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There's no where to go after Nietzsche

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,913 times Debate No: 25894
Debate Rounds (3)
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I'm going to posit that Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical stances on Will to Power and Eternal Return are the culmination of philosophical thought and that once accepted, there has been no more search for grand scale outlook on life and existence.

I say this in more of a way in that I want someone to prove me wrong. I'll be happy to accept that someone else has come along and blown these two theories out of the water. But as far as I know, no one has.

That isn't to say that everything Nietzsche said was the end all - be all... just that in the way he destroyed Kant and Schopenhauer (and pretty much every philosopher who came before him), no one has destroyed him. Most likely this person would come after Nietzsche, and would have to be someone who talked about the same subjects in a different, better way... I've read enough Russell (especially 'The Problems of Philosophy', and that's not it- though it does refute Descartes, Hume and Kant quite well), so that's not it... so who has come along and directly attacked Nietzsche? Do you just become a pragmatist after that? Is that the only solution/direction to go?

Additionally, it's not enough to say he went crazy at the end of his life, and thus that's the culmination of his theory and thus it is flawed. While true he said 'the strength of a mind can be weighed by how much truth it can endure', his mind clearly could not endure the truth it confronted itself with (or he just had VD).

So, with that... can anyone tell me where to go after Nietzsche?


I'd like to thank Pro for the opportunity to debate the topic at hand. Nietzche is certainly an interesting figure and left a formidable legacy to be overcome. For this debate I'm going to posit Albert Camus and his philosophy as the philosophical successor and culmination of Nietzsche's thought.

The Development of Alienation and it's Responses

Nietzsche is perhaps most famous for his pronouncement that God is dead. What Nietzsche meant was not that God was some mortal who had literally been murdered or died, but that the concept of God was becoming less and less necessary as a grounding for our understanding of the world and for things like ethics, meaning, and knowledge. Nietzsche saw that this had left a growing gap in society wherein people now had to look elsewhere for the answers to life's problems. While this doctrine has huge implications for the future of society and philosophy, Nietzsche's solution to the problem was necessarily incomplete (as is generally the case with path breakers i.e., Aristotle's logic and cosmology).

Nietzsche's 'God is dead' pronouncement had lasting effects on the development of philosophy and had a direct causal influence on the formation of schools of thought which attempted to solve the problem of dealing with human alienation and whether secular values could be supplanted in religion's place. Existentialism and absurdism are among the most known of the proposed solutions with Albert Camus being the founder of the latter.

The basic point in Absurdism is emphasis on what is termed the Absurd, the conflict between man's search for meaning in the universe and the apparent lack of any such thing. Camus argued that when man is confronted with the Absurd, they are presented with three options. One may commit suicide to escape the conflict, place faith in some religious or transcendental realm (a la Kierkegaard), or one can accept the existence of the Absurd and live in spite of it in freedom and integrity. Camus endorsed the last of these options, holding the first to be mere cowardice and the second to be simply a "philosophical suicide" as a figurative version of the first.

The reason why Camus' doctrine succeeds Nietzsche's is that Nietzsche's solution to the problem was mistaken and because Nietzsche mistook the order of operations. On the solution, Nietzsche's was merely in the Ubermensch as embodying one's values and living "in this world". The reason why Camus' solution succeeds his is that the value on which the Absurd man lives are integrity in the face of the Absurd as opposed to one's mere subjective inclinations. On the order of events, Nietzsche posits what could be called the Absurd as being the outcome of rejecting religion whereas Camus showed that it was in fact that Absurd that brought about religion in the first place.
Debate Round No. 1


I want to thank my opponent for accepting this debate, I hope I learn some stuff!

