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Nietzschean Philosophy as Background to an Examination of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Friedrich Nietzsche • “God is dead.… And we have killed him”-Nietzsche no absolute truth, no clear moral code. All is relative, depends upon one’s perspective. •Nietzsche (along with his contemporaries Freud, Darwin, and Marx) brought attention to the deep and burgeoning cultural shift perceived in Europe, already prior to WWI. • Nietzsche is one of the philosophers and thinkers who sets the stage for the movement known as Existentialism. Nietzsche and Nihilism Absolute freedom to create our own values. Creates a loss of orientation and results in nihilism, i.e. values emptiness. 2 kinds of nihilism: -Passive nihilism longs for the return of the morality and values. -Active nihilism accepts the value vacuum as a form of emancipation. Crisis: How do we create meaning in the moral void? Mortality and Anxiety Human consciousness of death creates anxiety. Death is a state of nothingness, of nonbeing. After WWI, fear not only of individual death, but of the death of entire cultures LOTR. The Ugly Truth The truth that life is meaningless, purposeless is too ugly for us to bear. “Good” and “Evil” do not exist in any measurable form, and any “objective” morality is pointless and unnatural. Doing “good deeds” because we believe that God assigns moral value to these things, is merely lying to ourselves. Science led us to nihilism, and only art can distract us from that terror. Beauty will save us from truth. Artists affirm life in the midst of great suffering and pain. Technology is dangerous denies imagination and creativity, alienates us from who we really are (from our origins). Nietzsche’s Theory of The Will to Power Reality is the Will to Power. It is seen in the struggle for survival between species and men, in the exercise of power over others. The highest level is seen in power over oneself, in the selfmastery of artists and geniuses. Domination over another confesses an inability to dominate one’s internal conflicts. Master Soul / Slave Soul Two types of modern men: 1) The Slave, made up of the masses = the wretched and the botched, who assign blame and seek sympathy for their suffering. The masses are frightened by the death of God, since it places responsibility for creating values on them. The Slave denies the will to power, invent afterworlds. 2) The Master, or noble man = humans capable of overcoming their mere humanity, of honestly facing and accepting the meaninglessness of life, of assigning to it whatever values or purposes the Master finds acceptable/responsible. In this way, one can become the mythical hero (Superman, or Uebermensch). The Master affirms the will to power. The superior individual assumes this responsibility without fear and also utilizes fear to achieve what they believe is right. Master / Slave (continued) Slave morality states that the good is the meek and humble, and the bad is the prideful. is suitable to weak persons who should obey the strong. but Western morality (Christianity) imposed it on the strong as well as the weak. a plot of the weak to dominate the strong stems from an unconscious resentment of the weak against the strong. From “Beyond Good and Evil” Noble man/Superman does not require others’ approval Helps the unfortunate not out of pity out of an impulse generated by his immense power and generosity Has power over himself (selfwill) Takes pleasure in subjecting himself to great severity and hardships. Nietzsche, Myth, and Modernism o o o Every vital society has a unifying myth, but rationalism has destroyed every such myth in the West. The rebirth of the West from its present nihilism requires a new myth: Superman. The Superman lives dangerously, risking himself, renouncing security, exhausting his health in heroic effort. One should die with one’s boots on. One should stride forth and embrace one’s fate (amor fati). In other words... A Master/Superman asserts a continual effort of their free will to be virtuous in a world without objective virtue. – In more existential (and modern) terms, a Superman chooses the difficult or impossible, but fundamentally virtuous answer to problems, over the easy and personally satisfying solution. – In Tolkien’s world they do so by personal choice based on compassion, pity, preservation: essentially the conscious pursuit of common good. Together we stand, divided we fall. On the personal level, resistance to temptation and indomitable endurance are key concepts. – Memory and Forgetfulness Memories can come upon us unawares, and lead either to joy or anguish. All memories are not always accessible to us, and memory is therefore beyond our control, beyond our will. Because some memories hurt our ability to live a full and useful life, Nietzsche believes that many humans tend to run from memory, by keeping active and never stopping to think or allow thoughts to come naturally. We flee from our past, which can haunt us, and make us inauthentic beings. (Make connection to Freud’s id.) We should strive to remember the positive, but forget the harmful, that which will keep us from living an authentic life. History as Memory Nietzsche differentiates three attitudes toward history: 1. “Geschichtlich” (historical): memory is needed to our survival. We need history to remember the past and stabilize our identity. Remember who you are. 2. “Ungeschichtlich” (unhistorical): But if it is necessary, we must be able to forget the past for our happiness. Forget what weakens you. 3. “Uebergeschichtlich” (superhistorical): history is cyclical, we live our lives over and over againthe past can teach us the meaning of the future and anticipate the future. Authentic vs. Inauthentic Life Inauthentic Life: Lived by people who never seriously question themselves or whether or not they are simply being led around by the institutions designed to help them; Are they genuine, or merely acting a part? If humans never know who they really are as individuals lead a zombie kind of existence. They forget who they are. Authentic vs. Inauthentic Life Authentic Life: Lived by people who recognize and dissolve the artificial chains that bind us, and that come from outside forces, such as religion. Nietzsche concludes there is no originating force that creates a man, and that this fact "alone is the great liberation" (65). To break free of imposed restraints is to accept responsibility for one’s fate, and to affirm life, even in the face of great suffering. A person who leads an authentic life remembers who he/she is. This all leads to Existentialism A) Existence precedes essence (hence the name “existentialism”): there are no or pre-existing conditions that guide or determine man’s behavior or essence. B) Leads to the “absurd condition” man seeks meaning in a meaningless world (universe unconscious of our existence). C) Man is condemned to be free. Leads to modern despair from man’s overwhelming sense of responsibility and recognition of his fundamental aloneness in an indifferent universe. D)The artist/existentialist achieves meaningful happiness by facing the pain and still affirming life.