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Basic Writings

PaulRee, RobinSmall

Publication Year: 2003

This book contains the first English translations of The Origin of the Moral Sensations and Psychological Observations, the two most important works by the German philosopher Paul Ree. These essays present Rees moral philosophy, which influenced the ideas of his close friend Friedrich Nietzsche considerably. _x000B_Nietzsche scholars have often incorrectly attributed to him arguments and ideas that are Rees and have failed to detect responses to Rees works in Nietzsches writings. Rees thinking combined two strands: a pessimistic conception of human nature, presented in the French moralists aphoristic style that would become a mainstay of Nietzsches own writings, and a theory of morality derived from Darwins theory of natural selection. Rees moral Darwinism was a central factor prompting Nietzsche to write On the Genealogy of Morals and the groundwork for much of todays evolutionary ethics.?_x000B_In an illuminating critical introduction, Robin Small examines Rees life and work, locating his application of evolutionary concepts to morality within a broader history of Darwinism while exploring Rees theoretical and personal relationship with Nietzsche. In placing Nietzsche in his intellectual and social context, Small profoundly challenges the myth of Nietzsche as a solitary thinker.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: International Nietzsche Studies


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p. 1-1

About the Series, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This work was made possible by an outside studies program granted by Monash University during the second half of 1997. I was a visiting scholar in the School of Education and Professional Development at the University of East Anglia during that period, and I wish to express my gratitude to colleagues there, ...

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Translator’s Introduction

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pp. xi-liv

Paul Rée is a figure remembered today for his friendship with and philosophical influence on another writer: Friedrich Nietzsche. To a lesser extent, he figures in biographies of Lou Andreas-Salomé, again as a personal and intellectual influence during a particular period of her life. Yet Rée is of interest in his own right as a writer and thinker. ...

Part 1: Psychological Observations


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pp. 3-4

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On Books and Authors

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pp. 5-11

Such a writing style is to be recommended. In the first place, it is not very easy to express a real stupidity in a short, pithy way. For it cannot hide itself behind few words nearly as well as behind many. In any case, the great quantity of literature makes a short mode of expression desirable. ...

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On Human Actions and Their Motives

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pp. 12-36

Every action arises out of a mosaic of motives without our being able to tell from how much egoism, vanity, pride, fear, benevolence, etc., it is composed. The philosopher cannot, like the chemist, apply a quantitative and qualitative analysis to the case. ...

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On Women, Love, and Marriage

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pp. 37-49

It is characteristic of first love that we do not understand how other people before us could have loved, since they had no knowledge of the only object that appears to us worthy of love. ...

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Mixed Thoughts

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pp. 50-62

To maintain oneself easily on the surface of the social element, one must not have a greater specific gravity than this element. Otherwise one sinks under, like a stone in water. ...

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On Religious Things

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pp. 63-66

The mass of the ministry consists of unconscious hypocrites, that is, of those who dimly sense that they could not admit their unbelief to themselves without either being hypocrites in the genuine sense or having to resign from their position. ...

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On Happiness and Unhappiness

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pp. 67-74

People commonly bear a small misfortune worse than a great one, since they surrender themselves to it fully; whereas they do not fully surrender themselves to the great misfortune, since they instinctively feel they would be crushed by it, and so seek the comfort that they find in almost any idea. ...

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Essay on Vanity

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pp. 75-78

For two reasons, it is not a matter of indifference to people whether others take them to be good or bad, clever or stupid, good-looking or ugly, poor or rich, friendly or unfriendly: (1) because they are self-interested, and so hope for advantages from a good opinion and are afraid of disadvantages from a bad opinion; ...


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pp. 79-80

Part 2: The Origin of the Moral Sensations


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pp. 83-84

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pp. 85-86

The point of view of this essay is a purely theoretical one. Just as the geologist begins by seeking out and describing different formations and then inquires into the causes from which they have arisen, so too the author has begun by taking up moral phenomena from experience, and has then gone into the history of their beginning, as far as his abilities allowed. ...

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pp. 87-88

Moral philosophy is concerned with human actions. At the outset it states that certain actions are felt as good, others as bad; that bad actions often give rise to remorse; that on account of the so-called sense of justice we demand punishment for bad actions. ...

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Chapter 1: The Origin of the Concepts“Good” and “Evil”

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pp. 89-99

The satisfaction of each of these particular forms of the egoistic instinct can possibly do harm to the welfare of other people; for instance, to preserve one’s own life, one will perhaps destroy someone else’s; to satisfy one’s sexual instinct, one will perhaps destroy a woman’s happiness, or kill one’s rival. ...

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Chapter 2: The Origin of Conscience

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pp. 100-103

Today too this distinction is forced into us from childhood. We constantly hear the selfless person praised and the egoist condemned. The books we read and the plays we see present the same opposition; finally we are directly taught that unselfishness, compassion, benevolence, and sacrifice are good, ...

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Chapter 3: Responsibility and Freedom of the Will

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pp. 104-112

If thinkers such as these say the same thing about a topic for which no new material of observation remains to be discovered, as with an object of the natural sciences, but which is decided rather by sharp observation of material at hand, then this topic can be regarded as settled. ...

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Chapter 4: The Origin of Punishment and the Feeling of Justice: On Deterrence and Retribution

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pp. 113-125

We discussed the origin of punishment already in chapter 1. We saw there that the welfare and peace of all makes its existence necessary. In fact, if punishment did not exist, if it disappeared at this moment, then each person would snatch as much of the property of others as could be acquired by force, without concern for their happiness or indeed life. ...

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Chapter 5: The Origin of Vanity

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pp. 126-152

It is not a matter of indifference to us whether others have a good or bad opinion of us for two main reasons: (1) because we are self-interested, and so hope for advantages from a good opinion, and are afraid of disadvantages from a bad opinion; (2) because we are vain, so that a good opinion is itself pleasant and a bad opinion is itself unpleasant. ...

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Chapter 6: Moral Progress

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pp. 153-157

Moral progress occurs when people become better, that is, less egoistic, in the course of time. This can happen in two ways: through natural selection, that is, through the survival (in the struggle for existence) and reproduction of those individuals who are the most non-egoistic, or of those tribes that contain the greatest number of non-egoistic individuals; ...

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Chapter 7: The Relation of Goodness to Happiness

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pp. 158-160

In answering this question, it clearly depends on whether those in whose fate the good person is interested are happy or unhappy: if they are happy, his own happiness will grow through his interest in their fate, through his sympathetic joy—in that case, being good is a pleasure; on the other hand, ...

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Review and Conclusion

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pp. 161-165

When we examine our moral sense, we find that we praise as a good person someone who refrains from harming others or takes care of them out of benevolence, while we condemn as a bad person anyone who does harm to others out of selfishness or vanity (e.g., a desire for vengeance). ...


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pp. 166-168


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pp. 169-174


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pp. 175-178

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092244
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252028182

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: International Nietzsche Studies