Nietzsche and Rand: 96 Similarities and Differences

This is a work in progress. Corrections and additions welcome. The long comparison table below is also here in PDF format.


Summary

96 issues included as of April 2016.

Agreements: 19
Disagreements: 70
Semi-agree/ disagree:  7

Of the agreements:

Negative agreements:  8
Positive agreements: 11

Bibliography

Nietzsche’s works cited Rand’s works cited
A The Antichrist [1888] AF The Art of Fiction (2000)
BGE Beyond Good & Evil [1886] AF The Art of Nonfiction (2001)
BT The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music [1872] ARL The Ayn Rand Letter (1971-1976)
CW The Case of Wagner [1888] AS Atlas Shrugged (1957)
D Daybreak [1881] CUI Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966)
EH Ecce Homo [written 1888] FNI For the New Intellectual (1961)
GM Genealogy of Morals [1887] ITOE Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1979)
GS The Gay Science [1882] JAR Journals of Ayn Rand (1997)
HA Human All-Too-Human [1878] NL The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971)
SE Schopenhauer as Educator [1874] PWNI Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982)
SSW The Struggle Between Science and Wisdom RM The Romantic Manifesto (1969)
TFEMS Truth and Falsehood in an Extra-moral Sense TO The Objectivist (1966-1971)
TI Twilight of the Idols [1888] TON The Objectivist Newsletter (1962-1965)
WP The Will to Power [1889; unpublished in Nietzsche’s lifetime] VOS The Virtue of Selfishness (1964)
WS The Wanderer and His Shadow [1880] WTL We the Living (1936/1959)
Z Thus Spake Zarathustra [1883-85]
Issue Nietzsche’s position Rand’s position
Metaphysics
Fundamental stuff of the universe “the innermost essence of being is will to power” (WP 693)

Materialism. Importance of Friedrich Lange’s The History of Materialism (1866): “Nietzsche’s first reaction was that it was undoubtedly the most significant philosophical work to have appeared in the last hundred years” (postscript to a letter of February 1866 to Hermann Mushacke, in Hayman 1980, 82)

No armchair physics. “’Cosmology’ has to be thrown out of philosophy.” (JAR 698, emphasis in original)
Entity or process Process (WP 552, 1067; BGE 54); “the lie of unity, the lie of thinghood, of substance, of permanence.”(TI “Reason” in Philosophy 2)

“there is no ‘being’ behind doing, effecting, becoming; ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed—the deed is everything.” This substance/action ontology leads people to maintain the belief that “the strong man is free to be weak and the bird of prey to be a lamb—for thus they gain the right to make the bird of prey accountable for being a bird of prey.” (GM 1:13)

Entities as objective; no armchair physics (GS, FNI, pb 125; ITOE, 18; JAR 698)
Monism, dualism, or pluralism Monism (WP 1067); “Descartes was the first to have dared, with admirable boldness, to understand the animal as machine; the whole of our physiology endeavors to prove this claim. And we are consistent enough not to except man, as Descartes still did” (A14) Naturalism: no armchair physics (JAR 698)
Identity No (WP 507-517) Yes (GS, FNI, 152, pb 125; 186, pb 150; 188; pb 152; 192, pb 154; ITOE, 78, 6)
Identity and change compatible No (WP 520) Yes (GS, FNI, 192, pb 154)
Causality No (WP 497, 545-552) . GS 112

Yet regular reductionist causal explanations

Not “mechanistic”: “Let us even beware of believing the universe is a machine: it is certainly not constructed for one purpose, and calling it a ‘machine’ does it far too much honor.” (GS 109)

Yes (GS, FNI, 188, pb 151; “The Metaphysical vs. the Man-Made,” PWNI, 30; pb 25)
Teleology No (WP 552, 1067, Postcard to Overbeck) Yes for organisms (VOS, 6, pb 16; ITOE, 42)
Direction to evolution Yes (GM II:24) No armchair physics or biology
Existence of God No (GS 108; 125) No (GS, FNI, 184; pb 148)
Consciousness as functional/useful Yes (WP 505) Yes (VOS, 9, pb 18; ITOE, 38)
Consciousness as causal No (WP 477-478, 524); not an independent agent controlling itself, the body but a passive reflector and “nothing but a certain behaviour of the instincts toward one another” (GS 333) ; as merely a felt effect of struggle among instincts for supremacy (WP 677)

“The ‘inner world’ is full of phantoms and will-o’-the-wisps: the will is one of them. The will no longer moves anything, hence does not explain anything either—it merely accompanies events; it can also be absent. The so-called motive: another error. Merely a surface phenomenon of consciousness, something alongside the deed that is more likely to cover up the antecedents of the deeds than to represent them. And as for the ego! That has become a fable, a fiction, a play on words: it has altogether ceased to think, feel, or will.

“What follows from this? There are no mental causes at all.” (TI “The Four Great Errors” 3)

Yes (“The Metaphysical vs. the Man-Made,” PWNI, 30, pb 25)
Psychology reduced to biology Yes: GS 134 and 145 on diet, drink, and air quality, as explaining the spread of pessimistic, nihilist philosophies.

“Europe would never have become Christian in the first place if the culture of the ancient world in the south had not gradually been barbarized through an excessive admixture of Teutonic barbarian blood, thus losing its cultural superiority.” (GS 149)

No
Epistemology
Consciousness as identification No (BGE 211; WP 473, 479, 481, 507, 511, 513, 516, 521); the “ridiculous overestimation and misunderstanding of consciousness” (GS 11); GM II:16

Consciousness as a defense mechanism against reality, not a cognitive mechanism. Language and art as shields, as comforting illusions.

Yes (GS, FNI, 152; pb 124; ITOE, 37, 73, 106)
Sensations as awareness of reality No (WP 479)

Daybreak 117:“In prison.” “The habits of our senses have woven us into lies and deception of sensation: these again are the basis of all our judgments and ‘knowledge’—there is absolutely no escape, no backway or bypath in the the real world!”

Yes: “they [the senses] do not lie at all. What we make of their testimony, that alone introduces lies; for example the lie of unity, the lie of thinghood, of substance, of permanence. ‘Reason’ is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. … . The ‘apparent’ world is the only one: the ‘true’ world is merely added by a lie.” (TI “Reason” in Philosophy 2)

Yes (ITOE, 5; “Kant Versus Sullivan,” PWNI, 108, pb 90)
Sensations as value laden Yes (WP 505) No (GS, FNI, 194, pb 156)
Concepts as awareness of reality No (WP 507, 513). Language as inadequate to reality (TI Skirmishes 26) Yes (ITOE, 71)
Logic as reality-based No (WP 477, 512) ; GS 111 Yes (GS, FNI, 153, pb 125; “Philosophical Detection,” PWNI, 17, pb 15)
Sensations, concepts and theories as impositions upon reality Always (WP 515-516) Sensations never; false conceptions only (ITOE, 65; GS, FNI, 154, pb 126)
Truth As functional only (WP 487); as a useful error (WP 493) ; “These Nay-sayers and outsiders of today who are unconditional on one point—their insistence on intellectual cleanliness, these hard, severe, abstinent heroic spirits who constitute the honor of our age; all these pale atheists, anti-Christians, immoralists, nihilists, ephectics, hectics of the spirit  . . . they certainly believe they are as completely liberated from the ascetic ideal as possible, these “free, very free spirits” . . . They are far from being free spirits: for they still have faith in the truth” (GM III.24).

“The demand for an adequate mode of expression is senseless: it lies in the essence of a language, as a means of expression, to express a mere relationship—the concept ‘truth’ is nonsensical.” (WP 625)

“Thus the strength of knowledge does not depend on its degree of truth but on its age, on the degree to which it has been incorporated, on its character as a condition of life.” (GS 110)

“The conditions of life might include error.” (GS 121)

“What are man’s truths ultimately? Merely his irrefutable errors.” (GS 265)

“Truths are illusions whose illusoriness is overlooked.” (TFEMS, q. Hayman 164)

Both as identification and as functional (ITOE, 63, 65; GS, FNI, 154, pb 126; “Philosophical Detection,” PWNI, 16, pb 14)
Self-knowledge No: “The so-called ‘ego’.

We are none of us that which we appear to be in accordance with the states for which alone we have consciousness and words, and consequently praise and blame; those cruder outbursts of which alone we are aware make us misunderstand ourselves, we draw a conclusion on the basis of data in which the exceptions outweigh the rule, we misread ourselves in this apparently most intelligible of handwriting on the nature of our self.” (D 115)

“The unknown world of the ‘subject’.” (D 116)

“every action is unknowable” (GS 335)

“However far a man may go in self-knowledge, nothing however can be more incomplete than his image of the totality of drives which constitute his being.” (D 119)

“Our thinking is only a picture of the primal intellect, a thinking that arises from the ideas of the single will … . I believe in the incomprehensibility of the will.” (q in Hayman 136-7)

How does the above fit with BGE 6 which claims deep knowledge of self based on knowledge of surface philosophy?

