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Hicks — Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand


and the sheep can agree on morally—their natures are different, as are their needs and goals, as is what feels good to them. Of course it would be good for the sheep if they could convince the wolves to be more sheep-like, but no self-respecting wolf will fall for that. As Nietzsche puts it amusingly:

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)

Nietzsche argues that the same holds for humans. The divide between strong and weak, assertive and timid, runs right through the human species. Consequently, the right question to ask is not: Is such and such a value really valuable? But rather: What kind of person finds this value valuable? One’s moral code, Nietzsche holds, 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; see also D, 542 and BGE, 221).


So: one’s moral code is a function of one’s psychological make- up, and one’s psychological make-up is a function of one’s biological make-up.

The biological language and examples show that biology is crucial to Nietzsche’s views on morality. Nietzsche was a precocious fifteen years old when Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859. Much of the intellectual world was moving away from thinking of the world in terms of timeless absolutes to viewing it in terms of process and change, and Nietzsche is among the first to apply evolutionary concepts to morality: Moral codes are part of a biologi-

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