Nietzsche wrote in a scientific culture transformed by Darwin. He read extensively in German and British Darwinists, and his own works dealt often with such obvious Darwinian themes as struggle and evolution. Yet most of what Nietzsche said about Darwin was hostile: he sharply attacked many of his ideas, and often slurred Darwin himself as mediocre. So most readers of Nietzsche have inferred that he must have cast Darwin quite aside. But in fact, John Richardson argues, Nietzsche was deeply and pervasively influenced by Darwin. He stressed his disagreements, but was silent about several core points he took over from Darwin. Moreover, Richardson claims, these Darwinian borrowings were to Nietzsche's credit: when we bring them to the surface we discover his positions to be much stronger than we had thought. Even Nietzsche's radical innovations are more plausible when we expose their Darwinian ground; we see that they amount to a new Darwinism.

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