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How one becomes what one is Schleinitz, Wulfing von

Abstract

In this essay, I explain what Nietzsche meant by saying "God is dead," and what he thought this Implied for the European morality of his day. The first section deals with the doctrine of eternal recurrence. The doctrine is outlined by means of the two main passages that Nietzsche devotes to the physical details in the books published by him. It is then indicated how seriously Nietzsche took eternal recurrence. I proceed by questioning the scientific soundness of the doctrine, but conclude the section by pointing out the significance that eternal recurrence would have had, had it been true. The most important consequence of the doctrine of eternal recurrence, to Nietzsche, is that it would have overthrown the Christian God, worldview, and morality. Section two proceeds to establish that for Nietzsche and us, even without the doctrine of eternal recurrence, the Christian God has died. I show that we still pride ourselves on being Christians, but I then go on to indicate that we lack the beliefs that would make us true Christians. The main conclusion established in this section is that science and rationalism have killed God. In the third section, I outline the significance of God's death by showing how, with the removal of God, the Christian morality and worldview are left without foundation. I then begin to point out the freedom which man has thereby received. I show that certain concepts and certain metaphysical views can no longer be employed without a severe shift in meaning. I conclude by observing that man does not need to be ashamed of himself anymore. God's death is examined further, in the fourth section, through the implications it has for the passions. It is shown that God's death serves first of all as a means to remove a number of stupidities relating to the nature of the passions. The stupidities of thinking the passions horrendous and of thinking that the only method to cope with the passions is extirpation are examined, and then dismissed. I finish by indicating that a mastering and conquering of the passions is a necessary prerequisite to become master in anything at all. The fifth and final section re-introduces the doctrine of eternal recurrence to show how it led Nietzsche to see the man seeking self-perfection as the best example of a means to deal with the pains and miseries of life. It is then shown how this ideal serves the same function for the person rejecting the eternal recurrence doctrine but not the view that God is dead. To see how one's life can be conceived as an aesthetically pleasing whole, an autobiographical note of Nietzsche and his remarks about Goethe are examined. Certain Nietzschean concepts are discussed in their relation to the man who seeks self-perfection, to show how this goal can be achieved. I conclude the section by indicating that one's life can be seen as forming an aesthetically pleasing whole by having a "dominant task" being brought to our awareness through our "organizing 'idea'."

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