Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beyond Good and Evil

I just recently wrote a paper for my philosophy class, and I thought that I would post it on here. It's on Friedrich Nietzsche's essay "Beyond Good and Evil."

In Nietzsche's essay, "Beyond Good and Evil," he discusses the differences between "slave morality" and "master morality." In the way that he writes, he leads the reader to believe that he views the aristocracy as the real evil. However, he reveals in the end of his essay that he believes slaves and Christianity to be the real evil, because they induce pity into the human race. Nietzsche believed that pity is the most harmful vice because it creates weakness in human and "makes suffering contagious and under certain conditions it may cause a total loss of life and vitality out of all proportion to the magnitude of the cause."

Though Nietzsche makes well thought out points about slave morality versus master morality, it seems strange that when he does not mention Christianity at any other point in his essay that he should mention it at the very end. It seems as though he is just wanting to place Christianity in a poor light instead of logically presenting a case as to why Christianity is the religion of pity. He makes this argument, but does not have evidence for it. He makes a strong case as to why pity makes the human race weak, but does not give a reason as to why Christianity creates pity in the individual. Nietzsche here is using the "straw man" fallacy, which is presenting an incorrect view of the opposing argument. If he were to continue talking about Christianity in this manner, then he would need evidence in order to make his argument credible. However he does not have solid evidence as to why Christianity is the most harmful vice, therefore he cannot be seen as an authoritative source on this issue.

Nietzsche also seems to be making a generalization in saying that all of Christianity creates pity. He seems to say that all Christians are weak. But how can he know this? How can he take a survey of every Christian who has ever lived, and who will ever live? There have been many strong Christians who have walked this planet. Now it may be true that Christianity creates some amount of weakness within the human beings who are outside of that relationship with Christ. As Nietzsche was not a believer, he could not say from personal experience within the realm of Christianity that it weakens the individual.

For those who are outside the faith, it is very possible that they could feel weakened because of the depressing effect that the reality of their eternal destination presents. They may not consciously know that this is what they are feeling, but it is true nonetheless because 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 declares, "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance form life to life." Through the truths in this passage, it is obvious that those who are outside of the Christian faith will not have a positive outlook on Christianity itself. It is only when God begins to work in their hearts that they see Christianity for what it really is.

Another point that Nietzsche discusses is that he believes that the aristocracy is the real "good," and the salves the "evil." He believes that just as Christianity creates weakness and pity in the individual, so does the position of the slaves. Nietzsche declares that the first sign of slave "revolt" is resentment. He says that this is a "resentment experienced by creatures who, deprived as they are of the proper outlet of action, are forced to find their compensation in an imaginary revenge." He says that unlike the aristocracy, the slaves have to find objectivity outside of themselves. He views the aristocracy as having an innate sense of morality because of their position, but the slaves must find it elsewhere.

Again, one must wonder where Nietzsche achieves his information. He has the experience of being in the aristocracy, which makes it convenient for him to believe that the aristocracy are the real moral ones. As the essay comes to a close, he finally defines his definition of good, which is "All that enhances the feeling of power, the Will to Power, and the power itself in man." Therefore, because of this definition, it can only be the aristocracy that has real morality.

When a Christian reads this, it is read through the filtered lens of God's Word which has several accounts of leaders who do not follow God and are corrupted by their power. First of all, no human being can be really "good" according to the Scriptures, unless he is saved by Jesus Christ. Secondly, a leader or an aristocrat definitely cannot be "good" if he does not look to God and give God the glory for the blessings that he has received but thinks that his success is all of his own doing. However, many people in today's society believe the same way that Nietzsche does because people everywhere do whatever they can to gain more prestige, more fame, more money, and more power. If someone can climb the ladder of success quickly and climb it to the top, they are looked upon with jealousy, and are looked at as truly "happy" and accomplished. This is an attitude that must be changed through the spreading of God's Word and people beginning to have a knowledge that they can never truly be happy and successful without the grace of God and His work in their lives. It will be a slow process, but God has called Christians to do this very thing in changing the attitudes, because it becomes an outlet to sharing His Gospel message with those in the aristocratic and self-sufficient positions.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Been a while since i read any of the big N's stuff. I find him so interesting yet i feel great pity for him.

    I guess i must just be weak.


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