I am very well versed on Nietzsche, and am aware to some extent of the philosophical extensions of his "God is dead" proclamation. I do agree that it is used very much out of context today. I think if you take just The Gay Science's proclamation of "God is dead", you end where you are saying other philosophers pick up, but I think he extrapolated some himself in Zarathrusta and Beyond Good and Evil -
"BGE - Aphorism 55: There is a great ladder of religious cruelty, and, of its many rungs, three are the most important. People used to make human sacrifices to their god, perhaps even sacrificing those they loved the best ... Then, during the moral epoch of humanity, people sacrificed the strongest instincts they had, their 'nature,' to their god; the joy of this particular festival shines in the cruel eyes of the ascetic, that enthusiastic piece of 'anti-nature.' Finally: what was left to be sacrificed? In the end, didn't people have to sacrifice all comfort and hope, everything holy or healing, any faith in hidden harmony or a future filled with justice and bliss? Didn't people have to sacrifice God himself and worship rocks, stupidity, gravity, fate, or nothingness out of sheer cruelty to themselves? To sacrifice God for nothingness " that paradoxical mystery of the final cruelty has been reserved for the race that is now approaching: by now we all know something about this."

I have read "Resistance, Rebellion, and Death" and, while I agreed on his death penalty argument (though, I'm still torn on the actual subject, but have been leaning anti-capital punishment solely for that reason), I wasn't thrilled by the rest of the book. Indeed, I will have to read his "The Stranger" (actually, a lot of his work seems very interesting), but I find it difficult to believe that a Frenchman facing Nazi Germany can properly expound Nietzsche. I'm sure he saw Nazi Germany as the evil that can be caused by extrapolations of Nietzsche's work and would be difficult to not let that experience spill into his objective philosophy. From my current limited understanding of the rest of his work, he doesn't attack Nietzsche directly.. he acknowledges and then applies how it plays out in the real world and says.... how can this be good? Is this an accurate analysis?

Regardless of that, I didn't want so much a successor to "God is Dead", but to "Will to Power" (which I understand Camus proposed a Will to Happiness?... please explain) and to "Eternal Return" as stated in R1... I certainly don't find Absurdism to be a response to either of these in the way I currently understand Absurdism. If so, can you please explain?

So, I request to either explain Camus' response to "Will to Power" and "Eternal Return" or nominate someone else. That being said, I appreciate your time and hopefully I will get to read "The Stranger" and others soon as it does appear quite interesting.


"Nietzsche's first step is to accept what he knows. Atheism for him goes without saying and is "constructive and radical". Nietzsche's supreme vocation, so he says, is to provoke a kind of crisis and a final decision about the problem of atheism. The world continues on its course at random and there is nothing final about it."- Camus "The Rebel" (p. 66-67)

Possible Existence of Bias

Pro points out that Camus' living situations may have made him biased against Nietzsche. While clearly possible, I don't see any reason to accept this unless Pro gives us reason to do so. Besides, Camus wasn't unfavorable to Nietzsche. In The Rebel he wrote: "There is freedom for man without God, as Nietzsche imagined him; in other words, for the solitary man. There is freedom at midday when the wheel of the world stops spinning and man consents to things as they are." (p. 78)[1]

Will to Power or Will to Meaning

Nietzsche conceived of the struggle (or will) to power as the main driving force behind human motivation. While this may be true to an extent, Nietzsche's analysis fell flat when Camus introduced the framework of Absurdism. On Absurdism, it wasn't the will to dominate or to be the best that necessarily motivates us all, but instead the search and the need for transcendental meaning. We instinctively crave it and evidence of this can be found in such dominating institutions as religion, State, and personal philosophy. And from this alternative conception of human motivation, Camus provided a better answer to the problem of alienation, overcoming and rebelling as opposed to living only by one's personal preferences.

