Nietzsche: Hegel and Schopenhauer
Hegel and the German idealists objected to Kant's noumenon. The utterly independent
world in itself had no explanatory role beyond grounding human morality and
dignity. The world-we-know is purely a product of mind--an expression of reason.
Hegel's slogan was "The real is the rational, the rational real."
For Hegel, God was the inner, subjective side of the world as object--the
accumulation of the concept of 'self' or 'subject.' The structure of reason
(subject-predicate) applied to the whole or absolute reality generated the
concepts of God-world. World history is the history of God's idea of the
world working itself out logically.
Schopenhauer was much more pessimistic—he drew heavily from Buddhism. He found
life and history infused not only with ideas and reason, but also with desire
and consequent suffering. The world is both will and idea and the will leads
to an insatiable clinging to these mental creations. The result is that life
Nietzsche was born
in 1844 in Prussian Saxony in a Lutheran
 (Protestant) culture. His father a Lutheran priest died while
Nietzsche was quite young and Nietzsche was raised in a family of women: his
mother, grandmother, two maiden aunts and a sister. His physical illness
made him dependent on them most of his life.
were philology  and classical Greek thought. He
was brilliant and became a full professor at the age of 25. However his chronic
ill health forced him to retire from teaching ten years later. He suffered
from migraine headaches, stomach upset, insomnia, and bad eyesight. He spend
a lonely, solitary life in poverty but producing philosophical works of stunning
style at a phenomenal rate. In the next ten years he wrote twelve books (including
his masterpiece in four volumes). The year before he went insane was amazingly
productive. In 1888, he wrote five books. The next year, he went insane
(probably of syphilis) and died in 1890.
We have hinted that
Nietzsche's "God is Dead" slogan is not a religious statement, but
a broadside against Western culture--against rationalism. It is not merely
that an immortal divine being has died. What is dead is a way Westerners
had of looking at themselves and their relation with the world. God and reason
were ways of seeing Humans as central and important in the nature of things.
We are in the image of God and like God in having rational minds. God, our
father, created the world for us according to principles of reason.
The marriage of Reason
(Philosophy) and religion (Christianity) produced an offsprint--science. Now
science was turning on the parental union. It told us reality was neither
conscious nor intellectual nor purposive. The world is a random, mechanistic,
purposeless flow of atoms—something quite alien to our "rational souls."
Humans and their social world are not at the center of creation, but an insignificant
accident in an insignificant corner of the universe.
In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable
solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge.
That was the haughtiest and most mendacious minute of "world history"‑‑yet
only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold,
and the clever animals had to die. One might invent such a fable and still
not have illustrated how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless
and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature.
Nietzsche hones in
on the metaphysical character of Western thought and its pattern of trying
to derive a morality from metaphysics. Beginning with Socrates and Plato,
the culture had tried to treat a rational reality as the source of values
and knowledge of them. The forms were knowable, real and the source of guidance.
God "embodies" the union of metaphysics and value and, as we saw
with Descartes, guarantees our knowledge of reality. Science's view of reality
as unconscious, unknowing, purposeless and valueless made Descartes' intellectual
charade psychologically necessary. Otherwise we lose the link between
the world and our rational souls.
However, we can no
longer fool ourselves. We see through Descartes' desperate verbal tricks
and know, whether we dare admit it or not, that the real world is valueless.
When Nietzsche announces "God is dead" he means rational reality
can no longer can play the roles shaped out by the Rationalists. We cannot
accept this truth, but we have already killed "God."
The Christian God did
help hold metaphysics and ethics together as science developed, but it was
a patchwork job, in need of constant repair as science destroyed one form
of support after another. First it destroyed our conception of ourselves at
the center, then as deliberate creations in God's likeness. Each time religion
adapts to a scientific discovery, another comes along to disturb the system.
Descartes, Kant and
Hegel all tried in their own desperate ways to defend the precious link inherited
from Plato and classical Greek thought. They tried to salvage the myth of
a real-world basis for human significance, importance and values. The myth
is now dead in the sense that we can no longer fool ourselves. We have not
merely lost one particular religious version but the possibility of ever again
believing such myth. We have become aware, as we have patched up the God
story time after time, of the succession of myths and of how badly we need
them. That very awareness undermines the effectiveness of future myths. In
appreciating that we need the myths, we become less capable of believing
Nietzsche opposed the
optimistic attachment to reason in both Kant and Hegel. The world is indeed
a creation, but not a creation of anything as bland as the mind or reason,
it is a creation of pure will. We create the world we know out of blind passion.
We invent philosophical systems to compensate for our psychological weaknesses.
Reason is just a self-deceptive disguise for our will to power. Once we have
seen through the claims of reason, we lose our God. We can no longer deceive
ourselves with the vanities of reason and its preposterous claims. We can
no longer base ethics on metaphysics. "God" has stopped working
socially. Intellectually and culturally, God is dead.
Belief in the myth of God-reason demeans mankind, but the absence of the myth
paralyzes us. Without the belief in an absolute, real foundation of our values,
something as rational as we are and therefore knowable, we are suspended over
nothingness, gripped with existential angst, nausea, alienation from ourselves.
No longer able to accept the "is-ought" justification, but still
needing it, we tremble in the face of our meaninglessness.
Nietzsche's message is not totally a negative one: the terror of meaninglessness.
He thinks the important message is also a joyous one, the opportunity to restructure
the whole enterprise of philosophy. Instead of using reason to construct
a metaphysical reality and then base a morality on it, his awareness allows
us directly and honestly to choose, to will our morality. We can then
create new myths which affirm our chosen values. We give up the blind faith
that our myths are getting us closer and closer to some reality and freely
produce metaphysical myths that have worth to us. Godlike, we now can create
reality to conform to our chosen morality.
The first task is to choose a morality. How? For that Nietzsche says we should
study and understand the nature and geneology of morality. Nietzsche divides
moralities into two categories: master and slave moralities. The slave moralities
are not merely moralities of actual economic and social slaves, but of people
who merely react to something "hated." The are enslaved by their
failure to choose a value rather than a disvalue.
Slave morality gives primary definition to 'evil'. It defines 'evil' and 'sin'
in great and lurid detail and its positive advice consists of "don't
do evil." Good has no more content than avoiding sin. It tells you what
not to do instead of what to do. It is a negative, nihilistic, resentment
morality. Anti-communism, anti-Semitism, anti-anything moral attitudes are
Master moralities, by contrast, begin with an affirmation of certain things
as good. It gives positive content to 'good' and regards 'bad' merely as
the absence of good--hence a "good-bad morality" in contrast to
a "good-evil morality." Because the master morality is not reacting
to some other person or thing, not resenting or negating something hated,
it is a morality of mastery--self mastery. We choose and affirm things that
promote our will to power. We joyously affirm existence, life, the will to
Christianity is Nietzsche's favorite examples of a decadent, slave morality.
