Jonah Swan's Reviews > The Anti-Christ

The Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietzsche
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Jun 07, 12

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Nietzsche's most incisive criticism is that Judeo-Christian morals invert the truly noble human virtues (honor, pride, beauty, and power), replacing them with diminutive human qualities such as pity, humility, meekness, and submissiveness. In Nietzsche's opinion, only a slave class would extol the virtues of humility and submissiveness and pity. Only a slave class would resent strength and power and beauty. Nietzsche believes that the values of meekness, humility, and pity constitute a resentment on the part of the Israelites--a resentment aimed at turning slave virtues into a morality for all people.

I disagree with Nietzsche while remaining an admirer of his analysis. Nietzsche's ideal is the courageous, powerful and persuasive "ubermensch" (the Superman), but Judeo-Christian virtues serve a broader purpose--to create a Super People.

Judeo Christian virtues, from the ten commandments to the sermon on the mount, serve to transform and tame selfish impulses which, if unchecked, threaten to sever relationships, create division, and disband the greater whole. While Nietzsche is concerned with "the individual," Judeo-Christian morality expresses a collective vision of balancing self-interest in the context of the greater whole. Accordingly, Judeo-Christian values increase cohesion among individuals, enabling humans to scale in numbers and become a super-people, from small families to tribes and from tribes to civilizations and eventually to the modern political state. The power of numbers is the advantage of Christian morality. Increasing the number and the efficacy of connections between people leads to a critical human advantage--the power of scale--which ultimately is a greater social advantage than Nietzsche's Ubermensch.

Early in human history, and not peculiarly to Israel, humans discovered the power of scale; the power of increasing our social unions in number to achieve critical advantages such as a stronger collective defense against enemies, more effective hunting, the division of labor, agriculture and farming, trade, commerce, skilled labor and specialization, education and learning, and the political state.

As effective as Nietzsche is, his critique fails not only in vision and insight, but also in its persuasive power to capture the human heart. Nietzsche never created a compelling mythology to captivate our imagination and Nietzsche's Zarathustra fails as a literary hero in many respects. As a contrast, in Milton's Paradise Lost, Christianity gains a superior model for Nietzsche's Superman archetype, the powerful among us. Milton's Paradise Lost gives Christianity a powerful mythos of two opposing archetypes--Christ and Satan. Christ is the hero who lives for us, lives and dies for our collective advantage and descends below all things to lift us heavenward. Counterpoising Christ is Satan, the antihero, the powerful among us, bellicose and spiteful, who would gain personal advantage at our expense; who would destroy the greater whole to gain personal ascendancy. The Christ archetype shows us a morality that leads to unity and to scale while the Satan archetype creates division.

While incomplete early on, the Judeo-Christian morality articulated the will of a people to unite and to increase the number and power of human connections--the power of scale. That tradition articulates the morality of a super people: What unites us is good; what divides us is evil. Perhaps more importantly, it gives us Christ and Satan--two archetypes that embody those two forces.
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message 1: by Karla (new)

Karla Well thought out commentary.


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