Nietzsche And The Meaningful Life Philosophy Essay

1869 words (7 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Philosophy Reference this

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The advent of the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century Western World has engendered a new “problem of individual existence in the world” based on alienation and absurdity, as depicted in the sufferings of Gervaise and Etienne. These existential problems continue to plague the public in todays society as well, challenging people to question the purpose of their lives and to find an answer for the existence of human suffering. According one German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the answer to human suffering resided in “styling” our lives to the way we want it to be via a process of “becoming.” In applying Nietzsches ideas to my own personal life, I have come to the realization that my life is a product of various elements that I embrace the most, influencing the decisions I make in my daily lives and shaping my ambition in wanting to become a professor.

Nietzsche argued that the reason why people suffer is because they are under the delusion that there is an inherent meaning in themselves and in the world, when in fact life is based on “nothingness.” According his view, life is completely based on contingency, and only individuals themselves have the power to instill any meaning into their lives. He believed that people must stop following the “herd” and its standardized moral conduct. To find happiness in life, people have to take courage and free themselves from the indoctrination of societal values, pursuing after their own desires instead. Therefore, Nietzsche believed that the key to living life was to view life as an “individual process.” This process entails individuals to actively seek out and shape themselves into the person they want to be, to “become” the physical representation of the image they want to portray to others. Consequently, Nietzsche argued that the value of human life is created by the individual. There is not intrinsic value in society that is embedded in our lives, and we must create the meaning of life for ourselves.

In order to test whether one has created a meaningful life, Nietzsche has created a theoretical notion of “eternal recurrence,” where humans are given a choice to live their life in the exact same manner over and over again, going through the same events and experiencing the same emotions. If the answer is yes, then according to Nietzsche, the person has created a truly meaningful life that they would do not mind living continuously. Creating such life requires an aesthetic approach to organizing ones experiences and desires in harmony. Kind of like a blank canvas, our life is initially in a state of nothingness, and it is the responsibility of each person, as the artist, to insert meaning and personal “style” into the canvas. However, for any styling to happen, people must first be content with themselves and build their identity from there. Nietzsche argues that people who are dissatisfied with themselves will never find happiness, for they will always resent who they are. Every experience and action, or element, in the work must be in harmony with one another, as the small elements mold together to shape the whole. There is no standardized or “the way,” as long it is “their own way.” Thus, life itself reflects the process of humans constantly shaping their image, with the final product epitomizing who we are.

Applying the lessons of Nietzsches process of becoming, I have formed my own set of elements in my life that I embrace the most in my attempt to create my self. My first element is companionship, the ability to form relationships with other people and to interact with them. I would like to have a small group of people to spend time with in my life, such as my family and friends. I can envision myself having a family with three children: two girls and a boy named Charlotte, Juliet, and Cason respectively, hanging out at a nearby park in the neighborhood. During Superbowl weekend, I may invite some of my family friends and their families over, and have a good time together. In addition, I would like to form close relationships with my neighbors, to have some people I can talk about my struggles with, outside of my family and friends. Perhaps this explains my proclivity towards small cities or towns, where people know each other more closely as there are not that many people. Perhaps this is why I would like to live somewhere in New England in the future, a region primarily occupied with towns and villages instead of cities or urban communities. Maintaining close companionship with others will also help me intellectually, for I like to engage in discussions and debates with other people about various topics. These dialogues with other people will help me to be in a thinking mode, always being eager to learn and share ideas with others.

My second element is intellectualism because I want to always be aware of what is going on around the world in terms of politics and the economy. I definitely do not want to portray myself as an intellectually callous person, someone who does not care learning about new ideas and keeping up with events that are happening around the world. I want to learn about new ideas, especially about economic theories relating to human behaviors and their decision making mechanism. For some reason, growing up, I was always curious why people act the way they do in terms of their economic behavior. I recall being at a garage sale in 9th grade, when my father telling me that a perfectly fine Hewlett Packard (HP) printer for 5 dollars was too expensive so he passed on the deal, and I always wondered what triggers people to suddenly have different expectations of an objects value depending on the circumstance. Having a wide span of knowledge can bring together a group of people with common interest to talk about, enabling me to form closer relationships with other people. Thus, intellectualism goes hand in hand with forming companionships, because knowledge can be a factor in magnetizing people to bond.

