Monday, August 10, 2015

Behold the Man, Friedrich Nietzsche, Of Himself and For Himself

Title:  Ecce Homo
Author:  Friedrich Nietzsche
Published:  1908 (written 1888)
Challenges:  The Well-Educated Mind (biographies) 

When I was in my early 20's, I wanted to be an intellectual.  (Gratefully, I outlived that phase.)  During a visit to my local library, I checked out a book by Nietzsche - regardless of which one as I did not know any better - because my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE philosopher, Jim Morrison, read and praised this German philosopher whose name I could not pronounce. The only prob was that reading Nietzsche was like reading Egyptian hieroglyphs, and within a few pages, I returned the book.  I was not ready for Neet-shee, or whatever his name was.  

Jim Morrison (The Doors): singer, poet, philosopher
(Doesn't this sound just like Nietzsche?)

Fast forward twenty years.  Nietzsche and I meet again.

Ecce Homo means "behold the man" in Latin.  According to Scripture, the governor Pontius Pilate spoke these words when he presented a battered Jesus to an angry mob, right before His crucifixion.  If I know anything about Nietzsche from his work in Ecce Homo, I think he was referring to himself when he chose the title for his book.  Maybe he felt like he often stood damaged and alone before a vicious audience, in which no one fully understood him. If that were the issue at hand, I could fully sympathize; however, I think Nietzsche's problems were far deeper than misunderstanding. Frankly, he was blatantly arrogant and woefully self-righteous.  I think he really thought he was his own god, and far more important than Christ.  


I am not doing a typical review of this book. Instead, so you may get an idea of what I went through to read it, I recorded a sample of my scribbles from the margins in my book, broken up into the sections and chapters, which Nietzsche has so aptly named for himself.  Some are paraphrases of his points, others are his direct quotes or pieces of his quotes, but mostly they are my live responses to his writing.  If anything is in parentheses, it is also my reaction.


1. Nietzsche hates nationalism.
2. Religion equals weakness
3. Thinks Christianity would seek revenge on its enemies, if only they had that kind of power
4. I want to throw up.


5. He was a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus. (Well, therein lies part of your issue.)

Why I Am So Wise

6. He suffered from gastric issues.  (Oh, Rousseau had something similar.)
7. Rudeness is a virtue.  (Speak for yourself.)
8. Zarathustra (I did research the roots of this, but I put my book away and I am too lazy to go get it again; you can look it up online.) turns traditional morality on its head.

Why I Am So Clever

9. God is too touchy-feely; he (Nietzsche) is a thinker.  
10. Hates idealism; so he's more into realism.
11. He is so arrogant!
12. Go ahead and mock!
13. Hates Germany; worships Wagner (the composer)
13. What is his issue?
14. "No one can point to any moment of my life in which I have assumed either an arrogant or pathetic attitude." (Seriously?)
15. Throw up!
16. No one listens to him.  (I wonder why.)

Why I Write Such Excellent Books 

17. If you don't experience what he is talking about, you cannot understand what he is talking about.  (You're right.  I have no idea what you are talking about.)
18. Christianity is totally backwards.  
19. What is he talking about?
20. Ok, so he compares Christianity to Nihilism.
21. falling asleep...
22. His writing of all these books was merely therapeutic for himself, rather than to share ideas with others.  (That's my opinion.)
23. What Nietzsche thinks of morality: circle with a line through it.
24. Dork
25. His purpose in life: to prepare humanity to come to its senses.
26. Argument: "to believe the Bible gives us assurance of Providence that wisely rules the fate of man - when translated into reality means man is in the worst possible hands: that he has been governed by physiologically botched, men of cunning and burning revengefulness, and so-called saints - slanderers of the world and traducers of humanity."  (I think he means of religious leaders, at the end.) 
27. "He who disagrees with me on this point, I regard as infected." (I'm infected)
28. He wants to remove the "sick parts" of man.  (Religion doesn't heal man.)
29. "Yea" saying = is that his attempt at positive thinking?
30. Zarathustra: is this his imaginary friend or alter ego?
31. Is he comparing himself to Dante and Shakespeare? 
32. He does rightly hate anti-Semitism.
33. Luther was a cursed monk.  (Was not!)

Why I am a Fatality

34. "I am the mouthpiece of truth." (Not even)
35. "I was the first to discover truth." (Wow!)
36. "My destiny ordained that I should be the first decent human being." (Wow, again!)
37. "Mankind can begin to have fresh hopes, only now that I have lived." (He has made himself a little god.)
38. He steals ideas and concepts from Scripture.
39. I don't understand all of his contradictions.
40. Gives himself big shoes to fill
41. "Christian morality is the most malignant form of all falsehood: that which has corrupted mankind."  (But he doesn't understand that mankind was already corrupt because of sin.)
42. I think his real issue with religious power is the Catholic Church.
43. "The concept of 'God' was invented as the opposite of the concept life - everything detrimental, poisonous, and slanderous, and all deadly hostility to life, was bound together in one horrible unit in Him." (Basically, he hates God.)
44. "The concept 'sin'...was invented in order to confuse and muddle our instincts, and to tender the mistrust of them man's second nature!" (Go ahead, justify your disobedience.)
45. "Have you understood me?" (Sure, whatever.)


I should not mock him, because all humanity is in the same condition; the only exception is that most of us are not that pompous about our own ideas.  His diagnosis is simply that he hated God. He experienced rebelliousness and did not want to live by God's standards. None of us do, and we are all naturally at enmity with God.  But some, like Nietzsche, take up arms and do battle against God.  Nietzsche challenged God, and made his own way, of himself and for himself.  He turned away from God and and put himself in God's place.  And as far as Nietzsche's madness, I have not done much more reading on it than what was in the introduction, but that is between him and God.  Nietzsche was certainly aware of it because he embraced it; but I do not know his state of mind when he died, and if he finally came to his senses about God before it was too late.  

Now, for a more mature and thorough raking of Nietzsche's Ecce Homo, please visit Cleo's post, if you have not already.  It is truly enlightening.  

Nietzsche, died 1900


Jillian said...


Cleo said...

Well, you survived, huh? Sadly I find my impatience with Nietzsche carrying over to other authors. I think I need a Nietzsche de-tox!

I laughed at your notes. Because with Nietzsche, you just have to laugh, or you'll cry, or tear your hair out, or something. I'm still trying to feel sorry for him, but he tends to numb that emotion, while irritating others. I do want to read perhaps just one more of his work though ...... something from the period when he was supposed to be sane.

Thanks for the link to my review. I'm glad I did it, but boy it took a long time! It's nice to look back though and see that I at least tried to understand Nietzsche.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Thank you for your hilarious post! I loved it. You know it's interesting how you point out about Nietzsche's contempt for Christianity. I just experienced that first hand.

I had been a faithful follower of another blogger: he had interesting posts about how he celebrates Christmas and one on heaven and hell. I added my own Christian two cents worth in the comments section and was told both times that he prefers not to bring religion into his posts. Okay.

But then on his latest post he philosophized on how he simply can't believe we're simply the evolutionary sum of physical matter, that surely there must be something more. But he hastened to add that he didn't mean he was joining the ranks of creationists, people who doubt global warming and other such crackpots. Then he added "oh dear. I suppose I've alienated some of my readers."

I've tried not to stew about it. Because, really, he's not insulting me but rather God. I think it's my pride that doesn't like to be thought of as intellectually backwards but then again, should I care what a narrow-minded bigot thinks?

You didn't ask for all that, it's just that your description of Nietzsche was so apropos.

Oh and I think you understand Nietzsche perfectly.
Have a great week!

Heidi’sbooks said...

HaHa! I like your "Dork" comments. Too funny. I never would have thought to create a blog post using my personal side comments.

Ruth said...

From this book alone, he should never have gotten any attention. Anyone who toots his own horn turns people off. But like I said, I have to read Good and Evil, and that seems to be more popular. We'll see.

Ruth said...

Oh, goodness. Sorry you had to go through that. It sounds like some of his conflict stems from concern over alienating readers. If we do that, we can never be honest about what we believe. While I think it is important that we use words carefully and not be arrogant like Nietzsche, we have to know what we believe in.

While reading Nietzsche (in his arrogance), I did not really take it personal at all b/c, like you said, it isn't the reader he is insulting, as much as it is his Creator; and he will have to stand before Him one day.

But then according to Nietzsche, I cannot possibly know what he is talking about. So, there you have it.

Ruth said...

Yeah, I had no idea how to write this one up. I did not take him very seriously. Cleo did a great job on her review.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

What is this a fucking bible class? If you think you are about to criticize Nietzsche, bring the infantry, cavalry, artillery, air support, the nuclear arsenal and a red cross station to bury the dead. Nietzsche was a narcissist, at least it appears to us, but you're speaking of a person with a 220+ IQ. He has every right to look down at us. He double the average IQ, and plenty of loose change. Living like that must be painfully enlightening and horribly frustrating.

When attempting to criticize Nietzsche, don't think you're walking into the temple of a dead man who can no longer refute you. This metaphorical temple is full of booby traps waiting for you to trigger. What Nietzsche writes/implies in a sentence others have taken books to communicate. When he makes assertions (not criticisms) he leaves clues as to the end result of these conclusions that require great abstraction on behalf of the reader, he continues presuming the reader understood. If you think Nietzsche is wrong about something I would check the calculations of your abstraction before claiming the great genius is mistaken.

Ruth said...

Nietzsche was only a man. Get over yourself.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Ruth. I'm surprised you let trolls comment on your blog. I'm always amazed at people (like Tarik) who think if they talk in long abstractions that they are actually making sense.

Ruth said...

I know Sharon. I'll eventually delete his comment after all, since I don't need the cursing. And it's my blog; I can critique Nietzsche if I want to.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Well, when a person rejects Christ and the Bible I guess that leaves them with Nietzsche...and Lenin and Stalin and Hitler and Mao Ze Dong and most recently Kim Jong-un...all leaders who have embraced Nietzsche's philosophies.

Ruth said...


And since when is intelligence a marker for righteousness and truth? Surely there are plenty of intellectuals in hell b/c they chose to make their own gods.

Unknown said...

Zoroaster is the more usual spelling for the (German) Zarathustra.The Parsis of India worship without a god. Half the world feel no need of God in their various religions.Anglicans often treat God as optional to true belief. Our friend Friedrich knew all this and so much more with all his undoubted gifts.He was an exceptional genius of his time and very influential until the Nazis abused his ideas for their own ends. ECCE HOMO!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Graham, that is very interesting.

I'm curious, however, what the Parsis worshipped in their worship. What do you mean 'half the world feel no need of God in their various religions." Everyone worships someone or something: nature, animal, universe, Mother Earth, a made up god, even Self. Unless you mean they have no need for the One True God, which then makes sense.

I agree Friedrich was a genius. Many intellectual-types have a difficult time grappling with the truth of God the Creator. Scripture says that the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise...they are futile. (1 Cor. 3:20)

P.S. I believe I used the spelling of Zarathustra from the book, so either the author used it or the editor.