In America, we celebrate Halloween with costumes and trick or treating. In Germany, Allerheiligen is a holiday of paying respects to the dead, and showing reverence for all the saints of the Catholic Church. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos involves the building of shrines and offering of food to the deceased. Among the ancient Celts, there was Samhain, a time in which the veil between worlds became thinner. Where do all these death holidays come from, and why do so many cultures, with different religious traditions, set aside a day for the ritualized celebration of the dead? And, most importantly for the subject of this podcast... what can Nietzsche tell us that can help understand this anthropological puzzle? Today, we're talking all things Halloween, from a Nietzschean lens. We discuss the effect of darkness and night upon the psyche, the overactive imagination and collective dream state of early man, how we never stop believing in fairytales, and why rituals help spiritualize the wicked thoughts and feelings of mankind. Join us for a special, creepy episode of The Nietzsche Podcast. Muahahahahaha! Episode art: Hans Baldung — Die Hexen (“The Witches”, 1510), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
More episodes from "The Nietzsche Podcast"
Untimely Reflections #7: Paul Katsafanas - Nietzschean Constitutivism
1:15:05This time, I'm having a conversation with Paul Katsafanas, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Boston University. He is the author of Nietzschean Constitutivism, an analytical approach to Nietzsche's ethics. This is the primary focus of our conversation, though I also talked to Professor Katfasanas about changes in the analytical/continental divide, his take on my own fictionalist approach to metaphysics, and the state of philosophy in 2021. I found Paul to have a wealth of insights into Nietzsche's work which were stated with utter clarity and directness. Katsafanas' moral constitutivism, based on Nietzsche, stands in opposition to the work of Kantian constitutivists such as Christine Korsgaard and David Velleman. Katsafanas argues that the Nietzschean theory of meta-ethics, based on will to power, more coherently explains human action than the Kantian insistence on universalization and adherence to rational principles. Nietzschean constitutivism includes the unconscious and habitual side of man, not just his deliberating, rational side. There was some glitching on his end but I think it was just my own poor connection. Or maybe this is just an inevitability of recording on Zoom from far-flung parts of the country.
20: Schopenhauer as Educator
1:24:22We begin to answer the question as to what Nietzsche saw in Schopenhauer, mostly in Nietzsche's own words. But the answer is not so simple as Nietzsche simply listing off a few ideas or character traits that he liked. Rather, Schopenhauer is held up alongside Rousseau and Goethe as an "image of man" to reveal to mankind how we might be elevated beyond the merely animal. All three are among those who have channeled genius, the "rarest specimens" of mankind who make up the extraordinary examples of artists, saints and philosophers who have existed throughout the ages. Nietzsche finds, in Schopenhauer, the timeless symbol of the solitary thinker. Schopenhauer was independent and uncompromising in both his philosophical convictions and in his personality. Like Heraclitus, he looks deep within himself and rejects all that is superficial and external with a skepticism like an all-devouring fire. Unlike the "savants" - the scholars and intellectuals to whom knowledge is a series of techniques or a discipline, which is studied to advance oneself in a career - the solitary genius does not know what dispassionate knowledge is, and is compelled to live out his philosophy through action. How a philosopher's example might inform our life and actions - in other words, how it might be educative - is of key importance to Nietzsche. A true cultural and philosophical education is something he thinks is totally lacking in his own age (this holds true today as well). The educative example of Schopenhauer was a personal inspiration to Nietzsche, in helping to motivate him to eventually pursue a life of solitude. But, more importantly, the genius who is the end and the advancement of culture solved a lingering problem in Nietzsche's philosophy: how to make mankind transcendentally valuable if mankind is no different from the rest of the animals. He writes that nature made its single leap in the great people who become artists, saints and philosophers. As to how Schopenhauer contrasts with Goethe and Rousseau... you'll just have to listen and find out! Episode art: Viktor Vatnetsov, Knight at the Crossroads (detail)
Untimely Reflections #6: Greg from Into the Absurd - Death & God