Moreover, I would also like to have creativity in my life. No matter how interesting ones daily routines may be, we reach a point where the repetition becomes mundane. I feel that having a creative side will help brighten the monotonous schedule by being able to think of many new ways to shift the routines people go through. Creativity is also a very practical skill that has a myriad of applications to other things. In terms of companionship, creativity may come in handy when I am planning what kind of food I will prepare for a certain picnic, or when I am planning a surprise birthday party for a family or a friend. Not only will this make others happy, but it will also make me happy knowing that I have helped put a smile on other peoples faces with my ability to think outside the box. In addition, creativity will also be useful in my intellectual life by thinking of novel ways of learning or teaching ideas. As for learning, I may develop an innovative technique for taking notes or understanding materials that will maximize my capacity to remember the things I learn and keep it in my memory. Or, I can also utilize my creativity for devising a new way of teaching materials that will be entertaining to engage the students attention and, at the same time, be informative to help get the idea into their brains.

Lastly, the fourth element I would like to have in my life is independence. Here, I am not referring to the general definition of independence as some kind of freedom from oppression. I am specifically talking about independence as sort of a self autonomy in my life, the ability to do the things I want to without being told by other people how I should do it. The latter definition differs from the first, because I am talking about a personal leeway to do things the way I want to do it. For instance, I would not like to work at a big corporation in the future, because I would not enjoy trying to obey what my bosses tell me. Working in this strict bureaucratic environment where I am always constantly told what I ought to do, I feel like I would not be able to live a meaningful life. Instead, I would like to work in a smaller environment, where people are not telling me what to do or what not to do. They may provide their feedbacks that I can agree upon, but there is no coercion that forces me to take some kind of action. By being able to make my own choices, I will definitely be able to express my creativity in the field. Although I do believe that maintaining a systemized order of things is important, I would not want it as part my work environment that will hinder me from experimenting with different methods of approaching certain concepts or things.

Harmonizing my elements into a one form, I see myself pursuing after a career in education, specifically as a professor teaching behavior economics at a small college in a rural part of town, hopefully in New England. Being a professor in a small town, I can focus a lot of attention to academics and my family because, unlike in an urban environment, I do not have to commute long distances to travel for work, saving valuable time I can spend with my family. Furthermore, the environment will be a small enough so that everyone will know each other, forming a close knit community. At the same time, the environment will be filled with intellectualism, with me sharing my knowledge to students and the student absorbing the information to form their own opinions about the subject matter. This may lead to debates and discussions, which I can utilize to enhance my own knowledge as well. On some days I may exercise my creative side by incorporating real life case studies where students have to observe their peers in the economic decisions that they make, which may turn into a little fun study that we can focus deeper into. Of course, unlike in a high school environment, I would have a lot more leeway and freedom to shift the curriculum focus to explore an unexpected phenomenon regarding human behaviors that has not been discovered before. All the elements form harmonize into a form, leading me to live the type of serene and academic life I want to live away from the large cities in rural parts of the country.

Now that I have analyzed my elements and have become cognizant of what I want the most in my life, I am determined to pursue after this path. Perhaps others in the “herd” may see my path as being banal and boring, but for me this type of quite life is what I find meaning in. However, at the moment, I acknowledge that I am just part of the “herd.” But utilizing this introspection as a starting point, I will try to not be influenced by the standardized views of society, and pursue after what I truly want in my life, so that I can achieve my own happiness. This world has socialized people into believing that material wealth is the path to happiness, but for me, this is not my version of happiness. I will continue to study hard now that I found out what I truly want in life.

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