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Dewey and Peikoff on Kant's Responsibility

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John Dewey delivered three lectures in February 1915 that were published later that year under the title German Philosophy and Politics (GPP). Dewey attempted in this work to trace the contribution of some abstract philosophical ideas to the currents of German thinking that had contributed to bringing the world to its present situation. The Great War had been on for seven months. Hundreds of thousands had died already. Eight and a half million would die, and twenty-one million would be wounded, by the end of the war.

John Dewey was 55 years old when he wrote GPP. He was by then the dominant voice in American philosophy, and he would continue to be so until early in the Cold War. His fellow major American Pragmatists had died before the Great War. Charles Sanders Peirce had died in 1910, and William James had died in April 1914.

In 1942 Dewey put forth a second edition of GPP, adding a large Introduction in which he applied his earlier analysis to the rise of Hitler and the new World War. In 1982 Leonard Peikoff’s book The Ominous Parallels (OP) was issued. This book included Peikoff’s account of the influence of Kant—allegedly major—on elements in German culture giving rise to Hitler and the Holocaust. The advisor for Peikoff’s Ph.D. dissertation (1964) was Sidney Hook, who was a champion of Dewey’s mature philosophy generally speaking.

Hook 1979 tells us that Dewey’s greatest works were Democracy and Education (1916), Experience and Nature (1925), The Quest for Certainty (1929), and Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938). Only that last work is brought into Peikoff’s dissertation, which was on issues in the history of philosophy of logic. Peikoff’s dissertation did not bring to bear explicitly views of his mentor-on-the-sideS Ayn Rand. Peikoff’s Ominous Parallels brings Rand’s Objectivism to bear. I’ll explore how this differs from Dewey bringing his Pragmatism (or Instrumentalism or Experimentalism) to bear in the much-criticized common thesis of Dewey and Peikoff that some of Kant’s leading ideas enabled Germany’s colossal evils of the twentieth century.

By politics in the title German Philosophy and Politics, Dewey meant “practical social affairs.” To show the effects of philosophy in such affairs, he allowed one might choose Plato. “For in spite of the mystic and transcendental coloring of his thought, it was he who defined philosophy as the science of the State, or the most complete and organized whole known to man” (GPP, 144). Or to exemplify the effects of philosophy in practical social affairs, we might turn to the English and the French in modern times. English philosophy from Francis Bacon to John Stuart Mill was cultivated by “men of affairs rather than by professors, and with a direct outlook on social affairs” (144). “In France, the great period of philosophy, the period of les philosophes, was the time in which were forged the ideas which connect in particular with the French Revolution and in general with the conceptions which spread so rapidly through the civilized world—of the indefinite perfectibility of humanity, the rights of man, and the promotion of a society as wide as humanity, based on allegiance to reason” (144).

Dewey chose to focus in GPP, to illustrate the effects of philosophy in practical social affairs, certain aspects of classic German thought. Partly this choice was attractive because “one is piqued by the apparent challenge which its highly technical, professional and predominantly a priori character offers to the proposition that there is close connection between abstract thought and the tendencies of collective life” (144).


Dewey, J. 1915, 1942. German Philosophy and Politics. In MW V8.

Peikoff, L. 1982. The Ominous Parallels. Stein and Day.

Hook, S. 1979. Introduction to John Dewey - The Middle Works (MW), V8. Southern Illinois University Press.

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Dewey had graduated from college in 1879, and he started graduate school at Johns Hopkins three years later. In the interim, he was tutored in reading German, and he studied much German philosophy, especially Kant. At graduate school, Dewey became immersed in Hegel and Neo-Hegelian thought, which was major at the time in both British and American academic philosophy. It had become the academic space of that time for religious apologetics, and strikingly, it opposed the views of Hegel and Marx bannering bloody conflict and all-encompassing state. Rather, the absolute idealism of Neo-Hegelians was turned to “radical liberal reform to maximize individual freedom while countering the great inequalities of laissez-faire industrial capitalism” (Fesmire 2015, 15). Peirce was teaching at Johns Hopkins while Dewey was there, but Peirce would not become important for Dewey until a couple of decades later.

