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.
Overcome humanity - the worst elements of humanity - to truly become human.
On Casual Friday in Serioustown
I am not running for Congress, that much is clear. I'd like to begin with this statement because the following piece is going to seem like a pretty bald-faced "art in schools" speech. I'm not protecting the glee club, I'm not pushing for bigger arts budgets, and I'm not campaigning for mandatory music and art education.
Then again, maybe I am.
I'll let you figure it out. Over the past several months my already kindling interest in graphic design, art, music, and photography has grown exponentially. I've found websites to stoke the flames, engaged in conversations with friends that cultivated my young ideals regarding the topic, I've even entered the creative "conversation" myself with my music and writing. The result has been difficult to ignore: either by accident or as a consequence, my demeanor has calmed, my relationships with others have grown more profound, and my appreciation of the little things in life has grown. In short, I'm discovering the fourth human necessity.
My interest began with a graphic designer and musician by the name of Scott Hansen. His blog, ISO50, featured unconventional art and photography, regular music posts, case studies of design in consumer products and publications, and a consistent and inspiring thread of fulfillment. Scott Hansen doesn't just observe art, it is an extension of him.