Nietzsche1 - Lucas, Elize, Maria – 4/2/2014

1. What is the nature of the argument?

Inductive, focuses on “real world”, historical record, science; critical of any overarching principles/ideas regarding ethics and the nature of reality.  Advocates instead a case by case or subjective determination

Based on his observations of history and reality

A addressed to a future audience of thinkers who will be receptive to the critique of institutionalized christianity, people with “unconditional freedom over (them)selves” (3)

-”honest, indifferent” people who seek a philosophy without theology

-higher thinkers who are better than general humanity (overmen) (5)

2. Who/What is the argument against?

“Theologians and everything with theological blood”, especially Christians and Jews (7)

Idealism which includes morality, which he regards as “errors” and as the product of cowardice.

Against moralism/idealism especially Kant (pg. 9 and 10)

Criticized Kant’s categorical imperative, and the idea of virtue/morality as an abstract standard(10)

Wagner incapacity for style

Christianity: Christianity only devalues nature (preface 8), turns men into means to serve “bad” ends (56)

Priests: “As long as the priest is considered a higher type of person-this professional negater, slanderer, poisoner of life- there will not be an answer to the question: What is truth?” (8).

3. What is the argument?

To persuade the reader to shed the fatalistic “indolent peace” “decadence” of christianity and of modernity in general (4)

Institutionalized christianity instills values of pity and misery, creating tendencies hostile/antagonistic to a fulfilling life (7)

To be skeptical of “convictions”; freedom from faith so you can devote yourself to self-empowerment (53)

Criticize christianity as a power-grabbing institution that preserves the status of priests, the pope, etc. at the expense of preventing everyone else from realizing their potential for power

Emphasizes nature, reality, history, empiricism; instead of supernatural, otherworldly or godlike conception of truth/ethics      

Two dimensions: (1)Diagnosing the errors of ‘idealism’ and the degree to which idealistic/religious paradigms make us weak/unfulfilled.(2) Suggests how life and the world might still have value for us once we have refused to resort to supernatural or metaphysical ideas.

Ethics: The christian ethic encourages characteristics that are counter to real life.  It breeds pity, fatalism and misery, which prevent people from achieving fulfillment, pursuing power.  

Advocated instead an individual subjective ethical platform  

In this section Nietzsche  attempts to ensure that the history of mankind is split in two (before and after Christ)…

Political institutions should allow individuals the freedom to self-determination, to power. They shouldn’t impose a metanarrative or belief system that explains everything.  Should protect skepticism


3a. What does the author regard as the distinctive problems and possibilities in the Modern Age

Christianity is a modern problem for Nietzsche (pg.33)

Modernity defined by excess, by a false idea of “progress” that lends linearity to history

Christianity stands in the way of becoming who you are, by instilling values of decadence, indolence, fatalism, pity and misery

People are weak, too quick to accept an idealistically or aesthetically pleasing view of reality, rather than a realistic one (11)

What type of human should be bred? (pg.4) Modern society and the christian ethic breeds weak, unfulfilled, pitiful people  

3b. How does the author address liberty, equality, and fraternity?

Liberty: The ‘kingdom of God’ is not something that you wait for; it does not have a yesterday ora day after tomorrow, it will not arrive in ‘thousand years’-it is an experience of the heart;it is everywhere and it is nowhere…”(32).

Liberty, and life itself, is the pursuit of power, which is rendered impossible under christian/idealistic/supernatural institutions

“What we do is the product of “freedom of the will” in the superlative metaphysical sense.” (pg. 18)

Respect for yourself; love for yourself; and unconditional freedom over yourself… (pg. 3)

Freedom from those who proclaim absolute truth (38)

Equality: People should be free to pursue power, everyone is equal to judge for themselves. Christianity is a very equalizing institution but, it  concentrates power on few (priests)  that at the end it doesn’t allow for everyone to be equal. pg.26


“Equality for all” is a idealistic concept of the modern age. Individuals are all different and it is unrealistic to expect equality of outcome.  Only the strongest     

Fraternity: “contempt for humanity” is “blacker than the blackest melancholy” (34) but the reality of humanity is mostly mediocre

Dangerous because it produces convictions that prevent individuals from realizing their own subjective actualization.  People should be free to establish their own radically subjective conceptions of reality, and social organizations tend to prevent such radical skepticism.   

4. what are the strengths of the author's argument?

Sarcasm works on his favor to make his arguments even stronger, laughter in general

Brings ample historical context for his critiques of both the development and the current state of christian institutions  

Appeals to prevailing scientific views of nature in critiquing abstract “godliness” or “other-worldliness”

5. what are the weaknesses of the author's argument?

Dismissive of women/certain individuals as weak

Too outwardly dismissive/hateful of theological ideas as idiotic/unworthy of attention (8)

Radical skepticism of any overarching philosophy devolves into a simple criticism of everything.  No grand conclusions can be made, no solutions offered

Reality is defined by structural inequalities, it’s too simplistic to say that people don’t claim rights because of personal weakness (52)

Focuses entirely on deconstructing thoughts and ideas with no view to material/economic conditions.