• ChatteringMonkey
    52
    De-cadence, from de-cadere meaning to fall (cadere), apart (de).

    Socrates was only possible in a society that was allready falling apart. A healthy society would never tolerate someone openly questioning their norms and Gods for so long. With his excessive reason/dialectic, he provided a possible cure for what was allready felt, but not yet articulated, by fellow athenians.

    This is basicly Nietzsches thesis.

    A possible analogy on the level of the individual is sport, say tennis for example. You do not reason your way to victory. On the court you rely on instinct, muscle-memory... on all the training you did before. As soon as you start to question and think about your play, you're likely to start playing even worse.
  • Janus
    5.4k


    There are points in tennis: is there a point to this OP? :wink:
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    There are also balls in tennis: .... i'm sure there is a great comeback arround the word balls, but i haven't found it yet

    Point is that reason has it limits. Nietzsche was reevaluating the value philosophers put in reason. It's a way out of the rabbithole Socrates created a few millenia back....

    Anyway, i'm a chattering monkey, i'm not supposed to make points.
  • iolo
    29
    Socrates evidently supported the upper class in Athens and dislikde democracy. I can't see anything about decadence in his story, just political division such as happens in all societies. After the reign of the Thirty Tyrants he was extremely lucky to be offered the chance of martyrdom or going quietly abroad.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    696
    , hello.

    I am sure human reason has its limits. But for things where reason is applicable, reason is infallible. Thus if Socrates was able to rationalize against the norms of the day, then he was right to do so. If people disagreed with his points, they too would have had to use reason to refute his arguments.

    I did not read Nietzsches, but if he claimed we should rely less on reason, this claim would have to be defended by reason to be valid, which creates a self-contradiction.
  • Heiko
    93
    I am sure human reason has its limits. But for things where reason is applicable, reason is infallible.Samuel Lacrampe
    This is not quite the point Nietzsche was going for. He was not a skeptic when it came to the use of reason.

    Thus if Socrates was able to rationalize against the norms of the day, then he was right to do so.Samuel Lacrampe
    This comes closer. Just "being able to do so" is not a sufficient reason to actually do it. Socrates is symbolized by knowing to know nothing. Nietzsche's point being, that, if this was the result of socratic philosophy, then something must be horribly wrong with it. It is of no use to know nothing.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    Hello Samuel,

    I'd say where reason is applicable is precisely the question. I don't think it's that selfevident that reason is all that usefull for determining morality. It has a role to play, but not necesarily in the way Socrates wanted to use it. The way i see it is that a morality of a given society is something that devellops over generations involving many people, trail and error... and an ongoing discussion which does involve reason, but that's only a part of it.

    It easy to question the norms of the day like Socrates did, because no one person really knows anymore how it all came to be. It's a bit like an economy in that way, and emergent property.

    And, as for your last comment, reasoning about using reason to determine morality, is not the same as using reason to determine morality. There's no contradiction there. Also it's not per se reason in general that Nietzsche was after, it's the way it had been used in philosophy thus far.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    Heiko,

    Nietzsche was after 'pure reason', abstracted from societal context and human biology, an idea that started with Socrates and Plato, and propagated with Christianity and by philosophers all the way up to Kant.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    696
    Socrates is symbolized by knowing to know nothing. Nietzsche's point being, that, if this was the result of socratic philosophy, then something must be horribly wrong with it. It is of no use to know nothing.Heiko
    Hello. When Socrates would say "I know that I know nothing", he was saying it as a bit of a joke. His point was that we should use critical thinking, even on common sayings known by tradition. His philosophy starts with doubt, but does not necessarily end with doubt.
  • Heiko
    93
    Nietzsche was after 'pure reason', abstracted from societal contextChatteringMonkey
    This sounds more like Marx. Nietzsche stressed that reason has to serve the wellfare of the individual or has lost it's own purpose. In ideals he saw a mirror of the conditions of existence of groups of individuals. He concluded that negative ideals (like that of doubt) could only be made by people that needed to fight against the establishment. Or by people that didn't know where they stood - and this is where decadence, in the sense of not being able to distinguish what is good or bad for yourself, comes into play.
  • Heiko
    93
    If you know a better explanation why Nietzsche called Socrates a decadent I'd be interested to hear that. I was not reviewing Platon.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    696
    I don't think it's that selfevident that reason is all that usefull for determining morality.ChatteringMonkey
    Ethics has traditionally been called "practical reason", and is as such part of reason. The first principle of ethics is justice, or the Golden Rule, which is found in nearly every religion and ethical traditions - source

    The way i see it is that a morality of a given society is something that devellops over generations involving many people, trail and error...ChatteringMonkey
    Morality is unchanging. I think you are thinking here of mores or traditions, rather than morals. Mores are judged by moral principles.

