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Life Arts    H3'ed 5/19/14

Pope Francis Is NOT a Zarathustra-Type Person

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 19, 2014: For understandable reasons, Rob Kall is concerned about the psychopaths in finance today.

However, as the antidote for the influence of psychopaths in American culture today, what we Americans need most is for more Zarathustra-type persons to emerge, provided that they are deeply motivated by love for the fellow human persons. (If they are not deeply motivated by love for their fellow human persons, they might turn into psychopaths.)

Because young Nietzsche was a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays, I tend to see the Zarathustra-type person as characterized by Emersonian self-reliance. For a detailed discussion of Emerson's idea of self-reliance, see Lawrence Buell's book Emerson (2003).

In the American political scene today, self-described libertarians tend to embrace their own understanding of self-reliance, which the psychopaths that Rob Kall is concerned about also represent.

However, in her book Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (2013), Martha C. Nussbaum reminds us that love is necessary for social justice.

But neither self-described libertarians today nor psychopaths are deeply motivated by love for their fellow human persons.

However, for a brief time in the 1960s in the United States, many Americans of goodwill came together in the black civil rights movement. For a recent account of the legislative successes of the black civil rights movement of the 1960s, see Clay Risen's book The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act (2014).

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an example of the Zarathustra-type person who was deeply motivated by love for his fellow human persons. However, after his assassination in 1968, the forward-looking black civil rights movement came to a halt.

As a result, movement conservatism thrust into dominance, as Philip Jenkins details in his book Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of the Eighties America (2006).


By coincidence, both Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press published new English translations of Friedrich Nietzsche's book Thus Spoke Zarathustra in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The Oxford edition is translated with an introduction and notes by Graham Parkes of University College Cork in Ireland. The Cambridge edition was translated by Adrian Del Caro, who is now at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and edited by him and Robert B. Pippin of the University of Chicago. Both are now available in paperback editions.

But Nietzsche's puzzling book is so steeped in the German language and culture (Luther's Bible, Kant, Beethoven, Wagner, Schopenhauer, Goethe) that it is a formidable challenge for those of us who are not equally steeped in the German language and culture to understand. Indeed, it seems to be a work composed by a German, in German, and for Germans. In short, it seems to be an expression of the German spirit -- and an expression of the potentiality of the German spirit for growth and development in the future. In this respect, it can be characterized as futuristic in spirit.

But it is a formidable challenge even for people whose native language is German and who are steeped in German culture. For example, C. G. Jung wrestles with Nietzsche's book in the two-volume 1988 hardcover edition of Nietzsche's Zarathustra : Notes of the Seminar Given in 1934-1939 by C. G. Jung, edited by James L. Jarrett. Jung was very opinionated. The seminar format allowed him to express his opinions about a wide range of topics.

But Jung perceptively notes that Nietzsche (1844-1900) was going through a proverbial mid-life crisis when he was working on this book in the 1880s.

In addition, Nietzsche was still going through the mourning process after he lost the woman he loved. In the book The Journey from Abandonment to Healing (2000), Susan Anderson details just how powerful this kind of mourning process is.

But Nietzsche did not successfully work through this mourning process. As a result, he descended into madness in 1889.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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