Nietzsche's Theory Of History

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Nietzsche bases his notion of history on the presupposition of the history’s necessity for life and action. He has a three-fold notion of the types of history: a monumental history, an antiquarian history, and a critical one. “A monumental history belongs to man so far as he is active and striving, an antiquarian—so far as he preserves and admires, and critical—so far as he is need of liberation” (Nietzsche, 1980: 14). The first one, a monumental history, is the cradle of a historical figure whose actions raise out of realm of spontaneity, oblivion, and even recklessness. It could be depicted through the most outstanding, mythological, figures of history whose actions generally resonated through transcendence and yet pervaded all events and…show more content…
The criterion, proposed by Nietzsche, how to value the advantages and disadvantages of history for life is the strength of individual, nation or culture. Healthy life instinct suggest when to think historically, when—unhistorically, so to say, when to remember, when to forget. For Nietzsche, forgetfulness is not only a passive disposition, but an active ability, the strength to suppress and dismiss, refined art that masters the past. What does Nietzsche mean by the strength of life? In The Twilight of the Idols, he explicitly says that “every individual may be scrutinized to see whether he represents the ascending or the descending line of life” (ibid). If the individual represents the former one, “for the sake of life as a whole, which takes a step farther through him, the care for his preservation and for the creation of the best conditions for him may even be extreme” (ibid). Contrary, the descending line of life expresses “decay, chronic degeneration, and sickness” (ibid). Principally, physiology plays the main role considering the ability to forget since weaker individuals are accustomed to care for their self-preservation more than those who are naturally strong. In other words, constitution of the organism determines the capacity to deal with memory. Any individual is the sum of all forgettings and rememberings, all actions and reflections, of previous generations that are embodied in…show more content…
Seeking to find converging points, it is safe to say that both of them meet on the very basic—the human condition—level. If we ask, what constitute human beings as such, they would both agree that the dividing line between a man and an animal is memory: a man is a historical being, he remembers things. Both of them ask, what makes a man a historical being, and both declare that memory constitute a human being as such. Certainly, Arendt’s notion of historicity implies the human condition of plurality, the acting and speaking together, that promotes all forms of political organization. Therefore, Arendt has a completely different notion of action than Nietzsche does: for Arendt action implies speech and political interrelatedness that disclose the “who,” whereas Nietzsche thinks that action is any movement that is conditioned by forgetfulness. If Arendt asks what are the outcomes of the historical being (e.g., why has the vita contemplativa historically been given priority over the vita activa), Nietzsche concentrates on the reasons—why a man is a historical being (e.g. what is historical thinking, why a man tends to put the meaning in his life through
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