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Title: Living as sublimated dying : understanding aesthetics and ethics from Freud and Nietzsche
Author: McIntire, William
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 1203
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis aims to examine the connection between aesthetic and ethical valuations. Nietzsche and Freud both claim that values are symptoms of underlying psychical constitutions. I elicit an original understanding of aesthetic and ethical valuations through a synthesis of their works. Beginning with drive theory, I argue that the death-drive is an entropic principle guiding all psychical life. Another original contribution is my conceptualization of Eros as reducible to the death-drive as the means by which the death-drive manifests itself as a homeodynamic process in open systems. I argue, fundamentally, that the way our drives are expressed in the world entail vicissitudes that are more or less incorporative of stimuli and content as a means of mastery. There is a bifurcation of drive expression concerning incorporation, which I articulate as being egodystonically oriented, as in the case of defense mechanisms; or egosyntonically oriented, as in the case of sublimation. Sublimation is the only indirect vicissitude that can be regarded as egosyntonic because it involves neither repression nor disavowal. Unlike other vicissitudes, then, sublimation is the vicissitude by which Nietzsche’s emphasis on incorporation is realized. Following my analysis of the various vicissitudes, I demonstrate that there is accordingly a bifurcation of valuations. While most ethical theories involve repudiations of self-interest (our primary drives or inclinations), Nietzsche wants us to return to an incorporation of self-interest and an infusion of it into our relations. His arguments against the ethical theories of Kant and Schopenhauer echo precisely his arguments against their aesthetic theories regarding disinterestedness. I thus discuss the ethical as a corollary of the aesthetic. I conclude describing what it means for aesthetic and ethical valuations to emerge from egosyntonic vicissitudes, and I argue that the Übermensch is ultimately an archetype of egosyntonic relating. Nietzsche illustrates this with the metaphor of dancing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology