Regulars might recall how I delved into Nietzsche last autumn. Time & distance have since provided some perspective to the strange & interesting things I found there. The overriding impression I'm left with -- after months of Nietzsche's ideas fading in my rear-view mirror -- is this »
» It doesnt much matter what particular religion a person might claim (or proclaim), or even whether they faithfully carry out the tenets of their specific denomination.
What matters is » how good a person they are. How they live their lives.
I realize this is waay-subjective, but you know what I mean (.. especially if you have an idea of what 'good' is).
Perhaps I should come right out and make a strong, unambiguous declarative statement .. such as what Nietzsche himself would like.
And here it is (drum roll, please) » Nietzsche is » very much about values.
At least, that's what struck me about him. Certainly that's what surprised me most, and is what I came away thinking about.
Not surprisingly, I now have a more discriminating eye where morals & moral behaviors are concerned.
Tho sometimes I wish I didnt see as clearly. Cuz the world is no Disneyland. Definitely not the "happiest place on earth." Ignorance is bliss. (Or, at least, it can be.)
Tho I am also more tolerant and forgiving now. Cuz I realize how difficult it can be for folks to operate congruently with their inner moral compass. (Can we call this 'conscience'?)
Anyway, I never would've imagined that Nietzsche would have had that kind of effect on me. I do however, feel stronger for having had the experience.
It was initially exhilarating -- both intellectually & morally -- but also challenging, spiritually, which later grew fatiguing (.. like the end of a hard workout).
It's good to challenge ourselves from time to time. To find what things we fear and go there, to confront them (our fears) .. for that very reason. You just *know* you're gonna find something gnarly lurking behind the scary door.
After reading Nietzsche, I realized that people can walk out of church and do bad things. So the church, or the religion, is obviously not the thing that makes a person moral.
Rather it's the IMPACT someone has on others that matters. That's what really counts (.. from a moral standpoint).
Sure, I knew this before. But Nietzsche had a way of bringing it out, front-n-center. Quite strikingly.
Attending church doesnt make one moral. It's what happens OUTSIDE the heavy wooden doors that count. Right?
I'm also more in touch with my own moral compass. Can sense it more clearly, more cleanly. And with this clarity has come a sense of responsibility.
We dont do the right thing because God wants us to, or because he'll toss a few lightning bolts our way if we dont. No, we do the right thing cuz .. it's the right the thing to do. And cuz we'll know if we dont. And we'll think less of ourselves (.. if we have a conscience).
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I dont know any atheists, but I cant help but wonder if their moral compass operates in a similar fashion.
Sure, Nietzsche has left me with other ideas & impressions .. but this one seems most prominent. It surprised me, cuz Nietzsche never comes right out and says this.
I wasnt trying to see this. The picture just seemed to materialize before my eyes .. on its own .. from some of the things (ideas) I gleaned while surveying Nietzsche's garden.
Seems there has been for me a separation, or a delineation, between morality & religion. The contrast has been turned up, heightened. The two domains are no longer synonymous.
Certainly there are areas that overlap. But I can now see how and where the two coincide and where they diverge. And obviously they are not the same thing.
On the other hand, I feel like a better person now. More moral. Strange, no? It had the opposite effect I would've imagined .. seeing how Nietzsche was an atheist (.. whose father & both grandfathers were Lutheran ministers).
That's what grappling with Nietzsche and his (radical) ideas did for me.
Friedrich has been called the world's most misunderstood philosopher. I can see how that might be the case. Which leads to my second point (.. as part of the reason why he might be misunderstood).
Perhaps the second-most prominent impression I came away with (in retrospect) .. is that Nietzsche (I feel) was committed to the truth .. to a search for the truth .. to a truly remarkable degree .. no matter where that search might take him, or the cost.
And that he was ready to jettison whatever beliefs or preconcieved notions he might've held .. no matter how sacred .. if they happened to conflict with things he discovered on his search.
Here is where he earned my respect, and that's probably the most interesting thing about him. His dedication (.. whether or not you feel his ideas were valid).
This dedication, I feel, led him to strip away anything that might cloud (his view of) the truth .. up to and including nicety. I mean, it's clear he is not out to win friends. (He can be such an asshole.) It's like he's almost daring you to turn the page or disagree.
Nietzsche seems to be NOT about right or wrong so much (valid vs invalid ideas), but rather the search for truth .. at any cost. His dedication borders on the obsessive. In other words, Nietzsche is about the journey, not the destination. (He went insane trying. Totally bonkers.)
This is the other prominent impression I came away with .. aftering reflecting on his ideas these past few months. (Could be totally wrong, but I dont think I am.)
I mean, I went into the thing looking to find what made him tick. Of course, I needed to explore his ideas to do that. But his ideas were never my primary consideration.
No, I wanted to understand the man .. why he was the way he was (.. an arrogant atheist asshole from a family that had produced a long successon of ministers .. on both his mother's & father's side).
No doubt his father's death when Fritz was only 4 played a big part. What little boy wouldnt be mad at God for taking a father he loved?
One final thing worth mentioning before I close » Nietzsche (1844-1900) died a few decades before the Nazis came to power. Therefore, any connection is obviously not due to efforts on his part.
For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » friedrich nietzsche