A schooling in contempt: emotions and the pathos of distance

Mark Alfano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Nietzsche scholars have developed an interest in his use of ‘thick’ moral psychological concepts such as virtues and emotions. This development coincides with a renewed interest among both philosophers and social scientists in virtues, emotions and moral psychology more generally. Contemporary work in empirical moral psychology posits contempt and disgust as both basic emotions and moral foundations of normative codes. While virtues can be individuated in various ways, one attractive principle of individuation is to index them to characteristic emotions and the patterns of behaviour those emotions motivate. Despite the surge in attention to Nietzsche’s use of emotions, the literature has tended to lump all emotional states together. In this chapter, I argue that what Nietzsche calls the pathos of distance is best understood as the virtue associated with both contempt and disgust. I conclude with a discussion of the bleak prospects for a Nietzschean democratic ethos.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Nietzschean mind
EditorsPaul Katsafanas
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781351380058, 9781315146317
ISBN (Print)9781138851689
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameThe Routledge Philosophical Minds


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