The important philosophy professor for Dewey in graduate school was the Neo-Hegelian George Sylvester Morris, whose Hegelianism was tinged with “his early Scotch philosophical training in a commonsense belief in the existence of the external world” (Burke 2019, 510). Morris peaceably united Aristotelianism and Hegelianism. “Morris’s absolute idealism was tempered by an engagement with the Greeks as taught by his own professors in Germany, F. A. Trendelenburg and Hermann Ulrici.” Dewey adopted from Morris’s absolute idealism “its organic idealism, regarding every real thing as functionally contributing to the ongoing vitality of the whole of reality, joining a philosophical heritage tracing back to F. W. J. Schelling and J. G. Herder” (Auxier and Shook 2019, 654). In the 1840’s, Trendelenberg had mustered critiques of Hegel’s dialectical method from which it and Hegel’s overblown stature could not recover (Beiser 2013, 59–68). Varieties of absolute idealism without Hegel’s dialectic continued to the late nineteenth century.

There were afoot in America and Britain in late nineteenth-century philosophy various blends of late Hegelianism with Darwin in epistemology and metaphysics. These were in opposition to the earlier use of Darwin in epistemology by Herbert Spencer. They stem from heavy organicism in Hegel. Dewey had a graduate-school paper (1884) on Kant that views Kant through a distorting Hegelian lens. Those aberrations were corrected in Dewey’s understanding, at least by 1894, as he largely shed his Hegelian skin.

Issued in 1888 was a book by Dewey titled Leibniz’s ‘New Essays on Human Understanding’. In this work, Dewey, in his absolute idealist outlook, gives a critical exposition of Leibniz’s important close commentary on and rebuttal to Locke’s An Essay concerning Human Understanding. “The technical proficiency and clarity of this book on Leibniz . . . solidified Dewey’s reputation as a historical scholar,” meaning as a scholar of the history of philosophical ideas (Fesmire 2015, 17).

Coming to the composition of GPP, Dewey had shown sound understanding of Kant’s logical relation to Leibniz (1888, 428–35), Kant on the self and Kant’s transcendental deduction of the categories (1890), ambiguity in Kant’s concept of the a priori (1906, 132–34), and Kant’s revision of the concept of experience as against the concept in Locke and Hume (ibid.).

English translations of Critique of Pure Reason (KrV) that Dewey turned to were of the KrV B-edition by Francis Haywood (1838) and by Max Muller (1881), but Dewey could dig into the German itself. Peikoff 1982 relied on the translation by Norman Kemp Smith (1929), which is superior to earlier translations and shows both the A and B editions of KrV. (I also used Kemp Smith until the late 1990’s, when the translations of Pluhar and of Guyer issued.) For Kant’s ethics in English translation, Dewey turned to Thomas Abbott (1873). Peikoff had Lewis White Beck (1949).

(To be continued.)



Auxier, R.E. and J.R. Shook 2019. Idealism and Religion in Dewey’s Philosophy. In Fesmire 2019.

Beiser, F.C. 2013. Late German Idealism – Trendelenburg and Lotze. Oxford.

Burke, F.T. 2019. Dewey’s Chicago-Functionalist Conception of Logic. In Fesmire 2019.

Dewey, J. 1884. Kant and Philosophic Method. In John Dewey - Early Works (EW), V1.

——. 1888. Leibniz’s ‘New Essays on Human Understanding’. EW V1.

——. 1890. On Some Current Conceptions of the Term “Self”. EW V3.

——. 1906. Experience and Objective Idealism. MW V3.

——. 1915. German Philosophy and Politics. MW V8.

Fesmire, S. 1915. Dewey. Routledge.

