Nihilism nietzsche essay
The novel gives us a chance to see what such a life would look like. Can one live under such conditions? Can one live as a human being? One of the two main characters, Ada, summarizes her life-view once in a conversation with one of her teachers, a cynical historian who, himself, has also experienced the nihilistic emptiness of the world. She says that, sometimes when she is running on the athletics track, she imagines the line that separates the tracks being a mountain ridge, with abysmal deep slopes at both sides.
She explains:. Life is a permanent movement on that line. As long as you think it's just a line drawn between two lanes, everything is o. But as soon as you see that it really is a mountain ridge, along an unfathomable abyss, you start to stumble and are in danger of life. The reference to Nietzsche is obvious, and especially to his early essay on truth TL: the essay he wrote under the influence of contemporary Kantianism. Only by forgetting about our condition or by hiding it behind metaphysics, morality and religion, can we endure life.
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In a related text, Nietzsche used the imagery of the dreaming, sleeping person lying on the back of a tiger: safe as long as he keeps dreaming, but threatened as soon as he comes to know his condition PT 1. The problem of such a life is obvious. But the teacher, to whom Ada is talking, has found a solution for this unbearable situation. He replies to Ada, saying:. Two people, who both on their own line or ridge , walk together, hand in hand, have four legs; they won't fall down, even if they see the abyss below. The suggestion is that precisely because of this abyss, because of our nihilistic condition, only something like friendship can save us.
But didn't we say that the ideal of friendship has been unmasked and that friendship under nihilistic conditions has become impossible? Are we struck in a paradox? In the paradox as Nietzsche phrased it, the paradox of not being allowed to believe in the possibility of what we cannot do without? Or is there a conceivable form of friendship that can help us to survive under nihilistic conditions? If such a friendship does indeed exist, it should definitely be a more modest form of friendship. Let me conclude with one more example from literature.
I think we might find an example of this modest kind of friendship in one of the masterpieces of nihilist art, Beckett's famous play "Waiting for Godot".
There we find a comic, melancholic, but also comforting picture of the relation between the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, or Didi and Gogo. They do not have an intimate relationship, their relation is not marked by mutual benevolence as Aristotle wants it, not by the production of beauty as Plato says, not by the "complete melting together of two wills" like in the perfect friendship of Montaigne. Vladimir and Estragon scold, but also help each other, they play together but also irritate one another, but they know that they keep each other alive:.
Estragon: There are times when I wonder if it wouldn't be better for us to part. Vladimir: You wouldn't go far.
Nietzsche and the struggle against nihilism
Estragon: That would be too bad, really too bad. These people are not well suited to one another; it's just that fate has brought them together:. Vladimir: We can still part, if you think it would be better. Estragon: It's too late now. Vladimir: Yes, it's too late now. They literally keep one another alive, as is clear from the passage in which they plan to commit suicide. Paradoxically, by trying to help each commit suicide, they fail and continue to live. Let me quote the scene from the first Act:.
Vladimir: What do we do now? Estragon: We wait. Where it falls mandrakes grow.
That's why they shriek when you pull them up. Did you not know that? I don't know. There's an even chance. Or nearly.
That's safer. The meaninglessness is not canceled, but becomes bearable, simply because they are not alone. At some point Estragon says: "Don't touch me! Don't question me! Stay with me! At the end of the Lenzer Heide note, Nietzsche asks the question, who will be able to cope with nihilism, "who will prove to be the strongest in the course of this? His answer reads: "The most moderate; those who do not require any extreme articles of faith" NL 5 Maybe we should extend this to a statement about friendship. In an age in which the great ideal of friendship erodes together with all ideality, we can only survive as long as we know that we're not alone.
Maybe that's friendship: to know that you're not all alone. No perfection, no virtuosity, no lofty ideal, but simply this: to know that one is not all alone. Maybe even Facebook-friendships can give us that. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard UP, In: Aristotle.
Athenian Constitution. Eudemian Ethics. Virtues and Vices. Cambridge Harvard UP, In: Dramatische Dichtungen in drei Sprachen. De amicitia dialogus".
Third Essay, Sections 11-14
Maastricht: Schenk, undated. Mineola: Dover, Paris: Flammarion, English translation: "The Elementary Particles". New York: Vintage, KANT, I. Translated by Mary Gregor. London: Cambridge UP, a.
In: Michael Pakaluk ed. Other Selves.
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Philosophers on Friendship. Amsterdam: Boom, Translated by W. Kaufmann and R. In: D. Breazeale ed. Philosophy and Truth. Selections from Nietzsche's Notebooks of the Early 's. New Jersey: Humanities Press Int. Kritische Studienausgabe. Refered with volume- and note-number; all quotations in my own translation PvT. Translated by R. New York: Cambridge UP, a.
In: F Nietzsche. New York: Cambridge UP, b. Part II. New York: Cambridge UP, c. London: Penguin, Paris: Garnier, Nietzsche over een dreiging die niemand schijnt te deren". Nijmegen: Vantilt, Oxford: Oxford UP, ZEH, J.
Nihilism and Connections to Naziism
References in my own translation to Dutch translation: "Speeldrift". Amsterdam: Anthos, In: Gert-Jan van der Heiden et al. Hermeneutics Between Faith and Reason. Beauty and the Enlivening of the Russian Literary Imagination - The no longer counts for us as the highest manner in which truth. Bank teller resume cover letter.