In Beyond Good and Evil pg. 49, Friedrich Nietszche writes: (Walter Kaufmann translates) “Nobody is very likely to consider a doctrine true merely because it makes people happy or virtuous–except perhaps the lovely “idealists” who become effusive about the good, the true, and the beautiful and allow all kinds of motley, clumsy, and benevolent desiderata to swim around in utter confusion in their pond. Happiness and virtue are no arguments. But people like to forget–even sober spirits–that making unhappy and evil are no counter-arguments. Something might be true while being harmful and dangerous in the highest degree. Indeed, it might be a basic characteristic of existence that those who would know it completely would perish, in which case the strength of a spirit should be measured according to how much of the “truth” one could still barely endure–or to put it more clearly, to what degree one would require it to be thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified.”
What I am excavating from this text is that Nietzsche argues the purity of truth will always be concealed (in many ways more than this quotation leads; ie language). As some form of truth hits the masses of society it will be watered down to fit their lack of mental capacities for “purer” truth. When said burgeoning truth is birthed to the masses it is “…require[d] to be thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified.”
This particular pericope has a context in an argument apropos of a new society of philosophers Nietzsche calls “free spirits,” but I find it to be applicable for other versions of trends/fads of truth that our human history is wrought with. Whatever ethos a time and place may embody, it seems that Nietzsche’s claim is relevant. As a twenty-first century man in America, I am considerning Christianity. Perhaps the “truer” version of Christianity is concealed in America contemporarily? Could it be the case that American Christianity looks more like American idealism rather than Christian “truth” (I keep quoting the word “truth” due to the irony of that would occur if it were used as an absolute while reading Nietszche). Perhaps it is essentially capitalistic Christianity where both capitialism and Christianity are “thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified.”
And what of other “Christianities” in its 2 millennia history? Would all of these be some “thinned” version once becoming and exoteric truth? well, part truth? If Nietzsche’s proposal is correct, all things closer to the truth must essentially be esoteric. Perhaps this is reason for Christians to look to the church in Acts for the most truthful form of Christianity. But how can Nietzsche make claims about truth, or use it in his vocabulary altogether? Are we not simply deduced to our drives anyway?
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