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Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: God is dead
by Dr Roy Jackson
In The Gay Science, published in 1882, Nietzsche introduces the character of a ‘madman’ who enters a busy market place and asks, ‘Where is God?’ The madman is mocked by the people in the market, which causes him to say, ‘We have killed him, you and I.’ What Nietzsche means when the madman says we have killed God is not that God is literally dead, but that our belief or need for God is dead. The so-called ‘madman’ is only seen as mad by the common people, but for Nietzsche he represents the philosopher – such as Nietzsche himself – who realizes that we no longer truly believe in God and that we must urgently face the consequences of this moral and spiritual gap in our lives. With the death of God, mankind is looking for something to replace Him, and Nietzsche’s writings are littered with criticisms of these new replacements, including scepticism, nihilism, feminism, democracy, utilitarianism and scientific positivism. Although Nietzsche is also critical of religion, it is more the modern condition, or ‘modernity’, that he finds unsatisfactory. In fact, Nietzsche – rather like the madman – was in many ways sincerely religious and spiritual, for religion can provide a vision and meaning to life. But the people of Nietzsche’s time have replaced God with a faith in science or other modern ‘-isms’ which fail to provide us with the same kind of meaning. Nietzsche’s spirituality calls for a rebirth, for an appreciation of earthly life and nature, represented by the Greek god Dionysus.
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Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault’s personal life
Michel Foucault was born in Poitiers, France, in 1926. His father was a doctor, and the Foucault family were, in material terms, secure and had a fairly comfortable middle class existence.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and knowledge
Foucault was not simply interested in the way knowledge in different subject areas accumulated throughout history, and changed during different historical periods, but in the mechanisms by which this happened.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and power
Foucault was very interested in the way in which power and authority was exercised in the world. He investigated the power exercised by institutions, organizations and the state, and in particular the way in which this affected the lives of ordinary people.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and politics
In general terms, Foucault appeared to have some reluctance to be a member of an organization such as a political party, which implicitly required him to have a specific ideological view about certain subjects.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and punishment
Foucault was very interested in the way in which punishment had changed in different historical periods. He particularly compared and contrasted the type of institutionalized punishment that had existed in the early eighteenth century with that which developed in the modern era.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and the Panopticon
The Panopticon was an architectural design for a prison. It was developed initially by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) in the late eighteenth century.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Madness and civilization (Foucault)
Foucault noted that the contemporary use of the term ‘insane’ describes people in a number of different categories, ranging from those who have committed extremely violent acts to those whose behaviour might simply be described as eccentric.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and institutions
Foucault devoted considerable time to researching the impact of institutions on society and the lives of individuals. He was interested in the power and influence that they exerted, and also in the fact that some people simply could not avail themselves of the services provided by institutions because they could not understand the systems within which they operated.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault and sexuality
Foucault’s work on sexuality parallels, in a sense, his research on knowledge. He was rather less interested in themes such as the simple history of sexuality, and more in the process by which human beings think of themselves in sexual terms.
Foucault - The Key Ideas: Foucault’s legacy
It is worthwhile considering the reasons for Foucault remaining one of the most cited academics within the social sciences. First of all, his writing and scholarship was so diverse that it is very difficult to place him within a particular school of thought.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Confession
Confession is one of the seven sacraments of Catholicism. It is also known as penance, the sacrament of conversion, or more commonly by its modern name, reconciliation. It affords Catholics an opportunity to confess their sins to a priest and receive absolution. Sins can be either ‘mortal’ – the more serious – or ‘venial’ – the everyday. Confession of venial sins is recommended but not obligatory.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, Christianity teaches, was born of a virgin mother, Mary, in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and only began his public life of teaching and healing in AD 30. Three years later he was crucified. He was, according to the Churches, the Son of God, and three days after his death rose from the dead before ascending into heaven.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Mass
The Catholic Church obliges its members to attend Mass on Sundays. They can go instead on the previous (i.e. Saturday) evening. Exceptions are made in cases of serious illness or heavy responsibility for child care, particularly of infants, but absence otherwise is regarded as a grave sin. Despite this, statistics for many hitherto staunchly Catholic countries in the developed world (for example, Ireland) in recent years have shown a fall in the numbers attending Mass every Sunday without fail.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Monks and Nuns
Religious orders – for men and women – have been part of Catholicism since the third century. Members live in communities, based on the model of Jesus and his Apostles. Saint Antony (251–356) is regarded by Catholicism as the founder of monasticism. He gathered like-minded individuals to join loose-knit communities of hermits in the Egyptian desert.
Sikhism - An Introduction: The Pope
An aspect of Catholicism that sets it apart from the rest of Christianity is its loyalty to the papacy. Catholics believe that the Pope in Rome stands in a direct line back to the Apostle Peter and therefore has unparalleled spiritual and teaching authority. In certain matters of faith and morals popes can speak infallibly – without error.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Prayer
All religions have their prayers, ceremonies and rites of passage. Their purpose is to forge a link between humankind and the gods, to provide a forum for spiritual exploration, and to remind individual believers that they are part of something bigger than themselves, both in their own times, and throughout history.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Priests
To become a Catholic priest, you have to be male and willing to live a celibate life after ordination. Study for the priesthood is undertaken in a seminary, either in the local diocese, under the control of the local bishop, or elsewhere. Some candidates, especially those considered to have great academic potential, are sent to study in Rome. The basic training takes six years and includes time spent in parishes and learning by working alongside older priests.
