Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines whether all animals are existential animals to meaningful degree. Drawing on existentialist perspectives, it bridges contemporary research in psychological science with classic work in philosophy, specifically Friedrich Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, and the animated series Masters of the Universe. The chapter first considers Nietzsche’s archetypes of the human essence: the Priestly masters of outwardly vigilant self-control and the Knightly masters of egocentric conquest. It then explores the neurocognitive structures underlying the divergent behaviors, motivations, and values manifested by Nietzsche’s Knights and Priests. The chapter shows how humans accumulate experiences that are modeled by brain structures into associative networks, which are in turn projected onto the environment as expectations for subsequent experiences. It also describes how an approach-oriented mode of being impoverishes our ability to understand others’ mental states (i.e., theory of mind) as our ego-centrism increases.

Keywords: egocentrism, existentialism, expectations, meaning, morals, motivation, self-control, theory of mind, Friedrich Nietzsche, human essence

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.