1:23:23Sigh. When I did the soundcheck my mic was plugged in. Then, I guess the cable slipped sometime before we started rolling. So, the crisp mic quality you got in the last couple episodes is not here and I was foolishly speaking into a mic while the computer mic is what actually recorded me. But, regardless of my own failures, my guest had a lot of fascinating things to say. Today I'm talking to Greg, from Into the Absurd. I appeared on Greg's podcast some time ago, and we talked about art & religion. Our selection of topics this time is just as heady: death & God. We discuss the importance of thinkers being honest with themselves, how popular religion is a form of death worship, the philosophical means of coping with death from an atheistic worldview, and the course of society as we see it following the decline of Christianity. Check out Into the Absurd: https://open.spotify.com/show/6b6iTLzd74NhzdJkyaAjtb My appearance on Greg's podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/47PEkTCVOwsOuy6BGUxUWT
19: Arthur Schopenhauer, part 2: The Great Pessimist
1:16:53In this episode, we’re exploring how Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy culminates in the idea that we must deny the will-to-live. This second part will take us through Schopenhauer's view of art, his idea of genius, and how the Platonic forms relate to aesthetics. Finally, we'll discuss the final end of Schopenhauer's philosophy: nothingness. Unlike other noted pessimists, who fixated on mortality, and the finitude of a human life, Schopenhauer insists that being itself is always indestructible. Death isn't even a way out of the horror of existence. Thus, it becomes imperative that the knowing subject discover through reason how to negate the will and to become free of the blind, ceaseless striving that creates his suffering. For the episode image, I decided to go with young Schopenhauer. Since he wrote World as Will and Representation at 28 years old and never changed his mind about the contents of the book, young Schopenhauer and old Schopenhauer represent exactly the same Platonic Idea. And since time is simply an illusion of the phenomenal world, why not go from old to young? Next week, we'll discuss Nietzsche's essay, Schopenhauer as Educator.
18: Arthur Schopenhauer, part I: Will & Representation
1:39:01Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is known today as the ultimate pessimist among philosophers. Among Nietzsche's influences, perhaps none can be said to be more significant than Schopenhauer. Given that Nietzsche promoted a life philosophy that was ultimately "yes-saying" and full of determination to embrace this world and all its suffering, it may be surprising to some who are not familiar with Schopenhauer to learn that Nietzsche was so enamored with him. As Charlie Huenemann says, the young Nietzsche was "lit afire" by the famous pessimist upon first discovering his work at Schulpforta. We can even perhaps credit Schopenhauer's writing with enticing Nietzsche to consider an academic path other than philology, and to eventually throw in his own contribution and critique of the German idealists and their movement. The core ideas of Schopenhauer's that we'll cover in part one will be Schopenhauer's metaphysics, which is contained in books I and II of the first volume of the World as Will and Representation. Thus, the first episode will unravel the puzzle of what exactly the title means: what is it to say that the world is representation, or that the world is will? Or, as Schopenhauer claims - that it is both entirely, and that both perspectives on the world each elucidate some different aspect of it? This episode will provide a bridge from the byzantine, tortured Kantian metaphysics that had dominated German philosophy into the rebellious, anti-metaphysica stance of Nietzsche. Next week, we'll discuss the second aspects of will and representation, which involves a discussion of ethics and aesthetics. Please support us on Patreon, anything helps, Zarathustra bless: https://www.patreon.com/untimelyreflections
Untimely Reflections #5: Matt Keck - Archotropism, Fragility, and the Elite Morality
1:27:00This is the first episode with my new mic set-up! Enjoy that crisp, crystal-clear vocal quality on my end, for the first time during one of my conversations with a guest. Apparently the bitrate was wreaking havoc on my normal mic setup, but thankfully the problem is finally solved. In this Untimely Reflections, I have a conversation with Matt Keck, the co-host of Beyond Talking Points. Matt is an anarcho-capitalist, who recommended the topic of archotropism, which is a theory of power set forward by youtuber/podcaster Popular Liberty. In the course of the conversation, we discuss how it is that economic wealth relates to power, why it is that the morality of the elites counter-intuitively tends towards leftism, the future of China, and how authoritarian modes of governance can create fragile systems. Even though Matt and I have very different views of government and the state, we share a lot of common insights on the nature of power and power relationships. As you may have noticed, I spoke with Matt's co-host, who is also named Matt, in the second episode of Untimely Reflections: https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/e16slnt You can listen to Beyond Talking Points here: https://open.spotify.com/show/5Hag3O3dJr64F6VNs7rF3w
17: All Hallow’s Special!
53:10In America, we celebrate Halloween with costumes and trick or treating. In Germany, Allerheiligen is a holiday of paying respects to the dead, and showing reverence for all the saints of the Catholic Church. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos involves the building of shrines and offering of food to the deceased. Among the ancient Celts, there was Samhain, a time in which the veil between worlds became thinner. Where do all these death holidays come from, and why do so many cultures, with different religious traditions, set aside a day for the ritualized celebration of the dead? And, most importantly for the subject of this podcast... what can Nietzsche tell us that can help understand this anthropological puzzle? Today, we're talking all things Halloween, from a Nietzschean lens. We discuss the effect of darkness and night upon the psyche, the overactive imagination and collective dream state of early man, how we never stop believing in fairytales, and why rituals help spiritualize the wicked thoughts and feelings of mankind. Join us for a special, creepy episode of The Nietzsche Podcast. Muahahahahaha! Episode art: Hans Baldung — Die Hexen (“The Witches”, 1510), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
16: The Congenital Defect of All Philosophers
1:12:58Philosophers have a birth defect. They are cursed, destined to philosophize without a historical sense. Even without realizing it, we take for granted the moral prejudices of our own times. For better or worse, language and the cultural software we inherit both play a role in shaping our thought. For all these reasons, philosophers of all ages have fallen victim to habitual errors: of beginning from the conclusion, of inverting the effect and cause, in assuming that if something gladdens the heart, it must be true. In this episode, we’re doing a deep dive into the Nietzschean method for understanding habitual errors in philosophical thinking. With the toolkit Nietzsche provides, we can dissect the propositions of philosophers, religions and cultures. Our main targets in this episode will be Kant and Schopenhauer, Nietzsche’s influences and treasures of German philosophy — but after all, one repays a teacher badly if he remains a student only!
Untimely Reflections #4: At the Movies! Reviewing, “When Nietzsche Wept” (2007) Featuring, my wife.
57:42This is the twentieth episode of the podcast! Maybe the smallest of milestones, but we decided to celebrate. It's a bit unusual for me to do two Untimely Reflections in a row, but hopefully it'll be as fun for everyone else as it was for me. Today, I'm sitting down with my wife Amberly to talk about a movie we just watched, "When Nietzsche Wept" by director Pinchas Perry. Amberly knows very little about philosophy or Nietzsche, but knows a lot about movies, and especially what makes something a bad movie. Well, she's going to need those skills, because this film was disappointing in almost every respect. Based on a book by Irvin Yalom, the film unfortunately repeats a lot of myths about Nietzsche, some of underlay his entire portrayal in the story, and Nietzsche is mostly sidelined in lieu of Dr. Breuer, whose midlife crisis is the central narrative of the film. It really made me wish for a good film adaptation of Nietzsche's life. We'll return to our regularly scheduled lecture series next week. Special thanks to Amberly for being willing to watch this long-winded and tortured film with me, which, in her words, "has the production value of a Wishbone historical recreation!"
Untimely Reflections #3: Karl Nord - On the Use and Abuse of Nietzsche for Randian Aesthetics
1:37:30In this episode, I'm chatting with my friend Karl Nord about Ayn Rand's Romantic Manifesto, Nietzsche's Use and Abuse of History for Life, whether H.P. Lovecraft's characters have volition, the use of deus ex machina in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series, the depressing spirit of Von Trier films, morality in art and as art, and the alchemical power of aligning the artistic and the political.