MPhil Ch0: Nietzsche on Memory

Nietzsche On Memory

Timothy Lawrence Short

Submitted to UCL for the degree of Master of Philosophical Studies

October 30, 2013


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Thanks to Tom Stern, who supervised this thesis.

Declaration

I, Timothy Lawrence Short, confirm that the work presented in this thesis is my own. Where information has been derived from other sources, I confirm that this has been indicated in the thesis.


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Abstract

It is argued that Nietzsche recognises multiple types and roles for memory. These types and roles must be understood in order to grasp some of his themes. The types are Individual and Organic Memory. The Individual type is composed of Passive Memory – further divided into Imposed and Inhibitory Memory – and Active Memory. The passive aspects are associated with Nietzsche’s concept of Slave morality and reactivity. The active aspects are associated with Nietzsche’s more positively evaluated, stronger types of individual. Organic Memory is a separate type of memory also present in humans. It is unlike what we commonly understand by the term ‘memory’, for several reasons. It reaches back to past generations: some of our instincts now result from ‘memories’ of actions of our ancestors. Further, it is not restricted to humans. Two of Nietzsche’s key themes are Dionysos versus Apollo and his Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. Both are ways of understanding our psychology and its origins. These themes are examined in the context of his typology of memory. It is argued that the Übermensch’s ability to affirm the Doctrine is due to his possession of more of the active type of memory. The synthesis of Dionysian and Apollonian drives to form the tragic and then the theoretical is discussed via the suggestion that an excess of Passive Memory produces the resulting deleterious aspects. The ethical project can be seen as a call to use memory more actively. Nietzsche is often invoked in the context of discussions of Collective Memory. It is shown that this is a mistake since Nietzsche does not in fact recognise such a memory type.

Main text word count: 29999


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Contents

Declaration 3

Abstract 5

1 Introduction 9

1.1 Importance Of Memory To Nietzsche………………. 11

2 Types And Roles Of Memory In Nietzsche 13

2.1 Introduction…………………………… 13
2.1.1 Valorisation……………………….. 13
2.1.2 Multiple Roles Of Memory ……………….. 15
2.2 Individual Memory……………………….. 16
2.2.1 Passive/Reactive Aspects Of Individual Memory . . . . . . . . 16
2.2.2 Active Aspects Of Individual Memory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
2.3 Organic Memory ………………………… 33

3 The Role Of Nietzsche’s Memory Types 41
3.1 Dionysos Versus Apollo …………………….. 42
3.1.1 Nietzsche’s Claims In BT ………………… 42
3.1.2 Links To Memory ……………………. 44
3.2 Doctrine And Übermensch……………………. 51
3.2.1 Doctrine Of Eternal Recurrence……………… 51
3.2.2 The Übermensch …………………….. 54
3.2.3 Importance Of Memory …………………. 55

4 A Collective Memory Type? 59
4.1 Introduction…………………………… 59
4.2 What Is Collective Memory? ………………….. 60
4.3 Does Nietzsche Recognise Collective Memory?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
4.3.1 Historical Sense……………………… 63
4.3.2 Indebtedness of Societies…………………. 69


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8 CONTENTS

5 Conclusion 75

Bibliography ……………………………. 76

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