The Politics of the Soul: Heroic Individualism in the Thought of Friedrich Nietzsche

Dissertation, Princeton University (1989)

This dissertation offers an original interpretation of the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche's enterprise, it is claimed, was anti-political. His aim was to describe the means of achieving greatness in an age of nihilism. This was primarily a philosophic, aesthetic, even religious project. The goal was to live heroically, and Nietzsche defined modern heroism as the realization of individuality. Concern for and engagement in political matters was considered unworthy of and detrimental to this prescribed life. ;The author argues, nonetheless, the Nietzsche did not so much abandon politics as internalize it. Nietzsche is shown to have developed a spiritual politics, a politics within a multipartite self whose agonistic interaction is evoked. Nietzsche's concern was to propagate this strife-filled politics of the soul, and he offered his as a model of such a heroically styled life of continuous self-overcoming. ;The dissertation examines the incarnations Nietzsche proposed for the heroic individual: the philosopher, the artist, and the saint, their incorporation in the educator and the solitary, and their apotheosis in the overman. Nietzsche's higher man is shown to be he who has actualized his underlying potential for a heroic life, which, in the end, is marked by his love of fate and his acceptance of the eternal recurrence. ;The dissertation surveys the entirety of Nietzsche's writings, including his notes and correspondence. An attempt is made to demonstrate the continuity of his project. The author argues that heroic individualism and its politics of the soul are the predominant themes of Nietzsche's work, accounting for the development of Nietzsche's thought and its paradoxes
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