Skip to content

Nietzsche’s Views on Women

April 28, 2012

[Note: Nietzsche devoted a lot of words to his thoughts on women and femininity, thus it is only appropriate to analyze these views in an individual post, rather than have it be buried in a broader discussion.  Be forewarned that the analysis that follows is long, because I wanted to be as thorough on this sensitive topic as possible.  The final thing I want to say is that I (like always) ask the reader to be careful not to accidentally conflate Nietzsche's views with my own (as can happen when glancing over a wordy text), and to remember that any proper critique must be accompanied by a decent analysis.]

If you are a woman, and you hold Friedrich Nietzsche in high esteem as one of the great enlightened thinkers of modern philosophy, there is a decent chance you might be unfamiliar with the full extent of the man’s musings about the fairer sex.  Since his own lifetime, the philosopher has been accused of promoting misogynistic ideas in his writings, due to his tendency of abrasively referring to women—and femininity as a whole—in largely hostile terms (as we shall explore shortly).  However, it should be stated for the sake of objectivity, that this sentiment is not universally accepted amongst prominent female authors and thinkers, as some of these individuals interpret Nietzsche’s apparently sexist aphorisms as a rhetorical strategy, used to illustrate the vain construct men have of women, and the potential to possibly move beyond this simplistic sentiment.[1]  Whether any of these more favorable interpretations are viable positions in light of Nietzsche’s own words, or simply attempts to exonerate the philosopher of the charge of misogyny, is the focus of the analysis that follows below.  Although Nietzsche never wrote a single cumulative work on the topic of womanhood, his books are nevertheless filled with countless critiques and examinations of the female psyche, thereby making it possible for the reader to gather a coherent impression of the philosopher’s views on women, and gender relations in general.

Before looking into anything else, let us first give some background on Nietzsche’s personal experiences with the opposite sex.  After his father died when he was only five, Nietzsche was left to be raised in a household solely occupied by women (his mother, his sister, and two maiden aunts).  How much this affected the young man’s lifelong attitudes towards women is impossible to tell, but it would be disingenuous to dismiss it as a triviality.  Throughout his life, Nietzsche had few companions (of either gender), and virtually no real romantic relationships (nothing that would qualify as reciprocal love, anyway).  In his younger years, he would comment on his determination to remain a lifelong bachelor, because “on the whole, I hate the limitations and obligations of the whole civilized order of things so very much that it would be difficult to find a woman free-spirited enough to follow my lead.”[2]  This remark is noteworthy for two reasons: first, his expectation that a woman (even a “free-spirited” one) is to follow his lead, indicates a base level of chauvinism in Nietzsche’s mentality towards women.  And second, the philosopher seems to think his personal views are much too radical for any woman to either accept, or be capable of following.  The letter also serves to illustrate the divergent tones the philosopher adopts, depending on who he is corresponding with at any given time.  This is most evident from a later correspondence (this time with a woman), where Nietzsche uncharacteristically expresses a deep longing for a romantic partner:

Do you know that no woman’s voice has ever made a deep impression on me, although I have met all kinds of famous women? But I firmly believe there is a voice for me somewhere on earth, and I am seeking it. Where on earth is it?[3]

One can argue that—like so many men—Nietzsche perhaps feels more comfortable expressing his romantic desires to a woman, than to one of his masculine peers.  However, it is easily just as likely that this could simply be a case of Nietzsche minding his audience, and that (for all we know) he has some ulterior motive for the divergent viewpoints he expresses in the two correspondences.  Whichever the case, the fact that the philosopher is overall quite open in relating his apprehension about not wanting to settle down with any woman, is by all accounts a consistent theme in his communications:

I have not yet found a woman who would be suited to associate with me, and whose presence would not bore me and make me nervous / Moreover I know the women folk of half Europe, and wherever I have observed the influence of women on men, I have noticed a sort of gradual decline as the result.[4]

The use of “yet” in the first sentence of the above statement seems to imply that despite his unyielding mindset on the matter, Nietzsche is still interested in possibly pursuing a romantic relationship with the right woman Yet, the assertion that follows soon thereafter, indicates that Nietzsche holds a certain level of distrust in the effect women have on the character of men—whether it is a fear of being distracted from one’s work, or a deeper psychological fear of having his thinking negatively influenced, is not completely clear from the cavalier statement.  One cannot help but take note how once again Nietzsche hints that his rather heterodox social views lie as a barrier to the possibility of finding romantic companionship.  Indeed, at times, Nietzsche appears to dismiss the idea of getting married simply because he considered his personal character (and views) as too bombastic for any woman to have to deal with:

Certainly it would do me good to have something so graceful about me—but would it do her good? Would my views not make her unhappy, and would it not break my heart (provided that I loved her) to make such a delightful creature suffer? No, let us not speak of marrying![5]

Such an unexpected display of concern for the feelings of a potential spouse would almost make one believe that Nietzsche’s aloofness towards the opposite sex stems not from disdain, but from a strange sense of responsibility in not wanting to torment any woman with the eccentricities of his person.  Unfortunately, the rest of this very same letter makes such a claim nearly impossible to defend:

You can take my word for it, that for men like me, a marriage after the type of Goethe’s would be the best of all—that is to say, a marriage with a good housekeeper! But even this idea is repellent to me. A young and cheerful daughter to whom I would be an object of reverence would be much more to the point.[6]

What Nietzsche seems to want at this point in his life [1888; one year before his mental breakdown] is a spouse who will serve the role of a maid, rather than an intellectual partner; a sharp contrast to the free-spirited woman he claimed to be incapable of finding in the first reference above [dated to 1876].

Whatever the case for Nietzsche’s obvious lack of romantic engagements, the fact remains that one can see a longstanding sentiment of distrust and ridicule towards female intelligence and character within the philosopher’s private correspondences.  A sentiment that is only amplified in Nietzsche’s published work.

In Beyond Good and Evil (1886), Nietzsche gives us a number of witty aphorisms, which according to him shed light on the deeper layers and vanities of female psychology.  He states:

Woman learns to hate to the extent to which her charms—decrease.[7]

The same affects in man and woman are yet different in tempo:  therefore man and woman do not cease to misunderstand each other.[8]

Woman themselves always still have in the background of all personal vanity an impersonal contempt for “woman.”[9]

The second statement is probably the least damning amongst us 21st Century egalitarians, as it simply suggests that men and women develop differing perspectives from equivocal external stimuli.  Although this is highly debatable, it is not altogether condemnable, since few would take the position that men and women absolutely cannot react differently in overlapping situations, and that the difference could not possibly stem from our differing biology.  Thus, the second part of the statement, asserting that this difference in perception creates a communication barrier between the two sexes, is also not controversial.  The problems arise, however, when such ideas are examined in line with Nietzsche’s statements as a whole.  For instance, the first aphorism draws on Nietzsche’s observation that the central source of power that is available to a woman is in her charismatic and sexual persuasion over men.  This leads the philosopher to purport that as a woman approaches the zenith of her ability to wield this power of persuasion (i.e. as she ages, and becomes less desirable to men), she begins to develop an ever-increasing level of discontent against the world; the rate at which this tradeoff occurs is, according to Nietzsche, moderated by the rate at which the woman feels her feminine charm to be decreasing.  Combined with the third aphorism in the quote, a reader can conclude that the overall sentiment Nietzsche is promoting is that women exist in a constant state of vanity, which causes them to occupy a perpetual state of antagonism against both men and other women.  If one accepts Nietzsche’s rationale as valid, than what follows is a natural inclination to associate femininity as an exclusively restrictive manifestation, whose existence lies squarely with its innate desire to control the emotive (and sexual) aspect of human psychology; or as Nietzsche says it, “where neither love nor hatred is in the game, a woman’s game is mediocre.”[10]

Of course, the most obvious counterargument one could raise against Nietzsche in his critique of womanhood is to point out that most—if not all—of the criticisms he makes against the opposite sex here, is equally present in the behavior of the masculine gender.  Men, too, indulge in vain interests, and have a tendency to become bitter and sensitive as age starts to diminish their charm and virility (not to mention their hairline).  When it comes to the issue of competition—which Nietzsche characterizes as a vanity—it is only fair to say that if the philosopher wants to state that the highest contempt against women comes from other women, then one has to also acknowledge how (in light of all of human history) the greatest focus of contempt against men, has been other men.  Thus, does it not allow itself to conclude that Nietzsche’s criticism of femininity are more accurately understood as criticism against humanity, in general.  Personally, I doubt that Nietzsche would even object to any of the statements I have made above, and would probably add that they are entirely compatible with his views.  Furthermore, I suspect that the philosopher would make the counter claim that my attempt at refuting his views on women, arises largely from my superficial interpretation of his words[11] (i.e. I’m eager to refute his ideas here, because I already decided his views are wrong long before I even started this essay; this would not be a false claim, in and of itself, but whether or not it is the driving force in my analysis, I’ll leave to the reader to judge).

One could make the argument that Nietzsche’s misogynistic attitude doesn’t stem from a feeling of superiority over women, but a deeply set suspicion of them:

The sexes deceive themselves about each other—because at bottom they honor and love only themselves (or their own ideals, to put it more pleasantly).  Thus man likes woman peaceful—but woman is essentially unpeaceful, like a cat, however well she may have trained herself to seem peaceable.[12]

Nietzsche doesn’t deny that men are vain and deceptive (much of his life’s work attests to that), but he apparently sees a dramatic difference in the way the two sexes express their individual vanity and deceptive qualities.  This difference can be put very simply: men—according to Nietzsche—seek to deceive themselves first, and external factors only by extension of wanting to maintain this first self-deception; whereas women seek to deceive solely the external world about their persons, thereby having no need to engage in the same sort of initial self-deception men are foolish enough to fall prey to.  Hence why in the quote above Nietzsche states that man projects his ideal of woman as peaceful, and then goes on to construct societal norms to uphold the illusion that this is her natural state.  The issue that many readers will notice is the last line of the quote, in which Nietzsche implies that women allow men to continue believing this lie by virtue of having “trained” themselves to appear more docile than they really are.  Yet, if men are making the external world fit their ideal of women as peaceful, in what sense can it be said that it is women themselves who have taken on this deceptive characteristic?—Doesn’t it follow more readily to say that (for those who grant the validity of the premise) this falsity has been imposed on womanhood, rather than concocted by it?

When discussing Nietzsche’s views on women, it is important to remember that the philosopher wholeheartedly rejects the notion that women occupy the more oppressed role in society.  The rationale he gives for this view is directly tied in with his conspiratorial-like assessment of feminine attributes.  This leads Nietzsche to argue that a woman’s perceived secondary status is self-inflicted, presumably as a means to insure a better venture point for her instinctive interests:

Compare man and woman on the whole, one may say: woman would not have the genius for finery if she did not have an instinct for a secondary role.[13]

Having a genius for finery can be understood as having a talent for showy ornamentation; in other words, knowing how to distract others to frivolous adorations.  Nietzsche attributes this as a method by which women maintain their womanliness, and “charm” society into not taking their persons seriously enough to analyze their deceptive nature (for which their assumed secondary role serves as a perfect clout) and the full extent of their cunning influence.  Despite his chauvinism, Nietzsche staunchly believes that woman is the cleverer sex, and thereby also the more evil one.[14]  This belief in the diabolical cleverness of women leads the philosopher to conclude that the overconfidence men have in their so-called domestication of the female sex, is nothing more than a façade, promoted by women themselves:

Woman, the more she is woman, resists rights in general hand and foot: after all the state of nature, the eternal war between the sexes, gives her by far the first rank.[15]

It can be hard to follow Nietzsche’s reasoning for believing that women are inherently opposed to their own emancipation from traditional gender roles, because to do so would somehow rob them of their natural rank over men.  His justification for this seemingly incoherent viewpoint appears to be the woman’s power over birth and her subsequent control of her status as the sole vessel of life—which is a woman’s idealized state:

Has my answer been heard to the question of how one cures a woman—“redeems” her?  One gives her a child.  Woman needs children, a man is for her always only a means: thus spoke Zarathustra.

“Emancipation of women”—that is the instinctive hatred of the abortive woman, who is incapable of giving birth, against the woman who is turned out well—the fight against the “man” is always a mere means, pretext, tactic.  By raising themselves higher, as “woman in herself,” as the “higher woman,” as a female “idealist,” they want to lower the level of the general rank of woman; and there is no surer means for that than the higher education, slacks, and political voting-cattle rights.  At bottom, the emancipation are anarchists in the world of the “eternally feminine,” the underprivileged whose most fundamental instinct is revenge.[16]

Nietzsche states that a woman’s true source of power lies in her ability to bear children (essentially the power to grant life), and that this trait serves as her underlying motivation for dealing with men (who are dependent on women for the propagation of their bloodline—their physical immortality, so to speak).  Because of man’s dependence on woman in this regard, the masculine gender will readily deify womanhood (i.e. motherhood), to a higher realm of existence, a sentiment women will shrewdly use to “raise themselves higher,” to a plane of virtue that is beyond reproach.  By this logic, Nietzsche reaches the conclusion that the emergence of the Woman’s Rights Movement, championing the “emancipation of women,” is the result of the resentful infertile female, who is incapable of attaining this higher plane due to her defect in drawing strength from the source of womanly power (childbirth).  Thus, she must seek to lift herself higher by other means; namely by lowering the existing rank of the fertile woman and focusing her mind away from the ready-made “sanctity” of motherhood, towards non-feminine—i.e. infertile—interests.

There is much that can be said against Nietzsche’s reasoning here, but by far the most devastating is the fact that a woman’s control over her reproductive rights is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history (so recent that it still hasn’t permeated to many sects of the human population).  While the case can be made that historically (both in modern times and in antiquity) men have shown an abstract, philosophical reverence for the feminine form (for her ability to create life), this abstract idealization has very rarely gone far beyond a sparse collection of poetic musings.  In practice, women, and their reproductive capabilities, have historically been subject to the control and regulation of their male counterparts (mostly husbands, or other male relatives), for various reasons that range from basic chauvinism, to the outright superstitious.  This is a fact that Nietzsche fails to address in his above philosophizing about “women” and their “idealized elevation by men”, despite it being an indispensable part in any thorough narrative about femininity (and history thereof).  I cannot personally see how to reconcile this fact with the picture Nietzsche has presented thus far, and I refuse to hypothesize on how the philosopher could have possibly countered the objection, for fear of infusing undue thoughts into the man’s philosophy.

