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PhilosophyGround >> Best Critical Response to Nietzsche?


3/31/09 12:50 PM
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Joe Ray
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Who has given the best critical response to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche?

I am aware of Heiddeger and Macintyre's responses but not of any others.

I'd be interested in hearing of any good Christian responses beyond accusing Nietzsche of being a Nazi who believes in social darwinism. Nietzsche's central claim is that Christianity and our modern related slave moralities are damaging to higher types of men, a critical response from a christian would have to combat this.

Thanks all.
4/6/09 6:49 AM
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Joe Ray
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The logical conclusion to Christianity/Platonism is nihilism....

Christianity and the values/morality it promotes are a direct reaction to the aristocratic and noble values of the Roman elite....


Christianity is dangerous to the flourishing of 'higher' men.....

Anyone know who has given the best critical response to these claims?
4/11/09 2:47 PM
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thesleeper
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Nobody from that camp will really engage N, they just say he was crazy, ie ad hominem.
4/12/09 6:04 AM
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Joe Ray
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That seems to be the regular retort. He inspired the nazis, was himself a nazi and went insane therefore his arguments are null etc etc.

However they also seem very fond of misrepresenting Nietzsche's idea of nihilism in their arguments against atheism.

Ie. They shall argue that we must have belief in God and the Christian faith because the alternative atheistic belief is what leads to nihlism, and they shall refer to Nietzsche's original argument to make their case.

This is not what nietzsche said at all. His argument is that the logical conclusion of the Christian belief and moral system is itself nihilism. ie. Believing in christianity shall make you nihilistic.
4/14/09 1:32 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Bertrand Russell says some pretty nasty things about Nietzsche in his book a history of philosophy.

Of course he's not arguing from a Xtian perspective nor against the claims you posted that Nietzsche made.

Russell basically says that Nietzsche was arguing for a warrior type spirit, who wants to dominate other men. But Russell claims that this 'will to power' is derived from neuroticism and that the truly healthy emotional person will be compassionate towards others because he won't fear them or feel the need to hold power over them.
4/15/09 4:31 AM
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Joe Ray
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Nietzsche would retort that being compassionate towards others is itself a form of the will to power.

And that the motive of compassion is often fear itself. "I am weak and unable to defend myself so I must love others so that they do not hurt me".

Compassion for Nietzsche, is something that decadents and weaklings value.

It is an excuse for weakness trumped up as high virtue, as he believes are all our other highest values.
5/6/09 8:55 AM
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acid jazz
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Sometimes people are compassionate to people weaker than them,so there goes Nietzsche's argument. Sometimes people are kind simply because it is the decent thing to do.
5/6/09 10:55 AM
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Joe Ray
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It should be noted that Nietzsche isnt actually against being kind, charitable and compassionate to others, he is just completely against elevating these to the highest values we hold.

Believing compassion to be the highest value known to man and basing one's morality around it is the sign of a decadent weakling.
5/6/09 11:00 AM
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acid jazz
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Joe Ray - It should be noted that Nietzsche isnt actually against being kind, charitable and compassionate to others, he is just completely against elevating these to the highest values we hold.

Believing compassion to be the highest value known to man and basing one's morality around it is the sign of a decadent weakling.


Thanks for clarifying that. I thought he was against it outright.
5/6/09 11:03 AM
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sanguine cynic
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Being kind can definetely be seen as being weak, like the losers who suck up the alpha male for fear that otherwise they'll get picked on..but...


there is gaining experimental evidence that holding compassion as your highest value will lead to the greatest happiness. Take the dalai lama for example.

So unbelievably happy.

And it's not just him, many buddhist monks while meditating on compassion scored off the charts in brain waves while under and Fmri in areas of the brain that correlate with happiness.

short dalai lama vid worth watching..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuFZ-DUx71w
5/6/09 1:39 PM
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Joe Ray
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Edited: 05/06/09 1:53 PM
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acid jazz -
Thanks for clarifying that. I thought he was against it outright.


Bear in mind that Nietzsche himself was by most accounts, a polite and considerate fellow and his last conscious act was flinging his arms around a horse who he felt was being flayed too hard.

Much of his diatribes against compassion, pity, altruism should be viewed as an attempt by Nietzsche to overcome these very feelings in himself, as they affected him strongly.


sanguine cynic - 
there is gaining experimental evidence that holding compassion as your highest value will lead to the greatest happiness. Take the dalai lama for example.



True, but Nietzsche also attacked happiness as an ideal and a goal. It leads one to seek comfort and security and to become averse to suffering. In short, valuing your own happiness above all else leads you to become soft and decadent. 
5/6/09 1:48 PM
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acid jazz
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Joe Ray -  In short, valuing your own happiness above all else leads you to become soft and decadent.


