CT Quadrants and “types of history” in Nietzsche and Heidegger

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  • Mitchell Newman
    • Type: NeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    I was reading today about Nietzsche’s view, I think also adopted by Heidegger, of 3 types of history (Nietzsche also adumbrated two more): https://epochemagazine.org/nietzsches-rift-heidegger-s-pathway-to-thinking-e0fc0febf09d (more background in this article and in their respective philosophies if you want to read it)

    As children, we have all emerged from the same unhistorical state that engulfs the grazing cattle. A child “plays in blissful blindness between the fences of the past and the future.” This state of being cannot last, for every individual must develop a historical sense. One “learns to understand the expression ‘It was’ that password with which struggle, suffering, and weariness come over human beings, so as to remind him what his existence basically is — a never completed past tense.”

    An excessive historical sense diminishes vitality, and inhibits “that force of growing in different ways out of oneself, of reshaping and incorporating the past and the foreign, of healing wounds, compensating for what has been lost, rebuilding shattered forms out of oneself.” At this juncture in Nietzsche’s career the solution to an excessive historical sense is for a person to remember the beast and the child within: to remember how to forget all “It was”, and to momentarily become unhistorical once again. “The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of a moment, forgetting everything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like a goddess of victory without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is.”

    For Nietzsche, we cannot permanently leave behind the historical sense. The development of this sense is part of the development of a person, but it can only be brought forth on the foundation of the unhistorical, and can only be made to serve life by remaining grounded in the unhistorical. For those able to maintain this balance “a glance into the past pushes them into the future, fires up their spirit to take up life for a longer time yet, kindles the hope that justice may still come and that happiness may sit behind the mountain towards which they are walking.”

    When an excess of the historical sense leads to becoming unchained from the unhistorical the result is the superhistorical: in which “the past and the present are one and the same, that is in all their multiplicity typically identical, and, as unchanging types everywhere present, they are a motionless picture of immutable values and eternally similar meanings.” The superhistorical sense turns not only the remembered occurrences of the past into concrete, reified objects, but also turns the future into an objective and necessary process, an inevitable progression towards a final state of Being. To combat this excess of the historical sense, Nietzsche introduces three different kinds of history, each of which are necessary for living when limited to their proper domains.

    “History belongs, above all, to the active and powerful man … who needs the exemplary men, teachers, and comforters and cannot find them among his contemporary companions [he] uses history as a way of fighting resignation”. Monumental history views all the great moments in history as a continuous range of mountains, a singular chain. The fact that such greatness has occurred in the past leads the active and striving person to believe that such greatness is possible to achieve yet again.

    However, it is the tendency of monumental history to “deceive through its analogies”; to understand every occurrence as similar to, as imitation or repetition of something else that came before. This can result in a selective reading of history: “large parts are forgotten, despised, and flow forth like an uninterrupted grey flood, and only a few embellished facts raise themselves above, like islands.” Monumental history also can give in to an excess in which the greatness of the past is used to deny any possible future greatness, and in so doing it no longer propels the individual forward — Greatness already happened, and that is all the greatness that we will ever need. “Let the dead bury the living”.

    It is against this excess that Nietzsche first discusses what will eventually become one of the most well known aspects of his thought, eternal recurrence. “Only if the Earth were always to begin its theatrical performance once again after the fifth act, if it were certain that the same knot of motives, the same deus ex machina, the same catastrophe returned in the same determined interval, could the powerful man desire monumental history in complete iconic truth.” Eternal recurrence is introduced as way of ensuring that a monumental view of history, which gathers the past into instances of greatness in order to propel the Willing individual forward, does not turn the past into mythic fiction and does not turn the future into an inevitable progression towards some final state.

    Absent a notion of eternal recurrence, monumental history needs two other views of the past in order to avoid these traps: a critical view of history, and an antiquarian view of history.

