Memento Mori, Memento Vivere: Early Nietzsche on History, Embodiment, and Value

Dries, Manuel (2017). Memento Mori, Memento Vivere: Early Nietzsche on History, Embodiment, and Value. Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 48(1) pp. 29–55.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5325/jnietstud.48.1.0029

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/650288

Abstract

The centrality of the embodiment of mind, self, and values for the later Nietzsche is widely acknowledged. Here, I reconstrue Nietzsche’s HL to show that he uses his drive model of the mind already in this early text. The “historical sickness” central to HL is diagnosed in the form of failures of embodiment and drive control. First, I argue that a precursor to Nietzsche’s figure of “the last human” is already the target in HL. Second, I offer working definitions for terms such as “drives,” “affects,” and “values,” which are crucial to Nietzsche’s heuristic diagnostic framework. I then focus on the neglected passage that contrasts the medieval memento mori with a modern memento vivere, showing that the former functions as an embodied mechanism of willing and self- control, which Nietzsche claims the moderns have been unsuccessful in replacing. Finally, I draw on recent research in embodied cognition and identify two causes—“overload” and “semantic embodiment”— of the modern “historical sickness” that undermines flourishing.

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