Nietzsche challenges traditional good and evil

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amrhima
 
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 05:32 am
Nietzsche challanges the values we hold up so high, according to him they originated in the despised instincts and not in God or reason. In fact he says that God and reason themselves are mere justifications of moralities which are dictated by instincts. While most philosophers try to defend and justify these values, Nietzsche tries to uncover them. Who do you side with? What argument do you have for your position?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:11 am
@amrhima,
I haven't read Nietzsche's work on ethics yet. I've only read "Human, all to Human", and that really didn't deal with his views on morality. The books to read are "Beyond Good and Evil", "Daybreak", and "On the Genealogy of Morals".

Nietzsche's problem was that he never really proposed a moral theory himself. He only dealt in the negative by constantly reducing morality. His views seem to have been very close to nihilism. Reducing morality to instincts isn't justification for bad behavior, nor is it reason to negate the concept of good behavior; and by bad behavior I mean behavior that hurts other people or hurts the agent themselves.
 
amrhima
 
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:44 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:

Nietzsche's problem was that he never really proposed a moral theory himself. He only dealt in the negative by constantly reducing morality. His views seem to have been very close to nihilism. Reducing morality to instincts isn't justification for bad behavior, nor is it reason to negate the concept of good behavior; and by bad behavior I mean behavior that hurts other people or hurts the agent themselves.


That is not true at all, Nietzsche has a criteria for good and bad behaviour, Read "thus spoke zarathustra" or "beyond good and evil". Read this article: www.philosophy-essays.net/Nietzsche
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:04 am
@amrhima,
I haven't read anything of Nietzsche that suggested common morality was driven by instinct. In 'On the Genealogy of Morals' he cites weakness as the driving force. Christian morality was espoused by the weak, in his view, because it makes a virtue out of weakness. But like I said, I haven't read much else of Nietzsche. Coincidentally, Zarathustra just arrived in the mail. His book, not the prophet himself.
 
amrhima
 
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:25 am
@amrhima,
"On the despisers of the body" in zarathustra, he talks about instinct metaphorically, he is far clearer in 'beyond good and evil': "-3-With all the value that may adhere to the true, the genuine, the selfless, it could be possible that a higher, more fundemental value to deception, to selfishness and to appetite" this is one of many qoutes referring to this fact that morality is instinct dictated.

And whether it is weakness or strength depends on WHICH instincts one decides to satisfy, in case of slave morality it is when one wants to live, to becomfortable, to be safe. master moralists on the other hand want to be powerful, they act from a strong perspective, and it is not as some people would say "seeking power"...they are trying to reach a certain spiritiual level where they act powerful not try to get power from the world, but their own power inside.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 06:08 am
@amrhima,
I only have one primitive and extremely crude aphorism about Neitzsche, which is that he was an extremely bad advertisement for philosophy.

---------- Post added at 10:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:08 PM ----------

because he did not exhibit wisdom
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 01:12 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;70065 wrote:
I only have one primitive and extremely crude aphorism about Neitzsche, which is that he was an extremely bad advertisement for philosophy.

---------- Post added at 10:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:08 PM ----------

because he did not exhibit wisdom


Interesting . . . define wisdom and why you believe that Nietzsche didn't posses it?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 02:39 pm
@amrhima,
Whether Nietzsche ever developed an ethical position is certainly open to debate. [This usually depends on the extent to which the eternal recurrence of the same is taken as a significant] But what he did accomplish was to call into question all the traditional bases for ethics (and truth, for that matter). In Genealogy of Morals, for example, he attempts to derive the two dichotomies good/bad, good/evil from different uses of the will to power, and distinguishes between noble morality and derived slave morality. Morality is explained by psychology. Obviously, he considers the origin of morality as strictly human in origin, and without objective or natural justification: "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena."
His rejection of any absolute standard of morality parallels his rejection of any absolute or or objective standard of Truth in Beyond Good and Evil.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 10:17 pm
@amrhima,
Quote:
Interesting . . . define wisdom and why you believe that Nietzsche didn't posses it?


Well it was kind of a throw-away line...but I have to admit that I always suspected that Nietzsche's descent into insanity might be connected with his mode of thought. (I believe, although haven't got a source right at hand, that the idea that his madness was caused by tertiary syphilis has been discredited. And of course, I acknowledge that I can't make a serious argument for the proposition I am putting here.) But insofar as wisdom is the opposite of madness, then Nietzche's permanent and irreversible psychotic breakdown would indicate that his 'philosophical project' did not, in his case, have a happy outcome. (Unlike, for example, A.N. Whitehead, whose personality was said to personify the best qualities of his philosophical outlook.)


As for a definition of wisdom -apart from it being 'the opposite of madness', I doubt that I would be able to define it in such a way that others would agree on it. I think of it in terms of 'the sapiential tradition' as defined by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

---------- Post added at 02:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:17 PM ----------

I suppose I could add - wisdom is something which has to be attained; it is something which relies on the ability to see beyond appearances and opinions; it is an attribute of maturity; and many are without it.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 06:10 am
@amrhima,
As far as I know, the diagnosis of syphilis still stands; at the very least it seems acknowledged that his breakdown had physical causes.
Even if the opposite is eventually proven, this in itself would not invalidate his philosophical thinking. That his writings have been of significant influence in later European religious, psychoanalytical, and philosophical thinking supports this.

Whether or not his philosophy contains "wisdom" is a matter of definition. Whether, though, one agrees or disagrees with some of his positions, it does seem that in his questioning of many of the "philosophical prejudices" of the past, and in his challenging of his readers to think through problems for themselves, and indeed to see problems where there were none before encountering his thinking, there is something akin to an undogmatic , even Socratic "wisdom."
 
hue-man
 
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 09:59 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;70243 wrote:
Well it was kind of a throw-away line...but I have to admit that I always suspected that Nietzsche's descent into insanity might be connected with his mode of thought. (I believe, although haven't got a source right at hand, that the idea that his madness was caused by tertiary syphilis has been discredited. And of course, I acknowledge that I can't make a serious argument for the proposition I am putting here.) But insofar as wisdom is the opposite of madness, then Nietzche's permanent and irreversible psychotic breakdown would indicate that his 'philosophical project' did not, in his case, have a happy outcome. (Unlike, for example, A.N. Whitehead, whose personality was said to personify the best qualities of his philosophical outlook.)


As for a definition of wisdom -apart from it being 'the opposite of madness', I doubt that I would be able to define it in such a way that others would agree on it. I think of it in terms of 'the sapiential tradition' as defined by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

---------- Post added at 02:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:17 PM ----------

I suppose I could add - wisdom is something which has to be attained; it is something which relies on the ability to see beyond appearances and opinions; it is an attribute of maturity; and many are without it.


I haven't studied Nietzsche yet. I've only read one of his books, entitled Human, all too Human; but I look forward to studying his work in the future.

I'm not so sure that Nietzsche's descent into madness had any bearing on his philosophical views before he descended into madness. Though you and I may disagree with his views, he seemed to be able to present them in a very coherent way. I think that it's unfair to say that he was just mad all along.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 05:31 pm
@amrhima,
Obviously Neitszche has had profound influence on modern thought. Regarding the physical causes of his illness, there is a bookon the topic which I haven't read. I would hope, however, that the philosophical enterprise, insofar as philosophy is indeed the 'love of wisdom', would give rise to serenity, detachment and calmness, which qualities, irrespective of Nietzche's mental condition, are exceedingly difficult to detect in his work.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 12:55 am
@amrhima,
Quote:
I think that it's unfair to say that he was just mad all along.


I wouldn't suggest it and certainly do not want to denigrate anyone unfortunate enough to suffer from mental illness. Certainly Neitszche was a thinker of great stature verging on genius. The impression I got of the disintegration of his thinking processes into insanity was prompted by a biography that I browsed. I will go back and look for it. However I still have this feeling, especially about the great German philosophers, that their tendency towards abstract intellectualism became so overwhelming that they really did loose touch with reality; in Neitszhe's case, he also lost his sanity as well. And there might have been a causal relationship. I will investigate more.

