What I have called the Ideal of Cultivation is a fundamental ethical principle of civilisation, originated by aristocratic warriors in Greek antiquity who held that the true purpose of humanity is to perfect nature
It was then professed that individuals and even entire peoples could consciously develop and improve themselves in a way that was thought to obey the original lawful impulses of nature, a process which was likened to those of agriculture and animal husbandry.
Subsequently the cognate idea of a politics of cultivation arose which deemed that society should be organised specifically to produce more virtuous or perfect human types. Given their fundamental association with Hellenism both ideas have been revisited constantly in the intellectual history of the west, and most notably during the great secular periods, the Renaissance and Enlightenment when active attempts were made to retrieve the ideals of antiquity. Both ideas were particularly pervasive in the German enlightenment, the Aufklärung, and were assimilated by the succeeding Romantic generation.
In nineteenth century Germany, when interest in these ideas was quickly waning, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche acquired an unswerving attachment to them and made the service of them his life's work.
The intention of this essay is to trace methodically the appearance of the Ideal of Cultivation in Nietzsche's philosophy and politics, and to outline his responses to a world which was abandoning the principles in which he deeply believed. This essay should be regarded as a case study in the long history of a fundamental ethical idea rather than one about the philosopher Nietzsche.
Field of Research
220209 History of Ideas 160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy 220207 History and Philosophy of the Humanities
Socio Economic Objective
970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
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