Nietzsche – Beyond Good and Evil – Part V

 

186: The moral sentiments are old and as wrong as the term “science of morals” are young and arrogant. Morals are still clumsy, and evidenced by the moralist, are often quite contradictory. And yet, the philosophers are seeking a rational foundation of morals. Every philosopher believes that he has succeeded. They have presupposed morality. It never occurred to them to do otherwise. Once one begins to look at many moralities one begins to question the existence of morality. What the philosophers ended up supplying, with their “rational foundation” of morality, was “the common faith in the prevalent morality.” For Schopenhauer the essence of the world is the will to power (even though he played the flute).

187: Philosophers create moral philosophies in order to justify themselves, calm themselves, crucify and humiliate themselves, wreak revenge, conceal, transfigure, vent power, force others into conformity with their values. “[M]oralities are merely a sign languages of affects.”

188: Every morality is a tyranny against nature and reason, which is not a problem unless you have another morality that says tyranny and unreason is impermissible. Strength and freedom on earth has come through “the tyranny of capricious laws” of morality, just as language has been developed through the tyrannical capricious rules of poetry (Shakespeare, Milton, Dante), all the while FEELING free. Nietzsche even suggests that the application of tyrannical capricious laws may be more natural than unrestrained “letting go.” There should be obedience over a long period of time and in a single direction. This captures European history. A great amount of discipline and strength moved the Europeans forward. At the same time, a great amount of strength was “crushed, stifled, and ruined.” This is how nature works. The straight line was predetermined. Thinkers knew what they needed to prove, and then constructed their arguments afterwards. Christian theologians knew what they needed to prove and constructed arguments afterwards. Morality is just this. It is the narrowing of the horizon. Nature requires a narrowing of the horizon in order to grow. Nietzsche says that this concerns humanity on the whole, though, and not the individual. Nature does not care about the individual.

189: Fasting is a chaining of our drives in order to learn to hunger again. Romantic love came out of a repression of sex under Christianity.

190: Plato expresses Socrates’ when he says the bad are only bad because of an error; “if one removed the error, one necessarily makes them- good.” They presuppose that bad actions are only those with unpleasant consequences, and the good are identical with “useful and agreeable.” This is unusual because typically Plato tried to make Socrates Noble.

191: There is an ancient battle of values between the authority of instincts and rationality, which was viewed as a battle between faith and knowledge. There is an ancient battle between our (unconscious) instinct and our reason. Before Christianity, Socrates was already talking about this divide. He was often mocking the nobility of Athens because they could not give reason for their actions. Eventually Socrates figured out, through introspection, that neither could he. For this reason he began valuing unconscious instinctual actions, though he continued to believe that the goal was to supply instinct with good reasons, which was his mistake (what do Brickhouse and Smith say?). He deceived himself into believing that his was still a morality based on reason, when he had in fact recognized the “irrational element in moral judgment.” Plato did not have Socrates’ insights. Plato was convinced that both tend toward the good. This has been the trend of philosophy and theology since him (with the exception of Descartes, who gave priority to reason alone).

192: The study of the history of any science reveals that humans default to a will to “believe.” It is easier to see what you expect to see than to see what is new. It is difficult to appreciate new music (especially a new genre). When we hear another language we try to hear familiar words. We fill in the gaps when we are unfamiliar with something. Gestalt. We hear/see a part and make up the rest. We are accustomed to lying in this way. We are creative artists. (This is classic of Nietzsche. He points out where our language hides the truth that we do not want to see. At the same time, we could call this an abuse of language.)

193: Our dreams shape us, even down to our experience of language.

194: It is interesting to see how different people value different goods. It is particularly interesting how different people conceive of actually possessing a good. Some people are content with physically “having” a partner. Others are content when they have a partner that is willing to sacrifice all others for him or her. And some believe they possess someone only when his or her partner truly knows him or her deep down, when there is no deception between them. Some people just want power and control, while others just want to be understood for whom they are, and so they make it their first priority to know themselves.  With helpful people one may find that they treat the people they help as possessions. Parents treat their child’s future as their possession. Etc…

195: The Jews mark the beginning of the “slave rebellion” by making synonymous the words “poor” and “holy” on one side, and “rich,” “evil,” and “godless.” This is the “inversion of values.”

196: I don’t know…but I think this is what it means: The sun allows us to see everything in the daylight, but we can imagine that it is also hiding an unknown amount of bodies as well. This is a parable for the person studying the psychology of morals. There are actions and/or theories that help us understand morality, but they are also hiding moral truths from us as well.

197: The temperate moralists assume the “tropical” man of prey, that Nietzsche calls “healthy,” is pathological. The man of prey does not live by the morality of those around him or her. Nietzsche believes this does not mean that there is anything wrong with him or her, but that the moralist harbors hatred for the tropics, and must be discredited. They prefer a morality of timidity.

198: These moralities that are directed towards the individual, for the sake of his or her “happiness” (Nietzsche shows skepticism about this term), counsel one on the dangerousness of his or her actions, against the passions of the will to power, in ways that sound antiquated and ridiculous because they “generalize where one must not generalize.” They talk as if it is a science, but it is far from a science, “much less ‘wisdom’” (Nietzsche is also skeptical about wisdom). Instead it is a mix of prudence and stupidity. The Stoics and Spinoza proposed indifference to the affects. Aristotle was not quite so strong, but still suggested turning down the volume of the affects to “the mean” until they are harmless. In religion sometimes you will find the enjoyment of the affects in the form of love of God, art, or music, as long as _______ (fill in the blank). Even in Goethe you find an acceptance of the affects, but still with timidity.

199: All of human history has included herds. Most of the time there have been the few in charge, and the many who follow. It has become central to our nature to obey. No matter what or who is commanding, it is our nature to obey. The need to obey is easier to inherent than to command. In fact, you can imagine that in order to command the person commanding would have to deceive him or herself before he or she could command (Lacan’s Big Other), “as if they too merely obeyed.” The tame, easy to get along with herd member calls himself virtuous, yet the arrival of a leader who commands is received with comfort as if he/she is a savior.

200: Today people from different races mix “indiscriminately.” Different races have different drives. The later cultures are weaker. Their highest desire is to end the war inside of themselves. But from the same later cultures come “those magical, incomprehensible, and unfathomable one arise, those enigmatic men predestined for victory and seduction” (Caesar, Alcibiades, Hohenstaufen Frederick II, Leonardo Da Vinci). They appear at the same time, due to the same causes.

201: As long as morality is defined by the utility of the herd, and immorality is what is threatening to the herd, there can be no “neighborly love.” What does this say about neighborly love? Is this referring to premodern communities only? Nietzsche says that in this state, where the focus is the utility of the herd, it is not yet morality. What we might call the virtues may even be there, and eventually they might too, but they would not use terms like good and evil, moral or immoral. Even an act of pity was considered good and bad depending only on the situation. “Love of neighbor” is a bit arbitrary, and is derived from “Fear of neighbor.” Before the safety of the community is established behaviors with “certain strong and dangerous drives like” vengefulness, craftiness, and a lust to rule are called by different names, and are often beneficial to the community. Once safety is established, and there is no healthy outlet for these drives, they become immoral, and the opposite drives become valued. When something elevates an individual above the herd it is called “evil.” Submissive, conforming, mediocrity is called moral. The need for hardness is absent, and all become lambs. How does this align with Aristotle? How does this align with reality? Nietzsche says the lamb society will even get to the point where it is unwilling to punish because it seems unfair. “Isn’t it enough to render him undangerous?” This is herd morality: the morality of timidity. The belief is that if one could abolish danger, the reason for fear, morality would no longer be necessary. We would live in a utopean society. Nietzsche points out that today this is called “progress.”

202: Today Europeans believe they know the difference between good and evil, but they accept herd morality, which says that there is no other, no higher morality. Christianity helped popularize herd morality, but it has been followed by democracy. The socialist, to the point of wanting to remove the distinction between master and slave, takes the herd morality even further. They distrust punishment of the weak. Socialism is a religion of pity. They are unable to let someone suffer, as if that were the height of morality, and the height of human history, the absolution of all former guilt. They treat the herd as their savior. NOTE: I think he has a few good words for the anarchists.

203: If Democracy is the decay of humankind, where can we find our hope for humanity? There will come a time when the herd morality has softened society, and destroyed society to such an extent that one will harden him or herself, and bear the responsibility (why does Nietzsche call it a responsibility?). The worry for Nietzsche, and his fellow free spirits, is that this person will not appear, or will “turn out badly.” This is a fascinating worry. Did Hitler turn out badly? Has this person not appeared at all? For Nietzsche the anxiety he suffers that humanity will deteriorate without this person is greater than anyone has ever experienced. With just a little help humanity could become “man,” but up to now all possibilities have been broken before their moment of greatness. The greatest decay of humanity, socialism, is possible, but perhaps also the redemption of humanity to become humanity.

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