Thursday, February 3

Nietzsche, Nihilism and More!

My friend, Curtis Gale Weeks, picked up on a Facebook post of mine about Nietzsche. After a few exchanges, he went far beyond my humble beginning in this really large post: The Worldviewer in the World.

For some reason, TypePad won't accept my comment (too long? html?). That's ok. As it got longer, I planned on copying it over here anyway. It's almost impossible that anyone besides Curtis and I will read it, but here it is for posterity.

stream of consciousness comment:

dude, how long is this thing?! ;-)

self/world: yes, a shocking number of people don't at least have a working understanding of the objectivity/subjectivity issues wrangled in modernism/pomo. that said, i work on the assumption that physical objectivity is trustworthy about 99% of the time. that number falls precipitously when it moves into less 'scientific' areas like psychology, sociology, philosophy, etc.

i get the purpose of your WOODA and don't disagree, but wonder if it could benefit from Occam's Razor...

right: naive realism is a big problem. i'm continually surprised at how many people trained in science don't have this basic concept and the criticism thereof as a critique. NR, in many ways, gets us the horrors of the 20th century, including 2 world wars, the Holocaust and, to overlap a little, Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

then again, maybe it's not modernism, strictly speaking, that is the problem, but more uncritical modernism, or naive realism. we get a lot more skewed by our self-limited/interested opinions and presuppositions (limits of human psychology) than any legitimate quantum objectivity concerns. one example from my quotidian work: all of the hubris, politics, etc. that make us unable to procure military equipment on time and on budget.

i'm inclined to think that, for all our speculation in the subjective fields, it's largely moot (using the term strictly): we can argue about it forever without much progress. sure, the analysis is worth it, but you'll likely not convince an opponent, and there we go. most objective progress will be made in more-objective domains. in subjective areas, have we really made much progress as a species? sure, we have a thin veneer of civility sometimes. some places we have made progress with 'liberal' law, etc. but are people more moral than 4000 years ago? more noble? of course, ethics may be the second most esoteric subject (the prize reserved for theology ;-)

right: the funny thing is, naive realism is so easily destroyed. if only they'd read the critiques ;-)

ahh, the sweet Danish prince. i was a lot more into him when i was young and brooding ;-)

Second, the attempt to avoid the recursive tautological dilemma of naïve realism invariably leads to a presumption of the existence of an extra-real, because outside the objective reality, first cause or prime mover; i.e., to avoid U=U and its tautological insufficiency vis-à-vis meaning and value, a meaningful G in some form is imagined to exist outside “the rest” of objective reality that will give meaning to the World. These in conjunction will lead to a philosophical idealism in practice, or to philosophical subjectivity misconstrued as objectivity, or else to philosophical relativism — i.e., ultimately to nihilism, since meaning and value, rather than existing inherently in objective reality, will be found in extra-real or imaginary realities, subjective meanings, imagined relationships, and so forth, and these may begin to appear arbitrary.

hmm. do i agree? i happen to believe in an extra-real, but is that necessarily my guarantee of any objective world? i believe there is an objective world (realism metaphysic) but am skeptical (epistemology) about our ability to know it (in the justified true belief sense). therefore, am in on the hook for your criticism here? they don't seem to apply to me, though maybe it is arbitrary (unprovable, philosophically) in the end. i'd be ok with that ;-)

N's 'God is dead', as you describe it, is, of course, very valuable.

so, which of these labels do we apply to Nietzsche? was he just a critic (valuable, but limited) or did he espouse something? does his philosophy have positive, constructive content?
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