Nietzsche: Assuming What Must Be Proved

What alone can be our doctrine? That no one gives man his qualities-neither God, nor society, nor his parents and ancestors, nor he himself... No one is responsible for man's being there at all, for his being such-and-such, or for his being in these circumstances or in his environment. The fatality of his essence is not to be disentangled from the fatality of all that has been and will be. Man is not the effect of some special purpose, of a will, and end; nor is he the object of an attempt to attain an "ideal humanity" or an "ideal of happiness" or an "ideal of morality". It is absurd to wish to devolve one's essence on some end or other. We have invented the concept of "end": in reality there is no end. -Friedrich Nietzsche  Twilight of the Idols 
This is the foundation upon which all of Nietzsche's philosophy rests. However, in all the writings I have seen he gives no argument for this view of the world. I see a few objections to his position, and as I read I will try and find something that approaches a reason for rejecting Theism or teleology.

Nietzsche's rejection of "ends" or teleology is tied to his rejection of God's existence. Aristotle, and later Christian Theology, recognized the four causes that make up the world. These causes are as follows:

  1. Material cause- The stuff out of which a thing is made. In building a house the boards, nails, and other building material is the cause in a material sense.
  2. The Efficient Cause- The agent that makes the thing.  To build on the house building analogy, the Efficient cause is the man who builds the house. He does the work of hammering the nails, and putting the material into its proper form.
  3. The Formal Cause- Is the idea of the thing being built. So the builder has the blueprint plan for the house. This plan is the formal cause. It is the thing that is being built. 
  4. The Final Cause- Last but not least is the final cause, which is the end for which the thing exists. So, the final cause of the house is its purpose. Namely, for people to find shelter. A human being for Aristotle and other philosophers has a final end, which is to be a "rational animal".
Now, Nietzsche rejects (4) because I think he sees the connection of (4) to (2)(3). The two causes (2)(3) shows that in order to have final causes we need some agent to bring about the goal directedness of whatever it is we are talking about. So, if nature has ends, then there would seem to be some mind who would act as the Efficient and Final cause of the universe. It is easy to see why this conclusion naturally follows. In every day existence we know that ends are things that have minds as their origin. Men build houses with certain ends in mind, and do things with certain goals in mind. Take an object, say a hammer, we know it has a purpose or end. In an analogous way the natural world has ends. The acorn always becomes an Oak tree, the squirrel always gathers nuts, human beings are always involved in some use of their rational faculties etc. There is a certain form to living things (and non-living things) that we do not see them stray from. The question is: why? Philosophers for centuries have seen God's purposes and design in nature because of these patterns in our world. If things were the result of blind chance it is hard to see why there is so much order in our world. I am afraid Nietzsche will have to do a lot more than snipe from the sidelines. 

No comments:

Post a Comment