Yes: Introspective skills. Conscious and subconscious. Psychological role of art in cognition. Friendship and love: “visibility”.
Reason as efficacious Weakly at best: “[B]y far the greatest part of our spirit’s activity remains unconscious and unfelt” (GS 333; cf. GS 354). “Actions are never what they appear to us to be! We have expended so much labor on learning that external things are not as they appear to us to be — very well! the case is the same with the inner world! Moral actions are in reality ‘something other than that’—more we cannot say: and all actions are essentially unknown.” (D 116); “[I]n this new world they no longer possessed their former guides, their regulating, unconscious and infallible drives: they were reduced to thinking, inferring, reckoning, co-ordinating cause and effect, these unfortunate creatures; they were reduced to their ‘consciousness,’ their weakest and most fallible organ!” (GM II:16)

“What we make of [the senses’] testimony, that alone introduces lies; for example the lie of unity, the lie of thinghood, of substance, of permanence. ‘Reason’ is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. … . The ‘apparent’ world is the only one: the ‘true’ world is merely added by a lie.” (TI “Reason” in Philosophy 2)

Yes (“The Left: Old and New,” NL, 84)
Reason as primary cognitive tool No (GS 354; GM II:16) Yes (GS, FNI, 156, pb 128; VOS, 13, pb 20)
Instinct as cognitively efficacious Yes (GM II:16); “‘instinct’ is of all the kinds of intelligence that have been discovered so far—the most intelligent.” (BGE 218) “Instinct is the best” and “Our deeds must happen unconsciously” (Sixth “Self-Observation” aphorism of 1868; q in Hayman 103) No (GS, FNI, 148, pb 121; VOS, 11 , pb 19; 23, pb 27)
Philosophy reduced to psychology Yes (BGE I:3,23);

“Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir”. “In the philosopher, conversely, there is nothing whatever that is impersonal; and above all, his morality bears decided and decisive witness to who he is— that is, in what order of rank the innermost drives of his nature stand in relation to each other.” (BGE 6)

“our moral judgments and evaluations too are only images and fantasies based on a physiological process unknown to us” (D 119)

“the physiological phenomenon behind the moral predispositions and prejudices” (D 542)

“most of the conscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly guided and forced into certain channels by his instincts.” (BGE 3)

No
Philosophy as systematic Yes: “We [philosophers] have no right to isolated acts of any kind: we may not make isolated errors or hit upon isolated truths. Rather do our ideas, our values, our yeas and nays, our ifs and buts, grow out of us with the necessity with which a tree bears fruit—related and each with an affinity to each, and evidence of one will, one health, one soil, one sun.” (GM, Preface: 2)

No: “Beware of systematizers! – There is a play-acting of systematizers: … they will to impersonate complete and uniformly strong natures.” (D 318)

“I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to system is a lack of integrity” (TI Maxims and Arrows 26)

Issue of organic growth versus top-down intellectualized imposition?

Yes (“The Chicken’s Homecoming,” NL, 107)
Philosophy and Science relationship Continuity and strong overlap of content;

Anti-a-priori speculation.

“Today we possess science precisely to the extent to which we have decided to accept the testimony of the senses—to the extent to which we sharpen them further, arm them, and have learned to think them through.” (TI Reason 3)

Development: pro-science in 70s (HAH), then Kantian/Schopenhaurian skepticism about the noumenal (e.g., BGE 21); then denies noumenal/phenomenal distinction in TI (“How the ‘True World’ Finally Became a Fable”)

“the ideal scholar in whom the scientific instinct, after thousands of total and semi-failures, for once blossoms and blooms to the end, is certainly one of the most precious instruments there are; but he belongs in the hand of one more powerful” (BGE 207; the one more powerful being a philosopher-creator)

GM 3: 25: “No! Don’t come to me with science when I ask for the natural antagonist of the ascetic ideal …” and: “all science … has at present the object of dissuading man from his former respect for himself …”

Continuity but sharper division of labor. E.g., on evolution.

Anti-a-priori speculation

Inductive evidence’s role.

Intrinsicism False (GM III:12; BGE 207) False (“What is Capitalism?’, CUI, 21)
Objectivism False (GM III:12); Objectivity versus self-identity: “The objective man is indeed a mirror: he is accustomed to submit before whatever wants to be known.” He is “only a delicate, carefully dusted, fine, mobile pot for forms that still has to wait for some content and substance in order to ‘shape’ itself accordingly—for the most part, a man without substance and content, a ‘selfless’ man.” (BGE 207) True (“Introducing Objectivism,” TON, Aug 1962, 35)
Subjectivism True: “Genuine philosophers, however, are commanders and legislators: they say, ‘thus it shall be! … . Their ‘knowing is creating, their creating is a legislation, their will to truth is—will to power.” (BGE 211). But not in the dualistic sense (WP 481). “One thing is needful—To ‘give style’ to one’s character—a great and rare art! … . In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small. Whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose, if only it was a single taste!” (GS 290) False (GS, FNI, 187, pb 150)
Perspectivalism/ Relativism True (GM III:12; WP 540) ; “Egoism is the law of perspective applied to feelings: what is closest appears large and weighty, and as one moves farther away size and weight decrease.” (GS 162) False
Faith No: “Faith is always most desired, most pressingly needed, where there is a lack of will … that is to say, the less a person knows how to command, the more urgent his desire for that which commands, and commands sternly,—a God, prince, caste, physician, father confessor, dogma, or party conscience.” (GS 347)

“Prayer has been invented for those people who really never have thoughts of their own and who do not know any elevation of the soul or at least do not notice when it occurs” (GS 128)

Irresponsible
Skepticism As non-commitalism: “skepticism is the most spiritual expression of a complex physiological condition that in ordinary language is called nervous exhaustion and sickliness [Kränklichkeit]” (BGE 208) No
Evolutionary epistemology Origin of knowledge.—Over immense periods of time the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggles for themselves and their progeny. Such erroneous articles of faith …” (GS 110) Circularity issue
Language Language cannot be transparent: “for between two absolutely disparate spheres such as subject and object there can be no connections which are causal, precise or expressive, but nothing more than an aesthetic interaction, I mean, the transmission of hints, a stumbling translation into a wholly foreign language, for which we invariably need a freely poeticizing and freely inventive intermediate faculty an intermediate area.” (TFEMS) Cognitive and functional
Science as useful falsehoods Science furthers ability, not knowledge.” (HAH 256)

“It is precisely the best science that will best know how to keep us in this simplified, utterly artificial, well-invented, well-falsified world, how unwillingly willing science loves error because, being alive,—it loves life!” (BGE 24)

No
Human Nature
Reduction of morality to psychology Yes (BGE 6; GM I:10?) ; one’s moral code is a “decisive witness to who he is”, to the “innermost drives of his nature” (BGE 6). “Moral judgments,” he says are, “symptoms and sign languages which betray the process of physiological prosperity or failure” (WP 258). “[O]ur moral judgments and evaluations…are only images and fantasies based on a physiological process unknown to us” (D 119); “it is always necessary to draw forth…the physiological phenomenon behind the moral predispositions and prejudices” (D 542); “There is only aristocracy of birth, only aristocracy of blood” (WP 942) No (VOS, 16, pb 23; “The Psychology of ‘Psychologizing,’” TO, March 1971, 2)
Reduction of psychology to biology Yes (TI 33; WP 529) ; “One cannot erase from the soul of a human being what his ancestors liked most to do and did most constantly” (BGE 260); “Descartes was the first to have dared, with admirable boldness, to understand the animal as machine; the whole of our physiology endeavors to prove this claim. And we are consistent enough not to except man, as Descartes still did” (A14) ; “Wherever a deep discontent with existence becomes prevalent, it is the after-effects of some great dietary mistake make by a whole people over a long period of time that are coming to light” (GS 134) No (GS, FNI, 148, pb 121)
Individual as a unity No. The human is the combat of “a vast confusion of contradictory valuations and consequently of contradictory drives” (WP 259) Should strive for the dominance of one: “here the co-ordination of the inner systems and their operation n the service of one end is best achieved” (WP 778); “The assumption of one single subject is perhaps unnecessary” (WP 490); consciousness is not “the unity of the organism” (GS 11) Yes
Individual as real No: “For the individual, the ‘single man,’ as people and philosophers have hitherto understood him, is an error; he does not constitute a separate entity, an atom, a ‘link in the chain,’ something merely inherited from the past—he constitutes the entire single line ‘man’ up to and including himself” (TI 9.33) Yes (“The soul of an individualist,” FNI, 91; pb 78; “What is Capitalism,” CUI, 15)
Will as primary Yes (WP 1067) No
Free will No (BGE 21; GM II:10: no “guilt,” only sickness; Postcard to Overbeck); “the concept of a causa sui is something fundamentally absurd” (BGE 15), and that it is “the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far…a sort of rape and perversion of logic” (BGE 21); the desire for “freedom of the will” in the superlative metaphysical sense … the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one’s actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui and … to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness” (BGE 21); “at the bottom of us, really ‘deep down,’ there is, of course, something unteachable, some granite of spiritual fatum, of predetermined decision and answer to predetermined questions. Whenever a cardinal problem is at stake, there speaks an unchangeable ‘this is I.’ (BGE 231); we are before “a brazen wall of fate; we are in prison, we can only dream ourselves free, not make ourselves free” (HAH 2:33); One of “The Four Great Errors” is free will (TI “The Four Great Errors” 7). “the single human being is a piece of fatum from the front and from the rear, one law more, one necessity more for all that is yet to come and to be. To say to him, ‘Change yourself!’ is to demand that everything be changed, even retroactively.” (TI ‘Morality as Anti-Nature’ 6); “the voluntary is absolutely lacking … everything has been directed along certain lines from the beginning” (WP 458); “one will become only that which one is (in spite of all: that means education, instruction, milieu, chance, and accident)” (WP 334); “A man as he ought to be: that sounds to us as insipid as ‘a tree as he ought to be’” (WP 332). “There is only aristocracy of birth, only aristocracy of blood” (WP 942); “perhaps there exists neither will nor purposes, and we have only imagined them. Those iron hands of necessity which shake the dice-box of chance play their game for an infinite length of time; so there have to be throws which exactly resemble purposiveness and rationality of every degree. Perhaps our acts of will and our purposes are nothing but just such throws—and we are only too limited and too vain to comprehend our extreme limitedness: which consists in the fact that we ourselves shake the dice-box with iron hands, that we ourselves in our most intentional actions do no more than play the game of necessity.” (D 130) Opening line of EH: “The good fortune of my existence ‘lies in its fatality.” (EH ‘Why I am so Wise’, 1) “It was a lucky fact of nature that I, Nietzsche, was a healthy organism, that is, the type of creature that instinctively does the right things to facilitate its flourishing.” (EH ‘Why I am so Wise’, 2); “Amor fati: Let that be my love henceforth!” (GS 276)

Yes: “We … want to become those we are—human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves.” (GS 335)

Stoic fatalism? One controls only one’s response to one’s fate?

