Critically discuss Nietzsche’s idea that his new morality would be beyond good and evil (45 marks) Modern Europe has had a revolt in its morals; strong free and happy action has now become labelled as immoral and corrupt. In the eyes of the revolutionaries, the herd, this brings them security and safety. The herd have managed to convince previous philosophers that this morality is a ‘given’, and as such these philosophers have attempted to find rational arguments to support it.
Nietzsche argues that we should go beyond good and evil, that actions should not be judged as moral or immoral in themselves, into an era that is for the individual to make the best out of it, and themselves, as they possibly can. This so called ‘new morality’ is for the ‘higher’ men to ascend to greatness. Morality is a product of historical development. In the Pre moral era, 2an actions value or lack of value was determined by its consequences; the action itself was taken into consideration as little as its origin” §32.
No one had heard of the imperative “know thyself” §32. Culture and technology advanced and changed and man entered into the first stage of the moral era. As society change, so did values and morality – certain individuals became valued over others; such as the aristocracy. This time was “a considerable refinement in the perceptions and standards” §32. The origin and the kind of person performing the deed became more important. But then a terrible mistake is committed. The second stage of the moral era had begun.
In “determining the value of an action not by its consequences, but by its origins” §32, the “doer” and the “deed” had become separated. Nietzsche calls this “an ominous new superstition” §32, as it makes no sense to enquire about whether an action is praiseworthy or blameworthy without first understanding the nature of the agent that performed it. Moreover, we can rarely understand the motives behind any given action – it is better to talk about character (‘nobility’) than to talk about intentions behind any single act.
Is this agent a ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ man? Does he grow ever stronger and ever more powerful as he suffers? If he does then this is a sign of true ‘nobility’, for as Nietzsche said on The Discipline of Suffering: “don’t you know that this discipline alone has created all human greatness. ” §255. Philippa Foot attempts to respond to Nietzsche by questioning why we should judge actions, not by their type, but by their relation to the nature of the person that does them.
She brings up the examples of the mass murder and destruction caused by such totalitarian dictators as “Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot” and states that “what we have to be horrified at is what they have done. ” There is no need to inquire into the psychology of these men to work out the moral quality of what they did. Be that as it may, if one were to examine the psychology of these men, one would find paranoid, estranged and desperate men.
None of these men created anything ‘great’: Pol Pot issued a ‘Year Zero’ policy which meant the destruction of society so as to ‘start again’, Hitler had millions of Jews and political prisoners exterminated and Stalin did much the same in his gulags. So then, these men are terrible, ‘lower’, individuals exactly because their minds were corrupted. And a corrupted mind means corrupted actions. Nietzsche in fact provides support for this argument, in that he does not praise “predatory men” §197 necessarily.
Thus to truly understand an action, one must understand the agent committing it. Utilitarian’s trey and respond to Nietzsche by claiming that, what is good for me is good for you- reciprocity is quite simply a major part of life. This can, however, easily be dismissed as ‘herd talk’. The true Nobel man is: solitary, independent and dealing with others as means to his ends. §26, §212, §273. The Utilitarian may try and fight back, stating that the Utilitarian ethic emerges out of a natural sympathy, solidarity and empathy for others; which are natural fundamental drives.
But, when these, so called ‘natural and fundamental’. Drives are enforced in modern morality they restrict and oppress. They create a “common green pasture of happiness for the herd” §44, but they, most importantly, deny life and growth. Take the Will to Power analogy of the Sipo Matador plant §258, in this analogy the ‘higher’ man, the plant in this case, uses the ‘lower’ men, the oak tree, as the “scaffolding” §258 – “to enable a select kind of creature (noble) to ascend to its higher task” §258.
Overall then, moving beyond good and evil is necessary for the noble or ‘higher’ men to grow and fully utilise their Will to Power; via the exploitation of the ‘lower’ men. Nietzsche, one could argue, is not a supporter of “predatory” men; he would make this argument based on their psychology having precedent over their actions. Furthermore, Nietzsche views on ethics do not, in fact, provide a ‘new morality’. It is actually the absence of a moral code that. is so important. This allows strong individuals to exert their Will to Power and escape from the oppression of the herd.