Thursday, December 8, 2016

Friedrich Nietzsche Versus George Santayana

George Santayana; Friedrich Nietzsche
Considering that Friedrich Nietzsche wrote Thus Spake Zarathustra in the early 1880s, it is surprising how relevant and invigorating many of the book's ideas remain in 2016.

In the book’s Part One (Section: “Of the New Idol”), Nietzsche says:
A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears to me, for now I will speak to you about the death of peoples. 
State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."
It is a lie! It was creators who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.
Destroyers are they who lay snares for the many, and call it state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.
Where there are still peoples, the state is not understood, and is hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs. 
Nietzsche’s view of the state is clearly anti-egalitarian. In fact, anti-egalitarian elements are there in most of his works, and that is why he is criticized by the egalitarian thinkers like George Santayana.

Santayana sneeringly refers to Nietzsche as the author of “boyish blasphemies,” which were put into the mouth of the protagonist of Thus Spake Zarathustra.

In Reason and Society, Santayana says:
The state may be a monster, as Nietzsche called it; a monster of unnecessary size; but its centralized tyranny has the virtue of abolishing the miscellaneous and innumerable petty tyrannies by which life was of old pestered and confined. One master pirate, accepting tribute quietly, is better than a hundred pirates, taking toll without warning and without stint. 
Santayana accepts that the State is a monster —he likens the State to a master pirate—but he wants people to accept its rule because of his conviction that civilization can only be conducted by a totalitarian system.

In another work The German Mind: A Philosophical Diagnosis, Santayana criticizes Nietzsche’s ethics and theory of superman. He accuses Nietzsche of "subjectivity in thought and wilfulness in morals."

There no justification for the insults that Santayana has levelled on Nietzsche.

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