• Bret Bernhoft
    220
    I recently finished reading "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", and am moved to propose that the ultimate purpose of the book is to encourage the average man to become something greater; to stand up to his own self and demand that "it" (that being his personal constitution) evolve. Which is what (in my opinion) a lot of Friedrich Nietzsche's writings are ultimately directing the readership to do, grow.

    I know there is a lot of unfavorable history surrounding Nietzsche and his works being used for political mutation. But, at least at the individual level, books like "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" are useful for personal transmutation, personal evolution. Useful in the sense that these publications urge the reader to dig and digest some thickly-worded and densely packed criticisms for and of the world at large.

    I don't need to agree with Nihilism (which I don't) in order to find "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" as interesting, intriguing and even insightful. Because I do, I do find this book to be rather stoic and relevant. That said, I would love to learn more about what others think the ultimate purpose of Nietzsche's books are? Or at least what purpose or role do these books serve?
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    It would be interesting to understand what people get from this book. I have tried to read it (Kaufmann translation) several times but find it histrionic and dull. A friend of mine who is a great enthusiast of Nietzsche and this book in particular, is always talking about self-overcoming, which is curious since he is pathologically incapable of changing even the simplest aspect of his own mostly unhappy life.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    moved to propose that the ultimate purpose of the book is to encourage the average man to become something greater; to stand up to his own self and demand that "it" (that being his personal constitution) evolve.Bret Bernhoft

    And by what process does one evolve their nature/constitution according to Nietzsche? Pain? Suffering? Incremental progress? Discipline? By developing a perfect rear-naked choke? One cannot merely demand that they stop being average and expect to stop being average - coming from someone who is painfully average in most ways.

    Or did he just not focus on that? Maybe I'm treating him too much like a motivational speaker.
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    . But, at least at the individual level, books like "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" are useful for personal transmutation, personal evolutionBret Bernhoft

    I think using words like ‘evolution’, ‘progress’ , ‘self-actualization’ and ‘growth’ to describe Nietzsche’s view of the trajectory of Will to Power and the aims of the Overman forces us into a rather mundane and traditionalistic reading of him. These terms presuppose some particular self-created value system that one grows within and perfects. But the aim
    of Will to Power is a self-overcoming that delights in moving through endless value systems. The only growth here is a kind of self-diversification.
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    But the aim
    of Will to Power is a self-overcoming that delights in moving through endless value systems. The only growth here is a kind of self-diversification.
    Joshs

    That's interesting. Is 'delights' something FN would recognize? What would moving though endless value systems be like? Sounds exhausting.
  • Joshs
    5.3k

    Is 'delights' something FN would recognize? What would moving though endless value systems be like? Sounds exhausting.Tom Storm

    Nietzsche thought the greatest joy and delight was to be found in the cultivation of error and falsification, not as an opposite to truth, but as its condition of possibility. Value systems and sciences are falsifications and fictions that give us something to organize our activities around.

    “What a strange simplification and falsification people live in! The wonders never cease, for those who devote their eyes to such wondering. How we have made everything around us so bright and easy and free and simple! How we have given our senses a carte blanche for everything superficial, given our thoughts a divine craving for high-spirited leaps and false inferences! – How we have known from the start to hold on to our ignorance in order to enjoy a barely comprehensible freedom, thoughtlessness, recklessness, bravery, and joy in life; to delight in life itself! And, until now, science could arise only on this solidified, granite foundation of ignorance, the will to know rising up on the foundation of a much more powerful will, the will to not know, to uncertainty, to untruth! Not as its opposite, but rather – as its refinement!”(Beyond Good and Evil)
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    The only growth here is a kind of self-diversification.Joshs

    Well said. Your comments reminds me of the Chaos Magick mindset, of adopting paradigms and belief systems at will; but only for as long as it (in the sense of a tool, such as a computer) is useful to the individual. That is a sort of delightful self-overcoming which is also difficult to properly represent, as well as being an example of practicing Will to Power.

    Speaking of which and along similar lines, the Will to Power framework that runs throughout "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is similar to one's True Will, as found mentioned in Thelema. In this case, the uniting factor between Will to Power and True Will seems to be "working towards an individual's highest good, or grandest destiny".