It is not due merely its values of meekness, but its deep-seated hatred of
life, of the natural passions and desires. What makes Nietzsche's treatment
of religion interesting is that he does not try to disprove God or Christ,
he tries rather to get us to see Christianity as a kind of sickness--a sickness
of the soul.
The disease had its origins, however, not merely in the religious sources. It
began with Greek philosophy. Nietzsche traces the slave morality attitude
to Socrates, Plato and the Greeks. Their celebration of the intellect over
the body and its passions was transformed into the self-hatred of Christianity.
Socrates aspired for a world in which his mind could wander free among the
forms without the "dreaded body" to hinder it. Nietzsche diagnoses
this as aspiring to death.
A revaluation of all values, this question mark, so black, so tremendous
that it casts shadows upon the man who puts it down-such a destiny of a
task compels one to run into the sun every moment to shake off a heavy,
all-too-heavy seriousness. Every means is proper for this; every "case"
a case of luck. Especially, war. War has always been the great wisdom of
all spirits who have become too inward, too profound; even in a wound there
is the power to heal. . . .
Another mode of convalescence-under certain circumstances even more to my liking-is
sounding out idols, There are more idols than realities in the world: that
is my "evil eye" for this world, that is also my evil earn For
once to pose questions here with a hammer, and, perhaps, to hear as a reply
that famous hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails-what a delight
for one who has ears even behind his ears, for me, an old psychologist and
pied piper before whom just that which would remain silent must become out
This essay too-the title betrays it-is above all a recreation, a spot of sunshine,
a leap sideways into the idleness of a psychologist. Perhaps a new war,
too? And are new idols sounded out? This little essay is a great declaration
of war; and regarding the sounding out of idols, this time they are not
just idols of the age, but eternal idols. which are here touched with a
hammer as with a tuning fork: there are altogether no older, no more convinced,
no more puffed-up idols-and none more hollow. That does not prevent them
from being those in which people have the most faith; nor does one ever
say "idol," especially not in the most distinguished instance.
THE PROBLEM OF SOCRATES
Concerning life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is no good.
Always and everywhere one has heard the same sound from their mouths-a sound
full of doubt, full of melancholy, full of weariness of life, full of resistance
to life. Even Socrates said, as he died: "To live-that means to be
sick a long time: I owe Asclepius the Savior a rooster." Even Socrates
was tired of it. What does that evidence? What does it evince? Formerly
one would have said (oh, it has been said, and loud enough, and especially
by our pessimists): At least something of all this must be true! The consensus
of the sages evidences the truth." Shall we still talk like that today?
May we? "At least something must be sick here," we retort. These
wisest men of all ages- they should first be scrutinized closely. Were they
all perhaps shaky on their legs? late? tottery? decadents? Could it be that
wisdom appears on earth as a raven, inspired by a little whiff of carrion?
This irreverent thought that the great sages are declining types first occurred
to me precisely in a case where both learned and unlearned prejudice most
strongly oppose it: I recognized Socrates and Plato as symptoms of degeneration,
tools of the Greek dissolution, pseudo-Greek, anti-Greek (Birth of Tragedy,
1872 ) . The consensus of the sages-I comprehended this ever more clearly-proves
least of all that they were right in what they agreed on: it shows rather
that they themselves, these wisest men, agreed in some physiological respect,
and hence adopted the same negative attitude to life-had to adopt it. Judgments,
judgments of value, concerning life, for it or against it, can, in the end,
never be true: they have value only as symptoms, they are worthy of consideration
only as symptoms; in themselves such judgments are stupidities. One must
by all means stretch out one's fingers and make the attempt to grasp this
amazing finesse, that the value of life cannot be estimated. Not by the
living, for they are an interested party, even a bone of contention, and
not judges; not by the dead, for a different reason. For a philosopher to
see a problem in the value of life is thus an objection to him, a question
mark concerning his wisdom, an un-wisdom. Indeed? All these great wise men-they
were not only decadents but not wise at all? But I return to the problem
In origin, Socrates belonged to the lowest class: Socrates was plebs. We know,
we can still see for ourselves how ugly he was. But ugliness, in itself
an objection, is among the Greeks almost a refutation. Was Socrates a Greek
at all? Ugliness is often enough the expression of a development that has
been crossed, thwarted by crossing. Or it appears as declining development.
The anthropologists among the criminologists tell us that the typical criminal
is ugly: monster in appearance = monster in motivation. But the criminal
is a decadent. Was Socrates a typical criminal? At least that would not
be contradicted by the famous judgment of the physiognomist which sounded
so offensive to the friends of Socrates. A foreigner who knew about faces
once passed through Athens and told Socrates to his face that he was a monster-that
he harbored in himself all the bad vices and appetites. And Socrates merely
answered: "You know me, sir!"
Not only does the admitted wantonness and anarchy of his instincts suggest that
Socrates was decadent, so too does the hypertrophy of the logical faculty
and that barbed malice that distinguishes him. Neither should we forget
those auditory hallucinations which, as "Socrates' Demon," have
been interpreted religiously. Everything in him is exaggerated, buffo, a
caricature; everything is at the same time concealed, ulterior, subterranean.
I seek to comprehend what idiosyncrasy begot that Socratic equation of reason,
virtue, and happiness that most bizarre of all equations, which, moreover
is opposed to all the instincts of the earlier Greeks.
With Socrates, Greek taste changes in favor of dialectics. What really happened
there? Above all, a noble taste is thus vanquished, with dialectics the
plebs come to the top. Before Socrates, dialectic manners were repudiated
in good society: they were considered bad manners, they were compromising.
The young were warned against them. Furthermore, all such presentations
of one's reasons were distrusted. Honest things, like honest men, do not
carry their reasons in their hands like that. It is indecent to show all
five fingers. What must first be proved is worth little. Wherever authority
still forms part of good bearing, where one does not give reasons but commands,
the dialectician is a kind of buffoon: one laughs at him, one does not take
him seriously. Socrates was the buffoon who got himself taken seriously:
what really happened there?
One chooses dialectic only when one has no other means. One knows that one arouses
mistrust with it, that it is not very persuasive. . . .
Is the irony of Socrates an expression of revolt? Of plebeian ressentiment?