Don't know about other people, but this is somewhat true for me.
5/14/09 1:49 PM
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sanguine cynic
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"True, but Nietzsche also attacked happiness as an ideal and a goal. It leads one to seek comfort and security and to become averse to suffering. In short, valuing your own happiness above all else leads you to become soft and decadent. "

I disagree. There is tons of psychological evidence that the happier you are the stronger you are and the better able you are to face life's problems.

Positive and negative emotions exist in upwards and downwards spirals.

The more positive emotions you feel, the more this habit becomes ingrained in your brain and the more likely you are to interpret future events as positive. Which leads you to have more positive events, which causes you to further develop the habit of viewing things positively which even furhter produces more positive events.

Negativity works in the same way..but what we would call a downward spiral.

In fact, the best way to become stronger is to become happier.

I recommend the book "Positivity" by UNC Psychologist Barbara Frederickson, it's probably the best book on how to get happier ever written.


Numerous psychologists who have spent time with the Dalai Lama have agreed that he is unlike anyone else they have ever met in his amazing ability to quickly recover from hearing bad news or from a negative emotion.
5/14/09 11:00 PM
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Yatsuzaki
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Joe Ray, I appreciate your knowledge of Nietzsche. I read all of his books numerous times, though a long time ago, and I felt like reading this and the Freud thread were like a mini-synopsis that made me re-remember a lot of his logic flow and ideas.

sanguine cynic, you are right about what you have said, but it is quite obvious that even the mainstream Buddhist perspective agrees with Nietzsche - that happiness should not be made into your ideal/goal.
5/14/09 11:44 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Is it quite obvious?

Not according to the Dalai Lama or Mattheiu Ricard. They say the meaning of life is happiness and they work hard to rid themselves of negative emotions and be happy

In fact I have never heard otherwise.
5/15/09 1:33 AM
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Yatsuzaki
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Edited: 05/15/09 1:35 AM
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Sorry to hijack.

sanguine,

The point of the generic form of tibetan buddhist meditation is to take yourself outside of the constant struggle of opposites. That is to say, happiness and suffering, self and other, hope and fear, expectations and disappointments, etc. It is this state where you don't generate the energy that feeds those opposites.

If you feel happy, you will also feel bad. The Buddha's four noble truths (the basic tenets of all of Buddhism) get into this with the fact of suffering in life. You can't see white if you won't see black. Why would they practice something that removes them from the Samsaric cycle in which happiness resides, if the point of life is happiness?

And happiness is certainly not the point of life to many/most Buddhists. The ones that lit themselves on fire during war, the ones studying nearly every waking hour in the above-mentioned meditation, the ones trying to become enlightened, the ones trying to live with daily consciousness, etc.

On that note, the Dalai Lama is pretty much the worst to go looking at, as he basically went against his spiritual advisors and has been preaching a form of spiritual materialism (veering far away from the Buddha's idea of the middle way/path into hedonism). For that reason, it is no wonder he has become so popular among Americans, along with this simplistic idea that "the point of life is being happy."

And when I said that happiness should not be your "ideal/goal," that comes with its own complications. There is nishkama karma (sorry I can't think of the tibetan buddhist term for this, but it exists as I learned it from one of my buddhist teachers). This is a tenet that you should do everything in life without the expectation that it will bring you anything, let alone happiness.

More simply, if you go directly searching for happiness, you won't find it (say, you will fear that your hopes are in vain, the fear will lead you to find suffering instead, and disappointment will be added to that because of your expectations to find it, etc.), but when you stop searching for it and let it happen, then you will become happy. And that is not to say that this is a ruse to trick happiness into appearing.

In this way, to at least the lineage of Buddhism that I practice, happiness is this incidental thing, an emergent property that comes naturally, from the side, from your peripheral vision, a fleeting impermanent state, when your work on one of the points of life (say, cultivating daily consciousness) is progressing well.
5/15/09 4:00 AM
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Joe Ray
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Edited: 05/15/09 4:11 AM
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sanguine cynic - 

I disagree. There is tons of psychological evidence that the happier you are the stronger you are and the better able you are to face life's problems.



Seems like you are confusing cause and effect. If one is strong and well constituted, then one is going to have a greater inclination towards being happy.

For the weak person to merely be positive and make efforts to become more happy may well make him more comfortable and happy but it will not make him stronger.

A lamb cannot become a lion merely by thinking positive thoughts. The lion, who can discharge his strength and power and gratify his urges anyway he desires with regards to the timid lambs is more likely than not going to be a happy lion. But he did not become a lion by being happy.

....What you say with regards to happiness and positive thinking may well be true but it is in total disagreement with Nietzsche.

Happiness and its related ethics ie. christianity, liberal egalitarianism etc rest upon a condemnation of suffering. For Nietzsche's intended audience, he implores them to embrace suffering in the ideal of the eternal return as the means to the highest affirmation of life and towards the most profoundest self overcoming.  

Suffering is necessary for growth. One becomes stronger by overcoming suffering. Therefore suffering is essential. Elevating happiness to the highest goal of one's life rests on and results in a condemnation of suffering, and so inhibits one in becoming stronger.

One should will the eternal return of all suffering. 
5/15/09 8:12 AM
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Joe Ray
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Edited: 05/15/09 8:13 AM
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The will to power, in its' healthiest form, craves resistance to be overcome. Once that resistance is overcome, it craves even more resistance to be overcome.

The softest forms of the will to power, crave comfort, happiness and release from suffering.

For the will to power to grow to its' strongest, suffering is essential as it provides the best opportunity for maximum resistance to be overcome.

One must quite literally crave suffering.
5/15/09 5:41 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Joe..what is your definiton of "Strong" and care to point to any real world examples?

"For the weak person to merely be positive and make efforts to become more happy may well make him more comfortable and happy but it will not make him stronger."

Yes it will, and this has been scientifically verified numerous times. Psychologists have done happiness interventions in which they sought to make people happy..by doing things like Cognitive therapy (positive thinking), exercise, meditation etc... and what happened? Not only did the people get happier, but they also became STRONGER.

They were better able to deal with hardships of life and bounce back from negative events such as losing one's job, losing a loved one, being diagnosed with an illness or injury and held more positive views when these things occured...To me that is the very definition of strong.

Being able to stay happy when shit hits the fan. And that's what happy people do.. People who are anxious or depressed fall off the cliff when things go bad.


"
Suffering is necessary for growth. One becomes stronger by overcoming suffering. Therefore suffering is essential. Elevating happiness to the highest goal of one's life rests on and results in a condemnation of suffering, and so inhibits one in becoming stronger."

The brain does not work like that. It's not like a muscle in that you have to kill it to make it back bounce stronger. In fact what happens is the harder you work an area of the brain the more neural connections are built and the more likely that part of the brain will get accessed in the future. The more positive you are the more neural connections will be built in the brain that causes happiness and when an event happens the more likely that part of the brain will be accessed.. Conversely the more you suffer, the more neural connections will be built in the part of the brain that causes suffering (right prefrontal lobe i believe) and the more likely that is to be accessed in the future.

It seems Nietzsche was completely wrong here. Happiness breeds happiness. Suffering causes more suffering.
5/15/09 5:43 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Now that doesn't mean one should live in a bubble for the rest of your life. You should constantly go out of your comfort zone and try new experiences, but the key is to do it gradually. Just as a person who has a phobia of snakes is not immediately thrown into a pit with an anaconda (as this could cause a mental breakdown) but instead is gradually exposed to the presence of snakes first from imagination, then from a distance , before finally holding one.
5/15/09 5:53 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Yatsuzaki,

Well then I agree with the Dalai Lama and not traditional buddhist beliefs.


Why would one want to remove themselves from the cycle of life ? and not experience either pleasure nor pain? There is an easy way to do that. Suicide. Of course, the buddhists believe in reincarnation, but since we know that is ridiculous ...I see no reason to a buddhist of that type...
5/18/09 5:23 PM
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Steppenwolf
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Read Philosophical Myths of the Fall, by Stephen Mulhall. It's not contra-Nietzsche at all, and gives a very interesting reading, perhaps a Christian reading, of him.
5/18/09 5:24 PM
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Steppenwolf
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Also, if ask me if you have questions on it because he tutored me as well and he said a lot more that's not in the book.
6/2/09 4:42 PM
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None So Blind
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To throw another aspect into the discussion - Google Daniel Batson, a psychologist who studies altruism.

He has some interesting research that seems to suggest that in direct competition across species, those species which are cooperative (and prior to that, have enough empathy to note who needs help, which then leads to cooperation) are more successful than those that are competitive within species, or even those that are a mix of competition and cooperation, but without any empathy guiding those who require altruistic intervention (i.e., those that cooperate purely out of self-interest).

6/11/09 11:45 AM
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lawrenceofidaho
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None So Blind - 

To throw another aspect into the discussion - Google Daniel Batson, a psychologist who studies altruism.

He has some interesting research that seems to suggest that in direct competition across species, those species which are cooperative (and prior to that, have enough empathy to note who needs help, which then leads to cooperation) are more successful than those that are competitive within species, or even those that are a mix of competition and cooperation, but without any empathy guiding those who require altruistic intervention (i.e., those that cooperate purely out of self-interest).


This guys work sounds intriguing. (Any links to recommend?)

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