Nietzsche’s Existentialist Freedom


Following Robert C. Solomon’s Living with Nietzsche, I defend an interpretation of Nietzsche’s views about freedom that are in line with the existentialist notion of self-creation. Given Nietzsche’s emphasis on the limitations on human freedom, his critique of the notion of causa sui (self-creation out of nothing), and his critique of morality for relying on the assumption that we have free will, it may be surprising that he could be taken seriously as an existentialist—existentialism characteristically takes freedom and self-creation to be central to the human condition. Nietzsche does not endorse a radical notion of freedom; he is rather emphatically critical of any such notion. However, I argue that he does have room for a certain kind of freedom and self-creation that supports Solomon’s characterization of him as an existentialist.