Out of all the things I could have chosen to write about, for some reason “Twilight of the Idol’s’ caught my eye It was kind of a catchy title, and it was the last thing that Nietzsche wrote that had any merit before he went crazy, although some parts of his philosophy make me think that that isn’t entirely true.
Nietzsche describes Twilight of the Idols as an exploration through the idleness of a psychologist, and a declaration of war against the idols, for they were described by him as being “The most hollow of all beings in which people have the most faith” These essays are divided into the Maxims and Arrows, the problem of Socrates, “Reason” in philosophy, How the “True World” finally Became a Fable, Morality as Anti-Nature, The Four Great Errors, The “Improvers” of Mankind, What the German’s lack, Skirmishes of an Untimely Man, What I Owe to the Ancients, and The Hammer Speaks. Pg. 465 Twilight of the Idols) Maxims And Arrows- Maxims and Arrows is the first part of Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols and probably the most telling. It is written in the form of a list like “Nietzsche’s guide to Life” and goes through his basic philosophy shedding light on ever part of his person, from his hatred towards Christianity to his Misogynistic commentary. He begins by putting it all out on the table in the Maxims and Arrows, a list 44 principles that he lives by and sets the tone for the rest of this portion of his writings.
I have picked 24 themes from this essay that I thought were the most important and revealing of his character. None of these are direct quotes unless indicated otherwise, but paraphrased and put into “English”. (Pgs. 466-473 Twilight of the Idols) 1)Idleness is the beginning of all psychology 2)Even the most courageous only has what he truly knows 3)Truth is simply not a lie 4)Wisdom sets limits to knowledge 5)Is man a mistake of god? Or god a mistake of mans? 6)What does not destroy us will only make us stronger 7)Man does not strive for pleasure; only the Englishman does ) Man has created woman our of a rib of god- His “ideal” 9)We are never understood and therefore we have authority 10)Woman is an attempt to assassinate all our reality and truth 11)Artists want only two things, bread and art 12)Lay will into things, or at least put meaning into them so that one can have faith that they are obeying a “will” 13)Virtue is renouncing “advantages” 14)The perfect woman exudes literature as she does sin and tries so make someone notice her sin.
15)One may not have any sham virtues. One either stands, falls, or runs away 6)”Evil men have no songs” then why do the Russians sing? 17)”German spirit” is a contradiction in terms 18)Contentment protects even against colds if a woman ever caught a cold I’m assuming that she wasn’t dressed. 19)The will to a system is a lack of integrity 20)Women never fathom their depths. 21)There is a hatred of lies and simulation stemming form an easily provoked sense of honor 22)The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit 23)Human beings are the apes of their ideals 24)He who laughs best today will also laugh last. ( Pgs. 67-470) Twilight of the Idols The Problem of Socrates- In this portion, Nietzsche attacks Socrates, Plato, and most of his other predecessors in ancient Greek. At first he approaches the subject by accusing the “wisest men of all ages” of being insane, that their arguments have little to know merit because there is not “fact” or “intelligence” to back them up, and that they should be scrutinized closely. Socrates and Plato exceptionally were “tools of the Greek dissolution” because they both adopted the same negative attitudes towards life and only had value as “symptoms”.
They therefore are no judges because for a philosopher analyzes a problem in the value of life is an objection to him, therefore both Plato and Socrates were decadents and not wise at all. Socrates in particular, belonged to the lowest class according to Nietzsche. His reasons for feeling is way are as follows: First of all he was ugly, and the typical criminal is ugly therefore Socrates was a criminal and a “Swindler of the mind”, Socrates’ decadence suggest anarchy towards the instincts, virtue and happiness is also opposed to all the instincts.
Nietzsche also believed that with Socrates ” a noble taste vanquished with his dialects. ” Because before Socrates dialectic manners were considered bad and compromising, and that the dialectician “makes one furious and helpless at the same time”. He also thought that Socrates turned reason into something that could give him power over the people of Athens, by saying that reason, virtue, and happiness, means merely that one must be like Socrates. In conclusion Nietzsche states, “Socrates was the buffoon who got himself taken seriously” (Pgs. 473-479 Twilight of the Idols) Reason” In Philosophy- This part of Nietzsche’s “Twilight of the Idols” begins with an attack on all the philosophers that came before him. First he stated that all these philosophers lacked historical sense and had an obvious hatred for the idea of becoming, he also states that nothing real had ever come out of these previous philosophers and when these “idolaters” as he calls them, worship something, they kill it so that whatever has being does not become and whatever becomes does not have being because they all had the primitive belief in what has being.
Nietzsche said, “let us free ourselves from the deception of the senses, from becoming, from history, form lies; history is nothing but faith in the senses, faith is lies. ” He believed that everyone who is so enlightened as to believe his philosophy, should refute all who have faith in the senses because they are a “mob” and not to succumb to the fallacies of logic. Almost all of Nietzsche’s predecessors fell under his criticisms except for Hericlitus which whom he held in the utmost regard because he was ” Eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction.
