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Origin of 'Good' (and 'Evil') for Nietzsche

 
 
Reply Sun 26 Feb, 2017 11:15 pm
In Book 1 of Nietzsche’s “Geneaology of Morals” he offers the noble / priest / herd classes as the origin of our concepts of good, morality, etc... but surely only as a metaphor, yes? Surely he doesn't think "good" came only when cultures developed societies with entire class systems... surely he would admit that "good" is a much older idea than that no?

He doesn't seem to offer any temporal reference points for that genesis. He does mention Jews, Judea, Rome, etc. so we can be sure his favourite example of a priestly nation of "resentement par excellence" is the Jews.

But surely, if pressed, he would admit the Egyptians exhibited these metaphorical classes and their embodiments ('goodness' / 'badness'), and so too the Babylonians, and so too whatever tribes came before them, and on back into the retreating darkness of human evolution...

Surely Nietzsche would admit humans have ALWAYS exhibited ('goodness' / 'evil'), no?

Perhaps some will say that he truly does believe 'good' and 'evil' began with a human civilization somewhere, sometime. If that really is his contention does anyone else find that answer a bit simplistic?

Looking forward to any light you can shine.
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View best answer, chosen by vanvulcj
layman
 
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Reply Mon 27 Feb, 2017 01:45 am
@vanvulcj,
vanvulcj wrote:

In Book 1 of Nietzsche’s “Geneaology of Morals” he offers the noble / priest / herd classes as the origin of our concepts of good, morality, etc... but surely only as a metaphor, yes?

Surely Nietzsche would admit humans have ALWAYS exhibited ('goodness' / 'evil'), no?


I haven't read that book for many years, and can't currently distinguish it from many other books by Fred.

What is your question, exactly? For Fred there were two basic kinds of morality:

1. Slave morality. In modern times this would be associated with collectivists (the herd) and christians (the weak and, therefore, resentful)

2. Master morality: This is associated with individualists who value strength, courage, noble sentiments, creativity, and independence.

Is your question about the absolute "origin" of morality? I think Fred would say that it originates with values that are life and growth enhancing. What is "naturally" beneficial to mankind. Masters (aka nobility) have existed from the beginning of socialization and civilization, as have slaves.
roger
 
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Reply Mon 27 Feb, 2017 02:44 am
@layman,
Good answer.
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vanvulcj
 
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Reply Mon 27 Feb, 2017 08:42 am
@layman,
Thanks for your reply layman.

Quote:
Is your question about the absolute "origin" of morality?


Close. I would substitute "'good' and 'bad'" for "morality". And to be clear I'm concerned about the origins of 'good' and 'bad' according to Nietzsche.

The terms he uses, "noble" and "priest" in particular, suggest he would draw the metaphorical line at early civilization. But surely Nietzsche would admit that "good" and "bad" began long before that?

Quote:
I think Fred would say that it originates with values that are life and growth enhancing.


Perfect. You're alluding to something pre-civilizational, perhaps even pre-social? Does Nietzsche ever make the same allusion? Even better, does he ever say it clearly?

Quote:
Masters (aka nobility) have existed from the beginning of socialization and civilization, as have slaves.


I agree. But you can see how the very terms he uses, "noble" / "master", intended to explain the origin of our concept of "good", bring us back to a civilizational context.

I want to say that "good" and "bad" began long before human civilization (and perhaps even socialization).

Would Nietzsche agree? Did ever allude to this? Even better, is there a passage where he acknowledges this in (relative) detail?

I'm still new to Nietzsche so perhaps as I continue reading I will discover such a passage. Maybe then I'll be on a first name basis with the great man. Wink
layman
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  2  
Reply Mon 27 Feb, 2017 03:47 pm
@vanvulcj,
Quote:
I want to say that "good" and "bad" began long before human civilization (and perhaps even socialization).

Would Nietzsche agree?


No, I don't think he would agree. I don't want to try to run down passages, but as I recall Fred viewed primitive man as just another animal, where concepts of good and bad don't even apply. In fact he says this about the early nobles, too, viz, that they just acted, and didn't think in terms of good and evil, except perhaps as an afterthought.

