Friedrich Nietzsche’s Anti-Darwin

Friedrich Nietzsche (15.X 1844 – 25 VIII. 1900), German philosopher. Nietzsche wrote in “Twilight of the Idols” (1888) about darwinism:

Anti-Darwin. — As for the famous “struggle for existence,” so far it seems to me to be asserted rather than proved. It occurs, but as an exception; the total appearance of life is not the extremity, not starvation, but rather riches, profusion, even absurd squandering —
and where there is struggle, it is a struggle for power. One should not mistake Malthus for nature. Assuming, however, that there is such a struggle for existence — and, indeed, it occurs — its result is unfortunately the opposite of what Darwin’s school desires, and of what one might perhaps desire with them — namely, in favor of the strong, the privileged, the fortunate exceptions.

The species do not grow in perfection: the weak prevail over the strong again and again, for they are the great majority — and they are also more intelligent. Darwin forgot the spirit (that is English!); the weak have more spirit. One must need spirit to acquire spirit; one loses it when one no longer needs it. Whoever has strength dispenses with the spirit (“Let it go!” they think in Germany today; “the Reich must still remain to us”). It will be noted that by “spirit” I mean care, patience, cunning, simulation, great self-control, and everything that is mimicry (the latter includes a great deal of so-called virtue).

Die Götzen-Dämmerung – Twilight of the Idols

Friedrich Nietzsche [ 1895 ]

Text prepared from the original German
and the translations by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale


Anti-Darwin. – Was den berühmten “Kampf um’s Leben” betrifft, so scheint er mir einstweilen

mehr behauptet als bewiesen. Er kommt vor, aber als Ausnahme; der Gesammt-Aspekt des Lebens ist nicht die Nothlage, die Hungerlage, vielmehr der Reichthum, die Üppigkeit, selbst die absurde Verschwendung, – wo gekämpft wird, kämpft man um Macht … Man soll nicht Malthus mit der Natur verwechseln. – Gesetzt aber, es giebt diesen Kampf – und in der That, er kommt vor -, so läuft er leider umgekehrt aus als die Schule Darwin’s wünscht, als man vielleicht
mit ihr wünschen dürfte: nämlich zu Ungunsten der Starken, der Bevorrechtigten, der glücklichen Ausnahmen. Die Gattungen wachsen nicht in der Vollkommenheit: die Schwachen werden immer wieder über die Starken Herr, – das macht, sie sind die grosse Zahl, sie sind
auch klüger … Darwin hat den Geist vergessen (- das ist englisch!), die Schwachen haben mehr Geist … Man muss Geist nöthig haben, um Geist zu bekommen, – man verliert ihn, wenn man ihn nicht mehr nöthig hat. Wer die Stärke hat, entschlägt sich des Geistes (- “lass
fahren dahin! denkt man heute in Deutschland – das Reich muss uns doch bleiben” … ). Ich verstehe unter Geist, wie man sieht, die Vorsicht, die Geduld, die List, die Verstellung, die grosse Selbstbeherrschung und Alles, was mimicry ist (zu letzterem gehört ein grosser Theil der sogenannten Tugend).

Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt

11 responses to “Friedrich Nietzsche’s Anti-Darwin

  1. John A. Davison

    Thank you Martin,

    I have always admired Nietzsche for his “Gott ist tot,” for which he has been misunderstood. He was no atheist because death requires prior existence.

    He certainly saw through the Darwinian fantasy didn’t he.

    He is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of all time. I am inclined to agree.

    • Thank you John. One also wonders why nobody registered such a triviality as “natural selection” in the long centuries before Darwin. Maybe Nietzsche was right and we should not mistake Malthus for nature.

  2. John A. Davison

    Natural selection is very real and is entirely anti-evolutionary exactly as Leo Berg described it in 1922 –

    “The struggle for existence and natural selection ARE NOT progressive agencies, but being , on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard. ”
    Nomogenesis, page 406, my emphasis.

  3. John A. Davison


    The simple truth is that, as far as we know, ALL contemporary higher species are immutable and destined ultimately to only one fate – extinction. That is what the facts demand and that is what I believe to be the reality. I welcome evidence to the contrary and so far have received none.

  4. Hello,
    What about the fossil called IDA?
    1. All heritable morphology is the result of genetic factors.
    2. Genetic factors change over time in both random and selected ways.
    3. There is no limit to the amount of genetic change that can occur over billions of years.

  5. Samaritan

    You speak as a devout Darwinian so there is nothing that can be either done with you or for you.

  6. Oh. I was interested in Samaritan’s question. Shame there is no intelligent discussion about it.

  7. I usually like the words of Nietzsche but he doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about here. He seems to be speaking off oversimplified generalizations about evolution and natural selection. Perhaps if he better understood the process he would realize the beauty, simplicity and the importance of spirit within the explanation.

  8. Amazingly, no open-minded intellectual of the time has embraced Darwin’s theory. Paradoxically, not even the ones who publicly supported Darwin. Huxley, Lyell, Spencer, Hooker, and the entire gang of seven from the X Club used to opportunity to start a much needed revolution against the theological explanation of the universe provided by the church. As noble a cause that was, they actually resorted to falsely portraying Darwin’s evolution as being credible science when in private neither one of them endorsed Darwin’s assumptions. Huxley, one of the most vocal advocates of Darwinism, was a declared saltationist and rejected the idea of gradual evolution. They simply used Darwin’s book to start an offensive against the malefic influence the church had on the society for centuries. As a result, Darwinism became an ideology based on belief that ended up exerting a malefic influence of its own over science and society as a whole.

  9. I think Nietzsche saw the whole darwinian problem very clearly. Our culture, naturally, is inclined to Darwin for its simplicity and over-rational (and thus containing a finality, a cause and efect). That is what Nietzsche was aiming to point out. Not the efectiveness of the theory, but its intrinsic disease. He is saying, or at least I feel him saying: man, beast, plant, doesn´t want to survive, it wants to live; to spend its energy in living, in being alive, and all he does is to fullfill that waste of energy. Life, good genial life, is short, close to death, never conservative, always exhuberant. Darwinism is like economy for Nietzsche, is saving for later (for an ideal, and thus a nihilistic later) what can be spent today.

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