Eternal Return or Integrous Acceptance and Rebellion

A concept for which Nietzsche is almost as known for as for his death of God pronouncement is his writing on the concept of eternal return. Eternal return posits the universe as being entirely cyclic and in a specific sense, that we will relive our lives over and over exactly as we have in this life. Nietzsche didn't conceive of eternal return as the actual state of the universe, but used it as a thought experiment in favor of fatalistic acceptance. One can clearly see this train of thought in Camus' use of the Greek mythical hero Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was punished by the Gods by being forced to roll a heavy boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down when he got to the top for all eternity. Camus argues that this is the embodiment of the Absurd man. His task metaphorically describes living in the Absurd world and his acceptance of his situation (as opposed to seeking shelter in transcendentalist illusion) is exactly what Absurdism prescribes in the face of Absurd existence. Nietzsche argued for acceptance and love of one's fate. Camus drew on this but added that it's not so much as loving one's fate as living in spite of it and conquering it through acceptance.


Debate Round No. 2


I'm clearly not going to get a chance to read "The Rebel", the "Stranger" and "The Myth of Sisyphus" before responding, but I will quote the intro to "The Rebel"

"Philosophy can be used for any purpose -- even for transforming murderers into judges"

To respond to how Nazi Germany effected his philosophy, I think that's a pretty easy example.
And I didn't say he became biased AGAINST Nietzsche, I'm saying it effected his opinion, which is much harder to deny.
How can you critique someone you believe contributed to so much suffering?
Without reading Camus' work, I have to believe it's impossible to be objective in that environment.

So, starting with the basic tenors of Absurdism (the Universe is filled with Dualism and many of them are Absurd is my current understanding)... Camus' derived that we have a Will to Meaning? The Will to Power equally explains religion, state and personal philosophy... I'd actually say better so considering people's apathy. You'll have to explain better how Absurdism answers alienation (and please explain what alienation is as well) for me to accept that Will to Meaning supersedes Will to Power. I believe that philosophers believe they live with a Will to Meaning, since philosophers gain power by understanding better.... but most people, once they find their meaning (which is quite easy once they associate with a religion/state/personal philosophy), why don't they just quit? They found their Meaning.... what in the Will to Meaning powers men to go on AFTER resolving and deciding upon that Meaning. I believe the Will to Power answers that.

Amor Fati - The Love of Fate

Is Absurd man similar in method as the "bermensch?

Outside of that, isn't Amor Fati "acceptance"?

"What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'" - The Gay Science

Nietzsche gives the person the option when faced with Eternal Return of "throwing yourself down and gnashing your teeth". But alludes this is not what we should do. We should love that there is fate. That we are who we are. We should embrace this as the Holiest of Holy. We are alive and fate proscribes us. We cannot change it, but we don't know what "it" is yet. But we must love it, else we shall go mad. I don't see how Sisyphus is any different... he's just another example of a person existing with eternal return... but he can curse the demon (fate) or praise him as a God same as everyone else. He is no more stuck in his fate than us, he's just more aware of it.

I want to thank you for the debate, and I will read Camus, another other suggestions?


Possible Existence of Bias

Pro argues that anyone who attributes the rise of Nazism to Nietzsche cannot be objective. However, Pro hasn't cited any reason to believe that Camus was of this opinion. Most Nietzsche scholars don't think that his doctrines legitimately justify Nazism and his writings against anti-Semitism are well known. So it's certainly possible to not attribute the suffering imposed under Nazism to Nietzsche. Furthermore, Pro's argument leads to an absurdity. If we're to accept that Nietzsche's relationship to the rise of Nazism makes objectivity impossible, then any opinion on the philosopher is doomed to subjectivity, including Pro's.

Will to Power or Will to Meaning

Pro argues that things like religions and personal philosophies are also explained by the will to power. But this is a dubious assumption, since one can point to several actions by people and by institutions that contradict this. When we freely sacrifice our lives for someone we love or any case in which we value someone else above ourselves, this contradicts the will to power. However, basing this action on our craving for meaning doesn't run into this problem.

When Pro argues that the fact that people don't "quit" when they find their will to meaning, he makes the mistake of thinking that this doctrine is the end all of human affairs. The will to meaning only explains certain instances of motivation. We subscribe to a religion because we crave meaning. That doesn't mean that meaning is the only thing one can value. It's actually Nietzsche's philosophy that runs into this problem by applying the need for power to the motivation behind every action. Camus' philosophy applies to human action in the existential sense. When we make a bagel, we're motivated by hunger. When we devote our lives to a religion, we're looking for meaning. This clear separation of human action provides Absurdism with a superior theory of motivation since it doesn't run into the absurdities that would come along with applying it to every single possible course of action.

