Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Research Institute for Contemporary Philosophy of Life, Osaka Prefecture University


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Towards a Return to One’s Essence
: Some Reflections on Nietzsche and Heidegger

Dennis A. de Vera

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.3, No.2 (April 2013):108-126



This paper looks at the possibility of a return to one’s essence through a comparative exposition of some fundamental themes in both Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s ambivalence to modernity. Central to Nietzsche for example is an immanent critique of modernity, attempting to retrieve man from the snares of the modern culture. Heidegger on the other hand, sets forth an immanent questioning of historicity, attempting to recover the truth about man from the concealment of the technocratic culture. Whereas a genealogy of morality affords Nietzsche a basis by which to retrieve man from the tragedy caused by a bifurcated sense of life (oscillating between the Apollonian and the Dionysian arts), a hermeneutical phenomenology of the historicity and temporality of man allows Heidegger to recover the truth about man from the “tragic double bind” that ensues from the technocratic culture’s trappings and manipulation of physis. While Nietzsche’s genealogy of morality offers a moment of critical retrieval by which an understanding of man’s condition is made pronounced as essentially alienated from one’s nature, Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology provides a temporal recovery of truth through which a creative appreciation of man’s relation with physis is made visible. In as much as Nietzsche offers a return to man’s nature through an overcoming of the sense of the tragic via an immanent critique, so Heidegger as well, offers a return to man’s essence by appropriating man and the physis via immanent questioning. As Nietzsche situates his immanent critique within the genealogy of man’s tragic sense of morality, and thus promises a return to one’s nature, so Heidegger does the same and situates his questioning within the tragic sense of truth encapsulated in man’s works of arts.

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