• Joshs
    21
    I know for sure that he despised Christianity and all it's values and he also despised nearly all secular ethical systems prior to and during his time.Ross Campbell

    Just curious , and you don’t have to answer this, but do you consider yourself a Christian?
    Postmodernism does not in my opinion undermine the basis of empirical science. If we were to follow Nietzsche's value system society would have to abandon compassion and kindness and pity because they're a slave mentality and we wouldn't be able to trust the whole scientific enterprise because he attacks that as well. If it wasn't for science we would be still living in caves.Ross Campbell

    You’re right, postmodernism doesn’t undermine the bias of empirical science , they make explicit that basis, which is what Nietzsche does. It’s not a question of saying that airplanes can’t fly and our other machines don’t really function. The postmodern , and Nietzsche’s , croute is not of the results of science but of the way that it has traditionallly thought of itself, how it has branded itself. For instance , that empirical proof is a matter of matching our models of nature to the real world. That assumes what Rorty called ‘science as the mirror of nature’. It ask
    goes by the name of the correspondence theory of truth.

    There are postmodern approaches within psychology now. You can look up enactivism, 4EA( embodied, enactive, extended and affective cognition ) . autopoietic self-organizing systems approaches , and there you’ll find rigorous research ( Shaun Gallagher , Evsn Thompson , Alva Noe, Matthew Ratcliffe ) on autism, schizophrenia, emotions, empathy, depression ,visual perception and language which reject your view of science.

    I'm aware that empirical science has been shown to less reliable than it was previously thought. That's why most scientists would say that their theories are not watertight but are based on the evidence available and are open to being revised.Ross Campbell

    You miss the point . Lamenting science’s lack of reliability implies the classic belief of science as correspondence with nature.

    I’m with psychologist George Kelly on science.

    “To me the striking thing that is revealed in this perspective is the way yesterday's alarming impulse becomes today's enlivening insight, tomorrow's repressive doctrine, and after that subsides into a petty superstition.”

    The classic view of science sees it as a more ‘rigorous ‘ avenue toward ultimate truth than than the humanities of philosophy. It is supposedly superior by virtue of its method as its use of mathematics. But all this has been called into question. What hasn’t been called into question is the usefulness of science, but not because it gets more reliably to a representation of the
    ‘way things really are’.

    If we were to follow Nietzsche's value system society would have to abandon compassion and kindness and pity because they're a slave mentalityRoss Campbell

    We wouldnt need to abandon kindness and compassion
    any more than we would need to abandon science. But in both cases it would useful
    to abandon our prevailing superstitions about the basis of kindness and compassion and the basis of scientific
    truth. We care about others to the extent that they are like ourselves. That is , they share our value system. What we call evil is what is profoundly alien to our way of thinking. This is the basis of compassion and kindness. Nietzsche supports altruism but recognizes that our ability to relate to others is limited by our value systems , and those values are always in flux over longer periods of time. To follow the Christian injunction to locenone another amounts to assuming a single value system locked into place for eternity that we are forced to conform to. I don t mean here that love is a value system. Of course we love what we know , what we relate to , identify with. We don’t need a religious injunction to tell us that . It comes naturally . We don’t need to be told to have compassion, to be kind , to love. We need to understand how our shifting values, paradigms, word views change our ability to relate or others. We need to stop trying to force conformity to one worldview , and to stop labeling deviation from that worldview evil.

    Put differently , Jesus’s injunction to love thy neighbor presuppposes that we are making a choice whether to love or hate, to have compassion and kindness or apathy. It explains such social attitudes on the basis of intent and assumes that the world is interpreted in essentially the same way for all of us. Thus we are urged to love each other , and when we don’t our character and intent is blamed. Nietzsche is arguing that choice and intent is not the basis of feelings of compassion or hate. Instead, we live in very different worlds, even within the same community. We love or hate as a result of how our worldview make sense of our social world , not because of personal whim or choice. Urging compassion and kindness is both unctuous and dangerous from this vantage , because it ignores the real basis of social tension and instead blames it on the choice not to be compassionate. This makes a Christian moralism a less kind form of social understanding than Nietzsche. Nietzsche doesn’t blame intent but sympathizes with each person’s situation. That is why his position is beyond good and evil. the ‘evildoer’ lives and loves in a different world from mine , and his values are as justified within his world as mine are within mine.
  • Tom Storm
    10
    We wouldnt need to abandon kindness and compassion
    any more than we would need to abandon science. But in both cases it would useful
    to abandon our prevailing superstitions about the basis of kindness and compassion and the basis of scientific
    truth. We care about others to the extent that they are like ourselves. That is , they share our value system. What we call evil is what is profoundly alien to our way of thinking. This is the basis of compassion and kindness. Nietzsche supports altruism but recognizes that our ability to relate to others is limited by our value systems , and those values are always in flux over longer periods of time. To follow the Christian injunction to locenone another amounts to assuming a single value system locked into place for eternity that we are forced to conform to. I don t mean here that love is a value system. Of course we love what we know , what we relate to , identify with. We don’t need a religious injunction to tell us that . It comes naturally . We don’t need to be told to have compassion, to be kind , to love. We need to understand how our shifting values, paradigms, word views change our ability to relate or others. We need to stop trying to force conformity to one worldview , and to stop labeling deviation from that worldview evil.
    Joshs

    This is pretty interesting and I have to say I struggle to incorporate these ideas because they seem to be keeping two sets of books - which is hard to do unless you are a Stalinist (or insert bugbear of choice). One can hold the altruism without a foundation?

    We need to understand how our shifting values, paradigms, word views change our ability to relate or others. We need to stop trying to force conformity to one worldview , and to stop labeling deviation from that worldview evil.Joshs

    Does this also apply to the above worldview? I get these points and don't disagree but it seems murky.

    I sometimes wonder can anyone but a theorist partake in such exercises? How can it apply to the quotidian?
  • Joshs
    21
    One can hold the altruism without a foundation?Tom Storm

    Well, the altruism would have a foundation , albeit a contingent and local one. This reminds me of Derrida’s response to all those who say that deconstruction is an anything goes philosophy without any basis for norms.

    “For of course there is a "right track" [une 'bonne voie "] , a better way, and let it be said in passing how surprised I have often been, how amused or discouraged, depending on my humor, by the use or abuse of the following argument: Since the deconstructionist (which is to say, isn't it, the skeptic-relativist-nihilist!) is supposed not to believe in truth, stability, or the unity of meaning, in intention or "meaning-to-say, " how can he demand of us that we read him with pertinence, preciSion, rigor? How can he demand that his own text be interpreted correctly? How can he accuse anyone else of having misunderstood, simplified, deformed it, etc.? In other words, how can he discuss, and discuss the reading of what he writes? The answer is simple enough: this definition of the deconstructionist is false (that's right: false, not true) and feeble; it supposes a bad (that's right: bad, not good) and feeble reading of numerous texts, first of all mine, which therefore must finally be read or reread.”

    “Then perhaps it will be understood that the value of truth (and all those values associated with it) is never contested or destroyed in my writings, but only reinscribed in more powerful, larger, more stratified contexts. And that within interpretive contexts (that is, within relations of force that are always differential-for example, socio-political-institutional-but even beyond these determinations) that are relatively stable, sometimes apparently almost unshakeable, it should be possible to invoke rules of competence, criteria of discussion and of consensus, good faith, lucidity, rigor, criticism, and pedagogy. I should thus be able to claim and to demonstrate, without the slightest "pragmatic contradiction," that Searle, for example, as I have already demonstrated, was not on the "right track" toward understanding what I wanted to say, etc. May I henceforth however be granted this: he could have been on the wrong track or may still be on it; I am making considerable pedagogical efforts here to correct his errors and that certainly proves that all the positive values to which I have just referred are contextual, essentially limited, unstable, and endangered. And therefore that the essential and irreducible possibility of misunderstanding or of "infelicity" must be taken into account in the description of those values said to be positive.”
  • Ross Campbell
    1

    Unfortunately I couldn't understand everything you said. Philosophy is a highly abstract subject!
    To answer your question Im not religious. I believe in a secular ethics. You may not have noticed but I said in my previous piece that I think there is a grain of truth in Nietzsche's criticism of Christianity as a slave mentality. I think the notion in it of sin, hell and salvation is ridiculous, unhealthy and was probably used for social control and power , to instill fear in people. But Jesus' teaching about love, forgiveness, compassion, are good values. I don't agree that people are naturally altruistic and don't need value systems, religious or secular. They need a role model like Jesus, or other figures like mother Teresa. It's not easy to be a true christian, no more than it is to be a true Stoic or a true Buddhist or a very good person. These value systems set high standards of virtuous behavior for people to aspire too. Human beings in reality ,as any modern psychologist will tell you, are a mix of good and bad. We all have our dark side, our animal nature and as Jung described our repressed feelings manifest themselves in sinister ways such as a lust for power or scape goating certain groups of people , like the Nazis for the Jews. Why is it that most of us get excited by violence, rape, murder. cruelty, love watching war films, etc? Now these ancient value systems whether it's Stoicism, Christianity or Buddhism are are a call to humanity to aspire to our higher , more human , rational nature , to transcend that wild animal in us and aspire to a more noble and humane way of life. "The Man without ethics is a wild beast." - Albert Camus. Of course it takes great courage, strength of character, to live according to these values and many, arguably most people fail to consistently live up to them. How many times have we all hurt or let down another person ? Of course it's easier to argue like Nietzsche does that all these ethical values upon which the great civilizations were based are part of a slave or herd mentality and dismiss them. It's trendy nowadays in this age of the anti hero and nihilism where many people believe in nothing, or are confused, to attack all traditions , in postmodernism where all value systems are seen as having a hidden agenda, where human nobility and human reason which was valued for thousands of years is not valued any more or downgraded. instead we prefer a Monty Python approach to morality, a debunking of all that is noble and great in the human spirit
  • Ross Campbell
    1

    Science and the pursuit of knowledge have nothing to do with a will to power. They stem from man's survival instinct to master his environment. Mankind has a natural instinct to understand. "All people desire to know"- Aristotle.
    What's this nonsense about science being a wiil to power.
  • Joshs
    21
    Mankind has a natural instinct to understand.Ross Campbell

    Yes, and understanding takes place relative to a personal construction system , which could also be called a value system. There is no direct knowing of the world. Instead , we construct interpretive frameworks and organize our understanding of the world through those frameworks.

    What's this nonsense about science being a wiil to power.Ross Campbell

    Knowledge is pragmatic. That is, we recognize the meaning of the world as it relates to our interests and goals(our will). Will describes the perspectival nature of knowing. ‘power’ isn’t about dominance but about the fact that we assimilate the world into our schemes. So will to power is the motive of assimilating the world to our value perspective. Isnt that what scientific theorizing does?
  • Ross Campbell
    1

    The Will to power is only one among several theories which competes with Freud's will to pleasure and Victor Franks Will to meaning. Personally I think The will to meaning is a better description of the human condition. From my own experience I find myself driven by a desire for meaning rather than power or pleasure.
  • Protagoras
    4
    @Ross Campbell
    But meaning is also a source of pleasure or joy,is it not?
  • Valentinus
    3

    Power and meaning are interrelated. Being able to influence an exchange requires giving and demanding at the same time. One might not know where the negotiation will lead. We make a lot of mistakes.
  • Ross Campbell
    1

    It's been have known since Immanuel Kant that we have no direct access to knowing reality. But I don't think that's relevant to my point. I'm not saying that science is completely objective, but it's the best means we have of understanding the NATURAL world. Art and philosophy are ways of exploring the human condition.
  • Joshs
    21
    It's been have known since Immanuel Kant that we have no direct access to knowing reality. But I don't think that's relevant to my point. I'm not saying that science is completely objective, but it's the best means we have of understanding the NATURAL world. Art and philosophy are ways of exploring the human condition.Ross Campbell

    It’s the best means we have if you believe that science should strive for complete objectivity ( even if it can never attain the thing in itself). That was Kant’s view, that science asymptotically approaches an objective understanding of the natural world as a limit.

    According to the above thinking art can’t progress the way science can, because it only explores the human condition. The philosophers I read disagree. They argue that understanding f the objective world is only possible through understanding the human condition. Put differently ,what we call objectivity is itself an articulation of the human condition because the agreed upon object is constructed through inter subjective consensus and this interaubjective activity is the negotiated product of subjective perspectives.

    They argue the only difference between what the arts and humanities, and the sciences do, is a matter of method and way of articulating ideas, but science is inextricably bound up with all other modes of human creativity and they all develop and change from one era to the next in tandom. In fact the cutting edge of philosophy tends to get to new vistas of discovery before the leading edge of the sciences( Kant vs Einstein, Nietzsche vs Freud, Hegel vs Darwin and Marx). The sciences
    are just conventionalized versions of philosophical inquiry, defining ‘nature’ in a restrictive way as mathematizable objects rather than in the more comprehensive and fundamental way that philosophy does , and science’s conception of itself changes from era to era in parallel with changes in philosophy and other modalities of culture.


    “Knowledge is taken to consist in a faithful mirroring of a mind-independent reality. It is taken to be of a reality which exists independently of that knowledge, and indeed independently of any thought and experience (Williams 2005, 48). If we want to know true reality, we should aim at describing the way the world is, not just independently of its being believed to be that way, but independently of all the ways in which it happens to present itself to us human beings. An absolute conception would be a dehumanized conception, a conception from which all traces of ourselves had been removed. Nothing would remain that would indicate whose conception it is, how those who form or possess that conception experience the world, and when or where they find themselves in it.

    It would be as impersonal, impartial, and objective a picture of the world as we could possibly achieve (Stroud 2000, 30). How are we supposed to reach this conception? Metaphysical realism assumes that everyday experience combines subjective and objective features and that we can reach an objective picture of what the world is really like by stripping away the subjective. It consequently argues that there is a clear distinction to be drawn between the properties things have “in themselves” and the properties which are “projected by us”. Whereas the world of appearance, the world as it is for us in daily life, combines subjective and objective features, science captures the objective world, the world as it is in itself. But to think that science can provide us with an absolute description of reality, that is, a description from a view from nowhere; to think that science is the only road to metaphysical truth, and that science simply mirrors the way in which Nature classifies itself, is – according to Putnam – illusory.

    It is an illusion to think that the notions of “object” or “reality” or “world” have any sense outside of and independently of our conceptual schemes (Putnam 1992, 120). Putnam is not denying that there are “external facts”; he even thinks that we can say what they are; but as he writes, “what e cannot say – because it makes no sense – is what the facts are independent of all conceptual choices” (Putnam 1987, 33). We cannot hold all our current beliefs about the world up against the world and somehow measure the degree of correspondence between the two. It is, in other words, nonsensical to suggest that we should try to peel our perceptions and beliefs off the world, as it were, in order to compare them in some direct way with what they are about (Stroud 2000, 27). This is not to say that our conceptual schemes create the world, but as Putnam writes, they don't just mirror it either (Putnam 1978, 1). Ultimately, what we call “reality” is so deeply suffused with mind- and language-dependent structures that it is altogether impossible to make a neat distinction between those parts of our beliefs that reflect the world “in itself” and those parts of our beliefs that simply express “our conceptual contribution.” The very idea that our cognition should be nothing but a re-presentation of something mind-independent consequently has to be abandoned (Putnam 1990, 28, 1981, 54, 1987, 77)
  • dimosthenis9
    6


    Nietzsche is mostly attacking to the use of all these virtues that people make as to take advantage of others(religion, politics etc) . It's the definition humans give to all these values what triggers Nietzsche's "attack" and not so much the values themselves.

    Even if he exaggerates he still points that depending in all these values and how perfect someone should be (generous, have empathy etc) it's like asking from people to do the impossible! It will never happen and so Nietzsche tries to direct that stupid definition that people give to these values. They over-overestimate them and end up enslaved by them.

