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Nietzsche - Abadoss' Mind
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Thu, Oct. 28th, 2004 02:39 pm

In War and Peace (the class that is serious kicking my butt, homework-wise) we're studying Nietzsche. The guy weirds me out a little. It's one of those things where he's got an argument that is logical and that I can understand, but that rubs me the wrong way or suggests things that I don't agree with. I get a bad vibe from him. A lot of it is the way he views God. He was a Christian turned Atheist. In his arguments, he suggests that God is an illusion created by the misconceptions of the mind. "God is dead" (Nietzsche). As a Christian myself, that rings a dissonant tone in my mind.

(Please understand that Nietzsche is better at describing his own thoughts and that I am leaving out a great deal about what he discusses in his writings. I would suggest reading what he has to say before forming an opinion about him, especially if you intend to use what I say about him as your basis for such.)

However, as being also a man of thought and reason, I have to at least consider why and how he would've come to such a conclusion. "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" (Aristotle). I also have to be willing to examine my own understanding and see what fits and what what doesn't. I recognize him as an excellent philosopher and I think that he has a great many things that apply, but I also shouldn't believe something just because he said so.

I also have to consider the environment that influenced his thinking. He was a product of a pre-World War I society. That's not to discredit him as an original thinker, but to understand that there are reasons why he would say such things. In his time period, Christianity was much like a corporation and morals and values proclaimed by the nobility, who rarely showed it. During the time, the highest and most virtuous was being desecrated and corrupted because religion was becoming undifferentiated from politics. Political leaders (I use the term to describe kings, czars, kaisers, popes, priests, etc.) claimed, hypocritically, to be the example of morality and God. Thus, it's reasonable to think, "if that's what God is all about, then it's useless." (Once again, I stress that Nietzsche know how to express his thoughts better than I.)

So, how do I apply his ideas to my life? I obviously have no intention of dropping God out of the picture, so how do I interpret what he's saying? Personally, I think of his writing as an opportunity to examine exact why I believe in God. The faith in God is not going to go away for me, but I have more reason now to understand my faith. If my faith can't rationally stand up to someone who suggests chucking God out the window, than what use is my faith? (That was rhetorical, just in case you were wondering.) So, I'm willing to listen and I'm willing to consider what he has to say, but "... I will proceed in this way until I recognize something certain, or, if nothing else, until I at least recognize for certain that there is no certainty" (Descartes).

Descartes may not agree wholly with my usage of his quote, but it best describes how I approach the issue of confronting the arguments that I disagree with. The beginning of that quote goes as such: "Anything which admits of the slightest doubt I will set aside just as if I had found it to be wholly false..." (Descartes). I will look for the core of what Nietzsche has to say and sweep away all else. I will look for what applies and has value and ignore that which does not ring true with me. If he were still alive (and actually cared what I thought about his writings), I'm sure he'd probably be pissed off at me, but the pursuit of truth should not be the pursuit of great people who can tell you what you need to do, but rather determining for yourself what remains true and pure. My hope is that there's something of more significance that I can draw from his arguments about God.

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