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Hicks — Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand


theme of believing Nietzsche’s and Rand’s views to be essentially similar:

(1) The first is that Nietzsche and Rand are equivalent in the content of their philosophies—but whereas Nietzsche is now respected for the philosophical power of his views, Rand can be dismissed as an intellectual lightweight.

(2) The second is that Rand’s views echo Nietzsche’s—but in a cruder, more callous, uncaring, and bloodthirsty way.

In my judgment, the theme common to both (1) and (2) is false. Nietzsche and Rand disagree on many, many more philosophical issues than they agree upon. Even focusing on their ethical theories, where the common assumption is that their views are quite close, they agree on very little. They share a deep agreement that altruism is an immoral and dangerous ethic—and their analyses and condemnations of altruism are strikingly similar—but when one turns to their positive alternatives to altruism, one finds an almost complete opposition.

The issue of the intellectual relationship between Nietzsche and Rand is important, both for understanding each thinker’s views accurately in their own right and for understanding where each stands in the landscape of philosophical possibilities.

Nietzsche, for example, was an influence on Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Martin Buber, most of the intellectuals and politicians associated with the National Socialists, and most of the postmodernists, including Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida.

All of those thinkers’ views are distant from Rand’s, and while Nietzsche was also an influence upon Rand, to call all of them “Nietzschean” is not clarifying. Most of those thinkers were steeped in the European Continental intellectual tradition, so in my judgment the connections between Nietzsche’s and their views are much stronger. One problem that has plagued scholarship on Nietzsche is the many interpreters who come to Nietzsche from the Anglo- American tradition and read him through the lens of that tradition’s

Enlightenment individualism. Yet Nietzsche readings and repeatedly has only contempt for doing philosophy.

warns against such the English style of

They are no philosophical race, these Englishmen: Bacon signifies an attack on the philosophical spirit; Hobbes, Hume,

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