Metaphysical Mush

… the worst of all methods of acquiring knowledge, not the best of all, have taught belief in them. When one has disclosed these methods as the foundation of all extant religions and metaphysical systems one has refuted them! Then the possibility still remains over; but one can do absolutely nothing with it, not to speak of letting happiness, salvation and life depend on the gossamer of such a possibility. –For one could assert nothing at all of the metaphysical world except that it was a being-other; it would be a thing with negative qualities. –Even if the existence of such a world were never so well demonstrated, it is certain that knowledge of it would be the most useless of all knowledge: more useless even than knowledge of the chemical composition of water must be to the sailor in danger of shipwreck. (Nietzsche)

Nietzsche is skeptical of knowledge  in  the “real” world–the “metaphysical” world of belief, religion,  and angels dancing on pins is a world for which he has little if no patience. (M.C. Gardner)

This passage exemplifies Nietzsche’s will to look life in face and accept only what can honestly be accepted: first, the human head has only itself to go on and there’s no guarantee that what goes on inside corresponds with truth; second, if there was another realm of being, it would be just that –“another” – and hence unknowable for us of this world; and third, even if it did become knowable it would do nothing to get us through this life. (Jon Ferguson)

There would be nothing that could be called knowledge if thought did not first re-form the world in this way into ‘things’, into what is self-identical. Only because there is thought is there untruth.  (Nietzsche WP 574)

 The ‘real world’, however one has hitherto conceived it- it has always been the apparent world once again. (Nietzsche WP 566) 

 All efforts toward metaphysics are limited by the human head and this head always sees “things”, things that “are”. But what is isn’t because everything is always becoming, changing, part of a great flux. I once was seated in a restaurant in Geneva across from a physicist at the CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research. I asked him about the very thing Nietzsche is talking about. “Does modern physics believe these are really such a ‘thing’ as an atom or an electron or a particle?” Continue reading Metaphysical Mush

Maylasia Flight 370

What schools never teach. – March 25, 2014. Yesterday the Malaysian government finally announced that Flight 370 had crashed in the southern part of the Indian Ocean killing all 239 people on board. Of course this is horrible news, especially for those who actually knew someone on the plane. However, 99.999% of the people who followed the saga on TV knew nobody on the plane. During the fourteen days of uncertainty about the 239 passengers, more than 1,000,0000 other people died in the world. Their deaths received absolutely no press coverage. – Some of the reactions I saw to the announcement of the crash were striking. Watching people lament the death of a loved one is always a horrible thing to see. But it was not those people who struck me the most; it was the people who wanted to know “THE TRUTH”, the whole truth. News people and some family members kept claiming that the lack of truth about what happened on Flight 370 was scandalous…What exactly happened in the cockpit? What went on in the minds of the pilots? What exact flight path did the plane take? What were the exact backgrounds of everyone on the plane? Who and what actually are to blame for the catastrophe? And on and on…But perhaps the real scandal has nothing to do with these unanswered questions. Perhaps the real scandal is the people think they can KNOW the reasons and causes of…EVERYTHING. This is where we are in the world today. People think they have the right to know everything and they are sure that – with the correct information – they can KNOW…EVERYTHING. – What ludicrous folly! What stupidity! What unthinking cretinism! What imbecility! What naivety! What myth! What absurd nonsense!… Continue reading Maylasia Flight 370

An Exercise in Delusion

Nietzsche says that thinkers who think they are in a position to reveal truth about human being are destined to fail and have always failed. Any philosopher’s perspective is so impossibly small in the great picture of human development:

 “They (philosophers) will not learn that man has become, that the faculty of cognition has become; while some of them would have it that the whole world is spun out of this faculty of cognition. Now, everything essential in the development of mankind took place in primeval times, long before the 4,000 years we more or less know about; during these years mankind may well not have altered very much. But the philosopher here sees ‘instincts’ in man as he now is and assumes that these belong to the unalterable facts of mankind, and to that extent could provide a key to the understanding of the world in general: the whole of teleology is constructed by speaking of the man of the last four millennia as of an eternal man towards whom all things in the world have had a natural relationship from the time he began. But everything has become: there are no eternal facts, just as there are no absolute truths. “

(HA 2)

A philosopher’s perspective is typically not seen as an obstacle to be overcome, his eye is fixed on a goal – to understand the world.   In this he is blind before he opens his eyes. He stumbles more emphatically than those who have never known the light.

 “To solve everything at a stroke, with a single word- that was the secret desire. (…) ‘There is a riddle to be solved’: thus did the goal of life appear to the eye of the philosopher; the first thing to do was to find the riddle and to compress the problem of the world into the simplest riddle-form. The boundless ambition and exultation of being the ‘unriddler of the world’ constituted the thinker’s dreams: nothing seemed worthwhile if it was to the means of bringing everything to a conclusion for him!” (D 547)

Nietzsche is pointed in a direction that few philosophers have dared to go. Instead of seeing man as the focus, the center, the brain of the universe, he is imagining the most real possibility that man is but a dot – an unknowing dot – in the vast (O so vast!) cosmos. Not only does he intellectualize this possibility, but he feels it, he breathes it, his heart beats it. Maybe, even likely, the history of Western thinking has been a great exercise in delusion, in sealing humanity in a warm air-tight balloon that protects us from the raw, brute, simple fact of our being. To imagine what he is saying about traditional philosophy (and religion) is perhaps the most difficult thing to grasp with Nietzsche. But we must grasp it first – now – in order to see what his vision is all about. Continue reading An Exercise in Delusion

Language & Knowledge

The significance of language for the evolution of culture lies in this, that mankind set up in language a separate world beside the other world, a place it took to be so firmly set that, standing upon it, it could lift the rest of the world off its hinges and make itself master of it. To the extent that man has for long ages believed in the concepts and names of things as in aeternae veritates he has appropriated to himself that pride by which he raised himself above the animal: he really thought that in language he possessed knowledge of the world. Continue reading Language & Knowledge

Gott Es Tott

God is dead is among the most widely known (if not the most inflammatory) declarations of the 19th century.  Although all have heard it few (especially among the outraged) have read it in context:

THE MADMAN — Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “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 suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Continue reading Gott Es Tott

Fig and Flame

Einstein was fond of Schopenhauer’s observation that we can surely desire what we will but we can not will what we desire.   Desire, be it for fig or  flame, is a state of Being.  And if we are quick to condemn the fruit of  flame is it not because we have never truly known fire?

Nietzsche the fervent prophet of Will was also its greatest detractor:

We laugh at him who steps out of his room at the moment when the sun steps out of its room, and then says: ‘I will that the sun shall rise’; and at him who cannot stop a wheel, and says: ‘I will that it shall roll’; and at him who is thrown down wrestling, and says: ‘here I lie, but I will lie here!’ But, all laughter aside, are we ourselves ever acting any differently whenever we employ the expression ‘I will’?

M.C. Gardner

The paragon …

Human beings, in spite of what they say about themselves, are probably the most egocentric of all the earth’s creatures. They make a big deal about birth; they make a big deal about death; they carry a name-tag around for life; they think they are the only creatures on earth that behave “freely” and not “instinctively”; they often claim they were created in the image of God; they think the world was created for them and not the other way around; they see themselves as the focal point of “history”; man is probably the only creature that “looks inward” and psychoanalyzes himself thinking he can “make sense” out of his life and understand who HE is; humans think they are the only creatures that can “know” the truth about anything, and on and on…  Continue reading The paragon …