So I’ve finally got my hands on part 1 of Jung’s Nietzsche seminars. Having searched and searched in the end a friend had a copy!
So I’ve done this backwards, taking in part 2 last year some time and part 1 last week. But no matter at least I’m prepared!
And part 1 fits in with what Jung was saying later on his lectures about Nietzsche taking leave of his senses.
The main theme is that Nietzsche loses contact with the earth and takes wing. In other words reality is waved bye bye.
And how does that come about? Well, it’s brilliantly illustrated by the figure of Zarathustra, according to Jung.
The great Persian prophet, normally known in English as Zoroaster, was alive anywhere between the 18th and 6th centuries BC.
He it was, in Jung’s opinion, who first voiced the idea of good and bad in nature.
It’s a bold statement, but then in Jung’s view consciousness itself is not that old. So awareness of oneself and the world is followed by morality just some time later.
But we still have to answer that why writing a book about Zarathustra should send Nietzsche mad.
Well, it’s because Nietzsche identified with the prophet. In the unconscious they mingled, and he became inflated by making it conscious. As Jung often says, when people have great insights and they identify themselves with these, they become too superior.
The significance of Zarathustra is that he was around before Christianity, so before this sense of good and evil. And as Nietzsche is trying to move away beyond these, and to kill the idea of God, he settles on Zarathustra.
Thing is, Zarathustra takes on Godlike status, and Nietzsche sees himself as Zarathustra.
Ergo: Nietzsche is God!
Well this fits in fact with Jung’s conception of the God being inside of us all. We all contain the ultimate meaning and spark: it’s just within ourselves rather than an old man in a beard somewhere up in heaven sitting on a big chair.
Nietzsche talks of the need to get beyond the idea of God and religion – and in fact he’s partly right in that the morals are outdated:
It would be a development if we could produce criminals with a moral sense; we would then arrest them and bring them before the judge who would say, “Now Mr. So and So, I am very sorry, but I must tell you that you have done something which really should not be done…” Now if the criminal is so far developed that he is deeply humiliated by that, so that he really promises never to do such a thing again, that would work. But we first produce decent criminals (p.487)
Brilliant! He completely skewers modern views of wrongdoing. Instead of trying to improve others we should do that most unfashionable thing of working on ourselves:
For instance, if someone should ask me what I have done in the last fortnight and I should say I had done work on myself, he would ask, “What do you do – gymnastics?” If I told him what I had done, he would call it plum crazy, absolute bunk – what is the good of it, one cannot sell it, it doesn’t apply anywhere…Yet in former times, people were so utterly convinced of the reality of such work on oneself, that whole cities of people withdrew into the wilderness to do just that…But with us it has been stamped out on account of the cowardice of the so-called Christian love for the neighbour.
We need to move beyond Christianity, but not the idea of God. Because there’s a God inside all of us, one that makes us special and creates meaning in life. It’s just that God needs to encompass the things we mess up on, the bad things we do and not just a pure goodness that isn’t real. And that’s where Nietzsche goes wrong.