Title page for ETD etd-05302009-115911

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Ku, Hay Lin Helen
Email kuhaylin@hotmail.com
URN etd-05302009-115911
Document Title The hidden/flying dragon : an exploration of the Book of Changes (I Ching) in terms of Nietzsche’s philosophy
Degree DPhil
Department Philosophy
Advisor Name Title
Prof M J Schoeman Co-Supervisor
Prof D P Goosen Supervisor
  • trigram
  • yin and yang
  • Tao
  • Nietzsche
  • Zarathustra
  • Übermensch
  • will to power
  • eternal recurrence
  • Buddha
  • hexagram
  • Book of Changes (I Ching)
  • Bodhisattva
Date 2009-04-18
Availability unrestricted
The ancient Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes, and the philosophy of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) both assert that the universe exists in a state of change. The I Ching, originally a book of divination, illustrates the changing phenomena of the natural world in terms of sixty-four hexagrams, which are figures composed of six lines  yielding and firm lines, representing actual conditions and relationships existing in the world and caused by the interplay between two primordial forces, yin and yang. The I Ching shows that on the macro level the Tao works in the universe, in heaven and on earth, and on the micro level it applies to man. The I Ching teaches harmony with Tao and its power (natural law and moral law), so that its reader may take appropriate action in any given situation with reference to the hexagrams and their appended judgments as revealed by the oracle.

Nietzsche, however, regards the world as the Will to Power, ‘a monster of energy’, like a storming and flooding ocean eternally changing, where harmony and order seems impossible. His mouthpiece, Zarathustra, who teaches the Übermensch, encourages a war-like attitude towards life. Zarathustra’s second metamorphosis of an evolving spirit, the warrior lion, marks the difference between the Nietzschean Übermensch and the Chinese sage who attains harmony and balance within and without, a mysterious union with heaven. Zarathustra’s third metamorphosis, a playing child, creates itself as its own ‘bridge’ through a process of self-overcoming, whereas the I Ching indicates order to be the ‘bridge’ over chaos, the order of the human world being expressed in the five cardinal relationships. Whereas the I Ching advises its reader to follow their own nature and fate in order to lead a harmonious moral life, Nietzsche’s Übermensch is ‘the annihilator of morality’ and paradoxically ‘the designation of a type of supreme achievement’ (EH Books 1).

With his idea of the Übermensch, Nietzsche indicates that morality is a pose (BGE 216). He seeks to make us become aware that we should invent our own virtue and create our own way in order to become what we are. He criticizes Christian morality, calling himself ‘the first immoralist’. His shocking approach attempts to make us become aware of the possibility that a ‘noble morality’ and ‘higher moralities’ ought to be possible. His Übermensch represents such a higher mode of existence.

Zarathustra also teaches the doctrine of eternal recurrence, implying that moment is eternity, changelessness within change. Multifarious manifestations are the expression of the Tao. Everything is interconnected and interdependent. Whereas ordinary men see the continuity of phenomena as real, enlightened beings are aware of the transitory and illusive nature of the self and all things. The Nietzschean Übermensch embodies the characteristics of an enlightened being, a Buddha or Bodhisattva in Buddhist terms, characteristics such as wisdom and compassion. Therefore, the practice of the Bodhisattva is explored as a feasible way for actualizing the Nietzschean hypothetical Übermensch.

© University of Pretoria 2009

Please cite as follows:

Ku, HLH 2009, The hidden/flying dragon : an exploration of the Book of Changes (I Ching) in terms of Nietzsche’s philosophy, DPhil thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05302009-115911/ >


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