Nietzsche’s ideas have always caused significant debates. His unusual and uncommon works are often criticized as being racist or anti-human. Claiming that morality is unnatural for human beings Nietzsche challenged centuries-old concepts and the debate around his views goes on. This paper is an attempt to analyze and justify Nietzsche’s ideas on the nature of morality.
It should be noted that Nietzsche’s ideas were not new, even for his epoch. From this point of view, “Nietzscheism” existed long before Nietzsche, but in another form. Glaring contradictions between the demands of everyday life and ethics had been in the center of attention for a long time before Nietzsche. All post-Homer culture (including Plato, but excluding Socrates) is full of demands to suppress the growing dominance of mediocrity, which hampers the growth of aristocracy’s value and deprives the best people of power, the demands to surpass others and despise them, the demands to do evil in order to achieve good, to come from the philosophy of cynicism to the philosophy of deliberate lie, etc.
Buy Morality as Anti-Nature essay paper online
Generally speaking, many philosophers tried to find origins of moral sentiments. Freud delved into emotions of children, Marx investigated the needs of entire classes, but Nietzsche appeared to be the most important nihilist. After all, his historical approach to the question of morality was significantly different from historical approach of Marx in the motif of search, in the main idea, a utopia. Marx dreamed of a perfectly just society; therefore, morality for him was an internal regulator of social relations. Nietzsche saw the future only in Superman and for Superman morality (morality that prevails in Europe) is nothing but shackles.
In his book “Beyond Good and Evil, Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future” Nietzsche argues that modern European morality is based on the plain cowardice, and that love of neighbor is nothing but fear of him – the fear of being punished. The words “you must” appear, for many people, the only thing that fills their life with meaning. A natural will to power, given to man by nature, degenerated into the will to obey. People like to be “the tools of the common good” and “the first servant of their people” (Nietzsche 199). According to Nietzsche, “morality in Europe today is herd animal morality” (Nietzsche 202). In this book, the philosopher already refers to the “slave revolt in morality” – the main trouble of the modern society. Later, this topic was discussed in more detail in his polemical book “Genealogy of Morals.”
In “Twilight of the Idols”, Nietzsche emphasizes the relationship of morality to passion. He claims that “almost every morality which has so far been taught, revered, and preached – turns, conversely, against the instincts of life” (Nietzsche V, 4). Of course, Christian morality is ahead of any other: “life is at an end where the ‘kingdom of God’ begins” (ibid). Morality orders man to perish. It is the “instinct of decadence, which makes an imperative of itself” (ibid). Even Schopenhauer, being not an immoralist, made a conclusion after two millennia of morality, having defined it as “the denial of the will to live” (Schopenhauer 423-459), which, in my opinion, is very significant.
According to Nietzsche, everything that is considered good in human community, everything that is valued, including moral value, is biologically determined. Accordingly, there can be no objective morality. Everyone has his own morality, the one which is best suited for the requirements of his life: morality of one individual justifies everything that he wants, morality of another makes him peaceful, etc. People may not even realize, where the actual source of their moral beliefs and ideas is, but it does not change anything. Everyone has the kind of morality that is most appropriate to his nature. The most significant difference between people is that some of them are weak by nature, and others are strong. Accordingly, their morality is different.
“On the Genealogy of Morals” was written by Nietzsche in only three weeks. This suggests that all of the ideas covered in the work had been developed by the philosopher long before writing. In this book, he simply summed everything up together under a common denominator and made the final verdict. First, Nietzsche turns to the analysis of languages known to him, and finds that in the majority of cultures, the words “good” and “noble” are very close. Therefore, at the time of formation of the language, or at some point of its development, the nobility defined what is good and what is bad; i.e. they gave their estimation to phenomena and courtly morality dominated. This morality was based on transcendental concepts, for example, the concept of honor. There was no herd attitude, but a confident look forward. The ancient Greeks, though, considered compassion as good, but it implicitly bordered with some contempt or sense of superiority. It was the moral of predatory animals.
However, apparently, the plebeians also had some sort of alternative assessment of phenomena, the assessment of a herd of herbivores. What is useful is good, because it saves lives. What is dangerous is bad, because it takes lives. Of course, the noble predators considered this attitude as ridiculous. “When stepped on, the worm curls up. That is a clever thing to do. Thus it reduces its chances of being stepped on again” (Nietzsche 3). This is the main thesis of plebeian morality, based on the self-preservation. Morality of populace was based on the primitive needs, while morality of nobles was based on the needs of the existential level.
It turned out that the nobles undervalued the creativity of plebeians. They thought they were advantageous, good, well, happy and were not eager to look down, and if they looked, they saw a handful of swarming ants. However one day, the plebeians started creating their own religion and their philosophy.
The advent of Christianity started the process of substitution of noble values by the values of plebs, and now people can only reap the benefits of two thousand years of degradation of values. An old problem of universal survival came to the foreground. Modern civilization can only produce and consume, and it even finds some sense in it. With the ability to survive, a person does not move to another stage; the needs do not change qualitatively, but only quantitatively. A person just wants to survive better. Even what has once been the artwork has now become a consumer product. A novel is not qualitatively different from a hamburger.
Decline of religion in Europe did not put an end to the domination of slaves. Christianity was replaced by the so-called democratic and humanistic values. Speaking about the origin of the moral prejudice, Nietzsche criticizes the Christian morality for depriving man of spiritual power, for dogmatism and opposition to freedom of the human nature. Philosopher argues that morality and the need for the supernatural and unknowable is rooted in the worst and most dangerous feelings: self-abasement, malevolence, cruelty and rancor.
In order to estimate the rate of substitution of moral values during the last two and a half centuries, it is enough to recall Voltaire. Just half a century prior to Nietzsche he said: “When the populace meddles in reasoning all is lost” (Voltair). Nevertheless, he is known in history as a great educator, but similar thoughts of Nietzsche in the late nineteenth century were branded as anti-human. Nietzsche believed that man is something more than merely a chewing animal. Common norms of morality, considered as universal truths, turn man into an herbivore. They are anti-natural. Unfortunately, he was often misunderstood.
Related Free Philosophy Essays
- Existence of God in Philosophy
- Allegory of the Cave Analysis
- Plato’s Meno
- How Max Weber and Karl Marx Theories Relate to an Ivy League Education
- Augustine’s Fusion of Stoicism and Platonism
- Hegel vs Kant on Reason
- Philosophy Morality- Effects of Time and Societal Differences on Morality
- Philosophy Issues
- Evil Issue
- Declaration of Independence as Seen Through the Lenses of Karl Marx, John Locke and Jean Rousseau