File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1998/nietzsche.9801, message 27


Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:37:06 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Nietzsche on Mill and Darwin


Randall Albright wrote:

>That Nietzsche clumped Mill and Darwin with Spencer is... not how I would
>clump them!
>
>Mill, for one, is a champion of "eccentrics" like Freddie. Darwin-- many
>people think that, like Nietzsche, we're STILL getting used to him.
>
>[...]

Nancy S. Love, in _Marx, Nietzsche, and Modernity_, p. 220:

"Both [Marx and Nietzsche] view as Darwin's primary deficiency his elevation
of the Malthusian 'struggle for existence,' a principle of modern science,
to the historical tendency of nature. Nietzsche says that Darwin mistakes a
fatalistic Christian-democratic principle, survival through adaptation, for
nature (_Twilight_, p. 471). Marx says that Darwin mistakes an exploitative
bourgeois principle, competition, for nature (_Capital_ 1:372-373).
Nietzsche disputes Darwin's Malthusian principle because, while life is
struggle, it is overwhelmingly a struggle for power and only incidentally a
struggle for existence; Marx disputes it because life is essentially
cooperative and free, not competitive and impoverished. Both agree that the
struggle for existence typifies modern society, and both agree that the
mediocre or the bourgeois who 'survive' are not the 'fittest.'"

Nietzsche takes pains to disassociate his thinking, the will to power
specifically, from any kind of teleology of strength, from the notion of
evolution as progress, from Spencerism, as you pointed out, I believe, but
also from Darwin's own perhaps unfortunate attempts to defend and explain
his own theory (the phrase "survival of the fittest" was his, after all). If
anything, Nietzsche would say that the human is not the strongest, but
rather the weakest species, the "sick animal par excellance." The bourgeois
triumphs on the basis of a numerical preponderance, not primarily on the
basis of innate qualities (fitness/strength), on the basis of a calculative
utility (to bring Heidegger, perhaps, into this). Bourgeois morality may
also be seen as being symptomatic of a general state of decadence, in that
it posits weakness for strength, sickness for health, etc. For both Marx and
Nietzsche (and Heidegger), in other words, "there is something rotten in the
state of Denmark."

"I teach: that there are higher and lower men, and that a single individual
can under certain circumstances justify the existence of whole
millenia--that is, a full, rich, great, whole human being in relation to
countless incomplete fragmentary men." -- Will to Power 997.

Best,

Steve C.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
=A6 Steven E. Callihan            =A6        "The more mistrust,         =A6
=A6                               =A6        the more philosophy."       =A6
=A6 URL: http://www.callihan.com/ =A6                                    =A6
=A6 E-Mail: callihan-AT-callihan.com =A6-F. Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 346.=A6
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