Reflections on Formative Influence
Nietzsche on Philosophy and Education
I haven't read much of Nietzsche. A good friend of mine in philosophy warned me about reading Nietzsche. In her words, "he's a curmudgeon who likes to piss people off and fuck with his readers. Though he does have a poetic streak and is so much fun to read." With that, I decided to read Schopenhauer as Educator.
I found this piece to be quite aspirational in that it made me think about the nature of one's life and the idea of education. In the first section, Nietzsche writes about the propensity of people to be slothful -- and in this indleness, we (as humans) hide behind "manners" and "opinions." In this state of "hiding," we can fail to discover the truth of being an individual, to be phenomenonal. In this sense (with the use of the word phenomenon), it sounds like he's noting the role of experiences and our senses in the development of an individual -- that the individual is something that is somewhat contingent on social construction and not separable from society. This isn't to say that we're cogs in a machine, taking in everything that society's told us to learn -- I think it goes to say that we are influenced by interactions around us, but that also have the ability to stand back a bit and critically work on ourselves (like artists).
This task of finding oneself is a dangerous endeavor (it can be troubling and violent), and that true educators, or liberators (like Schopenhauer) are present to raise one to a "higher power." He seems to like Schopenhauer because he's noble, honest and brings joy to his work (though according to Wikipedia, Schopenhauer was a pessimist).
Further, Nietzsche notes that culture should work to bring about the production of philosophers, artists, and saints from within us. However, he's very critical of the state and universities that to him seem to encourage phonyness and people being depositories of (given) thought -- he even states, "how could a real man have sprung from a savant?" Although Nietzsche was a university philosopher and so was Schopenhauer, he supports those who didn't follow a traditional path and probably thinks they have a better chance of being a true artist/philosopher/genius.
While these understandings are aspirational because it makes me think about one can be more of an individual -- it makes me question the institution of education. Can we create a culture of education that nurtures people's individual growth?
- Nietzsche seems to really like Goethe. What's up with that?
- In "googling" Nietzsche and reading some stuff about him, I came across his notion of "ubermenschen" or Plato's philosopher-kings. From what I gathered, it sounds like they want culture to nuture geniuses and that these folks should rule and define values in society because they're just that awesome. This sounds problematic and elitist. And it doesn't sound that that different from the idea of religious prophets. Thoughts anyone?