P H I L O S O P H Y P A T H W A Y S ISSN 2043-0728
Issue No. 193
23rd April 2015
Edited by Martin Jenkins
I. 'Truth and Philosophy in Plato's Symposium' by D.R. Khashaba
II. 'Metaphysics and the Foundation of Science: Heidegger's The
Question Concerning Technology' by Pedro Blas Gonzalez
III. 'The Meaning of the Earth: Nietzsche's Philosopher Creators' by
Common themes link all three essays of this edition of the Pathways
Journal. All concern the development and nature of Western Philosophy
from its origins in Ancient Greece to its consequences in
respectively: Reason and its relation to Truth, the domination of
human beings by Technology and its corresponding calculative,
quantitative weltanschaang; to the perceived crisis of decadent
valuations that had their origin in the subversive questioning
undertaken by Socrates.
In his 'Truth and Philosophy in Plato's Symposium', D. R. Khashaba
utilises themes raised in the Symposium to question the question of
Truth and its pursuit. Contrary to the perceived success of such an
aim which implies the capture of Truth and closure of the
philosophical quest -- which is taken to have begun with Plato --
Khashaba proposes that Truth has no place in Philosophy, there can
only be the restless hope of expressing the inexpressible ineffable.
I think the second essay continues the themes raised above when Pedro
Blas Gonzalez provides an account of Martin Heidegger's writings on
Technology. For Heidegger, the condition of the contemporary world is
a destining that has its origins in Greek Philosophy, the effects of
those origins are manifested in Natural Science and its quest for
Truth that is verifiable in quantitative instrumentality and
performativity. Similar to the points made in the previous paper,
Heidegger exposes the global paradigm of Metaphysico-Technology and
the consequences of its devastating Truth before hinting that
alternative paradigms are possible; only if human beings allow
themselves to be open to the ever giving of Being. As I maintain a
'Derridean' view of Heidegger, this opening to Being evokes a similar
stance of Khashaba's continual quest to express the inexpressible,
that philosophical truth is not that which is subject to capture and
Finally, my paper on Friedrich Nietzsche. I maintain that Nietzsche's
philosophy in toto, cannot be understood if his views on evolution and
physiology are omitted. In a previous paper published in Philosophy
Pathways Issue 176 the relation of physiology and will to power was
discussed. In this supplementary paper I provide an overview of his
account and justification for what he originally termed the
Ubermensch later to become the Philosopher Creators and their place
in resuscitating humanity. Like Heidegger in the paper above,
Nietzsche believed Western Europe took a wrong turn with Greek
Thinking, particularly in taking Socrates seriously. Continuing with
the Greek inspired quest quest for Truth, 19th century Europe
concludes that 'God Is Dead'. Cue the need for the revaluation of
values and this, for Nietzsche meant the emergence of values that
expressed, which encouraged affirmative lives and cultures in
preference to the egalitarian therefore atrophying Europe he believed
surrounded him. I maintain Nietzsche's reliance on dubious theories of
Evolution fatally undermines his critique of Greek influenced
modernity and his enigmatic philosophy in general.
(c) Martin Jenkins 2015
About the editor:
I. 'TRUTH AND PHILOSOPHY IN PLATO'S SYMPOSIUM' BY D.R. KHASHABA
ta ge alethe ethelo eipein. Symposium, 199a.
In Plato's Symposium a company of friends are at a dinner celebrating
Agathon's first victory as a tragic poet. They agree that, for
entertainment, they will take turns at making a speech in praise of
the love god Eros. Plato first gives the speeches of five who spoke
before Socrates. When it is Socrates' turn to speak, he demurs. He
has agreed to participate in the belief that 'the right thing was to
speak the truth about the subject proposed for panegyric, whatever it
might be.' But, from the speeches made thus far, it appears 'that the
proper method is to ascribe to the subject of the panegyric all the
loftiest and loveliest qualities, whether it actually possesses them
or not.' He protests that he cannot do that. He affirms, 'I am quite
willing to tell the truth in my own style.' (Symposium, 198b-199b,
tr. W. Hamilton).
So did Socrates tell the truth? What truth did he speak?
As in the Meno Socrates, to affirm the priority of ideas born in the
mind to all knowledge and all understanding, relates tales told by
ancient priests and priestesses, so here he gives us the prophetic
teaching of the wise Diotima. Diotima offers no argument but an
insight clothed in a meaningful vision, in the light of which the
mysteries of being obtain intelligibility.
At 199d Socrates, beginning his brief preliminary argument with
Agathon, asks whether love is of something or of nothing. He hastens
to remove a possible confusion, since the Greek einai tinos could,
following its common usage, readily be taken to be asking about the
parentage of Eros. In explaining that the question is not about the
parentage of Eros but about the object of love, Socrates lifts the
discussion from the plane of mythology to the plane of conceptual
thinking. We are concerned with love not as a god nor as an entity
but as a relationship and as a power. Though Further on Socrates
resorts to myth, it is no longer naive myth dogmatically purporting
to report fact, but symbolic myth clothing ineffable meaning in the
garb of a 'noble lie' that does not conceal or deceive but intimates.
