Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Essays - Nietzsche

FRIEDRICH WILHELM NIETZSCHE was born at Röcken, near Lützen, Germany, October 15, 1844. His father was a country pastor, a model of Christian virtues, and especially gifted in music. Says Mencken:

"As a preacher's son, brought up with all strictness in the fear of the Lord, he had the ideal training for a future shamsmasher and free thinker. Let a boy of alert and restless intelligence come to early manhood in an atmosphere where doubts are blasphemies and inquiry a crime, and rebellion is certain to appear with his beard."

(Similarly Bob Ingersoll, whose father was a Congregational clergyman.) Nietzsche's mother was also the daughter of a clergyman. His family on the father's side descended from Polish nobles, compelled by religious persecution to flee from their own country.

After several years at common and final schools he entered the Gymnasium at ten years of age, in 1854. He took high rank in all studies save mathematics. In 1864, at twenty years of age, he entered the University of Bonn, as a student of philology and theology. The latter, however, he soon discontinued. The removal of Ritschl t from Bonn to Leipsic caused Nietzsche to change universities also. He remained at Leipsic from 1865 to 1867. During this period he became an enthusiastic adherent of Schopenhauer's philosophy. In 1869, upon Ritschl's recommendation, he was appointed to Professor of Classical Philology at Bâle; not yet twenty-five years of age, and in less than a year was made Professor Ordinarius. During this period his intimate friendship with Wagner was formed. After ten years' service, in 1879, on account of failing health, he resigned his professorship.

By 1882 his physical condition became so much improved that he was able to publish book after book in rapid succession. In January, 1889, at forty-five years of age, he became hopelessly insane, and lived chiefly with his sister at Weimar until his death in August, 1900.

Why should we spend an hour about a madman's reveries, or at best a philosophic Mr. Hyde? There was, if not a rounded "method in his madness," a startling significance and power. Within the last ten years he has acquired an influence over modern Continental culture equalled by no philosopher since Hegel. He has created an independent school of thought, and in Germany, Austria, Holland, France, and Scandinavia a whole literature has sprung into existence bearing directly upon his work. The problems he has raised it is no longer possible to neglect or avoid; it is preferable to look them straight in the face. Apart from the startling originality of his thought, his immense rhetorical power and rhapsodic gift have helped to extend his influence. Friends and enemies alike praise him for his match-less command of word music. His works must not, it is true, be read rapidly.

"It is not only my habit, but even my fancy perhaps a malicious fancy to write nothing but what may drive every reader to despair who is 'pressed for time.' "

In a recent Life, by M. A. Mügge (London and New York, 1909) two whole pages are devoted to German editions of his works. (Only first editions mentioned.) Translations, three pages: Danish, Dutch, English, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Biographies, commentaries, and essays on Nietzsche, within the last fifteen years, thirty-three pages.

Revolt against the whole civilized environment of modern life is the keynote of Nietzsche's literary career, says Professor Lichtenberger. All commentators of Nietzsche recognized a triple division of his mass of writings. His whole labor may be said to have addressed itself to answer the question: "If life is worth living, what makes it so? What is the supremely valuable?"

During the first or aesthetic period, he approached, in the "Birth of Tragedy," the question from the aesthetic point of view and answered, Beauty. In the second, or intellectual period, changing his standard of valuation, Truth became the one thing supremely desirable; even should the truth be that there is no absolute truth allowable. In the third, or ethical period, everything is valuable in proportion as it can further the full, rounded, complete development of the "Over-man," the "Super-man," the "Beyond-man." Beauty and truth are of course included, but only in so far as they strictly make for this development of individual man. Whatever does not promote this end, whether true or false, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, is vigorously cast aside.

