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Nihilism&theMeaningofLifeinNietzsche
PostedByJuliusEvolaOnFebruary15,2011@12:00amInNorthAmericanNewRight|1
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2,929words
[1]TranslatedbyBrunoCariou

EditorsNote:
ThefollowingtextisEvolasPrefacetohistranslation
ofRobertReiningersFriedrichNietzschesKampf
umdenSinndesLebens[NietzschesStruggleforthe
MeaningofLife](1922)asNietzscheeilsensodella
vita[NietzscheandtheMeaningofLife](Rome:
GiovanniVolpe,1971).
AmongtheverymanybookswrittenonNietzsche,
RobertReiningers[2],translatedhere,deservesto
bepointedout,fortworeasons.
Thefirstreasonisthatattheheartofthisbookarethesolutionstotheproblemofthesense
ofexistencethatNietzschetriedtogiveinthesufferingofhisthought,ofhisveryexistence.
Theauthorcorrectlystatesthatthisproblem,andthecloselyconnectedproblemofthe
guidelinetobechosenforonesexistence,thatis,ofethics,arecentraltoNietzsche,sincethe
varioustheoreticalpositionsheadopts,whichdifferwidelyfromoneanother,onlyhavea
subordinatecharacter.Theyserved,sotospeak,experimentallyonceadopted,livedout,and
testedinrelationtothisproblem,theywereprogressivelyleftbehindasdemonstratedby
Reiningerincontinuousovercomings,inamannerreminiscentofaflamewhichmoves
forwardwithoutleavinganythingbehindit.
Thesecondpointofinterest,intheexaminationofNietzscheanthoughtfromthespecial
anglechosenbyReininger,istheimportancegiventothesituationalvaluepossessedbya
problematicwhichhasnotceasedtobetopical.Reiningersaysrightlythatthefigureof
NietzschehasalsothevalueofasymbolhispersonincarnatesalsoacauseItisthecause
ofmodernmanforwhichonefightshere:manwhonolongerhasrootsinthesacredworldof
tradition,oscillatingbetweenthepeaksofcivilizationandtheabyssesofbarbarism,searching
forhimselftrying,thatis,tocreateasatisfyingsenseofpurposeforanexistencecompletely
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lefttoitself.Theproblemtakesshapeasthatofmanoftheageofnihilism,ofthezero
degreeofallvalues,oftheageinwhichGodisdead,alltheexternalsupportsvanish,and
thedesertgrows.
NietzschehadforeseenEuropeannihilism,andconsidereditthefatalconclusionofmodern
thought,havingcontributedtoitscompletion,bymeansofhiscritiqueofallvalues,ideals,
andidols.Thefundamentalpointishoweverthat,toNietzsche,itisnotthefinalpoint,but
rathersomethingtobeleftbehind,onceithasservedaspecial,positivefunction.Infact,
NietzscheconsideredhimselftobethefirstperfectnihilistofEurope,who,however,haseven
nowlivedthroughthewholeofnihilism,totheend,leavingitbehind,outsidehimself.The
problematicofNietzscheisthereforethatofthepostnihilistage.Itaddressesthemanwho,
havingpassedunafraidoveranabyss,feelshemustnotretracehissteps.(Therefore,letus
noticeinpassing,thosewho,onthebasisofsomeoscillationsinNietzschespositions,always
sosaturatedwithintense,restlessemotionalpower,havefantasizedaboutapossible
religious,orbluntlyChristian,conversion,havebeenabsolutelyonthewrongtrack.)The
positivefunctionofnihilismdwellsinthedangeroustestofthecompleteliberationofthe
individualifhedoesnotwanttofall,hehastofind,inhimselfalone,afirmpoint,andto
makehimselfcapableofanabsoluteaffirmation.Therefore,nihilismisinstrumentalized,in
theserviceoftherisingofasuperiortypeandanewmorality.Bymeansofitsspiritual
destructiveness,itcreatesasituationofchallenge.Anditispreciselyherethat,through
bitterstruggle,anabsolutesenseofexistenceissoughtandfound,and,beyondman,the
supermanisbroughtintobeing.
