On being oneself - Nietzsche

God is dead - Nietzsche

  • This statements means much more than the initial, often knee jerk, atheistic interpretation. The following alternative interpretations are extremely stoic in nature.

  • Develop your own strengths.

    • This statement encourages us to stop projecting the good character traits and virtues to an external divine being.

    • Instead it is telling us to rely on and develop our own strength of character and virtues.

    • This indirect association to the virtues of a superior external being has been impoverishing our spirituality,it has weakened our character.

    • It gives us a message that we are inferior and are not capable of achieving such high standards as the divine.

    • In a way it has given us an excuse to not be virtuous in some cases. As we get into a habit of deriving power or satisfaction from associating with the divine, we find it unnecessary to cultivate virtues within.

    • Nietzsche is asking an important question - If we need God to keep us right , what happens when he/she dies?

    • This sentiment goes hand in hand with Stoic Philosophy as it encourages us to believe in the god like ability of a human rationality.

  • Do not suffer from slave morality

    • there are two types of morality

      • Slave morality - where others tell us what is good and what is bad, and we are compelled to follow the herd - Herd Morality. Usually there are repercussions if we don't follow the herd. Creative thought is constantly inhibited.

      • Master morality - where we can think for ourselves an. There is freedom of thought and rationality. There is no fear of repercussion , there is no one judging us but ourselves.

    • Slave morality breeds resentment, as there is no freedom to think without considering approval of others. It is suffocating.

    • Religion is only one way in which slave morality is inculcated. There are other umbrella concepts like culture, tradition, belief and faith. So think of the statement as -

God, religion ,culture , tradition and everything else that stops us from being oneself is dead.

  • There is no divine plan. We define our own destiny.

    • If god is dead, there is no heaven and hell, there is only here and now.

    • What matters is what we do in this single life time.

    • One should actively participate in what one's destiny is.

  • Stop being preoccupied with conforming with others.

    • if everyone were to act in a manner as "god" deemed us act then how dull it would be. It would be boring.

“Giving style” to one’s character - a great and rare art! It is exercised by those who see all the strengths and weaknesses of their own natures and then comprehend them in an artistic plan until everything appears as art and reason and even weakness delights the eye.” - Nietzsche

  • When making judgments about morality we should attempt to ignore the external noise, societal shackles and social programming. Instead we should look within our own unique self to deem what ought to be done and what ought not.

“Learn what you are and be such.” - Pindar

  • What was moral yesterday is immoral today

    • Morality depends on perspective as our perspective changes our morals changes with it.
    • What "god" deemed moral a thousand years ago may be immoral today.

    • So in an ever changing world it is crucial to be oneself and judge for ourselves the nature of good and evil.

These are notes from listening to Lecture 60 by Prof. Higgins in Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

Also read related notes -

On seeking approval of others

On dealing with fear