    Antiquarian history looks backwards with love and faith to preserve and honor what has come before. Thus, the historian “gives thanks for his existence”; for history is his own history, especially when it deals with the local history of a people or city. “The history of his city becomes for him the history of his own self.” Antiquarian history serves life by establishing a sense of rootedness to a home region and a set of traditions. It “keeps individuals … screwed tightly to these companions and surroundings, to this arduous daily routine, to these bare mountain ridges”, and, one might add, to a fertile river valley. By infusing the rugged individual with the sense of being “someone who has grown out of a past, as an heir, flower and fruit, and thus to have one’s existence excused, indeed justified.”

    Antiquarian history attempts to preserve and conserve the conditions that made possible the situation of the present day, “the conditions under which [the historian] came into existence for those who are to come after him”. In this attempt to preserve and conserve thankfully what has come to pass, the antiquarian sense “always has a highly restricted vision. It does not perceive most things at all, and the few things it does perceive it looks at far too closely and in isolation.”

    The danger of antiquarian history lies in too much reverence for what has come before, with too narrow a view to it; which creates an ideal model for living and anything past, present, or future which does not fit the model it rejects. Additionally, “antiquarian history knows only how to preserve life, not to generate it. Therefore, it always undervalues what is coming into being … Thus antiquarian history hinders the powerful willing of new things; it cripples the active man, who always … will and must set aside reverence”. Antiquarian history opposes progress, or change of any kind, unless it views that change as a return to older times.

    Critical history operates by “dragging the past before the court of justice, investigating it meticulously, and finally condemning it.” This kind of judgment and condemnation is always dangerous, it digs at one’s own roots, and rootedness, but it cannot completely break the chain that links oneself to the past, and so it creates a conflict between the old and the new. In fact, it reads the new values into its interpretation and judgment of history. “it is an attempt to give oneself, as it were, a past a posteriori, out of which we may be descended in opposition to the one in which we are descended.” The danger of critical history is the illusion that by condemning the past we have become free of it altogether.

    Nietzsche introduces 4 different points of view on history, which all emerge from a primeval unhistorical view, and from each point of view the world appears differently. From the superhistorical view the world appears objectified and determined, an eternal unchanging Being, this view of history arises from the human faculty of reason and rationality. From the monumental view of history the world appears as a great coming to be of what is not yet, or as Becoming, this view of history arises from the human faculty of the Will. From the antiquarian view of history the world appears as the pure presence of Being, a gathering of what was, and a reason to be thankful, it is from this point of view on history that Heidegger develops the human faculty of Thinking, which the tradition of Western Philosophy has thus far failed to recognize as separate from the faculty of reason.

    To develop the faculties of the Will and of Thinking Nietzsche and Heidegger both make use of a critical view of history, subjecting the past to harsh judgements, smashing idols, revealing new truths concerning how the modern world came to be. Heidegger, however, remains curiously uncritical of Nietzsche’s premise that the world is nothing but the will-to-power, and that therefore rationality is the will-to-power in action. Heidegger establishes a realm apart from the Will, a way of the world’s appearing that is not presented by the Will’s projections into a future. So, why should he still cling to the thesis that all is the will-to-power when he clearly makes the case that it is not?

    The main three types of history considered by these thinkers seem to be :

    Monumental History: Great people and achievement from the past act as agential landmarks in history that inspire us from the past and help tell us what we can achieve in the future, perhaps aspiring to such monuments ourself.

    Antiquarian History: The most conservative history, which preserves the past thankfully and is suspicious of significant deviations from it.

    Critical History: Which carefully examines history and, of course, criticizes it, which reinterprets past experiences and idols and makes way for a new mode of being in the future, holding to some other standard of “true north” than the past but potentially losing touch with it.

    These seem to correlate quite well with the quadrant in CT.  Monumental history reminds of Je, since it has the most sense of power and agency, and also seems closely connected with Antiquarian History (obviously Pi, especially Si, taking things more without such ambition and staying very well-paced and connected to the past) since these are the Conductor functions and take a lot of inspiration from the flow of time as oriented out of the past (and they work together well as Auburn has argued since they interfere minimally with each other).  And Critical History seems the most Ji, since its task is to criticize and scrutinze, and it forms idealisms that may diverge from history or common practical wisdom.