    It easy to question the norms of the day like Socrates did, because no one person really knows anymore how it all came to be. It's a bit like an economy in that way, and emergent property.ChatteringMonkey
    I agree that merely questioning where a thing comes from and criticizing for not knowing is not useful. But Socrates went further because he found flaws in them using reason, and that is a good thing.

    And, as for your last comment, reasoning about using reason to determine morality, is not the same as using reason to determine morality. There's no contradiction there.ChatteringMonkey
    Understood. I thought you were saying Nietzsche was aiming to remove reason as such.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    696

    Nah I'm good. I am here to talk about philosophy, not philosophers.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    Heiko,

    I think you basicly have the right idea. To be a bit more precise, in his view decadence is 'anarchy in the instincts' or 'drives not ordered properly'. When that is the case one loses confidence in himself, and begins to doubt... and turns to reason as a tyrant to subdue that anarchy. He saw Socrates as the prime example of that.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    Samuel,

    Argument by definition or tradition is not a viable argument in my book.

    There is no such thing as an unchanging morality divorced from societal context. That is precisely the mistake Nietzsche saw Socrates, Plato and other philosophers make. We are beings of flesh and blood, with interests and desires, and live our lives in a societal context. Trying to forget about all of that when we start philosophising seems like a bad idea.
  • Janus
    5.4k
    There are also balls in tennis: .... i'm sure there is a great comeback arround the word balls, but i haven't found it yet

    Point is that reason has it limits. Nietzsche was reevaluating the value philosophers put in reason. It's a way out of the rabbithole Socrates created a few millenia back....

    Anyway, i'm a chattering monkey, i'm not supposed to make points.
    ChatteringMonkey

    Perhaps you should have said 'There are balls in tennis, but are there any balls in your response?'

    I don't think that the value of reason can reasonably be denied; any attempt to do so would be to enact a performative contradiction. So, I don't agree that Nietzsche denigrated reason, but he may be understood to have criticised the idea of pure reason. This idea of pure reason seems to be inherent in Socrates' dialectic, if we understand it as a postivistic rationalist approach that hopes to arrive, by thinking alone, at the truth. But Socrates' method can also be interpreted as a deflationary, apophatic approach that aims to show what is not true by revealing inconsistencies, incoherences and contradictions in what we believe we know, rather than aiming to arrive at what is true.

    Chattering monkeys may not be able to make points, but apparently enough typewriting monkeys are thought by some to be able to produce, given enough time, the works of Shakespeare.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    696

    So to clarify your position, morality is relative to the social norms of the time. Does it follow that slavery was morally right at the time that society had slaves, and wrong today, until society decides to have slaves again?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    Samuel, yes morality is the social norms of a certain time and a certain community, full stop. You can disagree, and argue with the norms of the times, and try to change them with good arguments (or force), as has been done countless of times in history, but there is no ahistorical unchanging morality to measure them to. That's just a rethorical device.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52


    Nice find, i knew there had to be one!

    We probably agree to a large extend. He was indeed criticising the idea of pure reason in the first place. I do think he was also devaluating reason a bit in general (not denigrating per se) in that he had less confidence in its abilities then philosophers before him.

    As for Socrates, yes, it's hard to say for sure how he meant it because we only know him through Plato. I'm not sure it matters all that much, because it's the platonic interpretation that had the most influence historically. Nietzsche was mainly concerned with the influence of that idea.

    [off to reproducing the works of Shakespeare now]
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    I think everything has its limits including this remark.

    Reason is good. It is the necessary pause before all thoughts and actions. Without it we would be jumping to conclusions and that, despite the healthy connotation of bodily exercise, is bad.

    Why?

    We're far more likely to be wrong when we think and act sans reason. To be wrong is to be separated from reality and that's unhealthy, generally.

    We all live in our private worlds which may or may not mesh with the truth, reality.

    As I said, everything has limits, including everything I've just said.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    52
    Reason is good. It is the necessary pause before all thoughts and actions. Without it we would be jumping to conclusions and that, despite the healthy connotation of bodily exercise, is bad.TheMadFool

    We do and can not pause and reason before all thoughts and action. This is just not the case. There's so much actions and thoughts that happen habitually and instinctually, like for instance setting one foot before the other. We would simply not be able to function if we were to reason about every single thing we do.
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