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Truth and Nature
As I read more of Nietzsche and Loa Tzu, there is an increasing similarity between the basic structures of both philosophical hypotheses than there is difference. Though the outcomes differ, and even the rational of both men’s thought process are plotted differently, and suggest drastically different ideal lifestyles, both works, the Tao Te Ching and the Will to Power argue for first an acceptance of an immoral world, a world with no true good nor evil, nor up nor down, but rather just man as he is and nature, connected to man, just the way it is.
Originally its thought that human nature dictates a nature of man, a habit of man’s control, whereas others side with thoughts that man patterns after nature, and that nature controls both man and material. As said earlier, both theorists execute their theories differently although here the similarity paradoxically arrives by contrast. Will to Power explains man’s tendency to act in accordance to desire and, “(putting it most mildly), exploitation,” as ways of human nature. The nature belongs to man. Man becomes the creator of his own self-image; he aims to become the “creator of values,” among his subjects, and thus takes nature into his own control. He thus becomes powerful through the control of others. Power, wisdom, strength, the essence of living here is established through conquest.
Now power, (though to even state such definite assertions is clearly defiant of Lao Tzu’s attempts to explain the detriment of definition) is gained, or accepted by quietism, and meekness looked down on by the Will to Power. Power, or true strength and nobility is understood through the Tao as achieved by inaction, or flow (e.g. Tao’s illusion to water), and not Nietzchian aggression or will. To will in Toa is to expect, and expectation defines both gain and loss, not power. Both gain and loss flux but pure gain comes without expectation. Power, wisdom and strength is revealed through acceptance of a nature outside man’s control, a cycle of season, ying and yang in the cosmos of life that cannot be altered, or controlled, but understood. Here nature changes man, and man gains power through acceptance of it.
Now to tie the two ideas of power is to prove how similar their conclusion in practice can be. Let us pretend there are two men. The first man holds social power, the second a man of poverty holds wisdom, and let us say that the first man as gain what is thought to be part of a “select class of beings… able to elevate themselves to their higher duties, and in general to a higher existence” to Nietzsche and chooses to kill another man. The other man could be the second the poor man introduced above. Now the first man is happy, he has followed his will, his need to hate perhaps temporarily extinguished, he has killed without mourning, and killed in order to threaten others, and to climb closer into the light (e.g. “like those sun-seeking climbing plants in Java… called Sipo mataodr,”) and become the “complete man.” But if the roles had reversed and the first man had died, perhaps by the poor man’s accidentally and through self defense, then the second man would too find solace in following the way of Tao. The second man has followed the flux, and death and life again revolve. Being so close the nature, but never really becoming just energy, a both empty and fullness of Tao he struggles too, like the fist man to be fulfilled. The powerful man, though perhaps rich, perhaps an aristocrat, perhaps even the master in Nietzsche’s ideal, struggles with balance. He cannot be complete power, he cannot become god because man and beast divide his conscious and actions.
So ironically both men suffer as well as prosper in trying to acclimate into more perfect beings.
Nietzche believes that the world is broken into good and bad strictly controlled by selected few who are able to create this truth. These few dictate and are prime examples of complete men/beasts who follow an individual self centered order void of god, or master (to thus become a master). To follow this will, this liberating desire to live in the pursuit of power is the essence of living. The will claims Nietzche is life, and those who succeed in its pursuit, live to make the distinctions between good and evil. Therefore good and evil does not exist (unless by religion) but rather the outcome (to succeed or not to succeed).
Whereas with the Lao Tzu, the identical belief system that things are neither good or bad, large or small, but compliments, and overlapments of one another until nothing can be distinguished, or determined, believes that it is not the separation of master and slave morality that defines us, but the combination and void of both that creates the ideal man, a man of what Nietzche would believe as weak, and drawn to slave tendencies. To Lao Tzu, there is no master without slave. Indeed, the Tao Te Ching’s man lives through virtue, silence and, passivity. He draws his strength through acceptance (e.g. to bend is to be straight).
Therefore, to Nietzche one who lives, and accepts the will to power is not branded the coward, but the better man devoted to his self-preservation. And to Lao Tzu, to truly understand the oneness, and nothingness of nature is to be closer to it, farther away from power, (eg similar to water, to order, to the nature of things which he believes as faithfulness and love of humanity). Two very different philosophies based upon the linked concepts of metaphysics, the ideas of what is real, if good is really definite or can be gauged. Hence the real question and distinction lies with the idea of (human) nature; whether he must act like his nature, or if his nature is reliant upon the physical nature that has preexisted. To decide if the will to power and the social Darwinism of people is the inclination to self-egotism is the right, or if the act of immortality is unredeemable is the most interesting. Can one who kills with respect to order be healthier than on who accepts the killing?
In fact, the exploitation of the Will to Power and the acceptance of the Tao Te Ching is modern society. Some people are caught up in the whir of business and finance, and others become art teachers. Some are presidents and lawyers, others underage and on welfare. How one approaches the world is how one see the truth, both men claim to see it, but what really pertains is anyone’s guess. Relatively speaking, Nietzsche’s was speaking in response to the conflicts of the late eighteen hundreds and the social structures of learned experience his era provided, where as Lao Tzu’s contemporary were possible 551-479 BCE, Confucius!
It could be seen that Taoism is a resolved, complete in thought. The cycles of Tao’s pluralistic ideas satisfies the problematic gaps in Nietzsche’s goal and conquest, power as freedom as the means to a resolution (conclusion). His will to power, and assertion of man psyche, is a well articulated and psychologically sound but limited explanation that works in microcosmic perspective, though in comparison is far more detailed than the undeterminable Tao. The cosmic and ever changing Toa that though complete remains still unclear and attempts through poetic ambiguity, flowery imager, and moral to imply meaning. Unfortunately the Tao too is unable to answers questions of the universe, ying and yang a valiant attempt in describing change but not why the change, why the flux and void, perhaps because it too cannot reach resolution, the Tao in fact was not made to reach one.
Both theses are particularly interested in God, or rather the absence of it. Tao does not even approach the subject, and Nietzche, an avid atheist repeatedly insists on the hindrance of religion, in particular Christianity (as it promoted the weak slave mentality and introduced the difference of evil and good verses bad and good). In fact Nietzche is famous for saying that God is dead and the Tao famous for being unaware of any single deity.
The holes and accidents of living, the unpredictable emotional inconsistency of living isn’t explained simply through power and best interest alone, instead let us take accidents and mistakes as the foundation of living. Not all things follow power, nor does power the end needs of human ambition obtain complete happiness, but rather promotes the impossible. Something must be said for pity, for the sight of someone in pain that condemns both concepts. Neither weakness nor passivity, nor the understanding of nature would do in describing our actions when faced with starvation, the holocaust, or dying.
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