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The Problem of Nihilism

NHN
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8/22/2016 12:21:33 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
It is important to understand why nihilism, as developed by Friedrich Nietzsche, is central to the existential predicament that the Western world faces today. It not only regards how we view the world, but also how we identify purpose in society, politics, faith, and for ourselves.

1. Nihilism as destructive force:
1.1. As an active force it is on the one hand, "the radical repudiation of value, meaning, and desirability," on the other "a will to nothingness, a revulsion from life, a rebellion against the principal conditions of living."
1.2. "What does nihilism mean?" Nietzsche asks, answering: "That the highest values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking; 'why?' finds no answer." In sum, secular decline (continuous devaluation and aimlessness of a culture's highest values).
1.3. Lastly, as a reactive force, nihilism is an existential crisis of nothingness in which "man would sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose." And this tricky formulation highlights nihilism's most destructive force: as as opposed to doing nothing, doing just about anything in the face of meaninglessness.

2. Nihilism as creative force:
Given the three insights above:
2.1 becoming has no goal;
2.2. "underneath all becoming there is no grand unity in which the individual could immerse himself completely as in an element of supreme value";
2.3. But "an escape remains: to pass sentence on this whole world of becoming as a deception and to invent a world beyond it, a true world."

Once we find out that the world as we know it is fabricated solely from psychological needs, this last form of nihilism reveals the concept in its fullest scope. Nihilism, then, includes disbelief in any metaphysical world and forbids itself any belief in a true world.

But having reached this standpoint, one grants the reality of becoming -- the ceaseless unfolding/press of events without unity or ground -- as the only reality, this forbids every kind of "secret access" to an "afterworld/afterlife" or to "divinities." And that is where we need to follow up, psychologically.

For we can't endure such a world, even if we can't or don't want to deny it (the absence of meaning, the void, the Nothing, is after all true). What, then, remains to us is to invent the world again, albeit as a psychologically satisfying cosmos, a noble lie (see the conclusion of Plato's Republic), which is strong enough to withstand both radical repudiation and secular decline.

In sum, the creative destruction of nihilism proves to be both the answer (in the creation of a new worldview) and the greatest danger (the destruction of all orders, old and new).

And, finally, as we live in a culture where radical repudiation (atheism, scientism) and secular decline has nearly succeeded in upending our Judaeo-Christian foundation and basic social and economic institutions, I ask:
How would we go about shaping a brave new world without risking the invitation of those who'd "sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose," that is to say, the most destructive faces of nihilism (e.g., Marxism-Leninism, Nazism, Islamism)?
skipsaweirdo
Posts: 1,864
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8/22/2016 12:50:53 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 12:21:33 PM, NHN wrote:
It is important to understand why nihilism, as developed by Friedrich Nietzsche, is central to the existential predicament that the Western world faces today. It not only regards how we view the world, but also how we identify purpose in society, politics, faith, and for ourselves.

1. Nihilism as destructive force:
1.1. As an active force it is on the one hand, "the radical repudiation of value, meaning, and desirability," on the other "a will to nothingness, a revulsion from life, a rebellion against the principal conditions of living."
1.2. "What does nihilism mean?" Nietzsche asks, answering: "That the highest values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking; 'why?' finds no answer." In sum, secular decline (continuous devaluation and aimlessness of a culture's highest values).
1.3. Lastly, as a reactive force, nihilism is an existential crisis of nothingness in which "man would sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose." And this tricky formulation highlights nihilism's most destructive force: as as opposed to doing nothing, doing just about anything in the face of meaninglessness.

2. Nihilism as creative force:
Given the three insights above:
2.1 becoming has no goal;
2.2. "underneath all becoming there is no grand unity in which the individual could immerse himself completely as in an element of supreme value";
2.3. But "an escape remains: to pass sentence on this whole world of becoming as a deception and to invent a world beyond it, a true world."

Once we find out that the world as we know it is fabricated solely from psychological needs, this last form of nihilism reveals the concept in its fullest scope. Nihilism, then, includes disbelief in any metaphysical world and forbids itself any belief in a true world.

But having reached this standpoint, one grants the reality of becoming -- the ceaseless unfolding/press of events without unity or ground -- as the only reality, this forbids every kind of "secret access" to an "afterworld/afterlife" or to "divinities." And that is where we need to follow up, psychologically.

For we can't endure such a world, even if we can't or don't want to deny it (the absence of meaning, the void, the Nothing, is after all true). What, then, remains to us is to invent the world again, albeit as a psychologically satisfying cosmos, a noble lie (see the conclusion of Plato's Republic), which is strong enough to withstand both radical repudiation and secular decline.

In sum, the creative destruction of nihilism proves to be both the answer (in the creation of a new worldview) and the greatest danger (the destruction of all orders, old and new).

And, finally, as we live in a culture where radical repudiation (atheism, scientism) and secular decline has nearly succeeded in upending our Judaeo-Christian foundation and basic social and economic institutions, I ask:
How would we go about shaping a brave new world without risking the invitation of those who'd "sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose," that is to say, the most destructive faces of nihilism (e.g., Marxism-Leninism, Nazism, Islamism)?

