File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1995/nietzsche_Dec17.95, message 52


Date: Fri, 22 Dec 1995 13:57:21 -0800
Subject: Re: superWOman was here


Chris Devenney wrote:

>Babette,
>
>Again, I don't agree entirely with the idea that "one is to become
>the one one is," or that this phrasing captures fully what is entailed
>in 'How one becomes what one is'.  And yet I do agree with the second
>part of your comment; namely, that the task of giving style to one's
>character is what Nietzsche names 'amor fati'.  
>

It is important to distinguish between _what_ we are and _who_ we are.
Nietzsche writes favorably at some point of Pindar's exhortation,
"Become what you are!"  The "what" referred to, I think, is the
_type_, not the individual, who is the "who."  Humanity is itself
representative of a multiplicity of types, no one of which may be said
to be _the_ type, but all of which contest with each other
historically through the conformation that is their wills to power.
In Nietzschean terms, the type is defined by the character of its will
to power, its "strength" or "weakness," "health" or "sickness,"
"mastery" or "enslavement," "self-assertion" or "self-negation," etc.,
although these are relative, and for Nietzsche I believe, highly
ironic, valuations, and, as such, cannot be disconnected from the type
forming the valuation in each case.  The type, generally, is not the
product of the individual, but of cultural/genetic "breeding" which
takes place over many generations, an inheritance, an endowment.  It,
however, is not static, but dynamic, either ascending or descending,
that is, in formation or already formed and decaying.  What each type
may be said to aspires after is its own ripeness.  The "who," or 
individual, on the other hand, is, in Nietzschean terms, clearly a
fabrication, fiction, or improvisation and cannot be said to be as
historically determined or, even, historically determinative as the 
"what," or type.  The "who," however, I think, cannot be thought of
as entirely separate or divorced from the "what," being a dynamic element
in the formation of the "what" (no more than the ego can be thought 
of as being entirely separate or divorced from the id).  At bottom,
it remains a conceptual distinction, pure and simple, although not
necessarily an unuseful one.

It is worthwhile to point out that Nietzsche tends to refer to the
diminution of the human type" in terms of the reduction and
elimination of types, and the enhancement of the human type in terms
of the expansion and preservation of types.  The ultimate result of
nihilism is the reduction of humanity down to a single, homogenous
type, a _herd_.  The Uebermensch, I believe, represents the opposite
polarity to this, the full potential for the expansion of types, a
kind of "super-type" which, itself, cannot be said to be a type.

Haven't had time to go dig for any quotes on this, Christmas season
and all, but if I can find time, I will.

=============================================================================
            Steven E. Callihan -- callihan-AT-callihan.seanet.com

            "Some lies are so well disguised to resemble truth, 
      that we should be poor judges of the truth not to believe them."

                           --La Rochefoucauld

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