Nietzsche on humility and modesty

In Justin Steinberg (ed.), Humility: A History. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Beginning with the Untimely Meditations (1873) and continuing until his final writings of 1888-9, Nietzsche refers to humility (Demuth or a cognate) in fifty-two passages and to modesty (Bescheidenheit or a cognate) in one hundred and four passages, yet there are only four passages that refer to both terms. Moreover, perhaps surprisingly, he often speaks positively of modesty, especially in epistemic contexts. These curious facts might be expected to lead scholars to explore what Nietzsche thinks of humility and modesty, but to date there have been no systematic analyses of Nietzsche’s reflections on these dispositions. In this chapter, I fill that gap in the literature using semantic network analysis and systematically-guided close-reading. In so doing, I show that Nietzsche sharply distinguished between humility and modesty, considering the former a vice (for certain types of people in certain contexts) and the latter a virtue (again, for certain types of people in certain contexts).

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Mark Alfano
Macquarie University

Citations of this work

The functions of shame in Nietzsche.Mark Alfano - 2023 - In Raffaele Rodogno & Alessandra Fussi (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Shame. Moral Psychology of the Emotions.

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