Diotima tells us that the drive of love is towards procreation in
beauty. esti gar touto tokos en kaloi kai kata to soma kai kata ten
psuchen (206b). Here we have Diotima's oracular proclamation, the
central principle and the springboard for the vision of the ascent to
the Form of Beauty. This is the sum and substance of all intelligent
creativity. All art, all philosophy, all deeds of love, are tokos en
kaloi and in all such creativity we live in the eternity of creative
Love, Diotima tells us, does not desire to possess beauty or the good
or anything else. Love is an outflow, a divine urge to give, to
create. Love, as what is ultimately real, is simply creativity,
creative intelligence or intelligent creativity. Everything else that
lays claim to the name 'reality' is an impostor, a sham, an empty
Diotima then takes us on a celestial pilgrimage to the sanctuary of
the Form of Beauty. It is the same pilgrim's progress delineated in
an oracular passage in the Republic (490a-b) where the journey of the
true philosophical nature also culminates in tokos en kaloi when 'she
grasps the essence of every reality by that in her soul to which it
is becoming -- namely, what is akin -- to grasp that, approaching and
mingling with what has true being, gives birth to reason and reality;
enjoys knowledge and true life'. In these words the Republic passage
clearly depicts he kuesis kai he genesis (the conception and giving
birth) of the philosophic spirit. Indeed, the metaphors of Symposium
206d-e can be translated phrase by phrase into the abstractions of
Love in Diotima's teaching is the Principle of Creativity working
through all becoming to affirm the being of the real in the
transience of vanishing existents. At any rate this is what it is in
my philosophy of Creative Eternity.
Did Socrates tell the truth? Did Socrates' Diotima tell the truth?
A genuine philosopher must always be poor, wanting, never in
possession of knowledge. That is the deeper import of Plato's phrase;
to porizomenon aei hupekrei. A philosopher never reaches a resting
place in her or his pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Holy Sophia but,
philosophizing throughout life, philosophon dia pantos tou biou,she
or he lives in the eternity of creative becoming, realized in the
ceaseless vanishing of transient existents. Every answer to a
philosophical question, if the answer is genuinely philosophical,
engenders a new question.
Did Socrates tell the truth? He didn't and he couldn't.
I will say something that I know sounds outrageous. The concept of
truth is foreign to philosophy. It has no place and no function in
philosophy. Truth relates to the empirical and the objective and
philosophy proper has nothing to do with the empirical and the
objective. Let me make another equally outrageous statement.
Reasoning is not the major or a major tool of philosophizing but is a
plaything of philosophers. In making these statements I am not trying
to be or to sound paradoxical. I mean my words to be taken literally
The vision of Diotima is creatively oracular and 'does not rest on
reasoning at all' (as Kenneth Dover comments in his edition of the
Symposium, 1980, p.144). Reasoning yields nothing but a gossamer
tissue that, as the Parmenides shows and as Kant's Antinomies of Pure
Reason demonstrate, must be dialectically demolished if we are to
appreciate what meaning is housed in them. It is in the process of
raising rational structures only to demolish them dialectically that
we enjoy philosophical enlightenment. The halfway house of
established truth is a mortuary.
The proper embodiment of living, dynamic phronesis is nothing but
that fecund aporia, that restless aspiration to express the ineffable
in ever-crumbling structures of ideal formulations. That is the
pregnant state the dialogues of Plato leave us in. The great gift of
Socrates, conveyed to us in Plato's works, is not any truth but is
philosophical ignorance, enlightened ignorance, the only wisdom, as
Socrates affirmed, possible to and proper to a human being.
Did Socrates tell the truth? What truth could he speak?
Socrates neither did nor could tell the truth, nor was he concerned
to tell any truth in the commonly accepted sense of truth. Dear
reader, bear with me. What I say may sound shockingly outrageous, but
in the end, I hope, you will not only find that what I say makes
sense, but also that my approach is the only way that leads safely
through between the Scylla of dogma and the Charybdis of condemning
all properly philosophical thinking as nonsense to be consigned to
(c) D.R. Khashaba 2015
II. 'METAPHYSICS AS THE FOUNDATION OF SCIENCE: HEIDEGGER'S THE
QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY' BY PEDRO BLAS GONZALEZ
Introduction: Brief Overview of Being and Technology
Martin Heidegger proposes an analysis of Being as the foundation of
science. He bypasses modern definitions of Being and technology, and
concerns himself with the understanding that pre-Socratic
philosophers had of Being and techne. Being for ancient Greek
philosophers meant the intelligible, not the sensual object of
contemplation. The objects that man comes into contact with in our
dealings with the world are informed by a substance -- Being -- which
transcends the objects. The pre-Socratics characterized Being as
oneness. For instance, Heraclitus' fragment reads: 'When you have
listened not to me but to the meaning, it is wise within the same
Meaning to say: One is All' (Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking 59). The
historical contribution to modern science of the ancient Greeks is
invaluable. They argued that the essential nature of things, of
reality proper, did not lie in what is immediately given to the
senses but rather in intelligible, or conceptual understanding. It is
for this reason that Heidegger's questioning of the essence of Being
can be posed as follows: Is technology merely a means to an end and a
Granted, sensual data is part of the make-up of human reality.