The apparent’ world is the only one: the real world has only been lyingly added. ” Nietzsche then goes on the state that the previous philosophers were alone the introducers of lies, that metaphysics, theology, psychology and epistemology were merely a doctrine of signs, and in them there was no reality. He also argues the idea of a “creator” proclaiming that God is the last, thinnest, and emptiest explanation for creation because it cannot be the cause of itself and the good, the true, and the perfect do not exist.
In the final part of this argument he condenses his insights into 4 theses: 1)The reasons why this world is merely apparent are the same reasons why it is real. 2)The “real world” has been created from a contradiction to the actual world and is a moral-optical illusion. 3)We avenge ourselves against life with a premonition of another better after life. 4)Any distinction between the real and apparent world is only a sign of our declining life, and appearance is only a residue of experience. (Pgs. 479-485 Twilight of the Idols) The History of an Error-
Nietzsche’s “history of an error” is basically a list of what defines the real world, keeping in mind that no Women, Christians, or generally “moral” people are able to comprehend this real or as I see it his Ideal world. The real world as defined by Nietzsche is only obtainable for the virtuous man for he lives in it and is it. The real world is an idea, which is no longer good for anything because it is a “Pandemonium of all free spirits” which this world is seriously lacking. This world does not exist except within the confines of our fictional ” Apparent World. ” (485-486 Twilight of the Idols)
Morality As Anti-Nature- This part of the ” Twilight of the Idols” deals mostly with Nietzsche’s hatred towards the church and its followers. He begins this essay by stating that, ” The church fights passion with its practice its “cure” is castration”. Nietzsche believed that Christianity attacked the roots of passion, the roots of life and that the purpose of the church was to devalue one’s life. He accused Christian followers of being mindless followers to a higher being that did not exist and suppressing their desires and passions in hopes of being therefore accepting by their god.
For example, eh states that “The spiritualization of sensuality is called love: it represents a great triumph over Christianity. ” Nietzsche was also convinced that the church only wanted the destruction of its enemies the Anti-Christians, and that the church became stronger with the growing resistance towards it. His main reason for hating the church however, was because he saw the it as a system in which, life could be fulfilled by a determinant of “shall” and “shall not” and he considered that an anti-natural morality that turns against the instincts of life, therefore he declared god as the enemy of life along with the church.
Nietzsche also disagreed with the “Moralists” as he called them, because he thought that they wanted man to be “different” than he naturally was, and conform to the churches definition of virtue and remake man in their own image, in contrast to immoralists, who have ” made room in their hearts for every kind of understanding” and reject the “holy lunacy of the priests and their diseased reason” (486-492 Twilight of the Idols) The Four Great Errors- “The four great errors” is a list of Nietzsche’s ideas as to what man’s greatest errors were. 1)The error of confusing cause and effect.
This, he considered to be the real corruption of reason, which was embodied by religion and morality. He thought that moral codes were the originators of the corruption of reason. He explains this by stating that every religion and morality is based on rules that you must follow in order to live a happy and fulfilling life, and if one carries out the proper order his virtue will be the effect of his happiness. He concludes this thought be saying, ” Every mistake in every sense is the effect of the degeneration of instinct of the disintegration of the will. ” 2)The error of false Causality.
This is the error of human being believing that we are causal in the act of willing and believing is the conception of a consciousness as a cause or an ego. Nietzsche explains that these motives we create are merely a surface of consciousness alongside the action that do not really serve to represent or excuse the actions, and the ego is doesn’t even exist, there are no mental causes at all. He states that it was an error on behalf of the human race that we created the world on a basis of a world of causes and it was out of him that man created the three “inner facts” of the will, the spirit, and the ego. 3)The Error of Imaginary Causes.
In this essay Nietzsche attacks the desire of human beings to have reason or explanation for their feelings. He sees no reason as to why we should seek a motive for our actions, and claims that when we attempt to explain our feelings we furnish some kind of motivation and come up with casual interpretations and not the real causes, which thus inhibits any investigation into the true cause of our behavior. This, explains Nietzsche, comes from a desire to derive something unknown from something familiar in order to feel, because any explanation is better than none, therefore we search for an explanation to serve as a cause.
He disagrees with this because he feels that “in truth all these supposed explanations are translations of pleasurable or unpleasurable feelings into a false dialect. ” 4)The error of free will. Nietzsche considered “Free will” to be ” the foulest of all theologian’s artificers, aimed at making mankind responsible’ in their sense, that is, dependent upon them. ” He believed that it was man’s desire to judge and punish which caused this, and that the doctrine of the will was invented for the soul purpose of punishment and wants to impose guilt on others.
He said that the originators of this were the priests who wanted to create for them a right to punish. The immoralist Doctrine was Nietzsche’s attempt at correcting these four basis wrongs of mankind. In this he states “the truth” that no one gives man his qualities, and no one is responsible for man’s being. In reality, he believed that there is no end, there is nothing, which can judge our being, and nobody is held responsible for anything. Man is not the effect or creating of a purpose or the object of an attempt to attain an “ideal” human race. We deny god, we deny the responsibility in God: only thereby do we redeem the world. ” (Pgs. 492-501 Twilight of the Idols) The “Improvers” Of Mankind- In this section of “Twilight of the Idols” Nietzsche discusses his feelings on morals and how unfairly they are imposed on the masses by the church and other religions. He also shares his opinions on race and in its relation with morality and religion. Nietzsche thought that the philosopher should take a perspective that is beyond good and evil, and that the illusion of moral value is beneath the philosopher.
