Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oh Nietzche, how you plague me so.

“I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar” (94).

My gut reaction: um, what? You have to understand, as an English major, such a proclamation as the one Nietzsche puts forth is no small pill for me to swallow. Now, I’d love to call upon the hallmarks of persuasion and argue against Nietzsche with all the pomp and splendor of proper rhetoric that would make the professors in the English department swell with pride, but quite frankly, I’m tired. So I’m just going to get right down to it.

Throughout the excerpt from “Twilight of the Idols,” Nietzsche argues against the philosophers and moralists who came before him, dismissing their ideologies as “dangerous” (96) and mere “fiction” (96) that holds no more intrinsic truth than the very ideas they so mistakenly purport as objectively “true.” In this sense, Nietzsche engages in what Herald Bloom identifies as the anxiety of influence, in that he rails against the standing order of philosophy and those who constructed it, using every avenue possible to tear it down, demolish it, in order to establish his own set of constructions in its place. But more on that in another post.

What really struck me was the way in which Nietzsche intertwines the Platonic mode of thought with the biblical sense of becoming, of being formed within the image of something higher. Such a deduction does not seem far-fetched, however, once one compares the Platonic understanding of ourselves in relation to “the real” with the religious comprehension of mankind to God. Everyone can recall Plato’s fable of the cave with the forms encompassing what is “real,” the shadows of the forms forming our comprehension of what is “real,” and ourselves being the product of this second-hand revelation of what lies beyond. Conversely, in the Christian tradition, God (the “real”) makes himself known through His son and His son’s teachings (echoes of the “real”), from which we, the humble disciples, learn from and form our understanding of the Lord. If such is the case, then can it be said that given Nietzsche’s viewpoint that Plato sits at the head of the “wretched” (94) positivism that informs modern philosophy, perhaps when Nietzsche refers to “God,” he actually means Plato and not the biblical God? And if such a hypothesis can be granted, what ramifications would this conclusion have on Nietzsche’s infamous proclamation, “God is dead”?

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