Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Raptors and Sheep in the Nihilistic Age

 

sheep_eagles_640x480_37708Over a year ago, I watched a talk by Joseph Bottom on his book, The Anxious Age. In that book, he argues that the decline in Mainline Protestantism has forced Americans — swimming as they are in Protestant Ethics — to seek the salvation they know they need in non-institutional, and therefore radical, settings. His focus is on the Left, and how the decline of the Mainlines has left them only things like radical environmentalism and Occupy Wall Street in which to work out their salvation through fear and trembling. However, he also argues that the rise in Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity is from the same source.

He argues that we live in an anxious age where people still need to know that they are good people — following in the Protestant Ethic that the saved can know they are saved because of their works and success — but that they lack the institutional forms, in whose membership provided they found confidence. “I’m a Methodist, therefore I’m a good person” is no longer adequate both because there are so few Methodists left and since being Methodist has so little meaning as the denomination drifts in the theological currents.

He recounts observing the environmentalists and Occupiers and hearing their language and their descriptions — their desire to be righteous — and concluded this is a religious belief. Unfortunately for them, he argued, because they lack someone who can tell them that they are saved, they will be forever anxious. However, this is a, as he put it, “thick” metaphysics about the world.

For the past year, I’ve been thinking about this talk off and on, gradually turning against it. I am tempted to directly compare the thesis to The World is Flat, that when Bottom listens to these Occupiers and uses their comments to ruminate on righteousness, I want to respond, “he said ‘brave’, not ‘righteous’; the two concepts are completely different.” In a more reflective moment, that is probably overboard: Friedman can barely speak modern English, whereas Bottom begins his lecture by reciting Everyman in Old English. However, I remain convinced that Bottom is wrong, on a metaphysical and philosophical level, about modernity. We do not live in an age where people worry about their salvation — an anxious age of question righteousness — but in an age where people worry about meaning. A nihilistic age.

Nihilism is a philosophical concept that, I imagine, is not well understood. It suffers by association with Nazism, but it also suffers from coming at the end of a Modern Philosophy or Philosophy of Ethics course. My formal Nihilism training begins and ends with “On the Genealogy of Morals,” and that was half a week in a modern political theory class. Put another way, a teacher can spend great gouts of time on Mill and Bentham, Kant can be his own class. Or they can talk about the proto-Nazi and spend half their time explaining that, no, Nietzsche was not a Nazi, he though anti-Semites were suffering under the same delusions as everyone else… and even your eyes are glazing over, so how about more Categorical Imperatives?

Consider language, an area a bit easier to understand. In The Lord of the Rings, knowing the true name of something gives someone power of that thing. When Legolas strikes at Gollum on the great river, shooting an arrow at him while the rapids buffet their boats, he cries “Elbereth Githoniel,” the elven name for Queen of the Gods, who created the stars. By calling on her by name, he adds power to his shot and quells the rapids, even though he misses. In the movies, this logic is why knowing the right words causes the phial that Frodo carries to light up. There are real things, and the names of those things attach to the real things.

Modern linguists and philosophers do not think this way, and — almost certainly — nor do most modern people. If there is a real thing that is the Queen of the Gods, “Elbereth Githoniel” is nothing more than a signifier of that thing, and it could be signified as easily by calling it “EG” or “Lizzie.” Words, by themselves, have no meaning, let alone any attachment to material things. The Queen of the Gods is “Elbereth Githoniel” because that is the name the elves gave it, and whenever someone wants to refer to her, they simply use that name because that is the name people use. It is convention. People understand the meaning because that is the meaning everyone understands, and those who use the word with a different meaning are not understood. Through trial and error and a certain amount of evolution, conventions ebb and flow, and the result is language as we know it.

This is what Nihilists mean when they deny the existence of real essences. Even “The Queen of the Gods” isn’t a thing, it’s a convention for discussing what may or may not be a lump of matter. “Queen of the Gods” has no meaning except to signify “that lump of matter, not this other lump of matter.”

When I say that an apple is red, I am not, contrary to all indicators, making a statement about inherent characteristics of the apple. I am saying that this particular characteristic is understood by all of us to be called “red.” Thus, it doesn’t matter if we all see the same color (though in a nihilistic sense, even this question is nonsense), so long as all people see the apple, however they perceive it, and all agree to call it “red,” then the apple is red. This is the appeal to convention.

