Nietzsche and the Problem of God

Dissertation, Depaul University (1986)
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Abstract

Nietzsche is usually presumed to be an atheist because of his proclaimation that God is dead. This dissertation argues, however, that the death of God is not atheistic but theistic, for Nietzsche's concept of Dionysus, Will to Power itself, entails an implicit commitment to theism. ;Chapter One indicates the enigmatic and nuanced quality of Nietzsche's style. Nietzsche wears masks. In order to decipher these masks with respect to the problem of God, six criteria of the traditional theistic understanding of God are established. These six criteria are: Dionysus is eternal. He is the creative source of the world and man. The world and man exemplify the presence of Dionysus and yet they are not exhaustive of Him. Therefore Dionysus, as more than the world, can be spoken of as "other" than man and the world. This "otherness" entails a relationship between Dionysus and man/world. This relationship is not determinative of Dionysus. Man and world are an experiment on Dionysus' behalf; one that may "terminate," although Dionysus himself will not. ;Chapter Two sets out to formulate and expound upon the first four criteria of theism. This sets down the basic ontology. ;Chapter Three sets forth the problem of nihilism. Nihilism is the result of the death of God. ;Chapter Four discusses the relation of nihilism to morality. For Nietzsche, the moralization of life, and in particular the moralization of God, has led to God's death. Thus this chapter indicates the fifth criterion of theism, i.e., man's relation to God. ;Chapter Five sets out to decode hermeneutically the various masks that Nietzsche wears in reference to the problem of atheism. This chapter demonstrates how Nietzsche's own overt atheistic statements are proclaimations of iconotrophy, not godlessness. ;Chapter Six explicates Nietzsche's positive philosophy of God. This philosophy of God is formulated in terms of The Text of the Divine, God as Non-evaluatable, God and Eschatology, God and the Problem of Causality. Accordingly, this chapter deliniates the sixth criterion of theism, i.e., God's relationship to man

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