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Friedrich Nietzsche

September 18, 2013

He’s maybe the philosopher with the biggest influence on our world. The first influential philosopher is Plato who layed the foundation for western philosophy. However Kant and Hegel had a huge influence, the influences on our modern time can be mostly put down to Nietzsche. It’s a very hard question which philosopher had a bigger influence, Hegel or Nietzsche?

English: The portrait of G.W.F. Hegel (1770-18...

English: The portrait of G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831); Steel engraving by Lazarus Sichling after a lithograph by Julius L. Sebbers.

Why not Hegel?

Hegel is in fact the origin of Marxism, without Hegels philosophy there wouldn’t be any Marxism, because even if Karl Marx had independently thought about his ideas without Hegel, he wouldn’t have any good foundation for his theories. When you read about Karl Marx, you will find out that the turn in his thinking came when he read Friedrich Hegel. When he read the Phenomenology of Spirit he wrote a letter to his father in which he said that it was the most amazing book which he ever read with giving him new insights every time he read it. This shows what kind of influence Hegel had on his followers. Even a lot of modern philosophers still have influence from Hegel somewhere, because they adhere postmodernism or some form of marxism which has been influenced by Hegel. First, before I will continue my talk I will explain to the laymen what the theory of Hegel was.

Basically, Hegel said that if you have a situation or aspect, which is a thesis, and a contrast of that situation or aspect, which is the antithesis you will have a synthesis which is a combination of these two situations. After a while they will influence eachother and create a better situation, which will continue into situations of more perfection. In that way society becomes more perfect every time.

Karl Marx used this theory for his theory too, but he applied it to employees and employers. He was very influential and a lot of Marxists think too that Hegel wasn’t applying the theory in the right way, because his interpretation was purely spiritual while Marxs theory proved to be right in reality too according to them. It was a disastrous theory though, we have had all kinds of corrupt regimes in North Korea, the Soviet Union and China which have probably created more evil than good. Of course capitalism contains evil too, the people in Soviet States were guaranteed of having food, unlike people in capitalist states. There are christian organizations too in capitalist states which offer food to people who don’t have access to it, where we can see the overlap between communism and christianity. The difference between the two is the spiritual interpretation of reality, but helping the poor is a similarity, the way however is different, because christianity doesn’t encourage to overthrow power, but it encourages the adherants to stay calm and believe in order to bring change. Communists don’t believe in a spiritual God, their God is in fact Karl Marx or communism itself and because of that they will do anything they can in order to establish communism and create a better situation for poor people.

However capitalist states contain evil, communist states often turned out to become ultra-capitalist states because the division between poor and rich people became extreme in these societies.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche

Why Nietzsche?

After a while during which hegelianists and marxists existed, there was a new philosopher, Nietzsche. He in fact introduced a new system, a system which would be shared by all rich states. Nietzsche was turned against christianity, it’s interesting how people thought that he would become a person of the church, but instead of that became an anti-christian while studying christianity in order to serve the church. He used his logic and wrote books in which he described his views and those books were very influential. Not only in obscure groups like Heavy Metal artists, but also among intellectuals Nietzsches books became of a huge influence. A lot of people refer to nazism when talking about Nietzsche, but those people don’t realize that Nietzsches sister was giving different interpretations to Nietzsches writings than what Nietzsche himself ment and she gave a certain influence to the Nazis which had a wrong interpretation of his books. The idea of the über-mensch wasn’t an Aryan race which would overthrow all other people, this is nonsense which is based on mythology which was also wrong interpreted (Aryans originated somewhere in modern-day Siberia), but the idea was a human being which got rid off religious values which limited him or her and reaching a higher state of being because of having own responsibility. This is criticism which is often given at christianity, the fact that responsibility is taken away, because people have a God which takes away all their responsibility. Nietzsches books were an inspiration for atheists in order to have certain arguments for their position.

Although hegelianism and marxism have a huge influence on our society, the way of living of our society is pretty much based on Nietzsches ideas of self-responsibility and not believing in Gods. Although God is having a huge influence on the United States, there are countermovements in this country which seem to use the same logic as Nietzsche for not believing in Gods. They take away your responsibility and if there are other explanations, why would you attribute the situation to a God?

An interesting parallel is how both capitalism and Nietzsche are telling people to be responsible themselves and to not surrender to the weak of society, but how capitalism is practically interlaced with protestantism and protestant work ethic. A possible explanation is that protestant groups in the United States are more often having inspiration from the Old Testament than the New Testament. The writings from the Old Testament are, although they give responsibility to God also writings in which God gives the responsibility to men to work well. He also gives all kinds of ethics in the Old Testament which are related to our economy. Maybe the fact that responsibility for working is given to men and the responsibility which has to be taken by man himself according to Nietzsche is the reason for this similarity. Logical thinking will also bring the conclusion that working hard gives possibilities of getting at a higher position in our society, which explains it.

Although Karl Marx has had an influence on our economy thus Hegel too indirectly, the capitalist system also has movements which aren’t in line with their ideas, liberals are turning against these movements. It’s interesting how both christians, especially protestant christians and atheists are in line with this. Although Marxists are atheists, in accordance with the rejection of Hegelian spirituality of Marxists, there are also capitalists who are atheists and atheism and capitalism are compatible. One reason for that is the logic behind capitalism, because if the gouvernment doesn’t influence the market too much, it can create a better system for society as a whole. It can, it doesn’t necessarily do, and one of the reasons why we have socialism is to straighten the flaws which are within the capitalist system which, when they go too far, make it impossible for employees to have enough earnings.

