n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Verby objektivisme en subjektivisme : Nietzsche se opvatting van etiese selftransendensie

Volume 46, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


The issue of self-transcendence today, more than ever, confronts philosophical ethics. The challenge is to conceptualise self-transcendence in such a way that one arrives at a position beyond both the extremes of subjectivism (relativism) and objectivism. This article tries to show that Nietzsche's philosophy indeed opens up certain possibilities that can help us to meet this challenge. Particularly important in this regard are Nietzsche's views on aesthetical and cultural self-formation. According to him, self-formation can only "succeed" (and thus become ethically relevant) in so far as one tries to emulate those individuals who have reached "exemplary status", i.e. those true educators who can liberate or provoke each one of us to look for "the genius" in him- or herself. Such emulation is no mere imitation. It is much rather associated with a spirit of agonism or contestation where individuals constantly try to excel one another. Nietzsche is clearly favouring a kind of "aristocratism". He is indeed a staunch protagonist of certain aristocratic values and virtues. This led some of his critics to reject his views as elitist and totally unacceptable from a democratic point of view, whilst others accuse him of "aestheticism" that supposedly renders his views morally and politically insignificant or potentially dangerous. I have found that these criticisms leveled against Nietzsche are basically false or misdirected. They tend to overlook the basic thrust of his philosophy from which there is positively much to be learnt, especially for those of us who yearn for a life that is free from resentment and revengefulness. And is this not the most basic precondition for a genuinely ethical life?

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