When Nietzsche turned this analysis on morals, he saw that much of society, much of morality, has no metaphysical founding. How could there be when his very philosophical lens denied the existence of anything but material and convention? Society was rigidly ordered into hierarchies — not that it would matter if it were organized differently — but these hierarchies did not conform to anything real. When Aristotle talked of people with a “slavish temperament,” he was not describing a real thing, but a social convention.

CC BY-SA 4.0 File:MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg Uploaded by FireflySixtySeven Created: November 2, 2014If we put that in modern terms, Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs” diagram, we would be saying that — insofar as this does not conform to purely physical things (i.e., the bottom two levels on the right) — then it is merely a moving through social conventions. People are self-actualized, free beings when they are recognized by other people as being self-actualized free beings. There is no actual difference.

From this, it follows that morality — insofar as it lacks material attachment — is also merely conventional. The Feudal System morality was imposed by social convention, destroyed by social convention, and then replaced with Utilitarianism and Kantian Deontology, also by convention. Utilitarianism does not reflect a discovery, or a clearer understanding of morality than the hierarchical and martial morality of Feudalism, it reflected the rise of the middle class and the new importance that class placed — again, as a convention — on empathy and sensitivity, an emphasis Nietzsche ultimately blamed on Christianity (whose symbol was a crucified slave, and whose promise of comfort was that the crucified slave had felt your pain). Neither is better or worse, and both reflect what Nietzsche called the “slave morality,” both because of the Christian emphasis on the meek slave, and on how it reflected a convention hoisted on society by slaves.

In Nietzsche’s metaphor of the sheep and raptor the sheep — for their own protection — enforce a rigid morality upon each other of uniformity and empathy, and claim that their meekness and vulnerability makes them better than the raptor. The raptor then swoops down, seizes a lamb, devours it, and doesn’t care what the sheep say. The sheep call the raptor evil, but the raptor merely does what raptors do; it is a physical and material necessity, and the sheep cannot change that by adopting social convention.

Unless, that is, they can convince the raptor to adopt it, too. By Nietzsche’s time, he believed, they had. In a sense, Nietzsche is the anti-Socrates. Socrates looked at the people of Athens — so convinced that they were good people — and asked “Why are you good?” inquiring to Euthyphro as to why taking his father to trial for murder was a good act. Was it because the gods loved it, or was it good in its own right? What, specifically, made Athens good? Nietzsche asked the same question, “Why are you good?” but he asked a society that for two thousand years had believed its goodness, such as it existed, came from obeying a real command. (Christianity brushes off the Euthyphro dilemma by reference to God’s command, the Sole Creator of the Universe has decreed it. His universe, His rules. All else is commentary. Hence the importance Nietzsche placed on the metaphorical death of God). Absent that command, which in the world of Utilitarianism and the Categorical Imperative no had binding force, why are you still following it?

In X-Men 2, Magneto is a perfect example of the raptor in Nietzsche’s philosophy. When he asks a student for their name, the student responds with “John,” but that is the convention the student has followed. “What is your name,” Magneto asks again. “Pyro,” the student responds, holding a fireball in his hand. “You are a god among insects. Never let anyone tell you different,” Magneto says.

Even Utilitarianism and the Categorical Imperative fall to the moral equivalent of the “one less god” argument. The grounds for rejecting all other moralities applies just as harshly to these moralities. Why should we privilege empath, happiness, or logical consistency and collective well-being? We are raptors, not sheep. We make the laws, to our own advantage, and we insist that the sheep follow it because it is just.

The raptor binds the sheep because he is stronger. One what grounds can the sheep bind the raptor?

Nihilism is not morally vacuous, it is morally prehistoric. There is no morality, just the world of sheep and raptors, but because there is no morality, you can create your own morality if you have the strength to enforce it. You can create your own destiny, and — through your own will — create meaning. And if you cannot do that, you can hide in the herd of sheep and hope that the raptors come from someone else.

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Confederate Monument in Perryville, KY

Under the old slave morality, in all its incarnations, each individual had a place in the world and could find meaning in their place. “Father” and “mother” were places where upholding the position carried meaning. “Employee” and “Employer” the same. When people fulfilled their obligations, they were feted and raised up above everyone. Not for nothing, but many of the memorials we have been talking about lately are spires with a dead man standing atop them. Perhaps I am drawing too much comparison if I remind the reader that the symbol of Christianity is also a dead man lifted above his enemies.

This insults the nihilist. Why is this nothing who did not create his own meaning, but sold his soul to the slave morality, worthy of a monument lifting him above mortal men? To the nihilist, humanity is a teaming mass of sheep, except for the handful of men who achieve self-actualization, the supermen who force, through sheer will, the world to acknowledge them atop their self-created spires.

Nietzsche did not envision, or did not separate from the “hide among the sheep” school, a third option. If the raptors’ created morality has rules that the raptors must follow, then the raptors can be bound by the sheep. Once a raptor allows any convention to dictate its behavior, it is at the mercy of the mob that decides convention.

Jonah Goldberg asked on a recent GLoP podcast how we ended up with the state of affairs on college campuses where students assert their will to power through displays of weakness. This is no strange affair at all. The raptors, or at least the strong sheep, accept the convention that weakness is a virtue, and thus these people flaunting their weaknesses are doing exactly what Nietzsche said the sheep would do. What would make them truly raptors is if they defied convention entirely -but so few actually are raptors. And many of the raptors still want to think themselves good.

It is for this reason that the people Joseph Bottom interviewed did not say they wanted to be righteous. Righteousness is a category of the slaves. They wanted to be brave. They wanted to be the primitive man demonstrating his value through the violation of convention. They want to be seen as raptors.

But they are not raptors, they are sheep who aspire to be raptors, and so they go about flaunting convention in a remarkably conventional way, and by setting new conventions for the flock, they think themselves raptors, or at least leaders among sheep. They create new conventions for everything, from sex to god, and think that makes them supermen.

They are not anxious about salvation, they are anxious because they know they pretend to be supermen when they are not. It is the anxiety of the con man and imposter. We know this because they want to be seen as brave. The true raptor cares nothing for what the sheep see.

The danger we face in the nihilistic age is that raptors still exist. And when they come, they do not draw distinctions among the sheep.

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  1. The Reticulator Member

    Thank you. That is helpful.

    • #1
    • July 7, 2015, at 7:22 PM PDT
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  2. Randy Webster Member

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    • #2
    • July 8, 2015, at 3:20 AM PDT
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  3. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    As someone who’s managed to get this far without reading Neitzche, this was an interesting introduction. Thank you.

    Challenge:

    Sabrdance: The danger we face in the nihilistic age is that raptors still exist. And when they come, they do not draw distinctions among the sheep.

    Aren’t Islamists also acting deeply within convention, albeit a very different one than ours? “Let’s kill a bunch of infidels and spark a new Jihad!” is hardly the thinking of someone unencumbered by the rules of others.

    • #3
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:15 AM PDT
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  4. I Walton Member

    Great summary. Now he or some members should do another to deconstruct nihilism.

    • #4
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:18 AM PDT
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  5. Old Bathos Moderator

    That’s a really outstanding essay. Thank you.

    There may need to be a category for really confused sheep. There does not seem to be much on-campus reflection about what always happens to any “social justice” project when the power to effect it is achieved and one raptor (Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, Mao…) always winds up ruling all.

    Puts me in mind of this marvelous exchange in A Man for All Seasons:

    Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
    More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

    • #5
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:36 AM PDT
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  6. Done Contributor

    I will be stealing much of this and passing it off as my own thoughts.

    • #6
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:37 AM PDT
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  7. I Walton Member

    Let’s not forget mobs behave like raptors, while they may not always have teeth or claws they trample when stampeded. Great men? Those who cause the stampede, also called agitators.

    • #7
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:46 AM PDT
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  8. Saint Augustine Member

    Great word, Sabrdance!

    A clear summary of Nietzsche’s analysis. And I think it’s safe to say that our culture is very nihilistic.

    Good companions would be the criticisms of modern culture in Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, and Lewis’ The Abolition of Man.

    If I were to critique the cultural criticism, I think the best place for me to contribute would be to look at a bit more Nietzsche, to see how he’s a philosopher out to ESCAPE nihilism.

    I’m swamped with family and travel and book projects, but I think I can copy something from my notes, and maybe add a blurb of commentary.

