Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Gay Science Book 2 & 3

Nietzsche’s critique of conviction, his characterization of German, and of course his expression “God is dead” were among some of the more interesting topics in Books 2 and 3 of The Gay Science.

In Book 2 he writes:

“Independence of the soul!-that us at stake here. No sacrifice can be too great for that: one must be capable of sacrificing one’s dearest friend for it, even if he should also be the most glorious human being, an ornament of the world, a genius without peer-if one loves freedom as the freedom of great should and he threatens this kind of freedom. (150)”

Meaning perhaps that a person should be willing to sacrifice anything, including friendship , for the sake of some faith in independence. Independence of the soul seems to be a major them in the book. He goes on later in Book 2 to criticize his idols Schopenhauer and Wagner, thus proving his independence from them and tearing down their status in his mind as idols. There seems to be many reason why intellectual independence, and independence of various other sorts are important, but I can not put my finger on why Nietzsche holds it to be important. As he often does he doesn’t formulate and write an argument only present a piece of criticism. In another part, I can’t locate it now, he attacks conviction itself which seems to be a part of independent of the soul. He hints that a brave person is able to challenge not only others’ convictions, but also their own. I couldn’t tell if he meant that it is pointless to hold convictions, or simple that we should be open to questioning them; it seems consistent with his amorality that we do not need convictions.

I wonder if his thoughts on the German language can be understood by a native-English non-German speaking person. The German language to me sounds rough, commanding, and the pronunciation of German words require a unique inflection. Perhaps this is what he means when he says that German was becoming militarized. How much of this is an indication of how a later German statesmen who used a German voice to unite the German people and convince them to accept atrocities?

His conception that “God is dead,” in passage 108 and 152 titles the New Struggles and The Madman, is challenging. This is where I think he expresses his disdain for how people use religious traditions to formulate an ethical code and direct their lives. Yet, if he is smart enough to understand that the rest of us are smart enough to know we no longer need a conception of God, then why can’t the rest accept it. Its highly controversial and a mere statement is not compelling. And if he doesn’t care to compel or convince why did he write and publish?

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