Fesmire, S., editor, 2019. The Oxford Handbook of Dewey. Oxford.

Peikoff, L. 1982. The Ominous Parallels. Stein and Day.

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Little known and ignored among Dewey apologists, in 1928 – between the first and second editions of German Philosophy and Politics – Dewey visited Russia with a view to examining Soviet culture, especially its educational aspects.  Later, apparently based on a journal he had kept during his visit, he wrote half a dozen articles for The New Republic magazine, gushing with praise for what he had seen.  Later he collected the articles, along with further essays on Mexico, Turkey, and China, into a book published in 1929:
Impressions of Soviet Russia and the revolutionary world



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5 hours ago, Dupin said:

. . . Dewey visited Russia with a view to examining Soviet culture, especially its educational aspects.  Later, apparently based on a journal he had kept during his visit, he wrote half a dozen articles for The New Republic magazine, gushing with praise for what he had seen.  Later he collected the articles, along with further essays on Mexico, Turkey, and China, into a book published in 1929:
Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World

Yes, and previously. 

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I should mention that America did not enter WWI until April 1917.

Dewey’s German Philosophy and Politics was reviewed anonymously in the New York Times Review of Books on 16 July 1915. The title for the review was: “German Spirit Due to Kant, not Nietzsche.” The subtitle was: “Professor Dewey Traces Prussian Militarism Back to the Famous Philosopher of the Eighteenth Century and His Categorical Imperative.”

That is a fair subtitle, and the review (leaving aside its large attention to Nietzsche in its outset) makes a fair representation of GPP. The outset: “Not Nietzsche, but Immanuel Kant is responsible for the spirit of twentieth century Germany. Not belief in the superman but belief in the categorical imperative and the thing-in-itself has sent Germany to war with the world. Not Thus Spake Zarathustra but The Critique of Pure Reason explains the amazing utterances of Bernardi, of Treitschke, of Wilhelm himself.” I was able to find this review thanks to the online archive of the New York Times.

Dewey had observed that many had been saying it was the philosophy of Nietzsche that explained Germany’s war aggression. Dewey had curtly dismissed Nietzsche’s influence as “a superficial and transitory wave of opinion” (GPP 28).


The chapters of German Philosophy and Politics are three:

  1. German Philosophy: The Two Worlds
  2. German Moral and Political Philosophy
  3. The Germanic Philosophy of History

My plan is to treat 1 as Dewey applies it to WWI, then as he applies it to WWII and the rise of the Hitler’s National Socialism, then what is Peikoff’s corresponding 1982 treatment concerning Two Worlds. Then I’ll do the same sort of time-slice for 2 and perhaps 3.

I want delay that task for two posts. In the present post, I’ll remark on some of those utterances of Bernardi alluded to in the NYT review. In the next post I want to dig into the interest the reviewer had and presumed the reader had in the influence of Nietzsche.


By the time of Bernhardi’s book (1912), Friedrich Nietzsche’s books had been flying off the shelves for about two decades (Safranski 2002, 318–26; Aschheim 1992, 29–84, 101–27; Tuchman 1966, 349–51; Thomas 1983). “At the beginning of the war, Nietzsche was already so popular that 150,000 copies of his Zarathustra were printed in a special edition and handed out to the soldiers at the front along with Goethe’s Faust and the New Testament” (ibid. 329).

There are some sayings glorifying unreasoning war in the sections of Zarathustra “On War and Warriors” and “Conversation with the Kings” (§2), although the former also contains elements subversive of the organized collective action that is war (see further Pippin 2006, xi; Aschheim 1992, 128–48; Thomas 1983, 103–4). I think Bernhardi was silent on Nietzsche because of the latter’s loud atheism. Then too, notwithstanding the common merit the two see in war per se, Nietzsche’s individualism could undermine actually making war (1878 I 481; 1882, 5).

