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"Even if god existed that would make no difference" What would Nietzsche say?

 
 
Janus D Strange
 
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Reply Tue 20 Nov, 2012 05:24 pm
@fresco,
"IMO the philosophical significance of Nietzsche was his overdue attempt to remove "God" from ontology."

I'm afraid he was a litte late, Kant had already accomplished the task. Nietzsche actually wasn't concerned much at all about ontology, more about what beliefs contribute to or detract from the greatest affirmation of life, and he identified belief in God as a symptom of the weakening of culture and that such a belief had become impossible for 'moderns' who thought for themselves, who were not blinded by tradition.
For a student to "display his knowledge of the train of reasoning which followed from Nietzsche via phenomenology and Heidegger, to Sartre." would be impossible in a 2000-3000 word essay, it is too vast a subject.
The question is onviously meant to incite the student to speculate what Nietzsche might have thought of such a statement in the context of his philosophy, which would obviously include speculating about what Sartre might have meant in making the statement, in the context of HIS philosophy.
Setanta
 
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Reply Wed 21 Nov, 2012 03:53 am
@JLNobody,
Your admiration is meaningless to me. The only significance you have in this thread is that you pointlessly introduced incivility here. We have someone posting here with an opinion worth reading. Why don't you take your atrabilious resentments elsewhere?
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fresco
 
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Reply Wed 21 Nov, 2012 06:57 am
@Janus D Strange,
Thank you for your comment. Perhaps I should have said "that part of ontology called existentialism" which does not seem to involve Kant. And IMO a good student could trace a century of paradigmatic development of that topic within your stated word count.
The Crimson Ace
 
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Reply Wed 21 Nov, 2012 02:14 pm
Hey guys, I'm finishing up my paper now. I only have to finish the last paragraph up and add the conclusion. I thought I would post it on here if anybody would care to read it. Also take note that I am not a philosophy major, and this is my first philosophy course which is titled Intro to Existentialism. Insights and critiques are welcome, just try your best to give constructive criticism rather than deconstrucive if you do choose to read and reply. Thank you