This period is difficult for us to grasp, in consequence of our inborn respect for truth and right. In Nietzsche's view, moral and intellectual values cease to be the only or all-important ones. There is no necessity for a so-called moral basis of the world or life, or of a science to co-ordinate the facts of the world and life. If the world and life are beautiful or can be made beautiful, why need we look further? Any amount of tribulation and hardship is justified if it produces only a little good music, painting, sculpture, or poetry. One really good song compensates for all the tragedy of existence. , To ask whether a book or a play has a moral or an unmoral tendency is the very impertinence of absurdity. The only relevant question is, Are they works of art? Are they beautiful? Not only art for art's sake, but life for art's sake.

In the second or intellectual period he was no longer satisfied with contemplation of aesthetic beauty, but takes another step in the direction of destructive criticism. He starts with Pilate's question, What is truth? but, unlike Pilate, he stays for an answer. All his commentators acknowledge, however, his answer on the positive side is most indefinite. He tells us every-thing truth is not, but makes no positive definition.

"Of all forms of madness," says Voltaire, "the insistence on seeing things exactly as they are is the most appalling and hopeless."

Nietzsche says: "Truth for truth's sake is an enemy to existence. Truth, regarded as agreement with reality, or as that which is guaranteed by universal consent, has for the most part been directly hostile to the advance of human reason.

"Error, on the contrary, furthers happiness. It is rooted so firmly in the passions, in language, in art, and religion, and in everything, in fact, that lends value to life, that the abolition of error would be an irremediable injury.

"The real motive energies of life are pleasure and pain, health and injury, and they have nothing whatever to do with a sense of truth."

Nietzsche is open to criticism here: First, for his double assumption: He presupposes the existence of absolute truth and just as constantly denies it. Second: He confounds the historic problem with that of essence or value; e. g., no permanent worth attaches to anything that has been proved to have its historical origin in subtlety.

Let us now review Nietzsche's "Theories of Kultur": in its relation to "the free spirit" ("Freigeist").

First: True Kultur has certain indispensable prerequisites. The first is frequent war. Kultur cannot dispense with the strong passions, the force and swiftness of hand and brain, the readiness to fight for one's self; the barbarity, if you please, which war brings with it. Permanent peace would mean physical and mental enervation.

Second: Two social casts: Laborers and men of leisure; free interchange, however.

Third: The occasional appearance of exceptional characters makes character, in fact.

A race only maintains itself where the majority cling to common convictions, beliefs, and customs; this bringing about firmness of character. But the danger always accompanying this stability is stupidity. Hence, for a high grade of Kultur to arise necessitates the appearance of exceptional characters, sometimes even madmen. Most of these must undoubtedly perish after a brief existence; but a few here and there manage to maintain themselves for a longer period and so introduce new elements into society, and are indispensable to progress.

Fourth: Religion: A chapter by him on religion in Kultur would be as brief as Dean Swift's chapter on Snakes in Iceland: "There are no snakes in Iceland." There is no place for positive religion in culture, except what each makes for himself. (He was especially severe against Christianity.) In his value all religions, Christianity included, are the product of anxiety and need, and are based upon erroneous reasoning. The common consent of mankind, so often advanced as an argument for religion, is one of the chief reasons for rejecting it. Nothing but foolishness is common or believed by everybody. His charge against Christianity is twofold. First, it is false. Second, assuming it true, Christians do not live in accord with its rules.

Christianity is utterly and frankly illogical. It requires belief and belief only, and rejects every demand for reasons. "Believe and you will be happy." That is, the personal utility of an opinion is the proof of its truth. Further, its dictum of prayer is illogical. Here we have an echo of Emerson. (We know he read Emerson in earlier years.) "All men's prayers are a disease of the will, as their creeds are a disease of the intellect." Prayer is reasonable only under two assumptions: First, that it is possible to change the determination of the divinity; second, that the petitioner is the best judge of what he needs. Both suppositions, which are accepted in many or most other religions, are flatly denied by Christianity; but nevertheless prayer is retained. Still, we must admit its retention was a stroke of great cleverness. What would the saints, those unhappy men who could not or would not work, have done without it? If an evil exists (pain, suffering, persecution) Christianity does not try to destroy it, but to change opinion concerning it; to make it seem a blessing in disguise. Christianity at best, therefore, is a narcotic, and not a true remedy.

