Thursday, December 04, 2008

Philosophy 118: 03 December, 2008

These notes were taken from my class with Dr. Reyes for Philosophy 118 this Wednesday...

.:The Will To Power (Der Wille zur Macht):.

The will to power as the will to dominate, as the will to nothingness, and the will to self-overcoming.

The Will To Dominate

The book is a compilation of Nietzsche's notes for this book from 1882 to 1887. He was never able to complete this project because he went insane before he was able to publish this work. From his insanity to his death, his sister, Elizabeth took care of him, and she took it upon herself to edit, polish and publish her brother's work. Unfortunately, it would seem that she was influenced by her husband, a member of the National Socialist Party. Thus, “The Will To Power” had a pronounced Nazi slant, which we are unable to determine whether or not was Nietzsche's intent.

For Nietzsche, it is clear that there is truly a will to dominate others that occurs in nature, from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom, and it most certainly is present among humans in society. Whether you say “I love you” to someone, or whether a beggar asks you for money, there is an implicit attempt of domination upon another. Authority figures are notorious for this, but the common man himself certainly has the will to dominate the other.

What happened at this point was that Elizabeth used this to justify Nazism, which allowed them to insist that the German race was meant to dominate, to the point that they would even breed offspring from the most handsome men and most beautiful women in Germany at the time. The irony of this is that Nietzsche was a harsh critic of any totalitarian regime and prioritizes the individual over it, so a proposition like this would seem rather counterintuitive. After the death of Elizabeth, philosophical experts and commentators who came upon Nietzsche's material realized the slant that was not originally a part of Nietzsche's work.

The Will To Nothingness

There seem to be people whose preoccupation with destruction not for the sake of dominance, but destruction for its own sake. Freud would term this as a “death wish”. There seem to be some people who just don't seem to care about anything but destruction per se. Whether it is destruction of the self, of property, or of others, they are just preoccupied with destruction.

The Will To Self-Overcoming

If you read through his notes carefully, Nietzsche underscores that though the will to dominate is common, and thought the will to nothingness can be so consuming, the power lies not in either of these, but in the will to self-overcoming. Self-mastery, self-control allows you to liberate yourself from your self-slavery.

It would appear that the will to dominate is merely a way to compensate for one who cannot overcome himself. There is true strength and true power in the will to self-overcoming. The will to dominate is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

.:The Aesthetic Phenomenon:.

Nietzsche did not cover this idea as much, but there was clearly an intent from Nietzsche to compile his ideas under this banner.

“Only as an aesthetic phenomenon is the world and the existence of man eternally justified.”

In the traditional scholastic tradition, there are three attributes to being: it is what is true, what is good, and what is beautiful. Imelda Marcos and her abuse of this notion to the point of cliché immediately comes to mind.

Paul Cladell is a French intellectual who was attracted to Catholicism because of the beautiful music he heard from the church one day. There are those who would give their lives for what is beautiful.

For something to be truly valid, be it morality, religion, or an object, perhaps the “saving grace” is the aspect of beauty. That which is beautiful must be embodied. Despite the religious emphasis on the ugliness of the human body as imperfect and finite, Nietzsche emphasizes that beauty is nothing as an abstraction. It must be incarnated. For him, the human body is the greatest vehicle of beauty.

.:Quotable Quotes:.

“Rawr! Rawr! Rawr!”

- Dr. Reyes, doing an impression of a catfight

“Sir, you seem to be very good at everything. You're good in philosophy. You're good in poetry. You're good in theology? I was just, thinking about killing other people? Come sir, sige, magpatayan na tayo. Let's just see if you're also good at that.”

- One of Dr. Reyes' students when he was teaching with Belgian missionaries shortly after his graduation

“And so my obsessive-compulsive brother took my artistic brother's prized guitar, and smashed it into a thousand pieces.”

- Dr. Reyes, relating a story about his woes as the eldest of nine

By the way, you ought to see Dr. Reyes dancing. Quite a sight. ;)

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