The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
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)).
So, in contrast to Rand, to the extent that Nietzsche is a biological determinist, he cannot be an advocate of ethical egoism. At most, he could be an advocate of psychological egoism.
What is the Source of Moral Values?
Rand is among the few philosophers until recently who have argued that moral values are naturalistic and objective. Nietzsche is a pioneer in making ethics a naturalistic discipline, but he rejects moral objectivism and argues for a radical subjectivity. In part, this is a consequence of his general epistemological subjectivism: “Genuine philosophers,” he writes, “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). And in part his subjectivism is a consequence of his biological determinism: “it is always necessary to draw forth . . . the physiological phenomenon behind the moral predispositions and prejudices” (D, 542). When we do so, we learn that “our moral judgments and evaluations . . . are only images and fantasies based on a physiological process unknown to us” (D, 119).
All of this is in stark contrast to the thesis of the author of “The Objectivist Ethics” (VOS), and logically leads to further differences in content and method.
How Does the Self Identify its Nature and Values?
Another such difference concerns the role of reason in Nietz- sche’s and Rand’s ethical systems. For Rand, reason is one of the cardinal values and rationality is the primary virtue. It is reason that is an individual’s primary means of survival. Developed and used well, it is a powerful tool by which humans can develop themselves and transform their world. Reason, again properly used, shapes one’s passions and should work harmoniously with them; if there is a conflict between the two, though, reason should prevail, for of the two only reason is a tool of cognition, and action in the world should be governed by an individual’s best cognitive grasp of the world.