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Friedrich Nietzsche

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❶For him, however, human beings remain valuing creatures in the last analysis.

First Essay, Sections 1-9

2. Critique of Religion and Morality
1. Life and Works

He published a book almost every year thereafter. These works began with Daybreak , which collected critical observations on morality and its underlying psychology, and there followed the mature works for which Nietzsche is best known: In later years, Nietzsche moved frequently in the effort to find a climate that would improve his health, settling into a pattern of spending winters near the Mediterranean usually in Italy and summers in Sils Maria, Switzerland.

His symptoms included intense headaches, nausea, and trouble with his eyesight. Recent work Huenemann has convincingly argued that he probably suffered from a retro-orbital meningioma, a slow-growing tumor on the brain surface behind his right eye.

In January , Nietzsche collapsed in the street in Turin, and when he regained consciousness he wrote a series of increasingly deranged letters. His close Basel friend Franz Overbeck was gravely concerned and travelled to Turin, where he found Nietzsche suffering from dementia. After unsuccessful treatment in Basel and Jena, he was released into the care of his mother, and later his sister, eventually lapsing entirely into silence.

He lived on until , when he died of a stroke complicated by pneumonia. Nietzsche is arguably most famous for his criticisms of traditional European moral commitments, together with their foundations in Christianity. This critique is very wide-ranging; it aims to undermine not just religious faith or philosophical moral theory , but also many central aspects of ordinary moral consciousness, some of which are difficult to imagine doing without e.

By the time Nietzsche wrote, it was common for European intellectuals to assume that such ideas, however much inspiration they owed to the Christian intellectual and faith tradition, needed a rational grounding independent from particular sectarian or even ecumenical religious commitments. Then as now, most philosophers assumed that a secular vindication of morality would surely be forthcoming and would save the large majority of our standard commitments.

Christianity no longer commands society-wide cultural allegiance as a framework grounding ethical commitments, and thus, a common basis for collective life that was supposed to have been immutable and invulnerable has turned out to be not only less stable than we assumed, but incomprehensibly mortal —and in fact, already lost.

The response called for by such a turn of events is mourning and deep disorientation. Indeed, the case is even worse than that, according to Nietzsche. Not only do standard moral commitments lack a foundation we thought they had, but stripped of their veneer of unquestionable authority, they prove to have been not just baseless but positively harmful.

Unfortunately, the moralization of our lives has insidiously attached itself to genuine psychological needs—some basic to our condition, others cultivated by the conditions of life under morality—so its corrosive effects cannot simply be removed without further psychological damage.

Still worse, the damaging side of morality has implanted itself within us in the form of a genuine self-understanding , making it hard for us to imagine ourselves living any other way. Thus, Nietzsche argues, we are faced with a difficult, long term restoration project in which the most cherished aspects of our way of life must be ruthlessly investigated, dismantled, and then reconstructed in healthier form—all while we continue somehow to sail the ship of our common ethical life on the high seas.

The most extensive development of this Nietzschean critique of morality appears in his late work On the Genealogy of Morality , which consists of three treatises, each devoted to the psychological examination of a central moral idea. In the First Treatise, Nietzsche takes up the idea that moral consciousness consists fundamentally in altruistic concern for others.

He begins by observing a striking fact, namely, that this widespread conception of what morality is all about—while entirely commonsensical to us—is not the essence of any possible morality, but a historical innovation.

In such a system, goodness is associated with exclusive virtues. There is no thought that everyone should be excellent—the very idea makes no sense, since to be excellent is to be distinguished from the ordinary run of people.

Nietzsche shows rather convincingly that this pattern of assessment was dominant in ancient Mediterranean culture the Homeric world, later Greek and Roman society, and even much of ancient philosophical ethics. It focuses its negative evaluation evil on violations of the interests or well-being of others—and consequently its positive evaluation good on altruistic concern for their welfare.

Such a morality needs to have universalistic pretensions: It is thereby especially amenable to ideas of basic human equality, starting from the thought that each person has an equal claim to moral consideration and respect. The exact nature of this alleged revolt is a matter of ongoing scholarly controversy in recent literature, see Bittner ; Reginster ; Migotti ; Ridley ; May Afterward, via negation of the concept of evil, the new concept of goodness emerges, rooted in altruistic concern of a sort that would inhibit evil actions.

For Nietzsche, then, our morality amounts to a vindictive effort to poison the happiness of the fortunate GM III, 14 , instead of a high-minded, dispassionate, and strictly rational concern for others. That said, Nietzsche offers two strands of evidence sufficient to give pause to an open minded reader. Second, Nietzsche observes with confidence-shaking perspicacity how frequently indignant moralistic condemnation itself, whether arising in serious criminal or public matters or from more private personal interactions, can detach itself from any measured assessment of the wrong and devolve into a free-floating expression of vengeful resentment against some real or imagined perpetrator.