Catholicism - An Introduction: Transubstantiation
Catholics differ from other Christians in their belief in transubstantiation: that, at the moment of consecration of the bread and wine during the celebration of the Eucharist (Holy Communion), Jesus’s body and blood are present in more than a symbolic way.
Catholicism - An Introduction: The Vatican
When Christianity achieved official recognition from the Roman Empire in the fourth century, a basilica was built in memory of the first Pope, Saint Peter, on the spot where he had been executed. A century later, a papal palace was added. These sites form the core of what is now known as the Vatican.
Catholicism - An Introduction: The Virgin Mary
Jesus’s mother, Mary, features only briefly in the gospel accounts of his life, yet she has become the object of special veneration in Catholicism. She has been exalted by leading theologians since Saint Irenæus, bishop of Lyons in France in the second century.
Sikhism - An Introduction: The Guru Granth Sahib
This collection of hymns or shabads is the main scripture of the Sikhs and the focus of their worship. Printed versions are commonly used nowadays and are 1430 pages in length.
Sikhism - An Introduction: Gurdwaras
Strictly speaking a gurdwara is any place where a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib has been formally installed. It may be a room in a private house, often described as Babaji’s room.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Apollo and Dionysus
Nietzsche’s first major work was The Birth of Tragedy, published in 1871. At the time of writing, Nietzsche was still under the influence of the German composer Richard Wagner (1813–83) and his writings on the importance of art and nature. Wagner argued that art, especially music, can perform the same function as religion as it expresses the essence of nature.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: The will to power
The concept of the will to power is one of Nietzsche’s most famous contributions to the philosophical tradition, and yet it is a notoriously difficult concept to interpret. The main reason for this difficulty is that Nietzsche, like so much of his thought, is never particularly explicit in his account of the doctrine.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: The Superman
In the prologue to Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885), the proclamation is made that the Superman is on his way. In The Gay Science (1882), Nietzsche talks of the Superman with reference to gods and heroes.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Morality
For Nietzsche, the term ‘morality’ does not refer to a specific set of values that are out there to be ‘discovered’. Rather, morality has a genealogy, a history, and this differs depending upon a particular time, culture and its traditions.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Perspectivism
Nietzsche adopted a view of knowledge that is referred to as perspectivsm which, essentially, argues that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge that is independent of our perspective.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Eternal recurrence
In The Gay Science (1882), Nietzsche presents a ‘what if’ image. He asks what if a demon were to creep up to you one night when you are all alone and feeling lonely and were to say to you that the life you have lived and continue to live will be the same life you will live again and again for infinity.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Nietzsche and politics
There is considerable debate in academic circles over whether Nietzsche really subscribed to any political views.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Nietzsche's legacy
Nietzsche has been hugely influential since his death. He was referred to as the ‘Nazi philosopher’, but this was due to the propagandist methods of his sister Elisabeth, and Nietzsche himself would have been horrified to be associated with Nazism.
Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Nietzsche's life
Nietzsche was born on 15 October 1844 in Röcken, which is a municipality in the district of Burgenlandkreis in Saxony-Anhalt in Germany. When he went to university in 1864 to do philology (the study of language and literature) and theology he had already ceased to believe in the existence of God and he soon abandoned the study of theology altogether.
Sikhism - An Introduction: Guru Nanak
In 1469 CE the first Sikh Guru was born to a khatri, Kalu Bedi, and his wife Tripata in the Punjabi village of Talwandi (Talvandi). Nanaki, his only sister, is said to have been the first person to believe in his vocation. He and his wife Sulakhani had two sons named Lakshmi Das and Sri Chand.
Sikhism - An Introduction: The Golden Temple
The name Golden Temple, attributed by the British, is a translation of Suvaran Mandir and refers to the Harimandir Sahib, or Divine Temple of God – a three-storey structure situated in the middle of an artificial lake, surrounded by other buildings.
Sikhism - An Introduction: Gurpurbs
All times should be regarded as the same by Sikhs who do not have a weekly holy day or believe in auspicious seasons. However, they do remember and celebrate certain events in their history, especially those related to their Gurus. These are called gurpurbs.
Sikhism - An Introduction: The turban
The turban is probably the article of dress most associated with Sikhs yet it is not unique to them and was not required to be worn by them until Guru Gobind Singh formed the community of the Khalsa in 1699.
Sikhism - An Introduction: Sikh communities
Sikhs are to be found in almost every country of the world. From the earliest times they have been migrants within the vast subcontinent of India despite linguistic, cultural and religious difficulties.
Sikhism - An Introduction: God
Belief in the oneness of God is the major Sikh belief, accompanied by the requirement to respect and care for one’s fellow human being. Sikhism is a prime example of ethical monotheism.
Sikhism - An Introduction: Khalsa
At Baisakhi (New Year’s Day) 1699 Guru Gobind Singh summoned his Sikhs to meet him at a village near the present day town of Anandpur Sahib. There he announced his intention of installing a new order of Sikhs, the Khalsa.
Sikhism - An Introduction: India
Traditionally the name India has applied to the land between the Khyber Pass and the Bay of Calcutta, the Himalayas and the areas bordering the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
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