Friedrich Nietzsche

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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a German philosopher. His writing included critic|critiques of religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, using a distinctive style and displaying a fondness for aphorism. Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism and postmodernism.

K. Popper expressed an out of line judgment over Nietzsche: a philosopher is to demonstrate, not only to write aphorisms. Ambiguity of aphorisms allowed a systematizing prophetic interpretations (precursor of ethology, evolutionist epistemology, psychoanalysis ... ... sooner forecasted by his master Schopenhauer) of his soliloquy he never had made it straight. Not to say about his "God is died", drawn from (well known) Mainländer's Die Philosophie der Erlösung"
Nietzsche's issue was to apply over ruling culture and psychology, with balanced and stylistic results, astonishing value judgments (Werturteile) no longer regarded as inadmissible, by being different from the customary ones, regarded instead as prescriptively demonstrable. When afterwards his temperamental equilibrium was staggering, a character audience prone to introverted ambition and loneliness followed his histrionic figure. Unknown as a contemporary writer, he was rediscovered first by the far right, in a shifting era, later by “Weak Thought” philosophy, subsequent to Heidegger's gnoseological interpretation of 'will for power' as a motivation for dominating nature through scientific knowledge; or simply as objectivism; that expanded - how much philologically? - the more substantially 'evaluative', psychological and literary inspiration of Nietzsche.

Nietzsche began his career as a philologist before turning to philosophy. At the age of 24 he became Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Basel, but resigned in 1879 due to health problems, which would plague him for most of his life. In 1889 he exhibited symptoms of a serious mental illness (sequela of syphilis, or up-to-date: meningioma [Leonard Sax, "What Was the Cause of Nietzsche's Dementia?" 'Journal of Medical Biography' 11 (2003): 47-54]; his father just died of untimely brain degeneration), babbling confuting themselves nonsenses like "nothing is true, all is allowed" in Posthumous Fragments, and living out then his remaining years in the care of his mother and (anti-semitic editor) sister until his death in 1900.

References to Epicurus

Nietzsche makes a number of references to Epicurus throughout his works. However, his quest of sensation - not some simple acceptance (“the dangerous prerogative of being ready to live from now onward as an experiment and of being able to subject to adventure”; Human, All Too Human. I Foreword. § 4), his restlessness, and philosophy as heroic mission toward a new evolutionary human type ("The desire for destruction, change, becoming... my term for this is 'Dionysian'"), brought him far away from Epicureanism (a philosophy of present), which later appeared to him as a form of "Dionysian pessimism", which needed a savior, nearly like Christianity, and a 'weakness': "I gradually learned to understand Epicurus, the opposite of a Dionysian Greek; also the Christian, who is, in fact, only a kind of Epicurean" […] “in need of sweetness, tameness, kindness into the thought and the soul” [The Joyous Science § 370, What's sentimentality; cf. also Nietzsche against Wagner. Ch.: 'We the antipodes' (no plain text indeed, with cuttings...)]. “Paradise after Greek idea [Gospels are Greek-speaking, r.'s n.] is Epicurus' garden” [The Will to Power § 365]; "We must exceed Greeks too" [The Joyous Science § 340]. For all intents and purposes, in his times, since misinterpretation of ascetic and devout Epicurus by 'Christian' scholars was welcome by believers, as an adjustment of religion to incontestable scientific materialism, so epilogismos, On Anger (no tameness), Ways of Life, Pherc 1251 (careful with normativeness) were left out, unpublished and ignored, perhaps by the very philologist Nietzsche. If he had read Polystratus' situationist On Irrational Contemp (see, here, Scholarchs), he would have found it very consonant with his anti-nihilism values interpretation, not new however. Whereas Epicurean situationist casualness comes to necessity of the whole, N.'s acceptance of total casualness of the world goes to extremes.
But N., who preached trans-valuation of all values (Umwertung aller Werte; but he swung about its meaning), lived like a restless train-set middle-class man, lodging-style, and had fallen into deplored 'moral poses' (he swallowed his own words; like on Wagner, Schopenhauer and so on) and into spiritualist vitalism about value judgments (moralische Wertscheitzen: the winning value becomes 'objective', an history-based statement [actually no more values but brute or legal power, that is necessity], at former time discredited by him in Genealogy of Morality in favor of nuetzlich/ useful health: no value is demonstrably pre-eminent), turning one's back on the Epicurean felt personal pleasurable value: “Pleasure and displeasure are lower rank value judgments” [The Will to Power § 61]; what does one make praise an higher rank value, but an attendant pleasurably tonic dopamine effect, after recollection of it?. He denounced "a certain warm n a r r o w n e s s that keeps away fear and encloses one in optimistic horizons" [preface to 2nd ed. of The Gay Science] and “pleasure and pain are mere epiphenomena and wholly secondary" [Beyond Good and Evil. § 225]; so, according to his former words: “Moral feelings are passions disguised as value judgments" "Pleasure and pain are value judgments” [Posthumous Fragments 1883 9 (39) : not scientific knowledge, thereby validity of personal values/emotions] , and: “Kant's moral consciousness doesn't exist! It's conceit that wants a duty to be an universal duty" [ibid. 9.(46)] were forgotten. Thus, his "will for power" (i.e. his moral judgment of no 'narrowness' - formerly a derivation of Schopenhauer's irrational 'will to live' - by then a beginning of emotional worsening, megalomania in this case (as Tolstoj had assessed it, which comes clinically before dementia?), held by him to be now an objective matter [actually no more values but brute or legal power, that is necessity], that was instead earlier "disguised passion", results a value judgment suggested by an inferiority complex...
He simplistically felt only warrior and lion's force and command to be natural chief motivating force... (introducing a non scientific value judgment) but rabbit's burrow has risked Australia: both aspects are viable: aggression, flight/camouflage coexist (not only N.'s fight for power: but, he praised "life's spontaneousness", didn't he?). In facts “it's a metaphysical postulate that we establish a correlation between value degrees and reality degrees. The highest values are not the truest, they are only more symptomatic” [Genealogy of Moral, 1, § 3, in the end; his 'will for power' just a symptome of his megalomania, and his Űbermensch only a value statement of an introvert intellectual …]. But he's the same who had told: “They who lived more secluded had got the greatest clout" [Summer 1883, 12 [42]]. Being spontaneously a secluded person (he had hoped for a “correction to human nature” for “reinforcing the contemplative constituent” [The Gay Science § 285]) - even though he wanted not to think life (like Socrates) but to live it - he ends up by retraining Epicurean themes: “the issue is not to conceive the over-men (Űbermenschen) as bosses of other men; far from it: two species are to coexist: the ones like Epicurean Gods, not concerned about the others” [Posthumous Fragments IX, 7 [21]]; perhaps the idea of over-men has come to him just from Epicurean gods (at that time possibly an exoteric paragon, as a cover) for going 'Beyond Good and Evil' (the probable meaning of 'Will to Power', according the editors of Posthumous Writings), but with an impossible (for Epicurus) accomplishment; moreover it clashed with his 'eternal recurrence', in which he accepted joyfully what is human and pre-human. Last almost sound in mind letters to the best friend of him, Peter Gast, are full of good climate at Turin and Nice, walks along the river bank, not costly séparé bistros (where he wrote and drank champagne) and light opera, like an ordinary 'Horace'. All those contradictions are life and interesting, but a philosopher should announce them, not plainly give voice to.

"... Epicurus denied the possibility of knowledge, with a view to retain moral (or hedonistic) values as the highest v a l u e s. Augustine, later Pascal ("corrupted reason"), did the same for the benefit of Christian values... " [Posthumous Fragments 578, Spring-Fall 1887]. Epicureanism is no simple hedonism; ataraxia/stable psycho-physical equilibrium is no value judgment, it's anything physical/empirical (eustatheia), ions' rearrangement, it's always positive; will to power may be self-destroying, survival is the prerequisite of any judgment. Without moral pleasure there is no pre-eminence either. Since individual life is basically limited and self motivated survival, not real improvement (i.e. it does not get beyond instrumental goods), pleasure is remedy of needs and pains (“[...] cast off all the disturbance that is concerned with the desires, sharing in stillness” [Phld., On Death 4 14.5, tr. W.B. Henry]). Less repeatable pleasures require renewed pursuit, that has to be easy and, if only, harmless. The very kinetic (moving) pleasure of Epicurus is a consequence of variability of the unforeseeable world, imbalance of the swerve, even though it's lived personally as an improvement. Phisics announces entropy principle which cannot be accused of metaphysics; Darwin and Freud deny biological upthrust too; life is moved by imbalance (for Ep. P.D.3: “the removal of all sources of pain”, i.e. instability of carbon atoms chains, we would say); similarly later, the open system of Prigogine , quantum jumps of particle physics, 'typing' mistakes of RNA. Scientific cosmology distances itself also from 'will to power' (not from Epicurean inevitable disintegration of the world), to which Nietzsche opposes the myth of 'eternal recurrence', but with some Epicurean relapse (that is hardly a 'will of power'). “This life as you're living and you've lived, you must live it once more and numberless times, and it shall never be anything new” [The Joyous Science (daemon speech) § 341 = DRN III. 943; Nature: “Nor could I find out other pleasures for you: all's always being the same” = Epicurus' P.D. 18 “bodily pleasure cannot increase – it merely varies”]. If then he accepts it joyously (as only an übermensch is able to do it), first Epicurus did it, as a sage imitating the katastematic pleasure of gods (immortal übermenschen).

One of the greatest men, inventor of an heroic-idyllic way to philosophize: Epicurus [Human, All Too Human § 295].
The «after-death» doesn't matter to us at all! [...] Again prevails Epicurus! [Sunrise § 72/34]. Yea! I'm proud to enjoy what [...] I hear and read in Epicurus, the Mediterranean joy of antiquity. [...] The wisdom had taken some steps forward with Epicurus, but then it went many thousand steps backward [The Joyous Science § 45].
Epicurus would have won; each respectable mind was Epicurean in the Roman Empire: and it's done! Then Paul arrives on the scene... [The Antichrist § 58].
The reawakened sciences have been reunited point by point with Epicurus' philosophy, while they have escaped point by point Christianity. [Human, All Too Human § 68].
Why we seem Epicurean. We modern-day men proceed warily with farthest beliefs [...] a cognitive approach we would define Epicurean, which doesn't wish to escape from many-sided appearance of things; [...] a dislike for big words and moral poses [The Cheerful Science § 375].
The Epicurean man uses his higher learning to make himself independent from dominant opinions; he overlooks on these, while the Cynic confines himself to their denial. The former walks so to speak by the side of windless paths, in well-sheltered places, in the half-light, while over him, in the wind, the tops of the trees rustle and show him how much the world out there is worked up [Human, All Too Human § 275]. That's the ataraxia state Epicurus extolled as the end-goal and gods' condition; to be, at that moment, free from bad urge of wish [...] [Moral's Genealogy. § 6]. "A little garden, some figs, a piece of cheese, plus three or four good friends - that was the sum of Epicurus' luxuriousness [Human, All Too Human, II, part 2, § 192].
Stoic and Epicurean. [...] The one who envisage that the external necessity enables oneself to 'spin out a long thread' acts well to arrange for an Epicurean way of life; all men fond of intellectual work have done so! Sure enough it would be for them the worst loss the one of ruining their subtle feeling and getting the skin of the Stoics in return, with all the quills of a sea urchin [The Cheerful Science § 306].
Four are the pairs which, for me the follower, did not turn out alien: Epicurus and Montaigne, Goethe and Spinoza, Plato and Rousseau, Pascal and Schopenhauer. With them I must debate, when I have wandered alone for a long time, by them I want to be approved and amended [...] [Human, All too Human, II 408, The Journey in Hades].
Is there any more dangerous seduction that might tempt one to renounce one's faith in the gods of Epicurus who have no care and are unknown, and to believe instead in some petty deity who is full of care and personally knows every little hair on our head and finds nothing nauseous in the most miserable small service? [The Gay Science § 2771].

Statements perhaps influenced by Epicurus

Since the origins of the living organisms we are interested exclusively in the connection of every thing with us, with pleasure and pain as points of reference [Human, All Too Human §18]. “Cognitive apparatus as means of nutrition system” [25 (377) Posthumous Writings 1884]. Nature dominates all the world with pleasure [Human, All Too Human ].
Each pleasure want a deep, deep-rooted timelessness.
But the revived, the sage tells: I'm through and through a body, nothing bar it; soul is only a word for body's something [...]. There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom [So Spoke Zarathustra, 'About Body's Despisers'].
Each living being may get fit, strong and fecund only into an horizon [...]. The smallest happiness, as long as it is felt continuously, is by far a bigger happiness than the biggest, which comes only as an event, so to speak like a whim ... [Usefulness and Noxiousness of the History. Ch.I°]. They have reached the largest influence who lived secluded [Posthumous Writings 1883, 12 (42)].
The way to be happy is choosing a position in which what is agreeable at present is also durably handy, in which senses and taste praise the same that reason and caution choose [Posthumous Writings 11 (5)].
To use physiology with certain confidence, it is necessary to remember that the sense organs are not phenomena in the sense of idealistic philosophy: as such, they might not be causes. If we don't admit it as a heuristic principle, at least do we admit it as a constraining hypothesis. What? Somebody claims even that the outside world would be a work of our organs? But in that case our very organs would be work of our organs! This, it looks like, is a radical reductio ad absurdum... [Beyond Good and Evil § 15].
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