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Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity$
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Christopher Janaway and Simon Robertson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583676.001.0001

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Nietzsche on Morality, Drives, and Human Greatness

Nietzsche on Morality, Drives, and Human Greatness

(p.183) 8 Nietzsche on Morality, Drives, and Human Greatness
Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Normativity

Christopher Janaway

Oxford University Press

This chapter raises questions concerning Nietzsche's positive evaluative ideal of greatness for a human being. On the one hand he offers as a highest ideal the capacity to affirm one's life to the fullest extent possible, as tested by the thought experiment of the ‘eternal recurrence’. It is argued that while Nietzsche holds this degree of life-affirmation to have positive value, it could be a normative ideal only for rare individuals, in Nietzsche's eyes. On the other hand, Nietzsche sometimes talks of greatness in terms of properties of, and relations between a human being's drives or instincts: necessary conditions for greatness include the strength of drives, their multiplicity, and their being in conflict but held in a unity. The nature of drives and instincts is explored, and it is argued that some drives and instincts may be culturally acquired and lost. Morality is both a symptom of, and a danger to, healthy states of the drives: hence consciously held beliefs and other attitudes can impair or enhance greatness. The question is raised: how does the ideal attitude of self-affirmation relate to greatness conceived in terms of the drives? It is suggested that self-affirmation can both be symptomatic of greatness in that sense, and can be a facilitator of it.

Keywords:   greatness, drives, instincts, morality, self-affirmation, eternal recurrence

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