The Need for Experience -- Part 1


(system) #1

Yesterday I met Hume, today I begin an affair with Nietzsche. I tried reading Birth of Tragedy last year, thinking it fit to start at the beginning of his writings. It is his worst work as well as earliest, however, and his critique of Greek art was too foreign to me. I felt like I might be corrupted by his approach to the matter, since I could not contextualize his opinions.

Today I opened Genealogy of Morals, and have already found it to be almost as exciting and relevant to my questions as Hume's Of the Standard of Taste was last night (Which I stayed up 'till 4 AM exploring -- making for easily eight hours of reading and writing [unposted]).

He opens up with a word to the difficulty of what we might call today emotional intelligence, or "EQ," which is the making the most of our experiences and synthesizing wisdom from them:

"We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge -- and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves -- how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves?" -- Nietzsche

It is hard enough to marshal the experiences I have had into the full educational potential they hold. Lord knows many fail utterly at finding clarity and wisdom, even if they have a century of experience. My writing shows, I hope, the serious nature of my efforts to induce truth from the details of my life.

And yet my experience, and necessarily my wisdom, is severely limited. Even if the induction process (Experience => world view) were pure (Which it is not), my father and I have very different experiences. And that's not to mention people further from me: drug addicts, Buddhists, Taiwanese, French, and ancient Greeks, just to name a few. To confront something so large as truth -- be it via philosophy or science -- is a daunting task to undertake. Experience is the key, and yet we have so little:

"Whatever else there is in life, so-called 'experiences' -- which of us has sufficient earnestness for them? Or sufficient time?" -- Nietzsche

This is why I want to go to Africa, or otherwise have adventures -- international, intellectual, and industrial. Wisdom and clarity come to the ignorant only as hoaxes, and so my ignorance haunts me like Marx's spectre.

The point is that I resonate with Nietzsche's opening paragraphs, and have added him to the list of intellectual crannies ("Experiences") I would like to explore.

SigmaX


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1186