Becoming what we are : a study of revaluation, realism and self-representation in Nietzsche's writings
This is a study of Nietzsche's thought which focuses upon his account of self-hood, his ambition to bring about a 'revaluation of all values', and the structure and strategies of his texts. The introductory chapter raises a series of questions about the relationship between representations of the self, self-transformation and the problem of truth in Nietzsche's writings. I discuss the force and implications of Nietzschean 'truthfulness'. Chapter One is an exploration of Nietzsche's account of modern subjectivity. The point I seek to establish here is that there are important continuities between asceticism and Nietzsche's own thought about the self. I also discuss Nietzsche's 'perspectivism', treating it as arising out of modem self-consciousness about the contingency of our identities, and argue that Nietzsche translates that sense of contingency into a sceptical treatment of the conditions of self-knowledge. Chapter Two examines Nietzsche's sceptical treatment of the conditions under which we claim 'knowledge' in the light of his reception of Schopenhauer's and Kant's philosophies. I discuss a reading of Nietzsche's perspectivism which suggests that it expresses an epistemic caution which nonetheless permits us to suppose that we can legitimately speak of our access to 'truths' about the empirical world. I argue that this is too narrow a view of the role played in Nietzsche's thought by the appeal to 'truth' and that we need to take account of the wider rhetorical and aesthetic context within which such appeals are made. The significance of this discussion lies in the question of how we are to characterize Nietzsche sense of our relationship to 'reality', and hence the character of his 'realism'. Chapter Three explores the poetic aspects of Nietzsche's characterization of a life which would embody the principles of a tragic vision. The relationship between art and truth in Nietzsche's thought is discussed. The concluding remarks consider the status of a text which aims to transfigure our understanding of ourselves at a fundamental level.