Monday, 1 March 2021

Nietzsche and Ayn Rand: The Overman’s Psychological Problem

In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche reflects on the Overman’s psychological problem: “The psychological problem in the type of Zarathustra is how he that says No and does No to an un-heard of degree, to everything that one has so far said Yes, can nevertheless be the opposite of a No-saying spirit; how the spirit who bears the heaviest fate, a fatality of a task, can nevertheless be the lightest and most transcendent…” Nietzsche is acknowledging that to influence society, the Overman should be capable of both affirming and denying—he should have the integrity to stand for his ideals, and the wisdom to compromise, collaborate, and cooperate. Thus, Nietzsche’s Overman has an antinomic character—he is a man of ideals and a man of wisdom. He is not like the individualistic, singleminded, and alienated protagonists in Ayn Rand’s novels—Howard Roark and John Galt—who will walk over corpses for transforming their society into a Randian utopia. I see Ayn Rand as a naive (and totalitarian) thinker who was convinced that history moves through the thoughts and actions of the Overmen whose supreme talent, power, knowledge, and determination made them unstoppable by the lesser specimens of humanity. Her conception of the Overman is more extreme and unworkable than the Overman of Nietzsche’s conception.

1 comment:

Richard said...

It's a remarkable phenomenon that those who fail to understand Rand, presume to criticize & condemn her based on their own misunderstandings.
Every criticism you level at her is demonstrably false; at times so lame that it echoes past writers who have also been clueless. Socrates would not be so lame but conservatives certainly are. Pairing "conservative" (errors) with Socrates is a weird contradiction of terms. If you are honest(??) you will read her again, seeking a truly better understanding than that which your explanations of her views reveals.