Lecture 9 wk 25 ogm the third essay ii
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Lecture 9 (Wk 25): OGM, The Third Essay (II). Nietzsche (PY432) Matt Bennett. Last week. What is the ascetic ideal? The valorization of self-denial The view that this world is without value The longing to be elsewhere What motivates asceticism? Suffering and exhaustion

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Lecture 9 (Wk 25): OGM, The Third Essay (II)

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Lecture 9 wk 25 ogm the third essay ii

Lecture 9 (Wk 25): OGM, The Third Essay (II)

Nietzsche (PY432)

Matt Bennett


Last week

Last week

What is the ascetic ideal?

The valorization of self-denial

The view that this world is without value

The longing to be elsewhere

What motivates asceticism?

Suffering and exhaustion

The ascetic ideal gives meaning and purpose to those who are incapable of willing life-affirming ideals


This week

This week

  • Why does Nietzsche consider science an inadequate substitute for the ascetic ideal?

  • Wrap-up of this term: what does OGM teach us about Nietzsche challenge to become what we are?


A scientific counter ideal

A scientific counter-ideal?

  • Ascetic ideal gives meaning to our suffering

    • If we are to get rid of the ascetic ideal, we will need a counter-ideal to replace it

  • N “has been told” that science could furnish us a counter-ideal (OGM III 23)

    • Science, we are told, doesn’t defer value “elsewhere”

    • Science, we are told, doesn’t deny the value of the sensible realm

    • Science, we are told, has no metaphysical tendencies

    • (Think, for instance, of Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons)


Science no counter ideal to asceticism

Science no counter-ideal to asceticism

  • N denies that science can furnish us an ideal different from the ascetic ideal (OGM III 23)

  • This is because

    • Science often doesn’t work to an ideal (OGM III 23)

      • It’s just a directionless collection of information about the world (think Bazarov’s nihilistic materialism)

    • When it does work to an ideal, that ideal is an ascetic ideal (OGM III 23)


Why is the scientific ideal an ascetic ideal

Why is the scientific ideal an ascetic ideal?

  • Science is driven by a “will to truth” (OGM III 24)

    • Scientific truth must be objective i.e. without perspective (OGM III 24)

    • Scientific truth must not be affected by our natural inclinations

  • N objects to this will to truth because:

    • It is an error to think that we can know the world without perspective (OGM III 12)

    • This will to truth is suspicious of our everyday lived reality (GS 344)


Why is the scientific ideal an ascetic ideal1

Why is the scientific ideal an ascetic ideal?

  • The ascetic ideal preaches against worldly pleasure

    • This betrays a devaluation of the world in which we live

    • And a distrust of the world in which we live

  • For Nietzsche, this same distrust is found in the scientific will to truth

  • Both the ascetic ideal and the scientific ideal rely on the same value outlook


In defence of science

In defence of science

  • But perhaps this seems a little unfair to “science”

    • The ascetic ideal also defers value to “elsewhere”

    • Science doesn’t appear to do this – it isn’t metaphysical, but anti-metaphysical


In defence of nietzsche

In defence of Nietzsche

  • N’s response

    • True, science doesn’t use asceticism’s distinction between the metaphysical and the natural

    • But it uses a version of this in the form of a distinction between

      • the objective, scientific natural world

      • a lived (perspectival) natural world

    • In this sense, science still defers value to somewhere other than the world in which we live

    • Think, for instance, of string theory


String theory

String theory

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3TTUFZdKe0


In defence of science1

In defence of science

  • But not all science is theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, and string theory

  • What about e.g. an experimental scientific method

    • E.g. Baconian science – induction from collected empirical data

    • E.g. Popper’s falsificationism

    • Think again of Bazarov – conducting repeatable tests on the natural world


In defence of nietzsche1

In defence of Nietzsche

  • N’s response

    • Even empirical science values knowledge of a world without perspective

    • The methods of Bacon, Popper, or others are designed to offer descriptions of the world independent of the subjective features of the scientist

    • E.g. the experiments must be repeatable, including repeatable by other scientists regardless of subjective factors (what Bazarov finds when he dissects a frog should be the same as what we find)


The scientific ideal is an ascetic ideal

The scientific ideal is an ascetic ideal

  • The scientific ideal prizes the will to truth

  • The will to truth is the search for a world without

    • Subjectivity (perspective)

    • Different from our phenomenal, lived reality

  • Think e.g. of the objectivity of Kantian aesthetics – judgements “without interest”


The benefit of asceticism

The benefit of asceticism?

  • Third essay – counsels against the nihilism of the ascetic ideal

  • But N also recognises the use to which this ideal has been put by philosophers (OGM III 8)

  • In philosophers, ascetic ideal can indicate the dominance of an intellectual instinct

    • This instinct seeks the best conditions for the intellectual life

    • This includes the denial of sensuous pursuits

    • The ascetic ideal thereby put to use in order to live a contemplative life


The benefit of asceticism1

The benefit of asceticism?

  • N may not simply endorse the contemplative life

  • But this use of the ascetic ideal does include the withdrawal from a society into an intellectual ‘desert’ (OGM III 8)

  • And N does endorse this kind of independence, because it is integral to avoiding the conforming and corrupting influences of modern society


What does ogm teach us about becoming what we are

What does OGM teach us about becoming what we are?

  • The history of morality has developed the psychological resources necessary for becoming what we are

  • First Essay – priests preach self-denial, and introduce the value of being able to control our instincts (making man an ‘interesting animal’ (OGM I 6)

  • Second essay – with conscience we establish the means to internalise social processes of regulation and control – we develop self-control

  • Third essay – the ascetic ideal can be used to separate us from the corruption of modern nihilistic society


What does ogm teach us about n s challenge

What does OGM teach us about N’s challenge?

  • But the third essay also teaches us that the self-control required to “will an ideal”, even one of our own creation, is dangerously bound up with nihilism


Ogm iii 28

OGM III 28

  • This hatred of the human, and even more of the animalistic, even more of the material, this horror of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this longing to get away from appearance, transience, growth, death, wishing, longing itself – all that means, let us dare to grasp it, a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental prerequisites of life, but it is and remains a will!


Next time

Next time

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