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Sunday, January 22, 2006

santayana on nietzsche

Nietzsche is a writer who has stuck with me and bothers me every now and then, making me want to figure out what he was really up to. I usually end up feeling lost and overwhelmed. I remember he wrote somewhere something like, "only after you have forsaken me will you return to me and understand what I am saying." Something along those lines. The ultimate arrogance. Along the lines of Stephen Wolfram's "principle of computational equivalence", which is vaguely worded and followed by claiming that many will stumble to define more clearly what he was saying all along. Viral copyrighting of ideas. One is always worried that ones ideas are derivative of the master.
Anyway, turning 30, I felt brave, and read through the Wikipedia entry on Nietzsche. At the end was a link to
this essay by George Santayana. I suppose that some rhetoric must be countered by rhetoric rather than systematic logic. If a stab in the dark turns up one answer, then someone else should take another stab in the dark and turn up a different answer. Only with the two conflicting answers in front of you is the power of the whole endeavor reduced enough that one can critically evaluate it. I think Nietzsche himself effectively uses this tool to reduce some of the power Christianity may hold over people. So it is appropriate that it is used against him as well.

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