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Nietzsche's Drives

Essay by   •  December 20, 2010  •  Essay  •  923 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,087 Views

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If Nietzsche's contention that a man is a collection of drives, then he is correct when he writes, "However far a man may go in self-knowledge, nothing however can be more incomplete than his image of the totality of drives which constitute his being."(B2 A 119)

Man is not by any means a fixed and permanent being. He is in a constant state of transition. His drives push and pull him in every direction. He is rarely more than a series of entangled compromised drives. His longings draw him back to god, back to nature , back to his mother, away from his true self away, away from the understanding of the drives which control him.

Man's abundant limitations prevent him from understanding the totality of his drives. Limitations such as language, experience, and understanding are among, but not the only confinements. Man is but a reflection, and because of this, every initial cause simultaneously draws after itself another even more initial cause, and so on to infinity. That is the nature of every sort of awareness and reflection.

"Around every being there is described a similar concentric circle, which has a mid-point and is peculiar to him. Our ears enclose us within a comparable circle, and so does our sense of touch. Now, it is by these horizons, within which each of us encloses his senses as if behind prison walls, that we measure the world, we say that this is near and that far, this big and that small, this is hard and that soft: this measuring we call sensation Ð'- and it is all of it an error!"(B2 A 117)

Man is blind to that which is outside his sight, deaf to the sounds he is incapable of hearing, and doomed to interpret himself and the world around him with his limited senses. It is not possible for man to see or hear his drives only the results of these drives through the physical manifestations of them.

There are many examples of man trying to simplify himself so that he may try to understand himself. An example of this might be in stories where a character has a devil on one shoulder to entice him to behave a certain way and an angel on the other pushing him in the opposite direction. If this analogy of drives wanted to be more accurate a character would have an infinite number of characters surrounding him and they would be continually trying to sway him in a number of directions simultaneously.

Many of these characters would be foreign and incapable of being expressed through language. "Language and the prejudices upon which language is based are a manifold hindrance to us when we want to explain inner processes and drives(B2 A 115)," Nietzsche wrote.

There is not a name for a drive that pushes someone to pursue acts of charity for personal gain or a drive that pushes a person towards acting like an animal. The person might be described as greedy, mad, or sick; all of these descriptions failing to capture the true spirit of the drive.

"That which, from the earliest times to the present moment, men have found so hard to understand is their ignorance of themselves."

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