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

Stephen Strehle
Christopher Newport University
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph2011651238
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 61,064
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Winckelmann’s Apollo and the Physiognomy of Race.Lasse Hodne - 2020 - Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 29 (59):6-35.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
24 ( #446,070 of 2,439,680 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #432,499 of 2,439,680 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes