on this page

Or send us an email




Application form




Pathways programs

Letters to my students

How-to-do-it guide

Essay archive

Ask a philosopher

Pathways e-journal

Features page

Downloads page

Pathways portal



Pathways to Philosophy
Home



Geoffrey Klempner CV
G Klempner



International Society for Philosophers
ISFP site







PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS electronic journal

[home]



P H I L O S O P H Y   P A T H W A Y S                   ISSN 2043-0728
http://www.philosophypathways.com/newsletter/

Issue number 42
6th October 2002

CONTENTS

I. 'Nietzsche's Visionary Values--Genius or Dementia?' by Richard Schain

II. 'Continental Community of Inquiry' Edited and Introduced by
    Matthew Del Nevo

III. Friedrich Nietzsche: Culture and Education

-=-

I. 'NIETZSCHE'S VISIONARY VALUES--GENIUS OR DEMENTIA?' BY RICHARD SCHAIN

Opinions about the merits of the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche have varied
greatly during the century following his death in the year 1900. He had already
achieved cult status in Germany at the time of his death and it was possible for
his devoted friend Peter Gast to end an effusive oration at Nietzsche's
gravesite by saying, "Peace be on your ashes! Holy be your name to all future
generations!" The continuous outpouring of books about Nietzsche, the existence
of numerous Nietzsche societies all over the world and the prevalence of his
writings in bookstores indicates that, while his memory may not have reached
the level of a religious icon, there remains an enduring interest in his ideas.
But there is another viewpoint about Nietzsche. Anacleto Verrechia, one of his
many biographers, expressed the view that excessive interest in Nietzsche is a
type of sickness in itself. A London bookseller during the First World War
called that disastrous conflict the Euro-Nietzschean War. The Nazi era has been
regarded by many as having its intellectual origin in the ideas of Nietzsche and
in 1981 an issue of 'Der Spiegel' carried a cover page with a gun-wielding
Hitler back to back with a reflective Nietzsche. The caption read, "Tater
Hitler, Denker Nietzsche" (perpetrator Hitler, thinker Nietzsche).

To what can this enduring fascination with Nietzsche's ideas--his ethics one
might say because most of Nietzsche's thoughts represent his own unique
ethics--to what can this fascination be attributed? He has often been described
as a master of German prose style but he is rarely read because of his stylistic
brilliance, which besides does not translate easily into other languages. His
concepts are hardly those that would command him a wide audience, for example,
the will to power, the relativity of values, Christianity as the bete noire of
European civilization, his notions of the 'Ubermensch', the ultimate political
incorrectness in our day as well as his. He mocked the principal metaphysical
dogma of western culture--the belief in God--and went a step beyond Heine in
sarcasm by saying that God was not only made sick by his creative product man,
but had died of grief over man's condition. He would have nothing to do with
ideas of immortality, separateness of soul or any kind of revelatory knowledge.
But he was no more entranced with scientific materialism, which he saw as the
manifestation of limited and self-serving minds. Socialists and nationalists he
viewed as simple-minded 'canaille'. He thought compassion to be the principal
danger to a developed mind. His comments about the female sex are best left
unreported. For all these ideas, he has been regarded as the ultimate nihilist
of Europe. Nihilism is rarely a point of view that attracts many adherents.

Then why, one may ask, does Nietzsche continue to attract such interest a
century after his death. I submit that it is because he is the individualist
par excellence --existentialist, one might say--who was committed to the
primacy of the mind in all its dimensions and demanded the development of its
potential. The noble soul, he stated, has reverence for itself. The Ubermensch
to Nietzsche is not the man of political or military might, not a scientist or
a scholar, not a religious leader and certainly not a plutocrat; he is a
superior personality whose superiority resides in the workings of his mind. The
cultural traditions within which individuals are so prone to become entangled
are relegated by him to the category of traps for the unwary. One has to
recognize the enormous difference in reading about Nietzsche and reading
Nietzsche himself. Scholarly commentators who analyze his works give their
judgements within the context of scholarly analysis. But Nietzsche reveals his
inner self while still retaining an intellectual awareness. He writes with his
blood to use his own phrase. Walter Kaufmann said that Nietzsche creates his
own special world in the tension between analysis and existentialism. His
thoughts, intuitions, dislikes and positive passions are expressed personally.
The reader who experiences his Geist, his spirit--the German term is more
inclusive--has made contact with a writer who has risen above the trappings of
society and is communicating his own uniquely personal perspectives. Such an
author is very rare. It is not surprising that he inspires both extreme
positive and extreme negative feelings in his readers.

