Sunday, April 25, 2010

Concerning the existence of good/evil or good/bad

While reading Nietzsche I was pretty confused by whether or not he believed in a kind of solidarity of ideas. It seems as if the entire project of his genealogy is concerned with searching for fundamental transformative aspects of moral thought throughout history. Examining the pivotal juncture between good/bad and good/evil, Nietzsche finds that the good/evil model stifles an active life and makes for lesser human beings that succumb to a herd mentality in a way that is not advantageous to their being. But, since the good/evil model necessarily follows the good/bad one, I wonder if we might be able to think about this transformation as less strict than he describes. That is to say, that I think it is possible to examine the project of a genealogy as one in which the information of the good/bad model is not lost, but actually contained within the good/evil one.

The Genealogy of Morals presents us with an alternate possibility for being. Once before, human interaction was very different according to an ethical model that we find oppositional to our current understanding. But we are only reconceptualizing what seems to be, for Nietzsche, ready made ideas. It seems to me that while morality takes on a non-essential stand, citing Nietzsche's emphasis on the human will to power, it is found in the world in a malleable but separately existing way. As if "evil" or "bad" and "good" could be real things that we just move around conceptually but exist separately from us as historically necessary kinds of behaviors and ideas. But, yeah, this is a stretch for Nietzsche maybe.

To extend the idea further, the individual can only affirm this active life in a context. This makes me very interested in creativity as a kind of ever-present recreation of self. This individual, herdish slave or otherwise, is evident in the material and content of their behavior as one is herdish or not according to their behavior.

1 comment:

  1. The thing to really take away from Nietzsche, I think, is perspectivism, which is basically the idea that "reality" is not something knowable as such, but rather something that can only be known through the unique and individuated perspectives that human beings (or any beings, I guess) have. Filtered through phenomenology, this idea is at the center of hermeneutic philosophy, which starts from the notion that we are always already within existence, and thus can only know the world through a lived existence.

    I wouldn't get too bogged down with the good/bad good/evil distinction. It seems to me that Nietzsche's point is not that any of these are real things in the world, but that they're simply words which describe favorable or unfavorable aspects of existence based on the perspective of the being experiencing them. They're subjective value judgements that humans have wrongly abstracted into absolutes.

    Your final point, about "creativity as a kind of ever-present recreation of the self" is what I'm all about. By creating in the world—as well as experiencing the creations of others—we make meaning for ourselves. Faced with an existence with no inherent value, this makes living worthwhile; is there anything more life-affirming than the act of creation?


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