The aristic thrust and conception of "contra natura" lie in our power finitely to extend our self-mastery, to GROW in will and spirit; but as Nietzsche repeatedly teaches in ZARATHUSTRA, such ends must be WILLABLE, achievable. There is nothing to be learned from the human-all-too-human impulse for self-deification or wholesale transcendence over the vicissitudes of life -- even though this aims at something contra natura, it is not truly concretely WILLABLE, it is just a fantasy of our imagination. We cannot BECOME a God. But we can learn to hold our deepest passions in check for the sake of a higher morality, if indeed we are aristoi. Willing and valuing must become an art, must be made consonant or coherent with the fabric of our natures. Mere megalomaniacal extravagance does not truly increase our charge of concentrated power; on the contrary it fires up our ambition with inflationary abstractions that give no traction or purchase to our actual wills. That way lies radical frustration and a metaphysics of depression: an inevitable life-pattern of self-delusion, as we suffer over and over from the necessity that "it would not be better if men got what they wanted," and yet will not permit ourselves ever to see or to learn anything from this self-deception and self-betrayal.

Kenneth Smith
http://kennethsmith.site90.com...
picknpull
Posts: 62
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8/22/2016 1:13:23 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 12:21:33 PM, NHN wrote:
It is important to understand why nihilism, as developed by Friedrich Nietzsche, is central to the existential predicament that the Western world faces today. It not only regards how we view the world, but also how we identify purpose in society, politics, faith, and for ourselves.

1. Nihilism as destructive force:
1.1. As an active force it is on the one hand, "the radical repudiation of value, meaning, and desirability," on the other "a will to nothingness, a revulsion from life, a rebellion against the principal conditions of living."
1.2. "What does nihilism mean?" Nietzsche asks, answering: "That the highest values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking; 'why?' finds no answer." In sum, secular decline (continuous devaluation and aimlessness of a culture's highest values).
1.3. Lastly, as a reactive force, nihilism is an existential crisis of nothingness in which "man would sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose." And this tricky formulation highlights nihilism's most destructive force: as as opposed to doing nothing, doing just about anything in the face of meaninglessness.

2. Nihilism as creative force:
Given the three insights above:
2.1 becoming has no goal;
2.2. "underneath all becoming there is no grand unity in which the individual could immerse himself completely as in an element of supreme value";
2.3. But "an escape remains: to pass sentence on this whole world of becoming as a deception and to invent a world beyond it, a true world."

Once we find out that the world as we know it is fabricated solely from psychological needs, this last form of nihilism reveals the concept in its fullest scope. Nihilism, then, includes disbelief in any metaphysical world and forbids itself any belief in a true world.

But having reached this standpoint, one grants the reality of becoming -- the ceaseless unfolding/press of events without unity or ground -- as the only reality, this forbids every kind of "secret access" to an "afterworld/afterlife" or to "divinities." And that is where we need to follow up, psychologically.

For we can't endure such a world, even if we can't or don't want to deny it (the absence of meaning, the void, the Nothing, is after all true). What, then, remains to us is to invent the world again, albeit as a psychologically satisfying cosmos, a noble lie (see the conclusion of Plato's Republic), which is strong enough to withstand both radical repudiation and secular decline.

In sum, the creative destruction of nihilism proves to be both the answer (in the creation of a new worldview) and the greatest danger (the destruction of all orders, old and new).

And, finally, as we live in a culture where radical repudiation (atheism, scientism) and secular decline has nearly succeeded in upending our Judaeo-Christian foundation and basic social and economic institutions, I ask:
How would we go about shaping a brave new world without risking the invitation of those who'd "sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose," that is to say, the most destructive faces of nihilism (e.g., Marxism-Leninism, Nazism, Islamism)? : :

Describe a "true world" to me.
NHN
Posts: 624
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8/22/2016 1:15:10 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 12:50:53 PM, skipsaweirdo wrote:
[...] There is nothing to be learned from the human-all-too-human impulse for self-deification or wholesale transcendence over the vicissitudes of life -- even though this aims at something contra natura, it is not truly concretely WILLABLE, it is just a fantasy of our imagination.
What could be more contra natura than willfully establishing a new order in place of the old? Break the old tablets? Philosophize with the hammer, as it were?

We cannot BECOME a God.
And that's not the purpose here. What this regards is a move in which we shape the answer, psychologically, to an onto-theologico-socio-political question. The answer as it now stands, which is the state of the (Western) world we live in, is unsatisfactory.

But we can learn to hold our deepest passions in check for the sake of a higher morality, if indeed we are aristoi. Willing and valuing must become an art, must be made consonant or coherent with the fabric of our natures.
And I am asking how this is attained in the face of radical repudiation and the secular decline of our civilization. Do we become more active in tearing it down alongside the radicals, or do we defend it as reactionaries -- in order to tear it down later as we unmask ourselves?

Mere megalomaniacal extravagance does not truly increase our charge of concentrated power; on the contrary it fires up our ambition with inflationary abstractions that give no traction or purchase to our actual wills. That way lies radical frustration and a metaphysics of depression: an inevitable life-pattern of self-delusion, as we suffer over and over from the necessity that "it would not be better if men got what they wanted," and yet will not permit ourselves ever to see or to learn anything from this self-deception and self-betrayal.
And isn't this reactive nihilism, which is at the kernel of the weakness of this self-delusion, strikingly close to our current state of affairs?

