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A Primer of the Philosophy of Nietzsche | The Art of Manliness

Posted: April 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm


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Friedrich Nietzsche introduced several ideas into Western philosophy that have had a huge influence on the culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Existentialism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism have all been touched by Nietzsches work.

His impact isnt just seen in academic philosophies, though, but also in the way many modern Westerners approach their lives. The love of struggle, the quest for autonomy and personal greatness, the clarion call of following your passion and making your life a work of art these are all cultural currents Nietzsche helped shape and set in motion. Thus to really understand modern life in all its wonder, and weirdness, one must understand Nietzsche.

Below I highlight just a few of Nietzsches biggest and most intriguing ideas; even if you decide you vehemently disagree with them, they are excellent fodder for examining how you live and exist in the world. Do you, as Nietzsche exhorts, say yes to life? Or do you deny its powers and possibilities and simply loaf through your existence?

Keep in mind that this article isnt an exhaustive look at Nietzsches work; its designed to be an accessible primer for those who wish to dip their toes into his philosophy. As such, I tried to simplify and condense the explanations as much as possible. For a more exhaustive and in-depth treatment, youll have to read the myriad books that have been written by Nietzsche and about his work; Ill suggest some of the best to check out at the end.

In Nietzsches first published work, The Birth of Tragedy, he describes two divergent outlooks embodied by the ancient Greeks: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Together, Nietzsche argues, these two ethoses birthed one of the worlds most famous art forms the Athenian tragedy.

Apollo was the sun god who brought light and rational clarity to the world. For Nietzsche, those who view things through an Apollonian lens see the world as orderly, rational, and bounded by definite borders. The Apollonian views humanity not as an amorphous whole, but as discrete and separate individuals. Sculpture and poetry were the arts best represented by the Apollonian ethos because they have clear structuresand definedlines.

Dionysus was the god of wine, celebration, ritual madness, and festivity. Viewed through the Dionysian prism, the world is seen as chaotic, passionate, and free from boundaries. Instead of seeing humanity as being made up of atomized individuals, the Dionysian views humanity as a united, passionate, amorphous whole into which the self is absorbed. Music and dance, with their free-flowing forms, were the arts best represented by the Dionysian ethos.

For Nietzsche, the pre-Socratic Greek tragedies fused these two outlooks together perfectly. The works of Sophocles and Aeschylus forced the audience to answer one of lifes most burning questions: How can human life be meaningful if human beings are subject to undeserving suffering and death? The Apollonian answers this query by arguing that suffering brings forth a transformation chaos can be turned into beauty and order. The Dionysian, on the other hand, contends that dynamism and chaos are not necessarily bad things. Simply being part of the chaotic flow of life and joyfully riding its waves was a beautiful and worthy pursuit in and of itself; any suffering that came along with the ride was simply the price of admission.

Nietzsche argued that after Socrates, tragedies began to emphasize the Apollonian ethos at the expense of the Dionysian. Instead of seeing tragedy as the natural result of living in a world of chaos and passion, the post-Socratic dramatists saw it as the consequence of some tragic flaw in a persons character. Nietzsche believed this more rationalized view of tragedy extinguished some of lifes mystery and romanticism.

While this theory may seem very specific to a certain time, place, and art form, it has far wider implications. Its important to have a basic understanding of the two concepts because theyre woven throughout the rest of Nietzsches work. For Nietzsche, the Dionysian perspective was the more life-affirming and vitality-spurring approach to life; consequently, he emphasizes it over the Apollonian.

Besides the Dionysian and Apollonian archetypes, Nietzsche looked to other Ancient Greek ideas to inform his worldview. He was particularly fond of the pre-Socratic Greeks and their Homeric warrior ethics. Strength, courage, boldness, and pride were virtues that Nietzsche championed throughout his life.

There are no facts, only interpretations, Nietzsche famously wrote. From this, he is often accused of being a relativist, but a closer look at his work shows that this isnt quite the case. Nietzsche doesnt deny that there could be some big T Truth out there, but if there were, we would never be in a position to confirm its veracity because our observations are biased and conceived within a language, within a culture, within a perspective, within the constraints and expectations of a theory.

Instead of relativism, Nietzsche advocates for something that has been called perspectivism. Perspectivism in a nutshell means that every claim, belief, idea, or philosophy is tied to some perspective and that its impossible for humans to detach themselves from these lenses in order to suss out the objective Truth. Now, this may sound like relativism, but according to Nietzsche, its not the same thing. Unlike strict relativism, which says all views are equally valid because theyre relevant to each person, perspectivism doesnt claim that all perspectives have equal value some are in fact better than others. The job of the philosopher, according to Nietzsche, is to learn, adopt, and test as many different perspectives as possible to get a better picture of the Truth. This process may even require looking at the world with what appears to be opposing perspectives. While Nietzsche doesnt think taking on different viewpoints can ultimately reveal the big T Truth (remember, it can never fully be unveiled because of our biases), he does feel it can get you pretty close to it.

As I read about Nietzsches perspectivism, I was struck by how similar it was to John Boyds OODA Loop. If youll remember, the OODA Loop is a methodology for making strategic decisions in the face of opposition at least thats how its often viewed in todays business and military culture. For Boyd, though, the OODA Loop is more than just a decision cycle for military tacticians. It is a meta-paradigm for intellectual growth and evolution in an ever-shifting and uncertain landscape. The most important step in the OODA Loop is the Orient step, in which you constantly re-direct and re-frame your mind based on your observations of the world around you. Because our environment is always changing, we must always be orienting. A vital part of that is building a robust toolbox of mental models and testing out those mental models in the real world. According to Boyd, the more mental models one had at their disposal (even competing ones!), the more likely they were to understand the world and make good decisions. Sounds pretty much like Nietzsches perspectivism.

Nietzsche is perhaps most famous for his critiques and deconstruction of modern morality and religion. It is in Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals that Nietzsche fleshes out this critique. An important element in Nietzsches criticism is the concept of master morality and slave morality. While Nietzsche presents the development of master-slave morality as a historical and anthropological reality, its better viewed as Nietzsches big picture psychological explanation for why we (we, as in all of humanity) have the morality that we do.

According to Nietzsche, morality began as master morality. He sees the aristocratic warrior values of the Homeric Greeks and other pre-Judeo-Christian cultures as the origin of true virtue. For them, the world wasnt divided into good and evil, but rather noble and ignoble. To be noble meant successfully asserting your will on the world and getting what you wanted through your strength, courage, and excellence. Being noble meant being the best at whatever you did. This worldview required a hierarchical vision of humanity some people were more excellent and noble than others. Whats more, there was no room for humility in this conception of nobility. As Nietzsche put it, Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul. If you did great things, you took responsibility for them and basked in the glory you received from your peers. The noble, or masters, were the ones who determined what was moral.

The ignoble, or slaves as Nietzsche called them, were the complete opposite of the noble. They were weak, timid, and pathetic. The ignoble couldnt get what they wanted because they lacked the virtues of excellence and the ability to assert their will on the world. In fact, the ignoble avoided expressing their wants and desires because that could get them in trouble with the noble. They got along to get along. The noble did not esteem the slaves; they were at best pitied, at worst disdained.

Living a code based on the noble/ignoble dichotomy is what Nietzsche calls master morality. But, the philosopher argues, master morality only bred resentment in the slaves or lower classes. And it is this resentment that gave birth to slave morality. Slave morality, according to Nietzsche, was a spiritual revenge against the ruling class which sought to turn master morality on its head. Beginning with the Ancient Hebrews and continuing with Christianity, the ignoble or lower classes began to declare that the values of the master class were not only offensive to God, but that it was actually more righteous and excellent to be weak, humble, and submissive. Instead of splitting the world between the noble or ignoble, slave morality divided the world into good and evil. Under the rubric of slave morality, the noble man was seen as the evil man, and the ignoble man was seen as the good man. For Nietzsche, slave morality was a way to not just protect the weak, but to also exalt them.

Whats more, unlike master morality, which was created by the self-assertion of the noble individual himself and thus unique to him, slave morality was external and applied to everyone. Think the Ten Commandments.

While Nietzsche certainly praises master morality and casts slave morality in a bad light, he does see slave morality as serving an important psychological purpose in that it gave those without power a sense of self-esteem. The problem for Nietzsche is that, its dignity-bestowing properties aside, slave morality always puts its adherents in a secondary, dependent position. The slave can never have a sense of self-worth without thinking of someone else as evil; its reactive instead of proactive.

Nietzsche notes that its possible for an individual to be guided by both master and slave morality. Take the Pope for example. At one time in history, the Pope had actual political and military power. He governed nations and directed armies. He could, in a sense, be guided by master morality. But as a Christian, he followed a morality that emphasized humility and restraint. So there was a struggle between the two types of morality within a single man.

Its not just popes who have to deal with this internal struggle; according to Nietzsche, we all do. What we call a bad or a guilty conscience is the result of our desire to live by a code of master morality butting against the pull of slave morality. We want to be rich and powerful, but we feel guilty for wanting those things because weve been told that the desire for wealth and power is evil. The battle between master and slave morality within ourselves also manifests itself when we feel bad about our successes or when we downplay them by providing self-deprecating excuses like, Oh, it was just luck. Slave morality for Nietzsche then becomes a sort of self-hatred.

Nietzsche argues that with the passage of time, slave morality overtook master morality and what we call morality today is almost entirely composed of the formers values. Instead of seeking personal excellence, slave morality encourages us to judge and find fault in others so that we can say, Well, at least Im not as bad/evil/sinful as that guy. It encourages us to paint our enemies in the worst possible light in order to feel justified in going after them; in the world of slave morality, theres no room for the idea of the noble adversary. Slave morality also manifests itself in societys overweening emphasis on humility; to even mention ones accomplishments is seen as bragging. We balk at anyone who claims to be better than us. All in all, Nietzsche thought that living by the code of slave morality was a weak and pathetic way to go about life.

So if slave morality is so bad, whats Nietzsches alternative? Interestingly, he doesnt encourage us to go back to master morality because he feels were past the point of no return and it would be psychologically impossible to do so. Instead, Nietzsche argues that we must move beyond good and evil, and towards a morality that doesnt depend on calling certain things bad in order for goodness to exist a morality thats proactive and not reactive, and focused on attaining personal excellence. According to Nietzsche scholar Robert Solomon, a type of Aristotelian virtue ethics would be a good candidate for this new (old) morality.

Of all the bold claims Nietzsche put forth in his life, none is more (in)famous than the idea that God is dead. Some have mistakenly interpreted this statement as Nietzsche celebrating the death of Deity. But a closer reading reveals a different story. Nietzsche was simply making explicit what had silently been happening in the West since the beginning of modernity. He was describing, not exulting. Instead of placing their faith in God and basing their worldview on a divine, universal law, most modern Westerners even those who claimed to be devoted to their faith conducted their lives and viewed the world through the Enlightenment-born prism of scientific materialism.

Rather than feeling that this evolution was something to celebrate, Nietzsche saw the death of God as tragic and traumatic. To get a sense of the travesty Nietzsche believed had happened in replacing God with science, read the following passage from The Gay Science in which Nietzsche has a madman announce that God is dead:

Whither is God? he cried; I will tell you. We have killed him you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all sun? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?

Nietzsche predicts that the death of God will bring with it the rejection of the belief in a universal moral law, which in turn will cause existential nihilism a philosophy hedetested. While Nietzsche didnt think highly of slave morality, as we just discussed, he did think it was good for the psyche, and that religion played an important role in creating meaning a center of gravity in the world. Nietzsche predicted that once a universal basis of morality eroded away, there will be wars the like of which have never been seen on earth before a prediction which came true not long after he died in 1900.

What often gets overlooked about Nietzsches pronouncement of Gods death is that he also points out that no one really noticed the Almightys passing. And why is that? First, even while Westerners put more and more of their faith in science and reason, they continued to profess a belief in God and kept up their religious practices. Its not that people actively sought to prove the non-existence of God at the time, like todays New Atheists. They simply started to ignore Him, even if they didnt realize they were.

