Wael Al-Mahdi (2010)
- You said, and your are most famous for this, that God is dead. But why, in all honesty, did you make the same mistake which you so perceptively accused other philosophers of committing? Why, to put in more precisely, did you overgeneralize your own value-feeling (your own morality, even) into such a comprehensive declaration? You have correctly divined that a philosophy is a personal confession that the author wants to set up as dispassionate and objective. The death of one’s God is indeed a catastrophe, but your piety did not die with your God, for, as your Zarathustra himself puts it, a god in you has converted you to godlessness. Still, did you really believe that what you called the youngest and most inept of organs, human consciousness, along with its clumsy homunculus the Ego, could in fact take the place of the transcendent and unknowable God? And is not Zarathustra himself, and the Overman he teaches, gods in themselves? The Overman is as much a symbol of the transcendent as God. And though God may indeed be dead in parts of Europe and for a great many modern individuals (not always to their liking or advantage), he is still very much alive and well in most other parts of the world, notwithstanding the various names and manifestations he appears in. Even in customarily godless lands he is still sighted from time to time, appearing especially in times of crises, disasters and personal misfortune; and this is not taking account of his disguises (luck, chance, probability), his makeovers (energy, nature, the universe, or a metaphysical world that satisfies our personal needs, etc), and his imported idols (Nirvana, Brahman, Tao). Moderns have grown weary of the kingdom of God but still aspire after the non-place of Buddha. Need we even mention the theocracies, extremism, and overpowering religious instinct of the East? Do you not see that Gott lebt noch?
- In your Zarathustra and other writings, why is pity the ultimate sin? Why not say instead: indecent, self-serving pity is a destructive to both pitier and pitied? Must your personal truth become an absolute truth which is preached by the ploughshare Zarathustra? Is not pity necessary for some individuals who are pathologically isolated from their feelings and hardly feel for other humans? And, at the same time, is pity not contraindicated for people who are drunk on it and who would use it to unconsciously and subtly control others? Why not rather formulate the following: pity, in judicious measure, is psychologically hygienic?
- You say Socrates, and others who figure in your demonology (like Christians, Stoics, the English, the mob, etc), are contrary to taste in their morality; you say that they, at least intellectually and in some cases actually, stink; Socrates as a whole you take for a plebeian, a crafty dialectician, a falsifier of values, overall an objection to good instinct. I am not defender of the above-named, and but I say: whose taste are we talking about? Is it your taste? The taste of a bygone epoch, a different culture, which you have idealized and set up as a gold standard? If so, what makes your taste superior to the taste of others? Is not taste in the last analysis simply instinct? If instinct ultimately knows only one goal, the will to power, how are we then to rank the instincts in terms of nobleness? And, in a world Beyond Good and Evil, is not taste, yours and everybody else’s included, itself a kind of morality, ultimately only a sign-language of the emotions, to put it in your own language?
- Like Zarathustra’s tree, you have grown downward deep into the dark ground, and have risen upwards into the farthest reaches of the sky, standing on a mountain of cold, sober air and yearning for the Overman, refining yourself in hardness of the spirit and the courageous quest for truth. And yet, in the process, have you not killed the living animal man inside you? Namely, the man who aspires to recognition within the herd, to an affluent life and to the customary comforts that are the reward of successful adaptation. Is not adaptation to the modern urban savanna itself a great feat? Especially for a great man like yourself? Is not integration of the high man and the low man more worthy than the permanent isolation of the alien Overman? And, why, I ask, should you despise the mob? The mob has its genius, and is the mainstay of our humanity; were not for the mob, now empowered by democracy, many a madness, like communism for instance, would be eternally ineradicable.
- For love of man and love of God, you substitute the will to power. Instead of compassion, you speak of pitilessness. Acceptance of the divine will is supplanted by the love of fate. Pity becomes sin and good and evil are abolished. Values are malleable, might is right, and instead of making peace with the unknown and trusting in the divine, we are exhorted to the madness of flowing back into ourselves. In lieu of prophets and shamans we find Zarathustra, and indeed, instead of the man Nietzsche, we get Dionysus. For God himself you give us the Overman. Yet when the going gets rough and when the metaphysical excrement hits the fan, what comfort can we find in the bosom of the Overman? And can the hard Zarathustra lead us back from the brink of insanity? And since we are to make the Overman the meaning of the earth, can this meaning nourish us through the dark night of the soul? Can we, in short, ditch our longing for the transcendent, compassion and morality and not lose an essential part of our humanity? My final question: are the teachings of Zarathustra conducive to the health and well-being of humans?