Nietzsche is the Opposite of Humanism

If one wanted to single out a thinker who represented the opposite of humanism (indeed, of pretty much every argument in this book), one couldn’t do better than the German philologist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900).109 Earlier in the chapter I fretted about how humanistic morality could deal with a callous, egoistic, megalomaniacal sociopath. Nietzsche argued that it’s good to be a callous, egoistic, megalomaniacal sociopath. Not good for everyone, of course, but that doesn’t matter: the lives of the mass of humanity (the “botched and the bungled,” the “chattering dwarves,” the “flea-beetles”) count for nothing. What is worthy in life is for a superman (Übermensch, literally “overman”) to transcend good and evil, exert a will to power, and achieve heroic glory. Only through such heroism can the potential of the species be realized and humankind lifted to a higher plane of being. The feats of greatness may not consist, though, in curing disease, feeding the hungry, or bringing about peace, but rather in artistic masterworks and martial conquest. Western civilization has gone steadily downhill since the heyday of Homeric Greeks, Aryan warriors, helmeted Vikings, and other manly men. It has been especially corrupted by the “slave morality” of Christianity, the worship of reason by the Enlightenment, and the liberal movements of the 19th century that sought social reform and shared prosperity. Such effete sentimentality led only to decadence and degeneration. Those who have seen the truth should “philosophize with a hammer” and give modern civilization the final shove that would bring on the redemptive cataclysm from which a new order would rise. Lest you think I am setting up a straw Übermensch, here are some quotations:

I abhor the man’s vulgarity when he says “What is right for one man is right for another”; “Do not to others that which you would not that they should do unto you.”. . . . The hypothesis here is ignoble to the last degree: it is taken for granted that there is some sort of equivalence in value between my actions and thine.

I do not point to the evil and pain of existence with the finger of reproach, but rather entertain the hope that life may one day become more evil and more full of suffering than it has ever been.

Man shall be trained for war and woman for the recreation of the warrior. All else is folly. . . . Thou goest to woman? Do not forget thy whip.

A declaration of war on the masses by higher men is needed. . . . A doctrine is needed powerful enough to work as a breeding agent: strengthening the strong, paralyzing and destructive for the world-weary. The annihilation of the humbug called “morality.” . . . The annihilation of the decaying races. . . . Dominion over the earth as a means of producing a higher type.

That higher Party of Life which would take the greatest of all tasks into its hands, the higher breeding of humanity, including the merciless extermination of everything degenerate and parasitical, would make possible again that excess of life on earth from which the Dionysian state will grow again.


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 Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Pinker, Steven (2018227), Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: enlightenment humanism