Does he, as one oppressed, enjoy his own ferocity in the knife-thrusts of
his syllogisms? Does he avenge himself on the noble people whom he fascinates?
As a dialectician, one holds a merciless tool in one's hand; one can become
a tyrant by means of it; one compromises those one conquers. The dialectician
leaves it to his opponent to prove that he is no idiot: he makes one furious
and helpless at the same time. The dialectician renders the intellect of
his opponent power less. Indeed? Is dialectic only a form of revenge in
. . . .
When one finds it necessary to turn reason into a tyrant, as Socrates did, the
danger cannot be slight that something else will play the tyrant. Rationality
was then hit upon as the savior; neither Socrates nor his "patients"
had any choice about being rational: it was de rigueur, it was their last
resort. The fanaticism with which all Greek reflection throws itself upon
rationality betrays a desperate situation; there was danger, there was but
one choice: either to perish or to be absurdly rational. The moralism of
the Greek philosophers from Plato on is pathologically conditioned; so is
their esteem of dialectics. Reason=virture=happiness, that means merely
that one must imitate Socrates and counter the dark appetites with a permanent
daylight - the daylight of reason. One must be clever, clear, bright at
any price: any concession to the instincts, to the unconscious, leads downward.
I have given to understand how it was that Socrates fascinated: he seemed to
be a physician, a savior. Is it necessary to go on to demonstrate the error
in his faith in "rationality at any price"? It is a self-deception
on the part of philosophers and moralists if they believe that they are
extricating themselves from decadence when they merely wage war against
it. . . . Socrates was a misunderstanding; the whole improvement-morality,
including the Christian, was a misunderstanding. The most blinding daylight;
rationality at any price; life, bright, cold, cautious, conscious, without
instinct, in opposition to the instincts-all this too was a mere disease,
another disease, and by no means a return to "virtue," to "health,"
to happiness. To have to fight the instincts-that is the formula of decadence:
as long as life is ascending, happiness equals instinct.
Did he himself still comprehend this, this most brilliant of all self-outwitters?
Was this what he said to himself in the end, in the wisdom of his courage
to die? Socrates wanted to die: not Athens, but he himself chose the hemlock;
he forced Athens to sentence him. "Socrates is no physician,"
he said softly to himself; "here death alone is the physician. Socrates
himself has merely been sick a long time." (Twilight of the Idols,
Preface and Ch. 1)
As Nietzsche saw it, the whole role of "reason" in Western philosophy
has to been to falsify reality, to create non-existent worlds and "prove"
they were real. Philosophers are essentially lying priests.
"REASON" IN PHILOSOPHY
You ask me which of the philosophers' traits are really idiosyncrasies? For
example, their lack of historical sense, their hatred of the very idea of
becoming, their Egypticism. They think that they show their respect
for a subject when they de-historicize it, sub specie aeterni - when
they turn it into a mummy. All that philosophers have handled for thousands
of years have been conceptual-mummies; nothing real escaped their grasp
alive. When these honorable idolaters of concepts worship something, they
kill it and stuff it; they threaten the life of everything they worship.
Death, change, old age, as well as procreation and growth, are to their
minds objections, never refutations. Whatever has being does not become;
whatever becomes does not have being. Now they all believe, desperately
even, in what has being. But since they never grasp it, they seek for reasons
why it is kept from them. "There must be mere appearance, there must
be some deception which prevents us from perceiving that which has being:
where is the deceiver?" "We have found him," they cry ecstatically;
"it is the senses! These senses, which are so immoral in other ways
too, deceive us concerning the true world. Moral: let us free ourselves
from the deception of the senses, from becoming, from history, from lies;
history is nothing but faith in the senses, faith in lies. Moral: let us
say No to all who have faith in the senses, to all the rest of mankind;
they are all 'mob.' Let us be philosophers! Let us be mummies! Let us represent
monotono-theism by adopting the expression of a gravedigger! And above all,
away with the body, this wretched idee fixe of the senses,
disfigured by all the fallacies of logic, refuted, even impossible, although
it is impudent enough to behave as if it were real."
With the highest respect, I except the name of Heraclitus. When the rest
of the philosophic folk rejected the testimony of the senses because they
showed multiplicity and change, he rejected their testimony because they
showed things as if they had permanence and unity. Heraclitus too did the
senses an injustice. They lie neither in the way the Eleatics believed,
nor as he believed they do not lie at all. What we make of their
testimony, that alone introduces lies; for example, the lie of unity, the
lie of thinghood, of substance, of permanence. "Reason" is the
cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the
senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. But Heraclitus
will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction.
The "apparent" world is the only one: the "real" world
has only been lyingly added.
. . . .
At long last, let us contrast the very different manner in which we conceive
the problem of error and appearance. (I say "we" for politeness'
sake.) Formerly, alteration, change, any becoming at all, were taken as
proof of mere appearance, as an indication that there must be something
which led us astray. Today, conversely, precisely insofar as the prejudice
of reason forces us to posit unity, identity, permanence, substance, cause,
thinghood, being, we see ourselves somehow caught in error, compelled into
error. So certain are we, on the basis of rigorous examination, that this
is where the error lies. It is no different in this case than with the movement
of the sun: there our eye is the constant advocate of error, here it is
our language. In its origin language belongs in the age of the most
rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when
we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics
of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere
it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes
in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects
this faith in the ego-substance upon all things—only thereby does it first
create the concept of "thing." Everywhere "being"
is thought in, foisted on, pushed underneath—as the cause; the concept
of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning
there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which
is effective, that will is a capacity. Today we know that it is only a word.
Very much later, in a world which was in a thousand ways more enlightened,
philosophers, to their great surprise, became aware of the sureness, the
subjective certainty, in our handling of the categories of reason: they
concluded that these categories could not be derived from anything empirical—for
everything empirical plainly contradicted them. Where then do they originate?
And in India, as in Greece, the same mistake was made: "We must once
have been at home in a higher world (instead of in a very much lower
one, which would have been the truth); we must have been divine, for
we have reason!" Indeed, nothing has yet possessed a more naive power
of persuasion than the error concerning being, as it has been formulated
by the Eleatics, for ex ample. After all, every word we say and every sentence
speak in its favor. Even the opponents of the Eleatics still succumbed to
the seduction of their concept of being: Democritus, among others, when
he invented his atom—"Reason" in language—A deceptive old
woman! I am afraid we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in
grammar. (Twilight of the Idols, Ch. 2)
Here, Nietzsche broaches one of his most modern insights, that the fabled truths
of reason in Western philosophy are hallucinations caused by Indo-European
grammar. We will return to it in the last section. Before we pursue that,
let us look at his conclusion in "Twilight" -- the acknowledged
masterpiece of Nietzsche's condensed style.
HOW THE "REAL WORLD" FINALLY BECAME A MYTH
The History of an Error
1. The real world–attainable by the wise, the pious, the virtuous man; he dwells
in it, he is it. (The oldest form of the idea, relatively sensible,
simple, and convincing. A transformation of the sentence, "I, Plato,
am the truth.")
2. The real world–unattainable for now, but promised to the wise, the pious,
the virtuous man ("to the sinner who repents"). (Progress of the
idea: it grows more subtle, more enticing, more incomprehensible–it becomes
a woman, it becomes Christian.)
3. The real world–unattainable, indemonstrable, unpromisable; but even merely
thought of–a consolation, an obligation, an imperative. (At bottom, the
same old sun, but shining through mist and skepticism. The idea grown elusive,
pale, Nordic, Königsbergian. )
4. The real world–unattainable? At any rate, unattained. And being unattained,
also unknown. Consequently, not consoling, redeeming, or obligating:
how could something unknown obligate us? (Gray dawn. The first yawnings
of reason. The cockcrow of positivism.) 
5. The "real world"–an idea no longer useful, not even an obligation–an
idea grown useless, superfluous–consequently, a refuted idea: let
us abolish it! (Bright daylight; breakfast; return of bon sens and
cheerfulness, Plato blushes for shame, all free spirits run riot.)
6. We have abolished the real world. What world is left? The apparent world
perhaps? But no! with the real world we have also abolished the apparent
world! (Mid-day; moment of the shortest shadow; end of the longest error;
high point of humanity; INCIPIT ZARATHUSTRA.)
(Twilight of the Idols Ch. 4)
We go from Plato to Christianity to Kant (note the reference to Konigsberg).
Kant, remember, tried to derive human dignity and pure moral duty from our
base in his "Noumenal world."
The second step reminds us that Christianity is the
popular embodiment of Greek rationalism. The Christian "real world"
is heaven (not so distant from Plato's realm of ideas). It is promised to
sinners who repent. This introduces Nietzsche's interesting discussion of
Christianity. A good Christian views oneself and all mankind as condemned
at birth, as hopeless sinners. Christianity partakes most enthusiastically
of Socrates illness--of hatred of this life and longing for the other--death.
Nietzsche views Christianity's constant talk of the glories of "the other
world" and its denigration of "the natural world" as
a disguised longing for death--a hatred of life, of our nature. Christianity
distills 'evil' out of all natural instincts.
One should not embellish or dress up Christianity: it has waged a war to the
death against this higher type of man, it has excommunicated all the fundamental
instincts of this type, it has distilled evil, the Evil One, out of these
instincts -the strong human being as the type of reprehensibility, as the
' outcast'. Christianity has taken the side of everything weak, base, ill-constituted,
it has made an ideal out of opposition to the preservative instincts of
strong life; it has depraved the reason even of the intellectually
strongest natures by teaching men to feel the supreme values of intellectuality
as sinful, as misleading, as temptations The most deplorable example: the
depraving of Pascal, who believed his reason had been depraved by original
sin while it had only been depraved by his Christianity! (The Anti-Christ
Christianity conceals its self-hatred, Nietzsche argues, behind a smokescreen
of valuing something beyond life. It takes the form of inventing
a reality other than "this." Its affection for the imagined reality
conceals its hatred of this one. Even its values (pity, mercy) consist in
valuing declining types--a mask for nihilism--the worship of ultimate nothingness.
Pity on the whole thwarts the law of evolution, which is the law of selection
It preserves what is ripe for destruction; it defends life's disinherited
and condemned; through the abundance of the ill‑constituted of all
kinds which it retains in life it gives life itself a gloomy and questionable
aspect. One has ventured to call pity a virtue (‑ in every noble morality
it counts as weakness ‑); one has gone further, one has made of it
the virtue, the ground and origin of all virtue ‑ only, to be sure,
from the viewpoint of a nihilistic philosophy which inscribed Denial of
Life on its escutcheon‑ a fact always to be kept in view. Schopenhauer
was within his rights in this: life is denied, made more worthy of denial
by pity ‑ pity is practical nihilism. To say it again, this
depressive and contagious instinct thwarts those instincts bent on preserving
and enhancing the value of life: both as a multiplier of misery and
as a conservator of everything miserable it is one of the chief instruments
for the advancement of decadence ‑ pity persuades to nothingness!
. . . One does not say 'nothingness': one says 'the Beyond'; or 'God'; or
true life'; or Nirvana, redemption, blessedness.... This innocent
rhetoric from the domain of religio‑moral idiosyncrasy at once appears
much less innocent when one grasps which tendency is here draping
the mantle of sublime words about itself: the tendency hostile who life.
Schopenhauer was hostile to life: therefore pity became for him a virtue....
Aristotle, as is well known, saw in pity a morbid and dangerous condition
which one did well to get at from time to time with a purgative: he understood
tragedy as a purgative.
The Anti-Christ 7
Nietzsche goes on to contrast Christianity unfavorably
with Buddhism. It is not on the grounds that one of them hates life and the
other embraces it. They differ in their honesty and integrity in stating
their shared hatred of life. Like Christianity, Nietzsche says, Buddhism is
a decadance religion--a religion that favors death. However, it is far more
intellectual. It's longing for death is clear and direct. It is set against
a background belief in reincarnation--we are caught up in a cycle of rebirth.
Eternal life is our inescapable curse! The goal of Buddhism is to be able
finally to die and stay dead--that is Nirvana (like the blowing out of a candle).
The other difference is that Buddhism makes its openly nihilistic goal achievable
by our own efforts. Christianity has us caught in a double-bind between its
doctrine of "original sin" and its predestination. This means that
we hate ourselves as sinners, but as sinners have no power to do anything
about it. We have to await God's "grace" – something totally out
of our control. Only that supernatural intervention can transform us.
In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality
at any point. Nothing but imaginary causes ('God', 'soul', 'ego',
'spirit', 'free will' ‑ or 'unfree will'): nothing but imaginary effects
(' sin', 'redemption', 'grace ', ' punishment', 'forgiveness of sins').
A traffic between imaginary beings ('God', 'spirits', 'souls'); an imaginary
natural science (anthropocentric; complete lack of the concept of natural
causes); an imaginary psychology (nothing but self‑misunderstandings,
interpretations of pleasant or unpleasant general feelings, for example
the condition of the nervus sympathicus, with the aid of the sign‑language
of religio‑moral idiosyncrasy ‑ 'repentance', 'sting of conscience',
'temptation by the Devils, 'the proximity of God'); an imaginary teleology
('the kingdom of God ', s the Last Judgement ', 'eternal life '). ‑
This purely fictitious world is distinguished from the world of dreams,
very much to its disadvantage, by the fact that the latter mirrors
actuality, while the former falsifies, disvalues and denies actuality. Once
the concept s nature ' had been devised as the concept antithetical to 'God',
'natural' had to be the word for 'reprehensible' ‑ this entire fictional
world has its roots in hatred of the natural (‑ actuality I ‑),
it is the expression of a profound discontent with the actual.... But that
enchains everything. Who alone has reason to lie himself out of actuality?
He who suffers from it. But to suffer from actuality means to be an abortive
actuality.... The preponderance of feelings of displeasure over feelings
of pleasure is the cause of a fictitious morality and religion: such a preponderance,
howerer, provides the formula for decadence . . .
The Anti-Christ 15
With my condemnation of Christianity, I should not like to have wronged a kindred
religion which even preponderates in the number of its believers: Buddhism.
They belong together as nihilistic religions ‑ they are decadence
religions ‑ but they are distinguished from one another in the most
remarkable way. The critic of Christianity is profoundly grateful to Indian
scholars that one is now able to compare these two religions. ‑ Buddhism
is a hundred times more realistic than Christianity ‑ it has the heritage
of a cool and objective posing of problems in its composition, it arrives
after a philosophical movement lasting hundreds of years; the concept 'God'
is already abolished by the time it arrives. Buddhism is the only really
positivistic religion  history has to show
us, even in its epistemology (a strict phenomenalism ‑), it no longer
speaks of 'the struggle against sin' but, quite in accordance with actuality,
'the struggle against suffering'. It already has ‑ and this
distinguishes it profoundly from Christianity ‑ the self‑deception
of moral concepts behind it ‑ it stands, in my language, beyond good
and evil. ‑ The two physiological facts upon which it rests and on
which it fixes its eyes are: firstly an excessive excitability of
sensibility which expresses itself as a refined capacity for pain, then
an over‑intellectuality, a too great preoccupation with concepts and
logical procedures under which the personal instinct has sustained harm
to the advantage of the 'impersonal' (‑ both of them conditions which
at any rate some of my readers, the objective ones, will know from experience,
as I do). on the basis of these physiological conditions a state of depression
has arisen: against this depression Buddha takes hygienic measures. He opposes
it with life in the open air, the wandering life; with moderation and fastidiousness
as regards food; with caution towards all alcoholic spirits; likewise with
caution towards all emotions which produce gall, which heat the blood; no
anxiety, either for oneself or for others. He demands ideas which produce
repose or cheerfulness ‑ he devises means for disaccustoming oneself
to others. He understands benevolence, being kind, as health‑promoting.
Prayer is excluded, as is asceticism; no categorical imperative,
no compulsion at all, not even within the monastic community (‑
one can leave it ‑). All these would have the effect of increasing
that excessive excitability. For this reason too he demands no struggle
against those who think differently; his teaching resists nothing more
than it resists the feeling of revengefulness, of antipathy, of ressintiment
(‑‑ 'enmity is not ended by enmity': the moving refrain of the
whole of Buddhism . . .). And quite rightly: it is precisely these emotions
which would be thoroughly unhealthy with regard to the main dietetic objective.
The spiritual weariness he discovered and which expressed itself as an excessive
'objectivity' (that is to say weakening of individual interest, loss of
centre of gravity, of ' egoism'), he combated by directing even the spiritual
interests back to the individual person. In the teaching of Buddha egoism
becomes a duty: the 'one thing needful', the 'how can you get rid of suffering'
regulates and circumscribes the entire spiritual diet (‑ one may perhaps
call to mind. that Athenian who likewise made war on pure 'scientificality',
Socrates, who elevated personal egoism to morality even in the domain of
The Anti-Christ 20
The precondition for Buddhism is a very mild climate, very gentle and liberal
customs, no militarism; and that it is the higher and even learned
classes in which the movement has its home. The supreme goal is cheerfulness,
stillness absence of desire, and this goal is achieved. Buddhism is not
a religion in which one merely aspires after perfection: perfection is the
In Christianity the instincts of the subjugated and oppressed come into the
foreground: it is the lowest classes which seek their salvation in it. Here
the casuistic business of sin, self‑criticism, conscience‑inquisition
is practiced as a specific against boredom; here an emotional attitude towards
a power, called 'God', is kept constantly alive (through prayer); here the
highest things are considered unachievable, gifts, ' grace'. Here public
openness is also lacking; the hole‑and‑corner, the dark chamber
is Christian. Here the body is despised, hygiene repudiated as sensuality;
the Church even resists cleanliness (‑ the first measure taken by
the Christians after the expulsion of the Moors was the closure of the public
baths, of which Cordova alone possessed 270). A certain sense of cruelty
towards oneself and others is Christian; hatred of those who think differently;
the will to persecute. Gloomy and exciting ideas stand in the foreground;
the states most highly desired and designated by the highest names are epileptoid
states; diet is selected so as to encourage morbid phenomena and to over‑excite
the nerves. Mortal hostility against the masters of the earth, against the
'noble' ‑ and at the same time a covert secret competition (‑
one allows them the 'body', one wants only the 'soul'): that is also Christian.
Hatred of mind, of pride, courage, freedom, libertinage of mind is Christian;
hatred of the senses, of the joy of the senses, of joy in general is Christian
. . .
The Anti-Christ 21
Buddhism, to say it again, is a hundred times colder, more veracious, more objective.
It no longer needs to make its suffering and capacity for pain decent
to itself by interpreting it as sin ‑‑ it merely says what it
feels: 'I suffer'. To the barbarian on the contrary, suffering in itself
is not decent: he first requires it to be interpreted before he will admit
to himself that he suffers (his instinct directs him rather to deny he is
suffering, to a silent endurance). Here the word 'Devil' was a blessing:
one had an overwhelming and fearful enemy‑ one did not need to be
ashamed of suffering at the hands of such an enemy.‑‑
Christianity has a number of subtleties in its foundations which belong to the
Orient. Above all, it knows that it is in itself a matter of absolute indifference
whether a thing be true, but a matter of the highest importance to what
extent it is believed to be true. Truth and the belief that something is
true: two completely diverse worlds of interest, almost antithetical
worlds ‑ one gets to them by fundamentally different roads. To be
knowledgeable in this ‑ in the Orient that is almost enough to constitute
a sage: thus the Brahmins understood it, thus Plato understands it, thus
does every student of esoteric wisdom understand it. If, for example, there
is happiness to be found in believing oneself redeemed from sin, it is not
necessary for a man first to be sinful, but for him to feel himself sinful.
If, however, it is belief as such which is necessary above all else, then
one has to bring reason, knowledge, inquiry into disrepute: the road to
truth becomes the forbidden road. ‑ Intense hope is a much stronger
stimulant to life than any single instance of happiness which actually occurs.
Sufferers have to be sustained by a hope which cannot be refuted by any
actuality ‑‑ which is not done away with by any fulfilment:
a hope in the Beyond. (It was precisely on account of this capacity for
keeping the unhappy in suspense that the Greeks considered hope the evil
of evils, the actual malignant evil: it remained behind in the box of evil.)
‑ so that love shall be possible, God has to be a person; so that
the lowest instincts shall have a voice, God has to be young. To satisfy
the ardour of the women a handsome saint is moved into the foreground, to
satisfy that of the men a Mary. This on the presupposition that Christianity
desires to become master on a soil where the worship of Adonis or Aphrodite
has already determined the concept of what religious worship is. The requirement
of chastity increases the vehemence and inward intensity of the religious
instinct ‑ it renders the cult warmer, more enthusiastic, more soulful.
‑ Love is the state in which man sees things most of all as they are
not. The illusion‑creating force is there at its height, likewise
the sweetening and transforming force. One endures more when in love than
one otherwise would, one tolerates everything. The point was to devise a
religion in which love is possible: with that one is beyond the worst that
life can offer ‑ one no longer even sees it. ‑ so much for the
three Christian virtues faith, hope and charity: I call them the three Christian
schrewdnesses. ‑‑ Buddhism is too late, too positivistic still
to be shrewd in this fashion.
The Anti-Christ 23
Christianity lands its believers in a double bind. They must hate themselves
as irredeemable sinners and then they have to give up any hope of changing
themselves. Only grace can do that. It relies on the arbitrary decision of
God to intervene. Nothing their own actions can make them better. Buddhism
by contrast promises nothing and delivers. It has an elaborate path that will
lead one finally to reach the goal of non-existence.
Nietzsche's views on Christianity are so negative, it may be hard to imagine
that he inspired a "God is Dead" movement in the middle of the 20th
century that transformed Western religion. (This also explains why modern
Christians will find Nietzsche's criticisms off-target or old fashioned.)
Nietzsche's critique transfigured Christianity into the more "liberal"
versions we know today. The possibility of a Nietzschean Christianity rests
on Nietzsche's insistence that the errors in Christianity are not due to Christ.
His view of Christ is surprisingly positive!
What are the 'glad tidings' ? True life, eternal life is found ‑ it is
not promised, it is here, it is within you; as life lived
in love, in love without deduction or exclusion, without distance. Everyone
is a child of God ‑ Jesus definitely claims nothing for himself alone
‑ as a child of God everyone is equal to everyone else.... To make
a hero of Jesus! ‑‑ And what a worse misunderstanding is the
word ' genius'! Our whole concept, our cultural concept 'spirit' had no
meaning whatever in the world Jesus lived in. To speak with the precision
of the physiologist a quite different word would rather be in place here:
the word idiot. We recognize a condition of morbid susceptibility of the
sense of touch which makes it shrink back in horror from every contact,
every grasping of a firm object. Translate such a physiological habitus
into its ultimate logic ‑‑ as instinctive hatred of every
reality, as flight into the ' ungraspable', into the 'inconceivable', as
antipathy towards every form, every spacial and temporal concept, towards
everything firm, all that is custom, institution, Church, as being at home
in a world undisturbed by reality of any kind, a merely ' inner world, a
'real' world, an 'eternal' world.... 'The kingdom of God is within you'
. . .
The Anti-Christ 29
It is precisely on condition that nothing he says is taken literally that this
antirealist can speak at all. Among Indians he would have made use of Sankhyam
concepts, among Chinese those of Laozi and would not have felt the difference..
‑ One could, with some freedom of expression, call Jesus a 'free spirit'
‑ he cares nothing for what is fixed: the word killeth, everything
fixed killeth The concept, the experience 'life' in the only
form he knows it is opposed to any kind of word, formula, law, faith, dogma.
He speaks only of the inmost thing: 'life' or 'truth' or 'light' is his
expression for the inmost thing ‑ everything else, the whole of reality,
the whole of nature, language itself, possesses for him merely the value
of a sign, a metaphor. ‑ on this point one must make absolutely no
mistake, however much Christian, that is to say ecclesiastical prejudice,
may tempt one to do so: such a symbolist par excellence stands outside
of all religion, all conceptions of divine worship, all history, all natural
science, all experience of the world, all acquirements, all politics, all
psychology, all books, all art ‑ his ' knowledge' is precisely the
pure folly of the fact that anything of this kind exists. He has
not so much as heard of culture, he does not need to fight against it ‑
he does not deny it.... The same applies to the state, to society and the
entire civic order, to work, to war ‑‑ he never had reason to
deny 'the world', he had no notion of the ecclesiastical concept 'world'....
Denial is precisely what is totally impossible‑ for him. ‑ Dialectics
are likewise lacking, the idea is lacking that a faith, a 'truth' could
be proved by reasons (‑ his proofs are inner 'lights', inner feelings
of pleasure and self‑affirmations, nothing but ' proofs by potency'
‑). Neither can such a doctrine argue: it simply does not understand
that other doctrines exist, can exist, it simply does not know how
to imagine an opinion contrary to its own.... Where it encounters one it
will, with the most heartfelt sympathy, lament the 'blindness' ‑ for
it sees the 'light' ‑ but it will make no objection . . .
The Anti-Christ 32
The life of the redeemer was nothing else than this practice his death too was
nothing else.... He no longer required any formulas, any rites for communicating
with God ‑ not even prayer. He has settled his accounts with the whole
Jewish penance‑and‑reconciliation doctrine; he knows that it
is through the practice of one's life that one feels 'divine', 'blessed',
'evangelic', at all times a 'child of God'. It is not 'penance', not 'prayer
for forgiveness' which leads to God: evangelic practice alone leads
to God, it is God! ‑ What was abolished with the Evangel was
the Judaism of the concepts ' sin', 'forgiveness of sin', 'faith', 'redemption
by faith' ‑ the whole of Jewish ecclesiastical teaching was
denied in the 'glad tidings'.
The profound instinct for how one would have to live in order to feel oneself
'in Heaven', to feel oneself 'eternal' while in every other condition one
by no means feels oneself ' in Heaven ': this alone is the psychological
reality of ' redemption'. ‑ A new way of living, not a new
belief . . .
