Nietzsche and Nihilism The World Term Paper

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Foremost, though, is the Nietzschian concept that freedom is never free -- there are costs; personal, societal, and spiritual. To continue that sense of freedom, one must be constantly vigilant and in danger of losing that freedom, for the moment the individual gasps a sigh of relief and feels "free" from contemplating freedom, tyranny will ensue. He believed that it was the internal cost that contained value. This, however, still presents a problem for Nietzsche, in that he must find a way to connect the objective -- the rose is beautiful, with the "idea" of beauty (essence). Thus, the idea of freedom and the objective reality of freedom are dependent upon the manner in which the individual perceives their own path towards such a concept. Remembering that Nietzsche lived while monarchs still reigned, his view of freedom from a political and cultural paradigm was heavily influenced by Bismarckian politics, which were anything but democratic and "free." Instead, likely opting out of the tradition of Hobbes, people are born into a state in which they cannot be initially free since they are barbarian and must be controlled (Nietzsche, 1982, 224-8).

Now, extrapolating this idea further, we find that for Nietzsche, free will is thus synonymous with freedom. Freedom, the decision made by the individual for the individual, has a result. It has two parts -- the idea and will to make the decision and the follow through to make the decision important and something worthwhile. However, along with the ability to be free, the ability to think, and the ability to actualize, comes the responsibility for the same -- to society (e.g. one's fellow beings), but mostly to oneself. After all, who if not the self would both benefit and suffer if the journey towards freedom were not to materialize? While Nietzsche simultaneously believes that on one is completely responsible for the external forces that engage our lives, there are always issues internally that change one's role and accentuate the idea of self- or persona responsibility (Reginster, 2006, 195-7).

What then, are we as humans to do in order to live a happier, more productive life in which we can genuinely move in the direction of actualization? One idea is to learn from the past, to explore the fundamental human values since humans have been able to conceptualize the abstract, and take comfort in the Aristotelian view that "Happiness comes in the journey, not the destination." This is the view of the grand historical tradition of philosophy in the Death of God and the Meaning of Life, in which the question of not only actualization, but the entire reason for being is examined. Certainly, no past philosopher has been able to conclusively link the human condition with an actuality of being to the point of a positive proof. Instead, different approaches to humanity, and our continual struggle, have had various degrees of philosophical success. Is there one right answer for everyone? Likely not, but are there some maxims that can make the world a more enjoyable place to embark upon a journey of continual learning, intellectual and emotional joy, and moments of profound understanding and juxtaposition with the universe? Yes, it seems as if there are those moments. Looking at the process of life, one is cautioned to attempt to refrain from using external modes of control to define oneself, of allowing cultural mechanisms to overcome one's basic instincts for greatness, and, "to be any kind of a person, one's life must have a unity to it, the continuity and coherence which comes from constructing one's life as a work of art" (Young, 2003, 117).


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Landau-Shafer, R. (2008). "Ethical Subjectivism," in J. Feinberg and R. Shafe-Landau, eds. Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy. Belmont, CA: Cenage.

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Oxford University Press, i-xii.

McGrath, S.J. (2008). Heidegger: A Very Critical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI:


Nietzsche, F. (2004). Twilight of the Idols and Antichrist. Mieola, NY: Dover.

____. W. Kaufmann, ed. (1982). The Portable Nietzsche. New York: Penguin.

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