Ernst Haeckel was the premier champion of Darwin’s theory of evolution in German lands. Darwin’s Origins of the Species (1859) had come into German translation in 1860. Haeckel mastered the theory and soon embraced it. Some of Haeckel’s work in biology provided significant evidence for the theory beyond evidence mustered in Origins. In that work, Darwin had withheld judgment on whether humans were descended from other animal species. Since the eighteenth century in Germany, there had been speculations concerning the development of life from hypothetical amorphous forms into the greater articulation and ramification seen in species today. Thinkers such as Herder and Schelling had included in these pre-Darwinian accounts of species transformation speculations of how human kind had arisen. Haeckel charged immediately from Origins to the conclusion that humans descended from other, less perfect animals, and he alleged in print new implications for human nature and society. In 1871 Darwin would publish his own evolutionary conclusions and conjectures concerning humans (see Richards 1999, 135–45).

Haeckel wrote popular accounts of his evolutionary ideas in 1868 and 1874, which became best sellers. Three decades later, he issued three more popular books on his evolutionary ethics, or social Darwinism. One of them The Riddle of the Universe (1899) sold a hundred thousand copies in its first year. “It quickly became Germany’s most popular philosophic work” (Gasman 2004, 14). In this book, Haeckel staunchly defends atheism, proclaims a scientific morality based on evolution, and derides Kant and much of Christian morality.

Neither Haeckel nor Nietzsche had been promoting war with France. It is Bernhardi’s voice leading that chorus, but part of his rationale is reasoning from Haeckel and Nietzsche (1878, 477; Z, above; 1887 II, 24). The quotation of Bernhardi above continues:


The struggle for existence is, in the life of Nature, the basis of all healthy development. All existing things show themselves to the result of contesting forces. So in the life of man the struggle is not merely the destructive, but the life-giving principle. “To supplant or to be supplanted is the essence of life,” says Goethe, and the strong life gains the upper hand. . . . / The nation is made up of individuals, the State of communities. The motive which influences each member is prominent in the whole body. . . . / That social system in which the most efficient personalities possess the greatest influence will show the greatest vitality in the intrasocial struggle. In the extrasocial struggle, in war, that nation will conquer which can throw into the scale the greatest physical, mental, material, and political power, and is therefore the best able to defend itself. War will furnish such a nation with favorable vital conditions, enlarged possibilities of expansion and widened influence, and thus promote the progress of mankind. . . . Without war, inferior or decaying races would easily choke the growth of healthy budding elements, and a universal decadence would follow. (1911, 19–20)

I have not been able to find that quote in Goethe, and I notice that other scholars have also not found it. For now its accuracy and context remain unknown. My doubt over of the fidelity of Bernhardi’s quotation of Goethe in support of an evolutionary struggle for existence is increased when I open Goethe and Darwin (1906) by the scholarly theologian Rudolf Otto. He writes that the principle of natural selection through the struggle for existence belongs exclusively to Darwin’s theory, that it is by all means alien to and contrary to Goethe’s way of thinking according to potentiality (9).

Perhaps Bernhardi was paraphrasing somewhat Goethe’s biological law of compensation: “One part [in an organism] cannot be added to unless something is taken from another” (quoted in Richards 2002, 416; also 447, 456). Bernhardi’s picture of the effective and efficient intrasocial organization fits fairly well the picture of the organism put forth by Haeckel’s student, the embryologist Wilhelm Roux, whose 1881 treatise The Struggle of the Parts in the Organism was a crucial influence on Nietzsche in divining will to power as the essence of all life (Moore 2002, 37–38, 78–79).

(To be continued.)


Aschheim, S.E. 1992. The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany 1890–1990. California.

Bernhardi, F. 1912. Germany and the Next War. A.H. Powles, translator. 1914. Longmans Green.

Darwin, C. 1859. On the Origin of Species. John Murray.

——. 1871. The Descent of Man. John Murray.

