45 (March-June 1888)
“On the hygiene of the ‘weak.’ — Everything done in weakness fails. Moral: do nothing. Only there is the hitch that precisely the strength to suspend activity, not to react, is sickest of all under the influence of weakness: one never reacts more quickly and blindly than when one should not react at all. —
A strong nature manifests itself by waiting and postponing any reaction: it is as much characterized by a certain adiaphoria (indifference) as weakness is by an involuntary countermovement and the suddenness and inevitability of “action.” — The will is weak — and the prescription to avoid stupidities would be to have a strong will and to do nothing. — Contradictio. — A kind of self-destruction; the instinct of preservation is compromised. — The weak harm themselves. — That is the type of decadence.—
In fact, we find a tremendous amount of reflection about practices that would lead to impassability. The instinct is on the right track insofar as doing nothing is more expedient than doing something.—
All the practices of the orders, the solitary philosophers, the fakirs are inspired by the right value standard that a certain kind of man cannot benefit himself more than by preventing himself as much as possible from acting.
Means of relief: absolute obedience, a machinelike activity, avoidance of people and things that would demand instant decisions and actions.”
F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power “Book One: European Nihilism” (Kaufmann, Walter, Vintage Books, 1968, pp. 28)
“I have the sense you’re not one to take decisions lightly… Who are we to look up to?” An acquaintance recently stated over a recent lunch meeting. I spent the next few days thinking about the conversation. I reckoned the first part of the above “decisions lightly” bit was fairly consistent with my instinct. I thought of Nietzsche and have thus, for emphasis, presented the above section from one of his works. Lewis’s work “The Inner Ring” came to mind as well. Contrasting fellows, Nietzsche and Lewis.
The conversation’s latter question pertaining to whom one should hold in high regard presented a somewhat larger interrogation. I place the matter from the viewpoint, the perspective, of a youth; perhaps one of my three teens. The easy way out, and perhaps the probe’s calculation, was to expound the obedient and obvious, God. Recall below former writings and recitations, i.e., Jesus (God in one form) is truth. Well, whether Jesus was God incarnate or simply a man, his character exemplified humility in what one could state to be its purest form, certainly worthy one’s high regard.
What for those who hold religion to be nothing more than enslaving literature? Ideology concocted for order and control. Hope for all classes… Contra instinct. One has to look at the whole man and decide if one might discount his shortcomings in favor of his better attributes. This, of course, can be a precarious business. Washington was ostentatious, for example, though sensible in matters pertaining to foreign affairs and an excellent military tactician. Seneca rich, though one who expounded the virtues of a modest life. Horace, who in his Epistle X wrote to Aristius Fuscus, …”The stag could best the horse in fighting and used to drive him from their common pasture, until the loser in the long contest begged the help of man and took the bit. But after that, in overweening triumph, he parted from his foe, he did not dislodge the rider from his back or the bit from his mouth. So he who through fear of poverty forfeits liberty, which is better than mines of wealth, will in his avarice carry a master, and be a slave for ever, not knowing how to live on little. When a man’s fortune will not fit him, ’tis as ofttimes with a shoe — if too big for the foot, it will trip him; if too small, will chafe.” (Horace Satires, Epistles, Ars Poetica, Harvard University Press, 1991, pp. 317). Yet, Horace didactically wrote for Octavian, who forgave his having been in Brutus’s republican command. One could go on for a lengthy passage here. Cato the Younger, Socrates, Aristotle, so forth… My old favorites, Adam Smith, F.A. Hayek, R. W. Emerson and John Locke. Clearly worthy models. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding having been the top work among other books on my prior blog. What of Turgenev’s (Fathers and Sons) character Bazarov? Well, perhaps a bit too young and naive, as order (recall Burke) is a requirement for property rights, but interesting nonetheless. Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Sketches were said to have influenced the Tsar’s decision to emancipate the Russian Serfs in 1861.
So, where does all of this lead one today? Look up to X soccer player? How about Y President (choose one who had financial common sense)? I reckon its weighty subject matter was the reason I did not answer the question over lunch. Too large a question for such a brief period. Philosophy matters. Individuals acting in their interest do benefit the whole. This upright manner of thinking built our country. When weighing the merits of Group thought, see the present economic issues in Japan. Boards make group decisions, a proper method. At any rate, the whole subject is too weighty for an impromptu journal post. However, since it’s been a long while and though this being haphazard, it is “a journal.” Why not type something?
Now, back to the 1970s and Last of the Summer Wine reruns…