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Nietzsche on the value of suffering

Hassan, P. (2016) Nietzsche on the value of suffering. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

As early as in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche perceived the "sole ground of the world" to be characterised by inescapable suffering. For Nietzsche, the "terror and horror of existence" (BT, §3) put what he termed a "great question mark over the value of existence" (BT, 'Attempt', §1). Whereas Schopenhauer answered this question with the pessimistic assertion that it would be better never to have existed, for suffering only detracted from one's wellbeing, Nietzsche eventually came to vehemently oppose this conclusion. Later in his philosophical career, Nietzsche held that suffering is necessary for the 'highest value' to be realized in life; for great and heroic achievements to occur. As he writes in a familiar passage from Beyond Good and Evil, "The discipline of suffering, of great suffering" has "created all enhancements of man so far" (BGE, §225). In this thesis I explore the kind(s) of value that Nietzsche can be said to attribute to suffering, given the status he gives it as a necessary condition of greatness. This question has been largely overlooked in contemporary Nietzsche scholarship, which often assumes the relation between suffering and greatness to be merely instrumental. However, I draw upon contemporary debates in axiology in order to shed light on this issue, with a view to assessing the nature and value of achievement in ethics more broadly.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Schroeder, S., Owens, D., De Gaynesford, M. and Streumer, B.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Philosophy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:69056

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