Chapter

One Cannot Be Too Kind about Women

Ruth Abbey

in Nietzsche's Middle Period

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195134087
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785766 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195134087.003.0007
 One Cannot Be Too Kind about Women

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Contrary to the common classification of Friedrich Nietzsche as a misogynist, the works of the middle period do not entirely denigrate or dismiss women. Nietzsche’s views on women at this time were more nuanced and less vitriolic than they became. The works of the middle period repeatedly measure women by the values constitutive of free-spirithood such as autonomy, intellectual strength, desire and ability to pursue the sort of scientific knowledge Nietzsche prizes, capacity for cruelty, and the skills of dialogue. This suggests that women can be considered as candidates for free spirithood, even if Nietzsche assumes that most females, like most males, will fail to meet its requirements. Rather than focus on the shaping power of biology, these writings point to the social and cultural forces that shape gender identity, allowing Nietzsche to adumbrate a non-essentialist approach to women and their potential.

Keywords: Nietzsche; misogyny; women; free spirithood; gender

Chapter.  6613 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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