Archive for the ‘Nietzsche’ Category

The fundamental human drive(s)

December 12, 2009

Many philosophers and psychologists have attempted to identify a single, ultimate drive of human behaviour. Maslow devised a heirarchy of drives. These attempts have been too simplistic. We have many drives, which manifest themselves in different life circumstances to varying degrees. With modern neuroscience we can get inside the brain, examine the dopamine system and other areas, in order to work out what is really driving us.

Fundamental human drives are:

  • Experiential/Emotional: curiosity/exploration, pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, escape from boredom and anxiety
  • Meaning: authenticity, order, organisation, problems-solving
  • Environmental: survival/flight or fight,  food, shelter, physical health, adaption to one’s environment.
  • Reproduction: sex, pair bonding, care for one’s offspring
  • Creativity/personal goal setting and achievement: Creating new purposes, overcoming challenges, and achieving goals with positive reinforcement/rewards
  • Social/Emotional: group bonding/acceptance/adherence to cultural imperatives, self-preservation of family and tribe, cooperation, social status (competition/dominance, envy, resentment, vengeance, anger, shame, embarrassment)

It is supposed that all these drives serve one end, the continuation of human life with increasing adaptation to the environment. However, this theory (or teleological fiction) may need to be significantly adjusted in light of modern technological advancements. It seems that humans have mastered their environment (at least those of the Western middle and upper classes) and ends other than the evolutionary are gaining ascendance.

Richard Dawkins believes the next step in evolution will involve human beings creating new purposes and goals (cf. Nietzsche’s Übermensch).

Recreation and re-creation

October 31, 2009

Recreation is viewed as a time for hedonism, not re-creation. It is viewed as a pleasant escape from life.

Re-creation on the other hand is a spiritual activity. It is a time for reflection, study and re-creating yourself more powerfully for life.

The decadent pursue the former, the overcoming man the latter.

Nietzsche: the truest disciple of Socrates

June 21, 2009

Jonathan Ree discussed Kierkegaard @ In Our Time.

Ree states that Kierkegaard believed that Socrates was about taking down pretensions to knowledge, not the building up of philosophical systems, such as that of Hegel. I can think of no one who more attacked pretensions to knowledge than Nietzsche (Hume comes second). Perhaps Nietzsche was Socrates truest disciple – now that’s irony.

Nietzsche’s project, according to Keith Pearson

January 17, 2009

Introductory articles:

Nietzsche on free will

January 14, 2009

From Twilight of the idols:

The error of free will. Today we no longer have any tolerance for the idea of “free will”: we see it only too clearly for what it really is — the foulest of all theological fictions, intended to make mankind “responsible” in a religious sense — that is, dependent upon priests. Here I simply analyze the psychological assumptions behind any attempt at “making responsible.”
Whenever responsibility is assigned, it is usually so that judgment and punishment may follow. Becoming has been deprived of its innocence when any acting-the-way-you-did is traced back to will, to motives, to responsible choices: the doctrine of the will has been invented essentially to justify punishment through the pretext of assigning guilt. All primitive psychology, the psychology of will, arises from the fact that its interpreters, the priests at the head of ancient communities, wanted to create for themselves the right to punish — or wanted to create this right for their God. Men were considered “free” only so that they might be considered guilty — could be judged and punished: consequently, every act had to be considered as willed, and the origin of every act had to be considered as lying within the consciousness (and thus the most fundamental psychological deception was made the principle of psychology itself).
Today, we immoralists have embarked on a counter movement and are trying with all our strength to take the concepts of guilt and punishment out of the world — to cleanse psychology, history, nature, and social institutions and sanctions of these ideas. And there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming by means of the concepts of a “moral world-order,” “guilt,” and “punishment.” Christianity is religion for the executioner.

Although Jesus’ death was meant to cleanse the world of guilt and punishment these concepts remain stubbornly persistent, especially amongst Christians. The innocent sheep being completely determined by the direction of the shepherd is not a vision they have of mankind. Instead, we are the ‘evil’ wolves with the ‘free will’ only to ‘sin’. Indeed, someone profits from the Christian’s ideology, but it is not mankind.

Man does not want happiness

January 4, 2009

A warning from Nietzsche that the pursuit of happiness may not be an end in itself.

If we possess our why of life we can put up with almost any how. Man does not strive after happiness; only the Englishman does that.

Man, in his basic natural state, does not seek out happiness exclusively. He unavoidably makes many choices that sacrifice potential happiness for the sake of other life instinstcs, such as sex and competition for status.

The ‘Englishman’ is a socially-constructed identity; there is no Englishman (or Utilitarianism, the cloaked reference)  in nature. Happiness too is obscurely socially-constructed; it has come to mean much more than pleasure.

Beware of ends that may be little more than social myths.

The Antichrist by Nietzsche

December 25, 2008

Audiobook available at LibriVox: The Antichrist

Text is available here.

Other Nietzsche works available as audiobooks: LibriVox: Search Results

Choice quotes:

The “kingdom of heaven” is a state of the heart—not something that is to come “above the earth” or “after death.” The whole concept of natural death is lacking in the evangel: death is no bridge, no transition; it is lacking because it belongs to a wholly different, merely apparent world, useful only insofar as it furnishes signs. The “hour of death” is no Christian conception: “hour,” time, physical life and its crises do not even exist for the teacher of the “glad tidings.” The “kingdom of God” is nothing that one expects; it has no yesterday and no day after tomorrow, it will not come in “a thousand years”—it is an experience of the heart; it is everywhere, it is nowhere.

This “bringer of glad tidings” died as he had lived, as he had taught—not to “redeem men” but to show how one must live. This practice is his legacy to mankind: his behavior before the judges, before the catchpoles, before the accusers and all kinds of slander and scorn—his behavior on the cross. He does not resist, he does not defend his right, he takes no step which might ward off the worst; on the contrary, he provokes it. And he begs, he suffers, he loves with those, in those, who do him evil. Not to resist, not to be angry, not to hold responsible—but to resist not even the evil one—to love him. 

Flourishing in community

December 18, 2008

Of all things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.

– Epicurus

In my judgement the sweetness of well-matched and compatible fellowship can never cost too dear. O! a friend! How true is that ancient judgement, that the frequenting of one is more sweet than the element water, more necessary than the element fire.

– Montaigne

One can only flourish among people who share the identical ideas and the identical will; I have no one – that is my sickness.

– Nietzsche

Good friends give us a positive self-concept; bad acquitances detract from it.

The psychology of Internet debate

October 29, 2008

Through argument, the pitiful man displaces his precious self-concept into the hands of his judgemental opponent and then seeks to retain it with honour by vanquishing him in rhetorical battle. The trophy is his returned self-concept, with added smug self-righteousness – truly gratifying!

Who is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?

October 4, 2008

Is it the Jesus of popular Christianity? No, apparently not, because most Christians still live with sin and guilt as though it were still in the world. They live as though sins were not forgiven, as though Jesus’ death on the cross really did jack.

The lamb of God is… drumroll please.. da dadada… Friedrich Nietzsche – who railed against draconian Christian notions of sin and guilt, and directly and indirectly (through Freud, Heidegger, Franz Overbeck and others) influenced many leading theologians of the 20th century (Barth, Bultmann, Moltmann, Tillich to name a few). These theologians rejected oppressive notions of God as a vindictive tyrant and presented him as essentially loving and accepting. They did not ignore sin and guilt altogether, but their thrust was that God was no longer interested in sin as a metaphysical reality – that when Jesus gave up his spirit, that which was written actually occurred:

the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent

The death of Christ was a once for all, cosmic victory over sin. Sin is dead. Sin remains dead. And Christ killed it.

But Christianity mostly rejected this notion. Through flagellation, confession and hellfire preaching, Christendom has done its best to keep the beast alive and keep people in chains with guilt. Christians honestly believe sin is still in the world and that they must think about it and go through the motions weekly at church in order to satisfy a wrathful God. We ought to pity these knights of infinite resignation.

For Christians, Christ’s death was not sufficient for the forgiveness of sins. Thus another sacrifice was needed in order to rid  the world of the notion of sin.  That came in the form of The Antichrist. Nietzsche had a significant influence on theologians of the 20th century in rejecting the traditional Christian God as a spiteful, vengeful despot. They took their cue from Nietzsche in proclaiming a Gospel of human liberation, an eternal* Yes! to life – as it was always meant to be.

*eternal in terms of magnitude, not time

Further reading: Nietzsche on the Origin of Sin