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‘Self-Overcoming’ in Nietzsche and Zen Buddhism-In the Case of ‘Playing Child’ and Zen Master-

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2019, (72), pp.279-306
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.072.09
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : December 12, 2018
  • Accepted : January 31, 2019
  • Published : February 28, 2019

Kwang-Yul Seo 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Nietzsche and Zen Buddhism have a common starting point in denying the ‘self’ as a subject. Both positions regard ‘I’ as a fiction created by consciousness and try to get away from it and see the true figures of ‘I’ and the world. They are consistent in that they regard everything as ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’, but they differ in their attitude toward ‘becoming’. Nietzsche wanted to overcome nihilism by distinguishing “the self” from the traditional ‘I’ and actively accepting the ‘will’ created by this ‘self’. On the other hand, Zen Buddhism, originated from Nagarjuna, was aimed at achieving the state of emptiness (sūnyatā)’ by eliminating all illusion derived from ‘I’. However, they have a common point in that they want to abandon all logical oppositions, although they selected the different paths. Nietzsche insisted that moral freedom should be obtained by overcoming all dichotomy represented by good and evil, and Zen Buddhists believed that a free thinking could be recovered by renouncing all logical distinction. They also share the common philosophical goal of realizing free life through ‘self-overcoming’. As we know, Nietzsche proposed “Übermensch” as an ideal human type, but from the perspective of a free life, a comparison of ‘playing-child’ with “Zen Master” is more appropriate than a comparison of “Übermensch” with Zen Master. A ‘playing-child’ resembles the life of the ‘Zen master’ who is liberated from the illusion and obsession of all concepts. Of course, the former differs from the latter. The latter does not want to be reborn anymore, while the former positively affirms the ‘will’ and life through ‘play’. However, the two types of characters are looking at the same direction in that they love free life and try to sublimate life artistically. Nietzsche and Zen Buddhism have an ironic relationship with each other. The distance between them is close and far. It is meaningful that the comparison and analysis of the two is helpful not only in examining the problem of self-overcoming but also in understanding the differences and similarities of Eastern and Western philosophy.

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