Yes (“The Objectivist Ethics’” VOS, 13, pb 21)
Reason and passion/emotion priority Passion/emotion has priority (BGE 36, 68, 158, 191) Thinking is only “the form in which we come to feel” (GS 333). “Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings—always darker, emptier, and simpler.” (GS 179) Reason primary (“The Left: Old and New,” NL, 84; “Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” pamphlet, 6)
Reason and passion/emotion relationship Conflict (EH: “The Birth of Tragedy” 1): “‘Rationality’ against instinct”)

Hayman on GS 55: The noble individual does not proceed according to reason: when he is magnanimous or self-sacrificing, it is his instincts he is following, and when he is brave it is not for the sake of winning honours. His overflowing magnanimity empowers him to be generous.” (237)

Should be harmony (“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” pamphlet, 6)
Tabula rasa or nativism Strong nativism (BGE 231, 264) ;

Self-creation: “The one thing needful. – There is one thing one has to have: either a cheerful disposition by nature of a disposition made cheerful by art and knowledge.” (HAH 486)

Cognitive and moral tabula rasa (VOS, 23, pb 28; “The Comprachios,” NL, 190)
Science as ennobling No: “all science … has at present the object of dissuading man from his former respect for himself …” (GM III:25)

Yes: GS 293

Yes
Ethics
Morality in the service of life Yes (BGE; GM) Yes (VOS, 16, pb 23)
Psychological egoism Yes (BGE); “Is it virtuous when a cell transforms itself into a function of a stronger cell? It has no alternative. Is it evil when a stronger cell assimilates the weaker? It also has no alternative; it follows necessity …” (GS 118)

No: “For what does one have to atone most? For one’s modesty; for having failed to listen to one’s most personal requirements; for having mistaken oneself; for having underestimated oneself; for having lost a good war for one’s instincts: this lack of reverence for oneself revenges itself through every kind of deprivation: health, friendship, well-being, pride, cheerfulness, freedom, firmness, courage. One never afterward forgives oneself for this lack of genuine egoism: one takes it for an objection, for a doubt about a real ego.” (WP 918)

No (“Introduction,” VOS, xiii, pb ix)
Psychological altruism Yes: “‘Not to seek one’s own advantage’—that is merely the moral fig leaf for quite a different, namely, a physiological state of affairs: ‘I no longer know how to find my own advantage.’ Disintegration of the instincts! Man is finished when he becomes altruistic. Instead of saying naïvely, “I am no longer worth anything,’ the moral lie in the mouth of the decadent says, ‘Nothing is worth anything, life is not worth anything.’ Such a judgment always remains very dangerous, it is contagious: throughout the morbid soil of society it soon proliferates into a tropical vegetation of concepts—now as a religion (Christianity), now as a philosophy (Schopenhaurism).” (TI Skirmishes 35)

Yes: GS 119 speaks of those who desire only to be a function of others.

The above two as representative of N’s descriptive and normative uses of the same concepts: third-person description of the phenomenon and first-person evaluation of the phenomenon from the perspective of his moral-psycho-biological type.

Nietzsche has two theses: 1. Egoism as universal and natural. All have will to power. But not all are equal. So altruism as the egoism of the weak. 2. Egoism as not universal: physiological sickness causing a will to nothingness and then moral nihilism. Altruism as the will to nothingness of the weak. Which is it—1 or 2?

No.
Conflict of interest the fundamental social fact Yes: “Here one must think profoundly to the very basis and resist all sentimental weakness: life itself is essen­tially appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of peculiar forms, incorporation and at the least, putting it mildest, exploitation—but why should one for ever use precisely these words on which for ages a disparag­ing purpose has been stamped?” “[P]eople now rave everywhere, even under the guise of science, about coming conditions of society in which ‘the exploiting character’ is to be absent:—that sounds to my ear as if they promised to invent a mode of life which should refrain from all organic func­tions.” (BGE 259); Will to power “can manifest itself only against resistances; therefore it seeks that which resists it” (WP 656) ; “The well-being of the majority and the well-being of the few are opposite viewpoints of value,” (GM , end of First Essay note). “There is no egoism that remains by itself and does not encroach … . ‘One furthers one’s I always at the expense of others’” ; alternative translation: 369: “‘One furthers one’s ego always at the expense of others’ (WP 369) ; (cf. BGE 265) No: Reason and production increase value; Reason and emotion harmonizable.
Inequalities of power as key social fact Yes: Life is “defined as an enduring form of processes of the establishment of force, in which the different contenders grow unequally” (WP 642) No
Values as intrinsic No (GM I:10) No (VOS; “What is Capitalism,” CUI, 22)
Values as objective No Yes (VOS; “What is Capitalism,” CUI, 22)
Values as subjective Yes (BGE 260?); “Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature—nature is always value-less, but has been given value at some time” (GS 301); one’s moral code is a “decisive witness to who he is”, to the “innermost drives of his nature” (BGE 6). “Moral judgments,” he says are, “symptoms and sign languages which betray the process of physiological prosperity or failure” (WP 258). “[O]ur moral judgments and evaluations…are only images and fantasies based on a physiological process unknown to us” (D 119); “it is always necessary to draw forth…the physiological phenomenon behind the moral predispositions and prejudices” (D 542) ; “justice … is by all means a matter of taste, nothing more” (GS 184) No (“What is Capitalism,” CUI, 22)
Values as universal No. Slave morality is “the prudence of the lowest order” (GM I:13). “The ideas of the herd should rule in the herd—but not reach out beyond it” (WP 287)

“That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no grounds for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs. And if the lambs say among themselves: ‘these birds of prey are evil; and whoever is least like a bird of prey, but rather its opposite, a lamb—would he not be good?” there is no reason to find fault with this institution of an ideal, except perhaps that the birds of prey might view it a little ironically and say: ‘we don’t dislike them at all, these good little lambs; we even love them: nothing is more tasty than a tender lamb.’” (GM 1:13)

“Not one of these clumsy, conscience-stricken herd animals (who set out to treat egoism as a matter of general welfare) wants to know … that what is right for someone absolutely cannot be right for someone else; that the requirement that there be a single morality for everyone is harmful precisely to the higher men; in short, that there is an order of rank between people, and between moralities as well. (BGE 228)

Yes
Value/virtue relationship Priority of virtue. Values created by characters of a type. Priority of value.
Virtue “And verily I do not even teach that virtue is its own reward…. You are too pure to be sullied with the words revenge, punishment, reward, retribution. You love your virtue, as a mother does her child, and whoever heard of a mother wanting to be paid for her love? Your virtue is your self, not something alien.” (Z “On the Virtuous”)

N’s is an activist Stoicism. A cheerful Byronic fatalism.

Virtues as means to value ends.
Individuals responsible for their characters No (BGE 264). “Weakness of the will: that is a simile that can mislead. For there is no will, and consequently neither a strong nor a weak will. The multiplicity and disgretation of the impulses, the lack of system among them results in a ‘weak will’; their coordination under the dominance of a single one results in a ‘strong will’” (WP 46). Yes
Individuals responsible for their actions No and yes. See Free will. Yes (“Causality versus Duty,” PWNI, 118, pb 98)
Individuals as ends in themselves Yes (BGE 287);

No (WP 287); every living being “is only a means to something; it is the expression of forms of the growth of power” (WP 706) ; 13: “A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength—life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results” (BGE 13); every “living creature values many things higher than life itself; yet out of this evaluation itself speaks—the will to power” (Z 2:12) ; “Not ‘mankind’ but overman is the goal!” (WP 1001) ; Morality is a social product: it arises “when a greater individual or a collective-individual, for example the society, the state, subjugates all other single ones … and orders them into a unit.” (HH 1.99)

Yes
Individual life as the standard No (BGE 188); “Beginning with Socrates, the individual all a once began to take himself too seriously” (SSW 132) ;

“My philosophy aims at ordering of rank not at an individualistic morality” (WTP 287).

“For the question is this: how can your life, the individual life, retain the highest value, the deepest significance? … Only by your living for the good of the rarest and most valuable specimens and not for the good of the majority.” (SE)

The free spirit: “Such a spirit who has become free stands amid the cosmos with a joyous and trusting fatalism, in the faith that only the particular is loathsome, and that all is redeemed and affirmed in the whole—he does not negate any more. Such a faith, however, is the highest of all possible faiths: I have baptized it with the name of Dionysus.” (TI Skirmishes 49)

HH 2.89: community more valuable than individual, and to create that which is enduring is the goal; morality is for that purpose: to limit and channel the individual. This, e.g., was the great accomplishment of the Roman Empire (A 58)

Yes (“The Soul of an Individualist,” FNI, 96, pb 82; “Racism,” VOS, 176, pb 129); (VOS, 7, pb 17)
Human life as the standard No: “Those who care most today ask: ‘How are human beings to be preserved?’ But Zarathustra is the only one and the first one to ask: ‘How shall human being be overcome?’ The overman is in my heart, that is my first and my only concern—and not human beings … . Oh my brothers, what I am able to love in human beings is that they are a going over and a going under.” (Z IV “On the Higher Man”) Yes
Sacrificing self to others Yes, if a weakling (TI 33).

Zarathustra says: “The overman is the sense of the earth … . I love those who sacrifice themselves for the earth, that the earth may some day become the overman’s.” (Z I.P.3)

No (GS, FNI, 172; pb 139)
Sacrificing others to self Yes, if strong (WP 369, 982) ; “To ordinary human beings, finally—the vast majority who exist for service and the general advantage, and who may exist only for that” (BGE 61) ; “egoism belongs to the nature of a noble soul—I mean that unshakable faith that to a being such as ‘we are’ other beings must be subordinate by nature and have to sacrifice themselves.” (BGE 265) No (“Introduction,” VOS, xii, pb ix)
The improvement of the species as the end Yes (BGE 126; Z Prologue: 4) ; “mankind in the mass sacrificed to the prosperity of a single stronger species of man — that would be an advance.” (GM II:12)

“Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth!” (Z, Prologue, § 3).

“I write for a species of man that does not yet exist: for the ‘masters of the earth’” (WP 958)

No
Sacrificing some for the sake of the species Yes (BGE 62; WP 246; GM II:12) ; “All-too-many live, and all-too-long they hang on their branches. Would that a storm came to shake all this worm-eaten rot from the tree!” (Z, First Part); a healthy aristocracy “accepts with a good conscience the sacrifice of untold human beings, who, for its sake, must be reduced and lowered to incomplete human beings, to slaves, to instruments” (BGE 258); “a conqueror- and master-race which, organized for war and with the force to organize unhesitatingly lays its terrible claws upon a populace perhaps tremendously superior in numbers but still formless and wandering.” (GM II:17) ; N seeks “a noble mode of thought … that believes in slavery and in many degrees of subjection as the presupposition of every higher culture” (WP 464); N wonders “to what extent a sacrifice of freedom, even enslavement itself, gives the basis for the bringing-forth of a higher type.” (WP 859) No
Power as the end As means and end (WP 1067); “What is good?—All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.” (A 1?) “A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results” (BGE 13); “All that happens out of aims is reducible to the aim of increasing power.” (WP 663)

“the feeling of power: this wants to express itself, either to us ourselves, or to other men, or to ideas or imaginary beings. The most common modes of expression are: to bestow, to mock, to destroy—all three out of a common basic drive” (D 356)

As means only.

