This essay claims that, despite the explicit opposition to Darwin in his writings, Nietzsche is regarded as a Darwinist both by the educated public and, increasingly, by Anglo analytic philosophers. In part, the problem is that, while scholars correctly observe the influence on Nietzsche's thinking of Spencer and Malthus, Roux and Haeckel — names commonly associated with Darwin — they pay no attention to the greater impact on Nietzsche's thought of Empedocles and other ancient scientists. Nietzsche mounted a cogent condemnation of Darwin's views, moreover, on the empirical insight that there is more calm and abundance in the natural world than civilized humanity supposes, with its fantasies of nature red in tooth and claw. Nietzsche continues to be associated with Darwin owing to Darwin's class-based racism, but Nietzsche's argument was that slave morality inexorably works against the triumph of the master in favor of the average (rather than of the exceptional) man. This insight drives Nietzsche's view of the “last man,” or slavishly moral human being, and of what he called the Übermensch, which, it is inadequately recognized, was is a concept drawn from Lucian (second century) and used satirically to contrast Dionysian abundance with vapid social values that promote ruthless competition for supposedly limited resources.
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Babette Babich; NIETZSCHE AND/OR/VERSUS DARWIN. Common Knowledge 1 August 2014; 20 (3): 404–411. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2732650
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