When I approached this book by Friedrich Nietzsche, the first question I asked myself was “Why did he choose Zarathustra? Why him and not Jesus, Moses, Mohammed or some other prophet?” Well, the answer is simple. Zarathustra Spitama was the first, among a long series of prophets, who spread faith in one single God. He was the first spreading a certain religious moral about Good and Evil, in order to tell people how to behave. And this was clearly a sort of unforgivable original sin for Nietzsche. He couldn’t forgive the moment the ancient prophet started to sow the concepts that evolved in what is our metaphysical conceptions. So, the german philosopher thought it was a strong symbolical device, making Zarathustra destroy what he created: the idea, the belief in a single God, which gives mankind rewards or punishments.
The rational consequence of this way of thinking is that – if God does not exist – men should reconsider their values and their actions, avoiding the Good and Evil dualism and their dialectic. But, most of all, if there’s no metaphysical world, then human action is linked to the Earth: the only known reality. Consequently, all the values borrowed – mainly – from christianity are invalid, because they become useless burdens for our human nature.
Nietzsche’s superior mankind must be the creator of itself, pursuing its own pleasure, accepting what is unavoidable and sending away everything which causes unnecessary sorrow. This is the only way, for the philosopher, to give and find a meaning to our life experience – even if God does not exist.
All of this happens in a cyclical time, which perfectly repeats and repeats itself. Eveything already existed and will exist, just in the way we’re now experiencing it. It’s the famous concept named “Eternal Recurrence of the Same“. Depending on your opinion, it may be a neverending nightmare, or a magnification of mankind, where each story, each single choice, is perpetually repeated. This makes us all like God: immutable and eternal.
That’s what Nietzsche tells us in Thus spake Zarathustra. Although it does not “seduce” me and I cannot agree with him, I have to admit it’s a charming and original theory. But, personally, even if I might agree that we can’t say if God is real or not, I think that Good and Evil are exactly like we always have thought them to be. In particular, if we speak about compassion – which is a feeling that the german philosopher strongly condamns. And I can’t agree with that. I think we need bounds, because even if we are rational creatures, we make mistakes.
Mankind is natural phenomenon. But even if we are part of nature, we are not like all the other creatures. We live on a total different level and we have to preserve ourselves. So, I think it’s risky what we read in some parts of this book. Friedrich Nietzsche puts people in different categories, judging their action and presuming to know what they think and what they feel. But man and reality are more complex than easy nomenclatures: you cannot divide humanity in plebs and supermen. We are equal and nobody is entitled to take the upper hand against someone.
This said, the book is interesting, even though it’s not an easy reading. Beautiful and suggestive parts alternates themselves with boring and intricate ones. But – in the end – when you finish Thus Spake Zarathustra, you are satisfied and you gain new ideas to think through.
– Giuseppe Circiello –