Nietzsche And Plato, Morality And Reason

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Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 06:33 pm
[CENTER]Nietzsche And Plato, Morality And Reason[/CENTER]

In his book The Geneology of Morals Nietzsche attacks what he calls slave morality and advances what he calls master morality. Platonism, to Nietzsche is a version of slave morality and Nietzsche goes on to call Christianity "Platonism for the people". Slave morality is a morality which holds the good to be the highest point that humans could reach for and master morality is a morality that is created by the elite, aristocratic group within society and this master group holds the masses of the people under its inevitably oppressive rule. The masters of master morality make the rules because they alone have the capacity to be responsible. Nietzsche goes on to say that slavery in some sense or another must exist if any society is to approach greatness. The 'good' for Nietzsche lays in the hierarchical structure which gives absolute power only to those few who are capable of wielding it: the top most tier of the aristocratic hierarchy are the people who give meaning and value to the society, they are identical with the society's inner identity.

But there is more to the story. Nietzsche also attacks the modern philosophical systems such as Kant's. He accuses philosophical system builders as being purveyors of slave morality (Spinoza is excepted from these).

Nietzsche essentially attacks human reason itself as being a front for Christian ethics. He attacks reason viciously. He states that great men don't need reasons for their behaviour. He equates human reason, as exemplified in Plato's dialogues and modern philosophical systems, with slave morality especially identifying them with Christianity. Here he breaks very clearly with Enlightenment philosophy. And almost all later, influential philosophers agree with Nietzsche in his placing psychology and power over the use of human reason.

And so now anyone who uses reason is seen by Nietzscheans as secretly advancing Christian ethics. Anyone who attempts to advance a grand narrative of Western history, for example, is a closet Christian whose real aim is to advance their own or their group's interests. Because for Nietzscheans there is nothing real that is acting outside of pure power.

My question is, what do you think of human reason in light of Nietzsche's teaching and popular influence? Do you think that one can put forth reasonable arguments, (say, for the greatness of the history of the Western world) without them being labelled as power hungry? Do you think that reason is only a mask for the Christian ethical worldview? Do you think that human reason and human morality are inseparable?

Thank you.

--Pyth
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 08:01 pm
@Pythagorean,
Did Nietzsche really say that about Plato???That is so wrong...Plato was for the over dogs and not at all for the underdogs...And that is why the church liked him too, that, and the support of meritocracy which they thought they were...I guess the last thing Nietzsche's over man would ever stoop to show was merit... You want merit underman??? I'll show you dead... What do you think of merit now??? What he most hated about the church is that they made something of natural law and the words of St. Paul that all were equal in the eyes of God, both of which offer some defense for democracy...People like Nietzsche with no outstanding physical qualities would have loved class distinctions to maintain; and I forget the word he used: The Ethos of Distance... I read Nietzsche and think of that scene from the search for the holy grail, when some guy says: there goes the King, and the other guy says how do you know... And the first guy says: He's the only one without **** all over him.. my paraphrase.
 
manored
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 08:08 pm
@Pythagorean,
I didn't understood what you mean with "Human reason"... you mean logic instead of instincts?
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 08:46 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean wrote:
[CENTER]Nietzsche And Plato, Morality And Reason[/CENTER]



In his book The Geneology of Morals Nietzsche attacks what he calls slave morality and advances what he calls master morality. Platonism, to Nietzsche is a version of slave morality and Nietzsche goes on to call Christianity "Platonism for the people". Slave morality is a morality which holds the good to be the highest point that humans could reach for and master morality is a morality that is created by the elite, aristocratic group within society and this master group holds the masses of the people under its inevitably oppressive rule. The masters of master morality make the rules because they alone have the capacity to be responsible. Nietzsche goes on to say that slavery in some sense or another must exist if any society is to approach greatness. The 'good' for Nietzsche lays in the hierarchical structure which gives absolute power only to those few who are capable of wielding it: the top most tier of the aristocratic hierarchy are the people who give meaning and value to the society, they are identical with the society's inner identity.

But there is more to the story. Nietzsche also attacks the modern philosophical systems such as Kant's. He accuses philosophical system builders as being purveyors of slave morality (Spinoza is excepted from these).

Nietzsche essentially attacks human reason itself as being a front for Christian ethics. He attacks reason viciously. He states that great men don't need reasons for their behaviour. He equates human reason, as exemplified in Plato's dialogues and modern philosophical systems, with slave morality especially identifying them with Christianity. Here he breaks very clearly with Enlightenment philosophy. And almost all later, influential philosophers agree with Nietzsche in his placing psychology and power over the use of human reason.