A consideration of his ethics discloses: All prevailing moral distinctions are false; the standards of morality and the theories that support them are erroneous. For instance, sympathy, instead of being the proper basis of moral action as Schopenhauer taught, is another name for weakness. It is a poor kind of morality which depends upon pain and weakness in others for its very existence. Sympathy is a sign of contempt and essentially indelicate. Sympathy, instead of being beneficial, is positively harmful. It increases the sum of misery by adding my own sympathetic suffering to that of the original sufferer. The truly moral man has as his distinguishing characteristic "force." He wishes to stand or fall alone. He thinks and acts for himself. Everything, in order to have worth for him, must be strong and great. He would rather have a great pain than a little pleasure. Feelings of responsibility and sinfulness do not trouble him, simply from the fact that he knows there is no such thing as sin, and that no one is really responsible. The development of his own personality is the one thing that concerns him.

In the third or ethical period Nietzsche's destructive criticism of existing standards differs from that of the second only in being more radical, but his positive or constructive theories show themselves more completely. His aim, it must be said, was not to overthrow all moral valuations, but only those he considered dominant in modern civilization. The ideal which he makes the centre of his system is that of the "Over-man," the "Beyond-man."

"When the Over-man at last appears on earth, it may be asked: Will a Super-man or a Super-Super-man come after that? Nietzsche answers, The universe moves in regular cycles. All that is now happening will happen again. The cosmic year has its counterpart in the terrestrial years."

The chief results of this period:

First, as to Truth: There are no absolute or universal truths. No man can go beyond what is true for himself. Indeed, the desire for such a standard is a sign of weakness. A man should be too proud to accept his neighbor's truth or even to desire to share with him his own. It is to say the least bad taste to wish to agree with many people.

Second, as to Religion, especially Christianity: In the intellectual period Nietzsche was concerned to show that Christianity was not true; but now his radical change of attitude is manifested in the fact that he is no longer interested in its truth or falsity, but in the fact that it is at once a symptom and a cause of degeneration.

So long as a people has confidence in itself is strong and free its God will be the reflection of its own real character. His bad qualities will be quite as prominent as his excellencies. It is not until a nation begins to degenerate that their God becomes merely a good God. The strength and pride of race being weakened, they are ready to share their God with other nations a most unnatural thing to give him a cosmopolitan character.

The zeal, then, to spread the knowledge of a God or of a religion so characteristic, for instance, of Christianity) is always an index and a measure of race degeneracy. Christianity has pandered from the beginning to the sorrows and sufferings of the poor and the weak. As a means of bringing all to the same base level, the strong and proud as well as the weak and abject, it has invented the casuistry of sin and self-criticism. All men. are sinners, is one of Christianity's axioms. As if that were a charge which, even if true, could have any necessarily sinister consequence. Christianity has shown great cleverness in providing a narcotic for the pain of the spiritual disease with which it has inoculated the world. That narcotic consists in its three great doctrines of faith, hope, and love. Faith in something, whether true or false; hope in another world; and love for a God who is arrayed in such a variety of attributes that all ages and dispositions may find in him their ideal and counterpart.

"I do not love the New Testament. But the Old Testament here is a difference. My highest respect is commanded. In it I find great men, real men, an heroic landscape. I might summarize by saying they were men who made their religion as they went along; and we, instead of striving to rise up and do likewise, are content to set our-selves the slavish and impossible task of believing theirs."

In moral valuations there are two sets of opposites: Good and evil (Schlecht), and good and bad (Böse).

