Insight (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche)
During the breaks between classes corridors of the University of Basel are traditionally filled with steady hubbub of ringing young voices. Of course, at any university of the world in these moments students like to communicate with each other, discuss lectures and evening plans, and make fun of their friends and teachers. But in the University of Basel (founded by the bull of the Pope Pius II on November 12, 1459) the intricate and mysterious combination of historical interiors and the centuries-old spirit of this educational institution with the energy of young seekers of knowledge creates the amusing atmosphere of immensity of time and endlessness of science…
In one of fine September days of 2014 three students of the humanities faculty have gathered near the big stained glass window on the second floor of the main building of the university after the lecture on Modern philosophy. They were discussing with deep emotion the subjects of reports, which they were expected to prepare for the next lesson.
- And I got "The Death of God" in nihilistic philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, - the undersized and red-haired student deeply sighed and looked at his companions as if seeking compassion. – I can hardly read one single page of his books! They’re too complicated!
- Yeah, bad luck… - the thin brunette in a checkered jacket agreed with his grieved friend. – I know only a few phrases from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", but I use them mostly as signatures under messages in social networks.
- Why would anyone even think about studying all this blather?! – The plump young man exclaimed and threw up his hands impulsively. – Besides, I heard that many Nazi and chauvinistic doctrines and ideologies are based on Nietzsche's philosophy!
- Indeed, I don’t envy you! – The voice of the young doctoral candidate of the department of philology has unexpectedly sounded behind the taken aback students. – Excuse me for intervening, but I was passing by and incidentally heard your indignation. So I thought I might actually be able to help…
- Thanks a lot, but we will somehow… - the red-haired student tried to answer the unexpected interlocutor timidly.
- We are talking about Nietzsche, right? So “somehow” won’t work. – The young scientist proclaimed with a serious look. – I have just heard from you too many foolish and ridiculous clichés. Thinking this way you will certainly find every single paragraph in books of this philosopher too hard to understand.
- So there is some kind of a secret formula for understanding Nietzsche? – asked the dark-haired student.
- Well, when I was a second-year student, my reaction to this same task – writing a paper about Nietzsche's works - was similar to yours. - The doctoral candidate stood silent for a moment and then started making some gestures as if trying to find the most suitable words. – The main point is that the reader of Nietzsche’s works must first of all respect… not even the author, but himself or herself. This is actually the cornerstone of Nietzsche’s concept about human knowledge.
- But I can’t say I don’t respect myself, - said the red-haired student brassily.
- Have you heard that at the age of 24 Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was still a student of the Leipzig University, but nevertheless was offered a position of a professor of classical philology in our university? He became one of the youngest professors in the history of European universities. And this was possible because he conducted many independent studies, actively published his works, and selflessly believed in hidden capabilities of the person. He believed in the ability "to dissolve" in the surrounding reality and "to absorb" it through variety of events!
- Nietzsche was a genius. That’s obvious anyway. Otherwise he wouldn’t be that famous and respected, - noted the plump student. – But what about excessive complexity of his texts? They are obviously written not for the average Jack.
- Form and contents of Nietzsche’s works are indeed complex, - doctoral candidate smiled and covered his eyes from the rays of the setting sun jumping into the corridor through the shutters. - Aphoristic nature of statement of philosophical texts is the essential innovation of Nietzsche. He tried to be honest and sincerely believed that life is not just the static facts, but a chain of events. And he thought that events are better reflected in dynamic aphorisms which give the reader a chance to independently determine the depth of context of a work and expand boundaries of its meaning! He wanted his readers not just to perceive the author's ideas. He wanted them to think and go beyond his own conceptions! There are a lot of speculative and allegoric things in his works. Look at formation of a traditional human culture on the basis of two beginnings – the cults of Dionysus and Apollo. Or take a metaphor "the Death of God" which only illustrates the increasing human disbelief in "super-sensual" values. Or, at last, the tremendous idea about "eternal return" as the essence of constancy! And "super-human" who becomes a part of the integral world and embodies this world in own acts! And "the will to power" as the triumph of intelligence, creativity and creation!
- Your passion makes all these statements sound very majestic and beautiful! - The thin brunette was amused. – But what can you say about allegedly Nazi potential of Nietzsche’s ideas?
- Many myths have been flying around this subject, - the doctoral candidate answered and thoughtfully looked at the window. – Once Nietzsche also looked through the window and with admiration watched the mighty force of a herd of the magnificent horses, galloping across the emerald hills of East Prussia. Later he lost mind trying to protect a horse from its angry owner and his whip. Could such person really justify cruelty and anti-humanism? However, this can't be said about his sister, who was a passionate follower of Hitler. After Nietzsche became demented, she did her best to prove ideological connection of her brother’s works and the Nazi doctrine. Nevertheless, certain ideas of Nietzsche were indeed interpreted by various nationalists for the sake of their vile interests. Unfortunately, we will never have a chance to find out attitude of Friedrich Nietzsche to this. When he was 25 he renounced the citizenship of aggressive Prussia, and has sincerely hated the chauvinistic and anti-Semitic views of his ambitious sister until his madness.