    Two other forms of history were mentioned there: Ahistorical (if it can be called a form of history), and Superhistorical.  The Ahistorical obviously relates to Pe, since it exists in real-time and it can enjoy itself, not losing its spontaneity and not be chained to past disappointments.  Nietzsche seems to really admire this, though even as a Pe myself I have a hard time living up to that (maybe it fits Se slightly better), though the correlation seems quite clear.  Nietzsche may have a rosy, over-romanticized view of this since Pe might have been more of an unconscious muse for him, which may be partly good and bad.  Superhistorical also seems to relate to Pi, but to a particular weighted down sense of it of being chained to a reified sense of the past which constrains one’s future vision, and it is something he sees as needing to be balanced out by the other three types of history that he proposes (not considering ahistorical which he seems to really admire and almost treat as a goal state).

    So to summarize:

    • Monumental History ~=~ Je
    • Antiquarian History ~=~ Pi
    • Critical History ~=~ Ji
    • Ahistorical ~=~ Pe

    As a caveat, of course the descriptoins of these kinds of history in the article may be quite unbalanced and make some seem superior to others, or less negative in some way.  However, it is easy to imagine how a greater symmetry between them could be achieved via the lens of a system like Cognitive Type (much cleaner than what someone like Nietzsche or Heidegger was working with to label less organized aspects of their conscious thoughts).  His descriptions of Ji and Pi seem more clunky and drab to me and the other two a little more put on a pedestal, but this is not intrinsically necessary.  Overall, I think this is pretty neat.

    It also gives me some further thoughts about Nietzsche and Heidegger.  I did not see Nietzsche typed yet, but he does seem stereotypically FeNi or NiFe in this system (the kind of guys people like Jordan Peterson love to draw upon).  I am still somewhat new to the system though, so it is possible that my sense of what stereotypes Nietzsche fits into is mistaken.  Starting with my fallible sense of this, I have a hard time deciding between the types I proposed (Vultology would certainly be helpful but we likely don’t have access to that for Nietzsche).

    Argument for FeNi: He seems quite critical and wary of excessive Pi focus, and seems to have a great sense of ambition and need to transform or alchemize the past into the will (which seems Je-ish) so as to escape from its clutches of revenge and nihilism (this may sound kind of vague but might make more sense if you read the article).  Nietzsche is very Faustian if you are familiar with Spengler, and very Business Logic if you are familiar with Humanitarian Socionics: he seems to be obsessed with how an “overman” can break out of the ravages of time, have totally come to terms with itself and its past, and rule over reality with strength and nobility and the everpresent “Will to Power”.

    Argument for NiFe: It may be that his criticisms of Pi are really just his more realistic refinement on it.  Moreover, his putting Pe on a pedestal through his love of an innocent ahistorical consciousness and being unburdened by the past may indicate its special significance for his (as a primary oscillation).  It was something he certainly could not easily achieve and we might become quite obsessed with our polar oscillation.

    Overall, his fiery sense of ambition seems more FeNi to me so I’m inclined to think that is more likely.  His philosophy is quite thirsty for life, seems to relate to the “power of the mind” of Fe, subsumes everything under the “biotic” will to power, and advocates for a Greek sort of nobility and honor that is reminiscent of Directive Fe.

    This picture appears to have “upset tension” to me: 

    However, my experience is quite limited, so please correct me if you wish.

    The article also provides an interesting lens into Heidegger from his lover Hannah Arendt, and it really seems to corroborate his suggested development levels in the current CT database NiFe I-I- (Ni and Ti as the primary differentiated conscious processes).

