Hicks — Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand
satisfiable socially, what major policies of action are moral—and even about whether self-interest is the highest moral value.
A Nietzschean Sketch
God is Dead
For thousands of years humans have been religious, but in the modern world religion has become a shadow of its former self. Nietzsche’s dramatic phrase, God is dead, is meant to capture the personal and shocking quality of this revelation (GS, 108, 125). For those raised religiously, religion personalized the world. It gave them a sense that the world had a purpose and that they were part of a larger plan. It gave them the comfort that, despite appearances, we are all equal and cared for and that upon death—instead of a cold grave—a possible happily-ever-after ending awaits.
But in the modern world we find it hard to believe that anymore. We have seen the dramatic rise of science, which has offered less comfortable answers to questions religion traditionally had a monop- oly on. We have thrown off the shackles of feudalism with its unquestioning acceptance of authority and knowing our place. We are more individualistic and naturalistic in our thinking (GS, 117).
But in historical time all of this has happened very quickly—in the span of a few centuries. For millennia we have been religious, but come the nineteenth century even the average man has heard that religion may have reached the end of its journey. For most of us, even the suggestion of this hints at a crisis.
Imagine a thirteen-year old who is awakened in the middle of the night to be told by strangers that both his parents have died. He is suddenly an orphan. As long as he can remember his mother and father have been presences in his life, looking after him and guiding him, sometimes firmly, but always a benevolent protection and support in a world that he is not yet able to handle on his own. Now they are gone and ready or not he is thrust into that world alone. How does the young teen handle that sudden transition?
Culturally, Nietzsche says, we are like that young teen. For as long as we can remember our society has relied upon God the Father to look after us, to be a benevolent—and sometimes stern—guiding force through a difficult world. But now, suddenly, we are orphaned. We wake up one morning to discover in our heart of hearts that our