Becoming What One Is: Thinking-About Trauma and Authenticity

Abstract

Ecce Homo, Nietzsche's autobiography, is distinguished it the rest of his oeuvre and discloses, in no uncertain terms, by its profound candor in bringing to question a topic of vital importance that has remained a central concern of the cultural zeitgeist especially as a reaction to various events of the 21st century: trauma. Trauma [τραῦμα], a Grecian term that traditionally refers to "a wound," underpins much of Nietzsche's writing, and is present in observations of his own lived experience, those of notable décadents such as Socrates and Wagner, and even his discussions of ethics and morality. Nietzsche's willingness to engage with his personal trauma—what he might refer as a Dionysian affirmation of being—is precisely what allows him to stand head and shoulders above other thinkers in terms of unadulterated authenticity. The relationship between trauma and authenticity is, if nothing else, a well-documented if not understated occurrence both in texts of antiquity as well as contemporary scholarship, therefore understanding trauma as a precondition for the authentic individuation of ek-sisting beings is a concern of uncommon consequence. In order to understand trauma in this regard, it becomes necessary to examine it within the context of its manifestations, in this instance the life and works of Nietzsche, as well as on its own terms as a phenomenon.

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Ryan Wasser
Luzerne County Community College

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