On the Tarantulas

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Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 10:39 am
This is a brief commentary on Zarathustra's speech "On the Tarantulas." Feel free to comment or add your own thoughts.


The tarantulas to Nietzsche are those people in society who preach the doctrine of equality. Nietzsche writes that the tarantulas' definition of justice is "that the world be filled with storms of our [tarantulas] revenge" and that "we [tarantulas] shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not" (212). Thus these members of society see their virtue as the "will to equality." Most people today consider democracy natural and a given that equality has to do with all individuals being equal before the law, but this is not the type of equality that Nietzsche has in mind in the speech "On the Tarantulas."

The specific type of will to equality that Nietzsche is targeting has to do with a striving towards equality in talents, intelligence, and other aspects of people's life that are either given at birth (not inheritance of wealth or power) or have taken much effort and strife in order to develop, rather than material, social, or ethical equality that people generally think of when they hear the word "equality." The tarantulas cannot live knowing that others may have more natural abilities or have developed talents that they lack., which make the higher humans great. Thus, they become vengeful and seek to destroy the talented in the name of equality. Their goal is to create a herd of people that are only capable of striving for the average because that is all that is granted to them. Thus, the goal is that the average of the past lives on in the present and carries on into the future. This is to be achieved by punishing those that seek to go higher than themselves and seek to a becoming of something better.

The people that do not hold this concept of the will to equality recognize that life is a process in which one does not just accept themselves for who they are, and thus, make their lives a project in which the average is not acceptable. As Nietzsche writes: "Life wants to build itself up into the heights with columns and stairs: it wants to look into the far distance and out towards joyful beauties-therefore it needs height" (89). In other words, life seeks better than its current status. It is a striving towards something better than its current status. Nietzsche then goes on "And because it needs height, it needs steps and conflict among the steps and the climbers! Life wants to climb and in climbing overcome itself (89). Thus, life is not supposed to be an easy dwelling in the average of previous standards, but a struggle to overcome them. The tarantula seeks to poison the exemplars and do away with them in the name of equality.

In conclusion, to call virtue the "will to equality" is to turn life into a process of stagnation. But some members of society cannot accept themselves as they are, knowing that they are just average or even below average compared to others. Thus, they seek to destroy the talented and punish them for their talents in order to limit their influence on the greater society.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 09:42 pm
@Theaetetus,
No one is the equal of anyone else, and yet, we are by conception equal because we fit the definition....All dogs are dogs...All cats are cats, and all humans are humans, and are differences are slight and rather meaningless... But if your wealth depends upon a sense of inequality, of distance and of privilage, then you will hate those who demand political equality... If your injustise is endangered by equality you will hate humanity, as Nietzsche does... His people are not real...Where is super man and super woman and super baby??? They are cartoon characters who never were...Nietzche thought most of humanity inhuman because they were too human, and held to the important things of life at great expense, love, hearth, and home... And, He thought the inhuman beasts who made the lives of the poor such misery were super human... The guy was a nut...
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 10:11 am
@Theaetetus,
I disagree that Nietzsche was a nut, but instead a prophet of many things yet to come. Sure, he was inflammatory, but that was to get others to think for themselves.

Nietzsche cared about working towards the ideal of humanity, and that is only going to happen by individuals overcoming themselves repeatedly. The tarantulas of society are those who cannot live knowing that others are better than them so they seek to poison their prey to bring them down to their level in the name of revenge.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 11:42 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;101785 wrote:
The tarantulas to Nietzsche are those people in society who preach the doctrine of equality. Nietzsche writes that the tarantulas' definition of justice is "that the world be filled with storms of our [tarantulas] revenge" and that "we [tarantulas] shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not"
Hmmm.. I need to read some Nietzsche. I don't know what particular people he was thinking of or what social ill he had in mind. There certainly are haters... but I've never seen one preaching equality. There's an old saying that a prophet is never accepted in his hometown... which makes me think about how a community can be like that Frogger game where every time a frog head pops up, you smack it down with a little plastic hammer. I love that game, by the way.

I was at a natural history museum one time where I sat in on a "meet the bugs" show. The guy threatened to throw the tarantula on somebody. I thought, dude, unless you want your spider splatted on the wall you better not throw it at me.

