nietzche paper

nietzche paper - 1 Joaquin de Rojas 11 May 2007 Western...

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Joaquin de Rojas 11 May 2007 Western Cultural Tradition VII-VIII History: The Good, the Bad, and the Worse For Friedrich Nietzsche, the term “history” has both a negative and positive connotation. In its negative connotation, history represents a life-draining force, subjugating the human being into idle rumination and preventing him from becoming a likeable, active, and virtuous person. This is how Nietzsche describes the modern historians of his day – as idlers and incompetents who study history excessively for no worthy purpose. Their continual obsession towards gaining a complete, objective, and unbiased understanding of world history has led to the weakening of their character since they can no longer hold strong, passionate views about anything. But if history is approached with more moderation, it can also serve a positive purpose: it can be used to build character and identity of both for the individual and his culture. Nevertheless, Nietzsche believes that the future looks grim for his society because history is being used to the detriment of all German peoples. To make matters worse, Nietzsche’s contemporary historians boast about their efforts, claiming that their enlightened approach to history is the best that the world has ever seen. Yet, the modern historians fail to acknowledge that “the unhistorical and historical are equally necessary for the health of the individual, a people and a culture” (Niet: 10). The modern historians believe that it is only necessary to live historically, even though they cannot even do this properly. 1
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Living “unhistorically” can best be exemplified by how animals go about their day. They only concern themselves with the present since they cannot remember what has happened a few seconds ago. When they are not sleeping, they are always active, eating, running around, or mating. For Nietzsche, forgetting is a faculty that every animal, including a human being, needs to survive. Without the grace to forget, an animal will would not get anything done and would lose his natural happiness. On the other hand, humans who can not forget will always feel oppressed and burdened by the huge weight of the past (9). Furthermore, these humans live with fear and hesitation; their memories of past experiences make them uneasy about doing anything at all. A human being’s most glorious and happy moments seem to come when he totally forgets about the past and lives in the ecstasy of the moment. Man truly needs the “unhistorical” to live happily, or to live at all. Yet, living with a total absence of history is impossible for humans since it would go against their nature. A human being benefits from history in certain contexts, particularly when he is “active and striving, so far as he preserves and admires, and so far as he suffers and is in need of liberation” (14). The three histories that man needs are of a monumental , antiquarian , and critical kind. They are all positive because they build
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This note was uploaded on 05/03/2008 for the course HP 202 taught by Professor Behnegar during the Spring '08 term at BC.

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nietzche paper - 1 Joaquin de Rojas 11 May 2007 Western...

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