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Nietzsche’s “Life not an argument”

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  1. His view on consciousness.
  2. How Nietzsche traces morality's origin.
  3. The initial definition of morality.
  4. Nietzsche's appraisal of knowledge.
  5. What Darwin fails to identify as the essence of living.

?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. [...]


[...] Next, the reader should observe how Nietzsche traces morality's origin not unlike consciousness's origin to its usefulness for the community rather than an outside, divine, or factual basis. Such a consideration of the sections in Gay Science? regarding morality tends to show that Nietzsche regarded morality as a social construct, specifically as evaluation and ranking of human drives based on the needs of the community? (Williams 114). We can first discern what ranking of human drives? means on the individual level. [...]

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