Skewed Perceptions of Nietzsche

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Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 02:50 pm
@hue-man,
"I am one thing. My books are another." Ecce Homo

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 03:54 PM ----------

Extrain;157607 wrote:

But Nietzsche wasn't a fiction writer. He was a philosopher. Therefore, he is on philosophy's turf. N- is not immune from criticism.

This is a good point. I would balance it by saying that he was changing the nature of that turf. To define truth as an "army of metaphors" is revolutionary. And he also questions the value of truth. "Why not rather untruth?"

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 04:10 PM ----------

Fido;157563 wrote:
Every individual is a criminal waiting only for an opportunity... Only as members of a community even if it is the community of humanity can we be moral...

I like this. I feel that morality is often considered a bit too much in the abstract. If we think of family and friends, and ask ourselves how much of human decency is grounded in an opening of the self, a denial of the whims of the self....

The self is already a collision of desires/fears. Nietzsche was wise to describe the goal as a harmony of these "selves." He completely exaggerates the novelty of his values. Courage, creativity, independence, grace, intelligence....

What is power? Is it the power to steer other humans? Is it the power to relish life on Earth without the comfort of an afterlife or of perfect justice?
Is his attack on pity justified? Was he just too sympathetic himself to endure compassion?

I still he think was a genius. Period. His best lines are as good as philosophy gets. But his worst lines are as bad as it gets, perhaps. Because he (to quote a friend) spoke as one with authority. And yet he was a sickly professor, largely detached from the world that other humans kept spinning, while spun out his sublime and terrible conceptual poetry....Smile
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:52 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;169206 wrote:
"I am one thing. My books are another." Ecce Homo

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 03:54 PM ----------


This is a good point. I would balance it by saying that he was changing the nature of that turf. To define truth as an "army of metaphors" is revolutionary. And he also questions the value of truth. "Why not rather untruth?"

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 04:10 PM ----------


I like this. I feel that morality is often considered a bit too much in the abstract. If we think of family and friends, and ask ourselves how much of human decency is grounded in an opening of the self, a denial of the whims of the self....

The self is already a collision of desires/fears. Nietzsche was wise to describe the goal as a harmony of these "selves." He completely exaggerates the novelty of his values. Courage, creativity, independence, grace, intelligence....

What is power? Is it the power to steer other humans? Is it the power to relish life on Earth without the comfort of an afterlife or of perfect justice?
Is his attack on pity justified? Was he just too sympathetic himself to endure compassion?

I still he think was a genius. Period. His best lines are as good as philosophy gets. But his worst lines are as bad as it gets, perhaps. Because he (to quote a friend) spoke as one with authority. And yet he was a sickly professor, largely detached from the world that other humans kept spinning, while spun out his sublime and terrible conceptual poetry....Smile


Nietzsche as a person is secondary. Nietzsche as a philosopher is what is at issue. He was a rather disgusting person, but that is not the point. The issue is whether his philosophy is any good. It isn't.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:23 pm
@Extrain,
Extrain;157350 wrote:
True, I am psychoanalyzing N. But this isn't hypocracy or a genetic fallacy. I am not bashing N to draw the claim that what he said is false--that would be an ad hominem--the most predominant style of Nietzsche's own approach to philosophy. On the contrary, I am saying what he says is false because it is false: so many of his claims are either empirically incorrect, non-historical, or invalid. I am claiming he doesn't offer very good arguments for establishing the truth about anything at all, and this is a necessary consequence of his psychological condition. I am tired of hearing the stereotypical plasticity of his claims I encounter from amateur philosophers who mouth his doctrines as if they were gospel truth. First learn how to think, then we'll discuss his arguments. I have studied N, I have taken several classes concerning his philosophy in my department, and have written several essays on him. You ought to know that maintstream philosophical academia generally makes fun of him, including other atheists, because everyone is all-too-familiar with what passess as a series of implicit illogical Ideologies by present-day philosophical standards. So I am well within my epistemic rights to discuss the topic of "Nietzsche" since I am well-acquainted with his writings. And there is nothing wrong with evaluating the personality that led to the development of his philosophy. I am confident many psychoanalysts would agree with some kind of evaluation like that, too. His personality is immediately evident in his writings. Do you deny that? After all, N- wrote "in his own blood."

Superman, say hello to green Kryptonite! Very Happy
 
qualia
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:26 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;169278 wrote:
Nietzsche as a person is secondary. Nietzsche as a philosopher is what is at issue. He was a rather disgusting person, but that is not the point. The issue is whether his philosophy is any good. It isn't.

Kennethamy, if, as you quite rightly assert, N as a person is secondary to his 'philosophy' at issue, why then that snide remark about his person? You rightly uphold a principle but then reject it in the next breath. Moreover, in exactly what fashion was N, the person, 'disgusting'? From what I have gathered, he seemed to live quite a lonely life as an adult, and kept himself pretty much to himself. Again, just for the sake of clarity, what does it mean to say his philosophy isn't any good? One could equally reply that as a philosopher, N was superlatively brilliant and is one of the most influential and essential thinkers of the twentieth century, but so what?
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:53 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss;157693 wrote:
I believe that if you check out a history book, you can find dozens of cases of individuals arguing for justice, while their communities are arguing for injustice. Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Ghandi, John Brown, Thoreau, Martin Luther King, just to name a few.

Noam Chomsky, to name another.

---------- Post added 05-27-2010 at 02:10 AM ----------

Theaetetus;157962 wrote:
[...] I work as a community organizer of sorts in my free time for fun, and what I do should not even be required. All I really do is pass on information to those who need it. I will go around to community meeting, help figure out what type of information different groups need, and then pass on the information to them on where to find it. Sure, the information is out there, but it is irrelevant as long as it is buried under the mountain of information overload that is bombarded at automaton human beings like we are doing particle physics experiments.

(I'm just leaving this in for context.)
Theaetetus;157962 wrote:
No one is obliged to helping anyone else, but people are more likely to when they can actually see people suffering. Sure it is nice to say that someone is morally obliged to help save a drowning six year old, but in reality they are not. If they are the parent of the six year old, then they are legally obliged to help their child, but that is different. I feel that there are too many people all ready that I am not going to help the dumb and the weak when they are put in life and death situation. What's the point? It is irrational for me to care about someone that I have no direct link to, and it is irrational for me to feel guilt for not doing anything.

Do you really mean this? I'm really surprised.

I'm not trying to affect moral superiority here; I am in no position to; if anything, I am likely to be your moral inferior, because for instance you do socially useful voluntary work (see above), whereas I do nothing but cower away from the world.

But I do think that the attitude you seem to be expressing here is an immoral one, so I question what you mean, and whether I am reading it correctly.
Theaetetus;157962 wrote:
That is nice and all in the confines of a deontological ethicist's body of work, but no one is obliged to help others out for which they are not responsible. I am aware that there are homeless people in my neighborhood, I can do something about it, but the only thing that says I ought to do something about it is myself. The world is cold and brutal. The weak generally suffer and die. Humans are the only creatures that expend so much effort worrying about the weak lame.

You're not leaving much room for doubt as to your meaning, I must say!

(Also, I do seem to detect traces of Nietzsche in your words.)

It's a strange thing. When I was embroiled in a thread where I got into hot water for making fun of something Alan posted and then withdrew (I'm sure you remember those shenanigans), you were the one person who confirmed what had actually happened. That may have been because you had access to more information that anyone else - this seems to fit with what you say about the voluntary work you do! - but whatever the reason for it, I appreciated it deeply. That was a case of morality in action: a morality that is related to a concern for the truth, not succumbing to relativism and the confusion of truth with power. I may have read too much into it. Smile
 
qualia
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 07:29 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip wrote:
Noam Chomsky, to name another.

This kind of thing is brilliant, and pertains to a thread on Nietzsche. Few could really doubt Chomsky's sincerity, dedication, and insight to his cause. In fact in many quarters, he's considered something of a genius. And no doubt he is.

But the Nietzschean would argue, would raise the suspicion, that what is at issue in most types of social causes is some kind of notion of 'justice' being played out. Notions of justice underlying the cause which in some manner is fighting against 'injustice'.

The Nietzschean would then stress the idea that grounding any ideal of justice is always-already some kind of normative struggle, a social struggle loaded with ideological value, in which the discourses, actions, activities taken and produced in the name of justice, taken on all sides of the political fences, can be disclosed and revealed as mere, all too human instruments of power.

That humans deceive themselves about this feature of their 'justice' is a case for concern, but more worryingly from a Nietzschean, genealogy perspective, is that the all too human activity of performing the game of justice has by and large resulted in sentiments of revenge and triumphalism, violence, hatred, anger and bloodshed.

This in no way is meant to knock down a Chomsky, nor the ace normative cause he is fighting for, but just to highlight the idea that in one way or another, whatever we tell ourselves or each other, the roots of our fancy notions may not be all that clean.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 08:03 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;169278 wrote:
Nietzsche as a person is secondary. Nietzsche as a philosopher is what is at issue. He was a rather disgusting person, but that is not the point. The issue is whether his philosophy is any good. It isn't.


No, K, he was a nice guy. He lived the life of the mind, while not denying the life of the senses. He loved to walk, drank water rather than alcohol, praised "politeness of the heart," rejected Antisemitism, strove for the higher things. The syphilis may have been a rumor, but that's secondary. His bio indicates a good man.

If you want, you are welcome to disregard the relation of biography to a man's philosophy, but Nietzsche himself didn't.

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 09:08 PM ----------

qualia;169343 wrote:

The Nietzschean would then stress the idea that grounding any ideal of justice is always-already some kind of normative struggle, a social struggle loaded with ideological value, in which the discourses, actions, activities taken and produced in the name of justice, taken on all sides of the political fences, can be disclosed and revealed as mere, all too human instruments of power.

Excellent point. The interesting about Nietzsche's philosophy is that it is self-devouring. I don't mean self-refuting, but rather that it he can be read against himself. If truth is an army of metaphors, then this too is one more metaphor. If life is the will-to-power, then to call it so is just another power-play. A light version of the liar's paradox. Nietzsche, who praised golden laughter, would freely admit this, I think.

Someone earlier rightly pointed out that Nietzsche doesn't always concern himself w/ logic. Perhaps he views logic as just another means of persuasion, another rhetoric that presents itself as beyond-rhetoric. I've always liked describing Nietzsche as a vortex.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 08:49 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;169316 wrote:

Do you really mean this? I'm really surprised.

I'm not trying to affect moral superiority here; I am in no position to; if anything, I am likely to be your moral inferior, because for instance you do socially useful voluntary work (see above), whereas I do nothing but cower away from the world.

But I do think that the attitude you seem to be expressing here is an immoral one, so I question what you mean, and whether I am reading it correctly.

You're not leaving much room for doubt as to your meaning, I must say!

(Also, I do seem to detect traces of Nietzsche in your words.)

It's a strange thing. When I was embroiled in a thread where I got into hot water for making fun of something Alan posted and then withdrew (I'm sure you remember those shenanigans), you were the one person who confirmed what had actually happened. That may have been because you had access to more information that anyone else - this seems to fit with what you say about the voluntary work you do! - but whatever the reason for it, I appreciated it deeply. That was a case of morality in action: a morality that is related to a concern for the truth, not succumbing to relativism and the confusion of truth with power. I may have read too much into it. Smile


Twirl:
It is one thing to have a personal moral stance about an issue, quite another to have an abstract stance about an issue. I am harassed constantly in the forum when I say something in the abstract that is connected to an emotionally charged issue. Theatetus did not say that he didn't oblige himself to help those in need, only that there was no real force outside himself that could do it. Given all the influential forces that attempt to make it a mandate to help those in need, if it were truly obligatory to help, one of them would have probably succeeded in doing so. The fact that Theatetus does help in spite of the various pulls of his environment and psyche that make it hard to is a testament to his abstract stand. I know you aren't judging him negatively in any real way, I just thought this needed to be said.

Cheers,
Russ

BTW although I've only read Zarathustra and Twilight of the Idols, I'm loving the heck out of this thread. Kudos to all you guys.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 12:49 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;169356 wrote:
No, K, he was a nice guy. He lived the life of the mind, while not denying the life of the senses. He loved to walk, drank water rather than alcohol, praised "politeness of the heart," rejected Antisemitism, strove for the higher things. The syphilis may have been a rumor, but that's secondary. His bio indicates a good man.

If you want, you are welcome to disregard the relation of biography to a man's philosophy, but Nietzsche himself didn't.

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 09:08 PM ----------


Excellent point. The interesting about Nietzsche's philosophy is that it is self-devouring. I don't mean self-refuting, but rather that it he can be read against himself. If truth is an army of metaphors, then this too is one more metaphor. If life is the will-to-power, then to call it so is just another power-play. A light version of the liar's paradox. Nietzsche, who praised golden laughter, would freely admit this, I think.

Someone earlier rightly pointed out that Nietzsche doesn't always concern himself w/ logic. Perhaps he views logic as just another means of persuasion, another rhetoric that presents itself as beyond-rhetoric. I've always liked describing Nietzsche as a vortex.

Nietzsche the person is essential to Nietzsche the philosopher... Did he talk about power??? Without civilization and modern morals his head would have been a footstool...Did he demean women??? What woman ever looked twice at him unless paid to??? There are many who picked up on what he said quickly enough, others in a similar vein who with influence said as much as well...He was unique and yet part of a life philosophy movement that was anti rationalist...He put the last nail in the coffin of the age of reason.. After him, reasonable was a dirty word, along with morals... So what??? Morals are about Power...Nothing new there...Power is freedom, and what moral person is not free??? The two qualities are found together...
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 01:17 pm
@Fido,
Fido;169613 wrote:
Nietzsche the person is essential to Nietzsche the philosopher... Did he talk about power??? Without civilization and modern morals his head would have been a footstool..


Yes, indeed. He was a sickly professor, not some he-man. He was a complicated guy, because he saw that an obsession with blood and steel was stupefying. He himself was talked of as if quite feminine in his manners. He was in the modern slang a nerd, a geek. He wouldn't make it in prison, I don't think.

---------- Post added 05-27-2010 at 02:21 PM ----------

Fido;169613 wrote:
There are many who picked up on what he said quickly enough, others in a similar vein who with influence said as much as well...He was unique and yet part of a life philosophy movement that was anti rationalist...He put the last nail in the coffin of the age of reason.. After him, reasonable was a dirty word, along with morals...

I don't know if it's this simple, but I get your point. Still, some of his best lines are tangents. He celebrates the nose. Like you said, a life philosopher. (I bet you would like Spengler on this transition to life philosophy, which he saw as directly related to the transition from culture to civilization...).

Unfortunately, I don't read German. But he is a considered a great writer. At his best, I still contend he was a great philosopher. Remember, he attacked his own faults, even if he was pointing at these same faults in other philosophers. He's not a simple man, in the end. Of course he is often, especially by the young, interpreted in a simplistic way. But that's youth for you. (And I know I'm setting my not-quite-old self up here...)

---------- Post added 05-27-2010 at 02:24 PM ----------

Fido;169613 wrote:
Morals are about Power...Nothing new there...Power is freedom, and what moral person is not free??? The two qualities are found together...

Excellent points. I think we generally agree on this type of issue. But so would Nietzsche perhaps. Except he would qualify it by talking about "between equals" and such, which is still ripe with elitism of course. And this elitism is yet one more example of the way we use abstractions to put ourselves above the madding crowd.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 01:46 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;169637 wrote:
Still, some of his best lines are tangents.

That's a good line, itself! :a-ok:
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 01:54 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;169658 wrote:
That's a good line, itself! :a-ok:


You know, I just now saw what I did there, thanks to you. :Glasses:
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 05:05 am
@hue-man,
Traditional philosophy had posed the important questions, and the answers that traditional philosophy provided hitherto were--- traditional. It was Nietzsche who posed the question whether untraditional thinking might not do better, or at least provide a new approach to their solution. One might do worse than read his works as experiments in approaching questions from non-traditional stances.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 06:35 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;169867 wrote:
Traditional philosophy had posed the important questions, and the answers that traditional philosophy provided hitherto were--- traditional. It was Nietzsche who posed the question whether untraditional thinking might not do better, or at least provide a new approach to their solution. One might do worse than read his works as experiments in approaching questions from non-traditional stances.

But Nietzsche seems deeply traditional in having taken over unthinkingly from organised Christianity a conception of morality as mere obedience to power. Far from being radical, he is deeply authoritarian, and seems to have started a rather nasty little tradition of his own (much as it was said of Wittgenstein that because of him, generations of students had learned to turn up their noses at things that smelled bad to him). To me he has never amounted to anything more than the flipside of the organised Christianity I have always despised. His puffed-up, egotistical (and, as I think has been implied by another poster, adolescent) rebellion is useless because of its lack of ethical content, and therefore implicitly conservative. Surely (I don't know, really, because I'm not well-read in philosophy) there have been other, and earlier, philosophers in the atheist tradition who have been far more radical, not by rejecting morality, but by providing practical alternative moralities to those of the major organised religions? (I'm not saying these alternatives finally work; my own thoughts about morality seem to lead me towards a sort of informal theism, engaging with the organised religions on their own ground.) And of course there are those who have been influenced by Nietzsche but have reacted against him - that makes sense, and I expect I am missing something important by not even finding him interesting enough to want to read and react against.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 06:43 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;169356 wrote:


If you want, you are welcome to disregard the relation of biography to a man's philosophy, but Nietzsche himself didn't.

---------- Post added 05-26-2010 at 09:08 PM ----------


.


Indeed! That's still another reason for thinking he was a confused philosopher.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 09:38 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;169867 wrote:
Traditional philosophy had posed the important questions, and the answers that traditional philosophy provided hitherto were--- traditional. It was Nietzsche who posed the question whether untraditional thinking might not do better, or at least provide a new approach to their solution. One might do worse than read his works as experiments in approaching questions from non-traditional stances.

Put in the context of his time, Nietzsche was traditional, and could not help it, and none of us can... We all look at life in the pool of history... We alll get our thoughts ready made in the form of language specifically, and culture generally...In his case he had the near examples of Kant, and Schopenhaur, Darwin and Goethe; and Napoleon, and Bismark... Of these last two, their wills alone were enough to demonstrate the viability of the superman, and of what any person without regard for morals or laws might do... Not only that, but the world was opening up, and giving up her secrets under he force of capitalist colonialism, so that, from India to Asia, to the America's there were examples of vibrant cultures not suffering the impediment of European Culture and Morals...

Rationalism had been tried, and found to be a dead end, since, if it could not explain man it could not explain anything... Looking at the whole range of anti rationalists the period produced, such as Dostoyevesky, Baudelaire, Poe, Van Gogh, it is clear that something was moving in a great way, and that Nietzsche was in retrospect the best example of the sort... Our tools are as limited as ever... We simply cannot escape traditional methods with a wish... What helps us get milage from our methods is insight...
 
Huxley
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 11:41 am
@Fido,
I reject the reversal of all traditionally assigned Christian values interpretation of Nietzsche. I do so because he often embraces things such as the soul, the spirit, happiness, and over coming yourself. He also praises love, nobility, and despite his frequent disparaging of pity, he defends noble pity. It may be fair to say he isn't reproaching all Christianity (as he actually reflects upon the thought that Christ was a type of overman in Beyond Good and Evil), but a particular brand of Christianity and ethics of the "moral sympathy" on the basis of their motivation and where he thinks this will take the human race when followed to its logical conclusions. He's also having fun while doing it, thereby following through on one of his more prominent doctrines -- being against the spirit of gravity in all things. Further, Nietzsche isn't for the elimination of Christianity, as is commonly thought -- in his eyes, herd morality has a place.

He valued value to the point that in the face of an "eternal recurrence", a seeming rejection of choice and value, one ought to still strive for new values that keep the human race preserved and allow for the truly great to know remote truths. He valued value to the point that he valued those who "went down" in their morality. As he states in Thus Spoke: You hang a tablet on your door (the ten commandments), and that is what makes a people great (the Jews). What those commandments are weren't what was important to him. The only important thing was to have a value, pursue it, and dream of the overman (who will overcome himself).

Of course, interpretations of Nietzsche vary widely, and I think he is hard to understand, so take what you will from the above. I will say that there is one thing I'm more adamant about in my interpretation: Nietzsche interpreted as a rejector of morality and as a nihilist. I don't think this is present at all, and I don't think it takes a nuanced interpretation to see that. I tried to reflect that in some of my above impressions.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 01:05 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;169895 wrote:
I expect I am missing something important by not even finding him interesting enough to want to read and react against.

Your points were excellent, but I do feel you are missing the better side of him. Here is something from one of his later stranger books.
Quote:

Has anyone at the end of the 19th century a distinct conception of what poets of strong ages called inspiration? If not, I will describe it.--If one had the slightest residue of superstition left in one, one would hardly be able to set aside the idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely medium of overwhelming forces. The concept of revelation, in the sense that something suddenly, with unspeakable certainty and subtlety, becomes visible, audible, something that shakes and overturns one to the depths, simply describes the fact. One hears, one does not seek; one takes, one does not ask who gives; a thought flashes up like lightning, with necessity, unfalteringly formed --I have never had any choice. An ecstasy whose tremendous tension sometimes discharges itself in a flood of tears, while one's steps now involuntarily rush along, now involuntarily lag; a complete being outside oneself with the distinct consciousness of a multitude of subtle shudders running down to one's toes; a depth of happiness in which the most painful and gloomy things appear, not as an antithesis, but as conditioned, demanded, as a necessary color within such superfluity of light...Everything is in he highest degree involuntary but takes place as a feeling of freedom, of absoluteness, of power, of divinity.

..the involuntary nature of image, of metaphor, is the most remarkable thing of all; no one any longer has any idea what is image, what metaphor, everything presents itself as the readiest, the truest, the simplest means of expression...
I've felt this myself, once especially. But who could live like this? He sounds like a mystic or something related. A complicated man...
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 09:58 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;170059 wrote:
Your points were excellent, but I do feel you are missing the better side of him. Here is something from one of his later stranger books.
I've felt this myself, once especially. But who could live like this? He sounds like a mystic or something related. A complicated man...

One cannot accurately express the phenomenology of thought... What Nietzsche says is reflected well in the beginning of the Illiad, where the poet invokes the Goddess, to sing through him of the wrath of Achilles...
But as a philologists, it is possible that Nietzsche may have heard of the book...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 02:30 am
@Fido,
Fido;170246 wrote:
One cannot accurately express the phenomenology of thought... What Nietzsche says is reflected well in the beginning of the Illiad, where the poet invokes the Goddess, to sing through him of the wrath of Achilles...
But as a philologists, it is possible that Nietzsche may have heard of the book...


At first glance it looked as if you thought Nietzsche had written the Illiad. I am now pretty sure you did not mean that. But what does that last sentence mean? Who is the philologist? And why do you think it is only possible that Nietzsche heard of the Illiad. That implies that you think he may not have done.
 
 

 
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