2. What concerns did Nietzsche share with Kant?
3. How do urban and country walks differ?
4. What kind of walking yields the greatest "discoveries and joys"?
- Which requires more personal discipline, for you: sticking rigidly to a daily routine (like Kant) or surrendering to your spontaneity? Which is more productive and gratifying for you? 157
- Nerval was compelled by an obsession with "fixed ideas" that resulted in his tragic self-destruction. I find walking to be the best way to subdue obsessive rumination, not cultivate it, and thus can't relate to the melancholic/manic variety of walking Nerval apparently suffered from. Can you?
- "Do we know why we walk?" 152
- Kant and Nietzsche were both very strange individuals, in their very different ways, and were drawn to very different styles of walking. If they'd each sampled the OTHER style and practiced it a bit more, would they have been less strange? Would they still have been the philosophers they were?
- "Every day a page to write... at the end of it all, a gigantic oeuvre." 157 Do you have any projects, writing or otherwise, that you try to plug away at every day? Have you experienced success at such a project?
- "A brisk trot around the block is really just another way of developing the obsession with some idea... Going out for a walk is another matter." 163-4 But can't you "say goodbye to your work" for the duration of a trot too?
- Have you experienced the "lightness of being, the sweetness of a soul freely reconciled to itself and to the world" during a walk? How long did the feeling last? Did its dissipation disappoint you, or make you distrust the feeling the next time it came?
2. What was Nietzsche's objection to Socrates?
3. Who had a sudden revelation about time during his customary afternoon walk?
4. Who said Heraclitus's vision of Being was "only for the strong"?
- Does the fact that some German soldiers carried Nietzsche's Zarathustra with them discredit Nietzsche? Does Heidegger's affiliation with the Nazis discredit Being and Time?
- "New ideologies sprang up... assert[ing] that what we believe - even if it's a lie" is what matters. 496 But does any thinker ever embrace a lie so casually and straightforwardly, without self-deception?
- "But the impermanence of everything, including the universe, should be a formula for serenity rather than despair." 497 Agree?
- "Everything about Socrates is wrong... The dying Socrates became the new ideal..." 498-9 Have we idealized Socrates? Should we take him down from his pedestal? Who would you nominate as the personification of intellectual integrity, if not him?
- Nietzsche's aphoristic style makes it easy to interpret him as an apologist for "violent warriors," but on closer and more sympathetic inspection such language seems mostly metaphorical and symbolic, his "will to power" a call for self-mastery rather than social domination. Should a philosopher scrupulously avoid language that lends itself to misconstrual?
- "Darwin's evolution and Ernst Mach's physics had demonstrated to all concerned that there was no heaven above..." Really? 500
- Do you agree with Herman's interpretation of the lesson of Nietzsche's eternal recurrence? 502
- Is the elan vital simply a fiction we should reject, or is there some value in the concept?
- Why were so many well-intentioned intellectuals drawn to the "catastrophic" Russian Revolution? 508-9
- Was Jefferson self-consistent in advocating separation of Church and State while also (allegedly) agreeing with Madison about "the moral order of the world"? 520
- What do you think of the familiar Jamesian claim that if you "believe that life is worth living, your belief will help create the fact"? 534
- Is Madison's "healthy gridlock" of countervailing interests still so healthy? Wouldn't some version of the parliamentary system, requiring constructive coalition government, be better? 518
- Is common sense the right place to start, in philosophy? 521
- Do our universities pursue Gilman's goal? 525
- Should philosophers fight against "demoralizing despair," as voiced by Twain and Adams? 526 Do all intellectuals have an ultimate obligation, as Faulkner said, to lift the human heart and offer hope?
- Where are you on the Tough/Tender spectrum? 528
- "James's Pragmatism is inherently conservative," though James himself was a progressive liberal. Why do you think Herman makes this claim? Is it true? 531
- For pragmatists beliefs are rules for action, to be assessed in the light of where action leads us. "What is better for us to believe" comes close to a definition of truth, said James. Do you think we should we call beliefs that lead us well "true"? (Consider for instance the mountain climber or the train passengers, 532)
In general, it's probably a mistake to try and extract a consistent socio-political and ethical philosophy from Nietzsche. He's more about personal therapeutics, of which walking is for him the primal therapy.
“The impious man is not he who denies the gods of the many,” Epicurus writes to a friend, “but he who attaches to the gods the beliefs of the many about them.” Lord Bacon repeats the message for the benefit of readers like Jefferson: “There is no profanity in refusing to believe in the gods of the vulgar: the profanity is in believing of the gods what the vulgar believe.”Stewart reminds us that Jefferson was a self-avowed Epicurean and materialist. "Spiritualism" for him is a term of abuse applied mostly to the Platonic tradition. "Of Jesus he says, 'I am a Materialist; he takes the side of spiritualism.' [But] perhaps Jesus could be interpreted as an Epicurean after all."
In that spirit, we should all read our (Jefferson) Bible.
Old post: Peirce, James, Nietzsche, Freud