Document Type


Publication details

Kerruish, E 2009, 'Interpreting feeling: Nietzsche on the emotions and the self', Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy, vol. 13, pp. 1-27.

Publisher's version of this article is available at

The abstract and pdf of the published article reproduced in ePublications@SCU with the permission of Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy.


Nietzsche’s aspiration to “have and not have one’s emotions” seems an impossible one. However, Nietzsche believes that it is possible because of his special understanding of the nature of the emotions and their relationship to the self. He views emotions as central to how individuals understand and situate themselves in the world. He assigns a vital role to emotions in his account of the formation of the self through the interpretation of bodily sensations, a view that sees emotions as both a tool and effect of social forces. As a consequence, he neither advocates a suppression of emotions nor a blind following of them. Rather he suggests that they should be acknowledged, investigated and ordered in a process that develops a focused emotional engagement while cultivating a capacity to experience a broad range of emotions. This understanding of emotions enables us to recognise their cognitive, affective and social dimensions, contributing to our ability to critically engage with emotional experience.

Find in your library

Included in

Philosophy Commons