The Nietzschean self : moral psychology, agency, and the unconscious

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How does Nietzsche understand human motivation, deliberation, agency, and selfhood? How does his account of the unconscious inform these topics? What is Nietzsche's conception of freedom, and how do we become free?


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Should freedom be a goal for all of us? How does--and how should--the individual relate to his social context? The Nietzschean Self offers a clear, comprehensive analysis of these central topics in Nietzsche's moral psychology. London: Bloomsbury, Kant and Hegel agree that normative claims are justified only if they are manifestations of freedom. Yet they develop this idea in strikingly different ways: Kant attempts to derive substantive content from a formal notion of autonomy, whereas Hegel argues that this approach fails.

I argue that Nietzsche develops a theory of normativity that incorporates aspects from both Kant and Hegel. Like Hegel, Nietzsche denies that Kant can derive any content from the notion of autonomy. However,Nietzsche departs from Hegel in arguing that one norm can be extracted from the bare idea of freedom, independently of any facts about the particular system of values, practices, and institutions that the individual inhabits.

This norm is will to power. Its connection to freedom and its independence from extant social norms gives it a position outside of our current system of ethical norms, making possible a radical critique of these norms. Developing these points, I show that Nietzsche develops a theory of normative authority that proceeds, in part, by reconciling the most compelling aspects of the Kantian and Hegelian accounts—aspects that have seemed, to many interpreters, to be incompatible.

This results in a novel account of normative authority. This paper introduces constitutivism about practical reason, which is the view that we can justify certain normative claims by showing that agents become committed to these claims simply in virtue of acting. According to this view, action has a certain structural feature — a constitutive aim, principle, or standard — that both constitutes events as actions and generates a standard of assessment for action.

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We can use this standard of assessment to derive normative claims. In short, the authority of certain normative claims arises from the bare fact that we are agents. This essay explains the constitutivst strategy, surveys the extant attempts to generate constitutivist theories, and considers the problems and prospects for the theory. New York: Routledge Press, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter Press, Kant recognizes two distinct forms of self-knowledge: introspection, which gives us knowledge of our sensations, and apperception, which is knowledge of our own activities.

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Both modes of self-knowledge can go astray, and are particularly prone to being distorted be selfish motives; thus, neither is guaranteed to provide us with comprehensive self-knowledge. Nietzsche departs from Kant in arguing that these two modes of self-knowledge 1 are not distinct and 2 are far more limited than Kant acknowledges. In addition, Nietzsche departs from Kant in arguing that we can acquire self-knowledge by looking away from ourselves.


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  • I provide a brief sketch of the ways in which this is so. In particular, Nietzsche argues that genealogy enables a form of self-knowledge: it helps us to identify some of the subtle factors shaping our actions as well as the influence of our current conceptual repertoires on our perceptions and understandings of our actions. At the close of the eighteenth century, Kant attempts to anchor morality in freedom. A series of nineteenth-century thinkers, though impressed with the claim that there is an essential connection between morality and freedom, argue that Kant has misunderstood the nature of the self, agency, freedom, the individual, the social, the natural sciences, and philosophical psychology.

    I trace the way in which a series of central figures rethink the connection between morality and freedom by complicating the analyses of the aforementioned notions. Nietzsche associates values with affects and drives: he not only claims that values are explained by drives and affects, but sometimes appears to identify values with drives and affects. This is decidedly odd: the agent's reflectively endorsed ends, principles, commitments--what we would think of as the agent's values--seem not only distinct from, but often in conflict with, the agent's drives.

    Consequently, it is unclear how we should understand Nietzsche's concept of value.

    This essay attempts to dispel these puzzles by reconstructing Nietzsche's account of value. According to the view that I defend, an agent values X iff i the agent has a drive-induced affective orientation toward X and ii the agent does not disapprove of this affective orientation.

    Additionally, I argue that drives generate thoughts about justification, thereby inclining the agent to regard pursuit of the drive's aim as valuable. I conclude by investigating the recalcitrance of drive-induced affective orientations. Note: this is a special issue containing the proceedings of the North American Nietzsche Society. This raises a number of questions.

    The Nietzschean Self: Moral Psychology, Agency, and the Unconscious

    How exactly does psychology bear on philosophy? Freud claimed that the concept of drive is "at once the most important and the most obscure element of psychological research.

    agendapop.cl/wp-content/apps/nelas-espiar-celulares.php Although Nietzsche's accounts of agency and value everywhere appeal to drives, the concept has not been adequately explicated. I remedy this situation by providing an account of drives. I argue that Nietzschean drives are dispositions that generate evaluative orientations, in part by affecting perceptual saliences. In addition, I show that drive psychology has important implications for contemporary accounts of reflective agency.

    Contemporary philosophers often endorse a claim that has its origins in Locke and Kant: self-conscious agents are capable of reflecting on and thereby achieving a distance from their motives; therefore, these motives do not determine what the agent will do.

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    Nietzsche's drive psychology shows that the inference in the preceding sentence is illegitimate. The drive psychology articulates a way in which motives can determine the agent's action by influencing the course of the agent's reflective deliberations. An agent who reflects on a motive and decides whether to act on it may, all the while, be surreptitiously guided by the very motive upon which he is reflecting.

    I show how this point complicates traditional models of the role of reflection in agency.

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    Nietzsche frequently claims that agents are in some sense ignorant of their own actions. But what exactly does Nietzsche mean by this claim, and how would the truth of this claim affect philosophical models of agency? I argue that Nietzsche intends to draw attention to the fact that there are influences upon reflective episodes of choice that have three features. First, these influences are pervasive, occurring in every episode of choice. Second, these influences are normatively significant, in that their presence typically affects the outcome of deliberation.

    Third, these influences are difficult to detect, in that one needs to acquire a great deal of self-knowledge in order to begin to counteract their effects. I briefly sketch the way in which these claims follow from Nietzsche's philosophical psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, The Genealogy takes a historical form.

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    But does the history play an essential role in Nietzsche's critique of modern morality? Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 1 , , Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 1 , , Nietzsche and the Problem of Subjectivity, , Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 3 , , Artikler 1—20 Vis flere.

    Nietzsche's theory of mind: Consciousness and conceptualization P Katsafanas European Journal of Philosophy 13 1 , , Nietzsche and Kant on the will: two models of reflective agency P Katsafanas Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 1 , , Constitutivism about practical reasons P Katsafanas Oxford handbook of reasons and normativity ,