Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Philosophy



First Advisor

Damian Fedoryka


This thesis deals with the problem of becoming a self as it is presented in the philosophies of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Specifically it is concerned with the role which power plays in the development of the self. Since becoming a self involves motivation the problem is viewed in terms of Dietrich Von Hildebrand's categories of importance and their role in motivation.

The categories importance are presented as the basic viewpoint from which the two philosophers are

studied. This is followed by a presentation of basic notions of the self as they appear in the writing of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Within this background the specific question of the role of power is investigated, first generally and then specifically as it applies to each philosopher. Next the self is viewed in terms of J immanence and. transcendence. Finally, with these concepts in mind, each philosopher's notion of the self is analyzed in depth.

After studying these two philosophers and their ideas on the role of power in becoming a self several things become clear. Although both Nietzsche and Kierkegaard are called the forerunners of existentialism there is a great deal of difference between the two in their respective philosophies of man. Nietzsche claims to be against the development of a "type" of man and ·is regarded as a proponent of individuality. Yet will to power as an immanent drive lead s one to the impersonality of fatalism. Therefore there is no true individuality, nor true self in Nietzsche's philosophy because he denies that relationship to another is essential to the self. Kierkegaard, who states that the proper relationship to God is absolutely necessary if one is to become a self, emerges as the true advocate of individuality. This is not the totally independent individuality which is often associated with existentialism but rather individuality which comes from being grounded in a greater Power.



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