    • #8
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:47 AM PDT
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  9. Saint Augustine Member

    And when we say “raptor,” are we all on the same page? Not the monsters from Isla Nublar, but eagles. Raptor, as Dr. Grant tells us, means “bird of prey.”

    • #9
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:49 AM PDT
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  10. Done Contributor

    Augustine:And when we say “raptor,” are we all on the same page? Not the monsters from Isla Nublar, but eagles. Raptor, as Dr. Grant tells us, means “bird of prey.”

    I see no reason to make this distinction. The metaphor is only enhanced by the inclusion of dinosaurs.

    • #10
    • July 8, 2015, at 7:53 AM PDT
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  11. GrannyDude Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:As someone who’s managed to get this far without reading Neitzche, this was an interesting introduction. Thank you.

    Challenge:

    Sabrdance: The danger we face in the nihilistic age is that raptors still exist. And when they come, they do not draw distinctions among the sheep.

    Aren’t Islamists also acting deeply within convention, albeit a very different one than ours? “Let’s kill a bunch of infidels and spark a new Jihad!” is hardly the thinking of someone unencumbered by the rules of others.

    I had the same thought.

    Moreover, there is a kind of pitiable predictability about what raptors (self-declared) do: generally, they hurt and kill people. And once they’ve killed people, those people are dead.

    Religions that try to define and personify evil, or declare the material (as opposed to metaphorical) existence of Satan have a problem, as do the makers of horror movies or Third Reichs. For all the ominous music, baritone invocations and chantings of discordant choirs, when you finally get to what Ultimate Evil does, it comes down to the a pale imitation of your basic ‘flu virus or casual tsunami: hurts people, kills people.

    Maybe, if you want to ramp things up and get all apocalyptic about it, Satan hurts everyone, kills everyone. Especially women and black people. Evil bakes the whole planet with greenhouse gases or blows it up with nukes or via the unendurable provocation of one or another of our gods. But even if Satan manages to pull this off, he’ll do no more than anticipate the bit of space rock that is already headed our way.

    • #11
    • July 8, 2015, at 8:02 AM PDT
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  12. Saint Augustine Member

    I used to teach an Intro course where we studied the theme of philosophical ascent and its critics. In comments below are some notes on Nietzsche from my lesson plans, edited slightly for clarity.

    The text was Twilight of the Idols. The theme of nihilism and Nietzsche’s response to it are hinted at a bit in the bolded remarks.

    • #12
    • July 8, 2015, at 8:03 AM PDT
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  13. Saint Augustine Member

    I. The problem of otherworldliness

    1. It’s time for a new word, and the word is ‘otherworldliness.’ Otherworldliness can be defined as a love of another world as better than this world.
    2. Otherworldliness and philosophical ascent: Insofar as philosophical ascent was always directed at some higher world, it is otherworldly. With Plato the other world is the immaterial world, and with Boethius the other world is the kingdom of God.
    3. For Kant we cannot get to the higher world but we believe in it just the same.
    4. Nietzsche only believes in one world, this world, the world of our experience, a world he thinks is made entirely of matter! Nietzsche is a materialist.
    5. Nietzsche thinks the love of another world is really just a hatred for this one. He thinks that people who are too weak to thrive in this world make up another one. They have a distaste for life.
    1. He thinks they have two motives:

    In order to hang the other world over the heads of the more powerful people of this world as a means of controlling them.

    E.g., Nietzsche’s perspective on early Christians as whiny poor people afraid of the Roman masters.

    1. Nietzsche’s biggest enemy is, in case you haven’t noticed, Christian otherworldliness. E.g.:

    “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.”

    “When I die, hallelujah, bye and bye, I’ll fly away . . .”

    • #13
    • July 8, 2015, at 8:03 AM PDT
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  14. Merina Smith Inactive

    I’d be interested in a little further exploration of the role of meaning. I think that is connected to the understanding of righteousness among the sheep. They might want to be regarded as brave and innovative (and I think the endless invention of genders is part of this impulse) but they do also want to be thought of as “good” which translates to “on the right side of history” (as Obama puts it) for many of them. That’s definitely a sheep-like impulse (hey–let’s all run that way!) but at the same time gives them a sense of being part of the vanguard and even a vague sense of meaning (I’m part of ushering in a rising utopia! Yay me!)

    • #14
    • July 8, 2015, at 8:03 AM PDT
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  15. Saint Augustine Member

    II. To the text . . .

    1. Foreword: What it means to philosophize with a hammer . . . to test the things people worship to see if they ring hollow, to inspect ideas of a higher world to see if they ring hollow.
    2. Foreword: Nietzsche wants to expose that higher world to which previous philosophers wanted to ascend as an idol—a hollow idea people made up by people who couldn’t thrive in this world.
    3. The Problem of Socrates: Idea that life is worthless.

    (Socrates’ death scene in the Phaedo is the paradigmatic example in philosophy of those philosophers who dislike this life!)

    • #15
    • July 8, 2015, at 8:03 AM PDT
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  16. Saint Augustine Member

    III. “ ‘Reason’ in Philosophy”

    From the text . . .

    The senses were blamed along with the body.

    Heraclitus alone among ancient philosophers realized the reality of change.

    Reason, the instrument philosophers recommended to escape from the changing world to the changeless immaterial world, is an instrument used to oppose real life.

    • #16
    • July 8, 2015, at 8:05 AM PDT
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  17. Saint Augustine Member

    IV. On the “Real World”

    A. Chapters in the history of philosophy

      1. Plato: There is a higher world and the wise can know it.
      2. Medieval Christian philosophy: There is a higher world, and the pious and devout can know it. (Note that Christianity is worse than Plato in that it is for the masses; Plato’s distaste for life is linked to his high estimation of himself—not so the Christian distaste for life, which is linked to self-hatred.)
      3. Kant: There is a higher world; I, Kant, can’t prove it, but we must all believe in it anyway.
      4. Nietzsche’s first comment on Kant: What use is an unknowable world?
      5. Nietzsche second comment to Kant: Get rid of it!
      6. Nietzsche’s own idea: LIVE HAPPILY IN THIS WORLD!

      B. Nietzsche thinks this world is all there is, and that is just fine. We can live without God or any higher world, and we can live better without God or any higher world.

      C. Put differently, this world is independent of God or a higher world.

      D. Nietzsche is not a nihilist; life is not meaningless. All previous efforts to assess the value of life from the perspective of a higher world are meaningless; but life itself is meaningful; its value is assessed from within!

      • #17
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:05 AM PDT
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    1. Saint Augustine Member

      V. Otherworldly morality

      1. Otherworldly thinkers, especially Christians, have always recommended a system of morality focused on some other, higher world.
      2. Nietzsche thinks such a system of morality at its core is a denial of the instincts of life.
      3. Nietzsche feels that Christianity’s efforts to control our desires are assaults on our desires. And, since our desires are the natural effect of LIFE, assault on the desires means an assault on LIFE (page 25).

      For example (page 90), religion’s restrictions on sexuality are taken as evidence that the Church opposes the foundations of life.

      • #18
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:06 AM PDT
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    2. Saint Augustine Member

      VI. Nietzsche’s morality

      1. Nietzsche recommends his own ethical principle: AFFIRM LIFE! (Page 29: optimism!)
      2. Page 27: All natural morality is based on affirming the instincts of life.
      3. The central instinct Nietzsche affirms is the will to life itself.

      1. The will to life itself is “tragic” in that life involves pain and change.

      There are better expressions of the will to life than sexuality, including art which revels in the beauty of life.

      1. A likely misunderstanding to avoid: Now this may sound to you guys like it is just hedonism; but Nietzsche is NOT a hedonist. He is not telling us to just follow our bodily impulses for food, drink, sex, drugs, or whatever. He would actually say that only weak people follow these impulses.

      The person who is the most ethical is the person who affirms life the most; the person who affirms life the most is the person who is strongest; and the strongest person, being sufficient to himself or herself, doesn’t need to have all sorts of external accoutrements to be happy! (e.g., page 48)

      • #19
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:07 AM PDT
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    3. James Gawron Thatcher
      James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

      Sabrdance,

      The sheep call the raptor evil, but the raptor merely does what raptors do; it is a physical and material necessity, and the sheep cannot change that by adopting social convention.

      There is a difference between those who attack without mercy and those who just leave the security fence unlocked. The Nihilists are the unlockers of the security fence. Once you have given up upon the reality of the concepts of good & evil then you have no defense. If the “sheep” in your example could make his claim stick that the raptor was evil then the sheep could organize to kill the raptor. If the sheep has already given up on the concept of good and evil then there will be no defense possible.

      Kant is a massive systematic approach to reinstall good & evil back into legitimate philosophy. After the wave of extreme nihilists have had their dionysian rebellion he reconstructs in a critical way. Nietzsche’s comment that the categorical imperative “smelled of cruelty” is most telling. Nietzsche feared what he didn’t understand. Imagine the golden rule abstracted to something that is in the form of a scientific law but is not a scientific law rather a Moral Maxim. However, it is a Maxim of behavior used only to evaluate all other Maxims of behavior. Surely this could not be considered cruel. Also, as abstract as it is, the very idea that it had the very earthy quality of smell is completely ridiculous.

      Back on your theme you must give more credit to the Positivists. They get off as just odd mathematician-logicians but they are much more. They explicitly rejected all Moral concepts. Take a look at Bertrand Russell’s list of book titles and you will see the pattern of the confirmed Nihilist. Between 1900 and 1935 when Godel upended them they were the most potent intellectual force at the university.

      Regards,

      Jim

      • #20
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:15 AM PDT
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    4. Jordan Inactive

      To live is Christ, and to die is Gain…

      He must have hated Saint Paul.

      Points for him taking the old Hesiodic and Homeric stuff to it’s logical conclusion, but even the Greeks realized very early on that their gods were tyrants, and came to the conclusion that there was a “Prime Mover” or something of that sort, which set the world in motion from a logical perspective. But Nietzsche subscribed to the Eternal Return notion of time, more or less that “time is a flat circle,” and he really had to trap himself in there.

      It’s like he figured out Plato’s cave, went outside, saw the real world, then went back in the cave and blocked off the entrance and lied to everyone, telling them that there wasn’t a real world and that they we’re all going to die in there, so we might as well put back on the puppet show.

      I hope Universal reconciliation is true so I can punch him in the face later.

      Nietzsche is trapped in this paradigm. For anyone to have an out, like Saint Paul describes in Philippians, to the True World, unfettered by a sin which provokes his kind of fatalistic thinking, for anyone to have real hope, is dangerous.

      But he wanted everyone else trapped in the same dull, grim world that he trapped himself in. He just happened to be a little smarter and eloquent than others.

      • #21
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:51 AM PDT
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    5. Brian Wolf Coolidge

      I need to digest this some more but if I don’t get back to you post I wanted make sure you know that I really appreciated and found it fascinating. I hope I can contribute something more worth while later. For now thank you.

      • #22
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:58 AM PDT
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    6. Brian Wolf Coolidge

      Jordan Wiegand:

      To live is Christ, and to die is Gain…

      He must have hated Saint Paul.

      Points for him taking the old Hesiodic and Homeric stuff to it’s logical conclusion, but even the Greeks realized very early on that their gods were tyrants, and came to the conclusion that there was a “Prime Mover” or something of that sort, which set the world in motion from a logical perspective. But Nietzsche subscribed to the Eternal Return notion of time, more or less that “time is a flat circle,” and he really had to trap himself in there.

      It’s like he figured out Plato’s cave, went outside, saw the real world, then went back in the cave and blocked off the entrance and lied to everyone, telling them that there wasn’t a real world and that they we’re all going to die in there, so we might as well put back on the puppet show.

      I hope Universal reconciliation is true so I can punch him in the face later.

      Nietzsche is trapped in this paradigm. For anyone to have an out, like Saint Paul describes in Philippians, to the True World, unfettered by a sin which provokes his kind of fatalistic thinking, for anyone to have real hope, is dangerous.

      But he wanted everyone else trapped in the same dull, grim world that he trapped himself in. He just happened to be a little smarter and eloquent than others.

      May I also thank you for a very good comment Jordan? Well written.

      • #23
      • July 8, 2015, at 8:59 AM PDT
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    7. TG Thatcher

      Augustine said that Nietzsche said (paraphrased): “There are better expressions of the will to life than sexuality, including art which revels in the beauty of life.”

      My first thought on this was “Nietzsche would probably have hated the contemporary art world.”

