A Moral Criticism of Nietzschean Philosophy

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hue-man
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 03:20 pm
Below is a link to a good essay that criticizes Nietzsche's philosophy. I have to say that Nietzsche's thought has a great influence on my own, but I am no Nietzschean. There are plenty of things I disagree with when it comes to the man's philosophy and this essay expresses most of them. Upon studying Nietzsche and reading this essay, I've come to see that even though the man was an intellectual genius who made some great insights he was incredibly flawed in more ways than one.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 05:36 pm
@hue-man,
Honestly, that link is pure crap. First off, Nietzsche would not condone rape. Not to mention, Nietzsche did not care about race. Of course, some translations would lead an English speaker to think otherwise, such as the one used for the Genealogy of Morals. After a semester of studying Nietzsche and the Kaufmann translations, I can say that while Nietzsche had his contradictions and flaws, he does key in on many problems with the human condition in modern society.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 06:07 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;105479 wrote:
Honestly, that link is pure crap. First off, Nietzsche would not condone rape. Not to mention, Nietzsche did not care about race. Of course, some translations would lead an English speaker to think otherwise, such as the one used for the Genealogy of Morals. After a semester of studying Nietzsche and the Kaufmann translations, I can say that while Nietzsche had his contradictions and flaws, he does key in on many problems with the human condition in modern society.


What leads you to believe that Nietzsche wouldn't condone or, at least be indifferent, to rape? His philosophy seems to permit any and all action, especially expressions of power. In some statements, Nietzsche did not seem to care about race, but in other statements he seemed to exalt the "races" of conquerors and tyrants. He may not have been a racist, but I don't think that's the point. The point is that it's easy to see how tyrants could be encouraged by the man's philosophy, and it's hard to see why he would condemn these men based on his philosophy.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 06:33 pm
@hue-man,
I disagree that Nietzsche's philosophy would permit any and all action, because of his concept of the noble morality. Would a noble go around raping women? Rape would be an example of resentment in action--and thus, it would fall under slave values. The rapist is a slave to his impulses and desires so I highly doubt that Nietzsche would be indifferent to rape.

The only time that I can see Nietzsche exalting conquerors is when they overcome or stifle slave morality or herd mentality. Not to mention, his break with Wagner suggests that he detested people who despised others based on their race.

Sure, tyrants may be encouraged by Nietzsche's philosophy, but the same could be said about Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Marx, and others. It is unfair to condemn Nietzsche and then to not condemn other philosophers for how others used them to serve their purposes.

I think one thing that goes largely forgotten is that Nietzsche was a keen psychologist, and much of his work falls under psychology rather than philosophy. Often times, he is trying to highlight some sort of psychological human function and drive rather than some sort of philosophy.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 09:49 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;105487 wrote:
I disagree that Nietzsche's philosophy would permit any and all action, because of his concept of the noble morality. Would a noble go around raping women? Rape would be an example of resentment in action--and thus, it would fall under slave values. The rapist is a slave to his impulses and desires so I highly doubt that Nietzsche would be indifferent to rape.


How are you interpreting nobility? The definition of the word noble is as follows:

Noble:

1 a : possessing outstanding qualities : illustrious b : famous, notable <noble deeds>
2 : of high birth or exalted rank : aristocratic
3 a : possessing very high or excellent qualities or properties <noble wine> b : very good or excellent
4 : grand or impressive especially in appearance <noble edifice>
5 : possessing, characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals : lofty <a noble ambition>

Below is a quote from Nietzsche that expresses some of his thoughts on nobility.

