PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue No. 193 23rd April 2015
Edited by Martin Jenkins
I. 'Truth and Philosophy in Plato's Symposium' by D.R. Khashaba
II. 'Metaphysics and the Foundation of Science: Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology' by Pedro Blas Gonzalez
III. 'The Meaning of the Earth: Nietzsche's Philosopher Creators' by Martin Jenkins
Common themes link all three essays of this edition of the Pathways Journal. All concern the development and nature of Western Philosophy from its origins in Ancient Greece to its consequences in respectively: Reason and its relation to Truth, the domination of human beings by Technology and its corresponding calculative, quantitative weltanschaang; to the perceived crisis of decadent valuations that had their origin in the subversive questioning undertaken by Socrates.
In his 'Truth and Philosophy in Plato's Symposium', D. R. Khashaba utilises themes raised in the Symposium to question the question of Truth and its pursuit. Contrary to the perceived success of such an aim which implies the capture of Truth and closure of the philosophical quest -- which is taken to have begun with Plato -- Khashaba proposes that Truth has no place in Philosophy, there can only be the restless hope of expressing the inexpressible ineffable.
I think the second essay continues the themes raised above when Pedro Blas Gonzalez provides an account of Martin Heidegger's writings on Technology. For Heidegger, the condition of the contemporary world is a destining that has its origins in Greek Philosophy, the effects of those origins are manifested in Natural Science and its quest for Truth that is verifiable in quantitative instrumentality and performativity. Similar to the points made in the previous paper, Heidegger exposes the global paradigm of Metaphysico-Technology and the consequences of its devastating Truth before hinting that alternative paradigms are possible; only if human beings allow themselves to be open to the ever giving of Being. As I maintain a 'Derridean' view of Heidegger, this opening to Being evokes a similar stance of Khashaba's continual quest to express the inexpressible, that philosophical truth is not that which is subject to capture and adequation.
Finally, my paper on Friedrich Nietzsche. I maintain that Nietzsche's philosophy in toto, cannot be understood if his views on evolution and physiology are omitted. In a previous paper published in Philosophy Pathways Issue 176 the relation of physiology and will to power was discussed. In this supplementary paper I provide an overview of his account and justification for what he originally termed the Ubermensch later to become the Philosopher Creators and their place in resuscitating humanity. Like Heidegger in the paper above, Nietzsche believed Western Europe took a wrong turn with Greek Thinking, particularly in taking Socrates seriously. Continuing with the Greek inspired quest quest for Truth, 19th century Europe concludes that 'God Is Dead'. Cue the need for the revaluation of values and this, for Nietzsche meant the emergence of values that expressed, which encouraged affirmative lives and cultures in preference to the egalitarian therefore atrophying Europe he believed surrounded him. I maintain Nietzsche's reliance on dubious theories of Evolution fatally undermines his critique of Greek influenced modernity and his enigmatic philosophy in general.
(c) Martin Jenkins 2015
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I. 'TRUTH AND PHILOSOPHY IN PLATO'S SYMPOSIUM' BY D.R. KHASHABA
ta ge alethe ethelo eipein. Symposium, 199a.
In Plato's Symposium a company of friends are at a dinner celebrating Agathon's first victory as a tragic poet. They agree that, for entertainment, they will take turns at making a speech in praise of the love god Eros. Plato first gives the speeches of five who spoke before Socrates. When it is Socrates' turn to speak, he demurs. He has agreed to participate in the belief that 'the right thing was to speak the truth about the subject proposed for panegyric, whatever it might be.' But, from the speeches made thus far, it appears 'that the proper method is to ascribe to the subject of the panegyric all the loftiest and loveliest qualities, whether it actually possesses them or not.' He protests that he cannot do that. He affirms, 'I am quite willing to tell the truth in my own style.' (Symposium, 198b-199b, tr. W. Hamilton).
So did Socrates tell the truth? What truth did he speak?
As in the Meno Socrates, to affirm the priority of ideas born in the mind to all knowledge and all understanding, relates tales told by ancient priests and priestesses, so here he gives us the prophetic teaching of the wise Diotima. Diotima offers no argument but an insight clothed in a meaningful vision, in the light of which the mysteries of being obtain intelligibility.
At 199d Socrates, beginning his brief preliminary argument with Agathon, asks whether love is of something or of nothing. He hastens to remove a possible confusion, since the Greek einai tinos could, following its common usage, readily be taken to be asking about the parentage of Eros. In explaining that the question is not about the parentage of Eros but about the object of love, Socrates lifts the discussion from the plane of mythology to the plane of conceptual thinking. We are concerned with love not as a god nor as an entity but as a relationship and as a power. Though Further on Socrates resorts to myth, it is no longer naive myth dogmatically purporting to report fact, but symbolic myth clothing ineffable meaning in the garb of a 'noble lie' that does not conceal or deceive but intimates.
Diotima tells us that the drive of love is towards procreation in beauty. esti gar touto tokos en kaloi kai kata to soma kai kata ten psuchen (206b). Here we have Diotima's oracular proclamation, the central principle and the springboard for the vision of the ascent to the Form of Beauty. This is the sum and substance of all intelligent creativity. All art, all philosophy, all deeds of love, are tokos en kaloi and in all such creativity we live in the eternity of creative intelligence.
