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Title: The fifth-rate power : Nietzsche on consciousness
Author: Parkins, Adam Geoffrey Walter
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 076X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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The aim of this thesis is to explain a series of apparent contradictions in Nietzsche's theory of mind relating to his views on consciousness. Nietzsche refers to consciousness as the source of human superiority but also goes on to call it falsifying, damaging, a sickness and a disease. To make matters more confusing, he then appears to claim that consciousness is lacking in efficacy. If an entity lacks efficacy it is difficult to understand how it can be either damaging or beneficial; similarly, having species elevating benefits would seem to be incompatible with being equivalent to a sickness and an ever-growing danger. This represents a significant problem for Nietzsche's philosophy as a whole, for his understanding of consciousness features as an explanatory tool throughout all his major works and ideas. To make sense of this problem, two recent attempts at reconciling these apparent conflicts are assessed: both Mattia Riccardi and Paul Katsafanas interpret Nietzsche's attacks on consciousness as resulting, in some sense, from the emergence of falsification through that consciousness; however, an investigation of Nietzsche's attitude towards falsification shows that he is only concerned with whether the consequences of falsification are negative or positive, and is neutral towards falsification itself. An alternative interpretation is proposed in which consciousness is beneficial because of its falsifying character, with the resultant distortions of the environment enabling abstraction and planning. However, due to this inherently falsifying nature, as well as the origin of consciousness as a device for the suppression of instincts, the overestimation and overuse of consciousness leads to its emergence as a distorting interpretive system that unhealthily suppresses the instincts, and distorts the organism's understanding of itself and its environment in deeply harmful and dangerous ways.
Supervisor: Janaway, Christopher ; Sylvan, Kurt Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available