By Richard Schmitt
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Extra resources for Alienation And Freedom
We have invented happiness” say the last men and they blink. (Nietzsche 1954:129–130) All of this is familiar. The alienated seek pleasure above all, and pleasure for them means living in a crowd, getting along, avoiding stress, effort, conﬂict. A caricature, to be sure, but one that captures familiar traits of everyday life in our world. Here there are no life projects; there is little in life that is terribly important beyond being comfortable. Everyone is the same; there is no individuality, no self.
Accidental conditions, not under our control, determine whether we ﬁnd pleasure or not (see the section titled “Faint Friendships, Tepid Love” in Chapter 4). Whether we reach our goal of ﬁnding pleasure is not up to us because fortuitous external conditions, which we do not control, decide that for us. In the pursuit of pleasure, we limit our autonomy because we place ourselves at the mercy of contingent events that decide whether pleasures will be ours or not (Kierkegaard 1959, vol. II:184). Pleasures come and go; hardship is a part of every life.
His bodily needs for food or sleep do not hold him back; Zarathustra is free. Others are debilitated by every mishap; even in good times their anxious anticipations of disasters prevent them from living exuberantly and going their own way. They cannot stand to be disapproved of; the slightest hint of criticism will have them running to change their ways for fear of ﬁnding themselves alone or ridiculed. Such are the “last men” who have long given up any hope for living lives of their own, who have no past and never think about the future.