>Nietzsche on Morality and Aesthetics

>I am reading through Thus Spake Zarathustra and found this quote particularly disturbing… mostly because how many of my generation have so fully embraced it.

“Many Lands saw Zarathustra, and many people; thus he discovered the good and bad of many people. No greater power did Zarathustra find on earth than good and bad.
No people could live without first valuing; if a people will maintain itself, however, it must not value as its neighbor valueth. Much that passes for good with one people was regarded with scorn and contempt by another, thus I found it. Much found I here called bad, which was there decked with purple honors.”

Essentially, it is the community that determines values: whether something is right or wrong; beautiful or ugly, et cetera.  Morality and aesthetics are not tied to any transcendent reality, they are simply what a group of people agree to value.  There is no higher standard to which one community can compare it’s preferences to another’s.  Therefore power becomes key, as one community is able to exercise control over another.  We see this line of thinking played out in American politics all time.  For instance, homosexual rights groups and the religious right are two communities with opposing systems of morality.  Through Nietzschean lenses, which ever group prevails simply exercised more power.  For this reason the warrior is exalted in Nietzsche’s system.

However, Zarathustra (i.e. Nietzsche) ultimately concludes that the ethical inconsistency is derivative of a flawed species:

“But pray tell me, my brethren; if the goal of humanity be still lacking, is there not also still lacking- humanity itself.”

How strange that Nietzsche, who so keenly sees the deficiencies of humanity, looks for the Superman to emerge from this insufficient source. 

About mjbutterworth

Coffee. Books. Bicycles.
This entry was posted in aesthetics, ethics, Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra. Bookmark the permalink.

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