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 work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNietzsche's "Ecce Homo"
EditorsNicholas Martin, Duncan Large
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783110246551
ISBN (Print)9783110246544
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Nietzsche
  • self-cultivation
  • self-overcoming


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