Nietzsche and the Art of Cruelty

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 48 (3):402-429 (2017)
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This article explains Nietzsche’s high regard for cruelty. After offering a conceptual analysis of cruel acts, it argues that they are an apt means of expressing one’s power, drawing from work on Nietzsche’s psychological views and doctrine of the will to power to do so. In addition to the benefit that perpetrators of cruelty can enjoy in virtue of expressing their power, victims, by enduring cruelty, can cultivate qualities essential to overcoming the terrible truths of existence. Finally, central to most of Nietzsche’s remarks on the matter, self-directed cruelty has deep connections with the process of sublimation, which makes possible greater and more varied modes of life. In light of this picture, the liberal equation of suffering with harm becomes questionable, as does the insistence that cruelty deprives an individual of her agency. Self-cruelty, in particular, comes to look like one of the best expressions of agency.



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W. Jared Parmer
Aachen University of Technology

Citations of this work

The abyss, or the insufficiency of ethical nihilism for Nietzsche’s Übermensch.Jan Gresil Kahambing - 2020 - Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 10 (3-4):155-172.

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