Monday, 31 December 2018

Vox On Nietzsche

When I was thinking of becoming a Christian I wanted to read some anti-Christian books. I'd heard Nietzsche was worth reading so I read The Anti-Christ and Twilight Of The Idols. If anything they pushed me towards Christ: rather than presenting arguments against Christianity, they assume it's false and then rant about the implications of that — implications which are wholly unattractive to anyone reluctant to give up on morality. So I can recommend those books to anyone :-).

I was reminded of that by this Vox piece. The author tries to put some distance between Nietzsche and the "alt-right" but only partially succeeds. It's certainly true that atheist alt-righters, in rejecting Jesus but idolizing secular Christendom, have it exactly the wrong way around (though I'm glad they understand Jesus is incompatible with their ideology). It's also correct that Nietzsche argued for demolishing the trappings of Christianity that people hold onto after rejecting Jesus. Unfortunately for the Vox thesis, as far as I read, Nietzsche focused his contempt not on the geopolitics of "Christendom", but (quoting Vox) "egalitarianism, community, humility, charity, and pity". In this, Nietzsche is on the side of Nazis and against progressives and other decent human beings.

The Vox author points out that Nietzsche himself was against racism and anti-Semitism, but those who embrace his philosophy, who "reckon with a world in which there is no foundation for our highest values", can end up anywhere. If you see "egalitarianism, community, humility, charity, and pity" as non-obligatory or contemptible, your prejudices are likely to blossom into racism and worse. Fortunately Nietzsche's philosophy is incompatible with human nature, our imago Dei; intellectuals (both actual and aspiring) pay lip service to "a world in which there is no foundation for our highest values", but they do not and cannot live that way.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you, well-put! Two things come to mind.

    First, Book 3 of _The Gay Science_, in which Nietzsche decries every attempt to anthropomorphize nature and natural law. The picture is bleak with respect to the terms on which we must live, especially epistemically. And yet if naturalism is true, then he is undoubtedly correct.

    Second, it is underappreciated just how much contemporary unbelief takes it for granted, as Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx did, that Christianity is false.

    (Not sure why I am showing up as "Unknown".)