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message 1: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments Nemo said in one of TBK theads that he was reading Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and was interested in discussing it. I recently finished the book, and I also thought it would be an interesting thing to discuss.


message 2: by Nemo (last edited Nov 27, 2010 03:52PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) I understand that you don't agree with his ideas. Could you elaborate a little?

Tolstoy wrote that Nietzsche's philosophy was "immoral, coarse, inflated, disconnected, babble". He and other critics of Nietzsche kept me from reading his works until two months ago when I got interested in Existentialism. I started Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He was not as "crazy" as I thought, and had some good insights about Church and State, but my reading stalled after about a quarter of the way through.

I'd be interested in talking with fans of Nietzsche, who read and enjoyed his works, and find out what they like about him.


message 3: by Nemo (last edited Nov 27, 2010 05:04PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) Patrice wrote: "I read Geneology (sp?) of Morals and thought it was very interesting. He makes good points about the power of the weak. Scott Fitzgerald called it "the Tyranny of the Weak". But his glorificatio..."

Ayn Rand was influenced by Victor Hugo. It's an interesting connection because it was actually Hugo's Toilers of the Sea I read two months ago (my review here) that got me interested in the concept of "will to power". The idea that man's own choice in life determines his destiny is a major theme in Hugo's novels. I don't know if Hugo, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard had any direct influence on one another. Existentialism may just be the zeitgeist of the 19th century.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Patrice wrote: "I read Geneology (sp?) of Morals and thought it was very interesting. He makes good points about the power of the weak. Scott Fitzgerald called it "the Tyranny of the Weak". But his glorificatio..."

I've read Beyond Good and Evil (eons ago) and Thus Spoke Zarathustra is on my to read list but I haven't gotten around to it. Nietzsche has appalling and appealing ideas that coexist with each other, kind of like Rand. But Rand tries to create a pseudo morality of the individual which I don't think Nietzsche would have agreed with. Nietzsche questions the very basis of our social and moral assumptions and comes up with a lot of answers I am not very comfortable with (probably why he is still on the "to-read" list instead of the "read" one). I managed to argue Rand into a box and find enough incongruities in her philosophy to dismiss the worst of her arguments. Nietzsche isn't quite so cooperative.

Speaking of similarities with Dostoevsky, though, I keep feeling echoes of Rand's "We the Living" as I read Brothers Karamazov. Is it just the Russian-ness of it, or the same weird echo of Nietzsche?


message 5: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments Nemo wrote: "I understand that you don't agree with his ideas. Could you elaborate a little?

Tolstoy wrote that Nietzsche's philosophy was "immoral, coarse, inflated, disconnected, babble". He and other critic..."



Sure, Nemo. I don't have the book at hand right now, so I can't be really specific. Things I disagree with Nietzsche on morality, ethics, the ubermensch, his ideas on God (or rather, his confidence that God does not exist), and the will. I'll elaborate on these a bit.

Btw, what translation of Zarathustra are you reading?

Morality and ethics: Nietzsche believed there were no such thing, I believe in morals and ethics. If we abandon all morality and ethics, society would simply collapse.

God: I disagree with Nietzsche on how confident he seems to be that there isn't a God. He seems to know that there isn't a God. One cannot know this. Now, one can believe, but you cannot know--that's why it takes faith (either in the existence or non-existence). To know, would be impossible.

The ubermensch: I've always thought of the ubermensch to be a kind of messianic figure, to Nietzsche. It seems like it could easily be a dictator--the Nazi's adoption of Nietzschean ideas come to mind. Although, because of the way Thus Spoke Zarathustra is written, it produces varying interpretations of the ideas.

The will: Nietzsche claims that the will to power drives all people. As with the other ideas, I have a problem with this. I personally don't think that with all people from all points in time, that the thing that "makes them tick" could be narrowed down to just one thing.


message 6: by Historybuff93 (last edited Nov 27, 2010 08:25PM) (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments On Dostoevsky and existentialism ... Has anyone read Notes From the Underground? If you're interested in existentialism, this is a must read. It is considered to be the first existentialist fiction work. It's an interesting book, and, I have to say, I've never read anything like it.

EDIT: I also forgot to say that, although the Nazis did like Nietzsche's ideas, the claim that Nietzsche was anti-Semitic, I've heard, is false. Nietzsche's sister, who was an anti-Semite, edited his work and made sure to put this viewpoint in his writing.


message 7: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 27, 2010 08:02PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Notes from the Underground is a wonderful piece of writing and so chock bang full of contradictions that it makes it impossible to believe in anything Dostoevsky writes about. It is a 'nothing is as it seems' existential statement.

Nietzsche's theory of the 'ubermensch' is one which Hitler took up and ran with. The idea of a superior 'Herrenvolk' runs deep in German history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_race

It was also tied up with the pseudo-science of Eugenics which became popular in the 19thC, especially in America where Hitler got some of his ideas from:-

http://www.sntp.net/eugenics/eugenics...

In 1863, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, theorized that if talented people only married other talented people, the result would be measurably better offspring. At the turn of the last century, Galton's ideas were imported into the United States just as Gregor Mendel's principles of heredity were rediscovered. American eugenic advocates believed with religious fervour that the same Mendelian concepts determining the colour and size of peas, corn and cattle also governed the social and intellectual character of man.

Dostoevsky toys with the idea of a Russian 'ubermensch' because he believed in the superiority of the Russian church allied to the Russian people.


message 8: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments Hey, Madge, where you said that the idea of an ubermensch "running deep in German history" reminds me of Georg Hegel. Somewhere in his work The Philosophy of History, I remember him saying that Alexander, Friedrich the Great, and others were a kind of ... I'm not sure what the word for it is--I'll have to go back to the book and find it. It wasn't exactly like an ubermensch, but it was some kind of positive view of a very, very strong leader.


message 9: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Historybuff93 wrote: "Hey, Madge, where you said that the idea of an ubermensch "running deep in German history" reminds me of Georg Hegel. Somewhere in his work The Philosophy of History, I remember him saying that Ale..."

Yes, Hegel too wrote about the Ubermensch as an Extraordinary man. One of his theories is sometimes used as a justification for war (and torture) led by such a man - if the ends are noble, then the means can be justified. His theory of dialectics was also used to justify the communist theories of Marx and Engels. He had strange views about women:-

'Women are capable of education, but they are not made for activities which demand a universal faculty such as the more advanced sciences, philosophy, and certain forms of artistic production. Women may have happy ideas, taste, and elegance, but they cannot attain to the ideal. [Ideale. By this word Hegel means 'the Beautiful and whatever tends thither' (Science of Logic, i. 163, footnote). It is to be distinguished, therefore, from Ideelle] The difference between men and women is like that between animals and plants. Men correspond to animals, while women correspond to plants because their development is more placid and the principle that underlies it is the rather vague unity of feeling. When women hold the helm of government, the state is at once in jeopardy, because women regulate their actions not by the demands of universality but by arbitrary inclinations and opinions. Women are educated — who knows how? — as it were by breathing in ideas, by living rather than by acquiring knowledge. The status of manhood, on the other hand, is attained only by the stress of thought and much technical exertion.' !!!

Philosophy is not my thing HB - I find it a bit like those medieval religious discussions as to how many angels could dance on the head of a pin!


message 10: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) Historybuff93 wrote: "Btw, what translation of Zarathustra are you reading? ..."

The one by Walter Kaufmann, the "renowned scholar and translator of Nietzsche". I find his translation more lucid than some others', but can't say I've gotten much out of the book so far.


message 11: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments I read the Clancy Martin translation. It seemed like a high-quality translation. There were footnotes in the back that explained why she made certain decisions in the translation and, from my knowledge of German, it made sense to me. One day I'd like to get an original German and compare it.


message 12: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Historybuff93 wrote: "Hey, Madge, where you said that the idea of an ubermensch "running deep in German history" reminds me of Georg Hegel. Somewhere in his work The Philosophy of History, I rememb..."

Oh the messed up German thinkers, haha! And about the angels ... I've often wondered how much time Thomas Aquinas spent on figuring out the problem of angels and small spaces:).

Even if you're not a big fan of philosophy, Madge, you'll have to encounter some of it if you have an interest in politics. Didn't you say that you worked in politics at some point, Madge?


message 13: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes HB, my life has been spent in the political arena and I worked as a researcher in the House of Common and Downing Street for many years, for my sins:):). And yes, I certainly had to read my share of political philosophy at that time. Now I avoid it:D.


message 14: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) MadgeUK wrote: "Yes HB, my life has been spent in the political arena and I worked as a researcher in the House of Common and Downing Street for many years, for my sins:):). And yes, I certainly had to read my sha..."

Have you worked closely with Margaret Thatcher for many years? What was it like?


message 15: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 29, 2010 12:51AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments No, I was on the other side Nemo. I worked for the Parliamentary Labour Party:).


message 16: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments You might like to read this HB, if you have time. I liked the final paragraph and the one about Dostoevsky and Nietzche 'trampling in the dirt' their former convictions.

http://shestov.by.ru/dtn/dn_1.html


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