Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The first Age to truly understand How Things Happen

In one of the two classes I’m teaching at the moment, we’ve moved on to Nietzsche’s On the Advantages and Disadvantages of History for Life (from Untimely Meditations). We traced modern philosophy’s fundamental principle — that all human beings have Reason — from Descartes’ Discourse on Method/Meditations on First Philosophy, through Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, to Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.
Descartes says that Reason is the one thing everybody’s got, the thing that separates us from the animals. Locke agrees, and adds that Reason gives us Laws. Kant agrees with Locke and adds that all our Reasons are one and the same.
Each philosopher draws different consequences from the principle (and whatever addition he’s made to it). Descartes uses it to justify his personal search for truth through modern science. Lock uses it to found and defend democracy. Kant uses it to found morality.
Nietzsche, on the other hand, says that it is our “historical” nature that makes us human. He identifies the Modern Period not as the Age of Reason, but as the Age of History. We have come to see ourselves as having privileged access to the Past, Nietzsche says, as being the first Age to truly understand How Things Happen.
We are, therefore, at a special spot in History. We think it’s been all up hill leading to us.
Nietzsche thinks this view of things is deadly.
(I’ll have some things to say about my realization that there are actually two modernist views of History later.) ShareThis Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Posted in Philosophy

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