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(DIS)EMBRACING THE HERD: A LOOK AT NIETZSCHE'S SHIFTING VIEWS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE INDIVIDUAL

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Abstract:

This essay explores how and why Nietzsche's views of the people as a herd changed over time and suggests how each shift provides a different implication for democratic theory. Nietzsche's views of the people as a herd shift enough over the course of his work to argue that Nietzsche had three herds. I argue that in Nietzsche's middle-period works there is an epistemology and attitude towards the people as a herd that encourage acceptance of one's membership in the herd, which in turn fosters humility and respect, rendering not only greater equality but also heightened insight and understanding into alternative perspectives and ideas. The herd of the middle works (what I refer to as the 'democratic/inclusive herd') supports the epistemological view that all people are necessarily members of the herd because of our limited, perspectival and contingent knowledges. While this does not create exact equality between people, it does mean that other individuals within the herd are potentially important sources of knowledge and different experiences. This middle- period herd provides a different contribution to democratic theory than that of agonistic democracy.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Political Science, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768-4055, USA., Email: jehargis@csupomona.edu

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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