A Conversation Between Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche

Kant:     We will forever be grasping for the universal meaning of life.  A losing struggle since we can never know the thing-in-itself.  Our personal experience of reality is the only reality we will ever know, and that is not the same reality of someone else.  For those seeking the truth, the truth is that there is no truth.

Hegel:     You burden your mind Kant, you are excessively subjective and factual.  You need to lighten up and realize that the world gets better and better every day, and we can act … we are the collaborators of a shared, not yet revealed truth.  Truth is available to those who seek it, and as time progresses the more aware we become every day.

Kant:     You’re far too optimistic Hegel.  I agree that we desire truth, and we seek it, but a universal truth is not available in this world.  The plight of the self-conscious man is to find meaning in this unfinished world.  And this is a meaningless plight, since there is no collective meaning.  Alas, reality is an isolating phenomenon.

 Nietzsche:     What a load of crap!  Yes the world is unfinished Kant, and yes we desire to complete it, but complete it we can, can’t we Kant?   Life is art … mold it, sculpt it, paint it, will it as you will.  Will to power the art of life.   Find joy in the fact that we are our own gods; that we are the creators of meaning.

Kant:     Okay, Nietzsche, so we are the subjects and the objects.  But this creates contradictions and conflicts and moral chaos, since there is no connection between doing right and being happy.  And because we make our own cause and effect, I am disinclined to do what anyone else deems ‘right’.

Nietzsche:     We do indeed make cause and effect.  And you should be disinclined to let me tell you what is right or wrong.

Hegel:     Well put Nietzsche, but you are leaving out ethical reasoning.  Freedom and self-determination are real …

Kant:     But what is the point of free will and self-determination if we can’t know what is right or wrong, good or bad … if we can’t know the real world at all?  It’s an unsolvable riddle, a life of strife and contradiction.  We are bounded and burdened with a seeking mind trying to unite reason and experience, and yet we can never know things as they actually are.

Nietzsche:     You may accept being locked in to a world we can’t know, but I think we can animate the world for ourselves.  Nothing is absolute, so we are left to find meaning and value in life ourselves.  If you tell yourself life is beautiful, nature is beautiful, living is beautiful, then they are.  Frankly, I’m glad we do not all experience the world in the same way, or share the same Truth … that would be nonsense, that would be like a herd of sheep following the word of God.

Hegel:     No, no, no.  You’re both wrong.  And yet, there’s a smidge of rightness in your wrongness.  It is true we are full of weaknesses and contradictions, but there is a universal truth.  You need to move beyond the particular and toward the universal; beyond the finite to the infinite.

Nietzsche:     Who cares about the infinite when we can be here now?

Hegel:     Because, in moving toward becoming, rather than being, we find the universal meaning of life:  self-awareness.  Self-determination can lead to becoming aware of the opposing forces of the mind and spirit; becoming aware of weaknesses and negations.  The evolution of which will manifest itself in a combination of the being and non-being, it will resolve the contradictions you speak of, and the mind will externalize itself until it becomes one with the other-than-the-mind.  And this will result in God’s desire for complete self-awareness of man.

Nietzsche:  But God is dead!  What do I care what God or anyone else desires?

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