The First Treatise does little, however, to suggest why inhabitants of a noble morality might be at all moved by such condemnations, generating a question about how the moral revaluation could have succeeded. The Second Treatise, about guilt and bad conscience, offers some materials toward an answer to this puzzle.

Nietzsche begins from the insight that guilt bears a close conceptual connection to the notion of debt. The pure idea of moralized guilt answers this need by tying any wrong action inextricably and uniquely to a blamable agent. As we saw, the impulse to assign blame was central to the ressentiment that motivated the moral revaluation of values, according to the First Treatise. Thus, insofar as people even nobles become susceptible to such moralized guilt, they might also become vulnerable to the revaluation, and Nietzsche offers some speculations about how and why this might happen GM II, 16— These criticisms have attracted an increasingly subtle secondary literature; see Reginster , as well as Williams a, b , Ridley , May In such cases, free-floating guilt can lose its social and moral point and develop into something hard to distinguish from a pathological desire for self-punishment.

Ascetic self-denial is a curious phenomenon indeed, on certain psychological assumptions, like descriptive psychological egoism or ordinary hedonism, it seems incomprehensible , but it is nevertheless strikingly widespread in the history of religious practice. One obvious route to such a value system, though far from the only one, is for the moralist to identify a set of drives and desires that people are bound to have—perhaps rooted in their human or animal nature—and to condemn those as evil; anti-sensualist forms of asceticism follow this path.

As Nietzsche emphasizes, purified guilt is naturally recruited as a tool for developing asceticism. Suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition, and the ascetic strategy is to interpret such suffering as punishment , thereby connecting it to the notion of guilt. Despite turning her own suffering against her, the move paradoxically offers certain advantages to the agent—not only does her suffering gain an explanation and moral justification, but her own activity can be validated by being enlisted on the side of punishment self-castigation:.

For every sufferer instinctively seeks a cause for his suffering; still more precisely, a perpetrator, still more specifically, a guilty perpetrator who is susceptible to suffering,.

The principal bow stroke the ascetic priest allowed himself to cause the human soul to resound with wrenching and ecstatic music of every kind was executed—everyone knows this—by exploiting the feeling of guilt. Consider, for example, the stance of Schopenhauerian pessimism, according to which human life and the world have negative absolute value. From that standpoint, the moralist can perfectly well allow that ascetic valuation is self-punishing and even destructive for the moral agent, but such conclusions are entirely consistent with—indeed, they seem like warranted responses to —the pessimistic evaluation.

That is, if life is an inherent evil and nothingness is a concrete improvement over existence, then diminishing or impairing life through asceticism yields a net enhancement of value. While asceticism imposes self-discipline on the sick practitioner, it simultaneously makes the person sicker, plunging her into intensified inner conflict GM III, 15, 20— While this section has focused on the Genealogy , it is worth noting that its three studies are offered only as examples of Nietzschean skepticism about conventional moral ideas.

Nietzsche tried out many different arguments against pity and compassion beginning already in Human, All-too-human and continuing to the end of his productive life—for discussion, see Reginster , Janaway forthcoming , and Nussbaum Nietzsche resists the hedonistic doctrine that pleasure and pain lie at the basis of all value claims, which would be the most natural way to defend such a presupposition.

From that point of view, the morality of compassion looks both presumptuous and misguided. It is misguided both because it runs the risk of robbing individuals of their opportunity to make something positive individually meaningful out of their suffering, and because the global devaluation of suffering as such dismisses in advance the potentially valuable aspects of our general condition as vulnerable and finite creatures GS ; compare Williams For him, however, human beings remain valuing creatures in the last analysis.

It follows that no critique of traditional values could be practically effective without suggesting replacement values capable of meeting our needs as valuers see GS ; Anderson , esp. Nietzsche thought it was the job of philosophers to create such values BGE , so readers have long and rightly expected to find an account of value creation in his works. There is something to this reaction: It is common, if not altogether standard, to explain values by contrasting them against mere desires.

If I become convinced that something I valued is not in fact valuable, that discovery is normally sufficient to provoke me to revise my value, suggesting that valuing must be responsive to the world; by contrast, subjective desires often persist even in the face of my judgment that their objects are not properly desirable, or are unattainable; see the entries on value theory and desire.

We [contemplatives] … are those who really continually fashion something that had not been there before: Only we have created the world that concerns man! Some scholars take the value creation passages as evidence that Nietzsche was an anti-realist about value, so that his confident evaluative judgments should be read as efforts at rhetorical persuasion rather than objective claims Leiter , or relatedly they suggest that Nietzsche could fruitfully be read as a skeptic, so that such passages should be evaluated primarily for their practical effect on readers Berry ; see also Leiter Others Hussain take Nietzsche to be advocating a fictionalist posture, according to which values are self-consciously invented contributions to a pretense through which we can satisfy our needs as valuing creatures, even though all evaluative claims are strictly speaking false.

First, while a few passages appear to offer a conception of value creation as some kind of legislative fiat e. Second, a great many of the passages esp. GS 78, , , , connect value creation to artistic creation, suggesting that Nietzsche took artistic creation and aesthetic value as an important paradigm or metaphor for his account of values and value creation more generally. While some Soll attack this entire idea as confused, other scholars have called on these passages as support for either fictionalist or subjective realist interpretations.

In addition to showing that not all value creation leads to results that Nietzsche would endorse, this observation leads to interesting questions—e. If so, what differentiates the two modes? Can we say anything about which is to be preferred? Nietzsche praises many different values, and in the main, he does not follow the stereotypically philosophical strategy of deriving his evaluative judgments from one or a few foundational principles.

A well-known passage appears near the opening of the late work, The Antichrist:. Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. That doctrine seems to include the proposal that creatures like us or more broadly: The same conception has been developed by Paul Katsafanas , who argues that, qua agents, we are ineluctably committed to valuing power because a Reginster-style will to power is a constitutive condition on acting at all.

His account thereby contributes to the constitutivist strategy in ethics pioneered by Christine Korsgaard and David Velleman , On this view, what Nietzsche values is power understood as a tendency toward growth, strength, domination, or expansion Schacht Leiter is surely right to raise worries about the Millian reconstruction. Nietzsche apparently takes us to be committed to a wide diversity of first order aims, which raises prima facie doubts about the idea that for him all willing really takes power as its first-order aim as the Millian argument would require.

It is not clear that this view can avoid the objection rooted in the possibility of pessimism i. Given his engagement with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche should have been sensitive to the worry. According to Reginster I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse.

Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: After that opening move, Nietzsche develops the idea in several more sections: Let our brilliance make them look dark. No, let us not become darker ourselves on their account, like all those who punish….

Let us look away. After that penultimate section, Nietzsche quotes the first section of Thus Spoke Zarathustra , which returns repeatedly to the same theme of affirmation see, e. That critique is directed in large measure against aspects of morality that turn the agent against herself—or more broadly, against the side of Christianity that condemns earthly existence, demanding that we repent of it as the price of admission to a different, superior plane of being.

What is wrong with these views, according to Nietzsche, is that they negate our life, instead of affirming it. The affirmation of life can be framed as the rejection of nihilism, so understood. For Nietzsche, that involves a two-sided project: Readers interested in this issue about the compatibility of Nietzschean affirmation with Nietzschean critique should also consult Huddleston, forthcoming, a, which reaches a more diffident conclusion than this entry.

If we are to affirm our life and the world, however, we had better be honest about what they are really like. Endorsing things under some illusory Panglossian description is not affirmation, but self-delusion. And arguably, in fact, no other virtue gets more, or more unqualified, praise in the Nietzschean corpus: How much truth does a spirit endure , how much truth does it dare? More and more that became for me the real measure of value.

Some texts present truthfulness as a kind of personal commitment—one tied to particular projects and a way of life in which Nietzsche happens to have invested. For example, in GS 2 Nietzsche expresses bewilderment in the face of people who do not value honesty:. But Nietzsche also remarks that only with the priests do human beings become interesting.

With the priests, the human soul first gains those attributes that set it apart from animals: Though the priestly mode of evaluation springs from the knightly-aristocratic mode, it becomes its opposite, and its most hated enemy. Because the priests are impotent, they learn to hate, and their hate becomes more powerful than any of the warlike virtues lauded by the nobles. Nietzsche identifies the Jews as the finest example of the priestly caste, the most refined haters in human history.

The Jews managed to effect a complete reversal in moral valuations, associating themselves, the poor, the wretched, the meek, with "good," and the lustful, powerful, and noble as "evil," damned for all eternity. Genealogy of Morals by: They desire to live, to live a bit at any price. Who could perceive in them that difficult relay race by means of which only what is great survives?

And yet again and again a few persons awaken who feel themselves blessed in regard to that which is great, as if human life were a glorious thing and as if the most beautiful fruit of this bitter plant is the knowledge that someone once walked proudly and stoically through this existence, while another walked through it in deep thoughtfulness and a third with compassion.

But they all bequeathed one lesson: Whereas the common man takes this span of being with such gloomy seriousness, those on their journey to immortality knew how to treat it with Olympian laughter, or at least with lofty disdain. Often they went to their graves ironically- for what was there in them to bury? The boldest knights among these addicts of fame, those who believe that they will discover their coat of arms hanging on a constellation, must be sought among philosophers.