    Though I disagree with Nietzsche's views on other issues i agree totally on this. And everyone has to admit even he doesn't agree that this thought contribution from Nietzsche in philosophy is huge.


    there seems to be more material on Nietzsche than almost any other thinker and he's had an enormous influence also on writers, artists and psychology.Ross Campbell

    That says something don't you think? He had such enormous influence cause Nietzsche is enormous.
  • Ross Campbell
    1

    I have to disagree Nietzsche does not attack people's use of the values of compassion , love and kindness. He thinks they further the interests of the underdog. It's a classic elitist philosophy, thats why his views had such appeal to the Nazis and fascists in Italy and to right wing movements generally, who hate democracy, trade unions, socialism, all of which Nietzsche would regard as slave morality, herd mentality. Unlimited, unrestrained self assertion, even if it means sweeping away the weak and the unable is Nietzsche's values. It seems to me a complete inversion of Christian ethics and perhaps Buddhism and many ancient value systems. It's more like a philosophy for an elite or chosen few rather than the ordinary man.
  • dimosthenis9
    6
    It's a classic elitist philosophy, thats why his views had such appeal to the Nazis and fascists in Italy and to right wing movements generally, who hate democracy,Ross Campbell

    Please don't give me the argument of Nazism for Nietzsche. It's not his fault that idiot people would take advantage of him or even misunderstood his words. If Nietzsche was alive he would spit Hitler on his face. He had already predicted it also "I'm terrified from the use of my words that people will do at the future"

    It seems to me a complete inversion of Christian ethicsRoss Campbell

    But it is indeed an inversion of Christian Ethics. That's exactly what Nietzsche wanted. I disagree a lot with Nietzsche work but I think he achieved the greatest kick to all these overestimated impossible values that people with power take advantage as to manipulate others.And that is not elitist at all. He wants to wake up ordinary people against elite's stupid values. And I insist that Nietzsche wasn't attacking mostly on virtues themselves but to the definition that people give to them. The only thing that isn't ordinary in Nietzsche's philosophy, is the way he express himself and not many(I might haven't get it fully as well) can get his meaning. The way he writes yes I find it kind of elitist indeed but not his philosophy.
  • Ross Campbell
    1

    Isn't it irresponsible for a thinker like Nietzsche to be writing in such a way that it could be so easily misunderstood and used for evil purposes. I think a writer especially one who has such big influence and writing about morality, ethics and values should take great care - just like David Hume or John Stuart mill did- to write in a way that is clear, lucid and cannot be misconstrued. Why does Nietzsche almost unique among many of the famous thinkers have to write in such a highly ambiguous way. Even he himself was aware of the danger of that, I'm terrified from the use of my words that people will do at the future". I think that's highly irresponsible of someone in his position as a major intellectual of his time. And although I think he's a profound, deep and brilliant writer this aspect dimishes my admiration for him.
    If you think his writings had nothing to do with Fascism why don't you watch the interview with J P Stern, a leading scholar of Nietzsche on YouTube. Bryan Magee is interviewing him. And he says that Nietzsche is to a certain extent to blame for the ideas in Fascism.
  • dimosthenis9
    6
    Why does Nietzsche almost unique among many of the famous thinkers have to write in such a highly ambiguous way.Ross Campbell

    Nietzsche seemed to have a really weird mind as to think so out of the box. So I guess his writing must have been weird too. I don't think that he cared much about everyone to understand his work or feeling any kind of responsibility as you say. But he seemed to addressing more to people of his own "race".Superior people as he was calling them. One of the reasons that I like Nietzsche though is that weird type of writing. Even if it is exhausting for mind sometimes, still I find it extremely interesting.

    But I get what you mean .In general many great thinkers seem to care more as to demonstrate their intellectual superiority using weird, fancy ways to express simple things. They seem to care more about "showing off" than the actual message that they want to deliver! (You can notice it also here to some posts). I don't think though, that Nietzsche had the need to show off. I think it was like trying to express what was going on in his mind as to satisfy his own need. But again that's only my guess and I understand why someone would find that annoying.

    this aspect dimishes my admiration for him.
    If you think his writings had nothing to do with Fascism why don't you watch the interview with J P Stern, a leading scholar of Nietzsche on YouTube
    Ross Campbell