These have an entirely different history. Good and evil ex-press valuations of the superior or strong or ruling class, in relation to their inferiors. Good (bonus, from the same root as bellum, points to the fact that the good man was the fighting man), far from being an altruistic sense, is entirely egoistic. Whatever expresses the will of the individual is good; all that he does and is, his impulses, his passions, his actions, he calls good. Whatever is different is scorned and called evil. Good, in fact, originally is a sign of aristocratic class; it is distinctive of the strong or warrior class. Only later, in periods of decline and degeneracy, was it extended to characterize mental and spiritual qualities as such.

Evil (in Latin malus, Greek µe'Xas) meant the dark-colored, especially black-haired, common man; the pre-Aryan inhabitant of Italy as distinguished from the ruling Aryan class. All that he was and did was, in the view of the rightful, superior class, evil.

The rise of a priestly aristocracy added the word "pure"; but that meant originally no more than the man who washes himself, who refrains from certain foods that cause skin diseases, who has a dislike of blood. While the priestly aristocracy was due to partial degeneracy of the ruling class, we should never forget that we owe it to them that man has become both interesting and bad two advantages that man has over the animal.

So much for "Good" and "Evil."

Good and Bad are the characteristic terms of the slave morality, and have quite a different content from those of the aristocratic morality. " Good," with the aristocrats, characterizes every form of self-expression; marks it as praiseworthy no matter how much it transgresses every so-called moral precept originating with the lower classes. The nobleman, however much he may be bound by custom, reverence, or gratitude to his equals, feels and acknowledges none of these trammels in his intercourse with the vulgar horde below him.

Compare Emerson: "Do not tell me of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me."

The slave morality speaks a different language. It says, "Let us be different from our wicked rulers; let us be good." And by good they mean the man who raises no violence, injures no one, who leaves revenge to God; who loves his neighbors, and is penitent for his sins.

One great invention turned the magician into a priest: the invention of a bad conscience. The will to cause pain is natural to man, therefore. The subject of slave morality invented bad conscience, the sense of guilt, for the purpose of causing pain to himself after the natural power of this will to cause pain had become obstructed through his weakness.

In a word, the weak are the good.

These two opposing systems have had a long and terrible struggle, and though the slave morality is practically generally accepted, it is not yet universally dominant. The last great victory of slave morality was in the French Revolution, when it conquered the French nobility, the only real aristocracy remaining in Europe. The last great individual example of aristocratic morality was that afforded in the person and career of Napoleon Buonaparte; but he was done to death by the slave class.

Let us now consider the "moral ideal," "fulness of life."

At the bottom of everything lies the "will to power."

"A creed is a rod,
And a crown is of night;
But this thing is of God:
To be man with thy might,
To grow straight in the strength of thy spirit,
And live out thy life as the light."

Strength and force, and joy in the unrestricted use of them, are the natural and foremost qualities of the higher man. Cesare Borgia had the qualities in an unusual degree. Self-assertion is the first and last command. All restrictions are shunned for instance, wedlock. Even the wretched philosophers seem to have had a glimpse of this truth. Who among them is known to have been married? Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Lubrietz, Kant, and Schopenhauer were not. A married philosopher is a figure of comedy. Socrates married, it would seem, expressly to demonstrate this proposition.

Life is essentially the overcoming of the forceful and the weak. Everything is good that increases the will power; everything is evil that springs from weakness. Not restraint, but power; not peace, but war; not virtue, but ability these are the virtues of the higher man.

Compare: "To demand of strength that it should not manifest itself as strength; that it should not be a will to overpower, to subdue; that it should not be a thirst for enemies, resistance, triumphs, is as absurd as to demand of weakness that it should manifest itself as strength."

"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that string."

He is proud and free. Proud, he loves solitude; he stands alone. Free, he clings to no person, no country; he has freed himself from everything: sympathy, science, his own virtues.

Such a morality must necessarily be confined to the few. Doubtless, says Nietzsche. The common people must struggle on as best they can; they only exist, in fact, as a foil for their masters and betters.

