The conditions of life might include error, Nietzsche says, yet without these conditions no one could endure living (Williams 117). Though we have forms, rules, and facts, he argues, we've merely invented them to cope with the mysteries of our environment. These structures or articles of faith that we assume and take for granted give us life,' as we know it, yet there are many ways to know life. Through The Gay Science, Nietzsche aims to demonstrate to the reader that life is not an argument, that the security one finds in one's own values and view of reality is not binding for all. One's life is not meant to prove a point, for instance to demonstrate the superiority of the male sex, the sacredness of chastity, or even the divinity of Jesus Christ. Values and judgments such as these may prove to be useful for the individual on some level, yet because they can only ever be derived from the individual's own life experience (or inexperience for that matter) and thus cannot be imposed upon everyone as independent reality. How then, the reader may ask, could Nietzsche ever prove anything affirmative about life? for indeed his theory may at first appear to be nihilistic, relativist, or even life-negating. It may also seem self-contradictory for him to posit any of his judgments since they would only be true for him. However, this is a misguided interpretation of The Gay Science, and in its place, through the examination of Nietzsche's analyses of consciousness, morality, and knowledge, it will be revealed how he has affirmed these and other elements of life, and finally, how all of life functions within his the will to power theory.
[...] Morality has not been altogether lost today, Nietzsche argues, but has been given an additional duty: metaphorically, it must clothe the embarrassing nudity of our modern humanity, for we no longer behave like full-fledged members of the herd, but like awkward half-lings who desire a more magnificent pretense, “something nobler, grander, goodlier, and something ‘divine'” (Williams 210). Thirdly, we must study Nietzsche's appraisal of knowledge and, again, notice how he delineates the basis of what we regard as knowledge. In this third example we can surely isolate his tendency to identify a subjective pattern based on the human perspective - survival of the species and explain how it has skewed our reality. [...]
[...] Once again, Nietzsche wants to prove here that our knowledge is not “something divine,” or timeless, unprejudiced, and from a greater outside source, as Spinoza preaches. Rather, Nietzsche stresses that knowledge is a “demand for certainty a need for faith, foothold, support,” a natural inclination to find a reliable understanding of phenomenon. He traces this need to a lack of self-sovereignty or “willpower,” which is often replaced by the viewpoints of someone else - for instance, those of a religious authority. [...]
[...] It is in this way that Darwinism, the struggle for life, the survival of the fittest, is not decisive, for in nature, Nietzsche points out, abundance rather than “distress” is the basic factor in living. Darwinism posits theories that have been pertinent to his and many other natural scientists' worlds, but takes the selfish next step to declare its theories the law of nature. Yet Nietzsche objects, for he asserts that value systems cannot be objectively developed: “nature is value-less only we have created the world that concerns human beings!” (Williams 171). [...]
[...] Consciousness is not the essence of human existence, as Descartes has claimed in his “Meditations on First Philosophy,” not “eternal' or “ultimate,” and certainly far from any natural law. Instead, it is simply the “latest development” in humankind, a new function of the body that in fact holds less control over the body than instinct, or unconscious thought. Consciousness, is a fallible property of the body, which, if left unmonitored by unconscious thought, would bring an early end to humanity due to consciousness's unreliable ability to “assimilate knowledge and [make] it instinctive,” to simply learn what is true (Williams 37). [...]
[...] Furthermore, because every action is forever and totally exceptional, matchless, or “altogether unique and unrepeatable,” any similarity between actions is nothing more than superficiality, “only just an appearance” (Williams 189). In this way then, no value and subsequent action can really be known, mechanism is unprovable,” and then imposed on all. We should instead reduce our ambition for moral strength to an ethical system that, before anything else, acknowledges its subjective and idiosyncratic essence: want to become who we are- human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves!” (Williams 189). [...]
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