This Is Gonna Hurt – Part 1


Encountering Friedrich Nietzsche in the course of intellectual development is like a being a young child smacked in the face on Christmas Eve, abruptly informed that there is no Santa Clause. Estate planning requires intellectual maturity and brutal honesty.  It means bravely facing the unpleasant realty of one’s potential poverty, mental disability and ultimate death – and then intelligently dealing with it.  It demands attention, resources and mental strength.  Just as physical training makes the body stronger by subjecting it to discomfort and pain, so contemplating the thoughts of Nietzche makes the mind stronger – but it’s gonna hurt.



Nietzsche ideas are dangerous (they inspired the Nazis) because they were so penetratingly profound. He cannot be ignored even if you disagree with his philosophy.  He was a deconstructionist who dismantled thought “illusions” with an intellectual sledge hammer.  Nietzsche believed that knowledge is genealogy (like tracing back a family tree).  It shows the hidden origins of values and ideals, which pretend to be sacred or handed down from high, so we can see their true earthly nature.



Nietzche’s sees the universe as an ensemble of both reactive and active forces. Traditional science and philosophy are reactive (negative) forces because they depend on refuting others.  The “will to truth” in science is reactionary because it has to negate prior understandings.  Ptolemy was wrong about the earth being the center of the solar system and Copernicus was right to put the sun in the middle.  Newton explained physics until Einstein explained it better.  Science is never settled or complete.



For Nietzche there is no objective or “disinterested” value judgment independent of the speaker because the speaker is part of reality and not separate or above it. There are no facts, only interpretations.  Scientists and lawyers like to say “These are the facts!”, as if to remove all objections from them.  But there are no incontrovertible facts – they are always a changeable products of history, usually with a hidden agenda.  Michael Foucault expanded on that notion in The Order of Things (1966).



Contrary to reactive forces, active forces do their work without needing to repress other forces. It is in art, not philosophy or science, where these forces reside.  The artist imposes values without discussion, opens up perspectives and new worlds without needing to demonstrate legitimacy or by refuting others.  The artist commands without arguing with anyone or anything.  The will to truth is a reactionary force that must be balanced against the stronger active force – the will to power. “Truth” is constructed by humans (wrapped up in biases and prejudices).  Aristocratic (non-democratic) power, like art and music, just is.  Nietszhe’s will to power notion leads to some fascinating but discomforting views on living life.


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