Macbeth Revisited: The Decline & Fall of Friedrich Nietzsche (Joseph Pearce, November 29th, 2023, Imaginative Conservative)

Like his tragic Shakespearean forerunner, Nietzsche begins by abandoning reason in pursuit of power. From the very outset, his denial of the existence of God had nothing to do with any rational process of thought: “Atheism, is not, for me, the consequence of something else … in my case it is something that goes without saying, a matter of instinct.” In similar vein, his rejection of Christianity had nothing to do with any rational process of thought and everything to do with pride and its prejudices: “[I]t is our preference that decides against Christianity – not arguments.”

If Nietzsche’s atheism and anti-Christianity is irrational, there is nonetheless a reason for it, a rationale for his irrationality. The man who refuses to subject himself to reason is freed from the rational constraints that reason imposes. He is the “freed man”, liberated by the will to power (der Wille zur Macht), who can do what he likes and “to whom nothing is now forbidden”. The rule of reason, “this last bondage”, must be cast off. “[W]e have abolished the world of truth,” Nietzsche proclaimed; “nothing is true”.

The consequences of such abandonment of reason to the appetite for self-empowerment was obvious enough, even to Nietzsche. The philosopher, he wrote, is “a terrible explosive from which nothing is safe”.

“This being so,” de Lubac comments, “it was not surprising that the drama that had taken shape in human minds quickly reached the point at which it burst forth in fire and slaughter.”