Heidegger does not deny this. Yet ancient Greek philosophers had a
much different understanding of sensual reality than many subsequent
philosophies and science. This is perhaps one reason why the
assertions of the pre-Socratics on the nature of Being and becoming
may appear counter-intuitive to modern readers. For ancient Greek
philosophers, it is conceptual analysis that can best unify physical
experience as phenomena (appearance). This is the activity of mind,
properly speaking. Understanding of the historical contribution of
philosophy to the development of science demands, at best,
rudimentary contemplation on the nature of Being-qua-Being, in the
Parmenidean sense. Being, it turns out, as the object of metaphysical
reflection, grounds human reflection in what Aristotle called first
principles: metaphysics. Long before Aristotle, though, Parmenides
took to allegory and metaphor in an attempt to tackle the question of
Being. Parmenides describes the journey of a poet, driven by a goddess
on a horse-drawn chariot, who takes him to the gate where two paths
originate. One of these is the way of truth (aletheia). The other is
the way of seeming/ opinion (doxa). The most vexing philosophical
questions that this ancient Greek fragment attempts to decipher is
the tension between Being and becoming, time and infinity and truth
and appearance. Parmenides' lasting contribution to the history of
philosophy is his contention that only 'What-is' is what can be
known. He writes:
It must be that what is there for speaking and thinking of
is; for [it] is there to be, whereas nothing is not; that
is what I bid you consider (Gallop, Parmenides of Elea 61).
The problem of creatio ex nihilo is hardly one to take lightly. This
entails the search for the ultimate essence of human reality, the
substantial structure of all things. This existential quest has
proven to be man's most pressing and vital question. The underlying
import of this line of questioning remains to this day a vital,
existential one: What is the nature of human reality? This was the
main concern of early philosophers. It is also the recognition that
man is an entity that seeks the ontological roots of its own being.
Among some of the more formidable modern thinkers who have attempted
a historical return to Being, I will concentrate on the work of
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), for his valiant and concentrated
reflection on man's essence. My aim in this enquiry is less concerned
with the technical aspects of Heidegger's reflection on technology
than how his thought on this matter informs the history of ideas.
As an existentialist thinker, Heidegger tackles the problem of Being
by focusing on what he refers to as being-in-the-world.
Being-in-the-world is a manner of locating the nature of Being as the
matrix, thus the manifestation in the material/ objective world of
immaterial substances. But before we take up Heidegger's thought in
greater detail, let us first take a brief look at what the ancient
Greeks considered the central problem of existence, and how this
influenced science up to Francis Bacon's novum organum scientiarum
and Isaac Newton's scientific enlightenment.
Ancient Greek philosophers viewed knowledge as laden with the burden
of having to decipher the human condition. Human reality is framed by
man's vital existence as being-in-the world. Ancient Greek philosophy
tackled the question of human existence by concentrating on: Being,
becoming, essence, logos, substance, psyche and other substantial
concerns of man. Noesis, for instance, was designated to mean the
operation of nous, or thinking. Noesis can be considered the opposite
of sensation (aisthesis). The important thing to keep in mind is not
to become bogged down by etymological distinctions but rather to not
lose track of the reality to which ideas and concepts point.
Heraclitus conceived of noesis as the proper vehicle for the
understanding of reality, not aisthesis, which can only tell us
something about the object of the senses. The latter, of course,
would turn out to be the basis of science (physis). The underlying
substance (arche) of which all things are made is brought out through
a provocation, which the senses enact. Heidegger's questioning on the
essence of technology picks up on this important point. This seems a
rather provocative idea given the structure of modern science's
empirical mechanism: observation, experimentation and verification.
In Phaedo, Plato argues that sensation aids the perception of the
soul (psyche) through the body. The modern distinction between
philosophy and science does not become one of observable consequence
until after the Renaissance. As a result, a central figure in the
history of science, Isaac Newton, considered himself a natural
philosopher. This is evident in his preoccupation with theological
questions, biblical chronology and even alchemy. Among some of the
works on exegesis that Newton left us there is a manuscript entitled,
Observation on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse. The
captivating and enlightening aspect of this is that the
specialization fervor of subsequent centuries did not taint his
holistic sense of wonder. It is rather interesting to note that the
inventor of Calculus and the writer of Opticks and the Principia,
(the latter's full title is 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principia
Mathematica' Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), should
write about himself shortly before his death:
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself
I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore,
and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother
pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me (Brewster,
Memoirs Volume II. Ch.27).
Besides remaining modest, Newton's work showcases a profounder
understanding of the logos of reality than just a quest to grasp the
object of the senses. 'Undiscovered' here can also be taken to mean
Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology
Heidegger's idea of technology (die Technik) is not one whereby man
dictates the course of technological advance and development.
Instead, what he has in mind has to do with the manner in which Being
(Sein) claims man. Heidegger views technology as a way of 'revealing.'
The revealing that is at the core of modern technology, Heidegger
argues, is what he calls a challenging-forth. That is, a provocation
on behalf of Being to man to allow himself to open-up and be used by
Being for the unconcealing of nature, which can only take place
through man. Techne is a bringing-forth in the sense of revealing,
not as manufacture. It is in this cooperative disposition of man's
thought, in what Heidegger calls a calculative i.e. quantitative,
scientific method that places man in danger of losing his Being. It
is only in and through reflective thought, as metaphysics, that man
can effectively counterbalance the self-referential abyss that
calculative thinking can bring about in man (Dasein).
It is my intent in this inquiry concerning the question of technology
vis-a-vis man's authenticity, first to illustrate in brief the dilemma
concerning Being and technology, and also to analyze whether
metaphysical thought alone, in the form of existential reflection,
can effectively neutralize, if not complement the Being that makes
itself known through the corpus of technology.