Bottom line is: it doesn't matter to me why a person stands for equality. They may have a malicious agenda, they're still on my side... they're helping to perpetuate awareness of the distinction between the spirit and the form.

As for those who seek to tear others down because it makes them feel better about themselves: they're not something to run away from, unless they're really psycho. They represent a lesson in dealing with people...you could call in manipulation, but it's just recognizing the power you have to shape a situation to your ends. You have to think of yourself like a castle: reinforce the foundation, gather what you need to get your way. If it's credibility, resources, whatever.. In a situation where the haters have power to obstruct progress, you just have to look at the bigger picture: do what you can do. Some projects take generations. Maybe I'm just a stepping stone. That's how I tend to think.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 11:56 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;102023 wrote:
I don't know what particular people he was thinking of or what social ill he had in mind.

Proudon, Bakunin, Marx, Engles, Jacobins and the like.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 12:27 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;102024 wrote:
Proudon, Bakunin, Marx, Engles, Jacobins and the like.
Like I said: I'll have to read some more. If that was his full assessment of Communism, he must have been a tad out of touch.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 04:04 pm
@Theaetetus,
For Nietzsche, the herd morality was slavish and born of resentiment, and thus the opposite of a life-affirming, self-affirming ethic. Zarathustra descends to preach that "man is something to be overcome" and to spread the "gospel" of the noble superman, which is to become the goal of humanity.

Herd morality, by holding the common denominator as the ideal, breeds sameness, dullness, and uniformity. One can apply his remarks to our modern educational institutions,to our media presentation of the news, to our worship of the ephemeral rock star, or to the dumbification of language. Rather than celebrate mediocrity, Nietzsche would have us hold genius and its greatness as exemplars.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 05:26 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;102024 wrote:
Proudon, Bakunin, Marx, Engles, Jacobins and the like.


I don't know if those were the people that he had in mind, although I am sure they can be lumped in with the tarantulas. I think he is targeting the common people, or as Nietzsche may call them, the rabble, that got it into their mind that they are capable of ruling society, and then went on to preach the doctrine of equality that sought revenge on everyone that was not their equals.

Arjuna;102027 wrote:
Like I said: I'll have to read some more. If that was his full assessment of Communism, he must have been a tad out of touch.


I don't think Nietzsche's assessment has much to do with communism, but rather democracy.

Arjuna;102023 wrote:

Bottom line is: it doesn't matter to me why a person stands for equality. They may have a malicious agenda, they're still on my side... they're helping to perpetuate awareness of the distinction between the spirit and the form.


Well, the doctrine of equality can lead to a society in which no one strives to greatness, because there is no method to do so, because everyone is treated as equal in abilities. When it comes to talent and abilities, no one is equal, although when it comes to humans as humans, I would say that everyone is equal. And I think Nietzsche would agree as well.
 
Octal
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 07:14 pm
@Theaetetus,
From "Basic Writings of Nietzsche", in the aphorism section, Nietzsche writes:

"Mores and their victim.- The origin of mores may be found in two thoughts: "society is worth more than the individual," and "enduring advantage is to be preferred to ephemeral advantage"-from which it follows that the enduring advantage of society must be given precedence, unconditionally, over the advantage of the individual, especially over his momentary well-being but also over his enduring advantage and eve his continued existence. Whether the individual suffers from an institution that is good for the whole, whether it causes him to atrophy or perish-mores must be preserved, sacrifices must be made. But such an attitude originates only in those who are not its victims-for they claim in their behalf that the individual may be worth more than many, also that present enjoyment, the moment in paradise, may have to be valued higher than a pallid continuation of painless or complacent states. The philosophy of the sacrificial animal, however, is always sounded too late; and so we retain mores and morality-which is no more than the feeling for the whole quintessence of mores under which one lives and has been brought up-brought up not as an individual but as a member of a whole, as a digit of a majority.- Thus it happens constantly that an individual brings to bear upon himself, by means of his morality, the tyranny of the majority."

Thus the majority is the tyrant that pulls the individual down. After all, in a democratic society the majority rules. And since the majority rules, can't they overtake the situation and oppress the individual, and keep him continually oppressed since the individual's wants will never overtake the majority's wants (because it's the majorities decision on what is going to happen, the majority will always vote for the power of the majority [the reverse can be said about the individual when put in a situation of power, too])? Funny, since democracy is often associated with an absence a tyrannical oppression. (However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Democracy is worse than letting individuals rule, just presenting ideas).

Also, note how he said that the majority doesn't care about the individual's suffering, since it's not the victim (which can also be said about the individual in the state of power).
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 08:59 pm
@Octal,
Octal;102087 wrote:
From "Basic Writings of Nietzsche", in the aphorism section, Nietzsche writes:

"Mores and their victim.- The origin of mores may be found in two thoughts: "society is worth more than the individual," and "enduring advantage is to be preferred to ephemeral advantage"-from which it follows that the enduring advantage of society must be given precedence, unconditionally, over the advantage of the individual, especially over his momentary well-being but also over his enduring advantage and even his continued existence.."

Thus the majority is the tyrant that pulls the individual down. After all, in a democratic society the majority rules. And since the majority rules, can't they overtake the situation and oppress the individual, and keep him continually oppressed since the individual's wants will never overtake the majority's wants (because it's the majorities decision on what is going to happen, the majority will always vote for the power of the majority [the reverse can be said about the individual when put in a situation of power, too])? Funny, since democracy is often associated with an absence a tyrannical oppression. (However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Democracy is worse than letting individuals rule, just presenting ideas).

Also, note how he said that the majority doesn't care about the individual's suffering, since it's not the victim (which can also be said about the individual in the state of power).
This is getting a little convoluted. Only a hermit can express his full potential outside of human community. We're socializing mammals. On the other hand, the dreams of the individual are the fuel that drives the group. Squash individuality, and the dynamism of the group fades. Placing precedence on the health of either one is a self correcting problem. Except we've demonstrated a tendency to swing back and forth between extremes.

I reject Neitzsche's proposal in that quote for the origin of morality. I'm still not understanding what he's referring to. The herd mentality is not imposed by any external authority. It's a choice a person makes. The thing is: standing apart is dangerous... in some historical periods more so than others.

People don't usually accept ostracism in the name of their individuality unless they have no other choice.... like if they're just too darn weird to fit in.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 09:13 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;102094 wrote:
This is getting a little convoluted. Only a hermit can express his full potential outside of human community. We're socializing mammals. On the other hand, the dreams of the individual are the fuel that drives the group. Squash individuality, and the dynamism of the group fades. Placing precedence on the health of either one is a self correcting problem. Except we've demonstrated a tendency to swing back and forth between extremes.


Not necessarily. An individual that understands the importance of seeking solitude is able to express his full potential outside of a human community. It is not that Nietzsche is calling for hermits, but rather is calling on people to not spend too much time in society, and as a result, leave too little time to work on the dirty work of their lives.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 10:25 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;102095 wrote:
Not necessarily. An individual that understands the importance of seeking solitude is able to express his full potential outside of a human community. It is not that Nietzsche is calling for hermits, but rather is calling on people to not spend too much time in society, and as a result, leave too little time to work on the dirty work of their lives.

I guess that's an issue I've struggled with. Actually I'm formulating what I really want to fill up my days with from now until the big check out... to the extent its up to me.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 03:38 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;102027 wrote:
Like I said: I'll have to read some more. If that was his full assessment of Communism, he must have been a tad out of touch.

Well, less than half of my list were communists.

They were all egalitarians of some form - in word if not in deed.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 06:36 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;102016 wrote:
I disagree that Nietzsche was a nut, but instead a prophet of many things yet to come. Sure, he was inflammatory, but that was to get others to think for themselves.

Nietzsche cared about working towards the ideal of humanity, and that is only going to happen by individuals overcoming themselves repeatedly. The tarantulas of society are those who cannot live knowing that others are better than them so they seek to poison their prey to bring them down to their level in the name of revenge.


Nietzsche was a better prophet of days past...Judging humanity by some ideal is like judging ones parents... We do not have standards that are in any sense objective, and we get what we get... But; if we were to judge humanity; then wouldn't we have to know everything about humanity??? Who judges another on incomplete knowledge??? In fact; all cannot be known, but I would argue that Nietzsche, while thinking he knew all did not know enough, and suffered from false knowledge, and prejudice... He was one of those people who would not let the facts get in the way of a good story, and it is in narrative, in painting humanity with broad strokes that he excelled...
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 08:11 am
@Theaetetus,
In conjunction with this chapter, one should read "On the Way of the Creator (I,17):"'All loneliness [e.g. solitude] is guilt'---thus speaks the herd" because it fears the individual who has the strength to "become who he is."

Time and time again, Nietzsche examines in his works the pressures of the herd attempting to diminish individual freedom and creativity by imposing its values---whether politically or culturally--- out of envy or the sheer brutishness of its ennui.

"'...Beware of the good and the just!,' Zarathustra warns, 'They like to crucify those who invent their own virtue for themselves---they hate the lonely one.'"
 
chad3006
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 09:46 am
@Theaetetus,
The tarantulas are those who want the rest of the world to be as miserable as themselves. They can be jealous of any perceived advantage, even if it's possessed by the most wretched members of society.

We should be wary of the tarantulas, but also anything that wishes to impose its will on others. Democracy, despotism, and any economic system can and has been abused to such ends.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2009 11:06 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;102126 wrote:
In conjunction with this chapter, one should read "On the Way of the Creator (I,17):"'All loneliness [e.g. solitude] is guilt'---thus speaks the herd" because it fears the individual who has the strength to "become who he is."

Time and time again, Nietzsche examines in his works the pressures of the herd attempting to diminish individual freedom and creativity by imposing its values---whether politically or culturally--- out of envy or the sheer brutishness of its ennui.

"'...Beware of the good and the just!,' Zarathustra warns, 'They like to crucify those who invent their own virtue for themselves---they hate the lonely one.'"

People think they see what they are as individuals, but they become what they are with the great help of society... If they try to issolate the individual they scramble the picture... People love people, but some people like Nietzsche and others find it impossible to love others, and take a morbid interest in their own decline... It did not matter if many of the observations of the man were correct, or that the whole bunch of those anti rationalists were right about the nature of man and the mind...His clarity of vision what the result of his failure of sight...He missed the obvious, that we are not better or worse because of our relationships, but are what we are, and are literally because of our relationships... Overman was a made myth... There never was such a man who was not like Nietzsche, and as mad...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 01:56 pm
@Fido,
Fido;102186 wrote:
It did not matter if many of the observations of the man were correct... He missed the obvious, that we are not better or worse because of our relationships, but are what we are, and are literally because of our relationships...
How can one be right and wrong at the same time?

If you disagree with his philosophy that is fine -- Bertrand Russell thought that Nietzsche was repugnant, as I'm sure do most religious moral philosophers. But please, do your argument enough credit to take on his argument as presented in his text.

Look, I hate Heidegger -- he was a flag waving Nazi, he led a burning of Jewish books, and he never retracted his Naziism even after their crimes were made known. But his written philosophy is not antisemitic, at least not in any obvious way, any moreso than Richard Wagner's operas were antisemitic even though Wagner himself had made open statements about ridding Germany of Jews.

So separate the philosophy from the man when you're analyzing the arguments. Maybe the man informs the arguments, but with the exception of Will to Power every bit of Nietzsche's philosophy as he wanted the world to see it is there in written form.
 
Octal
 
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 03:26 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;102360 wrote:
How can one be right and wrong at the same time?

Clearly we have one philosopher who isn't yet "Beyond Good and Evil."
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 8 Nov, 2009 07:36 am
@Theaetetus,
Beethoven, from most accounts, was not a very nice person to those around him, yet his music represents as no other's the highest values of civilisation.

To dismiss the writings of Sartre because of his temporary idolization of Castro, of Nietzsche because of his breakdown at the end of his life, of Plato because of his friendship with the Thirty Tyrants, or of Heidegger because of his Nazi party membership would seem to deprive us all of major monuments to human thinking.
 
 

 
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