Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil: Nature of morality


Morality and human nature

  • account of morality in non-moral psychological terms
  • interprets moral values and history of their development in terms of the will to power

Attack on morality

  • N doesnt reject everything about conventional morality
  • misinterpreted as attacking all values (nihilism)
  • claims our existing values weaken the will to power in humans - threat to human greatness
  • moral ideal is a person who isnt great, a herd animal who seeks security and comfort and the avoidance of suffering
  • N aims to free those who can be great from the mistake of living according to this morality
  • isnt what is valuable what i great, an expression of strength and success?
  • how do traits like meekness, self-denial and pity become values?

On morality

  • N attacks any morality that supports values that harm the higher type of person and benefits the herd/ presupposes free will/ idea that we can know the truth about ourself through introspection/ similiarty of people
  • attacks morality by its values, its origins, its claim that it should apply to all and by its empiral and metaphysical assumptions

Particularity of moral systems

  • if there were universal moral values they'd be the same for everyone + history could only tell us how we came to discover them and why we didnt discover them sooner
  • history of morality would be like history of science
  • history of morality isnt like this - tells story of how values themselves changed
  • N rejects argument that there are universal moral principles (founded on reason/happiness etc) as it assumes there is no natural history of morality
  • claim to universality = specific feature of morality we've inherited
  • assumes whats good for one person = good for everyone
  • doesnt recognise there are different types of people

Free will and introspection

  • each person has a fixed psycho-physical constitution - values + lives = expression of this
  • constitution determines what they can do/become relative to their circumstances
  • wills origin = in unconscious physiological forces - 'thought comes when "it" wants to not when "I" want it to'
  • act of will has its origins in something else
  • whatever we're conscious of in ourselves = effect of something we're not conscious of
  • introspection cant lead to self-knowledge
  • conventional morality requires we make moral judgements on basis of persons motives
  • presupposes we can know which motives cause an action
  • when we've clearly formed an intention its not just this that brings avout the action but any number of factors
  • will is free = idea there are no causes of an act of will other than itself (causa sui)
  • experience of willing doesnt have to lead to this idea - ask ourselves what purpose it serves e.g. to defend our belief in ourselves + our right to praise
  • another purpose = holding people to blame for whats in their power
  • free will = idea that values on their own could be basis for act of will
  • will isnt conditioned by anything of this world
  • N doesnt imply that the will is unfree in the…


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