Existentialism Establishing New Ways of Finding Meaning Research Proposal

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Existentialism

Establishing New Ways of Finding Meaning in Nietzsche's the Gay Science

"God is dead," such words were a shock to Western thinking. In Nietzsche's work The Gay Science, he spares no expense in exposing the fallacies of modern human society and its need to make meaning where there is none. According to Nietzsche, the human mind and will is the greatest shaper of truth, and can be used to deceive ourselves about the meaningless of our traditions, religion being one of the most pertinent. He believes that religion serves as an escape route for facing the real reality of the fact that there is no meaning in God; we have killed Him by taking meaning out of His image, and placing it in biased human institutions. Yet, this controversial revelation is not a negative condemnation of human existence, but a push to rid ourselves of essential fallacies as a way to move past them. In declaring that God is dead, Nietzsche really aims to pull human society out of the allegorical cave, where all we see is mere shadows of the truth, and into a more honest image where deeper notions of human existence can be sought out.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Proposal on Existentialism Establishing New Ways of Finding Meaning Assignment

Existentialism was an intellectual understanding of history and societal functions which began around the late nineteenth century. Around the time that innovative scientific advancements were running rampant, existentialism came out of intellectual circles to try and debunk the idea that the pursuit of science could explain everything, down the very realist image of truth. Through budding fields like psychology, many at the time viewed science as they primary way to understand the complexities of the human condition. Others still hung on to looking towards morality, or religion as the one true way to explain the nature of humanity. Yet, the fundamental theories of Existentialism put them both to shame. According to research. "to understand what a human being is it is not enough to know all the truths that natural science -- including the science of psychology -- could tell us," (Stone 1). Thus, neither can moral theory, which has deep roots in religious zeal and theology. Both are rooted and designed within the human mind, and therefore are distorted by the human perspective, thus not being sources of real external knowledge. According to the basics of existentialism, there are more authentic categories that are closely related to the real source of knowledge, is necessary for the true success in defining what it is to be human. Thus, in his work The Gay Science, Nietzsche aims to first disqualify some of the routes people have taken to find meaning in the past to establish a clean slate which would allow us to look deeper into the matter and find more authentic versions of truth.

Nietzsche first explores the idea of subjective human experience and its role as the formulator of human truths. In this idea, truth is directly related to the human perspective, and not some independent external being which is imparted upon us. Thus, the individual has great power in determining their own sets of truth and understanding through action of the will. We, as humans, create our own world of experiences -- therefore, our will is a powerful tool in the formulation of truth within human society.

According to Nietzsche himself, "all that has being is only a willing," (Nietzsche 183).

Thus, we don't take in an immutable external world-thus we are active in our creation of the experience world around us. Rather, truth is relative to our own creations of it and can therefore vary dramatically from individual to individual, generation to generation, or society to society. Part of our willing truth is our creation of new truths that can quench our insatiable boredom. Therefore, our diversions from boredom can technically become truth for the individuals who will them into being as a diversionary tactic for the real state of being in the modern world. Truth is internal, therefore it really has nothing to do with the real source of knowledge we search for. Rather, truth is relative and distorted by perspective. Yet, our truths are not entirely fallacies; there is just no real way to verify them. This has led many to mistakenly view human truths as the real sources of knowledge. However, the real external sources of knowledge in the universe cannot be defines and categorized using our current methodologies which only touch on the surface, and are not deep enough to circumvent the strong influence of the human perspective and will to shape experience. Nietzsche explains the strength of the will to power -- the driving force that urges humans commit actions and create ideologies. This drive comes from an internal sense of preservation, and so is heavily biased based on its close connection to the needs and desires of the human perspective. According to Nietzsche, "The will is for him a magically effective force; the faith in the will as the cause of effects is the faith in magically effective forces," (Nietzsche 183). Thus, the essential being and composition of the force that drives us a species is innately tied to the working and thoughts of the individual. This then serves as an explanation for why religion is such a false construct -- it assumes to tell individuals what to do, rather than letting them do it on their own. Yet the fundamental ideology of religion stems from a meaningless set of human created experiences, and not from the external truth of a deity itself.

According to Nietzsche, God is dead. This concept first appears in his aphorism number 108 and is repeated throughout the work. He sets up the image by explaining that the shadow of Buddha lasted for generations after his death. The shadow of Buddha in the cave is a parallel to Plato's infamous allegory of the man in the cave. He sees nothing but shadows, and not the real truth. Thus, we as a society see the shadow of religion, as distorted by our own wills and experiences; but we fail to see the true external essence of the deity or religion which sparked a later institutional system. This is what religion does to the human perspective. Nietzsche is controversial when he states that "God is dead," (Nietzsche 167). Yet, he has a significant meaning that goes beyond ruffling the feathers of conventional society, which at the time was still deeply rooted in religious theology and doctrine. What Nietzsche is saying with this statement is that God can no longer provide the human race with meaning in such an otherwise meaningful existence. He is no longer a source of information or inspiration. We no longer see His image, but only His shadow, which is not the real truth of His existence, but our distorted perception of it. By stating that God is dead, Nietzsche is positing the idea that we as a society are no longer able to truly believe in Him with all earnestly. We took away the correlation between the world and His power when we took away their meaning. Through scientific advances, we whittled away at the strength of our belief in Him, and thus took meaning from His existence. Additionally, the Christian exploitation of religious zeal institutionalized the real meaning of religion. Through this institutionalization, the meaning held within religion itself was distorted by the human perspective, and thus all meaning was stripped from the institution of religion and all of its biased doctrines and practices. Rather then spreading truth, this institutionalized version of truth spread a meaningless and empty diversion to impart meaning where there is no meaning. It spread the shadow and not the deity Himself. Eventually, in a world without God, we will eventually abandon our sense of morality all together; if there are no meanings in things, there is no need for values.

Yet, we continue His existence, blindly and without meaning. It serves as an escape route for our boredom in this life with little real definable meaning. Although we have taken the meaning out of God, we will continue to exploit the institutionalized shadow version as a fake diversion to impart some sense of meaning within our lives. He is dead, "but given the way of men, there may be caves for thousand of years in which his shadow will be shown," (Nietzsche 167). The shadow itself then becomes the institution of Christianity, just as Buddha's shadow became Buddhism. Thus, established institutional religions that have killed the truth of religion through perpectivism. According to Nietzsche, "Christianity, too, has made a great contribution to the enlightenment, and taught moral skepticism very trenchantly and effectively, accusing and embittering men, yet with untiring patience and subtlety; it destroyed the faith in his 'virtues' in every single individual;" (Nietzsche 178). Thus the institution of religions become, in a sense, man's downfall in that it keeps us from ever really seeing the truth, the colors and life beyond the caves and the shadows which dance… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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