publisher colophon

Nietzsche and Shaw are famous and infamous: famous for their innovative and influential forms of writing, but infamous for their apparent support of totalitarianism and Nazism. However, while it has long been shown that Nietzsche’s provocative language about “breeding” and “masters and slaves” was intended to enhance culture through competition, it is still an open question how and when Shaw supported biological eugenics. Via Nietzsche’s “philosophical breeding,” this article presents a new reading of Shaw’s Man and Superman: on the one hand, it contrasts Nietzsche’s philosophical Übermensch with Shaw’s eugenic Superman; and on the other hand, it connects Nietzsche’s agonistic enhancement of culture with Shaw’s philosophical reflections in “Don Juan in Hell.” In contrast to Tanner’s support of eugenic breeding in his Revolutionist’s Handbook, Shaw’s Don Juan remarkably resembles Nietzsche’s notion of “philosophical breeding” toward a more competent, truthful, and autonomous orientation that is needed in increasingly complex global politics.


Shaw, Nietzsche, superman, eugenics, breeding

George Bernard Shaw and Friedrich Nietzsche are both famous and infamous. They are famous for their innovative and highly influential forms of literary-philosophical writing and infamous for their connections with eugenics and social Darwinism that became political reality in Nazi Germany’s murderous efforts for a master race. After Nietzsche’s death in [End Page 183] 1900, his sister compiled and published in 1901 his Will to Power as his alleged support of Nazi politics. Shaw notoriously supported Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin for their political decisiveness. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Nietzsche was soon regarded as the philosopher of eugenics.1 However, quite contrary to his early reception, it has long been shown that Nietzsche did not argue for any form of racial-biological selection.2 Instead, his aim with terms such as “master race” was to polemically distinguish between different moralities, slave morality, and master morality, to provoke competition apart from all racial categories.3 With regard to Shaw, surprisingly little has been said about his eugenics in a philosophical context.4 It still seems to be “the dark side”5 of the first person to win both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award. Regarding the connection of Nietzsche and Shaw, it seems even more surprising that—as far as I can see—there has not been a philosophical engagement that compares Nietzsche’s concept with Shaw’s of the “breeding of humanity.” The topic might still seem too dangerous. But if Nietzsche’s “breeding” (in German, Züchtung) was not meant in a eugenic sense, then connecting both writers might also open new perspectives on Shaw’s thinking altogether.

When connecting Nietzsche and Shaw more generally, it is still an open debate whether Nietzsche’s influence on Shaw is overestimated or rather underestimated. Carlisle Bloxom (1928) highlights the persistent problem that it is difficult to pinpoint or prove any Nietzschean influences on Shaw, even if they seem striking.6 In comprehensive accounts of Nietzsche’s impact on Anglophone writers, David Thatcher (1970), on the one hand, argues that Nietzsche’s influence on Shaw is greater than generally acknowledged and even stronger than Shaw “wished to admit”;7 Patrick Bridgwater (1972), on the other hand, holds that Shaw “seems to have been surprisingly little influenced by him.”8 Connecting with Thatcher, Walter Torsten Rix (1974) offers the first and only monograph on the Nietzsche-Shaw connection and lays out in detail Shaw’s increasing admiration for Nietzsche’s philosophy, eventually even putting a Nietzsche portrait next to his desk.9 However, Rix’s dissertation has largely been ignored in research up to the present day.

Agreeing with Bridgwater’s anti-Nietzschean position, Carl Mills (1970) argues that “Nietzsche’s concept of the superman did not influence Shaw as much as Shaw’s critics suggested it” and that, in general, Shaw was influenced by Nietzsche’s “prose style” rather than by his philosophy.10 In fact, Mills blames the criticism against Shaw on Nietzsche: “The exaggeration of Nietzsche’s influence on Shaw’s superman concept is responsible for much of the criticism that is still heaped upon Shaw.”11 Quite the contrary, Reinhold Grimm (1988) follows Thatcher, positing that Shaw “both as a thinker and [End Page 184] writer resembles Nietzsche to a degree that neither he himself nor his critics have even been fully aware of.”12 Not taking notice of Rix’s dissertation, Grimm calls for an extensive monograph about the Nietzsche-Shaw connection that is to address their common features, such as the transvaluation of values; their innovative writing styles; their polemics, ethics, and messianisms; their notion of philosophical laughter; and their denials of a free will.13 Although Rix’s monograph already addressed questions of ethics, aesthetics, and the Superman, his study is certainly in need to be updated since he still regards Nietzsche and Shaw as metaphysical thinkers,14 ignoring Nietzsche research at least since the early 1970s.15 In recent years, the topic was picked up only by David Kornhaber, who highlights a strong impact of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, but argues that while Shaw’s “philosophical theater” follows Nietzsche, it is at the same time a “retort against”16 Nietzsche because Shaw’s “theatre of ideas” was to form the “true philosophy of the future . . . not in books but in playhouses.”17

This overall ambivalent picture in scholarship reflects Shaw’s own ambivalent statements about Nietzschean influences. In a review from 1896, “Nietzsche in English,” Shaw identifies himself with Nietzsche, being, like him, a “philosopher”—“something unintelligible to an Englishman”— and considering himself on “common ground” with Nietzsche’s “criticism of morality and idealism.” But he rejects Nietzsche stylistically (“Nietzsche is worse than shocking, he is simply awful: his epigrams are written with phosphorus on brimstone”) and academically: “For no moment will I suffer any one to compare me to him as a critic. Never was there a deafer, blinder, socially and politically inepter academician.”18 However, only two years later, in a letter from 1898, he even called for a “Nietzsche society” that would “repeat on the ethical plane the success of the Fabian Society.”19 Then, however, in the preface of Major Barbara (1905), he emphatically denies any influence by Nietzsche’s “senseless glorification of selfish bullying as the rule of life.”20 But in Man and Superman (1903), the focus of this article, he explains in the “Epistle Dedicatory” that Shaw’s version of Don Juan “actually read[s] Schopenhauer and Nietzsche” (502)21 and that Shaw would consider Nietzsche (next to Bunyan, Blake, Hogarth, Turner, Goethe, Shelley, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Ibsen, Morris, and Tolstoy) one of the writers “more or less akin” to himself (519–20).22 Given Shaw’s many ambivalent statements for and against Nietzsche, it seems that Shaw perhaps felt so close to him that he had to define dividing lines to not be confused with his style or philosophy. But this very strategy of defining such dividing lines, Nietzsche pursued as well: “Socrates—just to confess it—stands so close to me that I am almost always fighting a battle with him” (Notes, 1875).23 [End Page 185]

While a more comprehensive study about the Nietzsche-Shaw connections is still needed, this article explores Shaw’s Man and Superman and compares Nietzsche’s Übermensch with Shaw’s Superman and Nietzsche’s Höherzüchtung der Menschheit (literally, the “higher-breeding of humanity”) with Shaw’s philosophical speculations in “Don Juan in Hell.”24 After, first, briefly outlining how the theory of evolution figures as the philosophical horizon for both writers, I will, second, show how Nietzsche’s metaphorical Übermensch contrasts with Shaw’s eugenic Superman in the Revolutionist’s Handbook. Third, I argue that Nietzsche’s non-eugenic, philosophical concept of the “higher-breeding of humanity” is strikingly exemplified by Shaw’s Don Juan figure. “Philosophical breeding” can then be understood, in both writers, as aiming for a more competent, truthful, and autonomous orientation in the complexities of global politics. Methodologically, this interpretation assumes that the forms of writing are, for both, not simply external but inherently shape their philosophical “contents.”

Evolution as the Philosophical Horizon for Nietzsche and Shaw

After the eighteenth century scientifically explored notions of history and historical progress, the nineteenth century continued thinking in terms of temporality leading from Hegel’s movement of concepts to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in his On the Origin of Species (1859). While Aristotle’s ontology assumed the eternal stability of species, theories of evolution put all life and thought into the perspective of temporality: not only do species develop and change, but also human life and all forms of thinking are always in flux. If life is, according to Darwin, the product of random mutations that adapt more or less successfully to the environment, then evolution, including the human being, does not have a final purpose or higher goal; it does not follow a higher metaphysical principle, but is driven by such randomness within environmental conditions. Moreover, after the success of the sciences since the seventeenth century, theories of evolution undermined all religious belief systems, making them a product of human needs and a part of evolutionary forces as well. Thus, for Nietzsche, scientific progress has led to the “death of God,” not by logically proving that God is false, but rather as a moment in history when this belief was no longer trusted and God became simply “un-believable.”25 Shaw announced he had been an atheist in his youth and claimed in his testament that he believed in “creative evolution,” not accepting the tenets of any established church. He puts his Man and Superman explicitly in the context of the theory of evolution: in his “foreword to the popular edition,” he describes evolution [End Page 186] as a “method” that explains all “appearances of intelligent design in the universe” as the products of “pure accident” (531). And in “Don Juan in Hell,” he compares evolution with the “Life Force”: “Life is a force which has made innumerable experiments in organizing itself” (661–62). Nietzsche and Shaw draw on the basic tenets of Darwin’s theory of evolution that there is no final metaphysical teleology or any eternally stable structures of being. But going beyond Darwin, both seek to think through the philosophical consequences of evolution for human societies.26 If an overarching world order is not eternally given, then humans can take part in influencing the evolution of societal and political structures.

Nietzsche’s Übermensch as a Counter-Term against the “Last Human”

Nietzsche introduces his Übermensch mainly in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra,27 where his protagonist Zarathustra teaches the Übermensch as a doctrine first to the people on the market place and then to the animals. After Zarathustra meets the old saint who had not heard that God is dead (Za 1, Prologue 2), he goes to the nearest city to teach his tenet: “I teach you the overman [Übermensch]. Man is something that shall be overcome” (Za 1, Prologue 3).28 He puts his doctrine of the Übermensch in the context of evolution: “You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, many is more ape than any ape” (Za 1, Prologue 3).29 And later, when the people call for the ropedancer to start his show, Zarathustra picks up the rope dancing metaphor to summarize his lesson: “Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping” (Za 1, Prologue 4).30

But Zarathustra does not define the Übermensch in any eugenic or biological qualities. Rather, he speaks in various metaphorical terms of humanity’s nature. The human being is an “arrow” or a “bridge”: “What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end” (Za 1, Prologue 4).31 In this context, Zarathustra is calling for a this-worldly orientation, doing away with higher metaphysical powers: “I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. . . . To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing, and to esteem the entrails of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth” (Za 1, Prologue 3).32 It is important to note that Nietzsche always emphasized a certain distance to his writings, withdrawing his authorship as a stable source for philosophical truths: “I am one thing, my writings are another” (EH, Books 1).33 He did [End Page 187] not want to be confused particularly with his Zarathustra: “Do not believe that my Zarathustra articulates my opinions. He is one of my preparations and interludes,” he writes to his sister in 1885.34 Removing the authorship from Zarathustra’s doctrines in turn highlights the literary form of the text. As such, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is designed as an epic and biblical narrative that speaks of Zarathustra as a prophetic teacher revealing truths with highest and messianic authority. But since Zarathustra tragically fails at teaching his dogmatic doctrines at the end of the narrative, the teachability of such doctrines becomes itself questionable.35 If Zarathustra fails at teaching his doctrines, then it might eventually be impossible to pin down what exactly the Übermensch is.

Instead the Übermensch can be defined only negatively, as a negation of trying to define what the human being is. When the people did not understand Zarathustra, he contrasts his Übermensch with the “last human”: “Let me speak to them of what is most contemptible: but that is the last man [letzte Mensch]” (Za 1, Prologue 5).36 If the Übermensch is Zarathustra’s term to overcome the current human being, then the “last human” denotes a final and general definition of the human being, as Aristotle’s animal rationale (gr. λόγον ἔχον) defines him or her as an animal gifted with reason. In the context of evolution, the “last human” then regards himself or herself as the final definition of humanity, beyond which nothing higher, nothing else can and should be achieved. The “last human” makes himself or herself the final ontological and moral norm, against which deviations are regarded as violations.37 The last human wants final answers to ontological questions of “what is?”: “‘What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?’ thus asks the last man, and he blinks” (Za 1, Prologue 5).38 As a general term for humanity, it does not allow for deviations, but everyone is to be equal: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse” (Za 1, Prologue 5).39 If evolution means that there are no stabilities in life because life means that everything always changes, then the desire to fully define the human being is a threat to the conditions of the living. Nietzsche’s Übermensch is then intended to oppose any stabilizations or final generalizations of the human being as such. Therefore, nobody can ever be the Übermensch. Rather, it is Nietzsche’s term to temporalize humanity altogether and to keep it open for a future that will always remain in the future, seen from any new point in time. Übermensch and the “last human” are then “counter-terms” that helped Nietzsche to challenge Western morality: “I need these strong counter-terms and the luminosity of these counter-terms in order to illuminate the abyss of carelessness and lie, which has been called morality” (Notes 1888).40 Affirming [End Page 188] evolution by way of the Übermensch then means for Nietzsche also to affirm life’s temporality and complexity, by questioning any moral or ontological finality of the human being as such.

Shaw’s Superman as the Goal of Eugenic Breeding in the Revolutionist’s Handbook

While the “Superman” appears beyond the title only briefly in the play itself, Shaw mainly deals with it in the Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion, written by John Tanner. Tanner directly refers to Nietzsche’s Übermensch with his translation “Superman”—“The cry for the Superman did not begin with Nietzsche, nor will it end with his vogue”—in the context of eugenics in the first section entitled “On Good Breeding” (740). Here, he argues that while institutional and political transformations are not of any serious matter, “real” changes are of evolutionary nature, such as the one “from the crab apple to the pippin” or “from wolf to fox to house dog” (740). And Tanner applies such conscious biological breeding to the human being: “what can be done with a wolf can be done with a man.” However, if we are to make a conscious decision about the goal of breeding, it is much more difficult, he argues, to specify any characteristics of the Superman. Instead of defining him, Tanner gives the general guideline that “the proof of the Superman will be in the living” and that the method will simply be an open experiment: “we shall find out how to produce him by the old method of trial and error” (741). And beyond having a “superior mind,” Tanner argues that the “conventional morality” and a “superior body” are not goals “worth changing for” (741).

But, in the second section on “Property and Marriage,” he refines that a “superior mind” is not simply its rationality because “what is really important in Man is that part of him that we do not yet understand” (743). In fact, we are “not even conscious” of most human abilities, “just as we are not normally conscious of keeping up our circulation by our heart-pump, though if we neglect it we die.” Therefore, Tanner argues, “the true characteristic of the Superman” will be the “superiority in the unconscious self” (743). Unconscious abilities are more important when immediate actions and decisions are needed, before and beyond rational thought.

In this section, Tanner also addresses the question why the Superman is needed. While civilization “has reached the stage of international organization,” where humanity’s “capacity and magnanimity” is “clearly beaten by the vastness and complexity of the problems forced” on them (742), human beings are anxiously looking “upward” for a “mightier mind”; but they only [End Page 189] find that “heavens are empty” and that they must use their “own brain and hand.” The complexity of global politics demands greater competencies by humans. In the fifth section, “The Political Demand of the Superman,” he specifies this thought. When the point of “international organization” is reached before the current politicians (he calls them “demagogues and electorates”) “have learnt how to manage even a country,” “the whole political business is going to smash.” Such a “catastrophe” can be prevented only if politicians improve their competencies: through a “Democracy of Supermen” (755). One of the goals of breeding Supermen is thus to produce politicians that can cope with the more complex demands of international and global politics. In this respect, Tanner argues that “the real Superman will snap his superfingers at all Man’s present trumpery of ideals of right, duty, honor, justice, religion, even decency” so that he is capable of taking greater responsibilities and of accepting “moral obligations beyond the present human endurance” (752).

Once humanity has recognized the political need for Supermen, traditional institutions will have to perish: “Conviction of this will smash everything that opposes it” (743), especially the institutions of marriage and property. Both marriage and property limit the possibilities of breeding and reproduction in the “widest possible sense,” postponing “the Superman for eons, if not for ever.” Instead, Tanner wants to promote equality. He seeks for the greatest number of biological matches through greatest possible equality so that “every person should be nourished and trained as a possible parent” because “equality is essential to good breeding” (743–44). Hence, with regard to “positive eugenics”—that is, reproduction of people with desired traits—Tanner believes that equality through abolishing marriage and property will be sufficient to provide conditions for the Superman to develop. With regard to “negative eugenics”—that is, reducing reproduction rates of people with less desired traits—Tanner believes that equality will also achieve this goal: “Equality is an essential condition of bad breeding also; and bad breeding is indispensable to the weeding out of the human race.” He argues that if “two really unhealthy people get married, they will, as likely as not, have a great number of children who will all die before they reach maturity.” This scenario is a “far more satisfactory arrangement than the tragedy of a union between a healthy and an unhealthy person.” And compared to “sterilization,” this arrangement has the “enormous advantage” that if human conceptions of health and breeding are wrong “which to some extent they most certainly are,” then this “error will be corrected by experience” (744). Moreover, Tanner believes that evolution will take care of the ones who are unable to control themselves. He expects that evolution in [End Page 190] modern society, where “the social organization of the food supply makes it easy for a man to overeat,” the “glutton eats himself out of health and finally out of existence” and that now “survival of the fittest means literally the survival of the self-controlled, because they alone can adapt themselves to the perpetual shifting of conditions produced by industrial progress” (753). Thus, according to Tanner, both “positive eugenics” and “negative eugenics” do not have to be politically enforced beyond providing the greatest possible equality of all people through abolishing the institutions of property and marriage.

But following the principle of “trial and error,” Tanner eventually argues in the last section, “The Method,” that it is “idle for an individual writer to carry so great a matter further in a pamphlet.” Rather, he wants to continue this debate in “a conference on the matter” (780) and even institutionalize it in “a State Department of Evolution, with a seat in the Cabinet for its chief, and a revenue to defray the cost of direct State experiments” (776).

Nevertheless, it is important that John Tanner is not George Bernard Shaw, and that Shaw declares Tanner to be a “Member of the Idle Rich Class” (735) whose Handbook is written for a certain purpose, for “Revolutionists” who desire “some revolution for the better” (737).41 The Superman is specified in such detail only in this revolutionary handbook, not in the play itself. And in the play, Tanner is characterized as a person of “moral passion,” which has made him “ten times more destructive now than [he] was then.” This “moral passion,” Tanner confesses, “has taken my destructiveness in hand and directed it to moral ends” (572). It could be, as Shaw declared in his “Epistle Dedicatory,” that the characters’ opinions “are all right from their several points of view” and that this is John Tanner’s point of view and his “moral passion.” The notion of the “Superman” appears only in one scene of the play, in “Don Juan in Hell,” where—as will be shown—it is contextualized in a less political and a more philosophical, more complex picture. Against any attempts to ethically pin down what the Superman is, Shaw protests emphatically in the postscript of his “Epistle Dedicatory”: “I have been accused of preaching a Final Ethical Superman . . . ! This misunderstanding is so galling that I lay down my pen without another word” (530).

Nietzsche’s “Higher-Breeding of Humanity” through Agonism

Against Nietzsche’s alleged support of fascism and eugenics, it has been shown that his term for race, Rasse, refers not to any biological or genetic dispositions, but primarily to peoples and nations with regard to their [End Page 191] cultural traditions, configurations, and identities, which emerge when people live together under the same living conditions for a long time.42 In this regard, Nietzsche opposes any “purity” of races and instead points to the advantages of a mixture of “races” in the sense of cultural plurality.43 Similarly, Nietzsche’s eugenic language about improving human vitality does not distinguish between different biological races, but it was instead aimed at a humanity threatened by nihilism.44 Hence, Nietzsche’s call for a “higher-breeding of humanity” as a Höherzüchtung der Menschheit (EH, BT 4)45must be understood in the context of his notions of nihilism and cultural decadence in Western modernity. When Nietzsche speaks of the “breeding” of humanity, he does not mention or refer to the goal of an Übermensch. Different from Tanner’s Handbook, breeding has for Nietzsche nothing to do with biological eugenics.46 Instead, the German word Züchtung refers to Zucht, ziehen, Erziehen, and Erziehung, in the sense of “disciplining” and “raising children” through education, learning, and training.47 It refers to everything that human beings learn by acquiring routines of thinking and acting in their lives which are then, in Nietzsche’s terms, “incorporated” (einverleibt, Einverleibung) in daily life.

For Nietzsche, such “breeding” of humanity to something higher and superior is needed for two reasons. First, after almost two thousand years of Christianity, humans have unlearned and forgotten to take responsibility for themselves. The Christian belief in equality has bred a gregarious and “mediocre” type of humanity: “Such men have so far held sway over the fate of Europe, with their ‘equal before God,’ until finally a smaller, almost ridiculous type, a herd animal, something eager to please, sickly, and mediocre has been bred, the European of today” (BGE 62).48 But now, after the “death of God,” humans have to relearn to actively take responsibility themselves: “Since the belief has ceased that a God broadly directs the destinies of the world . . . man has to set himself ecumenical goals embracing the whole earth” (HATH 1.25).49 The second reason for such “breeding” is that political decisions have become more difficult because they are now to be made in a global dimension. Similar to Tanner’s Handbook, Nietzsche expected that politicians have to acquire greater competencies in a more complex modern society to make decisions on a global scale. If humanity wants to survive, it must acquire a superior degree of knowledge about human life and cultures: “In any event, if humanity is not to destroy itself through such conscious universal rule, it must first of all attain to a hitherto altogether unprecedented knowledge of the preconditions of culture as a scientific standard for ecumenical goals. Herein lies the tremendous task facing the great spirits of the coming century” (HATH 1.25).50 While Nietzsche agrees with [End Page 192] the Revolutionist’s Handbook that the more complex global politics require superior and more competent minds and politicians, he disagrees on the method how to achieve this goal.

Different from Tanner, Nietzsche regards the demand for equality as a danger to humanity. When, in the nineteenth century, calls for equality increasingly dominated the “social question,” Nietzsche polemically introduced his term “rank order” as another “counter-term”: “I am forced—in the age of suffrage universel, i.e. when everyone may be the judge of anyone—to reestablish the rank order” (Notes 1884).51 Based on Christian metaphysics, the moral demand for equality reduced, for Nietzsche, life’s plurality, complexity, and individuality. Nietzsche emphasizes that people have different competencies and that therefore not everybody is able to take political responsibilities for others. To prepare for a globalized world and global politics, Nietzsche tried to enhance culture by reintroducing competition in the Greek sense of agon. Through agonism, the ancient Greeks “bred” and enhanced their abilities first for war (strong bodies and minds), then in more “cultured” forms in sports, art, philosophy, science, and politics. In this respect, Nietzsche uses his terminology of “master” and “slave”— “master morality and slave morality” (BGE 260)52—in order to create new agonism among human beings.53 In Nietzsche’s moral conception, “slaves” are dependent on others or on general—not only religious—beliefs and belief systems. By contrast, “masters” are “auto-nomous” (gr. αὐτο-νόμος), that is, they give themselves the name or law, with regard to morality, to thinking, and to orientation in general. For Nietzsche, anyone who is to make decisions for others, especially after the “death of God,” needs to be able to make such decisions on his own responsibility. However, this self-directed autonomy is an ideal that one can only aspire to and pursue, but never fully attain. In this respect, his term “rank order” is to distinguish between different degrees of such “autonomous” orientation. For this, he uses the term Geistigkeit (Geist, German for spirit, mind, and ghost; Geistigkeit: intellectuality, spirituality),54 that is, the ability for a truthful and autonomous orientation to make decisions on one’s own responsibility for oneself and for others.55

While politicians need to be capable of dealing with more complex problems on a global scale, Nietzsche expects the greatest responsibility however from philosophers. Philosophers are the “great minds” of the next century who—after the “death of God” and the end of a given world order—have to make decisions about the most fundamental values of humanity: “The new values still have to be created—we won’t be spared from it! The philosopher must be like a lawgiver” (Notes 1885).56 In this respect, such philosophers have the greatest responsibility for humanity requiring greatest Geistigkeit. [End Page 193] But these philosophers still need to be “bred,” and Nietzsche sets this as an ideal for agonistic competition. Beyond their ability for an autonomous, self-directed orientation with regard to values, they more than other people are able to see the complex conditions of reality. Truthfulness—that is, questioning illusions and seeking for truth—is then what distinguishes greater minds from others: “The strength of the spirit should be measured according to how much of the ‘truth’ one could still barely endure—or to put it more clearly, to what degree one would require it to be thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified” (BGE 39).57 Nietzsche’s concept of enhancing humanity is then meant to increase the perspectives on life and to gain a more truthful and more complex orientation in reality.58

While one could argue that such a concept of “breeding” has, over a very long period, also biological results in a culture by selecting the “fit-test” minds and bodies for these requirements, this selection is, however, not the result of biological eugenics. While in the Revolutionist’s Handbook biological breeding is the condition for the Superman, “breeding” is in Nietzsche’s sense about making philosophical decision about ideals and values of humanity that shape the conditions of society and politics altogether. As such, while Tanner focuses on the breeding of all humans, Nietzsche’s “breeding” aims primarily on philosophers who have the responsibility to decide about global politics and all humanity.

Shaw’s Don Juan as an Exemplification of Nietzsche’s Philosophical Breeding

If Nietzsche’s philosophical notion of “breeding” aims primarily at the abilities of autonomy and truthfulness, then these ideals find a remarkable resemblance in Shaw’s conceptualization of Don Juan. In Shaw’s “Epistle Dedicatory,” he specifies that his Don Juan has overcome conventional morality and is able to set values on his own responsibility: “Philosophically, Don Juan is a man who, though gifted enough to be exceptionally capable of distinguishing between good and evil, follows his own instincts without regard to the common, statute, or canon law” (497). While the “common, statute, or canon law” gives general norms and rules for all human beings, Don Juan relies on his more complex and unconscious “instincts.” Eventually, Don Juan “unexpectedly discovered a moral in his immorality” (501)—a morality that sees through the conditions of the conventional morality. Shaw connects this with the demands for greater capacities in current democracies. Since we “now know that there is no hereditary [End Page 194] ‘governing class’ any more than a hereditary hooliganism,” we must “either breed the political capacity or be ruined by Democracy” (514–15). As such, the “breeding” of higher political capacities can be achieved within democracies and not against them.

In Shaw’s conception of “Don Juan in Hell,” heaven and hell are distinguished by the dichotomy of truth and falsity. Don Juan explains to Ana that hell is the “home of the unreal . . . , for the seekers of happiness” and heaven is for the “masters of reality” (650), where he “hopes to escape at last from lies and from the tedious, vulgar pursuit of happiness” (651). Distinguishing between cruel truths on the one hand and pleasing lies on the other, Don Juan decides to seek for truth despite its ugliness and painfulness. In this respect, Don Juan breaks with the Platonic idea that the true is also the aesthetically pleasing and the morally good.59 Connecting with Nietzsche, desiring the pleasure of illusions is then a sign of weakness, while questioning illusions is a sign for a strong mind. Discussing with the Devil the nature of the human being, Don Juan holds that “he [the human being] is only a coward” (656). A coward is somebody who does not dare to act when he or she is afraid. But, Don Juan continues, “you can make any of these cowards brave by simply putting an idea into his head” (657); he “will fight for an idea like a hero. He may be abject as a citizen but he is dangerous as a fanatic” (659). Believing in ideas can make humans fanatical because they become blind to reality. While cowards need such final ideas to live, more courageous individuals are able to set values and ideas on their own responsibility. Don Juan himself is somebody who exemplifies this ideal of an autonomous orientation. When the conversation with the Devil becomes more aggressive, Don Juan explains that he is disappointed by hell’s pleasing beauty because he strives for truthfulness and autonomy, which is “the law of my life”: He has always sought for “higher organization, wider, deeper, intenser self-consciousness, and clearer self-understanding” (680). This “purpose” of striving for a deeper self-understanding has “reduced love” to “mere pleasure of the moment,” “art” to the mere “schooling of . . . faculties,” and “religion” to a “mere excuse for laziness.” And “that is what has made this place of eternal pleasures is so deadly to” him. It is the “absence of this instinct” of truthfulness that makes his interlocutor the “strange monster called Devil” and “The Tempter” and that makes those in hell the “uncomfortable, false, restless, artificial, petulant, wretched creatures they are” (680–81). Hell is for Don Juan therefore a “Palace of Lies,” whose members are only cowards, “not self-controlled,” “only superstitious . . . and not truthful at all: liars every one of them, to the very backbone of their souls” (681). [End Page 195]

The Devil, however, counters Don Juan’s accusations by questioning his own belief in truth: being “frank” with Don Juan, the Devil reveals that nature has “no purpose” at all. Rather, it is merely a human need to find such a purpose: “You think because you have a purpose, Nature must have one. You might as well expect it to have fingers and toes because you have them” (683–84). However, Don Juan responds that even without gaining final truth, one can still gain knowledge, despite its preliminarity. It is the evolutionary “Life Force” itself that in the case of the philosopher “grasp[s]” for “knowledge” (685). Asked by the Devil what then the “use of knowledge” is, Don Juan responds that it offers an orientation: “The philosopher is Nature’s pilot.” And this defines the very “difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer” (685). Trying to understand human life in its widest possible horizon, philosophers—for Don Juan and Nietzsche—try to “steer” human life with their terms, values, and ideals. But even philosophers cannot give new final answers. Rather, they are themselves taking part in evolution: if “life is a force which has made innumerable experiments in organizing itself” (661–62), then also philosophers’ interpretations are competing with each other on the “market.” For instance, Don Juan tries to base the institutions of modern society on his insight that “Nature is a pandar, Time is a wrecker, and Death a murderer” (677). But after the “death of God” all such interpretations remain human interpretations and they remain, as Don Juan points out, “merely words.” And this “is the family secret of the governing caste” (682): reality is always more complex than words can say and is open to endless and always new competing interpretations.

However, since humans always seek for final interpretations, they will also seek to pin down the meaning of the Superman. For those who desire a final message of the play, Shaw’s statement in the “foreword to the popular edition” can be read ironically: that “the third act . . . is expressly intended to be a revelation of the modern religion of evolution,” as “a careful attempt to write a new Book of Genesis for the Bible of the Evolutionists” (531). The Superman is in this respect again interpreted by means of metaphysical terms, as if “life” and “evolution” exist as stable units or entities. In this way, when Don Juan must find his very “own way to heaven,” the Devil misinterprets Don Juan and Nietzsche as mere “Life Worshippers” (687). The Statue and Ana are immediately tempted and seduced by the Devil’s explanation of the Superman: for the Statue, “there is something statuesque about it”; and for Ana, the superman gives her a new ideal to strive for: “A father! a father for the Superman!” (689). Eventually, depending on one’s perspective, Man and Superman can be a mere comedy or a serious philosophy. [End Page 196]


In the context of evolution, both Nietzsche and Shaw try to prepare humanity for the complex conditions of global politics by elevating humanity’s competencies. While Nietzsche’s term Übermensch is a “counter-term” questioning and undermining all final definitions of the human being without eugenic references, Shaw puts his “Superman” in John Tanner’s Revolutionist’s Handbook into the context of eugenic breeding. For Tanner, “good breeding” toward greater abilities needs most of all equality by abolishing marriage and property. Perhaps Shaw simply took part in discussions of his time, when not only highest intellectual circles supported eugenic measures, but even Catholic, Jewish, and Socialist scientists were in favor of sterilization to control reproduction.60 But Matthew Yde (2013) argues that Shaw’s early texts, such as Man and Superman, were only the beginning of Shaw’s support of total-itarianism, for which “he was all too willing to shed blood.”61 However, this article offers another perspective in light of Shaw’s multiple textual layers and through Nietzsche’s notions of agonism and philosophical “breeding.” Apart from Tanner’s perhaps ironic revolutionary handbook, Shaw’s Don Juan strikingly resembles this “philosophical breeding” toward truthfulness and philosophical autonomy. But, if evolution is taken seriously, then this means that even such philosophies are always changing, evolving, and competing on the “market.” For those who seek final answers, Nietzsche and Shaw offer new final metaphysics; the others, they challenge to become “autonomous” thinkers to take responsibility themselves.

Future studies should further scrutinize Shaw’s ambivalent stance on eugenics in other writings by him, especially in Back to Methuselah and The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles. For reasons of space, I also had to leave out in the discussion of evolution the important topic of women and gender. But here seems to be yet another connection between Ana’s desire to give birth to the Superman and Zarathustra’s tenet on women’s role regarding the Übermensch: “Let the radiance of a star shine through your [women’s] love! Let your hope be: May I give birth to the overman!” (Za 1, Women).62 And despite Shaw’s denials of Nietzschean influences, it seems that even Shaw’s conception of a Don Juan seeking for truth strongly resembles Nietzsche’s “Don Juan of knowledge,” of which Nietzsche claims to be the very first to have discovered him:

A fable.—The Don Juan of knowledge: no philosopher or poet has yet discovered him. He does not love the things he knows, but has [End Page 197] spirit and appetite for and enjoyment of the chase and intrigues of knowledge—up to the highest of remotest stars of knowledge!— until at last there remains to him nothing of knowledge left to hunt down except the absolutely detrimental; he is like the drunkard who ends by drinking absinthe and aqua fortis. Thus in the end he lusts after Hell—it is the last knowledge that seduces him. Perhaps it too proves a disillusionment, like all knowledge! And then he would have to stand to all eternity transfixed to disillusionment and himself become a stone guest, with a longing for a supper of knowledge which he will never get!—for the whole universe has not a single morsel left to give to this hungry man.

(D 327)63

Like Shaw’s Don Juan, Nietzsche’s “Don Juan of knowledge” persistently seeks for truth and eventually ends up in hell. But Nietzsche’s Don Juan ends in tragedy: he does not get to heaven but suffers eternal starvation.

Reinhard G. Mueller

REINHARD G. MUELLER is a PhD candidate in comparative literature at the University of Texas at Austin. He received an MA from the University of Alabama in German studies and his first “Staatsexamen” in philosophy and English with minors in history and psychology from the University of Greifswald in Germany. His thesis connected Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Friedrich Nietzsche as philosophical “enlighteners.” His dissertation addresses the crucial philosophical reorientations in modernity by Nietzsche and James Joyce under the working title “Nietzsche’s and Joyce’s Reorientations: Decadence, Textual Experiments, and Ethics.”


1. Dan Stone, Breeding Superman: Nietzsche, Race and Eugenics in Edwardian and Interwar Britain (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002), 6–7.

2. As one of the first to free Nietzsche from his supposed proto-fascism, see Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975). For an extensive study, see Gerd Schank, “Rasse” und “Züchtung” bei Nietzsche (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000). For an overview, see both Thomas H. Brobjer, “Züchtung,” in Nietzsche-Handbuch: Leben–Werk–Wirkung, ed. Henning Ottmann (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2000), 360–61, and Peter S. Groff, “Züchtung,” in Nietzsche-Lexikon, ed. Christian Niemeyer (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2009), 408–10.

3. Werner Stegmaier, Friedrich Nietzsche zur Einführung (Hamburg: Junius, 2011), 179–82.

4. This issue has been addressed in an extensive study that connects Shaw’s eugenics with his growing support for totalitarian regimes by Matthew Yde, Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism: Longing for Utopia (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). For a summary of his study, see Matthew Yde, “Totalitarianism,” in George Bernard Shaw in Context, ed. Brad Kent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 238–45.

5. Piers J. Hale, “The Search for Purpose in a Post-Darwinian Universe: George Bernard Shaw, ‘Creative Evolution,’ and Shavian Eugenics: ‘The Dark Side of the Force,’” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28.2 (2006): 191–213, 206–7.

6. Carlisle Bloxom, “The Influence of Friedrich Nietzsche upon George Bernard Shaw as Manifested in the Plays of Shaw” (MA thesis, Northwestern University, 1928), 77–82.

7. David Thatcher, Nietzsche in England 1890–1914: The Growth of a Reputation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), 217.

8. Patrick Bridgwater, Nietzsche in Anglosaxony: A Study of Nietzsche’s Impact on English and American Literature (New York: Leicester University Press, 1972), 66.

9. Walter Torsten Rix, “George Bernard Shaw und Friedrich Nietzsche: eine Studie zur englisch-deutschen Literaturbeziehung” (dissertation, Kiel, 1974), 106–24. For an outline of his dissertation, see his earlier publication: Walter Torsten Rix, “Nietzsches Einfluß auf Shaw: ein Beitrag zum Verständnis der Shawschen Geisteswelt,” Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 4 (1971): 124–39.

10. Carl H. Mills, “Shaw’s Superman: A Re-examination,” in Critical Essays on George Bernard Shaw, ed. Elsie B. Adams (1970; New York: G. K. Hall, 1991), 133–43, 134–35.

11. Mills, “Shaw’s Superman,” 135.

12. Reinhold Grimm, “Shaw and Supershaw: Shavian Nietzscheanism Reconsidered,” in Nietzsche: Literature and Values, ed. Volker Dürr et al. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 81–124, 90.

13. Grimm, “Shaw and Supershaw,” 91–99.

14. Rix, “George Bernard Shaw und Friedrich Nietzsche,” 162–206.

15. Arguing against Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche as the “last metaphysician,” see, for example, the influential study by Wolfgang Müller-Lauter, Nietzsche. Seine Philosophie der Gegensätze und die Gegensätze seiner Philosophie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1971), who conceived of Nietzsche’s notion of the will(s)-to-power(s) as a plurality of forces. Similarly, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida sought to free Nietzsche from metaphysical interpretations.

16. David Kornhaber, The Birth of Theater from the Spirit of Philosophy: Nietzsche and the Modern Drama (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016), 119. Also, see his earlier studies: David Kornhaber, “The Genealogy of Major Barbara: Nietzschean Philosophy and the Shavian Play of Ideas,” Modern Drama 56.3 (2013): 269–86, and “The Philosopher, the Playwright, and the Actor: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Modern Drama’s Concept of Performance,” Theatre Journal 64.1 (2012): 25–40.

17. Kornhaber, Birth of Theater from the Spirit of Philosophy, 133–34.

18. Quoted in Bridgwater, Nietzsche in Anglosaxony, 62–63.

19. Bridgwater, Nietzsche in Anglosaxony, 64.

20. Bridgwater, Nietzsche in Anglosaxony, 61–62.

21. Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman,” in Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, vol. 2, ed. Dan Lawrence (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975), 489–803. All further references are to this edition and are given parenthetically in the text.

22. For a further discussion of Shaw’s ambivalent statements about Nietzsche’s impact, see Kornhaber, Birth of Theater from the Spirit of Philosophy, 119–20, Grimm, “Shaw and Supershaw,” 81–90, and Bridgwater, Nietzsche in Anglosaxony, 61–66. For the most detailed account, see Rix, “George Bernard Shaw und Friedrich Nietzsche,” 108–24, who contrasts Shaw’s “private” admiration for Nietzsche with his “public” denials of Nietzschean influences.

23. Since there has not been a critical translation of Nietzsche’s notes and letters in English, these translations are my own. The original German for this quote: “Socrates, um es nur zu bekennen steht mir so nahe, dass ich fast immer einen Kampf mit ihm kämpfe” (KSA 8.97). For the German text in the endnotes, I am using the critical 15-volume edition by Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Friedrich Nietzsche: Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe in 15 Bänden (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999), abbreviated as KSA with volume and page numbers.

24. For accounts of how Shaw deals with eugenics in other writings, see Yde, Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism, and his short survey: Yde, “Totalitarianism.”

25. See Nietzsche’s aphorisms GS 108, 125, 343, and 357, and for this interpretation, see Werner Stegmaier, Nietzsches Befreiung der Philosophie: Kontextuelle Interpretation des V. Buchs der Fröhlichen Wissenschaft (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012), 31 and 91–92. For quotes from Nietzsche, I am using the common abbreviations: The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (BT);Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits (HATH);Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (D);The Gay Science (GS);Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Za);Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (BGE);Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is (EH).

26. For the view that Shaw rejected the randomness in Darwin’s theory of evolution in favor of a harmonious and dialectical (Hegelian) “Life Force,” see Michael Holroyd, Bernard Shaw: The Pursuit of Power, vol. 2: 1898–1918 (New York: Random House, 1989), 67–81: “Shaw’s Life Force [is] blindly working through human will and brain, . . . eternally Becoming [and] never complete” (76). For the position that Shaw in fact tried to retain “a teleology of final ends,” see Nicholas Grene, “The Edwardian Shaw, or the Modernist That Never Was,” in High and Low Moderns: Literature and Culture, 1889–1939, ed. Maria DiBattista and Lucy McDiarmid (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 135–47, 142. For Nietzsche’s philosophical adoption and continuation of Darwin’s theory of evolution despite his emphatic rejections of Darwin, see Werner Stegmaier, “Darwin, Darwinismus, Nietzsche: Zum Problem der Evolution,” Nietzsche-Studien 16 (1987): 264–87.

27. For a full account, see Stegmaier, Nietzsches Befreiung der Philosophie, 578–95.

28. Translation by Walter Kaufmann, The Portable Nietzsche (New York: Viking Penguin, 1982), 124. In the original: “Ich lehre euch den Übermenschen. Der Mensch ist Etwas, das überwunden werden soll” (KSA 4.14).

29. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 124. In the original: “Ihr habt den Weg vom Wurme zum Menschen gemacht, und Vieles ist in euch noch Wurm. Einst ward ihr Affen, und auch jetzt noch ist der Mensch mehr Affe, als irgend ein Affe” (KSA 4.14).

30. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 126. In the original: “Der Mensch ist ein Seil, geknüpft zwischen Thier und Übermensch,—ein Seil über einem Abgrunde. Ein gefährliches Hinüber, ein gefährliches Auf-dem-Wege, ein gefährliches Zurückblicken, ein gefährliches Schaudern und Stehenbleiben” (KSA 4.16).

31. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 127. In the original: “Was gross ist am Menschen, das ist, dass er eine Brücke und kein Zweck ist” (KSA 4.16–17).

32. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 125. In the original: “Ich beschwöre euch, meine Brüder, bleibt der Erde treu und glaubt Denen nicht, welche euch von überirdischen Hoffnungen reden! Giftmischer sind es, ob sie es wissen oder nicht. . . . An der Erde zu freveln ist jetzt das Furchtbarste und die Eingeweide des Unerforschlichen höher zu achten, als den Sinn der Erde!” (KSA 4.15).

33. Translation by Duncan Large, Friedrich Nietzsche: Ecce Homo: How to Become What You Are (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 37. In the original: “Das Eine bin ich, das Andre sind meine Schriften” (KSA 6.298).

34. My translation. In the original: “Glaube ja nicht, dass mein Zarathustra meine Meinungen ausspricht. Er ist eine meiner Vorbereitungen und Zwischen-Akte” (KSB 7.48). Letters quoted from the eight-volume edition by Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Sämtliche Briefe: Kritische Studienausgabe (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2003), abbreviated as KSB with volume and page numbers.

35. Werner Stegmaier, “Also sprach Zarathustra,” in Hauptwerke der Philosophie: Von Kant bis Nietzsche, ed. Werner Stegmaier (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1997), 402–43.

36. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 129. In the original: “So will ich ihnen vom Verächtlichsten sprechen: das aber ist der letzte Mensch” (Za 1, Vorr. 5; KSA 4.19).

37. Stegmaier, Friedrich Nietzsche zur Einführung, 163.

38. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 129. In the original: “‘Was ist Liebe? Was ist Schöpfung? Was ist Sehnsucht? Was ist Stern?’—so fragt der letzte Mensch und blinzelt” (KSA 4.19).

39. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 130. In the original: “Jeder will das Gleiche, Jeder ist gleich: wer anders fühlt, geht freiwillig in’s Irrenhaus” (KSA 4.20).

40. My translation. In the original: “Ich habe diese starken Gegen-Begriffe nöthig, die Leuchtkraft dieser Gegen-Begriffe, um in jenen Abgrund von Leichtfertigkeit und Lüge hinabzuleuchten, die bisher Moral hieß” (Notes 1888, KSA 13.603).

