Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nietzsche and Moral Diversity

Nietzsche was possibly the first philosopher to recognize "the death of God" opened the door to something beyond a one-size-fits-all morality.

Christianity had insisted for a couple thousand years that the same morality which applied to peasants applied to kings. The first Western thinkers to reject Christianity failed to reject the Christian notion there was but one legitimate morality for everyone. Nietzsche, however, was adamant that if you gave up the Christian deity, you were left with no basis for asserting the Christian claim everyone should be governed by the same moral code. Rather than look to God for a single morality, Nietzsche looked to human nature and found moral diversity.

In a sense, we have not gone beyond Nietzsche even today, for we in the West are still struggling with this strange notion that humans might naturally be as morally diverse a species as they are diverse in every other way.

2 comments:

Kristin said...

Probably because that whole "my way is the only way" is such a nice, cushy argument that's hard to argue against. Who can argue with someone who's sticking their fingers in their ears and going "la la la la la I can't hear you"? =D
People rejected Nietzche because his ideas were uncomfortable to people. However, his ideas were spot on, and this is precisely why we're having such a problem in the political sphere today.

steppen wolf said...

I think that, deep inside, we all share a moral sense, and religiong probably evolved, partly, as a way to enforce morality on a group that was growing wider and wider with population growth, and where individuals found it harder and harder to distinguish cheaters from reciprocators.

If the judge is above all of us, and sees us all, you will not escape such judgement no matter how many people you manage to cheat, and no matter whether these people won't be able to reach you in your lifetime, and get their revenge.

Religion also works as a way to institutionalize spirituality - which is very dangerous, as it breaks cultural conventions.

Religion is not an infallible system - nor is common/Roman law. Just that one calls upon belief, in-group vs. out-group dynamics and irrationality, the other on impartiality, equality and logic.