Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On death (and life)

Ludwig Wittgenstein writes in section 6.4311 of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.” And, as Wittgenstein remarks, that requires the courage to really face death (and not merely ‘the image of death’, acknowledging mortality as an essential part of being human. We need horizons to create and have a meaningful life. Friedrich Nietzsche concurs with Wittgenstein’s interpretation of experiencing infinity in one’s own life. When he criticizes Paul’s misappropriation of Jesus’ teachings, he writes in section 160 of Will to Power that Jesus created a this-worldly ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, “he is purely inward. […H]e demonstrates how one must live in order to feel ‘deified’ – and how one will not achieve it through repentance and contrition for one’s sins […].” The spirit is then not an other-worldly divinity but those this-worldly persons who have become able to free themselves of metaphysical illusions to live in (tragic) reality (see Ecce Homo, How One Becomes What One Is, “Human, all-too-human, with two sequals,” section 1).

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