Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Philosophy 118: 12 January, 2009

These notes were taken from my class with Dr. Reyes for Philosophy 118 last 12 January

.:Review: Nietzsche:.

Nietzsche is admittedly all over the place by design because he believes that there is no way that one could systematize Philosophy. Being is not final, or immutable, or eternal. In fact, true Being is “becoming”. One has to capture Being as it flows, thus believing it impossible to truly freeze a moment in philosophical thought, lending to his writing style of brief, aphoristic sentences. He is not prone to writing long paragraphs the way most other thinkers do. This is the same as Heraclitus's belief that you cannot cross the same river twice, such that “everything runs”.

These are the seven main epochs of Nietzsche's thinking:

1. Birth Of Tragedy: His first work is not his best, but BoT implies for once that man is not fully rational, contrary to what Aristotle may believe. Nietzsche speaks of Apollo (the god of light and reason) and Dionysus (the god of the underworld, wine, passion, and instinct). While this may seem to be merely an analysis of the Greek tragedy wherein order and passion need to find a balance, it would appear that this discussion is also allegorical in regard to one's balance in life as well.

2. The Critique Of Morality: Though a Christian morality was in place, it was, in the case of Europe, merely falling into conformism. It is a mechanism placed to guilt, shame, and terrify the person into acting morally. There is none of the inner voice or inner spontaneity that should be the driving force of morality, rather than a mere sense of conformism brought about by what the group dictates, not what our own conscience tells us. It becomes, as such, a morality of mediocrity.

Furthermore, Nietzsche tackles the issue of the hidden agenda. For example, people are condemned for being immoral or obscene, and so forth, yet their condemnation arises from their own dirty mind. The human person becomes a means to an end.

For Nietzsche, morality ought to hinge on your own conscience. You should be courageous enough to become what you really are. Sometimes, you have to go against the group. The man who is strong enough to stand up for what he believes in is the Ubermensch, the superior man. This is the mark of a truly moral man.

3. The Critique Of Metaphysics: Metaphysics attempts to capture the totality, the ambit of being. One can see this in Platonic thinking leading towards the world of Eidos. However, reality as man knows it is never quite final and eternal. It is not being, per se, but becoming. There is no way to build a system when reality will not stop for you to form an idea about it. As such, metaphysics in the classical sense becomes merely a kind of escapism, in order to justify an order that does not exist in the present reality. It is a futile attempt to ground everything when doing so is simply infeasible.

Nietzsche likens this grounding to a kid who tries to stack blocks, that, in the end, merely collapses on itself.

4. The Critique Of Religion: There is an excessive stress on hierarchy and dogmatic formulation, authority, and the like. Religion seems to lose its meaning, instead of becoming a pursuit for God, merely an exercise in following authority. Furthermore, there appears to be an unnecessary stress on eschatology, to the point that the life we have now becomes devalued. Because of our focus on the next life, the here and now becomes immaterial to us.

In emphasizing the grandeur of God, the value of the human person similarly gets diminished. Sartre, for instance, insists on the dignity of man over the grandeur of God. Because of the diminished value of the human person, suffering seems to be elevated to a level where it becomes so important that we, instead of wishing to ease suffering, would rather pursue suffering.

At this point, Nietzsche declares “God is dead,” insofar as man has lost his bearings and act as if there is no God in their life, to begin with. Life becomes nihilistic for the religious people who have murdered their own God. Instead of reforming religion, Nietzsche proposes that we should note an Eternal Recurrence, insofar as we see a birth, a decay, and a death, from all epochs of time that we see.

5. The Critique Of Language: Contrary to the Heidegerrian belief that “language is the house of Being”, Nietzsche believes that the particular language in play represents a whole world-view. Depending upon the language one speaks, one sees a set of meanings that another language could possibly not see. Language does not reveal. Rather, it limits. It isn't about the truth of one's own language, but rather, its ability to be creative, even inspiratory. Language must be one that drives us to action. For instance, we may write about history in a clinical manner. Language should be harnessed to step beyond this, and make such historical declarations as inspirational than not.

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