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PHL 206
Instructor: Dr. Bob Zunjic
 

Friedrich Nietzsche

Selections from

"The Gay Science", "Beyond Good and Evil", "The Genealogy of Morals" and "Anti-Christ"

An Outline

THE FALL OF TRANSCENDENT VALUES

"God is Dead" ("The Gay Science" 1882, § 125)

Nietzsche's Diagnosis of Modernity

Assertion:

We all have killed God.

Questions:

How have we done it? How a God can die?

How did we drink up the sea = infinity?

How did we wipe away the horizon = the framework?

How did we loose the earth from its sun = the center?

Answer:

We have accomplished all these impossible things by ceasing to believe in the existence of a supra-sensible world up there. We have killed God by rejecting the transcendent world ("the holiest and the mightiest" we have possessed) as the true norm of our moral conduct.

Weapon: Our dissecting "knife" = sciences.
Time-Frame: The Modern Age.
Process: This event is an ongoing movement (burial/putrefaction), not a momentary incident.
Implicit Consequences:

(1) We have absorbed divine infinity into infinite human progress.

(2) We have given up the religious framework of evolution and history.

(3) We have placed the source of meaning into human creativity. We make our decisions without relating them to God. We have rendered the belief in God unbelievable. Void.

Signification:

"God" in Nietzsche's pronouncement denotes:

(a) The center and the foundation of everything.

(b) The source of ideals, values, ends.

Outcome: God is dead. The center does not hold any more. It's getting "cold" and "dark". Emptiness. Disorientation.

Our Options:

(a) Nihilism. Despair. Suicide.

(b) Preserved Faith (churches as the tombs and monuments of God).

(c) New Creativity. Self-overcoming.

Prodigious Event: Yes, everything is permitted now, but this is a great chance to start "a higher history than any history hitherto".
Premature Message: Most people are not yet ready to positively accept and understand the magnitude of the "great event". Deeds need time.

Unheard Boldness:

"Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods?"

 

LIFE ENHANCING MORALITY

"What is Noble?" ("Beyond Good and Evil" 1886, §§ 257-259)

Nietzsche's Theory of an Elitist Morality

Social Basis:

 

Every elevation of the type "man" requires an aristocratic society. Only an aristocratic society provides the necessary rank-ordering and the fuel for excellence.

Type "Man": Nietzsche speaks about the type "man" and not simply about "man" because he does not accept the expression "man" as a definite and stable category. On the contrary it shows many variations and gradations of which only the best are of interest.
Enhancement: The elevation of human species means producing those rare exceptional individuals.
Aristocracy: Nietzsche understands the expression literally as "the rule of the best". Thus aristocracy is not only a social category but even more the nobility of mind and great deeds.

Requirements:

To avoid mediocrity and the growth of herd instincts society needs:

(a) A long scale of gradations of rank.

(b) Differences of worth among human beings.

(c) Slavery (subordination) in some form or other.

Slavery: In keeping with its counterpart this category in Nietzsche should be understood not only as a social relation, but primarily as a kind of spiritual bondage to certain notions. Even the most powerful men can belong to this "class" if they lack the true freedom of the mind.
Aristocratic Mentality:

Aristocratic individuals constantly keep down the subordinates and instruments for own heightening.

They possess an exalted passion of looking from the perspective of the most distant people.

Twofold Passion:

(1) Pathos of Distance = Sense for difference vis--vis others. This pathos allegedly emerges out of the "incarnated difference of classes" that are being transfered from generations to generations.

(2) Pathos of Self-Distancing = Striving for "the continued self-overcoming". This pathos is "more mysterious" because it does not have an apparent physiological equivalent. But it is essential for the enhancement of human species and consequently for breeding the new race of man.

Contention: (1) is condition for (2).
Moral Formula: Self-overcoming was traditionally conceived as a constant moral perfection ("always strive to be a better person", "there is a constant need for improvement" etc.). Nietzsche understands it in a non-moral ("super-moral") sense, as unfettered expansion of the latent life forces.
Humanitarian Illusions: The idea that an aristocratic society emerges through mutual agreement of classes, naturally and peacefully or by a divine decree.
True Origin: The victory of the more "natural nature" over the "more moral and peaceful" races was everything but consensual and civilized.
Explanation: How and why did the barbarians prevail over more civilized people? By overpowering those who were "mellow". Simply put, the victors were "more complete men".
Complete Men: Possess the strength of will and the desire for power. This is not only physical but psychical as well; it includes self-discipline and flourishing of life forces in general.
Imperfect Men: Vital forces flickering out in agriculture, trade or wit instead in physical strenght. Increasing lack of self-control. People becoming wearisome of life.
Corruption of Man:

Life gets convulsed = contracted and shaken.

