Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Götterdämmerung 101

Kah-lassssssss, turn to page 2.B7E151628AED2A6B in
your Crime Reader:

The criminal and what is related to him. The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick. He lacks the wilderness, a somehow freer and more dangerous environment and form of existence, where everything that is weapons and armor in the instinct of the strong human being has its rightful place. His virtues are ostracized by society; the most vivid drives with which he is endowed soon grow together with the depressing affects—with suspicion, fear, and dishonor. Yet this is almost the recipe for physiological degeneration. Whoever must do secretly, with long suspense, caution, and cunning, what he can do best and would like most to do, becomes anemic; and because he always harvests only danger, persecution, and calamity from his instincts, his attitude to these instincts is reversed too, and he comes to experience them fatalistically. It is society, our tame, mediocre, emasculated society, in which a natural human being, who comes from the mountains or from the adventures of the sea necessarily degenerates into a criminal. Or almost necessarily; for there are cases in which such a man proves stronger than society: the Corsican, Napoleon, is the most famous case.

Prince Peckinpah

The testimony of Dostoevski [2] is relevant to this problem—Dostoevski, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life, even more than my discovery of Stendhal. This profound human being, who was ten times right in his low estimate of the superficial Germans, lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia—hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society—and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil. [3]
Let us generalize the case of the criminal: let us think of men so constituted that, for one reason or another, they lack public approval and know that they are not felt to be beneficent or useful—that Chandala feeling that one is not considered equal, but an outcast, unworthy, contaminating. [4] All men so constituted have a subterranean hue to their thoughts and actions; everything about them becomes paler than in those whose existence is touched by daylight. Yet almost all forms of existence which we consider distinguished today once lived in this half tomblike atmosphere: the scientific character, the artist, the genius, the free spirit, the actor, the merchant, the great discoverer. As long as the priest was considered the supreme type, every valuable kind of human being was devaluated. The time will come, I promise, when the priest will be considered the lowest type, our Chandala, the most mendacious, the most indecent kind of human being. [5]

I call attention to the fact that even now—under the mildest regimen of morals which has ever ruled on earth, or at least in Europe—every deviation, every long, all-too-long sojourn below, every unusual or opaque form of existence, brings one closer to that type which is perfected in the criminal. All innovators of the spirit must for a time bear the pallid and fatal mark of the Chandala on their foreheads—not because they are considered that way by others, but because they themselves feel the terrible cleavage which separates them from everything that is customary or reputable. Almost every genius knows, as one stage of his development, the "Catilinarian existence"—a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything which already is, which no longer becomes. Catiline—the form of pre-existence of every Caesar. [6]

Catiline as Everyman--that's pedagogy. Nietzsche's writing-- especially the later writing, such as Twilight of the Idols and Anti-Christ, mostly purged of the stoical and Zarathustra- bombast-- may still function as a corrective for bad thinking of left--and right. He's a conservative of sorts, though not the orthodox judeo-xtian sort, or osiris forbid an Aynnie Rand (though perhaps they share ancestry with Aristotle). Nietzsche's system might be read as a type of anomalous naturalism, perhaps, if one needs an 'ism" to classify it under. Xtians and various moralists (including hip, liberal or feminist moralists) reject Nietzsche's writing out of hand--he doesn't appear to believe or seems a bit militaristic, devoted to an ethos of power (strength is good); ergo, he's wrong, sinister, perverted--how calvinist-zionist or mormonic dreck thinks. Verstehen Sie, LDS schwein? Those few humans who still value the authentic aspects of the American Rev--say the wit and wisdom of Aaron Burr--could conceivably find something of value in Nietzsche. Or maybe not. (Ezra Pound may have out-Nietzsche'd Nietzsche).

Positivists--or pseudo-positivists--Darwinists, and assorted japs also tend to ignore or reject Nietzsche, because he's like too conceptual, if they have ever bothered to consider his work whatsoever. What is a Dostoyevsky, or Catiline to bottom-line guys, or to snark-hacks who consider Java code sort of a manifestation of truth itself. Even those who object to the anti-rationalist or hyper-individualist aspects of Nietzsche's writing might view it as a heuristic of sorts.



One Brow said...


What do you mean by "Darwinist"?

J said...

Something like "a groupie who follows the Charles Darwin band."

Serio, I agree with Darwinian evolution, except as a psychological or philosophical model as applied to humans. Baboons don't play chess, write symphonies, or spin integrals, at least not yet. When they do maybe I will change my mind.

One Brow said...

That's a good definition.

I agree applying a biological system to a psychological or social organism is dicey, at best.

J said...

I attempted to flesh out my, shall we say, weak determinist position here, in response to an essay by Bricmont (though Bricmont I am not).

Feedback appreciated.

One Brow said...

Like all good literature on the mind-body question in this day, it seems to be more about raisning questions, and how we will think about the answers, than providing answers.

I'm a naturalist, for now, and my guess is the mind-brody problem will eventually be solved. I even find myself very intrigued by Searle's biological naturalism (and I agree with Searle that he is not a property dualist nor an elimitavist). I don't have a problem with biochemical matter thinking. But I'm not going to pretend those positions are much more than personal opinion right now, and I know I could easily be wrong.

J said...

I usually agree with Searle, though he's sort of a banal writer. And in a sense my position is property dualism (or anomalous monism, as some of the philo-freaks say), in the sense that human brains are highly unique structures in nature, and I do still think that, er, we think.

That doesn't mean that Mind floats above the neurology itself however (as Feser and his pals believe). At the same time, many actions are determined (say, hunger, pain, breathing, bodily functions, etc).

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