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Nietzsche’s Ethics

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  • Mary
    Is this excerpt a fair evaluation? Nietzsche identifies two types of morality — master and slave morality. Master morality is the morality of the superior
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 22, 2007
      Is this excerpt a fair evaluation?

      Nietzsche identifies two types of morality — master and slave
      morality. Master morality is the morality of the superior people,
      while slave morality is the morality of the inferior people. Modern
      systems such as Christianity and utilitarianism are examples of slave
      or "herd" morality.

      Master "morality" isn't really morality in any traditional sense. The
      superior person makes his/her own rules; superior people are "beyond
      good and evil" "The noble type of man experiences itself as
      determining values; it does not need approval; it judges, "what is
      injurious to me is injurious in itself"; it knows itself to be that
      which first accords honor to things; it is value-creating."

      For the noble soul, "good" means power-enhancing, tending to the full
      development of natural ability; while "bad" means contemptible, power-
      diminishing, tending to the artificial limitation of natural ability.
      Because the noble soul defines good and bad in terms of power or lack
      of power, to fulfill full human potential, the noble soul lives in
      accordance with the primary law of nature, the will to power. A
      person who chooses powerlessness — in the form of anxiety, pettiness,
      suspicion, deceit, flattery, etc.— is contemptible (i.e., bad). The
      superior person strives for nobility, pride, honor, self-mastery, and
      integrity, i.e., staying true to one's best self.

      And "against beings of lower rank, [a superior person] may behave as
      one pleases or "as the heart desires," and in any case "beyond good
      and evil."" The superior person looks with profound suspicion on
      values such as compassion, pity, and selflessness, as well as on the
      ideal of equality of all persons. Superior people, in expressing the
      will to power, embody completely natural human functioning; they live
      the most completely actualized human lives, and as such, are happy,
      energetic, and optimistic about the human condition.

      Slave morality, by contrast, is pessimistic and fearful. Slaves are
      victims (the "abused, oppressed, suffering, unemancipated, the weary
      and those uncertain of themselves"; but according to Nietzsche, most
      slaves choose to be victims. Slave morality is timid, and favors a
      limited existence; it "makes the best of a bad situation." It
      promotes the virtues that "serve to ease existence for those who
      suffer: here pity, the complaisant and obliging hand, the warm heart,
      patience, industry, humility, and friendliness are honored — for here
      these are the most useful qualities and almost the only means for
      enduring the pressure of existence. Slave morality is essentially a
      morality of utility," i.e., a morality that values the mediocre group
      over the superior individual.

      In slave morality, "good" means "tending to ease suffering"
      and "evil" means "tending to inspire fear." (In master morality, by
      contrast, it's good to inspire fear.) Nietzsche believes that slave
      morality is expressed in the standard moral systems (particularly
      Christianity and utilitarianism). That is, Christianity and
      utilitarianism both exemplify the same ideology: the ideology of the
      majority, the herd, the cowardly, the conventional, the less-than-

      In summary, a "Master" says:
      · I value myself, glorify myself because I am better.
      · I have duties only towards equals.
      · I don't owe sympathy, helpfulness, etc., to beings of lower rank.

      A "Master" values what the "slave" fears:
      · "the exalted, proud disposition" (pride as a virtue)
      · nobility, courage, whole-heartedness
      · "the happiness of high tension" — challenging self to maximum
      · abundance of power, proper lavishness
      · "hardness" of heart
      · "artfulness in retaliation" — "dreadfulness, subtlety, and strength"
      · age and tradition (where deserved)
      · "effete refinement of the idea of friendship" — the need for enemies

      A "Master" despises what the "slave" values:
      · prudence, timidity
      · self-abasement and self-doubt
      · distrustfulness, concealment, mediocrity, conformity
      · the narrow outlook that values things only insofar as they are
      · "female" virtues — kindness, patience, sympathy, friendliness,
      pity, humility, cooperation, bonhomie

      Nietzsche thinks slave moralities have pretty much taken over as the
      official moralities of the Western world (the ones people pay lip
      service to). But Nietzsche thinks the triumph of ideals of equality
      and democracy in modern times is a great tragedy for humanity.
      Equality and democracy are for Nietzsche the worst, not the best,
      values; they are the exact opposite of what humans in their hearts
      actually value, the opposite of what it is natural to value. Inferior
      people naturally see the superiority of their "natural" masters;
      hence by nature, they fear them and feel uncomfortable with them.
      When slave morality takes hold, the inferior ones are suddenly
      given "moral" license to brainwash and persecute those who try to
      express the will to power. (Such persons are not "friendly," "not
      team players.") Thus when the ideal of equality rules, the best
      specimens of humanity are at risk. Nietzsche would like to revert to
      an ancient "classical" time when the "natural aristocrats" (those who
      expressed the will to power) actually ruled.


      copied, pasted and posted by Mary
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