    You also make excellent points about not underestimating or misrepresenting FN's work as a writer and philosopher. I am new to Nietzsche and have only recently begun to digest what he has to share. I'm looking forward to doing more reading on the subject.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    the Will to Power framework that runs throughout "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is similar to one's True Will, as found mentioned in Thelema. In this case, the uniting factor between Will to Power and True Will seems to be "working towards an individual's highest good, or grandest destiny".Bret Bernhoft

    Wiki says according to Thelema, true will adapts itself to the outside world. It is “a moment-to-moment path of action that operates in perfect harmony with nature.” “The Thelemite acts in alignment with nature, just as a stream flows downhill, with neither resistance nor "lust of result".

    In contrast, for Nietzsche the adapting of the organism to the world is only secondary to what the Will to Power aims at. “The ‘development' of a thing, a tradition, an organ is therefore certainly not its progressus towards a goal, still less is it a logical progressus, taking the shortest route with least expenditure of energy and cost, – instead it is a succession of more or less profound, more or less mutually independent processes of subjugation exacted on the thing…””…the pressure of this idiosyncrasy forces ‘adaptation' into the foreground, which is a second rate activity, just a reactivity, indeed life itself has been defined as an increasingly efficient inner adaptation to external circumstances (Herbert Spencer). But this is to misunderstand the essence of life, its will to power, we overlook the prime importance that the spontaneous, aggressive, expansive, re-interpreting, re-directing and formative forces have, which ‘adaptation' follows only when they have had their effect.” “Everything that occurs in the organic world consists of overpowering, dominating, and in their turn, overpowering and dominating consist of re-interpretation, adjustment, in the process of which their former ‘meaning' and ‘purpose' must necessarily be obscured or completely obliterated.”

    Also according to Wiki, “Thelemites in touch with their True Will are said to have eliminated or bypassed their false desires, conflicts, and habits, and accessed their connection with the divine.” For Nietzsche there can be no ‘true’ will: all desires are false desires in that “the world with which we are concerned is false, i.e., is not fact but fable and approximation on the basis of a meager sum of observations; it is "in flux," as something in a state of becoming, as a falsehood always changing but never getting near the truth: for--there is no "truth”.
    “The will to truth needs a critique – let us define our own task with this –, the value of truth is tentatively to be called into question…”
  • Paine
    2.1k
    That is a sort of delightful self-overcoming which is also difficult to properly represent, as well as being an example of practicing Will to Power.Bret Bernhoft

    Will to Power is not something one practices, certainly not in the sense of divination to discover a personal outcome. Nietzsche's development of the idea is better reflected in the following from The Gay Science:

    Two kinds of causes that are often confounded. This seems to me to be one of my most essential steps and advances: I have learned to distinguish the cause of acting from the cause of acting in a particular way, in a particular direction, with a particular goal. The first kind of cause is a quantum of dammed-up energy that is waiting to be used up somehow, for something, while the second kind is, compared to this energy, something quite insignificant, for the most part a little accident in accordance with which this quantum "discharges" itself in one particular way-a match versus a ton ot powder. Among these little accidents and "matches" I include so-called "purposes" as well as the even much more so-called "vocations" : They are relatively random, arbitrary, almost indifferent in relation to the tremendous quantum of energy that presses, as I have said, to be used up somehow. The usual view is different: People are accustomed to consider the goal (purposes. vocations, etc.) as the driving force, in keeping with a very ancient error; but it is merely the directing force; One has mistaken the helmsman for the steam. And not even always the helmsman, the directing force.
    Is the "goal," the "purpose'' not often enough a beautifying pretext, a self-deception of vanity after the event that does not want to acknowledge that the ship is following the current into which it has entered accidentally? that it "wills" to go that way because it must? that is has a direction, to be sure, but -- no
    helmsman at all?
    We still need a critique of the concept of "purpose."
    — The Gay Science, 360, translated by W Kaufman
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    I read a pretty good amount of Frantic Freddie's work during my increasingly distant youth. I think that his writing is largely narrative and emotive, and this makes him difficult to understand, but oddly at the same time it makes it easy to believe him to be sympathetic with particular views, some of them extreme.

    But then I'm a fan of quietism in philosophy, and grand statements and proclamations by philosophers (as in Zarathustra) leave me cold.
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    Great quotes. Thanks.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    Or at least what purpose or role do these books serve?Bret Bernhoft

    Re-evaluation of values, is the short answer... more specifically re-evaluation of values after our belief in the Gods or the God of old had waned. His writings are essentially a bunch of perspectives on these values, after they had lost their foundation, and so were in need of another justification, which people hadn't realized yet.

    And by what process does one evolve their nature/constitution according to Nietzsche? Pain? Suffering? Incremental progress? Discipline? By developing a perfect rear-naked choke? One cannot merely demand that they stop being average and expect to stop being average - coming from someone who is painfully average in most ways.

    Or did he just not focus on that? Maybe I'm treating him too much like a motivational speaker.
    ToothyMaw

    Yes I don't think his audience was the average man.

    I think he had an idea of a hierarchy or an ordering of instincts or drives. A well turned out man has these instincts ordered in particular ways, that worked for them and in their environment. I think he did view suffering and pain certainly as being instrumental in that process, but not exclusively so. The whole of life could be seen as an opportunity for trial and error.

    Josh has the right idea about his general epistemology, if you could call it that. We can only come closer to truth through falsification, through error. We need categorization, "containers to put empirical data in", even if those don't really exist in some strict delineated way in reality and are ultimately arbitrary. This is one of his key insight IMO, that they are not polar opposites (as philosophers are prone to view them), but one is a condition for the other. A lot follows from that... it's better to try something, anything, even if it turns out to be wrong, than nothing at all.

    Maybe that could even be a very crude summary of his philosophy, you try stuff and you fail, you try again, ad infinitum... and you learn to love the process along the way.
  • Arne
    815
    Yes I don't think his audience was the average man.ChatteringMonkey

    I agree. It is the exceptional man "who has organized the chaos of his passions, given style to his character, and become creative. Aware of life's terrors, he affirms life without resentment." -- Walter A. Kaufmann

    In: The Encyclopedia of of Philosophy, Vol. 5, Pages 504-514, Macmillan, New York. at page 511.
  • Corvus
    3k
    the ultimate purpose of the book is to encourage the average man to become something greater; to stand up to his own self and demand that "it" (that being his personal constitution) evolve.Bret Bernhoft

    Yes I don't think his audience was the average man.ChatteringMonkey

    that Nietzsche's intended audience WAS the common man, but the common man, seems to miss the points Zarathustra makes, blinking thereby ...Vaskane
    Who are the average man and common man?
  • baker
    5.6k
    I recently finished reading "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", and am moved to propose that the ultimate purpose of the book is to encourage the average man to become something greater; to stand up to his own self and demand that "it" (that being his personal constitution) evolve. Which is what (in my opinion) a lot of Friedrich Nietzsche's writings are ultimately directing the readership to do, grow.Bret Bernhoft
    But why should this be the purpose of Nietzsche's writings? Out of compassion, or political initiative? This doesn't make sense, given that N. saw compassion as a weakness and didn't believe in politics.
  • Corvus
    3k
    Zarathustra declares he will not seek to gather his sheep but let those who have the eyes and ears for his (Nietzsche's) words come to him!Vaskane
    Who is supposed to be Zarathustra? Here in your statement above, it sounds like you are implying Z. was N. Would he be Nietzsche himself? Or some other bloke?
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    My understanding of 'Thus Spoke Zarathurstra' is that it involves a process of 'waking up' , beyond the everyday conventions of 'robotic' functioning. This includes conformity to religious perspectives. I see this work of Nietzsche as signifying the depths of any genuine quest within philosophy, which involves all questioning of conventions, religious, or probably, all ideologies. The book explores this, especially in the form of metaphorical understanding.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    ...which people hadn't realized yet.ChatteringMonkey

    Is this part of the reason why his writings remain so influential?
  • Corvus
    3k
    People like me, and even more complacent individuals still. I wont lie, I'm in a cozy spot in my life, for once, and yet, it's like that feeling of being fulfilled has resided and now I seek new drives to fulfill.Vaskane
    Everyone is unique in their experience, background, content of life, thoughts and perception, and also in value judgements too. In that respect, I am wondering, if there is a man called "average man" or "common man". From the description about you in the post, you appear to be an unique man rather than average or common man.

    Nietzsche is a man who talks to himself, in doing so, he looks up to his archetype of the "old wise man," which to him, has always been Zarathustra.Vaskane
    I have a book called C. G. Jung's Seminar on "Thus Spake Zarathustra", and in it, they talk about Zarathustra having much similarity with Jesus - for example, they both had disappeared for some time from the profane world, Jesus wondered in the desert field, and Z. lived in the no man's mountain cave. After the disappearance, they returned to the profane world to preach to people etc.

    But then I was under impression that Nietzsche was an anti christian, and atheist declaring "God is dead." Why would he make a religious human God as the preaching main character of his book?

    C G Jung Seminar on "TS Zarathustra" also says the book has many religious and psychological symbolism, and they talk about various symbolism, and possible underlying philosophical, religious and psychological meanings related to the symbolism in Thus Spake Zarathustra. Interesting, but it looks like "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is not for reading with the analytic philosophical approach.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    ..which people hadn't realized yet.
    — ChatteringMonkey

    Is this part of the reason why his writings remain so influential?
    Bret Bernhoft

    Yes, one of the reasons probably... Nietzsche's main question, how we get beyond Christian values after the dead of the Christian God is still an open question. But other reason also play a role no doubt, he was a very good writer, he has a knack of drawing you in... he's a tempter ;-).
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    Who is supposed to be Zarathustra? Here in your statement above, it sounds like you are implying Z. was N. Would he be Nietzsche himself? Or some other bloke?Corvus

    Historically zarathustra was the first monotheist, inventor of the good and evil dualism.... the archetype of prophet-moralist leading people astray, away from the earth towards some abstract ideal.

    Nietzsche choose him as a mouthpiece for his philosophy because he symbolises everything Nietzsche thinks is wrong about these kind of wisdom-traditions.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    Yes, one of the reasons probably... Nietzsche's main question, how we get beyond Christian values after the dead of the Christian God is still an open question. But other reason also play a role no doubt, he was a very good writer, he has a knack of drawing you in... he's a tempter ;-).ChatteringMonkey

    Interesting. I'll admit, and it's probably obvious, that I'm a novice in terms of Nietzsche's philosophies. But his works are indeed interesting, so I appreciate the extra context.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    My understanding of 'Thus Spoke Zarathurstra' is that it involves a process of 'waking up' , beyond the everyday conventions of 'robotic' functioning. This includes conformity to religious perspectives. I see this work of Nietzsche as signifying the depths of any genuine quest within philosophy, which involves all questioning of conventions, religious, or probably, all ideologies. The book explores this, especially in the form of metaphorical understanding.Jack Cummins

    I can see what you're saying. Do you see "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" as being a product of it's time and environment? Or does it represent a more timeless quality as a book?
  • Corvus
    3k
    but yes, the figure of Zarathustra in Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra shares similarities with both Jesus and Nietzsche.Vaskane
    Well, that is, any Christian other than Jesus, whom he considers the only true Christian. Nietzsche speaks exceptionally high of Jesus:Vaskane
    So it was natural for Zarathustra was depicting Jesus, and tacitly Nietzsche himself too. I am glad that I am learning something about Nietzsche with this discussion. Thanks. :pray: :up:

    For example, a lot of people think that the collective unconscious is something where people send telepathic messages/vibes to other people etc etc, which is just hilarious cause the collective unconscious is more likeVaskane
    The collective consciousness is an interesting concept in philosophy of psychology. It reminds me of the book by Georges Bataille called "Eroticism", but much of Jung's psychology seems to be based on the concept.

    Will read the rest of your post later, as I have loads of work to clear today :( Will come back with more points when things get a bit quiet here. Good day~
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    One other straightforward reason for his continued influence up to now, is that most of the 20th century French philosophers took him up, they were all Nietzschians in some ways.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    So it was natural for Zarathustra was depicting Jesus, and tacitly Nietzsche himself too. I am glad that I am learning something about Nietzsche with this discussion. Thanks.Corvus

    The only similarity is that Jesus and Zarathustra were creators of values. That's the one aspect Nietzsche could respect in Jesus, that he had the strenght of his convictions, and managed to overturn conventional morality and create something new to suit his character. That's why (as I said above) he choose a prophet-type as the mouthpiece for his philosophy in Thus spoke Z, because they were doing a similar prophet thing, creating new tables of values.

    Where they took that exercise however, what values they created, could not be more different.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    Yes sure that's also a big part of it, he tempts people who aspire to greatness, many among them were artists, the list is endless.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    I don't see how that proves your point. It describes the "kingdom of heaven" as a psychological state to be attained here on earth... that is the idea of not resisting to anything anymore, of turning the other cheek.... out of an oversensitivity to pain. Bliss. He describes it, but that doesn't mean he subscribe to it. Nietzsches whole philosophy is about making distinctions and valuation based on those distinctions, wherein pain plays a vital role... they couldn't be much further from eachother.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    Also he deemed the old testament much higher than the new testament, the gospel. So a rejecting of Jewish doctrine is not necessarily allways a positive in Nietzsches book.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    1.3k
    No, I don't think so. It is Dionysus VERSUS The Crucified... AGAINST the Crucified. That is the fundamental opposition he settled on in the end, after starting with Dionysus VS Apollo in the Birth of Tragedy.
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