Organic Unity and the Heroic: Nietzsche's Aestheticization of Suffering

In Daniel Came (ed.), Nietzsche on Morality and the Affirmation of Life (2022)
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This paper focuses on Nietzsche’s claim that suffering is closely related to the realization of certain perfectionist values, such as artistic excellence. According to Bernard Reginster, creative achievement consists in overcoming suffering, and therefore, suffering is an essential ingredient of creative achievement. Because suffering forms an essential part of a valuable whole in this way, Reginster argues that we must in turn value suffering ‘for its own sake’. This paper argues that Reginster’s position is open to the following objection: from the fact that suffering is an essential part of a valuable whole, it does not follow that suffering is itself valuable. Rather, by taking advantage of the principle of organic unities, it would have to form an essential part of a valuable whole in a particular way. The author considers two ways the principle might be attributed to Nietzsche’s views on suffering: first, as an ‘enabling condition’, in which suffering allows for a whole that outweighs its disvalue; and second, as ‘a contributor’, in which suffering positively contributes value to the whole. The paper explores how Nietzsche’s ethics turns out to be crucially informed by this conceptual distinction.

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Patrick Hassan
Cardiff University


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