Nietzsche on the Origin of Good and Evil, Bad Conscience, and Ressentiment

Nietzsche on the Origin of Good and Evil, Bad Conscience, and Ressentiment

SUBTITLE'S INFO:

Language: English

Type: Robot

Number of phrases: 394

Number of words: 2655

Number of symbols: 12458

DOWNLOAD SUBTITLES:

DOWNLOAD AUDIO AND VIDEO:

SUBTITLES:

Subtitles generated by robot
00:01
this is philosophy bytes with me david edmonds and me Nigel Warburton philosophy bytes is available at WWF Ellis V Bates calm humility and compassion are surely incontrovertible virtues well not according to the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche on the genealogy of morals is his dazzling account of how we came by our current morality the book is part history and part psychology though pre-fight it's full of deep insights into our conscious and unconscious
00:33
motives and drives and according to Nietzsche expert Christian away it compels us to reflect on the values we normally take for granted Christian away welcome to philosophy Boyd's thank you very much for inviting me the topic we're going to focus on today is Nietzsche on the genealogy of morality could you just say a little bit about who Nietzsche was Nietzsche was born in 1844 he was the son of a Protestant minister and a small town in Germany it was brilliant classical scholar who got a professorship at the University of Basel
01:03
in his early twenties but moved radically away from this traditional scholarly background with his first book the birth of tragedy in 1872 which is a kind of a lyrical attempt to capture the spirit of ancient tragedy and also related to vogner's music because he was quite a close colleague of Wagner's then he moved on later to a much more a forest exciting one of the most brilliant writers of German prose I think everybody would agree Nietzsche is a rather acerbic but often very humorous style and the genealogy of morality is
01:35
one of his mature works from 1887 shortly after that he suffered a complete mental and physical collapse and lived in a very sad state for last ten years of his life looked after by his mother and his sister I suppose the works that are most studied are from the 1880s and the genealogy of morality is the one that is most often studied by philosophers now the obvious question then is why is it most studied what excites philosophers so much about the content Nietzsche was very critical or wanted us to adopt a very critical attitude towards morality as he saw it and this is basically the
02:07
morality of Christianity and the the culture that has come after Christianity even if we're atheists we still have values that arise out of Christianity Nietzsche thought that in many ways these values had never been questioned properly and that they ought to be because in some ways they were unhealthy they didn't allow us to develop our full potential as human beings in the title he uses the word genealogy that's a strange word I mean typically I would understand genealogy is looking back into the family history try to understand where my family came from
02:38
that's not what he means exactly is it no I think it's by analogy with that though I think the idea is how did we come by the values that we presently have so it's a kind of history that he's doing where do I and my readers get our assumptions about value from and he does go back to the past and tries to point out that the kind of values that we now have weren't always the system of values that were in place he goes back to the ancient Greek times particularly he implies a kind of Homeric culture in
03:09
which there are aristocrats and subservient types or slaves and says that the aristocratic warriors of the Homeric time had a completely different set of values it was around honor and shame and taking revenge and prowess in battle and being great and being admirable being heroic the idea that you should refrain from harming people for example which is one of our central tenets of our morality wasn't really understood in those times so how did we get from there to thinking that it's absolutely wrong to harm any
03:39
human being unless with special circumstances attached how do we get that view so how did we get there what is it that happened between homers time in our own well nature has this very provocative idea that there was what he calls a slave revolt the people who had no power in this social setup still had feelings towards those who were more powerful than them they had what he called resentment horizonte mons actually a French word originally which is I think it is the feeling of desiring to hurt somebody back who's hurt you but
04:11
not being able to so it becomes a kind of bottled up resentment and Nietzsche's idea it has to discharge itself somehow he says what the slaves did was they invented a new set of values really rather radical cataclysmic change well he invented the idea that to be weak and humble and not harm anybody is good to be a person who harms others and is not humble and not weak is evil so the invented this concept of evil which he claims never existed before it's a particularly Christian concept so he moves forwards in time to the Jews
04:43
and the early Christians as the inventors of this morality he's trying to show a type of psychology that would have given rise to these kind of values so how would he explain something which is central to Christian morality in its derivatives the notion of conscience I think he thinks that many different cultures would have a conception of conscience a kind of internal self-criticism but what he thinks is peculiar to modern society is what he calls bad conscience which ultimately is a pervasive feeling
05:15
of guilt feeling guilty at its peak in Christianity he thinks it's a tendency to feel guilty about one's very being about one's very existence he interprets this as a kind of self cruelty or self persecution again he has a genealogical explanation for how that might have come about human beings naturally have various instincts towards aggression or power or expressing themselves discharging their strength visa vie something external to themselves what happens if we're in a ordered urban
05:48
society in which we can't go around simply expressing those instincts his idea is they become internalized his word for them so we're still aggressive but we're being aggressive against ourselves we have this kind of need to be cruel or to inflict suffering he claims and what happens is which we can't express it externally we inflicted on ourselves and this is the origin of guilt guilt is actually being cruel to oneself but why would you do that in order to legitimize it to make it seem like a good thing to do we invent a
06:19
story in which we are sinful unworthy creatures and there's a divine order which is absolutely good and we are completely unworthy of it so we're perpetually worthy of punishment perpetually worthy of being maltreated by ourselves so his explanation for religion or one of his explanation is it completely other way around from what we think we need a belief in an absolute God because we need to be cruel to ourselves as inferior we need that because we've got these instincts which can't discharge themselves externally well this sounds as if he's pulling the
06:50
rug from conventional morality that he's actually suggesting that we should return to the Homeric values of prowess in battle cruelty were appropriate courage those sorts of things but is that how you understand Nietzsche's work no I mean he talks about sort of marauding band of aristocratic warriors going round burning and pillaging and expressing their aggression in this really rather brutal thuggish way the way he describes it it's clear that he thinks there's a kind of freedom and self-assuredness about it and he's kind of tempting us to admire
