Nietzsche and Buddhist Philosophy (book review) Antoine Panaioti

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

300120 later later addition: this is the first book that determined how i ever thought of buddhism [book:What the Buddha Taught|390562] and [book:What the Buddha Thought|6980500]...


260317 later addition: one of my first books on nietzsche 120710 that determined how i always thought of him, still relevant after this book, captures my reason for surprise that i did not think to think more on nz and bd: [book:The Philosophy of Nietzsche|4527527]


221016 first review: this book was an engaging surprise. i had not in thought seen together philosophical bd and nz, had not seen how their work in many ways is complementary, through vastly separate traditions, though yes nz knew of bd through schopenhauer and yes he could critically speak to this somewhat mistaken interpretation. the outcome of similar conceptions lead to an ethical chasm between the two. but according to this work, this is more fault of my limited reading of nz, in thought, in speculative tendencies, than actually there...


this book is organized well: after intro, part 1 is two chapters: nz as bd, nz as anti-bd, part 2 is two chapters on suffering: nz on overcoming, bd on cessation, part 3 is two chapters on compassion: nz on overcoming, bd on cultivating, then conclusion which suggests new response to nihilism. for it is nihilism which nz feels he must address, why he thinks first as bd, why he thinks second as anti-bd. i have not read enough nz to know all of his argument, his sources, his decisive, somewhat final stance. there is also the problem that perhaps there is no core nz, rather series of voices, of characters, and in format may be ironic as often as serious...


apparently both nz and bd saw themselves as 'physicians', and the diagnosis is clear: there is the threat of nihilism haunting europe now with the 'death of god', as sort-of 'death of brahmanism' (caste, social roles etc) once in india, with the sense there is no meaning, no value, no purpose to human life, and his new, un-christian valuation of metaphysics not of good/evil but healthy/unhealthy, which nz finds in sch, which in turn is found in godless bd. but the omnipresence of 'suffering' should be viewed as a challenge welcomed by the 'active', free spirit, mastering man, rather than meekly accepted by the 'reactive', the herd, the slave... this is the time to investigate how 'that which does not kill me/him/you/them makes me/him/you/them stronger', though of course this 'stronger' is not merely physical but more spiritual...


for if there is a root problem of our culture(s) (european, indian) for both bd and nz it is in the shared, common, mistaken valourization of 'being' rather than 'becoming', which in christianity, european culture, ensures that even the weakest will be granted mercy and survive from 'suffering' in this immediate 'becoming' world, to the 'transcendent' world of 'being', where all is blissful, all is quiet, all is gentle... in other words, where their 'suffering' is again good thing. these are apparently illusions offered by religion, and at first bd seems to offer something more: there is no 'being', there is only 'becoming', and bd offers way to be outside/beyond good and evil of our typical 'western' metaphysics- but then nz decides bd, at least as he understood it through sch, is the ultimate nihilism that offers only 'no' to the 'sufferings' of life, rather than joyous 'affirmation', eternal 'engagement', rather than 'love of fate' and 'eternal recurrence'... only 'extinction' of 'nirvana'...


on this plan, 'suffering' is good thing. again. real suffering, that is, that must be 'overcome', a challenge, an exercise, rather than disability or 'decadence' that inverts all 'positive' values- strength of body, mind, spirit, rather than worshipping those values appropriate only to 'slaves' such as meekness, obeying, acceptance- these unnatural stances 'revenged' through 'ressentiment' which sees the positive values as 'bad'- i actually learn more nz here, in this text, than i ever had from reading 3 books of his ([book:Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits|584564], [book:Beyond Good and Evil|12321], [book:Thus Spoke Zarathustra|380285]... but this does not necessarily convince me)...


according to this book, all thought, all religions, all societies, develop through 3 pillars: 1) metaphysics, or 'what is', 2) epistemology, or 'how do we know' 3) ethics, or 'what do we do'... and it is 1) as diagnosis, that nz and bd share. 2) is less parallel as it seems nz starts looking for what he has already decided he will find, and 3) is the subject of several chapters on compassion, then the conclusion offered...


i have certainly read much more bd than nz. i am only reading this book first time. but there seems to me an error that threads though nz's ideas of 1), 2), 3)- an error that begins not with the diagnosis 1), evades 2), determines 3)... and this 'error' seems to me an unjust idea of 'human being'. i do not believe (who does...?) in 'human nature' as determinant of our lives, but i do believe in 'human condition' (mortal, moving in body one way through time) in 'human situation' (with others, with world) and in 'human aptitude' (no more able to beat latest chess computers than run faster than a car...). and it is this argument i have with nz: to be everything 'active', that is 'potent', is often essentially momentary and sometimes deluded status that disappears just when it arrives... whereas to be 'reactive', 'impotent' or at least 'limited' in possibilities is more likely true and enduring status... so it is worthwhile to practice ethics that speak to this...


'compassion' is weakness for nz, in that in some way it damages the free spirit, the 'master', and is in fact deceptive, not truly helping, not leading those in need of help to true understanding of the world- of struggle, of suffering, which precedes all those 'slave moralities'. 'compassion' is hence to be 'overcome' in the interests of the strong, the heroic, the naturally powerful, over the 'decadents' who promote such inverted values, such lies. 'compassion' is to be 'cultivated' by bd's followers and this in an ultimately 'ironic' way, for bd's precepts to help, to serve, are 'conventional' truths, the helping of those yet to recognize the 'ultimate truth' that there is 'no self'. bd is not weak, does not suffer, offers no revenge or transcendence...


this is an inspiring read, and though i do not address 3) much, aside from nz depending on sch's understanding of bd, i am not sure the conclusion is very possible. but good ideas...


added: one philosopher i have read, ortega y gasset, in response to his book 'revolt of the masses' [book:The Revolt of the Masses|282447] inspired the following in my review:


'in pedagogical theory, there is the idea that all learners will fit in three classes: those who will learn easily, competent, quick, deep and well- those who will not learn, who are ignorant, uninterested, or likely to learn only superficially- and the great majority who will learn with some help, gradually, sometimes deeply, sometimes not. it is the third students for whom a teacher will be of most use, for the quick will learn themselves well, the ignorant and unmotivated are a waste of any help, but the majority will be in the middle, who can use some help... now replace the concept "learn" with "live" and recognize that any teacher or thinker might also turn some effort to the unmotivated, not charity, not cultish, only generous- also recognize that living as learning is of multiple values, that proficiency in any one "field" does not guarantee such in all fields, and if that field is "how to live" even so that determination is individual, not something to choose for the other, or to impose on the other...'


then: 'this is a later addition: after the election of the orange-skinned hair-challenged man in the United States it is perhaps time to reflect on the current of anti-intellectualism which informs this event and Ortega addresses. there is an aspect that is neglected in my 'pedagogical theory' of politics. that is, irrespective of quality, sincerity, expertise, of the teacher: not everyone wants to learn and may in fact be hostile to any suggestion that they need learn, or that knowledge, thought, perception may be helpful, useful, practical in any way. that informed thought rather than ignorant emotion is perhaps the best way to deal with complexity...


this is what nz and bd inspire in me, despite being sometimes rejected: to try, with compassion, to learn as much as teach, to allow living to be perpetual search, endless investigation, shared project- to live, to become, to act in compassion helping one another. to recognize your fellow humans with sympathy, with the ancient roman greeting 'courage!'... or swahili: 'pole sana' (very sympathetic for you)... there are so many books to read and so little time...

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

140718: this is read 3 times. this is the book that made his name. it has been translated but i do not know how: a lot of the pleasure is in the voice, the unique version of Nigerian english used, per

if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o