The purpose of this paper is to challenge Matthew Lorenzon’s contention that the late 1890s outcry demanding Melbourne University music professor G.W.L. Marshall-Hall’s removal from office was precipitated by his praise of war in an 1898 public address. It also disputes Lorenzon’s view that the belligerent, anti-philanthropic content of the address was inspired by Alexander Tille’s Social Darwinist introduction to four works of Friedrich Nietzsche which, Lorenzon says, Marshall-Hall had misread.
The paper analyses the speech and responses to it, comparing its content with that of the book and taking into account Marshall-Hall’s annotations and other relevant remarks. It also considers the broader situational context in which the speech was delivered with a view to identifying additional influences.
Despite superficial resemblances, Tille’s concern is with the physiological capabilities that determine the outcome of a universal struggle for physical survival, other qualities being important insofar as they contribute to such physiological power, whereas Marshall-Hall, driven by situational circumstances, focuses on contests for occupational pre-eminence in which physiology plays little part. While both men denigrate altruism they mean quite different things by it. Moreover, the speech had little to do with the ensuing furore, which stemmed primarily from offence caused by Marshall-Hall’s book of verse, Hymns Ancient and Modern. There is no reason to believe that he had misread Nietzsche.
The paper contributes to Marshall-Hall scholarship by arguing that the controversy was driven by purely local circumstances, not international debates about evolution.
Rich, J. (2015), "Nietzsche, Social Darwinism and the Chair of Music at Melbourne University: A reply to Matthew Lorenzon", History of Education Review, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 138-152. https://doi.org/10.1108/HER-04-2013-0015Download as .RIS
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