07:20
that but at the same time he's saying look how gruesome this is I mean to us now with our values this is absolutely gruesome and intolerable so I think he wanting us to feel ambivalent to feel what your values are not quite as settled as you think there are aspects to the original noble morality as he calls it that he wants us to just consider as strengths of it for example the nobles didn't define themselves in opposition to someone else they were just conscious of their own
07:51
strengths and their own value and didn't need to define themselves in reaction to someone else whereas the slaves could only describe themselves as good in opposition to those who were evil so maybe we have a kind of reactive morality we have a kind of resentful morality and maybe that's a set of values we could abandon the figures he admires are people like Shakespeare and Goethe and Beethoven highly cultured individuals who are nothing like the original Nobles what he thinks is they had a kind of wholeness or fullness of
08:22
character which can best develop if we stand back a bit from moral values guilt over concern with compassion for all which he thinks gets in the way of greatness it's kind of interested in creativity and greatness as values which he thinks morality as we understand it is rather in the way of so to some degree he is arguing or showing that we should abandon some elements of conventional morality because that's what will allow genius to flourish and achieve greatness so it's almost a celebration of the nobility of the genius yes I think
08:55
there's very much an element of that he also feels that the values that he's trying to get us to see as alternatives to morality are probably not for everyone the idea of being compassionate and helping one's neighbor and refraining from harming people and so on are very useful to a large number of human beings I think Nietzsche as a very elitist thinker and this is one of the reasons that I think he's extremely challenging and objectionable to many people is he genuinely believes that there are great individuals and it's their interests we should promote do you think that Nietzsche's obsession with genius is
09:26
just a reflection on his own belief they probably correctly that he was a kind of genius I'm not sure about that sometimes towards the end of his career he writes some really rather self glorifying things at other times he's really very ironic about himself I think it's not the elitism and the praise of the great individual that draws most people to nature it's the very subtle psychology there's kind of continual challenge to examine one's own attitudes and particularly I think feelings I think he's out to provoke emotional reactions the way he writes extremely rhetorical
09:57
often very provocative rude funny often trying to shame us into admitting certain things of trying to cooks us or entice us I mean the way he writes the rhetoric that he uses which has tended to be regarded as well yes he was just a brilliant writer and that was the way he encased his philosophy in this form which is ultimately dispensable I don't think so I think it's a fundamental part of what he's doing is to get us to react at a level below the level of conscious philosophical reflection I mean he really is a psychologist he's trying to
10:30
get us away from the idea of arguing dialectically or impersonal E from some premises to some conclusions he doesn't do that very much so if you're right about that then presumably you wouldn't read Nietzsche for conclusions you wouldn't be able to just take what that is the answer to the puzzle that he set himself you have to engage with the text I think that's entirely right it's remarkably difficult to paraphrase nature or to come away from the text hang yeah here's a summary of what he said it's this force this impact upon our feelings what need to thinks I think is that we have are lots of moral
11:01
attitudes which we haven't really examined we've learnt them we haven't really asked ourselves well do we hold these attitudes for good reason and I think he's trying to show us not as it were some moral theorizing which will show us why I believe so the right believes to have or whatever he's trying to say well you have certain drives within you and these lead you to feel certain ways in certain environments and you don't even know why you're doing it getting us below the level of philosophical argument is I think what he's really about essentially so the style is well the rhetoric isn't something you can strip away and be left
11:33
with his philosophy even if teach was right about how we actually come to have the values that we do that doesn't necessarily undermine them it may be they began in feelings of responsible but now there might be independent reasons why they are good values to have yes I think that's true the issue that's often being discussed by people studying nature is this idea of a genetic fallacy the idea that he might be trying to show these ideas of false or wrong simply in virtue of where they came from I think most people working intensively on
12:03
nature now don't think that he falls into that trap because I think he's not trying to as it were prove to us or argue us to the conclusion that these values are the wrong ones to have I think he's trying to open a space of psychological self exploration if you like within us just think about the values in the light of this story of their origin how do you react to them do you want to have a set of values in which feeling guilty is supposed to be a good thing or in which compassion for other people is of such great importance
12:34
that it means suppressing your own creativity and distorting your own life you've spent a significant part of your life reading Nietzsche reading this book the genealogy of morality hasn't had any effects on you it's very hard to say I mean given the fact that it's such a complex psychological ongoing thing I think it must have had some effect on me one kind of example would be Nietzsche's analysis of our need to feel guilty all the time as he puts it in Christianity he's quite clear that somehow this psychological configuration can carry on even if one's an atheist I consider
13:05
myself an atheist I believe in God but one can think that's a lot of one's values are still those that are inherited from Christianity and the idea that one should feel guilty about lots of things my example would be towards the environment there are sensible things one can do or not too but the idea that somehow one's individual actions are somehow always liable to be bad because they're probably harming the planet it's almost a stand-in for some supernatural entity that is a kind of absolute in value you see to me there's a pattern there Nietzsche would say well if you
13:36
have this propensity to feel guilty all the time why you know where's that come from you don't need to interpret it as a good thing or interpret it as the voice of conscience which you must obey look at it from a bit more distance and say well okay you have this tendency to feel guilty but don't just be governed by it that's the sort of thing that I think we can learn from nature Chris January thank you very much been a pleasure and you can hear more philosophy bites at WWF a Lucifer bites calm

DOWNLOAD SUBTITLES: