Nietzsche on Rights, Power and the Feeling of Power

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Abstract

In Daybreak 112, ‘On the natural history of duties and rights’, Nietzsche outlines a novel answer to the question how rights and duties come about. At first glance it may appear shocking to liberal ears, accustomed to thinking of rights as limits to the power of others over individuals and groups, to hear rights described as ‘recognised and guaranteed degrees of power’. However, once we take into account Nietzsche’s particular sense of the term ‘power’ and realise that he uses this term and its cognates to describe specifically human capacities for action, the thesis becomes much less shocking. Nietzsche’s account of rights and duties is interesting for at least two reasons. First, I believe that it provides a conceptual framework for a naturalistic and historical understanding of rights as entirely embedded within particular cultural contexts. I will take up this claim briefly at the end of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNietzsche, Power, and Politics
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Nietzsche’s Legacy for Political Thought
EditorsHerman W. Siemens, Vasti Roodt
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherWalter de Gruyter
Pages471-488
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783110217339
ISBN (Print)9783110202373
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Political philosophy
  • Political psychology
  • Power
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900

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