Tagged: Nietzsche

Nietzsche, Socialism, and Utilitarianism

Among Nietzsche’s many excellent insights into the mind of nineteenth-century socialism, here is one from his early days (1878) that particularly appeals to my way of thinking: The Socialists demand a comfortable life for the greatest possible number. If the lasting house of this life of comfort, the perfect State, had really been attained, then this life of comfort would have destroyed the...

A Thought on Wasting Time

Regular readers will be aware that I often return, perhaps somewhat obsessively, to the theme of not wasting time. I can never emphasize enough, however, that when I speak of wasting time, or invoke the personal motto of sorts that I use to exhort my serious students to improve their lives — “I don’t waste time” — I am not even remotely concerned...

Nietzsche on Party Politics

Apart. — Parliamentarianism — that is, public permission to choose between five basic political opinions — flatters and wins the favor of all those who would like to seem independent and individual, as if they fought for their opinions. Ultimately, however, it is indifferent whether the herd is commanded to have one opinion or permitted to have five. Whoever deviates from the five...

Nietzsche, the European Narcotics, and Romanticism

Nietzsche’s “two great European narcotics”: Christianity and alcohol. German Christianity and German beer were, for Nietzsche, particularly noteworthy as the vanguard of European man’s decline. Christianity in the modern sense and alcohol in the “our beer” sense are, among other things, Nietzsche’s shorthand for — but also the moving and final causes of — nineteenth century romanticism.

On Suicide

No one commits suicide due to a moment’s transitory suffering. Suicide is by definition a last resort, which means that one turns to it only when other “resorts” have proved unsuccessful, i.e., when one feels that time and circumstance have provided no other solution to one’s suffering. The suicidal person, then, is responding to the accumulated despair of past suffering, or the accumulated...

Random Thoughts on Principle or the Lack Thereof

Socrates and Plato made their criticism of the Greek sophists a central part of their respective philosophic missions. The core of their criticism: The sophists were paid teachers, who as such had a vested material interest in pleasing their listeners, rather than educating them. Thus, fathers brought their sons to the sophists for lessons in how to succeed in practical, political life. The...

The Significance of Suffering

Recently, a bright-eyed, enthusiastic Korean student asked me for winter reading recommendations. To choose appropriately, I engaged her in two hours’ general conversation aimed at gaining a better understanding of her character. At one point, I asked her the half-whimsical question, “If you were on a plane that was about to crash, whom would you want sitting next to you?” Her eyes widened...

Your Homework Reading Assignment, If You Please

During his final sane months, in a whirlwind of productivity, Nietzsche wrote three important works, the greatest of which was Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with the Hammer, a terse but sweeping synopsis of his entire philosophy. Though in form a small book, in content, implications, and influence, it is enormous as only a handful of works have ever been....

Nietzsche, Youth, and Hubris

From Twilight of the Idols: To live alone one must be an animal or a god — says Aristotle. There is yet a third case: one must be both — a philosopher. (R.J. Hollingdale translation, 1968.)  True — but why does Nietzsche assume that Aristotle had not thought of that? My suggestion: the hubris of exceptional youth. Nietzsche completed Twilight of the Idols...

Weekend Reflection: Nietzsche on Looking Around

On Friday, Ireland, a traditionally Catholic country, voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion, which means that if you walk the streets of Dublin today, most of the people you meet will be supporters of killing human life to facilitate irresponsible pleasure. Meanwhile, halfway around the world in Korea, a democratically elected Korean president embraced and held hands with a grotesque brute responsible for the...