Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 7

Ryan Klaus Philosophy 415 Professor Wider 3/13/2012 Moral Duality

Nietzsches then-radical assertions that all attempts to objectify morality are merely power claims and that Christianity was born of reactionary sentiments to the Roman values of strength and self-justification marked a monumental shift in the direction of modern philosophy. The idea of our western system of morality as contrived by a weak, contemptible, though clever group of people naturally did not sit right with most of the people of his time and certainly not with our own. Nietzsches belief that humans house two, diametrically opposed natures, and therefore morality types, is based on what he defines as the true nature of life: will to power. This is a correct interpretation of the farthest extremes of human nature, and Nietzsche is correct in supposing that morality is defined by the nature of humanity, with nature existing on a continuum between two poles. However, his insistence that the two poles of human nature depict one life-affirming master path and one life-denying path is merely a subjective expression of a point (Nietzsches own nature) on the same continuum between the poles of universal human nature, and therefore is not a valid generalization to all human nature. There no doubt exists two poles that consistently and constantly rage war with one another, shown by the pattern of dual recurrence of the same core values in civilizations that rise and fall. Both are as Nietzsches describes them: different representations of the same will to power. However, attributing value to either of these patterns can only be considered a morality claim and fails to adequately describe the two natures exemplified in humanity.

According to Nietzsche, culture is unable to separate itself from the deep-seated infection of Christian morality after being under its oppression for such an extended period of time. Because of this, the traditional values that Christianity upholds are intertwined with what the western world believes to be morally good or morally reprehensible. In Nietzsches works On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil, he details his views on the origins of Christianity and its moral system. He believes that if one is able to understand the beginnings of Christianity and how its basic tenets solidified, then one is able to grasp how moral judgments in general are formed. There are two types of morality existing in humans: the master type and the slave type. Both types exemplify what the culture in power believes to be right and wrong. The master morality was derived from the Greeks, with their values, and therefore what they defined as good, being honor, strength, courage, and valor. Their values affirmed life, as defined by what it means to be human: flesh and blood, instinct and desire, tempered by our ability to understand ourselves by looking inwardly. The Greeks glorified the body (the Dionysian affirmation of life as intrinsically lacking meaning) and mind (the Apollonian structuring of life) as two different, yet equally valid, poles on the dichotomy of reality interpretation. According to Nietzsche, the Greeks created the values of power, strength, and honor and defined what it meant to be morally good by looking inwardly at their Dionysian affirmation of a passionate, intrinsically meaningless life and projecting it as morality (in this case, the master morality) through an Apollonian objectification of what they themselves were. In the beginning of Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche details the duality of Dionysian and Apollonian art forms as representations of the dual nature of humanity. The Apollonian energy structures meaning through abstract (dream-like) forms while the Dionysian energy is based on a passionate and personally involved belongingness to the primordial unity of humanity. Both natures exist as energies that flow from

the nature of human existence (Birth of Tragedy, Section 1 part 2.) This is relevant to the discussion of the formation of values by providing a context for the formation of the original set of values (the master type). This type of master morality was thrust from power by the emergence of Christianity as the dominant source of power in the region. Nietzsche, in his works On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil, outlines the history of Christianity as a philosophy arising as a foil to the Romans master morality, possessing its roots in the Roman slaves. Christian morality embodies everything that the slaves were: physically and mentally weak, bitterly resentful, and dishonorable. The slave holds life in contempt and values the betterment of the herd over the success of the strong as the slave does not have the resources to be considered a part of the master class. This slave morality is borne of what the nature of the slave type is in the same way that the master type of morality evolved. The slave sees what he is (everything that the master type isnt) and claims this to be what is good. Nietzsche asserts that the master and slave moralities are reflections of the diametrically opposed, yet mutually contingent poles in the duality of human nature. Conclusively, Nietzsche boldly claims that all values and morals are intrinsically meaningless and that humans give values to their surroundings by reflecting on what they themselves are, or, in the case of the slaves, what they themselves are not. The master and slave each are responsible for creating their own values, with the difference in the two lying in the way they see morality. The master exists as an affirmation of life and is above petty notions of evil, while the slave is in a constant state of conflict with evil as defined by the bestial nature of the master type. The slave seeks to deny their own humanity and exist in the realm of self-deprication. (On the Genealogy of Morals, section 10.)

Nietzsches concept of will to power is directly related to the master and slave moralities by providing a psychological reason for the projection of both of these value systems. The will to power can be defined as a will to life over all things, including oneself. In Raymonds preface to her section on Nietzsche, she explains that the will to power is a universal energy that exists in all beings. It is a passion in itself, seeking to exert control of life itself, and by extension, man himself. (Raymond, 180-181.) The projection of the will to power is the driving force behind all actions, including and especially the formation of morals and values. The masters will to power is ultimately expressed by mastery over the self, and by extension, the surroundings of the self. In contrast, the slave types will to power is perverted and twisted by his own inability to achieve self-mastery and is thus instead directed outwardly instead of inwardly. The slave wishes to drag the master down to her own level in a petty and vengeful display of power, and does so by de-valuing the goods of the master and rendering them instead as evil. Nietzsche believes that this has happened today in western culture, with the slave values of self-sacrifice, modesty, universal charity, and a humble weakness of spirit as the goods of the society. Thus, Nietzsches position is laid bare: the master type is the noble man whose will to power is expressed in a mastery over the body and mind of the self while the slave type is the man who, weak in body and mind, seeks to redefine what is good so that his own will to power can be satisfied. Nietzsche provided a uniquely insightful and powerful look into human nature in describing the two types of human natures. Though he does admit that both types (master and slave) can exist within the same person and even acknowledges civilized attempts at the reconciliation of the two (Beyond Good and Evil, section 259), this appears to be nothing more than a realization that his idealization of human nature fails to pragmatically say anything

tangible about the way humans actually are. It is obvious that the range of human nature accounts for both a truly noble person as an exemplified master type and a truly contemptible person as an exemplified slave type, but I believe that Nietzsche is biased in his presentation of the two polar extremes. The definitions of noble and contemptible are value judgments, and it seems to me that Nietzsche is incorrectly downplaying the role of cunning, cynicism, and humility by labeling them as weak. It cannot be argued that manipulation and deceit are inherently less noble than forthright displays of power simply because they occurred later in the lineage of humanity. I believe that if Nietzsche wanted to fully flesh out his argument in On the Genealogy of Morals, then he needs to go back even further to the dawn of humanity itself. The practicality of evolution led to the separation of humans into male and female, with the male taking up the role as the provider and protector and the female being the care-giver. This essentially allowed the male to dictate the rules of the society, and thus it follows that physical strength, honor on the battlefield, and pride were all the original noble truths of human society. However, if one looks closer into the actual workings of the primitive human societies, one can see that a female has an equally valid yet very different method of gaining power. Where the primitive human men would seize it through brute force, the females would use her role as a precious commodity (her ability to bear children) to exert her will. Evolution seems to have balanced out the power struggle by gifting the primitive men with physical strength and gifting the primitive females with a certain life-status as valuable. The historic Greek society that Nietzsche uses as the example of the master type was dominated by men, and thus it was men who defined the goods of the society. However, if one looks at the historic context of the cult of Dionysus, one sees that its members were primarily women. If Nietzsche claimed that the noble Greeks expressed their will to power by affirming

their life as what it means to be primordially human, and he uses Dionysus as the exemplification of an intrinsically valueless and purely human existence, then it seems that females as well as males are capable of losing themselves in the jubilance of a life untethered to abstract realms of purpose. Females undoubtedly are able to empathize and identify with their fellow human more easily than males, much like males are able to physically dominate their fellow human more easily than females. If life is will to power and anything that re-affirms this will to power is considered good, it follows that even the individual who lacks the physical strength to take what she wants can still affirm her life by using the tools she was given to better herself, be it through subversion or wit. Taking power through force (physical, economic, or otherwise) is an equally valid expression of the will to power as seizing it through cunning, empathy, cooperation, or submission. It is not as obvious of a method, but consider this: Is a reasonable person more likely to do something for you if you threaten them, or if you identify with and befriend them? The slave type is correctly identified by Nietzsche as a reactionary movement, but they are far from being the weak, timid bunch he would have them be. It takes a certain strength of character and boldness of the spirit to face an enemy with the means to eradicate you, and I believe that the overthrowing of the noble brand of morality was an inevitable turn of events in the cyclical nature of human history. I believe that the true path to self-overcoming is marrying the feminine and masculine claims to power that lurk within every individual and creating the self as a mastery over both. In truth, I believe Nietzsches assumption that the whole of the non-noble type of morality, while remaining an antithesis to the Romans, fails to realize that it also sublimated some characteristics native to humanity itself into its own expression of morality.

The conclusion that can be drawn is this: human nature, and by extension the values

projected by such natures, is not intrinsically life-denying, as this is merely a subjective interpretation of the duality of human nature defined by poles. He correctly identifies that human nature is a duality and incorrectly inscribes meaning to the two poles of that duality, as the act of inscribing meaning itself is a value judgment based on an inward reflection towards ones own nature as valuable and therefore cannot be considered a valid generalization about all humans. The labels master and slave seek to create a false dichotomy between noble traits and pitiful ones, when in reality there only exists two separate, yet equally valid, methods of expressing lifes will to power.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. Kaufmann, Walter. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1968. Birth of Tragedy. Basic Writings of Nietzsche., ed. Kaufmann, Walter. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1968. On the Genealogy of Morals. Basic Writings of Nietzsche., ed. Kaufmann, Walter. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1968. Raymond, Diane Barsoum. Existentialism and the Philosophical Tradition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991