Dewey, J. 1915. German Philosophy and Politics. Henry Holt.

Gasman, D. 2004 [1971]. The Scientific Origins of National Socialism. Transaction.

Haeckel, E. 1899. The Riddle of the Universe. J. McCabe, translator. 1900. Harper & Brothers.

Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. W.S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Hackett.

——. 1795. Towards Perpetual Peace. M.J. Gregor, translator. In Immanuel Kant – Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge.

Moore, G. 2002. Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor. Cambridge.

Nietzsche, F. 1878. Human, All Too Human. R.J. Hollingdale, translator. 1986. Cambridge.

——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.

——. 1887. On the Genealogy of Morals. W. Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale, trans. Vintage.

Otto, R. 1906. Goethe und Darwin / Darwinismus und Religion. Vandenhoeck & Kuprecht.

Peikoff, L. 1982. The Ominous Parallels. Stein and Day.

Pippin, R. 2006. Introduction to Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, translator. Cambridge.

Richards, R.J. 1999. Darwin’s Romantic Biology: The Foundations of His Evolutionary Ethics. In Biology and the Foundations of Ethics. J. Maienschein and M. Ruse, editors. Cambridge.

——. 2002. The Romantic Conception of Life. Chicago.

Safranski, R. 2002. Nietzsche – A Philosophical Biography. S. Frisch, translator. Norton.

Thomas, R.H. 1983. Nietzsche in German Politics and Society 1890–1918. Manchester.

Tuchman, B.W. 1966. The Proud Tower. Bantam.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Minor Note to the Side

In The Ominous Parallels, Peikoff mentioned Arthur Moeller van den Bruck as the one who had coined the name Third Reich (36). That attribution had been regular in the literature.[1] It is erroneous. Moeller’s usage of the name is in his 1923 book by that title: Das Dritte Reich. In this work were a number of reflections about Germany and its future constitution and potential along the lines that Hitler would later join and enact in the German state.

Third Reich was the name of a somewhat dreamy notion of a future great Germany in the mind of Moeller, but of predecessors as well.[2] It is said by now not that Moeller coined the name, but that he popularized the name, which had already become common currency on the Right.[3] Spengler used it in his Decline of the West, volume 1 (1918).

[1] Gerhard Krebs’s “Moeller van den Bruck: Inventor of the ‘Third Reich’” in The American Political Science Review V35N6 (Dec. 1941).

[2] Agnes Stansfield’s “Das Dritte Reich: A Contribution to the Study of the Idea of the ‘Third Kingdom’ in German Literature from Herder to Hegel” in The Modern Language Review V29N2 (Apr. 1934).

[3] Eric Weitz’s Weimar Germany – Promise and Tragedy (2007).

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  • 4 weeks later...


In GPP Dewey had acknowledged that it is a steep challenge to show that German Idealism, Kant as root, was a factor bringing about the German culture that produced the Great War. The thesis would be contested then, and it would be contested when Dewey applied it to the rise of National Socialism and the German aggression in WWII. As we have noted, in his 1915 issue of GPP, Dewey acknowledged that some were maintaining that Nietzsche was the big philosophic contribution to German culture bringing WWI, a diagnosis which Dewey summarily dismissed. Dewey’s thesis would be contested as well by writers arguing that the German atrocities of the twentieth century were precisely contrary Kant and German idealism. GPP was promptly criticized by philosophers Frank Thilly (1915), William Ernest Hocking (1915), and Clarence Irving Lewis (1918).

In 1979 “Dewey’s bulldog” Sidney Hook, who was dissertation advisor for Leonard Peikoff, also took issue with this work of Dewey, in both of its editions (1979, xxv–xxxi). That would be three years before publication of Peikoff’s book setting forth Kant and German Idealist successors as the major philosophic strand in German culture giving rise to Hitler and the Holocaust.