During the first week of 1889, while living in Turin, the forty-four year old
Nietzsche suffered a total nervous breakdown. He had been exhibiting some signs
of nervous instability in the previous months but the abruptness and severity of
his breakdown surprised his family and few friends. Franz Overbeck, his faithful
former colleague from his Basel days as professor of philology journeyed to
Turin to provide assistance. In a fateful judgement, Overbeck decided to bring
him back to Basel and arranged for his admission to a local institution for the
mentally deranged. After a few days of observing Nietzsche, who was by then
totally manic in his behavior, the chief psychiatrist made the diagnosis of
'Progressive Paralyse', general paresis in English. This diagnosis was
sustained by the physicians who subsequently cared for him and has been
accepted by those concerning themselves with Nietzsche's medical history.
Fourteen months after his institutionalization, he was released to the care of
his mother. Gradually he sunk into a total apathy. His mind, to use a term from
Emil Kraepelin, father of German psychiatry, had become a devastated field. He
died ten years later.

It is necessary to say a few words about the diagnosis general paresis. It
refers to the development of dementia and loss of motor functions in an
otherwise well adult, usually in his middle years. Megalomania, agitation and
delusions of grandeur may be associated features, symptoms that many thought
fitted Nietzsche perfectly. Paresis was one of the most common diagnoses during
the nineteenth century among patients admitted to mental institutions. One might
compare its importance then with that of schizophrenia today. It was only late
in the nineteenth century that it was recognized that individuals with general
paresis usually revealed a history of syphilitic infection, although this
occurred many years before the onset of the general paresis. It might be
compared with the temporal relationship of AIDS to HIV infection. Now it is
regarded as a late manifestation of syphilis due to spirochetal infestation of
the brain. Strangely, paresis is a very rare disorder today, although the same
is not true of syphilis as a disease entity.

Nietzsche's diagnosis of syphilitic brain disease was known during his life
only to the few physicians involved with his care. Nothing had been said to the
family. It was not until 1902, two years after his death, that a long article
was published by the noted neuropsychiatrist Paul Mobius which let the cat out
of the bag. It was entitled "Nietzsche's Pathology" and revealed that Nietzsche
had suffered with general paresis, a disease of the brain. Mobius did not
mention the word syphilis, which carried the same social stigma then as it does
now. However, given the association of paresis with syphilis, Nietzsche's
detractors were soon able to label him as a syphilitic.

The major part of Mobius' monograph analyzed Nietzsche's writings with the
purpose of showing how they were affected by his brain disease. This method of
literary analysis came to be known by the name of "pathography", an approach
that was used by Mobius and others for the enlightenment of readers. He
believed that all of Nietzsche works published after 1880, virtually
encompassing his entire output as an independent philosopher, showed the
effects of general paresis. Later, pathographic writers did not necessarily
believe that Nietzsche's writing was adversely affected by spirochetes in the
brain; on the contrary, it was proposed by some that a "disinhibition" was
induced allowing free flow of Nietzsche's thoughts. Today, no serious student
of the effects of brain damage would subscribe to this view.

Subsequent to the pronouncements of Nietzsche's psychiatrists and later ones
who concurred with the diagnosis, much information has become available that
casts serious doubt on the diagnosis and, in fact, makes the existence of
syphilitic brain disease in Nietzsche highly unlikely.[1] The widespread
availability of blood tests for syphilis after 1913 forever altered the
diagnosis of this condition. It became evident that general paresis was an over
diagnosed disorder. The psychiatric manifestations once thought to be specific
for paresis revealed themselves to be present in many other psychiatric
disorders. With the advent of laboratory testing, the diagnosis of paresis
became more and more infrequent until its virtual disappearance in current
times.