Itwillbeworthourwhiletotakeacloserlookatthisposition,becausethesituationalready
supposed,withthelucidityofavisionary,byNietzsche,isnoteffectivelydifferentfromthatof
thepresentage,providingthatthedeepexistentialcrisis,whichcharacterizesit,isnot
coveredover.
AsReiningershows,thepointofmaximumdangerispassedsuccessfullyonlyifthelawwhich
theunbrokensuperiormansetsforhimselfassumesthesamecharacterofunconditionalityas
thatwhichwasderivedpreviouslyfromsomethingexternalortranscendenteventhoughit
hasfreedomandthebeyondgoodandevilasitsbasis,andisexpressednolongerasayou
must,butasanIwant.Inthisconnection,Reiningerisnotwronginnotingtheapparently
paradoxicalanalogybetweentheethicsofNietzscheandthoseofKant:bothareabsolute
moralities.Moreover,Nietzschehimselfstatedplainlythathehadonlyunmaskedthe
decadent,false,deceitful,alltoohumanrealitiesthatlaybehindallcommonmoralityin
ordertomakewayforasuperiormorality,andtoopposethisgreatmoralitytothelittle
moralityoftheherd,ofanxiousminds,dependentoncrutchesandphantoms.Therefore,the
immoralismexhibitedandproclaimedbyNietzschesooftenandwithsuchrelishismerely
intendedtopaterlebourgeois.
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Therefore,ifwewishtograspthepositiveandessentialaspectsofNietzschessolution,we
mustnotletourselvesbemisledbyallthosedescriptionsofit,almostalwaysdictatedbya
controversialanimus,inwhichonlyindividualismandaglorificationofLifeaspure
immanenceseemtobeprominent.Infact,theindividualismofNietzscheisassociatedwitha
strictinnerdiscipline,almostwithavirile,ratherthanreligiouslyselfmortificatory,
asceticism.Reiningerisnottheonlyauthortohavenoticedthat,inthisrespect,Nietzsches
affirmationoflifehasmorefeaturesincommonwithSchopenhauersnegationofit,than
withapassive,greedyidentificationwithit.Notonlyisthewilltolifetransformedintowill
topower,butalso,asovereignprincipleisalwayspostulatedwhichdistancesitselffrom
instincts,andwhichdespises,notonlyhedonism,butalsoeudemonism(thedoctrinewhich
pursueshappinessratherthanmerepleasure).Andevenwhendionysianismisexalted,
whenarightisclaimedbeyondgoodandevil,whenopennesstoeverysoundheathen
experienceisadvocated,rejectingascowardiceallinhibitionofpassionsandofimpulsesfrom
thedepths,thishigherdimensionisalwayspresupposed.Itistheessentialprerequisitefor
theonewhoisabletoremainstandingandtocreatevaluesinthemiddleofthedesert
whichgrows,sinceitensuresthatthisdesertgainsnoholdoverhim.
Forthisveryreason,onemustnotmakethemistakeofseeingNietzschesglorificationof
Lifeasmerenaturalism.If,ashasjustbeensaid,Nietzschespositioninvolvesanabsolute
affirmation,beyondpureinstinctivebeing,itisobviousthat,intheconceptofLife,evenif
onewishestoretainitascentral,somethingwhichtranscendsitisimplicitlyintroduced,or,if
youprefer,that,inLife,exaltedagainsteverymisunderstoodAfterlife,onemustadmitnot
onlythethingitself,butalsoapowerwhichtranscendsanddominatesit.Unfortunately,
Nietzschehasnotfoundhiswaytotheperceptionofthetranscendenceatworkinhim,to
itsrecognitionandincorporationassuchinhisideal,andthisisperhapsacauseofhis
tragedyandfinalcollapse.
