Metaphysics to Metafictions

Hegel, Nietzsche, and the End of Philosophy

By Paul S. Miklowitz

Subjects: Philosophy Of Literature
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791438787, 221 pages, August 1998
Hardcover : 9780791438770, 221 pages, August 1998

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Citation Conventions



Chapter One. Language and Truth: The Aufhebung of Immediacy

Part I: Sense-Certainty and Expression

1. Deferral of the Vorrede and the "immediate" beginning

2. Critiques of object- and subject-centered philosophical starting points

3. The "divine nature of language": Mystery and equivocation

Part II: On Reading Sense-Certainty

1. The Immediacy demanded by the Logic

2. "Sensualism" versus the always already linguistic

Chapter Two. Self and Other: The Mastery of Mediation

Part I: Self-Certainty and Mediation

1. The place of "Lordship and Bondage" in the structure of the Phenomenology

2. The dialectic of Desire: Self as relation

3. The dialectic of Lordship and Bondage proper

4. Turning the tables on the lord and recuperating the bondsman

Part II: The Scrutiny of Self-Certainty: Further Mediations

1. The fragment on "Love"; commentary by Freud, Solomon, and McTaggart

2. Two critical themes: The primacy of thinghood; self-knowledge is self-creation

Chapter Three. Absolute Knowing: The End of Philosophy

Part I: The Absolute from Beginning to End

1. Stoicism and Skepticism as retreats into thought

2. The internalized duplicity of unhappy consciousness

3. Toward the Begriff , the form of absolute synthesis

4. The structure of absolute knowing

Part II: Re-Reading the Absolute: A New Beginning

1. The Hegelian fundamentalism of Kojève

2. The materialist critique of Marx

Chapter Four. Anticipatory Repetition: Heterodox Spirituality and Hegel's Philosophical Eschatology

1. Hegel and Joachim: A fateful syzygy (Löwith)

2. Narrativity and Repetition: A textual resurrection (O'Regan and Murray)

3. Conclusory transition

Chapter Five. Eternal Return: Re-Telling the End

Part I: After the End of Philosophy: The Perspective of an Aesthetic Attitude

1. Nietzsche contra Hegel

2. Regression to Vorstellungen: The pervasiveness of metaphor

3. No facts, only interpretations: The world is a kind of fiction

Part II: Discipleship and Eternal Return

1. Zarathustra's "going under": Self-knowledge is deception

2. The tightrope walker and the motley jester

3. Eternal return as shibboleth for discipleship

4. Beyond metaphysical solace: Redemption from the spirit of revenge

5. Zarathustra's account of eternal return: A tale for adventurers only

6. The failure of Zarathustra's disciples: Eternal return as rote repetition

7. Closing the circle: Zarathustra's return to solitude

Epilogue: From Metaphysics to Metafictions




Examines the key role played by Nietzsche in the undoing of the Hegelian system of totality.


Through close reading and interpretive reflections, Paul Miklowitz examines key dialectics in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit in order to come to terms with the undoing of the Hegelian system of totality inaugurated by Nietzsche. In his interpretation of the Phenomenology, Miklowitz shows how Hegel skillfully manipulates narrative structures, even while disavowing them. Tracing the self-undermining implications latent in Hegel's strategy of retrospective phenomenological reconstruction through to their "coming to self-consciousness" in Nietzsche's central character of Zarathustra, Miklowitz argues that Hegel leaves a problematic legacy to philosophers, claiming to have achieved comprehensive wisdom in "absolute knowing," and that Nietzsche responds by undermining the authority of the philosopher. Thus metaphysical questions are reformulated and resolved in narratives self-consciously mediated by irony: they become "metafictions," philosophic imperatives that expressly acknowledge their own createdness and call into question their universality.

In examining Nietzsche's post-apocalyptic and anti-Hegelian perspectivism, Miklowitz focuses on Thus Spoke Zarathustra, offering a new interpretation of "eternal return" in light of the problematic character of repetition intrinsic to the narrative structure of metaphysical illumination: Nietzsche's project, unlike Hegel's metaphysics, proposes to serve philosophy not as a uniquely true source of doctrine, but rather as an exemplary experiment in metafiction. Finally, Miklowitz also briefly examines some of the "postmodern" effects of this intellectual history and its consequences for the theoretical discourse of philosophy—whose end (in the sense of a telos) was reached in Hegel, only to have its end (in the sense of death or destruction) proclaimed by Nietzsche.

Paul S. Miklowitz is Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University.


"This is a very good book. It has an important thesis—the fictionalization of discourse as the quintessentially modern reaction to the presumptive realization of metaphysics in Hegel's philosophy of the absolute. The work outlines in exemplary, if schematic, fashion the key role played by Nietzsche in the undoing of the Hegelian system of totality and marks the points in Hegel that Nietzsche can capitalize on." — Cyril O'Regan, author of The Heterodox Hegel