Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor
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This study explores the German philosopher's response to the intellectual debates sparked by the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. By examining the abundance of biological metaphors in Nietzsche's writings, Gregory Moore questions his recent reputation as an eminently subversive and post modern thinker. The book analyzes key themes of Nietzsche's thought--his critique of morality, his philosophy of art and the Übermensch--in the light of the theory of evolution, the nineteenth-century sense of decadence and the rise of anti-Semitism.
the appearance of others, not in himself. There is no better way of describing Nietzsche’s nature than by copying what he said about Wagner and then swapping the names . . . I place this perspective at the outset: Wagner’s art [Nietzsche’s writing] is sick. The problems he presents on the stage [in his books] – all of them problems of hysterics – the convulsive nature of his emotions, his overexcited sensibility, his taste that required ever stronger spices, his instability which he dressed up as
‘Darwinian’ perspective. Instead of grasping the opportunity to derive ‘a moral code for life out of the bellum omnium contra omnes and the privileges of the strong’, he perversely praises the English naturalist as one of the ‘greatest benefactors of mankind’ for having established a new, non-transcendental groundwork for ethical conduct (UM I, 7, pp. 29–30). But Strauss, Nietzsche would soon discover, was not the only thinker to shrink from making the radical break with traditional systems of
and the Beautiful (1759), Edmund Burke first distinguishes the sublime from the beautiful by means of a psychology of pleasure and pain and of the passions, then isolates the material properties which aroused those feelings, before finally conjecturing at a nervous physiology to account for the production of aesthetic sensations. Accordingly, the experience of the sublime is, he suggests, grounded on the impulse towards self-preservation; that is, on feelings of pain which, though stretching the
of this repeated stimulus, memory retrieves a similar image from its inexhaustible supply of ‘memory pictures’. This process of imitation is really a continued metaphori¨ cal transference (Ubertragen) without the original stimulus, a ‘continued transference of the received image in a thousand metaphors’ bringing forth ‘related images, from various rubrics’ (III 4, 19[226–7]). Conscious thought involves the selection of a sequence of similar images based on the equivalencing activity of the
There were the ‘masculine’ and abnormal women who, like the French novelist George Sand, mimicked the dress and comportment of men.32 There was the androgyne, a recurrent motif in the literature of the period, and portrayed as a monster of sexual and moral ambiguity.33 Finally, there was the lesbian. Long ignored by medical science, lesbianism was eventually subsumed under the medico-psychiatric categories of perversion and sexual degeneracy with Carl Westphal’s study of the ‘congenital invert’