Virtuous Homunculi: Nietzsche on the Order of Drives

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (1):21-41 (2018)
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The primary explanatory items of Nietzsche’s philosophical psychology are the drives. Such drives, he holds, are arranged hierarchically in virtue of their entering dominance-obedience relations analogous to those obtaining in human societies. This view is puzzling for two reasons. First, Nietzsche’s idea of a hierarchical order among the drives is far from clear. Second, as it postulates relations among subpersonal items that mimic those among persons, Nietzsche’s view seems to trade on the homunculus fallacy. In this paper, I argue that a Hume-inspired dispositional reading of the drives’ order successfully addresses these two problematic issues. Moreover, I argue that my reading is superior to the two main competing interpretations, which I call the vitalistic reading and the normative reading, for these ascribe to Nietzsche a view committed to the homunculus fallacy.

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Mattia Riccardi
University of Porto


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