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Rarechild 12-04-2009 01:42 AM

Nietzche's Übermensch
 
What I'm thinking about this week: Nietzche's Overman characteristics in relation to experiences I've had, and people I've known, mainly in the context of writing about my 9 month stint in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

I have just started my study of existentialism, so I'm not professing any expertise- just what is striking me at the moment.

Here's a wiki article

Here's my professor's study-guide version of the characteristics of this path:

a) Remains faithful to the earth; overcomes personal resentment of the natural order and embraces life for what it is.
b) Promotes personal health and affirms the body’s natural instincts.
c) Quests alone—seeks the most difficult challenges and overcomes them, alone.
d) Creates own values.
e) Affirms selfishness as a virtue over altruism.
f) Seeks true reciprocal friendships to be core relationships.
g) Commits to self-mastery and self-overcoming in which self-pity from victimization has no place.

That last one has been pounding around in my brain. I have stacks of journals from all periods of my life and sometimes when I dive into them I do so for self-clarification, but just as often to remind myself how hard I had it, or how much I loved someone, or how ridiculous and dangerous things I did were. It makes me feel better about where I am. But there is also a measure of self pity, self importance, to the tone of the journals. As a writer, weeding out the whining and subjective view to find the meaning is a big hurdle for me.

The gears are turning...

Sweetheart 12-04-2009 10:00 AM

Ah yes, the ubermensch. As a former philosophy major, I am very familiar with this, and have been on such a path for many years. Of course my focus in the major was primarily ethics and Greek philosophy.

gator 12-04-2009 10:56 PM

Übermensch
 
Personally, i could never reconcile selfishness with Übermensch philosophy.

Sweetheart 12-05-2009 10:24 AM

Yeah, I know what you mean. I struggled with that, too. Still do. Must be because I am prone to random acts of altruism... :rolleyes:

Rarechild 12-05-2009 08:54 PM

Selfish bastard
 
I have always thought selfishness a great word and sacrifice a yukky one. I totally get the selfishness as a virtue- you know, the loving yourself before you love others thing. If you don't build yourself up you have nothing to give. If you don't have what you want you are resentful, etc.

Selfishness is to self-awareness and love as altruism is to enabling. All of these words can be widely interpreted to extremes.

I have started to understand the idea of sacrifice lately not as giving up something you need and depriving yourself, but as giving up control out of love for another. Still trying to get the bitter taste out of my mouth when I say "sacrifice".

What really got me is that self-mastery without self pity. Not coming from the place of survival of victimization, but loving my fate, good and bad. Still thinking hard on that.

I'll have to actually read the fellow's books. :)

River 12-07-2009 12:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rarechild (Post 14407)
Here's my professor's study-guide version of the characteristics of this path:

a) Remains faithful to the earth; overcomes personal resentment of the natural order and embraces life for what it is.
b) Promotes personal health and affirms the body’s natural instincts.
c) Quests alone—seeks the most difficult challenges and overcomes them, alone.
d) Creates own values.
e) Affirms selfishness as a virtue over altruism.
f) Seeks true reciprocal friendships to be core relationships.
g) Commits to self-mastery and self-overcoming in which self-pity from victimization has no place.

I choke on (c) & (e), especially, and a little on (d).

(c) - We need to be strong on our own but also we need to be strong in community, in beloging with others.

(e) - Selfishness is hardly a virtue, nor is "altruism" as mere self-sacrifice. Real, authentic, human altruism is neither selfish nor self-neglecting. It is borne of direct insight into the true nature of self as that which only emerges in relation with other/s. Self is intrinsically communal, shared, relational. This doesn't mean that we give up our human uniqueness or needs! It means that we can recognize and honor our true needs in their true and full context.

(d) - There is only relational human being, and while we can and should be inventive and creative, we can only do so within the context of our relational lives. We therefore cannot so much create values as innovate and express and experience our true freedom/s within natural conditions. Every genuine invention is a bit of borrowing from history and from others. This makes us no less unique and particular--or free.

Sweetheart 12-07-2009 09:10 AM

Thanks River.

I do understand where Nietzche is coming from on the selfishness question. I guess a different word might help here, but for now let's use "good selfishness" and "bad selfishness". When most of us think of selfishness, we're thinking of the "bad" kind. A mother who neglects her children so she can play videogames, or who only buys enough food for herself is an example of the "bad selfishness". She hurts others without caring, and is ultimately self-destructive. "Good selfishness" is being able to meet one's own needs despite the objections of others, such as getting out of a dead end job (where your boss says they really need you) to go to college. Getting yourself out of an abusive relationship can also be an example of "good selfishness".

The struggle I always had with it was that I don't think altruism is necessarily a bad thing. I know that many cynics (including Nietzche) tend to give it a bad rap, but where would the world be if mothers did not put the needs of their children ahead of their own, at least to some degree? In that regard, altrusim seems to be more universal than selfishness, good or bad.

Take Nietzche with a grain of salt. Despite some brilliant insights (and he did have them) he was a pretty messed up guy personally, and didn't seem to be able to make his philosophy apply to his own life. My suggestion: take what feels right, and disregard the rest.

DaylightStirring 12-03-2010 08:29 AM

I just gotta ask, how'd this post get shuffled to the back? I only lived in the French Quarter for two months but I'd love to hear your thoughts on it RC.

When I read 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' I was encumbered by a lot of conflicting points. I don't think Nietzsche so much planned to spell out how you or I could become the overman. Rather I think he was poking at us all, and saying, "Who do you think you are?" It is a challenge to really self-evaluate and over-come the human condition. I do not believe Zarathustra is a representative of the overman, and I failed to find any characters elsewhere in the book who were either. I think we are all in agreement that Nietzsche missed the bill too.

So I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this of late, how did these ideas stick with you?

Rarechild 12-09-2010 04:52 PM

Hmm, let's see here, one year later...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rarechild (Post 14407)

a) Remains faithful to the earth; overcomes personal resentment of the natural order and embraces life for what it is.
b) Promotes personal health and affirms the body’s natural instincts.
c) Quests alone—seeks the most difficult challenges and overcomes them, alone.
d) Creates own values.
e) Affirms selfishness as a virtue over altruism.
f) Seeks true reciprocal friendships to be core relationships.
g) Commits to self-mastery and self-overcoming in which self-pity from victimization has no place.

My life has changed so completely this year, and yes, I am still struck by the powerful simplicity of accepting that we are part of the natural order, and in that order is human nature, which must seek for itself if it is ever to touch the truth of others.

Thanks for bringing this back on my radar. A little part of the journey I've been on to become myself entirely.

I agree that these are ideals like any other philosophy, and cannot all be pinned to a person at once to create a superman, but rather make one think about how to conduct a life from where we stand in the present, looking out around us into the weather, and continuing to make decisions, right and wrong, but continuing doggedly.

Brings to mind a passage a friend sent me recently written by Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." (A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles", Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3])

Being strong and responsible for our own souls is terrifying. It is so difficult not to let distractions rule our existence, and to realize how incredibly precious our time is here in this life.

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaylightStirring (Post 54891)
I only lived in the French Quarter for two months but I'd love to hear your thoughts on it RC.

NOLA- whole different story, definitely a part of who I am and how I see the world. Two months, eh? Yeah, I nearly offed myself holding on for nine. But I survived it. What did you want to hear about? (And thanks for asking)

Charlie 01-13-2011 06:24 AM

Thoughts from your neighborhood pragmatic existential taoist
 
"The Fountainhead" by Ann Rand may help with some further insights about the rejection of the ethics of altruism and the acknowledgment of selfishness as a purer expression of the ego.

And Rarechild, you put the "sexy" in smart and the "stang" in good grammar.

You know how I love good spellign.


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