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Nietzsche's Anti-Darwinism


  • Date Published: September 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107621527

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About the Authors
  • Friedrich Nietzsche's complex connection to Charles Darwin has been much explored, and both scholarly and popular opinions have tended to assume a convergence in their thinking. In this study, Dirk Johnson challenges that assumption and takes seriously Nietzsche's own explicitly stated 'anti-Darwinism'. He argues for the importance of Darwin for the development of Nietzsche's philosophy, but he places emphasis on the antagonistic character of their relationship and suggests that Nietzsche's mature critique against Darwin represents the key to understanding his broader (anti-)Darwinian position. He also offers an original reinterpretation of the Genealogy of Morals, a text long considered sympathetic to Darwinian naturalism, but which he argues should be taken as Nietzsche's most sophisticated critique of both Darwin and his followers. His book will appeal to all who are interested in the philosophy of Nietzsche and its cultural context.

    • Provides a concise jargon-free, clear and accessible account of the main areas of debate
    • Substantial interdisciplinary bibliography that covers important secondary literature in both the Nietzsche and Darwin fields to allow specialists to locate relevant texts
    • Includes end-of-chapter conclusions, providing a brief conclusive summary of the main arguments
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Critics and advocates alike have long held that Nietzsche's ideas are an extension of Darwin's scientific legacy and that his criticisms of Darwinian theory are based on fundamental misunderstandings. In this subtle and insightful study, Dirk Johnson aims to overturn these assumptions, allowing us to appreciate the autonomy of Nietzsche's philosophical thinking. Johnson's careful and balanced examination of this crucial test case results in a powerful critique of the prevalent naturalistic approach to Nietzsche. This book will change the debate and become a benchmark for future work on this topic.' Paul S. Loeb, University of Puget Sound

    'This book makes an important intervention in contemporary Nietzsche studies in the English-speaking world … Johnson has written a study that merits being read by anyone with an interest in Nietzsche's relation to science, especially Darwinism, and an investment in the stakes of reading one of Nietzsche's masterpieces, On the Genealogy of Morality.' Keith Ansell-Pearson, Journal of Nietzsche Studies

    '… a significant contribution to the understanding of the role of Darwinism in Nietzsche's thought and future work in this area will have to engage with it.' Ruth Burch, The European Legacy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107621527
    • length: 252 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Early Darwinism to the 'Anti-Darwin':
    1. Towards the 'Anti-Darwin': Darwinian meditations in the middle period
    2. Overcoming the 'Man' in Man: Zarathustra's transvaluation of Darwinian categories
    3. Nietzsche Agonistes: a personal challenge to Darwin
    Part II. Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals:
    4. Nietzsche's 'Nature'
    or, whose playing field is it anyway?
    5. The birth of morality out of the spirit of the 'Bad Conscience'
    6. Darwin's 'Science': or, how to beat the shell game

  • Author

    Dirk R. Johnson, Hampden Sydney College
    Dirk R. Johnson is Associate Professor of Modern Languages at Hampden-Sydney College, USA.

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