And so now anyone who uses reason is seen by Nietzscheans as secretly advancing Christian ethics. Anyone who attempts to advance a grand narrative of Western history, for example, is a closet Christian whose real aim is to advance their own or their group's interests. Because for Nietzscheans there is nothing real that is acting outside of pure power.

My question is, what do you think of human reason in light of Nietzsche's teaching and popular influence? Do you think that one can put forth reasonable arguments, (say, for the greatness of the history of the Western world) without them being labelled as power hungry? Do you think that reason is only a mask for the Christian ethical worldview? Do you think that human reason and human morality are inseparable?

Thank you.

--Pyth

I have been reading in the Thomas Mann reader, and the guy is really taken with Nietzsche... One of his articles is on Freud, and the curious thing is that Freud was not familier with Nietzsche, yet, in many respects they were saying the same thing, about the primacy of the emotions in our lives...Though perhaps Nietzsche would say instinct...And the effect of Freud has been at least as profound and wide spread as Nietzsche... And the point of the article if I understand it was The comparison between the work of Freud, and what Nietsche named "Reaction as Progress"; the point being that rationalism was considered as great progress, but as a movement forward, it left much unresolved about human consciousness and motivation.. In any event, I am not good at reading Mann; and I am interested primarily because he draws correlations between Nietzsche, and Dostoyevsky; and writes of Wagner with much in reference to Nietzsche and Freud, who as far as I can tell never seems to mention Nietzsche...But he does say something interesting in regard to Freud and psychotherapy; this: "We may" says Freud "emphasize as often as we like the fact that intellect is powerless compared with impulse in human life- We shall be right. But after all there is something peculiar about this weakness, the voice of the inellect is low, but it rests not till it gets a hearing. In the end, after countless repulses it gets one after all." There are some other interesting statements in the article...

I recommend it though I can't say where you might find it... We all accept today that there is a balance in human beings between reason and emotion.. At least I do... You can find a lot of people on these forums who actually think they are supposed to think with their heads...
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 08:48 pm
@manored,
It cannot be logic. Reason is dealing outside the box sort-to-speak. Logic is limited in that respect I think. Oh and was Nietzsche anti-social?
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 08:52 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
It cannot be logic. Reason is dealing outside the box sort-to-speak. Logic is limited in that respect I think. Oh and was Nietzsche anti-social?

No! He was real... Vene-real...
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 10:09 am
@Pythagorean,
I would suggest that the Geneology of Morals be read in conjunction with Beyond Good and Evil; the two works complement and explain one another. While I do not intend to explain my own reading of Nietzsche, I do suggest that his concept of master/slave morality is more complex than one suspects and should not be understood to be completely political in nature.
His analysis of "good/bad" and "good/evil" for example, is as much "spiritual" as political or social. The former dictomomy is, for Nietzsche, based on self-affirmation; the latter on rejection of these values, and is negative in nature. The noble person (akin to the overman) says what I do is good, unique, worthy, and life-enhancing, and what others do is common and base. The good/evil distinction is based on hatred and ressentiment: what the noble does is evil and to be condemned, what I do (or cannot do because I am powerless) is good, and since the world doesn't treat me as I want, I shall defame it and create another world which goes as I want. His argument against Christianity and Platoism is that both set up an "ideal" world, a "better world" (heaven), at the expense of the world in which we live.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 10:53 am
@jgweed,
Are you very certain that the overman is not beyond good and evil, beyond judgement, beyond even self criticism, self concoiusness; instead, entirely of will driven to be a demi-god..... If every person let themselves be guided by moral considerations there would only be incidental progress... We forget how often progress for society, for cultures, and even for humanity have grown out of pestilence and evil... Without the Black death there would have been no capitalism, at least as we know it... Without usery no great wealth would have been concentrated to build mass production... What humanity has had they have taken from humanity...They have both suffered defeat, and celebrated triumph for the same exact cause, -been both winner and loser... I don't want you to think that I agree with Nietzsche, or that in seeing his point that his point has some merit.. The crimes of the past do not justify crimes future... The inidividual as Nietzsche describes him is a criminal, defectve, a-moral, an outlaw... In fact; that is what the individual has always been... A curse for humanity not at all justifying its existence with the progress it has driven forward...