But even if, for the sake of argument, the reader grants Nietzsche’s narrative above as valid, there is still a simple discrepancy that stands out when looking at the philosopher’s views on the subject as a whole.  If Nietzsche’s criticism against women lies in their vain control over men to further consolidate their fertile power as the “higher” being (the creators of life, “the eternally feminine”), why is he so staunchly dismissive of the women (the “infertile” breed) who, in his view, are working to overturn this sentiment?  I suppose the answer lies in Nietzsche’s conviction that a woman’s mindset is unfailingly tuned to propagating deception about her feminine nature, thus no matter which side she happens to fall in the gender equity debate, her motive is to be viewed with suspicion:

So far enlightenment of this sort was fortunately man’s affair, man’s lot—we remained “among ourselves” in this; and whatever women write and “woman,” we may in the end reserve a healthy suspicion whether woman really wants enlightenment about herself—whether she can will it[17]

To Nietzsche, women are incapable of separating the search for objective truth, from their own subjective interests.  Thus, in women’s hands, truth reduces to nothing more than a whimsical dictum, to be discarded with if found inconvenient; making truth antithetical to femininity:

From the beginning, nothing has been more alien, repugnant, and hostile to woman than truth—her great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance and beauty.[18]

There is no seriousness in a woman’s thought, according to Nietzsche, and any profundity a man ascribes to her stems from his inability to see past her vain shallowness.[19]  Playing perfectly into the cunning woman’s hands, as it frees her from having to indulge in the petty seriousness men are foolish enough to pursue:

Let us men confess it:  we honor and love precisely this art and this instinct in woman—we who have a hard time and for our relief like to associate with beings under whose hands, eyes, and tender follies our seriousness, our gravity and profundity almost appear to us like folly.[20]

I imagine how we who hold a certain degree of admiration for Nietzsche’s usually sharp analytic mind are by now feeling a clear sense of embarrassment for the philosopher’s strenuous desire to convince us of this simplistic and one-dimensional portrait he is drawing of female psychology.  Some Nietzscheans might try to soften the impression by pointing to the quasi-preface Nietzsche himself provides before stating his case against the feminine sex; where he seems to claim that his musings on womanhood are to be primarily understood as just his subjective opinion on the matter:

After this abundant civility that I have just evidenced in relation to myself I shall perhaps be permitted more readily to state a few truths about “woman as such”—assuming that it is now known from the outset how very much these are after all only—my truths.[21]

This is a noteworthy admission by the philosopher, indicating his possible awareness that the analysis he is providing on women is more of a personal assessment, and shouldn’t be regarded as the final word on the topic.  This is all well and good, but the problem is that Nietzsche’s words on the subject of womanhood are stated in absolutist terms (a practice the man himself spent much of his active life criticizing in others), which makes it near impossible to approach from a rational standpoint.  Not to mention, the not-so-subtle undertone of suspicion and conspiracy that emits from the spiteful prose, causes the reader to instinctively view Nietzsche’s own words with a layer of suspicion; unable to shake the feeling that perhaps this fight stems more from the philosopher’s desire to settle an inscrutable personal score (though I’m inclined to find such seemingly handy conclusions much too convenient to be of any real use).

Acknowledging his subjectivity on the subject or not, it is clear that Nietzsche does not see woman as being naturally inclined towards intellectual matters, because he identifies such matters as fundamental about a want to seek truth, which is barred to women because to face the truth of their deceitful character is too shameful—and ultimately harmful—to their person:  “Among women: ‘Truth? Oh, you don’t know truth! Is it not an attempt to kill our modesty?’”[22]  This defensiveness, according to Nietzsche, serves simply as a crafty cover to distract lurkers and probers from inquiring too deeply into the shallowness at the core of the female psyche:

Woman has much reason for shame; so much pedantry, superficiality, schoolmarmishness, petty presumption, petty licentiousness and immodesty lies concealed in woman.[23]

Feminist Nietzscheans have proposed the idea that Nietzsche’s over the top misogyny in his writings is his unique way of demonstrating the absurdly chauvinistic sentiment exhibited by the domineering males of his days[24]; not to mention, accentuate the superficiality of the traditional gender roles, many women themselves refused to deviate from in his time.[25]  Although, at the face of it, one might be generous enough to consider that Nietzsche’s sexist prose might be a rhetorical tool he uses to point to a deeper level in the intricacy of human behavior—which most of us are just not capable of grasping—I have to admit that I find such rationalizations as highly dubious.  This is most evident by the fact that Nietzsche does not extend to women the ability to take part in the intellectual project the philosopher has spent his entire career championing; the transvaluation of all values.  And central to this project is the discarding of religious thought, a theme that Nietzsche repeats so often in his writings that it has become synonymous with his name.  However, while Nietzsche maintains that all men ought to move beyond the superficiality of deities and the supernatural, and embrace godlessness as the only viable stance for the thinking person, the philosopher flatly refuses to even consider the attempt to have women, too, take part in this intellectual reevaluation—and ridicules those men who do:

Here and there they even want to turn women into freethinkers and scribblers—as if a woman without piety would not seem utterly obnoxious and ridiculous to a profound and godless man.[26]

If nothing else, this alone (in my opinion) negates any attempt to reconcile Nietzsche’s views on woman with our modern understanding of gender equality.  Nietzsche simply does not see intellect as a “natural” characteristic of the opposite sex.

As I said before, I don’t think it would be accurate to wholly ascribe to Nietzsche the label of having a superiority complex towards women.  His views are better characterizes as hierarchical, placing women in a natural role, which in his unique view actually places her in firm control over the masculine gender (analyzed and critiqued in the paragraphs above).  To Nietzsche, woman is most powerful in her “natural state,” and that state is one of deceit and suspicion towards the external world, with no other interest but the propagation of her own image as the ideal of virtue, desirability, and (overall) the symbol of fertility itself.  The extent to which Nietzsche’s premise in all of this fails is best demonstrated by the superficiality and paranoia-like generalizations his argument takes against the supposed superficiality and paranoia of femininity:

What inspires respect for woman, and often enough even fear, is her nature, which is more “natural” than man’s, the genuine, cunning suppleness of a beast of prey, the tiger’s claw under the glove, the naiveté of her egoism, her uneducability and inner wildness, the incomprehensibility, scope, and movement of her desires and virtues.[27]


[1] Nietzsche’s onetime companion, and possible love interest, Lou Andreas-Salomé [see Nietzsche in His Work (1894)] & feminist author Frances Nesbitt Oppel [see “Nietzsche on Gender” (University of Virginia Press: 2005)] are probably the two most well-known proponents of this viewpoint.

[2] “Letter to Freiherr Karl von Gersdorff,” Bâle, May 26, 1876.

[3] “Letter to Madame Louise O.”, Rosenlauibad, August 29, 1877.

[4] “Letter to His Sister [Elisabeth Nietzsche]”, Nice, Wednesday, March 23, 1887.

[5] “Letter to His Sister”, Nice, January 25, 1888.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Beyond Good and Evil, Part Four “Epigrams and Interludes” (1886), section 84.

[8] Ibid, section 85.

[9] Ibid, section 86.

[10] Ibid, section 115.

[11] He practically says so much in section 238 of the previously quoted book, when he refers to those males who reject his analysis of the shallowness of womanhood as “incapable of attaining any depth.”

[12] Ibid, section 131.

[13] Ibid, section 145.

[14] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Ecce Homo, “Why I Write Such Good Books” (1908), section 5.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, section 232.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Twilight of the Idols, “Maxims and Arrows” (1888), section 27.

