Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nietzsche's morality

From Twilight of the idols:

My demand upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself. This demand follows from an insight which I was the first to formulate: that there are altogether no moral facts. Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena - more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to a stage of ignorance at which the very concept of the real and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking; thus "truth," at this stage, designates all sorts of things which we today call "imaginings." Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally so understood, they always contain mere absurdity. Semiotically, however, they remain invaluable: they reveal, at least for those who know, the most valuable realities of cultures and inwardnesses which did not know enough to "understand" themselves. Morality is mere sign language, mere symptomatology: one must know what it is all about to be able to profit from it.

The difficulty I have with Nietzsche is that, in his intellectual musings, he leaves humanity behind. Morality cannot be reduced to mere sign language, a tool to use in order to build the bridge to the overman. He becomes so obsessed with his overman, and he dismisses the everyman so completely, that he beomes completely shallow. He loses touch with reality. I know he would say compassion is a wasted emotion, but there must be some space for empathy.

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