Monday, December 01, 2014

Western Philosophy Class - Nietzsche on Morality and the "Superman" as the Meaning of Earth

Tomorrow in my Western Philosophy class I will go over, once again, Nietzsche's idea of morality and the Superman as the meaning of earth. Here are the bullets.

1.   Explain Nietzsche’s two kinds of morality.
2.   Explain Nietzsche’s idea of the “Superman.”

Nietzsche believed that history exhibits two kinds of morality: Master Morality and Slave Morality.

Master Morality
Aristocrats. They feel they belong to a higher order of being than other people.
They describe themselves as “good.” They are of noble birth, have riches, are brave, truthful, and blond.
Other people are plebian, vulgar, cowardly, untruthful, and dark-skinned. These characteristics are “evil.”
All higher civilizations, according to Nietzsche, arose from the barbarians, who with their will and desire for power, have preyed upon the weaker, moral and peaceful societies.
Master morality creates its own values and stands beyond good and evil; slave morality values kindness, humility, and sympathy. The master transcends the mediocrity of the common person.
This Nietzsche called “master morality.”
“Good” and “bad” are equivalent to “noble” and “despicable.”

Slave Morality
These are the poor and the weak.
          They resent the power of the aristocrats.
They set up their own contrasting system of values, a slave morality or “herd-morality.”
This morality puts a premium on character traits like humility, sympathy, and benevolence, which benefit the “underdogs” of life.
And “equality.” “Equality” is a term of hatred for Nietzsche.
Nietzsche calls this system a “transvaluation of values.” He attributes this to the Jews.
“Transvaluation” = change of value. The weak transfigured weakness into virtue and vital strength into sin.

The Slaves Won
The revolt of the slaves, begun by the Jews, has achieved victory.
“Jewish hatred has triumphed under the mask of the Christian gospel of love.” (330)
Slave morality says there is an opposition between good and evil.
Aristocrats despised the herd as bad.
But the slaves, with greater venom, condemned the aristocrats as not just bad but evil.
Nietzsche believed that “we must fight against the domination of the slave morality: the way forward is to transcend the bounds of good and evil, and introduce a second transvaluation of values. If we can do that there will rise, as a synthesis to the thesis and antithesis of master and slave, the Superman.” (331)

The Superman
A healthy society does not exist for its own sake, but exists for the sake of a higher type of person.
Nietzsche calls this the Ubermensch – the “higher man.” The Over-man, or Super-man.
An overman (as described by Zarathustra, the main character in Thus Spoke Zarathustra) is the one who is willing to risk all for the sake of enhancement of humanity.
This means that our will to live must not be one which favors the weak. It must be “a will to power.”
“The will to power is the secret of all life; every living thing seeks to discharge its force, to give full scope to its ability.” (331)

“Humanity is merely a stage on the way to Superman, who is the meaning of earth. But Superman will not be achieved by evolution, but by an exercise of will.” (331)