Solitude: Thought of the Day 18.0

solitude_karuselli_ei_teksteja

A reason Nietzsche ponders solitude is that his is largely a philosophy of the future. There is heavy emphasis in Beyond Good and Evil on the temporal nature of the human condition. He posits that “the taste of the time and the virtue of the time weakens and thins down the will.” In order to surpass current modes and fashions in thinking, one must become removed from the present. The new philosopher is necessarily a man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and so he is solitary and in contradiction to the ideals of today. Fundamentally, Nietzsche sees current Europe (and especially Germany) as not yet prepared for an overturning of present morality. Although he does predict the time is approaching, there is the overarching sense throughout Beyond Good and Evil that Nietzsche expects (and even embraces) the fact that his philosophy needs a significant passage of time to be understood. His work is lonely. He labors to lay groundwork for the philosophers of the future who will continue on this path someday.

The life of the free spirit is solitary because it requires the recognition of the untruth of life in order to be beyond good and evil. Religion and democratic enlightenment in Europe have forged a herd mentality of mediocrity which has rejected such a possibility. In this society, everyone’s thoughts and morality are given equal merit. Nietzsche despises this because it forces us to reject our nature; both the ugliness and the beauty of it. He tells us that religion is able to teach even the lowliest of people how to place themselves in an illusory higher order of things so they may have the impression that they are content. This herd mentality protects the pack and also makes life palatable. It is also the first enemy of anyone looking to discover their own truths. Nietzsche concludes his book by reflecting on the wonders of solitude. For the free spirit, solitude is life-affirming because the absence of the stifling dogmas of the herd allows for the greatest expansion of one’s sense of self. To be truly beyond good and evil one must be removed from grappling with the order and morality imposed by democratic enlightenment and religion. Only when one stands alone vis-à-vis the herd is greatness and nobleness possible. Upon being removed from the seething torrent of austere and rigid thinking now strangling Europe, the free spirit foments his own morality and thrives.

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