Sublimation and Affirmation in Nietzsche's Psychology

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 45 (2):196-209 (2014)
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ABSTRACT Nietzsche sometimes offers the elusive suggestion that his psychology is not just original, but inaugural: a “first” in the field of philosophy. This article argues that a clue to his inaugural ambitions is discovered in his novel use of sublimation as a concept that engages in both a genealogical critique and a therapeutic reassessment of the basic prejudices of value dualism that he claims constitute the evaluative core of the Western tradition. Genealogically, sublimation provides Nietzsche with a new structure of naturalistic narrative that explains how traditionally opposed values actually share a common natural origin. Therapeutically, Nietzsche's various sublimation narratives serve to qualify the effects of his own naturalistic critique by revealing how and why our animal bodies and drives can now be practically affirmed as a new source of human dignity.

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Joseph Swenson
Hamline University


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