abba's way

Peirce, Derrida and the Unprecedented Slide Shows

These three slide shows link Charles Sanders Peirce and Jacques Derrida who studied Peirce copiously during his formative years.

Derrida on Peirce’s Notion of Semiotics and His Own

Captions are drawn from”Of Grammatology” John Hopkins University Press., 1974. Chapter Two
Derrida on Peirce on Symbols and Signs a Five Step Progression

Continuing an exploration of thought designed to move us toward a revaluation of values as proposed but never completed by Nietzsche, Captions from Derrida’s “Of Grammatology” John Hopkins University Press., 1974. Chapter Two
Derrida’s Unprecedented Slideshow

The captions are drawn from a seminal statement of the late Jacques Derrida.

New Kindle Book: “Values and the Future (Revaluation of Values)”

Values and the Future (Revaluation of Values) is now available at the Kindle Store

Nietzsche said revaluation of values is the supreme task of the philosopher. Nietzsche called philosophers lawgivers. And yet the world continues to operate as though values were not something we are called to revise, develop, enunciate. The position of these recent reflections is allied with Nietzsche. The values suggested are vastly different from the usual, traditional pantheon.

nietzsche, politics, theology

The Most Revealing Words Nietzsche Ever Wrote


Ah, providence. As I continue this exploration of Nietzsche as he emerges in “A Nietzsche Reader” — translated by R. J. Hollingdale — I stumbled on a construction — that is to say his editing — of the following, which I feel is the most accurate and earth-shaking explanation of what Nietzsche actually means by will to power.

After spending time in the vineyards of Heidegger and the French thinkers who have lavished many pages trying to exegete what eternal return is all about, I feel I have struck a mother lode.

Read on. This is from “Beyond Good And Evil 211” and it is in Hollingdale’s section on philosophy and philosophers.

[The philosopher] …must perhaps have been critic and skeptic and dogmatist and historian and, in addition, poet and collector and traveller and reader of riddles and moralist and seer and ‘free spirit’ and practically everything, so as to traverse the whole range of human values and value-feelings and be able to gaze from the heights into every distance, from the depths into every height, from the nook-and-corner into every broad expanse with manifold eyes and manifold conscience. But all these are only preconditions of his task: this task itself demands something different — it demands that he create values. […] Actual philosophers […] are commanders and law-givers: they say ‘thus it shall be’, it is they who determine the Wherefore and Whither of mankind, and they possess for this task all the preliminary work of all the philosophical labourers, of all those who have subdued the past — they reach for the future with creative hand, and everything that is or has been becomes for them a means, an instrument, a hammer. Their ‘knowing’ is creating, their creating is a lawgiving, their will to truth is — will to power. — Are there such philosophers today? Have there been such philosophers? Must there not be such philosophers?

I am going to leave this without comment. It is to me the precise context for an understanding of will to power.


Nietzsche’s Abolition and Recovery of The Eternal

Moving now to the second section of  “A Nietzsche Reader” translated by R. J. Hollingdale, titled Philosophy and Philosophers.


Hollingdale begins this section by choosing the second entry in “Human all Too Human” which is called the Family failing of philosophers. Most philosophers, says Nietzsche, begin with “man” as he is now and assume that he is a constant through all of time — an aeterna veritas.

But,  Nietzsche argues, “everything has become; there are no eternal facts, just as there are no absolute truths”

He concludes that in the future — now — we must do historical philosophising and that this requires a degree of modesty.

Today we have utterly altered the academic landscape. Hundreds of fields and specializations result in a reluctance to cede to any field the responsibility for trying to make sense of the whole. I must assume this is the task Nietzsche would claim for philosophy.

It would also explain why he strove to move beyond nihilism and toward the notion of a transcendence to be found or somehow willed within human consciouosness.

I believe the answer to the conundrum lies in Assagioli’s psychology of psychosynthesis which builds on Freud but posits the existence of a higher self.

There is nothing to suggest that individuals do not have transcendent thoughts and experiences. If transcendence is understood as the capacity to rise above oneself, then we could posit a spectrum of transcendence which would embrace everything from family feelings to the the positing of transcendent realities. These realities would be conceded to be products of human experience. And one would be modest in one’s claims for them.

For Nietzsche, transcendence was his notion of eternal recurrence — of life led with the sense that this very moment repeated endlessly (eternally) would be  something he/I could affirm. Yes, Nietzsche is ultimately, perhaps, the very apostle of the affirmation of life, of love of ones fate or amor fati.


Nietzsche’s Monster Thing

Nothing benign does Nietzsche value. I’m still ruminating on the preface to “A Nietzsche Reader” translated by R. J. Hollingdale.


In Section 3 of Why I Write Such Good Books in “Ecce Homo”, Nietzsche says: “When I picture a perfect reader, I always picture a monster of courage and curiosity, also something supple, cautious, a born adventurer and discoverer … ”

A few words before, he says, “Any ‘feminism’ in a person, or in a man, likewise closes the gates on me: one will never be able to enter this labyrinth of daring knowledge.”

He adds that harshness should be a habit of his readers.

We already know that Nietzsche is keen on our approaching philosophy as a sort of history. It is possible, perhaps, to see Nietzsche making his way around Sils-Maria, thinking in the high air of his evolving discoveries. He has already determined that there is a Dionysian man (sic) who is vastly more attuned to the immediacies of the immanent frame than to the thinking of  his ordered and reasonable Apollonian counterpart.  He has already launched his beloved Zarathustra, who ranges the heights and embodies the values Nietzsche himself apparently reveres.

I say apparently because this man in Sils, and later in Turin, is a quiet and solitary person whose mode would suggest less a monster (of anything) than a somewhat cautious and quite polite human being.  Even if you were to confront him with an arch statement regarding his premature use of feminism as a door-closer, he might remember his one major love — a woman who I am sure he regarded as his equal in every way — with a wistful sigh, or perhaps with no visible expression at all.

I believe “monster” is a provocative word Nietzsche uses to jolt readers into some willingness to leap into the Dionysian arena of involvement with the process of revaluation he is summoning us to. Elsewhere he speaks of himself as an immoralist because he is rejecting the moralities of millennia. No small aspect of his skewering of Kant and other universal moralists is because he perceives that acts rise from particular circumstances. There can be no universal direction of what one can or should do.

Nietzsche drew a sharp distinction between Jesus and Christianity — seeing Jesus as the bearer of glad tidings and Christianity as a repository of resentment, self-denigration and  repression.

Again I go historical.  At the time when he wrote “Ecce Homo” (1888), Nietzsche saw himself as a posthumous author, someone who would not be understood for possibly decades and even centuries. Even now, a critic such as Harold Bloom will off-handedly dismiss what he calls the French Nietzsche, by which I assume he means existentialists  postmodernists who have tried their hand at parsing what Nietzsche meant by  eternal return.

Nietzsche spent his first forty posthumous years being adopted by Hitler, his will to power forged into the venomous poison of the Fatherland.  He spent another forty or more posthumous years with just a few champions, such as Walter Kaufman and R. J. Hollingdale, to disabuse the Nietzsche-is-a-Nazi crowd of their false slur. It is easy enough to do this simply by noting Nietzsche’s plain statements lamenting the values and culture of Germany, including its nationalism and its anti-semitism.

Nietzsche’s monster thing is like his immoralist thing and like all of his other provocative things. All seem designed to jolt us definitively out of our often-devious hold on the received verities.  I think Nietzsche would agree with those who understand today’s situation in terms of the death throes of the world whose demise Nietzsche heralded.

It is the question of how Nietzsche would revalue values in light of this change that this rumination tends.


Nietzsche’s Prescience

Further rumination on the preface of “A Nietzsche Reader”, translated by R. J. Hollingdale.


Let’s have a test. Can you find in the writing in any 19th century philosopher a sentence as prescient at this — drawn from Why I Am A Destiny 1 of “Ecce Homo”?

“When truth steps into battle with the lie of millennia we shall have convulsions … there will be wars such as there have never yet been on earth. Only after me will there be grand politics on earth. –”

I hear you. Only Nietzsche in the fall of 1888, on the verge of more than a decade of somnolent mental withdrawal, could have penned such crazed raving.

Not so! I think it is possible to infer a simple and direct clarity from this and other statements of Nietzsche.

If I may. The lie is a world whose thought pillars are all suppositions which are no more than that. And yet these suppositions, these faiths, may have been necessary to survival. But now they lie shattered. There is no future in the old philosophies, the old religions, the old politics.

If there is a politics in the future it will be explicitly anthropocentric, it will in short need to survive and tame the very conflicts we are still in the midst of.

The conflicts of the 20th century derived from the collision between human progress and the barbaric overreaching inherent in politics based upon the lies. For the hard truth is that there was and is nothing to protect us from the worst angels of our nature. And there is nothing to substantiate the idea that some providence will intervene to save us from the obligations we now face.

One must infer from Nietzsche’s own writings, and if not from them from our own cogitations, that the only barrier between ourselves and holocaust is ourselves.

And thereby hangs an exclamation — revaluation of values! N’s lifework.

In the 21st century the “war such has never be seen” is more and more explicitly between the lies of the past and the moralities they have engendered and something like the values of moving from the effort to control what is outside us to the task of actually controlling ourselves. We have only to look five feet ahead to understand the difficulties.

Nietzsche’s prescience is to have seen this. And to have applied it in such a way that it cannot but rock the very foundations of consciousness itself.


Nietzsche and Nonmetaphysical Transcendence

Still ruminating on the preface of “A Nietzsche Reader”, translated by R. J. Hollingdale.


The phrase nonmetaphysical transcendence is taken from R. J. Hollingdale’s introduction to “A Nietzsche Reader”.

In discussing whether this state is possible Hollingdale says:

“He sought to explain the admired attributes and achievements of mankind as products of ‘sublimated will to power’ — of the capacity to transform the drive to power over the world and other men into power over oneself.”

Hollingdale wrote at the point when it would have been apropos to speak of “us” or “humankind”.

I will tip my own hand here by saying that almost simultaneously with Nietzsche’s decade-long final illness Roberto Assagioli was developing the strands of thought that led to psychosynthesis. This understanding opens the door to a spectrum understanding of consciousness and to a considerable emphasis on the very thing that Nietzsche sees as a sublimated will to power.

What has always irked me about conventional psychology’s tendency to denigrate individualism is that. in terms of a sort of epistemology of being, the individual is the closest thing we have to a sensate observer-participant who is able to communicate with words. It is this entity we can take to be a starting point in any philosophy or understanding of things.

What Assagioli does is to assume exactly what Nietzsche assumes. He simply believes that the so-called higher self is part of consciousness, internal to a human being, This is the source of nonmetaphysical transcendence.