File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1998/nietzsche.9801, message 63


Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 14:23:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Darwin Does Not Equal Marx!


I agree with Steven Callihan on this confusion, too:

>Apart from confusing Marxism and Darwinism, which are, I agree, not at all
>the same thing (although there may be afinities between the two
>"doctrines"), there is also the matter of confusing Marx with Marxism and
>Darwin with Darwinism, which are also not at all the same things.

How many people do I know who think that Blake was a "Blakean", for
example? Or that Jesus was "a Christian"? Or that Marx was "a Marxist"?
Which Marx? At what point of his career? Which Jesus? Which Blake. They
were living their lives, and the way their words got twisted and turned
into dogma is... another issue!

>The key question here for Nietzsche (relative to Mill, as well) would seem
>to be that of Utilitarianism. Now, if anyone would care to make a case for
>either Darwin or Marx being utilitarians (putting aside the question of
>Darwinism or Marxism), that, it seems to me, is clearly where the affinity
>lies.

I would need to understand what you mean by that broad tent of
"utilitarianism", Steven. For example, are we talking about... the dry,
warlike Sparta versus the arts-drenched Athens? Or... the evolution from
Locke to Bentham to Stuart Mill's father? John Stuart Mill himself,
although he may be reductionistly called "utilitarian", realized, for
example, the need for time out, for pleasure, for the arts, for the
eccentrics. George Sand was someone he admired, as well as Chopin. People
smoking cigars on horses and playing piano music aren't exactly working the
coal mines. And J.S. Mill looked forward to a time of "socialism", even as
he saw the problems inherent in socialism, much of which is still true.

>That, however, does not mean that the theory of evolution (or natural
>selection) as a scientific theory is a utilitarian doctrine--it could only
>be called utilitarian if it were being used to ground a value theory. This
>is exactly what Nietzsche is disputing--the utilization of the theory of
>evolution as a value theory (be it Spencerism or Darwinism).

So fill me in, with your words on what exactly he's disputing. (I have
"Birth of Tragedy", _Thus Spoke..._, _The Gay Science_, and _A Nietzsche
Reader_ by Penguin which covers his whole career on a wide range of issues,
if you want to refer me to any of these, too.)

There's more to life than this. I know that. That's more than just
utilitarianism. In fact, after J.S. Mill had his nervous breakdown, it was
Romantic poetry that pieced him together again for his next, far more
complicated phase of his career, where he could take one side of the issue
so far, then realize its limitations, and move to the other. (Kind of like
Fred.)

        ---Randall Albright




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