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The Parent as CitizenA Democratic Dilemma$
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Brian Duff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816672721

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816672721.001.0001

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The Tragedy of Birth: Nietzsche on Parenthood and Political Contest

The Tragedy of Birth: Nietzsche on Parenthood and Political Contest

(p.69) Chapter 2 The Tragedy of Birth: Nietzsche on Parenthood and Political Contest
The Parent as Citizen

Brian Duff

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores how Nietzsche, a central contest theorist, relied on the possibility of passing on a way of life through parenthood to provide the impetus for citizens to do the difficult work of self-transformation and of recrafting our fundamental values. The experience of parenthood, because of the intensity of the relationship and the scrutiny of the parent by the developing child, struck Nietzsche as the best, perhaps only, way to communicate the results of a self-transformation that reaches deeper than mere words or ideas—down to the level of instinct. Attention to this aspect of Nietzsche’s thought reveals that many of the ideas that contest theorists of democracy have found most alluring in Nietzsche are deeply enmeshed with those aspects of his thought that democrats most often try to excise or elide—especially his attraction to aristocracy over democracy, his notions regarding gender, and his enthusiasm for grand political projects of breeding.

Keywords:   Friedrich Nietzsche, parenthood, self-transformation, democracy, democrats

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