Heidegger's philosophical project is, by his own admission, 'a
questioning into the status of Being.' Given the demands of this
search, this onto-logical task undercuts the importance of objects in
the measurable and calculative dimension of the physical world -- the
objects that are of interest to scientists. Heidegger does this in
order to pierce into the structure and substance of Being-qua-Being.
Let us keep in mind that this was also Aristotle's concern in Book
VIII of his Metaphysics. Heidegger's philosophical questioning does
not take Being for granted.
Heidegger's approach is not ontic, either. He views Being as an
elusive reality that flees, whenever one threatens to get too close
to the truth which it incubates. Perhaps the lasting value of
metaphysical conjecture is the realization that reality cannot be
tackled head on but rather peripherally. Moreover, since the Being
that is made manifest through that 'which is' -- that which exists --
cannot readily supply us with the structure of Being-as-Being,
Heidegger suggests that contemporary man take a detached attitude
concerning Being. This suggests that we pay closer attention to the
origin of the objects of the senses, and less, as is the interest of
science, concentration on the objects themselves. Hence, the
alternative in this dilemma is to allow Being to address itself in
its unmanifestedness. However, the question remains: How are we ever
to know when Being speaks to us? This seems an appropriate question
given that for Heidegger Being utilizes thinking and thus claims man
through reflection. Heidegger answers this challenge by stating that
it is thinking itself that builds a way as a destining (Ge-schicken)
Man can only approximate Being by allowing himself to be claimed by
the nature of revealing. Thought, in Heidegger's estimation, acts as
the midwife of Being in the latter's coming to presence. Reflection
serves as the link between man and Being. This is the case because
for Heidegger, as is also the case for Parmenides, Being (einai) and
thought (noesis) are one and the same.
Heidegger's fundamental position on technology is an ontologically
neutral one. He neither advocates technology nor does he engage in a
spirited negation of the by-products of science and technology. His
aim is merely to capture the structure of Being and how this reveals
itself. This is achieved, he argues, through a phenomenological
approach. Here language plays a pivotal role because it creates the
necessary bond with Being to reveal its essence. This form of
revealing is crucial to man, for according to Heidegger, the essence
of man belongs to the essence of Being. Language is to thinking
(Being) as the midwife is to the child. Their relationship is such
that they can never be separated:
Technology is a mode of revealing. Technology comes to
presence [West] in the realm where revealing and
unconcealment take place, where aletheia, truth, happens
(Heidegger, Question 13).
Bringing-forth is firmly rooted in revealing, but modern technology,
according to Heidegger, is not a bringing-forth in the manner of
poises but rather a challenging (Herausfordern). Man as self-aware
agent of Being is in control of this challenging-forth as revealing.
However, man is never in control of the unconcealment of Being
itself. Truth is not dependent on man as an agent of Being, for man
cannot give shape to truth, since it is never a product of human
thought. Instead, truth claims man. Heidegger tells us:
Modern technology as an ordering revealing is, then no
merely human doing. Therefore we must take that challenging
that sets upon man to order the real as standing-reserve in
accordance with the way in which it shows itself. That
challenging gathers man into ordering. This gathering
concentrates man upon ordering the real as standing-reserve
(Heidegger, Question 19).
Man is in the position to reveal the real as standing-reserve.
According to Heidegger 'things' are those objects which are readily
at hand (zuhanden). It is enframing (ge-stell) that challenges man to
order the self-revealing as standing-reserve. Moreover, it is in
enframing where the essence of technology lies. Here we are to
understand essence as depicting that 'which is.' Man is first engaged
in the path, or way of revealing through what Heidegger calls
'destining.' That which is, exists as standing-reserve (bestand), and
its objectness is overshadowed by its ability to be used as a means to
an end. This is essentially the case pertaining to the energy that is
concealed in the Earth and that is conquered by the work of man and
is stored away for future use. This is what Heidegger has in mind
when he argues that man must order the real as standing-reserve. This
example can be juxtaposed with the idea of the windmill as a source of
power that converts the wind into energy without depleting the wind of
its power. Having said that 'that which is' exists as
standing-reserve, what then are the negative aspects of technology?
Is technology inherently threatening to the well-being and
preservation of the being of man? Heidegger supplies us with a
negative response to these concerns because, as he clearly states at
the beginning of The Question Concerning Technology, 'technology is
not equivalent to the essence of technology (Heidegger, Question 4).'
Heidegger does not downplay or negate the importance and relevance to
our age of technological advancement. On the contrary, he views
technological advances as taking place faster than ever before, as a
destining that man cannot effectively influence. This is decidedly
the case given that technology is not something that man creates but
rather a manner in which Being addresses man. This is the manner in
which the basic way of self-showing manifesting (Grundformen des
Erscheinens) points to Being. Heidegger warns us of the inevitable
clash between the calculative, mathematical manner of thinking that
analyzes the world -- the human body as an object, etc. -- and the
existential, inward manner of thinking indicative of reflective
thought. The possible danger of Being, which is manifested through
bringing-forth, is not that it is revealed, given that the essence of
technology is never technological. The danger lies in separating man
from his true being, which occurs once the being of technology is
unconcealed, much the same that a butterfly turns her back on the
cocoon that has served as her home. The open question remains whether
man can achieve a harmonious relationship with technology, while at
the same time maintaining himself well rooted in his being, given
that all manners of revealing technology involve danger. The harmony
that must exist between the essence of technology and the existential
being of man confronts man with the fundamental question: How must man
think? Thinking proper is an activity that harbors Being in its
'arrival,' or coming to presence. But what mode of thinking must man
undertake in order not to lose one's being?
Moreover, a careful analysis of Heidegger's philosophy concerning
technology demonstrates that his concern appears to be, not that man
take a spirited stand against technological advance, but that man
continue to be true to his being through self-reflection. Metaphysics
inevitably directs man in the direction of the development of science
and technology. It also confronts man vis-a-vis his being. However,
for contemporary man the scale seems to be tilted in the direction of
a mathematical/ calculative mode of thought. Heidegger writes:
Therefore, what is necessary above all is this: that
beforehand we ponder the essence of being as that which is
worthy of thinking; that beforehand, in thinking this, we
experience to what extent we are called upon first to trace
a path for such experiencing and to prepare that path as a
way into that which till now has been impossible
(Heidegger, Question 40).
The new path of which Heidegger speaks, this turning into a more
reflective and existential way of thinking, is crucial given that the
revealing that takes place concerning the essence of technology
reduces the world to mathematical formulas and physical theories.
Heidegger argues that the scientific method forces man to seek no
other truth than that offered by science. Under the umbrella of
scientific calculation, according to Heidegger, the world has lost
its mystery. Heidegger argues that the existential void that
contemporary man is experiencing is due to man's flight from Being.
Formulas and physical theories have produced man's current
inauthentic existential condition. This condition can be compared to
the slaves in Plato's allegory of the cave. The difference being
that, according to Heidegger, man has voluntarily placed himself in
the cave. Man has removed himself from the light by neglecting his
authentic being, which is of a reflective disposition. Heidegger
states in his book Discourse on Thinking:
Man today is in flight from thinking. This flight-from-
thought is the Ground of thoughtlessness (88).
Technology appears to have made man into a pawn in a game of
bringing-forth. What is essential for man to save his being from the
often subtle, but sure-footed advancement of technology is to become
aware of himself as a self-reflective being. In Heidegger's
estimation, this can be accomplished by a reflective manner of living
that posits man as a phenomenon worthy of self-understanding. This
juxtaposes the essence of human-being with the essence of technology,
which the calculative/ mathematical frame of reference of science
actually obscures. Thus, in a sense, man can come to view himself as
standing-reserve, in the manner of an open-ended manifestation of
Being that needs man's assistance in its coming-to-presence.
It is not difficult to understand the importance of the Delphic
oracle 'know thyself' for contemporary man. To know man as phenomenon
is not to make man into a standing-reserve, in the same way that
medical science undertakes with human anatomy. Instead, what is
desired, according to Heidegger, is a reflective and existential
point of reference, one where man can find value and joy in the
'saving power of little things.'
As the shepherd of Being, man, Heidegger informs us, is also a
discloser of truth. Truth speaks to man as a being capable of
self-awareness. What is needed is the 'training' of one's hearing in
order to confront Being in its coming-to-presence. This fosters the
possibility for man to cultivate an attitude of detachment toward
technology. This argument urges man to utilize the objects of
technology without having to become a slave to them. This is
important because the flight from Being makes man an outsider of his
own existence. Being outside himself, man places his hopes and
aspirations in technology.
In turning inwards reflectively, there exists the very possibility
that man may turn his attention to his own being. Is this not the
case with those who supposedly have undergone a religious experience
or epiphany? Is this not also the case in the lives of the ancient
stoics and the saints? Heidegger calls this 'releasement' towards the
unveiling of technology.
Furthermore, in questioning the development of technology, Heidegger
argues that the essence of technology uses man in its
coming-to-presence. Yet this does not handcuff man. Heidegger argues
that man must resist being the passive agent of the being of
technology. Man's capacity for reflective self-awareness speaks to
the essence of man. The danger for man lies in the neglect of his own
being that occurs with man's preoccupation with technology. Man's
preoccupation with the being of technology illustrates how it is that
man is conjoined with Being, as Being manifests itself through
being-in-the-world. This is why for Heidegger reflection on the
essence of technology, not the technological itself, is what is most
The essence of technology makes itself known to man but man's own
being must be sought by confronting Being vis-a-vis technology. Man
must exercise his ontological freedom to avoid becoming a prisoner of
technology. The being of man, when viewed as phenomenon (appearance),
reveals itself as a form of being-as-appearance that requires
reflection. Man's being is a perpetual concealing/ unconcealing. In
order for man to know himself he must move beyond the comfort of mere
appearance and unto the truth of Being, as this manifests itself
through him. In turn, this creates a sense of wonder, even a
fascination with man's being that engages us in a lifelong attitude
of releasement toward 'the openness to the mystery which never takes
place alone, but which needs our aid.' This mystery of the essence of
man can be the saving force vis-a-vis the technological. Heidegger
Releasement toward things and openness to the mystery
belong together. They grant us the possibility of dwelling
in the world in a totally different way. They promise us a
new ground and foundation upon which we can stand and
endure in the world of technology without being imperiled
by it (Heidegger, Discourse 53).
Furthermore, releasement towards technological objects keeps man from
keeping his being to 'himself.' Heidegger explains:
Releasement towards things and openness to the mystery give
us vision of a new autochthony which someday even might be
fit to recapture the old and now rapidly disappearing
autochthony in a changed form (Heidegger, Discourse 53).
In remaining faithful to the question posed at the outset of this
inquiry, whether reflective thought can indeed restrain, if not
complement the essence of technology, we must realize that to know
determined instances of Being does not prepare us in our quest to
capture Being (Sein) proper. The 'is-ness' of that which exists does
not include the totality of Being. Hence, transcendence from that
which exists into Being must take place if man is to grasp the
reality of the technological. Our turning inwards reflectively -- as
it pertains to our nature as self-aware beings -- 'brackets' the
technological in our attempt to come to terms with our being. Man's
coming-to-presence is 'reunited' with itself only through the
structure and path that reflective thought builds. Man must re-learn
to dwell in his being. Heidegger writes:
Unless man first establishes himself beforehand in the
space proper to his essence and there takes up his
dwelling, he will not be capable of anything essential
within the destining now holding sway (Heidegger, Question
As the shepherd of Being, man, Heidegger tells us, can counterbalance
the persuasive and seductively appealing grasp that technological
advancement has on the being of man. The key here is not to neglect
the origin of the destining that allows man's being to
come-to-presence into itself. A holistic science must take the
question of the essence of man, that is, Being, as its main point of
Barrett, William. Death of the Soul: From Descartes to the Computer.
New York: Anchor Books, 1986.
--- The Illusion of Technique. New York: Anchor Press. Garden City,
--- The Truants: Adventures Among the Intellectuals. New York: Anchor
Press. Garden City, 1982.
Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell.
New York: The Modern Library, 1944.
Brewster, David. Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of
Sir Isaac Newton. Edinburgh: Thomas Constable and Co., 1855.
Gallop, David. Parmenides of Elea. Toronto: University of Toronto
Heidegger, Martin. Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western
Philosophy. Translated by David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi.
New York: Harper San Francisco, 1984.
--- The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York:
Harper Torchbooks, 1977.
--- Philosophical and Political Writings. Edited by Manfred Stassen.
New York: The Continnum International Publishing Group Inc., 2003.
--- Discourse On Thinking. Translated by John M. Anderson and E. Hans
Freund. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966.
--- Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward
Robinson. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
Peters, F.E. Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon. New
York: New York University Press, 1967.
(c) Pedro Blas Gonzalez 2015
III. 'THE MEANING OF THE EARTH: NIETZSCHE'S PHILOSOPHER CREATORS' BY
'That the ubermensch shall be the meaning of the Earth'.
In a previous article 'Nietzsche: The Politics of Physiology',
(Philosophy Pathways Issue 176) I described Nietzsche's opposition to
'Modern Ideas' of equality, democracy, socialism and anarchism.
These, like Christianity before them, were for him, symptoms of a
diseased physiology. Here, the drives of peoples were in chaos, were
disaggregated. This made them feel sick, exhausted, depressed. The
solution for this sickness was the venting of ressentiment against
the privileged and later, with the intervention of the Priests,
willing in a certain direction 'for man would rather will than not
will at all'. The latter was provided by Christianity as it willed
the ascetic ideal: the denial of this world in favour of another one.
Its inheritor of European 'Modern ideas' wills equality, community,
pity. For Nietzsche, this represented not the triumph of Civilisation
but on the contrary the triumph of a decadent human type which is
identical with the decline of Western culture. In the nineteenth
century, themes inherent to Christianity manifested in secular
'modern' ideas and the momentum of decadence continued.
What of Nietzsche's solution to the problem of 'Modern Ideas'? In
this article, I will briefly explore his writings about the New
Philosopher Creators and what he regarded as their tasks to cure the
perceived sickness of humanity.
The Decline of the West
To recap: the modern 'democratic movement is the heir of
Christianity' and Nietzsche observed its progress during his
lifetime. Like others at the time, he seems to have concerns about
the onset of democracy and socialism but specifically, he gave them an
ontological justification. Nietzsche believed Modern Ideas were
inimical to life -- life understood as will to power, will to power
informing types of human physiology. Corresponding to the dominating
physiology in Europe, the fundamental values of the 'democratic
movement' were equality and pity. Equality before God is taken from
Christianity and applied secularly against those who are taken to
blame for the suffering of the masses. Equality is symptomatic of
decline, physiological decline which is simultaneously a decline in
Will to Power. Equality renders every one as identical and
homogeneous. The 'herd' -- Nietzsche's pejorative term for the above
mentioned socio-political movements -- also values Pity. All
suffering is unjustified and people blame the socio-political
conditions of 19th century industrial capitalism for their discontent
whereas Nietzsche believes discontent is innate not social, occasioned
upon the physiological diremption of inner drives.
Building on earlier Christian balms for the anarchy of physiological
drives, modern ideas emphasise the benefits of mechanical activity or
work; of achieving small joy by doing good, relieving, comforting,
helping others. This mutuality with others formulates a community
with others, the formation of a herd. Thus we arrive at equality,
pity, workism, mutuality, a community or herd identity. These
valuations coax the vapid will to power of the sick European
physiology by giving the drives direction thereby marshalling will to
power and achieving social domination.
