Core 102 Final Essays - 1 Core 102 09 December 2014 Take...

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1 Core 102 09 December 2014 Take Home Final, Prompt A1 Nietzsche’s Concept of Human Weakness Resulting From Religion Demonstrated in The Iliad , Confessions , Paradise Lost and Inferno “From the start, the Christian faith is a sacrifice: a sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of the spirit” (Kaufmann 250). Nietzsche makes his stance on Christianity abundantly clear: it makes humanity weak. Whenever religion is involved in human activity, those humans are not as strong as they could be – even within literature. The essence of Nietzsche’s anti-theistic project is that religion makes humanity weak; it strips us of our strength, power and intelligence, all while pandering to those who have none. In The Iliad , Confessions and Paradise Lost , we see one or more of the three aforementioned aspects stripped from characters in the name of religion, while in Inferno we see how religion panders to those who possess none. While it is pre-Christian, the rampant deference to the Gods in Homer’s Iliad is a perfect example of Nietzsche’s philosophy that religion strips us of our strength. Although Nietzsche focuses on Christianity, he does make some commentary on ancient religion. While he praises it as a religion of gratitude in principle, Nietzsche writes, “later…fear became rampant in the religion, too—and the ground was prepared for Christianity” (Kaufmann 254). Gratitude does pervade the relationship between humans and Gods in The Iliad. However, there are aspects of the relationship that would trouble Nietzsche. For example, when Zeus makes a judgment on who will gain the upper hand in battle, the reaction of the soldiers is one of fear: “Then Zeus thundered from Ida, and sent a blazing flash/Into the Greek army. The soldiers gaped/In wonder, and their blood
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2 turned milky with fear” (Homer 145: 80-82). The soldiers lose any and all semblance of strength in the face of a divine threat, a characteristic Nietzsche would abhor. Fear of the Gods, in Nietzsche’s mind, detracts from the strength of humanity – and is also a precursor for Christian submission. Because fear is a significant aspect of the relationship between Gods and humans in the Iliad, Nietzsche would not admire the work as much as he would the original religion. Moving to the Christian era, Augustine’s Confessions builds on Nietzsche’s idea that religion strips us of our strength by proving Nietzsche’s idea that religion demands its subjects relinquish earthly power, aspirations and possessions. Nietzsche writes that Christianity “break[s] the strong, sickly o’er great hopes…invert[s] all love of the earthy and dominion over the earth into hatred of the earth and the earthly” (Kaufmann 265). Pious people, Nietzsche feels, lose their sense of pride in the earthly realm, and as such lose power – making humanity in general weaker. Augustine exemplifies this trend, and Nietzsche even says he “lacks in a truly offensive manner all nobility of gestures and desires” (Kaufmann 254). Augustine does relinquish every earthly desire in his
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