Lost Morality: Paul Bäumer’s War-Torn Conscience

Living in the 21st Century is great, especially when you can use an AI tool to write a well writen essay in just seconds. Using ChatGPT wasn’t that bad, and is most definitely the easy way out to do your assignments. For the most part ChatGPT is pretty self-explanatory; you input information on what you want the AI to do, and it will try its best to generate a response fit for your needs. The one thing I will recommend is to feed ChatGPT good and specific information.

Down below is an essay written in seconds by ChatGPT. I generated two essays with one written with a higher temperature — so apparently that just makes the AI seem more human rather than a robot. With the two essays, I combined it to become a better essay. Also, I used ChatGPT to generate titles for the essay it wrote. So, everything but these first two paragraphs has been written with the help of an AI tool.

In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, the character Paul Bäumer, a soldier in World War I, is evaluated through the lens of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Bäumer’s ethics and morality are examined using Nietzsche’s ideas about reality, truth, and morality, with an eye toward understanding the ways in which war affects the human spirit.

Bäumer, the narrator of the story, is the last soldier of his class to die in the war. As he experiences the horrors of trench warfare, he learns to disconnect his mind from his body, creating a barrier between his conscious and unconscious mind. Bäumer becomes numb to the violence and brutality of the war. In the midst of battle, he feels guilt after killing a man for survival, and he reflects on the innocence he once held before the war began.

In the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, the concept of “God is Dead” serves as a metaphor for the loss of traditional values and beliefs in modern society. This idea is relevant to evaluating Paul Bäumer’s ethics and morality, as he too grapples with the loss of his traditional beliefs about the honor and glory of war. The horrors of the battlefield cause Paul to question the morality of the war and the value of the beliefs that led him and his comrades to fight. As Nietzsche wrote in Human, All Too Human, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” In the same way, Paul’s hope in the ideals of the war only prolongs his suffering and the suffering of his comrades.

Nietzsche’s idea that all language is metaphorical is also relevant to the evaluation of Paul’s morality. Bäumer’s experience of war also highlights Nietzsche’s ideas about the limitations of language. As Paul witnesses the senseless violence of war, he becomes detached from the language and beliefs that led him to fight. He realizes that the language and beliefs he once held dear are ultimately detached from reality. In The Gay Science, Nietzsche wrote, “Reality is a flux, an endless becoming that is beyond words and language, which are ultimately detached from reality.” Bäumer’s experience of war is similarly indescribable, beyond the power of language to capture fully. He and his fellow soldiers “are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and to kill.”

Bäumer’s empathy and compassion for those who suffer around him are virtues that Nietzsche would likely praise as Nietzsche believed that in the consciousness of the truth, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence, and loathing seizes him. Paul’s experiences in the war certainly align with this idea. He witnessed the gruesome reality of war, the senseless killing, and the suffering of both his comrades and his enemies. Nietzsche would recognize that in the midst of war, Bäumer and his fellow soldiers are like children, lost and confused. They are sad and sorrowful, experiencing the world in a superficial and crude way. Nietzsche might argue that war robs them of their humanity and turns them into animals.

As the war progresses, Bäumer becomes increasingly disillusioned with the idea of fighting for his country. Nietzsche argues that “to accept a faith just because it is customary means to be dishonest, cowardly, and lazy.” For Bäumer and his fellow soldiers, the faith they once held in their country and their leaders is shattered by the reality of war. They come to realize that war is a scam for everyone but the ones with power.

Bäumer’s ultimate fate, dying alone and wondering about the effects of war on his generation, is tragic. Nietzsche writes that “in the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence, and loathing seizes him.” Bäumer’s experience of war is a metaphor for the human condition, a reminder of the horrors that can result from the pursuit of power and blind faith in tradition.

The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche provides a helpful lens through which to evaluate the ethics and morality of Paul Bäumer in All Quiet on the Western Front. As it highlights the ways in which war can strip away our humanity and rob us of our virtues and reminds us of empathy, compassion, and truth in the face of suffering and hardship. Nietzsche’s idea that all language is metaphorical highlights Paul’s detachment from the language and beliefs that led him to fight, as he struggles to find meaning in the chaos of war. Through Bäumer’s story, we are forced to confront the absurdity of war and see Paul’s crisis of morality as a reflection of the larger crisis of values and beliefs in modern society.

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