Lecture 3 focused on four things: 1. The intellectual backdrop to Nietzsche 2. Nietzsche’s 3 main objections to Christianity 3. Nietzsche’s positive affirmations in place of Christianity 4. The Nietzschean Catechism. Audio is available here.
I. Intellectual Backdrop
19th century Western (Continental) Europe was unkind to Christianity. Some of the major works floating around were:
– The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin
Replaces need for God in cosmology
–The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
– On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers by Friedrich Schleiermacher
Book basically splits Protestantism in two
– Origins of the History of Christianity by Ernest Renan
The New Testament is essentially myth. This revisionist history was seminal in classic liberalism and influential in the later Jesus Seminar.
– The Essence of Christianity by Ludwig von Feuerbach
Christianity is superstition that will soon be replaced by humanism
– The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud
Humanity has invented God and this delusion is a kind of mental illness.
– Prolegomena to the History of Israel by Julius Wellhausen
Wellhausen espouses that the first five books of the Old Testament were not written by Moses but by editors from four schools of thought. A flood of Bible criticism followed Wellhausen. Tubingen.
–History of Materialism and Critique of its Present Importance by Friedrich Lange
Atomistic Materialism and Darwinism.
II. 3 OJECTIONS:
1. Intellectually impossible (this is assumed a priori without argumentation)
2. It demeans humanity (herd mentality, Dionysianism…)
3. Its morality is fatal to life (slave morality, Dionysianism…)
Nietzsche is more concerned with assessing the damage that Christianity has done rather than tearing it apart limb from limb. Nature was determinant and all metaphysics are to be rejected.
III. Nietzsche’s Positive Affirmations
1. Be a free-spirit
2. Be curious
3. Be nomadic (as well as will to power, master morality…)
IV. The Nietzschean Catechsim
Nietzsche ends book 3 of The Gay Science with 8 hypothetical questions and answers (see page 142):
1. What makes one heroic?
To approach at the same time one’s highest suffering and one’s highest hope
2. What do you believe in?
In this, that the weights of all things must be determined anew.
3. What does your conscience say?
You should become who you are.
4. Where lie your greatest dangers?
5. What do you love in others?
6. Whom do you call bad?
He who always wants to put people to shame
7. What is most human to you?
To spare someone shame
8. What is the seal of having become free?
No longer to be ashamed before oneself.