He had his ideal too, more outragious by far than the idealism of the church, or of Plato...In fact, it was the church that made the argument for his individual before he did.. That was, and is mistake of each... But the lesson here is that we cannot creat worlds our of our ideals... Even if we should try we have to understand that ideals/form evolve to fit the relationships within, and all people every where should be free to judge their forms, and ask: Does this form of economy work for me??? Does this form of government work for me, and not alone for me; but does it reach for the long term goals of this whole people... WE see the individual, the cancer of mankind always seeking to turn the form to personal benefit... What ever the form when new, and no matter how good when new, it will ineveitably be turned to poison for most because it benefits a few... WE do not need idealism... We need wide spread consciousness of ideas, what they are and what can be made with them, and how easily they can and should be changed when they are proven false...
 
manored
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 11:54 am
@Pythagorean,
I will tell a tale that I once heard (A bit modified cause I dont remember everthing) that I think can be of contribuition for this thread:

"There was a wise old man who travelled around the world helping people with his wiseness, along with his young disciple. One day, they met a poor family who lived out of the milk produced by a thin cow they had. Then the family wasnt near by, the wise man ordered his disciple to push the cow of a clift it was standing near to. The disciple reluctantly obeyed, and then they continued their travels. However some time later the disciple decided that the master's order was an act of evil and left him. Years later the disciple visited that family again, but it was in much better condition. He asked then how the improvement had happened and they said that their cow had fallen of a clift, and after that happened they had to go search for jobs in the city, and with the jobs they found they had greater revenue than with the cow."

These are matters that trouble me greatly then I think about what should be the political decision for a given situation: To what point should the present situation be sacrified in name of the future, and to what point should individuals be sacrified in name of the whole?
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 02:32 pm
@manored,
manored wrote:
I will tell a tale that I once heard (A bit modified cause I dont remember everthing) that I think can be of contribuition for this thread:

"There was a wise old man who travelled around the world helping people with his wiseness, along with his young disciple. One day, they met a poor family who lived out of the milk produced by a thin cow they had. Then the family wasnt near by, the wise man ordered his disciple to push the cow of a clift it was standing near to. The disciple reluctantly obeyed, and then they continued their travels. However some time later the disciple decided that the master's order was an act of evil and left him. Years later the disciple visited that family again, but it was in much better condition. He asked then how the improvement had happened and they said that their cow had fallen of a clift, and after that happened they had to go search for jobs in the city, and with the jobs they found they had greater revenue than with the cow."

These are matters that trouble me greatly then I think about what should be the political decision for a given situation: To what point should the present situation be sacrified in name of the future, and to what point should individuals be sacrified in name of the whole?

Your story has a correlary in history: When the commons were closed in England the wealth and capital of centuries was put in private hands...Those people who lost their heriditary rights to their subsistence farms found the were truly poor, as in destitute. Their lives became capital in the industrial revolution in England...Most of their lives were not made better, but worse... Whole generations came off the farms to become servants or industrial workers, never having enough ahead to reproduce themselves; but the farms produced their replacements who in their turn served as human capital and died along with their genes.... Who of them would not have traded their lives for that of the family with the thin cow??? As Marx noted, what sets wages is the price of keeping meat on bones... It does not include the price of reproduction, so reproduction is sacrificed for production...As it is today..
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 02:45 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
I have been reading in the Thomas Mann reader, and the guy is really taken with Nietzsche... One of his articles is on Freud, and the curious thing is that Freud was not familier with Nietzsche, yet, in many respects they were saying the same thing, about the primacy of the emotions in our lives...Though perhaps Nietzsche would say instinct...And the effect of Freud has been at least as profound and wide spread as Nietzsche... And the point of the article if I understand it was The comparison between the work of Freud, and what Nietsche named "Reaction as Progress"; the point being that rationalism was considered as great progress, but as a movement forward, it left much unresolved about human consciousness and motivation.. In any event, I am not good at reading Mann; and I am interested primarily because he draws correlations between Nietzsche, and Dostoyevsky; and writes of Wagner with much in reference to Nietzsche and Freud, who as far as I can tell never seems to mention Nietzsche...But he does say something interesting in regard to Freud and psychotherapy; this: "We may" says Freud "emphasize as often as we like the fact that intellect is powerless compared with impulse in human life- We shall be right. But after all there is something peculiar about this weakness, the voice of the inellect is low, but it rests not till it gets a hearing. In the end, after countless repulses it gets one after all." There are some other interesting statements in the article...

