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The Meaning of This Quote

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The Meaning of This Quote

Post  T.T. on Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:13 pm

""When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you"-Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) "

I found this quote while searching the web and I was wondering if anyone knew what it meant?
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  emmeline_x on Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:51 pm

I think it means something like facing your inner self, whenever I've heard it said it's always been in the context of admitting what's truly inside yourself and seeing it almost as a mirror.
It's a great quote.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  Haizea on Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:53 pm

To stare into the abyss means to confront your own death - at least, that's how I've always heard it used. It could be saying don't think about death too much, or you'll think of nothing else, something like that...or it could be referring to an afterlife; a lot of people who've gone through a near-death experience have described otherworldly sensations - a light, voices, a feeling of peace, etc.
I'm fairly certain it's something to do with death, or near-death. I don't have any source or evidence of that, but 'the abyss' has always been used as a metaphor for death, and beyond death.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  andygates on Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:24 pm

Ties nicely to Heisenberg, in a funny way: there is no such thing as a detached observer.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  HAC on Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:08 pm

If you;d like, I'll ask my daughter, who is doing her MA in continental philosophy, and is quite into Nietzschian philosophy, but I don;t think it will be a short answer..

Cheers

and the short(ish) answer I got is this...

"Its best if you take Nietzsche in context. That quote, is generally taken out of context, and in that frame, can be interpreted many ways. To fully understand what Nietzsche was saying, one must also look at the works of Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer felt that every single thought, idea, concept, image, symbol, representation, were distractions that prevented people from looking all the way into the heart of the black hole, the very abyss of self.
In a reaction to Schopenhuaer, Nietzsche retreated to his own concepts, the "eternal recurrence," the "will to power," and the "Ubermensch," thereby restricting his understanding of Schopenhauer. For Nietzsche, the abyss is nihilism where the core being and ethos of civilization collapses and the bottom of all culture falls away. Nietzsche accepts the all-too-early message that God is dead and peers into the abyss of nothingness, only to find meaninglessness and valuelessness. Hope, redemption, afterlife, and salvation are empty concepts that conceal the realization that existence is pointless."
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  Captain Lyerly on Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:11 pm

I once had an epiphany, reading this line late one bleary night. I understood its deeper meanings in a way that only the ascetics and philosophers could hope to reach.

The next morning all I had left of the feeling was the worst hangover in the known multiverse, and an empty bottle of absinthe. And I did believe, at that particular moment of awakening, that existence is, truly, pointless.


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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  JingleJoe on Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:22 pm

Captain Lyerly wrote:I once had an epiphany, reading this line late one bleary night. I understood its deeper meanings in a way that only the ascetics and philosophers could hope to reach.

The next morning all I had left of the feeling was the worst hangover in the known multiverse, and an empty bottle of absinthe. And I did believe, at that particular moment of awakening, that existence is, truly, pointless.


Chas.
A relevant quote Wink
Oscar Wilde wrote:
After the first glass of Absinthe, you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  Mad Maxine on Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:52 pm

Captain Lyerly wrote:I once had an epiphany, reading this line late one bleary night. I understood its deeper meanings in a way that only the ascetics and philosophers could hope to reach.

The next morning all I had left of the feeling was the worst hangover in the known multiverse, and an empty bottle of absinthe. And I did believe, at that particular moment of awakening, that existence is, truly, pointless.


Chas.

I had that same feeling after reading three Kurt Vonnegut novels during one week when I was on a summer break years ago.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  Dr Quack on Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:06 pm

I understand that we're playing by the "no religion' rules here so I'll stick to a humanist arguement.

What arrogance it is on the part of humankind to believe that life must have some great encompassing "purpose" which comes from somewhere outside and can be found by philosophising and belly button inspection. What's wrong with "we're here because we're here?"
The trouble with most philosophies is they only see in binary. Good/evil, wrong/right, life/death.

If you take this view, then the alternative to external purpose is purposelessness and Nihilism beckons.
But it's not all bad news, just because we can't locate some sort of "purpose ex machina" to make things easy, that does not mean that we are stuck with the depressing prospect of meaningless existance.
We live on a planet of amazing complexity, in a solar system that is very beautiful which is part of a universe so amazing that we don't really know just how amazing it is yet.

Given that we are thinking beings, it's not too difficult to come up with worthwhile reasons for being here of our own.

If you gaze into the abyss for long enough, then you may learn something new about the abyss.

Maybe seeing the abyss staring back will have a good effect on you and make you a little less self centred.

Perhaps that's a part of what the original quotation means. That you can't look around you without being affected by what you see.

Maybe we should announce "International Abbyss Gazeing Day?"

Might do some good!!

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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  T.T. on Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:50 pm

Thank all of you for the replys, I guess this is a really confusing quote, now I dont feel so foolish.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  kogwheal on Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:10 am

I always interpreted it as something along the lines of how a single-minded pursuit of something can change you fundamentally, even into something you hate. Especially since the quote is actually the second of two related statements:

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."

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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  dman762000 on Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:47 am

Belly-button inspection,,,,,,,,,,,,,,heh, heh,,,,,,,,,,,that has always made me laugh
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  shadowbeast on Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:38 am

From the back of Knights of the Dinner Table:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because if you gaze too long across the road, the road also gazes across you.
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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  5.6. Kaboom on Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:15 am

Fish philosop deems this is a stupid question to pose, as strictly a scientist seeking physical truth. An abyss does not stare back. It's a thing. If the abyss is staring back at you, well, hells, this is like the opposing queen growing lips and shrieking "oh gods, what kind of ridiculous counter was that?'

Luckily for you, abysses and chess pieces don't talk, so you're pretty f*cking safe.

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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  quantumcat on Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:34 am

Sometimes,the abyss is the first to blink.

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Re: The Meaning of This Quote

Post  Pheobsky on Thu Nov 27, 2008 5:43 pm

don't blink or you might miss them staring back

I'd say that the best way of dealing with nihilism is to wave back at the abyss when its doing its staring!- seriously though I follow quite an existentialist philosophy, so (I'd say) it is possible to come out of Nilhism quite positively by creating your own values and acting in that way!
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The Abyss, Insanity, and Lessons

Post  flobadine on Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:44 am

HAC wrote:If you;d like, I'll ask my daughter, who is doing her MA in continental philosophy, and is quite into Nietzschian philosophy, but I don;t think it will be a short answer..

Cheers

and the short(ish) answer I got is this...

"Its best if you take Nietzsche in context. That quote, is generally taken out of context, and in that frame, can be interpreted many ways. To fully understand what Nietzsche was saying, one must also look at the works of Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer felt that every single thought, idea, concept, image, symbol, representation, were distractions that prevented people from looking all the way into the heart of the black hole, the very abyss of self.
In a reaction to Schopenhuaer, Nietzsche retreated to his own concepts, the "eternal recurrence," the "will to power," and the "Ubermensch," thereby restricting his understanding of Schopenhauer. For Nietzsche, the abyss is nihilism where the core being and ethos of civilization collapses and the bottom of all culture falls away. Nietzsche accepts the all-too-early message that God is dead and peers into the abyss of nothingness, only to find meaninglessness and valuelessness. Hope, redemption, afterlife, and salvation are empty concepts that conceal the realization that existence is pointless."

I can see this. I'd also like to add, that Batman's Joker seems very much along these same lines. Bare with me, while I dissect pop culture for a bit. It's as if Joker had a horrific realization that existence is indeed pointless. This is a dangerous thing. This perspective could lead to suicide, but the Joker feels a sense of hatred toward those who aren't smart enough to see this for themselves. So, as many a trickster god of ancient lore has done, he plays tricks on the world so that it may learn something about itself...in this case, an awful truth. Batman is an antithesis of this. He is a symbol and force of order and justice. He wants to show that good can exist in the world. I say AN antithesis, because a lesser known D.C. character that sometimes has dealings with the Joker, The Creeper, is also an antithesis to Joker, but on the side of Chaos. The Creeper seems to understand that there's only an abyss or pointlessness if you make it that way. If you will a point to your life, then the world can be a lot of fun. The Creeper is another trickster archetype that wreaks havoc, to teach a lesson, but this one is that good and fun can prevail. The Creeper once went to Arkham and staged a prison riot, because he saw that Joker was going to stage a prison break. The riot stopped the prison break. Batman didn't like his tactics, but really couldn't argue the fact that the results were positive. Smile


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