"And we are the first to admit that anyone who knew these "good" ones [nobility] only as enemies would find them evil enemies indeed. For these same men who, amongst themselves, are so strictly constrained by custom, worship, ritual, gratitude, and by mutual surveillance and jealousy, who are so resourceful in consideration, tenderness, loyality, pride and friendship, when once they step outside their circle become little better than uncaged beasts of prey. Once abroad in the wilderness, they revel in the freedom from social constraint and compensate for their long confinement in the quietude of their own community. They revert to the innocence of wild animals: we can imagine them returning from an orgy of murder, arson, rape, and torture, jubilant and at peace with themselves as though they had committed a fraternity prank -- convinced, moreover, that the poets for a long time to come will have something to sing about and to praise. Deep within all the noble races there lurks the [blond] beast of prey, bent on spoil and conquest. This hidden urge has to be satisfied from time to time, the beast let loose in the wilderness. This goes as well for the Roman, Arabian, German, Japanese nobility as for the Homeric heroes and the Scandinavian vikings. The noble races have everywhere left in their wake the catchword "barbarian." .....their utter indifference to safety and comfort, their terrible pleasure in destruction, their taste for cruelty -- all these traits are embodied by their victims in the image of the "barbarian," and "evil enemy," the Goth or the Vandal. The profound and icy suspicion which the German arouses as soon as he assumes power (we see it happening again today [i.e. 1887]) harks back to the persistent horror with which Europe for many centuries witnessed the raging of the blond Teutonic [germanischen] beast (although all racial connection between the old Teutonic tribes [Germanen] and ourselves has been lost). [pp.174-175, boldface added, note the terms, "blond" and "German," deleted or altered in the Golffing translation]"

Theaetetus;105487 wrote:
The only time that I can see Nietzsche exalting conquerors is when they overcome or stifle slave morality or herd mentality. Not to mention, his break with Wagner suggests that he detested people who despised others based on their race.


I don't think he was racist.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 10:31 pm
@hue-man,
Thanks for the interesting link; it reminds me of something Kierkegaard wrote in Purity of Heart:

Quote:

Suppose that sometime a king and a beggar and a man like yourself should come to you. In their presence would you dare frankly to confess that that which you desire in the world, in which you sought your consolation, certain that the king in his majesty would not despise you even though you were a man of inferior rank; certain that the beggar would not go away envious that he could not have the same consolation; certain that the man like yourself would be pleased by your frankness?

Alas, there is something in the world called clannishness. It is a dangerous thing because all clannishness is divisive. It is divisive when clannishness shuts out the common citizen, and when it shuts out the nobleborn, and when it shuts out the civil servant. It is divisive when it shuts out the king, and when it shuts out the beggar, and when it shuts out the wise man, and when it shuts out the simple soul. For all clannishness is the enemy of universal humanity.

Do you now live so that you are conscious of yourself as an individual; that in each of your relations in which you come into touch with the outside world, you are conscious of yourself, and that at the same time you are related to yourself as an individual? It is no laughing matter, but it is laughable, or it is pitiable, that the frivolous ones laugh at a man because he is wiser or better than they. For even laughter calls for a reasonable ground, and when this is absent, the laughter becomes the very thing that is laughable.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 12:04 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;105525 wrote:
How are you interpreting nobility? The definition of the word noble is as follows:

Noble:

1 a : possessing outstanding qualities : illustrious b : famous, notable <noble deeds>
2 : of high birth or exalted rank : aristocratic
3 a : possessing very high or excellent qualities or properties <noble wine> b : very good or excellent
4 : grand or impressive especially in appearance <noble edifice>
5 : possessing, characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals : lofty <a noble ambition>


Well, based on my reading of The Genealogy of Morals, I am interpreting noble as being a mix of 3a and 5. But that does not really matter because the criminal is a slave their passions, drives, and instincts and as a result, cannot be noble. Slave morality is reactive, and the criminal is reacting to what is overpowering their states of mind.

hue-man;105525 wrote:

Below is a quote from Nietzsche that expresses some of his thoughts on nobility.

"And we are the first to admit that anyone who knew these "good" ones [nobility] only as enemies would find them evil enemies indeed. For these same men who, amongst themselves, are so strictly constrained by custom, worship, ritual, gratitude, and by mutual surveillance and jealousy, who are so resourceful in consideration, tenderness, loyality, pride and friendship, when once they step outside their circle become little better than uncaged beasts of prey. Once abroad in the wilderness, they revel in the freedom from social constraint and compensate for their long confinement in the quietude of their own community. They revert to the innocence of wild animals: we can imagine them returning from an orgy of murder, arson, rape, and torture, jubilant and at peace with themselves as though they had committed a fraternity prank -- convinced, moreover, that the poets for a long time to come will have something to sing about and to praise. Deep within all the noble races there lurks the [blond] beast of prey, bent on spoil and conquest. This hidden urge has to be satisfied from time to time, the beast let loose in the wilderness. This goes as well for the Roman, Arabian, German, Japanese nobility as for the Homeric heroes and the Scandinavian vikings. The noble races have everywhere left in their wake the catchword "barbarian." .....their utter indifference to safety and comfort, their terrible pleasure in destruction, their taste for cruelty -- all these traits are embodied by their victims in the image of the "barbarian," and "evil enemy," the Goth or the Vandal. The profound and icy suspicion which the German arouses as soon as he assumes power (we see it happening again today [i.e. 1887]) harks back to the persistent horror with which Europe for many centuries witnessed the raging of the blond Teutonic [germanischen] beast (although all racial connection between the old Teutonic tribes [Germanen] and ourselves has been lost). [pp.174-175, boldface added, note the terms, "blond" and "German," deleted or altered in the Golffing translation]"

