God in Descartes and Nietzsche

It is in the nature of humans that they look for someone metaphysical and supernatural for the solution their problems and difficulties whenever they feel themselves unable to do the same. It is therefore the institution of religion came into being. Looking into the history of the world at large, it becomes evident that religion existed in all human societies from the most primitive to the most modern ones. Humans have formed their own beliefs (called probability belief in mathematics and science) about the set of unknowable elements of the universe. They have branded their beliefs about the unknowable as religion. (Acharya, 2006) Since religion is a highly diversified subject, different societies maintain different religious faiths and beliefs. Not only this that it varies from society to society and from one culture to the other, but also one single society contains the followers of different many religions in it. Some people speculate about which mind qualities survive the demise of our physical body, only to reappear in different shapes and in a renewed context. As this issue belongs to the realm of personal faith, it doesn’t make sense to approve, to disapprove or to argue. (Kessler, 2004:1).

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The history of contemporary Western philosophy seeks its roots in the works and philosophies presented by Thales (ca. 640-546 B.C.), Anaximander (ca. 610-546 B.C.) and Anaxagoras (488?-428 B.C.) Thales is stated as the founder of naturalistic orientation in logic as well as the first person to introduce mathematics, geometry and astronomy as the systematic disciplines of study. The concept and nature of God also varies in philosophies and theories articulated by the thinkers and scholars along with the divergence in religious beliefs, cults and cultures of the world at large. Famous French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is thought to be the father of modern western philosophy. Descartes, in his works, argues that religious sets of faith should not be taken as mere imitation of the ideas which have blindly been adopted by a large number of one’ community members without applying one’s intellect. Rather, human brain contains the powers to prove the legality of God’s existence. He refutes the very idea of accepting some presumptions and propositions without analysing their validity through intellectual capabilities and sound examinations. It is therefore, he lays stress upon the significance of doubtfulness about some specific belief. He is of the view that blind faith cannot make people understand the realities of life on the one hand and phenomena of nature on the other. His meditations are based on his theory that certain false and unproved presumptions get the form of particular beliefs to which people imitate and follow blindly without submitting intellect and seeking proof for this all. He is of the opinion that critical appreciation of any natural phenomenon wide opens countless avenues of vigilance and knowledge to man. If the universe contains realities regarding the Supreme Being, then why should one not examine and accept it to bring it before the world on pertinent intellectual foundations. Hence, he lays stress upon the point that the nature offers man the evidence of the every existing object and it is his continuous contemplation based on his knowledge and mental capabilities to observe these objects through personal experience based on the principles of positivism. Hence, Descartes, proves the existence of God on the basis of his meditation, observation as well as his thorough study of philosophy, theology and literature.

His wonderful works under the title “Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy” reveals his sublime ideas and high intellect, he sustains. Descartes proceeded to strip away his knowledge base in order to determine the one indubitable fact, Cogito, ergo sum. From this absolute knowledge of his own existence, he set about deducing the existence of God through ontological argument. In our minds, the idea of God is one of an infinitely perfect Being. An infinitely perfect being must have existence, otherwise it would not be infinitely perfect. A true and skilled philosopher, Descartes opines, is always appears as a truth-seeking person. He can make comprehensive analysis of anything presented before him and can give an authentic view regarding the validity of a matter under observation and discussion. He always strives to find out truth only and defies all forms of falsehood and rejects void and invalidity in a statement. His approach is systematic and analytical, and always looks for evidence in order to judge the significance of a statement. It is the quality which distinguishes him from unskilled thinkers and other individuals of society. As a philosopher always makes a mature judgment of things, his words are considered as authority over the subject. The knowledge and wisdom, attained by the common men, individuals, scholars, sages, philosophers and thinkers is the sound and valid testimony regarding the existence of God. Almighty God has not only created humans, but also He has blessed vigilance and foresight to them so that they could make distinction between right and wrong as well as just and unjust; and thus recognise, identify and submit to the existence of the Supreme Being, Who is regulating all the affairs of the universe. Being the Just and the true Creator, He did not let the humanity go astray in the wilderness of ignorance and the darkness of unawareness. Descartes vehemently refutes the very idea that it is human mind that contains the capacity of identifying the Lord of heavens and earth; rather, it is the favours of the Almighty that wide open the horizons of wisdom and vigilance so that people could acknowledge the existence and powers of the All-Powerful God.

Descartes has made a comprehensive conclusion out of his contemplation and observation regarding the existence of God. He concludes that human faculties are limited ones, which neither have the abilities to seek truth, nor has the strength to look into the realities beyond the gifted capacities. Hence, every reality serves as a contradictory one before him. Such type of contradictions leads human minds to nullify each and every matter before them. Hence, Descartes believes that he would have to agree that it is possible for an entity to think and not think, to exist and not exist at the same time. There is one and the only thing, according to him, that is free from the bar of contradiction, i.e. the existence of God. The future philosophers and their theories also submit the same notions. Scottish thinker David Hume and German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche have also argued regarding the significance of proper evidence and observation for demonstrating the ideas regarding natural and social realities.

