The Shattered Self: Self-Overcoming and the Transfiguration of Nature in the Philosophy of Nietzsche

Dissertation, Tulane University (1987)
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Abstract

In this work, I discuss Friedrich Nietzsche's views on the self and on man's relationship with the natural world. I argue that one of the dominant concerns in Nietzsche's writings is the critique of the traditional conception of selfhood. I also argue that Nietzsche's concern with the self is not purely critical, for his critique is fundamentally linked to an affirmation of the movement of self-overcoming, and to a call for the transfiguration of man's relationship to the natural world. The movement of self-overcoming, and the ramifications of Nietzsche's thinking for man's relationship to nature, are also discussed in the present work. ;This work is divided into six chapters. In Chapter One, I discuss Nietzsche's analysis of selfhood in The Birth of Tragedy, and his distinction between the discourse of scientific rationalism and the Dionysian-Apollinian dialogue. In Chapter Two, I discuss Nietzsche's radical reflection on language, and show how this reflection calls into question the traditional conception of selfhood, and offers hope for a recovery of language. ;In Chapter Three, I discuss Nietzsche's critique of metaphysical thinking, and show that, in Nietzsche's analysis, the genesis of the fundamental concepts of metaphysical thinking are essentially linked to the objectification of the ego. I then argue that Nietzsche's thinking represents an attempt to transgress the boundaries of metaphysics, a transgression that requires the de-objectification of the ego. In Chapter Four, I closely examine Nietzsche's critique of the traditional conception of selfhood, and show how Nietzsche displaces this conception by the notion of self-overcoming. ;In Chapter Five, I discuss the general pattern of the movement of self-overcoming found in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I then examine the radical repercussions that result from the displacement of the traditional conception of selfhood by the notion of self-overcoming. In Chapter Six, I focus further on one radical repercussion that follows from this displacement--the transfiguration of man's relationship to the natural world. I conclude that Nietzsche attempts to overcome the kind of thinking that provides the theoretical foundation for the technological control and exploitation of the natural world, and that Nietzsche's philosophizing can provide the philosophical foundation for an ecologically-oriented, environmentally-concerned way of thinking

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