Doug 08.28.07 18.6 (16)
1. All books are really about nothing, according to Neumann. That is his insight.
2. Neumann is an emeritus at Scripps College.
3. He (Nietzsche) said there was no inherent meaning. But I guess that's what you meant.
4. "Emptying the void"? The void is already empty. Indeed, that is what "void" means.
5. You still distinguish between "natural" and "unnatural" activity. I would say that all activity is unnatural in the sense that it is a revolt against nothingness, which is natural. Activity presupposes a teleology. For it presupposes a will, and a will presupposes a goal. On the other hand, all activity is natural, as it too is nothing. "Others", "God" - they are all empty.
1. This makes me wonder why Neumann wrote "Liberalism" or any other book. The only reason that comes to mind is that he wrote about nothing, to fill the void.
2. I would still look him in the eye, not worship the "nothing" on which he seems to stand.
3. Are you absolutely certain Nietzsche said, "There is no meaning in life."? Or is it possible he looked around at what was happening and said, "In this life I see no meaning."
4. Indeed, "void" does mean empty. However, as far as I know "the void" is simply an unknown answer and for whatever reason, it seems we humans do not like unknowns. We have an extensive history of putting theories into the unknowns in the physical world then testing these theories and discovering facts that fit perfectly into the space of a previous unknown. I am bewildered that you seem to suggest we can not apply this technique to the unknown in the metaphysical world. Unless you can tell me why we can not try to fill the metaphysical void in precisely the same way we plug theories into physical unknowns, I will continue to suggest that is what our ancestors have done and we continue to do, tragically without gaining the knowledge the void can not be filled. The evidence seems clear the consequence of trying to fill the void is self-destruction; thus I suggest to save ourselves we must empty the void of all the ways we try to fill it. In my view emptying the void will not result in the appearance of an incomprehensible body/mind/spirit disintegrating black hole. Rather, the void will be left behind while an expanse of "white emptiness" on which we record self-realization, appears ahead.
5.This attempt to clarify your understanding of natural and unnatural has left me utterly confused. The confusion could be due to my philosophical deficiency. However, I don't accept it is my fault I am unable to understand why I am not allowed to define as natural the activity that transforms the first single cell of a human being into an adult form, to suggest it is theoretically possible for natural activity to be our only activity through life and to define a unnatural all activity that diminishes natural activity. Granted, these definitions could be against some conceived law of philosophy; but because my definitions are biological and though they presuppose the specific purpose of realizing our innate genetically determined capacities, laws of philosophy do not apply. All these words explaining how everything is nothing and nothing is natural have IMO nothing to do with life.
Doug 09.09.07 9.101 (16)
Ierrellus, I have been really busy lately. Forgive me for responding to four of your posts in one of mine. I like to respond to all posts in order. I can't remember why I did not reply to your first post before.
There seems to be some good rigor going on here lately. I can only add my own insights to it. First, Doug, any decent, enclopedia of philosophy could have saved you much time in exploring the meanings of the word "soul". The one I have at home has a great article about the word, finding its various meanings in philosophy from the preSocratics onward. Meanings of the word are not totally religious. Second, about illusion, you know me as one who argues for a physical description of human reality, often against all odds. "Nature abhors a vacuum." In other words, in our physical existence we all share there are no voids. The concept of a void is mental, is a natural consideration of organisms with prefrontal cortexes, who see the unknown as sometimes unknowable. No voids exist in nature. Why they exist as concepts in minds is the real problem here. And about the wheel of perspectives-- we are travellers through time embedded in recurrent cycles. Our personal perspectives on reality amount to what POV we have from our positions on the wheel. Agreed, the "reaching out to 'God'", to some imagined absolute or closure, is the most problematic assumption in the OP.
I didn't consider my search for "soul" a waste of time. I wasn't looking for meaning as much as for how long the concept had been part of our vocabulary and at what point someone decided it needed to be saved. When I learned "soul" is a very recent branch off the concept of spirit that seems to be rooted in the birth of humanity, my post became one about spirit.
I agree completely that the "concept of a void is mental". I am as mystified as you are when considering the reason the concept exists. Will we ever know why we ask questions that discover missing answers? Will we ever know why we propose answers to fill the voids we discover when we ask questions? Indeed, in the physical 'world' missing answers will be found to fill the voids in our knowledge. However, I maintain no comparable answer will be found to fill the void in the metaphysical 'world' when we ask "the last why"; and our problems arise from our efforts to fill this metaphysical void.
Your "wheel of perspectives" left my head spinning.
If you see "reaching out to God" being to some "imagined absolute or closure" then that is problematic. In my view "reaching out to God is intended to keep "reaching out..." open, to convey absolute, as in unrestricted, freedom "to reach out..."
I thought I had nothing more to add to this conversation until I took on reading a MS given to me for critique by a beginning writer. As an aside here, I found the MS had great ideas expressed poorly. Now I hesitate to correct these problems of expression because when I tried to do that here, I was accused of being a stoic asshole. My dear mentor once was approched by a student who asked her advice about a poem. My mentor said that the poem would be better if certain words were changed. The student said that nothing needed changing. The poem flowed. My mentor replied, "So does diahrrea, but that doesn't make it good."
Anyway, I find no such fault in your expressions here. So, with considerations of the poor writer who put his MS in my hands and from my own reading, I'd like to state Sartre's concept of the void. According to S. life has neither meaning nor value since ultimate values do not exist.
We therefore approach the void with nausea, knowing that any idea we might have about it is meaningless. This is supposed to make us face our ultimate responsibilty as beings who are free to color reality as we choose, realizing only that our personal colorations affect all other humans who are trying to do the same thing! A physical perspective finds creations of meaning and value to be part and parcel of human evolution. Nietzsche toyed with physical explanations of reality so long as they did not contradict the overman outcome he so desired!
I too smiled at your mentor's comment.
Your reference to Sartre also "added to this conversation". I read something of Sartre's about 35 years ago but I can't remember what. It is probably in a box somewhere. Anyway, I searched "Sartre" and "void" and read a newspaper article he wrote in defense of existentialism. He didn't mention "the void" and I found his writing thick but not impenetrable so he expanded somewhat my understanding of his philosophy.
If your characterization of how Sartre saw "the void" is accurate, it is reassuring to know that with a little work, he and I could be on common ground. According to your interpretation it seems Sartre is talking about "reaction to the void". I would agree that we are ultimately responsible for our existence. Recall in my O.P. I suggested our individual activities are 'threads' we weave into a "fabric of existence" that becomes the existence of humanity, my way of saying what we do "affects all other humans". I then go on to suggest there are two types of 'threads', the clear natural and colored unnatural; and that our present "personal colorations" have created a fabric of humanity that is a self-destructive "mass of clashing colors".
I don't know what Sartre would say to this. Perhaps he would just shrug and say, "C'est la vie." I like to think it is possible to change our fabric of existence by replacing "colored threads" with "clear". It then seems to me the self-realizing natural activity of reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God makes sense in contrast to the self-destructive unnatural activity of trying to fill the void. However, "sense" is somewhat equivalent to "meaning" and being an existentialist, I'm not sure how Sartre would react to my association of the word "meaning" with life.
Our star, the sun, does atomic explosions constantly, hence these are natural. What is unnatural is holding such energy over the heads of others in order to get them to come to our way of thinking. Or is this naturally human? It is the premeditated use of energy for destruction that is the problem, not the energy as it naturally exists. As usual, the motive sucks, not the means of expressing it.
As for Muggeridge, I once read his ideas about Tolstoy's final days of madness and concluded that it was M. who lacked understanding, not the man driven mad by pitting his own personal-substantiation beliefs against a realization of a universe that appears oblivious to human values. M. was offended by the supposed egocentric stench of madness, not considering that any disease, physical/mental, draws one into oneself where pain overwhelms.
I have found the unnatural computer a very useful tool in my efforts to engage in the natural activity of "reaching out to the limits of my capacities, to others and to God." I don't think God has an IP address though. I have received no emails.
As for Muggeridge, he was incidental to a further speculation about "spirit". Thanks for not going further away from "spirit" by suggesting I search "Mother Teresa and fraud".
About nihilism--Nietzsche really swatted that fly. One says yes to life or no to it.
I have recently come to appreciate Nietzsche. A couple weeks ago I was distracted by a few exchanges with a 'philosopher' on her blog. In one I learned "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", "Beyond Good and Evil" and "The Will to Power" were not the only books attributed to Nietzsche. Apparently he wrote "The Gay Science" a book of poetry.