The Anti-Christ 33
The ' kingdom of Heaven' is a condition of the heart ‑ not something that
comes 'upon the earth' or 'after death'. The entire concept of natural death
is lacking in the Gospel: death is not a bridge, not a transition, it is
lacking because it belongs to quite another world, a merely apparent world
useful only for the purpose of symbolism. The 'hour of death' is rot a Christian
concept ‑ the 'hour', time, physical life and its crises, simply do
not exist for the teacher of the ' glad tidings'. . . . The 'kingdom of
God' is not something one waits for; it has no yesterday or tomorrow, it
does not come ' in a thousand years' ‑ it is an experience within
a heart; it is everywhere, it is nowhere . . .
The Anti-Christ 34
So Christ himself was
a kind of mystic who (as we will see later) resembles the Zen master in his
emphasis on practice and his focus on this life. He did not want people to
yearn for another world, but to focus on this one. He was himself a re-evaluator
of values who set out to overturn the "laws." However, if this
was the message of Christ, where did Christianity go wrong?
‑ Our age is proud of its historical sense:
how was it able to make itself believe in the nonsensical notion that the
crude miracle‑worker and redeemer fable
comes at the commencement of Christianity ‑ and that everything spiritual
and symbolic is only a subsequent development? On the contrary: the history
of Christianity ‑ and that from the very death on the Cross ‑
is the history of progressively cruder misunderstanding of an original symbolism.
With every extension of Christianity over even broader, even ruder masses
in whom the preconditions out of which it was born were more and more lacking,
it became increasingly necessary to vulgarize, to barbarize Christianity;
it absorbed the doctrines and rites of every subterranean cult of the Imperium
Romanum, it absorbed the absurdities of every sort of morbid reason. The
fate of Christianity lies in the necessity for its faith itself to grow
as morbid, low and vulgar as the requirements it was intended to satisfy
were morbid, low and vulgar. As the Church, this morbid barbaric itself
finally assumes power ‑ the Church, that form of mortal hostility
to all integrity, to all loftiness of soul, to discipline of spirit, to
all open‑hearted and benevolent humanity. ‑ Christian values
‑ noble values: it is only we, we emancipated spirits, who have restored
this greatest of all value‑antitheses l
The Anti-Christ 37
The real culprit, the one who changed Christianity from a this-word, life-affirming
outlook to a decadent one was someone from the Greek-Roman Culture--St. Paul.
He was the source of the anti-sex, anti-life, anti-female, anti-instinct tone
that settled into Christian institutions.
‑ To resume, I shall now relate the real
history of Christianity. ‑ The word
'Christianity' is already a misunderstanding ‑
in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross.
The 'Evangel' died on the Cross. What was called 'Evangel' from this moment
onwards was already the opposite of what he had lived: 'bad tidings',
a dysangel. It is false to the point of absurdity to see in a 'belief',
perchance the belief in redemption through Christ, the distinguishing characteristic
of the Christian: only Christian pra e, a life such as he who died on the
Cross lived, is Christian.... Even today such a life is possible,
for certain men even necessary: genuine, primitive Christianity will be
possible at all times.... Not a belief but a doing, above all a not‑doing
of many things, a different being.... States of consciousness, beliefs of
any kind, holding something to be true for example ‑ every psychologist
knows this ‑ are a matter of complete indifference and of the fifth
rank compared with the value of the instincts: to speak more strictly, the
whole concept of spiritual causality is false. To reduce being a Christian,
Christianness, to a holding something to be true, to a mere phenomenality
of consciousness, means to negate Christianness. In fact, there have
been no Christians at all. The 'Christian', that which has been
called Christian for two millennia, is merely a psychological self‑misunderstanding.
The Anti-Christ 39
‑ And now an absurd problem came up: ' How could God have permitted
that ? ' For this question the deranged reason of the ‑ little community
found a downright terrifyingly absurd answer: God gave his Son for the forgiveness
of sins, as a sacrifice. All at once it was all over with the Gospel! The
guilt sacrifice, and that in its most repulsive, barbaric form, the
sacrifice of the innocent man for the sins of the guiltyl What atrocious
paganism ‑ For Jesus had done away with the concept ' guilt' itself
‑ he had denied any chasm between God and man, he lived this unity
of God and man as his 'glad tidings '.... And not as a special prerogative!
‑ From now on there is introduced into the type of the redeemer step
by step: the doctrine of a Judgement and a Second Coming, the doctrine of
his death as a sacrificial death, the doctrine of the Resurrection with
which the entire concept 'blessedness ', the whole and sole reality of the
Evangel, is juggled away ‑ for the benefit of a state after
death! . . . Paul, with that rabbinical insolence which characterizes him
in every respect, rationalized this interpretation, this indecency
of an interpretation, thus: 'If Christ is not resurrected from the dead
our faith is vain'. ‑ All at once the Evangel became the most contemptible
of all unfulfillable promises, the impudent doctrine of personal
immortality.... Paul himself even taught it as a reward! . . .
The Anti-Christ 41
One sees what came to an end with the death on the Cross. a new, an absolutely
primary beginning to a Buddhistic peace movement, to an actual and not merely
promised happiness on earth. For this remains ‑ I have already
emphasized it ‑ the basic distinction between the two decadance
religions: Buddhism makes no promises but keeps them, Christianity makes
a thousand promises but keeps none. ‑ On the heels of the 'glad
tidings came the worst of all: those of Paul. In Paul was embodied
the antithetical type to the 'bringer of glad tidings' the genius of hatred,
of the vision of hatred, of the inexorable logic of hatred. What did this
dysangelist not sacrifice to his hatred! The redeemer above all: he nailed
him to his Cross
The life, the example, the teaching, the death, the meaning and the right of
the entire Gospel ‑ nothing was left once this hate‑obsessed
false‑coiner had grasped what alone he could make use of. Not
the reality, not the historical truth I . . . And once more the priestly
instinct of the Jew perpetrated the same great crime against history ‑
it simply erased the yesterday and the day before yesterday of Christianity,
it devised for itself a history of primitive Christianity. More:
it falsified the history of Israel over again so as to make this history
seem the pre‑history of its act: all the prophets had spoken of its
'redeemer'.... The Church subsequently falsified even the history of mankind
into the pre‑history of Christianity.... The type of the redeemer,
the doctrine, the practice, the death, the meaning of the death, even the
sequel to the death ‑ nothing was left untouched, nothing was left
bearing even the remotest resemblance to reality. Paul simply shifted the
centre of gravity of that entire existence beyond this existence‑in
the lie of the ' resurrected' Jesus. In fact he could make no use
at all of the redeemer's life ‑ he needed the death on the Cross and
something in addition.... To regard as honest a Paul whose home was the
principal centre of Stoic enlightenment when he makes of a hallucination
the proof that the redeemer is still living, or even to believe his story
that he had this hallucination, would be a real niaiserie on the
part of a psychologist: Paul willed the end, consequently he willed
the means.... What he himself did not believe was believed by the idiots
among whom he cast his teaching. ‑ His requirement was power;
with Paul the priest again sought power ‑ he could employ only those
concepts, teachings, symbols with which one tyrannizes over masses, forms
herds. What was the only thing Mohammed later borrowed from Christianity
? The invention of Paul, his means for establishing a priestly tyranny,
for forming herds: the belief in immortality ‑ that is to say the
doctrine of 'judgement'. . . .
The Anti-Christ 42
Nietzsche's Theory of Language and Interpretation
Nietzsche's anti-realism consists in giving up the faith that we are getting
closer and closer to some ultimate truth about reality and values. Our theories
are interpretations of the world akin to interpretation of texts. The textual
scholar starts from a distinction between an original meaning and an interpretation.
However, when we think of the actual work of an interpreter, we see the claim
that there is an original meaning of a text as an expression of her will to
create something. She wants an understanding better than the one she inherits
from past scholars. What makes it better? Not its resemblance to any original,
but how satisfactory it is to the interpreter herself. We interpret texts
out of our will to create--our will to power.
Similarly in science, Nietzsche argues, we do not constantly get closer to some
original, basic reality, we merely try to make the theories of past scientists
more satisfying--give us more power over events, ourselves, others, etc.
The myth of the original or absolute reality is merely an excuse for this
"God is dead" means we must give up the very notion of the real world.
That myth no longer plays any useful function. We do not give up values.
We create values; we create myths to conform to our values; we create out
of sheer will. Why have philosophers, priests, humans in general been this
self-deceptive about their creative drive, their will to power? Nietzsche
blames it on "human weakness," the "dominance of numbers"
and "the cleverness of the lower forms" of humans.
However, like the Daoist and the 20th century philosopher, Nietzsche also sees
a linguistic source for the persistence of an Indo-European belief in "the
real world," in the substantial self (the ego/soul) and in God. Its source
is not in reason, but in grammar. Westerners think the subject-predicate sentence
structure is the structure of reason, while it is in fact only the structure
of Indo-European languages. Because they believe that every truth has a subject,
every action a doer (an agent), they must believe in the individual self:
Descartes' 'I' which does the thinking. For every action there must be an
agent--this is a truth of grammar.
There are still harmless self-observers who believe 'immediate certainties'
exist, for example 'I think' ... But I shall reiterate a hundred times 'immediate
certainty' like ' absolute knowledge' and 'thing in itself', contains a
contradiction in terms... when I analyze the event expressed in the sentence
'I think' I acquire a series of rash assertions which are difficult, perhaps
impossible, to prove - for example. that it is I which thinks, that it has
to be a something at all which thinks that thinking is an activity and operation
on the part of an entity thought of as a has cause, that an 'I' exists,
finally that what is designated by 'thinking' has already been determined
-- that I know what thinking is . . . In this way the philosopher acquires
in place of that 'immediate certainty' . . . . a series of metaphysical
questions . . .: 'Whence do I take the concept thinking? Why do I believe
in cause and effeect? What gives me the right to speak of an I . . . an
I as cause. . .an I as cause of thoughts?' . . . (Beyond Good and Evil 16.)
This clever grammatical
trick is an attempt to hold the rationalist world together even as science
tears it apart. Descartes, as we saw, thought he could prove that a "thinking
thing" exists. Nietzsche points out that his argument (like that of
Parmenides) merely depends on the grammatical assumption that a complete subject-predicate
sentence can only be true if the subject term refers. So "I . . . ."
entails that I exist as much as does "I think." The real advantage
of "I think" lies in the fact that we cannot imagine it false.
To explain why, think
of the following two parallels. Consider someone saying "I cannot speak
one word of English" or "§Ú ¤£ ·| Á¿ ¤¤ °ê ¸Ü "
Such utterances create
a particular kind of paradox. Let us call it a "pragmatic" contradiction
(because it is a conflict between what we say and the speech act of
actually saying it). Descartes exploits that point to note the paradox in
the thought "I am not thinking." He concludes, hence, that thinking
the thought is incompatible with its being false. Given that it is true whenever
we think it, he can next take Parmenides' step: the subject term must refer
to something that exists.
Descartes use of the Ontological argument is a similar grammatical trick. From
thinking that every predicate is a quality which things can have, we suppose
that the subject, who has all the positive qualities to the greatest
degree, must have existence to the greatest degree. This is a grammatical
trick, not a truth of logic.
Since every truth has a subject-predicate structure. We can ideally sum up
all truth in a subject predicate form. The-sum-of-all-subjects is the-sum-of-all-predicates.
What is the universal subject? God. What is the universal Object? The world.
Reason is the structure that unites God and World using the verb "to
[...] The singular family resemblance between all Indian, Greek and German philosophizing
is easy enough to explain Where there exists a language affinity it is quite
impossible, thanks to the common philosophy of grammar‑ I mean thanks
to unconscious domination and directing by similar grammatical functions
‑ to avoid everything being prepared in advance for a similar evolution
and succession of philosophical systems: just as the road seems to be barred
to certain other possibilities of world interpretation. [. . .] [BGE 20]
What unites Indian thought (Buddhism) and Greek thought (Christianity) is a
shared Indo-European grammar and the concepts of soul, subject, object, mind
etc. that are inherent in it. What the philosopher has called "reason"
is just "interpretation according to a scheme we cannot throw off--a
grammatical scheme." "Reason in Language--a deceitful old woman.
I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar."
Questions for Review and Discussion
1. "Life is good." Why
is this less a "first noble truth" than is "Life is suffering?"
Which do you do more?
2. Is Nietzsche's criticism of Christianity
as effective as are the normal skeptical arguments about God? Why?
3. Are the parallels Nietzsche draws
between Buddhism and Christianity valid? What about the differences?
4. Why does Nietzsche appear to be
more approving in his attitude toward Christ than his attitude toward Christianity?
5. What is the "real World"
of Christianity? Of Kant? Of Plato? Of Buddhism? Of Modern Science?
6. Explain the differences between
Master and Slave moralities?
7. Was Nietzsche crazy? Does it