Oncethisfrequent,twofoldmisunderstanding,involvingindividualismononehand,andthe
conceptofLifeontheother,isremoved,wethinkthatitmaybeinterestingtohighlight,in
passing,thedistancewhichseparatestheessentialNietzscheanguidelinefromthe
atmosphereofanarchismwhichproliferatesthesedaysinmanyofthecurrentswhichflow
betweenthecrackedstructuresofadesecratedworldandanabsurdcontestedsociety.
Actually,thisanarchism,whetherindividualisticormassbased,reducesitselftoaconfused,
irrationalandcentrelessrevolt.Undiscriminatingintoleranceforalldisciplinesandbonds,
dictatedsolelybytheimpulsesoftheinstinctiveandnaturalpartoftheindividual,whodoes
notwanttorecogniseanythingbeyondhimself,isveryclearlythepredominantfeaturein
thesemovements,beyondthevariousreasonsorpretextsgivenbythesystemorstructures
oftheworldofrecenttimes.Thus,itisassignificantasitisnaturalthat,inthesemovements
oftoday,Nietzscheisabsolutelyignored,althoughhewasthefirstandthegreatestrebel.
Thefactisthat,inthehumanmaterial,thereisnothingwhichcorrespondstoNietzsches
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thoughtthetrueplebeianelectiveaffinitiesofsuchmovementsarerevealedintheir
frequentcollusionswithMarxismanditsbyproducts,intheirformulofhystericalpacifism
andabsurdintegrationism,andintheirconsequentcollusionwiththethirdworldandthe
lowestdepthsofsocietyandrace,whilethelimitconstitutedbysemiilliterateintellectuals
appearsinaconfusedincreaseinthevalueattributedtomediocrethinkerssuchasMarcuse,
whichcontentsitselfwithhismoreorlesslegitimatepositionsofrejection(whicharenotthe
thingofcentralimportanceforatruerevolt),notperceivingthebleaknessandextreme
utopianidyllictrivialityofthealternativeheproposes,proceedingashedoesfroman
aberrantsociologymassivelydependentuponFreud.Nietzschedoesnotbelongtothisworld
atall,asisinstinctivelyapparent.Becauseofitsaristocraticandexclusivistcharacter,itshigh
levelofengagement,andtheinnerstaturethatitimplies,theNietzscheanpathwouldbethe
objectofspecificrejectionbyalltheseprotestmovements,whichcanbewelldefinedin
termsofarevolutionofthevoid,ifitsexactrelationtothemostseriousproblematicofa
nihilistageofdissolutionwasperceivedatall.
Tomakethisclearer,itisnecessarytoexplorefurtherthetermsinwhichNietzschesethics
havetriedtodefinethemselves.
IfoneconfinedoneselfrigorouslytotheprincipleofpureaffirmationofafreedLife,itis
clearthatanyevaluativepositionorstancewouldbeabsurd.Therewouldbenofoundation
fromwhichtoassess,andtochampion,forexample,theformsofafullandascendinglife,
unfoldingawilltopower,asagainstthoseoftheopposite,decadentdirection,andin
particularthosewhich,accordingtoNietzsche,haveunderminedsoundandhigher
civilizationsbymeansoftheirmorality.They,afterall,arealsolife,beyondgoodandevil,
partofitsebbandflow,itscreationanddestruction,anditwouldbeabsurdtotakeastand,
whichhoweverNietzschecontinuouslyandvehementlydoes,evidentlywithreferencetoa
higherfactor.
