Ego invests in a dogmatic perspective when it is weak, but Nietzsche’s philosophy also becomes a dogmatic perspective when ego identifies with it.
To say: “I will sink or swim by this particular ideology,” is to invest my ego-identity in that perspective. To the degree that someone seems to attack my chosen perspective, they are attacking me. I am vulnerable to my belief system that commands me to sink or swim. I will, on this basis of ego-identification, ferociously attack others whom I perceive to be attacking my ideology. I will feel that my ego is at stake in making a good attack. But– it turns out, I am suffering from a case of mistaken identity!
From Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1891:
“Ego,” sayest thou, and art proud of that word. But the greater thing- in which thou art unwilling to believe- is thy body with its big sagacity; it saith not “ego,” but doeth it.
What the sense feeleth, what the spirit discerneth, hath never its end in itself. But sense and spirit would fain persuade thee that they are the end of all things: so vain are they.
Instruments and playthings are sense and spirit: behind them there is still the Self. The Self seeketh with the eyes of the senses, it hearkeneth also with the ears of the spirit.
Ever hearkeneth the Self, and seeketh; it compareth, mastereth, conquereth, and destroyeth. It ruleth, and is also the ego’s ruler.
Behind thy thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an unknown sage- it is called Self; it dwelleth in thy body, it is thy body.
There is more sagacity in thy body than in thy best wisdom. And who then knoweth why thy body requireth just thy best wisdom?
Thy Self laugheth at thine ego, and its proud prancings. “What are these prancings and flights of thought unto me?” it saith to itself. “A by-way to my purpose. I am the leading-string of the ego, and the prompter of its notions.”
The Self is “a sage”, that is generally unknown but, according to shamanistic thinking, can be accessed directly. It is the underestimation of the Self that is the cause of the development of any immature response to reality — ie. an orientation of faith. If one is lacking in the knowledge of this Self, one believes dogmatically, because one must — because one fears that not to believe is lose the ability to make one’s self real, in the sense of being identifiable by others. An ideology seems to give the inwards self outwardly objectifiable characteristics. The contents of a particular ideology seem to describe what those outward characteristics are, in a way that makes them palpable both to oneself and to others.
Yet for all that, one is not the ideology one has embraced. To imagine that one sinks or falls on the basis of the outwards sinking or falling of an ideology is to belittle oneself. Why should others have this power of veto over you? What was it that made you give it to them, but your weakness? Immaturity. It is a stage we go through. The structure that supports us towards adulthood is generally attachment to a faith, of one sort or another. That is, one identifies, for at time, with a faith, as one progresses towards the capacity for autonomy. In Nietzschean terms: Religion thus becomes a training ground for this spiritual autonomy. It ought not to be identified with this autonomy itself.
Later, trauma ruptures the structure of faith, and leads the way to knowlege of the Self. This Self turns out to be rooted in the reality principle of the primeval mind. It can, for instance, determine that you are lying to yourself, so shrewd is its capacity to judge accurately whether a particular attitudinal stance is life embracing or life denying:
The creating Self created for itself esteeming and despising, it created for itself joy and woe. The creating body created for itself spirit, as a hand to its will.
Even in your folly and despising ye each serve your Self, ye despisers of the body. I tell you, your very Self wanteth to die, and turneth away from life.
No longer can your Self do that which it desireth most:- create beyond itself. That is what it desireth most; that is all its fervour.
But it is now too late to do so:- so your Self wisheth to succumb, ye despisers of the body.
To succumb- so wisheth your Self; and therefore have ye become despisers of the body. For ye can no longer create beyond yourselves.
To be able to directly access this Self spells an end to the pressure from ego to identify an outwards ideological stance. Rather, one’s ego is internally stabilised by recognising this Self and its ongoing advice, which enhances one’s ability to embrace life authentically. Ego no longer seeks out others’ approval, when one has acquired the ability to make a correct self-estimation of whether one’s behaviour is oriented towards life or towards death.