Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Saint, May 31, 2021.
Is this a good book?
How many of you had read it?
Friedrich Nietzsche tried to teach us what?
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Read it , then you'll know , for yourself .
Zarathustra is the Greek name for a Persian prophet . Zoroaster .
while we're here
What changes to Mithraism
was Zarathustra about?
Don't know .
So lets explore Zarathustra . In depth .
Actually, it wasn't about Mithraism.
For reasons which I have to admit I never bothered to delve into sufficiently for them to be clear to me, Nietzsche utilizes a character he names Zarathustra to expound on various philosophical concepts. In the book, Zarathustra goes off to a mountain cave to sort of contemplate life for a while, then suddenly feels compelled to wander around telling people what he's discovered via this period of contemplation - which, evidently, was Nietzschean philosophy.
It's written as a series of monologues by Zarathustra, in some cases arising from his encounters with various people as he meanders about trying to determine whether the world is ready for his wisdom. I have to say I don't understand why it's supposedly his most popular work, because some of the prose is so godawfully grating I almost didn't want to continue to the parts where I thought "Damn - what did I just read ?" The translator's notes on the edition that I read suggested that this weird hyperbole creeping into the writing had to do with Nietzsche suffering the effects of the loneliness of years of solitary existence. I dunno, but some of it's pretty "cringe-worthy".
As for what Nietzsche might have been trying to teach us... ...how to sum it up ?
The Űbermensch is coming, baby, so stop being so stupid and help pave the way, won't you ?
Zarathustra is Zoroaster.
Alright, I'll field this one. Back in 1986, the late, great Vicki Hearne published a bad-ass volume, Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name. In the prefatory matter is this gem of a quote:
"The world was conquered through the understanding of dogs; the world exists through the understanding of dogs."
She attributed this to Nietzsche and Thus Spake Zarathustra, but it ain't in Zarathustra. Why did she do this, and how did this happen? Dunno, like me she probably just took crap notes. Still, it kinda sounds like something Nietzsche would say, but being the early 90's, I had no (easy) way of verifying this--not without ones of them concordance thingies, which were kinda hard to come by. Fast forward to 1995, I'm in the office of my thesis advisor and dude's actually got one of them concordance thingies for Nietzsche on his shelves. Without trying to appear too eager, I ask if I can borrow it for the week. I spend the next several days going through every single Nietzsche reference to dogs, as well as wolves and animals, just to be thorough. Nothing. But I did reasonably conclude that Nietzsche did not write those words. Nevermind that this had nothing to do with the actual work that I was ostensibly doing, but that's just how I roll.
I drop it for the time, but become obsessed by the quote again a couple years later. As anyone who is anyone knows, Zoroastrianism is just about the only religion to recognize the extraordinariness and divinity of dogs (What can you say? Humans are by and large a bunch of fucking dumbasses), so... I start with the Zend Avesta. I find some close shit in that section specifically devoted to dogs, but I'm really looking for that exact phrasing (or something close). Astutely recognizing the krautiness of the phrasing, I look to commentaries by persons with German-sounding names. Somehow I stumble upon Ludwig Feuerbach's Essence of Zoroastrianism (or something like that), but for some reason I'm reading the German one--I guess I couldn't find an English translation at the time. Still, somehow I found it--pretty much that exact phrasing, were it translated to English. As I recall, I was really obsessed so I sought out the English translation of the book to be sure, but, yeah, I cracked it.
For the record, Nietzsche read Feuerbach--this is documented, I'm not just making this shit up. So while Nieztche didn't write the above passage, he probably, at least, read it. And, if I may be so bold, he likely wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment--it is entirely consistent with everything else he had ever written. So there you have it: that is the precise connection between Nietzsche's Zarathustra and Zoroastrianism.
A note: if you google the above quote, you'll find it attributed to Nietzsche all over the freakin place. That's the internet for you. I've spent the better part of the past two decades trying to correct this, and gotten precisely nowhere. Again, people are lame.
I never knew this about Zoroastrianism and dogs. Interesting.
At least one English translation of TSZ adds an introduction by Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. You could read that for background. I don't believe his sister injected any of her German nationalism, antisemitism, Aryan passions slash interpretations into it. But I could have missed a spot or two scanning over it.
But since you're an admirer of China or what transpires behind the Party's lingering Marxist facade, and a stout wielder of whataboutism, then a sneaky instance of proto-fascism on her part shouldn't be that alarming to your sensibilities, anyway. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
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Considering that when dogs specifically are addressed by religious traditions, they generally do not fare too well, it's quite fascinating. Yet, to my knowledge at least, there's not an abundance of research (and/or speculation) on how or why this came to be within Zoroastrianism. There are strains of Australian Aboriginal thought that hold dogs--well, dingos--in high regard, but not a whole lot else out there. They got praise for the horse, the cow and other "intermediary"* animals, but not the dog.
* Not strictly intending "domesticated" here, but something more along the lines of Paul Shepard's thinking, specifying non-human animals who help lazy/sedentary "civilized" sorts navigate and contextualize "the wild."
This reminds me of one of Kipling's Just So Stories, The Cat Who Walked by Himself, in which the tale is told of the domestication of the dog (and the cow) and the valuable service the dog performs as part a bargain with Man - a bargain the cat never strikes. I wonder if Kipling got the idea from Parsees or something, when he was in India.
Kipling, RM Rilke, Walt Whitman, et al. You encounter such ideas within secular writings and verse a fair bit, but seldom within "religious" texts or teachings. I suppose, insofar as religious traditions serve to bolster the status quo, it kinda makes sense--I mean, such ideas are more at home within "outsider" texts and suchlike, like the inverted metaphysics of various Gnostic writings, for instance.
Incidentally, did Kipling ever visit Goa? I believe that' the only part of India where Zoroastrians remain. (A side note: those fortresses in which they throw the dead, to be consumed by vultures, are pretty freaky--which is simply an observation, as a Westerner, and by no means a criticism.)
No there are Parsees in India. I knew one, when I worked in Dubai - a very civilised, clever and gentle man.
Kipling has another Just So story involving a Parsee, "How the Rhinoceros Got His Hide", in which the Parsee has a hat from which the rays of the sun are reflected "in more than oriental splendour". Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
He makes no reference to towers of silence, though.
We have a pariah dog, rescued from the streets of Old Delhi. His name is Mowgli--and, seriously, he was named that back in India, by the woman who runs the rescue organization. We honestly have not yet determined whether or not she intended his name ironically. I mean, obviously, Kipling carries a lot of baggage... and yet, at the same time, well, he had a lot of fascinating ideas.
Kipling's reputation in contemporary India is pretty damn complicated. Somehow, he of the "white man's burden" wrote these books and stories that pretty much fly in the face of what he was on about with that (the "white man's burden," that is). If anything, I suppose that shows that Kipling also was complicated and conflicted, but still, it's not easy to reconcile Kipling, the man, with Kipling, of The Jungle Book and Just So Stories.
TS Eliot somewhat famously claimed that there is no evidence (?!!) that Kipling was a racist, which is pretty damned wack, but I think that it is reasonable to say that Kipling was more capable than many (of the time, especially) of at least offering a nuanced consideration of some of his odious views.
In my opinion Kipling is much misunderstood. He was a late Victorian/Edwardian and viewed the world as people did in those days, but he was a great supporter of the working man. I agree with Eliot that I don't think he was a racist. It is clear he had great respect for the Indians he knew. He was an imperialist, believing in the civilising mission of empire, but then people did, then.
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