God is dead. The atheist German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made this claim through his writing which shocked Germany because of its religious population. In his story Thus spoke Zarathustra , the main character makes it known to the town that “Gott ist tot” (god is dead in English translation). This statement would eventually be heard across the world shortly after Nietzsche’s death. It may be assumed that this statement is just a theological claim about a deity being dead, but it also touches other issues such as morality and free will. Free will enables people to create their own morals. The meaning of the claim “God is dead” will be analyzed, because through this, morality and free will can be better understood.
`The statement that God is dead can reveal that morals are now for the individual to create and uphold rather than the Christian god creating them. Nietzsche was raised in a Lutheran family, so it can be assumed that his statement that God is dead is directed at Christianity due to his adolescent experience with this religion in which he did not agree with. Everybody has a set of morals that they live by, and many people get these though their religion. In Christianity, many morals are found in the Bible and the Ten Commandments. One of these commandments is “thou shall not steal”. Assuming that God is dead, there is no deity to create morals such as “thou shall not steal” and punish those who do not obey them. Even with this absence of God, every atheist is not a thief. If Nietzsche is right and god is dead, humans have the opportunity to create what is universally right and wrong. Many believe that atheists have no morals due to the absence of God in their life. This is to say that atheists are not in need of God for morality, and the same goes for people under the Christian faith. The absence of God means that morals are for humanity to create rather than being pre-set by Christianity. This is not to say that Christian morals are terrible, “thou shall not steal” is something every man should live by. If God is dead, and always was, then Christian morals were man-made in the first place. Christian morals come off as demeaning in the sense that people cannot possess the mentality to create a moral code in which society can operate in a beneficial fashion. This makes it seem that without Christianity, man is a evil looking only for his benefit, harming others. In terms of the Christian god there is fear to break the commandments or to live a life outside of Christian morality. If this moral code is broken by a man he is known as a sinner, but a sinner through the eyes of a Christian. One without a god may not see an action performed outside of Christian morality a as sin. When God is dead morality is for the individual to decide, what is good and evil is his choice not a God’s. A God also takes away the idea that people have free will. God is dead can also convey that man is free.
If God is dead, this can mean that man is free to choose his own fate. A human can create his own fate rather than it being pre-determined by God. A famous saying is that “it’s all in God’s plan”. If a God exists and has a plan, every action is known by this God and therefore every action or decision is not free will, instead it is part of God’s plan. This can reveal that man is now completely responsible for his life’s direction whereas in God’s existence man was under the direction of God’s plan. Many look at god as the planner of their life. In God’s existence life would be a book you are reading from start to finish. This book has not been written by the individual in this example, but by an author, God. God has a plan for everybody and that plan cannot be changed. This person would be reading the pre-written book. But in God’s death the person’s life isn’t reading a prewritten book but rather writing it. There is no plan when god is dead; the plan is created by the individual. When an individual without God has the power to create their own destiny, this means they have free will. One cannot blame things as being “part of God’s plan” if we have free will. The death of a God adds much more responsibility to the person living the life because God is no longer an excuse for what the individual sees as negative.
Without God, people are free to their choices and without a fear of his punishment. Imagine that a six year old child was at home while his parents left him for a few hours to get dinner. To a child, it is as if his parents are a higher being which in this example, will be God. They give him food when he is hungry, they can make things better, and they always know what to do. When his parents leave for dinner he has freedom in this house because he is the only one there. He does not have to watch his behavior for anybody like he would when his parents were home. This child still is aware not to knowingly deface their house even though there is nobody supervising him. In this scenario his parents are not dead like God is in Nietzsche’s claim and a child cannot fend for himself for too long without a parent, but the picture being painted is that the freedom from the absence of a god is not freedom lived in chaos. The statement “God is dead” is asking the child why he acts different in front of his parents. The child may act differently near his elders to avoid punishment. The child fears to be punished, this involves bad things for him. The story is the same for Christianity. In theory, Christians try their hardest to uphold Christian morals because if they do not there will be punishment from God. Jean Paul Sartre might state that even if the parents were home it would make no difference. Sartre makes a claim like this in his book.
In Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean Paul Sartre makes the claim that “even if God existed that would make no difference”. Taking this at face value there are two answers to how Nietzsche would respond to Sartre’s claim. On one hand Nietzsche could disagree in the sense that if there was a god that would make a difference in the way people live and act. People’s morals would reflect God’s wishes due to fear. On the other hand Nietzsche might agree that if there is a god it would not matter because we would not be aware of his existence, so what we see as free will and our own morality would be taken as such even in the existence of God. What Nietzsche sees as free will could potentially be part of God’s plan and he is ignorant to this. This is not self-deception, because if god exists an atheist would not know or believe god exists and therefore would not be lying to himself, therefore creating self-deception. In order to know how Nietzsche would respond, is important to know how both he and Sartre view the word “God”.
The Crimson Ace
 
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Reply Wed 21 Nov, 2012 02:15 pm
@The Crimson Ace,
And there are definitely some typos I'm now seeing, my apologies.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Wed 21 Nov, 2012 02:29 pm
Let me try to connect some dots here. If it makes no difference to the lives of atheists and theists whether or not there is a God that is pragmatically significant. A pragmatic principle states that a difference that makes no difference IS no difference. William James, one of the earlier developers of Pragmatism was very familiar with the writings of Nietzsche--they were contemporaries--but I do not know of any reference by the latter to the former.
Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 09:35 am
@JLNobody,
Quote:
A pragmatic principle states that a difference that makes no difference IS no difference.


Could you furnish an example of any difference that truly makes no difference?
JLNobody
 
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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 10:29 am
@Frank Apisa,
Perhaps they mean that a "variation" of no practical consequence is "a difference that makes no difference." Wouldn't you agree that life is full of them?
Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 12:31 pm
@JLNobody,
Quote:
Perhaps they mean that a "variation" of no practical consequence is "a difference that makes no difference." Wouldn't you agree that life is full of them?


Not at all, JL. I may be wrong (and often am)..."no practical consequences" seems to me to be an impossibility. Perhaps I took the Butterfly Effect too seriously. Perhaps I took Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" too seriously.

But if you could furnish a concrete example, maybe we could discuss it. It sounds like an interesting area to explore.
JLNobody
 
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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 04:54 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Perhaps. Happy Thanksgiving.
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Janus D Strange
 
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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 05:54 pm
@fresco,
Thanks for your response. It is my understanding that Kant refuted the traditional notion of ontology by showing that it is impossible to rationally demonstrate the nature of reality (taken to mean '"what is, in itself, independent of our experience") because we can simply gain no purchase on it. Everything we think is WITHIN the context of experience, and we simply have no justification for trying to extend rational thought beyond that.
This denies the validity of traditional metaphysical notions such as 'substance' and 'essence' when they are taken to refer to real existences.
Sartre's idea that "existence precedes essence" and "the self is no-thing", certainly grow out of the context initiated by Kant's "Copernican Revolution".
The difference is that where Kant wanted to define the limits of reason to make way for faith, and accepted the notion of a binding moral duty, Sartre wanted to make the self, as 'no-thing' and hence, as he believed, potentially entirely undetermined by external causality (for Sartre you would only be determined by it if you believed you were), entirely responsible to and for all its actions and even for its very self-creation.
I guess maybe a student could give a very broad outline of "that topic", but the scope of reading required to grasp the development of philosophy from Nietzsche, through Heidegger and Husserl to Sartre, requiring as a background an understanding of the development of German philosophy from Leibniz through Kant, Fichte and Schelling to Schopenhauer and Hegel would be, in terms of sheer time, impossible for the average undergraduate.
JLNobody
 
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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 11:33 pm
@Janus D Strange,
Good post, worthy of study. Thanks.
fresco
 
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Reply Fri 23 Nov, 2012 01:16 am
@JLNobody,
Agreed. Yet Kant still advocated noumena (an independent reality) albeit an inaccessible one. He also played lip service to "divine authority" with his moral "categorical imperatives". IMO Kant could not be cited as a cornerstone for the atheism of Nietzsche et al which was antithetical to traditional views of "morality". And IMO the bracketing and later rejection of noumena by the phenomenologists was the significant ontological move underpinning existentialism.

An analogy to Kant's position in philosophy might be drawn from that of Clerk-Maxwell in physics. CM provided a watershed for the study of electro-magnetism but still assumed "the ether" for its coherence. Later developments led to the rejection of "the ether" despite the utility of CM's foundational work. Kant was to noumena as Clerk-Maxwell was to the ether.
Janus D Strange
 
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Reply Fri 23 Nov, 2012 02:02 am
@fresco,
Yes, but I don't think we should read Kant as positing any actual existence of such a realm. Noumena is merely "an indeterminate X", which is left over when we have subtracted all qualities which pertain to phenomenal experience, but which we cannot escape referring to when we pre-critically assume that the statements we make about objects of experience refer to the objects as they are independent of anyone's experience. It is more of a logical formal requirement of our assertions about the world, than an imputation of some actually existent realm that we cannot access.
It is almost impossible to speak about coherently because all our concepts and language has evolved out of and in response to experience, and are hence inapplicable other than in a negative sense to what we imagine might lie outside it.
The categorical imperative I understand to be more about trying to find a rational rule to follow for morality. Hence his famous injunction: Always act in accordance with maxims that you could consistently will to be universalizable.
I agree with you that Nietzsche is an amoralist and specifically rejected, as being unworthy of an attitude of affirmation towards life, what he understood to be Kant's 'Christian' morality.



fresco
 
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Reply Fri 23 Nov, 2012 08:26 am
@Janus D Strange,
Good points. I look forward to further discussions with you perhaps regarding the transcendence of traditional logic.
JLNobody
 
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Reply Fri 23 Nov, 2012 10:07 am
@Janus D Strange,
Yes, Nietzsche was an amoralist who referred to himself as an immoralist.
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Janus D Strange
 
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Reply Sat 24 Nov, 2012 08:30 pm
@fresco,
Thanks. Great, I'm always up for a discussion.
0 Replies
 
kiuku
 
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Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2014 03:51 pm
@The Crimson Ace,
Nietzsche would say "It made a difference to Him", Christ.
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