• ChatteringMonkey
    166
    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
    5.7k


    There are points in tennis: is there a point to this OP? :wink:
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    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
    32
    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
    739
    , 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
    144
    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
    166
    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
    166
    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
    739
    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
    144
    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
    144
    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
    739
    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
    739

    Nah I'm good. I am here to talk about philosophy, not philosophers.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    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
    166
    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
    5.7k
    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
    739

    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
    166
    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
    166


    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
    2.4k
    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
    166
    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.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    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 doChatteringMonkey

    Well, that's why we have memory, learning and regret. When we behave instinctively we may commit errors. We look back at these errors and we (hopefully) regret and update our behavior. It's a self-correcting system although not perfect.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    You can disagree, and argue with the norms of the times, and try to change them with good argumentsChatteringMonkey
    What would be examples of "good arguments" to judge the norms, if there is nothing higher than the norms?

    Up to now, I was just trying to get clarity on your position. Now do you have an argument to back up that position? Since, as I said before, the Golden Rule is found in nearly every religion and ethical traditions, it is the prima facie, and you have thus the onus of proof to dispute it.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    Samuel, there no one criteria for what would be a good argument, it's contextual. You could point to evidence of implications of a certain rule, or weigh them against different values and make a case arround that...

    I don't see how i should necessarily prove my position because almost every religious tradition had an iteration of something like the golden rule. But anyway, my meta-ethical position is basicly that the legitimacy for morals in a given community comes from a social contract. Because we all have the same human genetic make-up, it shouldn't be all that surprising that some of the morals will end up being similar accross the board. That doesn't imply that morality is unchanging though.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    TheMadFool, i don't disagree with that. It's the timing (before actions) and frequency (all actions) that was in question.
  • Heiko
    144
    Samuel, there no one criteria for what would be a good argument, it's contextual.ChatteringMonkey
    No offense intented: Isn't this nihilistic? You are basically saying that the one is as good as the other. And both are nothing.
  • S
    6k
    Socrates wasn't a symbol of Greek decadence, he was a symbol against it. He was a symbol of integrity and austerity. He dressed simply and barefoot, he didn't make a record of his philosophy, he dedicated his life to finding and obtaining knowledge and wisdom, he condemned the Sophists for charging money for education and for prioritising winning a debate over seeking truth, and he stuck by his principles at the cost of his own life.

    In stark contrast, Nero was a symbol of decadence, though he was Roman, not Greek. A Greek counterpart doesn't immediately spring to mind.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    Heiko, what i meant, and what i think i said, is that there is no one criterium... but many, and it depends on the situation what argument will be a good one. This just to say that it is not that easy to give a definate answer in the abstract.

    That doesn't mean that one is as good as the other though. For instance if you make an argument pointing to the implications of a moral rule, and you happen to be factually wrong about these implications, then that would be a bad argument.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    Sapienta,

    Nietzsche would disagree. He didn't view austerity, search for wisdom at the cost of all else (his family, his life as a part of society,... ), the application of reason to everything, etc as all that commendable. And he based that on a couple of psychological insights that you may or may not accept.

    In short, and probably butchered to some extend, what he valued the most was health and love for life... affirmation of life. That entails, in his view, the cultivation of human desires and instinct, and not the eradication of them. Asceticism, Christianity, excessive use of reason, and giving up on worldly interests in favour of the search for wisdom, he all saw as crude atempts to do away with desires and instincts... with disastrous results.
  • Heiko
    144
    There may be a difference between what ppl deem right and what is right. Such a statement implied the idea of the good as being. If one's criterion of the moral good was just "whatever people deem right", this is nihilism.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    166
    Heiko, I don't see how you got to that interpretation from what i've said in this thread.

    I said that morality is a group thing (social contract theory), no whatever one person deems right. He may try to convince the group to change their minds, with good arguments, rethoric, force or whatever... but there is no ultimate standard, unless you believe in God.
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