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The Outsider

Colin Wilson

Buy this book at Amazon.com or try Amazon.co.uk in England, Amazon.ca in Canada, Amazon.de in Germany, Amazon.fr in France, Amazon.it in Italy, Amazon.es in Spain. ASIN=0874772060, Category: Philosophy, Language: E, cover: ???, pages: 1956 Zu Facebook hinzufügen Zu Twitter hinzufügen Zu Delicious hinzufügen Zu Google +1 hinzufügen Zu Google hinzufügen Zu Mister Wong hinzufügen

See a newer edition of the same book.

This was the author's first book, which he published in 1956 at age 24 and it was translated in more than 20 languages. He wrote more than 100 other books since todate; many of them fictions. a quote from colin wilson "outsider" 1954, page 4/5:

"... the inability to grasp the essence of sexuality becomes the symbol of our inability to grasp the essence of anything important - of Autumn, of water ... This, it seemed to me, is the basic difference between human beings. Some are perfectly satisfied with what they have; they eat, drink, imgregnate their wives, and take life as it comes. Others can never forget that they are being cheated; that life tempts them to struggle by offering them the essence of sex, of beauty, of success; and that she always seems to pay with counterfeit money."

What Colin thinks was the Blakeian view (p240):

"Harmony is an ultimate aim, but not the primary aim, of life; the primary aim is to live more abundantly at any cost. Harmony can come later. heaven-after-death is irrelevant. the way lies forward, into more life. Ever further into guilt, ever deeper into human life, exile, purgation. Life itself is an exile. The way home is not the way back."

"Heaven-after-death is irrelevant", but that said epicur already 2000 years before Blake.

"We waste too much time with getting and spending"

"Most people are not living. they are only drifting."

There is a recent interview with Colin Wilson www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/wilsonat70.htm (now dead; last available snapshot: https://web.archive.org/web/20080515000000*/http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/wilsonat70.htm) and a postscript to the Asean edition of "the Outsider" available at www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/postscripts.htm (now dead; last available snapshot: https://web.archive.org/web/20080505001853/http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/postscripts.htm)

Colin Wilson bibliography with short description of each book: www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/cwbib.html (now dead; last available snapshot: https://web.archive.org/web/20080704003822/http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/cwbib.html)

The Colin Wilson page by Geoff Ward www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/cwilson.html (now dead; last snapshot: https://web.archive.org/web/20080702004536/http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbmorgan/cwilson.html refers to http://colinwilsonworld.co.uk (dead server, when last checked in 18-Jan-2016))
contains more links.

Some Tribulations About Friedrich Nietzsche

Copyright © (2016) by IBS

The following is personal communication (10-Aug-2002) and to be considered lightly — you are free to disagree — "we are not paid for being right!"

1. Colin Wilson writes about Friedrich Nietzsche (FN) in "the outsider" on pages 121 to 146 but also quotes him in many other places.

I do not want to write another biography of FN nor could I write a summary of FN's work, but I want to give you a short summary of what CW writes about FN, so that maybe you could judge if CW (and FN) is worth reading (contains some quotes from the pages 121 to 146):

CW writes that most of books on FN that he knew are either misinformed, or unfair; the major exception being Daniel Halevy's biography.

[Guess CW hadn't read the challenging book Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom by Rudolf Steiner (german original Friedrich Nietzsche, ein Kämpfer gegen seine Zeit) which CW should have read being the author of "Rudolf Steiner: The Man and His Vision" (1985). Though CW quotes RS often in his other books, this book is obviously based on a narrow selection of RS's work.]

You might already know that FN was a romantic and deeply influenced by Novalis who teached him that (quote CW) "every man is potentially hero and genius; that inertia keeps men mediocre." Arthur Schopenhauer convinced FN (when he was barely 20), that it were the destiny of a genius to live alone. AS's philosophy provided him with the detachement from himself which is required to gain self-knowledge.

FN experienced that the will to life does not emerge from our struggle to exist, but in the will to power (to war as ultimate expression of that will). At 28 FN rejected most philosophers and literary men of his day and stood alone, except for AS and Wagner, for whom he still felt respect. Later he also rejected S and also broke with W.

He wrote no single work which could be called 'the essence of FN'. His ill-health, a legacy from his Army period (in another chapter CW mentions FN's veneral disease; newer research claims it was brain cancer; Heinrich Bluecher said FN (and later only Camus) discovered a philosophical contradiction, i.e. enlightenment aka natural science being based on metaphysical philosophy. to overcome it, he created another methaphysics, which necessarily made him crazy) and the negative effects of his sendentary way of life acted as brakes on his creativity. His sanest and best-argued books provoked Germany's guardians of culture to accuse him of extravagant self-worship or insanity.

His two great concepts, the Superman and the Eternal Recurrence (is happiness a delusion? the struggle between yes and no. could a man exist who could say finally: I accept everything?) By constant meditation, the will to live can be deepened, to commit oneself by an act of faith to affirm life at all costs.

What pure will, free of troubles of the intellect, meant to him is fundamentally similar to Blakes vision. Existentialism is seen to be the gospel of the will, but the will to more abundant life should not be made the slave of the ideal.

FN stood completely alone as a prophet, who at first believed it was a 'will to truth at all costs' that drove him, but later deepened that to will to life, to consciousness, to the infusion of spirit into dead matter. It might have been the end of the problem, if our civilization were two thousand years younger, because he wanted to start a new religion, which he thought was necessary.

Under the right circumstances, FN would have had the strength to bring about a spiritual revival; instead he died insane. The new religion was never born. FN was misunderstood, more by neurotics who claimed to be Nietzscheans than by his enemies. It is an immense problem. FN solved the body-emotions-intellect equation: A Outsider is a prophet in disguise, disguised even of himself - whose salvation lies in the discovering his deepest purpose, and then throwing himself into it.

FN has no tendency towards a Sartre doctrine of commitment - that any purpose will do provided it is altruistic. FN discovered that intellect is not enough, yet he remained a philosopher. Yet Zarathustra made it clear that the answer lies toward the artist-psychologist, the intuitional thinker. Russia is one of the few nations who produced great novelists who combined the two faculties.

That closes my summary on what CW wrote about FN.

2. CW continues the next chapter to answer the question of identy by writing about Tolstoy.

Not only that "infusion of spirit into dead matter" grasped my attention. If what CW writes is true, FN was a genius.

>> life means being able to reproduce.
>> Sperm and egg each in isolation are not living organisms
>> since they can't reproduce.
> I question this definition. Is a woman after menopause without life??
right, menopause stops reproduction, life is in time and finite and it'd extinguish if reproduction stopped. also 1) in most cases she did already reproduce and 2) life continues for parents caring about the younger children at least until they stand on their own. (I guess, if menopause started earlier, average life would yet be shorter.) every definition has a goal and the definition "life is reproduction" is quite useful; without reproduction [sustainable] no life.
>> Sperm and egg each are matter,
>> but together they carry information which provide for the
>> interpretation (execution) of this information (create a life from a
>> "blue-print") [we'll leave out the required cosmic force here].
> What about those species without sexual reproduction?
all living beings we know who emerge with free will and consciousness use sexual reproduction. one of the advantage of sexual reproduction is that through recombination it allows evolution to explore the space between the parents' genes. this creates more variety in a shorter time in order to adapt to new enviroment.
>> Is freedom an illusion?
> Perhaps. I have come to a conclusion that to live in a civilization
> is to live in a world of fantasy. Civilizations cannot understand
> each other (as Oswald Spengler said).
with freedom I meant human free will, being free to make a decision. (of course even this freedom is very limited in a civilization.) but anyway, we are only free in the moment when we mentally make the decision.
>> Unfortunately, Goedel's "undecidability" shows the limits
>> of studying ourselves if we are a closed mathematical system.
> His ideas are usually ignored, probably because most people do not
> understand him.
Computer science students usually have to study Goedel and are required to understand the "Halteproblem". Goedel's theorem helped to prove that no program (algorithm) exists that could decide upon inspection whether any arbitrary program is error free (halts in finite time) or not (does not halt). if such a program would exist, one would of course apply it to itself, to check whether it itself is error free.

Did you read the book "Goedel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter? Highly recommended!

> As you say, Dawkins' books are excellent. Probably he is right.
yes, his [earlier] books are great, but his theory of selection and mutation is not plausible. He is most probably right, that there was no creator. Stuart Kauffman ("At Home in the Universe - The search for the laws of self-organization and complexity") showed that the creation of life is not propable with Darwin/Dawkins' selection and mutation alone; SK believes (but can not yet prove) that life initially emerged through self-organization from complexity at the edge of chaos according to mathematical laws.
>> If we found out how,
>> computer code could be made conscious of itself and
>> computer scientists would have a very interesting
>> object to manipulate. ;-)
> My question is this. What would happen if a new species,
> far more intelligent than us, emerges? This will happen some day.
> It is most likely that this new species will be a result of
> mutations of Homo sapiens sapiens. Can H.s.s. stop or try to
> stop that? This will happen before the Andromeda and our galaxy
> colide and probably life will end.
CW believes and writes about in his newer books, that such highly intelligent men already existed on earth many thousand years ago. They died when the poles shifted, but they left signs and instructions for us to interpret.

Speculation or not - his theory might be easier to [dis]prove than to find out, how the first reproductive organism emerged from dead matter and how dead matter (during reproduction) can transform itself into a conscious being? [Heinrich Bluecher elaborates on this topic in his lectures brilliantly]

3. I'd write the 2nd part above differently today after having learned from Bluecher, who loves pure philosophy wich is based only on our most intime experience, i.e. thinking. no other assumptions. Also the 2nd part is out of flow being a reply to my friend who believes Nietzsche is overrated.

Another friend having read part 1 and 2 above wrote me in Jan-2016:

> You want to prove that Schopenhauer was right such as Nietzsche?
> I enjoyed a lot the summary. Now I want to read the book.
> I used to read theory when I was 20. I read  Schopenhauer,
> Merleau Ponty, Gilles Delleuze, Nietzsche, and tried a
> little of Heidegger.
> Now I don't have enough time so I prefer fiction.
> But now that you appeared on my life, I want to
> read that stuff again. I'm gonna make a parenthesis
> for a bit of philosophy in my life.
the CW book (The Outsider) is good to get an overview if one doesn't want to read the original works - there are too many - and most if not all philosophers didn't have any solution for life. nor for themself. see Hermann Hesse. he made millions happy with his books. (I've have read all his books as student, the smaller ones in one day each.) Yet he lived the last 30 years retired (in retreat) on a mountain hill top near lugano. had a sign post on the door of his house:

    'wanderer if you go by here, dont derange me. i know all the people. i dont need them any longer!'

Though he replied to 6000 letters sans secretary.

CW is overrated. he didn't really have original ideas. but he is a good writer. I'd say, he rather belongs to what Goethe call Irrlicht, un feu-follet, a Will-o'-wisp (see Goethe's) tale of all fairy. With this term Goethe meant someone who reads 10 books in order to write an 11th.

Heinrich Bluecher is a different category:

HB does not only describe FN's life and work but he discovers the contradictions in Nietzsche's et. al. works and even goes beyond, finding the reason why they all failed. why Nietzsche came into crisis.

even Kant failed. but this we know already from the PhD (1892) of Rudolf Steiner, who long before Bluecher wrote:

    PRESENT-DAY philosophy suffers from an unhealthy faith in Kant. This essay is intended to be a contribution toward overcoming this.
    -- quote from preface

but RS had other goals. (His PhD is the foundation of a cognition theory which leads to the philosophy of freedom**). Don't know if Bluecher had read RS.

instead of reading CW, I'd listen to HB's lectures or e.g. read Crisis of Western Philosophy: Against Positivism by Vladimir Solovyov

> You want to prove that Schopenhauer was right such as Nietzsche?
I wrote part 1 and 2 above 14 years ago and I'm still an admirer of Nietzsche. He is rather right than exactly wrong compared to other philosophers. his Zarathustra is an art work written almost automatically - as RS said - under controlled influence of drugs (Absinth) by which he made the unconsciousness conscious and got into the consciousness of the first man on earth who was self conscious, i.e. Zarathustra. thus the sentence "Thus spoke Zarathustra." after each chapter, which should remind the reader that it was not Nietzsche speaking. It is the absolute truth, as Nietzsche claimed. His Zarathustra is the biggest gift mankind ever received, he claimed in the preface of his
'Ecce Homo' (german) http://gutenberg.org/ebooks/7202,
(english; the one quoted below), https://archive.org/stream/eccehomo00niet/eccehomo00niet_djvu.txt,
(english) http://www.lexido.com/EBOOK_TEXTS/ECCE_HOMO_.aspx?S=0&WSD_HL=124,
(english) http://archive.org/details/TheCompleteWorksOfFriedrichNietzschevol.17-EcceHomo,
see also 'On Presents and Presence' by Alcyone http://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/52306.pdf

    "Innerhalb meiner Schriften steht für sich mein Zarathustra. Ich habe mit ihm der Menschheit das grösste Geschenk gemacht, das ihr bisher gemacht worden ist.
    Dies Buch, mit einer Stimme über Jahrtausende hinweg, ist nicht nur das höchste Buch, das es giebt, das eigentliche Höhenluft-Buch - die ganze Thatsache Mensch liegt in ungeheurer Ferne unter ihm -, es ist auch das tiefste, das aus dem innersten Reichthum der Wahrheit heraus geborene, ein unerschöpflicher Brunnen, in den kein Eimer hinabsteigt, ohne mit Gold und Güte gefüllt heraufzukommen. Hier redet kein "Prophet", keiner jener schauerlichen Zwitter von Krankheit und Willen zur Macht, die man Religionsstifter nennt."
    -- Zitat aus dem Vorwort von Ecce Homo
    "In my lifework, my Zarathustra holds a place apart. With it, I gave my fellow-men the greatest gift that has ever been bestowed upon them.
    This book, the voice of which speaks out across the ages, is not only the loftiest book on earth, literally the book of mountain air, — the whole phenomenon, mankind, lies at an incalculable distance beneath it, — but it is also the deepest book, born of the inmost abundance of truth; an inexhaustible well, into which no pitcher can be lowered without coming up again laden with gold and with goodness. Here it is not a "prophet" who speaks, one of those gruesome hybrids of sickness and Will to Power, whom men call founders of religions."
    -- quote from the Preface of Ecce Homo

Ecce Homo is a must read; In it Nietzsche explains how he came to writing his Zarathustra.

Schopenhauer is a strange man though an interesting read. He lived together with his mother and eventhough she understood he was right, it made her a bad mood and this was the reason she threw him out one day as she could no longer bear him. (many prefer to live in illusions... see Bluecher.) by the way, best illusion is so many (western) women fall prey of, i.e. all forms of yoga, tantra, etc. It seems to me, many newer, commercially very successful Will-o'-wisps such as Neal Donald Welsh, Eckart Tauler, and Ken Wilber seem to ride the same wave of spiritual disorientedness society is suffering from. The same holds true for the zillions of guides authors (including Dalai Lama) write to find happiness, self realization and what else they promise mankind could achieve without much (thinking) effort. One must first of all put oneself in question. (Bluecher explains how far Laozi and Buddhism can go and the difference to western thinkers.)

why not read better books than, e.g., Schopenhauer or CW? try Bluecher's lectures. these are more challenging and if you listen with full concentration everything is understandable and nothing based on assumptions, belief or myths.

Heidegger has no priority in reading, as Karl Ballmer explains in his book about Max Stirner and Rudolf Steiner. MS' book is a mind boggling good read and unlike AS reading MS produces good mood.

Bluecher also finds nothing in Heidegger. (that's not because his 3rd wife (Hannah Arendt) had a relation before with Heidegger. afair...todo: verify)

by the way, most people claim having no time to read. but we need to consider how valuable out life time is and indeed there are always better things todo than working for money - or how Jean Anouilh expresses it in his version of Antigone - 'economic participation.'

JA rightly points out that young people don't know what life is -or rather- what it is not. He points to the fact that -like vampires-, e.g., the nation states levy without consent taxes and contributions (health care, retirement, unemployment insurance, so called 'social charges*') and thus try to live off their work, their life energy. All the churches promised before was paradise after dead. Today they promise the workers in the western (industrial) world retirement benefits. For those workers who actually live until retirement age, the see it as a point in time they finally plan to start 'living.'


*) In analogy to The God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson, (the respective chapter of the french translation is online: "L'humanitariste avec une guillotine") one could compare the concept of socialism, i.e. sacrifying the individual (by making him or her a mere function of society; see HB) for the benefit of all with — cannibalism.

**) from an email to a friend in Apr-2010:
Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy is highly recursive and the most demanding study possible for human being, i.e.: a cognition theory which first breaks with any theism as well as with [Neo]Kantianism and combines reincarnation and karma with Christanism. yes, it evolves Christianism in a monistic world view by abolishing theism. (necessarily since theism is based on dualist world view: we here and heaven above.) yet it is not about Jesus! nor church. nor organization.

this cognition theory is about knowing one's Self which is identical to knowing the world content. it can't be tought the way we learn by reading books or in a course. everybody has produce the content as an individual act by active reading and active thinking - as a creative act.

best is there is nothing to believe - so it can't be wrong as long as you trust your own thinking.

it has nothing to do with todays esoteric literatur which is booming ever since the 1968's which were influenced by hermann hesse. (btw, HH did not have a solution for his won life - nor for anyone else).

one book is different however: it came out 115 years ago; it is not written like any other book; it doesn't require to read secondary literature; it has few bibliographic references. by reading it you might find that you never really learned how to read (although it uses simple language and vocabulary), which is why most give up.

'most people, given the choice between thinking and starving, choose the latter - and many do!'
-- Zeno

since the books content can't be tought (the book is content free; the reader himself has to bring alive what's communicated in the book), it never got accepted in academics - because - no wonder, - if you can't teach it... ;) want to look at it - just to find out you never learned to read [correctly]? ;) it's free and open source. ;)

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