Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life

Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life

Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life

Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life

Synopsis

Throughout his writing career Nietzsche advocated the affirmation of earthly life as a way to counteract nihilism and asceticism. This volume takes stock of the complexities and wide-ranging perspectives that Nietzsche brings to bear on the problem of life's becoming on Earth by engaging various interpretative paradigms reaching from existentialist to Darwinist readings of Nietzsche. In an age in which the biological sciences claim to have unlocked the deepest secrets and codes of life, the essays in this volume propose a more skeptical view. Life is both what is closest and what is furthest from us, because life experiments through us as much as we experiment with it, because life keeps our thinking and our habits always moving, in a state of recurring nomadism. Nietzsche's philosophy is perhaps the clearest expression of the antinomy contained in the idea of studying" life and in the Socratic ideal of an "examined" life and remains a deep source of wisdom about living."

Excerpt

Vanessa Lemm

Throughout his writing career, Nietzsche advocates the affirmation of earthly life as a way to counteract the nihilism and the asceticism he believes are inevitable once human beings begin to orient their lives toward a transcendent source of truth and value. But what Nietzsche means by life on earth, and what the affirmation of such a life entails, is still very much up for discussion. This is in great part due to the fact that the concept of life in Nietzsche’s work takes on a variety of different but not unrelated meanings, which largely correspond to the different periods of his writing career. Mapping out this variety of meanings of the concept of life in any detail would, by far, exceed the purpose of this introduction. However, the reader may find it useful to have a sense of the different concerns that animate Nietzsche’s discussion of the concept of life throughout his works.

In the belated preface to The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche claims that his task as a philosopher was from the very beginning to “look at science through the optic of the artist, but also to look at art through the optic of life” (bt “Preface” 2). in The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche reconsiders the various dimensions of human culture: science, history, morality, politics, philosophy, and so on, from the perspective of life. the “optic of life” becomes the privileged starting point of Nietzsche’s critical philosophical undertakings. But what does it mean to consider human culture from the perspective of life?

In his early writings, in particular in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche articulates what could be called a cosmic or poetic-metaphysical conception . . .

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