He climbs on high–him we should praise!
–Nietzsche, ‘Higher Men,’ Gay Science
Modernity is the time in which those humans who hear the call to change no longer know where they should start: with the world or with themselves–or with both at once.
–Peter Sloterdijk, You Must Change Your Life
If I want to know that I’m not wasting my life, then I have to make a distinction between higher and lower ways of life. I have to do so in order to make apparent that some forms of life are wasted whereas others are not. This thought is in line with Nietzsche’s question: how can a human being lead an extraordinary life?
Sloterdijk cues us into our puzzlement about the sort of transformation one means to effect. In the schema below which contains the higher forms of life in modernity, I imply that it is usually the case that one plumbs for leading an active life or a contemplative life.
There are three considerations to apply when examining the question of what higher form of life to lead.
1.) Human variety is a fact of the matter. Given this, one cannot expect for there to be one final aim for all human beings.
2.) However, there is only a finite number of higher final aims available to us in a certain epoch (in our case, modernity).
3.) I have to operate on the postulate that there is a ‘secular calling’ for me. To have a ‘secular calling’ is to have found what is best for me. Otherwise, I fall into and cannot overcome doubt.