This willing appears to be the key as Nietzsche writes in On the
Genealogy of Morality at the end of the final Treatise: for man would
even will nothingness than not will at all. So humanity would
rather will Modern Ideas than not will at all: humanity needs
something to will. Unfortunately, the degree and intensity of this
modern willing decreases what humanity is otherwise capable of. Thus
throughout his writings from Zarathustra onwards can be read, a
sustained critique of Modern Ideas. Nietzsche's panacea for the
sickness of modernity would arise because:
The same new conditions that generally lead to a levelling
and mediocritisation of man -- a useful, industrious,
abundantly serviceable and able herd animal man -- are to
the highest degree suitable for giving rise to exceptional
people who possess the most dangerous and attractive
qualities.... ...What I'm trying to say is: the
democratisation of Europe is at the same time an
involuntary exercise in the breeding of tyrants --
understanding that word in every sense, including the most
For exceptional individuals will accidentally emerge, inherently
compelled to challenge the restrictive ideas of modernity.
Arising from different class or climate based regions, the modern
European is physiologically adaptive yet, this, according to
Nietzsche, precludes the powerfulness of their type. These Europeans
will probably become garrulous, impotent but eminently employable
workers who will need masters as they need their daily bread;
democratisation makes for a type prepared for slavery -- in the most
subtle sense. Whereas there may occur lapses into Anarchism and
Nationalism, the physiological process of adaption will produce the
very opposite of that envisaged by the advocates of Modern Ideas. It
will create the ideal conditions for the emergence of outstanding,
exceptional individuals, what Nietzsche above terms 'tyrants' or
For instance, being so used to obeying rather than commanding, herd
animal people would feel guilty about commanding. This bad conscience
about commanding is evidenced and offset argues Nietzsche, by the
success of Napoleon -- he gives the masses palpable relief that they
have a commander and lawgiver who frees them from the responsibility.
Again, the levelling of equality will be felt as incommensurate to the
valuations, affects borne of an intense, complexity of a stronger,
comprehensive physiology which in turn, is identical with stronger
drives or instantiations of will to power.
The example of Napoleon provides hints as to Nietzsche's Ubermensch.
This term first appears in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Here, Zarathustra
heralds the coming of the Ubermensch who will overcome existing
humanity. In other words, humanity as the culmination of 2000
years of Christianity, epitomised in Modern Ideas, will be overcome
by the Ubermensch, variously translated as the 'man of tomorrow',
'the man beyond and over man' and not uniquely, the Superman. After
Zarathustra, the term Ubermensch does not appear. A new term for the
same theme emerges in Beyond Good and Evil -- the Philosopher
These are not Philosopher's in the sense of mere academic labourers;
these are Commanders and Lawgivers compelled to create values by will
to power. These 'true' philosophers:
...reach for the future with a creative hand and everything
that is and was becomes a means, a tool, a hammer for them.
Their 'knowing' is creating, their creating is a
legislating, their will to truth is -- will to power.
Who are They?
A quantum of Will to Power constitutes a drive, ipso facto, the
philosopher creators are possessed of stronger drives than
others. Such drives do not lapse into a frenzy but are given
coherence by being subordinated to and by, stronger commanding
drives. This is coterminous with a healthy physiology -- not to
negate and suppress the raging drives, but to value them as a
stimulus to life; to control, outwit and incorporate them. Then
as Nietzsche writes: 'what emerges are those amazing,
incomprehensible and unthinkable ones, those human riddles destined
for victory and seduction.' Alcibiades, Caesar, the Hohenstaufen
Frederick II and Leonardo da Vinci are cited perhaps, indicative of
his Philosopher Creator types. Contrary to equality yet in accordance
with life, there will be order of rank denoting the will to power a
person is by 'how much and how many things someone could carry and
take upon himself, how far someone could stretch his
responsibility'. Following from an abundance of will or
comprehensive will to power 'only this will be called greatness: the
ability to be just as multiple as whole, as wide as full'. As
befits their nature, such Philosopher Creators will sit atop an
aristocratic society enhancing humanity.
The alternative to such complex drives is to find escape in the
panacea found in rest, lack of disturbance, a flight from the world
of drives into another -- a 'Sabbath of Sabbaths' as St Augustine
termed this, which was his and historic Christianity's solution: the
ascetic ideal and it informs the Modern Ideas Nietzsche attacks.
He dismisses the hopes of the European herd person seeking its
eternal green pasture society of happiness, or of the socialist's
with their man of the future. Like the impending heaven of the
Christians before them, Modern people seek to escape the present in
their hopes of future redemption in a new society, the 'new
Jerusalem'; one that ends of the 'exploitation of man by man' and the
What will they do?
Nietzsche doesn't provide a manifesto as to what his Philosopher
Creators will do although pointers can be gleaned from his writings.
Mainly, they will re-evaluate the European values that have dominated
for 2000 years.
Firstly, the Philosopher Creators have the responsibility for the
overall development of humanity. So against the 'law of chance' and
accident that has previously prevailed, the Philosopher Creators task
is to 'select and breed' and cultivate human beings hegemonically
employing religions (and political/ economic situations) to this
end. Such religion will be distinct from the previous ones that
valorise suffering into a principle; it will not preserve the
'failures and degenerates, the diseased and infirm, those who
necessarily suffer', will not preserve too much of that which should
have been destroyed -- as Nietzsche claims Christian breeding has
done thus contributing to the deterioration of the European race.