Love, Diotima tells us, does not desire to possess beauty or the good or anything else. Love is an outflow, a divine urge to give, to create. Love, as what is ultimately real, is simply creativity, creative intelligence or intelligent creativity. Everything else that lays claim to the name 'reality' is an impostor, a sham, an empty shadow.
Diotima then takes us on a celestial pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Form of Beauty. It is the same pilgrim's progress delineated in an oracular passage in the Republic (490a-b) where the journey of the true philosophical nature also culminates in tokos en kaloi when 'she grasps the essence of every reality by that in her soul to which it is becoming -- namely, what is akin -- to grasp that, approaching and mingling with what has true being, gives birth to reason and reality; enjoys knowledge and true life'. In these words the Republic passage clearly depicts he kuesis kai he genesis (the conception and giving birth) of the philosophic spirit. Indeed, the metaphors of Symposium 206d-e can be translated phrase by phrase into the abstractions of Republic 490a-b.
Love in Diotima's teaching is the Principle of Creativity working through all becoming to affirm the being of the real in the transience of vanishing existents. At any rate this is what it is in my philosophy of Creative Eternity.
Did Socrates tell the truth? Did Socrates' Diotima tell the truth?
A genuine philosopher must always be poor, wanting, never in possession of knowledge. That is the deeper import of Plato's phrase; to porizomenon aei hupekrei. A philosopher never reaches a resting place in her or his pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Holy Sophia but, philosophizing throughout life, philosophon dia pantos tou biou,she or he lives in the eternity of creative becoming, realized in the ceaseless vanishing of transient existents. Every answer to a philosophical question, if the answer is genuinely philosophical, engenders a new question.
Did Socrates tell the truth? He didn't and he couldn't.
I will say something that I know sounds outrageous. The concept of truth is foreign to philosophy. It has no place and no function in philosophy. Truth relates to the empirical and the objective and philosophy proper has nothing to do with the empirical and the objective. Let me make another equally outrageous statement. Reasoning is not the major or a major tool of philosophizing but is a plaything of philosophers. In making these statements I am not trying to be or to sound paradoxical. I mean my words to be taken literally and seriously.
The vision of Diotima is creatively oracular and 'does not rest on reasoning at all' (as Kenneth Dover comments in his edition of the Symposium, 1980, p.144). Reasoning yields nothing but a gossamer tissue that, as the Parmenides shows and as Kant's Antinomies of Pure Reason demonstrate, must be dialectically demolished if we are to appreciate what meaning is housed in them. It is in the process of raising rational structures only to demolish them dialectically that we enjoy philosophical enlightenment. The halfway house of established truth is a mortuary.
The proper embodiment of living, dynamic phronesis is nothing but that fecund aporia, that restless aspiration to express the ineffable in ever-crumbling structures of ideal formulations. That is the pregnant state the dialogues of Plato leave us in. The great gift of Socrates, conveyed to us in Plato's works, is not any truth but is philosophical ignorance, enlightened ignorance, the only wisdom, as Socrates affirmed, possible to and proper to a human being.
Did Socrates tell the truth? What truth could he speak?
Socrates neither did nor could tell the truth, nor was he concerned to tell any truth in the commonly accepted sense of truth. Dear reader, bear with me. What I say may sound shockingly outrageous, but in the end, I hope, you will not only find that what I say makes sense, but also that my approach is the only way that leads safely through between the Scylla of dogma and the Charybdis of condemning all properly philosophical thinking as nonsense to be consigned to Hume's flames.
(c) D.R. Khashaba 2015
II. 'METAPHYSICS AS THE FOUNDATION OF SCIENCE: HEIDEGGER'S THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY' BY PEDRO BLAS GONZALEZ
Introduction: Brief Overview of Being and Technology
Martin Heidegger proposes an analysis of Being as the foundation of science. He bypasses modern definitions of Being and technology, and concerns himself with the understanding that pre-Socratic philosophers had of Being and techne. Being for ancient Greek philosophers meant the intelligible, not the sensual object of contemplation. The objects that man comes into contact with in our dealings with the world are informed by a substance -- Being -- which transcends the objects. The pre-Socratics characterized Being as oneness. For instance, Heraclitus' fragment reads: 'When you have listened not to me but to the meaning, it is wise within the same Meaning to say: One is All' (Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking 59). The historical contribution to modern science of the ancient Greeks is invaluable. They argued that the essential nature of things, of reality proper, did not lie in what is immediately given to the senses but rather in intelligible, or conceptual understanding. It is for this reason that Heidegger's questioning of the essence of Being can be posed as follows: Is technology merely a means to an end and a human activity?
Granted, sensual data is part of the make-up of human reality. Heidegger does not deny this. Yet ancient Greek philosophers had a much different understanding of sensual reality than many subsequent philosophies and science. This is perhaps one reason why the assertions of the pre-Socratics on the nature of Being and becoming may appear counter-intuitive to modern readers. For ancient Greek philosophers, it is conceptual analysis that can best unify physical experience as phenomena (appearance). This is the activity of mind, properly speaking. Understanding of the historical contribution of philosophy to the development of science demands, at best, rudimentary contemplation on the nature of Being-qua-Being, in the Parmenidean sense. Being, it turns out, as the object of metaphysical reflection, grounds human reflection in what Aristotle called first principles: metaphysics. Long before Aristotle, though, Parmenides took to allegory and metaphor in an attempt to tackle the question of Being. Parmenides describes the journey of a poet, driven by a goddess on a horse-drawn chariot, who takes him to the gate where two paths originate. One of these is the way of truth (aletheia). The other is the way of seeming/ opinion (doxa). The most vexing philosophical questions that this ancient Greek fragment attempts to decipher is the tension between Being and becoming, time and infinity and truth and appearance. Parmenides' lasting contribution to the history of philosophy is his contention that only 'What-is' is what can be known. He writes:
It must be that what is there for speaking and thinking of
is; for [it] is there to be, whereas nothing is not; that
is what I bid you consider (Gallop, Parmenides of Elea 61).
The problem of creatio ex nihilo is hardly one to take lightly. This entails the search for the ultimate essence of human reality, the substantial structure of all things. This existential quest has proven to be man's most pressing and vital question. The underlying import of this line of questioning remains to this day a vital, existential one: What is the nature of human reality? This was the main concern of early philosophers. It is also the recognition that man is an entity that seeks the ontological roots of its own being. Among some of the more formidable modern thinkers who have attempted a historical return to Being, I will concentrate on the work of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), for his valiant and concentrated reflection on man's essence. My aim in this enquiry is less concerned with the technical aspects of Heidegger's reflection on technology than how his thought on this matter informs the history of ideas.
As an existentialist thinker, Heidegger tackles the problem of Being by focusing on what he refers to as being-in-the-world. Being-in-the-world is a manner of locating the nature of Being as the matrix, thus the manifestation in the material/ objective world of immaterial substances. But before we take up Heidegger's thought in greater detail, let us first take a brief look at what the ancient Greeks considered the central problem of existence, and how this influenced science up to Francis Bacon's novum organum scientiarum and Isaac Newton's scientific enlightenment.
Ancient Greek philosophers viewed knowledge as laden with the burden of having to decipher the human condition. Human reality is framed by man's vital existence as being-in-the world. Ancient Greek philosophy tackled the question of human existence by concentrating on: Being, becoming, essence, logos, substance, psyche and other substantial concerns of man. Noesis, for instance, was designated to mean the operation of nous, or thinking. Noesis can be considered the opposite of sensation (aisthesis). The important thing to keep in mind is not to become bogged down by etymological distinctions but rather to not lose track of the reality to which ideas and concepts point. Heraclitus conceived of noesis as the proper vehicle for the understanding of reality, not aisthesis, which can only tell us something about the object of the senses. The latter, of course, would turn out to be the basis of science (physis). The underlying substance (arche) of which all things are made is brought out through a provocation, which the senses enact. Heidegger's questioning on the essence of technology picks up on this important point. This seems a rather provocative idea given the structure of modern science's empirical mechanism: observation, experimentation and verification.
In Phaedo, Plato argues that sensation aids the perception of the soul (psyche) through the body. The modern distinction between philosophy and science does not become one of observable consequence until after the Renaissance. As a result, a central figure in the history of science, Isaac Newton, considered himself a natural philosopher. This is evident in his preoccupation with theological questions, biblical chronology and even alchemy. Among some of the works on exegesis that Newton left us there is a manuscript entitled, Observation on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse. The captivating and enlightening aspect of this is that the specialization fervor of subsequent centuries did not taint his holistic sense of wonder. It is rather interesting to note that the inventor of Calculus and the writer of Opticks and the Principia, (the latter's full title is 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica' Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), should write about himself shortly before his death:
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself
I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore,
and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother
pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me (Brewster,
Memoirs Volume II. Ch.27).
Besides remaining modest, Newton's work showcases a profounder understanding of the logos of reality than just a quest to grasp the object of the senses. 'Undiscovered' here can also be taken to mean 'undiscoverable.'
Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology
Heidegger's idea of technology (die Technik) is not one whereby man dictates the course of technological advance and development. Instead, what he has in mind has to do with the manner in which Being (Sein) claims man. Heidegger views technology as a way of 'revealing.' The revealing that is at the core of modern technology, Heidegger argues, is what he calls a challenging-forth. That is, a provocation on behalf of Being to man to allow himself to open-up and be used by Being for the unconcealing of nature, which can only take place through man. Techne is a bringing-forth in the sense of revealing, not as manufacture. It is in this cooperative disposition of man's thought, in what Heidegger calls a calculative i.e. quantitative, scientific method that places man in danger of losing his Being. It is only in and through reflective thought, as metaphysics, that man can effectively counterbalance the self-referential abyss that calculative thinking can bring about in man (Dasein).
It is my intent in this inquiry concerning the question of technology vis-a-vis man's authenticity, first to illustrate in brief the dilemma concerning Being and technology, and also to analyze whether metaphysical thought alone, in the form of existential reflection, can effectively neutralize, if not complement the Being that makes itself known through the corpus of technology.
