It’s problematic in the extreme to deny for whatever reason that an aspect of unusual genius was a work in the life’s work of the Swiss/German inventor of the term Superman. The problem however with that element of genius that was at work in Friedrich Nietzsche’s life was that it was an unhinged and seriously pathological type of genius that eventually drained the life from its human host and left the great celebrated prophet of Nihilism in a profound vegetative state in the final years of his life who was thankfully attended upon by his devoted sister until his passing quite appropriately in the year 1900.
The first thing that I have to admit to any potential reader is that I am in no way an expert on the philosophy and life’s work of Friedrich Nietzsche in the same manner in which I am something of a minor expert on the life of his admiring Nephew, the Swiss/German Psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. I have read pretty much all of Jung’s major works published by Bollingen/Princeton University Press in his complete works. I have also read and reflected upon the three most important biographies of Jung as well as his own de facto autobiography Memories, Dreams, & Reflection written and published at the urging of his last personal secretary and administrator of his estate Anilla Jaffe who also was known to be the final late in life lover of the voluptuary Jung.
My interest in Friedrich Nietzsche is therefore as much psychological as philosophical or maybe even more so! I like a lot of people find Nietzsche’s philosophy to be both exhilarating and repellant depending upon the various specific cannons of the Nietzsche Doctrine and the influence that they have had on his adopted nation of Germany and the wide reading public of the world who have taken the perilous mission upon themselves of delving deep into this philosophy of an eventual madman. Some people claim that the great apostle and advocate of strength who took delight in naming himself the Anti-Christ came to close too the nihilistic abyss within his own psyche that he projected onto the psyche of humanity and the mass man of his era.
In my humble opinion what was Nietzsche’s ultimate undoing was the very same sense of hubris that the ancient Greeks warned about as the down fall of not just individuals such as Friedrich Nietzsche but whole nations as well such as that most notorious of nations in the 20th century whose nationalistic social psychosis produced the catastrophe of World War Two. Friedrich Nietzsche became the patron saint of the Nazi elite to the same extent that another voluptuary and disciple of the dark force Richard Wagner was also so honored. Wagner and Nietzsche were lifelong friends and associates (or should I say partners in thought crime?) until Wagner adopted and embraced the Christian idiom and myth of the Grail Legend as the backdrop for his final and greatest opera or musical drama as Wagner preferred to call his works. This was too much for Europe’s most notorious atheist at the time to endure and so as a result of Wagner’s re-evaluation of life in general and his own life in particular which now included a deep and abiding respect for Christianity and the Grail Myth, Nietzsche broke off all contact with the reformed voluptuary Richard Wagner and never saw or spoke to him again as a result of this seminal and highly germane event.
Wagner’s own personal antisemitism contrasted with Nietzsche’s own dubious and questionable philo-semitism something that the Nazi regime was only to willing to ignore in Nietzsche in exchange for being able to exploit those particular parts of his philosophical cannon that best suited their deformed needs as a governing party capable of such evils as humanity had not only never seen before but never even imagined to be possible. Such is the nature of hubris however in that it lends itself to such things as much as it brings about the ultimate and final downfall of all those whose moral and spiritual ignorance leads them to worship at its pagan shrine dedicated as it is to human folly in all of its myriad manifestations and permutations down through the ages.
Many experts consider The Geneology of Morals to be Nietzsche’s most original work and for that reason I have dedicated a large amount of time to not only reading this work but listening to the audio-book as well as the numerous academics whose lectures are available online at youbube.com. I have listened to numerous other audio-books and delved into the free e-books that are also available for free online such as Ecce Homo and the online lectures and teaching seminars of other philosophers and academic experts who consider Anti-Christ to be the summation of Nietzsche’s philosophic career and therefore his most important work. Anti-Christ was his final work to be published.
The essence of The Geneology is the firm establishment by the trained professional philologist that Nietzsche was that morality in nothing but a form of cruelty as is religion itself. He claimed that the moral code that we in the Western world live under today is a most ancient of inheritances that was once upon a time during the era of prehistory that lasted at least 100,000 years was imposed upon us through the use of the most brutal and barbaric forms of force by the ruling classes/elites that existed by virtue of their superior use of arms and primitive tribal warfare in that era of pre-history that lasted tens of thousands to perhaps hundreds of thousands of years and thus formed the psycho-social conditioning that Ivan Pavlov labeled Classical Conditioning because it employed various forms of physical punishment to condition any particular subject behavioral response pattern.
If there is a title that Nietzsche truly deserves as a result of his life’s work I would suggest that it might be the title of the crowned prince or maybe king of European atheism who articulated a sound rational understanding about religion in general and Christianity in particular that no doubt put him in direct personal conflict with some of the most powerful social forces on the European social scene. The result of this was that the Swiss born German philosopher spent a major portion of his adult life living the life of a pilgrim in search of the truth moving forever from one lonely hotel to another mostly in the Alpine region of Europe that overlaps Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and Italy.
Nietzsche’s professional training was as a philologist and through the use of this linguistic science that Nietzsche was able to trace the derivation of certain key words back aeons to their first known point of origin in a thoroughly original use of that linguistic science that enabled him to locate the origin of moral concepts in the earliest known class divided societies.
To many people who have read his works or consorted in some manner with his bold and shocking theories related to the nature of religion as an organized form of cruelty that in essence constitutes the collective death wish of humanity Nietzsche’s philosophy was a kind of first wave of liberation from the dark and devious shackles of the past in the form of death against life which was how Nietzsche characterized the struggle of the life force to free itself from the ever present ominous threat of death that he thought organized religion constituted.
There are so many famous quotes attributable to the philosophic works of Nietzsche that one hardly knows where to begin in regard to citing them. Without a doubt the most notorious of his quotes was the one made by the prophet Zarathustra in Thus Spake Zarathustra that “God is dead!” This assertion regarding the death of the prevailing male deity of the Western world had an earlier antecedent however in the poem by Thomas Hardy “God’s Funeral.” Nietzsche was therefore not alone in understanding that the all powerful bearded angry God of Moses and the Christian variant thereof had long ago reached its zenith and was in a precipitous state of decline that would end in this particular Western deity eventually going down the human memory hole altogether as had all of his predecessors that had once been held in awe by a childish and easily deceived human race. The darkness of Nietzsche’s world view in regard to such matters seems to have precluded any attempt on his part to understand and come to terms with the social force that all forms of religious belief have had down through the ages of compelling human behavior of a certain acceptable kind because the various forms of social organizations that have existed down through the ages have demanded such a moral code of behavior in order for the social system to function beneficially for as many people as possible who made up the basic social unit in any given society. Such a rational sociological approach to religion formed the basis for the English philosopher Herbert Spencer’s philosophy that in time formed the basis for the new science of Sociology.
Unlike Spencer however Nietzsche was only concerned with the individual as if someone could live independent of the very society of his/her day that all were a part of whether they liked it or not and depended upon for the very sustenance to sustain their lives. To realize the fact that social forces that were unseen and often poorly understood in the 19th Century were more determinative in regard to human behavior than any kind of internal self directed mechanism of the mind or psyche seemed impossibly for such individualists as Nietzsche and others of his ilk to ever be able to consider and/or fully appreciate! That fact however was a clear manifest indicator of their limitations both intellectually as emergent scientists as well as philosophers seeking to uncover the assumed to be hidden nature of truth that all to often was frequently in plain view staring such would be inquirers straight in the face.
In the end the life of Friedrich Nietzsche in the late 19th century who reveled in his sad despondent embrace of the dark side of life was much akin to the rise and pathetic fall of another practitioner of the dark arts of witchcraft that he reveled in Allester Crowley. It was Nietzsche who reveled in his personal assumption of the person of the Anti-Christ that he claimed himself to be either jokingly or in a kind of mock serious tone that indicated perhaps a measure of truth in regard to such. It was Crowley who nominated himself to the role of the Beast spoken of in Revelations as having a name symbolized by the number 666 because of the fact that in his drug induced euphoria his own personal measure of his own sense of self important knew no reasonable bounds of decency that was equally the case with Nietzsche whose supreme personal sense of contempt for religion led to the kind of ego inflation that the ancient Greeks had referred to as hubris. The psychic gulf that may have opened up within the personality structure of Friedrich Nietzsche ended up in swallowing him up alive in a fate surely worse than the death wish he presumed religion to be. Such was the nature of the personal tragedy that was his life that he spent so much time dwelling on the dark side of life that it came in the end to claim him and his psyche as one of their own, i.e. a denizen of that infernal abyss that he warned us about when he said to those who would follow as his philosophic disciples to be cognizant of the fact that whoever looks into the Abyss, the Abyss in turn looks into him.
The sad fate of this prophet of darkness should never be forgotten and we should always therefore look to the light for our own salvation as well as the salvation of the society that we live in that in the end is more determinative in regard to the factors that shape our lives than all the idiosyncratic internal mechanisms of the psyche that more often than not may turn out to be nothing other than a hallucination.
The other uniquely dark side to Nietzsche’s philosophy and case in point as to why every fascist group, Nazi Party, anarchist factions, and assorted wing nuts of political and social reaction everywhere rush to adopt as justification for their demented ideologies is the cult of strength that cares not a rat’s @$$ for the Christian ideal but believes that strength justifies itself in a completely Faustian way. This is as much as saying in a diabolical way based upon such anti-social considerations that destroy rather than build into the social fabric of any given society or social unit the kind of interdependence that has been essential in order for civilization to exist and the vast spectrum of human needs to be satisfied.
What we are talking about here is the productive capacity of any given society that is the prime requirement that is essential for it to survive as well as to satisfy the material, cultural, and other social needs of any given society or tribal unit. The dark side of human nature and reality that Nietzsche embraced as the be all and end all of Earthly existence is really the death wish or death force spoken of by Freud a man whose towering intellect in spite of his well known flaws was every bit the equal to and most probably surpassed the increasingly troubled intellect of Friedrich Nietzsche.
Freud referred to this dark demonic destructive force within the human psyche as Tanthos the Greek term for death and counterpoised this to the life force that he called Eros. The well balanced formulation of Freud is not to be found in the completely lopsided world view of Friedrich Nietzsche whose personal obsession with those psychic forces that ultimately lead to decay and destruction became the psychic abyss that he fell into psychologically in is final years that cut short what could have been an enormously productive life.
Such a critique as outlined above is meant in no way to suggest that the philosophic works of Friedrich Nietzsche are not worth reading, consulting, and/or considering as relevant. What is most important about Nietzsche however is that it reveals the nature of the Faustian spirit (or demonic) spirit that has always been the essential guiding spirit of the West with its increasing dependence upon a Faustian technology that has so altered the natural Earth environment so as to be perhaps the single greatest known threat to human survival. I don’t think that in this regard that I am overstating the case in regard to the Faustian guiding spirit of the West that for all practical purposes has incorporated all the rest of humanity that had been left in the few remaining civilizations such as the Chinese, India, and Islamic outside of the orbit of the West.
The greatest struggles of our own era that are in the process of being waged by the West to fully and completely absorb these recalcitrants will inevitably be won by the West but not in the matter that most people would suspect. This so called eventual “victory” of the West in regard to the absorption of these few remaining non Western civilizations will be a completely Pyrrhic victory for the West and its various peoples unless the source of this Faustian spirit is fully excised through the antiseptic of the Permanent Revolution theorized by Leon Trotsky that is centered within America as the principle leading nation of the West as well as its satellite states of the EU.
I think that such a negating of the Faustian spirit of the West by Eros is inevitable because such is the only way open to humanity right now that can in fact guarantee its future survival on a planet almost fatally devastated by this Faustian spirit inherent in the nature of the technology generated by the various sciences of the West to further the exploitation of the masses here at home in the “Imperial Heartland” as well as globally where the would be “Masters of the Universe” seek to establish their complete and total greed driven domination by way of what Nietzsche labeled “the Will to Power.” The Will to Power of the as yet untested masses may be one aspect of this individualized psychic driver that Nietzsche was never able to persuade himself that it could have a mass collective base springing from the Collective Unconscious formulated by Jung as the common mass mind of nature inherent in man located in the deepest layers of the unconscious mind.
Curiously enough Nietzsche referred to himself as a “psychologist” at a time when the lines separating philosophy and psychology were wholly indistinct. For the most part the evolving science of psychology was considered to be as aspect of philosophy that for all its seeming lack of precision at times was still considered to be based upon a science regarding human thought that was dependent upon reason and logic to define it and set the boundaries that all “legitimate” human thought was to follow if it was to get the respect of academia with its host of professional philosophaters. To his everlasting credit as a philosopher and as a creative human being Nietzsche rejected such illusory concepts regarding “legitimacy” within the sphere of academia and was free thinking enough in the best aspect of that term to strike out on his own as a creative thinker and philosopher in completely new and virgin territory. For many people of his own era that were tied to the old order of things, this was his one and only sin that could never be forgiven. It was this fact alone that made him something of an outcast in his own time who over time and through his own personal genius transcended time and place to become the wholly and completely accepted creative genius that he is regarded as being today in spite of all his flaws and personality defects that defined him as Human, All too Human!
The key to understanding the Geneology is the phenomenon of what Nietzsche calls “the transvaluation of values” that he claims was the unconscious mission of the priestly class/caste that began perhaps in the biblical era and/or about the time of the rise of Mycenaean Greece, the Trojan War, and the epic poetry of Homer. This sacerdotal order was made up of declassed persons from the ruling warrior caste that basically had complete control over tribal societies of that era. It was the naturally occurring social phenomenon of asceticism known to all societies, cultures, and civilizations down through the numerous ages of historical development that was the origin of the sacerdotal order that took up a stand in society as the tribunes of the weak and powerless that in turn was labeled by Nietzsche as “the herd.”
Nietzsche claimed that the Jews became the almost perfect embodiment of a kind of sacerdotal order based upon the nature of the Jewish Diaspora that he seems to have little understanding of from both a historical point of view or even what I would call a common sense point of view. There is no precise date that Nietzsche uses to indicate specifically what particular exile period he may be referring to and so one is hard pressed to come to terms with the fact that in regard to Jewish history Nietzsche may have been a bigger ignoramus that either his admirers or critics ever realized!
That point aside Nietzsche claims that this “transvaluation of values” that he claims was the great historical mission of the sacerdotal order or simply “the priests” as he likes to libel/label them began the particular cycle of history that we are now in with the values of the Jewish Diaspora defeating pagan Rome an the noble barbarianism (my term) that Nietzsche so admired and idolized in an almost idolatrous fashion. One has to be pardoned from assuming that it was this idolatrous worship of savage barbarism that unhinged the “great mind” that Nietzsche supposedly had and ultimately bought about his complete and total mental breakdown that some have attributed to untreated syphilis.
Either way what Nietzsche’s philosophy/ideology seems to indicate the most contempt for was what many think of as the great civilizing mission of the Jewish Diaspora in bring about the kind of respect for the idealized person that has enabled civilization such as we know it today to exist. Nietzsche idolatrous worship of what Freud called tanthos in the form of the barbaric warrior class/caste is very much at odds with not only the facts of the matter but from a sociological perspective an almost complete and total lack of understanding the values of the social forces that were needed to enable civilization to exist at all.
The libel/label that Nietzsche puts of what he calls “Jewish inspired Christianity” as something that bought about the weakening of the only “healthy” class, i.e. the warrior class/caste in society and its adulation of the herd as “the sick” as he libels/labels such non warriors is really nothing other than an inner reflection of the transposition of reality and values that had occurred in Nietzsche’s own psyche and that he in turn reflected onto the outer world as some sort of concrete reality!
The atheism that Nietzsche possessed or that perhaps possessed him was based upon a totally false understanding of the social role that religion and his hated sacerdotal class/caste played as a necessary social evil that was required in order to create the right kind of social conditions for civilization to exist. Freud demonstrates a greater understanding of this need to tame the savage beast in man through the use of such coercive methods as religion bought to bear as a necessary but often regrettable fact of life that could not be denied and had therefore to be accepted. Such was a sign of his own maturity as not only a psychoanalyst but as one of the great geniuses of the 20th Century. There is indeed genius in Nietzsche but all to often it borders on the pathological and indeed “the sick” as he was so wanton to libeled/ mislabel others and the vast movement through time of the social forces that were needed to produce the highly advanced civilization that exist today. Such a highly advanced social order as we all take for granted today only exists because the forces leading to death and destruction have to a large extent been held in check by the countervailing psychic forces of life that Freud appropriately labeled Eros.
Reasonable atheists and practicing agnostics can be confidently assured that such a requirement of the past as religion represented has no longer any usefulness in our own era. All of its values that it brought to bear beginning in another era have been inculcated into the human psyche. This is the part of the psyche that Freud labeled the “Super-ego” because of the inner role that it plays in regard to serving as the innate conscience that uses its inculcated value judgments to influence human behavior by working to produce those required limits of human behavior that are required for civilization to exist. The price that we as individuals have to pay in order for this whole historical process to work is called neurosis and it is a small price indeed to have to pay for the right to be born and exist in the first place.
For Friedrich Nietzsche however the ultimate struggle that humanity was being confronted with in this late modern or what some have labeled the post-modern period is humanities increasingly desperate struggle not against the so called “evil” that all organized religions posit themselves as being against but rather against that very real and cogent evil that religion in all its manifestations actually is. According to Nietzsche religion is indeed the very death force of the species that Freud label Tanthos that stands in opposition and in probably equal measure to the force of life within the human being that Freud labeled Eros. All of human history according to the Psycho-Historians both Freudian and Jungian is a constant ongoing battle within the soul of humanity to see which of these two psychic forces can gain the upper hand with the collective mind of the species and so ultimately triumph over its defeated adversary.
Both Freud and Jung had a rather dark view of this prospect ending favorably to the eventual long term continuation and viability of the human species on this planet or any other for that matter. Both Freud and Jung like their predecessor Friedrich Nietzsche saw such questions regarding the ultimate survivability of the human life form as a something that utterly transcended the idea of good vs. evil that religion tries to impose on the human psyche. Both Freud and Jung were non believers in the kind of superstitious magic that religion offers to its adherents. It was only Friedrich Nietzsche however who was forthright and perhaps brave enough in a very truly heroic sense to offer up his personal realization that religion itself was the very social force of death that it uses to terrorize us with in its ongoing effort to compel us to conform to its demands that serve an entirely mundane and temporal purpose. Such a purpose can be seen in our own era as an entirely authoritarian purpose that demands that all thinking rational human beings surrender this higher power to its own irrational dictates that uphold and defend an increasingly unjust, evil, and dangerous social system called capitalism that in and of itself is seen by most present day Marxian theorists as the single greatest threat to human survival.
The irony about Friedrich Nietzsche was that he was philosophically a staunch lifetime opponent of the historical materialism of Karl Marx and G.F.W. Hegel who was responsible for his use of the dialectical method to originate the concept of historical materialism that Marx and his associates built upon. Once again the irony was that the anti-Marxist, anti-historicist Nietzsche was confirmatory in regard to such theoretical propositions as the Marxists made but were nevertheless completely incapable to giving any sort of credit to the work of someone such as Nietzsche ( for political reasons) whom they considered to be the very apotheosis of political reaction in Germany and on the European continent because of his many theoretical constructs that had nothing or little to do with Nietzsche’s important contribution to the social science of anthropology that was greatly enhanced as a result of his contribution. Nietzsche’s discovery through the use of the linguistic science of Philology of the true Genealogy of Morals was a work of such genius that few if any have perhaps understood the full significance of that demonstrate through the use of this linguistic science the utter tyranny that we as human being have been forced to live under since the earliest of times when such a tyranny of belief and behavior acceptable to our once thoroughly barbaric rulers was first imposed upon us in the most terrible, bloody, and barbaric methods imaginable in an era dating back to the vast era of human pre-history for which there is no written record but thankfully an archeological record.
But now in our own era in a time so distant from the point of our earliest origin the worm has finally turned in regard to such things as the tyranny over the human mind that religion represents. It was Jung who stated that psychologically speaking everything over time turns into its opposite. What could be a more appropriate way to understand the Nietzschian “transvaluation of values” that lay at the heart of his philosophy that indeed in some areas becomes more of a science than just a mere philosophy that can be easily discounted for being what it is.
It was the natural joy de vie and freshness of the life of young children that has its own corollary in the childhood of humanity in an age so distant from us now in time but ever so close to us always within our own psyche as well as in the collective mind of nature within (and without) us that Jung called the Collective Unconscious that is forever unbounded in time containing past, present, and future along a kind of inner space-time continuum that is part and parcel to the actual space-time continuum that makes up our physical Universe embedded as it is with the psychic factor of consciousness that takes root and blooms in the human being. The real take away message from Friedrich Nietzsche that we should always consider was his advise in regard to how to bring about the kind of liberation that we all seek as human beings in order to fully realize our own true nature and who and what we are ultimately destined to be. Nietzsche advice was that the way to achieve this ultimate liberation was to live each and every day in the here and now as it that future precious day our deliverance had already arrived. It was only by being brave and free enough to live life on such terms that we could in the final analysis make such a future reality part of the ever eternal now that we call the present.