Monday, May 05, 2008

A Thought from Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All to Human, (Translated by Gary Handwerk; Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995), §122.
”As long as someone is very well acquainted with the strength and weakness of his teaching, his kind of art, or his religion, their strength is still slight. The disciple and apostle who has no eye for the weakness of the teaching, the religion, and so on, who is blinded by the appearance of the master and by devotion to him, for this reason generally has more power than the master. Never yet has the influence of a man and his work become great without blind disciples. To help a certain knowledge to triumph often means only: to relate it to stupidity in such a way that the weightiness of the latter also enforces the triumph of the former.
Nietzsche is talking about Christianity here, but it is interested to apply these sentiments to academic life. For instance, we might have here an explanation of the difference between Barth himself and latter day Barthians. Just a thought.

4 comments:

Kellen said...

Or, better yet, latter day Nietzscheans!

David Bruner said...

I'd heartily second this comment. My own (significantly less sophisticated) take on this phenomenon has been to call it the 'Led Zeppelin effect.' Led Zeppelin was a truly amazing band that changed rock music forever...but they also produced 1,001 terrible bands that tried to imitate their sound but just managed to suck. Lesson: slavishly imitating the sound (or theological ethos) of those who came before you, even the great ones, isn't necessarily a recipe for success.

Luke said...

I don’t think followers of Jesus were blind disciples. There is a lot of criticism in early christianism: think for example in the apostle’s meeting at Jerusalem between Peter and Paul. However, the text is true when applied to latter Thomism I had to suffer at Barcelona. In general, merely to repeat something is not a smart thing to do.

Phil Sumpter said...

I guess I'd better be careful how I go on relating to Childs ;)