[20] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, section 232.

[21] Ibid, section 231.

[22] Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, “Maxims and Arrows,” section 16.

[23] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, section 232.

[24] See footnote 1, above.

[25] Nietzsche’s reference to woman as occupying the place of “work-slaves and prisoners” in society has been cited as evidence of his understanding of the cultural subjugation of women (Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, section 18).

[26] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, section 239.

[27] Ibid.

From → Nietzsche, Philosophy

26 Comments
  1. Excellent detailed analysis on Nietzsche and his views on women. Though I don’t agree with most of his statements, I do though have some sympathy considering where he’s coming from when expressing these ideas. Could it be, his upbringing in a household full of women (aunts ewwww) could have spurred these radical ideas, which in later years and many more acquaintances with women have been a self-fulfilling prophecy in their regard? Is it so hard to accept the fact man and woman are different branches of the same evolutionary tree, which in turn has made relationships of any kind harder to keep and endure? On the other hand, just as Nietzsche pointed out all fault of woman-kind, I have to agree with you when you say the same is applicable to man-kind as well. All I could see in his statements was a clear idea of what he thought of women all along, I do not blame him for that, for it’s important to have the power to back you ideas and the strength to express them. He may be a chauvinist at heart, yet he seems to me to be a very lonely character, one that resembles his own characters of later writings.
    In conclusion I agree with both of you to some extent or another, it’s interesting to see two people be right about the same topic, yet in very different tones and mindset. Women and men are indeed necessary evils, for we have no other sexes, nor species to look up to and test them to prove our ideologies.
    Great work

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment Lucianus. I don’t think I can find a single word you have written here that I can dissect and quarrel with incessantly (I fear this means I must be losing my polemical edge ;) )

      “He may be a chauvinist at heart, yet he seems to me to be a very lonely character, one that resembles his own characters of later writings.”

      Nietzsche easily fits into the standard characteristic of a tragic character (in the classical sense of the word), which is why I believe it is so tempting to romanticize his person to an almost sacrosanct level. I admit that, despite being The AntiNietzsche, I have much admiration for Nietzsche’s polemical and analytical insights into the human psyche, but this just makes warranted and detailed criticism of his faults all the more necessary.

      • Well, it very simple; I read what you wrote and what he’s written and I simply agree with both of you to some extent, that’s all. There’s no right or wrong, and I surely don’t romanticize neither part, but I feel it’s wonderful to find common ground with both Nietzsche and The AntiNietzsche…
        P.S. Part of my charm is being able to disarm the other person with the truth ;)

      • True, true. And it is a point even Nietzsche would agree with, judging by how he mentions that this is all just his “truth.”

  2. jaws permalink

    Very well wrote critique. I agree with most if not all your points. His views on women nearly ruin him for me. Such a genius, shattered so many chains and yet so blind to the ones clenching his throat.

    • Thank you. Nietzsche’s stance on women and what he called “femininity” are a common theme throughout his writings, I just figured there might as well be one place analyzing it all.

  3. Johnny permalink

    I overall enjoyed this read. Well done, indeed. But!: I can’t help but wonder why you seem so reluctant to look at this from a completely objective view(admittedly, in some of the text you seem to do just that).

    I’m mostly thinking of the fact that you compare his views with our general views on equality today- not to mention the comparison of todays women to those of his day(I am not suggesting that men are of constant nature, mind you, I might say “todays _humans_” just as well) as I see our sexes leaning more toward equality with every passing year, rather than always having been equal(my meaning is not “rank equality”, but “in-general” equality as regarding our nature and “role” in the world).

    Equality dousn’t seem to constitute the norm in nature. Why should this be any different for humans? Necessity, it seems, has(historically) equipped man with strength and cunning- woman with charm and care. I.e. man with hunting capabilities- woman with childbirth and tools to seducing a good provider. These traits has “haunted” humans throughout civilized history, and while it would seem that they’re not at all as strong in us as they once were, I think their relevance is worth pondering. Equality is something to strive for, to be sure, but when analyzing historical thinkers, taking special care to consider inequalities between their and our time is important(I think).

    Furthermore, your claim that women has only recently actually been in control of their “reproductive capabilities” seems like a fatalistic “women have historically been weak” attitude. While men has had the lions-share of power(control that is, in the household and generally), lowering women to never have had any influence whatsoever(historically) is an overstatement I think- which simultaneously reduces men to be(by nature?) enslavers of women. It seems strange to champion a view where, from a equality standpoint(which seems to be your standpoint?), women has always been that easily (completely)subdued and in such great numbers, unless, as Schopenhauer claims, women are(were?) naturally submissive and found the arrangement acceptable- which can be equal as long as neither man or woman abuse their power.

    Anyway, like I said, good read! I thought I’d add some critical feedback as you already got plenty praising ;)

    As of personal opinions: I think that these stereotypical man-woman roles had a big significance historically, but today it seems way more blurry, some men fit into the woman description while some women fit into the man description, and yet others dousn’t fit into any of the two- which makes the old man-woman roles seem very attractive due to simplicity, hence the great overall confusion when it comes to these things.

    Sorry if the text is somewhat incoherent and hard to read due to lack of proper English grammar, I hope you understood what I was trying to convey! (I’m Swedish :)

    Cheers!

    • First and foremost, thank you for the very thorough and coherent reflection on my post, I really do appreciate it (especially the critiques) and had no trouble understanding it whatsoever. Now to address the points of your comment:

      “I can’t help but wonder why you seem so reluctant to look at this from a completely objective view(admittedly, in some of the text you seem to do just that).”

      I usually write my Nietzsche essays as a combination of critique and analysis. In the analysis part I simply try to summarize and clarify Nietzsche’s viewpoint as fairly and objectively as possible to the reader, without interjecting my own thoughts on the matter. However, once I feel that Nietzsche’s views are expressed clearly enough, I also offer my own thoughts on the matter by critiquing areas/ideas I find questionable in Nietzsche’s prose. The reason I don’t just leave it at the analysis is that I think it makes for dull reading to just be paraphrased a selection of quotes, without putting in a bit of effort in challenging the content being looked at. I have no quarrel about the fact that the critiques I give of Nietzsche’s philosophy are subjective musings on my part, and try to make an effort to convey to the reader not to view my commentary as the definitive word on the topic (because it most certainly is not). But I see no issue with pointing out errors as I see them, especially since Nietzsche made a name for himself by mastering the style of polemics against other thinkers’ perspectives, thus it can be said that I’m oddly enough paying tribute to the man by dissecting and critiquing his own thoughts as he did so brilliantly to so many others (though I probably rank a far bit lower on the brilliancy factor :D ).

      “I’m mostly thinking of the fact that you compare his views with our general views on equality today- not to mention the comparison of todays women to those of his day”

      Yes, the reason for this is that a large part making up Nietzsche’s greater philosophical project is his critique against modern values, including democracy and egalitarianism, both of which he viewed as confining and suffocating to the few in society who deserved to rise above the herd and live life by the creation of their own values (instead of those shared/imposed by society). So our view of equality today is pretty much the egalitarianism Nietzsche spent his writings arguing against so vehemently. When it comes to gender differences, Nietzsche did not seem to view women (even those of is day) as second-class citizens, rather (as the quotes in the essay above show) he thought of women as much more cunning and devious than the men of his day gave them credit for. And it was for this reason that he seemed to view women as the more deceitful of the two sexes. He applies this to women in general, without reference to a time period.