"Every religion of pity, as, for instance, Christianity, tends to protect and prolong the existence of degenerates."

"Christianity, the religion of pity, has most effectively contributed to the degradation of the European race and to handicap the evolution of humanity toward the Superman."

The "Over-man," then, represents that type or ideal which will be realized when the aristocrat has resolutely renounced the existing hierarchy of values ethical and religious, especially the Christian ideal, democratic or ascetic, that is current to-day, so far as confession, in the whole of modern Europe, and has re-turned, says Professor Lichtenberger, to the table of values acknowledged among the noble races, among the masters, who themselves create the moral values that they recognize, instead of receiving them from without.

The affirmation of self, the "will to power," is the one all-embracing characteristic of the "Over-man." Negation, denial, restraint, have absolutely no place or recognition. Here we note the diametric opposition between Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer's ideal man reaches his goal by supreme denial, denial of the "will to power"; Nietzsche's by supreme affirmation.

The significance of Nietzsche's philosophy is to be found chiefly in his ethics, for here lies his true originality of view and teaching. While ethical writers accept for the greater part the moral phenomena as something given and base their doctrines upon the distinctions of good and bad as actually made by man-kind, Nietzsche proposes not to explain morality, but to reconstruct it. He denies entirely the validity of universal consent, or the conscience of the race, as a guide or guarantee in determining moral values. There is but one fundamental principle: the "will to power."

His extreme individualism is perhaps of equal significance.

In his philosophy the individual is all in all; there is no suggestion of a social ideal; no problems to be solved arising from the conflict of the good of the individual and that of society; because the latter in his system of "master morality" deserves no consideration. Only the best of the race, of course, are or can be worthy of the new morality. It is never to be degraded by acceptance on the part of the common herd. He does not deny that man as he is is naturally social and sympathetic; but he bids the great man restrain or destroy these feelings, lest they drag him down to the level of the masses.

Sympathy, unselfishness, sacrifice, all exist; alas, they are only too common. But until a man has conquered them in himself he has no share in the higher morality. This validity he announces but nowhere condescends to prove. If any doubt it, it is evidence that they are not of the class for which he writes.

They belong to the common herd.

Notwithstanding the savage extravagance, the furious rage, the riotous exuberance of epithet with which the impassioned philosopher wreaks himself upon his whole environment, religious, moral, social, and political, yet may we not in the pages of Nietzsche, as in a magnifying mirror, behold some of the sinister, unconfessed, yet salient features of the so-called Christian civilization of our day? Granted the reflection is immensely enlarged and in parts shockingly distorted, yet the lineaments are there, and the likeness sufficiently close to startle and give pause to the thoughtful observer.

"It may be confidently asserted that among all the opponents of Christianity, from Celsus down to our contemporaries, few have been at once bolder and deeper than Nietzsche. To say the very least, a good deal can be learned from him, for there is no weak spot in his enemy's armor that escapes his eagle eyes." . . . "He possessed something which was lacking in many of his contemporaries: a psychological perception of the essence of the religion and a knowledge of the believer's heart."

Third: Does he not, for instance, in his "master morality" lay bare the real principles which, in part at least and under specious disguises, rule the national and industrial activities and much of the social life of our time? The Christian democratic neighbor morality what Nietzsche calls the "slave morality" we preach and chant, we praise and prefer it; but in cold fact are not the principles of the other, the "master morality," largely the dominant ones? Somewhere it is written:

"Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"

"A literal faith in the Gospel narratives (devils in swine and all that) is confined to-day to ecclesiastical reactionaries, pious old ladies, and men about to be hanged."

