The Criminal – A Nietzschean Profile and Its Legal Implications

16 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2018

Date Written: February 19, 2018


This paper examines Nietzsche’s view of the criminal, based on his “The Pale Criminal” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Nietzsche has two major reasons to be interested in the criminal. First, Nietzsche claims that there is a common denominator between criminals and artists -- so much so that one must consider whether one does not have the right to account all great men evil? This claim is at once infuriating and outrageous, yet at the same time presents us with an opportunity to re-set, as it were, our ideas about the criminal mind. Second, and more relevant for the legal context, Nietzsche altogether rejects the concepts of responsibility and guilt and therefore criticises the received procedures of judgement and punishment.

Keywords: Nietzsche, The criminal, Strong person, Crime

Suggested Citation

Ben-Menahem, Hanina, The Criminal – A Nietzschean Profile and Its Legal Implications (February 19, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Hanina Ben-Menahem (Contact Author)

Hebrew University ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905

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