“An animal’s capacity for development ends at physical maturity and thereafter its growth consists of the action necessary to maintain itself at a fixed level; after reaching maturity, it does not, to any significant extent, continue to grow in efficacy … . But man’s capacity for development does not end at physical maturity … . His ability to think, to learn, to discover new and better ways of dealing with reality, to expand the range of his efficacy, to grow intellectually, is an open door to a road that has no end.” (ITOE 81?)

Happiness as the end No Yes (VOS, 25, pb 29; GS, FNI, 150, pb 123)
Egoism as good Depends: “The natural value of egoism. Self-interest is worth as much as the person who has it: in can be worth a great deal, and it can be unworthy and contemptible. Every individual may be scrutinized to see whether he represents the ascending or the descending line of life. Having made that decision, one has a canon for the worth of his self-interest. If he represents the ascending line, then his worth is indeed extraordinary—and for the sake of life as a whole, which takes a step farther through him, the care for his preservation and for the creation of the best conditions for him may even be extreme. The single one, the ‘individual,’ as hitherto understood by the people and the philosophers alike, is an error after all: he is nothing by himself, no atom, no ‘link in the chain,’ nothing merely inherited from former times; he is the whole single line of humanity up to himself. If he represents the descending development, decay, chronic degeneration, and sickness (sicknesses are, in general, the consequences of decay, not its causes), then he has small worth, and the minimum of decency requires that he take away as little as possible from those who have turned out well. He is merely their parasite.” (TI Skimishes 33)

“[T]he subject—the striving individual bent on furthering his egoistic purposes—can be thought of only as the enemy of art, never its source.” (BT 5)

Egoism among noble equals: “It is one piece of its egoism more, this refinement and self-limitation with its equals … —it honors itself in them and in the rights it cedes to them.” (BGE 265)

“At the risk of annoying innocent ears I will propose this: egoism belongs to the essence of the noble soul. I mean that firm belief that other beings will, by nature, have to be subordinate to a being ‘like us’ and will have to sacrifice themselves. The noble soul accepts this fact of its egoism without any question-mark, and also without feeling any harshness, compulsion, or caprice in it, but rather as something that may well be grounded in the primordial law of things. If the noble soul were to try to name this phenomenon, it would call it justice itself” (BGE 265)

Yes (“The Soul of an Individualist,” FNI, 94, pb 81)
Altruism as bad Yes (TI Skirmishes 35); depends (TI Skirmishes 33)

“Morality trains the individual to be a function of the herd and to ascribe value to himself only as a function.”(GS 116)

“No altruism!” (GS 119)

Yes (GS, FNI, 178, pb 144; VOS, 33, pb 34; “Introduction,” VOS, xii, pb ix)
Altruism as the egoism of the weak Yes (GM I:8, III:14) Ultimately, No. But used as a weapon by the weak (AS 142)
Rationality as a virtue No (EH: “Birth of Tragedy” 1) Primary virtue (GS, FNI, 157, pb 128)
Selflessness Last men as disgusting: “What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?” thus asks the last man, and he blinks.

The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as in eradicable as the flea-beetle; the last man lives longest.

“’We have invented happiness,’ say the last men, and they blink ….” (Z P:5)

“Pseudo-egoism.—Whatever they may think and say about their ‘egoism’, the great majority nonetheless do nothing for their ego their whole life long: what they do is done for the phantom of their ego which has formed itself in the heads of those around them and has been communicated to them;-as a consequence they all of them dwell in a fog of impersonal, semi-personal opinions, and arbitrary, as it were poetical evaluations, the one for ever in the head of someone else, and the head of this someone else again in the heads of others: a strange world of phantasms” (D 105)

Second-handers as disgusting
Self-esteem He who “flees from himself, hates himself, does harm to himself—he is certainly not a good man” (D 516)
What makes an individual good One thing is needful.—To ‘give style’ to one’s character—a great and rare art! … . In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small. Whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose, if only it was a single taste!” (GS 290) [The aesthetic choice out of Kierkegaard’s trichotomy.]

The “‘great man’ is great owing to the free play and scope of his desires and to the yet greater power that knows how to press these magnificent monsters into service” (WP 933) An actor (not a re-actor).

“… one could conceive of such a pleasure and power of self-determination, such a freedom of the will that the spirit would take leave of all faith and every wish for certainty, being practiced in maintaining himself on insubstantial ropes and possibilities and dancing even near abysses. Such a spirit would be the free spirit par excellence” (GS 347).

Zarathustra says: “The overman is the sense of the earth … . I love those who sacrifice themselves for the earth, that the earth may some day become the overman’s.” (Z I.P.3)

“The essential point is: the greatest perhaps also have great virtues, but in that case also their opposites. I believe that it is precisely through the presence of opposites, and their feelings, that the great human being, the bow with the great tension, arises.” (WP 967) [Hegelian]

What makes one heroic?—Going out to meet at the same time one’s highest suffering and one’s highest hope.” (GS 268)

Greek ideal.—What did the Greeks admire in Odysseus? Above all, his capacity for lying, and for cunning and terrible retribution; his being equal to contingencies; when the need be, appearing nobler than the noblest; the ability to be whatever he chose; heroic perseverance; having all means at his command; possession of intellect—his intellect is the admiration of the gods, they smile when they think of it–: all this is the Greek ideal!” (Daybreak, 306)

“Man is a being of self-made soul.” Committed to the three core values: Reason, Purpose, Self esteem. (VOS)
What makes an individual bad One who is a “multitude and digression of impulses … [that] lack … systematic order among them” (WP 46). Such a man is “inner ruin … and anarchism” (WP 778) A re-actor. Evasion
Morality as relative to psychological type Yes (BGE 221) ; “the physiological phenomenon behind the moral predispositions and prejudices” (D 542) No (GS, FNI, 156, pb 128; VOS, 16, pb 23)
The greatest danger to man? The weak: “The sick represent the greatest danger for the healthy; it is not the strongest but the weakest who spell disaster for the strong.” Why? “What is to be feared, what has a more calamitous effect than any other calamity, is that man should inspire not profound fear but profound nausea; also not great fear but great pity.” (GM III:14) The strong via sanction of the victim? E.g., Francisco claim that his greatest battle is against Dagny.

The weapon of altruism (AS 142)

Virtues: Authenticity versus second-handers “Are you genuine? Or merely an actor? A representative? Or that which is represented? In the end, perhaps you are merely a copy of an actor.” (TI Maxims and Arrows 38) The Fountainhead
Morality not as commands but as tools of living creatively Yes: “We should be able also to stand above morality—and not only to stand with the anxious stiffness of a man who is afraid of slipping and falling any moment, but also to float above it and play.” (GS 107) Yes
Contemporary moral philosophy as essentially Judeo-Christian GM I “The greatest treason of the philosophers was that they never stepped out of the Middle Ages: they never challenged the Witch Doctor’s code of morality.” (FNI 37)
Ressentiment and envy GM I “The Age of Envy,” TO, July-August 1971, pp. 1057-
Wealth and virtue Wealth creates virtue: “Wealth as the Origin of a Nobility of Birth. – Wealth necessarily engenders an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the fairest women, pay the best teachers, grants to a man cleanliness, time for physical exercises, an above all freedom from deadening labour. To this extent it creates all the conditions for the production over a few generations of a noble and fair demeanour, even noble and fair behaviour, in men: greater freedom of feeling, the absence of the wretched and petty, of abasement before breadgivers, of penny-pinching.” (HAH 479) Virtue creates wealth
Work and leisure Leisure highest: “Leisure and idleness: … More and more, work gets all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a ‘need to recuperate’ and is starting to be ashamed of itself. ‘One owes it to one’s health’—that is what one says when caught on an excursion in the countryside. Soon we may well reach the point where one can’t give in to the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience. Well, formerly it was the other way around: work was afflicted with a bad conscience. A person of good family concealed the fact that he worked if need compelled him to work.” (GS 329) Work highest
Human life as significant No. “Man is a minor, transitional animal species, which — fortunately — has had its day. Anyway, life on earth is but a moment, an incident, an exception without consequence, something which is irrelevant to the general character of the earth; the earth itself, like every star, is a hiatus between nothingness and nothingness, an event without plan, reason, will, or self-awareness, the worst kind of necessity: blind necessity. . . . Something in us rebels against this view; the serpent ‘vanity’ says to us, ‘All this must be wrong because it is outrageous. . . . Could not all this be appearance? And, to speak with Kant, [could not] man despite all this [be something transcendent?]” (WP 303, R. Kevin Hill translation) Yes, as most significant.
Social and Political
Individual rights No. “For the preservation of society, for making possible higher and highest types—the inequality of rights is the condition.” (A 57)

“Their [i.e., the healthy’s] right to exist, the privilege of the full-toned bell over the false and cracked, is a thousand times greater: they alone are our warranty for the future, they alone are liable for the future of man.” (GM III:14)

“The invalid is a parasite on society. In a certain state it is indecent to go on living.” (TI Skirmishes 36)

Yes (“Man’s Rights,” VOS, 124, pb 93; 122, pb 92)
On capitalism Dehumanizing for most (D 206). Extreme inequality of wealth harmful to society. Financial markets and transportation should not be in private hands (WS 285)

Work and trade (GS 31)

Moral, productive (“What is Capitalism,” CUI, 20)

Productiveness (“TOE” 25)

On liberalism Nietzsche says he is “not by any means ‘liberal’” (GS 377); “Liberalism: in plain language, reduction to the herd animal.” (TI Skirmishes 38)

“My ideas do not revolve around the degree of freedom that is granted to the one or to the other or to all, but around the degree of power that the one or the other should exercise over others or over all, and to what extent a sacrifice of freedom, even enslavement, provides the basis for the emergence of a higher type.” (WP 859)

Yes
On equality False and destructive (WP 246) Before the law (“The Age of Envy,” NL, 164)
On democracy Bad (BGE 202): “Democracy has ever been the form of decline in organizing power.” (TI Skirmishes 39). See (HAH 1.472).