Nietzsche has emphatically described the fact that individuals establish certain beliefs and notions in their mind for the solution of their problems, to which they state as the spiritual values. He maintains quite novel and diversified views regarding the concept of God, which he has mentioned in his famous book under the title “The Gay Science.” (1882) Consists of five volumes, the book discusses his views and opinions on the nature and existence of God. First volume throws light on the history of religions, with diversity in the nature of God in different religions. Nietzsche strongly believes that the concept of God is the product of society; it is therefore, the quantity, characteristics and nature of God varies from culture to culture and from one set of religious beliefs to the other. The strongest and most evil spirits, Nietzsche submits, have so far advanced humanity the most: they have always rekindled the drowsing passions all ordered society puts the passion to sleep: they have always reawakened the sense of comparison, of contradiction, of joy in the new, the daring, and the untried: (1882 4) Hence, he asserts that following of the traditional cult and values are considered as goodness by the followers of a certain belief without seeking evidence regarding its validity. A thing, an idea, a notion, he states, which is quite new and serves as an addition in religious practices, is strongly refuted by the majority of the people declaring it an object of hatred, deformation and transgression as the product of evil and wickedness.

Nietzsche considers truth and knowledge as the vital things to explore the natural and social phenomena existing in the environment to recognise and search out the true concept of God. He cites Greek philosophers and declares few of them as the torch-bearers as well as carriers of wisdom and reality in respect of searching out proper evidence for the realities regarding different natural phenomena as well as the existence of God. The ancient Greek philosophers also had an idea regarding Almighty God, the Creator, Who had, according to them, made man out of His own image and bestowed upon him the blessings of knowledge. It is knowledge that distinguishes man from animals, beasts and even angels too elevating his position superior to all. Nietzsche cites Socrates, the great philosopher and thinker of ancient Greece, who always preached truth, justice, wisdom and sacrificed his life for the sake of true knowledge. Socrates views that if an individual looks into himself and analyses his mind and personality, he gets acquainted with the favours of his Lord on him.

All our ideas about good and evil, Nietzsche submits, come not from God, for there is no God, nor from a higher moral law, since there is no such higher law. (Thomas & Thomas, 1971) These ideas, according to him, have developed through the evolution of human mind. The greatest recent event—that God is dead”, that the believe in Christian God has ceased to be believable is even now beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe. (Book V 1887 343: quoted in Porter, 1997 620) By this, he does not mean that God Himself has ceased to exist; rather, he submits to state that the ambiguous concept of God, presented in Judeo-Christian traditions, have no place in reality anymore. Nietzsche cites a fictitious madman busy in searching out the god who cannot be explored because of the vague notions and hazy interpretations made by some theologians out of their traditional beliefs. All our ideas regarding good and evil has neither come from God. Nor from moral law; on the contrary, all the ideas are the outcome of development of human mind. He argues that the actual good people were the kings and warriors who dominated over others by dint of their physical strength. But the weak and frail persons gave the idea of moral law to rule over the strong men. The weak individuals drew out laws on the basis of their intellect and declared these laws as the word of some Supreme Being named God. Hence, condemns the madman’s concept of God. “Have you not heard of that madman, Nietzsche states, “who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the marketplace, and cried incessantly, “I seek God!, I seek God.” (Aphorism 125) The aphorism serves as a great satire on the hypocrisy and faithlessness of the so called torch-bearers of ethics and morality. Nietzsche, through the words of so called madman, gave the message that the hypocritical, cruel and unjust attitude and performance of the clergy is sharply against the sermons and preaching they delivered in the churches and other holy places. The entire chaos, inequality, crimes, deviancies, perversion, lawlessness, bloodshed, disturbances and turmoil existing in the world are the outcome of malpractices and excesses committed by the so called religious men in the name of ethics, morality, law and God. Hence, all such claimers of the existence of God are actually the killers of the commandments and instructions established by God. In other words, these notorious noblemen are the murderer of the true concept of God. Their transgressions have killed the very soul of morality, and the concept of God they have presented, must cease to exist.

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It is therefore, he seriously condemns blind imitation of false notions stating that mere imitation of some beliefs without analysing their truthfulness and validity is sure to pave the way towards distract the people from the right path of righteousness and wisdom. He opines that since an intellectual applies his mind and keen observation to seek truthfulness, knowledge, wisdom and vigilance, he can provide proper guidance to the humanity to follow the right path rather mere imitating blindly certain faith and cult without acknowledging the very fact about good and evil and right and wrong. Thus, the sages and philosophers including Descartes, Nietzsche, Hume, Kant and others invite the people to adopt a critical appreciation of each and every reality of life so that they could escape the darkness of ignorance and so called beliefs that may create fuss, tension, conflict and chaos in human societies.

The significance of studying and analysing the philosophical themes of Descartes and Nietzsche has multiplied in such an age where there is conflict and rivalry between civilizations. Everyone thinks himself at right direction, and this false belief is the outcome of unempirical and false notions about the concept of God. God and moral law does not allow anyone inflict miseries, atrocities and cruelties upon others in the name of religion, but humans are exercising the same by stating it the word of God.

Bibliography

Kessler, Franz L. (2004) Reincarnation and Love Relations. Web.

Nietzsche, Frederick Wilhelm. (1882) The Gay Science.

Sankarsan Acharya. (2006) Religion, God and Science.

Thomas, Henry & Thomas, Dana Lee. Great Philosophers. (Bhavan’s Book University Bombay 1971) 232-240.

Zaidi, M. H. (2007) God, Adam and Serpent. Moosa Publications Urdu Bazaar Lahore.

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