Heidegger's philosophical project is, by his own admission, 'a questioning into the status of Being.' Given the demands of this search, this onto-logical task undercuts the importance of objects in the measurable and calculative dimension of the physical world -- the objects that are of interest to scientists. Heidegger does this in order to pierce into the structure and substance of Being-qua-Being. Let us keep in mind that this was also Aristotle's concern in Book VIII of his Metaphysics. Heidegger's philosophical questioning does not take Being for granted.
Heidegger's approach is not ontic, either. He views Being as an elusive reality that flees, whenever one threatens to get too close to the truth which it incubates. Perhaps the lasting value of metaphysical conjecture is the realization that reality cannot be tackled head on but rather peripherally. Moreover, since the Being that is made manifest through that 'which is' -- that which exists -- cannot readily supply us with the structure of Being-as-Being, Heidegger suggests that contemporary man take a detached attitude concerning Being. This suggests that we pay closer attention to the origin of the objects of the senses, and less, as is the interest of science, concentration on the objects themselves. Hence, the alternative in this dilemma is to allow Being to address itself in its unmanifestedness. However, the question remains: How are we ever to know when Being speaks to us? This seems an appropriate question given that for Heidegger Being utilizes thinking and thus claims man through reflection. Heidegger answers this challenge by stating that it is thinking itself that builds a way as a destining (Ge-schicken) of bringing-forth.
Man can only approximate Being by allowing himself to be claimed by the nature of revealing. Thought, in Heidegger's estimation, acts as the midwife of Being in the latter's coming to presence. Reflection serves as the link between man and Being. This is the case because for Heidegger, as is also the case for Parmenides, Being (einai) and thought (noesis) are one and the same.
Heidegger's fundamental position on technology is an ontologically neutral one. He neither advocates technology nor does he engage in a spirited negation of the by-products of science and technology. His aim is merely to capture the structure of Being and how this reveals itself. This is achieved, he argues, through a phenomenological approach. Here language plays a pivotal role because it creates the necessary bond with Being to reveal its essence. This form of revealing is crucial to man, for according to Heidegger, the essence of man belongs to the essence of Being. Language is to thinking (Being) as the midwife is to the child. Their relationship is such that they can never be separated:
Technology is a mode of revealing. Technology comes to
presence [West] in the realm where revealing and
unconcealment take place, where aletheia, truth, happens
(Heidegger, Question 13).
Bringing-forth is firmly rooted in revealing, but modern technology, according to Heidegger, is not a bringing-forth in the manner of poises but rather a challenging (Herausfordern). Man as self-aware agent of Being is in control of this challenging-forth as revealing. However, man is never in control of the unconcealment of Being itself. Truth is not dependent on man as an agent of Being, for man cannot give shape to truth, since it is never a product of human thought. Instead, truth claims man. Heidegger tells us:
Modern technology as an ordering revealing is, then no
merely human doing. Therefore we must take that challenging
that sets upon man to order the real as standing-reserve in
accordance with the way in which it shows itself. That
challenging gathers man into ordering. This gathering
concentrates man upon ordering the real as standing-reserve
(Heidegger, Question 19).
Man is in the position to reveal the real as standing-reserve. According to Heidegger 'things' are those objects which are readily at hand (zuhanden). It is enframing (ge-stell) that challenges man to order the self-revealing as standing-reserve. Moreover, it is in enframing where the essence of technology lies. Here we are to understand essence as depicting that 'which is.' Man is first engaged in the path, or way of revealing through what Heidegger calls 'destining.' That which is, exists as standing-reserve (bestand), and its objectness is overshadowed by its ability to be used as a means to an end. This is essentially the case pertaining to the energy that is concealed in the Earth and that is conquered by the work of man and is stored away for future use. This is what Heidegger has in mind when he argues that man must order the real as standing-reserve. This example can be juxtaposed with the idea of the windmill as a source of power that converts the wind into energy without depleting the wind of its power. Having said that 'that which is' exists as standing-reserve, what then are the negative aspects of technology? Is technology inherently threatening to the well-being and preservation of the being of man? Heidegger supplies us with a negative response to these concerns because, as he clearly states at the beginning of The Question Concerning Technology, 'technology is not equivalent to the essence of technology (Heidegger, Question 4).'
Heidegger does not downplay or negate the importance and relevance to our age of technological advancement. On the contrary, he views technological advances as taking place faster than ever before, as a destining that man cannot effectively influence. This is decidedly the case given that technology is not something that man creates but rather a manner in which Being addresses man. This is the manner in which the basic way of self-showing manifesting (Grundformen des Erscheinens) points to Being. Heidegger warns us of the inevitable clash between the calculative, mathematical manner of thinking that analyzes the world -- the human body as an object, etc. -- and the existential, inward manner of thinking indicative of reflective thought. The possible danger of Being, which is manifested through bringing-forth, is not that it is revealed, given that the essence of technology is never technological. The danger lies in separating man from his true being, which occurs once the being of technology is unconcealed, much the same that a butterfly turns her back on the cocoon that has served as her home. The open question remains whether man can achieve a harmonious relationship with technology, while at the same time maintaining himself well rooted in his being, given that all manners of revealing technology involve danger. The harmony that must exist between the essence of technology and the existential being of man confronts man with the fundamental question: How must man think? Thinking proper is an activity that harbors Being in its 'arrival,' or coming to presence. But what mode of thinking must man undertake in order not to lose one's being?
