File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1998/nietzsche.9801, message 99

Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 17:29:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Inkonsequenz Spinozas (10 of 11)

(10 of 11)


Although Nietzsche is famous as an atheist,
and with good reason, there is no explicit
profession of atheism in _Beyond_Good_and_Evil_.
Instead we have the enigmatic saying of section
37, which immediately follows a section on will
to power mentioned above:
          "What?  Does that not mean, to
          speak in popular terms, that God
          is refuted, but the devil is not?"
          On the contrary!  On the contrary,
          my friends!  And, to the devil, who
          forces you to speak in popular terms?
The contrary to this objection would appear to be that
the devil is refuted, but God is not.

The obvious problem being raised here is the ancient
problem of evil in the world.  To Nietzsche's hypothetical
objector it appears that the thesis of will to power
postulates the evil principle, or the devil, as the
only principle in the world.  But Nietzsche's contention
is that that which is good, even the moral good which
he often attacks, that which is great and truly valuable,
and which justifies life, has these "evil drives" as its
necessary foundation (see, eg., section 2).  In at
least this sense, the will to power is conceived as
the divine principle, and this is all there is.

There is an analogy with Spinoza here, a point
which may well have something to do with the,
often vicious and quite unintelligent, accusations
of atheism which once surrounded Spinoza's
name.  Proposition 20 of _Ethics_ IV, for example,
asserts that "the more each person strives and
is able to seek his own profit, that is to say, to
preserve his being, the more virtue does he
possess".  The foundation of virtue thus appears
to be selfishness, that is, something treated
by, say, a Christian moralist as the epitome
of evil.  Furthermore, in the natural world of
finite individuals, this is all there is, since the
essence of each thing is its conatus.

     Kelly Timothy Lynch     ||    "Dei potentia est       ||  ipsa ipsius essentia."
   Toronto, Ontario, Canada  ||         Spinoza

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