Notwithstanding Bernardi, with his Berlin officer-education, not admitting the name Nietzsche in Germany and the Next War (1912) and notwithstanding Dewey’s blinders in GPP to Nietzsche’s cultural weight and potential staying power in Germany or anywhere, major strands in Nietzsche were easily enlisted by Germans to support their blood-and-iron imperialism of the WWI. In America the Nietzsche enlistment was widely recognized, even if not by its premier philosopher.

Nietzsche’s complete mental collapse occurred in 1889, and he remained incapable of further work to the end of his life in 1900. Prior to 1890, he had a small underground of individual readers and sympathetic attention in small Circles, including radical fringe, in Vienna, Weimar, Dehmal, Berlin, and Leipzig (Thomas 1983, 2). It was in 1890 that he became widely known. It was then his themes “permeated German thought and action, shaping in manifold and contradictory ways its political attitudes and imagination” (Aschheim 1992, 18).

Dewey and Peikoff vastly underestimated the influence of Nietzsche in Germany, in peace and in war, between 1890 the end of WWII. I shall summarize that influence in the next installment. It will be seen that Kant’s philosophy cannot hold a candle to Nietzsche’s in cultural influence during that period (Aschheim 1992). I’ll then consider how Dewey and Piekoff nevertheless argue that it was Kant and succeeding German Idealists, despised and beaten up by Nietzsche, who were nevertheless the philosophical principal culprits in bringing about the Third Reich and its colossal destruction. In Peikoff’s case, that will include addressing his thinking on how Kant is behind Nietzsche, also Herder (1982, 35–36, 44–48, 51–53). To this point, I’ll bring to bear also Stephen Hick’s Nietzsche and the Nazis (2010 ) as well as R. Kevin Hill’s Nietzsche’s Critiques – The Kantian Foundations of His Thought (2003). Then too, I’ll incorporate Cedric Braun’s “Dewey, Ebbinghaus, and the Frankfurt School – A Controversy Over Kant neither Fought Out nor Exhausted” (2021).

In the late 1920’s Mussolini held high Nietzsche as the philosopher of Fascism. With Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the next decade, Nietzsche became effectively the State philosopher of Germany. “The story was too familiar: Nietzsche bequeathed a philosophy of raw power in the absence of moral absolutes and a brutal agenda for remaking modern Europe. If he was the philosophical spirit of German imperialism during World War I, now he had become the philosophical mastermind of totalitarianism” (Ratner-Rosenhagen 2012, 219–20).

“Nietzsche’s reputation barely had time to recover from its association with the First Cause of World War I when another world-historical catastrophe struck. The apprehension about the antidemocratic, racialist Übermensch crystallized during the 1930’s as Americans witnessed the rise of Nazism and fascism in Europe. In the years leading up to the war, US commentators in both the scholarly and the popular press began interpreting Nazism’s emphasis on the Aryan race as an expression of Nietzsche’s ‘blonde beast’ and ‘master morality,’ which recognized no law above the will to power. While the Nazis had incorporated a number of thinkers and artists from the pantheon of towering German intellectuals and cultural figures as their forerunners, including Luther, Fichte, Herder, Goethe, and Wagner, it was Nietzsche whom they believed was the architect of their political, racial, and social Weltanschauung.” (Ibid., 240)

In America it was Walter Kaufmann’s Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (1950) and the labors of Kaufmann for the next thirty years that turned Nietzsche from an American popular abomination and an American academic persona non grata to a philosopher worthy of serious study. Some comparisons with reception of Rand: She never had the enormous cultural impact following her notoriety, on the heels of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, had by Nietzsche from 1890 to WWI. The cultishness surrounding Rand (and N. Branden) also was a moderate gale in comparison to the storm of cultishness surrounding Nietzsche in Germany at its discovery of him. Nietzsche’s glowing literature had plenty of contrary untethered tendencies, and it left easy selective plucking for a variety of contrary social quarters. Rand’s glowing Atlas Shrugged did not. Both Nietzsche and Rand have staying power. I suggest that the staying power of Rand for personal life and for political direction is the more worth having, even though not so widely celebrated.

