Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Being a Philosopher II

It's 3:00 am and I'm sitting in a 24/7 cafe writing and reading. I'm working on a book and reading for the third time Thus Spoke Zarathustra by the brilliant philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. In the back of this edition there are comments by respected scholars and philosophers. I found this one by Harold Alderman particularly interesting:

Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a work of fiction; that is to say it contains no facts or empirical arguments and no metaphysical axioms from which Nietzsche purports to deduce eternal verities. Philosophers, however, have been bothered by the fictional character of Thus Spoke Zarathustra to the point of saying that it is not a work of philosophy; such philosophers apparently do not realize that all philosophy is fiction. For Nietzsche, however, this fact was one of the clearest things about the nature of philosophy; it was so clear that he decide to emphasize the fictional character of philosophy by constructing his major works as a conversation among a number of fictional characters.
There are many people that get terribly bothered by a great many quotes of Nietzsche's; I have never been one of these. His voices are multiple, fictional and profound that cause us to think if nothing else. I often find myself laughing while reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Nietzsche did not take himself very seriously, even though he is most certainly a serious thinker. I find his work humbling and thoughtful. There is great beauty there.

12 comments:

Zendagi Migzara said...

A first timer here... Loved your intro, it has given my brains enough to chew on..

Being a brand..What a thought!! And yes I am gonna pick up this book "Thus spoke Zarathustra"..

judith ellis said...

Zendagi Migzara - I am happy that you popped in and delighted that you like this blog.

Do pick up the book. I must warn you that Nietzsche offends quite a lot of people, especially Christians--of which I am one, Jews--of which my maternal great grandfather was one, and women-- of which I too am one. :-)

Nonetheless, he is a favorite philosopher for many reasons. But do consider yourself duly warned.

Do return.

John O'Leary said...

Judith, discovering Nietzsche was a turning point in my young life. I was pursuing an undergraduate degree in philosophy at the time and couldn't get enough of the madman (especially "The Genealogy Of Morals"). This in turn directed me to an empirical study of recreational pharmaceuticals. (Hey, it was 1967.)

judith ellis said...

Yes, I came to Nietzsche quite early. I may have been introduced to him by one of my brothers. I have also read "The Genealogy of Morals" more than a few times. Great stuff! I was a wee one in the late 60's but I can only imagine that there were many such studies and experiences of "recreational pharmaceuticals." Any conclusions that you'd like to share? :-)

John O'Leary said...

"Any conclusions that you'd like to share?" Well, actually I had many profound insights at the time, which I'm sure would have broken new paradigmatic ground and contributed to the evolution of human consciousness, but....I always forgot them by the next day.

judith ellis said...

John - That's too funny!

allen said...

Here is a link to an article that
discusses possible biological roots for liberal/conservative tendencies.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/opinion/28kristof.html?_r=1

judith ellis said...

Thanks, allen, for the article. While some may be right on, I am not terribly big on such studies that define human characteristics and catergorize us as so. As I not willing to slap my "father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit," I guess I'm a conservative, even though according to the study "for liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm." Could I be a conservative liberal? :-)

allen said...

I consider myself to be a liberal but I cannot actually point to why I feel this way. I'm attracted to the ideas of progessivism, but it is more inate than logical. In my case, logic is usually used to justify how I feel. When I talk to conservatives and they give me the reasons they are conservatives, I sense the same thing happening with them. Their reeasons seem to justify an inate feeling. That is why the article makes sense to me. There also seems to be a diference in how liberals and conservatives respond to the media. There are no liberal Rush Limbaugh shows that have the finantial success of Limbaugh. MSNBC draws about half of what FOX draws. I don't think this is a reflection of the number of liberals and conservatives in the country, I think it is more of how the two types of people respond to media in general. If logic and reason were the basis of political ideology, the Republican Party should be doing much worse than is is doing today. The 'slap in the face' or the 'revolted at disgust' are only behaviors that seem to show a possible divide between the two groups that does not depend on logic. I've seen other studys using similar 'tests' that ask people to think similar behaviors to those listed in the article while looking at MRI's of the subjects brain scan and differences are observed between people who consider themselves liberals and people who consider themselves conservatives. Based on the performance of President Bush over the past 8 years, what logical reason could there be to support Republicans? Yet 30% of the population does, which I think is high given the circumstances.

judith ellis said...

Very thoughtful analysis, allen. Thank you-much appreciated. The difference made between the way liberals and conservatives few the media is interesting. Liberals are often seen as intellectuals who are less likely to follow leaders simply because of their position and conservatives are often seen to be more authoritarian and more willing to follow the leader. If this is accurate, your analysis makes sense in that liberals will turn off the like of Limbaugh and dismiss his rhetoric, and conservatives, though definitely not all, will be more incline to follow the leader, any leader including a Limbaugh. It is the power that attracts and not necessarily the reason. Perhaps this could explain both President Bush and Cheney's ratings considering their past performance as you have pointed out. There is also fearmongering to consider here. If such is not listened to how can it take root?

allen said...

I've seen similar studies that show conservatives are more susceptible to fear mongering than conservatives. The study found that they respond more strongly to 'scary' stories than liberals. The response was based on MRI scans of their brains when they were presented with a scary scenario.

judith ellis said...

You don't say? :-) (An expression which essentially means, whaaaat?)