Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (4):755-778 (2020)

Eli I. Lichtenstein
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Many commentators have claimed that Nietzsche views the “sublimation” (Sublimierung) of drives as a positive achievement. Against this tradition, I argue that, on the dominant if not universal Nietzschean use of Sublimierung and its cognates, sublimation is just a broad psychological analogue of the traditional (al)chemical process: the “vaporization” of drives into a finer or lighter state, figuratively if not literally. This can yield ennobling elevation, or purity in a positive sense—the intensified “sublimate” of an unrefined original sample. But it can also yield drives that are attenuated or otherworldly, in a pejorative sense. One (but only one) kind of Nietzschean sublimation is the “translation” of drives to “imaginative and spiritual” (Imaginative und Seelische) modes of expression. I con­clude that, despite certain appearances to the contrary, Nietzsche ultimately values basic drives’ powerful expression, without preferring either that this occur specifically as “higher culture” or as “savage” natural impulse.
Keywords Nietzsche  sublimation  Sublimierung  drive  Freud  civilization  culture  nature  will to power
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1353/hph.2020.0075
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Human, All Too Human.Friedrich Nietzsche - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Nietzsche’s System.John Richardson - 1996 - Oxford University Press.

View all 41 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Freud and Nietzsche on Sublimation.Ken Gemes - 2009 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 38 (1):38-59.
De Hoofse Liefde: Sublimering Door Idealisering?Paul Moyaert - 2001 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 63 (3):569 - 592.
The Site of Sublimation: From Dualism to the Dialectic.Christopher M. Gemerchak - 2003 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 65 (3):439 - 463.
Sublimation and Affirmation in Nietzsche's Psychology.Joseph Swenson - 2014 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 45 (2):196.
A subjetividade humana entre os tipos superiores E inferiores.Vagner Silva - 2011 - Philósophos - Revista de Filosofia 16 (2):10-5216.
Nietzsche and the Art of Cruelty.W. Jared Parmer - 2017 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 48 (3):402-429.
The Role of Removal and Elimination in Nietzsche’s Model of Self-Cultivation.Richard J. Elliott - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (1):65-84.
Sublimation and the Übermensch. Phillips - 2015 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 46 (3):349.
Value, Affect, and Drive.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - In Peter Kail & Manuel Dries (eds.), Nietzsche on Mind and Nature. Oxford University Press.
Against Nietzsche’s '''Theory''' of the Drives.Tom Stern - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (1):121--140.


Added to PP index

Total views
254 ( #39,875 of 2,462,064 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
83 ( #8,618 of 2,462,064 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes