Baha'i Writings and Nietzsche’s philosophy share a surprising number of features in common that allow us to re-vision Nietzsche from a new perspective. Both analyze reality in Aristotelian terms: actuality/potential; essence/attribute, matter/form, etc.
First printed in Lights of Irfan vol. 17, but that version was missing footnotes.
published in Lights of Irfan, 18, pages 351-424 Wilmette: Haj Mehdi Arjmand Colloquium, 2017
Abstract: First appearances to the contrary, the Baha’i Writings and Nietzsche’s philosophy share a surprising number of features in common that allow Baha’is to re-vision Nietzsche from a new perspective. The basis of this re-visioning are the Aristotelian elements in the Writings which I have documented in a previous paper and similar elements underlying the works of Nietzsche who calls on man to “become what he is,” i.e. to actualize his potential to become an Uebermensch. In other words, both the Writings and Nietzsche analyze reality in Aristotelian terms: actuality and potential; essence/substance and attribute; matter and form; essential and accidental as well as causality. Both have a dynamic understanding of reality and both see human life as a process towards a new and superior form of mankind, i.e. as a quest for greater actualization of our powers. Viewed from a Baha’i perspective, being “beyond good and evil” also takes on a new meaning. Interestingly enough, the Baha’i Writings offer a way to interpret the “will to power” in a way that resolves various contradictory understandings. They also agree on the need for ‘superior individuals’ – called ‘Manifestations’ by the Writings – to guide humankind. Of course, there are significant differences between the Writings and Nietzsche, the most obviously being Nietzsche’s sometimes hysterical tone in which he reaches rhetorical excesses that seem to lead his thinking into absurdity. One of these is the “eternal recurrence” which not only contradicts the whole tenor of his philosophy but also is negated by the second law of thermodynamics of which Nietzsche was aware.