Nietzsche’s Idea of Faith
Hi everyone! I had a few questions to ask that if answered, would really help me write my upcoming philosophy speech. I’m wondering how radical it would be if I attempted to prove that Nietzsche’s idea of faith is hypocritical of his disbelief of opposite values in good vs. evil. He seems to constantly believe that faith and reason is good vs evil. Is there anything in the text of good vs. evil to help me prove my point that can be further explained because the only time he really brings faith up is to bash it with his anti christian world-view. When he says “…it is much rather the faith of pascal, which resembles in a terrible manner a continious suicide of reason” Is he speaking of christian faith or faith in general? Also, he says “there is an innocence in lying which is the sign of good faith in a cause”… What exactly does he mean by this. But the main reason for my arguement is what he says on number 191 about faith. I have several reasons why i want to argue his idea’s… the first being whenever he brags about Socrates laughing at the noble men who couldn’t give a good enough reason for feeling the way that they did… as if having a reason makes the truth any more truer than if a feeling made you feel the same way
“Socrates himself, to be sure, with the taste of his talent–that of a superior dialectician- had initially sided with reason; and in fact what did he do his life long but laugh at the awkward incapacity of noble Athenians who, like all noble men, were men of instinct and never could give sufficient information about the reasons for there accusations”
he goes on to say that Socrates laughs at himself as well because in himself he feels feelings of difficulty and incapacity just as the ones who have blind faith
he also describes Plato and how Plato believes that faith and reason both lean toward one goal the good … “God”. and since Plato all theologians and philosophers are on the same track-that is, in moral matters it has so far been instinct, or what the Christians call “faith,” or “the herd,” as i put it, that has triumphed. perhaps Descartes should be excepted, as the father of rationalism (and hence the grandfather of the revolution) who conceded authority to reason alone: but reason is merely an instrument, and Descartes was superficial.
even though he says moral matters when he describes faith he isnt talking about faith as a moral matter alone. I’m wondering if my paper is going to have any obvious loopholes because I’ve tried to research for weeks and haven’t gotten as many answers as I’d hoped for so I would greatly appreciate any help.
If I’m misinterpreting Nietzsche please let me know

I would greatly appreciate any help!

I think a lot of the people here are Nietzsche-lovers; you might find it difficult to find opinions going against him

I think you’re a bit hung up on “good vs evil” as being “desirable vs. undesirable”. He wrote a whole book called “Beyond Good and Evil”!

He isn’t (at least in my reading) against faith or reason per se. They are tools to achieve your ends. As is the classification of things as “good” or “evil”. What he wants is to advance humanity, have them accept reality as it really is and embrace it, “good” and “evil” alike, to see it for what it is and not for what it would suit others for you to see it. And whatever else he is, he’s a smart cookie - he’s not blind to his conflicts of interest, on the contrary, he feels them acutely.

Having read most of Nietzsche’s works and experiencing both delight in his denial of universals and dismay in his utopiaism, I’d opine that his beyond good and evil concept is possible only in the thinking of the ubermensche. (SIC).

Thanks only Humean… That helps me out … I’m really hung up though on idea’s for my philosophy argument. I mean, how in the world am I going to argue a position against philosophers that have withstood the test of time. Other idea’s i had where arguing is Nietzsche will to power… He is basiclly saying that the root of all actions is a selfish benefit correct? I mean, he may be right but I need a stance to argue with and preferably one without any obvious loopholes that will totally disprove my argument… ← Take your pick.

He was, among other things, a realist and perspectivist. Yet, some of his work has a very idealistic quality to it (particularly his texts pre-dating “Human, All Too Human” I believe).

I seriously doubt that such a broad characterization would earn you much credit, and, honestly, hope it wouldn’t. However, if you can narrow that down to very specific theories of his, you can certainly pick them apart. He even did this to himself a good bit, so the material is there.

The man is incredibly smart, but he is not God. Every word he uttered isn’t to be considered ultimate “truth”. Read his writing and find something you feel inclined to dispute, or perhaps an assertion that you can argue as lacking evidence or real world application.

Also, as with your initial idea of arguing Nietzsche’s ideas about “faith”, I can really only give you a ‘seems to me’ kind of statement, but thought it may help–

I don’t think I necessarily remember Nietzsche criticizing the usefulness of faith as a tool, but more as an appeal to authority. In other words, some people have faith because someone of authority (or someone they deem ‘superior’ in some way) tells them what to believe. So, with the Blind Pupils, for example, he is speaking about students that become over-zealous about their teacher or his message, and, thus, seek to spread the ideas of the teacher without ever truly understanding the realistic implications. Like someone trying to convince you that Jesus is truly the son of the one and only creator, “God” – nice message and seemingly harmless, but this also holds implications that all other religions are inherently wrong and destined for Hell.