      “Equality dousn’t seem to constitute the norm in nature. Why should this be any different for humans? Necessity, it seems, has(historically) equipped man with strength and cunning- woman with charm and care. I.e. man with hunting capabilities- woman with childbirth and tools to seducing a good provider. These traits has “haunted” humans throughout civilized history, and while it would seem that they’re not at all as strong in us as they once were, I think their relevance is worth pondering. Equality is something to strive for, to be sure, but when analyzing historical thinkers, taking special care to consider inequalities between their and our time is important(I think).”

      I know there are many people (especially within academia) who view any suggestion admitting to biological differences between men and women as a practical endorsement of one gender’s intellectual superiority over the other. I assure you, I am not one of these people. I have no problem acknowledging that innate differences exist between men and women, including differences that can’t be rationalized away as mere social constructs. Of course, I have yet to see any evidence that these biological difference have much of a factor when it comes intellectual development, therefore the fear that different=superior/inferior amounts to a reinstitution of sexist hierarchies seems unwarranted to me.

      As to your point about equality not being the norm in nature, I also agree. However, I would like to remind you that living in a highly complex and technologically advanced societal setting is also not the “norm” in nature. I understand that in the game of life, somebody will get the short end of the stick and end up lower on the social pecking order than others. I also know that some individuals simply have a natural aptitude to rise to the top of their social hierarchy (by whatever noble or wicked means available). I don’t that either of these facts are really avoidable (I’m obviously not a utopianist, either). Nevertheless, when it comes my self-identifying with egalitarianism, I do so from an appeal of personal preference of the sort of society I would like to live in, because it is the sort of society I am most likely to enjoy the greatest amount of comfort and personal well being. The fact that nowhere in nature or the universe does it say that human society has to objectively be equal or promote equality–it doesn’t–has no effect on negating this personal preference of mine (largely since I have no trouble admitting that it’s a subjective position).

      “Furthermore, your claim that women has only recently actually been in control of their “reproductive capabilities” seems like a fatalistic “women have historically been weak” attitude. While men has had the lions-share of power(control that is, in the household and generally), lowering women to never have had any influence whatsoever(historically) is an overstatement I think- which simultaneously reduces men to be(by nature?) enslavers of women.”

      I think you might be overanalyzing my words here. My statement that women only recently gained control of their reproductive capabilities was strictly from a legalistic standpoint. Up until the late 19th/early 20th Century, marriage and child custody laws in the Western world worked very much along the lines of property laws, in which the husband was recognized by the law to hold default legal discretion in most of the matter. This has nothing to do with weakness or strength, oppression or enslavement; it was simply the way most laws on the matter were organized. Since then, women have gained more legal control of their reproductive capabilities. That’s the only point I was trying to make.

      “Anyway, like I said, good read! I thought I’d add some critical feedback as you already got plenty praising”

      Always appreciated, and don’t be shy about coming back if there is anything else that seems unclear or dubious to you. Thanks again for your comment, and take care. :)

      • Johnny permalink

        Many thanks for the fast reply and clarifications!

        I must admit to some ignorance when it comes to literary and historical knowledge(which is why I’m trying to self-educate myself by discussion:)) and I’ll need some time to swallow this HUGE unexpected reply, haha. I’ll come back with more thoughts if they arise!

        Cheers!

        P.S. I see your point with the marriage laws, I guess my modern mind has a hard time imagining how these laws were thought up. Now that I think of it though, women had been used to reinforce or create bonds(via marriage as a sort of commodity) between families, etc, for a long time and had to settle with whomever they ended up with- I guess tradition can be quite influential when it comes to peoples opinions… We can’t forget that there are people(yes, men and women) here and there(as early as the 1660′s~) who opposed these views. I recommend “Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: a 17th Century History for Girls” for more on that. Can be found on youtube~. It’s a documentary, if you’re into that kind of thing.

  4. Esau permalink

    Quite tame “analysis” to be honest. Had Nietzsche read it, I am rather sure he would have labeled it as arising from slave morality.

    You are really only discussing from a strict feminist viewpoint and if what you label as a misogynist is to be found in his writings.

    There have been practically none female philosophers, mathematicians and physicists to this day, despite billions having been spent on getting women interested in the sciences that deal with great thought.

    Most early feminists were lesbians.

    Women do have a deep distrust of each other which is of course ironic.

    Women statistically vote for parties and people who offers more security and less freedom (not to say when they vote for the most handsome candidate – also documented).

    I am not afraid to admit I share Nietzsches sentiments on women when it comes to their intellectual ability – not their ability to pass tests by memorizing books – and his claim that women quite honestly are not interested in that which lies outside their immediate circle of life. Nietzsche having grown up with four women and no man to keep them in check likely saw what came of women in power unchecked which is endless squabbling and drama.

    You may very well call me a misogynist, but to do so would be wrong, since I do not hate women and much enjoy their company. I am also man enough to realize that the vast majority of women not only like but much prefer to be submissive to a strong man. Women pretend they want power, but it is only to be able to find a man that is decisively more powerful than her. That is why women only marry up. A man simply has no value for a woman if she doesn’t admire him and his masculine power. Women naturally want to be led.

    I am sure, for most feminists and feminized men, this kind of thinking is unpleasent, but that is to paraphrase Nietzsche simply your slavemoral desiring to bring down the strong man and woman to the level of the weak man and woman.

    Women are the most happy when they as Nietzche suggest embrace their natural state as givers and carers of life.

    • Thanks for the comment, I always appreciate differing opinions. I do apologize however for the belated reply, I was preoccupied in other venues and I hope you didn’t take it as a slight of any sort to either your comment or your views.

      “Quite tame ‘analysis’ to be honest. Had Nietzsche read it, I am rather sure he would have labeled it as arising from slave morality.”

      Agreed. Which is why I say in the post, “I suspect that the philosopher would make the counter claim that my attempt at refuting his views on women, arises largely from my superficial interpretation of his words[11] (i.e. I’m eager to refute his ideas here, because I already decided his views are wrong long before I even started this essay; this would not be a false claim, in and of itself, but whether or not it is the driving force in my analysis, I’ll leave to the reader to judge).”

      “You are really only discussing from a strict feminist viewpoint and if what you label as a misogynist is to be found in his writings.”

      I don’t identify as a feminist, nor do I hold any particular interest in aligning myself with feminism or feminist viewpoints (or any other sociopolitical ideology). The commentary I present is my opinion on the subject matter and (as I’ve told the commenter before you) I have no quarrels about saying that my opinion is a subjective one (as is yours; as is Nietzsche’s), based on my personal preferences. A sentiment Nietzsche’s own philosophical perspectivism wouldn’t take issue with either, as evident by the following admission cited in the essay above: “After this abundant civility that I have just evidenced in relation to myself I shall perhaps be permitted more readily to state a few truths about ‘woman as such’—assuming that it is now known from the outset how very much these are after all only—my truths.[21].” As far as how I approach Nietzsche’s writings on this subject (or any other) my primary goal is to present the man’s own words for the reader to see (hence why every quote in all of my Nietzsche essays is cited for you to personal reference, if you are so inclined). From there I see no problem with adding my own thoughts on the matter if I happen to personally disagree with him, or even if I happen to personally agree but simply wish to explore an opposing perspective for the sake of having an argument. You are welcome to disagree, dismiss, and discard my personal–and, yes, subjective–musings, and focus simply on what Nietzsche says. I have no issue with that either.