It is their nature to wander the path alone. Their talent is the rarest and in a certain respect most unnatural in nature, even shutting itself off from the hostile towards similar talents. The wall of their self-sufficiency must be made of diamond if it is not to be demolished and shattered.

For everything in man and nature is on the move against them. Their journey towards immortality is more difficult and impeded than any other, and yet no one can be more confident than the philosopher that he will reach his goal. Because the philosopher knows not where to stand, if not on the extended wings of all ages. For it is the nature of philosophical reflection to disregard the present and momentary.

He possesses the truth: It is important to discover that such men once lived, for one would never be able to imagine on his own, as an idle possibility, the pride of the wise Heraclitus who may serve as our example. For by its nature every striving for knowledge seems intrinsically unsatisfied and unsatisfying. Therefore, unless he has been instructed to the contrary by history, no one will be able to imagine such regal self-esteem, such boundless conviction that one is the sole fortunate wooer of truth.

Men of this sort live within their own solar system, and that is where they must be sought. Even a Pythagoras and an Empedocles treated themselves with superhuman respect, indeed, with an almost religious awe. But they were led back to other men and to their salvation by the bond of sympathy, coupled with great conviction concerning the transmigration of souls and the unity of all living things. But only in the wildest mountain wasteland, while growing numb from the cold, can one surmise to some extent the feeling of loneliness which permeated this hermit of the Ephesian temple of Artemis.

No overwhelming feeling of sympathetic excitement emanates from him, no desire to help and to save. He is like a star without an atmosphere. On all sides the waves of illusion and folly beat directly against the fortress of his pride, while he turns away in disgust. But even tender-hearted men shun such a tragic mask.

Such a being might seem more comprehensible in a remote shrine, among images of the gods and amidst cold, sublime architecture. As a man among men, Heraclitus was incredible. And if he was perhaps observed while watching the games of noisy children, he had in any case been pondering something never before pondered by a mortal on such an occasion, viz.

He had no need for men, not even for the purposes of his knowledge. He was not at all concerned with anything that one might perhaps ascertain from them or with what other wise men before him struggled to ascertain.

But what he heard in this oracle he presented as immortal wisdom, eternally worthy of interpretation in the sense in which the prophetic speeches of the sibyl are immortal. It is sufficient for the most distant generations: Since the world forever requires truth, it requires Heraclitus forever, though he does not require the world. What does his fame matter to him! Let them gulp down this tastiest morsel of their self-love; the fare is too common for him.

His fame matters to men, not to him. His self-love is love of truth, and it is this truth which tells him that the immortality of humanity requires him, not that he requires the immortality of the man named Heraclitus. And where has it gone! It was hardly the first!

It was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of world history, but nevertheless only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star cooled and solidified, and the clever beasts had to die.

The time had come too, for although they boasted of how much they understood, in the end they discovered to their great annoyance that they had understood everything falsely. They died, and in dying they cursed truth.

Such was the nature of these desperate beasts who had invented knowing. The truth would drive him to despair and destruction: But all that is appropriate for man is belief in attainable truth, in the illusion, which draws near to man and inspires him with confidence.

Does he not actually live by means of a continual process of deception? He is locked within this consciousness and nature threw away the key. Oh, the fatal curiosity of the philosopher, who longs, just once, to peer out and down through a crack in the chamber of consciousness.


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The following essay will discuss the problems in society during the ’s and prove Nietzsche’s greatness in giving new meaning to the world. The essay then proves that it was by Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche’s deliberate tampering that Nietzsche’s Superman came to be a symbol of Nazi principles.

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Inspired by Ritschl, and following him to the University of Leipzig in an institution located closer to Nietzsche's hometown of Naumburg, Nietzsche rapidly established his own academic reputation through his published essays on Aristotle, Theognis and Simonides.

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Nietzsche: The Conscience In his second essay of the Geneaology of Morals, Nietzsche attempts to identify and explain the origin of the conscience. Nietzsche Essay. Nietzsche In Charles Darwin offered a theory that seemed to disprove the longstanding explanation of the origin of existence. Darwin’s theory of evolution proposes a convincing argument that the universe was not created for a purpose, with intention, by a conscious God, but rather, was a phenomenon of random change.

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This essay was compiled using Nietzsche’s ideas of the history of truth and lies in conjunction with the human mind. In the midst of his crazy word choices and overfilled sentences, his message is quite clear: nothing can be deemed true or false just as it is. The essay ‘The Greek State’ was originally intended by Nietzsche to be a chapter of his first published book, The Birth of Tragedy (); together with the essay ‘Homer’s Contest’ and three other essays – .