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Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life$
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Vanessa Lemm

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262861

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262861.001.0001

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Becoming and Purification

Becoming and Purification

Empedocles, Zarathustra’s Übermensch, and Lucian’s Tyrant

(p.245) 14 Becoming and Purification
Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life

Babette Babich

Fordham University Press

I have argued that Nietzsche invokes Empedocles less directly than in syncretistic conflation with other names, like Heraclitus, as Nietzsche identifies both as the «tragic philosophers», but also, and this is better known, as other commentators also make this comparison, like Zarathustra. As Nietzsche raises the question of tragic knowledge in terms of an aesthetics of tragedy he also explores an explicitly tragic ethics (he will name Anaximander in this fashion) and with Empedocles, and here he is preceded by Hölderlin, Nietzsche envisions a tragic politics. Empedocles’ answer to the question of value of existence is love, and it is also the question of time and of death as commemorated by Hölderlin in his several drafts of The Death of Empedocles. Nietzsche’s own method of posing the same question varies and I here wish to consider Empedocles’ reply to that question as Nietzsche reflects in his Schopenhauer as Educator, the third of his Untimely Meditations: «Do you affirm this existence from the bottom of your heart? Are you willing to be its advocate, its saviour? For all it takes is one single truthful “Yes” from your mouth—and life, now facing such grave accusations, will be set free» (SE 3).

Keywords:   Nietzsche, Empedocles, Zarathustra, overhuman, life, death

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