Great, if not greatest, thinker: Nietzsche

I vote on values

I vote on values

In this, the fourth, post in The Hannibal Blog‘s search to find the world’s greatest thinker ever, let’s examine another criterion: In order to be the greatest, does the thinker have to be the most expansive–ie, largest–in scope?

My short answer is No, but, as with the previous criterion, there is a catch.

The answer is mostly No because the great is the enemy of the good. Intellectual overstretch is a problem, and most of the great thinkers in history were great precisely because they chose one well-defined are of human interest for their contribution.

The converse is also true. As you will by now have guessed, I am a fan of Einstein’s. But Einstein’s light began dimming at the exact point, in mid-career, when he began to look for a theory of everything, a grand unifying theory, an idea that would explain not just something but all things. Up to that point, he had chosen one thing at a time (light, gravity, time, etc) and had done, ahem, rather well.

So let’s begin a short and explicitly incomplete sub-series of posts on truly great thinkers who shed light on one particular area of interest. Consider these the “honorable mentions” in my search. (There will also be a runner-up, and then of course a winner. If you consider this suspenseful, I feel flattered.) I have no doubt that you will let me have it, as always, in the comments. Today:

Friedrich Nietzsche

Area of interest: The origins of “morality”

Why great: Because he exposed so much of bourgeois “values” as the hypocritical piffle that it is. With highly original and ingenious methods (tracing the evolution of words), Nietzsche described the process in which “healthy” and natural values become inverted and perverted in the process of “civilization”. The masses of the downtrodden feel ressentiment at the strong and healthy, and finally stage a slave revolt in which the high is redefined as low, the good as evil, the strong as cruel; and, conversely, the weak as good, the impotent as chaste, the poor as humble et cetera.

Comment: As with all thinkers, you don’t need to believe it all; but keeping Nietzsche in mind is fantastic armor against some of the glib moralistic bilge that assaults us daily.

27 thoughts on “Great, if not greatest, thinker: Nietzsche

  1. I want to take Aristotle off my list. My previous posting was too grumpy for my own good. I’m sticking with Godel. But, I’m not seeing more posts with names on which to muse. I’m ignorant of two thirds of the world’s history and culture, so I’m pretty limited to Western thought (and physicists). Anyhoo, here’s a list of names, just for fun:

    Ayn Rand (correct but unnattainable?)
    Benjamin Franklin (simple, useful)
    Mahtma Ghandi (“life is many things”)
    Jesus H. Christ (thinker or just sufferer?)
    Alan Turing (first artificial intelligence)
    Yogi Berra (“When you come to a fork in the road, take it”)
    Dr. Phil (marketable)

  2. I have a question. Is morality restrictive or liberating to a culture/society? Is the answer relative to the culture or society’s structure?

    I believe that morality is essential for advancement of civilization. It does not have to overpower it, control a society, but it should help guide it and mitigate its excesses.

    In other words, I think values are more than “piffle”.

  3. Absolutely. But Nietzsche was great at what he called “revaluing” values–ie, at looking at values and telling the real from the pseudo-values and the “healthy” from the “unhealthy” ones. So he made you think harder about your values rather than taking them for granted…

  4. E=mc²/2
    2009 is the end of Einstein’s space-jail of time and Fraud symbol E=mc²
    Time is not a structure like space to allow space-to time-back to space jumping claimed by Physicists regardless of what physicists have to say about it because Physics is a business and not necessarily science or scientific and like every business it comes with fraud and fraud is Einstein’s space-time (x, y, z, it) continuum that led to fraud symbol E=mc² and yes I am saying that 109 years of Nobel prize winners physics and physicists are all wrong and space-time physics is based on scientific fraud. When “results” expected and “No” discovery, Physicists rigged Physics for grant money since the start of the industrial revolution. Physics today is at least 51 % fraud!
    r ——————>>Exp (ì w t) ———->> S=r Exp (ì wt) Nahhas’ Equation
    Orbit——–>> Orbit light sensing——>> Visual Orbit; Exp = Exponential
    Particle —->> light sensing of moving objects———— >> Wave
    Newton———>>light sensing———->> Quantum
    Quantum = Newton x Visual Effects
    Quantum – Newton = Relativistic = Optical Illusions
    E (Energy by definition) = mv²/2 = mc²/2; if v = c
    m = mass; v= speed; c= light speed; w= angular velocity; t= time
    S = r Exp (ì w t) = r [cos (wt) + ì sin (wt)] Visual effects
    P = visual velocity = change of visual location
    P = d S/d t = v Exp (ì w t) + ì w r Exp (ì w t)
    = (v + ì w r) Exp (ì w t) = v (1 + ì) Exp (ì w t) = visual speed; v = wr
    E (visual energy= what you see in lab) = m p²/2; replace v by p in E = mv²/2
    = m p²/2 = m v²/2 (1 + ì) ² Exp (2ì wt)
    = mv²/2 (2ì) [cosine (2wt) + ì sine (2wt)]
    =ì mv² [1 – 2 sine² (wt) + 2 ì sine (wt) cosine (wt)];v = speed; c = light speed
    wt = π/2
    E (visual) = ìmv² (1 – 2 + 0)
    E (visual) = -ì mc² ≡ mc² (absolute value;-ì = negative complex unit) If v = c
    w t = π/4
    E (visual) = imv² [1-1 +ỉ] =-mc²; v = c
    wt =-π/4+ỉln2/2; 2ỉ wt=-ỉπ/2 – ln2
    Exp (2i wt) = Exp [-ỉπ/2] Exp [ln(1/2)]=[-ỉ (1/2)]
    E (visual) = imv² (-ỉ/2) =1/2mc² v = c
    Conclusion: E = mc² is the visual Illusion of E = mc²/2 All rights reserved.
    PS: In case of E=mc² claims to be rest energy claims then
    E=1/2m (m v + m’ r) ² = (1/2m) (m’ r) ²; v = 0
    E = (1/2m) (mc) ²; m’ r =mc

  5. Andreas, I have come to the conclusion that anyone who gets more than his closest relatives to read his words favorably is a “great thinker”. Some may not actually be anything more than bovine excrement artistes, of course, but that is up to the individual to filter out. Assuming he can.

  6. Sorry, I can’t let this one go. Thanks for livening things up, Joe. Forget about time travel for a minute.

    Let’s say you go down to the souq looking for a nuclear bomb (nucular, whatever). On one side of the street is ‘Conspiracy Theory Al’s” nuclear bombs. On the other is “joe’s half-mass” nuclear bombs. Where are you going to spend your money? Joe’s are probably going to be cheaper, but history is on Al’s side. It turns out, Al’s bombs will go nuclear and joe’s will be the merely horrific ‘dirty bomb.’

    The point I’m making is the following. I haven’t checked Al’s work and I have my doubts about Joe’s. But, aren’t there other experiments that bear out Al’s math; namely, Nagasaki, Hiroshima and countless nuclear detonations in the 50’s and 60’s? Physics in the face of experimentation doesn’t require debate. It either works, or it doesn’t.

    In Joe’s defense, another way to write Joe’s (mc^2)/2=E is, (mc^2) = 2E. 2E, that’s twice the energy! Let’s say it does work. I’m picturing a tasteless New Yorker cartoon. Joe and someone else are climbing from the rubble with a mushroom cloud in the distance. Their skin has turned to charcoal. Joe says to the other, “now didn’t that feel like 2E?”

    • No, this is 1/2 the energy in Joe’s equation not twice. Joe’s point, I think, is the equation E=mc^2/2 existed long before Einstein and Einstein’s Special Relativity is just wrong. He bases this not just on math but by refuting the Twin Paradox. Problem is the Twin Paradox has experimentally been shown to exist.

  7. My own favourite (sic) is the inimitable Mr. Feynman.

    His greatness stems from many things, but, for me, it boils down to the fact that he never considered (nor bothered remembering) intermediate results.

    Hence, he derived basically all of his work from first principles, frequently amazing many of his fellow Nobel laureates by doing so in real time on the blackboard.

    This wasn’t just show: his entire thought process started from the bottom (ie. what he knew was right) and worked its way up.

  8. Mr. Crotchety, I may be teasing the tiger here but I have a question. Couldn’t an experiment work even if the foundation was wrong? It seems to me that physics theories are always being challenged and sometimes proven to have wrong assumptions. These are theories that have been tested and, for the most part, been supported by results. Not saying that Joe is correct, I certainly do not have the math knowledge or talent to question anyone above an 8th grader, what I am saying is that it is theory unless proven true in all cases, correct?

  9. Feynman is a great one, Hymanroth! A friend of mine made some DVDs for me with lectures that Feynman gave in the 50s, and they are riveting. On top of profound thinking, he also had something else of value: humor. This man was really, really funny.

  10. Teasing indeed, Douglas. The short answer is, yes. In addition, many theories come after the experiment. Joe’s math is probably fine (I don’t understand all the symbols). The crux of the argument is whether you believe Einstein’s theory of relativity and the adjustments to things like mass and length as you approach the speed of light. That math is not difficult. Before Einstein, E did in fact equal (mc^2)/2. This was when ‘ether’ existed. Joe’s conclusion is not outrageous. One of Feynman’s more accessible books talks about least time and traveling back in time (in so many words). I think Joe is concerned about the time-travel part.

    In my opinion, as the math gets simpler, the experiments get more difficult (and vice versa).

    Feynman was good at Bongos, too.

  11. The Dude was sick crippled and when he got old and budweised and angry at his legs he took it on nature. I read all his books at age 17 out of curiousty and when Disco Music Came Out and the blue eyed babes in mini Holsters and tiny shorts He became a lost memory.
    The dude is good for rapers who can not sing so they rap.
    the dude is good for people who can not dance so they wiggle their hands like fat boys rapp
    The Dude is good for Harvard Cal-Tech MIT NASA to improve their image infront of Scientifically Ignorant USA congress unless you call time travel science!

  12. Feynman?
    He Copied Chicken dance scratches and got a Noble Prize.
    Time Travel?
    Virtual Particles?
    Why not talk about the LHC that cost 20 billions and 20 billions donations took 12 years to build predicted creations and lasted 1/12 of a second and blamed on poor electricians and plummbers for leaks and faulty wiring when the only blue collars are the ones in white ropes who are blinded with their own fraud.
    Nietzsche represents the common truth and common truth is not truth.
    The truth is science and philosophers are at least 51 % fraud
    For example
    Work smart and not hard and that mean rig it and collect like Maddof
    and The entire stock market
    The only good work is hard work and thinking is part of hard work.
    The Dude and feynman are fake if you take a truthful look at them
    More like Flea market item

  13. You go, Joe! I didn’t go to MIT, but I used to dance in a way that prompted some people to question my sexual orientation. Does that mean I can (could) dance? I’m pretty sure the frat boys didn’t dance that way.

  14. The greatest philosophy is a babe that will get m done

    Blue eyes that rocks
    Hair that soaked the sun in the mirror
    bouncy double that give brain rush
    and a booty that said
    “Don’t cha wish a booty like me?”
    with Legs to dance and hips to twist
    a face of love and body for romance

    Everything else is just a philosophy

  15. Andreas. Ich habe mir innerhalb einer Stunde eine ungefähre Übersicht von dem was Sie uns vermitteln wollen versucht zu machen und muss sagen, dass Ihre versteckte Unbescheidenheit Sie nicht davor schützen wird kein im besonderem Maße nennenswertes Buch auf die Beine gestellt zu haben; jeder Aufmerksame Leser kann dies erkennen (es sollte leider aber auch nicht zu viel von Ihnen geben) Desweiteren merkt man Ihnen an, dass die Informationen die sie über Nietzsche haben, nicht ganz korrekt um nicht zu sagen fehlerhaft ist und es traurig ist, dass man das Gefühl hat sie würden sich in die Reihen großer Denker stellen wollen. Der Schreibstil, welchen ich bis jetzt festgestellt habe, lässt mich dazu verleiten nichts weiteres von Ihnen zu lesen und somit den ein oder anderen vielleicht doch nicht so dummen Gedanken zu verpassen. Da dürfte ich auch nicht der einzige sein.
    Ich hoffe Sie fassen meine Kritik nicht zu negativ auf, jedoch sollten sie sich vielleicht ernsthaft nach etwas anderem umschauen, als Ihre Zeit mit Denken und Schreiben zu vergäuden, bevor Sie an einer baldigen Depression zu Grunde gehen.

    R. Narcis

  16. The transvaluation of values consists in the perversion of values. Nietzsche is in favor of evil: in favor of slavery, crime, lying, selfishness, exploitation, invasion, war, theft, prostitution, ablation, pedophilia, incest, adultery, suicide, euthanasia, eugenic abortion, holocaust of “degenerate”, racism, caste society, the crime of gender violence, etc.; Nietzsche is against what is good: against human dignity, justice, solidarity, compassion, human rights, the emancipation of women, popular education, work, socialism, democracy, culture, civilization, etc. It is false that Nietzsche is only against the “traditional values” and “the old tables”. He is against what he knows, what value and good is, and in favor of what he knows as evil: “Umwertung” is the perversion of the values, the topsy-turvy moral established on the “principle of irresponsibility”. Nietzsche is, if great, a great filomaniac, criminal against humanity..
    Dr. Bernardo Alonso Alonso; German Quotations in my web:

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