The new Creator Philosophers are aware of this failing and, of what
humanity could instead be bred to be.
Secondly, as commanders and legislators, their creation of values is
Will to Power. Instead of the egalitarianism inherent to Christianity
and Modern Ideas, they will inculcate an 'order of rank' in things as
well as people. This ranking is expressive of respective degree of
will to power in the strength of inner drives, the ability of such
drives to incorporate other internal and external drives in creative
mastering growth manifested in an individual and, the multiple
responsibilities a more comprehensive, complex person can endure.
Unlike the levelling of life by equality, an Aristocratic society
allows vital life, as growing ascending power, as will to power, to
fully realise itself. In so doing, it naturally allows the
enhancement of humanity.
Every enhancement so far in the type 'man' has been the
work of an aristocratic society and that is how it will be
again and again...'
So what Nietzsche envisages is an aristocratic and hierarchical
society composed of ranks equivalent to their instantiations of will
to power. Just as internal drives of a healthy physiology are ordered
by stronger drives incorporating the weaker ones to their interests,
to their 'will'; so social ranks are incorporated by the new will
that humanity follows -- that of the aristos -- the Philosopher
What is Enhancement?
How does the new aristocracy enhance humanity? The answer I think, is
to be found in the theories of evolution that influenced Nietzsche's
thinking and which are indispensable for understanding the general
thrust of his 'philosophy'. From studying the non-Darwinian
evolutionist Carl Nageli amongst others, Nietzsche believed that
evolution was generated by a perfection principle. Perfection is
a tendency toward greater complexity in an organism. As Gregory Moore
Nietzsche sees both power and complexity as indices of
perfection; or rather, greater organic complexity is the
result of a more fundamental will to power in the
Hence his emphasis on the complexity of strong drives in the
Philosopher Creators. Note that evolutionary enhancement occurs in an
individual organism and not a species; individuals and not the species
are the site of evolutionary change. The species had completed
adaption eschewing further variability. Hence Nietzsche critique's of
the 'herd European' with its corresponding modern values of equality,
levelling, and identity; which reinforce stagnation. Humanity will be
enhanced through exceptional individuals -- the aristocracy of the
Philosopher Creators. The suppression of such individuals by the
homogenisation of modern ideas would prevent further human evolution.
Of course, Nietzsche's conclusions rest upon the veracity of his
premises -- the evolutionary theories he relied upon such as that of
Nageli's. Theories which are at the very least, contestable.
Assuming Nietzsche's vision was realised, what would such a society
He writes of his admiration for the Romans, of their values against
those of Judea so perhaps this indicates the type of society he would
like to see? In place of equality will be a hierarchy based on
order of rank, incorporated to the will of the Philosopher
Creators. Petty politics of Nationalism's and Anarchism's will be
replaced by the single Will of the Grand Politics of a united Europe
led by the Philosopher-Creators which, will confront the single will
of Russia for domination of the Earth.
It is impossible to fully appreciate Nietzsche's writings, his
doctrine of Will to Power, of the Ubermensch/ Philosopher Creators
and his disdain for 'Modern Ideas' and Christianity without an
understanding of the theories of evolution on which they are based.
For Nietzsche, the justification of human society is the existence of
the Philosopher Creators. Their will to power/ physiology follows from
evolution. That is, to reiterate, theories of evolution that are
questionable, perhaps have even been refuted. If refuted then the
whole of Nietzsche's philosophy especially his criticism of
modernity, is also refuted.
1. Zarathustra's Prologue. Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke
Zarathustra. Penguin 1969.
2. Martin Jenkins. Nietzsche: The Politics of Physiology. Pathways to
3. ¤203. Friedrich Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil. Cambridge
University Press. 2002.
4. ¤18 Third Treatise. Friedrich Nietzsche. On the Genealogy of
Morality. Hackett. 1998.
5. ¤28 ibid.
6. ¤242. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
7. ¤ 40, 41. Skirmishes of an Untimely Man. Friedrich Nietzsche.
Twilight of the Idols. Cambridge University Press. 2006.
8. ¤242. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
9. Prologue. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Op cite.
10. ¤44, 203, 211. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
11. ¤211. Ibid.
12. ¤13. First Treatise. Genealogy of Morality. Op cite.
13. ¤200. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
14. ¤212. Ibid.
15. ¤213. Ibid.
16. ¤258. Ibid.
17. ¤200. Ibid. and The Problem of Socrates. Here Nietzsche describes
the anarchic chaos inherent to the bodies of the Greeks. The remedy
for this as provided by Socrates was the imposition of Reason and
Logic. Twilight of the Idols. op cite.
18. ¤203. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
19. ¤61. Ibid.
20. ¤62. Ibid.
21. ¤108, 117, 212, Ibid.
¤858. Friedrich Nietzsche. The Will to Power. Vintage Books. 1968.
22. ¤257,8. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
23. Part 1: Evolution. Gregory Moore. Nietzsche, Biology & Metaphor.
Cambridge University Press. 2002.
24. P. 32. Ibid.
25. ¤16. First Treatise. Genealogy of Morality. Op cite.
26. ¤228. Beyond Good and Evil. Op cite.
27. ¤208. Ibid.
¤39. Twilight of the Idols. Op cite.
(c) Martin Jenkins 2015
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