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Nietzsche, Freud and the Thrust Toward Modernism 1 Where you see ideal things, I see what is -- human, alas, all-too-human.
I know man better. In the lengthy history of the western intellectual tradition there have been thinkers who stand apart from the rest. Their power of mind, their insights and profound sensibility have made their lives and ideas a powerful record of man's attempt to explain the inexplicable.
Essay professor madman great thinkers have not always been philosophers. Great ideas appear from the minds of individuals who have demonstrated courage -- individuals who dare to know. A man like Socrates -- a wise man -- was one such individual. He forced his students to question the foundations of their own knowledge.
Borrowing as he did from the Delphic Oracle, Socrates' motto was "Know thyself. Above all, examine your life, for "the unexamined life is not worth living. What we find are individuals who are willing to raise questions -- individuals motivated by notions of the good life, or the best form Essay professor madman government or of human goodness, or the meaning of being and non-being.
In retrospect, and despite their differences, obsessions and personal quirks, these thinkers, I would like to suggest, inevitably fall into a single category. Cartesian, Romantic, philosophe, Marxist, scientific revolutionary, psychiatrist or Thomistic logician, these individuals all exhibit a singular faith in Human Reason.
A faith in the power of mind. They are all, in one way or another, optimists. Even Jean Jacques Rousseauthat most enigmatic of the 18th century philosophes, occasionally shed his pessimism to become a philosopher of growth.
Rousseau is an oddball -- but only in relation to his own time. These intellects, these giants, when taken together, constitute the western tradition. A celebration of Reason -- a faith in human thought -- a mentality in all essentials forward looking and flowing from Reason.
Despite their differences, they form a coterie of intellectuals remarkably similar if not in their ideas, at least in their spirit. The language is strange and unfamiliar. What is Nietzsche talking about? Enough, I am still alive; and life has not been devised by morality: Here I am, beginning again, doing what I have always done, the old immoralist and birdcatcher, I am speaking immorally, extra-morally, "beyond good and evil.
He is also the least understood and the most frequently misunderstood philosopher to have written in the western intellectual tradition during the past century. In fact, it is at times difficult to pin Nietzsche down, to pigeon-hole him. The difficulty comes, perhaps, from Nietzsche's own distaste of being pigeon-holed.
But Nietzsche is different -- vastly different. He was a unique thinker -- unique in his approach, unique in the substance of what it was he was trying to say and above all, unique in the way he stated his thought.
He is not easy to classify. For instance, he was not a nihilist. He said man could rise above nihilism.
He was not a Romantic. He was not an Existentialist. However, given all this, Nietzsche both combines these various states of mind while at the same time he destroys them. Nietzsche is what we call a "problem thinker.
The difficulty in reading or appreciating the intellectual vigor of Nietzsche stems from both the external structure of his writings and from the internal process of his philosophical reflection.The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary-- and literary history/5.
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