Phaedrus 09.10.07 81.1 (16)
Most of Nietzsche is poetry- it really only makes sense when viewed that way.
_____________con'd @ 81.2
Doug 10.29.07 81.2 (16)
My appreciation of Nietzsche increased as a result of conversations I had with Sauwelios. I found conversations useful because in discussing N. I was able to further illuminate my view. In one,
S. wrote: Did Nietzsche have no impact on humanity?
D. wrote: You are the undisputed expert on Nietzsche. You tell me. I am not aware of living under the influence of Nietzsche. If I am being forced to make an assessment I would say Nietzsche had the impact of a neutrino hitting earth. Jesus and Mohamed on the other hand each had the impact of an atomic bomb. Even after about 2000 and 1500 years respectively we are still being contaminated by the fallout. I really would be interested in knowing what impact you think Nietzsche has had on the life of humanity. If the advances in technology in the last 100 years do not greatly favour Nietzsche over Jesus or Mohamed, compare him to Martin Luther. Can you nail anything to a wall Nietzsche has written that had the impact of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517? I wouldn't bet on it but I would suggest that even Martin Luther had a greater impact on humanity in the 100 years after he published his theses than Nietzsche has had in the 100 years since he published "The Will to Power"; and in 1517 the printing press was only 77 years old.
S. wrote: Read Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind".
A well-known Dutch writer once said that Nietzsche's influence is immeasurable.
D. wrote: I must admit I initially greeted your response with mild derision. I had asked for an indication of N's impact on humanity from the guy who I think can probably quote chapter and verse in 3 languages everything that N wrote and he tells me to read "The Closing of the American mind" by a writer I have never heard of; and then he wants me to believe one unnamed "well known Dutch writer (who) once said that N's influence is immeasurable". So I struggled all day Friday with thoughts of whether or not to respond and if so whether or not to respond with a short note of sarcasm that would include wondering if the "well known writer" was you. After deciding I would respond, I listened for the remainder of the day to one little red guy with horns shouting sarcastic remarks in the 'wrong ear' and a little white guy with a halo whispering "No" in the right ear. The little guy on the right side was the only one standing Saturday morning. So after starting my computer I searched "Will to Power", and I know it is going to be a shock to the heart of someone who reads N in the original German, but when Wikipedia opened on my screen I read away following links for about two and half hours.
When I finished I felt a slightly increased feeling of empowerment in the connotation I gather N would have approved for I got the impression the popular use of the word "empowerment" might be derived from N's "WTP". I also found 11 references that indicate a measurable impact of N's ideas on popular culture. Apparently there was a TV series called Andromeda that had genetically engineered "super men" protagonists who were called "Nietzscheans" that antagonists referred to derogatorily as Ubers. In addition, the TV series X-Files had a character in one of its shows that was called an Ubermenschen. I wouldn't have gotten the references but millions probably did. Then there was the hint that Hitler borrowed the notion of superior race from N. That was my impression as well but as I continued to read I sensed N would have considered all three representations of his Ubermensch gross distortions of his ideas. We might also give N credit for popularizing the notion that God is dead; but I don't think N was responsible for killing God. I think religious leaders killed God long before N; and the death of God was confirmed the moment someone coined the word "theology" and pinned their notions of God to a board, to be studied like a dead butterfly. Finally, though separate from indications of his impact, I found it interesting that N did not write the "Will to Power". The first edition was cut and pasted together by his sister and there was a suggestion the consensus is that had N presented his ideas about the "WTP" in an opus, he would not have called it "TWP".
Now I know I am making a hasty conclusion after reading for only 2 1/2 hours but I believe if N and I discussed our views for a couple hours more we would find considerable common ground. My understanding of what I read is that N's WTP has nothing to do with feeling superior and everything to do with feeling alive. Though he objected to Schopenhauer’s "will to live", I suspect N would have objected less to translating his WTP to "will to feel alive". Until Saturday everything I'd read in the N threads here left me with the impression writers thought his "power" was a force to be wielded over others but after my search which included this revealing quote from Nietzsche that you left,
"I have found strength where one does not look for it: in simple, mild, and pleasant people, without the least desire to rule—and, conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak (in the end, they still become the slaves of their followers, their fame, etc.) The powerful natures dominate, it is a necessity, they need not lift one finger."
I believe N's idea of power is more akin to the 'electricity of life' we seek to plug into which I find agreeable. We also seem to agree that both the will to feel alive and the capacity to experience this "power” are universal.
In all that I read which I acknowledge may not have been enough, nowhere did I find that N suggested where we get the "power" we have the "will to". If he had no definite idea I would tell him that in my view that we are body/mind/spirit in reaction to the void I could easily equate "power" with "spirit" but that I'll use "spirit" because of its history. Then I would suggest we generate spirit with the natural activity of reaching out to the limits of our capacities, to others and to God. At this point I could imagine Fred saying, "Nein, Nein! Nein Gott!" To this objection I would reply, "Forget all the theological theory none of which can be substantiated anyway and allow God to be at least the possibility we reach out to in becoming Ubermensch. If you don't, 85% of humanity will not listen to the rest of your views. Besides, if you want to have an "over-man" there has to be 'room' above men."
Another part of our views that might be difficult to reconcile is the apparent division between Ubermensch and "Last Man". Before I could even begin we would have to agree on definitions. Ubermensch would be pretty straight forward. In my view I call natural activity the ideal reaction to the void and so I would see an Ubermensch generating maximum spirit (power) by exclusively reaching out to the limits of their capacities, to others and to God, virtually oblivious to the void. Thus Ubermensch would be ideal people. "Last Man" would be more problematic. Apparently N was a notoriously poor writer so had he written in English I would suggest early transcribers mistook an "a" for an "o" because for me "Lost Man" would be a much more accurate description of the opposite to Ubermensch.
Lost persons do not exist in my view since the opposite of the "ideal people" would be people without spirit and in my view I've made a measure of the natural activity that generates spirit, a condition of life; but we can use the concept as a theoretical end. In my reading of N Saturday I didn't see that he stated the reason for being lost. However, somewhere in an ILP thread you mentioned concepts of natural and unnatural. If these pertain to activity then perhaps N and I could agree that a "lost person" would be someone who engaged exclusively in the unnatural activity of trying to fill the void, a reaction to the void that being devoid of "reaching out...: is therefore absolutely restrictive, without life.
In all the interpretations I have read in ILP threads the writers seemed to convey the impression they thought N postulated "Lost Man" and a separate elite class of Ubermensch. If he was absolutely convinced of this separation then at this point our views would be irreconcilable because rather than separation I see a continuum created by individuals engaging in blended activity that is a measure of natural activity and a complementary measure of unnatural activity. If the measure of natural activity in our blend is greater than the measure of unnatural activity, then we will be more ideal than lost, and the greater the amount of natural activity the more ideal we will be. Conversely, if the measure of unnatural activity is greater than the measure of natural activity then we will be more lost than ideal and the greater the amount of unnatural activity the more lost we will be. For me it is not all and none but some of each respectively.
Though we have individual blends I do not see separate lives. Our individual blends of activity combine to form a resultant blend that characterizes humanity. My interpretation of current events is that unnatural activity, our efforts to fill the void, dominate our resultant activity. The resulting technological advances notwithstanding I suggest we are more lost than humanity was at the time N wrote about "Last Man" and suggested the need for Ubermensch. I sense our resultant spirit diminishing with the less and less "reaching out to the limits of our capacities..." that is resulting in the "closing of the human mind". Although I haven't read "Bloom" I suspect that since you implied N had an impact on him I will guess his advice to humanity is the same as N's which I gather was to "destroy" all the restrictions that prevent us from becoming Ubermensch. My advice will have the same result; it just sounds less violent and anarchic. I suggest the only way we will save ourselves from eventual absolute restrictions and self-destruction is to empty the void of all the ways we try to fill it, which would allow natural activity to dominate and thus allow us to become ideal. During the process some will be above the median of the resultant and pull it toward the ideal; that is the nature of a resultant. However, those that rise above can not be separate from the resultant. We all shit in the same toilet; that is the law of nature.
I hope I have interpreted N accurately and without bias for with this interpretation I feel a connection with him that did not exist last Friday. If I am accurate, please don't be offended by me telling you I won't be helping to spread the gospel of N. I believe even N would agree with me that would be no different than me helping my sister spread the gospel of Christianity. Both would restrict me from reaching out to the limits of my capacities, to others and to God as much as possible within the limits of our resultant activity. I know I can't become Ubermensch unless we all become "ideal" but I would like to continue trying.
_____________con'd @ 81.3