Christa Davis Acampora
Ecce Homo offers Nietzsche’s own interpretation of himself, his thoughts, and his works. This article analyzes how the text bears on his ideas about agency, fate, and freedom. It presents an account of “how one becomes what one is.” For Nietzsche, a person is a set of drives ordered or ranked a certain way; there is no will or subject separate from these that could carry out the work of becoming. What is most important is that one’s drives be coordinated in a single entity. Through these tactics some of us can become what we are.
This article examines Nietzsche’s thoughts about becoming and being, and how these are at odds with both knowledge and life. It discusses how Nietzsche addresses this problem, beginning with its historical part: Nietzsche’s story of how the philosophical tradition first builds the concept of being, but then pulls it down by the stages described in the famous ‘history of an error’ chapter in Twilight of the Idols. This development culminates in the replacement of being with becoming. But understanding what Nietzsche means by becoming requires an understanding of its relation to time. We arrive at a genuine sense of becoming only by stripping away our experience of time as succession.
Paul S. Loeb
This article shows that Nietzsche’s published presentations endorse the cosmological truth of eternal recurrence and that they indicate how belief in this truth can be supported with direct mnemonic evidence as well as a priori scientific proof. It also introduces a refutation of any attempt to construe Nietzsche’s doctrine as a thought experiment that would help to test or promote the affirmation of nonrecurring life.
This article examines one of Nietzsche’s most important works, The Gay Science (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft). The book’s title reflects its ambition to handle painful truths, arrived at by some kind of science, in a cheerful and uplifting way. One such truth is the death of God and the way this must pull down with it God’s ‘shadow’, morality, as we find out the truth about its origins. The most sensational idea introduced in the book is the thought of eternal return. The article also considers Nietzsche’s attempts to reconcile truth and art, rejecting efforts to resolve the tension by subordinating either to the other. It looks at Nietzsche’s critique of the usual scientific methods for seeking truth; rather than renouncing truth, he anticipates a new ‘science’ better aimed at what truth there is.
R. Lanier Anderson
This article explores various conceptions of Nietzsche’s thoughts on autonomy. It distinguishes six main interpretive approaches, each with its own conception of autonomy: (1) autonomy as spontaneous self-determination, in the sense of traditional free will; (2) a “standard model” interpretation counting actions as autonomous when they are caused by rationalizing beliefs and desires; (3) a view that traces autonomy to a Kantian transcendental subject; (4) constitutivist theories that seek to explain the source of normativity by “deriving ethics from action”; (5) “hierarchical model” interpretations arguing that complex, higher-order attitudes “speak for the agent,” and thereby constitute her autonomy; and (6) conceptions of autonomy as an ethical ideal.
This article examines how Nietzsche’s illness bears on his philosophical ideas. It demonstrates that the long-standard explanation for Nietzsche’s dementia—syphilis—is almost certainly false. The cause is much more likely to have been a brain tumor, which had caused him severe headaches and eye problems since childhood. Nietzsche also suffered from a host of digestive problems. It is no wonder that he puts such great weight on “health” and especially the kind of health that overcomes sickness and suffering. When Nietzsche values “madness,” it is a healthy and philosophical madness exemplified in Zarathustra and which Nietzsche tried to cultivate in himself.
This article develops an interpretation of Nietzsche’s notion of the overman and its links to his conceptions of agency and free will. Nietzsche sees human actions as commitments and commitment as irreducibly temporal inasmuch as it requires both obedience to the past and responsibility for the future. In making any possibility his own, the agent commits himself to certain outcomes in the face of contingencies beyond his control. An overman is someone who has overcome his resistance to the temporal character of agency by taking responsibility for the choices he makes.
The main theme of Nietzsche’s first published work, The Birth of Tragedy (BT, 1872), is that the affirmation of life requires ‘illusion’ which allows us to cope with the ‘insight into the horrible truth’ of our condition. This article argues that Nietzsche held the same position in his later works: that illusion is a necessary to affirm life. The discussion is organized as follows. Section 1 sets out the core thesis of BT vis-à-vis the relationship between affirmation and illusion. Section 2 examines the role of illusion in one of Nietzsche’s litmus tests of affirmation found in The Gay Science of 1882, ‘amor fati’—that is, the ability ‘to see as beautiful what is necessary in things’. Sections 3, 4, and 5 consider Nietzsche’s understanding of ‘self-creation’ and how, through the employment of ‘distance’ and ‘pretence’, it engenders an affirmation of existence. Finally, Section 6 attempts a provisional assessment of Nietzsche’s conception of affirmation.