Nietzsche literature and philosophy was shunned by the academy (until Kaufmann in America), just as it has been with Rand. But that did not matter for Nietzsche’s influence among German people not making a living in the academy and not glued to a conservative religious pulpit. The death of the Nietzsche “fad” was pronounced by many a high-brow, not only by Dewey in GPP. Nietzsche did not die, and has flourished in scholarly study from Kaufmann to the present. I do not expect the Rand factor in the American culture to die either. Though her philosophy has been distorted by religionists and by political ideologues and though it has been enlisted in a distorting, excerpt-dropping-context way by some politicians, it has its full system—a rational, integrated, foundationalist, realist, comprehensive, and no-supernatural one—on excellent display in secondary literature curbing distortions of her philosophy for use in justifying political autocracy and mass murder.

Besides giving Nietzsche fully and authentically to America, Kaufmann observed the affinities between Nietzsche and the Pragmatists James and Dewey in their anti-foundationalism and in their rejection of dualism between reason and passion and between rationalism and empiricism. Then too, they shared the Kantian view that the human mind can apprehend phenomena, but not ultimate reality. Both Nietzsche and these Pragmatists fused that Kantian view with a Darwinian conception of reason as a natural evolutionary product, fundamentally an instrument of survival. To be sure, where Pragmatists held high the will to life and sensitivity to inputs from objective reality for life, Nietzsche held high the will to power and self-making freer from objective, external contours and constraints. (See Ratner-Rosenhagen 2012, 244–50, and references therein; Hocking 1915; Peikoff 1982, 126–38.)

(To be continued in a few months. This summer I need to prepare a paper on Kant for publication next year.)


Aschheim, S.E. 1992. The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany 1890–1990. California.

Braun, C. 2021. Dewey, Ebbinghaus, and the Frankfurt School – A Controversy Over Kant neither Fought Out nor Exhausted. In Pragmatism and Social Philosophy – Exploring a Stream of Ideas from America to Europe. M.G. Festl, editor. Routledge.

Hicks, R.C.H. 2010. Nietzsche and the Nazis – A Personal View. Ockham’s Razor Publishing.

Hill, R.K. 2003. Nietzsche’s Critiques – The Kantian Foundations of His Thought. Oxford.

Hocking, W.E. 1915. Political Philosophy in Germany. The New Republic 4(2):234–36. Reprinted in John Dewey: The Middle Works, Volume 8. Southern Illinois.

Hook, S. 1979. Introduction for John Dewey: The Middle Works, Volume 8: 1915. Southern Illinois.

Kaufmann, W. 1950. Nietzsche – Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. Princeton.

Lewis, C.I. 1918. German Idealism and Its War Critics. University of California Chronicle. 20(1):1–15.

Peikoff, L. 1982. The Ominous Parallels – The End of Freedom in America. Stein and Day.

Ratner-Rosenhagen, J. 2012. American Nietzsche – A History of an Icon and His Ideas. Chicago.

Thilly, F. 1915. Review of Dewey’s German Philosophy and Politics. The Philosophical Review 24(5):54045.

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  • 1 year later...

When I was a child being raised by my stepmother and my father, she had reason to impress on me the rhyme “Once a job is begun, never stop until it’s done.” Later, as a youth, I proved to be remarkably persevering for age 13 or so in projects taking a year to complete. As an adult, I can’t help but notice much stoppage in my papers requiring a long period to produce. I get distracted by new writing projects nested in, nested in, . . . . But I’ve still got that old perseverance. This composition “Dewey and Peikoff on Kant’s Responsibility” has gotten stopped short of completion; the most recent long stoppage has run for over a year now. To ensure some speed once I do return for the finish, maybe a year from now, I’m going to bank the resources for the remainder here.