Second, Nietzsche argues that modern Westerners failed to notice the death of God because they continued to practice faith just that now it was one centered on science and reason rather than the divine; if people were honest with themselves, Nietzsche would say, they would admit that they planned their days, made decisions, and picked careers based not on scripture and prayer, but on economic, sociological, and technological factors. While Nietzsche was an atheist and a fan of the scientific process, he believed this new faith in science wasnt any better than the old faith in God. In fact, it was worse, for it made no room for a passionate, Dionysian spirituality that lent life vitality and meaning. Whats more, the reductivist explanations of scientific materialism promoted an empty, nihilistic outlook on the world.

Nietzsche believed that joy required a man to love this mortal life right at this moment with all of its ups and downs. My formula for greatness in a human being, Nietzsche argued, is amor fati [literally, love of fate, the embracing of ones fate]: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it but love it.

For Nietzsche, life itself, with all of its pleasures and pains, is what gives human existence meaning. Because struggles provide us a chance to test ourselves, we should not just welcome them, but love them, and love them dearly. The same goes for our enemies. We should respect and love our enemies, not out of piety, but because they challenge and push us. Nietzsche wants us to say yes to life. Rather than hide from it embrace it head on. His idea of eternal recurrence (see below) really drives home this idea.

Life-denying philosophies are philosophies that attempt to downplay or even eliminate both the pains and pleasures of this life. For Nietzsche, the most pernicious type of life-denying philosophies are those that cause an individual to hold out for some pie in the sky future that will free them from all pain and sorrow. Instead of seeing mortalitys trials as something to struggle with and overcome, and in the process become stronger, life-denying philosophies encourage individuals to hate this life and look forward to another.

According to Nietzsche, Christianity and even scientific materialism promoted this sort of life-denying thinking. Christianity, Nietzsche argued, was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, lifes nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in another or better life. Hatred of the world, condemnations of the passions, fear of beauty and sensuality, a beyond invented the better to slander this life.

Nietzsche saw scientific materialism as fomenting a similar dissatisfaction with life, by holding out hope not for heaven, but for a better future just over the horizon. Those who put their faith in science believe that through reason and innovation well be able to overcome our physical limitations and become free from all suffering.

Nietzsche detested both of these views because both take a persons focus off the vital present and direct it towards a distant future. Life, Nietzsche argued, had to be lived now.

The other type of life-denying philosophy Nietzsche criticized was asceticism. As a lover of the passionate Dionysus, Nietzsche believed that asceticism devalued the human passions by encouraging individuals to mortify and deny lifes vital energies. He felt that asceticism prevented people from enjoying all that mortality had to offer. Nietzsches critique of this philosophy as life-denying isnt just directed towards religious practices like fasting, celibacy, or intense meditation. He also argued that the dogged pursuit of scientific knowledge was a form of asceticism as well, in that it caused a person to evade life its hard to experience the fullness of mortality when youre holed up in a laboratory or have your nose in a book all the time. Nietzsche also saw type-A workaholics who never have the time to enjoy the fruits of their labor as yet another category of life-denying ascetics.

An important doctrine (if you can call it that) buttressing Nietzsches life-affirming philosophy is that of eternal recurrence or eternal return. The idea is that time repeats itself over and over again with the same events. Its not a new idea. Several ancient cultures had some conception of eternal recurrence, including the Persians, the Vedics of India, and the Ancient Greeks. Nietzsche simply expanded on the idea and used it as an existential test for modern man.

Nietzsche best captures his idea of eternal recurrence near the end of The Gay Science:

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust! Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine?

If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and everything, Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more? would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate confirmation and seal?

Eternal recurrence is a thought experiment that serves as an existential gut check: Do you really love life?

People say they love their life all the time, but when they say that, they usually mean they love all the good things in life that happen to them. For Nietzsche, love of life requires loving all of life, even its pains and sorrows. For many, thats a tough pill to swallow. If the thought of living your life over and over again fills you with dread, well, then according to Nietzsche, you dont really love life.

So how does one come to love life? Nietzsche prescribes his philosophy of amor fati the love of fate. Love and embrace all that life throws at you both the good and the bad. Instead of resenting lifes trials, see them as opportunities to test yourself and grow.

Nietzsche had doubts about the human capacity for personal improvement (he was somewhat of a determinist; you were born the way you were, and pretty much stayed that way), but he does suggest that we can take action to create the kind of life we would gladly put on an infinite loop.

Does contemplating replaying your life fill you with feelings of anxiety and regret? Nietzsche would advise you to change course: Ask that girl out; write that novel; learn that new skill youve always wanted to learn; make amends with your estranged friend; head out on a long-dreamed of adventure. And at the same time, dont despair over lifes hardships and uncertainties; ride them like a wave that takes you to a different, and even higher place.

Eternal recurrence would have a tremendous influence on the Existential philosophers of the 20th century. You can see it especially in Albert Camus essay The Myth of Sisyphus. The Existential psychologist Viktor Frankl echoed the idea of eternal recurrence in his book Mans Search for Meaning when he writes: So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now! In other words, live with no regrets!

To be clear, Nietzsche likely didnt believe that wed actually repeat our life over and over again. He did have some notes in which he tried to create a scientific proof of eternal recurrence, but it was deeply flawed, and he never published it. Nevertheless, for Nietzsche it doesnt matter if eternal recurrence is an actual phenomenon what matters is the motivating effect which comes from meditating on the idea.

Nietzsche first coined the phrase the will to power in his early aphoristic works as a response to Schopenhauers will to life philosophy. For Schopenhauer, all living creatures had a motivation for self-preservation and would do anything just to survive. Nietzsche thought this outlook was overly pessimistic and reactive. He felt there was more to life than merely avoiding death, and believed that living beings are motivated by the drive for power.

But what does Nietzsche mean by power? Its hard to say. While Nietzsche used the phrase will to power throughout his published works, he never systematically explained what he meant by it. He just gives hints here and there. Many have interpreted it as the drive for control over others. While it could mean that, if we look at the original German phrase (Der Wille zur Macht), we discover that Nietzsche likely had something bigger and more spiritual in mind.

Macht means power, but its a power thats more akin to personal strength, discipline, and assertiveness. With this in mind, many scholars believe that Nietzsches conception of the will to power is that of a psychological drive to assert oneself in the world to be effective, leave a mark, become something better than you are right now, and express yourself. Exercising ones will to power requires self-mastery and the development of personal strength by embracing struggle and challenge.

According to Nietzsche, this notion of will to power is much more proactive and even noble than Schopenhauers will to live. Humans are driven not just to survive, Nietzsche proclaims, but to dare mighty deeds.

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche introduced two archetypes of humanity: the bermensch and the Last Man.

The bermensch or Overman is an oft-misunderstood Nietzschean concept. Some have interpreted it as a biological, evolutionary goal that through our mastery of technology and nature, humanity will be able to become a race of Supermen.

But thats not what Nietzsche had in mind. He doesnt think a person can actually become an bermensch. Rather, the bermensch is more of a spiritual goal or way of approaching life. The way of the bermensch is filled with vitality, energy, risk-taking, and struggle. The bermensch represents the drive to strive and live for something beyond oneself while simultaneously remaining true and grounded in earthly life (no other-worldly longings in Nietzsches world). Its a challenge to be creators and not mere consumers. In short, the bermensch is the full manifestation of the will to power.

Nietzsche never states what exactly we should be striving for thats beyond ourselves or what we should be creating. Thats for each man to figure out for themselves. It could be a work of art, a book, a business, a piece of legislation, or a strong family culture. Through the act of creation, we can forge a legacy that lives beyond our mortal life. By seeking to live as the bermensch, we can attain immortality in a this-worldly sense.

Contrast the bermensch with the Last Man. The Last Man is the very antithesis of a Superman:

Lo! I show you THE LAST MAN.

What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star? so asketh the last man and blinketh. The earth hath then become small, and on it there hoppeth the last man who maketh everything small. His species is ineradicable like that of the ground-flea; the last man liveth longest. We have discovered happiness say the last men, and blink thereby. They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need warmth. One still loveth ones neighbor and rubbeth against him; for one needeth warmth.

Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk warily. He is a fool who still stumbleth over stones or men! A little poison now and then: that maketh pleasant dreams. And much poison at last for a pleasant death. One still worketh, for work is a pastime. But one is careful lest the pastime should hurt one. One no longer becometh poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who still wanteth to rule? Who still wanteth to obey? Both are too burdensome. No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wanteth the same; every one is equal: he who hath other sentiments goeth voluntarily into the madhouse.

They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health. We have discovered happiness, say the last men, and blink thereby.

The Last Man plays it small and safe. He blinks and misses lifes energies. There is no ambition, no risk-taking, and no vitality in the Last Man. He avoids challenges because challenges result in discomfort. The Last Man doesnt want to create or be a leader because creation and leadership are burdensome. There is no desire to live for something beyond himself. The Last Man has discovered happiness in his little pleasures and just wants to be left alone so that he can live a long, unremarkable life. The Last Man is simply surviving, and not truly living. In the words of Robert Solomon, the Last Man is the ultimate couch potato.

While Nietzsche didnt think it possible to transform oneself into a full-on bermensch, the Last Man represented a decidedly attainable state. Look around you and even at yourself. Youve likely seen glimpses of the Last Man within yourself; he serves as a warning of what youll become if you cease striving for things beyond yourself if you dont nurture the flashes you sometimes also get of your superhuman potential.

A favorite directive of Nietzsches to his readers is one he borrowed from the ancient Greek poet Pindar: Become who you are. But what exactly does this exhortation mean?

For Nietzsche, becoming who you are doesnt mean becoming who you want to be. That can only lead to frustration.

For example, I would love to be an NFL player, but Im 32 years old, havent played football in 17 years, and wasnt blessed with natural athleticism. Professional football isnt and never was in the picture for me.

Rather, the mandate to become who you are requires us to acknowledge the limitations that biology, culture, and even blind luck have placed on us. Within these limitations, we must strive to live our natural talents and abilities to the fullest extent possible. In fact, we should embrace our limitations because they provide us the opportunity to exercise more creative power than if we had complete freedom. In a way, Nietzsches notion of becoming who you are is akin to a haiku. The constraints of haiku poetry force the poet to think deeply about which words to use and how to structure his prose. The constraints counterintuitively encourage creativity.

Thus, become who you are requires you to love fate, to relish the cards life has dealt you even if its a terrible hand and do the best you can with them. Become who you are is a mandate to exercise creative power and become the author your life. This notion of self-realization helps you avoid the feelings of resentment and angst that come when you wish for a life that simply doesnt and cant exist. Instead, Nietzsche argues, we should channel our energies into focusing on the here and now and find joy in the journey.

I hope this two-part series has given you a clearer understanding of the basics of Nietzsches famous philosophy. Regardless of your beliefs and background, grappling with Nietzsches ideas can give you insight about how you want to live your life, as well as the why behind how many others live in the modern West.

If youre a theist, Nietzsches diagnosis of the death of God serves as a spiritual gut check, forcing you to ask yourself, Do I really live my life as if there is a God? If I really believed without a doubt that the claims of my faith are true, how would my daily behavior, how I spend my time, and my life goals change? He also causes you to reflect on whether youre enjoying this earthly existence, in all its wonder, or simply pining for the next world; do you see life as something to be enjoyed, or simply endured?

If youre an atheist, Nietzsche challenges you to not simply replace your faith with science, which can ultimately lead to nihilism, but to actively seek a vital spiritual life filled with meaning.

For Nietzsche, the challenge for all modern men is to create and live by their own life-affirming values to become autonomous and to find meaning in a world that has become void of any such thing. In the present age we often feel like we are straying as through an infinite nothing; Nietzsches exhortation to all is to fight against this empty drift, to become who you are, to love suffering and challenge as much as ease and comfort, and to always, always say yes to life.

Did you enjoy this series and would like to see other philosophers given the same treatment? Let us know in the comments, as well as who youd like us to hit next!

Sources and Further Reading

What Nietzsche Really Said by Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins. The best Intro to Nietzsche book that I came across. They do a great job explaining Nietzsches big ideas as well as dispelling many of the myths that exist about Nietzsche.

The Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Audio lectures by Solomon and Higgins. Very accessible. The lectures follow their book, What Nietzsche Really Said, so Id recommend going with their book or their audio lectures.

Nietzsches Noble Aims: Affirming Life, Contesting Modernity by Paul Kirkland. This book is dense and academic, but if you can will yourself through it, youll discover all sorts of great insights about Nietzsches love of contest and his idealization of the noble adversary.

Introducing Nietzsche: A Graphic Guide by Laurence Gane. A graphic novel introduction to Nietzsche and his philosophy. Its a bit disjointed, so if you dont have any knowledge about Nietzsches philosophy, youll likely be lost while reading it.

Life Lessons From Nietzsche by John Armstrong. A really short book that highlights a few of Nietzsches ideas. At the end of each chapter, the author includes actionable steps on how you can apply that principle in your own life.

Where to Start Reading Nietzsche?

A few readers asked what order they should read Nietzsches works in if they were to do their own personal course.

Heres myrecommendation based on my own self-study experience:

Read an Intro to Nietzsche-type book first. I tried reading Nietzsches works first without any background information, and it was rough going. I had a hard time following him. After I read a few of the above books, things started to click once I went back to the direct sources. So, my recommendation would be start off with reading something like What Nietzsche Really Said.

Read The Birth of Tragedy. After youve read an intro book, read Nietzsches first work, The Birth of Tragedy. While its not as exciting as his later works, youll get a good understanding of Nietzsches concept of the Apollonian and Dionysian that is woven throughout all of his work.

Read in chronological order or just read what interests you. Reading in chronological order will allow you to see how Nietzsches ideas develop, but it can be a slog when you get to works that dont really interest you for whatever reason. If you think youll get bored trying to barrel through Nietzsche, a better approach would be to read what interests you. If the idea of the Ubermensch and The Last Man intrigues you, read Thus Spoke Zarathustra; if you want to tackle Nietzsches critique against modern morality, read On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil. Eternal recurrence? The Gay Science.

Read anthologies. Another approach is to simply read the curated anthologies of Nietzsches work produced by scholars. You wont find all of Nietzsches works in these anthologies, just the ones the authors thought were important for a reader to be exposed to. The Portable Nietzsche by Walter Kaufman is a classic. Basic Writings of Nietzsche is a great one as well.

Last updated: November 30, 2017

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A Primer of the Philosophy of Nietzsche | The Art of Manliness

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April 10th, 2018 at 12:42 pm

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"God Is Dead": What Nietzsche Really Meant | Big Think

Posted: March 26, 2018 at 4:41 am


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Its been 134 years since FriedrichNietzsche declared: God is Dead (or Gott ist tot, in German), giving philosophy students a collective headache thats lasted from the 19th century until today. It is, perhaps, one of the best known statements in all of philosophy, well known even to those who have never picked up a copy of The Gay Science, the book from which it originates. But do we know exactly what he meant? Or perhaps more importantly, what it means for us?

Nietzsche was an atheist for his adult life and didnt mean that there was a God who had actually died, rather that our idea of one had. Afterthe Enlightenment,the idea of a universe that was governed by physical laws and not by divine providence was now reality. Philosophy had shown that governments no longer needed to be organized around the idea of divine right to be legitimate, but rather by the consent or rationality of the governed that large and consistent moral theories could exist without reference to God. This was a tremendous event.Europe no longer needed God as the source for all morality, value, or order in the universe; philosophy and science were capable of doing that for us.This increasing secularization of thought in the West led the philosopher to realize that not only was God dead but that human beings had killed him with their scientific revolution, their desire to better understand the world.

The death of God didnt strike Nietzsche as an entirely good thing. Without a God, the basic belief system of Western Europe was in jeopardy, as he put it inTwilight of the Idols: When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.

simon-critchley-examines-friedrich-nietzsche

Nietzsche thought this could be a good thing for some people, saying:... at hearing the news that 'the old god is dead', we philosophers and 'free spirits' feel illuminated by a new dawn.A bright morning had arrived. With the old system of meaning gone a new one could be created, but it came with risksones that could bring out the worst in human nature.Nietzsche believed that the removal of this system put most people at the risk of despair or meaninglessness. What could the point of life be without a God? Even if there was one, the Western world now knew that he hadnt placed us at the centre of the universe, and it was learning of the lowly origin from which man had evolved. We finally saw the true world. The universe wasnt made solely for human existence anymore. Nietzsche feared that this understanding of the world would lead to pessimism,a will to nothingnessthat was antithetical to the life-affirming philosophy Nietzsche prompted.

His fear of nihilism and our reaction to it was shown inThe Will to Power,when he wrote that:"What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism... For some time now our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe."He would not have been surprised by the events that plagued Europe in the 20th century. Communism, Nazism, Nationalism, and the other ideologies that made their way across the continent in the wake of World War I sought to provide man with meaning and value, as a worker, as an Aryan, or some other greater deed;in a similar way as to how Christianity could provide meaning as a child of God, and give life on Earth value by relation to heaven. While he may have rejected those ideologies, he no doubt would have acknowledged the need for the meaning they provided.

Of course,asNietzsche saw this coming,heoffered us a way out. The creation of our own values as individuals. The creation of a meaning of life by those who live it. The archetype of the individual who can do this has a name that has also reached our popular consciousness:thebermensch. Nietzsche however, saw this as a distant goal for man and one that most would not be able to reach.Thebermensch,which he felt had yet to exist on Earth, would create meaning in life by their will alone, and understand that they are, in the end, responsible for their selection. As he put it in Thus Spoke Zarathustra:"For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred yes is needed: the spirit now wills his own will."Such a bold individual will not be able to point to dogma or popular opinion as to why they value what they do.

Having suggested the rarity and difficulty in creating the bermensch, Nietzsche suggested an alternative response to Nihilism, and one that he saw as the more likely to be selected; The Last Man. Amost contemptible thingwho lives a quiet life of comfort, without thought for individuality or personal growth as:"'We have discovered happiness,'-- say the Last Men, and they blink."Much to the disappointment of Zarathustra, Nietzsches mouthpiece, the people whom he preaches to beg him for the lifestyle of The Last Man, suggesting his pessimism on our ability to handle Gods death.

But you might ask, if God has been dead for so long and we are supposed to be suffering for knowing it, where are all the atheists? Nietzsche himself provided an answer:God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. Perhaps we are only now seeing the effects of Nietzsches declaration.

Indeed, atheism is on the march, with near majorities in many European countries and newfound growth across the United States heralding a cultural shift. But, unlike when atheism was enforced by the communist nations, there isnt necessarily a worldview backing this new lack of God, it is only the lack. Indeed, British philosopher Bertrand Russell saw Bolshevism as nearly a religion unto itself; it was fully capable and willing to provide meaning and value to a population by itself. That source of meaning without belief is gone.

As many atheists know, to not have a god without an additional philosophical structure providing meaning can be a cause of existential dread. Are we at risk of becoming a society struggling with our own meaninglessness? Are we as a society at risk for nihilism? Are we more vulnerable now to ideologies and conmen who promise to do what God used to do for us and society? While Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the future, the non-religious are less so than the religious. It seems Nietzsche may have been wrong in the long run about our ability to deal with the idea that God is dead.

values-without-religion

As Alain de Botton suggestsabout our values, it seems that we have managed to deal with the death of God better than Nietzschehad thought we would; we are not all the Last Men, nor have we descended into a situation where all morality is seen as utterly relative and meaningless. It seems that we have managed to create a world where the need for God is reduced for some people without falling into collective despair or chaos.

Are we as individuals up to the task of creating our own values? Creating meaning in life by ourselves without aid from God, dogma, or popular choice? Perhaps some of us are, and if we understand the implications of the death of God we stand a better chance of doing so. The despair of the death of God may give way to new meaning in our lives; for as Jean-Paul Sartre suggested"life begins on the other side of despair."

--

Sources:

Abrams, Daniel, Haley Yaple, and Richard Wiener. "ArXiv.org Physics ArXiv:1012.1375v2." [1012.1375v2] A Mathematical Model of Social Group Competition with Application to the Growth of Religious Non-affiliation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2016.

"Americans Overwhelmingly Pessimistic about Country's Path, Poll Finds." Mcclatchydc. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2016.

"America's Growing Pessimism." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 10 Oct. 2015. Web. 04 Aug. 2016.

"CNN/ORC Poll: 57% Pessimistic about U.S. Future, Highest in 2 Years." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2016.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Walter Arnold Kaufmann. "The Meaning of Our Cheerfulness." The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs. New York: Vintage, 1974. N. pag. Print.

Press, Connie Cass Associated. "Gloom and Doom? Americans More Pessimistic about Future." Las Vegas Review-Journal. N.p., 03 Jan. 2014. Web. 04 Aug. 2016.

Russell, Bertrand. Bolshevism: Practice and Theory. New York: Arno, 1972. Print.

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"God Is Dead": What Nietzsche Really Meant | Big Think

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Nietzsche Quotes: Philosophy

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How I understand the philosopher -- as a terribleexplosive, endangering everthing... my concept of the philosopheris worlds removed from any concept that would include even a Kant,not to speak of academic "ruminants" and other professors ofphilosophy...

from Nietzsche's Ecce Homo, s 3.2.3, WalterKaufmann transl.

Knapsack of the Metaphysicians.-- Those whoboast so mightily of the scientificality of their metaphysicsshould receive no answer; it is enough to pluck at the bundlewhich, with a certain degree of embarrassment, they keep concealedbehind their back; if one succeeds in opening it, the products ofthat scientificality come to light, attended by their blushes: adear little Lord God, a nice little immortality, perhaps a certainquantity of spiritualism, and in any event a whole tangled heap of'wretched poor sinner' and Pharisee arrogance.

from Nietzsche's Assorted Opinions andMaxims,s. 12, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Even today many educated people think that thevictory of Christianity over Greek philosophy is a proof of thesuperior truth of the former - although in this case it was onlythe coarser and more violent that conquered the more spiritual anddelicate. So far as superior truth is concerned, it is enough toobserve that the awakening sciences have allied themselves point bypoint with the philosophy of Epicurus, but point by point rejectedChristianity.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.68,R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Socrates.-- If all goes well, the time willcome when one will take up the memorabilia of Socrates rather thanthe Bible as a guide to morals and reason... The pathways of themost various philosophical modes of life lead back to him...Socrates excels the founder of Christianity in being able to beserious cheerfully and in possessing that wisdom full ofroguishness that constitutes the finest state of the humansoul. And he also possessed the finer intellect.

from Nietzsche's The Wanderer and hisShadow,s. 86, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

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Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor // Reviews // Notre Dame …

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Moores intention in this deeply historical book is to situate Nietzsches thoughts in the context of two dominant trends in late-nineteenth century European intellectual life evolutionary biology and fin-de-sicle theories of degeneration. According to Moore, Nietzsche was well read in the literature of both areas, and consequently, his philosophy is heavily influenced by the emerging debates about the evolution and/or degeneration of man. In this respect and this is one of Moores key claims Nietzsche did not transcend his time to the extent that he repeatedly claims. For Moore, a measure of the contemporary influence on Nietzsche is found in his use of biological/medical language, and a central objective of this book is to decipher this language to discriminate Nietzsches literal from his metaphorical uses. Moore promises to analyze Nietzsches use of concepts such as evolution, degeneration, health, sickness, etc., and to tell us how much Nietzsche borrowed from the dominant paradigm of his time and how much, through metaphor and ironic distance, he transcended the contemporary discussion.

Broadly speaking, Moore presents two central arguments: first, he contends that Nietzsche developed his own theory of evolution which was, like so many other nineteenth-century evolutionary theories, anti-Darwinian. Moore studies the impact of Nietzsches evolutionary theory on his accounts of morality and art and in doing so sets up a distinction between his own interpretation and a long tradition of Nietzsche scholarship which has viewed his characteristic appeal to the language and concepts of biology as mere rhetorical posturing, as an ironic counterweight to the otherworldliness of traditional views (p. 85). Second, Moore concludes that Nietzsche goes beyond his age primarily by turning Christian concerns with degeneracy, decadence and mental illness back upon Christianity itself. For Moore, this ironic move is Nietzsches most distinguishing philosophical trait. Moore also traces Nietzsches medical talk of decadence through his analyses of art and morality. (These two lines of thought correspond to the two parts of the book.)

Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor is a fascinating reconstruction of pockets of nineteenth century intellectual history and contains some intriguing accounts of the influence on Nietzsches thinking of biologists such as Wilhelm Roux and William Rolph. Moore traces Nietzsches view of agency as a war between conflicting internal forces to the work of Roux who argued that organs, tissues, cells and even molecules of organic matter are found in an unceasing struggle for existence with one another for food, space and the utilization of external stimulation (p. 37). Roux was aware that this account of the internal workings of an organism begged the question as to why such an organism did not simply fall apart under the stress of this ongoing competition. He accounted for prolonged existence in terms of the notion of self-regulation which essentially means that the organism temporarily stabilizes when its most adapted components prevail. According to Moore, Nietzsche borrowed Rouxs theory in developing his notion of agency as a conflict of multiple internal forces periodically resolving itself through the establishment of a regulative hierarchy.

Another major influence on Nietzsche was William Rolph who argued against what he perceived as Darwins insistence on the primacy of a survival instinct. For Rolph, the primary biological urge was for expansion and not preservation. In commenting on Rolph, Moore writes:

Much of Moores book contains similarly detailed accounts of obscure, but as far as Nietzsche is concerned extremely relevant, biological theories. Thus, some of Nietzsches central notions for example, the fractured agent and the will to power are cast against a backdrop of contemporary biology, filled as it was with a proliferation of misreadings and misguided criticisms of Darwin. Moores treatment of the effects of these biologists on Nietzsches thinking is thoroughly convincing and gives real content to the widely accepted, though vague, idea that Nietzsche was influenced by contemporary science.

My high regard for Moores study is, however, tempered by two serious concerns. The first is Moores almost exclusive reliance on Nietzsches unpublished notes. At this stage in Nietzsche scholarship, the debate over the use of his notes is all too familiar, and I will not rehearse it here. In recreating Nietzsches reading and understanding of contemporary biologists Moore relies on the notes to such an extent that the reader begins to get the impression that he is unearthing a hidden Nietzsche. Unfortunately, he never brings this underground Nietzsche to the surface. Nietzsches published works are not just influenced by contemporary biology but also by Greek philosophy, by Kant and Schopenhauer, by Christian writers, etc. Moore never fully acknowledges this, and for the most part, treats the biological Nietzsche as the only Nietzsche. Thus, certain problems arise with Moores interpretation of Nietzsche on morality and art because he does not juxtapose the theories that he culls from the notes and the published views. I will mention three such problems.

In tracing the impact of Nietzsches biologism through his critique of morality Moore says: It is against this historical backdrop, I believe, that we must reconsider Nietzsches naturalistic critique of traditional morality (p. 58). This backdrop is, in part, made up of Nietzsches theory of evolution, according to which the driving force in evolution is not natural selection or the struggle for existence, but the will to power. Moore tells us that Nietzsche differentiates the evolution of the strong and the weak. The evolution of the strong is a matter of the springing forth of isolated cases of intense complexity and individuality. Evolution then is the sudden eruption of lifes creative energies (p. 54). The weak evolve by gathering in increasingly large groups and reaching higher and higher levels of adaptation. One of their adaptive strategies is morality. Thus, the morality of the majority is herd morality, which is a pattern of habitual and heritable behavior promoting the continued survival of the social organism. According to Moore, Nietzsches self-governing individual emerges from the social organism when with the natural cycle of growth and decay, the social organism begins gradually to disintegrate (p. 82). Moore writes:

This social collapse leaves the herd members without internal regulation and in the ensuing conditions only those strong individuals capable of self-regulation will flourish.

According to Moore, this account is supposed to clearly anticipate Nietzsches more famous differentiation of master and slave moralities in Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morality (p. 62). But does it? Moore writes that for Nietzsche the higher individualistic morality emerges from the lower herd morality. Mans original state is one of a herd-like mentality from which a higher individuality emerges. But Nietzsche is adamant in the Genealogy that the higher (master) morality comes first and that lower (slave) morality is a reaction. If anything, what Moore has pointed to may form the basis for Nietzsches understanding of the morality of mores. Nietzsche explicitly links herd instinct and morality of mores in The Gay Science 149 and 296. But Moore never introduces Nietzsches published discussion of master morality, slave morality or the morality of mores in order to even point to differences or gaps between the published and unpublished accounts, or to explain how exactly the unpublished theory that he outlines is supposed to anticipate Nietzsches better-known account.

Moores account of the development of Nietzsches critique of morality also suffers from his almost exclusive focus on the notes. In assessing Human, All Too Human Moore claims that unlike Nietzsches later thinking there is no attempt to view moral imperatives as merely the rationalization of feelings accompanying certain physiological states (p. 59). If this is to suggest a shift in Nietzsches published works toward a different kind of analysis after Human, All Too Human, then it is straightforwardly inaccurate. In Human, All Too Human 44 Nietzsche analyzes the moral weight of gratitude as a rationalization of a desire for revenge. In Human, All Too Human 45, Nietzsche tells us that good and bad have a dual history and that whoever has the power to repay good with good, evil with evil is called good. Feelings of power and strength are associated with being a member of a tightly knit caste. Though powerlessness is not first and foremost a physiological state, these sections demonstrate that Moore is trying to point to a development that does not exist in the published works. Quite simply, Nietzsche retains the same kind of analysis from Human, All Too Human to the Genealogy grounding morality in a combination of social structures and individual psychology.

Finally, Moore characterizes Nietzsches early criticisms of morality as a critique of the teleological assumptions in contemporary moral theories. Thus, Nietzsche criticizes Spencers view that morality serves both self-preservation and preservation of the community. Moore adds that this analysis takes place before Nietzsche develops the theory of will to power and bemoans the development of this later theory claiming that it opens Nietzsche himself up to a critique of teleological explanations. He writes: his early evolutionism is far more Darwinian and certainly less teleological than his later theory of the will to power (p. 66). But how can this interpretation be reconciled with Beyond Good and Evil 13 where Nietzsche writes:

Clearly, Nietzsches own understanding of will to power as non-teleological is at odds with the account that Moore compiles from the notes.

In the end what Moore establishes is that Nietzsches thinking in his notes does not transcend his time. Given that these are unpublished notes often compiled during the reading of other works it is perhaps unsurprising that they contain many virtual paraphrases of things read. Nietzsches published works, on the other hand, typically reflect all the various influences and interests that affected him in his writing, and Moores focus on the notes simply disqualifies him from being able to make a judgment on the extent to which these published works do or do not take Nietzsche beyond the contemporary scene.

My second main criticism of the book is that it lacks a certain interpretive rigor. To take just one example: in Chapter 4 Moore initially argues that Nietzsche, perhaps influenced by Comte Arthur de Gobineau, traces contemporary decadence to the racial intermingling of the nineteenth century (p. 123). But, later in the same section, Moore argues that Nietzsche, under the influence of Charles Fr, equates degeneracy and weakness of the will. We might expect that Moore would then go on to give a causal account of weakness of will in terms of racial intermingling, but in actual fact he argues that Nietzsche, following Fr, posits a number of other factors leading to weakness of will including overwork, malnutrition, rapid industrialization (p. 127). Racial intermingling simply drops out of the account. This is not an insurmountable problem, or even an unusual occurrence in reading Nietzsche, since he often gives many accounts of the same phenomenon. But the Nietzsche commentator must take on the challenge of reconciling the various accounts or at least placing them in a time-line. In general, Moore does not engage in this kind of analysis to a sufficient degree.

Having made these criticisms I must, at the same time, say that the primary virtue of this book is that it shows us a different Nietzsche: it enriches our understanding of Nietzsche as a nineteenth century figure. Most readers of Nietzsche could say one or two things about the influence of contemporary science but this book introduces many of the specifics in a very scholarly way. (For example, Moore is excellent in detailing Nietzsches disgust at the extent to which contemporary science was co-opted by Christian values and turned to traditional ends.) What remains to be done is to bring Moores interpretation of Nietzsche together with the best current readings of Nietzsches published work. I am confident that such an exercise would throw light on many interpretive disputes in Nietzsche scholarship such as the disagreement over the status of the will to power doctrine and thereby enrich our understanding of one of Europes greatest thinkers.

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bermensch – Wikipedia

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The bermensch (German for "Beyond-Man", "Superman", "Overman", "Superhuman", "Hyperman", "Hyperhuman"; German pronunciation: [ybmn]) is a concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. In his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra (German: Also sprach Zarathustra), Nietzsche has his character Zarathustra posit the bermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself. It is a work of philosophical allegory, with a structural similarity to the Gathas of Zoroaster/Zarathustra.

The first translation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra into English was published in 1896. In that translation, by Alexander Tille, bermensch was translated as "Beyond-Man". In the Thomas Common translation, published in 1909, however, bermensch was rendered as "Superman". Common was anticipated in this by George Bernard Shaw, who had done the same in his 1903 stage play Man and Superman. Walter Kaufmann lambasted this translation in the 1950s for two reasons: first, its near or total failure to capture the nuance of the German word ber (while the Latin prefix super- means above or beyond, the English use of the prefix or its use as an adjective has altered the meaning); and second, a rationale which Fredric Wertham railed against even more vehemently in Seduction of the Innocent, for promoting identification by children with the comic-book character Superman (whom Wertham described as "un-American and fascist"). The preference of Kaufmann and others is to translate bermensch as "overman". Scholars continue to employ both terms, some simply opting to reproduce the German word.[1][2]

The German prefix ber can have connotations of superiority, transcendence, excessiveness, or intensity, depending on the words to which it is attached.[3]Mensch refers to a member of the human species, rather than to a male specifically. The adjective bermenschlich means super-human, in the sense of beyond human strength or out of proportion to humanity.[4]

Nietzsche introduces the concept of the bermensch in contrast to his understanding of the other-worldliness of Christianity: Zarathustra proclaims the bermensch to be the meaning of the earth and admonishes his audience to ignore those who promise other-worldly hopes in order to draw them away from the earth.[5][6] The turn away from the earth is prompted, he says, by a dissatisfaction with lifea dissatisfaction that causes one to create another world in which those who made one unhappy in this life are tormented. The bermensch is not driven into other worlds away from this one.

Zarathustra declares that the Christian escape from this world also required the invention of an eternal soul which would be separate from the body and survive the body's death. Part of other-worldliness, then, was the abnegation and mortification of the body, or asceticism. Zarathustra further links the bermensch to the body and to interpreting the soul as simply an aspect of the body.

Zarathustra ties the bermensch to the death of God. While this God was the ultimate expression of other-worldly values and the instincts that gave birth to those values, belief in that God nevertheless did give meaning to life for a time. 'God is dead' means that the idea of God can no longer provide values. With the sole source of values no longer capable of providing those values, there is a real chance of nihilism prevailing.

Zarathustra presents the bermensch as the creator of new values. In this way, it appears as a solution to the problem of the death of God and nihilism. If the bermensch acts to create new values within the moral vacuum of nihilism, there is nothing that this creative act would not justify. Alternatively, in the absence of this creation, there are no grounds upon which to criticize or justify any action, including the particular values created and the means by which they are promulgated.

In order to avoid a relapse into Platonic idealism or asceticism, the creation of these new values cannot be motivated by the same instincts that gave birth to those tables of values. Instead, they must be motivated by a love of this world and of life. Whereas Nietzsche diagnosed the Christian value system as a reaction against life and hence destructive in a sense, the new values which the bermensch will be responsible for will be life-affirming and creative (see Nietzschean affirmation).

Zarathustra first announces the bermensch as a goal humanity can set for itself. All human life would be given meaning by how it advanced a new generation of human beings. The aspiration of a woman would be to give birth to an bermensch, for example; her relationships with men would be judged by this standard.[7]

Zarathustra contrasts the bermensch with the last man of egalitarian modernity, an alternative goal which humanity might set for itself. The last man appears only in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and is presented as a condition that would render the creation of the bermensch impossible.

According to Rdiger Safranski, some commentators associate the bermensch with a program of eugenics.[8] This is most pronounced when considered in the aspect of a goal that humanity sets for itself. The reduction of all psychology to physiology implies, to some, that human beings can be bred for cultural traits. This interpretation of Nietzsche's doctrine focuses more on the future of humanity than on a single cataclysmic individual. There is no consensus regarding how this aspect of the bermensch relates to the creation of new values.

For Rdiger Safranski, the bermensch represents a higher biological type reached through artificial selection and at the same time is also an ideal for anyone who is creative and strong enough to master the whole spectrum of human potential, good and "evil", to become an "artist-tyrant". In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche vehemently denied any idealistic, democratic or humanitarian interpretation of the bermensch: "The word bermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the bermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the bermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]

The bermensch shares a place of prominence in Thus Spoke Zarathustra with another of Nietzsche's key concepts: the eternal recurrence of the same. Several interpretations for this fact have been offered.

Laurence Lampert suggests that the eternal recurrence replaces the bermensch as the object of serious aspiration.[11] This is in part due to the fact that even the bermensch can appear like an other-worldly hope. The bermensch lies in the future no historical figures have ever been bermenschen and so still represents a sort of eschatological redemption in some future time.

Stanley Rosen, on the other hand, suggests that the doctrine of eternal return is an esoteric ruse meant to save the concept of the bermensch from the charge of Idealism.[12] Rather than positing an as-yet unexperienced perfection, Nietzsche would be the prophet of something that has occurred a countless number of times in the past.

Others maintain that willing the eternal recurrence of the same is a necessary step if the bermensch is to create new values, untainted by the spirit of gravity or asceticism. Values involve a rank-ordering of things, and so are inseparable from approval and disapproval; yet it was dissatisfaction that prompted men to seek refuge in other-worldliness and embrace other-worldly values. Therefore, it could seem that the bermensch, in being devoted to any values at all, would necessarily fail to create values that did not share some bit of asceticism. Willing the eternal recurrence is presented as accepting the existence of the low while still recognizing it as the low, and thus as overcoming the spirit of gravity or asceticism.

Still others suggest that one must have the strength of the bermensch in order to will the eternal recurrence of the same; that is, only the bermensch will have the strength to fully accept all of his past life, including his failures and misdeeds, and to truly will their eternal return. This action nearly kills Zarathustra, for example, and most human beings cannot avoid other-worldliness because they really are sick, not because of any choice they made.

The term bermensch was utilized frequently by Hitler and the Nazi regime to describe their idea of a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race;[13] a form of Nietzsche's bermensch became a philosophical foundation for the National Socialist ideas. Their conception of the bermensch, however, was racial in nature.[14][15] The Nazi notion of the master race also spawned the idea of "inferior humans" (Untermenschen) which could be dominated and enslaved; this term does not originate with Nietzsche. Nietzsche himself was critical of both antisemitism and German nationalism. In his final years, Nietzsche began to believe that he was in fact Polish, not German, and was quoted as saying, "I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood".[16] In defiance of these doctrines, he claimed that he and Germany were great only because of "Polish blood in their veins",[17] and that he would be "having all anti-semites shot" as an answer to his stance on anti-semitism. Although the term has been associated with the Nazis, Nietzsche was dead long before Hitler's reign. It was Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche who actually first played a part in manipulating her brother's words to accommodate the worldview of herself and her husband, Bernhard Frster, a prominent German nationalist and antisemite.[18] In order to support his beliefs he set up the Deutscher Volksverein (German People's League) in 1881 with Max Liebermann von Sonnenberg.[19]

The thought of Nietzsche had an important influence in anarchist authors (see Anarchism and Friedrich Nietzsche). Spencer Sunshine writes that "There were many things that drew anarchists to Nietzsche: his hatred of the state; his disgust for the mindless social behavior of 'herds'; his anti-Christianity; his distrust of the effect of both the market and the State on cultural production; his desire for an 'overman' that is, for a new human who was to be neither master nor slave; his praise of the ecstatic and creative self, with the artist as his prototype, who could say, 'Yes' to the self-creation of a new world on the basis of nothing; and his forwarding of the 'transvaluation of values' as source of change, as opposed to a Marxist conception of class struggle and the dialectic of a linear history."[20] The influential American anarchist Emma Goldman in her famous collection of essays Anarchism and Other Essays in the preface passionately defends both Nietzsche and Max Stirner from attacks within anarchism when she says "The most disheartening tendency common among readers is to tear out one sentence from a work, as a criterion of the writer's ideas or personality. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, is decried as a hater of the weak because he believed in the bermensch. It does not occur to the shallow interpreters of that giant mind that this vision of the bermensch also called for a state of society which will not give birth to a race of weaklings and slaves."[21]

Sunshine says that the "Spanish anarchists also mixed their class politics with Nietzschean inspiration." Murray Bookchin, in The Spanish Anarchists, describes prominent CNTFAI member Salvador Segu as "an admirer of Nietzschean individualism, of the superhombre to whom 'all is permitted'." Bookchin, in his 1973 introduction to Sam Dolgoff's The Anarchist Collectives, even describes the reconstruction of society by the workers as a Nietzschean project. Bookchin says that "workers must see themselves as human beings, not as class beings; as creative personalities, not as 'proletarians,' as self-affirming individuals, not as 'masses'. . .(the) economic component must be humanized precisely by bringing an 'affinity of friendship' to the work process, by diminishing the role of onerous work in the lives of producers, indeed by a total 'transvaluation of values' (to use Nietzsche's phrase) as it applies to production and consumption as well as social and personal life."[20]

Notes

Bibliography

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Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche – Wikipedia

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Friedrich Nietzsche developed his philosophy during the late 19th century. He owed the awakening of his philosophical interest to reading Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Representation, 1819, revised 1844) and admitted that Schopenhauer was one of the few thinkers that he respected, dedicating to him his essay Schopenhauer als Erzieher (Schopenhauer as Educator), published in 1874 as one of his Untimely Meditations.

Since the dawn of the 20th century, the philosophy of Nietzsche has had great intellectual and political influence around the world. Nietzsche applied himself to such topics as morality, religion, epistemology, psychology, ontology, and social criticism. Because of Nietzsche's evocative style and his often outrageous claims, his philosophy generates passionate reactions running from love to disgust. Nietzsche noted in his autobiographical Ecce Homo that his philosophy developed over time, so interpreters have found it difficult to relate concepts central to one work to those central to another, for example, the thought of the eternal recurrence features heavily in Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra), but is almost entirely absent from his next book, Beyond Good and Evil. Added to this challenge is the fact that Nietzsche did not seem concerned to develop his thought into a system, even going so far as to disparage the attempt in Beyond Good and Evil.

Common themes in his thought can, however, be identified and discussed. His earliest work emphasized the opposition of Apollonian and Dionysian impulses in art, and the figure of Dionysus continued to play a role in his subsequent thought. Other major currents include the will to power, the claim that God is dead, the distinction between master and slave moralities, and radical perspectivism. Other concepts appear rarely, or are confined to one or two major works, yet are considered centerpieces of Nietzschean philosophy, such as the bermensch and the thought of eternal recurrence. His later works involved a sustained attack on Christianity and Christian morality, and he seemed to be working toward what he called the transvaluation of all values (Umwertung aller Werte). While Nietzsche is often associated in the public mind with fatalism and nihilism, Nietzsche himself viewed his project as the attempt to overcome the pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer.

Nietzsche saw nihilism as the outcome of repeated frustrations in the search for meaning. He diagnosed nihilism as a latent presence within the very foundations of European culture, and saw it as a necessary and approaching destiny. The religious worldview had already suffered a number of challenges from contrary perspectives grounded in philosophical skepticism, and in modern science's evolutionary and heliocentric theory.[citation needed] Nietzsche saw this intellectual condition as a new challenge to European culture, which had extended itself beyond a sort of point-of-no-return. Nietzsche conceptualizes this with the famous statement "God is dead", which first appeared in his work in section 108 of The Gay Science, again in section 125 with the parable of "The Madman", and even more famously in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The statement, typically placed in quotation marks,[1] accentuated the crisis that Nietzsche argued that Western culture must face and transcend in the wake of the irreparable dissolution of its traditional foundations, moored largely in classical Greek philosophy and Christianity.[2] In aphorisms 55 and 56 of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche talks about the ladder of religious cruelty that suggests how Nihilism emerged from the intellectual conscience of Christianity. Nihilism is sacrificing the meaning "God" brings into our lives, for "matter and motion", physics, "objective truth." In aphorism 56, he explains how to emerge from the utter meaninglessness of life by reaffirming it through the Nietzsche's ideal of Eternal Return.

In The Antichrist, Nietzsche fights against the way in which Christianity has become an ideology set forth by institutions like churches, and how churches have failed to represent the life of Jesus. Nietzsche finds it important to distinguish between the religion of Christianity and the person of Jesus. Nietzsche attacked the Christian religion, as represented by churches and institutions, for what he called its "transvaluation" of healthy instinctive values. Transvaluation consists of the process by which one can view the meaning of a concept or ideology from a "higher" context. Nietzsche went beyond agnostic and atheistic thinkers of the Enlightenment, who simply regarded Christianity as untrue. He claimed that the Apostle Paul may have deliberately propagated Christianity as a subversive religion (a "psychological warfare weapon") within the Roman Empire as a form of covert revenge for the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and of the Second Temple in 70 AD during the Jewish War of 66-73 AD. Nietzsche contrasts the Christians with Jesus, whom he regarded as a unique individual, and argues he established his own moral evaluations. As such, Jesus represents a kind of step towards his ideation of the bermensch. Ultimately, however, Nietzsche claims that, unlike the bermensch, who embraces life, Jesus denied reality in favor of his "kingdom of God". Jesus's refusal to defend himself, and subsequent death, logically followed from this total disengagement. Nietzsche goes further to analyze the history of Christianity, finding it has progressively distorted the teachings of Jesus more and more. He criticizes the early Christians for turning Jesus into a martyr and Jesus's life into the story of the redemption of mankind in order to dominate the masses, and finds the Apostles cowardly, vulgar, and resentful. He argues that successive generations further misunderstood the life of Jesus as the influence of Christianity grew. Nietzsche also criticized Christianity for demonizing flourishing in life, and glorifying living an apathetic life. By the 19th century, Nietzsche concludes, Christianity had become so worldly as to parody itselfa total inversion of a world view which was, in the beginning, nihilistic, thus implying the "death of God".

Nietzsche argued that two types of morality existed: a master morality that springs actively from the "noble man", and a slave morality that develops reactively within the weak man. These two moralities do not present simple inversions of one another. They form two different value systems: master morality fits actions into a scale of 'good' or 'bad' consequences, whereas slave morality fits actions into a scale of "good" or "evil" intentions. Notably he disdained both, though the first clearly less than the second.

Since Martin Heidegger at least, the concepts of the will to power (Wille zur Macht), of bermensch and of the thought of Eternal Recurrence have been inextricably linked. According to Heidegger's interpretation, one can not be thought without the others. During Nazi Germany, Alfred Baeumler attempted to separate the concepts, claiming that the Eternal Recurrence was only an "existential experience" that, if taken seriously, would endanger the possibility of a "will to power"deliberately misinterpreted, by the Nazis, as a "will for domination".[3] Baeumler attempted to interpret the "will to power" along Social Darwinist lines, an interpretation refuted by Heidegger in his 1930s courses on Nietzsche.

The term Wille zur Macht first appeared in the posthumous fragment 23 [63] of 1876-1877.[citation needed] Heidegger's reading has become predominant among commentators, although some have criticized it: Mazzino Montinari by declaring that it was forging the figure of a "macroscopical Nietzsche", alien to all of his nuances.[4]

"Will to power" (Wille zur Macht) is the name of a concept created by Nietzsche; the title of a projected book which he finally decided not to write; and the title of a book compiled from his notebooks and published posthumously and under suspicious circumstances by his sister and Peter Gast.

The work consists of four separate books, entitled "European Nihilism", "Critique of the Highest Values Hitherto", "Principles of a New Evaluation", and "Discipline and Breeding". Within these books there are some 1067 small sections, usually less than a page, and sometimes just a key phrasesuch as his opening comments in the 1st section of the preface: "Of what is great one must either be silent or speak with greatness. With greatnessthat means cynically and with innocence."[5]

Despite Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche's falsifications (highlighted in 1937 by Georges Bataille[3] and proved in the 1960s by the complete edition of Nietzsche's posthumous fragments by Mazzino Montinari and Giorgio Colli), his notes, even in the form given by his sister, remain a key insight into the philosophy of Nietzsche, and his unfinished transvaluation of all values. An English edition of Montinari & Colli's work is forthcoming (it has existed for decades in Italian, German and French).

Throughout his works, Nietzsche writes about possible great human beings or "higher types" who serve as an example of people who would follow his philosophical ideals. These ideal human beings Nietzsche calls by terms such as "the philosopher of the future", "the free spirit", "the tragic artist" and "the bermensch". They are often described by Nietzsche as being highly creative, courageous, powerful and extremely rare individuals. He compares such individuals with certain historical figures which have been very rare and often have been considered geniuses, such as Napoleon, Goethe and Beethoven. His main example of a genius exemplary culture is Archaic Greece.

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche posits the bermensch(helpinfo) (often translated as "overman" or "superman") as a goal that humanity can set for itself. While interpretations of Nietzsche's overman vary wildly, here are a few of his quotes from Thus Spoke Zarathustra:[citation needed]

I teach you the bermensch. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? [...] All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is ape to man? A laughingstock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to bermensch: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape...The bermensch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the bermensch shall be the meaning of the earth... Man is a rope, tied between beast and bermenscha rope over an abyss...what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end...

Nietzsche may have encountered the idea of the Eternal Recurrence in the works of Heinrich Heine, who speculated that one day a person would be born with the same thought-processes as himself, and that the same applied to every other individual. Nietzsche expanded on this thought to form his theory, which he put forth in The Gay Science and developed in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Schopenhauer directly influenced this theory.[6] Schopenhauer postulated that a person who unconditionally affirms life would do so even if everything that has happened were to happen again repeatedly.[citation needed]

Nietzsche's view on eternal return is similar to that of Hume: "the idea that an eternal recurrence of blind, meaningless variationchaotic, pointless shuffling of matter and lawwould inevitably spew up worlds whose evolution through time would yield the apparently meaningful stories of our lives. This idea of eternal recurrence became a cornerstone of his nihilism, and thus part of the foundation of what became existentialism."[7] Nietzsche was so impressed by this idea, that he at first thought he had discovered a new scientific proof of the greatest importance, referring to it as the "most scientific of hypotheses". He gradually backed-off of this view, and in later works referred to it as a thought-experiment. "Nietzsche viewed his argument for eternal recurrence as a proof of the absurdity or meaninglessness of life, a proof that no meaning was given to the universe from on high."[8]

What if a demon were to creep after you one day or night, in your loneliest loneness, and say: "This life which you live and have lived, must be lived again by you, and innumerable times more. And mere will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigheverything unspeakably small and great in your lifemust come again to you, and in the same sequence and series. . . . The eternal hourglass will again and again be turnedand you with it, dust of dust!" Would you not throw yourself down and curse the demon who spoke to you thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment, in which you would answer him: "Thou art a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!" [The Gay Science (1882), p. 341 (passage translated in Danto 1965, p. 210).]

Nietzsche's work addresses ethics from several perspectives: meta-ethics, normative ethics, and descriptive ethics.

In the field of meta-ethics, one can perhaps most accurately classify Nietzsche as a moral skeptic; meaning that he claims that all ethical statements are false, because any kind of correspondence between ethical statements and "moral facts" remains illusory. (This forms part of a more general claim that no universally true fact exists, roughly because none of them more than "appear" to correspond to reality). Instead, ethical statements (like all statements) remain mere "interpretations." However, Nietzsche does not claim that all interpretations are equivalent, since some testify for "noble" character while others are the symptom of a "decadent" life-form.

Sometimes Nietzsche may seem to have very definite opinions on what he regards as moral or as immoral. Note, however, that one can explain Nietzsche's moral opinions without attributing to him the claim of their truth. For Nietzsche, after all, we needn't disregard a statement merely because it expresses something false. On the contrary, he depicts falsehood as essential for "life". Interestingly enough, he mentions a "dishonest lie", (discussing Wagner in The Case of Wagner) as opposed to an "honest" one, recommending further to consult Plato with regard to the latter, which should give some idea of the layers of paradox in his work.

In the juncture between normative ethics and descriptive ethics, Nietzsche distinguishes between "master morality" and "slave morality". Although he recognizes that not everyone holds either scheme in a clearly delineated fashion without some syncretism, he presents them in contrast to one another. Some of the contrasts in master vs. slave morality include:

Nietzsche elaborated these ideas in his book On the Genealogy of Morality, in which he also introduced the key concept of ressentiment as the basis for the slave morality. Nietzsche's primarily negative assessment of the ethical and moralistic teachings of Christianity followed from his earlier considerations of the questions of God and morality in the works The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. These considerations led Nietzsche to the idea of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche primarily meant that, for all practical purposes, his contemporaries lived as if God were dead, though they had not yet recognized it. Nietzsche believed this "death" had already started to undermine the foundations of morality and would lead to moral relativism and moral nihilism. As a response to the dangers of these trends he believed in re-evaluating the foundations of morality to better understand the origins and motives underlying them, so that individuals might decide for themselves whether to regard a moral value as born of an outdated or misguided cultural imposition or as something they wish to hold true.

While a political tone may be discerned in Nietzsche's writings, his work does not in any sense propose or outline a "political project." The man who stated that "The will to a system is a lack of integrity" was consistent in never devising or advocating a specific system of governance, enquiry, or ethics just as, being an advocate of individual struggle and self-realization, he never concerned himself with mass movements or with the organization of groups and political parties although there are parts of his works where he considers an enigmatic "greater politics", and others where he thinks the problem of community.[9]

In this sense, some have read Nietzsche as an anti-political thinker. Walter Kaufmann put forward the view that the powerful individualism expressed in his writings would be disastrous if introduced to the public realm of politics. Georges Bataille argued in 1937, in the Acphale review, that Nietzsche's thoughts were too free to be instrumentalized by any political movement. In "Nietzsche and Fascists," he argued against such instrumentalization, by the left or the right, declaring that Nietzsche's aim was to by-pass the short timespan of modern politics, and its inherent lies and simplifications, for a greater historical timespan.[3]

Later writers, led by the French intellectual Left, have proposed ways of using Nietzschean theory in what has become known as the "politics of difference" particularly in formulating theories of political resistance and sexual and moral difference. Owing largely to the writings of Kaufmann and others, the spectre of Nazism has now been almost entirely exorcised from his writings.

Nietzsche often referred to the common people who participated in mass movements and shared a common mass psychology as "the rabble", or "the herd". He allegedly valued individualism above all else, although this has been considered by many philosophers to be an oversimplification, as Nietzsche criticized the concept of the subject and of atomism (that is, the existence of an atomic subject at the foundation of everything, found for example in social contract theories). He considered the individual subject as a complex of instincts and wills-to-power, just as any other organization. Beginning in the 1890s some scholars have attempted to link his philosophy with Max Stirner's radical individualism of The Ego and Its Own (1844). The question remained pendant. Recently there was unearthed further, still circumstantial, evidence clarifying the relationship between Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner.[10] In any case, few philosophers really consider Nietzsche an "individualist" thinker. He is best characterized as a thinker of "hierarchy", although the precise nature of this hierarchy does not cover the current social order (the "establishment") and is related to his thought of the Will to Power. Against the strictly "egoist" perspective adopted by Stirner, Nietzsche concerned himself with the "problem of the civilization" and the necessity to give humanity a goal and a direction to its history, making him, in this sense, a very political thinker.[11][12]

Furthermore, in the context of his criticism of morality and Christianity, expressed, among others works, in On the Genealogy of Morals and in The Antichrist, Nietzsche often criticized humanitarian feelings, detesting how pity and altruism were ways for the "weak" to take power over the "strong". However, he qualified his critique of Christianism as a "particular case" of his criticisms of free will.[13] Along with the rejection of teleology, this critique of free will is one of the common points he shared with Spinoza, whom he qualified as a "precursor".[14] To the "ethics of compassion" (Mitleid, "shared suffering") exposed by Schopenhauer,[15] Nietzsche opposed an "ethics of friendship" or of "shared joy" (Mitfreude).[16]

While he had a dislike of the state in general, which he called a "cold monster" in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche also spoke negatively of anarchists and socialism, and made it clear that only certain individuals could attempt to break away from the herd mentality. This theme is common throughout Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Although Nietzsche has famously been misrepresented as a predecessor to Nazism, he criticized anti-Semitism, pan-Germanism and, to a lesser extent, nationalism.[18] Thus, he broke with his editor in 1886 because of his opposition to his editor's anti-Semitic stances, and his rupture with Richard Wagner, expressed in The Case of Wagner and Nietzsche Contra Wagner, both of which he wrote in 1888, had much to do with Wagner's endorsement of pan-Germanism and anti-Semitism and also of his rallying to Christianity. In a March 29, 1887 letter to Theodor Fritsch, Nietzsche mocked anti-Semites, Fritsch, Eugen Dhring, Wagner, Ebrard, Wahrmund, and the leading advocate of pan-Germanism, Paul de Lagarde, who would become, along with Wagner and Houston Chamberlain, the main official influences of Nazism.[3] This 1887 letter to Fritsch ended by: "-- And finally, how do you think I feel when the name Zarathustra is mouthed by anti-Semites? ..."[19]

Section VIII of Beyond Good and Evil, titled "Peoples and Fatherlands", criticized pan-Germanism and patriotism, advocating instead the unification of Europe (256, etc.). In Ecce Homo (1888), Nietzsche criticized the "German nation" and its "will to power (to Empire, to Reich)," thus underscoring an easy misinterpretation of the Wille zur Macht, the conception of Germans as a "race," and the "anti-Semitic way of writing history," or of making "history conform to the German Empire," and stigmatized "nationalism, this national neurosis from which Europe is sick," this "small politics."[20]

Nietzsche heavily criticized his sister and her husband, Bernhard Frster, speaking harshly against the "anti-Semitic canaille:"

I've seen proof, black on white, that Herr Dr. Frster has not yet severed his connection with the anti-Semitic movement...Since then I've had difficulty coming up with any of the tenderness and protectiveness I've so long felt toward you. The separation between us is thereby decided in really the most absurd way. Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world?...Now it has gone so far that I have to defend myself hand and foot against people who confuse me with these anti-Semitic canaille; after my own sister, my former sister, and after Widemann more recently have given the impetus to this most dire of all confusions. After I read the name Zarathustra in the anti-Semitic Correspondence my forbearance came to an end. I am now in a position of emergency defense against your spouse's Party. These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!!

Draft for a letter to his sister Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche (December 1887)

Georges Bataille was one of the first to denounce the deliberate misinterpretation of Nietzsche carried out by Nazis, among them Alfred Baeumler. In January 1937 he dedicated an issue of Acphale, titled "Reparations to Nietzsche," to the theme "Nietzsche and the Fascists.[3]" There, he called Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche "Elisabeth Judas-Frster," recalling Nietzsche's declaration: "To never frequent anyone who is involved in this bare-faced fraud concerning races."[3]

Nietzsche titled aphorism 377 in the fifth book of The Gay Science (published in 1887) "We who are homeless" (Wir Heimatlosen),[21] in which he criticized pan-Germanism and patriotism and called himself a "good European". In the second part of this aphorism, which according to Bataille contained the most important parts of Nietzsche's political thought, the thinker of the Eternal Return stated:

No, we do not love humanity; but on the other hand we are not nearly "German" enough, in the sense in which the word "German" is constantly being used nowadays, to advocate nationalism and race hatred and to be able to take pleasure in the national scabies of the heart and blood poisoning that now leads the nations of Europe to delimit and barricade themselves against each other as if it were a matter of quarantine. For that we are too open-minded, too malicious, too spoiled, also too well-informed, too "traveled": we far prefer to live on mountains, apart, "untimely," in past or future centuries, merely in order to keep ourselves from experiencing the silent rage to which we know we should be condemned as eyewitnesses of politics that are desolating the German spirit by making it vain and that is, moreover, petty politics:to keep its own creation from immediately falling apart again, is it not finding it necessary to plant it between two deadly hatreds? must it not desire the eternalization of the European system of a lot of petty states? ... We who are homeless are too manifold and mixed racially and in our descent, being "modern men," and consequently do not feel tempted to participate in the mendacious racial self-admiration and racial indecency that parades in Germany today as a sign of a German way of thinking and that is doubly false and obscene among the people of the "historical sense." We are, in one wordand let this be our word of honor! good Europeans, the heirs of Europe, the rich, oversupplied, but also overly obligated heirs of thousands of years of European spirit: as such, we have also outgrown Christianity and are averse to it, and precisely because we have grown out of it, because our ancestors were Christians who in their Christianity were uncompromisingly upright; for their faith they willingly sacrificed possessions and position, blood and fatherland. Wedo the same. For what? For our unbelief? For every kind of unbelief? No, you know better than that, my friends! The hidden Yes in you is stronger than all Nos and Maybes that afflict you and your age like a disease; and when you have to embark on the sea, you emigrants, you, too, are compelled to this by a faith! ...[22]

Nietzsche's views on women have served as a magnet for controversy, beginning during his life and continuing to the present. He frequently made remarks in his writing that some view as misogynistic. He claimed in Twilight of the Idols (1888) "Women are considered profound. Why? Because we never fathom their depths. But women aren't even shallow."[23]

Nietzsche knew little of the 19th-century philosopher Sren Kierkegaard.[24][25]Georg Brandes, a Danish philosopher, wrote to Nietzsche in 1888 asking him to study the works of Kierkegaard, to which Nietzsche replied that he would.[26][nb 1]

Recent research, however, suggests that Nietzsche was exposed to the works of Kierkegaard through secondary literature. Aside from Brandes, Nietzsche owned and read a copy of Hans Lassen Martensens Christliche Ethik (1873) in which Martensen extensively quoted and wrote about Kierkegaards individualism in ethics and religion. Nietzsche also read Harald Hffdings Psychologie in Umrissen auf Grundlage der Erfahrung (ed. 1887) which expounded and critiqued Kierkegaards psychology. Thomas Brobjer believes one of the works Nietzsche wrote about Kierkegaard is in Morgenrthe, which was partly written in response to Martensen's work. In one of the passages, Nietzsche wrote: Those moralists, on the other hand, who, following in the footsteps of Socrates, offer the individual a morality of self-control and temperance as a means to his own advantage, as his personal key to happiness, are the exceptions. Brobjer believes Kierkegaard is one of "those moralists".[27]

The first philosophical study comparing Kierkegaard and Nietzsche was published even before Nietzsche's death.[28] More than 60 articles and 15 full-length studies have been published devoted entirely in comparing these two thinkers.[28]

According to Santayana, Nietzsche considered his philosophy to be a correction of Schopenhauers philosophy. In his Egotism in German Philosophy,[29] Santayana listed Nietzsches antithetical reactions to Schopenhauer:

The will to live would become the will to dominate; pessimism founded on reflection would become optimism founded on courage; the suspense of the will in contemplation would yield to a more biological account of intelligence and taste; finally in the place of pity and asceticism (Schopenhauer s two principles of morals) Nietzsche would set up the duty of asserting the will at all costs and being cruelly but beautifully strong.

These points of difference from Schopenhauer cover the whole philosophy of Nietzsche.

These emendations show how Schopenhauers philosophy was not a mere initial stimulus for Nietzsche, but formed the basis for much of Nietzsches thinking.

Perhaps Nietzsche's greatest philosophical legacy lies in his 20th century interpreters, among them Pierre Klossowski, Martin Heidegger, Georges Bataille, Leo Strauss, Alexandre Kojve, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze (and Flix Guattari), Jacques Derrida and Albert Camus. Foucault's later writings, for example, adopt Nietzsche's genealogical method to develop anti-foundationalist theories of power that divide and fragment rather than unite politics (as evinced in the liberal tradition of political theory). The systematic institutionalisation of criminal delinquency, sexual identity and practice, and the mentally ill (to name but a few) are examples used to demonstrate how knowledge or truth is inseparable from the institutions that formulate notions of legitimacy from 'immoralities' such as homosexuality and the like (captured in the famous power-knowledge equation). Deleuze, arguably the foremost of Nietzsche's interpreters, used the much-maligned 'will to power' thesis in tandem with Marxian notions of commodity surplus and Freudian ideas of desire to articulate concepts such the rhizome and other 'outsides' to state power as traditionally conceived.

Certain recent Nietzschean interpretations have emphasized the more untimely and politically controversial aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy. Nietzschean commentator Keith Ansell Pearson has pointed out the absurd hypocrisy of modern egalitarian liberals, socialists, feminists and anarchists claiming Nietzsche as a herald of their own left-wing politics: "The values Nietzsche wishes to subject to a revaluation are largely altruistic and egalitarian values such as pity, self-sacrifice, and equal rights. For Nietzsche, modern politics rests largely on a secular inheritance of Christian values (he interprets the socialist doctrine of equality in terms of a secularization of the Christian belief in the equality of all souls before God" (On the Genealogy of Morality, Ansell-Pearson and Diethe, eds., Cambridge University Press, 1994, p.9). Works such as Bruce Detwiler's Nietzsche and the Politics of Aristocratic Radicalism (University of Chicago Press, 1990), Fredrick Appel's Nietzsche Contra Democracy (Cornell University Press, 1998), and Domenico Losurdo's Nietzsche, il ribelle aristocratico (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2002) challenge the prevalent liberal interpretive consensus on Nietzsche and assert that Nietzsche's elitism was not merely an aesthetic pose but an ideological attack on the widely held belief in equal rights of the modern West, locating Nietzsche in the conservative-revolutionary tradition.

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The challenge begins with how to pronounce his name. The first bit should sound like Knee, the second like cher: Knee cher.Friedrich Nietzsche was born in 1844 in a quiet village in the eastern part of Germany, where for generations his forefathers had been pastors. He did exceptionally well at school and university; and so excelled at ancient Greek (a very prestigious subject, at the time) that he was made a professor at the University of Basel when still only in his mid-twenties

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PHILOSOPHY - Nietzsche - YouTube

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18 Rare Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes to Make You Question …

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Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most misinterpreted philosophers the world has ever seen.

His incomparable, fierce literary style and tenacious will to question allorthodox beliefs and institutionshave captivated and perplexed readers for over a century.

I hesitate to share a list of quotations from his work, knowing full well that without the proper context, it is easy to misapprehend the full meaning and significance of his words. However, Nietzsche is also one of the most quotable writers who ever lived, and I think it is worth providing a sampling of some of his less commonly cited quotations here for a couple of reasons.

For one, those familiar with Nietzsche will probably find something illuminatingin this collection that they would be unlikely to come across elsewhere online. And, for those unfamiliar, this collection will hopefully provide a fine appetizer of Nietzsches inimitable personality and paradigm-incineratingideas.

In either case, the hope is that this collection will inspire readers to seek out thebooksfrom which these quotes were taken, in order to gain a fuller understanding of Nietzsches profound view of the world. Most all of these quotes were found in my copy ofThe Portable Nietzsche(the Walter Kaufmann translation), which I cannot recommend enough.

Now, contemplateand enjoy these quotes, but be warned: Nietzsches work can be dense and challenging!Let your mental muscle exert itself and resist the temptation to hastily form final opinions of the meanings of these sentiments. Keep in mind that this is but a glimpse into the beautiful and complex philosophy of a man who cannot be pinned down in a single blog post.

These first two quotes showcase Nietzsches zeal for life, for cheer, for the ecstasy of artistic intoxication. This is a fitting place to begin, as it gives us a sense ofthe life-affirming essence of Nietzsches worldview: hissupreme distaste for things which he saw asdenyinglife, ordiminishingones ability to affirm life. You will note the recurrence of this theme ofopposition to all things life-denying in the remainder of this collection.

These two sentiments of Nietzsches were unpublished in his lifetime and are particularly interesting, as they suggest just how far Nietzsche was willing to go in terms of rejecting what he saw as life-denying structures. The first quote suggests that he came to see the individual ego as something to be overcome along the path to the realization and affirmation of oneself as inseparable from the transpersonal force of the entire cosmos. The latter seems to suggest that he viewed excessive nationalism as a fallacious and limiting attitude that was not in harmony with deeper spiritual or ethical compulsions.

The previous six quotes challenge our common conceptions of self-interest versus altruism. Nietzsche was obsessed with the idea that the people of his time unquestioningly assumed that pity and altruism arealwaysgood, when in fact the truth is much more complex.

Nietzsche thought excessive pity could cripple the subject who felt it, and that an altruistic attitude could actually be quite destructive, if one had the hubris to assume that one actuallyknewwhat was best for another person. Self-interest was often decried as sinful in his time, but Nietzsche felt that for the truly life-affirming individual, being self-interested in the sense of being true to ones deepest compulsions and truest values was precisely the best way to honor the spirit of life. Intriguingly, Nietzsche seems to have seen self-interest as a necessary phase on the path to eventual self-overcoming.

The above two quotes are indicative of Nietzsches sense that mankind was far too arrogant in assuming it was possible to gain any final knowledge or to make any ultimate value judgments about life. For Nietzsche, value and truth were always relative to the individual doing the supposing. He even went further still, questioning whether truth was valuable in the first place why not untruth?

The above two passages, which occur in close succession inThe Gay Science,reflect the fact that Nietzsche went as far as to question the value of truth-seeking as an activity. Man manages to live only because of immense self-deception, Nietzsche thought, so the act of seeking the capital-T truth might ultimately be another covert form of life-denial.

The final four quotes in this collection are miscellaneous, not connected by any apparent theme, except perhaps the theme of how to live in such a way so as to affirm life. I hope you will enjoy soaking in these final sentiments, and I thank you for taking the time to read this collection and to gain insight into the illustrious mind of Friedrich Nietzsche.

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18 Rare Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes to Make You Question ...

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November 25th, 2017 at 5:41 pm

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Nietzsche Quotes: Christianity

Posted: November 2, 2017 at 6:49 am


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Christianity as antiquity.-- When we hear theancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is itreally possible! This, for a jew, crucified two thousand years ago,who said he was God's son? The proof of such a claim is lacking.Certainly the Christian religion is an antiquity projected into ourtimes from remote prehistory; and the fact that the claim isbelieved - whereas one is otherwise so strict in examiningpretensions - is perhaps the most ancient piece of this heritage. Agod who begets children with a mortal woman; a sage who bids menwork no more, have no more courts, but look for the signs of theimpending end of the world; a justice that accepts the innocent asa vicarious sacrifice; someone who orders his disciples to drinkhis blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetratedagainst a god, atoned for by a god; fear of a beyond to which deathis the portal; the form of the cross as a symbol in a time that nolonger knows the function and ignominy of the cross -- howghoulishly all this touches us, as if from the tomb of a primevalpast! Can one believe that such things are still believed?

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.405,R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Christianity was from the beginning, essentially andfundamentally, life's nausea and disgust with life, merelyconcealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in "another" or"better" life.

from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, p.23,Walter Kaufmann transl.

Change of Cast. -- As soon as a religion comesto dominate it has as its opponents all those who would have beenits first disciples.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.118,R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Blind pupils. -- As long as a man knows verywell the strength and weaknesses of his teaching, his art, hisreligion, its power is still slight. The pupil and apostle who,blinded by the authority of the master and by the piety he feelstoward him, pays no attention to the weaknesses of a teaching, areligion, and soon usually has for that reason more power than themaster. The influence of a man has never yet grown great withouthis blind pupils. To help a perceptionto achieve victory often means merely to unite it with stupidity sointimately that the weight of the latter also enforces the victoryof the former.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human,s.122, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Speaking in a parable.--A Jesus Christ waspossible only in a Jewish landscape--I mean one over which thegloomy and sublime thunder cloud of the wrathful Yahweh wasbrooding continually. Only here was the rare and sudden piercing ofthe gruesome and perpetual general day-night by a single ray of thesun experienced as if it were a miracle of "love" and the ray ofunmerited "grace." Only here could Jesus dream of his rainbow andhis ladder to heaven on which God descended to man. Everywhere elsegood weather and sunshine were considered the rule and everydayoccurrences.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.137,Walter Kaufmann transl

The first Christian. All the world stillbelieves in the authorship of the "Holy Spirit" or is at leaststill affected by this belief: when one opens the Bible one does sofor "edification."... That it also tells the story of one of themost ambitious and obtrusive of souls, of a head as superstitiousas it was crafty, the story of the apostle Paul--who knows this ,except a few scholars? Without this strange story, however, withoutthe confusions and storms of such a head, such a soul, there wouldbe no Christianity...That the ship of Christianity threw overboard a good deal of itsJewish ballast, that it went, and was able to go, among thepagans--that was due to this one man, a very tortured, verypitiful, very unpleasant man, unpleasant even to himself. Hesuffered from a fixed idea--or more precisely, from a fixed,ever-present, never-resting question: what about the Jewish law?and particularly the fulfillment of this law? In his youth he had himself wanted to satisfy it, with a ravenoushunger for this highest distinction which the Jews couldconceive - this people who were propelled higher than any otherpeople by the imagination of the ethically sublime, and who alonesucceeded in creating a holy god together with the idea of sin as atransgression against this holiness. Paul became the fanatical defender of this god and his law andguardian of his honor; at the same time, in the struggleagainst the transgressors and doubters, lying in wait for them, hebecame increasingly harsh and evilly disposed towards them, andinclined towards the most extreme punishments. And now he foundthat--hot-headed, sensual, melancholy, malignant in his hatred ashe was-- he was himself unable to fulfill the law; indeed, and thisseemed strangest to him, his extravagant lust to domineer provokedhim continually to transgress the law, and he had to yield to thisthorn.Is it really his "carnal nature" that makes him transgress againand again? And not rather, as he himself suspected later, behind itthe law itself, which must constantly prove itself unfulfillableand which lures him to transgression with irresistable charm?But at that time he did not yet have this way out. He had much onhis conscience - he hints at hostility, murder, magic, idolatry, lewdness,drunkenness, and pleasure in dissolute carousing - and...moments came when he said to himself:"It is all in vain; thetorture of the unfulfilled law cannot be overcome."... The law wasthe cross to which he felt himself nailed: how he hated it! how hesearched for some means to annihilate it--not to fulfill it anymore himself!And finally the saving thought struck him,... "It isunreasonable to persecute this Jesus! Here after all is theway out; here is the perfect revenge; here and nowhere else I haveand hold the annihilator of the law!"... Until then the ignominiousdeath had seemed to him the chief argument against the Messianicclaim of which the new doctrine spoke: but what if it werenecessary to get rid of the law?The tremendous consequences of this idea, of this solution of theriddle, spin before his eyes; at one stroke he becomes the happiestman; the destiny of the Jews--no, of all men--seems to him to betied to this idea, to this second of its sudden illumination; hehas the thought of thoughts, the key of keys, the light of lights;it is around him that all history must revolve henceforth. For heis from now on the teacher of the annihilation of thelaw...This is the first Christian, the inventor of Christianity. Untilthen there were only a few Jewish sectarians.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak, s.68, WalterKaufmann transl.

The persecutor of God. -- Paul thought up theidea and Calvin rethought it, that for innumerable people damnation has been decreed from eternity,and that this beautiful world plan was instituted to reveal theglory of God: heaven and hell and humanity are thus supposed toexist - to satisfy the vanity of God! What cruel and insatiablevanity must have flared in the soul of the man who thought this upfirst, or second. Paul has remained Saul after all - the persecutorof God.

from Nietzsche's The Wanderer and hisShadow, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

The everyday Christian. -- If the Christiandogmas of a revengeful God, universal sinfulness, election by divine grace and the danger of eternal damnation were true, it would be a signof weak-mindedness and lack of character not to become apriest, apostle or hermit and, in fear and trembling, to worksolely on one's own salvation; it would be senseless to lose sightof ones eternal advantage for the sake of temporal comfort. If wemay assume that these things are at any rate believed true,then the everyday Christian cuts a miserable figure; he is a manwho really cannot count to three, and who precisely on account ofhis spiritual imbecility does not deserve to be punished so harshlyas Christianity promises to punish him.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.116,R.J. Hollingdale transl.

What a crude intellect is good for.-- TheChristian church is an encyclopaedia of prehistoric cults andconceptions of the most diverse origin, and that is why it is socapable of proselytizing: italways could, and it can still go wherever it pleases and it alwaysfound, and always finds something similar to itself to which it canadapt itself and gradually impose upon it a Christian meaning.It is not what is Christian in it, but the universalheathen character of its usages, which has favored thespread of this world-religion; its ideas, rooted in both the Jewishand the Hellenic worlds, have from the first known how to raisethemselves above national and racial niceties and exclusiveness asthough these were merely prejudices. One may admire thispower of causing the most various elements to coalesce, butone must not forget the contemptible quality that adheres to thispower: the astonishing crudeness and self-satisfiedness of thechurch's intellect during the time it was in process of formation,which permitted it to accept any food and to digestopposites like pebbles.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 70, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

The despairing.-- Christianity possesses thehunters instinct for all those who can by one means or another bebrought to despair - of which only a portion of mankind is capable.It is constantly on their track, it lies in wait for them. Pascalattempted the experiment of seeing whether, with the aid of themost incisive knowledge, everyone could not be brought to despair:the experiment miscarried, to his twofold despair.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 64, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

The compassionate Christian.-- The reverseside of Christian compassion for the suffering of one's neighbor isa profound suspicion of all the joy of one's neighbor, of his joyin all that he wants to do and can.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 80, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

Doubt as sin.-- Christianity has done itsutmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin. One is supposed to be cast intobelief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in itas in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glancetowards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists forsomething else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse ofour amphibious nature- is sin! And notice that all this means thatthe foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin islikewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness andintoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason hasdrowned.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 89, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

Other fears, other securities.-- Christianityhad brought into life a quite novel and limitlessperilousness, and therewith quite novel securities,pleasures, recreations and evaluations of all things. Our centurydenies this perilousness, and does so with a good conscience: andyet it continues to drag along with it the old habits of Christiansecurity, Christian enjoyment, recreation, evaluation! It evendrags them into its noblest arts and philosophies! How worn out andfeeble, how insipid and awkward, how arbitrarily fanatical and,above all, how insecure all this must appear, now that the fearfulantithesis to it, the omnipresent fear of the Christian forhis eternal salvation, has been lost.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 57, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

What distinguishes us [scientists] from the pious andthe believers is not the quality but the quantity of belief andpiety; we are contented with less. But if the former shouldchallenge us: then be contented and appear to be contented! - thenwe might easily reply: 'We are, indeed, not among the leastcontented. You, however, if your belief makes you blessed thenappear to be blessed! Your faces have always been more injurious toyour belief than our objections have! If these glad tidings of yourBible were written on your faces, you would not need to insist soobstinately on the authority of that book... As things are,however, all your apologies for Christianity have their roots inyour lack of Christianity; with your defence plea you inscribe yourown bill of indictment.

from Nietzsche's Assorted Opinions andMaxims,s. 98, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Christianity's Destiny

Historical refutation as the definitiverefutation.-- In former times, one sought to prove that thereis no God - today one indicates how the belief that there is a Godarose and how this belief acquired its weight andimportance: a counter-proof that there is no God thereby becomessuperfluous.- When in former times one had refuted the 'proofs ofthe existence of God' put forward, there always remained the doubtwhether better proofs might not be adduced than those just refuted:in those days atheists did not know how to make a clean sweep.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 95, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

But in the end one also has to understand that theneeds that religion has satisfied and philosophy is now supposed tosatisfy are not immutable; they can be weakened andexterminated. Consider, for example, that Christian distressof mind that comes from sighing over ones inner depravity and carefor ones salvation - all concepts originating in nothing but errorsof reason and deserving, not satisfaction, but obliteration.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.27,R.J. Hollingdale transl.

Destiny of Christianity. -- Christianity cameinto existence in order to lighten the heart; but now it has firstto burden the heart so as afterwards to be able to lighten it.Consequently it shall perish.

from Nietzsche's Human, all too Human, s.119,R.J. Hollingdale transl.

At the deathbed of Christianity.-- Reallyunreflective people are now inwardly without Christianity, and themore moderate and reflective people of the intellectual middleclass now possess only an adapted, that is to say marvelouslysimplified Christianity. A god who in his love arrangeseverything in a manner that in the end will be best for us; a godwho gives to us and takes from us our virtue and our happiness, sothat as a whole all is meet and fit and there is no reason for usto take life sadly, let alone exclaim against it; in short,resignation and modest demands elevated to godhead - that is thebest and most vital thing that still remains of Christianity. Butone should notice that Christianity has thus crossed over into agentle moralism: it is not so much 'God, freedom andimmortality' that have remained, as benevolence and decency ofdisposition, and the belief that in the whole universe toobenevolence and decency of disposition prevail: it is theeuthanasia of Christianity.

from Nietzsche's Daybreak,s. 92, R.J.Hollingdale transl.

After Buddha was dead, hisshadow was still shown for centuries in a cave - a tremendous,gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there maystill be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will beshown. -And we- we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.

from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.108,Walter Kaufmann transl.

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Nietzsche Quotes: Christianity

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November 2nd, 2017 at 6:49 am

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Friedrich Nietzsche’s Religion and Political Views …

Posted: October 17, 2017 at 12:51 am


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Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Rcken in what is now Germany and grew up there and inNaumburg, Germany. He died of stroke, pneumonia and insanity in Weimar, Germany in 1900.

Nietzsche was originally quite religious. His father was a Lutheran minister and Friedrich studied theology at the University of Bonn. During his studies, however, he learned of the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and became a staunch atheist.

That is the Nietzsche we are now familiar with, the creator of the now-famous quote:

God is dead We have killed him.

Nietzsche was quite critical of religionand Christianity in particular. According to Nietzsche, religion was a shield with which mankind protects itself from fear and anxiety over his mortality, insignificance and confusion. Influenced by Darwin, Nietzsche posited that a new kind of human will eventually emerge, far greater than any current manifestation. He called this new human the Overman or Superman, or in German, the bermensch. He wrote:

All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the Overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment

In place of Christian ethics, Nietzsche simply felt that people should do whatever makes them happy. However, as evolution and nature dictates, those stronger people (such as the Overman) can do what they want and the weaker folks have to deal with it. It was his Master and Slave philosophy.

There is not truth to Nietzsche, only subjectivity. There is no justice or equality, only power and weakness.

Nietzsche is often associated with the Nazi ideology. And, it is true that Hitler and his cronies were quite fond of Nietzsches philosophy. Think about it: A philosophical justification for the idea that one person (or race of people) is stronger, better, smarter and more powerful than others. And action, violent or otherwise, is completely sanctioned by the ethics of said philosophy. Nietzsches book, Will to Power, reads:

The possibility has been established for the production of international racial unions whose task will be to rear a master race, the future masters of the earth a higher kind of man who, thanks to their superiority in will, knowledge, riches, and influence, employ democratic Europe as their most pliant and supple instrument for getting hold of the destinies of the earth, so as to work as artists upon man himself.

Sounds like the Nazi Aryans, doesnt it? Needless to say, Nietzsche was not an advocate of Democracy. The good politicians, he said, divides mankind into two classes: tools and enemies.

However, Nietzsche wasnt an anti-semite and by the end of his life, in his madness, he was calling upon all of Europe to attack Germany.

Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most interesting, controversial and possibly clearest thinkers in western history. His philosophy still attracts adherents and the curious to this day. He is considered one of the fathers of a still-popular philosophical movement called existentialismthat, at the end of the day, is an optimistic philosophy centered around the idea that people are free and in control of their own destiny. It is up to them to have the good lifeand they are perfectly capable of doing it.

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Friedrich Nietzsche's Religion and Political Views ...

Written by simmons

October 17th, 2017 at 12:51 am

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