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Self-Deception, Consciousness and Value: The Nietzschean Contribution

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Nietzsche's central criticisms of the evaluative hierarchies he claims to be inscribed in the philosophical tradition and in various everyday practices are based on the idea that the self is opaque to itself. More specifically, he proposes that these hierarchies cannot be adequately explained without reference to a particular form of self-deception he labels ressentiment. What makes this type of self-deception distinctive is that it is alleged to concern the subject's own contemporaneous conscious states. It is shown that none of the three main current models of self-deception can accommodate the type of phenomenon Nietzsche claims to have discovered. Rather than this failure providing grounds for rejecting the concept of ressentiment as incoherent, it is argued that a reconstruction of some of Nietzsche's own observations, in conjunction with insights from later phenomenology, can explain the possibility envisaged by Nietzsche of a subject's intentionally misinterpreting her own current affective experiences. Nietzsche's analysis continues to be of importance in highlighting central aspects of the kind of theory of (self-) consciousness needed to do justice to the actual complexity of affective experience.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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