God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. – And we – we still have to vanquish his shadow too … When will we complete our de-deification of nature? When may we begin to naturalize our human selves [ uns Menschen … zu vernatürlichen ] in terms of a pure, newly discovered, newly redeemed nature!
The greatest recent event – that “God is dead,” that the belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable – is already beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe … But in the main one may say … [not] many people know as yet what this event really means – and how much must collapse now because it was built upon this faith, propped up by it, grown into it; for example, the whole of our European morality.
EXISTENTIALISM, EXISTENTIAL PHILOSOPHY, AND EXISTENZ-PHILOSOPHY
There can be no doubt that Nietzsche figured importantly in the genealogy of existentialism. Along with Kierkegaard, he is commonly considered to have been one of its fathers – or perhaps grandfathers, if its paternity is to be attributed to Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers. An argument can certainly be made that Kierkegaard deserves the characterization “existentialist,” his passionate Christianity notwithstanding; for he virtually defined the program of the movement with his famous criticism of “modern philosophy” (that is, Hegel) for “having forgotten, in a sort of world-historical absent-mindedness, what it means to be a human being … each one for himself,” his insistence that “If [one] is a human being then he is also an existing individual,” and his contention that a human being does best to “concentrate his entire energy upon the fact that he isan existing individual.” But is the reinterpretation of human reality that Nietzsche calls for, and undertakes, to be understood at all similarly?
This volume is dedicated to the memory of Jörg Salaquarda, who at the time of his most untimely death was Universitätsprofessor für Philosophie, Religionsphilosophie, und Religionskritik in the Evangelisch-Theologischen Fakultät at the University of Vienna. Salaquarda had long been very well known to all of us in the international community of Nietzsche scholarship and was one of the participants in the conference at the University of Illinois in 1994 from which most of the essays in this volume derive (as is explained in the Introduction). He was a leading light in Nietzsche scholarship and will be greatly missed on that account; but he will be missed at least as much for the decency, integrity, and cosmopolitanism that he brought to his work and to his interactions with his colleagues in this international community he did so much to foster.
Salaquarda exemplified the kind of philosophical temperament and sensibility that many of us feel will best serve both the Nietzsche studies and (in Nietzsche's phrase) “the philosophy of the future”: at once intellectually conscientious and independently minded, with respect to the reinterpretation and reevaluation of both Nietzsche's thinking and the things he was trying to think about. This temperament – which was modeled in exemplary fashion by Nietzsche himself at his best – characterized the 1994 conference more generally; and it is reflected in the spirit of the essays in this volume, even if the mix of these traits may vary among them.
“The time for me hasn't come yet,” Friedrich Nietzsche observed in Ecce Homo, near the end of his all-too-brief productive life. “Some are born posthumously.” That certainly was true enough when he wrote it, in 1888, years before his writings began to attract any real attention. But attract it they eventually did, on a scale few other philosophical writers have ever even imagined. No other figure in the history of philosophy surpasses Nietzsche in the attention now being accorded to him, not only by scholarly specialists, but also by those engaged in many areas of ongoing inquiry in philosophy and kindred disciplines.
Moreover, no previous figure in the history of modern philosophy has attracted as much attention as Nietzsche has in intellectual circles beyond the bounds of academia, in which cultural analysis and criticism are pursued by many writers concerned with the current problems and future prospects of our society and culture. For some, he is the philosopher they love to hate, who called into question everything they hold dear, and was the sower of many of the ill winds whose whirlwind progeny now threaten us. For others, he is the welcome scourge, liberator, and herald who broke the grip of moribund traditions and stultifying institutions and pointed the way toward a radically new and different future not only for philosophy but also for humanity.
Morality [Sittlichkeit, ethicalness] is nothing other (therefore no more!) than obedience to mores [Sitten, customs], of whatever kind they may be; mores [Sitten], however, are the traditional ways of behaving and evaluating. In things in which no tradition commands there is no morality [Sittlichkeit].
Anyone who now wishes to make a study of moral matters [moralischen Dingen] opens up for himself an immense field for work. All kinds of individual passions have be be thought through and pursued through different ages, peoples, and great and small individuals.… Have the mores [Sitten] of scholars, of businessmen, artists, or artisans been studied and thought about? There is so much in them to be thought about.
Wherever we encounter a morality [Moral], we also encounter valuations and an order of rank of human impulses and actions. These valuations and orders of rank are always expressions of the needs of a community and herd.… The conditions for the preservation of different communities have been very different; hence there were very different moralities [Moralen, morals]. Considering essential changes in the forms of future herds and communities, states and societies, we can prophesy that there will yet be very divergent moralities [Moralen].
The real problems of morality [Probleme der Moral]… emerge only when we compare many moralities [Moralen].
That I still cleave to the ideas that I take up again in the present treatises today . . ., that they have become in the meantime more and more firmly attached to one another, indeed intertwined and interlaced with one another, strengthens my joyful assurance that they might have arisen in me from the first not as isolated, capricious, or sporadic things but from a common root, from a fundamental will of knowledge, pointing imperiously into the depths, speaking more and more precisely, demanding greater and greater precision. For this alone is fitting for a philosopher. (GM, P:2)
A certain amount of historical and philological schooling, together with an inborn fastidiousness of taste in respect to psychological questions in general, soon transformed my problem into another one: under what conditions did man devise these value judgments good and evil? And what value do they themselves possess! Have they hitherto hindered or furthered human prosperity? . . .
Thereupon I discovered and ventured diverse answers . . .; I departmentalized my problem,- out of my answers there grew new questions, inquiries, conjectures, probabilities - until at length I had a country of my own. . . . Oh how fortunate we are, we men of knowledge, provided only that we know how to keep silent long enough! (GM, P:3)
The Nietzsche speaking here is the Nietzsche of 1887 - vintage Nietzsche, by any reckoning, commenting on the thinking that led up to On the Genealogy of Morals. In these passages and this whole Preface, one will find much that is of interest and importance in connection with the question of Nietzsche's kind of philosophy. The same is true of the other prefaces he supplied to his earlier and subsequent works (and, of course, of his post-Zarathustra works themselves).
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