Furthermore, there are a number of features in Nietzsche mental illness that
contradicts a diagnosis of organic brain disease of any type. The writings of
1888, Nietzsche's last year of creative literary activity, reveal the presence
of exceptional cognitive capacity at a time when spirochetes were supposed to
be devouring his brain cells. The hallmark of organic brain disease is the loss
of cognitive capacities. 'Ecce Homo', completed just before his breakdown,
displays a lucid and vigorous thought content and is composed with Nietzsche's
usual masterful prose style. For example:

     "Whoever knows how to breathe the air of my writings knows
     that it is an air of heights, a strong air. One must be
     made for it, otherwise there is no small danger to become
     chilled by it. The ice is near, the solitude is
     immense--but how calm lies everything in the light! How
     free one breathes! How much one feels to be below oneself.
     Philosophy, as I have until now understood and lived it, is
     the voluntary life in ice and high mountains--the seeking
     out of everything strange and questionable in existence,
     everything that up to now has been banned by morality. From
     long experience with such wandering in the forbidden, I
     discovered that the fundamental causes, which up to now has
     given rise to moralizing and idealizing, seem very different
     than might be expected: the concealed history of the
     philosophers, of the great names in psychology, was
     revealed to me. How much truth can a mind endure, how much
     can a mind dare? Increasingly for me, that has become the
     real measure of value. Error is not blindness, error is
     cowardice...every accomplishment, every step forward in
     knowledge follows from courage, from strength in oneself,
     from purity toward oneself."

Whatever one may think Nietzsche's metaphors and ideas, and the hyperbole
present on virtually every page of 'Ecce Homo', it cannot be denied that he was
in charge of his material.

There were other features of his illness that did not fit the diagnosis of
general paresis. These were the extremely slow progression of his disorder
beyond the experiences of the time and the absence of dysarthria and other
motor losses characteristic of paresis. Nietzsche's physicians were aware of
these discrepancies but preferred to believe that Nietzsche was an atypical
case.

There can be little doubt of how Nietzsche would have been managed by
psychiatrists of today. He would have been diagnosed with manic depressive
psychosis (current terminology uses the less meaningful term bipolar disease).
He would have been loaded with drugs from the armamentarium of psychotropic
medications, which no doubt would have suppressed some of the more bizarre
symptoms that he displayed during his fourteen months of institutionalization.
If, in spite of medications, Nietzsche continued to show signs of psychosis,
his diagnosis would have been changed to chronic schizophrenia, a common switch
in long term manifestations of psychosis. In either case, Nietzsche's unique
creative life would have come to an end, as it did in the actual course of his
illness.

However, facile utilization of psychiatric jargon does not explain anything in
the case of Nietzsche. One is still left with the question: what happened to
Nietzsche? I believe that one must look to his life not to his brain to
understand what happened to him. Nietzsche had broken with all his
professional, family and social connections. He was single, lived alone in
constantly changing circumstances, had no friends in his vicinity and possessed
an inadequate grasp of the languages spoken where he lived. Additionally, he had
a severe visual handicap that significantly interfered with his life. His small
income was increasingly precarious. Added to all these pressures was his mode
of thought, which was idiosyncratic to an extreme. He had created values that
set himself against the entire cultural and religious framework of his era. The
ever-increasing sarcasm and hyperbole of his writings reveal the extreme tension
within which he lived. Franz Overbeck, who knew him best, commented that his
whole life was a preparation for madness.

Thus what is surprising is not that Nietzsche lost contact with reality but
that the break took as long as it did to occur. But the fact that he could not
sustain his equilibrium does not mean that his thoughts expressed prior to the
breakdown can be discounted as the megalomania of one with brain disease.
Nietzsche valued the creative capacities of the human mind. A key to this value
system can be found in a passage in 'Beyond Good and Evil' in the section
entitled, 'What is Noble'.

