Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/157

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IBSEN, EMERSON AND NIETZSCHE

theory of the world order of things that offered the required basis for his views.

Nietzsche frequently displays an antipathy for English thought, irritated apparently by its practical and utilitarian leanings. Nevertheless it was to an Englishman, Darwin, that he was indebted for the substantial support that his thinking needed. It is not evolution, however, that is the support of the Nietzschean individualism, but the Darwinian process of evolution. The thing that is inseparably bound up with Darwinism is the doctrine of the struggle for existence. If we accept the struggle for existence as the most important, or even as a vital factor in the process of evolution, then we may accept Nietzsche's will to power. The one is the reflection in philosophy of what the other is in biology. It is the application to human life of a biological sense of values. The man actuated by the will to power is the one that, succeeding in the struggle for existence, will carry the evolutionary process forward. It does not matter that this idea did not originate in this way in Nietzsche's mind. However personal and illogical it may have been in its inception, we shall yet have to give it a hearing, if we can be assured that it is but the expression in new terms of an established scientific truth so generally accepted in one department of knowledge as to be of universal application in all departments. That is a vital question, vital, not for Nietzsche alone, but also for all of us in all our thinking while we are yet a part of that struggle between individualism and collectivism of which the world will not for a long time see the end.

It is to be borne in mind that there is no general question now of the actuality of evolution, but within the last twenty years there has developed among biologists a wide-spread distrust of Darwinism as an explanation of evolution. It would not do to say that selection and the struggle for existence have been disproved as sufficiently revealing the method of evolution, but they have been very largely discredited. Instead of the Darwinian explanation of the method of evolution there have been proposed a great many other explanations, and those accepting these various theories have naturally been active in showing the weaknesses in Darwinism. In other words, the presuppositions upon which individualism founded itself in Nietzsche's philosophy and in the thought of the world have been very seriously undermined. No one will be so bold as to deny that now as we finish the first decade of the twentieth century, along with the weakening of our faith in the survival of the fittest, we are witnesses of a pronounced lessening of the power of individualism over the human mind. Nietzsche, individualist of the most extreme type though he was, is probably read more than ever, but interest in him is rather interest in what men have thought than interest in what they are still thinking. A recent sign of the reversal of our feeling in this matter is observable in the wide-spread