Master's Theses

Date of Award

Summer 1977

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Robert B. Luehrs

Abstract

Friedrich Nietzsche's perspective on modem education was formed in reaction against the nineteenth century climate of “modernism”. The forces of modernism were democracy, scholarship, material progress and dilettantism. These forces were responsible for a general leveling of humanity and a leveling of values, which signaled a spiritual crisis. “Modernism” was the sign of the death of God, because Christians in Europe had substituted secular ideals for the Christian logos. Firstly, liberal freedom and its attendant idea of equality were without a goal corresponding to an axiological position of man's intrinsic worth. Secondly, scholarship and its emphasis on academic freedom provided no cultural consensus to form the mind of the individual student. Thirdly, materia1 progress placed its emphasis on moneymaking enterprises which detracted from the cultural pursuits of art and philosophy. Fourthly, dilettantism occurred when knowledge taken in excess became interesting and entertaining, but had no relationship to a personally acquired culture. Of equal importance was the fact that Darwinism had destroyed the notion of man as a divinely implanted creation separated from the other animals by virtue of possessing an immortal soul. “Modernism” was therefore perceived by Nietzsche to be nihilistic in direction, because it offered no intrinsic human value that would serve as a standard above the flux of history. Nietzsche tried to create an image of man which would give form to man's strivings without surrendering his spirit to the immediacy of historical events. In the great men of the past, Nietzsche saw in varying degrees the type of man who could educate others to become virtuous in a suprahistorical sense. The suprahistorical sense of history was a substitute for the fallen metaphysic of Christianity. Nietzsche wished to superimpose his new ethos on history to redeem man's spirit for this world.

Rights

Copyright 1977 Gary Vejvoda

Comments

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