23 May 2009

The Morals of Amoebae and Freighters, La Volonté de puissance, Livre III, 471

[The following is summary and not translation. Please check my interpretation against the original text reproduced below.]

The Morals of Amoebae and Freighters

Friedrich Nietzsche

La Volonté de puissance


Livre III:
Le nihilisme vaincu par lui-même

3. L'innocence du Devenir
(The Innocence of Becoming)


When the amoeba reproduces, it replicates its nucleus and splits its body. [Image 1]

It gives from its own body to another new life. This would seem to be a model of altruism. But really, from the biological perspective, the amoeba was really just doing itself a favor by getting rid of useless internal materials, like how a ship discharges its ballast. [4]

For this reason, biologists scoff at the idea of "altruism."

From the Bianquis translation:

Les biologistes se moquent de ce prétendu « altruisme » : la reproduction chez l’amibe apparaît comme le rejet d’un ballast inutile, un pur avantage. Expulsion des matières inutilisables.

P.-A. 1887 (XVI, § 653)

Nietzsche, Friedrich. La Volonté de puissance, II. Transl. G. Bianquis. Paris: Gallimard, 1938.

Images obtained gratefully from the following sources:

Opening Image, [3]




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