“[T]he democratic movement is the heir of the Christian movement.”; it will become a tool of “a master race, the future ‘masters of the earth’ … philosophical men of power and artist-tyrants’ who will “employ democratic Europe as their most pliant and supple instrument for getting hold of the destinies of the earth” (Note for BGE, quoted in Hunt 39)

Secondary to rights (“Collectivized Rights,” VOS, 140, pb 104)
On socialism Bad. Z 1:11 ; TI Skirmishes 34; also 37: “Socialists are décadents Bad (“The Monument Builders,” VOS, 120, pb 91; 115, pb 87)
On the state: how it came to be and how it is justified “Whatever it says it lies.” [though for N lying is not necessarily a bad thing]; “State I call it … where the slow suicide of all is called life”; “Where the state ends” we can then see “the bridges of the overman.” (Z, “On the New Idol”)

“I used the word ‘state’: it is obvious who is meant by this—some pack of blond beasts of prey, a conqueror and master race which, organized for war and with the ability to organize, unhesitatingly lays its terrible claws upon a populace perhaps tremendously superior in numbers but still formless and nomad. That is after all how the ‘state’ began on earth: I think that sentimentalism which would have it begin with a ‘contract’ has been disposed of.” (GM II:17)

Good if sticks within its proper limits
On the role of government Limited (D 179) or none at all: “the state … whatever it says it lies …. Everything about it is false” and “Only where the state ends, there begins the human being who is not superfluous” (Z I:11) Limited (“The Nature of Government,” VOS, 147, pb 109; 149, pb 110; GS, FNI, 231, pb 183)
On the welfare state Bad Bad (“A Preview,” ARL, I, 22, 2)
On aristocracy Good (BGE 258); (In TI 56-57 is largely critical of the Manu caste order)

“I am beginning to touch on what is serious for me, the ‘European problem’ as I understand it, the cultivation of a new caste that will rule Europe.” (BGE 251)

“Every enhancement of the type ‘man’ has so far been the work of an aristocratic society—and it will be so again and again—a society that believes in the long order of rank and differences in value between man and man, and that needs slavery in some sense or other.” (BGE 257)

Bad
On slavery Sometimes good (BGE 188); “Slavery is, as it seems, both in the cruder and in the more subtle sense, the indispensable means of spiritual discipline and cultivation, too.” (BGE 190); A healthy aristocracy “accepts with a good conscience the sacrifice of untold human beings, who, for its sake, must be reduced and lowered to incomplete human beings, to slaves, to instruments” (BGE 258); N seeks “a noble mode of thought … that believes in slavery and in many degrees of subjection as the presupposition of every higher culture” (WP 464); N wonders “to what extent a sacrifice of freedom, even enslavement itself, gives the basis for the bringing-forth of a higher type.” (WP 859) Evil
Healthy state “Strong ages, noble cultures, see in pity, in ‘love of one’s neighbor’, in a lack of self and self-reliance, something contemptible.” (TI Skirmishes 37)

“For institutions to exist there must exist the kind of will, instinct, imperative which is anti-liberal to the point of malice” (TI Skirmishes 39)

Limited, while efficient in the performance of those limited functions.
War as good Yes: “Preparatory human beings.—I welcome all signs that a more virile, warlike age is about to begin, which will restore honor to courage above all. For this age shall prepare the way for one yet higher, and it shall gather the strength that this higher age will require one day—the age that will carry heroism into the search for knowledge and that will wage wars for the sake of ideas and their consequences.” (GS 283)

“War essential. It is vain rhapsodizing and sentimentality to continue to expect much (even more, to expect a very great deal) from mankind, once it has learned not to wage war. For the time being, we know of no other means to imbue exhausted peoples, as strongly and surely as every great war does, with that raw energy of the battleground, that deep impersonal hatred, that murderous coldbloodedness with a good conscience, that communal, organized ardor in destroying the enemy, that proud indifference to great losses, to one’s own existence and to that of one’s friends. That muted, earthquakelike convulsion of the soul.” (HA 477)

“One must learn from war: … (2) one must learn to sacrifice many and to take one’s cause seriously enough not to spare men” (WP 982)

“Culture absolutely cannot do without passions, vices, and acts of malice.”

“Religious war has signified the greatest progress of the masses hitherto; for it proves that the mass has begun to treat concepts with respect.” (GS 144)

Also: (TI Skirmishes 38 on “war is a training in freedom”)

“Our liberal representatives, as is well known, lack the time for reflecting on the nature of man: else they would know that they work in vain when they work for a ‘gradual decrease of the military burden.’ Rather, only when this kind of need has become greatest will the kind of god be nearest who alone can help. The tree of war-glory can only be destroyed all at once, by a stroke of lightning: but lightning, as indeed you know, comes from a cloud—and from up high.” (WS 284)

No (“The Wreckage of the Consensus,” CUI, 224)
Civilization as ascending or declining Declining (BGE 202; GM I:11,12); but Z must come (GM II:24)

“One hardly dares speak anymore of the will to power: it was different in Athens.’ (Notes 1880-81, x, 414

Currently declining; future could go either way
Freedom “And war is a training in freedom. Or what is freedom? That one has the will to self-responsibility. That one preserves the distance which divides us. That one has become more indifferent to hardship, toil, privation, even to life. That one is ready to sacrifice men to one’s cause, oneself not excepted. Freedom means that the manly instincts that delight in war and victory have gained mastery over the other instincts—for example, the instinct for ‘happiness’. The man who has become free—and how much more the mind that has become free—spurns the contemptible sort of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, women, Englishmen and other democrats. The free man is a warrior.” (TI Skirmishes 38; connect to Hegel on the fraud of English freedom) The social fundamental.
Power “the most beautiful still appears only in the dark, and sinks, scarcely born, into eternal night—I mean the spectacle of that strength which employs genius not for works but for itself as a work; that is, for its own constraint, for the purification of its imagination, for the imposition of order and choice upon the influx of tasks and impressions. The great human being is still, in precisely the greatest thing that demands reverence, invisible like a too distant star: his victory over strength remains without eyes to see it and consequently without song and singer.” (D 548)

“He cannot control himself, and from that a poor woman infers that it will be easy to control him and casts her net for him. Soon she will be his slave.” (GS 227)

Pluralistic
Sex and marriage State-run (BGE 251); see D 42 Romantic passion and individual choice
Cosmopolitanism and internationalism Yes: “the strongest possible European mixed race.” “One should not be afraid to proclaim oneself simply a good European and actively work for the amalgamation of nations.” The means by which this is to be accomplished? “Trade and industry, the post and the book-trade, the possession in common of all higher culture, rapid changing of home and scene, the nomadic life now lived by all who do not own land” and their consequence, “a weakening and finally abolition of nations.” (Human I: 475) Cosmopolitanism yes. Functional nationalism as safety net.
Racism No No (VOS)
Women “Women are considered profound. Why? Because one never fathoms their depths. Women aren’t even shallow.” (TI Maxims and Arrows 27) Ethical and political equality.

Equal existential and psychological competence.

Some sexual-psychological differences between men and women.

Art and Sense of Life
Exalted sense of human potential Yes: “one emerges again and again into the light, one experiences again and again one’s golden hour of victory—and then one stands forth as one was born, unbreakable, tensed, ready for new, even harder, remoter things, like a bow that distress serves to draw tauter.” (GM I:12) Yes (VOS, 14, pb 22; “Introduction to The Fountainhead,” TO, March 1968, 4)
Engaged in a cosmic battle Yes Yes
Struggle as good Yes (BGE 262) Yes (“Art and Sense of Life,” RM 48)
Suffering as essential to creativity and development Yes. “The discipline of suffering, of great suffering—do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far? That tension of the soul in unhappiness which cultivates its strength, its shudders face to face with great ruin, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, persevering, interpreting, and exploiting suffering, and whatever has been granted to it of profundity, secret, mask, spirit, cunning, greatness—was it not granted to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering? (BGE 225; also BGE 270)

“Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit …. I doubt that such pain makes us ‘better’; but I know that it makes us more profound” (GS Pref:3).

To his kind of men: “I wish [them] suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished” (WP 910)

Though out of this will/can come joy, gaiety, and being a free spirit.

Philosophically: No. Literarily: Yes.
Benevolent universe No: Notebook of 1888: “For a philosopher to say, ‘the good and the beautiful are one,’ is infamy; if he goes on to add, ‘also the true,’ one ought to thrash him. Truth is ugly.” “Conscious of the truth he has once seen, man now sees everywhere only the horror or absurdity of existence. …. He is nauseated.” (BT 7) Yes
Love your life no matter what Yes: Amor fati. A tragic sense of life, not pessimistic.

GS 48; BGE 56

Yes: create your fate
Art as metaphysical Yes Yes
Tragedy as highest Yes: “For what purpose humanity is there should not even concern us: why you are there, that you should ask yourself: and if you have no ready answer, then set for yourself goals, high and noble goals, and perish in pursuit of them! I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible…” (unpublished note from 1873) No (RM )
Romanticism as highest No: Contra Alexandrian man (BT) Yes (RM ). Contra Naturalism: (“What is Romanticism,” RM, 81, pb 99; 83, pb 101; 102, pb 115; 104, pb 117; “The Esthetic Vacuum of our Age,” RM, 114, pb 124; 116, pb 125; “The goal of my writing,” RM, 163, pb 164; “The Basic Principles of Literature,” RM, 60; pb 83; 61, pb 83)
Creating as egoistic/ individualistic No (BT 5); Yes (RM )
Art and truth “Art is more valuable than truth” (WP 853); “What one should learn from artists.—How can we make things beautiful, attractive, and desirable for us when they are not? And I rather think that in themselves they never are.” (GS 299) Art as concretization of abstractions.
Creativity “We … want to become those we are—human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves.” (GS 335).

