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Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of the Soul: A Study of Heroic Individualism Paperback – August 3, 1990
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"Thiele offers an accessible and accurate portrait of Nietzsche's ideal of heroic individualism. [In Nietzsche,] Thiele retrieves a creator of values, of a model of the 'well-ordered soul,' a seductive and paradoxical existential thinker with a psychagogic aim."--Choice
From the Back Cover
This book offers a conversation with Nietzsche rather than a consideration of the secondary literature, yet it takes to task many prevalent approaches to his work, and contests especially the way we often restrict our encounter with him to conceptual analysis.
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The author addresses this book to the readers of Nietzsche's works who are "victims" and have swallowed the bait, and consequently "carried along by the flights of his thought". She makes sure immediately to caution the reader that the expression "heroic individualism" is not found in any of Nietzsche's writings. But the equation "individual = hero" holds throughout his works. The author does a fine job of extracting this mathematics of individuation from the the writings of Nietzsche. One finishing the book, one carries away a deeper appreciation of the playful seriousness of Nietzsche's philosophy and his admonition to do philosophy while always looking in the mirror, and seeing one's own reflection, not someone else's.
Nietzsche was always celebrating, according to the author, the death of gods, and his project was to inspire a passion for greatness in a world without gods. But idols are to be smashed, and the grandeur of man is not to be found in a divine origin. It is making use of the dynamism of the flux, and the achieving of fame, and not its achievement, that is true heroism. The hero is a "dragon-slayer" who must achieve in life the highest value, and it (life) is never to be squandered. Caution though must be ever present, lest one use heroism not as a stimulus to self-development but as a means of avoiding it. "Sentimental dirge" and Wagnerian romanticism must be rejected.
The great man does not seek the admiration of the many, as the author again characterizes Nietzschean heroism: "go silently through the world and out of the world". The temptation for recognition must be avoided; one must not succoumb to the illusion of fame. The golden calf is not to replace the true self as the object of worship. Glory is always self-administered.
So how rare or common today is the hero of the Nietzschean type? Well, quite common...thousands...maybe hundreds of thousands. They are to be found in dance, in science, in literature, on the battlefield, behind the counter, sitting in the classroom and also standing in front of it, in the laboratory....indeed everywhere....the 21st century has no paucity of heroism.