Despite all his flattery of and popularity among the artistically inclined, isn't there something of the philistine about Nietzsche? "God is dead" and "Beyond good and evil" at the core are just the credo of the philistines and Nietzsche is their Moses.
Those two phrases support your point. Of course BG&E is actually a good
book. Nietzsche was ultimately a good boy, who liked to pretend he was bad. At his best, he mocks all that would cramp the human spirit. At his worst, he makes an ugly cartoon of something as profound as Christianity.
He says he puts on gloves when he reads the New Testament. And yet Nietzsche himself is a New Testament. A man who stresses the spirit more than the law. This is an oversimplification for clarity: Nietzsche attacked the religion of his tribe for the same reasons Christ did, because he thought it was false, decayed, imperfect. His attack on God was an attack on idolatry. The incarnation myth is god-as-mortal-man. How far is this from the Overman? It's just that Nietzsche took his own deep compassion for a sin, a weakness. This was his mistake, I think. I think N was right to attack the sentimentality and hypocrisy of the usual Christianity. This is similar to calling out the liberals who recycle and drive a Prius for Mother Earth and yet ultimately worship Property and Respectability.
At his best, he was intensely alive to music, nature, politeness of the heart, golden laughter, the things of the spirit. His personal problem, an excessive sympathy, suddenly became humanity's
problem. I don't think a Nietzsche / Luther comparison is absurd. Nietzsche is just another step away from idolatry (at his best.) God becomes more and more immanent, less and less some distant King. Hegel thought that Christianity was the Absolute Religion precisely because the Incarnation myth was the truth in symbolic form, nevermind all the confused interpretations of it. God only exists in man. Just as man only exists in the tribe, in a shared world, in an inherited language. Man as an island is a fascinating but dangerous myth, as John Donne saw. The world apart from man is a useful check on bias, and has served natural science, but isn't this too a bit dangerous? Useful but almost superstitious?
"Man with rather have the void for his purpose than be devoid of purpose." Some call it purpose. Others call it religion. Still other philosophy, art, wisdom, decency, virtue, the Good, etc. Cynics call it food, lodging, and a pat on the back from the neighbors.
---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 02:36 AM ----------
There is also dandyism which, on the playground at least, seems to stand opposite to philisitinism. Oddly Nietzsche might also be considered both dandy and philistine at the same time... and this dual nature might be the key to the enigma.
Excellent point. And there is that part of him that transcends both. An insistence on the beauty and joy that can be had on Earth. Even if he denies God, he writes prose poems to the life more abundant.
---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 02:44 AM ----------
For example, the reactionary born-again Christian may see progress as the actualization of a world in which the white, Christian male is justified in their brutality towards others who do profess to believe their held dogma.
Excellent point. It pains me to see Christianity used in this way. There are lines in the New Testament as profound as anything I've found elsewhere..and my adult life has largely been a seeking out of whatever the hell truth and virtue are purpose are. In the beginning was the logos, the word! Well, if this isn't linguistic philosophy at its finest... I find Witt, Hegel, and Nietzsche here. "Truth is an army of metaphors." "The real is rational--(read conceptual, lingual). "The limits of my language are the limits of my world."
You want the transcendental?
"Before Abraham was, I am.
Who is this "I" that "am"? And doesn't this outdo Joyce, as far as prose style goes? It's more efficient than the TLP.
You want ethics?
"Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove"