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As an attempt to address some phenomenon in human life, some philosophers have contradicted or dismissed claims of other philosophers. Concern of human suicide is a philosophical problem that has elicited different claims among philosophers. Many philosophers have provided diverse explanations for this event in human life. In their claim, they have used existing philosophy to build their own or conceive a fresh.
Being a philosopher, Nietzsche provides an in-depth view of suicide in his various works, which delineate suicidal motive. He uses a supernatural character, Zarathustra, to explain the concept of suicide in humankind. Additionally, Camus developed a different perspective of suicide.
Hence, this paper focuses on the interpretation of Nietzsche Zarathustra in terms of the relationship between absurdity and suicide as described by Camus.
The Problem of Suicide
Camus methods of resolving the Nietzsche’s problem of suicide, and absurd reasoning, might have seemed very surprising to Nietzsche (Camus 3). This may be the case since Camus feels honored to presuppose and confront the complete deficiency of meaning in entire human life.
Consequently, after posing his concern of suicide and life value, he notes that the voluntary death process indicates acknowledgement of the importance of suffering, and the lack of a weighty reason for living. Therefore, Camus (6) asserts that the relationship between the absurd and suicide, the actual extent to which suicide serves as an answer to the absurd, represents the true subject of his essay.
Camus does not seek refuge in any perspective of the ascetic ideal, which Nietzsche has added meaning in every life of human up to the present. As Camus works his path towards the answer, he emphasizes on the question whether it is achievable to appreciate life as worth living without invoking a single ascetic concept that undervalue life.
These ascetic concepts include God, guilt, sin, morality, eternal freedom, soul, ideal worlds, and afterlife. He argues that all such ascetic concepts appeal to the concern of a sacrificial mind.
Life Affirming Suicide
Nietzsche focuses on reversing Schopenhauer’s appraisal, and thus keen on reviewing the problem of suicide from the viewpoint of life-affirmation. Thus, he had expressed the perspective that people should accept the wishes of others, who prefer to be deceased, in the Zarathustra speech on the death preachers.
Zarathustra in response to those of the view that life is typical suffering says that, “see to it, then, that you cease … and let this be the doctrine of your virtue … thou shalt kill thyself!” (Loeb 168). Later in the Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche gives the same advice to Schopenhauer, which Loeb feels can extend to Camus.
Nietzsche argues that it is not under the control of a person to thwart their birth although humans can correct this error, because it is in other cases an error. Thus, when one commits suicide, he or she does the most worthy possible alternative.
Life itself gets more benefit from this course than from life of anemia, renunciation, and many other virtues. The victim has freed others from sight of him or her, and has freed life from hostility. Pessimism first ascertains through the self-refutation by the pessimist. He or she must advance the logic, rather than negate life simply by illustration and will.
Nietzsche argues that the pessimist who desires death conducts a life-affirming and life-enhancing action by killing him/herself. This view aligns with those of Camus and Schopenhauer (Loeb 166).
Life itself gains an advantage from the suicide of pessimism, and the suicide frees life from hostility. Even though the pessimist does not deserve to live, he or she earns the right to live through his or her life-affirming and life-supporting suicide.
If an observer compares life-affirmation with life- and self-preservation, one comes to believe in the strangeness and contradiction of Nietzsche’s reference of the suicide of a decadent. However, this perspective ignores his differentiation of the things, which benefit life from those that benefit specific creatures.
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Nietzsche would agree, for sure, that there are life instincts in the degenerate that sustain his live against his or her wish to die. Nevertheless, such forces are lasting and partial for the benefit of people at large. Despite their efforts to keep the degenerate alive, they are helpless with respect to the underlying disease, misery, and fatigue, which make him or her constitutionally incapable of affirming life.
To transcend his or her death wish, the degenerate does not have an option but to live in rebellion against the unsuitable life he or she does not fit. Since the lasting forces that sustain the life of a specific living decadent work against the profits of life, they have overwhelming influence of human life (Loeb 167).
Generally, these forces keep alive a person who tends to oppose life and whose existence represents opposition to life. The decadent has only one option of affirming life in general, which is to deny by ending his or her own life
Nietzsche draws some fundamental conclusions from this course of thinking, which contradicts the usual and the innocuous understanding of his insistence on life-affirmation. The subsequent paragraphs will pivot on three of the conclusions he drew. First, he argued that the decadent has just two alternatives of life-affirming suicide or life-depriving survival that hinders the decadent to live in a manner that affirms life.
Philosophers perceive Nietzsche as upholding the life-affirming life for all, besides counseling pessimist to alter or enhance the life-denying perspective of their lives. Nonetheless, despite his intent to promote life-affirmation of decadents, Zarathustra appears to propagate and intensify the decadents’ innate drive to self-destruction.
Thus, he emphasizes in the Twilight of the Idols that the optimal life interest of ascending life requires that the decadent should push down and away degenerating life. In addition, he later writes in the Antichrist that, “the weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy.
And one shall help them to do so” (Loeb 169). This is absurd as in mainstream public, a person who encounters a decadent anticipating to commit suicide should help the decadent in reversing negative thoughts of suicide.
The second conclusion concerns his quest for a counter-ideal to the ascetic-ideal. In support of this conclusion, he asserts that the decadent is unable to affirm life despite ascetic ideal conferring meaning to his or her life. This implies that meaning is a survival precondition, although it does not ensure life-affirmation.
Therefore, a counter-ideal must offer the form of meaning that sustains life-affirmation. Nonetheless, because Nietzsche views suicide as the only life-affirming alternative for decadents, the counter-ideal must symbolize a new meaning that will overpower any lasting life-preserving forces and facilitate the decadent to succumb to their prevailing suicidal instincts.
This implies that the mainstream understanding of the counter-ideal cannot be proper. The optional non-ascetic ideal “must be able to bear the burden of answering the question, ‘Suffering for what?’ Thereby, impeding suicidal nihilism, because that is the existential task the ascetic ideal discharges” (Leiter 287).
However, counter-ideal hinders the capacity of the ascetic ideal to prevent the occurrence of suicide among decadents. In other words, the counter ideal must object the ability of the ascetic ideal to preserve the blank life of decadents who make up a destitute and opposition to life.
While the ascetic ideal represented a trick life played during its struggle against the imperative death wish of a decadent, the counter-ideal must reveal that trick and simultaneously enhance and justify the appropriate desire of the decadents to commit suicide.
Counter Ideal of Zarathustra
In his third essay, Nietzsche used most of his time disintegrating and reviewing the dominant ascetic ideal while dismissing plausible candidates for a novice counter-ideal. However, he did not propose his idea of the construct of the new counter-ideal (Loeb 172).
As a result, many scholars have found his conclusion as unconvincing, evasive, or a depiction of his character as the best at disintegrating than advancing a hypothesis. Nevertheless, scholars should consider Ecce Homo argument, which is in post-Zarathustra books, as presumed to be wholly critical and preliminary to the positive solutions, which Zarathustra had proposed in advance in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
The reason for this attention is his testimony at the end of the essay of Genealogy that he belonged to his decadent age, and thus, is not healthy, strong, courageous, or free enough to speak with conviction on behalf of the requisite counter-ideal to object the ascetic ideal.
Conversely, he argues that he had to visualize a prospect man with the requisite inspiring wickedness and self-convinced intellectual malice. In this context, Nietzsche recognizes the immoralism of the counter-ideal and confesses to be less courageous or free to advocate it.
According to him, it will take a man belonging in the future era to liberate his contemporaries from the past ideal such as intense nausea, the will to oblivion, and the nihilism. Since Nietzsche argues that the decadence of humankind induces the great nihilism that represents humankind weariness over its own decadence. Hence, the life-affirming aspect is necessary in the facilitation of suicide in humans.
In Ecce Homo analysis of the Genealogy, Nietzsche states that ascetic ideal has immense influence due to ideal independence in spite of the harm associated with it. Noteworthy, counter-ideal was nonexistent until Zarathustra was conceived. Nietzsche attested that the counter-ideal did not originate from him, thus, he did not explain it in the range of work that projected his perspective, not even in the Genealogy.
In light of his conclusion of the second essay, he asserts that it is proper for him to keep silent to avoid interfering with the ascetic ideal than be an atheistic Zarathustra (Loeb 172). Presumably, he could interfere because by writing in his perspective, he would be too afraid to express the sublimely evil and rationally malicious perspective of the desired counter-ideal.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra portrays Nietzsche’s imaginary man of the future compelling human to transcend itself and to determine its own demise. In an introductory exhortation reechoed at various key instances throughout the book, Zarathustra urges humans to accomplish their biggest experience finally, one that will allow them to overcome self.
This symbolizes the hour of intensive disdain towards self when humans appreciate all that they highly treasure concerning self, such as a rationale for existence, poverty, grime, and distorted contentment.
Speaking from a position of a redeemer of grand love and alluding to the beatitudes in the Gospel, Zarathustra declares his love for the overall self-destructive humans desiring to kill themselves and those who can access means to achieve that objective.
Speaking as a preacher of repentance, a position that does not suit him, Zarathustra cautions humans about the consequences of preserving self, disgraceful insignificance, sterility, and hardships that accompany lasting survival.
Criticism of Nietzsche by Camus is rather different from criticisms of other critics. Camus does not deny the importance of transmutation of principles and virtues.
Although in the aspect of nihilism and Nietzsche’s methods for attaining it, Camus creates another transmutation in his writing, which maintains awareness of contemporary and cultural relevance. Camus has the conviction of Zarathustra moving from the cave to the society with a view of provoking it to continue with the rebellion for the cause of a genuine self.
Evidently, scholars do not accept most of the initial public speeches of Zarathustra, for they refuse to see or hear, but they use much of their time and efforts in attempting to explain opening command of Zarathustra. Certain philosophers question the meaning of the terms that Nietzsche uses, such as Untergang.
Moreover, other philosophers argue that the Zarathustra’s domination is simply psychological, spiritual, or metaphorical. Yet, some philosophers also claim that retraction and deconstruction of Zarathustra’s initial domination occur as the book advances.
Yet still, some dismiss the whole book as forsaken by Nietzsche when he translated it into the optimal phase of his real masterpieces including the Genealogy. Thus, Nietzsche Zarathustra is a hero who has no hope in life.
Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. New York: Vintage International, 1991. Print.
Leiter, Brian. Nietzsche on Morality. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Loeb, Paul. Nietzsche on Time and History: Suicide, Meaning and Redemption. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Print.