    I might watch it but still I don't think it will change my mind about Nazism and Nietzsche. Was Nietzsche a racist? Well yeah he was! Especially in issues like women some of his thoughts are really awful!But still Nietzsche's ideas about the world and how it can be reformed had nothing to do with Nazism. Mostly cause of his sister and how she treated with his work as to support Nazis and secondly cause Nietzsche shook so much the values of religious and everything that people knew so far, he ended up the black sheep of philosophy. And they tried to connect him with movements like Nazis as to "spoil" his fame.But Nietzsche's proposal of reforming humanity had nothing to do with that.
  • Antony Nickles
    2
    Why does Nietzsche almost unique among many of the famous thinkers have to write in such a highly ambiguous way.Ross Campbell
    This makes me think of Wittgenstein saying "We find certain things about seeing puzzling, because we do not find the whole business of seeing puzzling enough." By the time everyone's way of thinking is framed by Kant in reaction to Descartes still looking for Plato's knowledge, it takes a different form of argument not to just fall into the same trap of relativism vs absolutism. Thoreau is not talking about living in a house in the woods, it's about getting your mental (philosophical) house in order. What you think you understand about Nietszche is not wrong, it just lacks depth and an openness that there is more than meets the eye. Attempt to take him as a serious philosopher--not a social critic with personal opinions--writing within the history of the philosophical tradition. If you take something as the first thing it appears to you to be, you will never see anything new in the world. It is really easy to glance at Nietszche (Wittgenstein, Hegel, Heidegger, Emerson, Marx, Austin) think you got the gist and dismiss him. Try thinking analogously, mythologically; imagine he is tricking you into becoming an example of the moralistic person he is critiquing. He can't tell you in the way you want because you have to see it for/in yourself, which is a matter of turning against your first thoughts and looking at it from a new place. I'd try Human, All Too Human for the most straight forward text, though he plays out a lot of examples in the second half.
  • Possibility
    14
    I think virtue ethics based on Aristotles ethics is a far better system. However I do think that Nietzsche is mistaken in attacking the virtues of compassion and virtue. Modern psychology would disagree with Nietzsche on this point. It is well documented that when people show compassion and kindness (and pity is an emotion associated with these) they feel happier in themselves and indeed they spread happiness around them whereas the contrary is the case that when people behave selfisly , without compassion they feel unhappy and damage their relationships with others.
    The fundamental problem with Nietzsche , as with some other existentialists is that they are too individualistic in their thinking. Aristotle said, "Man is a social animal". It does not make sense to talk about morals and values, in relation to the individual as an separate entity but only in the context of him/her as a SOCIAL being, a part of a community. That's why Aristotle's ethics and his politics are one big interlinked system, not separated from one another. Compassion and kindness are fundamental ways in which humans interact positively with one another. Values and morals are not private issues , as Nietzsche would have it, merely of concern to the individual and chosen or discarded at the whim of an individual, they are social concerns , part of the fabric of society. Compassion is rather like a glue that bonds a community together and creates a more humane and happier society without which it would be a very cold place.
    Ross Campbell

    I think there is plenty of misunderstanding about Nietzsche’s writings, because he doesn’t approach ‘man is a social animal’ in the same way as Aristotle. He explores man in relation to man within a broader context that includes but is not confined to current social structures, morality, etc as if they were eternal, fixed. The point is to explore the variability of social structure, as determined by how we relate to each other. He follows from Schopenhauer, who effectively imagined a system in which individuals moved in relation to a fixed ‘fabric of society’, and explored the inaccuracies of this, like the movement of heavenly bodies in a geocentric system. Nietzsche then described the system as social entities responding in relation to each other. It’s similar to Rovelli’s restructuring of the universe as consisting of interrelated events, rather than objects moving in spacetime. There is no ‘society’ to which we all move in relation - rather we continually construct and reconstruct it in how we respond to each other.

    Pity comes from ‘piety’: a respect for and obedience to the natural order. Pity is a negative affect in our relation to the natural order of suffering in others, and compassion is the response. But Nietzsche challenges us to question why we are compelled to respond, and in what way. Out of guilt? Because suffering is inherently bad? It isn’t. When we remove the assumption that there is an eternal moral fabric - there is only socially potential entities in relation to each other - then we need to be honest about how we feel in perceiving our own potential to act (or not act) in relation to the suffering of others. Should we eliminate any suffering we see, or simply feel bad that our own suffering is less?

    Where our relation to the example of Jesus fails to move us to compassion today is why Nietzsche’s approach has merit. The differences between my own socio-cultural context and those of Jesus are vast. It wasn’t his relation to a sky father or his identity as heir to a kingdom that motivated him towards compassion - it was something else. Something his own cultural context proved insufficient to describe.

    Why are compassion and kindness understood as fundamentally ‘positive’ human interactions? It isn’t because God told us, or because it earns us ‘brownie points’, because we just agree, or because it’s what our laws are founded on, and it isn’t because they can eliminate suffering as an apparent ‘evil’. There’s no longer any foundation here. If we’re going to call on each other to act with compassion and kindness, then we need to give them better reasons than this. Part of this is understanding what we mean when we use these words, rather than assuming we’re talking about ‘something good’. We need to unpack the value we attribute here.
  • dimosthenis9
    6
    If we’re going to call on each other to act with compassion and kindness, then we need to give them better reasons than this.Possibility

    That's the whole point. The "excuses" that are given for people to follow these values are ridiculous. And make many logical people skeptical. People indeed have to feel and act with compassion in societies but the reasons are mostly egoistic! You have to give people to realize that living in a society and act with compassion is for their very own benefit at the end!
    We should stop giving them stupid excuses for religious punishment and endless generous unending Happiness when you act "good" . And silly fairytale like that. People need more logical reasons and things that are doable indeed. Not idealistic nonsense that people can never follow and achieve!
  • Possibility
    14
    People need more logical reasons and things that are doable indeed. Not idealistic nonsense that people can never follow and achieve!dimosthenis9

    But that’s the issue - there IS no purely logical reason to act with compassion or kindness. To understand their significance, we need to recognise that as humans we don’t act on purely logical reasoning, but on affected methodologies. Hence the word ‘better’.

    You have to give people to realize that living in a society and act with compassion is for their very own benefit at the end!dimosthenis9

    And to do that, you need to recognise that your understanding of ‘their very own benefit’ is not only culturally assumed but limited by your own affected perspective. Which takes us back to Nietzsche.
  • Tom Storm
    10
    Why are compassion and kindness understood as fundamentally ‘positive’ human interactions? It isn’t because God told us, or because it earns us ‘brownie points’, because we just agree, or because it’s what our laws are founded on, and it isn’t because they can eliminate suffering as an apparent ‘evil’. There’s no longer any foundation here. If we’re going to call on each other to act with compassion and kindness, then we need to give them better reasons than this. Part of this is understanding what we mean when we use these words, rather than assuming we’re talking about ‘something good’. We need to unpack the value we attribute here.Possibility

    Most cultures and religions seem to end up with some variation of The Golden Rule it seems to me. It's sheer ubiquity suggests that self-interested altruism (if that's what it is) is hard wired. Did humans evolve to cooperate and coexist respectfully for the most part? Do we really need something as substantial and potentially transcendent as a 'foundation'.