    In“Introduction to Metaphysics” Heidegger says that the fundamental question of metaphysics is “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing.” This is the question that drives “Being and Time”, and the route Heidegger takes towards an answer involves a phenomenology of the Will, “Questioning is willing-to-know. Whoever wills, whoever lays his whole Dasein into a will, is resolute … To will is to be resolute.” Heidegger’s early work follows Nietzsche’s investigation of the Will, and builds upon it. For Nietzsche, “the world is the will-to-power — and nothing besides!” Dasein stands in the resoluteness of his Will to question, holding himself out into the nothing that is beside willing, and the will-to-power. By the time we arrive at “What is Called Thinking” Heidegger has abandoned the perspective of Dasein and the arena of the Will as the proper location from which to question Being. In order to Think, our resoluteness instead must consist of a “will-not-to-will”. This is the core of Heidegger’s famous Turn, and we can locate one aspect of the Turn in Heidegger’s reaction to Nietzsche’s pathway towards freedom from the spirit of revenge. In fact, we can trace this aspect of the Turn to a precise moment in Heidegger’s teaching career: In the very middle of a series of lectures that became his four volume work titled “Nietzsche” Heidegger turns from Nietzsche’s biggest advocate to his most aggressive opponent. Nietzsche, the man who dedicated his life to fighting nihilism, becomes, for Heidegger, the biggest nihilist of them all, because he thinks of the Will not only psychologically but also metaphysically. Heidegger turns against Nietzsche’s metaphysics of the will-to-power, and, against his own phenomenology of the Will.

    With a turn of the head we can bring into focus things that were barely visible in the periphery of our vision, when we turn all the way around we see the whole world that was behind us. At the same time, however, we turn away from what we were looking at, it instead enters a blind spot. Every change of focus is at the same time a becoming blind, the closer in that one focuses the more of the world that becomes out of focus. If the change in Heidegger’s philosophy between his early and late periods can be described as a Turn, might not this Turn away from Willing and towards Thinking also possess an element of turning blind?

    To develop the faculties of the Will and of Thinking Nietzsche and Heidegger both make use of a critical view of history, subjecting the past to harsh judgements, smashing idols, revealing new truths concerning how the modern world came to be. Heidegger, however, remains curiously uncritical of Nietzsche’s premise that the world is nothing but the will-to-power, and that therefore rationality is the will-to-power in action. Heidegger establishes a realm apart from the Will, a way of the world’s appearing that is not presented by the Will’s projections into a future. So, why should he still cling to the thesis that all is the will-to-power when he clearly makes the case that it is not?

    Furthermore, how do we escape from our own mental faculties when they are responsible for every instance of experience? How does Thinking reassure us against the realization of our own eventual mortality so much that we no longer need to Will at all, except to will-not-to-will? Heidegger never addresses these questions, he never even conceives that one might pass back and forth through the rift in thought, Thinking one moment, Willing the next, using reason in another, and finally engaging in Judgment, before forgetting it all and laying oneself down on the crest of the moment. Nietzsche clearly imagined this shift in perspective as a necessary component of being the kind of living being who remembers the past, and realizes that there is a future. Even in Nietzsche’s later writings where he makes the claim that the will-to-power is the singular faculty responsible for experience there are multiple possible points of view from which the world appears differently, specifically rationality and the Will; that he never imagined the faculty of Thinking in no way collapses these distinctions, as Heidegger claims. Does it not cover up the rift in thought to demand that we never Will again, except to will-not-to-will? Furthermore, is this not exactly what Nietzsche described as the excess of antiquarian history, that the historian becomes so fixated upon thankfully preserving what has come to pass that he then devalues what is coming to be and actively inhibits the powerful willing of new things?

    In “The Life of the Mind” Hannah Arendt talks about Heidegger’s changing attitude towards Nietzsche and towards the Will. “In Heidegger’s understanding, the will to rule and dominate is a kind of original sin, of which he found himself guilty when he tried to come to terms with his brief past in the Nazi movement.” He begins to think of Willing only as commanding, and “the concept of the Will indeed loses the biological characteristics that play such an important role in Nietzsche’s understanding of the Will as a mere symptom of the life instinct.” As such, Heidegger’s repudiation of the Will is “a denunciation of the instinct for self-preservation.”

