Chinese and Western Philosophy: An Introduction

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Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844-1900)
I. “supreme self-examination”
1. Switch the question of “truth” to something more fundamental,
“Who is it really that puts questions to us here? What in us really
wants ‘truth’?” The will to truth is not the same as the will to truth.
The will is value, is life, more fundamental.
2. “Genealogy” as a metaphor for his method which “attempts” to
trace back the origins of those highest values such as Being, truth,
goodness and so on.
3. Against the progressive and teleological conception of history.
Instead of constructing an a priori origin, a transcendent ideal,
and linear totality of history, genealogy pays attention to those
diverse cases of different kinds of peoples, discourses, physical
conditions in different times .
II. Perspectivism, Nihilism, and The death of God
1. Value determine our perspective. Language and Truth: No word or concept can picture
and express reality adequately. We create words for things not yet known; the
process of naming is an artificial process of differentiation, classification and
designation; whereas the world is a constant flux of appearance and becoming,
words are static, standing for our will to certainty.
2. Truth vs. error; God vs. man; Being vs. becoming; Reality vs. appearance; Good vs. evil;
Reason vs. instinct; Morality vs. free spirit; the “true” world vs. the real world;
Identity vs. difference; Eternity vs. time; etc. Everything this tradition de-values and
resents belongs to the real world of life. The hatred or denial of this world, the world
of contradiction, deception, change and sensuality which were condemned as causes
of suffering. Platonic philosophy and Christianity are, by their nature, nihilistic
because they negate the world as it is (becoming) by establishing an erroneous “true”
world as their measure of all values. Truths as Lies, because it corresponds to nothing
but a fictitious “reality” (God, Being, Good, etc.) that never existed. The Will to Truth
as Ascetic Ideal
3. God ends up killed by its devotees, since there is no longer any objective truth from
which the “last man” could derive any meaning and value as the goal of life.
4. To turn the traditional values upside down is to return to the reality of life, of what we
are and where we belong originally: from Being, Truth, God, Morality, Certainty,
Eternity, Reason, and Heaven to becoming, deception, individual, immorality, change,
time, sensuality, and the earth. What has been rejected or disdained, such as nature,
instinct, body, desire and passion, now should be affirmed. Most “truth is lie” logically
implies its reverse “lie is truth,” because our life relies pretty much on lies, meaning
perspectives, judgments, evaluations that have no metaphysical foundation at all.
III. Master-Slave Morality
1. What, seen in the perspective of life, is the significance
of morality? people chose this rather than that as their
true world because this is supposedly good or better
than that:
2. Noble or master morality and a herd or slave morality of
resentment or bad conscience. The later is the JudaeoChristian morality which is the No or reverse of the
former. “So that it could say No to everything on earth
that represents the ascending tendency of life, to that
which has turned out well, to power, to beauty, to selfaffirmation, the instinct of resentment, which had here
become genius, had to invent another world from whose
point of view this affirmation of life appeared as evil, as
the reprehensible as such” (A, 24).
IV. The Will to Power and the Übermensch
1. Will to power --the essential force of life, everything that becomes, appears, commands and obeys,
grows and declines, is in fact a spectacle of will to power: “A living thing seeks above all to
discharge its strength—life itself is will to power”. a dynamic life force of becoming, forming or
creating, overcoming which does not have any goal because it is its goal itself
2. Two basic kinds of force: active force and reactive force.
The active force seeks the enhancement of life, enjoys the triumph over obstacles and resistance,
imposes and creates forms and rules by exploiting circumstances, transforms the existing order and
condition of life into a new height, etc. People who possess and exercise such force are superior,
noble and masterful; they act as creators, legislators, geniuses and conquerors and feel good about
themselves and their lives.
The reactive force: obedience, adaptation, weakness, negativity and decadence are qualities of
reactive force. People who exercise such force are an inferior and dominated species who direct
their will to power toward another direction—resisting creativity, individuality, transgression in
order to save or preserve their life.
A creator of new values, that is what Nietzsche wants to be, and he calls for the future: “The man
who breaks their tables of values, the breaker, the lawbreaker; yet he is the creator” They are
commanders and legislators: they say, “thus it shall be!” Their “knowing” is creating, their creating
is a legislation, their will to truth is—will to power.
will to power is a perspective or interpretation of the world (not a metaphysical Truth) only viewed
“from inside” and defined according to its “intelligible character.”
3. Übermensch does not mean “superman”. über = over. Overcome human in the customary sense.
“But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying
lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a selfpropelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred ‘Yes’”
idea of eternal recurrence – a test for “I really want it,” an affirmation of life.
V. The German Zhuangzi:
The negative side:
The world does not have inherent value or Truth
Zhuangzi — Everything is equal. All distinctions are human
made
The German version – Perspectivism. The rational world is a
self-deceptive disguise for our will to power; God is dead
The positive side:
Liberation as affirmation
Zhuangzi — Transcend human conventions and return to what
is natural. Be a “true man”
The German version — Creation of your own meaning, master
morality. Be an Übermensch
Difference: Celebrating illusions, and create one’s own
illusions and victories?

Daily One-minute Paper
1. What is the big point you learned in class today?
2. What is the main, unanswered question you leave
class with today?

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