Ifthisfactor,towhichtheethicsofNietzscheowetheirspecificimprint,issought,itappears
conditionedbyhisindividuality.Theprinciple,inthefirstinstance,istheaffirmationofones
ownnature.Thisbecomestheonlynorm,theautonomouscategoricalimperative:tobe
oneself,tobecomeoneself.Therealistconceptionpeculiartothelastphaseofthethought
ofNietzschecanthenactastheoreticalbackground,and,hadthetragicdarkeningofhis
mindnotoccurred,wouldhavemostprobablydevelopedintoaneliminationofthecrude
naturalisticandbiologicalaspectswhichcontinuetomarit(adefectofReiningeristostick
toomuchtotheseaspects).Inessence,thisisavisionofaworldstrippedbare,denudedof
everythingmerelyhuman,idealistic,unreal,andfinalisticwhichhasbeencoatedontoit.In
part,thisisalmostaresumptionofthetragic,Dionysianvisionofthefirstperiodbut,to
understandNietzschesfeelingsregardingthis,whathewroteamongthemountainpeaks,
aboutthepurityofthefreeforcesstillnotspottedbyspirit,issuggestive.Asaftera
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catharsis,onlythereal(nature)remains,intheuniqueshapeofbeingandpower.
Giventhisbackground,which,inaway,confirmsthenihilistthemes,theindividualcanonly
findsupportandrootinwhatheisinhisowndeepernature,inhisbeing,hisimmutable
identity.[1]Fidelitytothisbeing,affirmationofit,isthereforewhatgivescontentto
Nietzscheanmorality,asitsgeneralguideline,sotospeak.Itisthefirstdryland,atwhich,
however,Nietzschedoesnotstop,since,here,basically,thesameindeterminationwhichwe
foundinrelationtoLifeappearsagain.Underthesignofthepuretobeoneself,one
shouldbeabletoassume,towant,toaffirmabsolutelywhatoneis,evenwhen,inonesown
nature,thereisnothingwhichcorrespondstothepositiveidealofthesupermanannounced
byourphilosopher,whenonesownlifeandonesowndestinyshowcorruption,perversity,
decline,ignominy.Thatiswhy,ifonestickstotheaforementionedprinciple,theonlyethical
valueremainingwouldbethatofauthenticity.Ultimately,itwouldhavetobesaidthathe
who,beinginferiorbynature,ishimself,hasthecourageofbeingabsolutelyhimself,would
behigherthanonewhowouldliketodevelopasuperioritywhichisnotrootedinhis
authenticbeing.
If,morerecently,someexistentialistshavebeencontenttohaltatthesepositions,theyhave
beenfatallyleftbehindbyNietzsche.Whenhemakeshimselftheimperiouspropagatorofa
newmorality,heindicateswhatproceedsfromaparticularnature,anoblenature,
projectingwhathehimselffelthewas,oraspiredtobe.Oneisfaced,therefore,witha
moralityofpride(opposed,asindicatedbyReininger,tooneofloveorfear)andof
distinctionwithareaffirmationofthefundamentalfeatureofwhichwehavealready
spoken,thatofasovereignpersonalityasfarfromtheflockasfromthemerelynaturalpart
ofhimself.WhatNietzschepresentstous,againandagain,isthetypeforwhomitisnatural
toberesolute,selfconfident,readytoassumeeveryresponsibility,straightforward,resistant
toeverythingwhichisgrossandalltoohuman,hard,inflexiblecertainly(andtowards
himselffirstandforemost),butalsocapableinaspontaneouswayofthevirtuewhichgives
ofitself,whichspringsfromtheinwardlookingattitudeandtheoverabundanceofhismind,
andnotfromaweaksentimentalismonewhodoesnotseektoevadeanythingwhichcanput
himtothetest,whoremainsuntouchedbythetragic,darkandabsurdaspectsofhis
existence,thankstothepositiveandindependentlawwhichdictatestohimhisbeing.
Asissuperabundantlyclear,Nietzschespostnihilisticethicsofpureselfaffirmationand
fidelitytooneselfleaddirectlyorindirectlytoanidealofthissort.Fromthegenericlawof
beingoneself,itisthispreciselawwhichthereforedifferentiatesitselfinNietzsche,and
givesthespecificimprinttohismorality.ItisinthesetermsasnotedbyReiningerthat
thetypeofthepositivesupermanshouldbeunderstood,nottakingseriouslytheheadline
hittingreferencestosomehistoricalfigures,orthefamousblondbeastofprey,leavingaside
theexaltationofpureforceandoftheshapelesswilltopower(apowerwhichwouldbegthe
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question:whattodowithit?asZarathustraasksonewhoaspirestobreakfreefromevery
bond:free,forwhat?),leavingasidealsothebaroquesupermanofthedAnnunzianstyle,the
fomentedresultsofthepomposityofapresumedHerrenvolk,factuallyfarfromany
aristocraticvirtue,andthefoiblesofamisunderstood,biologisticracism.
IfweoverlooktheslagandwastematerialsofthelessthanoptimalNietzschetheone
whooftenhappens,unfortunately,tohavearousedthegreatestresonanceitisinthe
abovedescribedtermsthatthereappearsthepositivesuperman,themanwhoremains
standing,even,andaboveall,inanihilist,devastated,absurdworld,withoutgods.The
supermanappearsthereforeasanindividual,liteideal,notasahypothetical,general,
futureevolutionaryhumanstate,tobemadealmosttheobjectofaprogrammedculture,as
wassuggestedbyanotheroftheravingsofourphilosopher,inacertainphaseofhisthought.
Asthereaderofhisbookwillsee,Reiningerbringsthesecontentstolightbyseparatingthe
essentialfromtheaccessory,throughoutthetwistsandturnsofNietzschesthought,thus
showingtheeffectivepositivecontributionthattheimmoralistNietzschehasmadetoethics.
Forourpart,weareconvincedthatwhatNietzschehastooffertodayinthisconnectionhas
beeninnowaydiscreditedinthefightforasenseofexistence,providedthatoneavoidsthat
collapse,thatrevolutionofthevoid,andthatplebeian,lower,anarchism,towhich,ashas
beenmentioned,thedeepcrisisofthemodernworldhasgivenriseinsuchquantity.In
reality,today,givenadequatediscriminationandadaptation,fewethicsofferasmany
importantideasforthestudentofthepostnihilistproblematic,whohasrejectedanypathto
therear,andfacesthetestofanewanddangerousfreedom.Onecanevenconsideritasa
touchstoneforonesnature,foronestruevocation.
Itwillbeevidenthowmuchrespect,comprehensionandsenseofmeasuretheauthorofthe
presentbookhasbroughttotheconsiderationofthepersonandthethoughtofNietzsche.
HoldingapositionofphilosophyteacherattheUniversityofVienna,hisexpositioniscloserto
aphilosophicalstudythantothepresentstyleoftopicalessay.Wehavereducedinour
editionthedifficultywhichtheuseofcertainphilosophicaltermsmayconstituteforacertain
categoryofreaders,byexplainingsuchtermsorbyusingequivalents.
Note
1.TherearesporadicbutilluminatingintuitionsinNietzschewhichseemtorefervariouslyto
asubpersonalstratumoftheindividual,toitstranscendentroot,toaSelfbeyondthelittleI,
aswhenNietzschespeaksofthegreatreasonenclosedinthemysteryofourbody(ofones
ownindividuation),asopposedtothelittlereasontothegreatreasonwhichneversaysI
butisI,whichhasspiritandsensesasalittleinstrumentandtoy,thepowerfuldominator,
theunknownwisemanwhomonecallshisownbeing,orSelf(dasSelbst).Theseallusions
couldevenremindussomewhatoftraditionalinnerteachings.Reiningerspeaksofan
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esotericaspecttoNietzscheanthought,butthiswouldbegoingtoofar,ifthisexpressionis
takeninitsstrictsense.
Source:http://thompkins_cariou.tripod.com/id82.html[3]

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