Comments on Nietzsche

Dustin Pickering


The ugliest man killed God. He died of pity of man. The Madman is merely ahead of his time. Nietzsche chose a deformed person to declare God’s death which goes hand in hand with his idea that pity is foolish. Perhaps the madman’s awareness is due to the fact he is subject of God’s pity and therefore has firsthand knowledge. At God’s death, he left his shadow over the Earth as Buddha did in the cave where he killed the serpent that was torturing the city. Beyond good and evil merely views life as an art, creation and destruction being essential to the process. The shadow is an illusion of substance. The only way shadow can exist without substance is as eternity. Timelessness exists within time, presence within absence. Nietzsche refers to Socrates as the ugliest man perhaps signifying the death of God was somehow caused by Socrates who was the wisest man in Athens because he knew he didn’t know. Again, presence within absence. Nietzsche believed in the eternal verities. I would say it’s a modern way of saying all we have of God is reason, a process to wisdom which is love as knowledge’s essence. I don’t think Nietzsche was a committed atheist in the usual sense. He also mentions the god-in-the-machine which descended at the climax to resolve the loose ends. Reason in purity only takes one so far. Nietzsche was an optimist and believed life was comedy. Aristotle said tragedy evokes pity and fear. Nietzsche’s contempt for pity and his comic worldview are compatible. Comedy is that which ends well. Optimism in philosophy means life is all it can be. Fatalism means accepting life even at its most pitiful. All these tenets define Nietzsche as one who believed life was worth living even in its excesses. Seeing the contradiction of Apollonian and Dionysian tendencies, there is excess/ passion leading to madness and reason/ inspiration leading to illumination: both are dual approaches to art and understanding. Nietzsche saw morality as a worldview moreso than an ethics. The eternal recurrence also reflects on the cyclical nature of life. Things always come back together no matter how spread apart they become. There is a micro and macro level to each concept. The eternal recurrence unites Being through Becoming. Ultimately God is nothingness because nothing is primordial and primary, always a beginning. That’s why Nietzsche is often thought of as either an atheist or nihilist. Non-existence is taken as the shape of existence. Like contours defining boundaries of the thing-in-itself. A priori is Being, a posteriori is Becoming. The madness of the herald of the death of God reflects that unique schism. Ultimately he’s the lone prophet, like Cassandra, who no one understands. In Zarathustra, the prophet is told to offer man nothing. Perhaps that’s a pun. Zarathustra is the original prophet of the division of good and evil into warring powers. Nietzsche’s dualism is Dionysus and Apollo. They are a unity like yin and yang, creating a dynamism that is Becoming. Their unity is Being. Good and evil don’t exist but this does not discard ethics. Nietzsche bases his ethics on self-reliance and individualism. The overman is his ideal. Man must be overcome – that is, we shed our dependence on each other and live only for ourselves. The existential dilemma sets in. We are alone, free, and must create our own values. He goes on to discuss Europe moving toward a catastrophe. His reference to necessity by nature reveals he isn’t a nihilist. The psychological determination of all things is the will to power. He even denies cause and effect – saying that the effect is merely the more powerful of the two. He is conservative as can be on ethics. His will to power is also metaphysical – things come into being through struggle with lesser things.