Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Criticism of the "New Atheism" by David Hart

What an article!
Above all, Nietzsche understood how immense the consequences of the rise of Christianity had been, and how immense the consequences of its decline would be as well, and had the intelligence to know he could not fall back on polite moral certitudes to which he no longer had any right. Just as the Christian revolution created a new sensibility by inverting many of the highest values of the pagan past, so the decline of Christianity, Nietzsche knew, portends another, perhaps equally catastrophic shift in moral and cultural consciousness. His famous fable in The Gay Science of the madman who announces God’s death is anything but a hymn of atheist triumphalism. In fact, the madman despairs of the mere atheists—those who merely do not believe—to whom he addresses his terrible proclamation. In their moral contentment, their ease of conscience, he sees an essential oafishness; they do not dread the death of God because they do not grasp that humanity’s heroic and insane act of repudiation has sponged away the horizon, torn down the heavens, left us with only the uncertain resources of our will with which to combat the infinity of meaninglessness that the universe now threatens to become.

...

For Nietzsche, therefore, the future that lies before us must be decided, and decided between only two possible paths: a final nihilism, which aspires to nothing beyond the momentary consolations of material contentment, or some great feat of creative will, inspired by a new and truly worldly mythos powerful enough to replace the old and discredited mythos of the Christian revolution (for him, of course, this meant the myth of the √úbermensch).

19 comments:

Aman said...

Theologians understand the gravity of the situation more so than modern man. That is why they try hard to maintain the status quo.

Modern man may have to walk on the path of awareness methods and only then does he become 'aware' of the gravity of the black hole that is meaninglessness. Before that, science seems very interesting and it lures him into the field of the black hole.

How to get out of it? God knows:)

Modern Man said...

Harman,

This is a powerful article. I'll be checking out the writer's book. Have you read it?

Also, I recommend reading Karen Carr's "The Banalization of Nihilism" (referenced here in other posts). I just recently finished it and it has given me a better grasp of all that has been discussed on this blog lately. The following is from her book, in regards to modern man's recent appropriation of nihilism: "The dissolution of foundations - a source of anxiety (or at least concern) for the existentialists - is now seen as a source of joyous affirmation, of lighthearted playfulness, or benign indifference."

-MM

srid said...

Didn't read the link, but did read what was quoted here. Guy needs to learn to write with simpler vocabulary / sentence structures. What was the gist, again?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@srid:

Maybe take an hour off and really read the article. :-)

Aman said...

"Carr concludes by convincingly arguing that the contemporary willingness to embrace nihilism wholesale as a liberating conception, without careful consideration of its more harmful potentials, ultimately undermines whatever liberating potentials it may hold, and, ultimately and ironically, reinforces the status quo rather than undermining it."

http://www.amazon.com/Banalization-Nihilism-Twentieth-Century-Responses-Meaninglessness/dp/0791408337

#One of my friends has been so concerned by nihilism after coming in contact with Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika that he has turned the other way and is trying to maintain the status quo. He is a good example of what was predicted by the reviewer of the book by Karen Carr.

Anonymous said...

Would Nietzsche have considered Richard an √úbermensch?

Anonymous said...

Harman,

I thought you might find this person's journey interesting. Jan Frazier has written a book called 'When Fear Falls Away'. I've only read her blog site so far...

http://www.janfrazierteachings.com/blog/

...and it does seem as though she is experiencing actual freedom, except her description has none of the sneering and sparring Richard's has. She speaks about it so refreshingly it makes his AF look like it's gone to his head (the little one ;-)

Pankaj said...

I didnt like the article because the primary thrust of the article seemed to me to be "they are a lot of stupid fools because they think they have disproved the existence of God, while their argument are fallacious and god really does exist". The argument seems as lacking in depth as the counter argument. God evidently does not exist, and the really deep questions start from that point. Nobody seems to be taking up those questions at all in the new-atheism debate.

Anonymous said...

What I got from Jan's description of her awakening was that although we are all constructed of the same inherited 'actual' genome, the same intangible passions, each and every one of us because of our different life experiences have slightly different configurations and cannot help therefore but describe the same awakening from a unique perspective.

It's as though (for a time - and this is why one should write about it during this period) one's language carries with it what one's particular body and mind was subject to prior to awakening/entering, i.e., quality of education, cultural ideolology, health, degree of emotional suffering subjected to prior to awakening etc. and this can make the difference between one decriptions of that experience being understood by one, but not by another.

Therefore it is of immensely assistance to share this journey, this awakening to actuality even if only for the few with like minds one is similarly configured with.

Thus there is no such thing as a first actually free person, every one is the first one to enter from that particular configuration.

Anonymous said...

and this makes me think that the meaningless you are squaring up to at the moment is as though you have made the leap but are now suspended in space above a huge abyss between who you were and what you are becoming...

Anonymous said...

I know exactly where you are, because I am there too. I too am frozen over the same abyss. I can't let go. I am afraid.

Harmanjit Singh said...

The very title of the blog creates the problem, which then she offers to solve, and has spent a lifetime solving:

"Imagine a life without suffering."

...

And from http://www.janfrazierteachings.com/blog/?page_id=51

"She has been inspired by Gurumayi, Krishnamurti, and Eckhart Tolle"

Anonymous said...

Harmanjit Singh said...

The very title of the blog creates the problem,

# don't give up too soon.

I think she is well aware of what she's doing, which is using everyday sentence structures, not what each individual word means ouside of that context, that the average English speaker is familiar with.

I think she has set out to be comprehended by people deeply immersed in the human condition not just the few who've been wading through a mountainous quagmire of pedantic verbosity for decades.

If you continue reading for example: Mind Is Not A Bad Guy, she describes (simply) how she 'now' uses the mind minus the imagination.

Plus many other aspects of her experience do seem to be describing actual freedom, just not the way Richard does with the suffocating fumes of a revving Army Hummer with the number plate 'HE-MAN'.

Anonymous said...

Whatz wrong in being inspired from Gurumayi, Krishnamurti, and Eckhart Tolle?

Harmanjit Singh said...

More commentary on this article and on a response to this article:

http://www.tnr.com/blog/damon-linker/another-kind-atheism

pankaj said...

very nice essay

Anonymous said...

Very good interview today on the Philosophers Zone. Ruth Abbey author of Human, All Too Human discusses her study of Nietzsche's middle period.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Nietzsche was the author of 'Human, All Too Human'.

For anyone interested, below is the link to Prof Ruth Abby's BBC radio interview (now in transcript) called 'Nietzsche and the will to power'. Clarifies more about his life as well.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone/stories/2010/2902514.htm .

The comments following were also interesting.

Anonymous said...

Nietzsche link didn't work for me, but this one did

http://tinyurl.com/2aajfjd

Great read.