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DODD COLUMN: Bubble gum came with laughs | Opinion – Evening News and Tribune

Posted: June 21, 2020 at 8:52 am

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Do you live each day as if its your first or last? Either way you should probably have a diaper on!

Ellen DeGeneres

The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Be as you wish to seem.


Whatever deceives men seems to produce a magical enchantment.


Nobody likes me. Pesty Thats not true, everybody hasnt met you yet! Mort

Ones philosophy of life is defined from many sources. In college philosophy courses, I studied the writings and thoughts of such great thinkers as Nietzsche, Socrates and Plato. I wasnt aware of their wisdom and philosophy until my college-aged years. When I was in my prepubescent years, I formed much of my early deep thought from the cartoons in my bubble gum.

Bazooka Joe gum always came replete with a cartoon comic wrapped around every piece. In those cartoons I found a magic world of characters that commented on a life that I was just discovering. For a couple of pennies, I anxiously awaited the wisecracking and for a boy of tender age hilarious situations and responses.

Among my early influences was Pesty, who according to Wikipedia might have been Bazooka Joes brother, although it was never quite defined as a fact. His usual sidekick was Mort, described as a gangly boy who always wore a turtleneck sweater pulled up over his mouth. I always likened Mort to the Jughead character in the Archie comics.

Hungry Herman was Joes rotund friend. Jane was Joes girlfriend. Toughie was a tough guy street character who always wore a sailor suit. There was also a neighborhood mutt named Walkie Talkie.

Adding in Joe they were collectively referred to as Bazooka Joe and his Gang.

The gang was conceived sometime between 1952 and 1954 by a couple of guys who worked in product development at Topps. Cartoonist Wesely Morse was hired to create the gang. A contest was held to name the character.

This back story eventually led to one of the staples of my early childhood. I spent many pennies of my hard-earned money collecting pop bottles and turning them into money to purchase my own little bags of treasure from Lawlers General Store located on Allison Lane.

Unwrapping the newly purchased gum to which the gum was standard fare, I couldnt wait to read the next installment of Bazooka Joe comics. For me, it was kind of a cartoon soap opera into their lives. In my young mind, the travails and perils of the gang were very real and I kind of considered them as my imaginary friends.

In analyzing my sense of humor, I would probably list them among my many influences of humor that was at a level that even a young child could comprehend and appreciate. I am sure I often repeated some of the set-ups and punch lines as if they were my very own.

Bazooka Joe comics with my gum would have been as big a treasure as my next gift hidden inside a box of Cracker jacks. Marketing gimmickry was a staple of many of the products that made kids request products, including cereal boxes. It certainly worked on me.

Unbeknownst to me until my research for the column, Topps had bombed with its original cartoon characters in the gum with a cartoon called, Bazooka, the Atom Bubble Boy. Topps didnt hit the pay dirt with Bazooka Joe and His Gang until around 1954.

Collectors of such childhood memorabilia as cartoon bubble gum comics would be hard-pressed to collect all the Bazooka Joe cartoons, as the number I could verify is that there are at least 1,535 of them. Over the years characters were added and redesigned and the cartoons, themselves, were smaller in size. Obviously, the subject matter was changed to keep up with the times.

As I reviewed some of the old comics, I had a trip down memory lane and still smiled at the philosophy, er, albeit humor from my youngest days. A couple examples of the sophisticated humor from those days of innocence gone by:

(Groan) We lost another game. Joe to Herman. Yeah, that makes 14 in a row. Herman. Mort: You cant win them all!

Mort: I think I am going to flunk my history test today on account of sickness. Joe: Youre sick? Mort: No, but the fellow I copy from is home with a cold!

Teacher: Pesty can you name all of the Presidents? Pesty: Err-no. Teacher: Why when I was your age, I could name them all. Pesty: But when you were my age there were only 3 or 4 Presidents!

Simple things for simple minds! Hey, remember when I was laughing hysterically at them, I was like 8 years old!

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DODD COLUMN: Bubble gum came with laughs | Opinion - Evening News and Tribune

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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The Triumph of the Social Scientific Method | Carl R. Trueman – First Things

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Nietzsche said that the nineteenth century was not distinguished by the victory of science but by the victory of the scientific method. His point was that once a claim could be dressed up as the result of a scientific procedure, it became culturally incontestable. Were Nietzsche writing today, he would need to modify the statement a little.

Take, for example, this intriguing 2016 article from Quartz, which was reposted last week. The writer, Thomas Page McBee, is a transgender person who claims to have experienced the workplace first as a woman and later, after transitioning, as a man. This modern-day Teiresias confirms what we have come to expectthat men are at a significant advantage in the workplace, at least according to the criteria she uses. More interesting than the predictable conclusions she draws, however, are the cultural pathologies she reflects.

The politics of contemporary social science now has an iron grip on what are deemed legitimate perceptions of reality. This is explicitly clear in what the article says and implicitly clear in what it doesn't say. The article presents the assumption that workplaces are best explicated by gender specialists as a simple matter of fact. And its lack of any reflection upon the Promethean philosophical presumptions of transgenderism indicates that the culture is at such a point on this issue that the writer feels absolutely no need to do so.

Whether McBee has reflected on the philosophical foundations that make transgenderism plausible is not clear, but her last two paragraphs are replete with what should be contentious metaphysical assumptions. Here she transitions from Teiresias to Aristophanes, proposing that there is a male and female version of ourselves inside each of usa tale worthy of an after-dinner speech at Agathons place. Then there is the fascinating comment in the final paragraph that most of us have the bodies we occupy because of luck of the draw. This is revealing because it makes clear that the distinction between sex and gender, now presented as an incontestable truth, rests upon an even more radical distinction: that between a persons identity and their body. What is fascinating is that none of this comes in the form of argument. It is presented as obvious, something only possible because of its conformity to the spirit of our age.

Yet there is no I behind or before the body. There is no us that exists (logically, let alone chronologically) independently of our flesh and that is then randomly assigned to the bodies we have. Our bodies are an integral part of who we are. And I do not occupy my body as I might occupy a house or a space suit or a deck chair at the beach. On the contrary, it is an integral part of me, inseparable from who I am. It is perhaps the foundational piece of evidence that, were I to claim that I am, for example, Attila the Hun or Nancy Pelosi, I would be talking nonsense, with my body as Exhibit A in the case for the prosecution. It is not simply instrumental to my identity; my identity is inseparable from it. To downgrade it to a mere incidental, or to set the real me in opposition to it, is a recipe for chaos. Even Christian theology, with its body-soul distinction, is clear on this: I am not my soul or my body. That is why Christianity teaches that we do not just leave our bodies and go to heaven. We are actually resurrected.

The articles implicit assumption, foundational to gender theory, is that gender is a performance, not a matter of biological sex, and therefore rooted in the ways in which power putatively works within any given society. Butto play the critical theorist cardgender is not the only category by which societies exert power and control. Age also plays such a role. And age, like gender, also has a culturally specific performative aspect as reflected in social practices, law codes, and cultural expectations.

To give a trivial example, I remember as a teenager lying about my age in order to see Monty Pythons The Meaning of Life at a local cinema. I was sixteen but pretended to be eighteen. I performed the role: I provided the wrong birthdate when asked, and generally tried to look as cool and confident as I thought eighteen-year-olds didand, amazing to tell, the girl at the ticket booth did not treat me as the sixteen-year-old I really was. She sold me a ticket and let me see the movie. The pretense made a difference and confirmed what I already knew: Adults are treated differently than children. But it did not make me eighteen. I was merely a sixteen-year-old pretending to be an adult. And even if I had been utterly convinced that I was eighteen and deeply hurt by anyone who said otherwise, I would still not have been eighteen.

What is striking about the transgender debate, therefore, is that something so counter-intuitive and rooted in such untenable philosophical positions is actually not a matter of debate at all at any significant level. Naysayers are simply dismissed as ignorant or bigots or both. The advent of the derogatory term TERF points to this, as does the social media fury that descends upon anyone who dares question the idea. The furor surrounding J. K. Rowling is just the latest example. And behind it all lie the highly contentious assumptions of gender theory marketed under the label of social science. But social science as it manifests itself in the work of Judith Butler and her progeny is really no more scientific than Marxs scientific socialism. And it serves the same purpose as it did for Marx: It creates an appearance of objectivity and thereby enables a highly contentious way of looking at the world to delegitimize any and all dissenting voices. It will not allow its hypotheses to be contestedindeed, even to think about contesting them is to show how benightedly reactionary one is. Yet make no mistake: It is merely ideology hiding itself under the fig leaf of scientific rhetoric.

In a 1979 article, Alasdair MacIntyre pointed out how social science methodology had become a fundamental tool of power in managerial bureaucracy. Forty years later, it is no longer merely managerial bureaucracy over which it holds sway. The cultural disenfranchising of anyone who wishes to question transgenderisms assumptions indicates that the same thing is now far advanced in society at large. To update Nietzsche, the twenty-first century looks set to witness not so much the triumph of social science as the triumph of the social scientific method.

Carl R. Truemanis professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College and senior fellow at the Institute for Faith and Freedom.His forthcoming book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, is due to be published in November.

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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World Sauntering Day 2020: These 10 Quotes Will Remind You to Slow Down And Enjoy Life –

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We are all in such a hurry these days that we do not have the time to stop, admire or contemplate the beauty and surroundings in front and around us. We concentrate so much on one thing that we end up missing a number of things which would have otherwise been good and better for us. So on World Sauntering Day 2020, which is marked yearly on June 19, we take a look at some of the quotes that could help us enjoy life just a little bit more. Also Read - World Sauntering Day 2020: All About The Most Chilled Out Day Ever Created

World Sauntering Day is a holiday that began in 1979 to remind people to slow down and enjoy life and not rush through it. Sauntering here means to walk in a slow and relaxed manner, like you have all the time in the world. But if you do not have the time to walk slowly, at least check out the quotes below that will encourage you as well as put a smile on your face.

1. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. Shes ninety-seven now, and we dont know where the heck she is. (Ellen DeGeneres)

2. The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk. (Jacqueline Schiff)

3. Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. (Steven Wright)

4. All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

5. But the beauty is in the walking we are betrayed by destinations. (Gwyn Thomas)

6. Meandering leads to perfection. (Lao Tzu)

7. Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas. (JK Rowling)

8. Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility. (Gary Snyder)

9. After a days walk everything has twice its usual value. (George Macauley Trevelyan)

10. Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. (Soren Kierkegaard)

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World Sauntering Day 2020: These 10 Quotes Will Remind You to Slow Down And Enjoy Life -

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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Listen to them & understand them’ – Ahmedabad Mirror

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Citys mental health professionals on dealing with people with suicidal thoughts, how to identify signs and help them

By Anushree Vijaya Harshan It seemed apt to quote Friedrich Nietzsche here. This above quote was shared by the late Sushant Singh Rajput on the birth anniversary of the German philosopher few months ago. On Sunday, the actor seemed to have lost the why, when he decided to end his life by suicide.

Rajputs death was probably the most unanticipated one. After all, who could have expected a person, whom we saw talk his reel son out of suicidal thoughts in his last film (Chhichhore), to commit suicide in real life?

As reports on the actors battle with clinical depression started doing the rounds, people didnt hesitate to link his death to depression, also linking his cover picture on Twitter of Vincent van Goghs popular work The Starry Night, which the artist had painted in an asylum.

He had committed suicide the next year. As speculations became rife, Mirror spoke to mental health professionals to get a clearer picture on suicide and its link with depression.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Vishwamohan Thakur believes there are multiple reasons which could lead to one taking the extreme step. He says, Depression is not the only reason. For instance, people facing deep financial woes take their life for respite from their sorrows. There are also those who fear getting exposed or ones who feel they are not being understood and do not have enough support.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how

- Friedrich Nietzsche

They feel it is their only way to end the pain. A solution is not they are looking for, they just want to end it all, instead of seeking help. Decoding pathological grief

Another aspect brought to notice was the late actors last social media post, a heartfelt note to his mother whom he lost when he was just 16, in 2002. The actor has often spoken about his great loss. Hadnt he come to terms with it? Dr Thakur explains, If a person is bereaved for more than six months, we call it pathological grief, the signs of which are obvious. It is really unlikely for such a person to become so successful as they are usually dysfunctional.

One should not confuse remembrance with grief. The actor didnt show signs of pathological grief, so I dont think that acted as a trigger.

Varghese, on the other hand, believes grief is a very difficult emotion to cope with, especially if you arent putting conscious efforts to come out of it. So, it can stay in your unconscious mind and later trigger suicidal thoughts. But it might not be the case here.


But then there are also people who dont share their feelings. Varghese says, Everyone has their way of coping, and some do it by wearing facades. They dont want sympathy and wish to deal with things on their own. This could sometimes prove unhealthy. They might not talk about it, but if you observe well, their body language would reveal their loneliness. Check up on them often and dont make statements like It is all in your head, There is nothing wrong with you, You do not look anxious or depressed, etc. Talk to them, and more importantly, listen to what they are saying. Though professional help is always the best, in Ahmedabad, sadly, people are not quite open about mental health. In that case, one should reach out to friends if not family.


Saath Counselling: 079-26300222

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Listen to them & understand them' - Ahmedabad Mirror

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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The new normal in education – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post

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With the start of the new academic year in July just around the corner, educators and policymakers just have to be prepared for the new normal for the 44 plus million students across the country.

In light of the joint ministerial decree by the education minister, religious affairs minister, home minister and health ministerannounced on June 15, 2020 regarding the school reopening during the pandemic, schooling practices need to be reimagined and reshaped to prevent a possible second outbreak.

Lessons learned during the current school disruption should drive educators to change their perspectives and practices. Reshaping schooling perspectives and practices should deliberate on the why, who, what and how of education.

It is true that the current pandemic and concern over a potential second outbreak have disrupted traditional schooling practices, but the why of creating the new normal should go beyond the current pandemic and delve deeper than fear of illness.

Reimagining anew forms of education may open doors for more equitable quality education for all young Indonesians. Despite all the COVID-19 maladies, the pandemic disruption has brought awareness to new possibilities in reviving our education system and in ushering young Indonesians into the future on a more level playing field.

The impetus for capitalizing on the demographic bonus toward the Indonesia 2045 Vision has collided with the reality of economic and geographical disparities. The current school disruption has amplified education inequities across social economic classes and regions. This prevailing concern can hopefully give rise to renewed initiatives by education stakeholders to transform schooling practices and create equal learning opportunities for all.

First things first, the who of education are entities that need to transform themselves. The learning-from-home mode has abruptly changed the roles of teachers, students and parents. The need for autonomous learning requires that teachers shift to be designers and facilitators of learning instead of the sage on the stage.

Lessons learned from the sudden disappearance of the traditional classroom stage and the isolation of each learner in his or her own space should drive teachers to unlearn old habits and acquire new skills of online learning engagement. Thanks to the pandemic disruption, the online learning execution no matter how disorderly and inequitable the practices are across the country has forced teachers to realize that they have to reach out to each student in isolation and examine the effectiveness of their teaching.

Our ongoing research reveals that teachers fear of technology has given way to an emerging sense of obligation to master technology and explore ways to integrate it into their pedagogy in order to maintain their professional duties (Anita Lie et al., 2020). This awakened desire can hopefully snowball into concerted efforts to restore the teaching profession.

By the same token, students need to build up a character of interdependence, discipline and responsibility. Along the same lines, the current learning-from-home practices should gear parents to be a beacon of these character values instead of extended academic tutors for their children.

Education experts and researchers have long lamented that one-size-fits-all curriculum does not work for all learners. Unfortunately, this discourse within scholarly forums does not seep through the classroom walls and fails to influence the what of the education system.

In the name of efficiency and system for the masses, the education enterprise found it impossible to meet such diversified needs of the learners. Small-scale initiatives have emerged to customize learning in the forms of homeschooling, elitist schools and alternative schools. While their success stories should be applauded, scaling up the best practices intended for the privileged few to serve the 44 plus million is a utopian endeavor.

The school disruption has compelled all education stakeholders to accept the fact that what matters is not the completion of the written curriculum coverage but the recognition of students diverse needs and the discovery of possibilities to meet those needs through resources other than the teachers themselves.

The teachers primary task is now to guide students to seek those possibilities. This new normal will hopefully drive education authorities to design a sustainable framework for a needs-based curriculum and provide a repertoire of learning modules. Multiple types of literacy and modalities required to survive and contribute to the 21st century should be included in this curriculum.

With a renewed understanding of the why, who and what of education, the how is a matter of technicality. As Friedrich Nietzsche said: If you understand the why, you can endure any how. The learning-from-home isolation cannot continue forever. Children and youths need physical interaction with their peers as part of their learning processes. After all that teachers and students have gone through during this disruption, the new normal should be blended learning.

Even if there is no postponement of the start of the academic year in the green zones, rotation models of blended learning can be a way to maintain social distancing in school, especially when classrooms are too cramped.

Despite its promises, Clayton Christensen (2008) warns that effective technology integration requires a focus on pedagogy and practice, rather than an emphasis on technology and tools. He found that, although teachers integrated technology into their classrooms, the technology did not necessarily lead to student-centered learning processes.

One caveat in this new normal is that teachers often use technology to perpetuate existing teacher-centered pedagogy rather than using technology to shift themselves and their teaching to student-centered pedagogy.

Therefore, professional development is a continuing need for teachers not only to learn the skills but also to integrate the newly acquired skills into sound pedagogy.


Professor of Education at Widya Mandala Catholic University Surabaya

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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Telling the truth in a post-truth world – The Brussels Times

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BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES Weekly analysis and untold stories With SAMUEL STOLTON

Other Brussels behind the scenes stories: European business is embroiled in a Colombian guerrilla war George Floyds blood is on Europes hands, too The EU is trading in dead tigers Remembering Manolis Glezos Who wins from the Coronavirus blamegame?

Telling the truth in a post-truth world

In a hyper-connected and globalized world, the pursuit of truth becomes an arduous enterprise.

Fraught with geopolitical falsifications and commercially-invested fabrications, that which is regarded as true is often hauled from the hands of its purveyors and fashioned into an altogether counterfeit sculpture with remarkable rapidity.

The manifestation of a post-truth reality, where facts become fluid and malleable, fragile to the touch and bitter to the tongue, is no modern phenomenon. But it is the agency and spread afforded to a post-truth statement in the digitized world that allows for an untruth to gain such traction.

BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES is a weekly newsletter which brings the untold stories about the characters driving the policies affecting our lives. Analysis not found anywhere else, The Brussels Times Samuel Stolton helps you make sense of what is happening in Brussels. If you want to receive Brussels behind the scenes straight to your inbox every week, subscribe to the newsletter here.

The issues the current context raise are manifold, but mostly hinge on the fact that truths are regarded as possessions, as Nietzsche said: The investigator into [such] truths is basically seeking just the metamorphosis of the world into man; he is struggling to understand the world as a human-like thing and acquires at best a feeling of assimilation.

What Nietzsche means here is that sheer human confusion, delight, mystery and wonder with the world mutate into a human willingness to wrest from our everyday experience a sense of understanding. We create truths in order to try and explain our everyday experiences, albeit within the limits of our own species.

When the Commissions Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vra Jourov, told Brussels reporters recently that it was time to tell the truth about China, the truth that she wanted to perpetuate was woefully partial, possessed by her own reality and subsidized by a political currency spent on attempting to impose diplomatic pressure on the Chinese, ironically in the aftermath of Beijings attempts to disseminate their own truths regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

With vitriolic tit-for-tat geopolitical recriminations such as these, how on earth can we ever expect citizens to be delivered a truth they can trust, a truth that is not possessed by anothers interpretation of reality?

In this climate, it is hardly surprising that the recently published Reuters Institute Digital News Report drew attention to the fact that trust in the media worldwide continues to fall rapidly, with fewer than four in ten (38%) of those surveyed saying that they trust media most of the time, and less than half (46%) saying they trust the news that they themselves use.

The latter finding is particularly astonishing: nearly half of those surveyed do not trust the media that they absorb regularly. What does this say about a society in which citizens are content to subject themselves to information that they knowingly regard as untrustworthy? Has civilization really arrived at some sort of an abandoned fate whereby governments are satisfied with a populace vegetating in a state of acquiesced ignorance?

This is the mad purgatory that presents itself to the modern journalist. In a dizzying world of truths and untruths, where every other citizen doubts the very words that acquaint their gaze, any pretence to objectivity appears tenuous. The citizen is embedded in a wider ecosystem of what Hannah Arendt referred to as defactualization where there is a legitimate incapacity on behalf of the reader to discern fact from fiction.

When Jourov made the aforementioned remarks about China, she was presenting a report about the state of disinformation on the bloc, which earmarked Russia and China as having engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns related to the coronavirus crisis.

Russia has an established track record in this arena, its Internet Research Agency, otherwise known as the troll factory, having long churned out propaganda crusades aimed at sowing division among Western rivals.

In my view, the most effective remedy against such campaigns is an increased emphasis on a complete, total and unhindered commitment to transparency.

But what does total transparency in political governance look like? Do we, as the steadfast purveyors of truth, in fact require a certain obfuscation of legal and political systems in order for our pursuit of transparency to be worthwhile? What becomes of transparency in a fully-transparent world?

In this case, one would assume that transparency becomes normalized to the extent by which truth becomes discernible and objectivity becomes attainable. How can you question or scrutinize a political body which is transparent in total terms? The answers to your questions would already be in front of your eyes.

And it was Jourov again that made me dream of the chimera of total transparency speaking to MEPs in Parliaments Civil Liberties committee on Monday, she said that the executive wants to work further on developing a culture of transparency that stretches throughout the legislative cycle, including trialogues.

For those not immersed in the Brussels policy cycle, trialogues are the three-way negotiations on legislative files between the Council and the Parliament, mediated by the Commission. They are strictly private meetings, cut off from public scrutiny entirely. A couple of years ago, I managed to attend one.

The whole affair was a bizarre carnival of messianic spirits engaged in a feverish debate into the early morning hours embellished with servings of lukewarm sandwiches and chemical-infused red wine, the air soured by bitter overtones of body odour, extracted from the pores of fatigued and policy-beaten pink bodies. Maybe its not surprising that these meetings are normally off limits.

With that being said, the internal legislative process of the EU for many across the continent does indeed remain an unfathomable covert operation. In a post-truth world, where the minds of the masses become vulnerable to the imposition of divisive narratives, such black boxes in EU law-making can be exploited as political capital by those who seek to perpetuate untruths. For total transparency to ever be achieved in Brussels, the doors should be opened up on trialogues, once and for all.

If today we are truly implanted in a post-truth society, it is only by a commitment to total transparency that we can devolve ourselves from this nauseating culture of lies, untruths and disinformation, and seek out a society where truth can once again become an attainable resource accessible to all.

BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES is a weekly newsletter which brings the untold stories about the characters driving the policies affecting our lives. Analysis not found anywhere else, The Brussels Times Samuel Stolton helps you make sense of what is happening in Brussels. If you want to receive Brussels behind the scenes straight to your inbox every week, subscribe to the newsletter here.

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Telling the truth in a post-truth world - The Brussels Times

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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When Tribal Journalists Try to ‘Cancel’ Ayn Rand (Part 2) – New Ideal

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The New Republic article about Rand, which we looked at in Part 1, stood out not primarily because of what it said about her, but in how it conveyed its message. The article put a tribal prejudice toward Rand above facts and logic. That same mindset is on display, even more starkly, in Amanda Marcottes Salon article, Right-wingers finally got their Ayn Rand hero as president and its this guy.

Let me stress, again, that my goal is not to change your mind about Rand and her ideas, nor primarily to correct the many errors and misrepresentations in these articles (though Ill point out some of them along the way). Instead, the point is to explain how the two articles are fundamentally uninterested in convincing any active-minded reader. Their aim, rather, is to affirm a preset narrative about Rand. These are worse than mere smears, because their tribal mindset represents the abandonment of rational persuasion as the goal of intellectual discussion.

Marcottes point is captured in the subtitle: Conservatives finally have a leader who lives by Ayn Rands selfish philosophy, and hes an embarrassing clown, the clown being Donald Trump. But whatever you might think of Rand or of Trump, this is a claim thats far from self-evident. It requires a real argument. Marcottes article offers no argument. Its written for an audience that already partly or fully shares Marcottes preconceptions.

What would it take to build a case that Trump is the incarnation of Rands moral ideals? For a start, and at minimum, youd need to grasp what Rands view actually is, why she holds it, and how her radical view relates to, and contrasts with, existing views in morality. Rand once summarized her system of ideas by saying that My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. Part of whats radical in Rands moral theory is that she argues for an individualist morality that is non-predatory.

Marcottes article offers no argument. Its written for an audience that already partly or fully shares Marcottes preconceptions.

Each individual, in her view, is responsible for achieving his own happiness by his own effort and the use of his own mind without sacrifices of anyone to anyone. That means a rational egoist neither surrenders his own values and goals to others, nor sacrifices others to himself. On Rands view, the egoist is someone guided by reason, pursuing creative achievement, building mutually beneficial relationships. It is nothing like the conventional view of a whim-driven brute who lies, cheats, and steals, walking over corpses to get his way.

From this brief indication of her view, it should be evident that what Rand means by selfishness is far different from what most people mean by that term. Regardless of whether one agrees with her conception, the fact is that Rand is saying something distinctive and new, and it takes work to understand it and think through what her morality does (and does not) look like in practice.

Marcotte, by contrast, evidently cannot imagine a moral ideal so dramatically at odds with conventional views. Apparently, the possibility of a non-predatory individualist is unreal to her, or else its pushed out of mind. Instead, Marcotte aims to patch together a narrative to affirm her prejudice against Rand. The goal is to portray Rand as a monster whose moral ideal, in practice, turns out to be a monster such as Trump.

To that end, Marcotte begins with a disturbing claim. Marcotte writes that Rand had a schoolgirl crush on a murderer, William Hickman, that she based a character on him in plans for an early story, and that she later reworked her idea of the individualistic, contemptuous hero into The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

Marcottes smear operates in part by omitting important facts.

Since Rands mature views reject any form of predation, her youthful interest in Hickman is strange enough that if you are going to raise it, it demands thoughtful exploration. A multitude of questions spring to mind: What was the nature of Rands curiosity in him? Where did she articulate it? When was this? How does it relate to her mature, principled advocacy of individual rights as sacrosanct?

READ ALSO: Why Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism

None of these questions interests Marcotte, who slants the episode to smear Rand. Marcottes smear operates in part by omitting important facts. Let me indicate just five.

First, its a gross distortion to call Rands reaction a schoolgirl crush, which you can see for yourself in Rands own notes on the subject. She made those notes in her personal journals, which can be found in Journals of Ayn Rand, published long after her death. Across decades, Rand wrote voluminously in her journals to sketch ideas for characters, plays, stories, novels; to engage in thinking on paper for her own understanding; to distill lessons and conclusions from her experiences with people and events.

Second, she wrote these journal entries for an audience of exactly one herself. In her journals she was continually forming, revising, changing, clarifying her views. Nothing in them was ever meant for publication, so its ludicrous to treat her journals as definitive statements of her considered view.

Third, Marcotte hand-wavingly notes that fans are quick to argue that Rand didnt endorse the murder, but elides the fact that Rand herself, in her own journal notes, repudiates Hickmans abhorrent crime.

Fourth, a relevant fact for understanding Rands interest in Hickman is that she was a fiction writer, and she was sketching ideas for a story. She was curious about the character and psychology of individuals, about what ideas and attitudes motivated them, in part for the sake of depicting the motivation of fictional characters. This is an issue central to the craft of writing fiction, which Rand (at the time, aged 23) was striving to master.

Fifth, it is impossible to read Rands notes about Hickman and the story she was planning without observing the influence of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche on the young Rand. That influence is manifest in the premise of the story and the lead character she envisioned for it (Rand uses concepts borrowed from Nietzsche and quotes him in her notes). Rand never got far in planning that story and decided to abandon it. Why? The project was too alien to her deepest premises, writes David Harriman, editor of Journals of Ayn Rand, who points out (along with other scholars) that Rand went on to discard Nietzsches philosophic ideas and explicitly repudiated them.

For Marcotte, such facts are pushed aside in the dash to affirm a preconception about Rand. The next step in that process is to link this fictional Rand to conservatism and President Trump.

Marcotte wheels out the trope that Rand is the backbone of modern conservativism. This metaphor obscures a complicated reality, which I mentioned in Part 1, about the nature of Rands influence on conservatives and right-leaning folks. Moreover, there are abundant counterexamples that negate this trope. The aim of Marcottes article, however, is not to convince, but to reinforce preconceptions, and her intended audience is already primed to feel loathing at the mention of conservatism. Thats the emotional context Marcottes article works to activate.

Marcottes unwarranted lumping together of Rand with conservatism reflects a definite purpose. Rands philosophy, Marcotte writes, serves as a pseudo-intellectual rationalization, beloved by assorted Republicans, for a reactionary movement that rose up to reject the feminist and anti-racist movements of the 20th century. One giveaway here is the word reactionary.

In this mindset, its unimaginable that someone could have a view different from ones own that is grounded in reasonable argument.

Even if you reject conservatism (as I do), Marcottes characterization of it betrays, not a reasoned opposition, but a tribal opposition. Were there conservatives who were racist and misogynistic? Yes, and there still are. But the sweeping claim in Marcottes article is that conservatives were reactionary: meaning, they stubbornly opposed progress. They could have had no legitimate basis for their concerns about, for example, the growth of government regulations, or the cost of burgeoning welfare programs, or the budget. Regardless of whether you share those concerns, some conservative intellectuals actually did voice reasoned objections to these developments. But for Marcotte and her intended audience, these outsiders, members of an opposing tribe, can be nothing but wrong and evil. In this mindset, its unimaginable that someone could have a view different from ones own that is grounded in reasonable argument.

In linking Rand with conservatism, Marcotte is uninterested in the fact which contradicts her narrative that Rand wrote at length about her philosophic opposition to the conservative movement (see, for instance, the essay Conservatism: An Obituary). Whats more, nowhere in Marcottes article will you learn that Rand was a fierce opponent of racism. Nor will you learn about Rands distinctive, profound opposition to the conventional notion that a womans place is in the home; or that a woman is somehow intellectually or morally inferior to a man. Among Rands fictional heroes are two women, Kira Argounova (in We the Living) and Dagny Taggart (in Atlas Shrugged), who shatter stereotyped roles for women. Long before it was imaginable in our culture, Dagny Taggart took it for granted that she could run a vast railroad network, and she did so superlatively; it was at most an afterthought for her that anyone might object. Kira Argounova, fascinated by buildings and bridges, wanted to be an engineer, and her will to achieve her goals in life was indomitable.

READ ALSO: Howard Roark Laughed: Humor in The Fountainhead

All of this, and more, Marcotte must brush aside in order to shoehorn Rands ideas into the same category as the reactionary right, the opposing political tribe that Marcotte and many of her readers hate. Doing so, in defiance of the facts, is part of Marcottes larger effort to present Donald Trump as the full, perfect embodiment of Rands moral theory of selfishness. Linking Trump and Rand serves to smear each with the taken-for-granted evil of the other.

Whats the argument for that link? There is none and, tellingly, no attempt to engage with obvious objections or counterarguments. What Marcotte conveys is a disdain for the sheer possibility that anyone could hold a different view on the subject. Regardless of your assessment of President Trump, the claim that hes the embodiment of Ayn Rands moral ideas should give pause to anyone with even an elementary grasp of her outlook.

What leaps off the pages of Atlas Shrugged is not that Rand glamorizes all businesspeople, but rather that she draws a bright moral dividing line. On one side are productive business leaders, who use their minds to create real value, exchanging it in trade for mutual advantage. It is such producers who are the business heroes she valorizes for their achievements.

On the other side of that moral line are the businessmen who rely on political pull to handicap their competitors, who extort protections and corporate welfare, and who lie, cheat, and exploit others in their grubbing for unearned wealth. Such villains, in todays world, embody the scourge of cronyism.

Marcottes disdain for argument, for evidence, indeed, for the intellect of her readers is blatant in what she takes as a credible source on Rands ideas.

Just on the basis of this sketch of one aspect of Rands view, Donald Trump is far from an obvious manifestation of her moral theory. The evidence, in my view, is that his actions and statements contradict the virtue of selfishness; that, for instance, Trumps business career has relied on pull peddling and that, as president, he feeds that cronyism dynamic. My colleague Ben Bayer has argued convincingly that Trump negates Rands view of selfishness; and others still have pointed out ways in which Trump is actually more like an Ayn Rand villain.

But my aim here is not to convince you of either of those points. Rather its to indicate that any claim that Trump embodies Rands concept of selfishness would need to build an argument for that, and take seriously counterpoints and obvious objections if your goal is to convince.

Thats precisely what Marcotte disdains. I say disdain, because any reputable magazine would expect its writers to Google the topic theyre pitching, to see if anyones written on it before. Try it yourself; you should find at least two articles on the subject by my colleague Onkar Ghate. One evaluates the Trump phenomenon generally; the other considers what Rand might have thought of Trump. You might also find my article on how Trumps foreign policy clashes with Rands philosophy. And again, we at ARI are hardly the only ones to voice our perspective on this issue. Marcotte, however, does not even gesture toward engaging with these contrasting views; doing so would imply that there could be a credible view different from her preconception.

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Marcottes disdain for argument, for evidence, indeed, for the intellect of her readers is blatant in what she takes as a credible source on Rands ideas. For a credible third-party source, where does Marcotte turn? To one of a number of the established, published scholars of Rands ideas? No. To an expert on the field of ethics, who has some awareness of how Rands ideas relate to the intellectual landscape? No.

Who, then? Marcotte turns to a guy with a blog. She cites someone who posted blog entries while reading his way through Atlas Shrugged. To pretend that this blog is a credible source is journalistic malpractice. If a journalist wrote about, say, Marxs Das Kapital, or Darwins Origin of Species to take two influential works that defied conventional thinking and presented a random blogger with no evident expertise as an authority on the subject, it would be laughable.

What Marcottes article exhibits even more blatantly than Sammons piece in the New Republic is a tribalist mindset.

The tribal mind is insular and keen to stay that way. Outsiders are viewed with suspicion, often hostility. The sheer possibility that outsiders might have different views and beliefs, and hold them for good reasons, is simply alien. Thats largely because the tribalist himself has fastened onto his beliefs and pieties, not through a thoughtful weighing of the evidence and by following the logic, but through conformity with the group. Theres just what his own tribe believes. All else has to be wrong. Its beyond the pale, worthy only of contempt and disdain.

Theres an underlying commonality between a Trump rally and the Marcotte and Sammon articles: they put a tribal narrative above facts and logic.

We can observe two important consequences of this tribalist mindset on display in Marcottes article about Rand. One is Marcottes disdain for facts and logic. A tribalist sees no need to convince others of his views: why take the effort of trying to communicate with outsiders, who by virtue of being outside the tribe must be wrong? Besides, if he himself didnt need evidence and logic to swallow his groups beliefs and pieties, why would anyone else?

Second, the tribalist does feel a strong need to affirm and reinforce for himself and fellow tribe members that their ways and beliefs are right, and that outsiders are wrong, if not evil, too.

A critical reading of Marcottes and Sammons articles makes clear that a major, if not the prime, aim is to rally certain readers. To activate them emotionally, not cognitively. For those readers, the common takeaway is that, despite Rands distinctive views, she can be lumped in with the hated right-wing/conservative tribe.

These articles offer the reassurance that, despite Rands enduring prominence and ongoing cultural influence, she is unworthy of serious attention. That the Objectivist movement is nosediving. That Rand, finally, is canceled.

What the Marcotte and Sammon articles do to Rand in print, Donald Trump does to his enemies in speeches at loyalist rallies. The approach is the same. The president can spellbind the audience with innuendo, pseudo-facts, and arbitrary assertions, precisely because they reinforce a conclusion many already came in with: Trump is right, his opponents in the enemy tribe are victimizing him.

No attempt is made to convince anyone in the stands. The conclusions, so congenial to the tribe, are already known. The facts or rather, innuendo, insinuation, hints and arbitrary allegations are conjured up, trimmed, shorn of context, bent, distorted to affirm the tribes common prejudices against its enemies. Theres an underlying commonality between a Trump rally and the Marcotte and Sammon articles: they put a tribal narrative above facts and logic.

There are fascinating questions to explore about the impact of Ayn Rands ideas and their cultural influence. Such questions, however, are shoved to the wayside in the Marcotte and Sammon articles. The driving impulse to cancel Rand in the eyes of their tribal audience hardly original to these articles is its own kind of cultural indicator.

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When Tribal Journalists Try to 'Cancel' Ayn Rand (Part 2) - New Ideal

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June 21st, 2020 at 8:52 am

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Nihilism – Wikipedia

Posted: May 22, 2020 at 2:47 pm

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Philosophy antithetical to concepts of meaningfulness

Nihilism (; ) is the point of view that suspends belief in any or all general aspects of human life which are culturally accepted. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.[1]Moral nihilists assert that morality does not exist at all. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not actually exist.

The term is sometimes used in association with anomie to explain the general mood of despair at a perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realising there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.[2]

Nihilism has also been described as conspicuous in or constitutive of certain historical periods. For example, Jean Baudrillard and others have called postmodernity a nihilistic epoch[3] and some religious theologians and figures of religious authority have asserted that postmodernity[4] and many aspects of modernity[5] represent a rejection of theism, and that such rejection of theistic doctrine entails nihilism.

Nihilism has many definitions, and thus can describe multiple arguably independent philosophical positions.

Epistemological nihilism is a form of skepticism in which all knowledge is accepted as being possibly untrue or as being impossible to confirm as true.

Existential nihilism is the belief that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism posits that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. The meaninglessness or meaning of life is largely explored in the philosophical school of existentialism.

Medical nihilism is the view that we should have little confidence in the effectiveness of medical interventions.[6] Jacob Stegenga proposed the term in the book Medical Nihilism. It is a work in philosophy of science that deals with contextualized demarcation of medical research. Stegenga applies Bayes' Theorem to medical research then argues for the premise that "even when presented with evidence for a hypothesis regarding the effectiveness of a medical intervention, we ought to have low confidence in that hypothesis." [7][8]

Mereological nihilism (also called compositional nihilism) is the position that objects with proper parts do not exist (not only objects in space, but also objects existing in time do not have any temporal parts), and only basic building blocks without parts exist, and thus the world we see and experience full of objects with parts is a product of human misperception (i.e., if we could see clearly, we would not perceive compositive objects).

This interpretation of existence must be based on resolution. The resolution with which humans see and perceive the "improper parts" of the world is not an objective fact of reality, but is rather an implicit trait that can only be qualitatively explored and expressed. Therefore, there is no arguable way to surmise or measure the validity of mereological nihilism. Example: An ant can get lost on a large cylindrical object because the circumference of the object is so large with respect to the ant that the ant effectively feels as though the object has no curvature. Thus, the resolution with which the ant views the world it exists "within" is a very important determining factor in how the ant experiences this "within the world" feeling.

Metaphysical nihilism is the philosophical theory that posits that concrete objects and physical constructs might not exist in the possible world, or that even if there exist possible worlds that contain some concrete objects, there is at least one that contains only abstract objects.

Extreme metaphysical nihilism is commonly defined as the belief that nothing exists as a correspondent component of the self-efficient world.[9] The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines one form of nihilism as "an extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence."[10] A similar skepticism concerning the concrete world can be found in solipsism. However, despite the fact that both deny the certainty of objects' true existence, the nihilist would deny the existence of self whereas the solipsist would affirm it.[11] Both these positions are considered forms of anti-realism.

Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the meta-ethical view that there is no morality whatsoever; therefore, no action is preferable to any other. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither right nor wrong. Moral nihilism is distinct from moral relativism, which acknowledges individual or cultural moral values.

Other nihilists may argue not that there is no morality, but that if it does exist, it is a human construction and thus artificial, wherein any and all meaning is relative for different possible outcomes. As an example, if someone kills someone else, such a nihilist might argue that killing is not inherently a bad thing, or bad independently from our moral beliefs, because of the way morality is constructed as some rudimentary dichotomy. What is said to be a bad thing is given a higher negative weighting than what is called good: as a result, killing the individual was bad because it did not let the individual live, which was arbitrarily given a positive weighting. In this way, such a nihilist believes that all moral claims are void of any objective truth value. An alternative scholarly perspective is that moral nihilism is a morality in itself. Cooper writes, "In the widest sense of the word 'morality', moral nihilism is a morality."[12]

Ontological nihilism asserts that nothing is actually real; that is, reality does not actually exist, but is merely a thoroughly-constructed illusion.[13]

Political nihilism follows the characteristic nihilist's rejection of non-rationalized or non-proven assertions; in this case the necessity of the most fundamental social and political structures, such as government, family, and law. An influential analysis of political nihilism is presented by Leo Strauss.[14]

The Russian Nihilist movement was a Russian trend in the 1860s that rejected all authority.[15] After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, the Nihilists gained a reputation throughout Europe as proponents of the use of violence for political change.[citation needed] The Nihilists expressed anger at what they described as the abusive nature of the Eastern Orthodox Church and of the tsarist monarchy, and at the domination of the Russian economy by the aristocracy. Although the term Nihilism was coined by the German theologian Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (17431818), its widespread usage began with the 1862 novel Fathers and Sons by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev. The main character of the novel, Yevgeny Bazarov, who describes himself as a Nihilist, wants to educate the people. The "go to the people be the people" campaign reached its height in the 1870s, during which underground groups such as the Circle of Tchaikovsky, the People's Will, and Land and Liberty formed. It became known as the Narodnik movement, whose members believed that the newly freed serfs were merely being sold into wage slavery in the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and that the middle and upper classes had effectively replaced landowners. The Russian state attempted to suppress the nihilist movement. In actions described by the Nihilists as propaganda of the deed many government officials were assassinated. In 1881 Alexander II was killed on the very day he had approved a proposal to call a representative assembly to consider new reforms.

Scientific nihilism is the doctrine that we should have very little confidence in scientific conclusions, such as findings, analysis and attempts to understand or predict future natural events, including but not limited to meteorological predictions.[16][17]

The concept of nihilism was discussed by the Buddha (563 B.C. to 483 B.C.), as recorded in the Theravada and Mahayana Tripiaka.[18] The Tripiaka, originally written in Pali, refers to nihilism as natthikavda and the nihilist view as micchdihi.[19][20] Various sutras within it describe a multiplicity of views held by different sects of ascetics while the Buddha was alive, some of which were viewed by him to be morally nihilistic. In the Doctrine of Nihilism in the Apannaka Sutta, the Buddha describes moral nihilists as holding the following views:[21][22]

The Buddha then states that those who hold these views will not see the danger in misconduct and the blessings in good conduct and will, therefore, avoid good bodily, verbal and mental conduct; practicing misconduct instead.[21]

The culmination of the path that the Buddha taught was Nirvana, "a place of nothingness... nonpossession and... non-attachment... [which is] the total end of death and decay".[23] In an article Ajahn Amaro, a practicing Buddhist monk of more than 30 years, observes that in English 'nothingness' can sound like nihilism. However the word could be emphasised in a different way, so that it becomes 'no-thingness', indicating that Nirvana is not a thing you can find, but rather a state where you experience the reality of non-grasping.[23]

In the Alagaddupama Sutta, the Buddha describes how some individuals feared his teaching because they believe that their 'self' would be destroyed if they followed it. He describes this as an anxiety caused by the false belief in an unchanging, everlasting 'self'. All things are subject to change and taking any impermanent phenomena to be a 'self' causes suffering. Nonetheless, his critics called him a nihilist who teaches the annihilation and extermination of an existing being. The Buddha's response was that he only teaches the cessation of suffering. When an individual has given up craving and the conceit of 'I am' their mind is liberated, they no longer come into any state of 'being' and are no longer born again.[24]

The Aggivacchagotta Sutta records a conversation between the Buddha and an individual named Vaccha that further elaborates on this. In it Vaccha asks the Buddha to confirm one of the following, with respect to the existence of the Buddha after death:[25]

To all four questions, the Buddha answers that the terms 'appear', 'not appear', 'does and does not reappear' and 'neither does nor does not reappear' do not apply. When Vaccha expresses puzzlement, the Buddha asks Vaccha a counter question to the effect of: if a fire were to go out and someone were to ask you whether the fire went north, south, east or west, how would you reply? Vaccha replies that the question does not apply and that an extinguished fire can only be classified as 'out'.[25]

Thanissaro Bikkhu elaborates on the classification problem around the words 'reappear' etc. with respect to the Buddha and Nirvana by stating that a "person who has attained the goal [Nirvana] is thus indescribable because [they have] abandoned all things by which [they] could be described".[26] The Suttas themselves describe the liberated mind as 'untraceable' or as 'consciousness without feature', making no distinction between the mind of a liberated being that is alive and the mind of one that is no longer alive.[24][27]

Despite the Buddha's explanations to the contrary, Buddhist practitioners may, at times, still approach Buddhism in a nihilistic manner. Ajahn Amaro illustrates this by retelling the story of a Buddhist monk, Ajahn Sumedho, who in his early years took a nihilistic approach to Nirvana. A distinct feature of Nirvana in Buddhism is that an individual attaining it is no longer subject to rebirth. Ajahn Sumedho, during a conversation with his teacher Ajahn Chah, comments that he is "determined above all things to fully realize Nirvana in this lifetime... deeply weary of the human condition and ... [is] determined not to be born again". To this, Ajahn Chah replies: "what about the rest of us, Sumedho? Don't you care about those who'll be left behind?" Ajahn Amaro comments that Ajahn Chah could detect that his student had a nihilistic aversion to life rather than true detachment.[28] Ajahn Chah's answer clearly points to the Mahayana concept of the Bodhisattva, i.e. the consummated practitioner who renounces to obtain his own Nirvana and procrastinates his own liberation until everyone else has obtained it. Such concept is not to be found in the Theravada tradition as expressed in the Pali canon, which is mainly focused on individual liberation through the four stages of enlightenment culminating with the Arahant stage. Therefore, Ajahn Sumedho was correct in his interpretation of the teachings, and Ajahn Chah sought to mitigate and soften the nihilistic content of the original Theravada tradition blending Hinayana and Mahayana concepts.

The term nihilism was first used by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (17431819). Jacobi used the term to characterize rationalism[29] and in particular Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy to carry out a reductio ad absurdum according to which all rationalism (philosophy as criticism) reduces to nihilismand thus it should be avoided and replaced with a return to some type of faith and revelation. Bret W. Davis writes, for example, "The first philosophical development of the idea of nihilism is generally ascribed to Friedrich Jacobi, who in a famous letter criticized Fichte's idealism as falling into nihilism. According to Jacobi, Fichte's absolutization of the ego (the 'absolute I' that posits the 'not-I') is an inflation of subjectivity that denies the absolute transcendence of God."[30] A related but oppositional concept is fideism, which sees reason as hostile and inferior to faith.

With the popularizing of the word nihilism by Ivan Turgenev, a new Russian political movement called the Nihilist movement adopted the term. They supposedly called themselves nihilists because nothing "that then existed found favor in their eyes".[31] This movement was significant enough that, even in the English speaking world, at the turn of the 20th century the word nihilism without qualification was almost exclusively associated with this Russian revolutionary sociopolitical movement.[32]

Sren Kierkegaard (18131855) posited an early form of nihilism, which he referred to as leveling.[33] He saw leveling as the process of suppressing individuality to a point where an individual's uniqueness becomes non-existent and nothing meaningful in one's existence can be affirmed:

Levelling at its maximum is like the stillness of death, where one can hear one's own heartbeat, a stillness like death, into which nothing can penetrate, in which everything sinks, powerless. One person can head a rebellion, but one person cannot head this levelling process, for that would make him a leader and he would avoid being levelled. Each individual can in his little circle participate in this levelling, but it is an abstract process, and levelling is abstraction conquering individuality.

Kierkegaard, an advocate of a philosophy of life, generally argued against levelling and its nihilistic consequences, although he believed it would be "genuinely educative to live in the age of levelling [because] people will be forced to face the judgement of [levelling] alone."[34] George Cotkin asserts Kierkegaard was against "the standardization and levelling of belief, both spiritual and political, in the nineteenth century," and that Kierkegaard "opposed tendencies in mass culture to reduce the individual to a cipher of conformity and deference to the dominant opinion."[35] In his day, tabloids (like the Danish magazine Corsaren) and apostate Christianity were instruments of levelling and contributed to the "reflective apathetic age" of 19th century Europe.[36] Kierkegaard argues that individuals who can overcome the levelling process are stronger for it, and that it represents a step in the right direction towards "becoming a true self."[34][37] As we must overcome levelling,[38]Hubert Dreyfus and Jane Rubin argue that Kierkegaard's interest, "in an increasingly nihilistic age, is in how we can recover the sense that our lives are meaningful".[39]

Note, however, that Kierkegaard's meaning of "nihilism" differs from the modern definition, in the sense that, for Kierkegaard, levelling led to a life lacking meaning, purpose or value,[36] whereas the modern interpretation of nihilism posits that there was never any meaning, purpose or value to begin with.

Nihilism is often associated with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who provided a detailed diagnosis of nihilism as a widespread phenomenon of Western culture. Though the notion appears frequently throughout Nietzsche's work, he uses the term in a variety of ways, with different meanings and connotations. Karen L. Carr describes Nietzsche's characterization of nihilism "as a condition of tension, as a disproportion between what we want to value (or need) and how the world appears to operate."[40] When we find out that the world does not possess the objective value or meaning that we want it to have or have long since believed it to have, we find ourselves in a crisis.[41] Nietzsche asserts that with the decline of Christianity and the rise of physiological decadence,[clarification needed] nihilism is in fact characteristic of the modern age,[42] though he implies that the rise of nihilism is still incomplete and that it has yet to be overcome.[43] Though the problem of nihilism becomes especially explicit in Nietzsche's notebooks (published posthumously), it is mentioned repeatedly in his published works and is closely connected to many of the problems mentioned there.

Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. This observation stems in part from Nietzsche's perspectivism, or his notion that "knowledge" is always by someone of some thing: it is always bound by perspective, and it is never mere fact.[44] Rather, there are interpretations through which we understand the world and give it meaning. Interpreting is something we can not go without; in fact, it is something we need. One way of interpreting the world is through morality, as one of the fundamental ways that people make sense of the world, especially in regard to their own thoughts and actions. Nietzsche distinguishes a morality that is strong or healthy, meaning that the person in question is aware that he constructs it himself, from weak morality, where the interpretation is projected on to something external.

Nietzsche discusses Christianity, one of the major topics in his work, at length in the context of the problem of nihilism in his notebooks, in a chapter entitled "European Nihilism".[45] Here he states that the Christian moral doctrine provides people with intrinsic value, belief in God (which justifies the evil in the world) and a basis for objective knowledge. In this sense, in constructing a world where objective knowledge is possible, Christianity is an antidote against a primal form of nihilism, against the despair of meaninglessness. However, it is exactly the element of truthfulness in Christian doctrine that is its undoing: in its drive towards truth, Christianity eventually finds itself to be a construct, which leads to its own dissolution. It is therefore that Nietzsche states that we have outgrown Christianity "not because we lived too far from it, rather because we lived too close".[46] As such, the self-dissolution of Christianity constitutes yet another form of nihilism. Because Christianity was an interpretation that posited itself as the interpretation, Nietzsche states that this dissolution leads beyond skepticism to a distrust of all meaning.[47][48]

Stanley Rosen identifies Nietzsche's concept of nihilism with a situation of meaninglessness, in which "everything is permitted." According to him, the loss of higher metaphysical values that exist in contrast to the base reality of the world, or merely human ideas, gives rise to the idea that all human ideas are therefore valueless. Rejecting idealism thus results in nihilism, because only similarly transcendent ideals live up to the previous standards that the nihilist still implicitly holds.[49] The inability for Christianity to serve as a source of valuating the world is reflected in Nietzsche's famous aphorism of the madman in The Gay Science.[50] The death of God, in particular the statement that "we killed him", is similar to the self-dissolution of Christian doctrine: due to the advances of the sciences, which for Nietzsche show that man is the product of evolution, that Earth has no special place among the stars and that history is not progressive, the Christian notion of God can no longer serve as a basis for a morality.

One such reaction to the loss of meaning is what Nietzsche calls passive nihilism, which he recognises in the pessimistic philosophy of Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer's doctrine, which Nietzsche also refers to as Western Buddhism, advocates separating oneself from will and desires in order to reduce suffering. Nietzsche characterises this ascetic attitude as a "will to nothingness", whereby life turns away from itself, as there is nothing of value to be found in the world. This mowing away of all value in the world is characteristic of the nihilist, although in this, the nihilist appears inconsistent: this "will to nothingness" is still a form of willing.[51] He describes this as "an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists:"

A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: the pathos of 'in vain' is the nihilists' pathos at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.

Nietzsche's relation to the problem of nihilism is a complex one. He approaches the problem of nihilism as deeply personal, stating that this predicament of the modern world is a problem that has "become conscious" in him.[52] According to Nietzsche, it is only when nihilism is overcome that a culture can have a true foundation upon which to thrive. He wished to hasten its coming only so that he could also hasten its ultimate departure.[42]

He states that there is at least the possibility of another type of nihilist in the wake of Christianity's self-dissolution, one that does not stop after the destruction of all value and meaning and succumb to the following nothingness. This alternate, 'active' nihilism on the other hand destroys to level the field for constructing something new. This form of nihilism is characterized by Nietzsche as "a sign of strength,"[53] a willful destruction of the old values to wipe the slate clean and lay down one's own beliefs and interpretations, contrary to the passive nihilism that resigns itself with the decomposition of the old values. This willful destruction of values and the overcoming of the condition of nihilism by the constructing of new meaning, this active nihilism, could be related to what Nietzsche elsewhere calls a 'free spirit'[54] or the bermensch from Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist, the model of the strong individual who posits his own values and lives his life as if it were his own work of art. It may be questioned, though, whether "active nihilism" is indeed the correct term for this stance, and some question whether Nietzsche takes the problems nihilism poses seriously enough.[55]

Martin Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche influenced many postmodern thinkers who investigated the problem of nihilism as put forward by Nietzsche. Only recently has Heidegger's influence on Nietzschean nihilism research faded.[56] As early as the 1930s, Heidegger was giving lectures on Nietzsche's thought.[57] Given the importance of Nietzsche's contribution to the topic of nihilism, Heidegger's influential interpretation of Nietzsche is important for the historical development of the term nihilism.

Heidegger's method of researching and teaching Nietzsche is explicitly his own. He does not specifically try to present Nietzsche as Nietzsche. He rather tries to incorporate Nietzsche's thoughts into his own philosophical system of Being, Time and Dasein.[58] In his Nihilism as Determined by the History of Being (194446),[59] Heidegger tries to understand Nietzsche's nihilism as trying to achieve a victory through the devaluation of the, until then, highest values. The principle of this devaluation is, according to Heidegger, the will to power. The will to power is also the principle of every earlier valuation of values.[60] How does this devaluation occur and why is this nihilistic? One of Heidegger's main critiques on philosophy is that philosophy, and more specifically metaphysics, has forgotten to discriminate between investigating the notion of a being (Seiende) and Being (Sein). According to Heidegger, the history of Western thought can be seen as the history of metaphysics. And because metaphysics has forgotten to ask about the notion of Being (what Heidegger calls Seinsvergessenheit), it is a history about the destruction of Being. That is why Heidegger calls metaphysics nihilistic.[61] This makes Nietzsche's metaphysics not a victory over nihilism, but a perfection of it.[62]

Heidegger, in his interpretation of Nietzsche, has been inspired by Ernst Jnger. Many references to Jnger can be found in Heidegger's lectures on Nietzsche. For example, in a letter to the rector of Freiburg University of November 4, 1945, Heidegger, inspired by Jnger, tries to explain the notion of "God is dead" as the "reality of the Will to Power." Heidegger also praises Jnger for defending Nietzsche against a too biological or anthropological reading during the Nazi era.[63]

Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche influenced a number of important postmodernist thinkers. Gianni Vattimo points at a back-and-forth movement in European thought, between Nietzsche and Heidegger. During the 1960s, a Nietzschean 'renaissance' began, culminating in the work of Mazzino Montinari and Giorgio Colli. They began work on a new and complete edition of Nietzsche's collected works, making Nietzsche more accessible for scholarly research. Vattimo explains that with this new edition of Colli and Montinari, a critical reception of Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche began to take shape. Like other contemporary French and Italian philosophers, Vattimo does not want, or only partially wants, to rely on Heidegger for understanding Nietzsche. On the other hand, Vattimo judges Heidegger's intentions authentic enough to keep pursuing them.[64] Philosophers who Vattimo exemplifies as a part of this back and forth movement are French philosophers Deleuze, Foucault and Derrida. Italian philosophers of this same movement are Cacciari, Severino and himself.[65]Jrgen Habermas, Jean-Franois Lyotard and Richard Rorty are also philosophers who are influenced by Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche.[66]

Gilles Deleuze's interpretation of Nietzsche's concept of nihilism is different - in some sense diametrically opposed - to the usual definition (as outlined in the rest of this article). Nihilism is one of the main topics of Deleuze's early book Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962).[67] There, Deleuze repeatedly interprets Nietzsche's nihilism as "the enterprise of denying life and depreciating existence".[68] Nihilism thus defined is therefore not the denial of higher values, or the denial of meaning, but rather the depreciation of life in the name of such higher values or meaning. Deleuze therefore (with, he claims, Nietzsche) says that Christianity and Platonism, and with them the whole of metaphysics, are intrinsically nihilist.

Postmodern and poststructuralist thought has questioned the very grounds on which Western cultures have based their 'truths': absolute knowledge and meaning, a 'decentralization' of authorship, the accumulation of positive knowledge, historical progress, and certain ideals and practices of humanism and the Enlightenment.

Jacques Derrida, whose deconstruction is perhaps most commonly labeled nihilistic, did not himself make the nihilistic move that others have claimed. Derridean deconstructionists argue that this approach rather frees texts, individuals or organizations from a restrictive truth, and that deconstruction opens up the possibility of other ways of being.[69]Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, for example, uses deconstruction to create an ethics of opening up Western scholarship to the voice of the subaltern and to philosophies outside of the canon of western texts.[70] Derrida himself built a philosophy based upon a 'responsibility to the other'.[71] Deconstruction can thus be seen not as a denial of truth, but as a denial of our ability to know truth. That is to say, it makes an epistemological claim, compared to nihilism's ontological claim.

Lyotard argues that, rather than relying on an objective truth or method to prove their claims, philosophers legitimize their truths by reference to a story about the world that can't be separated from the age and system the stories belong toreferred to by Lyotard as meta-narratives. He then goes on to define the postmodern condition as characterized by a rejection both of these meta-narratives and of the process of legitimation by meta-narratives.

In lieu of meta-narratives we have created new language-games in order to legitimize our claims which rely on changing relationships and mutable truths, none of which is privileged over the other to speak to ultimate truth.[citation needed]

This concept of the instability of truth and meaning leads in the direction of nihilism, though Lyotard stops short of embracing the latter.[citation needed]

Postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard wrote briefly of nihilism from the postmodern viewpoint in Simulacra and Simulation. He stuck mainly to topics of interpretations of the real world over the simulations of which the real world is composed. The uses of meaning were an important subject in Baudrillard's discussion of nihilism:

The apocalypse is finished, today it is the precession of the neutral, of forms of the neutral and of indifference...all that remains, is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms, for the very operation of the system that annihilates us. Now, fascination (in contrast to seduction, which was attached to appearances, and to dialectical reason, which was attached to meaning) is a nihilistic passion par excellence, it is the passion proper to the mode of disappearance. We are fascinated by all forms of disappearance, of our disappearance. Melancholic and fascinated, such is our general situation in an era of involuntary transparency.

In Nihil Unbound: Extinction and Enlightenment, Ray Brassier maintains that philosophy has avoided the traumatic idea of extinction, instead attempting to find meaning in a world conditioned by the very idea of its own annihilation. Thus Brassier critiques both the phenomenological and hermeneutic strands of Continental philosophy as well as the vitality of thinkers like Gilles Deleuze, who work to ingrain meaning in the world and stave off the "threat" of nihilism. Instead, drawing on thinkers such as Alain Badiou, Franois Laruelle, Paul Churchland, and Thomas Metzinger, Brassier defends a view of the world as inherently devoid of meaning. That is, rather than avoiding nihilism, Brassier embraces it as the truth of reality. Brassier concludes from his readings of Badiou and Laruelle that the universe is founded on the nothing,[72] but also that philosophy is the "organon of extinction," that it is only because life is conditioned by its own extinction that there is thought at all.[73] Brassier then defends a radically anti-correlationist philosophy proposing that Thought is conjoined not with Being, but with Non-Being.

The term Dada was first used by Richard Huelsenbeck and Tristan Tzara in 1916.[74] The movement, which lasted from approximately 1916 to 1923, arose during World War I, an event that influenced the artists.[75] The Dada Movement began in the old town of Zrich, Switzerland known as the "Niederdorf" or "Niederdrfli" in the Caf Voltaire.[76] The Dadaists claimed that Dada was not an art movement, but an anti-art movement, sometimes using found objects in a manner similar to found poetry.

The "anti-art" drive is thought[by whom?] to have stemmed from a post-war emptiness.[citation needed] This tendency toward devaluation of art has led many[who?] to claim that Dada was an essentially nihilistic movement.[citation needed] Given that Dada created its own means for interpreting its products, it is difficult to classify alongside most other contemporary art expressions. Due to perceived ambiguity, it has been classified as a nihilistic modus vivendi.[75]

The term "nihilism" was actually popularized in 1862 by Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons, whose hero, Bazarov, was a nihilist and recruited several followers to the philosophy. He found his nihilistic ways challenged upon falling in love.[77]

Anton Chekhov portrayed nihilism when writing Three Sisters. The phrase "what does it matter" or variants of this are often spoken by several characters in response to events; the significance of some of these events suggests a subscription to nihilism by said characters as a type of coping strategy.

The philosophical ideas of the French author, the Marquis de Sade, are often noted as early examples of nihilistic principles.[78]

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I Am Dynamite! lacks the philosophical scope of prior biographies by Rdiger Safranski and Julian Young, but Prideaux is a stylish and witty narrator. She begins with the pivotal event in Nietzsches life: his introduction, in 1868, to Wagner, the most consequential German cultural figure of the day. Nietzsche would soon assume a professorship in Basel, at the astonishingly young age of twenty-four, but he jumped at the chance to join the Wagner operation. For the next eight years, as Wagner completed his operatic cycle The Ring of the Nibelung and prepared for its premire, Nietzsche served as a propagandist for the Wagnerian cause and as the Meisters factotum. He then broke away, declaring his intellectual independence first with coded critiques and then with unabashed polemics. Accounts of this immensely complicated relationship are too often distorted by prejudice on one side or another. Nietzscheans and Wagnerians both tend to off-load ideological problems onto the rival camp; Prideaux succumbs to this temptation. She insists that Nietzsches talk of a superior brood of blond beasts has no modern racial connotation, and casts Wagners Siegfried as an Aryan hero who rides to the redemption of the world. In fact, Siegfried is a fallen hero who rides nowhere; the redeemer of the world is Brnnhilde.

Prideauxs picture of the Wagner-Nietzsche relationship fails to explain either the intensity of their bond or the trauma of their break. Early on, Nietzsche was hopelessly infatuated with Wagners music and personality. He described the friendship as my only love affair. As with many infatuations, Nietzsches expectations were wildly exaggerated. He hoped that the Ring would revive the cultural paradise of ancient Greece, fusing Apollonian beauty and Dionysian savagery. He envisaged an audience of lite aesthetes who would carry a transfiguring message to the outer world. Wagner, too, revered Greek culture, but he was fundamentally a man of the theatre, and tailored his ideals to the realities of the stage. At the first Bayreuth Festival, in 1876, Nietzsche was crestfallen to discover that a viable theatre operation required the patronage of the nouveau riche and the fashionable.

Personal differences between the two men provide amusing anecdotes. Nietzsche made sporadic attempts at musical composition, one of which caused Wagner to have a laughing fit. (The music is not very good, but it is not as bad as all that.) Wagner also suggested to Nietzsches doctor that the young mans medical issues were the result of excessive masturbation. But the disagreements went much deeper, revealing a rift between ideologies and epochs. Wagner embodied the nineteenth century, in all its grandeur and delusion; Nietzsche was the dynamic, destructive torchbearer of the twentieth.

When they first met, they shared an admiration for the philosophical pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer, who saw a world governed by the insatiable striving of the will. Only through the renunciation of worldly desire, Schopenhauer posited, can we free ourselves from our incessant drives. Aesthetic experience is one avenue to self-overcomingan idea that the art-besotted Nietzsche seized upon. But he disdained Schopenhauers emphasis on the practice of compassion, which also promises release from the grasping ego. Wagner, by contrast, claimed to value compassion above all other emotions. Parsifal, his final opera, has as its motto Durch Mitleid wissend, der reine Tor (The pure fool, knowing through pity). Nietzsches 1878 book, Human, All Too Human, his inaugural assault on Wagner and Romantic metaphysics, hammers away at the word Mitleid, considering it an instrument of weakness. In its place, Nietzsche praises hardness, force, cruelty. Culture simply cannot do without passions, vices, and acts of malice, he writes.

These views made Wagner wince, as the diaries of Cosima Wagner, his wife, attest. In an earlier essay entitled The Greek State, Nietzsche had declared that slavery belongs to the essence of a culture. The intellectual historian Martin Ruehl speculates that Wagner persuaded Nietzsche to omit the essay from his first book, The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1872), which culminates in a paean to Wagner. During the same period, though, Nietzsche was castigating German tendencies toward nationalist chauvinism and anti-Semitismconspicuous elements in Wagners political blatherings. What seems particularly unfortunate about the break is that each man had an acute sense of the others blindnesses.

Nietzsche not only rejected the sublime longings of nineteenth-century Romanticism; he also jettisoned the teleology of historical progress that had governed European thought since the Renaissance, and that had found its most formidable advocate in Hegel. Instead, Nietzsche grounded himself in a version of naturalismthe post-Darwinian conviction that humans are an animal species, led by no transcendent purpose. This turn yields Nietzsches most controversial concepts: the announcement of the death of God; the eternal return, which frames existence in terms of endlessly repeating cycles; and the will to power, which involves a ceaseless struggle for survival and mastery. It might be said that Nietzsche, in backing away from Wagner, backed into his own mature thoughtthe celebration of Dionysian energy, the triumphal yes to life over and above all death and change.

Between his final meeting with Wagner, in 1876, and his mental collapse of 1889, Nietzsche lived the life of an intellectual ascetic. Health problems caused him to resign his professorship in 1879; from then on, he adopted a nomadic life style, summering in the Swiss Alps and wintering, variously, in Genoa, Rapallo, Venice, Nice, and Turin. He wrote a dozen books, of increasingly idiosyncratic character, poised between philosophy, aphoristic cultural criticism, polemic, and autobiography. He worked out many of his ideas during vigorous Alpine hikesa practice fondly re-created by John Kaag in the recent book Hiking with Nietzsche. The possibility of a romance with the psychologist Lou Andreas-Salom arose and then subsided; a serious relationship was probably beyond his reach. The landscape of the mind consumed his attention. As Safranski wrote, For Nietzsche, thinking was an act of extreme emotional intensity. He thought the way others feel.

Translating Nietzsche is a difficult task, but the swagger of his prose, with its pithy strikes and sudden swerves, can be fairly readily approximated in English. Kaufmann, in his translations, brought to bear a strong, pugnacious style. In his introductions and footnotes, he distanced Nietzsche from fascist bombastnaming the bermensch the Overman was just one strategyand recast him as a kind of existentialist. But Kaufmann underplayed Nietzsches slippery elegance, and his choice not to translate Human, All Too Human and its successor, Dawn (1881), gave a skewed view of the thinkers development. A series of translations from Cambridge University Press covered the gaps. Now Stanford University Press is halfway through a nineteen-volume edition of Nietzsches complete writings and notebooks. The press has been threatened with cuts in funding, but if the project is achieved English readers will have, for the first time, access to the entirety of Nietzsches work.

Since 1967, the German publisher De Gruyter has been amassing a critical edition of Nietzsches complete writings, which can be browsed on a dizzyingly comprehensive Web site, This monumental project has, to the annoyance of some scholars, attracted increasing attention to Nietzsches extensive notebooks. These show a less awe-inspiring side of the philosopher, as he jots down items from his reading and delivers utterances esoteric, mundane, and bizarre:

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A list of the best Friedrich Nietzsche quotes. List is arranged by which ones are the most famous Friedrich Nietzsche quotes and which have proven the most popular with visitors to this page. All the top quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche should be listed here, but if any were missed you can add more quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche at the end of the list. This list includes notable Friedrich Nietzsche quotes on various subjects; if you are looking for subject-specific quotes, those can also be found on Ranker along with the authors name.

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dinni added And those who were dancing were thought to be insane,by those who could not hear the music.

schlimmerjaeger added The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.

schlimmerjaeger added The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.

schlimmerjaeger added The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

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