Peachy is right about the amount of Nietzsche fans on this forum, I have to say I’m one myself. We even have our own local Nietzsche obsessive scholar around here somewhere. We’re not all like Ierrellus though, only announcing terminology without explanation that someone new won’t necessarily quite understand yet, don’t worry.

Possibly the most important thing to understand about Nietzsche is that he can be understood as a dialectician - he will often write strong explanations one way, followed by an equally strong explanation in seeming contradiction. To understand him as believing one way only, above others, is to have an incomplete impression of him. While he wrote a book called Anti-Christ, just read ‘the Religious Nature’ in Beyond Good and Evil to get an idea of how he doesn’t neglect the other side of the argument. This is no doubt going to cause you huge problems in simply ‘refuting’ his writings - I wouldn’t really recommend attempting a speech on him without a fuller knowledge of his works, but I’m sure there’s plenty of valid things to be said even without one. His book The Gay Science is all about the relationship between the comedy of existence and seriousness towards it, so in talking about him it would perhaps even be consistent to not worry too much about being ‘entirely correct’ about him - to know how to laugh at oneself. He is said to be an Existentialist, which involves the recognition of there not necessarily being any purpose to existence in any way whatsoever. This makes seriousness a bit of a joke, despite the possibility of value in seriousness - hence ‘the gay science’.

He neither only affirms faith nor only rejects it. This isn’t counter to any of his criticisms of good vs. evil. These criticisms involve both praise in following ‘the rule’, when he talks of nobility, which inherently needs to assume ‘goodness’ to be formed at all and then refined - but also in casting aside ‘the rule’ when it has been outdated and died, e.g. Christianity. The noble will take joy in rules, and eventually the common will follow suit, but in a vulgar fashion. But the noble will create new values meanwhile due to their lives being larger & not commanded by rules - they dictate them themselves. But even here, he’s not advocating being noble rather than common - this is something that is fairly inescapable due to fate. If Nietzsche could be said to believe in fate, it could not be said that he contradicts himself by ‘bashing’ faith when applied to good vs. evil or christianity. It’s a lack of ‘intellectual conscience’ - thinking things through with reason fully enough - that resorts to simple ‘good vs. evil’. It’s not the faith aspect that he criticises. He calls christianity a religion of pity, and it is pity that humbles and depresses one because of the suffering of another - and this is what he claims ‘killed God’ in Thus Spake Zarathustra.

So he criticises common lack of intellectual conscience, insofar as he identifies with nobility that possesses it, and he criticises common pity for the lack of health and creative mastery that the noble possess - but he doesn’t advocate nobility just because he identifies with it. The faith aspect isn’t the issue. In BG&E 191, which you quote, he’s not ‘bashing’ faith (instinct), or knowledge (reason) - instead he’s remarking on Socrates turning reason against instinct. If you want to read more on his writings about Socrates, Twilight of the Idols opens with ‘The Problem of Socrates’. It demonstrates how Socrates’s appearence and influence was explainable as a symptom of the decadence of Ancient Greece - that is to say the discontinuation of instinct and happiness being one.

His mention of Pascal is in reference to Pascal turning his mathematical reason towards God, when he later became a Christian. This is a particular kind of ‘faith’, rather than simply ‘christian faith in general’, or ‘faith in general’. Perhaps in the ‘innocence in lying’ quote, he was simply referring to the part of telling a lie that is motivated by believing it will turn out for the better - the reason for lying at all - which shows you have faith in that ‘betterness’ being ‘better’ (faith in general).

Wow… Thanks so much. I appreciate you taking the time to truly answer my question… that really helps me out. I think I have decided against arguing Nietzsche… Any idea’s of possible arguments against the idea’s presented in “The Symposium,” Heidegger’s “Basic Writings,” Kant’s “Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals,” or Descartes Discourse on Method and Meditations on First philosophy? I would greatly appreciate any idea’s…

Lol, having scared you off writing about Nietzsche, there are a few things that could probably be said about him.

All his philosophy heavily relies on psychology. This assumes many things, such as the existence of ‘the psyche’ as something discrete and definite, substantial and persisting. There are, however, passages in The Gay Science, near the beginning of Book 3, that criticise the approach of seeing equality where there is only similarity. That is to say, assuming there is such thing as a discrete, definite, substantial and persistent entity, due to it being ‘equal’ one moment to the next instead of merely similar. According to the translator of my edition of this book, this is similar to an often quoted sentence in his posthumously published The Will to Power:

“Truth is the kind of error without which a certain species could not live”.