    For Arendt, the history of Western Philosophy has conceived of an opposition between Thinking and Willing since the days of Parmenides and Heraclitus, and the opposition of Nietzsche and Heidegger’s work falls directly in line with this history, each representing in modern times one of these ancient thinkers’ points of view. Although partially realized by a young Nietzsche who described these faculties as historical points of view, Arendt was the first philosopher to see that this opposition is the result of different mental faculties with different points of view upon the world. The opposition between Thinking and Willing itself arises from the nature of humanity’s mental processes, all of which together constitute the life of the mind. However, Willing is not just a mental activity, but a driving force behind all activity, from political activity to the formation of the self — the creation of character as Nietzsche would say. As triumphant as Heidegger’s exposition of the faculty of Thinking is, his repudiation of the Will would leave one less than fully human…

    How this looks to me from the perspective of CT: It seems that Heidegger made a muse of Nietzsche’s ideas of the will to power at first.  In the process of being so inspired by Nietzsche philosophy of the will, he came to support the Nazi partly (perhaps only briefly), and he eventually came to greatly regret this (albeit privately) saying it was “the greatest stupidity of his life”.  Hitler and Nazis of course took great inspiration from Nietzsche, although many scholars think quite erroneously.  E.g. Spengler who was very well-versed in Nietzschean philosophy was asked by Hitler to be the historian of the party at one point, but he considered the Nazis infantile even before they had done much harm (and Nietzsche himself was a fierce critic of pre-war Germany).  Thus, in being drawn into the Nazi party in this way, Heidegger’s understanding of Nietzsche seems to have been somewhat mythological.  Due to the possible trauma from this, the muse that Nietzsche’s will used to be for him became a kind of “demon”, an “original sin” in the words of his Jewish lover Hannah Arendt.  Instead he “turned” to a direction that placed a more esoteric sort of “thinking” above the will, involving a will-not-to-will, which sounds something like a “zen of life” and something with more restraint and ideals about what the essence of true thinking is.  Surely this involves sophisticated Ti usage and many scholars and philosophers still think very highly of Heidegger; there is probably a lot of value to his work.  Nonetheless, this oscillation never seems to have come to terms with Nietzsche’s ideas about the will and the Fe behind that; it seems to have fallen to overly extreme positions on both sides at different stages of his life.  At the very least, that’s the case that Justin Richards wants to make, and I’m sure many others would make a similar case since it appears pretty straightforward.

    However much these scholarly issues can be disputed, it is already a fascinating window into the types and development of these people.  It might even be a window unto how the types INTERACT, which is an aspect this theory hasn’t focused as much attention on (though it seems quite ripe for potential so it’s hardly contradictory with the theory).  The ever-Faustian Nietzsche (in a Spenglerian sense) says it best of all, framing it in terms of the concept of “confession”:

    It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy up till now has consisted of – namely, the confession of its originator, and a species of involuntary and unconscious autobiography; and moreover that the moral (or immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always grown. – Nietzsche

    Which relates directly to our types, the way that we think and perceive, our development, and the personal problems we most struggled with in this life.

    • Type: NeTi
    • Development: ll-l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    Reading this post was lovely ^^. I’ve read close to the entirety of Nietzsche’s writings (the English translations unfortunately), and it was very formative for me as a teenager. Heidegger’s work by comparison always felt laborious to me; it lacked vitality and Being and Time always appeared to me like the author was most concerned with fighting phantom foes he had invented in order to reveal some essence or distinction he had already determined, but felt an overwhelming desire to try and prove. Of course I have little to no interest in formal Western philosophy, so I’m sure there are better-informed opinions that have come to much different conclusions.

    One thing I would caution is that using Nietzsche’s most common and iconic photos when typing him is in my view a dubious practice; in his most famous pictures his mind was already tragically deteriorated, and the sister he despised posed what was essentially a mindless body for publicity photos: a terribly shameful ruse. I need to look it up again, but I read quite an interesting medical analysis that matched the most modern evidence of a certain illness to the historical records of Nietzsche’s deterioration and it was quite convincing (and it was not Syphilis, as the myth goes). I’m also quite certain Nietzsche would have detested the Nazi Party for its rigidity and intellectual stupidity, and for its moblike, scapegoat-eager brand of nationalism. Unfortunately his sister was a supporter of the Party, and pushed for Nietzsche’s posthumous adoption while she was alive.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Rua.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Rua.
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