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Authors: Fan, Jiani
Advisors: Nehamas, Alexander
Grafton, Antony
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Subjects: Comparative literature
French literature
German literature
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: My dissertation examines themes closely related to psychological examination (Seelenprüfung) in the works of the French moralists and of Nietzsche. My two principal claims are that psychological examination is the most important philosophical method and the basic structure of life experience for Nietzsche, and that his hermeneutics of suspicion is grounded in psychological examination drawn from the French moralists. Their method of interpretation unmasked false consciousness and self-interested intention, and further detected disguised pleasure in the heroic virtues of honesty and Christian morality. For La Rochefoucauld and Pascal, the notion that magnanimity and other Stoic virtues were motivated by pleasure and by other postlapsarian self-interests served to persuade members of a worldly society to pursue Christian beatitude. Nietzsche, inspired more in this area by Montaigne, denies any other-worldly comfort. He advocates amor fati (love of fate) and this-worldly cheerfulness (Heiterkeit) and urges readers to pluck useful maxims from the thorniest stretches of their lives to alleviate the burden of living. Cheerfulness thus functions as an antidote for Nietzsche against the moralists’ austere search for other-worldly consolation. I focus on the notions and aphorisms related to symptoms, methods of therapy and remedies in the psychological observation. In investigating classical notions such as pleasure, Virgil’s belief that “everyone is driven by his pleasure,” the punning but crucial variant on Horace’s “saying something true with laughter,” as well as Heiterkeit (cheerfulness) and “mask” and “self-deception” in the dialogues among these authors. In sum, through these themes, I probe the concept of pleasure in the genealogy of (im)morality and (a)theism among the French moralists and Nietzsche.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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