     "The greatest events and thoughts--but the greatest
     thoughts are the greatest events--are comprehended last;
     the generations that are contemporaneous with them do not
     experience such events--they live right past them."

Perhaps the best commentary on Nietzsche was written by Ralph Waldo Emerson
before Nietzsche was born. "Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on
this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has
broken out in a great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will
end." Nietzsche had read Emerson and used one of his sentences as an epigraph
for the first edition of 'The Gay Science'.

One should not make an idol of Nietzsche nor did he wish to become one. He had
character faults, he could be boastful, deceptive and self-pitying. Amor fati
for him was a goal to be sought, not a part of his normal temper. Ultimately
the discrepancy between Nietzsche's ideals and the realities of his psychic
structure became so great that he collapsed into psychosis. He should not be
regarded as a martyr but as a human being whose personal capacities could not
keep pace with his aspirations. He is more Icarus than Satan or Jesus, his life
proves that there are limits to one's capacity to create oneself in an
integrated manner. But madness fascinated Nietzsche. He refers to it over and
over again in his writings and regarded it as a necessary condition for
spiritual progress in society. He did recognize the price to be paid. In a
letter to a friend in July 1888, six months before his breakdown, Nietzsche
commented: "I have given men the deepest book they possess, my
Zarathustra...however, how one must atone for that! Must pay for it! It almost
ruins one's character. The cleft has become too great. Since then I really only
carry on clowning (Possenreisserei) in order to keep control over an unbearable
tension and vulnerability."

Henry David Thoreau whose life and thoughts have many similarities to
Nietzsche's--albeit Thoreau possessed a more integrated personality--observed
that most men live lives of quiet desperation. It is unlikely that his
judgement would be different today. Perhaps this is why so many individuals
resonate empathetically with Nietzsche whose desperate state is clearly
manifest in his writings. The problems of Nietzsche are still the problems of
today. Of course, there are not many who suffer with them as much as Nietzsche
did just as there are few who possess his genius and capacity for
self-expression. The focus of western societies--particularly U.S.A.
society--is often on a self-serving "ethics" indiscriminately imposed on
others. But in the long run according to Max Weber, founder of scientific
sociology, the only really significant factor in human society is the free,
value-creating initiatives of the individual personality. That is why interest
in Nietzsche persists and his legacy lives on today.

---

1. Schain, R. 'The Legend of Nietzsche's Syphilis' Westport: Greenwood Press,
   2001

(c) Richard Schain 2002

E-mail: rjschain@lycos.com

-=-


II. 'THE CONTINENTAL COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY' EDITED AND INTRODUCED BY
   MATTHEW DEL NEVO

We are pleased to announce that the Continental Community of Inquiry workbook
by Matthew Del Nevo is now available for free download from the Pathways web
site at:

http://www.philosophypathways.com/download.html

Here are two sections from Matthew Del Nevo's Introductory discussion. Below,
in III. we have reproduced one of the three extracts by Friedrich Nietzsche
included in the collection.

---

LEARNING PHILOSOPHY

To become philosophers we need to learn to state, as clearly and convincingly
as possible, what we believe and what we believe in. To do this we must first
learn how to examine what we believe and believe in. Such examination will take
the form of philosophical investigations. These investigations are attempts to
work out our ideas against those of others and to see and understand all their
implications and complications. There are two prongs to such investigations. On
the one hand, we test our ideas against those of our contemporaries, and on the
other hand, we measure them against the classic statements of the great
philosophers of the past.

It is the effort to appreciate the differences between one's own views and
other's views, to be able to argue with someone who disagrees and resolve
difficulties that may light our path.

Working with the texts in this book students will not only have the opportunity
to read real philosophers, they will encounter established and honoured
philosophical ideas. In the Continental Community of Inquiry students will be
able to test their ideas against those of their contemporaries and also against
some of the decisive ideas of the recent past.

The Continental Community of Inquiry, which is the way philosophy is best
taught in schools, prevents:

     "...dialogue from being a theoretical and dogmatic account
     and forces it to be a concrete and practical exercise,
     because, to be precise, it is not concerned with the
     exposition of doctrine, but with guiding an interlocutor
     [or interlocutors guiding each other] to a certain settled
     mental attitude: it is a combat, amicable, but real. We
     should note that this is what takes place in every
     spiritual exercise; it is necessary to make oneself change
     one's point of view, attitude, set of convictions,
     therefore to dialogue with oneself, therefore to struggle
     with oneself." [1]

Nevertheless, in a Continental Community of Inquiry the text remains a basic
object and reference point. It is as if it symbolises a commonality, a locus,
by which a culture or tradition identifies itself, and which it preserves and
reveres for this reason.

If a lot of modern philosophy easily degenerates into reflective abstract
understanding and its derivative, formal logic, then Continental philosophy
aims to revive philosophy herself. As Hegel and every prominent philosopher
reminds us, real philosophy, since its commencement in Greece, aimed at
transforming one's vision of the world and thereby the world. The goal of
philosophy was the art of living. The texts chosen for this book face us toward
that goal.

MODELS OF INQUIRY

The concept of 'inquiry' is not self evident and is understood differently in a
Continental Community of Inquiry than in a Community of Inquiry.

First, a bit of background: The philosophical Community of Inquiry pioneered by
Mat Lipman and others is based on a certain view of philosophy that has
prevailed in English-speaking countries in the modern era, which, perhaps, can
be traced as far back as Bacon. This approach to philosophy is characterised by
an analytical emphasis on semantics and linguistic elements of meaning.
'Philosophy for Children' (p4c) and 'Philosophy in Schools' use what is called
'a Community of Inquiry' as a method by which participants - that is, students
- can learn to think by the actual practice of it. It is a great idea that
works well with all age groups, from Primary School children through to Adult
Education.

The way in which the philosophical Community of Inquiry is facilitated,
however, is in accordance with the protocols of a certain style of logic. This
is the style of a standard logic text-book used in English-speaking countries.

Yet these English language logicians do not represent the mainstream history of
philosophy. This is philosophy as practised in continental Europe, particularly
in France and Germany. From a more European perspective, it seems as if
English-language philosophy is characterised by a literalism with respect to
language - so prominent in its Philosophy of Religion - and, furthermore, is
contaminated by an empiricist and positivist ethos, which manifests itself in a
categorical pragmatism, utilitarianism and rationalism. While English-language
philosophy frequently invokes the name of Kant, from a more European
perspective it seems as if "Kant" is a cipher for the collapsing of ontology
into epistemology, so that any question about the nature of things
automatically becomes a question about how we can know. Then, with empiricist
presuppositions the question of knowledge is judged in terms of so-called
"cognitive processes". This is hardly philosophy any more.

Philosophy demands breadth and freedom, but some ways of doing philosophy
restrict what is meant by "reason" and stifle true freedom of thought and
speech.

If one is running philosophy as a Community of Inquiry, it is crucial that what
one is facilitating is genuinely philosophical and not anything less, let
alone anything else.

As a rule, Anglo-American philosophy believes in the "laws of thought" and
reasons accordingly, not so the Continental philosopher. The laws of thought,
for those unfamiliar with them, may be stated as follows and restated
algebraically:

     1. "The Law of Identity": A is A (where A stands for
       anything whatsoever)
     
     2. "The Law of Non-contradiction": nothing can be both A
       and not-A.
     
     3. "The Law of Excluded Middle": Everything is either A or
       not-A.
     
     In short:

      If p, then p.
      Not both p and non-p.
      Either p or non-p.

And yet, writing as long ago as 1827 the great German philosopher, Hegel, had
this to say of the "laws of thought":

     "It is asserted that the Law of Identity, though it cannot
     be proved, regulates the procedure of every consciousness,
     and that experience shows it to be accepted as soon as its
     terms are apprehended. To this alleged experience of the
     logic-books may be opposed the universal experience that no
     mind thinks or forms conceptions or speaks, in accordance
     with this law, and that no existence of any kind whatever
     conforms to it. Utterances after the fashion of this
     pretended law (A planet is -- a planet; Magnetism is --
     magnetism; Mind is -- mind) are, as they deserve to be,
     reputed silly. That is certainly matter of general
     experience. The logic which seriously propounds such laws
     and the scholastic world in which alone they are valid have
     long been discredited with practical common sense as well as
     with the philosophy of reason."[2]
     
This book aims to redress the balance and bring Continental philosophy to the
Community of Inquiry. It aims to bring a different ethos to the Community of
Inquiry and to present a new way of conducting such a Community.

---

1. Pierre Hadot 'Philosophy As A Way Of Life' 1995 Blackwell, Oxford, p.20

2. Hegel, G.W.F. 'The Logic of Hegel', 2nd Edn. tr. W. Wallace 1932 Oxford
University Press, pp.213--4

(c) Matthew Del Nevo 2002
Web site: http://www.sicetnon.com

-=-

III. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE: CULTURE AND EDUCATION

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) has had an extraordinary influence on twentieth
century philosophy, arts and politics. Coming from a strong Lutheran background
he studied classical philology in Bonn and Leipzig and was made a professor at
the early age of 24. In 1879, after taking an early retirement on a small
pension, Nietzsche lived in cheap boarding houses in the Alps and along the
Italian seaboard, becoming increasingly estranged from the world. He eventually
went insane in 1889 and lived out the rest of his life in mental darkness.
Nietzsche was a great literary stylist and most of his works are collections of
highly unsystematic aphorisms. His best known works are 'The Gay Science'
(1882/9); 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' (1883-5); 'Beyond Good and Evil' (1886) and
'The Twilight of the Idols' (1888). He is often regarded as a 'dangerous'
thinker. Our text is taken from the early essay 'Schopenhauer as Educator'
(1876)--a tribute the nineteenth century renegade German philosopher Arthur
Schopenhauer--published in 'Untimely Meditations' (1893).

-o-

THE TEXT

A traveller who had seen many lands and peoples and several of the earth's
continents was asked what quality in men he had discovered everywhere he had
gone. He replied: 'They have the tendency to laziness.' To many it will seem
that he ought rather to have said: 'They are all timid. They hide themselves
behind customs and opinions.' In his heart every man knows quite well that,
being unique, he will be in the world only once and that no imaginable chance
will for a second time gather together into a unity so strangely variegated an
assortment as he is: he knows it but he hides it like a bad conscience--why?
From fear of his neighbour, who demands conventionality and cloaks himself with
it. But what is it that constrains the individual to fear his neighbour, to
think and act like a member of a herd, and to have no joy in himself? Modesty,
perhaps, in a few rare cases. With the great majority it is indolence, inertia,
in short that tendency to laziness of which the traveller spoke. Artists alone
hate this sluggish promenading in borrowed fashions and appropriated opinions
and they reveal everyone's secret bad conscience, the law that every man is a
unique miracle; they dare to show us man as he is, uniquely himself to the very
last movement of his muscles, more, that in being thus strictly consistent in
uniqueness he is beautiful, and worth regarding, and in no way tedious. The man
who does not wish to belong to the mass needs only to cease taking himself
easily; let him follow his conscience, which calls to him: 'Be your self! All
you are now doing, thinking, desiring, is not you yourself.'

Every youthful soul who hears this call day and night trembles when he hears
it; for the idea of its liberation gives the soul a presentiment of the measure
of happiness allotted it from all eternity--a happiness to which it can by no
means attain so long as it lies fettered by the chains of fear and convention.
And how dismal and senseless life can be without this liberation! There exists
no more repulsive and desolate creature in the world than the man who has
evaded his genius and who now looks furtively to left and right, behind him and
all about him. In the end such a man becomes impossible to get hold of, since he
is wholly exterior, without kernel, a tattered, painted bag of clothes, a
decked-out ghost that cannot inspire even fear and certainly not pity. And if
it true to say of the lazy that they kill time, then it is greatly to be feared
that an era which sees its salvation in public opinion, that is to say in
private laziness, is a time that really will be killed: I mean that it will be
struck out of the history of the true liberation of life. How reluctant later
generations will be to have anything to do with the relics of an era ruled, not
by living men, but by pseudo-men dominated by public opinion; for which reason
our age may be to some distant posterity the darkest and least known, because
least human, portion of human history.

I go along the new streets of our cities and think how, of all these gruesome
houses which the generation of public opinion has built for itself, not one
will be standing in a hundred years time, and how the opinions of these
house-builders will no doubt by then likewise have collapsed. On the other
hand, how right it is for those who do not feel themselves to be citizens of
this time to harbour great hopes; for if they were citizens of this time they
too would be helping to kill their time and so perish with it--while their
desire is rather to awaken their time to life and so live on themselves in this
awakened life.

I will make an attempt to attain freedom, the youthful soul says to itself; and
is it to be hindered in this by the fact that two nations happen to hate and
fight one another, or that two continents are separated by an ocean, or that
all around it a religion is taught which did not yet exist a couple of thousand
years ago? All that is not you, it says to itself. No one can construct for you
the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but
you yourself alone. There are, to be sure, countless paths and bridges and
demi-gods which would bear you through this stream; but only at the cost of
yourself: you would put yourself in pawn and lose yourself. There exists in the
world a single path along which no one can go except you: whither does it lead?

Let the youthful soul look back on life with the question: what have you truly
loved up to now, what has drawn your soul aloft, what has mastered it and at
the same time blessed it? Set up these revered objects before you and perhaps
their nature and their sequence will give you a law, the fundamental law of
your own true self. Compare these objects one with another, see how they
constitute a stepladder upon which you have clambered up to yourself as you are
now; for your true nature lies not concealed deep within you, but immeasurably
high above you, or at least above that which you usually take yourself to be.
Your true educators and formative teachers reveal to you what the true basic
material of your being is: your educators are your liberators.

And that is the secret of all culture: it does not provide artificial limbs,
wax noses or spectacles--that which can provide these things is, rather, only
sham education. Culture is liberation, the removal of all the weeds, rubble and
vermin that want to attack the tender buds of the plant, an out-streaming of
light and warmth, the gentle rustling of nocturnal rain, it is imitation and
worship of nature where nature is in her motherly and merciful mood, it is the
perfecting of nature when it deflects her cruel and merciless assaults and
turns them to good, and when it draws a veil over the expressions of nature's
step-motherly mood and her sad lack of understanding.

The much admired way in which our German men of learning set about scientific
pursuits reveals above all that they are thinking more of science than they are
of mankind, that they have been trained to sacrifice themselves to it like a
legion of the lost, so as in turn to draw the next generations on to the same
sacrifice. If it is not directed and kept within bounds by a higher maxim of
education, but on the contrary allowed to run wilder and wilder on the
principle 'the more the better', traffic with science is certainly as harmful
to men of learning as the economic principle of laissez faire [profit before
people] is to the morality of whole nations. Who is there that still remembers
that the education of the scholar is an extremely difficult problem, if his
humanity is not to be sacrificed in the process? Where are we scholars and
unscholarly, high placed and low, to find the moral exemplars and models among
our contemporaries, the visible epitome of morality for our time? What has
become of any reflection on questions of morality--questions that have at all
times engaged every more highly civilised society? There is no longer any model
or any reflection of any kind; what we are in fact doing is consuming the moral
capital we have inherited from our forefathers, which we are incapable of
increasing but know only how to squander.

[Source: Nietzsche, 'Untimely Meditations', tr. R.J. Hollingdale, University of
Cambridge Press, 1983. Reproduced in 'Continental Community of Inquiry' with
permission. All rights reserved.]

---------------------------------------------------------------
  Philosophy Pathways is the electronic newsletter for the
  Pathways to Philosophy distance learning program

  To subscribe or cancel your subscription please email your
  request to philosophypathways@fastmail.net

  The views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily
  reflect those of the editor. Contributions, suggestions or
  comments should be addressed to klempner@fastmail.net
---------------------------------------------------------------


[top]
Pathways to Philosophy

Original Newsletter
Home Page
Pathways Home Page