“I am an overman” along with “God is dead” was the starting point of Nietzsche’s intellectual journey (his philosophy). God – a vivid and central point of the preceding epoch – had been put to death at the dawn of Enlightenment. The fathers of Enlightenment had said to humanity: “God is needless, (the enlightened) people alone can rule the Universe”. And Nietzsche’s overman goes in the first row of the enlightened thinkers. It is easy to see that both – his fundamental assumptions as well as the way of reasoning they render – are the backbone of Enlightenment. And if so, then the question: “Where does the Enlightenment lead to?” could be answered by the findings of Nietzsche’s journey. Let’s travel his way, then.
The first step, obviously, is the realization “I'm an overman”. For many fools this is also the last step. They finish here, proudly contemplating their superiority for the rest of their lives. For the true overman the time of realizing his intellectual superiority is the time of growing up. “I’m smarter, I think faster, I understand more and better than others. I ask and answer questions, which others don’t even think of. I’m outstanding – not only above the average, but even among the smart guys I’m still at the top.” At some point, it is even hard to find a worthy opponent. Everyone seems inferior. It’s because others don’t try to ask and answer questions which I ask. So, even if their intelligence is of my level, they use it for mundane tasks not trying to reach further. They don’t have the philosophical attitude. They are happy with common, simple answers. This attitude, together with intellectual aptitude is what makes me truly outstanding – an overman. I can reach further, then anyone before me. I can live the unsurpassed life, that no one else is able to live. It’s my destiny.
In my journey God is needless. Even more, He is an obstacle. His commands and prohibitions disallow true freedom. Common folk need Him to comfort and give hope. Overman does not need comfort and hope. He is above it. God is for the weak. Strong do not need Him. I want to be a master of myself. Not a toy in the hands of some God. It is all pretty obvious. Nietzsche might have been one of the first. But in this very point he’d had many followers. Cause this is the refrain of our era.
“If there is no God, then everything is permitted” – That’s very true. Our true and only limits are the laws of physics. Otherwise, everything is doable. It’s only a question of price/profit. If I really desire something, anything – a man/woman, a car, next step in my career, or a dreadful punishment for a disliked person; whatever it is – there is no reason why I should not get it. Through kidnapping, killing, stealing, lying, manipulating. It’s only a question of time, risk, resources, effort. And the profit expected. That’s natural and reasonable. It’s a breathtaking example of stupidity when people say: “There is no God”, yet they decide to follow the ethic of His commandments. They rename God to Humanity, and for the sake of Humanity they decide to live according to the Christian ethics with some tiny amendments. Can there be something more stupid then to disbelieve in His existence, yet keep believing in His commandments? “God is mythology, but I’ll keep following his commands”. It’s enough to make a cat laugh.
The rationale behind this is often: “the order of society”, “the common good”, etc. I’ll deal with it later. Here, let’s see, that in times of massive travelling, when people gladly accept newcomers; a cheater can move from one place to another whenever required. It is much more beneficial to profit from dishonesty exploiting good will of others, than to behave honestly earning things the common hard way. Who is more unreasonable: a God-believer, who behaves honestly because God expects it; or an atheist, who behaves honestly because... he wants to? Yes, he doesn’t take shortcuts, because he wants to pay more (in effort, time, etc.) and live a harder life. And he thinks himself rational, reasonable, enlightened. Contrary to the God-believing ignoramus. Really, isn’t it enough to make a cat laugh?
If we discard God’s existence, we have to discard any supernatural existence. Otherwise, we end up with a set of reason-free believes – a primitive natural religion or mythology. So, we have to accept pure materialism. The world, the reality is material. And who am I? What am I? I’m a material, complex, protein object. A living one. Life is a very sophisticated state of matter. Anything living differs a lot from the not living matter. As long as it lives. When it lives no longer, it loses its exceptional, life-dependant characteristics and it becomes only a complex, organic matter. Life can be seen as a transitional, temporal state of matter. Can we say anything more about us? Well, not really. Anything more is abstract – and therefore – not real. Of course, we are more complex than bacterium. But complexity is a secondary feature. It’s quantitative not qualitative. Besides, there are many other creatures of similar complexity. Basically, all mammals. And differences between mammals are abstract. Classification based. It does not mean that they are non-existent. It just means, that they are being picked based on some abstract choice. Classification is a concept. It’s not based on any natural, physical laws. It’s like left and right hand. People do have two hands. But saying: “this is the left hand and this is the right hand” is abstract. Physically meaningless. People do have two hands. That’s all.