I recommend it though I can't say where you might find it... We all accept today that there is a balance in human beings between reason and emotion.. At least I do... You can find a lot of people on these forums who actually think they are supposed to think with their heads...


Thanks for recommending that book Fido. I have found it on Amazon, by the way.

I am reading a book called Consciousness and Society and the author also states there the similarities between Nietzsche and Freud. He said they both posed the problem of the irrational aspect of man. (He eventually settles on the term 'anti-intellectual' to describe them.)

Thomas Mann's very last novel is called Dr. Faustus (published 1948). This novel is based upon Nietzsche's life. I have also attached two very important articles by Thomas Mann himself about Nietzsche. They were written and published in America shortly after the second world war, which of course many blamed on Nietzsche's influence. We should keep in mind the enormity of the influence of this war for the practise of philosophy and intellectual activity and political life, for it destroyed much of old Europe.

The Thomas Mann reader was published in America in 1950. I read The Magic Mountain in the mid 1980's.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 02:56 pm
@Pythagorean,
I read a biography of Bertolt Brecht and there was a line from one of the Manns pre ww2 that growing up they had all liked NIetzsche very much, but that now he frightened them... I don't have the book still, and I hope to get it back, so I can't check it; but I usually have a good ear for such things...
Attached; How do I access???
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 02:57 pm
@Fido,
Fido, I don't know how to access them either. Let me try to PM those files for you now.

--Pyth
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 03:27 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
I would suggest that the Geneology of Morals be read in conjunction with Beyond Good and Evil; the two works complement and explain one another. While I do not intend to explain my own reading of Nietzsche, I do suggest that his concept of master/slave morality is more complex than one suspects and should not be understood to be completely political in nature.
His analysis of "good/bad" and "good/evil" for example, is as much "spiritual" as political or social.


If one follows the recent history of European philosophy (as opposed to anglo analytic philosophy), one can surely discern the adoption of Nietzsche by the left in order to launch an intellectual attack upon Christianity. While this is a complex phenomenon we can see the classical as well as the Enlightenment notions of reason, especially its place in the political context, being attacked upon Nietzschean lines. Nietzsche has been adopted by and is identified among the left as a fellow traveler. I am thinking about the attack upon narratives by Leotard, or the attack upon reason by Derridean deconstruction, and the adoption of Nietzsche by Foucault. What these philosophies have in common is they attack what they perceive to be bourgoise values.

Nietzsche is important today. In what ways does this importance manifest itself? The peoples of the West are looking to interpret the world in ways other than reason, which is seen as a Fascistic method. They are open to other cultures and closed to their history. Their form of progressivism does not entail a return to Greek rationalism, nor does it entail a return to Enlightenment rationalism. It is atheistic, and anti-Christian essentially. But also anti-rational.

Not that Nietzsche himself was politcal as you say. But the history and the legacy of Nietzsche has political ramifications right down to the present time.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 03:54 pm
@Pythagorean,
Speaking of Bertolt Brecht I want to let everyone know that excerpts of the film adaptation of his play "The Threepenny Opera" is available online. It was produced in 1931 just before the Nazi's took control of Germany. The musical score was written by Kurt Weill.

The Threepenny Opera - Pirate Jenny

YouTube - The Threepenny Opera - Pirate Jenny

And here is Bobby Darin singing "Mack The Knife"

YouTube - Bobby Darin- Mack the knife Mack the Knife has been said to be copied loosely from Thus Spake Zarathustra, where he speaks of "the bliss of the knife":

"Intoxicating joy is it for the sufferer to look away from his suffering and forget himself. ..... not booty: he thirsted for the happiness of the knife! ..."
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 06:34 pm
@Pythagorean,
I just found out that those Thomas Mann articles on Nietzsche were too big for me to upload as attachments. Sorry about that. If anyone wants them please PM me your e-mail address and I will be happy to send them out to you. Thanks.

--Pyth
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 10:43 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean wrote:
I just found out that those Thomas Mann articles on Nietzsche were too big for me to upload as attachments. Sorry about that. If anyone wants them please PM me your e-mail address and I will be happy to send them out to you. Thanks.

--Pyth

Thanks for the Mann Articles.. They make me feel smart...How about the Doors, Whisky Bar...Can't remember which of Brechts plays that was from... Also can't remember the English play a three penny opera was a take off of... Ever read or see the Caucasian White Chaulk Circle???
 
 

 
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