Causes: Different. Mostly lack of self-discipline ("anarchy among the instincts"). Or people get subdued by moral sentiments (pity, compassion, guilt, remorse).
Social Decay: Reversal of the higher and the lower.
Historical Example: French aristocracy at the beginning of the Revolution sacrifies itself to its moral feelings. This example is very instructive for the current state of European spirit as French aristocracy was for Nietzsche the source of European nobility.
Result:

Blurring the differences. The "wretched mediocre" becomes a goal instead of being the means for those rare individuals that represent the purpose.

Principle of Elevation: Aristocracy is not a function but the significance of a commonwealth. Society and humanity are an instrument ("a foundation and scaffolding") for strong individuals (a choice type of being) that should elevate themselves to a "higher existence". Therefore any hypostatization of society (taking it as an end against individuals) or leveling individuals without discrimination is unjust.
Good Conscience: "Healthy aristocracy" will act the way any healthy organism acts. It will grow, spread, seize, win the upprehand, exploit. Therefore aristocracy will accept unsentimetally the sacrifice of a legion of individuals who must be reduced to "incomplete men" and instruments.
Biological Comparison: By referring to "the sun seeking climbing plants in Java called Sipo Matador" (actually this monstruous liana grows in Amazon forests) Nietzsche clearly indicates his veneration for archaic heroes who engage many common individuals in their daring exploits.
Social Foundations: Nietzsche discusses various answer to the question what should serve as the basis of society.
Contractualism: First Answer: refraining from injury and violence (Hobbes).

Democracy & Socialism:

Second Answer: abolishing exploitation. "The coming conditions of society in which the 'exploiting character' is to be absent" refers to the socialist ideas of those days.

Parity: Mutual restraint in using power is appropriate among the equals. But it cannot be applied to a society as a whole without undermining its vital forces. As the principle of social organization it becomes the principle of disintegration.
Function: Striving toward peace, harmony and equality (against violence, oppression and exploitation) is tantamount to the idea of life dispensed of all organic functions. Every living organization must grow, gain ground and acquire ascendancy.
Grounding Principle: Life itself.
Essence of Life: Nietzsche repeats three times that life represents the incarnate Will to Power. Life is Will to Power because Will to Power is Will to Life. Living organisms grow and expand not because it is moral or immoral, but simply because it is their nature.
Neutral Terms: Since life itself is appropriation, injury, conquest, violence, a form of exploitation, these expressions should be understood without negative overtones.
New Theory - Old Fact: This may sound as an inovative theory, but only explicates the primordial fact of all history.
Opposition: Nietzsche was aware that his teaching would be repugnant to many: "In no point is the common conscience of the European more averse to instruction than here."
Substitution: The Stoic picture of harmonious nature and the idea that reason should follow the suite is a fiction. Will should replace reason.
Good: All that enhances the feeling of power, the Will to Power itself.
Bad:

All that proceeds from weakness (life diminishing factors).



 

MASTER AND SLAVE MORALITY

"What is Noble?" ("Beyond Good and Evil" §§ 260, 263)

Nietzsche's Typology of Morality

Premise: There is no rational and objective foundation of a universal morality. There are only different evaluations that should be classified and themselves evaluated from the point of view of will to power.
Ideal Types: Certain traits of different types recur regularly together. They group around two primary (ideal) types.
Mixtures: These types are not absolutely separated. Very often they are mixed, sometimes even juxtaposed within the same person.
Different Origin: The moral discrimination of values originates either with the ruling or the ruled class. The two should be distinguished as two different classes of contemptible and admirable characteristics.
Contemptible:

The cowardly, the anxious, the petty, the suspicious, the doglike people, the begging flatterers, the liars, those intent on narrow utility, the self-humbling.

 

Admirable: Self-determining, self-approving, self-judging, value-creating, self-esteeming, self-gloryfying, exerting power over others as well over oneself.
Distribution of Predicates:

 

(a) Aristocratic morality: 1. good = noble; 2. bad = despicable.

(b) Self-abasing morality: 1. good = stupid; 2. evil = frightening.

Reversal: As morality or our viewpoint changes a1 becomes b2 while b1 becomes a2.
Real Source: The opposition of "good" and "evil" is a product of slave morality. Its "evil" is the aristocratic good perceived as "fear inducing".
Proper Question: Who praises certain actions? Not: Why certain actions have been praised?
Principle of Evaluation: Moral designations for actions are derived from character designations:
Upshot: The morality of the Iliad versus the morality of the New Testament.
A. Master Morality: Autonomous, active, assertive, enthusiastic, forgetful.
Manifestations:

(1) Value determining (creating of values from one's own inwardness).

(2) Superabundance of power (helping the unfortunate out of excess)

(3) Self-discipline (enjoying being severe and hard with oneself)

B. Slave Morality: Reactive, pessimistic, sentimental, distrustful, resentful.
Variants:

(1) Moral of sympathy (Christianity)

(2) Acting for the good of others (Utilitarianism)

(3) Disinterested selfless conduct (Deontology)

 

  Political Opposition:
Conservatism: An aristocrat reveres age and tradition.
Modernism: A plebeian believes in progress and the future.
  Social Duties:
Elitism: A member of nobility accepts duties only to his likes. Understands how to honor those who are the best, while treating others "beyond good and evil".
Populism: A member of the crowd emphatizes with equality, patience, industry, humility, friendliness.
  Freedom versus Bondage
Slavish Freedom: Surprisingly Nietzsche characterizes slavish morality with the desire for freedom. The explanation is that this longing is purely negative - striving for something unattainable.
Noble Bondage: The noble man willfuly binds himself to something higher and demonstrates his reverence and passion.
Derived Oppositions:

 

- Love as a passion (the art of troubadours) versus sympathy and pity for the weak

- Enthusiasm and devotion versus longing for happiness and contentement.

- Artfulness and refinement versus narrow utility.

- Affirmation of the subjective versus reversal to the objective.

- Instinct for Rank (proud disposition) versus Resentment (vindictive hatred).

Rule: "Instinct for rank" is itself an indication ("sign") of a high rank.
Specification: Those who are of high rank due to social contingencies may not posses an instinct for rank, but a verifiable "delight in nuances of reverence" always points to "noble origin and habits".
Test: How do we react to the presence of something (somebody) of the highest rank when the rank is not self-evident (or intentionally disguised)?
High Rank: The nobility of a higher rank reveals itself in an instinctive and silent reverence for excellence.
Law Rank: Slavish reverence is based on external marks. The vulgarity of a lower rank manifests itself in utter disregard or even hatred.
Criterion:

"Instinct of reverence" determines the ultimate value and "the unalterable order of rank" of an individual.



 

NOBILITY AND RESSENTIMENT

"Good and Evil" ("The Genealogy of Morals" 1887, I, §§ 10-11)

Nietzsche's Contrasting of Moral Characters



Slave Revolt: The initial domination of the "master morality" has been overturned.
Democratic Victory: "The people have won" means the slaves, the herd, the mob have come to power while the masters (the nobility of human race) have been disposed of.
Essence of Slave Morality: When we say that the morality of the "common man" is now prevailing we mean that resentment has become the principle of evaluation and creativity.
Definition: Resentment is a compensation through an imaginary revenge for the lack of real action and creativity.
Slave Creativity: Reactive. Its nature: Resentful. The vengefulness of slave creativity manifests itself in an outright rejection (negation) of that what is "different", "foreign" or "outside".
  Its condition: Needs external stimuli to be able to act.
Noble Creativity: Inclusive. Its nature: Affirmative. Its positive character manifests itself in a triumphant development of oneself and in an infinite acceptance of opposites. "Saturated with life and passion."
  Its condition: It is autonomous - acts and grows spontaneously.
"Noble Resentment" Resentment in the noble man exhausts itself in an immediate reaction without poisoning his psyche.
The respective offense on reality of two different modes of evaluation could be represented by means of the following diagram:

Character Source
Slave Mode of Valuation Caricatural Distortion Submerged Hatred, Vengefulness, Impotence
Noble Mode of Valuation Harmless Falsification Insufficient Familiarity, Misunderstanding, Impatiance, Carelessness

 

  Linguistic Habits of the Greek Nobility
   
Self-Designations: Noble ones, good, beautiful, happy ones.
Designations for Common Men: Worthless, paltry, knavish, pitiable (deilos, deilaios, poneros, mochtheros).
Preponderance of Wretchedness: Moral and social evaluations stating that something is "bad" or "low" by rule suggest a note of unhappyness (oizyros, anolbos, tlemon, dystichein, xymphora).