That said, the question remains:
How do we achieve the new world, a fundamental reevaluation, without inviting the worst and must destructive elements? (If this is too broad a question, feel free to redirect or rework it.)
NHN
Posts: 624
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8/22/2016 1:21:31 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:13:23 PM, picknpull wrote:
Describe a "true world" to me.
You obviously didn't read the OP, but I'll restate that part:
The true world is the ceaseless unfolding/press of events without unity or ground. Such a world denies every kind of "secret access" to an "afterworld/afterlife" or to "divinities."

As this is psychologically unsatisfying, we require a grand myth, a noble lie, much like Plato's "Myth of Er" at the end of the Republic.

Some have difficulty accepting this, which is why I am communicating via Thomas More's method of obliquus ductus, as he did in Utopia.
picknpull
Posts: 62
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8/22/2016 1:34:49 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:21:31 PM, NHN wrote:
At 8/22/2016 1:13:23 PM, picknpull wrote:
Describe a "true world" to me.
You obviously didn't read the OP, but I'll restate that part:
The true world is the ceaseless unfolding/press of events without unity or ground. Such a world denies every kind of "secret access" to an "afterworld/afterlife" or to "divinities."

As this is psychologically unsatisfying, we require a grand myth, a noble lie, much like Plato's "Myth of Er" at the end of the Republic.

Some have difficulty accepting this, which is why I am communicating via Thomas More's method of obliquus ductus, as he did in Utopia. : :

Now that I've read all that plagiarized knowledge of yours from all those books you've read, what do you think is the " real world " without you plagiarizing everyone else's thoughts?
NHN
Posts: 624
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8/22/2016 1:45:54 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:34:49 PM, picknpull wrote:
Now that I've read all that plagiarized knowledge of yours from all those books you've read, what do you think is the " real world " without you plagiarizing everyone else's thoughts?
Wow, that's a remarkable comment. You see, plagiarism relates to the rights of publishing; what do you think the quotes and references are there for? Nietzsche, Plato, More...

But I'll give this another shot:
The true world, as defined by Nietzsche, is the void enclosing the press of beings and the ceaseless unfolding of events.
skipsaweirdo
Posts: 1,864
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8/22/2016 3:23:10 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:15:10 PM, NHN wrote:
At 8/22/2016 12:50:53 PM, skipsaweirdo wrote:
[...] There is nothing to be learned from the human-all-too-human impulse for self-deification or wholesale transcendence over the vicissitudes of life -- even though this aims at something contra natura, it is not truly concretely WILLABLE, it is just a fantasy of our imagination.
What could be more contra natura than willfully establishing a new order in place of the old? Break the old tablets? Philosophize with the hammer, as it were?

We cannot BECOME a God.
And that's not the purpose here. What this regards is a move in which we shape the answer, psychologically, to an onto-theologico-socio-political question. The answer as it now stands, which is the state of the (Western) world we live in, is unsatisfactory.

But we can learn to hold our deepest passions in check for the sake of a higher morality, if indeed we are aristoi. Willing and valuing must become an art, must be made consonant or coherent with the fabric of our natures.
And I am asking how this is attained in the face of radical repudiation and the secular decline of our civilization. Do we become more active in tearing it down alongside the radicals, or do we defend it as reactionaries -- in order to tear it down later as we unmask ourselves?

Mere megalomaniacal extravagance does not truly increase our charge of concentrated power; on the contrary it fires up our ambition with inflationary abstractions that give no traction or purchase to our actual wills. That way lies radical frustration and a metaphysics of depression: an inevitable life-pattern of self-delusion, as we suffer over and over from the necessity that "it would not be better if men got what they wanted," and yet will not permit ourselves ever to see or to learn anything from this self-deception and self-betrayal.
And isn't this reactive nihilism, which is at the kernel of the weakness of this self-delusion, strikingly close to our current state of affairs?

That said, the question remains:
How do we achieve the new world, a fundamental reevaluation, without inviting the worst and must destructive elements? (If this is too broad a question, feel free to redirect or rework it.)
As Kierkegaard insisted from his theistic perspective, so Nietzsche also argues from his naturalistic one: whoever accepts the whole must accept as well the negative, resented, embittering, contrary elements in that whole. If life and character and nature and society truly are wholes, then everything in them is in some way essential to that whole; and we cannot grasp that whole by means of value-judgments if values are INHERENTLY DISCRIMINATORY or divisive functions of our intelligence. Values drive rifts between options, they exist for the sake of the natural powers of the will which (so to speak) needs its food cut up into willable portions or differentiated options.

