Monday, February 20, 2012

I think the fundamental problem of our era, which was also Nietzsche's era, is the conquest of nature. The conquest of nature was "commanded and legislated" (cf. Beyond Good and Evil, aphorism 211) by Machiavelli, Bacon, and Descartes (among others) for the sake of philosophy, which was gravely threatened by Christianity back then. The scientific revolution instigated by those philosophers was what "killed" the Christian god, for which "killing" we should be most grateful. However, just as the religious revolution instigated by Socrates and Plato et al. was first beneficial but later became detrimental to philosophy, the revolution instigated by Machiavelli et al. has now itself led to a grave threat to philosophy. For "genuine philosophers" (again BGE 211) like the ones mentioned above belong to the formidable exceptions among men, and those exceptions are now in threat of becoming obsolete to the rule, the many, because of the technological advancements that in the West have made life easy for the many, who now no longer need such formidableness (which is indispensable in real crises).

The dire situation of many animals is just one of the consequences of what Heidegger called nature's reduction to a Bestand, a standing reserve, a resource. The real problem is paradoxically not that animal rights are not being respected, but the conceited notion of the existence of any rights at all! There's no such thing as natural rights; men are not naturally entitled to accommodate the rest of nature to their needs. But neither are they naturally forbidden to. Therefore, there's only one way to counteract the continuing exploitation of nature; and that consists precisely in the ideal of the eternal recurrence, in the wish that everything, including all the woes that befall animals---and of course men, too, are animals---, recur eternally... For by wishing for the eternal recurrence of all things, one manifests oneself as the counterideal to the ideal of the man who wallows in "wretched contentment" (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, 3)---as an Übermensch as opposed to a Last Man. And only this ideal, "the ideal of the most high-spirited, most alive, and most world-affirming man" (BGE 56), can raise people out of their comfy animal-hide armchairs---if only by offending them!


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