Nietzsche Struggles!

In several cases, Nietzsche termed himself a ‘psychologist’ instead of a ‘philosopher.’ What he meant has nothing to do with any behavioral science in the physical sciences. In the first section, Human, All Too Human, he utilizes the metaphor of ‘sublimation’ derived from physical chemistry to depict the conversion of the lower to the higher impulses. (This term became ubiquitous, borrowed from Freud.) Moral and religious sentiments do not originate or grant access to any world of values; the difference between them and lower impulses is one degree rather than the other. A rejection of the oneness of personality is crucial to this view. In truth, the self is a multiplicity of forces Nietzsche says ‘person-like’ forces, whose relation to one another is a sort of political structure. A healthy and powerful personality has a well-organized framework between its drives and impulses. Despite his language of ‘will to power,’ Nietzsche considers the will to be a fiction in its ordinary sense. When we analyse the normal ‘act of will,’ there are a mixture of different elements: sensations of the ‘before’ or ‘after’ states of movement, thought, and especially of the ‘affect of superiority’ connected with an inner command. This last one is related to the will to power. But where this concept comes to mind is in biology, where Nietzsche might reject Darwinism, or at least what he sees as Darwinist stress on living will: ‘The physiologists should take care of themselves before they adopt the cardinal desire of an organic creature on self-preservation. A living being, above all, seeks to unload its energy: life as such is a drive to power. Self-preservation is one of its most frequent and indirect outcomes.’ (Beyond Good and Evil, section 13).

In Nietzsche’s viewpoint, it is hard to separate psychological and metaphysical components for many philosophical topics. His criticism of pessimism is a case in point. Nietzsche contends that it is ridiculous to judge the value of the whole world simply because there can be no external standard to evaluate it. If pessimism involves more sorrow than pleasure in life, it suggests hedonism that Nietzsche considers to be superficial psychology. Pleasure and pain are not ‘facts of consciousness,’ events which are self-evident in nature, but interpretations themselves and therefore reliant on their context. Accordingly, for his naïve perspective of plaisir and pain and for his urge for quantitative calculation, Nietzsche critiques utilitarianism: what can be tallied is worth little.

Similarly, to value oneself depends totally on what kind of one is; to despise oneself can signify a greater state. The egoism advocated by Nietzsche is not the typical version since it does not contain any concern for the self, which is a sign of weakness, not strength, and a failure to overcome itself as a key task. In addition, “the self on whom this emphasis is attached is a very secondary phenomena, often the consequence of the expectations of others.” The personality that we are conscious of in our everyday lives is simply the surface of what we are, and our ideas and motives are only the end products of the real processes that are taking place in us.

A true egoism must focus our attention to the real self and transform the person. It must be a statement of becoming that implies not only change but conflict, disagreement and even annihilation. In the spirit of Heraclitus’ declaration that ‘War is the parent of all things,’ conflict should be understood as a good and creative process. Becoming is not only a philosophical term but something to be validated in our lives, through engaging in the self-transformation process. As Emerson observed, “Power is stopped at rest.” It means affirming conflict, between individuals and groups of persons, but also inside ourselves.

A frequent topic of Nietzsche’s earlier writing was his denial of the right to freedom of will and his support for a fatalistic view of becoming, for which ‘event and event required is a tautology.’ Nietzsche criticises what he calls ‘Turkish fatalism,’ which separates people from circumstances and considers them to be the passive victims of unpersonal unintelligible forces. We must know that we are a part of nature and influence as much as possible what is to come. Even our most modest actions change the entire course of the later events on the basis that all things are related to each other. This notion of ego fatum is strongly connected to one another: love fati. Often mentioned in exuberant tones, Nietzsche claims we should not only accept destiny, we must adore it: ‘My formulation for grandeur in humanity is love fati. (Ecce Homo, Section 10: ‘Why I am So Clever’). If we ‘incorporate’ fatalism, then the strength of the past and the present is balanced with the same energy in ourselves. That there are no aims outside the act of being, no reality beyond the world of appearance, is a prerequisite for full freedom.

What is freedom for? You have the will to take responsibility for yourself. The one keeps the distance between us. That one gets increasingly indifferent to problems, hardships, deprivation, even to life. This man is prepared to sacrifice people for himself, not excluding himself.
(Twilight of the Idols, ‘An untimely man’s skirmishes, section 38)

This duty for oneself has nothing to do with moral responsibility, which is a justification for blame and punishment. It is a function of will power whose usual expression is the ability to make and fulfil promises—particularly to oneself rather than to others. Nietzsche asks this ‘free spirit’: ‘Become what you are!’ This would indicate a conception of the intelligible nature of Kantian or Schopenhauer; yet Nietzsche has no belief in an intelligible self positioned above the reign of being.

Categories: atheism, Behold The Man, christianity, english

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