Professor Lille, of Glasgow in his introduction to "Genealogy of Morals," p. xv, says: "The peculiarity by which moral values in polite society are distinguished from that of Christian morality as taught in the New Testament, the school and the church, is that it is merely a morality of an upper caste in contradistinction from the lower classes of people. By force of the qualities demanded by this code, the upper class feels itself to be something better than the lower. He who does not comply with the special demands of that essentially aristocratic code is 'not a gentle-man.' She who does not master its requirements is 'not a lady,' however good, industrious, prudent, economical people they may be; nay, however great things they may occasionally have accomplished. For it is not the goodness, nor the deeds of magnanimity, nor the accomplishment of something great and valuable, which makes the gentleman of to-day. In numerous cases, though not in all, the commandments of the gentleman morality are absolutely contrary to those of the Ten Commandments." We have so intoxicated ourselves with phrases like altruism, charity, social justice, equality before the law, freedom and right to labor and happiness, that we fail to realize that we are living in a world where these things are by no means recognized as self-evident truths or as principles necessary to social welfare.

In the Hibbert Journal for January, 1904, says the editor, Mr. L. P. Jacks:

" We hear a great deal today about 'What is Christianity?' Harnack asks the question and gives the answer: Christianity is not a creed, but a life; 'eternal life in the midst of time'; and the essence of that life is the Higher Righteousness and the Law of Love. But another question immediately presses and that is: 'If this be Christianity, where is Christianity? Where are the Higher Righteousness and the Law of Love to be seen in operation?' The number who ask that question and get either no answer or only an answer which lacks both authority and clearness, is rapidly increasing."

Where is Christianity, then? Is the life of the Christian state, church, or average individual validly a Christian life? Does recent history, as read not in books of the learned, but in the works of nations, governments, parties, trade, finance, suggest that the Life is lived? Does the nominally Christian world mean to be Christian in fact? Is Christianity thus interpreted (as a life) really the name for anything characteristic or dominant in the western world? Does it really animate and direct any of the great underlying forces and tendencies which are now making the history of the nations, guiding the policy of the churches, pointing the goal of the social activities, forming the individual characters of the millions of today? Is not the Christianity of today rather the name of something (as the French would say) "arriving after the event," which tries to undo a small fraction of the havoc wrought by the forces which are characteristic of our time? Shall society call itself Christian because, forsooth, after living all day by principles which turn the earth into a battle-field, it summons the ambulances in the evening and picks up the wounded and sheds tears of pity over the dead?

Wherefore, the plain man doubts whether he could seriously and honestly claim to be Christian. He is by all operative standards an honorable man; deals honestly in trade, is a good husband and father, faithful to his friends (perhaps a little hard on his foes), patriotic, munificent. But for the plain man to pretend that the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount are his, even in spirit, would be a flagrant falsehood. He admires the beauty, may even admit the philosophic truth of the principle which bids him lose his life to save it; but he is an acting member of a community whose industrial life is based on the opposite principle of Competition. He is a firm supporter of the criminal law; holds great armaments are necessary to the life of nations; takes pride in the superiority and power of the British or American fleet; upholds the Government when it shakes its mailed fist in the face of foreign nations. And he will not sully his conscience by pretending that he who does those things is a believer, in any sense whatever, in non-resistance to evil, in unlimited forgiveness, or in the principle of turning the other cheek. He is aware that the world's manner has been softened, its grosser evils redressed, and the general life elevated by the influence of the religion of Christ. But all this falls infinitely short of what the case requires, before we are justified in calling ourselves Christian.

Have we any serious intention of making our international politics, our trade and finance, our criminal codes, our social habits, our personal aims, conformable to that life which we are told constitutes Christianity? The plain man may or may not think such conformity desirable; but until the attempt is more seriously made, the calling ourselves a Christian nation seems to be something of a mockery. He is indifferent to a religion which while interpreted as a Life is yet so remote from the actual underlying motives and currents of the world where it is professed.

And in the name of honesty he refuses to be publicly associated with it.