      “Most early feminists were lesbians.”

      Then you’d have to explain the overwhelming prominence and influence of Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Barbara Leigh Smith, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and quite a few other women’s rights advocates (the term “feminist” is a relatively modern one) that would have been known to Nietzsche as public examples leading the cause for–as he put it–”Emancipation of women” circa 1880s (the time period the majority of his writings on women took place). Since you left no context to this statement, I can only guess to what your reasoning is for making it (and I hope you will clarify further, lest we be guilty of talking past one another), but if you are attempting to link the increased visibility of lesbian feminists that emerged during the 1970s and 1980s as a buttress to what Nietzsche wrote about women’s rights and infertility (citation 16 above) a full century prior (when the majority of prominent precursory “feminist” voices were quite fertile), one might be inclined to accuse you of attempting to pull a very unsubtle sleight of hand here.

      “Women statistically vote for parties and people who offers more security and less freedom (not to say when they vote for the most handsome candidate – also documented).”

      First I’d need to see the documentation, then I’d need to be shown what relevance this holds to Nietzsche’s views on women (remember, that is the topic of discussion here) on account that he makes little commentary regarding women and political preferences.

      “You may very well call me a misogynist, but to do so would be wrong, since I do not hate women and much enjoy their company.”

      If you believe that I’m going to make such a blanket statement based on one interaction with someone I have never met, then you aren’t too familiar with my blog.

      “I am also man enough to realize that the vast majority of women not only like but much prefer to be submissive to a strong man. Women pretend they want power, but it is only to be able to find a man that is decisively more powerful than her.”

      Then you have departed considerable away from Nietzsche’s views here. According to Nietzsche women are naturally more powerful than men by virtue of childbirth (hold “first rank,” citation 15), and only want to find a man in order to have a child and thereby assert her power (first sentence in citation 16). Thus, you have greatly misread Nietzsche here, since he repeatedly states that a women’s perceived secondary status is a facade she herself promotes in order to cultivate more power for herself.

      “That is why women only marry up. A man simply has no value for a woman if she doesn’t admire him and his masculine power. Women naturally want to be led.”

      Once again, your views are starkly different from Nietzsche’s, whose position is that through the act of promoting her own virtuousness as an ideal for men to look on (and protect) it is the woman who holds power over men.

      “I am sure, for most feminists and feminized men, this kind of thinking is unpleasent, but that is to paraphrase Nietzsche simply your slavemoral desiring to bring down the strong man and woman to the level of the weak man and woman.”

      As I have written before, I don’t believe in thought crime (see here), therefore I don’t believe in “unpleasant thinking”. If I did I wouldn’t be responding to you so politely right now, would I?

      “Women are the most happy when they as Nietzsche suggest embrace their natural state as givers and carers of life.”

      At no point in his writings does Nietzsche state anything about happiness (his position on this and everything else are more akin to “reality is what it is, deal with it”). And within the Nietzschean worldview, which is entirely deterministic, one cannot “embrace their natural state” anymore than one can embrace the arrangement of one’s atoms; you simply are what your are, and you will behave accordingly. Your happiness is irrelevant.

      And while we’re on the subject, since you keep mentioning slave-morality to me, you might be interested to know that I’ve also written an analysis of Nietzsche’s master-slave morality (see here). You’re more than welcome to offer up any criticism or challenges you have on my reflections on that topic, too. You might be surprised though to read that his usage of the term is noticeable different from your own here.

  5. badstone permalink

    Of course, the most obvious counterargument one could raise against Nietzsche in his critique of womanhood is to point out that most—if not all—of the criticisms he makes against the opposite sex here, is equally present in the behavior of the masculine gender. Men, too, indulge in vain interests, and have a tendency to become bitter and sensitive as age starts to diminish their charm and virility (not to mention their hairline).

    When it comes to the issue of competition—which Nietzsche characterizes as a vanity—it is only fair to say that if the philosopher wants to state that the highest contempt against women comes from other women, then one has to also acknowledge how (in light of all of human history) the greatest focus of contempt against men, has been other men. Thus, does it not allow itself to conclude that Nietzsche’s criticism of femininity are more accurately understood as criticism against humanity, in general.

    Personally, I doubt that Nietzsche would even object to any of the statements I have made above, and would probably add that they are entirely compatible with his views. Furthermore, I suspect that the philosopher would make the counter claim that my attempt at refuting his views on women, arises largely from my superficial interpretation of his words[11] (i.e. I’m eager to refute his ideas here, because I already decided his views are wrong long before I even started this essay; this would not be a false claim, in and of itself, but whether or not it is the driving force in my analysis, I’ll leave to the reader to judge).
    ——————
    I personally doubt and refute this statement made here, ‘that Nietzsche would take his criticism of woman and man as a criticism against humanity’. His subjects are more likely terms like society, marriage, think held externally and are subjects to change, views, judgment and our own desires.. Whilst humanity is something not subjucted to change and during the end of his life he helds humanity in great regard as witnessed in his ‘ecce homo’.

    Nietzsche doesn’t deny that men are vain and deceptive (much of his life’s work attests to that),…
    ————
    ok, I don’t think that he ever said that, again you must

    but he apparently sees a dramatic difference in the way the two sexes express their individual vanity and deceptive qualities. This difference can be put very simply: men—according to Nietzsche—seek to deceive themselves first, and external factors only by extension of wanting to maintain this first self-deception; whereas women seek to deceive solely the external world about their persons, thereby having no need to engage in the same sort of initial self-deception men are foolish enough to fall prey to. Hence why in the quote above Nietzsche states that man projects his ideal of woman as peaceful, and then goes on to construct societal norms to uphold the illusion that this is her natural state. The issue that many readers will notice is the last line of the quote, in which Nietzsche implies that women allow men to continue believing this lie by virtue of having “trained” themselves to appear more docile than they really are.

    Yet, if men are making the external world fit their ideal of women as peaceful, in what sense can it be said that it is women themselves who have taken on this deceptive characteristic?—Doesn’t it follow more readily to say that (for those who grant the validity of the premise) this falsity has been imposed on womanhood, rather than concocted by it?
    —————
    Makes me think:If Nietzsche for instance was a woman, would he think the same high regard woman. Maybe it was just his allways truth-seeking path, that he forgets to ever ask himself ‘why does the world even work as that in te first place’ , because I view mans and womans as equals, their counterparts, could be rivals, but clearly as equals. Something tells me that the woman holds in a mans image his greatest wishes&desires, while a man in womans..

    Like you said, Nietzsche was probably more ‘feminist’ then most feminist, maybe he was just because he was ‘too good to be true’. I have an image of girls, tear down his works or make everything ‘cute and kinky’, laughing with a words ‘you are going mad’.. Or as he puts it:

    of tearing up:
    ‘From
    the very first, nothing is more foreign, more repugnant, or more
    hostile to woman than truth–her great art is falsehood, her
    chief concern is appearance and beauty.’

    and more as an apppreciation:
    ‘Let us confess it, we
    men: we honour and love this very art and this very instinct in
    woman: we who have the hard task, and for our recreation gladly
    seek the company of beings under whose hands, glances, and
    delicate follies, our seriousness, our gravity, and profundity
    appear almost like follies to us.’

    I could comment more, but truthfully I would just like to hear your own reply first..

    • Thank you for the detailed comment, I appreciate the time you put into writing it and want to apologize if I kept you waiting for too long with my reply.

      “I personally doubt and refute this statement made here, ‘that Nietzsche would take his criticism of woman and man as a criticism against humanity’. His subjects are more likely terms like society, marriage, think held externally and are subjects to change, views, judgment and our own desires.. Whilst humanity is something not subjucted to change and during the end of his life he helds humanity in great regard as witnessed in his ‘ecce homo’.”

      Perhaps human behavior or human society would have been a more apropos characterization than the more general ‘humanity’ label I chose to go with. Point taken. However, the idea that Nietzsche did not believe that humanity (by which I mean the actual nature of man) is subject to change is questionable on account of his famous dichotomy of the Overman vs. the Last Man (see here) that he touches on repeatedly throughout his Thus Spoke Zarathustra and never repudiated even in his reflective essays on the work in later life (in which he still referred to Zarathustra–and the ideas within it–as his gift to the world). I suppose you would have to be a bit more specific in what you mean when you state, “Whilst humanity is something not subjucted to change and during the end of his life he helds humanity in great regard as witnessed in his ‘ecce homo’.” in regard to Nietzsche’s philosophy (ideally, I’d be interested in what specific passage/section in Ecce Homo you are referring to).

      “ok, I don’t think that he ever said that, again you must”

      Yes, it’s an inference I make based on his writings on other subjects. In particular, his musings on religion and morality, and the means by which we in the modern world will self-deceive ourselves (in his opinion) to validate the ideals we holds (I touch on this part of Nietzsche’s philosopher in greater depth elsewhere, namely “Nietzsche on ‘What is Religious’”, and “Nietzsche on the ‘Natural History of Morals’”). What I gather from the things Nietzsche specifically writes in regards to women (as opposed to his other commentaries on men and society) is, as I say in the essay above, that he seems to differentiate how the deceptiveness and vanities manifest and express themselves between the two genders. In light of what I have read in his works, this is the interpretation I have come to, yes.

      “Makes me think:If Nietzsche for instance was a woman, would he think the same high regard woman. Maybe it was just his allways truth-seeking path, that he forgets to ever ask himself ‘why does the world even work as that in te first place’ , because I view mans and womans as equals, their counterparts, could be rivals, but clearly as equals. Something tells me that the woman holds in a mans image his greatest wishes&desires, while a man in womans..”

      Oh, I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to conclude that there exists a lot of projection from both genders onto the other about motives and psychologies, largely because we are fixed with the one gender perspective we have (and even that is subjective and situational to the individual person). This is why I state that I see little to quarrel with with Nietzsche’s assessment that, “The same affects in man and woman are yet different in tempo: therefore man and woman do not cease to misunderstand each other.[8]”

      “Like you said, Nietzsche was probably more ‘feminist’ then most feminist,”

      I try to refrain from using modern sociopolitical labels for historical figures simply because it might lead to a whole host of needless speculation and re-interpretation on my part. However, I do honestly believe that it would be a mistake to describe Nietzsche as taking a position in favor of male superiority, since he clearly spends a lot of time arguing that women (as child-bearers, and creators of life) hold a much more superior and revered stand in society than men.

      “I could comment more, but truthfully I would just like to hear your own reply first..”

      Please do, I’m enjoying the exchange thus far.

  6. Ange permalink

    I am a woman and Nietzsche is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, philosopher but I don’t condemn him for having such a negative opinion of women. What he says is true and are, in my belief, words of a man scorned. If the book ‘Letters to my Sister” is in fact authored by him then he has all the right to say such things. They are in fact just his “little truths” as he calls them.

    • “Letters to my Sister,” like the posthumous Will to Power, are two works attributed to Nietzsche that frustrate me the most, simply because I can’t deduce their authenticity as they regard to Nietzsche’s philosophy (not to any satisfactory certainty, anyway). As far as Nietzsche’s views on women go, it does seem to me as if (judging from his private correspondences and the cited samples of his writings) he had a particular level of distrust towards women (in that, he seemed to find them particularly untrustworthy). I can’t pretend to know what the exact source, or combination of sources, for this sentiment is for the philosopher, but I’d guess that growing up in a house full of women must have left some sort of impression on his young mind (especially if the matter concerning sexual abuse at the hands of his sister is true).

  7. gerald permalink

    Nietzsche needed to practice what he preached, I believe. I mean he need to have more power, he needed to be on top. Otherwise he was really content. He doesn’t strike me as a content man- someone who was still hoping in the future, but maybe he was, in which I take my words back. But I think he needs to learn how to command and to have power. He’s aspiring to his ideal (Zarathustra) but maybe his ideal is not even what he needs. Maybe he envies the man on top, or if all the men in his society on top are also domesticated and have slave morality, then he envies their position if not admiring their person. Moreover, you’ll hate me for saying this- and I know what N had to say about the Germans. That notwithstanding, and I know he wasn’t anti-semitic either- and I know his sister doctored a lot of his documents, still I think a lot of what he stood for was embodied by the National Socialists and Hitler. They weren’t a perfect representation perhaps but nothing ever is perfect according to the ideal. I mean the NS stood for eugenics and improving their race (a word which Nietzsche uses). Hitler if nothing else knew how to command and to rule- simply for the sake of ruling,and not even “as the people’s first servant” but still with love for the people and to create a higher culture and race. The NSers also promoted childbirth in women, rewarding them for having many children and supporting them. He believed in hardness and strength. To me it does seem to align so well with Nietzsche, despite what I call ‘minor contradictions”. How this relates to Nietzsche’s person and life’s work I argue the following: Nietzsche was frustrated that he didn’t get pleasure in this life or was disappointed (tragic figure). He realized he would affect the millennia- he would shape the future. The “Day after tomorrow”. He was a perceptive and sensitive thinker, and I’m sure he could prophetically see a lot of what was going on. Perhaps the NS movement was what he predicted in coming, because today the world over seems to embody anti-Nietzsche values of egalitarianism, religious morality and fundamentalism. To the extent he really saw anything, what he could have seen was the NS movement- and they almost triumphed in fact. This may have given him a feeling that his life had meaning, biologically to his race even if he didn’t have his own child. He talked a lot about philosophers and their roles as being responsible for the overall development of a people- or something to that effect. Apologies I can’t quote my lines exactly but I’m sure you scholars know what I’m referring to. Hard, Commanding, War Like, women at home, eugenics, and with Nietzsche has a philosopher responsible fro the overall development of his nation or the world, there is a good chance he would regard NS as a bastard child as he has exacting tastes – but on the other hand maybe it would have a lot in common with his views and outlook and intent, and in any case it would be interesting to read his writings on that subject, but none of us can speak for him, of all people. If he didn’t create anything or change the world in any way, influencing the future, would he have considered his life has having had meaning and would he have had the joys he experienced and been able to alleviate the sorrows, from women and society and elsewhere?

  8. Peter permalink

    Please study the different meanings of the words “affect” (as a verb and as a noun) and “effect” (as a noun and as a verb). In your article you use the word “affect” where you should be using “effect”, and the effect upon your credibility is slightly negative. In other words, the mistake slightly affects your credibility.