Moreover, a careful analysis of Heidegger's philosophy concerning technology demonstrates that his concern appears to be, not that man take a spirited stand against technological advance, but that man continue to be true to his being through self-reflection. Metaphysics inevitably directs man in the direction of the development of science and technology. It also confronts man vis-a-vis his being. However, for contemporary man the scale seems to be tilted in the direction of a mathematical/ calculative mode of thought. Heidegger writes:
Therefore, what is necessary above all is this: that
beforehand we ponder the essence of being as that which is
worthy of thinking; that beforehand, in thinking this, we
experience to what extent we are called upon first to trace
a path for such experiencing and to prepare that path as a
way into that which till now has been impossible
(Heidegger, Question 40).
The new path of which Heidegger speaks, this turning into a more reflective and existential way of thinking, is crucial given that the revealing that takes place concerning the essence of technology reduces the world to mathematical formulas and physical theories. Heidegger argues that the scientific method forces man to seek no other truth than that offered by science. Under the umbrella of scientific calculation, according to Heidegger, the world has lost its mystery. Heidegger argues that the existential void that contemporary man is experiencing is due to man's flight from Being. Formulas and physical theories have produced man's current inauthentic existential condition. This condition can be compared to the slaves in Plato's allegory of the cave. The difference being that, according to Heidegger, man has voluntarily placed himself in the cave. Man has removed himself from the light by neglecting his authentic being, which is of a reflective disposition. Heidegger states in his book Discourse on Thinking:
Man today is in flight from thinking. This flight-from-
thought is the Ground of thoughtlessness (88).
Technology appears to have made man into a pawn in a game of bringing-forth. What is essential for man to save his being from the often subtle, but sure-footed advancement of technology is to become aware of himself as a self-reflective being. In Heidegger's estimation, this can be accomplished by a reflective manner of living that posits man as a phenomenon worthy of self-understanding. This juxtaposes the essence of human-being with the essence of technology, which the calculative/ mathematical frame of reference of science actually obscures. Thus, in a sense, man can come to view himself as standing-reserve, in the manner of an open-ended manifestation of Being that needs man's assistance in its coming-to-presence.
It is not difficult to understand the importance of the Delphic oracle 'know thyself' for contemporary man. To know man as phenomenon is not to make man into a standing-reserve, in the same way that medical science undertakes with human anatomy. Instead, what is desired, according to Heidegger, is a reflective and existential point of reference, one where man can find value and joy in the 'saving power of little things.'
As the shepherd of Being, man, Heidegger informs us, is also a discloser of truth. Truth speaks to man as a being capable of self-awareness. What is needed is the 'training' of one's hearing in order to confront Being in its coming-to-presence. This fosters the possibility for man to cultivate an attitude of detachment toward technology. This argument urges man to utilize the objects of technology without having to become a slave to them. This is important because the flight from Being makes man an outsider of his own existence. Being outside himself, man places his hopes and aspirations in technology.
In turning inwards reflectively, there exists the very possibility that man may turn his attention to his own being. Is this not the case with those who supposedly have undergone a religious experience or epiphany? Is this not also the case in the lives of the ancient stoics and the saints? Heidegger calls this 'releasement' towards the unveiling of technology.
Furthermore, in questioning the development of technology, Heidegger argues that the essence of technology uses man in its coming-to-presence. Yet this does not handcuff man. Heidegger argues that man must resist being the passive agent of the being of technology. Man's capacity for reflective self-awareness speaks to the essence of man. The danger for man lies in the neglect of his own being that occurs with man's preoccupation with technology. Man's preoccupation with the being of technology illustrates how it is that man is conjoined with Being, as Being manifests itself through being-in-the-world. This is why for Heidegger reflection on the essence of technology, not the technological itself, is what is most important.
The essence of technology makes itself known to man but man's own being must be sought by confronting Being vis-a-vis technology. Man must exercise his ontological freedom to avoid becoming a prisoner of technology. The being of man, when viewed as phenomenon (appearance), reveals itself as a form of being-as-appearance that requires reflection. Man's being is a perpetual concealing/ unconcealing. In order for man to know himself he must move beyond the comfort of mere appearance and unto the truth of Being, as this manifests itself through him. In turn, this creates a sense of wonder, even a fascination with man's being that engages us in a lifelong attitude of releasement toward 'the openness to the mystery which never takes place alone, but which needs our aid.' This mystery of the essence of man can be the saving force vis-a-vis the technological. Heidegger explains:
Releasement toward things and openness to the mystery
belong together. They grant us the possibility of dwelling
in the world in a totally different way. They promise us a
new ground and foundation upon which we can stand and
endure in the world of technology without being imperiled
by it (Heidegger, Discourse 53).
Furthermore, releasement towards technological objects keeps man from keeping his being to 'himself.' Heidegger explains:
Releasement towards things and openness to the mystery give
us vision of a new autochthony which someday even might be
fit to recapture the old and now rapidly disappearing
autochthony in a changed form (Heidegger, Discourse 53).
In remaining faithful to the question posed at the outset of this inquiry, whether reflective thought can indeed restrain, if not complement the essence of technology, we must realize that to know determined instances of Being does not prepare us in our quest to capture Being (Sein) proper. The 'is-ness' of that which exists does not include the totality of Being. Hence, transcendence from that which exists into Being must take place if man is to grasp the reality of the technological. Our turning inwards reflectively -- as it pertains to our nature as self-aware beings -- 'brackets' the technological in our attempt to come to terms with our being. Man's coming-to-presence is 'reunited' with itself only through the structure and path that reflective thought builds. Man must re-learn to dwell in his being. Heidegger writes:
Unless man first establishes himself beforehand in the
space proper to his essence and there takes up his
dwelling, he will not be capable of anything essential
within the destining now holding sway (Heidegger, Question
As the shepherd of Being, man, Heidegger tells us, can counterbalance the persuasive and seductively appealing grasp that technological advancement has on the being of man. The key here is not to neglect the origin of the destining that allows man's being to come-to-presence into itself. A holistic science must take the question of the essence of man, that is, Being, as its main point of departure.
Barrett, William. Death of the Soul: From Descartes to the Computer. New York: Anchor Books, 1986.
--- The Illusion of Technique. New York: Anchor Press. Garden City, 1978.
--- The Truants: Adventures Among the Intellectuals. New York: Anchor Press. Garden City, 1982.
Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. New York: The Modern Library, 1944.
Brewster, David. Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton. Edinburgh: Thomas Constable and Co., 1855.
Gallop, David. Parmenides of Elea. Toronto: University of Toronto Press,1984.
Heidegger, Martin. Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western Philosophy. Translated by David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi. New York: Harper San Francisco, 1984.
--- The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1977.
--- Philosophical and Political Writings. Edited by Manfred Stassen. New York: The Continnum International Publishing Group Inc., 2003.
--- Discourse On Thinking. Translated by John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966.
--- Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
Peters, F.E. Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon. New York: New York University Press, 1967.
(c) Pedro Blas Gonzalez 2015
III. 'THE MEANING OF THE EARTH: NIETZSCHE'S PHILOSOPHER CREATORS' BY MARTIN JENKINS
'That the ubermensch shall be the meaning of the Earth'.
In a previous article 'Nietzsche: The Politics of Physiology', (Philosophy Pathways Issue 176) I described Nietzsche's opposition to 'Modern Ideas' of equality, democracy, socialism and anarchism. These, like Christianity before them, were for him, symptoms of a diseased physiology. Here, the drives of peoples were in chaos, were disaggregated. This made them feel sick, exhausted, depressed. The solution for this sickness was the venting of ressentiment against the privileged and later, with the intervention of the Priests, willing in a certain direction 'for man would rather will than not will at all'. The latter was provided by Christianity as it willed the ascetic ideal: the denial of this world in favour of another one. Its inheritor of European 'Modern ideas' wills equality, community, pity. For Nietzsche, this represented not the triumph of Civilisation but on the contrary the triumph of a decadent human type which is identical with the decline of Western culture. In the nineteenth century, themes inherent to Christianity manifested in secular 'modern' ideas and the momentum of decadence continued.
What of Nietzsche's solution to the problem of 'Modern Ideas'? In this article, I will briefly explore his writings about the New Philosopher Creators and what he regarded as their tasks to cure the perceived sickness of humanity.
The Decline of the West
To recap: the modern 'democratic movement is the heir of Christianity' and Nietzsche observed its progress during his lifetime. Like others at the time, he seems to have concerns about the onset of democracy and socialism but specifically, he gave them an ontological justification. Nietzsche believed Modern Ideas were inimical to life -- life understood as will to power, will to power informing types of human physiology. Corresponding to the dominating physiology in Europe, the fundamental values of the 'democratic movement' were equality and pity. Equality before God is taken from Christianity and applied secularly against those who are taken to blame for the suffering of the masses. Equality is symptomatic of decline, physiological decline which is simultaneously a decline in Will to Power. Equality renders every one as identical and homogeneous. The 'herd' -- Nietzsche's pejorative term for the above mentioned socio-political movements -- also values Pity. All suffering is unjustified and people blame the socio-political conditions of 19th century industrial capitalism for their discontent whereas Nietzsche believes discontent is innate not social, occasioned upon the physiological diremption of inner drives.
Building on earlier Christian balms for the anarchy of physiological drives, modern ideas emphasise the benefits of mechanical activity or work; of achieving small joy by doing good, relieving, comforting, helping others. This mutuality with others formulates a community with others, the formation of a herd. Thus we arrive at equality, pity, workism, mutuality, a community or herd identity. These valuations coax the vapid will to power of the sick European physiology by giving the drives direction thereby marshalling will to power and achieving social domination.
This willing appears to be the key as Nietzsche writes in On the Genealogy of Morality at the end of the final Treatise: for man would even will nothingness than not will at all. So humanity would rather will Modern Ideas than not will at all: humanity needs something to will. Unfortunately, the degree and intensity of this modern willing decreases what humanity is otherwise capable of. Thus throughout his writings from Zarathustra onwards can be read, a sustained critique of Modern Ideas. Nietzsche's panacea for the sickness of modernity would arise because:
The same new conditions that generally lead to a levelling
and mediocritisation of man -- a useful, industrious,
abundantly serviceable and able herd animal man -- are to
the highest degree suitable for giving rise to exceptional
people who possess the most dangerous and attractive
qualities.... ...What I'm trying to say is: the
democratisation of Europe is at the same time an
involuntary exercise in the breeding of tyrants --
understanding that word in every sense, including the most
For exceptional individuals will accidentally emerge, inherently compelled to challenge the restrictive ideas of modernity.
Arising from different class or climate based regions, the modern European is physiologically adaptive yet, this, according to Nietzsche, precludes the powerfulness of their type. These Europeans will probably become garrulous, impotent but eminently employable workers who will need masters as they need their daily bread; democratisation makes for a type prepared for slavery -- in the most subtle sense. Whereas there may occur lapses into Anarchism and Nationalism, the physiological process of adaption will produce the very opposite of that envisaged by the advocates of Modern Ideas. It will create the ideal conditions for the emergence of outstanding, exceptional individuals, what Nietzsche above terms 'tyrants' or Philosopher Creators.
For instance, being so used to obeying rather than commanding, herd animal people would feel guilty about commanding. This bad conscience about commanding is evidenced and offset argues Nietzsche, by the success of Napoleon -- he gives the masses palpable relief that they have a commander and lawgiver who frees them from the responsibility. Again, the levelling of equality will be felt as incommensurate to the valuations, affects borne of an intense, complexity of a stronger, comprehensive physiology which in turn, is identical with stronger drives or instantiations of will to power.
The example of Napoleon provides hints as to Nietzsche's Ubermensch. This term first appears in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Here, Zarathustra heralds the coming of the Ubermensch who will overcome existing humanity. In other words, humanity as the culmination of 2000 years of Christianity, epitomised in Modern Ideas, will be overcome by the Ubermensch, variously translated as the 'man of tomorrow', 'the man beyond and over man' and not uniquely, the Superman. After Zarathustra, the term Ubermensch does not appear. A new term for the same theme emerges in Beyond Good and Evil -- the Philosopher Creator.
These are not Philosopher's in the sense of mere academic labourers; these are Commanders and Lawgivers compelled to create values by will to power. These 'true' philosophers:
...reach for the future with a creative hand and everything
that is and was becomes a means, a tool, a hammer for them.
Their 'knowing' is creating, their creating is a
legislating, their will to truth is -- will to power.
Who are They?
A quantum of Will to Power constitutes a drive, ipso facto, the philosopher creators are possessed of stronger drives than others. Such drives do not lapse into a frenzy but are given coherence by being subordinated to and by, stronger commanding drives. This is coterminous with a healthy physiology -- not to negate and suppress the raging drives, but to value them as a stimulus to life; to control, outwit and incorporate them. Then as Nietzsche writes: 'what emerges are those amazing, incomprehensible and unthinkable ones, those human riddles destined for victory and seduction.' Alcibiades, Caesar, the Hohenstaufen Frederick II and Leonardo da Vinci are cited perhaps, indicative of his Philosopher Creator types. Contrary to equality yet in accordance with life, there will be order of rank denoting the will to power a person is by 'how much and how many things someone could carry and take upon himself, how far someone could stretch his responsibility'. Following from an abundance of will or comprehensive will to power 'only this will be called greatness: the ability to be just as multiple as whole, as wide as full'. As befits their nature, such Philosopher Creators will sit atop an aristocratic society enhancing humanity.
The alternative to such complex drives is to find escape in the panacea found in rest, lack of disturbance, a flight from the world of drives into another -- a 'Sabbath of Sabbaths' as St Augustine termed this, which was his and historic Christianity's solution: the ascetic ideal and it informs the Modern Ideas Nietzsche attacks. He dismisses the hopes of the European herd person seeking its eternal green pasture society of happiness, or of the socialist's with their man of the future. Like the impending heaven of the Christians before them, Modern people seek to escape the present in their hopes of future redemption in a new society, the 'new Jerusalem'; one that ends of the 'exploitation of man by man' and the like.
What will they do?
Nietzsche doesn't provide a manifesto as to what his Philosopher Creators will do although pointers can be gleaned from his writings. Mainly, they will re-evaluate the European values that have dominated for 2000 years.
Firstly, the Philosopher Creators have the responsibility for the overall development of humanity. So against the 'law of chance' and accident that has previously prevailed, the Philosopher Creators task is to 'select and breed' and cultivate human beings hegemonically employing religions (and political/ economic situations) to this end. Such religion will be distinct from the previous ones that valorise suffering into a principle; it will not preserve the 'failures and degenerates, the diseased and infirm, those who necessarily suffer', will not preserve too much of that which should have been destroyed -- as Nietzsche claims Christian breeding has done thus contributing to the deterioration of the European race. The new Creator Philosophers are aware of this failing and, of what humanity could instead be bred to be.
Secondly, as commanders and legislators, their creation of values is Will to Power. Instead of the egalitarianism inherent to Christianity and Modern Ideas, they will inculcate an 'order of rank' in things as well as people. This ranking is expressive of respective degree of will to power in the strength of inner drives, the ability of such drives to incorporate other internal and external drives in creative mastering growth manifested in an individual and, the multiple responsibilities a more comprehensive, complex person can endure.
Unlike the levelling of life by equality, an Aristocratic society allows vital life, as growing ascending power, as will to power, to fully realise itself. In so doing, it naturally allows the enhancement of humanity.
Every enhancement so far in the type 'man' has been the
work of an aristocratic society and that is how it will be
again and again...'
So what Nietzsche envisages is an aristocratic and hierarchical society composed of ranks equivalent to their instantiations of will to power. Just as internal drives of a healthy physiology are ordered by stronger drives incorporating the weaker ones to their interests, to their 'will'; so social ranks are incorporated by the new will that humanity follows -- that of the aristos -- the Philosopher Creators.
What is Enhancement?
How does the new aristocracy enhance humanity? The answer I think, is to be found in the theories of evolution that influenced Nietzsche's thinking and which are indispensable for understanding the general thrust of his 'philosophy'. From studying the non-Darwinian evolutionist Carl Nageli amongst others, Nietzsche believed that evolution was generated by a perfection principle. Perfection is a tendency toward greater complexity in an organism. As Gregory Moore writes:
Nietzsche sees both power and complexity as indices of
perfection; or rather, greater organic complexity is the
result of a more fundamental will to power in the
Hence his emphasis on the complexity of strong drives in the Philosopher Creators. Note that evolutionary enhancement occurs in an individual organism and not a species; individuals and not the species are the site of evolutionary change. The species had completed adaption eschewing further variability. Hence Nietzsche critique's of the 'herd European' with its corresponding modern values of equality, levelling, and identity; which reinforce stagnation. Humanity will be enhanced through exceptional individuals -- the aristocracy of the Philosopher Creators. The suppression of such individuals by the homogenisation of modern ideas would prevent further human evolution. Of course, Nietzsche's conclusions rest upon the veracity of his premises -- the evolutionary theories he relied upon such as that of Nageli's. Theories which are at the very least, contestable.
Assuming Nietzsche's vision was realised, what would such a society be like?
He writes of his admiration for the Romans, of their values against those of Judea so perhaps this indicates the type of society he would like to see? In place of equality will be a hierarchy based on order of rank, incorporated to the will of the Philosopher Creators. Petty politics of Nationalism's and Anarchism's will be replaced by the single Will of the Grand Politics of a united Europe led by the Philosopher-Creators which, will confront the single will of Russia for domination of the Earth.
It is impossible to fully appreciate Nietzsche's writings, his doctrine of Will to Power, of the Ubermensch/ Philosopher Creators and his disdain for 'Modern Ideas' and Christianity without an understanding of the theories of evolution on which they are based. For Nietzsche, the justification of human society is the existence of the Philosopher Creators. Their will to power/ physiology follows from evolution. That is, to reiterate, theories of evolution that are questionable, perhaps have even been refuted. If refuted then the whole of Nietzsche's philosophy especially his criticism of modernity, is also refuted.
1. Zarathustra's Prologue. Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Penguin 1969.
2. Martin Jenkins. Nietzsche: The Politics of Physiology. Pathways to Philosophy 176.
3. ¤203. Friedrich Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil. Cambridge University Press. 2002.
4. ¤18 Third Treatise. Friedrich Nietzsche. On the Genealogy of Morality. Hackett. 1998.
5. ¤28 ibid.
6. ¤242. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
7. ¤ 40, 41. Skirmishes of an Untimely Man. Friedrich Nietzsche. Twilight of the Idols. Cambridge University Press. 2006.
8. ¤242. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
9. Prologue. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Op cite.
10. ¤44, 203, 211. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
11. ¤211. Ibid.
12. ¤13. First Treatise. Genealogy of Morality. Op cite.
13. ¤200. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
14. ¤212. Ibid.
15. ¤213. Ibid.
16. ¤258. Ibid.
17. ¤200. Ibid. and The Problem of Socrates. Here Nietzsche describes the anarchic chaos inherent to the bodies of the Greeks. The remedy for this as provided by Socrates was the imposition of Reason and Logic. Twilight of the Idols. op cite.
18. ¤203. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
19. ¤61. Ibid.
20. ¤62. Ibid.
21. ¤108, 117, 212, Ibid. 248, 230.
¤858. Friedrich Nietzsche. The Will to Power. Vintage Books. 1968.
22. ¤257,8. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
23. Part 1: Evolution. Gregory Moore. Nietzsche, Biology & Metaphor. Cambridge University Press. 2002.
24. P. 32. Ibid.
25. ¤16. First Treatise. Genealogy of Morality. Op cite.
26. ¤228. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
27. ¤208. Ibid. ¤39. Twilight of the Idols. Op cite.
(c) Martin Jenkins 2015