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The Prospects for Self-Knowledge in Ecce Homo and the 1886 Prefaces

The Prospects for Self-Knowledge in Ecce Homo and the 1886 Prefaces

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter Five The Prospects for Self-Knowledge in Ecce Homo and the 1886 Prefaces
Source:
The Challenge of Nietzsche
Author(s):
Jeremy Fortier
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226679426.003.0006

In Nietzsche's late autobiographical writings he shows that the two major turning-points of his career - Human, All Too Human (which established his ideal of the Free Spirit) and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (whose protagonist goes beyond the ideal of the Free Spirit) - amount to to turning points in his thought because they reflect turning points in his life, involving, above all, changes in his health around the time that he wrote each text. Nietzsche's self-account has the following structure: good health is associated with forgetting of oneself (a process that can be seen at work in and through Thus Spoke Zarathustra), while ill health is associated with returning to oneself (a process that can be seen at work in and through Human, All Too Human). And the major lesson of the autobiographical writings proves to be not the superiority of Zarathustra to the Free Spirits, or vice versa, but, instead, the necessity of each for Nietzsche as tools in a process of examining and enriching his self-understanding ever-more-deeply.

Keywords:   health, autobiography, Free Spirit, Zarathustra

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