Wednesday, 18 January 2017

God is dead (Nietzsche)

With his famous quote 'God is dead' Nietzsche acquired an immortal fame!  However, he was not the first to say it. Before him, Hegel states it and even F. Dostoevsky does so in his novel.  While Hegel replaces the God of religion with the 'spirit' in the context of history and progress, Nietzsche does so in the context of morality, without the metaphysical or epistemological frills of Hegel.  However the common feature in both these philosophers is the denouncing of an external guiding norm and thereby of all responsibility being offloaded onto this 'higher being'.

For the next lecture our professor had asked us to come thinking why is it that a madman goes about shouting this statement, according to Nietzsche? Why is not some academic professor or a politician? I've been trying to think why did Nietzsche put this in the mouth of a madman?

There are two things that are coming to my mind very strongly and I feel they're invariably connected but somehow cannot connect them. The first is that the mad man has nothing to lose when he makes this proclamation.  Even if a sane and all the more a man of repute were to state this, he would soon be labelled a 'madman' by the society.  A look at our modern tactics to silence whistle-blowers or activists will offer enough evidence of this.

Secondly, when a mad man goes about announcing this, people who listen to him are invariably going to disregard him - and his utterances.  Yet it will strike a cord somewhere, if not in all, at least in some. Of the latter group, some will sooner than later silence this voice within them offering some pious or religious antidote... but not without it pricking them.  Because once you begin to reflect, the itch is not going to go away.  Those who refuse to give in and go on reflecting, will eventually see the point Nietzsche is trying to make: there is no moral standard and authority residing out there, you need to take up that responsibility. No easy way of passing on the buck to someone higher up.  

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