In retrospect, anything that furthered their goals of survival and enhancement of their powers was, naturally, "good." Anything that didn't was bad (or perhaps neutral). But they didn't really have a "code of morality" as we think of it today.

Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Mar, 2017 04:02 am
@vanvulcj,
Proto concepts of fairness can be observed in chimps dogs mammals at large but also in birds like crows or parrots...in sum, you would have to go way back to get to it.

But going a bit deeper on the topic I look at those concepts as tools for an end in social cohesion when Neo Darwinism and cooperation are the most energy efficient way of guarenting the survival of the species or the group and its culture.
"Good" means literally getting the most ennergy efficient algorithm of tasking for a goal. RATIONAL IS INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
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vanvulcj
 
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Reply Wed 1 Mar, 2017 05:49 pm
@layman,
Quote:
No, I don't think he would agree.


That's a fair opinion and I thank you for your assessment. I've been trying my darnedest to find Nietzsche make any comment about "goodness" before "nobility" (and civilization) but to date I still haven't. Probably because he never did.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Mar, 2017 05:55 pm
@vanvulcj,
Get a candle Bubba...
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layman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Mar, 2017 01:37 am
@vanvulcj,
Here's a couple passages that I came across which may shed a little light on the question:

Quote:
Nietzsche instead considers that the judgment “good” originated not in the recipient of altruism, but in the aristocratic, the powerful. They judged themselves and their actions as good, in contrast to the plebeian. Out of this “pathos of distance,” they arrogated the right to create values for their own profit, and to name these values. Utility is inapplicable to them. They inhabited a volcanic effervescence, not that tepid temperature where one deals with practical expediency. [cf. GM, First Essay, 2]

The idea that the notions of good and bad originated among ruling classes was broached earlier in Human, All Too Human, 45. There goodness is associated with the power to requite with gratitude or vengeance, while those who are powerless to requite are bad. The requiting sentiment is held in common among men called good, while the bad are a subjugated mass who share no such bond.

The ancient terms for “good” mean aristocratic, noble, privileged, as contrasted with the common, vulgar or low. In particular, the German word for “bad,” schlecht, is similar to schlicht (plain) and schlechtweg (simply). Thus the term originally referred to a plain, common man, without impugning any culpability. This insight had not been realized sooner by moral historians, due to their democratic prejudice in questions of origin. [GM, First Essay, 4]

These philological claims are amply supported in the case of the ancient Greeks, who consistently contrasted the heroic esthloi (“noble, truthful”) and the lowly kakoi (“ weak, worthless”).

Modern philology corroborates Nietzsche’s claim that “bad” was not originally a moral valuation implying culpability, but more of an aesthetic valuation of worthlessness....Thus the most ancient notion of “bad” seems to involve an aesthetic judgment of disgust or disdain.

he most primitive punishment is a biological reaction, where we feel anger at the one who has caused us harm (or harmed a loved one), and we feel an urge to attack and harm what angers us. Animals with this reaction have a survival advantage, for they tend to destroy or chase away what harms them. This most primitive retaliation is not moderated by any idea of equivalent price, as it occurs even among brutes.This is evidenced in ancient law codes, where unintentional crimes were still punished, as were those committed by animals.

Like water animals becoming land animals, men found that their older instincts were worthless, and acted clumsily in the new world. [GM, 2nd Essay, 16] Before, he had lived in his body, acting on animal instinct. Now, he must use his mind to negotiate life in society, forcing him to live in his hitherto meager consciousness. The old instincts remained, but could not be satisfied often or openly.

Punishment and other defenses of society “against the old instincts of freedom” forced the “wild, free, prowling” instincts to turn back against man himself. “Enmity, cruelty, delight in persecution, in attacking, change, destruction, were turned against their own possessors. This is the origin of “bad conscience.”

The imposition of categories of good and evil transforms our understanding love and hate, making them carry moral burdens that are alien to them. More generally, he holds: “There is no such thing as moral phenomena, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.” [BGE, 108]


http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/philtheo/ethics3_6.htm

Fred seems to believe that socialization is required for notions of good and evil to emerge.

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