Friday, June 11, 2021

The World As Will

If you don’t believe in free will, then nobody is guilty of anything. Everyone is the product of either nature or nurture, of environment or heredity. In novels like Germinal Zola propounds such a determinist notion. If you look at Freud as a product of the same kind of Weltaunshaung that’s iterated by Schopenhauer in The World As Will and Idea then human beings are helpless cogs of forces (which however animal or irrational they are in nature) drive them. It’s not surprising that Michel Houellebecq worships at Schopenhauer’s altar, in his repudiation of the notion of human freedom. It’s another version of Plato’s cave dweller who only sees the shadows of reality on the wall, but in some senses more profound in its discountenancing of traditional notions of good and evil. In the same spirit, Nietzsche wrote Beyond Good and Evil—which if nothing else is an indictment of the notion of a simple and easily discernible morality. Within the context of these ideas how does one deal with the concept of punishment? Penitentiary contains the word penitence but how can one demand repentance in the absence of intention? Ostensibly one incarcerates criminals as a warning to them and as an example to others. And there's some sense in this from a purely behavioral standpoint, but philosophically the notion of guilt can’t easily be substantiated. Is a murderer any more guilty than a hyena which attacks a kangaroo on the veldt?

Read "Nietzsche For Idiots" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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