Democracy and the Nietzschean Pathos of Distance

Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (1):69-78 (2019)
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In this paper I discuss the Nietzschean notion of a pathos of distance, which some democratic theorists would like to recruit in the service of a democratic ethos. Recently their efforts have been criticized on the basis that the Nietzschean pathos of distance involves an aristocratic attitude of essentializing contempt towards the common man that is incompatible with the democratic demand to accord everyone equal respect and dignity. I argue that this criticism is misguided and that the pathos in question involves encouraging the flourishing of higher types that give meaning and justification to the social order. For Nietzsche, the experience of living under a society that is thus organized leads to the psychological demand to search for spiritual states within a person that can make life worth living. I conclude by considering whether, so conceived, the pathos of distance is compatible with democracy.



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Gabriel Zamosc
University of Colorado Denver

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