How one becomes what one is called

on the relation between traits and trait-terms in Nietzsche

Mark Alfano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

According to Nietzsche, drives are the ultimate constituents of virtues and vices. I argue that Nietzsche identifies two blueprints for character construction: A slavish, interpersonal blueprint, and a masterly, reflexive blueprint. When the interpersonal blueprint is implemented, a person becomes what he is called: his drives are shaped by the traits ascribed to him so that he becomes more like the sort of person he's taken to be. When the reflexive blueprint is implemented, a person becomes more like the sort of person she calls herself: her drives are shaped by the traits she ascribes to herself in a community of peers. The reflexive blueprint shares some surprising similarities with the interpersonal blueprint. I conclude with an account of Nietzschean summoning, which occurs when one person praises a generic type to an audience, implicitly inviting them to identify with that type and thereby to become more like it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nietzsche Studies
Volume46
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Character
  • Materliness
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Slavishness
  • Virtue

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