Was Nietzsche a moral nihilist

Nietzsche, nihilism and the meaning of life

Not only the portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche's opulent mustache has survived the ages; it has much more to do with its radical thinking - its thinking that crushed everything that had existed up to that point; his thinking, that “everything that is standing and standing evaporates” to express it with Marx - a mental opponent of the ailing Naumburgers. Nietzsche himself was dynamite - as he himself put it; We can still feel the pressure wave today - whether we want it or not. The plaster is crumbling from the ceiling of our everyday mind, our worldview (- Freud; also influenced by Nietzsche) - because isn't much of what we have so tactfully orchestrated in our little world of life just a thoughtless facade? Isn't the expensive car - only superficially, of course, a means of impressing the grim neighbor - a monadic therapeutic agent? Do we not treat ourselves with all sorts of material resources in order to forget the fundamental lack of any over-determination of our existence - have we not all lost our hold with the death of God, our place in this coincidental existence? Certainly: Nietzsche's format does not fit into the corners of a society of the 21st century in every aspect - and certainly: The conception of the superman as a conqueror of all normative barriers may find little approval in the age of liberal democracy. The rise of the European nihilism, the Death of god - metaphorically also for the death of one essential (that is: of existence previous) Meaning of life - is by no means cured by placing Nietzsche as a "brown" scoundrel in the trash can of German academic philosophy (fortunately this tendency has changed again since the 80s) - also in the sense of personal, psychological fulfillment (Nietzsche himself was certainly just as psychologist as he was a philosopher) I want to try the following with this essay: I think that the diagnosis of European nihilism is more accurate today than ever - as a loss of supra-individual framework, as a loss of a pre-existing meaning in life; Secondly, such a "sense of life" is precisely what makes a life worth living in the first place and, thirdly, precisely the lack of such a sense of life is based on the same symptoms of a society that actually has everything.

"What could be done if gods - were there?"

Ecce Homo, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” section 8

Nietzsche himself by no means saw himself as a “superman” - whatever type; like his alter ego Zarathustra, he was only her herald - basically a mouthpiece, a megaphone for humanity; Zarathustra himself appears as a mouthpiece, as a teacher, just as he descends from the mountain at the beginning of the first part to teach the villagers the superman. When Nietzsche wrote "his Zarathustra", Lou Salome had just left him; His long-time friend Rée had gone with her, who now lived with the former in a kind of shared apartment in Berlin - Nietzsche felt betrayed and humiliated. Throughout the winter of 1882/83 he was in terrible health - he consumed opium in large quantities (he forged the prescriptions for it himself; the Italian pharmacists gave him almost everything), was barely able to recover, was suicidal: “the barrel of a gun is now a source of relatively pleasant thoughts to me ”(Prideaux, 2020).

After he Zarathustra (the name is the Persian founder of the religion Zoroaster borrowed) already in the Happy science had announced, it was in that unfortunate situation that the first volume of his magnum opus arose. All gods are dead, “now we want the superman to live” - the superman is therefore such an individual that is able to breathe meaning into meaningless life again; pointless why? The materialism of the 19th century culminates a process that began with Socrates; a process of decay. A process of decadence. With Plato - the greatest of the wise men from Athens - objectivity was implemented as an ideal in the world of thought of Western society; one may remember the Platonic "categories" - supra-individual, supra-temporal metaphysical entities. Finally taken up by Christianity, it broke with the European Enlightenment, it shattered on the cliffs of reason - but that reason itself is only a substitute religion; the nihilism that has arisen as a historical process is the loss of all values ​​- the loss of God, the loss of objective morality, and ultimately the loss of one's own role. The traditional conception of the world is devalued, crumbled - the end of religion is linked to the end of metaphysics in general; The result of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment is the rule of reason - but also that Logic of decadence, the slave morality, the disorientation. It is the unsteadiness that is condensed in (European) nihilism: “What does nihilism mean? That the highest values ​​devalue. ”(KSA XII, 350). Suicide seems to be the corollary, the only escape from a desecrated world; Without its own essence, one's own existence cannot be understood either - especially not for those who have cobbled together their foundation from those normative fragments themselves. Above all, not for those who - as part of that slave morality - have become entangled in a social network that does not beckon to any way out. As in CarpentersYou live“(1988) the image of the world, viewed through the glasses of nihilism, appears for the first time as it is; meaningless and barren, unfortunately full and merciless.

"Even if the existence of a [metaphysical] world were proven so well, it would be certain that the most indifferent of all knowledge would be its knowledge: even more indifferent than the knowledge of the chemical analysis of water must be even more indifferent to the skipper in danger of storms"

Humanly, all-to-humanly. From the first and last things. Section 9.

As a way out - as a pseudo way out - there are of course a whole host of different structures of thought; the scientist's belief in the “objectivity” of research, the moral philosopher's belief in ethical realism. Albert Camus - co-head of French existentialism - posed the same question, if not directly related to Nietzean, in his famous essay The myth of Sysiphos prepared in the same way: In the utter futility and senselessness of the world, life itself - birth and death - appears as a complete absurdity; in the tension between the search for meaning and senselessness the modern subject appears as in the lack of itself. To recognize absurdity is one thing - that is, to accept the death of God as such - to recognize it Life, to live with him A completely different one; an irrational leap (saut) seems to offer a remedy - Husserl replaces the god of monotheism with a metaphysical abstraction, Kierkegaard immerses itself in Christianity as such. “This leap is secret evasion”, a running away from absurdity - ultimately a running away from nihilism. Jumps of this kind are by no means only to be found in references to the humanities - we find jumps of almost every color in the division of society into functional sub-areas; life becomes meaningful (in a phenomenological sense) through tradition (such as village festivals), politics (as an illusion of advancing the "correct" values), spiritualism (to direct life correctly through the advice of the deceased), astrology (as Explanatory framework for character traits or specific events) or in objective Weltanschauungen, such as contemporary ones new atheism.

Atheism, for example, may have rational pillars - but rationality itself is ultimately only an individual projection, an inadmissible generalization of egoistic drives, internalized instincts; atheism itself is thus more like religion than Dawkins and Co. would ever admit - they all trust the Great Others (Lacan), trust in greater instances, in higher authorities. The God itself is interchangeable with it - ideals, categories and ideas are human interpretations, there is no truth, namely nothing is true; there is no such thing as “good” or “bad”. There is no right or wrong".

If all supposedly meaningful instances fail, then one's own existential emptiness is narcotized with therapeutic agents of all kinds: Excessive alcohol consumption, mindless sexuality, gambling - the list goes on and on. We find senselessness as the basis for the pathological convulsions of our society in every corner, in every street; the ugly grimace of senselessness disguises itself in the postmodern world of consumption: we flaunt branded clothes, but only buy them as a means for the purpose of social recognition. We're looking for danger; Adrenaline is supposed to numb us. Depression is less chemically based than existentially constructed; In the world of the neurotic, the world appears without reflections, meaning appears lost - lost in the sense, but never really found. The current opium epidemic in the United States may be due to the over-prescription of potentially highly addictive pain relievers - but opioid addiction is by no means the only one: the number of drug deaths has risen overall - with the breakdown of the promises of industrial capitalism onwards 1970s, when capitalist promises of advancement fizzle out, the fog of meaning clears.

We find people who seem to have everything - and yet they have nothing; and yet, her life is a synthetic identity in a crumbling world. We are not afraid of death because it ends our life; we are afraid to have lived wrong (Jaspers).

“Man strives Not after happiness; only the English do that. "

Twilight of the Idols, Proverbs and Arrows, 12.

We find the jump in the rapid rise of the "happiness industry" - happiness seminars, happiness workshops, happiness advice. One's own happiness in life is the object of one's own effort; In being happy you seem to find space - you want to increase what you like. With the right attitude you want to be able to learn to be happy, and finally enjoy your life with the right coach - your own psyche is more of an obstacle than a help; properly conditioned, you can connect yourself to the "feel-good machine". In retreating into your own experience, you seem to have the world under control - being happy as a never-ending journey; be happy as a meaningful project.

But what if happiness runs dry? What if the absurd reality of life catches up with the tyranny of the new superego? As with any jump, you run the risk of slipping at some point; falling back into the cliff of nowhere. Ultimately, modernity is characterized by an inner, intellectual decline - however one tries to override it: in the end, life, all life, is meaningless and pointless; all life a senseless chaos; what can only save us - the “last man”?

"Does one have to be why? of life, you get along with almost everyone how? "

Twilight of the Idols, Proverbs and Arrows, 12.

If the old values ​​decay, new ones are ultimately needed - the superman is the one who founds them; only the superman can thus (over) live nihilism, cope with the death of God. That is to say, the human being is “something that is to be overcome […] You have made the path from worm to human, and much is still worm for you. Once you were apes, and even now humans are more apes than any ape. "

The superman overcomes the hostility to life of the pessimists, who recognize the senselessness of the world but delight in it (he opposes Schopenhauer's philosophy, which Nietzsche was very preoccupied with in his youth, and thus countered his own vitalism); he disregards the morality of the “weak”, he affirms life, he puts himself in God's place; he gives himself the sense that all authorities denied him. He is the absolute worship of life, the realization of the Dionysian.

"You shall become, who you are."

The Joyful Science, Book III, Section 270

Now we don't have to be Nietzscheans to confirm the diagnosis; In fact, we do not have to internalize and live the concept of the superman, the ethics of the aristocracy, the individual moral thought in all its ramifications - in this first act it was important to me to present the nihilistic overall situation; the superman, Nietzschean vitalism, is one therapy - is therefore a function. Just as a disease can usually not only be treated in one way, so it is also with the epidemic of senselessness; a second perspective thus appears fruitful.

Viktor E. Frankl - Neurologist and psychoanalyst - namely, made a very similar discovery; admittedly from different circumstances. Since he was of Jewish faith - like his family and wife - he was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942. His father, mother and wife did not survive the Shoah. As a psychiatrist, he never tire of documenting his observations, even while he was in camp; We find it condensed in “Saying yes to life anyway: A psychologist experiences the concentration camp”. Like Nietzsche, Frankl was also confronted with nihilism; like Nietzsche, he experienced the suffering firsthand - of course, a fundamentally different suffering than the "philosopher with the hammer" harassed by illnesses. The prisoners, who had lost their meaning (for example, the belief in God; how should a “good God” allow the Shoah?), Of course, had little reason to endure the suffering for long - why should they? Suffering as such does not appear barbaric - rather it is the suffering emptied of all meaning. “Woe to those who no longer saw a goal in life, who no longer had a purpose in life, who no longer saw any purpose in their life, from whom the meaning of existence vanished - and with it any sense of perseverance” (quoted from “Man before the question about the sense ”, 172). But those camp comrades who - in a situation more complete external, external sensory emptiness - were able to give meaning themselves, could even give value to their lives; those prisoners saw meaning, even in suffering. The father, for example, whose children are waiting for him at home. The scientist who wants to finish a series of books. The singer whose dearest wish is to appear one last time. All these people are united in an individual sense of life - they outgrow the predicament, they live the suffering, they affirm life.

The meaning of life is therefore less than what one has to expect from life; the other way round it becomes a shoe What is important is what life expects of us - something is waiting for everyone that only you can do yourself; may it be the scientific work or the family life. The person himself is the respondent. The irreplaceability and irreplaceability of each individual is what illuminates life as a whole - with Nietzsche we can say that through death, God finds meaning vital become; against Nietzsche, that not only biologically appropriately equipped people can achieve the same.

Frankl is also skeptical of pure lust, of happiness in life: “If we really want to see the whole meaning of life in pure lust, then life would ultimately have to appear meaningless. If lust were really the meaning of life, then life would actually have no meaning at all. After all, what is lust? A state ”(ibid., 223). Man may have a will to power - beyond that, but also one Will to make sense.

The “supersense” advances being - like a star, it can illuminate our path; he is the “pacemaker of being” (Frankl). With him, finally, we can affirm existence in its entirety; Life, that also means suffering -“To survive is to find meaning in suffering".Even in a completely senseless, completely chaotic, absurd world of life, it is still up to us to give our existence a meaning ourselves; it is up to us not to stick to nihilism and its subtle traces - life: it should be affirmed. With Nietzsche we can recognize our world, with him (or Frankl, or many others) we can give it a reason. Even if God died - God and the truth - we still want to live. We want to be the “poet of our life”.

"Nobody can build you the bridge on which you have to step across the river of life, nobody but you alone."

Untimely considerations, Schopenhauer as an educator, section 1


Nietzsche once wrote that "the worst readers are those who act like plundering soldiers: they take out some things they can use, dirty and confuse the rest [...]" - I hope I haven't done the same here ; I consider Nietzsche to be a good diagnostician and very useful in the sense of "existential analysis". I would like to add that I have no philosophical training myself - I am 18 years old; I haven't got around to it yet. Nevertheless, I wanted to reveal something about my private Nietzsche picture - I can't say whether I succeeded: But it was Nietzsche who brought me - and probably many others too - to philosophy in the first place. I will forever owe him that.