Zarathustra's Moral Tyranny

Kant, Hegel and Feuerbach

Francesca Cauchi

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Presents Nietzsche’s Zarathustra as a moral tyrant whose ethics are more exacting than the Christian morals they are intended to supplant

  • Identifies and critiques the four key strands of Nietzsche’s ethics of self-overcoming
  • Unmasks the ‘moralism’ behind Nietzsche’s self-professed ‘immoralism’
  • Furthers research on the intellectual parallels between Nietzsche and Kant and between Nietzsche and Hegel
  • The first critical work to discern affinities between Nietzsche and Feuerbach on the subject of love, sacrifice and a higher humanity

By way of a sustained interrogation of Zarathustra’s doctrine of self-overcoming, Francesca Cauchi lays bare the asceticism underlying the prescriptive injunctions set forth in the first two parts of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. These injunctions fall under three heads: self-legislation, self-denial and self-sacrifice, which are shown to bear striking affinities with concepts first formulated by Kant, Hegel and Feuerbach, respectively. In Cauchi’s new reading, the Kantian rational will, the Hegelian ‘labour of the negative’ and Feuerbach’s indivisible trinity of love, sacrifice and suffering are seen to resurface in Zarathustra as the agents of a ferocious and self-eviscerating doctrine of self-overcoming that exhibits all the attributes of a moral tyranny.


  • The naturalist-normative problem
  • The morality problem
  • Max Stirner and the ‘tyranny of mind’
  • Kant, Hegel, and Feuerbach

1. Nietzsche’s Ascetic Morality

  • Pitting a ‘morality of reason’ against the Christian morality of feeling
  • Nietzsche’s self-eviscerating ‘morality of sacrifice’
  • Do ‘free-spirited moralists’ have the right to inflict their cruelty on others?
  • Austerity and artifice

2. The Kantian Rational Will and the Tyranny of Self-Overcoming

  • Autonomy and universality
  • Creator-destroyers and hammer-wielding legislators
  • Shattering the Christian table of values
  • Erkenntniss and the hard labour of reorienting the affects
  • Reverence and martyrdom: willing the Übermensch

3. Hegel’s ‘Labour of the Negative’ and the Lacerations of Self-Negation

  • Affirmative negation and Deleuzian derision
  • Spirit’s ‘labour of the negative’
  • Practical freedom and the planting of thought into the passions
  • Spirit’s vicious cycle of bitter deaths and interminable resurrections

4. The Bitter Cup of Pure Love: Feuerbach and Zarathustra

  • Reclaiming the ’divine’ powers of human greatness
  • Love as a human absolute
  • Christ’s Passion and Zarathustra’s sacrificial love
  • An excursus on self-love and the I and thou of compassion


  • Zarathustra’s violent rhetoric of truth incorporation
  • Zarathustra’s moral tyranny



Francesca Cauchi's highly original rendition of Zarathustra's doctrine of self-overcoming as the interiorisation of the ontological law of becoming is utterly compelling.

Claus-Artur Scheier, Technische Universität Braunschweig
This is an indelible contribution to Nietzschean scholarship. [...] Recommended.
J. W. Wright, CHOICE, January 2024

This absorbing and compelling study of Nietzsche’s often baffling, sometimes inspiring, masterpiece is elegantly written, immensely thought-provoking, and richly repays close study; as such, it deserves to find many readers in the fields of philosophy, the history of ideas, and beyond.

Paul Bishop,University of Glasgow, Oxford German Studies, 52:4
Francesca Cauchi is an Associate Professor National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She is the author of Zarathustra contra Zarathustra: The Tragic Buffoon (Ashgate, 1998), reissued under the Routledge imprint in September 2018. She has published many articles in peer-review journals including Philological Quarterly, Journal of European Studies and Oxford German Studies.

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