap”, Nietzsche-Studien 47 (2018), 240–271Search in Google Scholar

Mormann, Thomas: “Carnap’s Boundless Ocean of Unlimited Possibilities: Between Enlightenment and Romanticism”, in Pierre Wagner (ed.), Carnap’s Ideal of Explication and Naturalism, New York 2012, 63–78Search in Google Scholar

Nagel, Thomas: “What is it like to be a Bat?”, Philosophical Review 83.4 (1974), 435–450Search in Google Scholar

Nolan, Daniel: David Lewis, Kingston 2002Search in Google Scholar

Nozick, Robert: Anarchy, State, and Utopia, New York 1974Search in Google Scholar

Nozick, Robert: Philosophical Explanations, Cambridge 1981Search in Google Scholar

Putnam, Hilary: Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein, Bloomington, IN 2008Search in Google Scholar

Quine, Willard van Orman: Pursuit of Truth, Cambridge, MA 1992Search in Google Scholar

Reisch, George A.: How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy of Science: To the Icy Slopes of Logic, Cambridge 2002Search in Google Scholar

Reynolds, Jack / Chase, James / Mares, Ed / Williams, James (eds.): Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing Philosophical Divides, London 2010Search in Google Scholar

Richardson, John: Nietzsche’s New Darwinism, Oxford 2004Search in Google Scholar

Rorty, Richard: Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Cambridge 1989Search in Google Scholar

Rorty, Richard: Philosophy and Social Hope, New York 1999Search in Google Scholar

Rorty, Richard: Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton, NJ 1979Search in Google Scholar

Russell, Bertrand: A History of Western Philosophy, New York 1945Search in Google Scholar

Sachs, Carl B.: “What is to be Overcome? Nietzsche, Carnap, and Modernism as the Overcoming of Metaphysics”, History of Philosophy Quarterly 28.3 (2011), 303–318Search in Google Scholar

Soames, Scott: The Analytic Tradition in Philosophy, vol. I: The Founding Giants, Princeton, NJ 2014Search in Google Scholar

Soames, Scott: The Analytic Tradition in Philosophy, vol. II: A New Vision, Princeton, NJ 2017Search in Google Scholar

Stone, Abraham D.: “Heidegger and Carnap on the Overcoming of Metaphysics”, in Stephen Mulhall (ed.), Martin Heidegger, London 2006, 217–244Search in Google Scholar

Williams, Bernard: Ethics and the Limits of Inquiry, London 2006Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2020-10-08
Published in Print: 2020-10-27

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston