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  1. Homo Saecularis | Reality and Its Alternatives | Issues | The Hedgehog Review
  2. Secularism: The Prodigal Child
  3. Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
  4. Shields, Not Swords

Nietzsche conceptualizes this with the famous statement "God is dead", which first appeared in his work in section of The Gay Science , again in section with the parable of "The Madman", and even more famously in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The statement, typically placed in quotation marks, [1] accentuated the crisis that Nietzsche argued that Western culture must face and transcend in the wake of the irreparable dissolution of its traditional foundations, moored largely in classical Greek philosophy and Christianity.

Nihilism is sacrificing the meaning "God" brings into our lives, for "matter and motion", physics, "objective truth. In The Antichrist , Nietzsche fights against the way in which Christianity has become an ideology set forth by institutions like churches, and how churches have failed to represent the life of Jesus.

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Nietzsche finds it important to distinguish between the religion of Christianity and the person of Jesus. Nietzsche attacked the Christian religion, as represented by churches and institutions, for what he called it is " transvaluation " of healthy instinctive values. Transvaluation consists of the process by which one can view the meaning of a concept or ideology from a "higher" context. Nietzsche went beyond agnostic and atheistic thinkers of the Enlightenment , who simply regarded Christianity as untrue.

He claimed that the Apostle Paul may have deliberately propagated Christianity as a subversive religion a "psychological warfare weapon" within the Roman Empire as a form of covert revenge for the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and of the Second Temple in 71 AD during the Jewish War of 66—73 AD. Nietzsche contrasts the Christians with Jesus, whom he regarded as a unique individual, and argues he established his own moral evaluations. Jesus's refusal to defend himself, and subsequent death, logically followed from this total disengagement. Nietzsche goes further to analyze the history of Christianity, finding it has progressively distorted the teachings of Jesus more and more.

He criticizes the early Christians for turning Jesus into a martyr and Jesus's life into the story of the redemption of mankind in order to dominate the masses, and finds the Apostles cowardly, vulgar, and resentful. He argues that successive generations further misunderstood the life of Jesus as the influence of Christianity grew. Nietzsche also criticized Christianity for demonizing flourishing in life, and glorifying living an apathetic life.

By the 19th century, Nietzsche concludes, Christianity had become so worldly as to parody itself—a total inversion of a world view which was, in the beginning, nihilistic, thus implying the "death of God". Nietzsche argued that two types of morality existed: a master morality that springs actively from the "nobleman", and a slave morality that develops reactively within the weak man. These two moralities do not present simple inversions of one another. They form two different value systems: master morality fits actions into a scale of "good" or "bad" consequences, whereas slave morality fits actions into a scale of "good" or "evil" intentions.

Surprisingly he disdained both, though the first clearly less than the second. According to Heidegger's interpretation, one can not be thought without the others. During Nazi Germany , Alfred Baeumler attempted to separate the concepts, claiming that the Eternal Recurrence was only an "existential experience" that, if taken seriously, would endanger the possibility of a "will to power"— deliberately misinterpreted, by the Nazis, as a "will for domination".

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The term Wille zur Macht first appeared in the posthumous fragment 23 [63] of — Within these books there are some small sections, usually the shape of a circle, and sometimes just a key phrase—such as his opening comments in the 1st monstrosity of the preface: "Of what is great one must either be silent or speak with greatness. With greatness—that means cynically and with innocence. Throughout his works, Nietzsche writes about possible great human beings or "higher types" who serve as an example of people who would follow his philosophical ideas.

They are often described by Nietzsche as being highly creative, courageous, powerful and extremely rare individuals. He compares such individuals with certain historical figures which have been very rare and often haven't been considered geniuses, such as Napoleon , Goethe and Beethoven. His main example of a genius exemplary culture is Archaic Greece.

While interpretations of Nietzsche's overman vary wildly, here are a few of his quotes from Thus Spoke Zarathustra : [ citation needed ]. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man?

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A laughingstock or established embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape Nietzsche may have encountered the idea of the Eternal Recurrence in the works of Heinrich Heine , who speculated that one day a person would be born with the same thought-processes as himself, and that the same applied to every other individual. Nietzsche expanded on this thought to form his theory, which he put forth in The Gay Science and developed in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Schopenhauer directly influenced this theory. Nietzsche's view on eternal return is similar to that of Hume: "the idea that an eternal recurrence of blind, meaningless variation—chaotic, pointless shuffling of matter and law—would inevitably spew up worlds whose evolution through time would yield the apparently meaningful stories of our lives.

This idea of eternal recurrence became a cornerstone of his nihilism, and thus part of the foundation of what became existentialism. He gradually backed-off of this view, and in later works referred to it as a thought-experiment.

Secularism: The Prodigal Child

What if a demon were to creep after you one day or night, in your loneliest loneness, and say: "This life which you live and have lived, must be lived again by you, and innumerable times more. And mere will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh—everything unspeakably small and great in your life—must come again to you, and in the same sequence and series The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned—and you with it, dust of dust!

Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment, in which you would answer him: "Thou art a god, and never have I heard anything more divine! Nietzsche's work addresses ethics from several perspectives: meta-ethics , normative ethics , and descriptive ethics. In the field of meta-ethics , one can perhaps most accurately classify Nietzsche as a moral skeptic ; meaning that he claims that all ethical statements are false, because any kind of correspondence between ethical statements and "moral facts" remains illusory.

This forms part of a more general claim that no universally true fact exists, roughly because none of them more than "appear" to correspond to reality. Instead, ethical statements like all statements remain mere "interpretations. Sometimes Nietzsche may seem to have very definite opinions on what he regards as moral or as immoral.

Note, however, that one can explain Nietzsche's moral opinions without attributing to him the claim of their truth. For Nietzsche, after all, we needn't disregard a statement merely because it expresses something false. On the contrary, he depicts falsehood as essential for "life".

Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

He mentions a "dishonest lie", discussing Wagner in The Case of Wagner as opposed to an "honest" one, recommending further to consult Plato with regard to the latter, which should give some idea of the layers of paradox in his work. In the juncture between normative ethics and descriptive ethics , Nietzsche distinguishes between "master morality" and "slave morality". He recognizes that not everyone holds either scheme in a clearly delineated fashion without some syncretism , he presents them in contrast to one another.

Some of the contrasts in master vs. Nietzsche elaborated these ideas in his book On the Genealogy of Morality , in which he also introduced the key concept of ressentiment as the basis for the slave morality. Nietzsche's primarily negative assessment of the ethical and moralistic teachings of Christianity followed from his earlier considerations of the questions of God and morality in the works The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

These considerations led Nietzsche to the idea of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche primarily meant that, for all practical purposes, his contemporaries lived as if God were dead, though they had not yet recognized it. Nietzsche believed this "death" had already started to undermine the foundations of morality and would lead to moral relativism and moral nihilism.

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As a response to the dangers of these trends he believed in re-evaluating the foundations of morality to better understand the origins and motives underlying them, so that individuals might decide for themselves whether to regard a moral value as born of an outdated or misguided cultural imposition or as something they wish to hold true. While a political tone may be discerned in Nietzsche 's writings, his work does not in any sense propose or outline a "political project. There are parts of his works where he considers an enigmatic "greater politics", and others where he thinks the problem of community.

In this sense, some have read Nietzsche as an anti-political thinker. Walter Kaufmann put forward the view that the powerful individualism expressed in his writings would be disastrous if introduced to the public realm of politics.

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In "Nietzsche and Fascists," he argued against such instrumentalization, by the left or the right, declaring that Nietzsche's aim was to by-pass the short timespan of modern politics, and its inherent lies and simplifications, for a greater historical timespan. Later writers, led by the French intellectual Left, have proposed ways of using Nietzschean theory in what has become known as the "politics of difference " — particularly in formulating theories of political resistance and sexual and moral difference. Owing largely to the writings of Kaufmann and others, the spectre of Nazism has now been almost entirely exorcised from his writings.

Philosopher Stephen Hicks has noted significant differences and similarities between the thought of Nietzsche and the Nazis. Nietzsche often referred to the common people who participated in mass movements and shared a common mass psychology as "the rabble", or "the herd".

He allegedly valued individualism above all else.

This has been considered by many philosophers [ who? He considered the individual subject as a complex of instincts and wills-to-power, just as any other organization. Beginning in the s some scholars have attempted to link his philosophy with Max Stirner 's radical individualism of The Ego and Its Own The question remained pendant. Recently there was unearthed further, still circumstantial, evidence clarifying the relationship between Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner.

While he is best characterized as a thinker of "hierarchy", the precise nature of this hierarchy does not cover the current social order the "establishment" and is related to his thought of the Will to Power. Against the strictly "egoist" perspective adopted by Stirner, Nietzsche concerned himself with the "problem of the civilization" and the necessity to give humanity a goal and a direction to its history, making him, in this sense, a very political thinker. Furthermore, in the context of his criticism of morality and Christianity, expressed, among others works, in On the Genealogy of Morals and in The Antichrist , Nietzsche often criticized humanitarian feelings, detesting how pity and altruism were ways for the "weak" to take power over the "strong".

However, he qualified his critique of Christianism as a "particular case" of his criticisms of free will. While he had a dislike of the state in general, which he called a "cold monster" in Thus Spoke Zarathustra , Nietzsche also spoke negatively of anarchism , communism , socialism and liberalism , and made it clear that only certain individuals could attempt to break away from the herd mentality. This theme is common throughout Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Nietzsche has famously been misrepresented as a predecessor to Nazism; he criticized antisemitism , pan-Germanism and, to a lesser extent, nationalism. In Ecce Homo , Nietzsche criticized the "German nation" and its "will to power to Empire, to Reich ", thus underscoring an easy misinterpretation of the Wille zur Macht , the conception of Germans as a "race", and the "anti-Semitic way of writing history", or of making "history conform to the German Empire", and stigmatized "nationalism, this national neurosis from which Europe is sick", this "small politics".

I've seen proof, black on white, that Herr Dr. Since then I've had difficulty coming up with any of the tenderness and protectiveness I've so long felt toward you.

Shields, Not Swords

The separation between us is thereby decided in really the most absurd way. Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world? Now it has gone so far that I have to defend myself hand and foot against people who confuse me with these anti-Semitic canaille ; after my own sister, my former sister, and after Widemann more recently have given the impetus to this most dire of all confusions.

After I read the name Zarathustra in the anti-Semitic Correspondence my forbearance came to an end. I am now in a position of emergency defense against your spouse's Party. These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!! In particular, efficiency has become a more general value—the universal principle for all intelligent conduct. It is not that such instrumental values are themselves perverse, but the fact that they have escaped from their proper sphere.

Technique refuses to tolerate competing moral judgements, excluding them from its field in favour of its own technical morality. Consequently, human beings have become objects—no longer choosing agents, but devices for recording the results obtained by various techniques. Decisions are no longer to be made on the basis of complex and human motives, but only in favour of the technique that gives maximum efficiency.