Thus Spake; Zarathustra Review

He who said ‘God is a Spirit’—made the greatest stride and slide hitherto made on earth towards unbelief: such a dictum is not easily amended again on earth!” – Thus Spake; Zarathustra,  Chapter LXXVIII: The Ass-Festival. Thomas Common translation.

Nietzsche’s philosophical novel was an amazing read. At the time I began to read it, I hadn’t really been captivated by a novel since the Harry Potter series (which I love) and I found most fantasy stories to be really boring. I had first become familiar with it after reading a philosophical analysis of one of my favorite video games, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. I knew Nocturne was conveying some philosophy, but I didn’t know what at the time. I discovered Nocturne is a spiritual re-telling of certain portions of the novel.

I didn’t expect much at the time, it was mostly curiosity in relation to the game. I suspected that I’d find it boring. To my surprise, it was initially quite a laughable read. Zarathustra is humiliated in front of a crowd whom he tries to speak with as equals. The crowds throughout the novel are always seen as hateful and resentful of anything outside of their small town or village community, they resent and fear any change to better themselves, and spend their days not having a clear opinion on what they want from life or any direction on how they seek to motivate their own improvement, but rather live in indolence seeking only self-gratification and nothing else. This is one of the recurring themes of the novel when Zarathustra travels. Zarathustra seeks to be honest with himself and philosophizes his views, but doing so means he’s ridiculed, ostracized, and labeled dangerous for criticizing core beliefs that are held as sacrosanct. People just don’t want to listen to him and instead make spurious personal attacks based upon the most haphazard of claims.

Nevertheless, the beginning portion goes from particularly inspiring with his evocative words about teaching people of the Ubermensch in the beginning of the novel to a bizarre sort of tragicomedy immediately after. Zarathustra speaks to a crowd that doesn’t wish to understand him and instead ask him about the Last Man which he warns about; the Last Man being the aforementioned indolent dweller who doesn’t care about anything but self-gratification. The tightrope walker falls off from their circus act and severely injures himself which scares the crowd into fleeing. Nobody from the crowd helps the dying tightrope walker except Zarathustra who listens to his dying request to be buried. Zarathustra takes his body, which people in other parts of the village use as shortsighted “evidence” to accuse Zarathustra of grave-robbing, and leaves it up a tree to avoid wolves eating the dead man’s flesh. He sits down and gets absorbed into his own thoughts for awhile before leaving the dead body in the tree. I had laughed at this at first because Zarathustra clearly misunderstood the man’s request and didn’t really follow through with it despite convincing himself that he had. It was really peculiar and apart from being comical, I don’t see much on what that specific scenario was meant to convey. By contrast, the chapter immediately after about making good habits was immediately clear and brought back the interest.

Throughout his journey, Zarathustra extols some very interesting perspectives, but it’s always with the pernicious culture of vitriol and hatred for his teachings by various small town or small village communities who refuse to engage and don’t care to change their habits. Zarathustra points out that people prefer simplistic narratives of good and evil based on their culture or community instead of evaluating right and wrong for themselves. This is particularly evident in religious cultures. They claim to be about their own justice and goodness, but put their brains to sleep when faced with corruption or just blame humanity in general instead of fighting back against such corrupt individuals and corrupt institutions. He guides the reader into asking, if these religious teachings of your community are truly so moral and wonderful, if their values are universally correct as your religion might claim them to be, then why doesn’t it stop abusive behavior from happening? And on the charge of blaming humanity in general when they fail, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra argues that this is responding to genuine criticisms with pure hatred. Theologians and the herd who argue that humans will always be violent or abusive by nature in this circular reasoning argument that “humans are humans” are actually expressing pure hatred for humanity. It doesn’t challenge or confront people who harm you or who harm those you love, it’s just a way of throwing away an argument by refusing to listen and instead opting for a nihilistic hatred for all of humanity as a sort of divine answer.

His criticisms of religion, which are his most salient and paradoxically his most ignored contentions, seem to have gone completely unchallenged. I’ve looked for critiques online and nobody mentions his criticisms on religion. In fact, when I join Nietzsche groups online (which usually have 2000+ members) and begin discussing his criticisms of religion, I am immediately banned from such groups. So-called Nietzsche fans like saying that he contradicted himself or didn’t really say anything, but no one ever seems to be aware or brings up his criticisms of religion. So-called readers of Nietzsche never once speak of it. The closest I’ve seen to an honest critique is Alain de Bottom and a lecture video by Jordan Peterson in one of his classes. By contrast, Christian theologians are notoriously dishonest; repeatedly claiming Nietzsche said things that he never did. I even read an online book in which the author cited Nietzsche by cutting out half the words in a aphorism to claim Nietzsche said something that he never advocated for. I’ve seen Nietzsche quotes pages on facebook full of quotes that Nietzsche never once wrote. Most other scholars of Nietzsche, even on Quora, seem to have read critiques of Nietzsche but never Nietzsche’s actual works. They don’t read to form their opinions on Nietzsche, they read criticisms of Nietzsche and believe those criticisms to be absolute fact and never bother to actually read Nietzsche. Some might argue its due to the confusion over Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche appropriating his works for her Nazi ideologies, Heidegger’s own appropriation in which he created a Strawman, or perhaps the strawman delusions of Bertrand Russell; but in all honesty, these sorts of strawman depictions exist for every famous person. Even the US Founding Fathers are constantly misinterpreted. I think what underlies all this confusion is the human capacity of heuristics. People believe they can judge and know everything about a single human being from a few short excerpts and judge their entire life based on a few short sentences they read. This does have evolutionary benefits like spotting really dangerous people like Adolf Hitler, but it can be misused and people can be manipulated into seeing hatred, dishonesty, or evil from people who want to criticize bad beliefs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi seem more like exceptions than the rule, where the character assassinations against them eventually backfired. But for people criticizing ideas without civil disobedience or in a context where civil disobedience isn’t a factor, it becomes much harder to be listened to from others.

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Nietzsche’s Philosophy in Modern Culture

Very few people seem to be aware of Nietzsche’s influence on contemporary Asian culture which dates back to books being translated to Japan shortly after his death, his profound critique and reverence for Buddhist thought, and his influence on US popular culture. In an effort to bridge this gap and show that the surprising amount of influences that his work has made, I’ve made a short list in orders of magnitude from sloppy critiques to the critiques that are based upon his philosophical ideals and arguments. However, it should be noted that the majority of these depictions center around Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ubermensch philosophical concept from the philosophical fantasy novel, Thus Spake; Zarathustra.

Fair Warning: There’ll be massive spoilers for each of the links for their respective games, anime, and so forth.

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What did Friedrich Nietzsche mean by Slave Morality?

Quora is seriously beginning to suck, given that they’re deleting factual responses to questions now. It’s a fact that Nietzsche used the example I wrote down in his books; evidently, basing answers off facts that hurt Christian moral sensibilities is no longer allowed.

Update just now: It’s now collapsed, albeit restored. They asked for attribution even after I edited it with listed citations. This was my answer to the question: “According to Friedrich Nietzsche, what is an example of a slave moralist?

My answer was as follows, and I’ve added the attributions at the bottom. I’ve decided to place it here if anybody is curious about what Nietzsche actually meant by slave morality, the example he used, and why:

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Shin Megami Tensei Discussions with Beadman

Spoiler Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series and other MegaTen related series such as: Majin Tensei I and II, Digital Devil Saga Duology, the Persona series, Devil Survivor series, and well . . . potentially everything MegaTen / Shin Megami Tensei related, but those are the main video game series that get spoiled.

Content Warning: In general dialogue with others online, I tend to use expletives. Not in a way to insult in this context, but as a general habit of discourse. I don’t mean any insults towards Beadman, and apologize if any such comment was inferred or directly made by me. I do admit to purposefully using expletives to properly articulate by annoyance with Eirikjrs in this discussion at one instance. More importantly, Beadman and I have an outspoken and frank discussion on Abrahamic religious theology, its plausibility, and its history based on the evidence given by modern Western academics. I hold very negative views and am frank in my crass humor when talking about religion in general. Although, if you’ve checked my blog, then you probably knew that already.

Below is a backstory if you’re curious to learn more about who Beadman and I are, why I decided to have this lengthy discussion and asked Beadman if it was okay to share it with you all, and why I believe such discussions have value. If you would like to skip it due to lack of interest, please just scroll down below to the slideshow. 

For those who may be curious or hold interest in learning about either of us more personally, I am a self-described Hindu Atheist and Beadman is a Transtheist and Surrelativist (an identifying name for the position of Emerging Theism). We had a separate discussion about how he defines his personal beliefs, but I felt it was wrong to add that to the discussion as I don’t want this to be construed as an attempt to shame or insult his beliefs as that is not my intention.

Having thought over the SMT discussion, I couldn’t help but ruminate on the many, many changes on both my beliefs and my interactions with Beadman over such a short span of time. I first met Beadman in 2013 and we had thoroughly diametrically opposed views on the Neutral ending of Shin Megami Tensei IV on the MegaTen Reddit website. He couldn’t believe that the people of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado could be herded through Naraku in a mass exodus without casualties and criticized them all fitting into Cafe Florida at the end of Neutral. I felt he was focused on the wrong details, making a mountain out of a molehill, and quite liked the ending. I stopped following Shin Megami Tensei for awhile, because I was under the false impression that there wouldn’t be another game for another 9-10 years due to the trackrecord of mainline games usually being that far apart on initial releases. To my pleasant surprise, I was wrong, and I got to enjoy a duology from the mainline series. And… a bunch of extremely personal stuff involving my near-death from a car crash happened, and I was not in the best of emotional states because my family basically told me that it didn’t matter that I almost died, didn’t believe I was in severe pain, didn’t believe I’m suffering from lifelong neck pain no matter how many times I tell them clearly and calmly, and well…. I took it out on Beadman at one point. I repeatedly apologized to him since then, but to my surprise, he didn’t remember the incident and he generally gives me the impression that he’s aloof from such things. I think it was because he was practicing Stoicism at the time, but I don’t think that he does anymore and I think he’s better off from it. He seemed to have his own bottled up annoyances, and I don’t believe that it was due to me, per se. I didn’t inquire though, but if there is anything of substance, I sincerely wish him the best in dealing with it.

I came to terms with my own personal issues upon recognizing my family, specifically my parents, are completely awful at articulating that they care in explicit terms. They’re the unique kind of… special that can’t verbally articulate or explicitly show they care, but instead do so with actions… and ignoring social problems deliberately because they’re awful at dealing with stress; but still support me through and through. It’s a very bizarre relationship; I’m living it and I don’t know how to fully describe it. I don’t go into too much detail because they have this fear and paranoia of being judged by the public that I never quite understood so on the off-chance they ever read this and know its from me, I’ve made sure to keep terms vague, because I just don’t want to deal with any potential future melodrama from them. I’m of the personal opinion that it largely doesn’t matter, anything you say about your life to the public will be absorbed for like five minutes of conversation, maybe an insulting text or a slew of insulting texts for a little while, and then promptly forgotten about because nobody truly cares about such gossip or melodrama beyond feeling better than some stranger online for however long the emotional superiority feels good to an individual.

As you can well imagine, I had to work on my own existential dread for awhile and my ire with politics, which I think affected me more deeply than most people since I am a political scientist albeit a low-level one, Beadman has publicly mentioned on Reddit that he minored in Philosophy while majoring in a STEM related field. For my part, I’ve read every major book of Friedrich Nietzsche’s and criticized his depiction of Nietzschean philosophy as it seemed to be based on Bertrand Russell’s godawful strawman depiction rather than genuine Nietzschean philosophy. At the same time, I’ve had to modify my views on Consequentialism and Utilitarianism, because that was his main focus and he clearly knows far more about it than I do. Due to Beadman’s influence, I read and finished John Stuart Mill’s Three Essays on Religion and I find it to be a fairly good critique of the failings of religion connected to State politics, but I also discovered that Mill was a racist moron. Beadman had once criticized Atlus for the “unclean” but I pointed out that if he’s right and I’m wrong about contentions I had against Law being Utilitarianism, then Atlus was completely justified in depicting Angels borderline racists against Japanese people. Mill repeatedly, and I do mean nauseatingly so, goes on and on about how Asians are untrustworthy thieves and diseased. Even if one were to argue that Atlus should focus on the philosophy and not the person, you have to keep in mind that if they did read Mill, it would be earnestly taking the time to read this man’s philosophy while he goes on paragraph upon paragraph about how diseased their culture is, how they aren’t worth trusting and should be looked upon with suspicion, and how their culture and society is a garbage heap. Atlus depicting Angels saying Japanese are “Unclean Ones” or “the Filth” is . . . incredibly benevolent and mild compared to the asinine comments that John Stuart Mill wrote repeatedly about Asian culture. Please believe me when I say that I’m not overstating this. It’s the equivalent of I, as a US-born and raised person, reading a book which falsely claims that the US is a disease-ridden group of morons with no moral values or positives repeatedly strewn across various paragraphs while a foreign person is passionately discussing their moral philosophy. It might credibly be the case that Atlus is trying their best to depict Utilitarianism in a neutral context from the standpoint of what Mill actually said about Asian societies as a culture and people in his own very homogenized context. Please keep in mind that I actually liked what I read about John Stuart Mill’s philosophy when he kept focus on the philosophy itself, but when he went into foreign cultures . . . it got very stupid, very fast. This judgment of mine is also based upon one small book of his, I have no idea how Mill addresses Asians within the context of his larger philosophical works. Nevertheless, I now realize I misunderstood what Beadman meant since I thought he was saying Law was focused on John Stuart Mill’s Pleasure-Pain principle, but in fact, he places more emphasis on Bentham before John Stuart Mill. To the best of my knowledge and based on what I read from Mill about his own personal teacher, Bentham’s views are more vague and less focused on pleasures in his Consequentialist ideology. Mill is the one who fleshed out the philosophy to be more coherent and it seems Beadman was emphasizing the more vague version of Consequentialist ethics when critiquing Law.

Anyhow, before I began the discussion presented below, I had given him my explanation for why Nietzsche has a very big emphasis with Atlus’s work. I’m fairly sure my essay had an impact as I showed the various forms of symbolism and allegories to Nietzschean philosophy throughout the Shin Megami Tensei IV-IVA duology. I had always wanted this sort of discussion with him because I feel such a discussion, and publicly sharing such a discussion, has far more to offer than the nonsensical travesty that has become Eirikrjs blog. To emphasize this further, and to give more credence to my argument about the Anarchy route foreshadowing from a year ago, consider the fact that Dagda’s Theme is a remix of The White’s Theme.

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