“To become what one is, one must not have the faintest notion what one is.” (EH ‘Why I am so Clever’ 9; echoes of Kant on genius in CJ and Hegel on the Absolute’s coming to self-awareness)

“Every artist knows how far from any feeling of letting himself go his ‘most natural state’ is—the free ordering, placing, disposing, giving form in the moment of ‘inspiration’—and how strictly and subtly he obeys thousandfold laws precisely then, laws that precisely on account of their hardness and determination defy all formulation through concepts.” (BGE 188)

Learned. Integration of conscious and subconscious processes.
Art as palliative or inspirational fuel Palliative: “As an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still bearable for us” (GS 107; Cf BT 5 and 24) Inspirational fuel
Selectivity as a value-judgment “An artist chooses his subjects; that is his way of praising.” (GS 245) Yes
Romanticism “that barbaric though enchanting outpouring from an undisciplined and chaotic soul of hot and highly colored things, which is what we understood by art when we were young.” (HAH 173; q in Hayman 209) Yes
Suffering “The discipline of suffering, of great suffering—do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far? That tension of the soul in unhappiness which cultivates its strength, its shudders face to face with great ruin, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, persevering, interpreting, and exploiting suffering, and whatever has been granted to it of profundity, secret, mask, spirit, cunning, greatness—was it not granted to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering?” (BGE 225) As result of accidents of mistakes; not fundamental
Beauty “The noblest kind of beauty is not that which suddenly transports us, which makes a violent and intoxicating assault upon us (such beauty can easily excite disgust), but that which slowly infiltrates us, which we bear away with us almost without noticing and encounter again in dreams, but which finally, after having for long lain modestly in our heart, takes total possession of us, filling our eyes with tears and our heart with longing.” (HAH, 149)
Cultural Analysis
Cultural disaster looming Yes: The West moves to “catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade.” (WP, Preface; 2) Yes: “we are a mixed economy, i.e., a mixture of capitalism and statism, of freedom and controls. A mixed economy is a country in the process of disintegration, a civil war of pressure groups looting and devouring each other.” (“Check Your Premises” “The Obliteration of Capitalism,” TON 4:10, October 1965, p. 47)
Sense of isolation from surrounding culture Yes: “homeless in a distinctive and honorable sense” (GS 377) Yes and no
The future as winnable Yes, for some: “the first of a new nobility … [and] a happiness … humanity has not known so far.” (GS 337) Yes
On Others
On Christianity “A rebellion of everything that crawls on the ground against that which has height.” (A 43)

“The Christian idea of God”: “is one of the most corrupt conceptions of God the world has ever seen … . God having degenerated into a contradiction of life instead of its transfiguration and eternal yes! God as declared aversion to life, to nature, to the will to life! God as every slander against the ‘here and now’” (A 18).

Ditto (“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” pamphlet, 10)
On Plato “Plato is coward before reality.” (TI What I Owe to the Ancients 2) Ditto (ITOE, 2)
On Kant “A catastrophic spider” (A 11); “that most deformed concept-cripple of all time” (TI, “What the Germans Lack” 7); Kant’s “abhorrent scholasticism” (TI Skirmishes 49) Kant’s philosophy is a “monstrous spider hanging in midair” (FNI 34) “Causality Versus Duty,” PWNI, 117, pb 97; “Brief Summary,” TO, Sept,. 1971, 4)
On the Jews “a people firmly attached to life…” (D 72)
Method and Style
Rhetorical clarity Esotericism: “It is not by any means necessarily an objection to a book when anyone finds it impossible to understand: perhaps that was part of the author’s intention—he did not want to be understood by just ‘anybody.’ All the nobler spirits and tastes select their audience when they wish to communicate; and choosing that, one at the same time erects barriers against ‘the others.’ All the more subtle laws of any style have their origin at this point: they at the same time keep away, create a distance, forbid ‘entrance,’ understanding, as said above — while they open the ears of those whose ears are related to ours.” (GS 381)

Being profound and seeming profound.—Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is so timid and dislikes going into the water” (GS 173)

“Our highest insights must—and should—sound like follies and sometimes like crimes when they are heard without permission by those who are not predisposed and predestined for them” (BGE 30).

Accessible and straightforward to all intelligent
Systematicity “Beware of systematizers!—There is a play-acting of systematizers: … they will to impersonate complete and uniformly strong natures.” (D 318)

Contrast GM Preface:2

Yes
Style “I fancy that with this Zarathustra I have brought the German language to its full realization. After Luther and Goethe a third step had to be taken—tell me, my old friend, whether there has ever been such a combination of strength, resilience and euphony. Read Goethe after a page of my book … my line is tougher, more virile, without ever lapsing into coarseness, like Luther’s. My style is dance, playing with symmetries of every kind, jumping over them and mocking them. This enters the very vowels.” (Feb 22, 1884 letter to Rohde; q Hayman 272) Romantic, cinematic
Philosophy and Fiction Zarathustra Atlas
Absorbing and transcending literary traditions Biblical language “Odysseus, Jesus, and Dagny” themes
Miscellany
Symbolisms Apollo and Dionysus End of AS: Galt’s tracing the dollar sign and Wyatt’s Torch in the distance
Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum.” (GS 276) “reversing a costly historical error”: “I am, therefore I’ll think.” (AS)
Architecture GS 291 on Genoa’s architecture Opening paragraphs of F.
Reception by contemporary philosophers “For a time, Nietzsche, then professor of classical philology at the University of Basle, had no students in his field. His lectures were sabotaged by German philosophy professors who advised their students not to show up for Nietzsche’s courses.” (M. Cowen 1962, “Introduction” to Nietzsche’s Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, 4)
Early and late periods Schopenhauer and Kant. Early more idealist metaphysical; later more positivist.

“Thinking out the principle problems … always brings me back … to the same conclusions :they are already there, as veiled and obscure as possible in my Geburt der Tragödie, and everything I have since learned has become and ingrown part of them.” (Letter to Franz Overbeck, 2 July 1885; q Hayman 286)

Aristotle, Nietzsche, and the Romantics
Titles of works N’s subtitles in EH: Some have suggested megalomania or madness. Ironic honesty. Countering Socrates’s modesty about not being wise. Countering Jesus’s admonition to humility. Countering false modesty of most autobiographies: most such pretend not be telling us how wise and clever they are. Plus good marketing: arresting. Plus truth: N was clever and dynamite. Selfishness. Heinz Pagels remark: “No great science was done in the spirit of humility.”
Issue Nietzsche’s position Rand’s position

Related:

For my journal-article length treatment of the similarities and differences in their ethics, see my “Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand”: Text version and Audio version.

For my book-length treatment of the similarities and differences in Nietzsche’s philosophy and the National Socialists’ politics, see my Nietzsche and the Nazis: Text version and Audio version and Documentary version.

CEE to host two panels at Rockford University: Free Markets, Socialism, and Immigration

The Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship and Vienna’s Austrian Economic Center will host two panels on The Role of the State: The American Dream? Socialism? and Immigration: Controlled or Free? on Friday, April 1, 2:00-4:00 P.M in Severson Auditorium in Scarborough Hall on the Rockford University campus. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

FMRS Flyer [8.5x11]

Panelists will include:

Barbara Kolm, President of the Hayek Institute in Vienna, Austria

Karl-Peter Schwarz, Journalist for a leading German-speaking newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Federico N. Fernández, Senior Fellow in the Austrian Economics Center (Austria) and President of Fundación Bases (Argentina)

Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Iceland

Matthew Flamm, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University

Jules Gleicher, Professor of Political Science and Chairman of the Political Science Department at Rockford University

Robert Evans, Associate Professor of Economics, Business, and Accounting/Political Science at Rockford University

Stephen Hicks, Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University and Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship

For more information contact Jennifer Harrolle at jharrolle@rockford.edu.

Taking Modern Artists at Their Word [The Good Life]

[Originally published at EveryJoe.com.]

You may have noticed that things in the art world are a little, well, off these days.

The artists we hear most about are those like vomit girl, also known as Millie Brown, who drinks colored milk and then makes herself throw up on the canvas. Or Jeff Koons, who gets millions for intentionally-banal objects, such as a porcelain statue of singer Michael Jackson cuddling his beloved chimp Bubbles. And there’s the famous Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boy Buggering a Goat. Actually, that’s my made-up name for Paul McCarthy’s very serious Cultural Gothic, which does, in fact, show a young boy buggering a goat while receiving dad’s paternal blessing.

The artists who are nominated for the big prizes are typically those like Tracey Emin, who exhibited her bed, its sheets stained with bodily secretions and strewn about with used condoms and panties worn during her menstrual cycle. Or Chris Ofili, who incorporates elephant dung into his paintings. Or the Chapman brothers, whose Death looks to me a lot like two air-inflated sex dolls performing a lewd act on each other — but here’s the kicker: they’re actually made of bronze and only painted to look like plastic!

But all of that is old news.

Elsewhere I’ve written on “Why Art Became Ugly” — about how a century ago the deep thinkers in the art world signed on to a set of pessimistic and skeptical beliefs about the brutality of human nature, the death of God, and the emptiness of life. Many artists and their critical supporters have been working that territory ever since, expressing in exhaustive detail every possible variation on those themes.

But a century later not much has changed, and for people like artists — whom we all like to think of as original, creative beings — that is sad. There is a sense of tiredness even inside the art world, a sense that all the media hype and dollars are being directed to efforts that just aren’t that different from the same-old, same-old we’ve seen for decades. The art world is in a state of ennui even about its ennui.

That raises a puzzle about its persistence. Why hasn’t the art world moved on, like the teenager (or anyone) who goes through a phase, but who gets bored with it, realizes he’s in a rut, and tries something else? Clothing fashions change rapidly and in many directions. Popular music never stays still, reinventing itself regularly. Automobile features and styles evolve, sometimes dramatically. That’s creativity. But the high-art world is in a static bubble, recycling the same tropes, and for generations now art students have worn the same fashion uniform: black on black.

My answer to the puzzle is that art is always about seriousness, and artistic themes are more serious than fashion, pop music, and cars. Intellectually and emotionally, artists have not moved past the deep pessimism adopted a century ago — they genuinely feel that everything is empty and jaded. So there is nowhere to go and nothing to do but turn their creative energy into reworking and reworking the same themes.

Mischa Badasyan is a strong, recent example. Badasyan is a young gay man who plans to have sex with a different man every day for a year. The encounters will, as often as possible, take place in “non-places,” which are “supermarkets, shopping malls, airports and other largely anonymous spots where people lose a sense of identity and feel like they don’t belong.” “In these places,” he notes, “you don’t have to talk to anyone or feel a sense of belonging. That creates loneliness.” And, he explains, that is what his project is about — the emptiness of modern sexual life, especially in the gay world, with its casual hook-ups and meaningless sex.

This is performance art, with a good media-marketing campaign upfront to generate interest. But with a goal: “Eventually I’ll be like a non-place,” Badasyan hypothesizes, as a result of the project.

Note that he is engaged with truly important human themes: What makes sex meaningful? Is true love really possible? Or are we all deeply and desperately alone and destined to remain that way?

And you have to give Mr. Badasyan originality points — no one has brought promiscuity into the world of high art in quite that way before. Rather than portraying self-immolation in fictional characters or with paint on a canvas, Badasyan himself is the text or canvas, so to speak: His goal is to be the art and become the empty, desolate thing that other artists have only painted or written about.

Two features of art are important here. Art is always a self-expression. And art that is made public is a communication — the artist always wants his or her audience to have a certain kind of experience.

So take Mr. Badasyan’s self-expression seriously. Set aside any suspicion you might have that it’s just a publicity stunt.

Who is Badasyan? He is a human, just like the rest of us. He desires love and sex. He experiences loneliness sometimes. He wonders if he will reach happily-ever-after, just like the rest of us do. He has a whole year ahead of him — and just like everyone else he can choose how to use that time: to try for real meaning in his relationships or to debase himself. Badasyan’s declared choice is self-revelatory, just as the choices we each make are expressive of who we really are.

Also, by making the project public, Badasyan is telling us that he very much wants us to know him for who he is. This is not a private, personal quest he is undertaking. Artists who publicize their work want to get into your mental space. For the next year, he wants you to think of him having sex of a certain sort — gay, impersonal, emotionally empty — in those non-places, maybe even in your airport or shopping mall.

Taking artists at their word does not mean buying into their worldview. Most modern artists recognize the vast gulf between their world and the more benevolent, optimistic worldview of most people. That gulf irritates them intensely. They also know that they carry the prestige of the art world, a prestige that has been built up over centuries, and they know that our default attitude is to look up to artists. So they know they can use that social power effectively against those of us who don’t share their worldview. Art is self-expression — and a shock tactic in the culture wars.

How can the power of that tactic be lessened?

The constant repetition across decades has lessened the impact of the negativity. Diminishing returns, as the economists say. But perhaps more important is to recognize that the constant repetition with trivial variations is, however authentically felt, a confession of artistic weakness: We have nothing new to say.

An analogy: Consider a child who is verbally abused and undercut by her father. She will never amount to anything, he regularly insinuates with well-chosen words. The father is powerful figure in the child’s mind, and she grows up believing that a father commands respect. But the child becomes a young woman, moves out of the house, and goes on accomplish something with her life. Years later, she revisits her father with an adult perspective, and when her father again begins with the same pattern she realizes that those who undercut everything are weaklings, typically failures who want others to fail in life. She now also knows that not all fathers are like that. Her father then becomes to her a pathetic figure — his words and actions the expression of a self-confessing loser.

The expressive and communicatory power of art truly is awesome. And the great social prestige and power of the art world was justly earned over many generations. That power is what recent generations of artists are cashing in on. We might grant them the benefit of the doubt initially. But for those who continue for decades to play with feces and portray faux child sex and devote themselves to the trivial and flaunt their self-abasement — perhaps it is time for us to take them at their word.

* * *

Stephen Hicks is the author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault and of Nietzsche and the Nazis. He blogs at www.StephenHicks.org. For future columns on The Good Life, feel welcome to send your philosophical questions and moral dilemmas to him at ProfessorHicks@EveryJoe.com.

Kant and “giving back”

Here is a common scenario: A successful person makes a donation to a worthy cause but downplays any praise by saying “I’m only giving back.”

Like many others, I am troubled by the “giving back” phrase when I hear it.

The usual gentle rejoinder is to point out that the phrase assumes that the giver has taken something from others in the first place — he’s borrowed or stolen something and in “giving back” is merely restoring it to its rightful owners. That zero-sum assumption is usually untrue: most donors have earned what they have. So the phrase “giving back” contains within it an injustice: a false accusation.

Yet there is more to it: the phrase also denies the benevolence of the giver. If you are only giving back what is rightfully someone else’s, then you do not deserve any special praise for your action. Your benevolence need not be acknowledged or honored.

So the phrase really is a double injustice: it implies that you do not deserve what you have and it denies you any credit you deserve for your benevolent act. (Or to put it abstractly: It is the imputation of an undeserved negative and the denial of a deserved positive.)

So far so bad.

But it gets worse. Let me now pin the blame for this on He Who Is Almost Always At Fault When Something Fishy Is Going On Philosophically.

I turn to Immanuel Kant.

kant_50x64

Looking through Kant’s Lectures on Ethics again, I came to one of the later sections entitled “Duties to Others.” (Let’s set aside for now the perplexing question of why, during spring break, I find myself re-reading Professor Kant’s 1775-1780 lectures on ethics and editing this post.)

In this section Kant employs his standard distinction between inclinations and duties, arguing that actions done from inclination have no moral worth while actions done from duty do. So if we apply this to acts of charity, charity done out of benevolence has no moral significance for Kant, while charity done out of duty does.

But, Kant asks, on what is the duty to be charitable based? Why ought we be charitable, whether we want to or not?

Kant’s answer is that to give charity to the poor is to make good on past injustices. Here is the key quotation: in giving to a person in need of charity, the giver “makes restitution for an injustice of which he is quite unconscious; though unconscious of it only because he does not properly examine his position. Although we may be entirely within our rights, according to the laws of the land and the rules of our social structure, we may nevertheless be participating in general injustice, and in giving to an unfortunate man we do not give him a gratuity but only help to return to his that of which the general injustice of our system has deprived him. For if none of us drew to himself a greater share of the world’s wealth than his neighbor, there would be no rich or poor. Even charity therefore is an act of duty imposed upon us by the rights of others and the debt we owe to them” (p. 194).

Here we have the first part of the “giving back” claim made explicit: the zero-sum assumption and the consequent implication that one is merely returning something one has borrowed or stolen.

On the very next page, Kant makes explicit the second assumption of “giving back”: “A man ought not to be flattered for his acts of charity lest his heart swell with generosity and desire to make benevolence the sole rule of his conduct” (p. 195).

To my knowledge, Kant is the first to argue that charity is a matter of justice — compensatory justice, to be precise. He denies that charity is properly a matter of benevolence or of a duty to help the poor meet their needs, as previous thinkers had argued.

(And if charity is a matter of justice, then there are implications for the role of the state, given that the state is an arbiter and enforcer of justice. In other words, Kant’s twist on the ethics of charity has consequences for modern political philosophy and the welfare state.)

I am in favor of rationally benevolent giving but against “giving back.”

And an intellectual history question: Is Kant original in arguing charity to be a matter of justice?

[Updating a post first published here.]

Video Interview with Professor William Kline — Transcript

Interview conducted at Rockford University by Stephen Hicks and sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship.

Hicks: I am Stephen Hicks, executive director of CEE, and with us today is Dr. William Kline, who is Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at the University of Illinois in Springfield. Professor Kline is a Philosophy professor, primarily specializing in business ethics, which is why we invited him here to Rockford College to speak to our Business Ethics class earlier this evening. Kline,W-UIS

Now, Professor Kline, in your approach to business ethics you take issue with the usual statement that business ethics is a contradiction in terms or that it’s an oxymoron. Or what we might refer to as the negative approach to business ethics — which is primarily about focusing the Enron and the Bernie Madoff cases — all of the scandal cases, and presenting an unrelenting litany of problems as representative of what business is all about. What is wrong with that approach to business ethics?

Kline: One of the things that struck me is — I was teaching business ethics at the time that Enron happened in Tyco — and everybody wanted to talk about that, everybody asked, “Wow, what about WorldCom?” And you had, just in terms of corporations and not in terms of business overall, on the New York Stock Exchange something like 3,000 enlisted companies and, on the NASDAQ, I believe something on the order of 5,000. And I might be short on that. It might be easily be higher than that. So we are talking about 8,000 business and five did bad things. That’s actually a pretty good record.

So why not talk about the 7,995 good cases that have gone right and what we can learn from that? Rather than, you know, the same old boring story that, well, somebody pilfered the company funds and ran off to some exotic location, which we all know is wrong. I don’t need business ethics to tell me that’s wrong.

Hicks: Is it your point, though, not that we can’t learn from the negative cases just as a doctor can learn from disease cases, but that we have more to learn from the good cases or successful cases?

Kline: I hear what you say, and it’s not that we can’t learn from the negative cases. Of course, you need rules to protect property and contracts. I think there are real issues with what stock ownership entitles you to, and those rules need to be worked out, but they just get overemphasized. Nobody is looking at all of the good that happens through business, and specifically, the individual good when you decide to enter into business or a business person decides to enter into business, how that might be conceived of as morally good.

Hicks: And here your major theme was putting your business life, including the choice to go into business, this approach to business, or choosing this particular business in the context of your life overall, putting an emphasis on the good life in a very Aristotelian sense? Can you say more about that?

Kline: I think, quite frankly, it’s tragic. I’ve had students graduate now. I’ve been teaching long enough. And I’ve had students that have gone into things that they loved and students that have gone into things that they’ve hated. And this notion that, well, here is my business and professional life, and that’s totally separate from my personal life, and totally separated from the good things I do in the world, and it’s its own entity, I don’t find that works that often. The happiest people I met are the people who have incorporated their business life into their broader goals, their broader aspirations, and see it serving a purpose within their lives. And so, yes, that’s how I want to talk about business ethics. And then in the Aristotelian version of it, what we want to talk about is a flourishing life, and that requires taking a holistic approach to one’s life, including business in that. Continue reading Video Interview with Professor William Kline — Transcript

Is Life Unfair? My Challenge to the Best Tennis Player in the World [The Good Life]

[Originally published at EveryJoe.com.]

the-good-life-stephen-hicks-philosophy-300x213Let me brag a bit. In high school I was a pretty good at tennis. Now, many years later, I am an occasional weekend player who has somehow acquired the stamina (and the knees) of a middle-aged man.

But I still have this recurring fantasy that I will play against the best tennis player in the world. The fantasy goes something like this. I am at my local park hitting some balls, and who should happen to walk by but the current Wimbledon champion. I challenge him to a match, and for some reason he agrees. Another player at the park agrees to be the umpire, and the game is on.

Now an element of realism enters my scenario. This year’s Wimbledon champ is Novak Djokovic. He is 6’2″ and 27 years old. I am two inches shorter and twice his age. His first serve averages 120 miles per hour and is accurate 73 percent of the time. My numbers are considerably lower.

So how does the match turn out? Djokovic wins 6-1. What a shocker.

Now for the serious question for this article: Was that a fair match?

Fairness is a key concept of ethics, but if you ask three philosophers what it means you will get four different answers. Many of our ongoing public policy debates turn on competing conceptions of what is and is not fair. Insider trading: If the seller of a stock knows something the buyer doesn’t and couldn’t know, does that make the trade unfair? Telecommunications and the “Fairness Doctrine”: If a radio station criticizes a public figure, in the name of fairness should government regulators require the station to give airtime for the public figure’s response? Campaign finance: If one political candidate raises significantly more funds than her competitor, will the election be fair?

But let’s use the tennis match to show how often we appeal to two very different standards in answering questions of fairness.

1. Position One argues: Hicks versus Djokovic—that match was so unfair! Djokovic is a pro and Hicks is an amateur. Djokovic practices hours each day while Hicks reads books in the library. Djokovic is younger, faster, taller, and has more accurate and powerful shots. So Hicks had no realistic chance of winning.

2. Position Two argues: Hicks versus Djokovic—that match was perfectly fair! Hicks chose to play against Djokovic and knows who he is. They played by the rules, which were enforced by the umpire. Djokovic used his skills to earn his points, and he beat Hicks fair and square. He deserves the win.

Now let’s abstract the principles built into the two positions’ arguments.

Position One takes as decisive the fact that the competitors have unequal assets. Relevant assets in tennis include practice time, physique, and skills. Since one competitor has more and the other has less, they are unequal in assets; but fairness is a matter of equality, so the match is unfair.

It follows from Position One that to make the match fair we would have to equalize the competitors’ chances of winning by equalizing their assets. We could handicap Djokovic by making him wear ankle weights to slow him down, or we could make him play with his left hand to make him less accurate. Or we could give Hicks a head start by spotting him points or letting him use the wider doubles boundary lines instead of the narrower singles lines. Some combination of these methods would equalize their chances of winning and thereby make the match fair.

Position Two takes as decisive the facts that the rules were known and agreed to by both competitors, were impartially enforced, and that the competitor who acquired the most skills and scored the most earned the win. Fairness is a matter of equality, but an equality of knowing what the rules of the game are, the rules’ being equally applied, and the competitors’ being equally free to practice and participate or not.

It follows from Position Two that the game would be unfair if Hicks could make up rules as he went along, if the umpire were biased or bribed by one of the competitors, or if either was an unwilling participant. Djokovic chose to practice tennis a lot and acquired his skills, while Hicks chose to think about philosophy; so both have earned their relative skill levels. And if it is important to Hicks to have a realistic chance of winning, then he can choose to play against a lesser competitor—or choose a different sport to compete in. (Perhaps I will challenge Djokovich to a brutal game of Philosophy Trivia Pursuit.)

Sports are a stylized activities in which we engage with important life values—goal-seeking, the exercise of skill, courage, perseverance, victory and loss, and fairness. So they are useful models for teaching children, as well as for understanding our grown-up debates over fairness in our more complicated adult pursuits.

For example, if I am an investor, knowledge of the value of companies is a key asset. But other investors, especially insiders, often know more about those companies than I do. Should I charge unfairness and demand that those who know more not be able to act on their better knowledge? Or should I invest only in companies that I actually am an expert about—or invest somewhere other than in the stock market? That is one sub-debate over insider trading.

Or imagine that I am a public figure who is criticized by a radio personality. In this case, air time is the asset—but suppose the radio-station owner dislikes me and refuses to give me air time. Do I complain of unfairness and demand that he be forced to do so? Or should I respect that it’s his radio station to do with what he likes, and that I can go on television, write a blog post, or find some other media outlet to tell my side of the story? That is one sub-debate over Fairness Doctrine-type regulations.

Or if I am running for political office and my opponent has raised much more money than I have. Citing unfairness, do I call for equalizing controls on how much money many be given to candidates? Or do I say, “Kudos to her” — and in order to be competitive invest more time in door-to-door canvassing of voters, design my campaign posters with better graphics, and plan to have a better fundraising campaign next time? That is one sub-debate over campaign finance reform.

All of those issues are of course complex, but identifying the divergent concepts of fairness in our debates is a key task in sorting out the complexities.

* * *

Stephen Hicks is the author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault and of Nietzsche and the Nazis. He blogs at www.StephenHicks.org.

* * *

[My other columns on The Good Life.]

When Can Professors Have Sex with Their Students? [The Good Life]

[First published at EveryJoe.com.]

Two sex scandals in philosophy departments have, well, scandalized the academic world recently.

One at the University of Miami in Florida led to the resignation of professor Colin McGinn. The other, at the University of Colorado, Boulder resulted in the removal of the department chair, Graeme Forbes.

Professor McGinn’s case was about a series of emails and text messages between him and a doctoral student. The contents haven’t been made public and both parties have agreed not to speak about the case, but suggestive bantering and propositioning, at the least, were involved. The Colorado case, according to the university’s internal report, involved the philosophy department’s having a culture of sexualized interaction and harassment at official meetings and social functions.

The cases have led to much discussion about the particular individuals involved as well as the broader question of academic philosophy in general. The profession is about 80% male, and that statistical imbalance has raised soul-searching questions: Is philosophy’s style of confrontational (and sometimes brutal)
argumentation less appealing to women? Has the lower female representation, combined with the professor-student power dynamic led to an unhealthy sexual dynamic? Or, more crudely, is the world of professional philosophy a “sausagefest,” as one unsympathetic critic called it?

(The seven academic departments that I’ve been a part of as student or professor have all seemed highly asexual to me, but perhaps I just wasn’t invited to the right parties.)

The Miami and Colorado cases raise a set of serious issues. Careers are important. Education is important. Sex is important. And as humans we are not strictly compartmentalized — Now I am only a knowledge-seeker, Now I am only a sexual being, Now I am only a socializer, and so on. We regularly pursue many goals simultaneously — we go to parties, for example, to socialize and to eat and to learn things and to flirt. But in other contexts it is often not appropriate to pursue some values. In professional life especially, where the stakes are often high, we each need to identify principles that help us decide what values should and should not be pursued.

The Colorado and Miami cases almost read like stereotypes — senior male professors and younger female students — with three elements at work. One is the dynamic of males pursuing females. Another is the age difference: older males pursuing much younger females. And another is the power differential: from a position of authority, the professor pursues the student.

But the principles we need are more general, for other human combinations are possible.

What if the age difference is less? Robert is a 29-year-old professor of literature and Jane is a 25-year-old doctoral student.

Or if the genders are reversed? Maria is a 26-year-old assistant professor of biology and Gerhard is a 24-year-old graduate student.

Or what about gay and lesbian combinations? Tabitha is a 33-year-old professor and her student is Mariko, another 33-year-old woman who only lately decided to return to grad school.

Or what if the student initiates the flirtation, whether male or female, older or younger, gay or not?
Whatever principles of professional ethics we devise should be suitable for all variants.

The first thing is to identify values involved for each party. Is the relationship about entertainment, education, work, romance, or what? The second thing is to prioritize the values: the values being pursued should be roughly equal in importance to each party and the satisfaction of that value for both parties should matter to both.

Two friends going to a movie, for example, know that entertainment is the purpose of the evening, that experiencing the movie together is primarily what their time together is about, and that both parties’ enjoying the outing matters to both of them. That is a healthy friendship. That’s not to say that other values cannot be introduced into the evening — venting about a hard day’s work, flirting, advice about business investments, debating politics, and so on — but they should be avoided if they conflict with the relationship’s primary purpose.

In a higher-education context specifically, the core value is learning, and the core relationship is professor-student. Each party in the relationship commits to the achieving of that value as their primary purpose. Each contributes something to the learning process — knowledge and mentoring from the professor and effort from the student. The professor receives values as a result — payment, the satisfaction of exercising teaching skills, professional advancement. The student also receives values — knowledge, career mentoring, and, hopefully, a degree.

Simultaneously, each has made a commitment to the other. The professor is to be the kind of teacher and mentor who aids the student’s educational growth, and the student is to be the kind of learner and professional-to-be who will be a credit to the professor.

None of that excludes other values from the relationship. Professors and grad students have successfully become friends, lovers, marriage partners, and so on. They can work on political campaigns or attend the same church or play together in recreational sports leagues. But anything that might conflict with the pursuit of that top value of learning should be scrutinized carefully, introduced into the primary relationship delicately, and, if necessary, set aside so as not to interfere with the pursuit of the top value. Alternatively, if there is a conflict but both parties believe that becoming lovers, say, is more important, then they should stop being professor and student.

Combining the professor-student relationship with romance is possible but obviously complicated. The student has to ask: Am I getting the grade, the recommendation, the advice because of my merits — or because I am sleeping with the teacher? And from the professor’s side: Am I getting sex only because I am a stepping stone to the student’s advancement?

And academic departments are typically gossipy places. One needs to protect one’s reputation against being seen as unprofessional. Professors don’t want the reputation of using their classrooms as sexual happy hunting grounds, and students don’t want the reputation of sleeping their way to the top.

On the positive side, as members of a department and a university, professors have made a commitment to their institutions and so have a responsibility to enhance those institutions’ reputations rather than undermine them. So too do graduate students when they join a department and a university.

Also important to underscore is the fact that graduate students are fully-grown adults. We are not here talking about teachers having relationships with under-age children or even the young adults that undergraduates are. The typical doctoral student is mature enough to have graduated from university, which typically means being over 22 years old, and has enough intelligence to be a candidate for a Ph.D. degree.

So my answer to the question of when professors can have sex with their students is: Rarely. No one-size-fits-all decision is possible for all individuals. The most important principles are good judgment by both professor and grad student and a real commitment by both to the integrity of the educational experience.

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Stephen Hicks is the author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault and of Nietzsche and the Nazis. He blogs at www.StephenHicks.org. For future columns on The Good Life, feel welcome to send your philosophical questions and moral dilemmas to him at ProfessorHicks@EveryJoe.com.

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[My other columns on The Good Life.]

GL