As I’ve been reading Nietzsche, I’ve wondered what Western Civilization would be like if his dad would have lived past Friedrich’s fifth birthday. Certain experiences have such profound influences on personality, like death, abuse, neglect, drugs, torture, rape, attempted genocide, molestation, messy divorce, adultery, betrayal, etc. What I think we know about Nietzsche was that he really loved his dad and missed him something fierce after his death. So much so, that I wonder at the influence it had on his seemingly negative attitudes and philosophy. Would he have comprehended The Twilight of the Idols? Would he merely have continued his course in theology and become a pastor? Would he have had such a negative view of women and “the rabble” if his father had been there to guide him? Not taking anything away from Nietzsche’s genius, but I’m getting at his motivation: I just wonder how much our philosophical milieu would be different because of that. Then, of course, that got me thinking about my life. Certain negative experiences I had growing up definitely affected my personality toward melancholy. My demeanor might not appear this way, because I truly enjoy being around people, but in my alone time, I drift toward the dark and despairing. I’m not predicting greatness in my future legacy, but I do think it gives me motivation in seeing things quite differently than my friends. Does that mean our outlooks are essentially determined by our experiences? No. I know some victims of atrocities who are quite well-adjusted. But they are the exception. I also perceive that the majority of people who haven’t dealt with much heartache live in a self-satisfied bubble, with no motivation to see things differently. Perhaps I’m just a whiner, lol. Could be. Just saying, experience profoundly affects perception, and thereby, what we produce.
A Big What If