    What seems radical about Christianity is the extension from self-interested altruism into loving your enemy and helping that most loathed of all people e.g., the Samaritan. This is much harder to justify than being 'good' in your own tribe. This seems to echo the Roman poet Terence - "Nothing that is human is alien to me." By extension, all humans are sacred.

    It's interesting that Nietzsche singled out this 'compassion' because is seems to me that Christianity did a bloody good job of eviscerating this from their practice all by themselves, even with a putative foundation.
  • Tzeentch
    2
    What seems radical about Christianity is the extension from self-interested altruism into loving your enemy and helping that most loathed of all people e.g., the Samaritan. This is much harder to justify than being 'good' in your own tribe. This seems to echo the Roman poet Terence - "Nothing that is human is alien to me." By extension, all humans are sacred.Tom Storm

    It might be a response to the conclusion that 'an eye for an eye' (the opposite of 'turning the other cheek') essentially turns one into the thing one hates.

    We all know Nietzsche's quote about staring into abysses. It seems appropriate here.
  • dimosthenis9
    6
    But that’s the issue - there IS no purely logical reason to act with compassion or kindnessPossibility

    I will disagree on this and say that there is indeed pure logical reason acting with these virtues when you live in a society. Being kind for example can make your life easier in many ways (saves you from conflicts, people like you more, yourself even grows bigger, in many practical situations you gain much more etc). The problem with these virtues is the way people react to them. When someone acts with compassion he should do it cause he truly feels it.Cause he just can't do otherwise! He needs to do that as to feel better.Even Nietzsche mentions "the one who gives is the one who gains the most"!

    Showing compassion as to point the finger to others and blame them for not acting like you (which is what most people do) is the most hypocritical thing.You shouldn't give a fuck about what others do or else is better not doing it at all. In general I mean that if someone acts with compassion he should do it only for selfish reasons as to feel better! And he has no right to blame others who don't! And if someone doesn't want to act with compassion it's also fine! He shouldn't be characterized as "bad" or "cruel" or whatever stupidity. The other side of the "compassion coin" isn't cruelty!

    For me at least, that's what Nietzsche was trying to do with all these virtues. Redefine them and break the chains that someone must do that and this as to be considered "good" person . I don't think Nietzsche imagined that there can be a world ever, actually, without all these virtues. Asking from people to act like angels on earth is beyond their powers and stupid. You can't ask from anyone to be hero and save the world. He should and can only save his own self! And through saving yourself you actually contribute more in saving the world also.
  • Possibility
    14
    Most cultures and religions seem to end up with some variation of The Golden Rule it seems to me. It's sheer ubiquity suggests that self-interested altruism (if that's what it is) is hard wired. Did humans evolve to cooperate and coexist respectfully for the most part? Do we really need something as substantial and potentially transcendent as a 'foundation'.

    What seems radical about Christianity is the extension from self-interested altruism into loving your enemy and helping that most loathed of all people e.g., the Samaritan. This is much harder to justify than being 'good' in your own tribe. This seems to echo the Roman poet Terence - "Nothing that is human is alien to me." By extension, all humans are sacred.

    It's interesting that Nietzsche singled out this 'compassion' because is seems to me that Christianity did a bloody good job of eviscerating this from their practice all by themselves, even with a putative foundation.
    Tom Storm

    It isn’t so much the need for a substantial foundation as a structure, a methodology for navigating and understanding reality beyond our direct experiences.

    The Neo-Darwinian or humanist notion of self-interested altruism seems insufficient, to me. While humans clearly did evolve this capacity, any inclination to act on it cannot be assumed simply on account of being human. There is more to the Golden Rule than evolutionary capacity in terms of behaviour. There’s a shift in dimensional awareness that often gets overlooked in the search for a ‘foundation’. The Samaritan’s role in the parable is that of the helper, not the helped - Jesus’ challenge is to be aware of (and help realise) this neighbourly potential in those who you are supposedly justified to hate or exclude, and in doing so increase awareness of your own potential for compassion and kindness ‘beyond good and evil’ as defined by Law.

    Jesus set an example of extension beyond foundations that no longer prove adequate - the Law, traditions and rituals of Judaism - and recognising or aspiring instead to open-ended values such as potential, affirmation (of life), self-deprecating honesty, beautification and self-determination, focusing on ‘God’ as an infinite and personal relation. It was Paul who began to define limits for Christianity, where humanity ends and divinity begins, in much the same way as Moses defined limits and set the foundations for Hebrew culture - which Jesus would then transcend.

    I think Nietzsche describes a similar shift - beyond these insufficient doctrines, traditional meanings and interpretations that promote ignorance, isolation and exclusion in the name of Christianity. His criticism, like Jesus’ criticism of Jewish adherence to Law, was not to eviscerate the practice of compassion, but its limitations of meaning - increasing an awareness of values more in line with a broader understanding. Compassion can be viewed as an act of self-interest at minimum, or as a capacity to collaborate in the struggle to realise our shared potential (will to power).

