Nietzsche, Virtue, and the Horror of Existence

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Routledge/Taylor & Francis


It has been argued that Nietzsche is committed to a virtue ethic.1 Solomon, for example, claims that Nietzsche is more like Aristotle than Kant. Aristotle’s ethics, he holds, is not one of rules and principles – especially not universal ones. It is concerned with excellence and is still involved with the Homeric warrior tradition. The purpose of such an ethic is to maximize people’s potential and that will always be unequal for Aristotle as well as Nietzsche. Solomon thinks Nietzsche wants to return to the values of masterly virtue.2 The U¨bermensch is Aristotle’s megalopsychos – the greatsouled man.3 I have argued in another paper that it is a mistake to see Nietzsche as returning to the values of master morality.4 Further than that, Solomon’s whole approach seems unaware of Nietzsche’s belief in the horror of existence. While Nietzsche might have been impressed by Aristotle’s megalopsychos,5 Aristotle would be appalled by Nietzsche’s U¨bermensch.