Annals of Ethics
Online ISSN : 2434-4699
Who is a genius according to Nietzsche?
Yukitaka KATO
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2019 Volume 68 Pages 113-126


This paper clarifies Nietzsche’s sense of an ideal human by considering his concept of “genius.” Genius is a traditional concept, and Nietzsche uses it uniquely to express his ideal human in his early period. There are two important points. First, he regards classical Greek culture as the ideal environment for producing a group of geniuses, and he contends that the classical Greek philosophers from Tales to Socrates form a group of geniuses. Second, he was influenced by Schopenhauer’s concept of genius and extracts from Schopenhauer’s view on genius in many of his unpublished works. Focusing on these points clarifies the core of Nietzsche’s concept of genius as “freedom.” He perceives a genius as a free person, in which being free means freedom from others that allows a person to be himself or herself. Nietzsche was influenced by Pindar’s maxim and believed throughout his life that it is important to be oneself. Nietzsche understood a genius as a free person in the sense that she or he endeavors to be herself or himself. The idea of “being oneself” does not mean personally discovering what exists, but personally creating new things. In Schopenhauer as educator, Nietzsche indicates that true selfhood is beyond the present sense of self. Individuals who endeavor to be themselves know their orientations through the models they long to emulate and imitate the models to sublimate what the models embody into their unique forms. Through these activities, geniuses create themselves anew and as unique beings. In sum, a genius, who is Nietzsche’s ideal human, should be a free person in the sense that he or she continually endeavors to create himself or herself.

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© 2019 The Japanese Society for Ethics
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