On 15 October 1844, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born. The (academic) world of will, idea, passion, and thought-provoking action has not been the same since. However misunderstood Nietzsche may be (mainly because his sister manipulated his manuscripts to fit her German nationalist and anti-Semitic agendas), he is truly a philosopher and writer of unparalleled brilliance. On the topics of will, truth, and candidly raw socio-political and cultural critique, he eclipses all others in juxtaposed comparison. (Granted, Adorno comes close on the score of cultural critiques.)
Clearly, I did not exist in 1844. However, my heart and spirit rejoice in praise of his birth 170 years ago. We stand in fortunate happenstance to benefit from the legacy of his extraordinary thoughts and the acumen of his critiques. They will forever remain undiminished.
But I am diverging off-topic.
Nietzsche figures prominently for my discussion on infinite potentiality theory (IPT) in Volume I of my book: Igniting an East-West Globalizing Dialogue: Thus Spoke Chuang-Tzu. So why did I choose Nietzsche? Precisely because he represents the vibrant, passionate, unabashedly insightful Western mind who can meet the challenge of thought-and-action-provoking achievements. There is a dearth of boldness and of fearless determination towards truth and the will to greatness that Nietzsche fulfills in spades.
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the finest and most skilled ‘warrior’ of words. Each word he uses is expertly positioned, as if in a dazzling swordplay of thoughts and ideas in a battle through his intellectual crisis. Saddled with the burdens of his genius, he resolves to inspire. In a sweeping call to action, he dares us to our own greatness:
“You should seek your enemy, you should wage your war – a war for your opinions. And if your opinion is defeated, your honesty should still cry triumph over that!
You should love peace as a means to new wars. And the short peace more than the long.
I do not exhort you to work but to battle. I do not exhort you to peace, but to victory. May your work be a battle, may your peace be a victory!”
–– Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Of War and Warriors,” p.74
I see no other writer from the Western world with a movingly passionate belief in man’s ability to greatness, more irreverent against daresay – atavistic – traditions, and more diligent in pursuing effective and impactful change than Nietzsche. For all he effects forward and strives towards, and in all he depicts, observes, and portrays through Zarathustra’s voice, I am challenged to find his equal.
Indeed, Nietzsche offers us his hope in the possibility of greatness. In RJ Hollingdale’s explanation of Zarathustra as “…the resolution of a long-sustained intellectual crisis” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Introduction,” #2, p.11), through the notion of the ‘superman/overman’ and theme of ‘eternal recurrence’:
“He who had attained that joy would affirm life and love it however much pain it contained, because he would know that ‘all things are chained and entwined together’ and that everything is therefore part of a whole which he must accept as a whole. To express this feeling of life-affirmation Nietzsche formulated a theorem of ‘the eternal recurrence of the same events’ to which he gave rhapsodic expression in Zarathustra. To be sure, only the Superman could be so well-disposed towards his life as to want it again and again for ever: but that precisely is the reason for willing his creation. The joy of the Superman in being as he is, now and ever, is the ultimate sublimation of the will to power and the final overcoming of an otherwise inexorable and inevitable nihilism.”
— ibid, #4, p.27
I would venture to go one step further than Nietzsche’s concepts of the ‘superman/overman’ and ‘eternal recurrence’ by proposing the following:
To resolve the crisis of life’s meaning, the individual must ultimately attain freedom from necessity of meaning.
In contrast to Nietzsche’s ‘eternal recurrence of the same’, I suggest eternal change embedded within an ultimate return to creative potentiality catalyzed by the individual’s agency to self-attunement. Realizing his potentiality thus, he becomes simultaneously free of and from the self and its related fetters (i.e., necessity). Above all, I aim to re-instill hope and promise in absolute liberation qua ultimate freedom.
Life’s greatest meaning is realized when meaning is unnecessary. When the necessity of meaning is unnecessary, s/he is liberated from the embodied self. This is my theorem of eternal recurrence; it is an eternal recurrence to freedom from necessity. Its path is through the realization of infinite creative potentiality as a galvanizing catalyst towards eternal liberation. Nietzsche qua Zarathustra declares that every soul is a world of its own (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “The Convalescent,” 2, p.234). I add that every soul is a world of its own with an inherent infinite creative potentiality awaiting to be ignited. The greatest tragedy is to see the flame wasted and extinguished, unutilized. This is my proscription against such an event.
Zarathustra is a sort of ‘guide book’ to the superman/overman and a reconciliation and reinstatement of life qua fully realized life. With Chuang Tzu, I attempt a proclamatory exhortation for all individuals to reflect introspectively to realize their inherent creative potential. The realization must be qualified – qualified as Nietzsche so often does with all matters – as a means towards the ultimate end: liberation from the self and the self’s shackles and fetters. Once this is achieved, necessity dissipates into the very figments of air and nonexistent imaginings, no longer relevant in the state of other qua ultimate freedom.
And with this, the 100th post to my blog, I am eternally grateful to Nietzsche for his unmitigated greatness and mental agility. Fortunate happenstance that today is his birthday. Fortunate happenstance that this post marks this blog’s centennial.
Thank you for reading (and for continuing)!