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Flashcards in Religious Disposition - Problems And Responses Deck (11)
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What are the 5 key issues with Nietzsche's account of religion?

1. Straw man, 2. Inconsistency with perspectivism 3. Religion is species preserving 4.religion does express will to power 5.genetic fallacy

1

How is Nietzsche's account of religion a straw man?

First, religion cannot be characterised solely in terms of sacrifice.

Secondly, nietzsche ignores the positive influence religion has on people's lives, and society as a whole. Studies carried out by the psychologist Edward Deiner have found that religious people tend to be happier than atheists in poorer societies.

2

How would Nietzsche respond to the straw man criticism?

First, he would agree that not all religions are characterised by sacrifice - but he would argue that Christianity, the religion he seems to criticise the most, is.

Secondly, he would point out that the 'happiness' of religious people is falsification, born out of the fear of truth. While a world-affirming man would will their life to be repeated eternally, religious people are only able to 'bear the sight of themselves' by deifying their suffering... But this eradicates their chance of development.

3

How is Nietzsche's account of religion inconsistent with perspectivism?

First, how can a perspectivist decide what is and what is not rational? Something that seems irrational from Nietzsche's point of view might not be irrational from another's...

Second - to condemn religion on the grounds that it is irrational presupposes that rationality is superior to irrationality.

Thirdly, if all perspectives arise from irrational beliefs, how is religion any more irrational than other views?

4

What additional issue arises from the charge of irrationalism?

Religion is rational for the 'slaves.', because it bolsters their morality, if the herd can never be happy without religion, which allows them to collectively exercise their will to power, it would be irrational for them *not* to adopt religion...

5

How does Nietzsche respond to the inconsistency with perspectivism?

He is not actually concerned with rationality. He is not an absolute relativist - he believes that certain perspectives can be superior to others, depending on how far they are species preserving.

He therefore condemns religion for its toxic influence over the human race - he claims that the religious disposition has produced a pathetic herd-animal, who 'suffers from life as from an illness'.

6

How could we argue that religion is species preserving?

Religion does promote life - it allows the slaves to live in relative contentment, and helps rulers to assert their power.

7

But what kind of 'species' does religion preserve?

Then ludicrous herd animals! Religion 'preserves too much of what ought to perish'

8

How does religion express will to power?

Religion is judged as life denying. But if will to power is the release of strength which seeks to control and dominate, the the spread of religious values through the slave revolt is expressive of a huge amount of WTP!

9

What is the genetic fallacy?

Criticising an idea because of its origins, rather than providing a logical criticism of the idea itself.

10

In what way does N commit the naturalistic fallacy?

Nietzsche sees religion as a projection of individual values. For example, in the case of slaves, God represents a justification of their morality... But Nietzsche does not, at any point, actually provide a genuine criticism of religion itself.