Review of Metaphysics 65 (1):113-137 (2011)

Authors
Stephen Strehle
Christopher Newport University
Abstract
The Third Reich conceived of life as a struggle (Kampf) between competing forces. This view of life was based on a growing emphasis in German philosophy and culture upon voluntarism, or the power of the will as the ultimate metaphysical reality. For these Germans, God was dead. There was no transcendent or universal standard to provide life with direction, no grand design or rationality to explain the succession of events, only the groundless and endless struggle of forces competing to assert their power and extend their dominion. These Germans found early inspiration for this idea in the writings of Gottfried Leibniz, who spoke of life as possessing its own autonomous power in each of its individual members or monads. They saw this concept develop and become the one metaphysical truth in the works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche with their emphasis upon the “will to live” and the “will to power.” The two philosophers exerted particular influence upon the Nazis, who saw them as early exponents of their ideology. This influence is important in understanding the fundamental mentality of the Nazis, even if the metaphysics of voluntarism contained other possible forms of interpretation beyond what the Nazis represented in word and deed. To understand the relationship between Nazism and voluntarism, the article develops the philosophical background from Leibniz to Nietzsche and relates this development to its Nazi expression in Adolf Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, Alfred Bäumler, and Martin Heidegger
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph2011651238
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