Physically – on the level of atoms – every animal differs from any other animal. Obviously, there are species of animals. And animals of different species hardly ever can produce a progeny. This is a real biological (physical) difference. But does it make humankind unique? Not at all. On the biological (physical) level there is nothing that would make humans unique. Not more than lions or whales, at least. The only non-abstract difference is our ability to think. It produces real results. Cars, ships and rockets are real. No other organism produces things like that. But what is ‘thinking’? Funny, but it is still hard to tell. We are unable to reproduce it. However, ‘thinking’ makes us exceptional.
But ‘thinking’ is a very general term. Sheer foolishness and the relativity theory are both results of ‘thinking’. Obviously, foolishness is a common result. People, in general, are very stupid. They act first – think last. And even if they think, they do it improperly, shallowly, faulty. This makes their lives unhappy and miserable. The not so rare happy fools are no real exception. They are happy, cause they lack reflection; they do not think much about themselves and their lives. They are happy with the happiness of a well fed pet. In fact, what keeps them happy is their ignorance. Ignorant fool – a receipt for happiness. But if lobotomy is a direct way to happiness, then perhaps happiness shouldn’t be so much desirable? Wisdom, knowledge, comprehension or happiness? What will you choose? For an overman, the answer is obvious. Especially, that the true wisdom acquired in the end should give him a much better happiness. A true, deep happiness of a self-confident man, who knows all answers and shapes his life at will. And I know, this is in my reach.
People in their mass behave like yeast. As if brainless. They greedily consume resources and vastly pollute their environment, often making it hard to live in. Just like yeast, which greedily consumes sugar, polluting its environment with alcohol, until it is no longer usable for it. Then, their bodies sink down and gather at the bottom. Brainless creatures. Our civilization does not seem doing much better. We keep balancing on the edge. This overwhelming stupidity should make a great conditions for an overman. “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. And an overman is even better – he sees dead ends and dangers in advance, he stays calm when others run like brainless sheep. All he needs to do is to comprehend the reality, to see it as it is, to be able to make best choices in every situation. That’s what an overman is for.
But the more you think, the more problems you discover. Our reality is pessimistic. Human behavior is unpredictable. Their foolishness can be bigger, than you expect. Emotions based irrationality may take unbelievable forms. And your best plans may easily become futile. And there is more. There is something we call “an accident”. Hard to predict and properly evaluate tiny things, which have the power to totally change outcomes. – A chance. Always bad, cause it ruins plans, or makes them needless. It makes success independent of your dealings. A great plan may become bad, and vice-versa. A fool can win the prize. Total disorder.
The very beginning of the overman journey sets you as standing on the top of a hill – the average people are beneath you. Their problems, goals, struggles, efforts – they all are funny, at most. Average people don’t follow your way. They don’t see, what you see. Their comprehension is hardly traceable. You have no common ground with them. They are beneath you. As a crowd. This makes you solitary. At first, this is the solitude you are proud of. But later this pride diminishes. The expected success became less obvious and so the pride. But you still keep thinking. Somewhere else, there might be other overmen – standing on their own hills above the ignorant crowd. But first: how to find them? And secondly: what for? What good could it bring? They, like you, keep digging through reality to find answers hidden at the very bottom. You don’t need help in finding these answers, why would they need it? If they are truly overmen, they’ll find them by themselves. If they aren’t, what’s the use in helping them? Of course, it could be interesting to find somebody like you. But it’s not really worth the effort. It’s much wiser to spend this effort on proceeding on the way of the overman. Perhaps, some day, you will run across another like you. For now, it is not important.
Let’s return to the main subject. Having a great comprehension of our reality is (nearly) nothing. “The market can remain irrational longer, than you can stay solvent” – a common knowledge of the finance people. The deep understanding gives an obvious advantage. But it cannot guarantee a success. You might still fail in may ways for many reasons. And this applies to every situation where people are involved. You can know and comprehend much more than anyone else, yet you can fail time after time. The risk of failure cannot be avoided. The more ingenious and sophisticated a plan is, the more dangers of failure it involves. “Simple plans are better” – another true common knowledge. But simple plans require simple minds. Where’s my advantage as an overman? In practice, this advantage is often only in knowing what had happened. You can easily figure out afterwards what, when, why and how went wrong. But could this deep and detailed post failure analysis make that very failure less painful? Failure is failure. And sometimes it is better to not know the reason. Especially, when it is something tiny and stupid. Which, unfortunately, happens quite often. Trifles ruin great plans.
There is also a thing, which is called “human condition”. It means: weakness and uncertainty. Our youth comes with feelings of strength and endurance – nothing seems challenging. But proceeding on the path of an overman you realize, that this feeling of strength is uncertain as everything else. And this is somberly overwhelming. The feeling of “nothing can stop me!” is very subjective. To some degree, we can be powerful – able to deal with anything thrown in our path. But, at the same time, we are very fragile. Stale food, bacteria and viruses, car accidents – there are thousands of dangers which can easily flip your plans and expectations. They can even flip your life. Or take it away entirely. And there is nothing you can do about it. The more safe you want to be, the less interesting is your life. And 100% safety is impossible. An accidental encounter with a stupid muscleman, who for some stupid reason wants to hurt you, can be devastating. If you are strong yourself, fear the other side – a coward with a knife. This is the grimmest perspective – to become accidentally or deliberately hurt seriously by a plain fool, who cannot even understand what exceptional existence he broke. Punishment, revenge? What’s the use? It won’t heal you. In this context, you are just the same as anybody else. You share the same fragility.
The more you think about these things, the more gloomy become your thoughts. At the same time, the common people bound by their morality, traditions, trivial hopes and expectations, they become less and less comparable to you. They are unable to discover and understand, what is obvious to you. This common crowd, with its pursuit of inessential, goes lower and lower beneath you. Into the dark. It is you alone standing on your mountain, surrounded by common, dark, unimportant existence. The further you go, the more you discover, realize and comprehend, the darker is what beneath you and the more pessimistic and darker are your thoughts. You feel like standing on the edge of a precipice – deep and dark one. How is this possible? You have started courageously a quest for power, and after years you find yourself on the edge of a precipice. “There must be another way! I must have overlooked something. There must be a solution I’ll find it! Who else, if not me.”
But there is no error in your thinking. Each step is necessary and unavoidable. There is no escape. Even in immortality. It’s true that you had started your journey somehow luciferically, by discarding any ethic or morality. But it cannot be otherwise. Physicalism excludes any ethic or morality. They have no material (physical) foundation. They are human concepts. Like languages. People do speak various languages. There are languages harder or easier to learn and speak. But you cannot say: “- You should use this language, as it is better than any other”. That’s unreasonable. It is beyond objectivity.
In physicalism there is no good or evil. They are abstract (not real) concepts. The words “good” and “bad”, “better” and “worse” in physicalism are just synonyms for words like: “usable”, “feasible”, “comfortable”, “easier” and their opposites. It is true, that adhering to some ethics may be good for society (= “usable for its functioning”). But I’m not a society. If my “good” (= “comfortable, easier”) is different than the common ethics, there is no real (physical, rational) reason to follow that ethics. I owe nothing to other people, just like a sparrow or a lion owes nothing to other sparrows or lions. For me, the other people are just a part of the physical reality. Like rocks, trees or clouds. Nothing more. The fact, that humankind invented hundreds of ethic ideas cannot change in any way the reality. Which is, as it is. Quite independent of our ideas. And I live in reality. Not in the world of ideas. This is the most obvious, natural and reasonable consequence of physicalism (materialism). We are just thinking animals. Nothing more. And the fact, that the results of this obvious reasoning are quite aligned with what Christianity calls “evil”? Well, it is either a pure coincidence, or Christianity wants to intimidate overmen in their natural pursuit of power (= self-confidence and wisdom). But at this point – who cares? We have left it far behind at the very beginning of our journey.
It is time to question about “thinking” itself. What is “thinking” according to physicalism (that is: biology)? Well, “thinking” is just a result of highly advanced protein processes. “Highly advanced” sounds pretty well. Even proudly, doesn’t it? And what if we remove these two words and say that “’thinking’ is a result of protein processes”? Or even more generally: “’thinking’ is a result of chemical processes”? It’s a direct consequence of physicalism: “’thinking’ is a result of physical processes”. As everything else, according to physicalism. It cannot be otherwise. But it does not sound proudly, anymore. And this is how it should be. “Pride” is our subjective feeling. And there is no place for subjectivity or feelings in rational reasoning. If we want to comprehend reality and our place in it, we have to get rid of feelings and emotions. We must see things objectively, as they are.
So, what is “thinking”? And, by the way, every other activity of our minds like will, feelings, emotions, pain, etc. Cause everything is a result of some physical processes. Hoarfrost is a result of some physical processes. A rainbow, too. Colorful crystals are a result of some physical processes. A beautiful and unique snowflake is a result of some physical processes. An awesome explosion of a supernova, when silver and gold are made, is a result of some physical processes. Is there any substantial difference? No. Not any. All the differences are natural (physical). You cannot point to any phenomenon and say: “this is exceptional, substantially different”. Each and every is exceptional and unique. Simply because they are different processes. But on the general level, they are all physical processes and physical phenomena. More simple or more complex. And “thinking” is perhaps one of the more complex processes. That’s all.
“OK. But ‘thinking’ allows us to discover, understand; to classify. To build knowledge, which allows us to subdue, to rule the material world. To bend it to our will.” Oh, really? Does it? How easily we are deceived by language we use. “And God said: subdue the earth!” – this is the true source of such approach in our worldview. Our minds are formatted by our language, our culture. We see the world and our place in it, as we were taught by our culture (in its most broad sense). And our culture at its deepest level is still based on (Christian and pre-Christian) idealism, not physicalism. Therefore, the proud, idealistic words like “discover”, “understand”, “subdue” or “knowledge”.
So, what do we really have here according to physicalism? We have an evolved species – humans. A higher organizational level of matter. Random processes resulted in emerging life on earth. Further random processes resulted in emerging of more and more complex species of living organisms. Creatures’ brains got more complex, allowing for more and more sophisticated behaviors. Animals got the abilities of recognition and learning. Single creature got able to build behavioral patterns based on environmental conditions (= anything from rain, cold, to dangerous predator or food). The behavioral patterns themselves got more and more complex – like hunting in packs or inter-species cooperation. Finally, the “thinking” pattern emerged – the ability to quickly modify behavior, to rapidly create new patterns, to use more and more complex tools, to exchange information on a much advanced level. But is it the end? Not at all. Evolution as a blind, random process of advancement (survival of the fittest) knows no end. What will be the next step? How will it emerge? We don’t know. Perhaps our ability to think is just another ‘tool’ in building the evolutional progress. Like warm-blooded or seeing. From this rational (based on physical knowledge) point of view, our existence and abilities are just one step in a blind, random process, which knows no goal. It’s just the way it is.
Are the dogs, cats or apes much less self-conscious than we are? We are used to think so, but the source of such thinking is Bible. Obviously, we are able to much better express our self-consciousness – but this is because we are able to “think” and therefore we have found many sophisticated ways of self-expression. Yet, we know that dogs know pain and fear, they can be happy or sad. They can become very faithful friends. And much more. Can we reasonably – from the scientific (physical) point of view – refuse them what we call self-consciousness? Or consciousness? The fact, that they cannot express it in the ways we can, does not mean it is nonexistent or qualitatively worse than ours. Similarly, free will. Don’t the animals behave as if having free will? They play, rest, hunt, care for their hygiene. Can we refuse them free will? Again, the difference is in “thinking” – and therefore in many sophisticated ways of expressing free will. Unavoidably, “thinking” makes a difference.
Furthermore, we have to realize, that the very importance and exceptionality of terms: free will or self-consciousness stems (mainly) from Christianity. In other cultures they are unimportant or non-existent. So, arguing about their importance as unique abilities of humans is simply a defense of Christian philosophy. They were unique and important as gifts given to the human being by God. Without God, they lose not only their exceptionality, but their plain existence (as we are used to define and understand them) can be successfully questioned. Aren’t free will and self-consciousness just a delusion? It is an unavoidable conclusion if we see them as a result of the laws of physics. And the same goes to “thinking”, if we look at it as a (necessary) step of evolution
The only hope left is in the promise, that “thinking” will make us gods. That the continuous development will finally result in our immortality, ability to instant travel, to freely create whatever we desire, etc. A very promising prospect, indeed. I will not waste our time on arguing, whether it is feasible or not. That’s inessential. What is essential is now and here. My living is essential. My existence ends with my death. My world ends with my death. In physicalism death of a mammal is final and irreversible. If I die, I’m lost. A materialist’s answer to question “what’s after death?” is: “cold meat”. That’s what we become after death. Feeling, thinking, dreaming, hope and emotions – all they end totally, irreversibly, for ever. And there is no escape. Even the Universe itself will finally find its death. The laws of physics are merciless. Any hope for a different ending is a proof of intellectual weakness. A foolishness. The promise of people becoming gods is a far, far away horizon. Providing, it will come true at all. But what’s in it for me? Nothing. For me it is irrelevant. Cause my death is the end of everything! Of my entire world! Working hard to add one’s little brick to the edifice of human knowledge in a hope, that some day in a distant future people will become gods, is like working hard to let your neighbor or a stranger to live effortlessly and happily. Do you want to spend your life working for benefits of someone else? Who is not even going to thank you in any way? If so, then let me know! I would use several such persons.
Sacrificing one’s life to move forward the limits of our knowledge and understanding, is a sheer foolishness from the personal point of view. And accepting any other point of view than personal is a proof of even bigger lunacy. The fact, that many people choose this foolish, irrational behavior indicates, that indeed our existence is just a mere step in the blind process of evolution. That we are ‘programmed’ to proceed in one direction, even if this movement is irrational from the point of view of each and every human being living now. It can be ‘rational’ only in the view of the evolving homo sapiens. Which have to behave like that, because evolution made them so. Like horses made for running and eating grass.
To sum up: we live our short, fragile lives unable to fix any past mistakes and bad choices, enslaved by accidents and coincidences, which can easily ruin our plans and hopes. With a chance of a life success being like a chance of winning a lottery. Hardly dependant on our abilities and efforts. When you start realizing this, when your overman journey is close to an end; you discover, that the steep and black precipice has become an abyss. Black, cold and bottomless. It condenses all your fears, lost hopes, the failure of your big attempt to achieve something worth the effort. It is the true end of the overman journey. With each possible path leading to a dead end, the Abyss becomes more and more the only thing left. At some point, there is nothing left, but to focus on the Abyss itself. The more you think of it, the more you try to somehow comprehend it, the more you realize the Abyss isn’t just emptiness, nothing. It is something. Perhaps more worth your attention than anything else. “If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”. This cold, black, bottomless Abyss summons you. You have nothing left, it is only you and the Abyss. Gaze into it, jump into it, lose yourself in it! The Abyss seems to have a will of its own. And it awaits you, promising something undefined. Perhaps an answer.
Now you have only two options. Either you choose, like Nietzsche did, to stay and keep gazing into the Abyss (maybe even jump into it), or turn your back to it. If you make the Nietzsche’s choice, you shall end like him. Cause the Abyss is the cold, calm, black, bottomless, pure Hatred – steady, unchangeable and emotionless; and it can offer nothing but its Hate. It is inhuman. You realize all this when you think of the Abyss long enough.