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The Taoist sage vs the Nietzscheian Ubermensch (Repost)


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Since Nietzsche was very concerned about how people might substitute for Christian morality when god leaves our cultural consciousness, perhaps it would be insightful to look into what other cultures that never had Christianity did despite their lack of "God". Ancient China, for instance.

Ancient China had a few different religions and philosophies that encouraged moral behavior, none of which involved the kind of "king of humanity" style god that western religion features. In my opinion, the most interesting philosophy they had was Taoism/Daoism.

Unlike most religious or philosophical texts, Taoism's most revered text is very short. You can read it in under 3 hours in fact. The reason it's so short is that the premise is very simple, but implies quite a lot. I'll try my best to explain this premise-

The "Tao" which Taoism is named after is a primordial force that permeates anything and everything. It arises from absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything springs from it. It could be compared to a liquid, flowing and taking the forms of different containers yet constantly subject to change. It could also be compared to the energy as seen in physics, which despite never being created or destroyed, is constantly changing between different forms such as heat, light, motion, ect. In fact, I'd argue that such energy could actually BE the Tao.

Now, the Tao can take infinite different forms, since it permeates everything in the universe. However, you can't point at any particular thing and say "hey, that's the Tao!". That would be a bit like saying a picture of a waterfall IS the waterfall. The waterfall is always moving and influenced by constant variables, so you can never say the definitive form of it. Henceforth, you have the opening lines of the "Tao Te Ching"-



"The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things."
 
Likewise, all of these philosophies, ideologies, religions, and opinions about politics, human nature, the world, morality, what is "correct" and what is "wrong" are very much like trying to point at a blade of grass and declare it to be the singular objective form of the Tao. Yes, in that exact moment in time, it's one of the forms the inconceivably vast Tao is taking, but a single gust of wind would throw that declaration out the window.

So the world is much like this, especially humans. Things are always changing, and there are an endless amount of variables. That's the trouble with trying to say any objective way to be or look at things. By the time you're done writing the ideological treatise some of those variables have already changed and you might find some holes in your argument. So Taoism proposes a very simple solution to all this: simply be like the Tao itself.

Being like the Tao, also called "The Way", is to recognize how things are constantly changing with endless variables, and knowing this, to not try and make any absolutely certain judgement about anything. You shut down the constant analysis of your situation or the world's situation, and just observe it. If the perfect opportunity to act for a change you see positive arises, you take that opportunity. It may not arise again after all. If not, you don't try and force that opportunity, recognizing all the ways that forcing things can backfire on you.

Dealing with difficult and opinionated people, the Taoist doesn't try and fight them or compete with them. You simply observe them, let them be who they are, and try and find what you can appreciate what's already there with them. If you can't find anything you like, you peacefully withdraw from dealing with them. You don't try and force your values on them; after all, we see what happened with Christianity. It can be seen as a case study of what happens to an ideology that does basically everything but be like the Tao. And that's my issue with Nietzsche.

Nietzsche, while not a Christian fundamentalist, was still a fundamentalist of his own flavor. He was very focused on particular things and trying to say what's objectively correct about the way to be, embodied in his idealized Ubermensch image of the future "superior man". But did Nietzsche account for the vast collective net of "godless" ego that the internet is? He had no idea of foreseeing something like that. I wonder how his Ubermensch would handle being turned into a meme or archetype; such an image would be systemically dismantled, because that's the nature of the internet.

Every viral trend will fall; whether it's Christianity, the Ubermensch archetype, doomers, boomers, MGTOW, and everything in-between. The Taoist recognizes this dynamic nature of the world and stands by, making no judgements or distinctions, and recognizing themselves as part of everything, are ready for everything.
My grandiose delusions are better than yours.
last edit on 3/21/2024 6:07:11 AM
Posts: 179
0 votes RE: The Taoist sage vs the Nietzscheian Ubermensch (Repost)

I guess I've given my thoughts on this topic already.

Taoism seems a bit like a less refined version of Buddhism. Or Buddhism seems like a refined version of taoism, without the nonsense.

It's true that everything insofar as we experience it is impermanent. There's some wisdom in understanding that we shouldn't anchor our values and self worth to something that will eventually change. However, it's enough to explain this by clear examples, stories, etc. Conveying it through metaphors... maybe some people enjoy that, like they enjoy art.

I guess I can appreciate mysticism through it's comic value. Spending pages and pages of written text to say nothing is in itself an art form.

last edit on 3/23/2024 4:09:12 AM
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