  9. gerald permalink

    What would Nietzsche have to say about feminism and about childless women today in society? I know a girl, I like her for various qualities- her work ethic, her loyalty, but she is already married- to Jesus. He said that Buddhism makes no promises, and keeps them, and Christianity makes a thousand promises and keeps none. She’s always talking about the kingdom of heaven and being the bride of christ and a thousand glorious ideas but she’s not in the real world. I was once where she was though so I can understand it. I’m trying to bring her down. On the other side, I know a girl I like, she’s married to the government- childless at age 37 and wants a child badly- and these are both aryan caucasian girls, but the later girl, she can’t extract herself from welfare or develop a work ethic for the life of her- though she’s anti-religious or a-religious, and she is very intelligent. Both women are very intelligent. Then at university, there are a lot of beautiful younger women, but they are married too- to their studies and their future career. They want to make money it seems, or be independent. They want the option to work, thank you (but do they want the obligation?) They are so focused. Everyone is already married but none of these marriages are bearing any fruit- they all walk away childless and my race is dying out for stupidity or frigidity? IS this what Nietzsche envisioned for the future? They are not brainless- in fact they are very intelligent. They are beautiful and healthy and in their prime and passing up the opportunity to procreate. They wear trousers or pants rather than skirts or dresses. Mini skirts late at night rather than charming longer skirts and dresses. It’s not whether they’re feminist or not- everyone is- including the men, from a historic perspective. Now the most intelligent are already married but not bearing, so that leaves the lesser intelligent and less healthy bearing children- and I see dysgenic pressures at work here, and was this what Nietzsche had in mind? Now as far as climate and technological advances are concerned, we live in easy times- even the poor of us gets fed. We have problems to be sure, and frustrations- but discount those caused by envy or ingratitude and those caused by excess consumption and even the poor is well off relative to historic perspectives, and this means there are no selective pressures (eugentics) at work in nature- so if it is to happen at all, and we are not all to become a stupid race or stupid humanity, we have to engage in eugenics and birthing consciously- and I don’t see this happening because everybody is already married. My goal is to be a divorce attorney- to divorce them from their partners- the state, Jesus and their careers and the ideologies and beliefs and attitudes that prompt them. It’s no easy task and I’ll do this all the while workin gand studying each full time for I am a smasher of idols and a dispeller of dogmas to those who will listen to my pied piping. I’m old fashioned and would like to see men married to women- and vice versa, or women bearing at any rate, and suckling their babies direct. The harder I become, the softer women become, so I must be hard as Iron and Steel and Carbide and not be softened by soft women but tell them to pay it forward.

  10. perpetualburn permalink

    “If nothing else, this alone (in my opinion) negates any attempt to reconcile Nietzsche’s views on woman with our modern understanding of gender equality. Nietzsche simply does not see intellect as a “natural” characteristic of the opposite sex.”

    “The female intellect. Women’s intellect is manifested as perfect control, presence of mind, and utilization of all advantages. They bequeath it as their fundamental character to their children, and the father furnishes the darker background of will. His influence determines the rhythm and harmony, so to speak, to which the new life is to be played out; but its melody comes from the woman.
    To say it for those who know how to explain a thing: women have the intelligence, men the heart and passion. This is not contradicted by the fact that men actually get so much farther with their intelligence: they have the deeper, more powerful drives; these take their intelligence, which is in itself something passive, forward. Women are often privately amazed at the great honor men pay to their hearts. When men look especially for a profound, warm-hearted being, in choosing their spouse, and women for a clever, alert, and brilliant being, one sees very clearly how a man is looking for an idealized man, and a woman for an idealized woman–that is, not for a complement, but for the perfection of their own merits.”

  11. David permalink

    I think that Nietzsche, a revolutionary thinker, was still a product of his time. A man who was so able to transcend common discourse on so many things, seems to put his cart before his horse when discussing women. It wasn’t women who were stupid, it was society keeping them from higher education and snubbing them for pursuing it.

    Today it is easy to see how wrong he was and if he born in our generation, I imagine he would be much luckier in love (unless he was just an incurable chauvinist).

    Sadly, I think the way he describes women will serve as a reason for many people avoiding his philosophy. But then again, I’ve never found a philosopher whom I back 100%.

  12. perpetualburn permalink

    “I think that Nietzsche, a revolutionary thinker, was still a product of his time. A man who was so able to transcend common discourse on so many things, seems to put his cart before his horse when discussing women.”

    The question of woman is central to his philosophy and the eternal return… It’s not just something he discusses “on the side” to be clever.

    “It wasn’t women who were stupid, it was society keeping them from higher education and snubbing them for pursuing it.”

    How “unfair”…

    “Today it is easy to see how wrong he was and if he born in our generation, I imagine he would be much luckier in love (unless he was just an incurable chauvinist).”

    He wasn’t “lucky” in love? What’s that mean? Did you know that Nietzsche got along swimmingly with all the woman in his life?

    The “authority” and smugness with which some men call others “chauvinist” makes me cringe. You can just feel the begging.

  13. perpetualburn permalink

    Is there anything more ridiculous than a politically correct approach to Nietzsche? Even if your goal is to sharply criticize him, you’ve effectively declawed yourself, making effective attack impossible.

  14. gerald permalink

    This is fun. I understand the man deeply, as well as misunderstand him. I love his Ecce Homo. I have no idea how he got along with women. i do a lot of projecting. My question is- was he hiding his loneliness so no one could see, or was he really on the blissful island and happy, on his mount of olives? Women are capable of much that men are capable of, but is it worth it from a sociological point of view to treat them the same? What about dropping birthrates, dysgenic factors and forces, shattering families, less eros with sameness of roles and gender neutrality as is the modern age? no I think he’d hate the modern age. I’ve concluded that america stands for everything anti-Nietzsche (and that’s why I hate american ideology). It stands for democracy, egalitarianism, religion and dogma, and idealism, utopianism, etc. It says it stands for individualism. he might like that. There are some good or great things about america but he’d hate its art and music (no he’d loath it) and he’d hate its idealism. I don’t know what he’d think about multi-culturailism, really multi-racism, or the blending and mixing of races (miscegenation) but I think he’d not prefer it. He wants good breeding after all- the superman. His role for women is in making the superman. Really, would educating women help bring this about? Women may be capable of being astronauts and pilots but is it in society’s best interest to make this their #1 priority? My friends mom (all german-americans) started her career in finance after she raise a family and supporter her husband in his successful medical career- and they all turned out beautifully. its the soundest wisest most healthy and successful but not arrogant family I’ve ever seen. They eat healthy, she always cooks, they run and participate in activities but don’t get overwhelmed, they have a nice house in a nice neighborhood, they mind their own business, they’ve done it. It couldn’t ave happened with the wife chasing her own ambitions early on, but now she’s served, she can do so, with hubby’s support. This N might appreciate, as they raised three great intelligent hard working sons without being social parasites. But yeah who cares about our lonely soul? it is the race in general which matters, not the individual. I’m sure N knew this. He’d have hated american ideology, but he might like the american pioneer spirit, and blue collar types who don’t give a shit. I don’t think he was fully awake, to various problems of social parasites, and causes of societal ills, otherwise he might have written differently. America- tipped the balance in two world wars, made the world safe for communism. It’s hard to win love when you cant’ express yourself. It’s hard to express yourself when all you have are heavy thoughts. We must throw off the heavy and become a laughing soul as in zarathustras parable on the ship. I think for every 100 that interpret N, 99.5 misinterpret him. I am among them certainly, but I am related to him, insofern wie ich wandeln. wer sich wandelt bleibt mit mir verwandt, und bin froh dabei!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 151 other followers

%d bloggers like this: