Nietzsche 3 and the Bahá'í Writings 

                                                                                  by Ian Kluge

6: Process Philosophy[1]


            Aristotle’s ontology of potentials solves the ancient philosophical problem, of the apparent conflict between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ and, thereby creates one of the connecting points between the Writings and Nietzsche who seems to deny that the concept of ‘being’ has any validity: “Heraclitus will always be right in this, that being is an empty fiction.”[2] ‘Being’ refers to the continuity of a thing, to the retention of identity[3] according to Aristotle. In contrast ‘becoming’ refers to the changes a thing undergoes, i.e. a process of actualizing its potentials and changing from one state or condition to another. Thus, Aristotle’s ontology of potential tells us that the traditional absolute dualism between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ is false. Nothing is ever in just one condition or the other: a sprouting sunflower seed actualizes its particular sunflower potentials and, by doing so, is also being or be-ing a sunflower seed.  Or, we could say a plant is being a sunflower by becoming more of a sunflower as more of its various potentials are manifested. In regards to Nietzsche, this means there is no basis to the argument that Aristotle’s alleged philosophy of being is intrinsically incompatible with Nietzsche’s philosophy of becoming. In more general terms, process philosophies are not necessarily irreconcilable with philosophies of being. [4]


            Both the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche are based on a process metaphysics, i.e. a philosophy that is based on the metaphysical principle that reality is fundamentally constituted by change. The Writings explicitly state:


            Know that nothing which exists remains in a state of repose--that is to say, all things are       in motion. Everything is either growing or declining; all things are either coming from    nonexistence into being, or going from existence into nonexistence .  . . This state of             motion is said to be essential--that is, natural; it cannot be separated from beings because           it is their essential requirement, as it is the essential requirement of fire to burn . . . ?


            Thus it is established that this movement is necessary to existence, which is either

            growing or declining.[5]


According to the Bahá’í Writings, motion, i.e. change, i.e. the actualization of potentials

is an essential attribute of all existing things. Indeed, a dialectical process between the present actual form of something and the potentials that are trying to actualize and to develop new forms is always underway. In fact, these dialectical ‘battles’ constitute all things as what they are. The moment this process stops, a thing stops existing. According to Kaufmann, in Nietzsche’s “dialectical monism” “will to power . . .  is always at war with itself.”[6] In humankind this might appear as a dialectic between “reason and impulse”[7] or between the drive for overcoming and the fear of suffering. Here, too, the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche are in agreement.


            The dialectical nature of creation is also suggested by Bahá’u’lláh,


            The world of existence came into being through the heat generated from the interaction      between the active force and that which is its recipient. These two are the same, yet they             are different.[8]


In other words, the source of the universe is a unity which bifurcates itself into an “active force” which is form and a receptive force which receives form. Walter Kaufmann refers to this view as “dialectical monism in which the basic force is conceived as essentially creative.”[9]  Fort Nietzsche, this “force” is the will to power.


            However, Bahá’í process metaphysics also extend to human development in general and ethics in particular.


            All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty        beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all   the peoples and kindreds of the earth.[10]


In short, the Bahá’í Writings see human history in developmental or evolutionary terms, both at the social or civilizational level and at the individual ethical level.


            Nietzsche’s views about change are well summarized in the following:


            I retained some doubt in the case of Heraclitus in whose proximity I feel altogether             warmer and better than anywhere else. The affirmation of passing away and destroying,      which is the decisive feature of Dionysian philosophy; saying yes to opposition and war ;   becoming along with a radical repudiation of the very concept of being – all this  is       clearly more closely related to me than anything  else . . .[11]


As we have shown above, Aristotle’s ontology of potentials allows us to show that ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ are simply two aspects of all things, i.e. two sides of one coin. There is no irreconcilable conflict between them.


6.1: Agreement on Teleology


            But there is still more. The Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche agree on the teleological nature of all things, which is to say, all thing are goal-oriented. This re-emphasizes the unity of being and becoming, insofar as to be a ‘thing’ means it must become in a way particular to itself and its kind.  `Abdu'l-Bahá states that “All beings, whether large or small, were created perfect and complete from the first, but their perfections appear in them by degrees.”[12] This process of actualizing their potentials is, in fact, their being or be-ing (the process remains constant) and shows that they are teleological in nature, i.e. there is a natural progression from potential or latency to actualization. The difference between humans and the seed is that we must strive consciously whereas in the seed this process is automatic. Not only are individual lives teleological but so is humankind’s collective mission.


            All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty        beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all   the peoples and kindreds of the earth.[13]


Here Bahá’u’lláh lists some of the moral potentials humanity should actualize as it fulfills its goal achieving progress. Humans must not “act like the beasts of the field” because doing so conflicts with our nature and is, in effect, a betrayal of ourselves because our essential spiritual nature remains unactualized. `Abdu'l-Bahá states that


As for the spiritual perfections they are man’s birthright and belong to him

alone of all creation. Man is, in reality, a spiritual being and only when he

lives in the spirit is he truly happy[14]


Humans – indeed, all beings – can only be happy when they actualize their appropriate potentials – which is precisely their goal. We recall Zarathustra’s command to “Become what you [essentially] are.”[15] In that way, they achieve and increase the kind of power that is appropriate for them and, thereby, they achieve happiness. There is no other viable alternative. To be happy, a human being must awaken and actualize his/her “spiritual susceptibilities”[16] instead of his/her lower animal nature.


We must strive with energies of heart, soul and mind to develop and manifest the perfections and virtues latent within the realities of the phenomenal world, for the human reality may be compared to a seed. If we sow the seed, a mighty tree appears from it. The virtues of the seed are revealed in the tree; it puts forth branches, leaves, blossoms, and produces fruits. All these virtues were hidden and potential in the seed. Through the  . . . cultivation these virtues became apparent. Similarly, the merciful God, our Creator, has deposited within human realities certain latent and potential virtues.[17]                                                                                                


This ontology of potentials applies not just to the phenomenal world but also to humankind as a whole which has hidden attributes to be revealed or actualized over time. This is important to the development of the Superman and the spiritual advancement of humankind as seen in the doctrine of progressive revelation. New dispensations are needed as humanity advances by actualizing more and more of its hidden potentials, virtues and attributes. This ontology is also apparent in the belief that “the world, indeed each existing being, proclaims to us one of the names of God.”[18] Evolution in both the phenomenal world and humankind involves actualizing the potentials intrinsic to the divine names.


            The teleological strain in Nietzsche’s philosophy is clearly evident, for which reason R. Kevin Hill says that Nietzsche’s work shows “in nature a teleological tendency towards the production of higher human beings: artists, philosophers and saints.”[19] John Richardson adds,  


            I take it to be evident from the expression itself that ‘will to power’ is a potency for             something, a directedness towards and end . . . Nietzsche, despite his repeated attacks on

            (what he calls) teleology really has such a theory himself: the beings or units in the world   are crucially end-directed and to understand them properly is to grasp how they’re             directed or aimed. Above all, it’s to grasp how they’re aimed at power, an end essential

            to them.[20]


For his part, Nietzsche states:


            Above all, a living thing wants to discharge its energy: life as such is will to power. Self-preservation is only one of its indirect and most frequent consequences.[21]

Elsewhere, he writes,


But all expansion, incorporation, growth means striving against something that resists; motion is essentially ties up with states of displeasure; that which is here the driving force  must in any event desire something else . . .  For what do the trees in the jungle fight each other? For “happiness” - - - For power![22]

 In his view, whatever we do is motivated – consciously or not – by the will to power. This includes “the will to truth,”[23] meaning, thereby, that even when we claim to be seeking or proclaiming the truth, we are, in fact, seeking to express power.  In Thus Spake Zarathustra, we can see an implicit teleological influence at work when he says:

I teach you the Superman. Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?


All creatures hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and do you want to be the ebb of this great tide, and return to the animals rather than overcome man?[24]


“Creating something beyond themselves” is the goal towards which all beings are naturally oriented. The concept of potential is clearly present in these statements. Humans, “Man” is encouraged to mobilize, i.e. actualize his capacities or potentials to  “overcome”  himself as s/he is either to become something better him/herself or to clear the way for something better. That is what “all creatures hitherto” have done, and is, by implication, the natural destiny of humankind. Failing in this regard, means we are no longer acting as ‘natural’ beings and have become something ‘unnatural’ by missing our natural teleological destiny.


            It need only be noted in passing that a belief in teleology logically entails a commitment to the concept of ‘essence.’ Nothing can have a goal or destiny if it does not have an essence which excludes certain targets as it develops certain potentials and not others.            


7: Nietzsche’s “Alleged Atheism[25] – The Death of God

            Nietzsche is probably the world’s most famous atheist – the man whose exemplary hero Zarathustra exclaims at the end of his conversation with the old saint on the mountain, “Can it be possible! This old saint has not yet heard in his forest that God is dead!”[26] However, as we shall demonstrate below, the issue is not at all clear. Nietzsche’s atheism is highly ambiguous. Indeed, Roy Jackson aptly describes him as “a ‘sort’ of atheist.”[27]

            Metaphysically speaking, Nietzsche is not an atheist. He rejects the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ i.e. the personal God with Whom we may enter an deep spiritual relationship butiIn The Will to Power, he offers a metaphysical description of the will to power that underlies and manifests itself in all existence, in language that effectively re-creates something which has most if not all the attributes of the ‘God of the philosophers’: it is unlimited power; has no beginning or end; is mysterious and unknowable; is self-destroying and self-creating. It is transcendent because no empirical or physical object has or could have these attributes without becoming an ontologically different kind of being, and, without becoming transcendent vis-à-vis the empirical world. His ‘god’ is certainly not the personal God of the great monotheistic religions i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam but is nonetheless a transcendent or super-natural ground of being on which everything depends but in itself depends on nothing. At the end of The Will to Power, he writes,


            And do you know what "the world" is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This     world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of         force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms      itself . . . as a becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness: this, my       Dionysian world of the eternally self -creating, the eternally self-destroying, this mystery           world of the twofold voluptuous delight, my "beyond good and evil," without goal, unless     the joy of the circle is itself a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward             itself--do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you,   too, you best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men?-- This world is   the will to power— and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power— and nothing besides![28]

In Nietzsche’s view, this ground of being is amoral, i.e. beyond good and evil. However, the Bahá’í  Writings reveal a convergent idea – namely that God “doeth what He willeth, and ordaineth that which He pleaseth.”[29] In other words, God – or the will to power – determines what is morally permissible or not. The disagreement between the Writings and Nietzsche arises as a result of giving the aristocrats and nobles the same power of deciding their own morality on their own intrinsically limited human terms. They lack the qualifications i.e. God’s complete knowledge of human nature that entitles them to make decisions for all, and, therefore, they have to rely on force to acquire and maintain power for themselves. It is not surprising that the Writings reject this implication and that many people find it extremely distasteful. However, Nietzsche’s description of the will to power cannot hide one obvious implication: its creativity and the gift of existence to all things and the fact that existence is freely given since we are not there to earn it. This creativity and ontological generosity can easily be the basis of positive moral principles insofar as this super-natural munificence provides a model for human behavior.  `Abdu'l-Bahá states, 


            all are sheltered beneath the tree of His providence and mercy. God is kind to all; He is    the giver of bounty to all alike, even as Jesus Christ has declared that God "sendeth rain      on the just and on the unjust" -- that is to say, the mercy of God is universal.[30]


One implication is that God freely gives everything and everyone an opportunity to ‘be the best they can be’ and that we should follow his example. Here, again, we find a convergence between the Writings and Nietzsche regarding the transcendent nature of the will to power and one of its implicit attributes. We should add that Nietzsche’s ambiguity about religion and the transcendent is also evident even in his first major work, The Birth of Tragedy in which he uses two Greek gods, Apollo and especially Dionysus, as concrete symbols of transcendental powers of order and exuberance.


            In The Gay Science, the Madman says,


            “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

            How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and      mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will          wipe the blood off us? . . . What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? . . . Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” [31]

Even in such a forthright declaration, we can detect signs of what we call the ‘transcendental impulse’ in Nietzsche’s work, an inclination expressed in both ideas and word choice to re-introduce the divine or transcendental into our consciousness and our understanding of life. There is nothing about the death of God, i.e. atheism, which logically demands that we should take God’s place by becoming gods. Here is an example of Nietzsche’s ambiguous language from Thus Spake Zarathustra, written in the ‘chapter and verse’ style of the Bible and showing the ‘transcendental impulse’ in his word choice. Speaking of the “Sublime Men,”[32]  Zarathustra says,  

            To be sure, I love in him the neck of the ox; but now I want to see the eye of an angel, too.


            He must unlearn his heroic will, too: he should be an exalted man and not only a sublime                       itself should raise him up, the will-less one!


            He has tamed his monsters, he has solved riddles: but he should also redeem his monsters         and riddles, he should transform them into heavenly children . . .


            Then your soul will shudder with divine desires; and there will be worship in your             vanity!


            This indeed is the secret of the soul: only when the hero has deserted his soul does there    approach it in dreams – the superhero.[33]


The religious tenor of his word choice is supported by the narrative of the entire Thus Spake Zarathustra itself: Zarathustra, a prophet-like figure, descends from his mountain retreat – like Moses bringing his gifts of new commandments and wisdom by which humans may continue their evolution to make way for a higher being called the Superman. In other words, humankind is to be transcended or overcome in Nietzsche’s parallel salvation story to the one found in Exodus just as in the idea of becoming gods, he evokes Genesis in which the Serpent promises Eve, “Ye shall be as gods.”[34] In short, the Serpent promises to help Adam and Eve to transcend their human condition. Throughout his work, there are constant references to words such as ‘spirit,’ ‘holy’ and ‘soul’ words whose ambiguous scared and non-sacred connotations display Nietzsche’s ambiguity in regards to the transcendent. The following statement also his use of religious language even when repudiating Christian morality:

            Every act of contempt for sex, every impurification of it by means of the concept of             ‘impure’ is the crime par excellence against life – is the real sin against the holy spirit of           life.[35]

            However, the convergences between the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche go even further. One of these is the religious basis of the modern crisis. Nietzsche refers to “the end of Christianity”[36] and the Writings state “as a result of human perversity, the light of religion is quenched in men's hearts” [37] This belief logically implies that religion provided something necessary for the well-being of human beings and without religion (for whatever reason) humankind suffers and degenerates. In our view, Nietzsche missed and loved religion so much he struggled to create if not a new religion of his own, then at least an adequate substitute world-view. In addition to his religious language, Nietzsche also seeks a “redeemer.” He says of the Superman – whose name alone carries transcendent connotations – “Behold! I teach you the Superman: he is the sea, in him your great contempt can go under.”  In this description, the Superman is truly super-human, i.e. the sea into which we can save ourselves from overwhelming self-contempt. Like Christ, he can take our sins on Himself,[38] the Superman can take into himself our contempt for ourselves and thereby offer us new opportunities for growth. This, too, points to transcendence for no natural human being can do such a thing which suggests, thereby, that the Superman is not entirely natural and somehow beyond nature. Ironically, this implication of the Superman violates Zarathustra’s own injunction to be loyal to the earth  and to deny the super-natural. Moreover, the need for a ‘redeemer’ converges with the Bahá’í teaching that Manifestations of God are necessary for humankind to progress. The pervasive presence of this ‘transcendent impulse’ helps give a religious dimension to a thinker who is – superficially perhaps – anti-religious.


            Nor should we overlook that the “eternal return” is itself strongly tinged with religious and transcendental colors. Seen in a religious light, it seems much like a non-Christian version of heaven and hell. R. Kevin Hill states


            the doctrine of eternal recurrence is best understood as a replacement for the Christian         doctrine of an afterlife of rewards and punishments. Recurrence is like a reward for those         who live well and are strong and a punishment for those who live badly and are weak.[39]


Seen as a metaphysical doctrine,[40] i.e. a doctrine about the basic nature of the universe, the eternal return reveals its transcendental nature by imposing on the universe the super-natural attribute of lasting forever. No empirical observation has ever encountered such an object in nature. In effect, the eternal return claims that the universe is beyond time since the same results occur again and again. Such timelessness is precisely one of the attributes of God in the Writings. Furthermore, the absolute repetition inherent in the eternal return also means there is no essential change – an attribute which converges with the Bahá’í belief that God is not subject to change. On a strictly empirical basis, Nietzsche was bound to reject these attributes – and the fact that he did not, highlights his ambiguity about religious beliefs.  But this ambiguity deepens. On the basis of scientific knowledge of his time, Nietzsche would have known that the random collision of atoms, i.e. collisions that were causally unconnected to each other, would not necessarily have brought about the eternal return. If the collisions are truly random, i.e. not determined by any preceding event or object, then there is no necessity whatsoever that today’s world will ever return in its exact present form. In fact, in a world of genuinely random actions, there is no necessity of any kind at all: things just happen without being conditioned, i.e. limited by foregoing events or other objects. The concept of the “eternal return” only works if we tacitly assume that atoms have been bestowed with suitable nature and that laws of nature exist – which inevitably leads to the issue of how these attributes and laws originated. In other words, Nietzsche slipped into transcendental thinking, i.e. thinking from the perspective of eternity as seen in action repeated forever. There is nothing in our empirical, earthly experience on which such concepts can be based for which reason we may say the “eternal return’ itself is an example of the ‘transcendental impulse’ in Nietzsche.


            Of course, it may be argued that Nietzsche does not mean ‘transcendent’ in any non-physical way, especially in light of his command to “remain true to the earth.”[41] But that is exactly the point; as we have shown above by examining Nietzsche’s language and thought, he cannot live up to his own ideal – he is fundamentally conflicted and the Transcendent as Jaspers calls it, is present throughout much of his work. This presence is exactly where the Bahá’í Writings make contact with Nietzsche.


            In light of Nietzsche’s ‘transcendental impulse’ it is highly improbable that he was an ‘atheist’ as usually understood: a person who denies any transcendent powers. It is far more likely that “Nietzsche means the god of transcendental monotheism and Christian morality . . . it is the ‘God’ of Judeo-Christianity who is dead, but the divine is something totally different.”[42] From a Bahá’í perspective, this idea poses no difficulties as long as we understand that Nietzsche is not making an ontological claim about the existence or non-existence of God or a ground of being but rather is making a sociological claim about the role of God in the lives of individuals and societies. In other words, he is saying – among other things – that the concept of God no longer plays any significant role in the modern world, that people have more confidence in themselves, in government and in science and technology than they do in God or in their own faith in God. He is also pointing out that organized religion, its institutions, its hierarchies and theologies have become corrupt and feeble.   


            The Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche agree on the ‘death of God’ if taken as the recognition that genuine religion – as distinct from its superficial outward appearances – is no longer a major force among modern individuals and societies in the modern world. Free thought, i.e. the independent investigation of truth, is imprisoned by the clergy. Bahá’u’lláh says:


            The vitality of men's belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His             wholesome medicine can ever restore it. The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the       vitals of human society . . .  What else but the potent Elixir of His revelation can revive it? [43]


 `Abdu'l-Bahá states:


            In the same way, the fundamental principles of the religion of Christ, which are the             greatest virtues of humanity, have disappeared; and its form has remained in the hands of          the clergy and the priests. Likewise, the foundation of the religion of Muhammad has          disappeared, but its form remains in the hands of the official 'ulama.[44]


In other words, like Nietzsche, the Writings not only see the decline of religion but also see the clergy as an integral part of this decline.


            The beginnings of all great religions were pure; but priests, taking possession of the             minds of the people, filled them with dogmas and superstitions, so that religion became            gradually corrupt.[45]


For both the Writings and Nietzsche, the renewal of humankind involves an unavoidable struggle against clergy who seek to retain their power. Both seek to overcome the clergy, but even as Nietzsche clearly aims at the destruction of priesthood, he still feels a certain kinship and pity with them, admitting, “There are heroes even among them; many of them have suffered too much: so they want to make others suffer . . . I want to know my blood honoured even in theirs.”[46] In a similar attitude of reconciliation, the Writings invite the clergy to join the Bahá’í  dispensation. Addressing the priesthood, Bahá’u’lláh says:


            Wherefore flee ye? The Incomparable Friend is manifest. He speaketh that wherein lieth     salvation. Were ye, O high priests, to discover the perfume of the rose garden of             understanding, ye would seek none other but Him, and would recognize, in His new             vesture, the All-Wise and Peerless One, and would turn your eyes from the world and all             who seek it, and would arise to help Him.[47]


            Interestingly enough, even if we accept Nietzsche’s atheistic claims at face value, there is still a convergence with the Bahá’í Writings because of the ‘transcendental impulse’ so clearly evident in the will to power and the eternal return among others. Perhaps we might say that he would like to be an atheist but, try as he might, he cannot expel the transcendental from his thinking. Given this pervasive ‘transcendental impulse,’ it remains an open question if Nietzsche did not realize at some level that the transcendent is necessary if we are to find or create values that humans consider worthy of themselves and satisfying. These values are permanent if for no other reason than that they persist through all the cycles of the “eternal return.”


            The foregoing discussions demonstrate the ‘transcendental impulse’ in Nietzsche’s writing which opens the nature of his atheism to question. Indeed, he seems to need this language and imagery to express himself with the fullness of feeling and meaning to make his point. Surely, as a writer of genius, he would have been able to invent other, less ‘transcendental’ ways of expressing himself – but he does not, which suggests that such language was necessary to him for adequate self-expression. In our view, this gives the unacknowledged ‘transcendental’ a strong presence in Nietzsche’s philosophy. Nietzsche’s situation may well be summarized by the father appealing to Christ to help his ailing son: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”[48]


8: Self-overcoming


            One of the central concepts of ethical practice in the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche is ‘self-overcoming,’ i.e. taking an active part in actualizing one’s own potentials, remove undesirable traits and increase their powers and capacities. Self-overcoming is Nietzsche’s strategy for defeating nihilism which, in his view, is corrupting and destroying modern culture. Only by self-overcoming can we save ourselves from the weakness, hypocrisy and passivity and succeed in the quest to expand our will to power. This converges with the Bahá’í Writings belief that “Man must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moralities, new capacities”[49] Obviously, when we gain “new virtues and powers” our powers have been expanded – which is God’s will for us:


            Verily thy Lord, the Beneficent, will confirm thee in every moment and second and will      empower thee with such a power that the columns of warfare and bloodshed shall shake   and the foundation of peace and harmony shall arise.[50]


Both in the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche we see what may be called “ethics of power[51] and an ethics of the growth of power. Such an ethics is unavoidable in any form of a process metaphysics which distinguishes both the Writings and Nietzsche. As Heraclitus said, “Panta rei,” everything changes. This change can be ‘natural’ and unconscious as we see in the phenomenal world of minerals, plants and animals, or it can be conscious and willed in human beings who are free to choose change or to succumb to inner inertia. Moreover, as Aristotle points out, change is the actualization of intrinsic potentials which means that the choice to pursue change is the choice to overcome ourselves as we are or have actualized so far in favor of something new and more advanced. In conscious human beings, it requires self-criticism – in the case of Bahá’ís self-critique and transformation in light of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation – but in the case of Nietzsche in light of conformity to the will to power. A deeper look shows there is no necessary inherent conflict between these two. The ultimate purpose of Bahá’u’lláh’s guidance is allow us to expand our power, i.e. to “awaken [our] spiritual susceptibilities”[52] and make both spiritual and material progress. This is true power and not merely the material semblance of power which, without spiritual guidance, leads us closer to our animal nature. The Bahá’í ideal, of course, is to match spiritual and material empowerment:


            And among the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is that although material civilization is one of the   means for the progress of the world of mankind, yet until it becomes combined with             Divine civilization, the desired result, which is the felicity of mankind, will not be             attained.[53]


The importance of self-overcoming to Nietzsche is evident in his claim that self-overcoming “distinguishes the moral [person] from the nonmoral [person].”[54] This is more evidence that Nietzsche does, in fact, have a moral code including an objective standard by which to evaluate our actions: the willingness and effort to surpass ourselves, the willingness to suffer the inevitable discomfort and pain of simultaneously actualizing our potentials for the future and leaving behind our presently achieved actuality. Zarathustra says that he loves those who “will [their] own downfall,”[55]  i.e. he loves those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for something greater than themselves. Later, Zarathustra says,


            And life itself told me this secret: ‘Behold,’ it said, ‘I am that which must overcome

            itself again and again . . . ‘I would rather perish than renounce this one thing; and truly    where there is perishing and the falling of leaves, behold, there life sacrifices itself – for    the sake of power.[56]


Nietzsche carries on this theme in On the Genealogy of Morals:


            All great things bring about their own destruction through an act of self-overcoming: thus

            the law of life will have it, the law of the necessity of ‘self-overcoming’ in the nature of



Here we observe the ‘pruning’ or ‘self-pruning’ mentioned in the Writings. For his part, Zarathustra informs us that “only if he [man] turns away from himself will he jump over his own shadow – and jump into truth, into his own sunlight.”[58] In other words, the current self must be rejected for our better or higher selves which can only be done by embracing transformational change. Self-overcoming is crucial for two reasons. First, it is the only way to become a bridge to the Superman because by overcoming ourselves, we remove an obstacle – the present selves we cling to – so that the Superman may advance. Second, self-overcoming is the only way to free ourselves from our weak and cowardly aspects and, thereby, to grow in our pursuit of the will to power and to become one with our essential selves.  


            Unlikely as it may seem at first, Nietzsche’s statements converge strongly with the Bahá’í Writings. In the first place, there is strong convergence if not outright agreement in regards to self-overcoming as a necessary aspect of living ethically and making true progress in self-actualization and living as moral beings. `Abdu'l-Bahá says:       


            For I have supplicated and beseeched before the Threshold of the Almighty that thy wish    may be realized, so thou mayest overcome the self and perform charitable deeds and that      human perfections may appear from thee; that thou mayest be endowed with lofty gifts;   find thy way to divine wisdom and show forth the manners and conduct of those who are           favored in the Threshold of the Almighty.[59]


In other words, self-overcoming is needed to “to awaken spiritual susceptibilities in the hearts of mankind”[60] The theme of ‘self-overcoming’ is also presented in the Writings as ‘sacrifice’ and ‘service’ since, in the Bahá’í view, this leads us to the kind of self-overcoming we need to make.

Speaking of the higher and lower self, `Abdu'l-Bahá states:


            The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower             nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this      self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free      the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.


            Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly   and noble side of ourselves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give     our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our       true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality."[61]


This, too, converges with Nietzsche in significant ways. We must “give our will and our all to God” in the same way as Nietzsche expects us to obey the imperative will to power that functions as ‘God’ in his philosophy. Like the Bahá’í Writings, Nietzsche endorses the paradox that to become our best selves, we must surrender our current identities. In addition, this “true self” becomes a “a shining and wonderful reality” because, in Nietzsche’s terms, it has done what is good, i.e. that which “heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself.”[62]


            Nietzsche also envisions a radical transformation by means of self-overcoming: “He [man] has tamed monsters, he has solved riddles: but he has also redeemed his monsters and riddles, he should transform them into heavenly children.”[63] To overcome and transform ourselves, we must obey God as revealed through Bahá’u’lláh or, in Nietzsche’s terms, the will to power.  `Abdu'l-Bahá amplifies this theme when he writes that by following the Manifestation, “a sorry gnat become an eagle in the fullness of his strength, and a feeble sparrow change to a royal falcon in the heights of ancient glory.”[64] He also says that “[God’s] favors change a drop into an ocean, cause a seed to become a tree and make an atom as glorious as the sun.”[65] Nietzsche, too, has a similar concept.


            We must not forget that self-overcoming requires us to overcome the traditional beliefs – especially ethical beliefs – that we have passively accepted. To the extent that we do not, our self-overcoming is incomplete and, thereby, less effective and gives us less power or capacity. Nietzsche believes that we must create our own ethics and norms[66] – a task that he held as impossible for religious believers. However, the Bahá’í Writings find no difficulty with Nietzsche’s requirements insofar as they unequivocally reject “ancestral imitations”[67] and insist on our obligation to the independent investigation of truth.[68] The independent investigation of truth in ethics does not mean we have to reject the moral guidance of the Manifestations – but rather that we must understand such guidance since otherwise it becomes blind imitation instead of a rational choice based on understanding. Investigating and understanding a given moral law, in effect, makes that law ours even if it is a re-discovery. As Goethe says, “What you have inherited from your forefathers, it takes work to make it your own.”[69]  In this way, the principle of the independent investigation of truth absolves the acceptance of revealed truth from being a mere “ancestral imitation.” In other words, those who are willing to make the sacrifices of self-overcoming will have increased capacities in power and spirit.


            The purpose and mission of the holy, divine Messengers is the training and advancement   of humanity, the cultivation of divine fruits in the gardens of human hearts, the reflection of heavenly effulgence in the mirrors of human souls, the quickening of mental capacity          and the increase of spiritual susceptibilities.[70]


            It may be objected that the Writings proclaim that humans were meant for happiness – which indeed, they are[71] – but happiness for the Writings and Nietzsche consists in the expansion of our powers not in mere ease and comfort be it psycho-spiritual and/or physical. Athletic training illustrates this point: the training itself is inevitably uncomfortable, painful and gruelling – yet the athlete who this pain in light of his goals, is happy because s/he because s/he can feel the growth of his/her capacity. `Abdu'l-Bahá states:


            The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is         ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough       furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation       free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete     detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness . . . Through          suffering he will attain to an eternal happiness which nothing can take from him . . .  To     attain eternal happiness one must suffer. He who has reached the state of self-sacrifice   has true joy. Temporal joy will vanish.[72]


In short, the suffering required by self-overcoming is necessary for the happiness that is to come both in this world and the next. Of course, for Nietzsche, this self-weeding process refers to what he calls “slave-morality” which we shall discuss in more detail below.


            Superficially, Nietzsche does not see any direct relationship between the empowerment he advocates and God, but a closer analysis shows the issue is not so clear. Conscious conformity to the will to power is precisely what he promotes but then an old problem arises: as we have shown, the will to power is a highly metaphysical concept, not at all empirical, and in significant respects similar to a metaphysical description of God:  a creator because ‘it’ is the necessary origin or source of all things;  ‘it’ is timeless, i.e. unaffected by the passage of time; ‘it’ is omnipresent i.e. in all things; ‘it’ is omnipotent because ‘it’ is the power in all things; and changeless insofar as it always does the same essential actions  - and in the case of the eternal return – ‘it’ does exactly the same things forever.  In short, the will to power is super-natural and has attributes not found in any natural empirical objects. Therefore, it is possible to argue that Nietzsche wants us to live in conformity to a super-natural will that has all the philosophical attributes of God. The fact that ‘it’ is impersonal and pantheistic makes no difference to ‘its’ supernatural nature. One of the consequences of this is that Nietzsche’s quarrel is not so much with religion per se but with what humans of made of religion. This, too, brings him into convergence with the Bahá’í Writings as does the fact that he sees a prophet – Zarathustra – bringing this message to humankind. In principle, at least, he saw the need for a prophet – a fact which converges with the Bahá’í belief that Manifestations of God are necessary for the empowerment of humans as spiritual beings.


9: Sublimation and the Transvaluation of Values


            Sublimation is an essential aspect of self-overcoming and also involves a form of the transvaluation of values. In its broadest sense, sublimation means to transform and ‘raise’ or ‘spiritualize’ our low animal attributes so that they become more appropriate to our specifically human nature. In the process of ‘spiritualizing’ our animal attributes, we also engage in changing their value from less desirable to more desirable, from blameworthy into praiseworthy, from evil; into good. We transvalue what was morally reprehensible into the morally good. Sublimation is the opposite of repression which tries to suppress our animal attributes instead of them and employing them in new and more positive ways. Bahá’u’lláh’s characterizes this process in alchemical terms:


            Is it within human power, O Hakim, to effect in the constituent elements of any of the       minute and indivisible particles of matter so complete a transformation as to transmute it    into purest gold? Perplexing and difficult as this may appear, the still greater task of             converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We have been             empowered to accomplish. The Force capable of such a transformation transcendeth the       potency of the             Elixir itself.[73]


`Abdu'l-Bahá provides an example of sublimation:  


            For example, from the beginning of his life you can see in a nursing child the signs of         greed, of anger and of temper. Then, it may be said, good and evil are innate in the             reality of man, and this is contrary to the pure goodness of nature and creation. The             answer to this is that greed, which is to ask for something more, is a praiseworthy             quality provided that it is used suitably. So if a man is greedy to acquire science and             knowledge, or to become compassionate, generous and just, it is most praiseworthy. If he    exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious        beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use these qualities in a right way, they            are blameworthy.[74]


In other words, animal attributes like greed and hatred which are a natural part of our human constitution,[75] are applied to higher, specifically human goals such as the acquisition of knowledge, understanding and justice and, thereby, are raised or ‘spiritualized’ into more humanly appropriate attributes. This, of course, involves a transvaluation of values: qualities that are good and useful in our animal nature are now inappropriate for our human nature as “rational

souls” and attributes and pursuits that are useless to our animal nature, now become virtues.  In other words, we raise the lower – for example, animal greed or anger – by applying it to a specifically human activity i.e. the quest for knowledge and justice and, thereby, harness them to a higher purpose. By doing this we have ‘transvalued’ or ‘revalued’ greed and anger from negative to  positive, from a vice into a virtue, and from something that is humanly destructive to something that is humanly constructive.


            Religion is and has been the major instrument for actualizing such changes in the

human race.


            Through religion man is enabled to transcend himself to become nobler than his             biologically inherent animal qualities would permit. Through religion he is trained to         sublimate all of these animal qualities  --  qualities perfectly legitimate in their own     field but obstructive to the development of a catholic and harmonious human society.[76]


No other instrument for sublimation on such a massive, far-reaching and enduring scale has yet been identified – not even in politics and the mass ideologies of the twentieth century. Religion is undoubtedly the single most powerful social instrument and, therefore, the most practical means of sublimation and the transvaluation of values. However, this process must start in the individual and `Abdu'l-Bahá provides us with an illustration of how to proceed within ourselves:


            When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of         hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring             destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. [77]


In other words, sublimation and transvaluation of values is a process we must consciously undertake within ourselves by practicing what the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path calls “right thoughts.” We must actively tend to our thoughts like a garden and remove the weeds:


            In this same way man must free himself from the weeds of ignorance, thorns of             superstitions and thistles of imitations that he may discover reality in the harvests of true             knowledge. Otherwise, the discovery of reality is impossible, contention and divergence      of religious belief will always remain, and mankind, like ferocious wolves[78]


Bahá’u’lláh’s dispensation is to help sublimate our animal attributes and transform our values in order to establish a new world order. Of course, it is our responsibility to take up this challenge.


            Nietzsche’s views on sublimation are similar, i.e. they converge with the Bahá’í teaching. In The Will to Power, he writes:


               If anything signifies our humanization — a genuine and actual progress- it is the fact         that we no longer require excessive oppositions, indeed no opposites at all-- we may        love the senses, we have spiritualized and made them artistic in every degree; we                have a right to all those things which were most maligned until now."[79]


It is important to note that Nietzsche believes we have a right to the lower emotions which have been sublimated and transvalued to a higher level. Similarly, `Abdu'l-Bahá, does not tell us to repress greed or anger, or pretend they do not exist; rather, his command is to sublimate them i.e. give them spiritual functions, and raising their place in our scale of values as goals. Bahá’u’lláh does the same: He does not speak of repressing or eliminating “satanic strength” but of transforming it, i.e. sublimating it. Nietzsche has similar ideas. He writes, “All good things were formerly bad things; every original sin has turned into an original virtue.”[80] In Bahá’í terms, our virtues may have their roots but not their fullest development in our animal nature. In a statement remarkably similar to `Abdu'l-Bahá’s, Nietzsche writes,


            The thirst for enmity, cruelty, revenge, violence turns back, is repressed; in the desire for        knowledge there is avarice and conquest; in the artist there reappears the repressed         power to dissimulate and lie.[81] 


In our view, the conclusion is clear: the Bahá’í concept of sublimation is convergent with Nietzsche’s thought on this matter.


10: The Agonistic View of Life


            The centrality of self-overcoming in the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche leads us to identify two further agreements and convergences between them. The first is the view that in significant ways, life is an agon, not only a struggle to express the will to power but also a struggle for higher moral values by self-overcoming. In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi states:


            Life is a constant struggle, not only against forces around us, but above all against our

            own 'ego'. We can never afford to rest on our oars, for if we do, we soon see ourselves

            carried down stream again.[82]


Shoghi Effendi’s image effectively conveys the agonistic view of life as found in the Writings. The same idea is conveyed – albeit implicitly – in `Abdu'l-Bahá’s statement that the “state of motion is said to be essential--that is, natural; it cannot be separated from beings because            it is their essential requirement”.[83] The struggle is necessary both for individuals and collectives:


            Until the nerves and arteries of the nation stir into life, every measure that is attempted        will prove vain; for the people are as the human body, and determination and the will to        struggle are as the soul, and a soulless body does not move.[84]

In particular, this struggle refers to the struggle’s to overcome our ego and our lower nature:


            The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires. By       obeying the laws of God, seeking to live the life laid down in our teachings, and prayer and struggle, we can subdue our egos. We call people 'Saints' who have achieved the             highest degree of mastery over their ego.[85]

This reaffirms the agonistic view of life in the Writings. Since our lower nature remains with us during our lives in the phenomenal world, the condition of struggle endures through life. In the course of this struggle, we actually give value to our lives by willfully drawing nearer to God Who is the possessor of all value.


            Nietzsche has similar views. As Christa Davis Acampora writes:


            Nietzsche’s agonism is at the heart of his center of his concerns out the circuits of value   production and change – how human activity becomes significant and meaningful, how     values and meanings become shared . . .[86]


The entire story of Zarathustra is a parable about life as a struggle to become something higher. Without this struggle, and without the will to power’s ceaseless efforts to expand itself, Nietzsche’s entire philosophy would collapse. He would simply have no point to make.


            In the Bahá’í worldview, self-overcoming is also an essential part of mankind’s collective spiritual and material progress. Speaking of older dispensations whose time is passing, Shoghi Effendi points out that


            the burden of the impending contest that must be waged, sooner or later . . . between the     rising institutions of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic divinely appointed Order, and the exponents of obsolescent doctrines and the defenders, both secular and religious, of a corrupt and     fast-declining society.[87]


As we observe above, there is an agonistic aspect to the Faith’s relationship to the old world order and “outworn creeds” [88] which Bahá'u'lláh’s revelation is here to reinvigorate or replace.

Speaking of past dispensations, Shoghi Effendi says,


            Ours is the duty, in anticipation of this inevitable contest, to uphold unequivocally and      with undivided loyalty the integrity of our Faith and demonstrate the distinguishing             features of its divinely appointed institutions.[89]

Elsewhere, he states, “We have only to refer to the warnings uttered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in order to realize the extent and character of the forces that are destined to contest with God's holy Faith.”[90]

            The key question is how this contest or “agonistic engagement”[91] is to be pursued. In the Bahá’í Faith, it is waged not with the violent overthrow of governments,  political opposition by means of partisan politics or extra-parliamentary movements but by means of ideas, values, good personal examples, revitalized hope, and appeals to the spiritual elements in human nature. In other words, the Bahá’í Faith seeks the best for humanity by means of positive teachings and examples that reinvigorate humankind’s spiritual and social life but which also – by virtue of their spiritual power – push aside and replace the old world order in both its inner and outer functions. Acampora refers to this as “lover and fighter”[92] aspect of Nietzsche yet in our view, it also applies to the Bahá’í Faith which is motivated by its love for the progress of all humans as well as by its mission to relegate the old world order into the past. Moreover, there should be no mistake about this “contest” – it is absolutely real, is waged in deadly earnest the highest imaginable stakes – the future of humankind – and has far-reaching consequences. Indeed, Shoghi Effendi’s own words emphasize the inevitable and uncompromising character of the contest between Bahá'u'lláh's new world order and the old world order: this “contest . . . must be waged, sooner or later.” This indicates that Shoghi Effendi recognizes that some conflicts are unavoidable and are part of the unfolding development of the Bahá’í Faith.

11: Earthly Life


            Nietzsche believes that religion – and Judaism and Christianity in particular – distorted human life by encouraging a disdain for our earthly and bodily existence in favor of looking beyond the material earth to some transcendental realm or Being. He writes:


            I entreat you, my brothers, remain true to the earth and do not believe those who speak to           you of superterrestrial! They are poisoners whether they know it or not . . .  To        blaspheme the earth is now the most dreadful offence and to esteem the bowels of the       Inscrutable more highly than the meaning of the earth.[93]


Three comments are in order. First, yet again we note the religious language Nietzsche uses, and his obvious attempt to elevate the earth and earthly life as new deities to be worshipped showing that his break with the Transcendental is not complete. Second, what is meant by “the meaning of the earth”? The problem is, what specifically constitutes the “meaning of the earth”? What beliefs and/ or actions does it require? Finally, Nietzsche seems to have missed Hume’s pivotal discovery that empirical things – the earth included – do not have inherent value or meanings. Whatever meaning they have must be imposed by us – and Nietzsche has not provided any reasons why we should value material existence over anything else.


            Unlike Nietzsche, the Bahá’í Writings see no inherent conflict between a proper valuation of the earth and material world as the creation of God and as the starting point of our journey towards God and at the same, the belief that our spiritual evolution will continue on a transcendental plane. In other words, the Bahá’í Writings agree with Nietzsche’s valuation of the earth insofar as the phenomenal world is the appearance of the Transcendental:


            Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the             revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom    are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great   Light. Methinks, but for the potency of that revelation, no being could ever exist. How    resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom, and how vast the oceans             of wisdom that surge within a drop! To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among    all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been singled    out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes   and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled[94]


From the perspective of this quotation, as disdain for the earth – and humanity – is not far removed from disdain for God Himself since the earth is God’s creation. Therefore it must be valued properly. The fact that our earthly life is limited and we are destined to continue our evolution on a different plane does not necessitate any disdain for the earth. It may lead to that under some historical circumstances – but it is not inherently necessary.


12: Perspectivism and Truth


            One of the most controversial and influential aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy is perspectivism             according to which we can only have perspectives on things but have no true knowledge of anything. 


               Against positivism, which halts at phenomena--"There are only facts"--I

               would say: No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations. We cannot    establish any fact "in itself": perhaps it is folly to want to do such a thing.


               "Everything is subjective," you say; but even this is interpretation. The "subject" is not      something given, it is something added and invented and projected behind what there       is . --Finally, is it necessary to posit an interpreter behind the interpretation? Even this         is invention, hypothesis . . .


               It is our needs that interpret the world; our drives and their For and Against. Every

               drive is a kind of lust to rule; each one has its perspective that it would like to compel

               all the other drives to accept as a norm.[95]


In short, Nietzsche denies the existence of “facts” and replaces them with “interpretations” or perspectives or, more colloquially, opinions.  This is the view described by Steven D Hales and Rex Welshon as “strong perspectivism [which] is what many think Nietzsche offers . . . [and which] is self-refuting.”[96] We find “strong perspectivism” exemplified in the following statement by Nietzsche:


            The apparent world, i.e., a world viewed according to values; ordered, selected             according to values, i.e., in this case according to the viewpoint of utility in regard to         the preservation and enhancement of the power of a certain species of animal.


               The perspective therefore decides the character of the "appearance"! As if a world                would still remain over after one deducted the perspective! By doing that one would     deduct relativity!


               Every center of force adopts a perspective toward the entire remainder, i. e., its own        particular valuation, mode of action, and mode of resistance. The "apparent world,"   therefore, is reduced to a specific mode of action on the world, emanating from a                center. [97]


In other words, all we have is appearances determined by the perspectives we adopt.  There is no “noumenal” or underlying reality or truth which exists independently of some perspectives. As Nietzsche says, “As if a world would still remain over after one deducted the perspective!” Moreover, Nietzsche objects to “deduct[ing] relativity,” he believes that all truth-claims are relative since all are the subjective products of a particular perspective. All we have are appearances determined by the perspectives we adopt.  There is no “noumenal” or underlying reality or truth which exists independently of some perspectives. Moreover, Nietzsche objects to “deduct[ing] relativity,” i.e. he wishes to maintain the principle that all truth-claims are relative without any absolute truth or validity and being subjective vis-à-vis a particular perspective. Since all truth-claims or perspectives are relative we cannot judge between contradictory truth-claims because there is no privileged perspective or viewpoint by which to judge. This leads to the startling conclusion that either there is no truth at all or even if there is a truth, it cannot be known by humankind. Struggles about truth are ultimately struggles about authority and power. Nietzsche confirms this when he writes,


            ‘Truth’ is therefore not something there, that might be found or discovered--but             something that must be created and that gives a name to a process, or rather to a will to overcome that has in itself no end — introducing truth, as a processus in infinitum, an        active determining-- not a becoming conscious of something that is in itself firm and      determined. It is a word for the "will to power.[98]


The belief that truth is created by us and not found by exploration. The concept of ‘truth’ depends on the will to will to power insofar as all human activities are shaped by each person’s will to power. He states,


               ‘The "will to truth’ would then have to be investigated psychologically: it is not a                moral force, but a form of the will to power. This would have to be proved by showing that it employs every immoral means: metaphysicians above all.[99]


The last statement is vintage Nietzsche – a radical philosophical statement about truth, accompanied by a drive-by slur, i.e. an ad hominem, against other philosophers. But, as we shall see below, it also displays the Achilles’ Heel of “strong perspectivism,” i.e. self-reference. If Nietzsche is right, then his claim itself is in doubt, because it, too, is nothing but a “form of the will to power,” in this case, Nietzsche trying to dominate his readers.


            The “strong perspectivist” view, is not only logically incompatible with the Bahá’í Writings, but entails at least five major problematic consequences. First, there is a category mistake insofar as Nietzsche’s conflation of the will to power with the will to truth mistakes God with man. In the case of God, the two are the same: whatever God wills is the truth since God’s will determines the nature of reality and all parts of reality. “He doeth whatsoever He willeth, and ordaineth that which He pleaseth.”[100] However, this is not the case for humans. Who has not had the experience of interpreting a shadow on a forest walk as a ferocious animal, or what man has not mistakenly interpreted a pretty girl’s smile as an invitation to approach her? Obviously, our interpretations do not ‘make’ facts or reality and no amount of verbal legerdemain can alter the fact that our interpretations were wrong – and subject to correction by reality. Common, everyday experience rejects this conflation of man and God.


            Second, logical self-refutation or “strong perspectivism” – encountered in many postmodern thinkers[101] – is also obvious. If all truth-claims are perspectival, then this view itself is perspectival – and therefore, the opposite view that truth is absolute may well be true at least in some perspectives. But that is exactly what strong perspectivism denies!  In short, if strong perspectivism is true, then it may well be false. This is a logically untenable foundation for any attempt at a coherent philosophy be it Nietzsche’s or that found in the Writings.


            Third, perspectives cannot exist without someone’s or something’s perspective, [102] i.e. there can be no non-perspectival or “extra-perspectival”[103] truth. This position, of course, denies God’s capacity as an “extra-perspectival” observer and, in effect, reduces Him to being a perspectival, i.e. limited observer like all other things. Such a reduction is incompatible with the Writings. Fourth, perspectives or standpoints determine what the ‘truth’ is and, therefore, truth is relative and there can be no absolute truth that is true in the same way in all perspectives. This is incompatible with the Writings because if the statement ‘Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this age’ is not objectively true across all perspectives (though not necessarily recognized as true), then the universality and potency of His revelation is negated. Fifth, since perspective determines ‘truth’ and there can be no non-perspectival or “extra-perspectival standpoint point from which to judge among competing ‘truths-claims,’ there can be no such things as errors. Nietzsche’s view in effect says that there can be no errors, all perspectives are equally valid.

The Writings plainly contradict such ego-inflating ‘infallibilist’ consequences and clearly acknowledge the existence of “error”[104], “idle fancies and vain imagining,”[105] “ignorance,”[106] “heedlessness and superstition,”[107] and ideas that are “absurd.”[108] Indeed, Bahá’u’lláh even recognizes that some religions “are the outcome of human perversity.”[109] The existence of error harmonizes, as we shall see below, with “weak perspectivism” i.e. the viewpoint that not all perspectives are necessarily true.


            “Strong perspectivism” also leads to problems vis-à-vis understanding the Bahá’í Writings. For example, after explaining how the four methods of acquiring truth are flawed `Abdu’l-Bahá writes, “there is no standard in the hands of people upon which we can rely.”[110] This sounds like “strong perspectivism.” The practical problem is ‘How far should we take this conclusion?’ Shall we take this to mean that we cannot know with certainty i.e. across all relevant perspectives (1) that human beings need food or they will starve to death; (2) that the seasons progress in an orderly manner; (3) that dogs are not jelly fish; (4) the sun appears to move from east to west across the sky and (5) that the tides are not influenced by the moon? Further, when studying the Writings, can we really not rely on the natural phenomena they use in their analogies and illustrations, e.g. change of seasons? In our view, such a corrosive skepticism in the Writings since it would undermine many of the messages the Writings are trying to convey. Take the following quotation:


            In pursuance, however, of the principle that for every thing a time hath been fixed, and      for every fruit a season hath been ordained, the latent energies of such a bounty can best     be released, and the vernal glory of such a gift can only be manifested, in the Days             of God.[111]


The point of this statement would be undermined or even negated if seasonal change were disputed or even disputable – since no other certainly known fact can replace the example used. The moment we deny the certainty of our knowledge of seasonal change, the whole point Bahá’u’lláh is trying to make becomes moot. In more general terms, two questions arise. First, do the Writings really suggest that there is no certain human knowledge about anything at all, that absolutely everything is open to doubt  – even ‘elemental’ facts such as the death of Beethoven, yesterday’s sun rise, our need for air or subjection to the law of gravity?  Second, do they rather intend us to apply the teachings about human epistemological limits to spiritual matters and to higher, more complex intellectual conclusions? The fatal logical flaw of the first is that the claim that everything is open to doubt is itself open to doubt, and, thereby refutes itself and becomes meaningless. If it is true then it may not be true. This is a problem with all forms of “strong perspectivism.” 


            Clearly, the Bahá’í Writings reject “strong perspectivism.” Nowhere do they suggest that truth is entirely subjective, i.e. wholly dependent on our outlook and perspective. Would God really cease to exist if no one’s perspective included Him as Nietzsche suggests when he says there would be no world “after one deducted the perspective!” Is God’s existence really a mere matter of perspective and subjective opinion? If that were the case, why would Bahá’u’lláh declare, “Know thou for a certainty that whoso disbelieveth in God is neither trustworthy nor truthful. This, indeed, is the truth, the undoubted truth.”? [112] The inevitable implication is that God’s existence is true in all perspectives and that denying Him is either a personal deficiency or wilful defiance. Is there no way to judge between a perspective that says “God exists” and one that says “God does not exist?” As long as they both refer to ‘God’ in the same sense, are they both true or right, logic notwithstanding?  Bahá’u’lláh seems to disagree:


            As for them who have disbelieved in Him, they shall be in the shadow of a black smoke.            "The Hour" hath come upon them, while they are disporting themselves. They have been           seized by their forelock, and yet know it not.[113]


He also says,


            They that have disbelieved in God and rebelled against His sovereignty are the helpless

            victims of their corrupt inclinations and desires. These shall return to their abode in

            the fire of hell: wretched is the abode of the deniers![114]


These passages, and others like them, leave no doubt that all perspectives are not equally true or valid, and that at least on some issues, truth is not relative. In other words, our own perspectives, which may be based on the false “imaginations of [our] hearts” may lead us to deny the existence of the Manifestation – but this perspective is false even if it is sincerely held. Sincerity itself is not a guarantor of truth or logical validity. Recognized or not, the Manifestation and His mission exists and is acting in the world – a clear denial of the belief that perspective determines truth and that there are no ‘noumenal truths’ that are independent of our perspectives. Furthermore, Bahá'u'lláh advises us to “meditate profoundly  . . . so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns.”[115] These distinctions demonstrate there is no attempt made to salvage all views by attributing them to differing standpoints or perspectives by declaring them all to be relatively true. At least some perspectives are able to provide truth while others are in error.


            The problem with Nietzsche, of course, is that on this issue as well, he is conflicted, making it difficult to know which view is really his. After all, there is significant evidence from his work that he is convinced that there are no absolute truths of any kind.[116] Yet, he blatantly violates his own principle. The entire doctrine of the will to power would be negated if it were true, i.e. if its existence were dependent on perspective there would be an easy escape from Nietzsche’s philosophy: adopt a different perspective in which the will to power is not true! If truth is strongly or purely perspectival, all of Nietzsche’s critiques of European culture, of Christianity (which he loves to hate) and of spirituality are moot. They have no validity for other perspectives. How can he purport to ‘unmask’ morality in The Genealogy of Morals if there is nothing to unmask from Christian morality – except a perspective in which such morals are as valid as the morality that emerges from his perspective? If truth is perspectival, how can Zarathustra condemn the morals of the common man – which are true in their perspective? We need not multiply examples of Nietzsche’s obvious logical entanglements caused by the conflict between his overt statements that appear to accept “strong perspectivism” and his actual practice. 


            While there is no relationship between the Bahá’í Writings and “strong perspectivism” in Nietzsche, there is far-reaching agreement in regards to “weak perspectivism.” Here is Rex Welshon’s succinct explanation:


            Suppose weak perspectivism is true for every other statement except itself. It then turns    out that for the thesis of weak perspectivism, absolutism is true. Why? Because truth    absolutism claims there is at least one statement that is true in all perspectives. Perhaps           the only such statement is the thesis of weak perspectivism. Here, then is a way to rescue Nietzsche’s truth perspectivism without abandoning the spirit behind it . . . Perhaps           there are other statements in addition to the thesis of weak perspectivism that are true    across all perspectives.[117]


Thus, there may be some absolute truths i.e. some truths are true for all perspectives and there may be some that are not. The possibility of some absolute truths, i.e. truths from all perspectives means that, in effect, some truths are not dependent on perspective, and even opens up the possibility of “extra-perspectival” truths which is how the Bahá’í Writings characterize God’s revelations. Furthermore, this also revives the possibility that there exist some objective standards by which to judge various perspectives. Finally, error is possible; not all perspectives necessarily give us the truth. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that “weak perspectivism” is in harmony with the Writings.


            A significant agreement between “weak perspectivism” and the Bahá’í Writings emerges when he examine Shoghi Effendi’s statements about progressive revelation. He writes,


            The mission of the Founder of their Faith, they conceive it to be to proclaim that             religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is continuous and             progressive, that the Founders of all past religions, though different in the non-essential         aspects of their teachings, "abide in the same Tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are      seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech and proclaim the same Faith."[118]


Further, he asserts that the purpose of each Manifestation


            is to widen the basis of all revealed religions and to unravel the mysteries of their             scriptures. He insists on the unqualified recognition of the unity of their purpose, restates           the eternal verities they enshrine, coordinates their functions, distinguishes the essential   and the authentic from the nonessential and spurious in their teachings, separates the God-given truths from the priest-prompted superstitions, and on this as a basis    proclaims the possibility, and even prophecies the inevitability, of their unification, and      the consummation of their highest hopes.[119]


To summarize in Hales’ and Welshon’s language about “weak perspectivism,” the relative truths, i.e. those that were not valid in all perspectives could be changed as historical conditions alter; among these were the “spurious” “priest prompted superstitions” and the “non-essential” specific adaptations to geographic and cultural circumstances. They are completely dependent on perspective i.e. the standpoint of a particular culture at a particular time under particular circumstances. However, there are also “eternal verities” and “God-given truths” that are valid in all perspectives, i.e. they are absolute. Such “verities” are “restat[ed]” in every dispensation and while they may be expanded or given new form, the essential truths they convey are never set aside as ‘untrue.’ In other words, the Bahá’í Writings can accept the doctrine that all statements come from a particular perspective – but in “weak perspectivism” that does not mean that some statements cannot be true across all perspectives.


            “Weak perspectivism” also allows a robust commitment to the unity of truth. As `Abdu’l-

Bahá affirms, “No one truth can contradict another truth.”[120] He supports this by stating, that

“truth or reality is not multiple; it is not divisible”[121] and “truth is one, although its

 manifestations may be very different.”[122] Differences in the “manifestations” of truth do not necessarily imply logical contradictions which `Abdu’l-Bahá seeks to avoid. Shoghi Effendi re-affirms this theme, saying, “Truth may, in covering different subjects, appear to be contradictory, and yet it is all one if you carry the thought through to the end.”[123] He adds, “Truth is one when it is independently investigated, it does not accept division.”[124] “Weak perspectivism” easily accommodates the Writings on this issue and so does Nietzsche if read in this way.


            Our conclusion is clear: if Nietzsche’s perspectivism is read according to Hales and Werlshon as “weak perspectivism” and as implicitly practiced by Nietzsche, there is agreement with the Bahá’í Writings. “Weak perspectivism,” provides a more flexible outlook because it recognizes relative, perspectival truths such as seen in the cultural adaptations of the divine teachings and, it recognizes absolute cross-perspectival truths as seen in the “eternal verities” restated by the Manifestations. It also recognizes that at least some of Nietzsche’s teachings must be accepted as absolutely true, viz. self-overcoming, the will to power and the eternal return. If Nietzsche’s perspectivism is understood as “strong perspectivism,” as overtly stated by Nietzsche – though implicitly contradicted in much of what he writes – then there is no agreement between him and the Writings.


            “Weak perspectivism” also avoids outlandish conclusions that needlessly complicate and impede the quest for knowledge and truth.  After all, it is indisputable that Beethoven is physically dead. Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by lack of blood flow. What is to be gained by understanding the Bahá’í Writings in a way that opens them to such problems?  “Weak perspectivism” as in the following example from `Abdu’l-Bahá is immune from critiocisms.


            He has bestowed upon [man] the power of intellect so that through the attribute of reason,

            when fortified by the Holy Spirit, he may penetrate and discover ideal realities and

            become informed of the mysteries of the world of significances.[125]


This statement embodies “weak perspectivism” insofar as it informs us that under some circumstances – the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – reliably true knowledge about the super-natural “world of significances” can be attained. In a similar vein, `Abdu’l-Bahá notes,


            the bounty of the Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension which is infallible         and indubitable. This is through the help of the Holy Spirit which comes to man, and this is the condition in which certainty can alone be attained. [126] 


Speaking about the power of love, `Abdu’l-Bahá concludes,


            This is a proof perceptible to the senses, acceptable to reason, in accord with traditions        and teachings of the Holy Books and verified by the promptings of human hearts themselves. It is a proof upon which we can absolutely rely and declare to be             complete[127]


Here, too, we observe the possibility of attaining reliable knowledge from some perspectives –

and, thereby, the agreement with “weak perspectivism” not just vis-à-vis elemental facts but also

religious truths  such as the existence of God, which, according to `Abdu’l-Bahá can be logically proven.: “The existence of the Divine Being hath been clearly established, on the basis of logical poofs.”[128]


            “Weak perspectivism” also allows us to accommodate such statements as “Numerous and conclusive proofs exist that go to show that this infinite world cannot end with this human life.”[129] Elsewhere, he adds,

            It is my hope that from day to day your gatherings will grow and flourish, and that those   who are seeking after truth will hearken therein to reasoned arguments and conclusive       proofs.[130]




            Day and night must you think, strive and investigate, that you may attain to the mysteries        of the Kingdom; that you may attain certainty in knowledge; that you may know this        world has a Creator, has a Maker, has a Resuscitator, has a Provider, has an Architect --     but know this through proofs and evidences, not through susceptibilities; nay rather        through decisive proofs, evident arguments and real vision -- that is to say, visualizing it   just as you visualize the sun. May you with complete certainty behold the signs of God   and attain to the knowledge of the holy divine Manifestations.[131]


Each one of these passages – and there are others to choose from – makes use of the idea of “conclusive” knowledge, or “certainty” or “proofs” and, thereby, show that the Writings are in harmony with “weak perspectivism” and the possibility of at least some staements being true across all perspectives. 


13: The Primacy of Knowledge


            There is a strong convergence between the Writings and Nietzsche in regards to the primacy of conscious knowledge especially in regards to ethical acts. For example, Nietzsche states that “Virtue is under certain circumstances merely an honorable form of stupidity . . . And this kind of virtue has not been outlived even today.”[132] He adds that in the society of his time


            [a] virtuous man is a lower species because he is not a “person” but acquires his value by          conforming to a pattern of man that is fixed once and for all. He does not possess his      value apart . . .  he must not be an individual.[133]        


In other words, society’s so-called “virtuous man” acquires his virtues – and his ‘individuality – by conforming to, by imitating others. This critique of virtue as thoughtless imitation is also found in the Bahá’í Writings, and is, as a matter of fact, related to one of the core teachings of the Faith. Speaking about the core principles of Bahá’u’lláh’s dispensation, `Abdu'l-Bahá says:


            The first is the independent investigation of truth; for blind imitation of the past will stunt         the mind. But once every soul inquireth into truth, society will be freed from the darkness    of continually repeating the past.[134]


Shoghi Effendi writes:

            The first principle of Bahá’u’lláh is independent investigation of truth, that is, all the       nations of the world have to investigate after truth independently and turn their eyes from    the moribund blind imitations of the past ages entirely.

Both the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche agree that beliefs – including moral beliefs – should be investigated and studied independently so they can be adopted on the basis of active understanding and not on passive – and hence absent-minded – acceptance. If virtues, morals – or any beliefs – are not taken up as a result of our own investigations and understanding, then we do not really know what we are assenting to or on what basis we are being virtuous.  This is problematic both for Nietzsche who despises the so-called “virtuous man” and the Bahá’í  Writings because there is a difference in ethical value between a good act performed out of knowledge and understanding and one that is simply follow others. ‘Abdu’l-Baha points out the primacy of knowledge in ethical acts:

Although a person of good deeds is acceptable at the Threshold of the Almighty, yet it is first "to know," and then "to do . . . By the faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds.[135]

In other words, if action is not informed by knowledge, the action will be ‘blind.’ As we shall see below, this blindness creates enormous difficulties not just for Bahá’í ethics but for ethics in general. Of course, unlike Nietzsche, the Writings require the knowledge of God for moral action to be complete. ‘Abdu’l-Baha says, 

If man has not this knowledge [of God], he will be separated from God, and when this separation exists,[between God and man] good actions have not complete effect. This verse . . . signifies only that the foundation is to know God, and the good actions result from this knowledge . . . the blessed verse means that good actions alone, without the knowledge of God, cannot be the cause of eternal salvation, everlasting success, and prosperity, and entrance into the Kingdom of God. [136]

This is not a merely arbitrary imposition. In the first place, God alone has legitimacy in setting moral standards for humanity because only God has the full and complete knowledge of human nature that qualifies Him to decide what is good or evil. No human has such knowledge and, as a logical consequence, ethical acts based on human judgment are inherently grounded on ‘best guesses’ i.e. speculation. Second, because only God has this knowledge, He alone has the authority to establish what is moral or not.

            Strange as it may seem, Nietzsche himself is not far removed from such a view insofar as he believes he is bringing us the necessary knowledge of the will to power – his ‘God substitute’ – and the commandment that we must act in accord with its nature. Without such knowledge of the will to power applied both to ourselves and to our life in the world, we can easily become prey to the siren songs of slave morality. This is precisely what Nietzsche strives to prevent.

            The reason both the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche insist on the primacy of knowledge in ethics is not difficult to see. Without knowledge, we cannot form intentions. No one asserts that a baby can act ethically or unethically because babies lack the knowledge necessary to form an intention. That is why they cannot do evil; they can do injurious or disadvantageous acts by poking a finger in our eye, but no one would describe this act as ‘evil.’ Similarly, there can be no accidental moral good. If an unexpected arm spasm causes a driver to swerve and, thereby, avoid hitting a sleep-walker wandering on the road, no moral act has been committed. The same holds true for the mugger whose blackjack sends a victim to hospital where a hitherto undetected brain tumor is discovered and removed. The mugger cannot claim to have acted morally because he had neither the necessary knowledge nor intention to do good. In other words, an act may be good or advantageous to others but that by itself does not make the act moral. Consequently, it adds nothing to the moral development or growth of the one who commits it. The knowledge of God is essential because without it, we can never really fully understand why we are acting morally and are acting with half-knowledge, or, incomplete knowledge. The same could be said of actions performed without knowledge of Nietzsche’s will to power. 

14: Conclusion


            First appearances notwithstanding, there are a significant number of convergences, agreements and paralellisms between the Bahá’í Writings and Nietzsche both in terms of their overall project of transforming humankind as well as in the ideas needed to accomplish this goal. Sometimes, how close these convergences, agreements and paralellisms are depends on how much emphasis we wish to put on Nietzsche’s dramatic – and melodramatic – mode of expression. Our preference has been to pay more attention to the underlying idea than on the verbal fire-works.


            As a result of this study, we conclude that Nietzsche’s works – in significant parts – are amenable to a Bahá’í reading. His views on the master and slave morality, aristocracy and the glorification of ruthlessness are clearly not included. Indeed, few people would actually want to be personally identified with these views which made it easy for the Nazi’s to misappropriate his ideas.


            To those who are not committed to the Bahá’í cause, it may come as a surprise to see how these religious Writings so closely match the sharpest and most radical philosophical and social thinker of the Nineteenth Century. As a Bahá’í, I am convinced that as a result of Bahá'u'lláh’s mysterious influence, Nietzsche was one of those individuals who unconsciously felt the necessity of transforming souls to prepare for a new world order at the end European civilization. Whether or not others share that belief cannot undo the fact that the Bahá’í Writings exemplify deep, sweeping and fundamental critiques of and challenges to the modern world and, unlike Nietzsche, provide a viable and positive alternative for humanity. 

Selected Bibliography



Acampora, Christa.                Contesting Nietzsche. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 


Allison, David, B. editor.       The New Nietzsche: Contemporary Styles of Interpretation. New York: Dell Publishing, 1977.

Aristotle                                  Metaphysics.  Trans by W.D. Ross. Chicago.                  Encyclopedia Britannica 1971.


Paris Talks. London: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1971.

Promulgation of Universal Peace. Second Edition. Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982

Selected Writings of`Abdu’l-Bahá. Haifa: Baha’i  World Centre, 1978.

Some Answered Questions. Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1981.


Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1979.Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1976.

Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh. n.p., Immerse. Bernal Schooley, 1997.

Chamberlain, Leslie.              Nietzsche in Turin. New York: Picador, 1996.

Clark, Maudemarie,

Dudrick, David.                      The Soul of Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’. New York:                                                             Cambridge University press, 2012.


Danto, Arthur C.                     Nietzsche as Philosopher. New York: Macmillan, 1965.


Hales, Steven D. and

Welshon.                                 Nietzsche’s Perspectivism. Chicago: Universioty of Illinois Press,                                                  2000.



Hill, R Kevin                          Nietzsche: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum,                                                             2007.


Hollingdale, R.J.                     Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge                                                      University Press, 1999.


Hovey, Craig.                         Nietzsche and Theology. New York: Y & T Clark, 2008.


Jaspers, Karl.                          Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding  of His                                                                 Philosophical Activity. (Walraff, Schmitz) South Bend, Indiana:                                                            Regnery, 1965.


Kaufmann, Walter.                 Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. New York:                                                             Meridian Books, 1959. 


Leiter, Brian,

Sinhababu, Neil, editors.        Nietzsche and Morality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.



Nehamas, Alexander.                         Nietzsche: Life as Literature. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard                                                                       University Press, 1985. 


Nietzsche, Friederich.            Beyond Good and Evil, (Marianne Cowan),.Chicago: Regnery,                                                             1955.

                                                The Birth of Tragedy, (Francis Golffing). New York: Doubleday,                                                     1956.

                                                Ecce Homo, (R.J. Hollingdale). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books,                                                             1979. 

                                                The Gay Science (Walter Kaufmann). New York:                                                                            Vintage Books, 1974.

                                                The Gay Science, (Thomas Common). New York: Dover                                                                Publications, 2006. 

                                                Human, All Too Human, (Helen Zimmern, Paul Cohen). New                                                             York: Dover Publications, 2006.

                                                On the Geanealogy of Morals, Ecce Homo. (Walter Kaufmann),                                                     New York: Vintage Books, 1969.

                                                The Will to Power, (Kaufmann, Hollingdale). New York: Vintage                                                           Books, 1968.

                                                Thus Spake Zarathustra, (R.J. Hollingdale). Harmondsworth:                                                             Penguin Books, 1961.

                                                Twilight of the Gods, The Antichrist, (R.J. Hollingdale),                                                                 Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1968.


Bernd Magnus,

Kathleen M. Higgins.                         The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche. New York: Cambridge                                                      University Press, 1996. 


Mueller-Lauter, Wolfgang.    Nietzsche: His Philosophy of Contradictions and the                                                                       Contradictions of His Philosophy. (David Parent). Chicago:                                                         University of Illinois Press, 1999.


Bernard Reginster.                 The Affirmation of Life. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University                                                       Press, 2006.

Richardson, John.                   Nietzsche’s System. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.



Safranski, Ruediger.               Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography. (Frisch) New York: W.W.                                                  Norton, 2000.


Schacht, Richard.                   Making Sense of Nietzsche. Chicago: University of Illinois Press,



Stern, J.P.                                Nietzsche. Glasgow: Fontana, 1978.



Taha, Abir.                              Nietzsche’s Coming God. United Kingdom: Arktos Media, 2013.


Solomon, Robert and

Kathleen M Higgins,              What Nietzsche Really Said. New York: Schocken Books, 2000.


Warren, Mark.                        Nietzsche and Political Thought. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT                                                             Press, 1991.


Woodward, Ashley.                Interpreting Nietzsche, New York: Continuum, 2011. 




[1] See Ian Kluge, “Process Philosophy and the Bahá'í Writings: An Initial Exploration, “ in Lights of Irfan, Volume 5 (2004), p. 109 – 162.

[2] Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, (Hollingdale, p. 37)

[3] W.D. Ross, Aristotle, p. 154.

[4] Ian Kluge, Process Philosophy and the Bahá'í Writings: An Initial Exploration, in Lights of Irfan, Volume 5 (2004).

[5] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239.

[6] Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 209.

[7] Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 209.

[8] Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 140.

[9] Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 209.

[10] Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, CIX, p. 214.

[11] Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, (Kuafmann), “The Birth of Tragedy” # 3, p. 273.

[12] `Abdu'l-Bahá,  Some Answered Questions, p. 199.

[13]  Bahá’u’lláh Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 215.

[14] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 72; emphasis added.

[15] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), “The Honey Offering,” p. 252.

[16] `Abdu'l-Bahá,  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 7.

[17] `Abdu'l-Bahá,  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 90 – 901; emphasis added,

[18] `Abdu'l-Bahá,  Some Answered Questions, p. 196.

[19] R. Kevin Hill, Nietzsche: A Guide for the Perplexed, p. 28.

[20] John Richardson, Nietzsche’s System, p. 21; emphasis added. 

[21] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, (Cowan) # 13, p. 15; emphasis added.

[22] Nietzsche, The Will to Power, (Kaufmann/ Hollingdale) # 704, p. 374 – 375.

[23] Nietzsche, The Will to Power, (Kaufmann/ Hollingdale) # 552, p. 298.

[24] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Zarathustra’s Prologue,” p. 41 – 42.

[25] Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 83.

[26] Nietzsche, (Hollingdale), Thus Spake Zarathustra, “Zarathustra’s Prologue” # 2, p. 41.

[27] Roy Jackson, Nietzsche: A Complete Introduction, p. 161.

[28] Nietzsche, (Kaufman) The Will to Power, # 1067, p. 549.

[29] Bahá’u’lláh Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh,  LIX, p. 116.

[30] `Abdu'l-Bahá,  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 142. 

[31] Nietzsche (Kaufmann) The Gay Science, Book 3, # 125, “The Madman,” p. 181.

[32] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), “Of the Sublime Men,” p.140 – 141.

[33] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), “Of the Sublime Men,” p.140 – 141; emphasis added.

[34] The Bible, (King James), Genesis 7: 1 – 5.

[35] Nietzsche (Kaufmann) Ecce Homo, “Why I Write Such Good Books,” # 5, p. 368; emphasis added.

[36] Nietzsche (Kaufmann), The Will to Power, # 2, p. 7.

[37] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 187.

[38] The Bible (King James), 1 Peter 2: 24.

[39] R. Kevin Hill, Nietzsche: A Guide for the Perplexed, p. 95.

[40] Karl Loewth in Bernard Reginster, The Affirmation of Life, p. 206.

[41] Nietzsche, (Hollingdale) Thus Spake Zarathustra in “Zarathustra’s Prologue” # 3, p. 42.

[42] Abir Taha, Nietzsche’s Coming God, p. 10 – 11.

[43] Bahá’u’lláh Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh,  XCIX, p.199; emphasis added.

[44] `Abdu'l-Bahá,  Some Answered Questions, p. 47; emphasis added.

[45] `Abdu'l-Bahá, `Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 125.

[46] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Of the Priests”, p. 114 – 5.

[47] Bahá’u’lláh, Tabernacle of Unity, p. 6. 6

[48] King James Bible, Mark 9:24.

[49] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 536.

[50] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. 2, p. 448; emphasis added.

[51] Bernard Reginster, The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism, p. 194.

[52] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 7.

[53] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablet to the Hague, p. 8.

[54] Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 183.

[55] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Zarathustra’s Prologue,” p. 44.

[56] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Of Self-Overcoming,” p. 138.

[57] Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (Kaufmann), III, #27, p. 161; emphasis added.

[58] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Of the Sublime Men,” p. 141.

[59] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. 3, p. 545. 

[60] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 7.

[61] From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1947, in        Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 113.

[62] Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, (Hollingdale) # 2, p. 115.

[63] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Of the Sublime Men,” p. 140.

[64] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 22.

[65] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 457.

[66] Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 217.

[67]  `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 144.

[68] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 248.

[69] Goethe, Faust I, Scene I, l. 683-684.

[70] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 340.

[71] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 60; see also p. 98.

[72] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178.

[73] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 199; emphasis added.

[74] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215; emphasis added.

[75] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 118.

[76] Baha'i World Volumes, Volume  6, p. 638; emphasis added.

[77] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29.

[78] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293.

[79] Nietzsche, The Will to Power, (Kaufmann), # 115; emphasis added.

[80] Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Power, (Kaufmann), III, 9, p.        113.

[81] Nietzsche, The Will to Power, (Kaufmann). # 376.

[82] From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 8, 1949 in                Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 114.

[83] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 239.

[84] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 111.

[85] (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 8, 1949 in Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 113.

[86] Christa Davis Acampora, Contesting Nietzsche, p. 4.

[87] Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 155; emphasis added.

[88] Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 4.

[89] Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 4.

[90] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 17. See also The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 41; The Decisive Hour, p. 123; God Passes By, p. 411.

[91] Christa Davis Acampora, Contesting Nietzsche, p. 201,

[92] Christa Davis Acampora, Contesting Nietzsche, p. 192.

[93] Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, (Hollingdale), in “Zarathustra’s Prologue” # 3, p. 42’ emphasis added.

[94] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, XC, p. 177.

[95] Nietzsche (Kaufmann/Hollongdale), The Will to Power, # 481, p. 267; emphasis added.

[96] Steven D Hales and Rex Welshon, Nietzsche’s Perspectivism, p. 18; emphasis added.

[97] Nietzsche, The Will to Power (Kaufmann / Hollingdale). # 567. P. 305

[98] Nietzsche, The Will to Power (Kaufmann/Hollingdale), # 442, p. 298.

[99] Nietzsche (Kaufmann/Hollongdale), The Will to Power, # 583, p. 315.

[100] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXIXV, p. 290.

[101] Ian Kluge, “Postmodernism and the Bahá’í Writings” published in Lights of Irfan ***********

[102] In a curious coincidence, this is similar to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum phenomena and Bohr’s insistence that a particle does not actually exist before it is observed.

[103] Steven D Hales and Rex Welshon, Nietzsche’s Perspectivism, p. 34.

[104] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 149.

[105] Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 15.

[106] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Question, p. 6.

[107] Bahá'u'lláh Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p.95.

[108] Abdu'l-Baha, Tablet to August Forel, p. 18. He rejects the concept of a real infinite regress as “absurd.”

[109] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXI, p. 217.

[110] `Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 298.

[111] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXIV, p. 262.

[112] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXIV, p. 232; emphasis added.

[113] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, XVII, p. 42.

[114] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh,, CXXIX, p. 284.

[115] Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 8.

[116] Steven D Hales and Rex Welshon, Nietzsche’s Perspectivism, p. 35.

[117] Rex Welshon, The Philosophy of Nietzsche, p. 110 – 111; emphasis added.

[118] Shoghi Effendi, Appreciations of the Bahá’í Faith, p. 5.

[119] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 108,

[120] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá , Paris Talks,  p. 136.

[121] `Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 106.

[122] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá , Paris Talks,  p. 128; emphasis added.

[123] Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Feb. 24, 1947 in Lights of Guidance, p. 476.; emphasis added.

[124] Shoghi  Effendi, Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 35.

[125] `Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 303; emphasis added. 

[126]  `Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 298.

[127] `Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 255.

[128] `Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 14.

[129]  `Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, p. 14.

[130] `Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 269.

[131] Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 326.

[132] Nietzsche, The Will to Power, *Kaufmann / Hollingdale), # 320, p. 177.

[133] Nietzsche, The Will to Power, *Kaufmann / Hollingdale), # 319, p. 176.

[134] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 437.

[135] ‘Abdul-Baha,, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 549.

[136] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 238; emphasis added.