Again, take a testimony from quite a different sphere. An Englishman, H. Fielding Hall, in Burmah, author of those wonderful books, "The Hearts of Men," and "The Soul of a People" :

"After studying long the life and teachings of Buddha, and observing the life of the people, it seemed to me that the religion of Buddha was one religion, and the religion of the mass of Buddhists another. When I said so to the priests, they were horror-stricken and insisted that I did not understand. In my perplexity I fell back, as we all must, to my own thoughts and those of my people and tried to imagine how a Burman would act if he came to England to search into the religion of the English and to know the real principles that dominated their lives. I saw how he would be sent to the Bible as the source of our religion. I followed him in imagination as he took the Bible and studied it, and then went forth and watched our acts and lives. I thought of him coming upon those verses in the New Testament:

"Love your enemies. Do good to them which hate you. To him that smiteth thee on the ohe cheek, offer also the other. Give to him that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

"He would read them as what we believed and then he would go forth and what would he see? A nation proud and revengeful; glorying in her victories; always at war; a conqueror of other peoples; a mighty hater of her enemies. He would find, too, in her inner social life that the man who took a cloak was not forgiven, but terribly punished. He would find that a people who professed to believe that 'hardly shall a rich man enter the Kingdom of God' were daily fighting and struggling to add field to field, coin to coin, till death comes to end the fight. He would see wealth everywhere held in great estimation; he would see the very children urged to 'do well,' that is, to make money, to struggle to rise in the world. He would see the ministers who taught the Book with fair incomes ranking themselves not with the poor, but the middle classes; and the prelates, the dignitaries of the church, among the wealthy of the land.

"And he would wonder. 'Is it true,' he would say to himself, that these people believe that riches are an evil thing? In what sense are they Christian?'"

Further, coming to our own land, Secretary Hay, in an address a few years ago, said:

"Perhaps in the wide view of ethics one is always right to follow his conscience, though it lead him to disaster and death. But history is inexorable. She takes no account of sentiment and intention, and in her cold and luminous eyes that side is right which fights with the aid of stars in their courses. The past gives no clue to the future. The Fathers, where are they? And the Prophets, do they live forever?"

This, we think, the Springfield Republican rightly characterizes as a "clear system of the moral Law as entering into the conduct of nations and of men in public affairs; a substitution of "the stars in their courses" (whatever that may be) "for conscience and Christian principle."

Indeed, there seems abundant evidence that as a nation we are coming to our senses in the Nietzschean point of view. Thus, for instance, Ernest Crosby in the North American Review, April, 1904:

"There is a public madness of the war spirit; a delirium of national pride and power; a general fever of money-getting; a government which assassinates one sister-republic in the Philippines and vivisects another in South America, which bombards defenceless villages in Sanova, killing women and children in a cause afterward pronounced by an impartial tribunal to be absolutely unjust; exhibiting the 'will to power' to a degree that might well gladden the heart of Nietzsche. 'A deep duality.' "

Here are hopeful signs, from Nietzsche's point of view.

Lucretius, Lamennais, Nietzsche: While they differ immensely in detail of doctrine and vision, yet the dominant note of their passionate utterance is one: Revolt. Lucretius, revolt against religion, its terror and tyranny, as he knew it. Lamennais, revolt against the injustice of the social order as he saw it. Nietzsche, revolt against everything; the universal environment of civilization as he felt it.

Let us imagine these three pushing their bark from the sand out into the sea, the ocean of the Great Unknown, for those shores of the blest, where the "Over-man" dwells in his glory.

( Originally Published 1914 )

The Heritage of the Commonwealth:
The Heritage Of The Commonwealth

Famous Addresses - Washington And Lincoln

Addresses - The Moral Limits Of Prayer

Commencement Address At William Smith College

Power Of Attention

Essays - Nietzsche

Essays - Lucretius

Essays - Moral Liberty And Reign Of Law

Essays - Conditions Of Moral Certitude

Essays - Abbe Felicete Robert De Lamennais

Read More Articles About: The Heritage of the Commonwealth

Home | More Articles | Email: