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 PHIL 200-002 - Friedrich Nietzsche
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Nickolaus Lavery
Fledgling

8 Posts

Posted - Apr 08 2013 :  3:04:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We often discuss the details and implications of Nietzsche's writings, but not how they affect our lives (if at all). I would like to hear about what personal ideas and life applications this exposure to and discussion of Nietzsche have led to. Has anyone been strongly affected by this course of study?

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Brittny Gadsby
Fledgling

13 Posts

Posted - Apr 08 2013 :  3:56:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would not say Nietzsche has affected our lives; he has just adjusted our outlook on certain topics and perspectives.

Personally, Nietzsche really hit home for me because before my grandfather passed away, I asked him what happiness meant for him, to which he replied: "Success." In class, we discussed the fact that the Greek translation for the root 'hap' was fortuitousness. So the similarities between these two answers really got me to thinking of happiness in general. That was the class discussion topic that really had me thinking non-stop. But, this is just my answer. There are many more opinions to be heard.

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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 08 2013 :  9:20:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The moment I was set free from the chains of a prescribed morality was the moment I first read Nietzsche. Then I had only a rudimentary understanding, but one thing I held true: there is no universal morality, and to truly be good we must look for the light within ourselves. To follow a prescribed "good" is not to truly be good, for one does not WILL it.

And now, my understanding has become much more refined. I realize the significance of the eternal recurrence (and the will to say Yea!), of the spirit of gravity (and to will to say to it, Nay!). While there are plenty of pains and troubles in life, I never experience moral dilemmas. I know in my heart what is right, based on what things mean to me. And of course, sometimes I make a mistake, even if I meant the best. Thus I willed it! Life continues, and I make the proper adjustment.

Oh, the positive spirit. Do you not see?! One welcomes even a lifelong pain, for it is a lifelong reminder, a lifelong mentor. Perhaps it makes one bitter, hardened, but oh, the more potent herb! And we do our best, do we not? It is our choice, to be cursed or to be blessed, to be be masters or slaves, men or sheep. It takes a godly vision to create god. What power dwells within us!

And look at me, saying "we," I am all too welcoming in my dance. I am sure some of my colleagues reject wholeheartedly what they interpret from this study. I myself think Nietzsche is an incredible genius, and that is the blatantly obvious part. He makes such a strong impression, that any who keep him as a companion spirit shall be ready to make light of anything, even their own sincere reactions. His voice is a voice encouraging freedom: keep your chin up; most importantly, smell the damn flowers, and don't try to spend your life comparing everything to your degenerating memory of a heavenly (or hideous) scent.

Whenever I am carried away by ressentiment, whenever (and the times are now rare) I am taken by bad conscience, --if I notice myself feeling especially heavy: the voice of Nietzsche is often there to save me. And this class has only made it stronger, surer -- how could I mistake my old boy, when I hear him? Friedrich is one of my timeless friend-spirits in that way.

(For those who may be slow, this is of course a metaphor. I do not hear actual voices or see spirits. However, the meaning is very real: you see, Brittny, you say your perspective has changed -- I would say this is a very discernible change, then, would you not?)

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Brittny Gadsby
Fledgling

13 Posts

Posted - Apr 09 2013 :  12:50:09 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
David-- Though I admire how Nietzsche has impacted your life with his wisdom and words, I have to slightly disagree with you. My grandfather raised me to believe that in most cases people can choose whether to be happy, sad, optimistic, or pessimistic. You can stop and smell the flowers and appreciate the little things in life or you can ignore the flowers and just continue living life the way that you always have been. I have been raised to always appreciate things, good or bad. Therefore Nietzsche has not had that significant of an impact on me. Nietzsche is no doubt a brilliant and gifted man, but I do not idolize him in the same way you do. Again, this is just my opinion, so please do not take any offense at my thoughts and beliefs.

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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 09 2013 :  11:43:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Brittny, I appreciate your sharing of your past. It puts into a bit of context the opinion you share. It is good to hear your family encouraged open-mindedness and acceptance. Allow me to do the same, and to try to be a bit clearer about what I mean when I say Nietzsche has affected me.

I was raised as a Catholic, told that certain certain actions, certain words, were evil, even that certain thoughts were evil. I was never encouraged to be understanding of "evil" people; I was encouraged to condemn them and to be glad that I was following the word of God and would go to Heaven. I love my parents. They taught me great values, but not everything they taught me was encouraging of an open mind. In many matters they pushed on me the spirit of gravity, insisting that I bear these weights (not realizing how they were building in me the mental state conducive to having a bad conscience).

In adolescence, I began to question these views, but I had a dim view of the multitude of systems around me and felt resentful about my predicament. I felt I had to choose an appropriate one, to go by the right code. I considered briefly the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and for a few months the Church of Satan, youthfully enamored by the blasphemous doctrine, rebellious against my old faith yet consistent. I was the Lion par excelence, it would seem, ready to throw off my bad conscience.

It was in studying Nietzsche, however, that I first realized that I could find values within myself -- indeed, they had been there all along, but I was denying them, saying no to them. It was in studying Nietzsche that I forsook all religion, taking the responsibility of "God" into my own hands.

I will also say Nietzsche primed me for my study of philosophy. He was the first philosopher I studied, therefore when I read Plato or anyone talking about ideals of good and evil, I understand the conversation in terms of a discussion of concepts -- not a grave matter of eternal damnation. I do not worry about not knowing "the good," for I do not believe in "the good." I think there's all kinds of things we can say about "the good," but my philosophical spin has since those early days been that of an immoralist.

Having come across a plethora of painful sensations in my life recently, I also find my current study of Nietzsche to be very timely in helping me to realize that these pains are not in themselves bad; indeed, my overcoming them shall be a testament to my great power!

I hope that clarifies, at least a little, the direct influence studying Nietzsche has had on my life.

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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 09 2013 :  11:45:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Has this study influenced anyone's opinion on the question of whether things can be essentially good or bad, or anything?

I use "things" in the broadest sense, so as to allow for thoughts about anything.

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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 09 2013 :  11:50:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh, and let me be frank: I do not think studying Nietzsche is a necessary condition of being a free spirit any more than I think visiting a Zen master is a necessary condition of achieving satori.

However one must read about satori to have some idea of how to articulate the concept -- even if it is, in essence, incomprehensible in any linguistic terms. Different strokes for different folks, they say, and I myself have a taste for strokes on pages.

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Nickolaus Lavery
Fledgling

8 Posts

Posted - Apr 10 2013 :  01:11:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ah, what a breath of fresh air -- thank you Brittny and David! Brittny, I'd like to discuss your first post: I was a bit puzzled when you wrote, "I would not say Nietzsche has affected our lives, but he has just adjusted our outlook on certain topics and perspectives." To me, an adjustment of outlook seems to be a 'change' within us, aka an effect. What is the measure of an effective philosopher? Also, if you don't mind sharing, what is your happiness? (I avoided the question, 'What does happiness mean to you?' in order to reserve the debate about the meaning of meaning for another thread. )

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Brittny Gadsby
Fledgling

13 Posts

Posted - Apr 10 2013 :  7:51:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nickolaus, adjusting our outlooks on certain topics and perspectives is definitely a type of change. However, I don't think that it is a change within ourselves. I believe that there are many types of changes, but the type of change I was addressing was almost a change in our sights and visions. It does not necessarily affect all of our senses; it just kind of opens a lock in our minds in a way that helps us see more openly. I also believe that every philosopher is effective in some way. A philosopher's work's being loved is what makes his or her work effective. David idolizes Nietzsche, which to him, makes Nietzsche effective and brilliant. Personally, I love the work of Michel Foucault, who was actually inspired by Nietzsche -- oddly enough.

As for my happiness -- I haven't figured it out yet. I know what makes me happy, but I don't know how to actually define happiness, let alone my own type of happiness. I'm still figuring that one out. What is your happiness, David and Nickolaus? That is, if you are willing to share.

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Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1422 Posts

Posted - Apr 11 2013 :  10:28:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Brittny, one of the things you said a few days back in your first response to Nickolaus in this thread was this: "In class, we discussed the fact that the Greek translation for the root 'hap' was fortuitousness." This makes me think I must have done a really lousy job of explaining the relevant fact or facts.

The Greek word we were talking about is "eudaimonia," a word usually translated into English as "happiness," but one that quite literally means "the state or condition of having a good daimon." Obviously anyone who has a good daimon -- a good guardian angel, we might say in English -- might be said to be fortunate (very lucky indeed!), and so it seemed natural to those English-speakers who were the first translators of the texts of the ancient Greek philosophers into English to translate "eudaimonia" as "happiness" for the following, to us possibly surprising reason: at that time -- and this was hundreds of years ago, you understand -- the word "happy" meant fortunate (not fortuitous -- "fortuitous" is a word that doesn't, when used strictly, mean the same thing as what the word "fortunate" means at all; "fortuitous" means (or meant until very recently) "accidental" or "chance," a fact ignored by many contemporary speakers and writers who think that there's nothing unfortunate or infelicitous -- i.e., unhappy -- in their decision (assuming that this was a matter of decision!) to use the words "fortuitous" and "fortunate" as interchangeable terms.

In the meantime, the word "happy" (which comes from the Middle English word "hap," which meant luck, and which still meant lucky or fortunate at the time at which those translators decided to translate "eudaimonia" as "happiness") has come to mean something very different indeed. Today, we typically use the word "happy" to mean pleased, content, or satisfied:
quote:
From the New Oxford American Dictionary

happy
adjective ( happier , happiest )
1 feeling or showing pleasure or contentment: Melissa came in looking happy and excited | [ with clause ] : we're just happy that he's still alive | [ with infinitive ] : they are happy to see me doing well.
- [ predic. ] (happy about) having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation): I was never very happy about the explanation | I can't say they looked too happy about it, but a deal's a deal.
- [ predic. ] (happy with) satisfied with the quality or standard of: I'm happy with his performance.
- [ with infinitive ] willing to do something: we will be happy to advise you.
- (of an event or situation) characterized by happiness: we had a very happy, relaxed time.
- [ attrib. ] used in greetings: happy birthday.
2 [ attrib. ] fortunate and convenient: he had the happy knack of making people like him.
3 [ in combination ] informal inclined to use a specified thing excessively or at random: our litigation-happy society.
PHRASES
( as ) happy as a clam ( at high tide )extremely happy.
happy hunting ground a place where success or enjoyment is obtained.
[originally referring to the optimistic hope of American Indians for good hunting grounds in the afterlife.]
ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense 'lucky'): from the noun HAP + -Y(sense 1).

hap |hap| archaic
noun
luck; fortune.
- a chance occurrence, esp. an event that is considered unlucky.
verb ( haps, happing , happed ) [ no obj. ]
come about by chance: what can hap to him worthy to be deemed evil?
- [ with infinitive ] have the fortune or luck to do something: where'er I happ'd to roam.
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old Norse happ .
and so we become easily confused when we start thinking about what Nietzsche, who is very sensitive to the meaning the word "eudaimonia" had when Aristotle used it and who is inclined to use the German word that's standardly used to render "eudaimonia" in German -- "Glück" -- as if it still expressed something like what Aristotle "had in mind," as we say, when he used the word "eudaimonia" as, e.g., when he, Nietzsche, says:
quote:
From Götzen-Dämmerung (i.e., Twilight of the Idols), Chapter 1, section 44

Formel meines Glücks: ein Ja, ein Nein, eine gerade Linie, ein Ziel...


In short: when Nietzsche talks about being happy, he does not mean, as we so often do, feeling good. Here's hoping this clears things up a bit. Let me know if it doesn't.
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Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1422 Posts

Posted - Apr 11 2013 :  11:12:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
David, you say: "I myself have a taste for strokes on pages." Like these, perhaps?
Those are some different strokes!
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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 12 2013 :  11:05:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You got it on the dot, Prof. T. I love the scratching that we are used to in Western culture, however the Chinese language (not sure if the character you posted is Chinese, but it looks like it to me) is especially delightful to my eye. I am taking a CHIN prefix course next semester, 5 credits of that language. Because I think it is a special language.

I really love language and linguistics, you know. Understanding language is key in understanding our thought processes, I think. The study of English linguistics so far is at least a very insightful process, and I have some idea of how Spanish differs, being a competent though somewhat under-practiced user of that language. However, Chinese is one of the oldest languages of all, and it is pictographic, I hear, as opposed to having an alphabet. I tried writing in Chinese, it felt like painting! Though I'm sure there's a grammar, but that doesn't eliminate poetry.

But look, Prof. T, you've gotten me on language, but I would rather answer Brittny's question: Happiness for me, in the sense of satisfaction and pleasure, comes in different forms. There is the joy of becoming more enlightened. The joy of being loved. The joy of making a positive difference. But each specific thing, when fixated on too much, can bring great sadness and despair, I have found. Especially the idea of being loved--for if one want nothing more, and one cannot have this, pain will greet them daily. So I think, what is it about things that make me happy that makes me happy...

And to me the answer is light, spilling endlessly from my deepest depths, light like that of Jesus if you take away the twisted words, light like the Buddha Amitabha. For if I cannot find what I seek, but what light is thrown that we have an illuminated image of that which we do seek. What the image is supposed to be is not here; what you seek is the image, it's in your mind. In this place I am as happy as could be. And then I am reminded of that in this world which pains me, and I am brought back down. Say the object I love but that I cannot have is paraded before me; what is happiness then?

But let us take the word in the sense Prof. T offers us, as he thinks it is more what Nietzsche meant: My daimon allows me to take apart all cause of my displeasure. A daimon which does not flee from the pain, can take it but too much glorify it -- a daimon that sees all the little rich things, but reminds me how little I still know, a reminder which is oft thereafter accompanied by quietude. A daimon that dances with me to the highest in my revelries and intricate ideas. In this sense, I am as happy as could be, for my daimon is gay, noble, wise and sincere. How weak I can be, avoiding this or that, turn away from this or that, complain and sit sadly. My daimon reminds me of everything else outside of my small emotional world, lifting me yet again.