Eternal Return or Integrous Acceptance and Rebellion

Pro is overstating the similarities between the two doctrines concerning fate and meaning. Though they're similar in some respects, their differences are significant. Nietzsche's eternal return fosters acceptance and the rising up of man through adherence to value (will to power). Camus' rebellion fosters acceptance of the Absurd on the one hand, but existential rebellion in another. We accept the Absurd in the intellectual sense of not denying it or hiding from it. That doesn't mean we praise it. Camus argues that we live in spite of it as free and rational human beings living integrously. It's a matter of acceptance + praise versus acceptance + rebellion.

Thanks Pro for this debate. I admit I learned a bit in the process. Camus' non-fiction is certainly recommended, The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel among them. Good luck to you in the voting period.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by DeFool 5 years ago
Round one began fairly quietly from my standpoint. Pro made a sleepy, relaxed Opening argument, that left me a bit confused as to what was being discussed. I am familiar with the books in question, and own a century old copy of "Thus Spake Zarathustra," of which I am very proud.

Con opened with a direct, elegant and pointed argument that included a layman"s description of Nietzsche, his ideology and his works that helped to focus the discussion. His summary varies somewhat from my own interpretation of the infamous, "god is dead" line " which I regard as an argument that "god the deity is dead," and has been replaced with the more mundane "God the superman.") He then goes on to suggest an appropriate successor to Nietzchean logic might be Camus, with his ideas on absurdism. I was able to appreciate the resemblance between Camus and Nietzsche, and could understand this suggestion.

In Round Two, I feel that Pro began to reveal his true intentions, which seemed to revolve around an earnest attempt to better understand an intricate topic that has baffled him. He wanted to replicate the awe that he " and millions of others - have felt when they first encountered this firebreathing philosopher. He was searching for a way to re-live this experience, and was asking for a way to do this. He was not actually attempting to defeat an opponent " I believe that he wanted to be "defeated" in the debate, it seems, because the result of this outcome is that he would have found a new object of rewarding study.

I agree with him completely. This site is fun, but finding philosophical direction is life-changing.

I awarded the points for the debate, and was rewarded myself by the example set by Pro, whose valued love of intellectual curiosity I found inspiring.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
Be aware, though, that I have enjoyed reading this debate.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
I think Nietzsche would agree with Foucault's statement (nice quote, btw.) and would say -with a smile- that insomuch as Foucault is himself, he is a Nietzschen. Read the Genealogy of Morals (specifically the second essay) and gather an understanding for what Nietzsche is doing there, and then compare that to Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish and the published volumes of The History of Sexuality. You'll notice similarities in approach, because both are philosophical "genealogies" which, though of very different types, function in the same way. The comment I made is not to suggest that Foucault is a Nietzsche redux, only that he is the direct product of Nietzsche, for without the Genealogy of Morals, it is doubtful that Foucault would have ever written in the way that he did. It's complicated, but if this is something you're interested in, I encourage you to read into. That being said however, Foucault is bizarre apart of Nietzsche, so if you have read Foucault before (independently), your perspective may be altered considerably after looking into GM.
Posted by One_Winged_Rook 5 years ago
"The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don't know what will be the end." - Foucault, 'Truth, Power, Self'

I would certainly say this is in direct opposition to Eternal Return... so thank you, YYW, for addressing the topic directly.

However, having limited understanding of Foucault himself, I understand that he somehow remained true to both Kant and Nietzsche. Which, without reading, I don't see how that is possible. I will have to look into this (or you can provide me a synthesis if you have the time). Thanks
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
Foucault is the direct product of Nietzsche... he went lots of places.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by DeFool 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I will explain better in the commentary.