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Nietzsche's Free Spirit Trilogy and Stoic Therapy

Michael Ure
Journal of Nietzsche Studies
No. 38 (FALL 2009), pp. 60-84
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20717975
Page Count: 25
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Nietzsche's Free Spirit Trilogy and Stoic Therapy
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Abstract

This article examines Nietzsche's engagement with Stoic philosophical therapy in the free spirit trilogy. I suggest that Nietzsche first turned to Stoicism in the late 1870s in his attempt to develop a philosophical therapy that might treat the injuries human beings suffer through fate or chance without recourse to the metaphysical theodicies discredited by Enlightenment skepticism and positivism. I argue that in HH and D Nietzsche adopts a conventional form of Stoic therapy. The article then shows how Nietzsche came to take a critical stance against Stoic therapy on the grounds that it entails a radical extirpation of the value judgments that underpin the emotions. For this reason, I claim that in GS he attempts to develop a rival philosophical therapy, one that aims to enable human beings to unconditionally affirm fate but without this affirmation entailing, as it does for the Stoics, the dissolution of all emotional valuations. However, despite Nietzsche's belief that he had fundamentally broken with Stoicism, I argue, first, that Nietzsche's therapy in GS is deeply indebted to a "cosmic" model of Stoicism, which consists in the loving consent to the events that happen to us, and second, that he gives us no reasonable account of how it is possible to unconditionally affirm fate without adopting some form of Stoic indifference or apatheia.

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