How One Becomes What One Is

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Throughout his work Nietzsche uses Pindar’s injunction “Become who
you are!” to spur his readers on to what appears to be an agonal process of selfcultivation
and self-overcoming. However, whereas in his earlier work Nietzsche
often uses various active metaphors to describe such a process of becoming who
one is, in Ecce Homo he stresses the absence of any struggle, and describes “becoming
what one is” as a physiological and subconscious process. The metaphors
of self-cultivation and self-overcoming give way to a metaphor of forgetting
oneself, even misunderstanding oneself. For Nietzsche, it seems, any
conscious effort at becoming what one is, is ultimately counterproductive. This
essay elucidates Nietzsche’s metaphor of forgetting the self, rather than cultivating
or overcoming it, and reconstructs a non-intentional perspective on “becoming
what one is” that supplements Nietzsche’s more active metaphors in his earlier
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNietzsche's "Ecce Homo"
EditorsNicholas Martin, Duncan Large
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-024655-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-024654-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Nietzsche
  • self-cultivation
  • self-overcoming

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