A confrontation with the Zen Buddhist tradition can help to open up new perspectives on Nietzsche's thought that take us beyond the “familiar” Nietzsche. There are some gaps in most Nietzsche interpretations that could be fruitfully addressed by means of a comparison with East Asian thought. This article argues that Nietzsche's philosophy and Zen philosophy can both be considered philosophies of self-overcoming in four different respects: theoretical, performative, self-referential, and expressive. In a theoretical sense, both stress the importance of self-overcoming. In a performative sense, both aim at self-overcoming in the reader. In a self-referential sense, they continually overcome themselves as philosophy. In a self-expressive sense, both can be viewed as a celebration and expression of self-overcoming; they are philosophies of laughter and play. In reading Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, these four aspects meet each other.

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