'A sort of schema of ourselves': On Nietzsche's 'Ideal' and 'concept' of freedom

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Nietzsche, in his mature writings, develops an ideal of freedom, in fact of freedom as autonomy, but in such a way that he gives new meanings to the words ideal, freedom and autonomy. For Nietzsche, an ideal is, first of all, a sort of schema of ourselves (Nachlass 1880, 7[95], KSA 9.336), a general image of ourselves sketched by our drives, instincts, and affects. Conscious ideals are conceptualizations of such schemata or images. His own ideal is a conceptualization of schemata that have arisen from his critique of other ideals and conceptualizations. Thus the concepts involved in his ideal are critical concepts, concepts that are more objective, i.e. more complete (GM III 12), than previous concepts in the history of philosophy, and at the heart of his ideal lies a critical, post-metaphysical concept of freedom. By focusing, firstly, on the aphorism My Concept of Freedom (TI, Skirmishes of an Untimely Man 38), the paper tries to show that Nietzsche understands freedom as tantamount to the achievement of independence, individuality, responsibility, and prowess. He interprets this achievement in terms of the will to power, and hence as a relative achievement which is always expressed in a feeling of power. By focusing, secondly, on the controversial passage on the sovereign individual (GM II 2), the paper tries to show that Nietzsche conceives of freedom in terms of autonomy, because he aims to develop an ideal that addresses the complex aspirations of modern human beings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-162
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Autonomy
  • Concepts
  • Critique
  • Freedom
  • Ideals
  • Modernity
  • Objectivity


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