The Gay Science,by Friedrich Nietzsche
Length: 1580 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)
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Nietzsche's style of writing was a deliberate stylistic choice meant to hide the meaning of his work and philosophy from those who would not be able to understand it, and through there misunderstanding would abuse it. This writing style was also meant to help support and give meaning to Nietzsche's arguments on the nature of language and how language is, at its root a metaphor describing an object that is disconnected from us. Nietzsche's work broke down language to its metaphorical roots and explored the nature of how our language is disconnected from the objective reality around us. Nietzsche uses the metaphorical roots of our language to show that words and language our fundamentally disconnected because of the subjective nature of language. Nietzsche shows these metaphorical roots by showing how simple words and phrases that we use in our everyday life are really disconnected or at least removed by the barrier of language. Language is a serious of metaphor's all describing how an object subjectively appears to the individual. No language can describe what it is like to "be" that object, nor properly describe what it is that makes the object what it is. All language can do is provide a vehicle through which man can communicate what he is subjectively experiencing and relate it via a metaphor to another individual who will only get a idea of what is being described rather than an actual concrete description.
2) In sections 124, 343, and 377, Nietzsche claims that, following the death of God, human beings find themselves "in the horizon of the infinite," on the "open sea," and "homeless." What are the consequences of the death of God? With reference to section 347, discuss the ambiguity of this new found freedom. How might it terrify some people and empower others?
The consequences for the death of god are far reaching and and many in Nietzsche's work. Christianity sparked the death of God as most of us know him through the actions of Martin Luther. Luther's desire to give the common man the ability to understand and read the bible brought a end to the churches monopoly on morality and brought the "divine" to the common man making the common man "divine".
Luther's desire to develop the christian consciences unwittingly lead to the downfall of not only God but also spelled the end of the Churches stranglehold on morality. Man is left with no other option other than to be free after Gods death. The absolute moral and metaphysical world that m an had known has been turned on its head. What was known is now unknown and what was absolute is now unsure. Now that man is left with no absolutes after Gods untimely demise, man must beside for himself his own way, his own right or wrong and man must be responsible for the consequences of his own actions. The individual can only find guidance in himself and must be responsible for his own life.
Man is blessed and cursed with the freedom that comes from Gods death. Some will flee into the darkness of denial, seek refuge in herd, the state or in a new shadow of the deceased God. These people flee from the new found freedom because they do not wish to be responsible for their own life, they do not wish to lose the bliss that comes from having a defined and absolute path or guide to follow. These people flee in terror because they believe that man will loose of civility and decency, they fear responsibility and accountability and so they flee. While their will be those who flee into the darkness of new dark age of mysticism and collectivism, their will also be those, those who understand what Nietzsche meant will be empowered by their new found freedom and control of their destiny. Those who feel empowered will be thankful to break free from the outdated rigid morality of God and the church. The underhanded lies of the church about the basic drive to do good and not to bad will be erased as a new freedom from a threat of burning in lake of fire or spending the eternity in a undefined plane of "paradise" as a reward of doing good because of arbitrarily and irrational moral structure.
3) Discuss the significance of the following remark: #116-- "Wherever we encounter a morality, we also encounter valuations and an order of rank of human impulses and actions. These valuations and orders of rank are always expressions of the needs of a community and herd; whatever benefits it most -- and second most, and third most -- that is also considered the first standard for the value of all individuals. Morality trains the individual to be a function of the herd and to ascribe value to himself only as a function." Is herd mentality an instinct or a drive? Or both? If so, explain. Is it possible or desirable to avoid herd mentality?
The phenomenon of Herd mentality/morality is one that has roots in both the instinctual drive that humans have because of their biology, evolutionary history and development, as well as a conscious/unconscious desire that individuals experiences in the presences of others or seek in the presence of others. The drive that man feels to submit himself to the group is not a ingrained genetic or instinctual drive. This drive to submit is founded in the way that individuals act in groups and in the conscious desire for a stable and absolute guide or morality. In a group the “I” is replaced with the “we” and the individuals own values, ethics and morality are suppressed and modified to fit the will of the whole. Man can find only the most tremulous and superficial comfort in this submission however because of the nature of reality and the cold truth that there are no absolutes. The submission to the will of the majority is a desperate and futile attempt to replace the absolutes that were destroyed with the death of God. This submission can surrogate God with many forms whether that be the state, as in socialism/fascism/communism, the sciences, as in Darwinism/neo-Darwinism, money, as in capitalism/mercantilism, or technology as is the case in our modern age. These surrogates of God all serve the same universal purpose that once belonged solely to the church which is to find a common and “absolute” guide or path that an individual must follow to be considered part of the whole or morally “right” or “good”. The cases in which this drive has been exploited are clearly evident throughout history. History is filled will despots, tyrants, strongmen, mystics of both the spirt and mind, and religious leaders who have exploited the nature of our meaningless existence and the fear that this true; however misinterpreted fact presence by culling those who flee in fear of the responsibility this revelation brings by offering absolutes. famous and chilling examples in our recent history our the almost cult-like fanatical organizations that defined one o the darkest eras in human history, World War II. Adolf Hitler, that most infamous and despised figure in history used the chaos and uncertainty of post World War I Germany to create the Nazi movement. Joseph Stalin, the often marginalized tyrant of the Russian people stole the revolution and twisted it to fit his idea of the perfect communist state. Chairman Mao who used communism in much the same way as Stalin gave a powerful doctrine by which the oppressed and humiliated Chinese could rally behind while committing a genocide that was greater than both Hitler and Stalin combined. These monsters capitalized on the drive that individuals felt for stability and absolutes by offering the state as the new “God” and by this action justified the massacre for so many millions, all for the good of the state.
While the drive to seek the herd is a conscious submission to the will of the majority, we cannot forget or deny the basic instinct that we humans, being a social animal feel toward the group. This instinct to seek others is ingrained from centuries of an evolutionary pressure stemming from our ancestors days in the savanna when relative safety could only be achieved by massing together so as to find protection, structure, and mating opportunities. We still experience this instinct because of how ancient and fundamental it is to our species, however this instinct is not to be confused with the drive to submit ones self to the group. We are instinctively driven to seek others because it is only by and with others that we can achieve the wondrous feats that we see in our modern world, but this instinct to congregate dose not compel us to give into the others, but rather to find and interact with them. There is no absolutes in this instinct, there is no guide or overarching purpose in it, other than to facilitate and increase our chance of survival and reproduction. Instinct ends when we are with others or when we seek others, wear as the drive begins at the point where after seeking others, we submit ourselves to the will of the majority to see purpose in this most purposeless of worlds.