Philosophy Essays By James Chester 
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Abstract of Content

Welcome to PublicAppeal dot org.

My name is James Chester. I am a philosopher, and PublicAppeal is my web site, which I use to show my work.

The work you are about to see is a continuation of the work done during the nineteenth century by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which was itself a continuation or perhaps a resumption of the work done by the ancient Greeks, beginning with Thales in the seventh century before Christ. Thus, in order to understand my work, it might help to understand its history, which I will now provide you in the following concise narrative.

Thousands of years ago, Greek philosophers set out to understand the fundamental process by which Nature did its work in all its domain amongst the stars, within all living things here on this Earth, and deep within the heart and mind of Man. Their goal was to find the singular and irreducible force of Nature that drove the process by which all things come into being and, just as importantly, pass away. Their conclusions laid the foundation upon which Occidental thought began to develop, and it is upon those same conclusions that Occidental thought makes its way today.

With regard to the process of life that plays out within the human soul, when a man suffers, they wondered, he loses his Self, his sense of being. How, then, is human being reclaimed from the inner chaos of thought and passion into which it disintegrates through suffering? It is important to understand this process of ascension because suffering seems to have an irreversible effect upon Man. While there are numerous instances of life regenerating itself after catastrophe, such as we see in reptiles and amphibians, plants, and even the human body itself, our soul suffers forever. Rarely does a man who has been plunged into wrenching and intractable torment emerge from that abyss to speak of its depth and his travail. And never has a man arisen to reveal the meaning of his Fall, his suffering. Indeed, the process of growth that plays out within the human soul is a mystery. We have no idea what is meant to come from our suffering, nor do we have any idea in which direction to take our first step. We don't even know how to lift our foot and take that first step. All we know is how to suffer, and man knows suffering better than any other animal.

So deep is this mystery of the life process that its resolution required not one but several philosophers, spanning many generations, beginning with Thales in the seventh century B. C. and ending with Aristotle three centuries later. In the end, when there was no one left to keep the converse going, though different philosophers proffered different explanations, the following conclusions became dogma:

  • human being is eternally existent, neither created nor destroyed,
  • suffering draws man away from his Self,
  • human being exists quite apart from the body,
  • human being that has been destroyed through suffering may be restored through thought and contemplation,
  • a desire for happiness assists this process of contemplation significantly.

These conclusions regarding the process of life that plays out within the heart and mind of Man contrasted starkly with what some of the earlier Greek philosophers had thought about life. Some of them, specifically Thales and Heracleitus, believed that nothing possessed true being, that everything which came into being also passed away. They taught a philosophy that valued the whole process (in which creation and disintegration played equally significant roles) much more than the state of complacent being that suffering man so mightily desires as a way out of the chaos into which suffering relegates him. And it was around their time that the Greeks began to write dramatic tragedies, the first the world had ever seen. With their tragedies, the earliest Greeks had taught the lesson that pain, suffering and passing away is just as important in life as complacence, joy, and Self-realization. This was not at all what Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle had taught, and what they taught is what we have practiced for thousands of years. Consequently, life has become an experience in which suffering plays no role and has no meaning. Indeed, suffering has become the bane of human existence. Suffering, more than anything else, undermines the value of life and compels Man to devalue its undertaking. Indeed, for Western man, suffering has no value in life.

During the late nineteenth century, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche undertook a critical examination of the original inquiry that the early Greeks had conducted into the process of life, from beginning to end, and he discovered an error made by Parmenides, upon whose work Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato had premised their work. Nietzsche then went on to develop a theory of life that is driven by a mythotropic will to power, not a desire for happiness. It is the first metaphysica to render human suffering meaningful and worthwhile, inasmuch as it explains suffering as a gateway through which the limits of human being are extended, leading to supra-individuated being, what we commonly call "genius." Thus, according to Nietzsche, the meaning of life, that which humanity produces through the process of growth that we call life, is the genius, the extraordinary human being whose unbounded reach and draw justify all the suffering that must be endured and redeemed in his creation.

In addition to presenting the world with a new theory of life, Nietzsche also presented a new theory of tragedy. The earliest Greeks, who were the first in the world to dramatise tragedy and found pleasure and meaning in its occurrence, had lived a life that included disintegration and growth equally, not just growth. With their all-inclusive philosophy, they produced a progeny of genii the likes of which no culture since has even approached. There was something very important to be understood in the ancient Greek affirmation of tragedy, but no one could uncover it. Aristotle made an attempt but failed, reducing the phenomenon to the mere catharsis of pity and terror, primarily a theatrical phenomenon. Placing tragedy upon the stage added nothing to our understanding of the process of life that plays out within the heart and mind of man, which is the higher objective. Two thousand years later, Nietzsche made his own attempt and found the tragic phenomenon in the collapse of the Ego, primarily a spiritual phenomenon, which leads the individual to a reunion with his innermost Self and an affirmation as well of the long-buried suffering from which his Ego has previously protected him. Most importantly, Nietzsche showed that tragedy brings the first hope for salvation and redemption.

Beyond all of these extraordinary and historic achievements, Nietzsche then re-invented the dithyrambic drama, which is the art form in which the early Greeks had composed their dramatic tragedies, and proceeded to write a dithyrambic tragedy, the first in more than two thousand years. It is called Thus Spoke Zarathustra. When he finished it, he succumbed to the final stage of a cerebral disease, without ever writing a word about how to read a dithyramb, which is composed entirely in metaphor, or how to practice his new form of drama, about which the world knew nothing. It was at that point that my work began. I started in 1969, when I was seventeen years old.

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