Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ofelia Schutte, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles Guignon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Schonfeld, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joanne Waugh, Ph.D.


Liberalism, Perspectivism, Agon, Culture, Postmodernism


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the often tumultuous relationship between Friedrich Nietzsche and democracy. Nietzsche has always had an antipathy towards democracy. Nietzsche has claimed that democracy espouses a will to equality which levels the greatest men along with the most average men. For Nietzsche, his Ubermenschen must emerge from the muddle of mediocrity and similitude in order to set themselves apart from the herd. The herd is more than happy to live in a democratic society since no one will be rendered better or greater than anyone else.

I argue that Nietzsche does not realize democracy's many assets. Liberal democracy could very well be the best political springboard for his Ubermenschen. For Nietzsche, higher culture emerges in spite of modernity's leveling snare. These great men engage in contests. They create their own rules and values. They say what they like. In a fascist society, these men would never be allowed to do as they please. One benefit of liberal democracy is that we are given the right to dissent. We are given the right to express ourselves. Democracy could facilitate the emergence of the elusive Ubermenschen. These are men who transcend the average and the ordinary.

In this dissertation I begin by exploring Nietzsche's cultural criticisms. He devotes a great deal of energy condemning modernity and its leveling tendencies. Out of the cultural morass that is modernity comes this higher culture of which Nietzsche speaks highly. In chapter two, I argue that higher culture must begin with the individual. I will examine what it takes for a man to be able to transcend his mediocre culture. In chapter three, I examine the contemporary political climate and try to determine whether these great individuals could emerge in such a climate. Finally, in chapter four I examine which political system could best help this culture emerge. I argue that liberal democracy is the best environment for these higher men.