I have gotten hold of the needed materials, shown in the list below. This chronology I’ve put together should be a good help to me and to my online readers of the remaining work on this.

1914, July — WWI begins.


1915, Oct. — William Hocking’s criticism of GPP: “Political Philosophy in Germany” and Dewey’s reply.

1915, Oct. — Kuno Francke’s “The True Germany”.

1916, Feb. — Dewey’s “On Understanding the Mind of Germany” (picks up Francke).

1916, March — Santayana’s book EGOTISM IN GERMAN PHILOSOPHY (EGP).

1916, Dec. — Dewey’s “The Tragedy of the German Soul” (his review of EGP).

1917, April — US enters WWI.

1918, Nov. — WWI ends.

1938 — Aurel Kolnai’s book WAR AGAINST THE WEST.

1942 — Second edition of GPP with Introduction by Dewey bringing the old text to bear on Nazism and WWII. Dewey’s Introduction is titled “The One-World of Hitler’s National Socialism”.

1943 — Review by Leo Strauss of GPP second edition.

1947 — E. M. Fleissner’s “In Defense of German Idealism”.


1950 — Walter Kaufman’s book NIETZSCHE, chapter 10 “The Master Race”.

1964 — Leonard Peikoff completes Ph.D. dissertation under direction of Sidney Hook.

1979 — Hook writes Introduction to JOHN DEWEY – MIDDLE WORKS, Volume 8, which includes Dewey’s GERMAN PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS (1915) as well as Dewey’s “The One-World of Hitler’s National Socialism”, which was the Introduction to the reissue of GPP in 1942.

1982 — Peikoff’s book THE OMINOUS PARALLELS, with Introduction by Ayn Rand.

1998 — Randall Collins’ book THE SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHERS, chapter 12 “Intellectuals Take Control of Their Base: The German University Revolution”.

2004 — James Campbell’s “Dewey and German Philosophy in Wartime”.

2010 — Stephen Hicks’ book NIETZSCHE AND THE NAZIS.

2019 — Wolfgang Bialas, editor of the book: AUREL KOLNAI’S ‘THE WAR AGAINST THE WEST’ RECONSIDERED.


Prof. Roderick Long:

Have you read Thomas Mann’s 1945-47 pamphlets “Germany and the Germans” and “Nietzsche in the Light of Contemporary Events”?

Here they are:

Click to access mann-germany-germans.pdf

Click to access mann-nietzsche-contemporary.pdf

I assign these pamphlets as part of my “Nietzsche and Modern Literature” course (where modern literature is represented by Thomas Mann, André Gide, D. H. Lawrence, and Ayn Rand). Mann had been a fairly pugnacious German nationalist during WWI, and had even broken with his Francophile brother Heinrich over it. The rise of Nazism led Mann to feel abashed over his earlier views. These pamphlets represent his nonfiction attempt to come to grips with his earlier views; his novel Doktor Faustus (which we also read) does the same in fictional form.


Thanks again, Roderick, for the papers by Mann. I see that Mann’s writings at the time of WWI on that war as well his writings relating to WWII after it finished are folded into Rudiger Safranski’s ROMANTICISM – A GERMAN AFFAIR.

Several years ago I was in the book stalls at an APA meeting and purchased a book titled THE GERMAN STRANGER – LEO STRAUSS AND NATIONAL SOCIALISM (2011). The author is William H. F Altman, and the vendor mentioned to me that Dr. Altman had shifted from teaching at the university level to teaching high school, specifically the high school system where I live, here in Lynchburg VA. I finally began to study this book when I resumed this project. After coming down here near dueling-banjo’s territories, he has continued to compose more books. Two more of his arriving at our house next week for the present project are: FRIEDRICH WILHELM NIETZSCHE: THE PHILOSOPHER OF THE SECOND REICH (2014) and MARTIN HEIDEGGER AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR: Being and Time AS FUNERAL ORATION (2015).

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