The Cultural Crisis of Modernity and its Remedy According to Nietzsche
This study traces Nietzsche's understanding of the meaning of culture through his first three Untimely Observations. Its goal is to show that culture [Kultur] occupies a central place in these essays because Nietzsche thinks that the cultivation [Bildung] of humanity within enclosed and humanly created spiritual horizons can prevent the spiritual degeneration of mankind in modern times. The source of this degeneration lies in modern natural science and the scientific study of history. Taken together these two pillars of modern pedagogy erode human moral foundations and paralyze practical ambitions by teaching relativism in the form of what Nietzsche calls: "the doctrines of sovereign becoming, of the fluidity of all concepts, types, and species, [and] of the lack of any cardinal difference between human and animal." Since Nietzsche explicitly affirms the theoretical "truth" of these doctrines despite holding them to be "deadly" for mankind, the study focuses primarily on the cultural solution he proposes to the practical problem that relativism poses to the flourishing of a great people. Although this solution is a complex one which Nietzsche went on to refine and develop in almost all of his subsequent writings, its core consists of the cultivation, emergence, and activity of a rare type of individual he calls the "genius," the "true human being," and the "redeeming human being" in the Untimely Observations, and who is dubbed a "Caesarian breeder and cultural dynamo [Gewaltmenschen der Cultur]" in Beyond Good and Evil. This exceptional individual creates self-inspired works of philosophy and art that raise insulating walls around the collective mind of his people, restraining their longing for scientific and historical knowledge by satisfying or cultivating it [Bildung] with self-created metaphysical "truths" and "images [Bild]" of their past, future, and even of nature itself. When these truths and images are embraced by a people a spiritual horizon is established around them which they consider it bad taste to transcend, and inside this horizon lies a world of "creative morality [schöpferischen Moral]" and "metaphysical meaningfulness" that, under the best circumstances, cultivates healthy human life.