Nietzschean Wholeness

In Paul Katsafanas (ed.), Routledge Philosophy Minds: Nietzsche. Routledge. pp. 169-185 (2018)
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In this paper I investigate affinities between Nietzsche’s early philosophy and some aspects of Kant’s moral theory. In so doing, I develop further my reading of Nietzschean wholeness as an ideal that consists in the achievement of cultural—not psychic—integration by pursuing the ennoblement of humanity in oneself and in all. This cultural achievement is equivalent to the procreation of the genius or the perfection of nature. For Nietzsche, the process by means of which we come to realize the genius in ourselves is one in which our true content comes to necessarily govern or guide the shaping of our outer form (or our outward activities). Since this true content turns out to be our autonomy or free agency, I argue that this Nietzschean idea of necessitation parallels in important ways Kant’s notion of normative necessity. In particular, I claim that for Nietzsche the agent’s form becomes necessitated by his content as a result of the agent’s recognition of the duties that befall those who aspire to belong to a genuine culture and his resolve to guide his actions in accordance to them. These duties spring from the idea of humanity, from the image we have of ourselves as endowed with the capacity to be the helmsmen of our lives or to be more than mere animals or automata. The person who takes up this ideal of humanity turns his life into a living unity of content and form by organizing it around an aspect of his being that belongs necessarily, hence more truthfully, to him. He also participates in a collective project (that of the ennoblement of the human being) that can lend a certain coherence and imperishability to his individual life and through which he becomes necessarily connected to everyone else for all eternity.

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Gabriel Zamosc
University of Colorado Denver


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