41. This distinction between Tanner and Shaw was already highlighted by Eric Bentley, Bernard Shaw (1947; Norfolk: New Direction Books, 1957): “Remember that Tanner, not Shaw, is supposed to be the author of the ‘Revolutionist’s Handbook’ from which so much of our knowledge of Shavian Vitalism derives” (55). However, Margery Morgan, The Shavian Playground: An Exploration of the Art of George Bernard Shaw (London: Methuen, 1972), argues for the closeness of “Tanner-Shaw” (43) and that the Handbook is “as much a rich man’s toy as [Tanner’s] motor car, the sign of technological progress and ruthlessness” (109). For John Bertolini, The Playwrighting Self of Bernard Shaw (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991), the Handbook is only one of Shaw’s jokes to A. B. Walkley, “one of his best jokes,” when calling it the “appendix” of the play.

42. Schank, “Rasse” und “Züchtung” bei Nietzsche.

43. Schank, “Rasse” und “Züchtung” bei Nietzsche, 147–49.

44. Schank, “Rasse” und “Züchtung” bei Nietzsche, 392–403.

45. Translation by Large, Friedrich Nietzsche: Ecce Homo, 48. In the original: “Höherzüchtung der Menschheit” (KSA 6.313). Nietzsche also speaks of “the enhancement of the human type” (GS 377). Translation by Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche: The Gay Science. With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix in Songs (New York: Random House, 1974), 388. In the original, “Erhöhung des Typus ‘Mensch’” (KSA 3.629).

46. Rix, “George Bernard Shaw und Friedrich Nietzsche,” 320–28, also highlights the difference between Nietzsche’s undefined Übermensch with an open future and Shaw’s eugenic approach to his biologically superior Superman. However, Rix takes Shaw simply by Tanner’s word in the Revolutionist’s Handbook, while neglecting the play itself.

47. Schank, “Rasse” und “Züchtung” bei Nietzsche, 336.

48. Translation by Walter Kaufmann, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future by Friedrich Nietzsche (New York: Random House, 1989), 76. In the original: “solche Menschen haben, mit ihrem ‘Gleich vor Gott,’ bisher über dem Schicksale Europa’s gewaltet, bis endlich eine verkleinerte, fast lächerliche Art, ein Heerdenthier, etwas Gutwilliges, Kränkliches und Mittelmässiges, herangezüchtet ist, der heutige Europäer” (KSA 5.83).

49. Translation by R. J. Hollingdale, Friedrich Nietzsche: Human, All Too Human (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 25. In the original: “Seitdem der Glaube aufgehört hat, dass ein Gott, die Schicksale der Welt im Grossen leite . . . , müssen die Menschen selber sich ökumenische, die ganze Erde umspannende Ziele stellen” (KSA 2.46).

50. Translation by Hollingdale, Friedrich Nietzsche: Human, All Too Human, 25. In the original: “Jedenfalls muss, wenn die Menschheit sich nicht durch eine solche bewusste Gesamtregierung zu Grunde richten soll, vorher eine alle bisherige Grade übersteigende Kenntniss der Bedingungen der Cultur, als wissenschaftlicher Massstab für ökumenische Ziele gefunden sein. Hierin liegt die ungeheure Aufgabe der grossen Geister des nächsten Jahrhunderts” (KSA 2.46).

51. My translation. In the original: “ich bin dazu gedrängt, im Zeitalter des suffrage universel, d.h. wo Jeder über Jedes zu Gericht sitzen darf, die Rangordnung wieder herzustellen” (Notes 1884, KSA 11.152).

52. Translation by Kaufmann, Beyond Good and Evil, 204. In the original: “Herren-Moral and Sklaven-Moral” (KSA 5.208).

53. Stegmaier, Nietzsches Befreiung der Philosophie, 555–66.

54. Kaufmann, Beyond Good and Evil, 140, translates it as “spirituality” (BGE 213; in German: KSA 5.148).

55. Stegmaier, Friedrich Nietzsche zur Einführung, 143–44.

56. My translation. In the original: “die neuen Werthe müssen erst geschaffen werden—dies bleibt uns nicht erspart! Der Philosoph muß wie ein Gesetzgeber sein” (Notes 1885, KSA 11.533).

57. Translation by Kaufmann, Beyond Good and Evil, 49. In German: “so dass sich die Stärke eines Geistes darnach bemässe, wie viel er von der ‘Wahrheit’ gerade noch aushielte, deutlicher, bis zu welchem Grade er sie verdünnt, verhüllt, versüsst, verdumpft, verfälscht nöthig hätte” (KSA 5.57).

58. Schank, “Rasse” und “Züchtung” bei Nietzsche, 418.

59. Kashi K. Karan, Bernard Shaw and the Concept of Superman (New Delhi: Vani Prakashan, 1989), 82–85, argues that Don Juan’s views “are very much Platonic” because he is a “votary of brain power.” But he does not consider the painfulness of truths, which Don Juan, like Nietzsche, seeks to affirm.

60. Paul Weindling, Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism 1870–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 6.

61. Yde, Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism, 4. Yde regards Tanner as “Shaw’s mouthpiece” and the Revolutionist’s Handbook as Shaw’s concealed support for “selective breeding” (71–73).

62. Translation by Kaufmann, Portable Nietzsche, 178. In the original: “Der Strahl eines Sternes glänze in eurer Liebe! Eure Hoffnung heisse: ‘möge ich den Übermenschen gebären!’” (KSA 4.85).

63. Translation by J. R. Hollingdale, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, ed. Maudemarie Clark and Brian Leiter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 328. In the original: “Eine Fabel.—Der Don Juan der Erkenntnis: er ist noch von keinem Philosophen und Dichter entdeckt worden. Ihm fehlt die Liebe zu den Dingen, welche er erkennt, aber er hat Geist, Kitzel und Genuss an Jagd und Intriguen der Erkenntnis—bis an die höchsten und fernsten Sterne der Erkenntnis hinauf!—bis ihm zuletzt Nichts mehr zu erjagen übrig bleibt, als das absolut Wehetuende der Erkenntnis, gleich dem Trinker, der am Ende Absinth und Scheidewasser trinkt. So gelüstet es ihn am Ende nach der Hölle,—es ist die letzte Erkenntnis, die ihn verführt. Vielleicht, dass auch sie ihn enttäuscht, wie alles Erkannte! Und dann müsste er in alle Ewigkeit stehen bleiben, an die Enttäuschung festgenagelt und selber zum steinernen Gast geworden, mit einem Verlangen nach einer Abendmahlzeit der Erkenntnis, die ihm nie mehr zu Teil wird!—denn die ganze Welt der Dinge hat diesem Hungrigen keinen Bissen mehr zu reichen” (KSA 3.232).

Additional Information

Print ISSN
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.