Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brief thoughts on Zarathustra's first speech

If I understand correctly, something Existentialists were insistent on was people living passionately-- really caring about what they say they care about, acting on the virtue/justice they say they have, etc.

I'm thinking that, near the beginning of his prologue, Zarathustra is admonishing the people to live their lives, instead of lukewarmly diddling through life:

What is the greatest experience you can have? ...The hour when you say 'What matters my happiness? ...What matters my reason? Does it crave knowledge as the lion his food? ...What matters my virtue? As yet it has not made me rage. ...What matters my justice? I do not see that I am flames and fuel. ...What matters my pity? Is not pity the cross on which he is nailed who loves man? But my pity is no crucifixion.' Have you yet spoken thus? Have you yet cried thus? Oh, that I might have heard you cry thus!

I'm guessing that the Uebermensch, or Overman, is (in part) the sort of person who really lives their life:

Where is the frenzy with which you should be inoculated?  Behold, I teach you the overman: he is this lightning, he is this frenzy.


  1. I have only read bits and pieces of Nietzsche and none of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but the thought of the ubermensch is interesting. I thought Nietzsche felt the ubermensch wasn’t really man but the next evolution, or even eventual goal, of man. Kind of like we, the current incarnation of Homo sapiens, are/were the “missing link” between animals and the true capacity of our existence. This is a cool concept in that if we are able to rid ourselves of the ordinary things that hold us back like doubt, fear, and dependence we can fully utilize our senses. Almost like Descartes’ demons that keep us from truly ‘seeing’ what is out there.
    I find it interesting that Nietzsche uses Zarathustra, the purported father of Zoroastrianism to be the mouth piece for his personal thoughts. Nietzsche seems to be very anti-Christian even stating the famous “Gott ist tot” while Zoroastrianism is based on a single deity that is the source of all good. If I remember right Zoroastrians have a similar belief as Plato that before our birth our souls are in contact with the “higher truth” and return to the “higher truth” when we die. They also believe that our goal in life is to battle the evil of the world and there is an afterlife.
    This seems in direct opposition to Nietzsche’s/Zarathustra’s comment
    “remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not”
    It is generally implied that this quote is the requirement of the ubermensch to live life to the fullest and to not let the worries of consequences, including an afterlife, hold you down. I think Nietzsche even believed that it was a prerequisite of becoming an ubermensch is to move past consequences and the self-imposed morality of the Christian dogma, hence his book Beyond Good and Evil. After reading the above passage one immediately thinks of one of Nietzsche’s followers who stated “No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.” I partially agree with this but that is why I’m a little different than most Nietzsche readers.
    Through my limited readings of Nietzsche I don’t get the constant Christian, really religion in general, bashing that a lot of readers talk about. For instance I don’t really read into most of what I’ve read of the ubermensch, that to be this ubermensch we must get past morality and live strictly for our senses. As a brief side note I don’t think Nietzsche was hedonistic. I think he thought Hedonism felt short of the ubermensch mentality in that they revel in their actions. This would be in contrast to an ubermensch that had held self righteousness and most other feelings are simply a form of morality.
    I do belive like Nietzsche , and his follower that believed not in wasting the dawn, that we should enjoy and fully utilize our lives in our surroundings. We should live for the moment and love every moment of every day. Not because this moment is all we have but because this moment is unique and given to us. Would it not be sacrilegious to waste our limited interactions with the rest of the Creator’s creations?

    Yes, there is a Nirvanah; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.
    Kahlil Gibran
    Sand and Foam

  2. Nietzche did draw the line at naval gazing...his philosophy is often thinly construed as being against God, but he pointed out the difficulties with names and knowing and the propensity for us to follow rather than to question. He would acknowledge that the uberman is one who is able to be free of the social constraints that our culture naturally provides---to see those constraints is often difficult--like the fish is unaware of its environment, we too see culture as invisible--simply business as usual.....

  3. I believe it was Kant that felt that an individual would have to reject all they knew in order to be able to receive “true knowledge.” Maybe Kant, like Descartes was addressing the fallibility of our sense. I believe it was part of his “thing in itself” philosophy. This rejection of all that has influenced us could be the precursor to the uberman’s freedom from social constraints.
    Of course this ability to remove oneself from the current situation would be rejected by Schrodinger and his entanglement theory.