Imagining and Thinking. Sophie’s Choice and Hallie’s description of the people of Le Chambon enable a reader or viewer to imagine persons acting in ways that might be described as evil or as good, without knowing the motives for their actions.
Sophie’s Choice and Hallie’s description of the people of Le Chambon enable a reader or viewer to imagine persons acting in ways that might be described as evil or as good, without knowing the motives for their actions.
Unpremeditated impulse or long established habit could be the motive in these cases.
The Nazi doctor could have acted on impulse, in unthinking response to Sophie’s words without wholly conscious reasoning or explicit goals; alcohol tends to lower inhibition.
The people of Le Chambon who said “There was nothing else to do” could have acted from habit - also without conscious thought; about consequences; habit allows persons to act in “ordinary patterns” under extraordinary circumstances.
In both cases, it is results that viewers or readers see as bad (Sophie’s suffering, her daughter’s death) or as good (innocent people saved from death by strangers).
The Nietzsche excerpt on “Beyond Good and Evil” invites thinking about possible motives for action in different moral frameworks.
Nietzsche proposes an either/or standard beyond good and evil, challenging modern ideas about “good and evil” based on equality with “good or bad” based on difference.
Nietzsche’s diagnosis of a modern cultural illness: passive nihilism combines
Distinction between noble and slave morality
Critique of man of resentment = reactive vs. active
Argument for a culture based on distinctions of rank, in which nobles act out of reverence for tradition and self-confidence in their goodness.
Such a culture values contests and conflict vs. aiming at the welfare of all.
Many forms of morality assume self-love or acting from self-interest as natural
Yet most assume that morality sets limits on the extent to which self-love or self-interest are permitted as the only motive for action.
Consequentialtheories see promoting the good of all as also in one’s self-interest
Deontologicaltheories see acting for a right principle (doing right because it is right) as an expression of rationality and dignity, while also benefitting others.
Virtue theories see virtuous action as contributing to good character, and ultimately to a happy life in the long-term (and persons of exceptional virtue act as examples for others)
Nietzsche’s nobles act:
Spontaneously in order to release energy and/or out of a sense of competition for honor
While the effectof their acts on others may be cruel, the result is to create a higher culture, with standards and differences in rank.
Nietzsche’s slaves act:
Out of resentment for suffering inflicted on them by nobles, based on an inverted sense of values (what is seen as “good by nobles = “evil” to slaves)
Their aim is to obtain revenge, undermine noble values, and substitute reactive, passive values for active, spontaneous values. According to Nietzsche this creates a decadent, weak culture.
The MASTER determines his own values in relation to himself. He CREATES values.
The SLAVE determines his values in opposition to those of the master; that is. values are determined from OUTSIDE.
GOOD/BAD: is the distinction made by the "aristocrat"
camel => lion => child
GOOD/EVIL: is the "slave" distinction.
Nietzsche equates the aristocrat with the barbarian.
What is he trying to say?
The "noble" caste has always been the barbarian caste -- more "complete" men
"All that is new is evil“ – why does he say that?
For Nietzsche: they are “the moralities of paltry people"
"Nature is expelled from morality when it is said 'love your enemies'." WHY?
By protecting the weak and infirm these religions work against the evolutionary struggle for the survival of the fittest.
Moral philosophers ask: What does man desire?
According to Nietzsche what values will stand up against the brute facts of existence?
All we call "high culture" is based on the spiritualizing and intensifying of cruelty.
In every desire for knowledge there is a drop of cruelty.
For Nietzsche it is always a question of power.