    What’s more, compassion and kindness are not confined to human-to-human interactions. Once we reach the threshold of Terence’s statement, and look beyond it, we should realise that the line we draw here between ourselves and animals (even aliens) is experiential, too. By extension, all life is sacred...
  • Tom Storm
    10
    he Samaritan’s role in the parable is that of the helper, not the helpedPossibility

    Oops - yes, I unthinkingly reversed the story. It should should have read:

    What seems radical about Christianity is the extension from self-interested altruism into loving your enemy as per the example of the Samaritan, that most loathed of all people. This is much harder to justify than being 'good' in your own tribe.Tom Storm

    think Nietzsche describes a similar shift - beyond these insufficient doctrines, traditional meanings and interpretations that promote ignorance, isolation and exclusion in the name of Christianity. His criticism, like Jesus’ criticism of Jewish adherence to Law, was not to eviscerate the practice of compassion, but its limitations of meaning - increasing an awareness of values more in line with a broader understanding. Compassion can be viewed as an act of self-interest at minimum, or as a capacity to collaborate in the struggle to realise our shared potential (will to power).Possibility

    Hmmm, not sure I quite get this one but well expressed. The issue with FN is he is subject to as much exegetical interpretation as any scripture.

    Compassion can be viewed as an act of self-interest at minimum, or as a capacity to collaborate in the struggle to realise our shared potential (will to power).Possibility

    And presumable there are additional views.

    By extension, all life is sacred...Possibility

    Nicely done.
  • Possibility
    14
    I will disagree on this and say that there is indeed pure logical reason acting with these virtues when you live in a society. Being kind for example can make your life easier in many ways (saves you from conflicts, people like you more, yourself even grows bigger, in many practical situations you gain much more etc). The problem with these virtues is the way people react to them. When someone acts with compassion he should do it cause he truly feels it.Cause he just can't do otherwise! He needs to do that as to feel better.Even Nietzsche mentions "the one who gives is the one who gains the most"!

    Showing compassion as to point the finger to others and blame them for not acting like you (which is what most people do) is the most hypocritical thing.You shouldn't give a fuck about what others do or else is better not doing it at all. In general I mean that if someone acts with compassion he should do it only for selfish reasons as to feel better! And he has no right to blame others who don't! And if someone doesn't want to act with compassion it's also fine! He shouldn't be characterized as "bad" or "cruel" or whatever stupidity. The other side of the "compassion coin" isn't cruelty!

    For me at least, that's what Nietzsche was trying to do with all these virtues. Redefine them and break the chains that someone must do that and this as to be considered "good" person . I don't think Nietzsche imagined that there can be a world ever, actually, without all these virtues. Asking from people to act like angels on earth is beyond their powers and stupid. You can't ask from anyone to be hero and save the world. He should and can only save his own self! And through saving yourself you actually contribute more in saving the world also.
    dimosthenis9

    It isn’t purely logical to act only as you feel. That doesn’t make sense. It sounds like you’re trying to justify emotionally motivated behaviour as ‘logical’. The many exclamation marks in your writing suggest you are strongly affected by this discussion.

    But I agree that it isn’t possible to act with compassion unless we feel it. And I want to be clear that, like Nietzsche, I don’t agree with a static morality. But compassion is not a selfish act - it’s a relational one. What you’re describing in terms of putting on a display to elicit guilt in others is not compassion, and Jesus was very clear on this distinction (Christianity, not so much). Rather than directing anger at those ‘trying to make us feel guilty’, Nietzsche asks why we are moved to guilt by perceiving someone else’s actions. Why are we defining these actions as ‘compassion’, and therefore ‘good’?

    I agree that Nietzsche was trying to free our ideas of compassion, kindness, etc from their religious definitions. Our capacity for compassion or kindness isn’t limited by external judgements of ‘good and evil’ - whether according to Law, Christianity or a secular, individualist ‘society’. According to Nietzsche, there IS no society determining our judgements - we construct it in our perceived relation to others. And I don’t think he believed that ‘saving yourself’ was any more than an observation of where we might be motivated to draw the line on ‘self’. Nietzsche’s values of will to power (potential), affirmation (of life), art (beautification), and autonomy (self-determination) were often interpreted as selfish, with only truthfulness (honesty) as outwardly directed - but I think this is just another attempt to define limitations. It’s possible to interpret these values as limited only by our capacity or willingness to relate to others, regardless of how we define the ‘self’. In this sense, Nietzsche’s approach is relational.
  • Possibility
    14
    The issue with FN is he is subject to as much exegetical interpretation as any scripture.Tom Storm

    I agree. It’s the open-ended possibility in his approach that unsettles people. Interpretation gives definition where he didn’t feel the need to limit the meaning of our relation, let alone name it.
  • dimosthenis9
    6
    It isn’t purely logical to act only as you feel. That doesn’t make sense. It sounds like you’re trying to justify emotionally motivated behaviour as ‘logical’Possibility

    I don't say that emotionally motivated behaviour is logical. Of course not. I am just saying that if you want to give people reasons for acting kind and with compassion you can give them plenty of reasonable reasons for that. Not that you will achieve everyone to act like this, but for me it would convince many more people to act like that even if they don't feel like doing it. For sure more than now, that we try to convince them with religious myths and idealistic fairytale.

