A Critical Estimate of Nietzsche’s Philosophy -- By: James Lindsay

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:285 (Jan 1915)
Article: A Critical Estimate of Nietzsche’s Philosophy
Author: James Lindsay


A Critical Estimate of Nietzsche’s Philosophy

James Lindsay, D.D.

The influence of Nietzsche not only in Germany and France, but also in England and America, has been so great as to call for attention: the more so as Arthur Symons has been good enough to say that “no one can think, and escape Nietzsche.” The subject of extravagant praise — an excess of enthusiasm — he has also been the subject of a none too intelligent excess of execration. His bewitching power has been felt in spite of his pronounced irreligion. His aphoristic style of expression greatly furthered this influence, though it often took the form of spasmodic commonplace. His personality is present in all his thinking and writing. He is the obvious antithesis of a thinker like Spencer, from whose work all personality has been abstracted. His development was threefold in its stages, after the manner of Hegel’s theory. There is no need to deny Nietzsche the sincerity and the heroism claimed for him by his devotees, or to minimize the Carlylean vigor and picturesque exaggeration of his writings. Still less is ,there any occasion to question the artistic qualities of his work, his very conception of the world-process being that of an æsthetical manifestation of the Universal Will.

He is ,poet rather than psychologist, as we shall see, and is the philosopher of instinct. But he does not, as the latter, realize how, in the evolution of man’s thought, his instincts

blossom into something higher than primitive instinct, and \ sense is transmuted into thought. Nietzsche was saturated with Greek thought: Greek ideal, with its love of beauty and its will of power, he had made his own; his conception of life conceived it as synonymous with unrestrained strength and power. An excessive idealism marks his thought, in one sense; and that thought, suffused with his own personality, has but little of reason or systematized character. It has been truly said of him that he came not to bring peace on earth, but a sword. His hand has been heavy, but there is often something refreshing in his virility. Only through clash and warfare can virility come, and the tonic elements are among the best of his influence. One cannot choose but admire Nietzsche’s rare, even reckless, devotion to ideas. Me has often been accounted a daring and original thinker, partly because he appeals to us as a man so much at war with himself, but mainly because his doctrine is pre-Christian in its exaltation of hardness — it’s pagan worship of power. “This new Table, O my brethren, I write above you: Become hard” (werdet hart). This pagan glorification of hard- ness, of strength, of power, in life, with the suffering and pain that are necessary to the creat...

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