 

Happiness Nature Feeling
Common Men Essentially narcotic and passive (quietude, rest, slackening of tension). Possible only as artificial deception that ought to supress the underlying inimical and poisonous emotions.
Nobility Necessarily energetic and active (eu prattein = faring well). High tension. Real feeling of well-being based on the awareness of being well-born


Profile Attitude Self-Relation
Common Men Secretive, squinting, covert, clever, prudent, suspicious, remembering Self-hiding, self-depreciating
Nobility Upright, straightforward, forgetful, naive, casual, nonchalant, imprudent, reckless, impulsive Open, trustful, honest


Quality: Inability of taking enemies and misdeeds seriously very long.
Correlation: Not to be fixated and obsessed with enemies and viles is a sign of ability to recuperate and act creatively.
Principle: Forgetfullness is the most effective forgiveness (Nietzsche does not believe in the slogan: "Forgive but do not forget!")
Historical Example: Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791), a famous orator and writer, suspected and attacked both by the royalists and the revolutionaries. But he ignored all insults and vile actions done to him.
Love Your Enemy: Makes sense only as reverence for enemies. This requires selectivity.
Advise: Choose your enemies, don't let enemies choose you!
Rationale: Respectable enemies elevate, despicable degrade.
Necessity: In a sense good enemies are necessary in order to be able to have friends.
Picture Thy Enemy:

- The noble man cherishes and respects his enemies (such reverence might be a bridge to love).

- The resentful man conceives enemies as "evil", thus implying that he is the "good" one.

Identical Contrary: The evil in the conception of slave morality is in fact the distinctive original, whereas the bad of noble origin is an after-product, a side-effect.
Proper Question: Who is evil? Who is bad?
Answer: The good man of the opposite morality.
Ground: The beast of prey (blond beast) underlies the noble races.
Blond Beast: This abused concept does not have a racial conotation in Nietzsche as the reference to Arabian and Japanese nobility clearly indicates. Nietzsche's models are not German but Greek, Roman, Barbaric and Scandinavian. Therefore one is well advised to understand the expression "blonde bestie" as an allusion to the metaphor of the lion as explicated in Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Self-Consciousness: In his funeral oration Pericles recognizes the greatness of both goodness and wickedness.
Ease of Mind: The Greeks even commended rhathymia (carelesness) as a kind of "cruel cheerfulness".
Hypocrisy: Those who are mutually considerate out of custom, respect, vigilance, suspicion or jealousy revert outside their circle to the innocence of the beast-of-prey conscience. There they give vent to their supressed instincts with impunity.
Fear: It is more productive to be afraid of somebody who deserves to be admired than to feel safe and confident before the "wretched mediocre", "unedifying creature" ("tame man").

 

 

Power AND morality

"Attempt at a Critique of Christianity" ("The Anti-Christ" 1888, I, §§ 2, 7)

Nietzsche's Attack on the Religion of Pity

Definition 1: Good = Everything that heightens the feeling of power = the will to power = power.
Definition 2 : Evil = Everything that is born of weakness.
Definition 3: Happiness = The Feeling that power is growing, that resistance has been overcome.
     
  Bad Good
  Contentedness Rising Power
Distribution: Peace War
  Moral Virtue Fitness (the Renaissance virtu)

 

Implication: The weak and the failures shall perish. Out of "love of man" they should be given every possible assistance in that process (it is open whether this means that they should be murdered or "only" helped to commit suicide?).
Question: Who determines what is weak, failed and deserving extinction? Obviously the powerful. So power is the sole basis of normative validity (= might is right).
Negativity: The most detrimental factors in human history are "practical sympathy" and the feeling of pity for all the failures and all the weak. They are worse than any vice (also morally) because they block clearing ground for unrestrained development of human potentials.
Worst Enemy: Christianity is the worst enemy of man because it is the religion of Pity.
Defects: Pity supresses productive passions and has a depressive effect on our strenght. Instead of being supressed for the sake of life joy it grows and makes suffering contagious to the extent of making life more miserable.
Conclusion: Only a nihilistic ethic can praise pity for "pity is the practice of nihilism".

 


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