Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy

D’Souza is a Christian, and while debating Daniel Dennett at Tufts University, he brings up Nietzsche’s argument that God is dead.   From the depths of Nietzsche’s thinking, D’Souza argues he was able to see the coming crisis in Europe; that Europeans could no longer base their lives upon defunct Christian metaphysics without radically and creatively developing new thinking from the ground up.  Nietzsche also supposed that few if any would heed his call and realize the depth of this crisis, and so would likely lumber into the tremendously violent conflicts of the 20th century.

D’Souza then charges Dennett with a similarly shallow approach; over-simplyfying the metaphysical depths of Christianity from the relatively stable position of present day scientific analysis (which, as D’Souza’s argument suggests, grew out of Christianity itself).

D’Souza is a Christian, as mentioned, and Dennett not.   Nietzsche would probably have not thought much about either a 20th century man still resting upon a belief in God…nor a 20th century man analyzing such a belief from an understanding of science (as a philosopher, Dennett, with a background in science).  Nietzsche, of course, was almost entirely ignorant of science.

You might have to come up with more than that to get to Dennett.

Good debate.  Argument starts at 5:30:

See AlsoA Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom:  The Nietzsche Connection

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

6 thoughts on “Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy

  1. Thanks for reading.

    He’s still with us in deeper ways too; for better or worse. I don’t think D’Souza really wanted to think too hard about his own argument; which is one reason I think Dennett won the debate.

  2. Nietzsche was actually very knowledgeable about science. See Babich, Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Science; Small, Nietzsche in Context; Moore, Nietzsche and Biology; Moore and Brobjer, Nietzsche and Science, etc… Such ignorance….

  3. Tracy, thanks for reading and commenting.

    I take it you mean “such ignorance…” on my part.

    If you can point me to any Nietzschean contribution to the mathematical sciences, the natural laws of our universe, or even any sustained debate or schooling that Nietzsche had in the sciences, mathematics, physics, engineering, or even the epistemology of science then I’d be happy to listen. It’s possible that in the books you’ve mentioned above (through Ernst Mach?) he had read a philosopher wrestling with the epistemology of science.

    If you mean that people have written books about Nietzsche’s philosophical naturalism, the eternal recurrence etc. and done scholarship on Nietzsche, and in their works placed him in other contexts.. then that’s quite different.

    Such ignorance indeed.

  4. “If you can point me to any Nietzschean contribution to the mathematical sciences, the natural laws of our universe..”
    Nietzsche was a philosopher, not a scientist. that doesn’t make him ignorant of science though.(is Dennett ignorant of science just because he’s a philosopher?) but what you’ve said makes you ignorant of Nietzsche. :)) see the works suggested by Tracy

  5. Being a philosopher does not equal being ignorant of science, but trying to comment knowledgeably on the epistemology of science which such a paltry background in the sciences as Nietzsche had (from the works by Strong, Moore & Brobjer I’ve perused…it’s good to know that Nietzsche adopted Boscovich’s mathematical theory of atoms into a theory of sensations) strikes me as more a scholarly enterprise than anything.

    Someone in a calc course in high school would learn more than Nietzsche perhaps knew. This is a problem philosophy has for itself, but Nietzsche is an extreme, and almost comical example. His boundaries certainly aren’t necessary for anyone interested in how the world actually is through our best knowledge of the world (to which philosophers still have not offered sufficient proof of its existence).

    Note the lack of scientists integrating Nietzsche’s philosophical naturalism, eternal recurrence…etc into the sciences. They simply don’t need to. Note that Nietzsche scholars seem to need to hang Nietzsche’s ideas onto the sciences (as Nietzsche mostly failed to do). Note that they are primarily into the philosophy of music, aesthetics literature etc. IT doesn’t mean we need to maintain a haggard art/science debate, nor continental/analytic one either, but note that Nietzsche scholars are quite Continental.

    What if Nietzsche doesn’t successfully offer a reasonable understanding of the problems of the Enlightenment, but is simply rather a product of it, who didn’t get around (or even near) the better thinkers of the times?

    At least he had the courage to follow his thinking where it led him.

Leave a Reply