“In truth, the matter is altogether different: while you pretend rapturously to read the canon of your law in nature, you want something opposite, you strange actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to impose your morality, your ideal, on nature – even on nature – and incorporate them in her; you demand that she be nature “according to the Stoa,” and you would like all existence to exist only after your own image – as an immense eternal glorification and generalization of Stoicism. For all your love of truth, you have forced yourselves so long, so persistently, so rigidly-hypnotically to see nature the wrong way, namely Stoically, that you are no longer able to see her differently. And some abysmal arrogance finally still inspires you with the insane hope that because you know how to tyrannize yourselves – Stoicism is self tyranny – nature, too, lets herself be tyrannized: is not the Stoic – a piece of nature?
But this is an ancient, eternal story: what formerly happened with the Stoics still happens today, too, as soon as any philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise. Philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the most spiritual will to power, to the “creation of the world,” to the causa prima.”
I have gotten through the first section of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and wanted to share my favorite passage so far. There are many gems in this piece, and I am extremely happy to have finally gotten into more of this eccentric German’s works, but this piece hit home for me.
He addresses the Stoics in this section, discussing their want to revert to nature and live in a more ‘natural’ state. Stoicism, in its own way, was a Western reflection on Taoism, although it was not directly influenced by Taoist culture, nor was it considered a belief system like Taoism, but simply a school of philosophical thought.
What I find the most intriguing about this excerpt is not necessarily what he says or who he directs it toward, but rather who he does NOT direct it toward. Granted, this section is specifically a critique of philosophy and philosophers, but it seems to me that this message of making one’s belief into one’s self is much better utilized as a message toward those of Western religions. Considering Christianity is one of Nietzsche’s favorite topics on which to criticize, it put me slightly aback to think that he reserved this criticism for Stoics instead. Perhaps he will revisit this message later on in the book, but for now I cannot help but see the parallels of this passage and how it so well critiques the attitude of many Christians today, reflecting their own humanistic powers and wants into the image of God. The idea of God in Christian belief as a jealous, wrathful, judgmental being over His creations is, to me, an obvious reflection of man onto God, and this particular image of God has existed so long that believers no longer recognize the huge humanistic flaws which their God portrays. Even when presented right in front of them, believers will deny to their last breath that their God is anything but perfect, despite His emotion-bound actions against His own creation. It is a pitiful state, to me, to see people in such blind denial.
…And now for something completely different!