---------- Post added at 05:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:55 PM ----------

No, I think I am barking up the wrong tree here. I need to do more reading on it. Motion withdrawn with apologies to all.
 
joseph knecht
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 01:53 am
@amrhima,
we make our own morals, Nietzche regularly states this, when civilisation began, some brave being prescribed a rule book, some agreed some broke the rules
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 05:05 am
@amrhima,
Absolutely splendid essay on Neitszche, God and Doomsday here

From which I quote:

"Having declared God dead, Nietzsche's self-deification followed as a matter of course. But even this megalomania may not have been his real undoing. For there is yet a final twist, a further step to go: if God is dead, and Nietzsche is God, then Nietzsche is-dead! Dead, and yet alive! (Recall that he refers to himself as "the dismembered," "the crucified.") This short-circuit, this final paradox, must have proved too much of a strain for even the likes of his nimble mind, which thereupon committed mental suicide, and he became the ultimate embodiment-or is it the entombment?-of his own reasoning: a dead, shattered mind in a living body. Thus, it can be seen that in Nietzsche's case, the egotistical self declared its final rebellion by totally blotting out his mind, which it had driven to the point of exhaustion. (This is why Sirhindi says that aiding the Base Self is the greatest folly, the worst disaster.) Like a tool which has outlived its usefulness, it was then broken and thrown away, after all the efforts of his great spirit to achieve salvation had been successfully vanquished by his intellect using the deadly formula: "God is dead." Nietzsche's insanity has been linked with tertiary syphilis, but this-if true-can only have accelerated, not caused, the process."

---------- Post added at 09:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:05 PM ----------

Actually I have a book by that author, the Station of No Station, by Henry Bayman, and it is rather good.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 05:42 am
@amrhima,
"Nietzsche's attempt to proclaim God dead results not only in the denial of truth, of science, but also of life."

If you bracket the Sufism and religious enthusiasm in the essay, and ignore some of the more gushing language, it might be worth reading, although I am not quite sure that some of the discussions about N's view of science due him justice.

For N., as the writer notes, the death of god is a recognition of a nearly accomplished fact. N's view of science and of Truth is not caused by his recognition that the Christian God (etc.) is no longer believable, but consistent with his challenging "philosophical prejudices" and commonly held absolutes.

Given Zarathustra's remarks about remaining true to the earth (and this world as opposed to some otherworldly one), and N's view that anything opposed to the enhancement of, or constituting a rejection of, Life must be viewed with suspicion or at least carefully smelled for decay and disease, the essayist's conclusion about it and N. can only viewed as a criticism from outside N's thinking.

Someone wishing to understand the thought of Nietzsche would be better served, I suggest, by reading more objective discussions by Kaufmann or Schacht.
Regards,
John
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 08:52 am
@amrhima,
Some remarks about the quoted text.

Quote:
Having declared God dead, Nietzsche's self-deification followed as a matter of course.

Comment: I don't understand how the purported self-deification followed AS A MATTER OF COURSE. The death of god was for N. a matter of fact, as well as a completely liberating event for mankind.




Quote:
But even this megalomania may not have been his real undoing. For there is yet a final twist, a further step to go: if God is dead, and Nietzsche is God, then Nietzsche is-dead! Dead, and yet alive! (Recall that he refers to himself as "the dismembered," "the crucified.")



N. also seems to refer to himself as Dionysus (as in Dionysus vs. the Crucified). And what are we to make of his book, Anti-christ?
It certainly seems that N spent a lot of his time debunking not just Christianity, but other religions of the same sort; to proclaim himself as a god only makes sense if all men have now the possibility of godhood because they are creators and legislators.




Quote:
This short-circuit, this final paradox, must have proved too much of a strain for even the likes of his nimble mind, which thereupon committed mental suicide, and he became the ultimate embodiment-or is it the entombment?-of his own reasoning: a dead, shattered mind in a living body.


"Must have proved too much." This is just as psychologically silly as "mental suicide" given what we know of the physical cause of his collapse. To later argue that it merely "accelerated the process" deemed mentally inevitable is to beg the question.

N. once wrote, from a different horizon, "He who thinketh differently goeth voluntarily to the madhouse." It seems the author of the essay wants to use Romantic Psychology to call the wagon and send him there, straightjacked by Christianity.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 10:38 pm
@amrhima,
Nietzsche really didn't challenge notions of good and evil much. (See Aristotle's noble man.) He attacked pity and sentimentality, yes, but the virtues he praised are classics. Power, courage, perception, love, laughter, open-mindedness. The Christianity he attacks is a straw-man. He himself is not unlike Jesus attacking the Pharisees. Note: I experience Jesus as a literary character, just as I experience Hamlet.

His attack on philosophy strikes me as much more original and mature.

Those who start with him will perhaps enjoy his Romantic atheism the most. I enjoyed him first as just such a liberating force. Exposure to more philosophy allowed me to see his limitations. But Nietzsche was indeed the dynamite (for me) of many prejudices.

We should always turn Nietzsche on Nietzsche. He would have liked that.
 
 

 
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