This article reappraises some aspects of Alexander Nehamas’s Nietzsche: Life as Literature. It recognizes as strengths of the book Nehamas’s emphasis on Nietzsche’s mode of writing and his idea that unified selfhood is an exceptional state that is achieved rather than given. However, it takes issue with the claim that Nietzsche holds a superessentialist view of the self. That view is not clearly supported by textual evidence, does not follow from Nietzsche’s regarding the self as simply a sequence of experiences and actions, and is not required in order to explain the “all-or-nothing” requirement of the eternal recurrence. The article argues further that unified selfhood cannot be accounted for solely on the model of literary character, given what is now generally recognized as Nietzsche’s naturalistic psychology of drives. However, the Nietzschean self need not be viewed as immutable and is amenable to the influence of culture and consciousness in ways that may encourage a positive account of becoming a unified self.


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pp. 103-117
Launched on MUSE
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