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COURSERA COURSE: THE MODERN AND THE POSTMODERN WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY Peer Assessment 3 Darwin wrote that: Man

n still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. Compare Darwins view of the persistent effects of the past with at least one other writer covered so far in the course.

PERSISTENT DARWIN

EFFECTS OF THE PAST: PARALLELISMS AND DIVERGENCES BETWEEN

NIETZSCHE

AND

Mario Ramos Salas

Based on a superficial appreciation of the intellectual undertakings of both Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche one must be tempted to rashly conclude that their particular enterprises are widely distinguishable due to differences in their respective fields of work; namely, while the former was interested in a scientific concern the evolution of species, the latter was focused on the a key philosophical problem the origin of morality. However, setting aside said general differentiation, one should pay attention to the nature of the questions which both authors are raising. By doing so one would notice that they are both asking about how does a particular phenomenon came about; thus, they are both posing a genealogical question to address their respective subject of study. Consequently, both Darwin and Nietzsche analyze and interpret the present in such a way as to reveal the pathway that lead to the genesis of species and morality, respectively. The aforementioned similarity between the authors raises the question of how do they understand and portray the persistence effects of the past, its role and implications. In said sense, regarding Darwins approach as stated by Professor Roth the present is the key for the past. Thus, from Darwin scientific observations and conclusions it is clear that the effects of the past persist through the process of Natural Selection; that is through the preservation of favorable variations and the rejection of injurious variations (On the Origin of Species) experienced contingently by species, which in turn aid them in their Struggle for Existence. Similar in some degree, Nietzsche sustains the view that to thoroughly understand any given subject values, in his case one must first understand its historical development. Nietzsche, thus, strongly criticizes the ingenuity of all the genealogists of morals up to his time due to their

mistake in confusing the emergence of a thing and its ultimate usefulness. He then continues arguing that: anything in existence, having somehow come about, is continually interpreted anew, requisitioned anew, transformed and redirected to a new purpose by a power superior to it; that everything that occurs in the organic world consists of overpowering, dominating, and in their turn, overpowering and dominating consist of re-interpretation, adjustment, in the process of which their former meaning [Sinn] and purpose must necessarily be obscured or completely obliterated (On the Genealogy of Morals). Up to this point similarities between both views regarding the persistence of the effects of the past may be drawn through an analogical analysis of their proposals: firstly, both authors converge on the view that transformations (variations in Darwins terms) on organic beings tend to be brought about contingently; secondly, it may be argued that Nietzsches thesis that the will to power constantly achieves mastery over something less powerful relates to Darwins thesis of the Struggle for Existence or the Survival of the Fittest through the accumulation of more favorable variations; and thirdly, both authors genealogical approach allowed them to understand the persistent effects of the past without the recourse to the undiscovered and undiscoverable essence of the term species or ideal which serves as a standard against human beings can measure themselves. Nevertheless, I would also remark that both authors views can also be radically opposed. In this sense, Nietzsche ascertains that morality presupposes suffering in such a way that through cruelty memory is created with the purpose of establishing social norms. Moreover, in his First Essay, he also claims that morality is the way the weak defend themselves from the strong in Professor Roths words and that morality was instituted due to a dynamic of reversal based on a the notion of resentment. However, said deconstruction on Nietzsches behalf would have to be interpreted from Darwins perspective as corresponding with a positive variation bestowed upon the weak. Since Darwin considered morality as an adaptive change produced through the advantages of living together, Nietzsches views that intensity should supplant morality would be completely unfounded.