Strangers to Ourselves: Nietzsche on The Will to Truth, The Scientific Spirit, Free Will, and Genuine Selfhood

Abstract

On the Genealogy of Morals contains the puzzling claim that the will to truth is the last expression of the ascetic ideal. Part I of this essay argues that Nietzsche’s claim is that our will to truth functions as a tool allowing us to take a passive stance to the world, leading us to repress and split off part of our nature. Part II deals with Nietzsche’s account of the sovereign individual and his related, novel, account of free will. Both these accounts hinge on the notion of the self as an integrated whole. In contrasting the integrated sovereign individual, who has genuine free will, and we splintered moderns, Nietzsche aims to unsettle us with uncanny suggestion that we have no genuine selves. Part III shows that the invocation of the uncanny is a central strategy Nietzsche uses to bring home his disturbing message that we are strangers to ourselves.

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Ken Gemes
Birkbeck College

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