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12. Nietzsche on Time and Becoming


Subject Philosophy » Continental Philosophy

People Nietzsche, Friedrich

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405116220.2005.00016.x


In this essay I shall provide a reading of Nietzsche's “theory of time.” This theory includes, most obviously, what he says about “becoming”: his well-known insistence that the world is “not being but becoming.” But the theory also draws in a variety of his other positions, including his critical treatments of concepts such as substance and causation, his teaching of the eternal return, and his complex views about memory, guilt, and responsibility. I want to suggest a way in which these seemingly separate views cohere well enough to amount to a theory of time. My reading will make use of the neo-Darwinian account of Nietzsche I presented in Nietzsche's New Darwinism ( Richardson 2004 ). I want on the one hand to use this to clarify Nietzsche's views about time, but on the other to emphasize and develop the crucial temporal element already in that neo-Darwinian account. Nietzsche takes his underlying sense of becoming from Darwin's new way of “setting things in motion”-evolution. Nietzsche's grasp of the logic of evolution-an evolution that determines the will and meaning he attributes to everything alive-is the crux of his new notion of time and becoming. First some preliminary points. Let me note but quickly set aside (to the background) one set of questions that arise for just about any effort to attribute to Nietzsche anything so pedestrian as a “theory.” These doubts will ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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