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Transcend

SELF-TRANSCENDENCE AND MORALITY: Human Creativity in the Thought of Nietzsche and Confucius -

According to Nietzsche self-transcendence is the common essence of all moral codes: "Man is something that should be overcome." Self-transcendence is of the essence not only of morality, but of humans themselves; it is one’s authentic, civilized humanity. Nietzsche’s model of the self-perfected most authentically civilized man is the overman or the one who has overcome or transcended himself. Self-overcoming as the basis of self-transcendence and self-perfection is in brief what the Nietzschean conception of man is all about.

Confucius once said: "To overcome oneself and return to li is what is meant by jen." What Confucius means by li and jen may be put succinctly: li is what constitutes the civilized order by which our authentic humanity or jen is defined. To be more specific, li is the ritual propriety essential to civilized life; it is the civilizing factor or element -- the "civilized form", if you will -- that distinguishes human from non-human existence. The civilizing function of li lies precisely in its disciplinary power or the human power of self-command. Like the Nietzschean overman, the Confucian chun tzu or superior man is also an authentic, civilized human being: he, too, is one who has overcome or transcended himself.

Brilliant.

Overcome humanity - the worst elements of humanity - to truly become human.

Generally Speaking

On Casual Friday in Serioustown

[caption id="attachment_99" align="alignright" width="288"] Leonardo DaVinci, one of history's great Generalists created a little painting called "The Mona Lisa"[/caption]

Lebron James is a beloved individual (outside of Cleveland). He parties, he endorses stuff, and he certainly isn’t short on cash and why is this? Because he’s spectacularly good at one thing. The man is debatably one of the best basketball players of all time and it’s clearly paying dividends. Society is riddled with examples like this; individuals who excel above and beyond others at a single thing. We are also taught, frequently, that hard-work and studious effor in one particular endeavor will make us exceptional individuals.

But growing up, one of my favorite concepts was the “Renaissance Man”. While politically incorrect, the concept was that an admirable quality in a person was possession of… well… all admirable qualities. These individuals would study math, science, history, art, language, and politics, never mastering one but acquiring a deep and interested knowledge of all of them. In a society of specialists and specialized economies, this is a concept that, unfortunately, has fallen by the wayside.

But I’m here to carry its standard. A recent article on 99u entitled Picasso, Kepler, and the Benefits of Being an Expert Generalist noted the myriad benefits to scientific and creative professionals that stem from a broad range of knowledge. The understanding of many topics allows one to draw analogies in other topics, spurring creativity and innovation. Even on a personal level, the idea of being a Generalist is a powerful one. When you think of adjectives to describe yourself or a list of your favorite hobbies, do they all follow a streamlined career or interest path? No. You love many things and so do I.

So embrace that. Get curious and learn about everything that interests you. Do it patiently and with conviction and see the world the way it was meant to be seen: as a proud and sophisticated Renaissance person. You’ll be more interesting and more interested, see and learn things you never thought you would, and enrich your life. Wave your standard high brethren and tell the man where to shove it in two different languages, three different mediums, and with a well-written but emotionally subtle haiku.

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