The Miseries of Modernity


Like Schopenhauer, Nietzsche had a great interest in music – his great pleasures centering on Schumann, Schopenhauer, and solitary walks.  He paralleled Wagner in that it was his discovery of Schopenhauer that proved to be the intellectual turning point of his life.


The Ubermenssh (Superman) would be free to take full advantage of the fact that there is no soul, no God, no transcendental realm, no world other than this.  There are no other rewards than the joy of being.  The meaning of life is life itself.  The will-to-live, to assert one’s presence in the world, to sweep aside all obsticles – Nietzsche called this “the will to power.”   We can see how clearly this turns Schopenhauer on his head and comprises the radical mutation of the notion of Bildung.

Since the noumenal realm doesn’t exist, our “oneness” with it cannot exist either, and therefore our compassion that arises from it, and forms the foundation of morality,  cannot exist either.  Morality stems from self-interest, and there is absolutely no place for compassion.

Note about what came between Wagner and Nietzsche:  A doctor told Wagner about Nietzsche’s “chronic masturbation.”  The same doctor had advised Nietzsche to go to prostitutes to relieve his sexual frustrations rather than autoeroticism.  This is how Nietzsche contracted a sexually transmitted disease and “went insane.”

The Miseries of Modernity

The Aryan Mystique:  Finns call them “Saxon,” Russians and Poles call them “Niemcy or Swabians,” the British call them “Germans,” the French call them “Allemands,” the Itlians call them “Tedeschi,” and they call themselves “Deutsche.”

Christopher Meiners (1745-1810) – the first to advance the theory that mankind had its origins in Africa, and who saw a sort of progress from orangutans to Negroes, to Slavs, to Germans.  But his views were overtaken by the Romantics: “Everything is of Indian origin” and “Germany must be considered the Orient of Europe.  Schopenhauer was sympathetic and it was around this time that the term “Aryan” began to be used, having been originally borrowed from Herodotus to designate Persians or Medes … Direct link from India .


By 1860 the distinction between Aryans and Semites had become accepted right across Europe.  The word was used by both Darwin and Nietzsche.



Herbert Marcuse’s remedy was “the great refusal,” the “negation” of the reality that technological rationality has foisted on us.

The Dangers of Inwardness

Max Weber and Friedrich Nietzsche identified the disenchantment of mass-industrialized modern capitalist consumer society.  We are surrounded by criminal violence, drug abuse, child abuse, high-scholl massacres, gangland vendettas, piracy on the high seas, and sexual slavery.  There are more people in prison and mental hospitals than ever before, vandalism is widespread, and alcoholism is rampant.  These are all responses to the NIHILISTIC EXISTENTIAL landscapes of modern life, by people who, though they may never have read Nietzsche or Weber, nevertheless experience themselves trapped in an empty, cold, bleak terrain these German speakers identified.  The incoherence of their response is part of the condition.  We inhabit a nihilistic world.

The artist who creates from within is the most advanced type of human being.

Kant’s instinct and intuition, Schopenhauer’s and Nietzsche’s will, Freud’s and Jung’s “unconscious” are all “inner” entities, inner concepts.

[Here we have] the opposition of the “authentic private self, an untainted Innerlichkeit versus a superficial, even hypocriticsal public sphere.”

So, how does one escape from or transcend the inauthentic world of opinions (part of the entertainment industry)?


Hannah Arendt said that only educated people can have a private life.  People without a private life soon become a mob, where everything that seems to matter takes place in the streets.


We don’t have bodies.  We are bodies.  This is a Heideggerian distinction … The way we choose to go forward in understanding reality is a philosophical matter, not a scientific-psychiatric-technical matter.  As global warming starts to lay waste our planet, as the rain forests and ice-caps shrink together, as inland seas disappear, as genocide and famine continue to ravage Africa, as India and China begin to run out of water, does it not ring ever more true that Heidegger had a profound point when he said we should stop trying to exploit and control the world with our technological brilliance?

The way out of our dilemma, the Germans tell us, is not technical or scientific, but philosophical.


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