Category Archives: Nietzsche

CHRISTIAN NATION

Jesus as Boxer

There was only one Christian and he died on the cross.    

F.N.

Has anyone ever pointed out the absolute irony of the United States of America today claiming to be a “Christian” nation? American senators, congressmen, and presidents constantly invoke their faith and belief in “God” – the so-called Christian god. Millions and millions of voters claim to be devout “Christians”. How is this possible in the country that has by far the biggest military arsenal in the world? Since World War II no other country has come close to America in using its military might around the world. Wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq have left death and devastation for millions of human beings. This is the work of a very powerful nation, not a very Christian nation. I am not arguing that the wars of America have been wrong or right; I am simply saying that they have absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ. America claims to be one of the most Christian nations in the world, but couldn’t it be argued that the opposite is true?  Continue reading CHRISTIAN NATION

Language & Reality

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. The sculptor of language was not so modest as to believe that he was only giving things designations, he conceived rather that with words he was expressing supreme knowledge of things; language is, in fact, the first stage of the occupation with science. Here, too, it is the belief that the truth has been found out of which the mightiest sources of energy have flowed. Very much subsequently –only now – it dawns on men that in their belief in language they have propagated a tremendous error. Happily, it is too late for the evolution of reason, which depends on this belief, to be again put back. –Logic too depends on presuppositions with which nothing in the real world corresponds, for example on the presupposition that there are identical things, that the same thing is identical at different points of time: but this science came into existence through the opposite belief (that such conditions do obtain in the real world). It is the same with mathematics, which would certainly not have come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no real circle, no absolute magnitude.  Nietzsche

(HA 11)

             This is a mouthful – or an eyeful – or a “headful”- but it does serve to help understand Nietzsche’s view of truth and metaphysics. Man has essentially forgotten that language was invented by man- not by supreme all-knowing types- and that with language man took the world apart and put it back as he saw it, breaking it down, dividing it up, and setting it up as was expedient for him. If we think back to the Geneva physicist and Nietzsche’s view that there are no “things” but rather a great flux of becoming-of forces-we can see that with language man has artificially cut up what is uncuttable and called it “reality” or “truth” or “world” or “thing”.

            To make this idea clearer, let’s imagine the world as a Jackson Pollock painting. We show it to a child, or an adult for that matter, then cut it up in a thousand pieces and ask the child to put it back together again. The “world” will still be there, i.e. the stuff of the painting, but it will hardly look like the original –it can hardly be now called “a Pollack”. Language has cut up the world and put it back together again; but what it gives us is hardly “the real world”.

            Language- like dreams- is a culprit in the flood of erroneous thinking that has covered Western man. Nietzsche calls grammar “the metaphysics of the people”. The thing, the doer, the doer that does: all falsehood born of language.

 “Language belongs in its origin to the age of the most rudimentary from of psychology: we find ourselves in the midst of a rude fetishism when we call to mind the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language- which is to say, of reason. It is this which sees everywhere deed and doer; this which believes in will as cause in general; this which believes in the ‘ego’ as being, in the ego as substance, and which projects its belief in the ego-substance on to all things- only thus does it create the concept ‘thing’… Being is everywhere thought in, foisted on, as cause; it is only from the conception ‘ego’ that there follows, derivatively, the concept ‘being’… At the beginning stands the great fateful error that the will is something which produces an effect- what will is a faculty… Today we know it is merely a word.”  Nietzsche

(T “Reason” in Philosophy 5)

          Words do not correspond to reality; they fabricate it.

 “We set up a word at the point at which our ignorance begins, at which we can see no further, e.g. the word ‘I’, the word ‘do’, the word ‘suffer’: – these are perhaps the horizon of our knowledge, but not ‘truths’. Nietzsche

(WP 482)

 We think with language, hence thinking is muddled.                              Jon Ferguson

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

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

Highest Valuation

Things of the highest valuation must have an origin of THEIR own.  In this transitory, seductive, illusory, paltry world, in this turmoil of delusion and cupidity, they cannot have their source.

But rather in the lap of Being,  in the intransitory, in the concealed God, in the ‘Thing-in-itself’ — THERE must be their source, and nowhere else!