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Scholastic: Philip Trần Thanh Minh Class: The First Year of Philosophy Subject: Modern and Contemporary Philosophy Professor: Fr. Terry Walsh, S.J.
St. Joseph Scholasticate-Vietnam Province of the Society of Jesus Thu Duc-Vietnam, July 30, 2010
1. The problem 2. Necessary understandings 3. Nietzsche’s Argument 4. Denying God’s existence for human’s existence 5. Nietzsche’s Naturalism 6. What is the value? 7. The innocence of becoming 8. Conclusion 5 5 6 3 4 1
List of reference books
NIETZSCHE, Friedrich Wilhelm, Twilight of the Idols-With the Antichirst and Ecco Homo (translated by Antony M. Ludovici), Wordworth Editions Limited Publishing House, London, England, 2007.
NIETZSCHE, Friedrich Wilhelm, The Gay Science, (edited by Bernard Williams), Cambrigde University Press, London, England, 2003. NIETZSCHE, Friedrich Wilhelm, The Will to Power, (translated by Walter Kaufmann & R. J. Hollingdale, edited by Walter Kaufmann), Random House Inc., Newyork, USA, 1968.
GODFREY, Joseph J., SJ, Philosophy of Religion, A particularist Introduction-
Handbook and Readings, Saint Joseph’s University, Pennsylvania, USA, 2010.
Essay Topic: Nietzsche values becoming over being. What kind of argument does he give to support this reversal of Western philosophy? Do you agree or disagree with him?
1. The problem Nietzsche values becoming over being, for him, because this apparent world is one and real world and this world is the world of becoming. This means that we accept suffering, changing, and growth as our reality. Nietzsche denies the world of being, the world of metaphysics and religion which is established in the tradition of Western by philosophers. In this term, Nietzsche does deny all of Western philosophy about metaphysics and religion. 2. Necessary understandings Before we trace Nietzsche’s thought, we should show here the way of understanding what is ‘becoming’ and what is ‘being’ in Western philosophy at that time. In general, philosophy accepts that there are two worlds of reality: the world of being and the world of becoming. About the former, almost philosophers admit that the world of being is the world of metaphysics that is the one, true, real and unchanging world. It is the world of God, souls and of what is eternal. This world is the end of religion or we call it “Heaven”. In this world, human being can only find out what is valuable and good. In comparison with this world, the world of becoming has no value or merely a negative value in its self unless it reaches out to state of being or completed state. In this perspective, philosophy considers this apparent world or the world of becoming as the world is in a process of change. All things in this world are coming into being and passing away. That’s all! Therefore, it can be said that what is movement, development, suffering, etc has no meaning at all. It just could have value only if it completely comes into being.
3. Nietzsche’s Argument In his argument, Nietzsche rejects that perspective of his contemporaries. To do this reversal, Nietzsche begins with the problem of Socrates. He agrees with Socrates at a point that human beings need reason to fight against and master human instincts to lead them rightly. “We have to imitate Socrates and produce a permanent daylight against the dark desires -- the daylight of reason.”, Nietzsche writes. However, Nietzsche rejects Socrates’ response before life for Socrates’ saying that: “Living, that means being sick along time.” Eventually, Socrates chooses poison cup to end his life as a way to enter a “real” world. Nietzsche calls this event as a symptom of pathology, a psychological condition. He writes: “Judgments, value judgments about life, for or against, can in the final analysis never be true; they have value only as symptoms. One absolutely must reach out and try to grasp this astounding finesse, that the value of life cannot be assessed.” [Twilight of the Idols, no. 2] For the life cannot be asserted, according to Nietzsche, we have to live out this life with its fullness and richness. Hence, he protests the world so-call “the ascetic ideal” of philosophers in which human being avoids facing to struggles of existence “to invented sphere of unreal, but comforting and illusions”. In summary, Nietzsche calls this decadence. Nietzsche continues to criticize philosophers of their points of view about this life as what is becoming which should be objected. To them, death, change, and age are meaningless. To deny this view, Nietzsche affirms that this apparent world is the only world. In addition, he ironically says that the ‘true world’ which is called the world of being is just added to it by a lie. Nietzsche argues that:
“That nobody gives human beings their qualities, neither God, nor society, nor their parents and ancestors, nor they. Nobody is responsible for being here in the first place, for being constituted in such and such a way, for being in these circumstances, in this environment. The fatality of our essence cannot be separated from the fatality of all that was and will be. We are not the consequence of a special intention, a will, a goal; we are not being used in an attempt to reach an ‘ideal of humanity,’ or an ‘ideal of happiness,’ or an ‘ideal of morality.” [Twilight of the Idols, no. 36]
Thus, what is reason for appearance of what so-called “the world of being” in Western philosophy? Nietzsche who called himself as a psychologist asserts that the world of being is a mere psychological need. In his explanation, Nietzsche claims that we all have the need of prolonging or preservation of our survival. The world of becoming or the world of changing and suffering cannot supplies us any what is stable
or unchangeable; thus, we have projected our needs into the world of being where we think that we will live forever in happiness an in stability. In order to create such a world of metaphysics, philosophers argue that: “This world is apparent: consequently there is a true world; this world is a world of becoming: consequently there is a world of being . . .” [The Will to Power, no 579]. For Nietzsche, this type of argument of the ‘true’ world is just a lie. He strongly says that “eternal bliss” by no means has a psychological sense. Therefore, “Brave and creative men never consider pleasure and pain as ultimate values -- they are epiphenomena: one must desire both if one is to achieve anything. That they see the problem of pleasure and pain in the foreground reveals something weary and sick in metaphysicians and religious people.” [The Will to Power, no. 579] A brave and creative man, for Nietzsche, is a person who dares to face to reality and to his fate in any circumstances because “God is dead” and human being becomes his master for himself in this very world. In the process of destroying the ‘true’ world, or the world of metaphysics and religion, Nietzsche requires human being to accept a period of time called “intermediary period of nihilism”. Nietzsche defines a nihilist as a man “who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist.” because “according to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, and feeling) has no meaning . . .” For Nietzsche, nihilism only plays the role of mediator at the time “before there is yet present the strength to reverse values and to deify becoming and the apparent world as the only world, and to call them good.” [The Will to Power, no.585] 4. Denying God’s existence for human’s existence That it is the best way to deny the world of being is getting rid of God’s existence. Nietzsche claims that ‘God is dead’. Of course, he understands that human being is not able to kill God. He just denies God’s existence. For him, there is nothing outside this apparent world. He writes:
“One is necessary, one is a piece of destiny, one belongs to the whole, one is in the whole. There is nothing that could rule, measure, compare, judge our being, for that would mean ruling, measuring, comparing, and judging the whole... But there is nothing outside the whole! That nobody is made responsible anymore, that no way of being may be traced back to a causa prima, that the world is not a unity, either as sensorium or as ‘spirit,’ only this is the great liberation -- in this way only, the innocence of becoming is restored. The concept ‘God’ was up to now the greatest objection against existence…We deny God, and in denying God we deny responsibility: only this do we redeem the world.” [Twilight of the Idols, The Four Great Errors, 8]
When we deny God, there is no sin, there is no redemption. When God does not exist, we get the innocence of becoming. The concept of “God”, for Nietzsche, is the greatest objection against existence. However, it is difficult to reject God’s shadow after the ‘death’ of God. In The Gay Science, Nietzsche mentions that question: “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. — and we—we still have to vanquish his shadow, too!” [The Gay Science, no. 108] No God means there is no the world of being. Thus, metaphysics and religions have no position in the role of directing of human being; however, Nietzsche shows that we cannot live without orientation which does not come from human but comes from some form of transcendence. He asks:
“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? And 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?” [The Gay Science, no. 125]
5. Nietzsche’s Naturalism Eventually, Nietzsche chooses naturalism as solution to understand the nature of the human being. This naturalistic method requires that philosophy, as a practical science, should pay intention to empirical inquiry. For that reason, Nietzsche highly appreciates psychology in curing what he calls “pathological condition”. In addition, he admits ontological method to explain that the only things that exist are physical things. Here we refer to two definitions of Naturalism in order to make clear what is stressed in this theory:
1. Naturalism is the view that everything about human beings and their living can be explained by processes in nature and in human nature, that is, in humanity’ reality as living and thinking and socially existing, and as well as engaging in ethical and religious activities and understandings.1 2. Naturalism is a belief that the world can be understood in scientific terms without spiritual or supernatural explanations. The doctrine completely rejects the Christian belief that there is a God that created and watches over this world. Science is the god and savior of Naturalism.2
Cf. Joseph J. Godfrey, SJ, Philosophy of Religion, A particularist Introduction-Handbook and Readings, Saint Joseph’s University, 2010, p. 42.
We can see that in naturalism, there is denial of God’s existence and all human problems can be solved by science as if “science is the God and Savior of Naturalism”. 6. What is the value? As mentioned above, Nietzsche tries to analyze and criticize metaphysics. For him, there is no way of being in which human being trace back to a cause prima. The world of being is only a product made from the blend of Greek metaphysics, Judaism and Christianity. What they call ‘true’ world for Nietzsche is not true, it is false. It is a mere invention. Like this, Nietzsche does not admit the value of God, spirit, morality or religion; he also rejects duty, the good and truth, etc. According to Nietzsche, metaphysics is negation (or denial) of nature. In contrast, Nietzsche affirms the world of becoming, that is the world of nature in which all physical things are in the process of change and coming into being and passing away. The world of nature is true and only world. It is the world of this apparent world and of self. Nietzsche tries to conflict between two worlds. For value is the real and an appearance of the good for us, thus when Nietzsche says “Yes” to real world that means he affirms its value. The world of metaphysics has no value because it is not real. Because we do not find value in nature, we find value in metaphysics. We cannot find value in this word because we have negative experience. We have negative experience because we see suffering in this world, the word of becoming in which we see all things are finite and changing. If we were born in this world, we will suffer, get sick and die. It is negative for us; thus, we cannot achieve anything. 7. The innocence of becoming What does “the innocence of becoming” mean? For Nietzsche, ‘the innocence of becoming’ is the only way to attain the great liberation. It is the form of freedom from ends or from what Nietzsche calls any system of ‘purpose’. Nietzsche expresses: “The absolute necessity of total liberation from ends; otherwise we should not be permitted to try to sacrifice ourselves and let ourselves go. Only the innocence of becoming gives us the greatest courage and the greatest freedom.” [The will to Power, no. 787] It can be said that ‘the innocence of becoming’ is the end of becoming. It is the feeling of freedom. It is a state of no guilt, no judgment. Hence, Nietzsche criticizes the concepts
‘reward’, ‘punishment’, ‘the good and evil action’. ‘The innocence of becoming’ is the result of denying of God. No God, no guilt! 8. Conclusion Friedrich Nietzsche is a remarkable thinker in Western philosophy. ‘His
shadow’ is shown until now to us. In fact, his thoughts bring a lot of positive effect to us when they help us in living out our realities in this world. Through his theory, we could realize the values which we should attain in any circumstances of our lives. Nietzsche encourages us to face to suffering and change by our own strength in very our human nature. In addition, in religious perspective, Nietzsche’s thoughts give us a mature look at our faith. Sometimes, we need to be freed of tie of religion which is rigidly established in ourselves to take a mature look from outside. However, it is negative when Nietzsche pushes his theory to the point of denying God’s existence. When Nietzsche rejects the world of metaphysics, Nietzsche erases the ultimate end and hope of himself and of persons who accept his theory. According to Nietzsche, human being will not find out any meaning of his suffering. Only feeling of ‘the innocence of becoming’ is worthy to seek. If so, we will always be in the circle of suffering. Furthermore, if Nietzsche definitively gets rid of the basic of metaphysics and religion, his philosophy never reaches out to ultimate end and meaning of existence of human being. In general, each philosophical thought supplies us a fresh and good viewpoint toward the life and reality. Nietzsche’ thought, if it is accepted on positive aspects, also brings new life energy to us as human being who is living in this apparent world.
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