Kenneth Smith
NHN
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8/22/2016 5:25:08 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 3:23:10 PM, skipsaweirdo wrote:
As Kierkegaard insisted from his theistic perspective, so Nietzsche also argues from his naturalistic one: whoever accepts the whole must accept as well the negative, resented, embittering, contrary elements in that whole. If life and character and nature and society truly are wholes, then everything in them is in some way essential to that whole; and we cannot grasp that whole by means of value-judgments if values are INHERENTLY DISCRIMINATORY or divisive functions of our intelligence. Values drive rifts between options, they exist for the sake of the natural powers of the will which (so to speak) needs its food cut up into willable portions or differentiated options.
That is a misinterpretation of Nietzsche's double affirmation, the master's Yes and No. Without acting against the old order of values (the willful lion defeating the dragon in Zarathustra), we'd remain mere slaves (camels). Our goal is the creation of new values, of breaking tablets, of shattering the old scales of the dragon. This is how we philosophize with the hammer; iconoclasm.

You may be stuck on the artistic Yes-saying as presented in The Birth of Tragedy, by the end of chapter 5: "Only as the genius in the act of creation merges with the primal architect of the cosmos can he truly know something of the eternal essence of art. For in that condition he resembles the uncanny fairy tale image which is able to see itself by turning its eyes. He is at once subject and object, poet, actor, and audience."

But Nietzsche is no defeatist and definitely no apologist. Affirmation comes to the fore in the nihilistic -- active, creatively destructive -- No. Our No is a No against the metaphysical order itself. It is the No not only of free-thinkers but of immoralists per se. Dear fellow naturalist, the darkness is here. "There was a thunderstorm in our air, the nature which we are grew dark -- for we had no road. Formula of our happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal..." (The Anti-Christ, aph. 1).

This is currently where we are, without a road, in darkness. The new values are lacking.
So I ask you, whither?
picknpull
Posts: 62
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8/23/2016 9:56:38 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:45:54 PM, NHN wrote:
At 8/22/2016 1:34:49 PM, picknpull wrote:
Now that I've read all that plagiarized knowledge of yours from all those books you've read, what do you think is the " real world " without you plagiarizing everyone else's thoughts?
Wow, that's a remarkable comment. You see, plagiarism relates to the rights of publishing; what do you think the quotes and references are there for? Nietzsche, Plato, More...

But I'll give this another shot:
The true world, as defined by Nietzsche, is the void enclosing the press of beings and the ceaseless unfolding of events. : :

I don't give a sh*t what NIetzsche or any other person wrote in their books. I want YOU to tell me what YOU think is a TRUE WORLD.
NHN
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8/23/2016 10:18:41 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 9:56:38 AM, picknpull wrote:
I don't give a sh*t what NIetzsche or any other person wrote in their books. I want YOU to tell me what YOU think is a TRUE WORLD.
If the order of polite society is beyond you, then please refrain from flooding my thread. Otherwise, conduct yourself in a civilized manner and put the childish antics aside.

This is the Philosophy discussion forum, and the ideas and theories put forth here need to be qualified by coherence. And as my OP regards a question pertaining to the problem of nihilism and the crisis of meaning and value, the Nietzschean framework allows for a discussion within these boundaries.

The "true" or "real" world, as explained above, is a myth or fable resulting from our inability to handle nothingness and ceaseless becoming. (For a playful take, see chapter 4 of Twilight of the Idols.)

But the question I posed, via Nietzsche, is how we'd come about creating a new world without bringing forth nihilistic pandemonium (Marxism-Leninism, Nazism, Islamism).
picknpull
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8/23/2016 10:29:17 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 10:18:41 AM, NHN wrote:
At 8/23/2016 9:56:38 AM, picknpull wrote:
I don't give a sh*t what NIetzsche or any other person wrote in their books. I want YOU to tell me what YOU think is a TRUE WORLD.
If the order of polite society is beyond you, then please refrain from flooding my thread. Otherwise, conduct yourself in a civilized manner and put the childish antics aside.

This is the Philosophy discussion forum, and the ideas and theories put forth here need to be qualified by coherence. And as my OP regards a question pertaining to the problem of nihilism and the crisis of meaning and value, the Nietzschean framework allows for a discussion within these boundaries.

The "true" or "real" world, as explained above, is a myth or fable resulting from our inability to handle nothingness and ceaseless becoming. (For a playful take, see chapter 4 of Twilight of the Idols.)

But the question I posed, via Nietzsche, is how we'd come about creating a new world without bringing forth nihilistic pandemonium (Marxism-Leninism, Nazism, Islamism). : :

Some people appear to be intelligent with all the plagiarized knowledge they have memorized throughout their lives without knowing where their thoughts are coming from.
NHN
Posts: 624
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8/23/2016 10:39:34 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 10:29:17 AM, picknpull wrote:
Some people appear to be intelligent with all the plagiarized knowledge they have memorized throughout their lives without knowing where their thoughts are coming from.
I'm showing you precisely where I'm coming from -- Plato, More, Nietzsche ... -- but that doesn't seem to help. You see, this isn't a science issue. If, however, this regarded wind turbines and nuclear power, I'd post it in the Science discussion forum. But this regards nihilism and the creation (or destruction) of values. These two phenomena, nihilism and value, aren't tangible, which means we need to approach them via theory and ideas outside the frame of mere data. Right?

So, all things considered, I hope you see that there's no reason to be defensive.
picknpull
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8/23/2016 10:44:05 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 10:39:34 AM, NHN wrote:
At 8/23/2016 10:29:17 AM, picknpull wrote:
Some people appear to be intelligent with all the plagiarized knowledge they have memorized throughout their lives without knowing where their thoughts are coming from.
I'm showing you precisely where I'm coming from -- Plato, More, Nietzsche ... -- but that doesn't seem to help. You see, this isn't a science issue. If, however, this regarded wind turbines and nuclear power, I'd post it in the Science discussion forum. But this regards nihilism and the creation (or destruction) of values. These two phenomena, nihilism and value, aren't tangible, which means we need to approach them via theory and ideas outside the frame of mere data. Right?

So, all things considered, I hope you see that there's no reason to be defensive. : :

Someone who thinks they're intelligent because of their gift to memorize other people's thoughts usually aren't intelligent enough to know where their thoughts originate. And they certainly won't listen to anyone who doesn't have to memorize other people's thoughts to understand how we're created.
NHN
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8/23/2016 10:56:25 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 10:44:05 AM, picknpull wrote:
Someone who thinks they're intelligent because of their gift to memorize other people's thoughts usually aren't intelligent enough to know where their thoughts originate. And they certainly won't listen to anyone who doesn't have to memorize other people's thoughts to understand how we're created.
Again, this regards coherence. And when one is aware of the sources structuring one's thinking, much like dotting I's and crossing T's, one does not succumb to the severe kind of ideological blindness that motivates you in these outlandish responses.
picknpull
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8/23/2016 11:11:52 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 10:56:25 AM, NHN wrote:
At 8/23/2016 10:44:05 AM, picknpull wrote:
Someone who thinks they're intelligent because of their gift to memorize other people's thoughts usually aren't intelligent enough to know where their thoughts originate. And they certainly won't listen to anyone who doesn't have to memorize other people's thoughts to understand how we're created.
Again, this regards coherence. And when one is aware of the sources structuring one's thinking, much like dotting I's and crossing T's, one does not succumb to the severe kind of ideological blindness that motivates you in these outlandish responses. : :

It's only outlandish to you because you do not know where your thoughts or life experiences come from.
sdavio
Posts: 1,798
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8/23/2016 11:33:52 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 12:21:33 PM, NHN wrote:
[...]

Although I see Nietzsche as a great critic, I cannot accept the direction he ultimately took in his criticism of nihilism, since I see in it still a certain debt to the dogmatic metaphysical tradition. Nietzsche's approach seems to teeter on the edge of uncovering the full meaning of nihilism - that is, questioning the paradigms which had previously dictated the forms in which any "meaning" could be experienced - but stopped one step early and succumbed to a relativism in which the authority which had been ascribed to the transcendental objects of religion or moral philosophy had been replaced with something like "the individual". Thus, while he exchanges their object, Nietzsche can still be seen carrying many of the same structural assumptions that any classically dogmatic metaphysical paradigm held to. An example would be the Christian theme of sacrifice and cosmic justice - whereas Christians took justice to be a force which rewarded the good and punished the bad, Nietzsche saw the greatness of the Zarathustra-style badass as a force which, in a system of another style of cosmic justice, "justified" and "made good for" all the "sins" of the rest of society and the universe. Ultimately, Nietzsche could not let go of the concept of a transcendental, centralizing order which would guarantee a certain equilibrium for the cosmos, and rather than thinking the true void of indifference which characterizes nature when viewed through the lens of an unrelenting nihilism, he ended up insisting upon some form of centralizing tendency, though perverted from its original form into a strange theory of cosmic recurrence which swallows up every instance of the individual. Such a hedging of realism ends up asking us to sacrifice a difficult truth for a biased form of value, and, I think if we give in to such a temptation, the depths of relativistic solipsism which we are in danger of falling into are not worth the risk. We should not allow Nietzschian existentialism to move us to demand that nihilism only to be followed to its roots insofar as it ends up in some form which we can still manage to squeeze a "universal affirmation" out of.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
sdavio
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8/23/2016 11:43:01 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
To orient your cosmological worldview around a "noble lie" is to ask the universe to write you a cheque which can never be repaid. Sure, you will feel good when the airy, secondhand confidence granted you by that cheque gives you the balls to do things you wouldn't otherwise. But while the promises made by nature are never very enthralling, it has a better credit balance than any so-called "noble" but fabricated transcendence.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
NHN
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8/23/2016 12:51:28 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 11:33:52 AM, sdavio wrote:
Although I see Nietzsche as a great critic, I cannot accept the direction he ultimately took in his criticism of nihilism, since I see in it still a certain debt to the dogmatic metaphysical tradition. Nietzsche's approach seems to teeter on the edge of uncovering the full meaning of nihilism - that is, questioning the paradigms which had previously dictated the forms in which any "meaning" could be experienced - but stopped one step early and succumbed to a relativism in which the authority which had been ascribed to the transcendental objects of religion or moral philosophy had been replaced with something like "the individual". Thus, while he exchanges their object, Nietzsche can still be seen carrying many of the same structural assumptions that any classically dogmatic metaphysical paradigm held to.
Agreed. Heidegger identified this as well in his Nietzsche lectures, i.e., that Nietzsche even though he rejects transcendence was too much of a standard Cartesian in his approach to the thinking subject.

However, Nietzsche did in fact introduce the concept of the "dividuum" (Human, Alltoohuman I:57) and "multiplicity" (Will to Power 490) in the place of the subject or "individual" as conceived in the contemporary writing of his day. This also relates to his relativism, which takes hold within the scope of a dominant position, so-called perspectivism. Put differently, relativism adheres to an equality of each perspective, while perspectivism highlights a competition of in which the most dominant perspective overrides the others. Relativism is "democratic" whereas perspectivism is radically aristocratic.

An example would be the Christian theme of sacrifice and cosmic justice - whereas Christians took justice to be a force which rewarded the good and punished the bad, Nietzsche saw the greatness of the Zarathustra-style badass as a force which, in a system of another style of cosmic justice, "justified" and "made good for" all the "sins" of the rest of society and the universe.
Here I disagree. Whereas you are right on justification, Zarathustra, the teacher of the overman, is an exoteric figure through which Nietzsche presents esoteric doctrines. And this esotericism entails a skepticism predating Christianity and Platonic philosophy. In other words, he is revisiting and reinventing an old tradition. On writing carefully, see "The Wanderer and his Shadow" 71.

Moreover, as Nietzsche put it in The Anti-Christ (54): "One should not let oneself be misled: great intellects are skeptics. Zarathustra is a skeptic. The vigor of a mind, its freedom through strength and superior strength, is proved by skepticism. Men of conviction simply do not come into consideration where the fundamentals of value and disvalue are concerned. Convictions are prisons."

Ultimately, Nietzsche could not let go of the concept of a transcendental, centralizing order which would guarantee a certain equilibrium for the cosmos, and rather than thinking the true void of indifference which characterizes nature when viewed through the lens of an unrelenting nihilism, he ended up insisting upon some form of centralizing tendency, though perverted from its original form into a strange theory of cosmic recurrence which swallows up every instance of the individual.
Here I disagree as well. As I quoted above (Will to Power 12A), Nietzsche finds the realization of the true world psychologically unacceptable. Yet he does in fact go to the end in describing it (Will to Power 1067; Twilight of the Idols, ch. 4; Gay Science 285, 341), i.e., as a void surrounding a ceaseless press/becoming of events, without ground, without unity.

Such a hedging of realism ends up asking us to sacrifice a difficult truth for a biased form of value, and, I think if we give in to such a temptation, the depths of relativistic solipsism which we are in danger of falling into are not worth the risk.
Nietzsche is as far from a logical positivist as one could be. His impulses are that of an old-school right-winger: faith, order, obedience. What is life-promoting, life-furthering? he asks, rejecting Darwin, liberal democracy, and so on. Now, I don't agree with him. I'm in fact a social libertarian on the far end of the other side of the spectrum. But I do agree that the presence of a void, the disintegration of our social contract and shared values, which he acknowledges, gives us all an opportunity to create such things anew.

As such, Nietzsche introduces a form of anti-realism; not the solipsistic brain-in-a-vat approach particular to Schopenhauer or contemporary postmodernists but that of a founding gesture of a new order. Nietzsche urges his readers to shatter the old and form new values -- social, political, theological -- and, in the end, invent a new world. So can we.

We should not allow Nietzschian existentialism to move us to demand that nihilism only to be followed to its roots insofar as it ends up in some form which we can still manage to squeeze a "universal affirmation" out of.
Nihilism is variegated, as I stated in the OP. It needn't be radical repudiation nor secular decline nor violence for the sake of violence.

Like Heidegger, I see that the insight of nihilism grants us a double-edged sword: it is potentially the greatest danger, but it can also be what saves us from ourselves.
sdavio
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8/23/2016 2:06:58 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 12:51:28 PM, NHN wrote:
At 8/23/2016 11:33:52 AM, sdavio wrote:
Although I see Nietzsche as a great critic, I cannot accept the direction he ultimately took in his criticism of nihilism, since I see in it still a certain debt to the dogmatic metaphysical tradition. Nietzsche's approach seems to teeter on the edge of uncovering the full meaning of nihilism - that is, questioning the paradigms which had previously dictated the forms in which any "meaning" could be experienced - but stopped one step early and succumbed to a relativism in which the authority which had been ascribed to the transcendental objects of religion or moral philosophy had been replaced with something like "the individual". Thus, while he exchanges their object, Nietzsche can still be seen carrying many of the same structural assumptions that any classically dogmatic metaphysical paradigm held to.
Agreed. Heidegger identified this as well in his Nietzsche lectures, i.e., that Nietzsche even though he rejects transcendence was too much of a standard Cartesian in his approach to the thinking subject.

However, Nietzsche did in fact introduce the concept of the "dividuum" (Human, Alltoohuman I:57) and "multiplicity" (Will to Power 490) in the place of the subject or "individual" as conceived in the contemporary writing of his day. This also relates to his relativism, which takes hold within the scope of a dominant position, so-called perspectivism. Put differently, relativism adheres to an equality of each perspective, while perspectivism highlights a competition of in which the most dominant perspective overrides the others. Relativism is "democratic" whereas perspectivism is radically aristocratic.

This talk of Nietzsche's reification of democracy and multiplicity reminds me of Deleuze's statement of pantheism, that "being is said in one and the same sense of all beings" or something like that. And I agree that it's a very democratic view. But my problem with this metaphysic is directly correlated with the criticism of democracy, that in a certain sense it is still profoundly conservative. This conservative element of democratic philosophies is obfuscated when it's being contrasted with other, fascist views, and its inherent bias is aimed there, but when we view its principles on their own legs it becomes clear that there's nothing to guarantee that whatever happens to fit into its dogmatic mould (the vote of the greatest number, or the reduction of any possible future variation to the bare abstraction of the "individual") is necessarily desirable. This is dangerous because eventually the very prospect of accepting some concept of "truth" - to reject the ability of the singular principle of "individuality" or whatever to reign over all possible future variations - can become assimilated to the concept of despotism. It's not true: relativistic and socialist philosophies can be just as - if not more - despotic and dangerous as compared with realism. Heidegger being a first rate example, although I still like him lol.

An example would be the Christian theme of sacrifice and cosmic justice - whereas Christians took justice to be a force which rewarded the good and punished the bad, Nietzsche saw the greatness of the Zarathustra-style badass as a force which, in a system of another style of cosmic justice, "justified" and "made good for" all the "sins" of the rest of society and the universe.
Here I disagree. Whereas you are right on justification, Zarathustra, the teacher of the overman, is an exoteric figure through which Nietzsche presents esoteric doctrines. And this esotericism entails a skepticism predating Christianity and Platonic philosophy. In other words, he is revisiting and reinventing an old tradition. On writing carefully, see "The Wanderer and his Shadow" 71.

Moreover, as Nietzsche put it in The Anti-Christ (54): "One should not let oneself be misled: great intellects are skeptics. Zarathustra is a skeptic. The vigor of a mind, its freedom through strength and superior strength, is proved by skepticism. Men of conviction simply do not come into consideration where the fundamentals of value and disvalue are concerned. Convictions are prisons."

I'm a little confused as to what you're addressing here, since you said you accepted the point about justification which would seem to be the main idea behind the bit you're responding to, and I'm trying to see where your distinction regarding skepticism is aimed. It seems that maybe you're denying that Nietzsche affirms any cosmological principle, but then I'm left wondering exactly what grasp his doctrines of eternal recurrence etc actually have. The only way I can square that in my mind would be to attribute N. to a kind of Kantian practical ideal, which seems far too timid for the author of Ecce Homo's chapter titles.

Ultimately, Nietzsche could not let go of the concept of a transcendental, centralizing order which would guarantee a certain equilibrium for the cosmos, and rather than thinking the true void of indifference which characterizes nature when viewed through the lens of an unrelenting nihilism, he ended up insisting upon some form of centralizing tendency, though perverted from its original form into a strange theory of cosmic recurrence which swallows up every instance of the individual.
Here I disagree as well. As I quoted above (Will to Power 12A), Nietzsche finds the realization of the true world psychologically unacceptable. Yet he does in fact go to the end in describing it (Will to Power 1067; Twilight of the Idols, ch. 4; Gay Science 285, 341), i.e., as a void surrounding a ceaseless press/becoming of events, without ground, without unity.

Sure, but I can't see him addressing the fundamental problem of, well, "being" if we want to take a Heidegger approach. Once this question is broached, I don't think there is any room for the kind of "positive account" suggested by Nietzsche, since it must fall away along with any traditional metaphysical system which keeps its feet rooted in the great chain of being. Once the question of "being" is posed in a sustained and unbridled way, contingency must be distributed throughout all our knowledge in a way that ultimately precludes any pantheistic univocity of being. For Nietzsche, as for much of traditional metaphysics, there is a void behind all individual beings, but the form of this void is asked to remain absolutely constant. This isn't much different than a wide array of other dogmatic metaphysicians. Husserl, for example, who is an example of dogmatic metaphysics if there ever was one (I think I remember a quote from him somewhere that said, if humans died, there would no longer be a universe), calls his realm of forms "irreal" - basically, not real. But it still plays a central role.

As such, Nietzsche introduces a form of anti-realism; not the solipsistic brain-in-a-vat approach particular to Schopenhauer or contemporary postmodernists but that of a founding gesture of a new order. Nietzsche urges his readers to shatter the old and form new values -- social, political, theological -- and, in the end, invent a new world. So can we.

While obviously to call for an "active" interaction with the world is a laudable agenda, to expand this notion of "activity" to constitute the form of our knowledge of the world, is an impetus which leads, even beyond any brain-in-a-vat concept (which is actually plausible) to a complete dream world; solipsism at its most intense, a state actually dramatised by Nietzsche's own life. If the call to "create our own meanings" is taken as a rally against cynicism, then I couldn't agree more. But epistemically, such a statement is perverse.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
sdavio
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8/23/2016 3:14:14 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
I actually think that it's a misnomer to use the "brain in a vat" metaphor to characterize solipsism. The brain in a vat example, insofar as it points to the possibility that we are inside the computer simulation of some other advanced society, is totally plausible, and retains the concept of a mind-independent world. Solipsism, on the other hand, is an epistemic position which is arrived at in general when people ascribe a totally "active" character to our cognitive engagement with the world. It has parallels with schizophrenia, and assigns to us the basic mental functions of "assertion" and something like "reaction" which is a kind of negation. All epistemic theories which ascribe some passive quality to the mind are deemed "reactive" and taken as "unwilling" to assert as much as the solipsist. This position is irrefutable insofar as thinking anything else just makes you a pansy.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
NHN
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8/23/2016 8:04:11 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/23/2016 2:06:58 PM, sdavio wrote:
This talk of Nietzsche's reification of democracy and multiplicity reminds me of Deleuze's statement of pantheism, that "being is said in one and the same sense of all beings" or something like that. And I agree that it's a very democratic view. But my problem with this metaphysic is directly correlated with the criticism of democracy, that in a certain sense it is still profoundly conservative. This conservative element of democratic philosophies is obfuscated when it's being contrasted with other, fascist views, and its inherent bias is aimed there, but when we view its principles on their own legs it becomes clear that there's nothing to guarantee that whatever happens to fit into its dogmatic mould (the vote of the greatest number, or the reduction of any possible future variation to the bare abstraction of the "individual") is necessarily desirable.
Deleuze, as a French radical, has a tendency to corrupt and give Nietzsche's texts a democratic nudge where there is none to be found. The multiplicity of perspectivism is just one such case. Nietzsche, profoundly conservative and anti-democratic, has no place for a harmonious multitude or a golden mean. Where others see an open hand, Nietzsche identifies a struggle for dominance of the strongest perspective.

This is dangerous because eventually the very prospect of accepting some concept of "truth" - to reject the ability of the singular principle of "individuality" or whatever to reign over all possible future variations - can become assimilated to the concept of despotism. It's not true: relativistic and socialist philosophies can be just as - if not more - despotic and dangerous as compared with realism.
Very much so. What is necessary to maintain here, though, in the Nietzschean (and not Hegelian) sense is the discourse of the Master as the arbiter of truth. Thereby, "truth" is merely the commanding voice of the Master, overshadowing the Truth (the void; the space where values can be created). (Again, see "The Wanderer and his Shadow," second part, 71.)

Heidegger being a first rate example, although I still like him lol.
The most brilliant philosopher of the 20th century. A first-rate thinker who didn't shy away from the horrors of the emptiness of being -- although he was an outright coward in his personal life.

I'm a little confused as to what you're addressing here, since you said you accepted the point about justification which would seem to be the main idea behind the bit you're responding to, and I'm trying to see where your distinction regarding skepticism is aimed. It seems that maybe you're denying that Nietzsche affirms any cosmological principle, but then I'm left wondering exactly what grasp his doctrines of eternal recurrence etc actually have.
The justification ultimately lies in which world we have a right to claim for ourselves:
"[A]s soon as man finds out how that world is fabricated solely from psychological needs, and how he has absolutely no right to it, the last form of nihilism comes into being: it includes disbelief in any metaphysical world and forbids itself any belief in a true world." (Will to Power 12A; emphasis mine).

The only way I can square that in my mind would be to attribute N. to a kind of Kantian practical ideal, which seems far too timid for the author of Ecce Homo's chapter titles.
Nietzsche and Kant are antipodes. What I am enveloping is hidden in plain sight, although attainable through a simple reading maneuver. That's why I presented the two-tiered approach of exo- and esotericism.

Nihilism is the historical movement, the creative/destructive shattering of old and the forming of new values; the will to power is the doctrine of becoming; and eternal recurrence is the noble lie, the public form of a fabricated metaphysic.

Sure, but I can't see him addressing the fundamental problem of, well, "being" if we want to take a Heidegger approach. Once this question is broached, I don't think there is any room for the kind of "positive account" suggested by Nietzsche, since it must fall away along with any traditional metaphysical system which keeps its feet rooted in the great chain of being.
But Nietzsche's concept of being, like Hegel's and Heidegger's, is nonfoundational. The ceaseless press of becoming is not held together by a grand unity; and no higher meaning ties it together.

While obviously to call for an "active" interaction with the world is a laudable agenda, to expand this notion of "activity" to constitute the form of our knowledge of the world, is an impetus which leads, even beyond any brain-in-a-vat concept (which is actually plausible) to a complete dream world; solipsism at its most intense, a state actually dramatised by Nietzsche's own life. If the call to "create our own meanings" is taken as a rally against cynicism, then I couldn't agree more. But epistemically, such a statement is perverse.
It's a rallying cry to replace everything as we currently know it, to rewrite the rules in their deepest sense. But it must also include what Nietzsche meant: not the rise of free, liberal individuals who create their own sense of meaning, but the emergence of a force strong enough to subdue all competition. And as regards any existential question, the why and how are replaced with the wherefore, which is to say, the aim, the road, the goal.

And yes, the preferable attitude -- knowing exactly what you want because it fulfills your desire -- is that of perversion. You see, we are not dealing with uncovering truth but with creative power. Rather than discovering or revealing truth as such, we form "truths" at our whim through creative acts.

I actually think that it's a misnomer to use the "brain in a vat" metaphor to characterize solipsism [...]
The brain-in-a-vat example is well-established within the field of philosophy of mind as a prevalent example of methodological solipsism (see the chapter "Individualism" in The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences).