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The Antichrist: Translated and Introduced by H. L. Mencken Paperback – June 9, 2016
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About the Author
Friedrich Nietzsche was a nihilist philosopher, critic and poet who wrote several works of philosophy which have proven strongly influential since their initial publication in the late 19th century. After beginning his academic career as an expert in ancient Greek and Latin, Nietzsche would steadily advance into philosophy, becoming more convinced and sure of his arguments as time went by. Gradually, his writings became more polemical and provocative, criticising earlier philosophers, established institutions such as the Christian church, and its moral tenets in a series of vehement and swiftly paced writings which at times veer into humorous sarcasm. Nietzsche's final work was The Antichrist, which was completed a short time before a mental breakdown which rendered the scholar incapacitated for the final decade of his life. By the time of his death in 1900 at the age of 55, Nietzsche had assembled a large and devoted following, particularly within academic and scholarly circles, which continues to this day.
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Christianity, seen as a conspiracy impeding the progress of mankind, reserved for the corpus of ignorant men (95-96%) and full of lofty `moral' ideals which, in purpose, turn weaknesses into strength. To glorify timidity, cowardice and general weakness, making these types of people "The Chosen" is completely juxtaposed with the concept of the `ubermensch' (Superman) and any thinking man's `Will to Power' (that alone which makes one feel good).
Further, Christianity glorifies `faith' - which basically translates to `ask no questions and follow blindly' establishing a loss of instinct and reaction.
In regards to the apostles and other men of the cloth: `Whoever has theological blood in his veins is shifty and dishonorable in all things'. `Virtue' and `morality' are human contrivances and coupled with religion create misconceptualizations based upon imaginary cause and effect (being philanthropic gets you into heaven). This lie is seen as an escapist tactic, and who wants to escape reality except those that suffer because of it?
The priest, the most revered man of the cloth, Nietzsche sees as a human parasite designed to speak on behalf of, represent and take penance for God - the primary bastion, champion on earth, of upholding weakness, false morality and the undermining force behind the `Will to Power'.
In speaking of the true Christian, not the frauds he's attacked through the bulk of the work, Nietzsche states that true Christianity is lived, borne witness through acts and avoidance of acts. It's experienced and suffered. `The kingdom of Heaven is a state of the heart.'
A few of Nietzsche's aphorisms and essential thoughts that indicate the tone of the work:
- `Great intellects are skeptical.'
- `Men of convictions are prisoners.'
- Science is the first, original sin. To want to know is to be faithless it indicates a desire to be Godlike.
- At the root of the Christian belief exists Nihilism, the desire to destroy everything. To live a life of ignorance, to have `faith', to buy into `immortality' suggest that nothing in this life is worthwhile, thusly - why partake? Simply count down the days until your `salvation' arrives and fail to live the life you could.
'... One may rest assured that the greater the degree of a man's intellectual conscience the greater will be his modesty, his discretion, on this point. [...]"Truth," as the word is understood by every prophet, every sectarian, every free-thinker, every Socialist and every churchman, is simply a complete proof that not even a beginning has been made in the intellectual discipline and self-control that are necessary to the unearthing of even the smallest truth.--The deaths of the martyrs, it may be said in passing, have been misfortunes of history: they have misled....'
Speaking of texts, I have been comparing the Mencken translation with Kaufmann's later translation, and while I can accept that the early 20th C. translations were for the most part woefully inadequate, HLM's may be the exception. Here is a passage from Mencken, with a few words that are different, but not demonstrably better, in WK's (for the most part, the two translations are very close):
'.. When the exceptional man handles the mediocre man with more delicate fingers than he applies to himself or to his equals, this is not merely kindness [WK: "politeness" ?] of heart--it is simply his duty.... Whom do I hate most heartily among the rabbles of today? The rabble of Socialists, the apostles to the Chandala, who undermine the workingman's instincts, his pleasure, his feeling of contentment with his petty [WK: "small"- surely "petty" is more apt] existence--who make him envious and teach him revenge.... Wrong never lies in unequal rights; it lies in the assertion of "equal" rights.... What is bad? But I have already answered: all that proceeds from weakness, from envy, from revenge.--The anarchist and the Christian have the same ancestry....'