Seeing truth implies seeing equality and things like those 4 words that I iterated - which, while being an ‘error’, has enabled species to persist where they would have died without it. It is only an error if one trusts their senses, and how the senses give an impression of ‘flux’ in the world. Perhaps this illuminates a second criticisim of Nietzsche: his assuming truth in appearances - however, this approach has been criticised by him in other passages also.

His philosophy also heavily relies on the historical. He was, afterall, a philologist by profession: he studied the history of philosophy. Assuming historical authority and authenticity assumes many things, such as the relevance to now of what happened then, and that contemporary interpretations are accurate, when interpretation is subject to change according to tastes. Naturally however, staying true to his style, he criticises the ‘historical instinct’ in various passages toward the end of Beyond Good and Evil.

Fate and biology are a couple of other things he relies on…
There is a fair amount to choose from, in attempting to criticise him as a philosopher. Just beware of the traps of his style, many criticisms of him have stemmed from misunderstandings, for example that he seems to contradict himself.

I’ve only read snip bits of Plato, Heidegger, Kant and Descartes, and commentary or criticism of them. Heidegger is fairly contemporary and pretty advanced, having only died 34 years ago. He’s also reputed to be very difficult to read/understand. What I have heard of him seems very positive and he doesn’t seem too different to Nietzsche. Kant is also reputed to be hard to read, due to his style being immensely dry, with thick chunks of wording. He’s heavily criticised by Nietzsche, particularly concerning his ‘categorical imperative’ attempting to be ‘true for everyone’, which is full of dubiousness. He’s also subject to Marxist critique, for attempting to be ‘true for everyone’ without taking into account the working class. Kant was a bourgeois and won’t have had anything much at all to do with the proletariat. Having time to think about things in such a protracted way is a luxury only available to the bourgeois, and is heavily theoretically biased at the expense of practice.

Plato is in some ways praised by Neitzsche for being a Greek Noble. He attempted to transform Socrates’ teachings into a ‘law’ towards the purposes of proving God. The holes in Plato’s philosophy are possibly the easiest to see. In posing a ‘really real’ world under the world of appearances is utterly against all trust in the senses. Why must essence precede experience? How can we know essence (possibly only a philosophical concern much later in the history of philosophy - what does that say about changes in taste)? He essentially ‘reasons’ that there is an existence that no one can experience, we can only experience it by the ‘imperfect’ world-in-flux that is cast, like a shadow (his cave analogy) by this ‘really real’ perfect world underneath. This must have been heavily influential for Kant, who posed noumenon to be like this unknowable perfect world that lies underneath appearances: phenomenon. This need for creating a ‘truer’ world underneath appearance is very much in line with the theological instinct to create a world outside of life that is more perfect. It is very Nietzschean to criticise this using psychology, by posing that this implies a need to escape a dissatisfaction with the current world. The tone here is slightly different for Plato though, who instead wanted to celebrate the world of appearances by giving it divine roots.

Descartes is fairly easy to criticise too because of his insistence on dualism (a similar concept to distancing one’s mind from the ‘physical world’ - in an attempt to half escape it?). Why not monism? What connects mind and body & what is it ‘made of’? How fallible are his concepts of the ‘I’, the ‘think’ and the ‘am’ in his Cogito ergo sum? There’s plenty to go on with Descartes, Plato and Kant. They are all very metaphysical in their searches for ‘truth’ - a dubious goal.

Heidegger and Nietzsche are perhaps from a different philosophical era to the above, because they are the part of the newer tradition to attempt to escape the metaphysical search for ‘truth’.

Ahhh I see! Amazing … I feel like Nietzsche is going to be my best bet to argue with because all the other philosophers I’ve mentioned have either been proven wrong many times or have said things that make since, ya know? Would I be too far off If I tried arguing that the warrior morality and the priest morality are in fact experienced by everyone at certain point in life although your ego inside allows to make a choice? If I’m correct then Nietzsche says people possess one of two DIFFERENT kinds of morality. One is the herd priest morality, and the other is the warrior morality. I think if Nietzsche doesn’t understand why warrior morality is no more evil than a hawks killing nature and the morality associated with it then he should take into consideration that all hawks are indistinguishable moral wise, whereas human morals are almost never shared with one another yet we can accurately predict the morals (and even possible actions) of someone by the way that they talk and dress. Also, if warrior morality is the true morality then why does every country that perfectly exemplifies this anarchist view fail miserably?

I wouldn’t like to speak for hawks, just because I’m unable to distinguish between them as a human. Master morality is just as instinctual, but the difference is that it doesn’t neglect the intellect - we see hawks as acting much like machines, slave to their instincts. Obviously the master is not slave to their instincts. His instincts work for him, as him, and conquer - the intellect is simply an extension of his instinct.

It’s dangerous to talk of certain things being experienced by everyone at a certain point in their life. You lump everyone else in with what you know about yourself, and how you have understood everyone else in your own terms - like Kant did. The slave is distinguished by their branching out, away from a life of unfettered instinct, because it brought about conditions where their strength was felt to be insufficient. They must therefore control their instincts by using their intellect against them. In this way, they can find new channels in which to feel strong.

The priest is an example of this because they have actually completely renounced all earthly forms of venting their strength. Perhaps they feel no earthly channel is sufficient for them, so they invent this entire new world-beyond-this-world, through which they can finally feel strong enough - no earthly thing can now get in their way. It’s interesting when they add an omnipotent God into the equation, as if to symbolise their earthly oppressor finally working with them, strengthening them in spite of all their earthly impotence. It’s this slave morality that confronts one with the need to make a self-doubting choice any time in their life. What path do I choose? = I have come to a point where it is no longer clear to me which way I should choose = the path of least resistence has failed me.

I assume you are understanding anarchy as a kind of violent society because there are no leaders (literally what an-archy means) to enforce civilised law. Even if this was the case, the warrior morality would still not be the rule. Warrior morality isn’t just about physical violence and fighting, it’s about being free to act according to your instincts. It’s characteristic of the repressed slave/priest to think that this would just cause the extremes of their version of sin or bad behaviour. Ancient greek nobles were not constantly fighting and having sex or taking drugs, lying, cheating, stealing, killing - whatever the priest feels they need to ban in others so that they may feel equal again. Animals don’t do this either. If this kind of anarchy unfolded, there would still be just as much slave morality - Nietzsche commented on the presence of both moralities appearing in ALL societies of any kind. He didn’t say one was better than the other.

What we have today in our ‘civilised’ society is simply a refined form of the master/slave relationship. Slaves have been given rights at the cost of the masters, the gap has decreased. But slaves are now roped into choosing what form of slavery to partake in - as though the choice were somehow liberating. Masters use a sharp tongue/manipulation and their cleverly emerged systems as a substitute for violence. Master morality isn’t the true morality, it’s just the necessary counterpart to slave morality.

Is Nietzsche saying that the warrior morality is better in a beneficial sense than the slave morality (the herd).


In case you’re referring to utility when u say ‘beneficial’, a criticism of his concerning utility is that it appeals to the slave morality. In order to be ‘useful’ in general, one is appealing to the majority to be doing them a favour according to their common value system of the time - to serve towards their common good with one’s ‘use’. If you’re deliberately acting in a certain way to be beneficial only to yourself, or to no one, the deliberate effort is probably an indication that your idea of beneficial has diverged from the simply instinctual, and is therefore slave to some moral idea of ‘betterness’. Warrior morality can’t really be useful or beneficial because this implies self doubt (turning your intellect against your instinct) when you use hindsight or prediction to judge whether your action was/will be beneficial or useful to anyone at all. It is up to the doubting slave to deliberate on whether this instinctual behaviour is useful or beneficial to anyone (Descartes would be a prime example of a self doubter). Doubt presupposes mistrust in the instincts, in favour of a created and dictated morality that alters behaviour away from the instincts. It is the masters who dictate these created values. Their lack of living inside of structures like morals gives them access to thinking ‘outside the box’. This is simply an observation and not a formula for becoming more creative, and it does not claim that creativity is ‘better’ somehow either.

Perhaps confusingly, the use of intellect counter to instinct is an example of instinct. Fear and social inclusion are instincts, combined with the instinct for dominance in one way or another. They are just more individually restricting compared to the more outward and life affirming instincts. Nietzsche wrote in Beyond Good and Evil 201 that ‘fear is the mother of morality’.

In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche wrote a chapter on ‘Improvers of Mankind’ that explains a couple of very different intended ‘improvements’ of certain societies in history - for their ‘benefit’. They are examples of altering instinct with the intellect, which in each case ends up far from improvement.

Are you going to be a Preachy Nietzsche or a Peachy Nietzsche?
i.e., are you going to be humbled by Nietzsche? or use him as a catalyst to say “Fuck you Judeo-Christian society!”?
It’s not quite possible to be one without being slightly the other – as the man himself was undoubtedly both.