I don't think these are so much his thoughts on nobility, but on how most people of noble morality succumb to slave morality because their inner beast and their taste of cruelty ends up overcoming their being.

With that said though, this translation you have provided seems inferior to those I have studied. It seems that the only translations worth reading are those by Kaufmann and Hollingsdale and the subsequent ones produced after their work.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 01:05 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;105624 wrote:
Well, based on my reading of The Genealogy of Morals, I am interpreting noble as being a mix of 3a and 5. But that does not really matter because the criminal is a slave their passions, drives, and instincts and as a result, cannot be noble. Slave morality is reactive, and the criminal is reacting to what is overpowering their states of mind.
This is your opinion of what it means to be noble. Nietzsche constantly implied that the submission to your instincts was noble because he thought it was life affirming. You could say that the criminal is rebelling against an external power (law and the state) in order to fulfill their will to power.

Theaetetus;105624 wrote:
I don't think these are so much his thoughts on nobility, but on how most people of noble morality succumb to slave morality because their inner beast and their taste of cruelty ends up overcoming their being.


This is starting to remind me of christian apologetics. Nietzsche stated that the races of cruel, rapacious, murderous conquerors were noble. He also referred to their norms as master/noble morality. How much more lucid can you get than that? Your reinterpretation of master/slave morality is yours, not Nietzsche's, and that's fine. Take his work and make it as it should be, but don't try and make it seem as if your reinterpretation of his concepts is his interpretation.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 10:51 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;105888 wrote:

This is starting to remind me of christian apologetics. Nietzsche stated that the races of cruel, rapacious, murderous conquerors were noble. He also referred to their norms as master/noble morality. How much more lucid can you get than that? Your reinterpretation of master/slave morality is yours, not Nietzsche's, and that's fine. Take his work and make it as it should be, but don't try and make it seem as if your reinterpretation of his concepts is his interpretation.


I am sure you could be right, but then we would never know because we couldn't go question Nietzsche himself. I have studied nearly all of Nietzsche's work, but I have yet to come across the passages you have quoted (I assume that they are drawn from the Genealogy, which I am working on at the moment).

All philosophers are there to be reinterpreted by those who follow. Otherwise, philosophy is only history, which is what most philosophy merely is today. Philosophy should be a living force in which philosophers attempt to interpret other philosophers, and use that to apply to situations and concepts of today. But anyway, that is a different topic for a different time.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 07:44 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;106017 wrote:
I am sure you could be right, but then we would never know because we couldn't go question Nietzsche himself. I have studied nearly all of Nietzsche's work, but I have yet to come across the passages you have quoted (I assume that they are drawn from the Genealogy, which I am working on at the moment).

All philosophers are there to be reinterpreted by those who follow. Otherwise, philosophy is only history, which is what most philosophy merely is today. Philosophy should be a living force in which philosophers attempt to interpret other philosophers, and use that to apply to situations and concepts of today. But anyway, that is a different topic for a different time.


If philosophy were "only history", then there would and could be no philosophy for the history to be about. So it is impossible for philosophy to be only history (of philosophy).

"Logic is logic, that's all I can say".
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 01:28 am
@hue-man,
I think it's slavish not to reinterpret dead philosophers. But that's a matter of taste. I envision philosophy as a creative endeavor and interpretation as a form of creation.

Interpretation is creative writing that takes as its theme another creative writing. Philosophy is a network of self-referential metaphor. <--And that is one more metaphor in the network.
 
 

 
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