    How many times, for example, you acted with kindness even if you weren't feeling to do so, just because you realized that it is the best way for what you wanted to achieve?Well I will speak for myself, I have done it plenty of times. You find it hypocritical? Well yes, for sure it is! But this kind of necessary hypocrisy, is much more useful if you wanna live among others in organized societies and not on your own like monk. And for sure it brings less mess than the hypocrisy from those who blame others for not following their path.

    But compassion is not a selfish act - it’s a relational onePossibility

    I get your point. But for me, I have a theory that every act we make is at the very bottom a selfish act. Even compassion and love. I know though it isn't something that many people would agree. So I can understand your protest.

    It’s possible to interpret these values as limited only by our capacity or willingness to relate to others, regardless of how we define the ‘self’. In this sense, Nietzsche’s approach is relational.Possibility

    I'm not sure I got your point totally here. If you could explain it a little more.

    In general, I don't consider myself as a Nietzsche expert or whatever. Not even close, and I m sure that I haven't fully understood his work either. Not to mention that I think Nietzsche sometimes seemed to confuse his own self also. Some of his writings come to contradiction with others and some of his sayings too. He wasn't a philosopher with a clear "line" to his theory as others. But that's what makes him so interesting to me. That his mind was like a volcano where everything was boiling together over there. I disagree in many things of his theory but I can't recognize that his way of thinking was really radical. And what brought to philosophy also. Maybe the most radical of any other philosopher but that's my personal opinion of course.
  • Possibility
    14
    I am just saying that if you want to give people reasons for acting kind and with compassion you can give them plenty of reasonable reasons for that. Not that you will achieve everyone to act like this, but for me it would convince many more people to act like that even if they don't feel like doing it. For sure more than now, that we try to convince them with religious myths and idealistic fairytale.

    How many times, for example, you acted with kindness even if you weren't feeling to do so, just because you realized that it is the best way for what you wanted to achieve?Well I will speak for myself, I have done it plenty of times. You find it hypocritical? Well yes, for sure it is! But this kind of necessary hypocrisy, is much more useful if you wanna live among others in organized societies and not on your own like monk. And for sure it brings less mess than the hypocrisy from those who blame others for not following their path.
    dimosthenis9

    I’m curious as to how you might articulate these ‘reasonable reasons’ so that more people will act with kindness. The issue I have is that acting in a way that is best for what I want to achieve is not what I would call ‘kindness’. I think this is a misunderstanding of what ‘kindness’ means. Being able to justify your actions purely in terms of it bringing benefit to someone else is not kindness, and arguably just as hypocritical as being motivated to act solely by the prospect of bringing benefit to yourself. It’s not a case of either/or, but both/and.

    It’s possible to interpret these values as limited only by our capacity or willingness to relate to others, regardless of how we define the ‘self’. In this sense, Nietzsche’s approach is relational.
    — Possibility

    I'm not sure I got your point totally here. If you could explain it a little more.
    dimosthenis9

    I’ll try. You make the argument that every act is selfish, but I don’t think this is always judged ‘at the very bottom’. I think we focus on different aspects or definitions of ‘self’ to find that advantage. Is it a ‘selfish act’ to eat that last helping now, to maintain my long-term health, to discard food I don’t need, or to be potentially valued for my generosity? These acts are not all ‘selfish’ in the same way, and each one also denies aspects of the ‘self’ at some level. So to say that one ‘should only save his own self’ is a misunderstanding of the various ways that we define and transcend this ‘self’. To try and describe compassion or kindness in terms of ‘self’ is problematic.

    Nietzsche criticises the religious definitions of compassion and kindness as acts of self-denial, arguing that they are also self-serving at a socio-cultural level. This is not to dismiss them as merely ‘selfish’ acts, but to suggest a broader way to view compassion and kindness in terms of a relational act between social entities. According to Nietzsche, there is no ‘society’ or morality that can define compassion in relation to which all individuals determine or judge themselves and each other.

    Compassion (‘suffering with’) is the relation between two people when one of them experiences suffering - it has nothing to do with how society defines a person or act, but with how one social entity perceives their relation to another. Regardless of my social position, I am compassionate when I relate to another as if their suffering was as much my concern as theirs. And I am kind when I relate to another as if their joy was as much mine as theirs.

    Genuine compassion transcends common definitions of ‘self’ and ‘society’ without denying them, recognising their high degree of variability. It is an awareness of our capacity to alleviate the suffering of others without destroying either ourselves or society in the process. We live so far within our limitations - each of us can afford to suffer far more than we allow ourselves, and can achieve far more than we expect of ourselves, especially when we connect and collaborate with others.
  • Ross Campbell
    1
    "but is not confined to current social structures, morality, etc as if they were eternal, fixed.". Its not so much a question that I misunderstand Nietzsche. I have read leading scholars on Nietzsche who argue that Nietzsche despised compassion and kindness. I think Nietzsche misunderstood Aristotle's Ethics which is not confined to certain social structures and is not eternal, fixed or based on belief in God . Aristotle keeps religion out of his philosophy. Nietzsche was not particularly interested in social issues, he dismissed these in a naive manner as part of a herd mentality. Human beings cannot completely rise above their group or tribe as Nietzsche proposed because we are hardwied to cooperate with one another and follow a common set of values. We don't have absolute freedom as the existentialists thought. In constructing our value systems we have to take into account the society in which we live , our CURRENT social structures , that doesn't mean that we shouldn't work to change them or that we blindly accept all the structures. Jesus was actually a counter cultural figure. He treated women as equals, attacked the hypocrisy of the current religion which used to stone women for adultery.
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