I think of a daimon in this sense as the familiar pushes made by the mind. I sit conversing with other and my daimon says, "don't let them get away with that unsound argument!" I sit under a tree, and soon enough, "the bird, the wind, the sun, drink it in, it's a dancing day." But really I think it's a bit confusing to talk in terms of a daimon, without a concrete definition. I simply do not think of it like a splitting within the mind, but more like a characterization of the dialectic of thought. And so I try to feel out this character, rather than impose my self-image.

So happy sensation is the infinite light. Eudaimonia is having always the brightest lantern. Happy sensation is riding the wind. Eudaimonia is lightness of feet.

But perhaps I have failed. Prof. T, what do you think is the best daimon? And tell me, friends, what is happiness to you?

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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 12 2013 :  9:10:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It would appear the character Professor Trelogan displayed is the kanji for satori. Very nice indeed!
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Nickolaus Lavery
Fledgling

8 Posts

Posted - Apr 19 2013 :  12:26:53 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
All right, I'm very pleased that this has received the amount of attention that it has -- a flaming folder and all! Now, to answer the question: What is happiness to me?

Happiness, to me, is an experience of life to its fullest: a multitude of sensations, a suffering of sufferings, the feeling of joy, a learning, a changing. In short, Life itself is my happiness. Here is a more substantial answer: I enjoy sounds (I am a music education major with emphasis in tuba/trombone performance), I love understanding how things function (which has led to an obsessive exploration of technology: vintage tube amps, speakers, and the Linux computer operating system are just a few of my main curiosities), and finally I spend a good deal of time reading and writing, though about whatever is on my mind at that moment. I appreciate and practice many other 'things' in this life that I call my own, but my ultimate goal is to create a life for myself that I can live with ;-)

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Nickolaus Lavery
Fledgling

8 Posts

Posted - Apr 19 2013 :  12:52:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I only talked about things from which I derive some sort of sensational and fleeting pleasure, but a significant part of my life is suffering -- not self inflicted, but more like the weathering of a storm. However, this forum is not the place for me to discuss the dark parts of my life.

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David Berger
Journeyman

77 Posts

Posted - Apr 19 2013 :  2:18:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It would seem to me, Nikolaus, that you have a healthy spirit!

And happiness as the suffering of sufferings, I have only really just started to explore this deeply myself. And indeed, I find suffering not bad in itself -- however for it to be coincident with the greatest happiness? Well, I see, I see, for all the harder light (or is it the more opaque form?) to darken and sharpen the shadow. In other words, my moments of greatest pleasure are juxtaposed to the greatest suffering. The happiness is not the pleasure itself, but the appreciation of the range of sensation -- that one may live in harmony with one's experience. What is consciousness but the present moment? Happiness is not just to be found in "how far have I come!", but completed by "Lo! I've yet ever farther to go, and not yet do I tire. And who knows how much longer, and what comes over that hill?"

Oh, thank you for sharing with me such an elevating spirit. And let us create lives not just to live with, but to dance with!

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Nickolaus Lavery
Fledgling

8 Posts

Posted - Apr 19 2013 :  2:58:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
David, I've outlined in sharper terms my perspective on happiness on the discussion page associated the writing space for my essay on the wiki. I would be interested to see anyone else's thoughts regarding what I've discussed there so far.

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Edited by - Nickolaus Lavery on Apr 19 2013 2:59:43 PM
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Henry Thomas
Apprentice

22 Posts

Posted - Apr 22 2013 :  7:10:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't think Nietzsche has had a direct impact on my life, but at times what I have learned from reading him may have caused me to think about certain things in a different type of way.

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Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1422 Posts

Posted - Apr 23 2013 :  11:15:53 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Henry, you don't think that something's causing you to think differently about things is tantamount to its having an impact on your life? Does your thinking have that little to do with your life?
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Ryan Crawford
Fledgling

5 Posts

Posted - May 02 2013 :  2:28:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David Berger

Has this study influenced anyone's opinion on the question of whether things can be essentially good or bad, or anything?

I use "things" in the broadest sense, so as to allow for thoughts about anything.


I think the more analytical we get in our perceptions of the "things" that surround us, the more we begin to analyze our own value judgments. For me personally, I have begun to view my surroundings not as "good" or "bad" but to see their value is completely subjective -- a function entirely of how I choose to view them. So I would say that we attach value to things. They do not in themselves own any sort of value until we identify them as having value.

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