L7_NietzscheSummary - PHI 310 Lecture 7 Nietzsche...

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PHI 310 Lecture 7: Nietzsche: Immoralist and Nihilist? 1. Friedrich Nietzsche shared Kierkegaard’ 's conviction that philosophy should deeply reflect the personal concerns of individual human beings. But for Nietzsche, this entailed rejection of traditional values, including the Christian religion. Nietzsche's declaration of "the death of god" draws attention to our culture's general abandonment of any genuine commitment to the Christian faith. Nietzsche insists that there are no objective standards or universal rules for human life, no absolute values, no certainties on which to rely. If truth can be achieved at all, it can come only from an individual who purposefully disregards everything that is traditionally taken to be "important." Such a super-human person (Ger. Übermensch ), Nietzsche supposed, can live an authentic and successful human life. 2. In his time, Friedrich Nietzsche was the most radical philosopher the Western tradition had ever produced; he posed a fundamental challenge to the rationalism that had dominated Western philosophy since Plato. Nietzsche was in his own way an extreme empiricist . The senses reveal things only as they appear, but there is nothing more to things than their appearance. Since all appearing takes place from a certain perspective, there is nothing to distinguish one perspective as superior to another. What is wrong with bringing diverse objects under abstract conceptions? The problem, Nietzsche argued, was that things are always only similar , never identical. (A similar point was made in the mid-twentieth century by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who held that general concepts express "family resemblances" among individuals.) We regard diverse items as identical or falling under a single concept because it is useful, even necessary, to do so. But this usefulness masks the fundamental untruth of categorization. 3. Yet, if we eliminate objectivity and question categorization then how is it possible to explain the permanent character of the world. There are at least two ways in which we conceptually represent the world as permanent. For existing objects, change is regarded as no more than the replacement of "accidental" properties while "essential" properties endure. Suppose with Aristotle that a human being is a rational animal. Then change (growth, learning, illness, etc.) in an individual human takes place against the enduring backdrop of rationality and animal nature. The individual endures as long as it partakes of its essence. Another way of understanding permanence in the face of change is to describe the individual itself as unchanging. The atoms suffer no alteration, but only reconfiguration. Since they are not subject to change, the source of their motion is located outside them, in necessary "laws" of nature. What remains when the leveling influence of concepts is removed is a
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2010 for the course PHI 310 taught by Professor Bykova during the Spring '10 term at N.C. State.

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L7_NietzscheSummary - PHI 310 Lecture 7 Nietzsche...

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