A Few Words on Nietzschean Duality
by Ezekiel Fry
Nietzsche’s statement, “Man, in his highest, finest powers, is all nature and carries nature’s uncanny dual nature in himself” attempts to deal with the duality of humankind. Within the natural casing of humanity lies the capability for great triumph and, in turn, great degradation. Even at the pinnacle of enlightenment the duality of humankind casts its profound shadow. Those that rise high may equally fall low. There are no constants for the dual nature of humankind, only the continual presence and possibility of both.
The statement “It is hard to fight against impulsive desire; whatever it wants it will buy at the cost of the soul” holds steady with this concept of duality. This musing on “impulsive desire” seems at first to play more heavily upon the ability for humans to fall than to rise, but it can be found that “impulsive desire” rules both aspects of humankind’s nature. Within the duality of the human mind there are checks and balances, natural devices, that attempt to sway the mind in one direction or another, but these battle-works of the mind are within nature—not without. Therefore they find it “hard to fight against” that which is in its very essence natural: “nature’s uncanny dual nature”. The “uncanny” aspect of this relationship emphasizes the discrepancy, which humankind finds within itself, to go against the checks and balances of the reasonable mind into the maw of violence, lust, and depravity. The natural world is abundant with coexisting compassion and violence. To step outside the reasonable mentality, that humankind has superficially crafted for itself, and place a bloody hand into chaos, is to lose one’s perception of reason— to step from constructed reality into the “uncanny” wilderness—and therefore lose that altogether human-made structure dubbed “the soul”.
It is not so much that “impulsive desire” is some malignant, otherworldly force, but instead it is the very root from which humankind grows—the root of nature. This disheartening prospect shakes the very foundations of humankind’s desire for reason and structure. The seeming cruel ambivalence of nature does not function well with the reasonable, quantifiable reality that humankind has constructed. This is the true “dual nature” of humanity. The soul defines humankind as something above nature; something better than the visceral animal world. As a construct the soul cannot fight nature. The idea that “it is hard to fight against impulsive desire” is in itself a fleeting statement. It is not hard to fight, it is impossible. The constructed aspect of the human cannot fight the inevitable. We feel that we lose a piece of ourselves, our rationality, when we submit to desire, but it is only through this desire—this natural aspect of our mirrored beings—that the highest and most noble achievements of our species are reached.