Nietzsche’s Theory of Empathy

Philosophical Papers 50 (1-2):235-280 (2021)
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Nietzsche is not known for his theory of empathy. A quick skimming of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on empathy demonstrates this. Arthur Schopenhauer, Robert Vischer, and Theodor Lipps are among those whose views are considered representative, but Nietzsche has been simply forgotten in discussion of empathy. Nietzsche’s theory of empathy has not yet aroused sufficient interest among commentators. I believe that his views on this subject merit careful consideration. Nietzsche scholars have been interested in his naturalistic accounts of other phenomena, but there seems to be relatively limited interest in his naturalistic account of a phenomenon that is so central to his disagreement with Schopenhauer, namely, empathic concern for others. This is surprising because Nietzsche makes a valuable contribution; he has views more in keeping with contemporary theories of empathy than others of his time. My goal here is to fill in this gap in the scholarship and provide the first thorough analysis of Nietzsche’s theory of empathy, which appears most clearly in Dawn.

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Vasfi Onur Özen
College of Saint Mary

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