      • #24
      • July 8, 2015, at 9:14 AM PDT
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    8. Sabrdance Member
      Sabrdance

      Tom Meyer, Ed.:Aren’t Islamists also acting deeply within convention, albeit a very different one than ours? “Let’s kill a bunch of infidels and spark a new Jihad!” is hardly the thinking of someone unencumbered by the rules of others.

      I respond in two ways. First, my read of Nietzsche is that his bugaboo is specifically Christian morality. He doesn’t complain about the Pagan morality as a slave morality, only the Christian one. To the extent that Islamic Fundamentalists are obsessing about the Strong Horse, which seems to be the driving force behind ISIS and AQ, they are demonstrating their will to power and creating a new, enforceable morality. Second, even within Islam, ISIS and AQ are extreme and don’t appear to care what the rest of the Islamic world thinks (let alone the West), except insofar as the rest of the world obeys ISIS or AQ.

      James Gawron:Back on your theme you must give more credit to the Positivists. They get off as just odd mathematician-logicians but they are much more. They explicitly rejected all Moral concepts. Take a look at Bertrand Russell’s list of book titles and you will see the pattern of the confirmed Nihilist. Between 1900 and 1935 when Godel upended them they were the most potent intellectual force at the university.

      I was already running long, but yes, the Logical Positivists did a lot of damage -but it was post-Nihilist damage.

      • #25
      • July 8, 2015, at 9:15 AM PDT
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    9. Jordan Inactive

      Brian Wolf:May I also thank you for a very good comment Jordan? Well written.

      Thanks! It’s a rev 9 post, with only 3 ground up rewrites. I think I started it when there were 5 posts. Ugh, I edit so much I didn’t even make the first comment page.

      • #26
      • July 8, 2015, at 9:20 AM PDT
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    10. Palaeologus Inactive

      Tom Meyer, Ed.:As someone who’s managed to get this far without reading Neitzche, this was an interesting introduction. Thank you.

      Challenge:

      Sabrdance: The danger we face in the nihilistic age is that raptors still exist. And when they come, they do not draw distinctions among the sheep.

      Aren’t Islamists also acting deeply within convention, albeit a very different one than ours? “Let’s kill a bunch of infidels and spark a new Jihad!” is hardly the thinking of someone unencumbered by the rules of others.

      Mohammed “I’ll have a Captain and Coke” Atta seems to fit the bill.

      • #27
      • July 8, 2015, at 9:49 AM PDT
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    11. James Gawron Thatcher
      James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

      Jordan Wiegand:

      Brian Wolf:May I also thank you for a very good comment Jordan? Well written.

      Thanks! It’s a rev 9 post, with only 3 ground up rewrites. I think I started it when there were 5 posts. Ugh, I edit so much I didn’t even make the first comment page.

      Jordan,

      You’ve got to wait for quality.

      Regards,

      Jim

      • #28
      • July 8, 2015, at 9:54 AM PDT
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    12. Saint Augustine Member

      TG:Augustine said that Nietzsche said (paraphrased): “There are better expressions of the will to life than sexuality, including art which revels in the beauty of life.”

      My first thought on this was “Nietzsche would probably have hated the contemporary art world.”

      Indeed. (Mostly at least.)

      By the way, I’m using the word “art” broadly: including music and story.

      • #29
      • July 8, 2015, at 11:26 AM PDT
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    13. Saint Augustine Member

      Jordan Wiegand:

      It’s like he figured out Plato’s cave, went outside, saw the real world, then went back in the cave and blocked off the entrance and lied to everyone, telling them that there wasn’t a real world and that they we’re all going to die in there, so we might as well put back on the puppet show.

      This reminds me of what Dr. F. at Baylor said one time: Telling the whole story of western philosophy as the history of the cave.

      Nietzsche is trapped in this paradigm. For anyone to have an out, like Saint Paul describes in Philippians, to the True World, unfettered by a sin which provokes his kind of fatalistic thinking, for anyone to have real hope, is dangerous.

      Indeed. Everything depends on what is real and what we know. Since materialism is false and since religious knowledge is possible, Nietzsche is avoidable. But, then, so is the nihilism he criticized: the dependence on a transcendence which one does not think is real.

      • #30
      • July 8, 2015, at 11:34 AM PDT
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