A confrontation with the absurd: Existential philosophy, repression and the vision of the "Übermensch"
At the centre of modern philosophy is the confrontation with human existence, the confrontation with the inevitability of death and the creation of individual structures of meaning. These themes are explored in detail by thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche. Their works offer deep insights into the human psyche, the complexity of social life and the challenges of the individual search for meaning.
The human confrontation with death
Human existence is characterised by the awareness of death, a fact that is often suppressed in order to cope with everyday life. In "The Discomfort of Culture", Freud describes how cultural and civilisational aspects serve as mechanisms for coping with this fundamental fear. This repression allows the individual to distance themselves from the paralysing fear of death and instead focus on life and its challenges. Freud argues that this repression is necessary to maintain social structures and personal relationships.
Illusions as a coping strategy
Humans create illusions and belief systems to achieve a sense of security and meaning in an otherwise uncertain world. Camus in "The Myth of Sisyphus" and Sartre in his existentialist works examine how these systems help the individual to make sense of life despite its inherent absurdity. Camus argues that life itself has no predetermined meaning and that recognising this absurdity forms the basis for an authentic and meaningful life. Sartre, on the other hand, emphasises the importance of individual freedom and personal responsibility in the creation of meaning.
Nietzsche's concept of the "Übermensch"
Nietzsche's "Übermensch", as set out in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", is a central element in the discussion of individual self-overcoming and the creation of one's own values. The "Übermensch" is an individual who transcends conventional morality and creates his own values. This ideal is often seen as a kind of elitist goal that is only accessible to a few. However, Nietzsche's concept also offers the possibility of being interpreted as a universal ideal that invites every individual to rise above the limits of conventional morality and society.
Social justice as a prerequisite for individual development
The realisation of a democratised "Übermensch" requires a critical examination of social and economic inequalities. The creation of equal conditions for all people is essential in order to realise the full potential of each individual. This presents a challenge to Nietzsche's often individualistic perspective and integrates his ideas into modern debates on equality and social justice. Such an understanding of the "Übermensch" would mean that the possibility of self-overcoming and creating one's own values is not just a privilege of an elite, but an achievable goal for everyone.
Wealth as a moral problem according to Christian Neuhäuser
In his work, Christian Neuhäuser offers a critical perspective on wealth as a moral problem. His arguments are particularly relevant in the discussion about creating equal conditions for all people, an issue that is crucial for the realisation of the democratised "Übermensch". Neuhäuser argues that wealth has not only an economic but also a profound moral dimension. He questions the extent to which excessive wealth is compatible with the principles of social justice and equality.
Neuhäuser often sees the accumulation of wealth as an unequal distribution of power and influence, leading to social inequalities and an undermining of equal opportunities. This is in direct contrast to the idea that every person has the potential to develop into a "Übermensch" in Nietzsche's sense. Neuhäuser's criticism of excessive wealth points to the need to create social structures that offer all people equal starting conditions for their personal and moral development.
This perspective adds a socio-critical dimension to the discussion of Nietzsche's "Übermensch" that is less explicit in Nietzsche's own writings. It emphasises that a just and egalitarian society, which enables the free development of the individual, is a prerequisite for the realisation of each individual's potential.
The inclusion of Neuhäuser's reflections on wealth as a moral problem in our discussion of human existence, oppression and individual self-overcoming shows how closely philosophical and social issues are linked. Dealing with these issues challenges us to critically scrutinise our personal convictions as well as social and economic structures. In this respect, the question of how we shape meaning and significance in a world characterised by individual and collective challenges remains a central concern of modern philosophy.
- Freud, Sigmund: „Das Unbehagen in der Kultur“ (1930)
- Camus, Albert: „Der Mythos von Sisyphos“ (1942)
- Sartre, Jean-Paul: „Das Sein und das Nichts“ (1943)
- Nietzsche, Friedrich: „Also sprach Zarathustra“ (1883-1885)
- Neuhäuser, Christian: „Reichtum als moralisches Problem“ (Suhrkamp 2018)