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Environmental Ethics

Volume 27, Issue 1, Spring 2005

Graham Parkes
Pages 77-91

Nietzsche’s Environmental Philosophy
A Trans-European Perspective

Against the background of a growing interest in Nietzsche’s moral philosophy, several articles have appeared in these pages in recent years dealing with his relation to environmental ethics. While there is much here that is helpful, these essays still fail to do full justice to Nietzsche’s understanding of optimal human relations to the natural world. The context of his life helps to highlight some ecological aspects to his thinking that tend to be overlooked. His ideas about the Overhuman in Thus Spoke Zarathustra undermine the traditional anthropocentric attitude toward nature. By understanding Nietzsche’s idea of will to power primarily as interpretation, following his suggestion that we engage the world as a play of interpretive forces, and paying attention to the relevant parallels with Chinese Daoism and Mahaμyaμna Buddhism, it is clear that Nietzsche takes a salutary step beyond biocentrism to a Dionysian celebration of existence as a whole.

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