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Nietzsche's substantive ethics: towards a new table of values

By Hyosup Kim


My thesis focuses on Nietzsche’s ethics. More precisely, its main objective is to explore Nietzsche’s substantive ethical framework in a comprehensive, detailed, and systematic manner. Furthermore, the thesis also attempts to examine the epistemological, non-ethical ground of the Nietzschean substantive ethics. Also, it deals with Nietzsche’s critique of conventional morality, and explains Nietzsche’s criticism of morality in terms of his substantive ethics. The central argument of the thesis is, very briefly, that Nietzsche’s philosophy as a whole does have a distinctive, substantive ethical system. Its constitutive elements or contents, being coherently related, are rich, complicated, and concrete. The major category Nietzsche employs in his ethics is the notion of ‘value’ understood as merit or desirability; he is not much concerned with the right or obligatory. Nietzsche views some human qualities, abilities and states and a style of life as noble and desirable for us. Specifically, the creative way of life, creative capacity, self-discipline, the capacity for ‘self-commanding’, knowledge, health, strong affectivity, and vitality constitute the core of Nietzsche’s evaluative standard. Moreover, a variety of dispositions, such as honesty, solitude, courage, and magnanimity, position themselves within his theory of value and are posited as crucial virtues. Finally, my thesis aims at analysing these particular contents of Nietzsche’s substantive ethical system and to examine how the system as a whole works. As such, the thesis is fundamentally an exposition based upon Nietzsche’s own texts, especially, his later works including Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, The Genealogy of Morals, Twilight of the Idols, and The Antichrist

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