Why Nietszche acts like a dick

Actually, I just plan to address one dickish behavior: Nietzsche's use of what seem like ad hominem attacks. He analyzes philosophers as if he thinks their motives disprove their conclusions. This would generally qualify as a logical fallacy. Even if the majority of people who believe in Hell did so out of envy, that wouldn't prove from an abstract logical perspective that Hell does not exist. Nietzsche surely knows this. And he certainly knows that others could attack his philosophy by analyzing his own motives.

My interpretation goes back to the Eternal Return. I see this in part as a test for the Superman. The author speaks of wanting all of the past and present to repeat indefinitely so that one's actions could repeat indefinitely. I think "Superman" means roughly someone who would feel this way all the time. I also think Celia "Crazy Woman" Green has a big part of the picture: "it is plain that the idea is connected with the existential perception that the events of your life really exist." We might add that according to the evidence, every action or event really involves a host of others back into the distant past. So thinking about the Eternal Return easily shades into thinking about reality.

Nietzsche doesn't attack people's motives because feeling some emotion automatically makes you wrong. He attacks motives that the writers in question do not want to recognize in themselves, because refusing to look at the source of one's actions prevents one from contemplating reality. You can't wholeheartedly affirm your actions, history and will if you deny your history and will. It hinders the creation of the Übermensch, who would provide a conscious purpose for reality. A religion of envy in particular would rule this out because in Nietzsche's view the worshipers could never accept the true origins of their slave morality. ("Slave morality" sounds like an insult precisely because nobody's 'moral' feelings meet the definition fully. Everyone feels the influence of some noble morality that calls it shameful to live in slavery or to think like a slave.) Nietzsche likes "nobility" not only because it creates good opportunities for dickishness, but also because he seems to consider it necessary for facing reality with joy.


"There can be only one" seems like a terrible way of looking at the world. But we have the habit of trying to look at causes in isolation, as if anything could happen in isolation. Even if we can't find more than one proximate cause for an event, we can find a cause for that cause and continue this back until our knowledge gives out. More often it looks like changing any one of a number of "causes" would have changed the outcome. Al Gore lost the White House because the media lied about him! No, because of the way he ran his campaign! No, because of Nader! No, because of the Supreme Court! No, because Florida Republicans broke the law! No, because of Gore's positions on gun control! No, because of Clinton's affair(s)! No, because Gore distanced himself from Clinton! No, because of the Southern Strategy! No, because the War on Some Drugs stripped citizens of the right to vote! No, because of the Electoral College! No, because at some point church leaders decided the Communist threat warranted a change in teachings! No, because the DLC abandoned most of America! No, because of Elián! Feel free to add your own, I'm starting to feel tired.

payday loan

Just popping in to link to a post about the payday loan. See here for the reason why. (Feel free to tell me I don't know what I'm doing technically. Unless you just want to point out that few people read my journal.)

Reformation and Age of Reason

This essay about doctrine (via Amp) suggests a way to solidy a post or two that I've kicked around for a while.* (From my point of view the author talks about empathy and then starts his next paragraph with an insult, but never mind that now.) It starts by mentioning two groups who ask two different questions of religion: the children of the Enlightenment ("How can I know what is true?") and the children of the Reformation ("Where will I spend eternity?").

When I first read that in the context of the post, my Enlightenment-bred self wanted to make an immediate comment to the effect that the Reformation question contradicts itself. The following seems slightly unfair, since if I have to die I, too, would like to leave behind a Superman in place of a corpse. But please bear with me. In order to live for a thousand years, ten thousand, one hundred thousand and so on to eternity, a human soul would have to change so dramatically that it would likely seem like a different person (and in fact a different species.) I define "live" to include keeping one's memories, rather than forgetting every century for eternity and likely repeating one's mistakes forever. If you don't forget in this way, it seems like one of the following must happen. Either the eons slowly change you until at last you would no longer recognize yourself -- so thoroughly that you would no longer call yourself human -- or you'd somehow lose the ability to change. Which to my mind also seems central to our humanity.

So I see no plausible answer to the question of the Reformation except, "Un-ask the question." Or, to paraphrase what Jesus says in Matthew to the guy who keeps asking, 'If you want to live forever, give up everything about your life you consider essential.' Compare this Christian view with Aleister Crowley writing about "the Black Brothers".

But if we keep digging, we find a similar answer to the question of the Enlightenment. Let's look at that question in its most general sense. As qwantz says, all judgements technically require certain assumptions. But I wouldn't call those assumptions "self-evident" so much as "provably false". Logic's seeming certainty stems from the belief that we can't even imagine experience contradicting it. Kant, as I pretend to understand him, assumed that we have absolutely certain knowledge and decided that in that case we must lack the ability to experience a contradiction, even in dreams. But we have testimony claiming that some people have already perceived what seem like flat contradictions of all or most of Kant's certainties. (For one example, click on the following link and read the part where it says, "And now a thing happens, which is unfortunately sheer nonsense".) Feeling absolute certainty in any claim whatsoever now requires the assumption that these people lied or expressed themselves poorly, or that their experience somehow does not fit the facts. This in turn seems to imply the argument that our everyday experience follows logic, so why should we care about some oddball vision? In other words, the defense of absolute certainty requires some form of scientific induction, which can never give us absolute certainty (if we think about it). We prefer not to think about this because it doesn't seem to lead us anywhere useful, unless we consider the Abyss useful.

*My comment on Nate's blog referred to another post I may write soon, but this seems vaguely related.
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