Foucault’s later studies on an aesthetics and ethics of existence were the continuation of Nietzsche’s genealogical project to prepare a revaluation of previous morality by analysing the degeneration — diagnosed as God’s death — of that Christian order of values dating back to Plato’s idealism. This revaluation was also an attempt to reconnect with ancient culture, to render its forgotten experiences visible for the present. In this Nietzsche saw the elaboration of a stylistics of existence as the crux of ancient moral reflection. Foucault’s motive for recurring to antiquity is most clearly shown here. Nietzsche used the overman as a metaphor for the future creator of oneself, superior even to the Greeks, and, with an ethics of self-responsibility, attempted a care of the self. Foucault, on the other hand, put a name to the antichristian artist of life anticipated by Nietzsche: it is those who ‘work on becoming homosexuals’ (DE 4/163). Nietzsche’s overman is ‘gay’ in the more original, not merely sexual sense of the word, and describes an aesthetics of existence: colourful, full of life, cheerful, bright. The message is addressed to those who take their ideal from themselves, ascribing a value to themselves on their own account (cf. 5/214); to those for whom the aesthetical and ethical arrangement of one’s own life around the theme of the body is also the most important precondition for friendship.


Ancient Culture Important Precondition Sexual Sense Ancient Formula Future Creator 
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    In: Hans Ludwig Spegg (ed.): Unterwegs mit Rolf Italiaander. Begegnungen, Betrachtungen, Bibliographie. Hamburg, 1963, p. 48 (also DE 1/231).Google Scholar
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    Walter Seitter: ‘Ein Denken im Forschen. Zum Unternehmen einer Analytik bei Michel Foucault’. In: Der groβe Durchblick: Unternehmensanalysen. Berlin, 1983, p. 93 (my translation, H.N.).Google Scholar
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    Max Weber: ‘Science as a Vocation’. Trans. Michael John. In: Peter Lassman and Irving Velody (eds.): Max Weber’s ‘Science as a Vocation’. London, 1989, p. 18.Google Scholar

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© Herman Nilson 1998

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