He thought that there was no such thing as moral facts and moral judgments were ” believing in realities which are no realities”, and that morals are just a personal interpretation of the phenomena of like. He considered all moral judgments to be ignorant and should not be taken literally because they always have an element of “absurdity”. According to Nietzsche, morality was created to “improve” man, the “improver being a priest who ” neither knows anything or wants to know anything. Through this “improvement” people are weakened and through fear, depression, and pain they become sinners full of hatred towards life and suspicion “in short” says Nietzsche ” a Christian. The church as he sees it ruined man, it “weakened” him and then is said to have “improved” upon him. Another form of “morality he disagreed with was the breeding of a particular race and kind. He argues that the concept of “pure blood” becomes internalized where it becomes religion, “hatred as the religion of love” he felt, was the biggest problem with these “improvers of mankind”. Pgs. 501-505 Twilight of the Idols) What the Germans lack- In this portion Nietzsche takes issue with the German people as a culture, criticizing their apparent lack of spirit, politics, and basic level of intelligence, and of course their religion of choice. Nietzsche believed that once the German’s had been deemed “The people of thinkers” they stopped thinking entirely, they became bored with spirit, and politics, ending all of German philosophy.
He felt that the German’s had deliberately made themselves stupid with the “two great European narcotics”, which were alcohol and Christianity. He saw the German spirit becoming cruder, its culture declining, and the state as a modern idea where one lives off the other and thrives at the expense of another, he saw them as being incapable of seriousness and no longer worthy of consideration. “I should become completely enigmatic of German readers. “(Pgs. 505-564 Twilight of the Idols) Skirmishes of an Untimely Man-
The Skirmishes of an Untimely man, is like a “Nietzsche rant” if you will, condemning just about every other philosopher I think he could think of. In this part he lists 51 philosophers for which he holds some kind of contempt and criticizes all of them. This is a brief overview of his “impossible ones”(These are not direct quotes unless indicated otherwise) Seneca – the obliterator of virtue, and a supporter of morals Dante- “writes poetry in tombs” Kant- he is defined as “intelligible” in both philosophy and character
Victor Hugo- conducts everything that is nonsensical Liszt- merely a smooth talker George Sand – has a “beautiful style” but nothing else Carlyle: Nietzsche refers to him and his writings as ” a poorly digested dinner” Stuart Mill- an insult to clarity Zola- the epitome of stupidity (Pgs. 465-513 Twilight of the Idols) What I owe to the ancients- After insulting most of his contemporaries, Nietzsche goes on to discuss the ancients For the Greeks, Nietzsche held the most contempt, because they meant so little in comparison to the Romans.
He was skeptical of Plato because he thought that Plato threw all the stylistic philosophic forms together and was therefore completely decadent in style, not to mention ” self-satisfied and childish in his kind of dialect. ” He thought that Plato represented an abnormality from the basic instincts, Nietzsche preferred Thucydides and Machiavelli’s principles, because they did not “sell out”, if you will, to see reason in reality, not “reason” or “morality” and their courage is what distinguishes them from the rest of the ancients. (Pgs. 13-556 Twilight of the Idols) The Hammer Speaks- The conclusion to the “Twilight Of The Idols” is the poem, which inspires Nietzsche to write it. The Hammer Speaks: “Why so hard? ” The kitchen coal once said to the diamond. ” After all are we not close kin? ” Why so soft? O my brothers, thus I ask you: are you not after my brothers? Why so soft, so pliant and yielding? Why is there so much denial, self-denial, in your hearts? Why so little destiny in your eyes? And if you do not want to be destinies and inexorable ones, how can you one day triumph with me?
And if your hardness does not wish to flash and cut and cut though, how can you one day create with me? For all creators are hard. And it must seem blessedness to you to impress your hand on millennia as on wax, Blessedness to write on the will of millennia as on bronze-harder than bronze. Only the noblest is altogether hard. This new table, O my brothers I place over you: become hard! – Zarathustra, III (Pgs. 556-563 Twilight of the Idols) Conclusion- Ok, so Nietzsche was a little crazy. But at least he disliked everyone the same, except of course for himself which whom he adored.
Misogynistic, anti-Christ, and anti-moralist, Nietzsche seems to come across as hostile and bigoted. However, overlooking those aspects of his personality, his philosophy is quite relevant. His rebellious iconoclastic attitude towards life relates so closely with some of my contemporaries like Johnny Rotten and Jell-O Biafra, and I can see his angst-ridden melancholy engaging many disgruntled teenagers of the future. Aside from punk rockers and teenyboppers, Nietzsche had a great influence on German as well as French literature and theology.