No Faith in Superman: Lovecraft on ‘Nietzscheism’

In regards to a recent post on the overlapping ideas of Nietzsche and Lovecraft, Allan McPherson kindly pointed out that H.P. had in fact written a short little essay on Nietzscheism, which is posted here on OHHAI’s tumblr page. It’s a typically Lovecraftian take on the problem of nihilism, i.e. it’s equal parts pessimistic and elitist, flavored with some unfortunate hints of racism (you have to hold your nose here and there when you read it–something no Lovecraft fan isn’t already used to.) It nonetheless deals explicitly with a crucial contemporary issue, one I’m exploring in my own speculative fiction series, Uroboros.

Lovecraft (1890-1937)

Lovecraft (1890-1937)

My question is this: are humans the kind of beings who can use our rational capacities and free-will (granted we have such capacities) to create meanings that can ground and sustain our own existence?In other words, can we have values and purposes to which each individual can freely and clearly consent? Or are we essentially superstitious little creatures who need an authority to submit to, real and/or imagined?

What are your thoughts?

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2 Responses to “No Faith in Superman: Lovecraft on ‘Nietzscheism’”

  1. The answer to both of your questions is ‘yes’. We need authority figures to tell us what to do because we fear freedom and responsibility more than anything. Moreover, these authority figures are the values and purposes to which we freely consent.

    Many people value money, and consider their purpose to be to earn as much money as possible. Their authority figure is the ‘money god’. They arrange their lives around the worship of this god, and follow its commands like automatons.

    There are as many authority figures, values, and purposes as there are reasons to live: love, friendship, family, health, happiness, etc. And every one of these values influences the behavior of the individual.

    It is difficult to imagine a truly free individual whose behavior is not influenced by some external factor. To prove free will, one must attempt something akin to the narrator of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground; yet an observer might rightly conclude that the narrator’s behavior is still dictated by an external factor over which the narrator has no control – i.e. the prevailing mores – for the narrator only acts in contradiction of these principles.

  2. Very complicated question. I agree with the comments. I would like you to define the idea of freedom and free will. Despite the restrictions a think a man sometimes need leaders and sometimes not. How a man can be free from his experiences and his enviroment?
    Happy new Year.

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