The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
Yet we will not here begin with soil chemistry and root develop- ment. Rather I will simply assert (and be prepared to argue on another occasion) that Nietzsche’s metaphysics and epistemology are radically different from Rand’s, and that those differences lead to substantial differences and outright oppositions in their views of human nature and ethics. As evidence of the latter, we will sample representative quotations that indicate that Nietzsche’s and Rand’s positive ethical systems are at the very least not members of the same species and more likely not even members of the same genus.
The Major Differences between Nietzsche and Rand
Are Individuals Real?
If one is to be an advocate of self interest, it would be good to start by affirming that selves in fact exist.
For Rand, individual selves are real, and their core capacities should be integrated. Humans are mind-body integrates. Conscious- ness is both supported by the rest of the self and directs the self. An individual’s sensory and perceptual capacities are integrated. Their perceptual and rational capacities are and should be integrated. Their rational and emotional capacities are connected and should be integrated. The life of an individual is and should be a unified whole. Nietzsche argues the opposite: the human being is the combat of “a vast confusion of contradictory valuations and consequently of contradictory drives” (WP, 259). With respect to the role of con- sciousness, Nietzsche asserts that consciousness is not “the unity of the organism” (GS, 11). And he suggests strongly that we should dispense altogether with talk of individual selves: “The assumption of one single subject is perhaps unnecessary” (WP, 490). “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, “Skirmishes of an Untimely Man,” 33).
In contrast to Rand, then, for whom the individual is the unit of reality and moral significance, the above quotations suggest that to Nietzsche the “individual” is a conflicted and historically-collective vehicle through which biological evolution is working.