Nietzsche still has a big influence though, his books are read by a lot of people and more people are becoming atheists because of our logic, which can be used to rationalize against religion because Nietzsche opened up the possibilities for that. Before Nietzsche, a lot of people were forced to adhere christianity and giving criticism was very hard, according to atheists this is the reason why people like Einstein claimed to believe in a God, because their ideas couldn’t have been published in their time if they wouldn’t have said that they did. I wonder though if this is right and if it couldn’t be that they said this, because they believed in a different kind of God. God and science can be compatible if it isn’t a God which limits our possibilities for discovery. One of the reasons why intelligent people are often less religious is because a lot of discoveries aren’t compatible with claims in religious books.

Although both Nietzsche and Hegel have had a huge influence, almost everything in our society what we can experience is due to Nietzsche, without Nietzsche a lot of secular things wouldn’t have been possible because we would still have to follow Gods and rules which are in accordance with those Gods. People like Voltaire were taking the first steps for a secular and atheist society and the French Revolution gave a turn in making it possible, but until Nietzsche was there, a lot of people in society were still religious.

Atheism can also cause problems because religion gives hope and religion can lead to a higher value of life-experience, which are problems caused by atheism for which it’s very hard to provide a solution.

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4 Comments
  1. If you read Nietzsche, hope and higher value are there for the taking. No religion is necessary and in fact religion hinders us from getting both. The church does not give them out. What size is the package that they come in? What color? How much does it weigh?

    Anything that you can say the church gives to a human I can show the human had already but the church helped them to see they had it inside them all along yet takes credit.

    • Firstly I want to say that I ‘m not a christian myself, but I have studied these different religions a lot. The reason why the church helped the poor had to do a lot with increasing the adherants of your religion, which in turn increases your influence. This is a negative influence, however there are also christians helping poor people because they feel it like something they have to do and among those christians there are also christians who understand the ethical values and don’t just do it because a God says it. It’s alright to criticize a religion, but it’s wrong to be blinded by just wanting to give criticism and not realizing that there are also people who have positive inspiration out of their religion.

      • What you say is true though I disagree on the point of being kind to religion because a few people draw positive inspiration from it. The net positive value of religion is questionable. They’ve dressed up community bonding as god bothering and claim it as the purview of religion.

        In the USA there are mega-churches. Some people like them beccause they are impersonal and much like McDonalds – drive thru. Many people do not like them because they are impersonal. I truly believe that ‘community’ has to be reclaimed from religions. When a church provides community it comes with a price tag – proseletyzing. The church must because they need the free money to survive. They rob us all. Religions are leeches on society. This is true even if some people find positive benefit. It’s the net benefit that should be looked at.

      • Firstly I agree on your statement that it’s questionable if churches ask for a fee in their church which is too high. I know that in certain christian communities like the Jehovahs Witnesses if I ‘m not wrong they have to pay 10% of their income to the church. I think that is actually quite some amount of money. A lot of people who are part of a christian community had problems in their lives like being a drugs addict or other heavy problems. Those people find a way out in religion, there are different stories about that. The secular system doesn’t seem to provide solutions to these people, either there are people within the medical care system or mental health system who don’t care about their problems and are purely doing their work because they want to do some work but it isn’t really about helping people, or there are other elements within our society which don’t provide help to these people. These people often find a way out in a religion or other means which give them a goal in their life and which can offer
        In this perspective, atheism doesn’t have much to offer, atheism is great considering developments in science, because religion brings delays to that. Atheists are free thinkers often and among atheists there are hedonists, if people have nothing to live for anymore though because of physical conditions they are in or certain mental problems, it’s pointless to be an hedonist and even if you can’t do anything religion can be a good replacement. For some people it’s impossible to do that completely on their own and in this case I think that it’s a good thing that there are professionals who can offer help in a certain religious system. It goes too far if a religion is forcing people too much and if it has effects like a psychosis, which is the reason why there needs to be a certain kind of moderation within religion, I think though that both banning a religion and giving too much religion to a religion are both bad things.

        What you said about an impersonal organisation is actually what a religious instution shouldn’t be like at all, I have read the Bible and christian theology as an agnostic person and I remember reading that within Christianity people are making a personal relationship with God. If the church is about group-forming and just pushing things down in a group, it isn’t really about what it was all about in the start at all. This is the reason why I think that we need certain reforms within religion and I can agree with Dawkins that too much people within religious institutions are exploiting people who are too credulous. The original goal of the Catholic Church was to control people, the one of the Protestant church was to unite people against the Catholic one and give more control to the people, although they still had an influence. The goal of the first church was probably to offer people a certain life perspective and ethical morals which are also present in humanism, buddhism and other religions. Of course we can’t be sure about this, but the claim by atheists that they are absolutely sure that religions like christianity were found just to control people is just a guess in my opinion, we aren’t sure at all about that and concerning religion it’s pointless to apply rules of another world-view which aren’t in accordance with it. You can’t judge islam with a Christian view, you can’t judge atheism with a christian view and you can’t judge christianity with an atheist view. Well, yes, you can, but your view won’t be really objective, the only way to have an objective view about christianity as an atheist or as an agnostic person or a person of any other possible world-view is to listen to what christians say, understand them instead of immediately applying your own world-view and read the Bible. You really get to understand the world and politics better if you have read that book which has had a huge influence on our society. Linguistics wouldn’t even be so far without the Bible and priests who wanted to translate because of a belief in God. I think that without Christianity and just atheism, we wouldn’t know that much about languages at all because a lot of languages a few centuries ago wouldn’t have been conserved that well because of whole translations of religious books.

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