What is Nietzsche's main problem with Christianity
SENHEIM. (hpd) In every collection of texts on religious criticism there is an excerpt from one of his works, and the quote “God is dead” formulates his opposition to Christianity in a radical and striking way. But also with regard to religion, Friedrich Nietzsche's aphoristic work raises more questions than it offers answers.
The philosopher Hermann Josef Schmidt has now presented a volume of essays that follows the trail of the Christian critic. As in all of his work, Schmidt attaches particular importance to showing lines of development in Nietzsche's thinking, and so he takes his earliest texts as the starting point for his considerations. To what extent this contributes to a better understanding of Nietzsche, which continuities and breaks can be discovered in his relationship to religion, hpd spoke to Hermann Josef Schmidt about this.
hpd: Nietzsche has been the focus of your publications for a long time. Why exactly and still Nietzsche?
Hermann Josef Schmidt: In view of everything I should deal with, I ask myself that too. Nevertheless: early on I had come to appreciate Nietzsche as an immense liberator of the spirit. However, in my impression, this aspect played only a very subordinate role in the Nietzsche interpretation. Instead, his texts were rather domesticated, normalized, interpretatively gutted what was characteristic of them, in short: “riveted”. Sometimes even with impressive tricks, especially when it came to re-Christianizing. But partly also because Nietzsche's texts were to be integrated into highly valued philosophical traditions at almost any price, so Nietzsche wanted to “ennoble” him. But even that only worked to a limited extent. That's why I wanted to “counteract” early on; and unfortunately it still has to.
Is that why you call your Nietzsche investigations “special votes”?
Yes, and for many reasons even. To at least outline what is perhaps the most important one: I also feel that the greatest cancer evil of philosophical and other interpretations is that many authors hardly seem to be interested in what the person about whose writings, thoughts, etc., they expressed, what they were saying thought what intentions she was pursuing, which could be deduced from her texts, etc.
This cancerous disease increases with Nietzsche. In order to recognize more clearly beyond the usual clichés, one would have had to read carefully: in his publications in their chronological order, also in the older legacy, in the correspondence, with a university professor as well as with him in lectures. But hardly anyone gave himself time for that. Instead, modes of interpretation often replaced one another. Their common denominator: with a generally rather narrow reading base, a dominant, highly specific theoretical superstructure as an interpretation perspective.
Sometimes I could only wonder what was put on Nietzsche. For example, psychoanalysts, ideologues and often theologians pounced on Nietzsche, of whom they had mostly read little and understood even less thanks to the fact that the context was ignored; luckily, they knew beforehand. Almost each of them is different and even better than the competition. In the case of less high-quality examinations, bowing to the respective zeitgeist or powerful cliques replaced more differentiated perspectives.
In view of Nietzsche's supposedly easy-to-understand texts, however, numerous problems increase: Nietzsche was extremely well-read, was interested in almost everything, and in rapid succession, usually working critically on prerequisites, expressed himself too much - specialists fail and fail in a broader range Amateurs. In addition: Nietzsche was a classical philologist and had his heart “with the Greeks”; and with these especially in the archaic, thought and felt from their only reconstructed perspectives with an effect critical of Christianity even as a child. But fewer and fewer people know anything about “the Greeks” before Plato; And with the dominant Journaille, which up until the very recent past was affirming Christianity out of conviction or fear, hardly anyone got into trouble. That still applies today. An explicit critic of Christianity hardly makes a university teaching career in the face of cross-party humpbacks and public humility rituals. All this and many other things have shaped interpretations and interpretative traditions for more than a hundred years. In a special way, of course, with regard to Nietzsche. Therefore, for decades, and the more I can afford it, the more and more clear special opinions.
In a nutshell, what is Nietzsche-specific about his criticism of Christianity?
It should be specific to Nietzsche that instead of a single point, following his development, a Nietzsche-typical chain, beginning in Nietzsche's childhood, should be sketched. The 11-year-old already demonstrates that he considers theodicy problems to be insoluble. Which other child at the time did that apply to? Even young people emphasize the hypothetical character of Christian beliefs. The 20-year-old realizes that the strength of a belief is independent of the content or the quality of a belief. Later Nietzsche assimilates and intensifies any philosophical, spiritual or scientific argument that he, as an intensive reader, is able to track down and use critically against Christianity. Characteristic is the sustained passion, polyperspectivity, brilliance and increasing vehemence, his argument, argumentation and finally condemnation. He seems to have crawled into every corner and even into the belly of Christianity. Only later does the intention become clear not only to destroy Christianity in its claims argumentatively, but to want to physically “destroy” it in a “war of death” because, among other things, it teaches “anti-nature” through contempt for sexual life.
But now, more precisely: To what extent do you deliver “increasingly clear special opinions” on Nietzsche?
In several ways. Firstly, I take into account the meaning of 'Greek' tragic and secondly, I prove the relevance of genetic perspectives as the key to a more appropriate understanding of Nietzsche - both of which, curiously, are unfortunately still quite new. Thirdly, I emphasize that Nietzsche's criticisms often contain vehement self-criticism - that is, criticism of his own, earlier points of view - more precisely that Nietzsche promotes his thinking as a permanent, often painful self-confrontation (“self-thinker”, “self-executioner”); and fourth, I show - I confess: with relish - the inappropriateness of prochristian interpretations of Nietzsche or his texts down to the last detail. In addition, fifthly, I emphasize the importance of the suggestions for the child Nietzsche by a poet who was defamed as a drinker but previously politically ruined, Ernst Ortlepp; and that the nature of Nietzsche's development is also to be understood from the perspective of the pathetic failure of Ortlepp, which Nietzsche followed closely. Sixth: the unusual combination of these five, for their part, already unusual points of view, mostly combined with - seventh - comments that are critical of interpretation, such as here and eighth with bits of philosophical and ideological criticism, also prove and probably fix the special status of my writings on Nietzsche. Hardly anyone would like to quote and discuss “something like this”, or even in a factual manner, who would like to remain a recognized author himself and be cited positively; but others understand too little about it. As simple as that.
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