Monday, 15 February 2010

There's no such thing as good or bad; just thinking makes it so

And so HCJ started again and we encircled Horrie to hear about Nietzsche, about the paradign shifts that have pulled along our cultural history like a horse drawn carriage. We learnt about the reluctant union of science and art and how scientific discoveries altered the worlds of our forefathers.
Amidst all this learning came a concurrent thread which I remember considering when reading Rousseau, is our behaviour predetermined when we are born or are we taught it?
In Emile, Rousseau explores this nature vs. nurture question.
The same question arises when studying Freud, who acknowledges we have an innate desire to behave in animalistic way, our ID and it’s our ego which prohibits, our ego is developed by our upbringing, so is our ID suppressed by society? Nietzsche believed so.
I think this is the basis of Kant and Nietzsche’s disagreement.
Are we naturally good or bad? Or is it thinking that makes it so?
Do we really have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other from the day we’re born?
Nietzsche believed that morality was not something innate; humans have not anthropologically developed a sense of right and wrong. We are taught a societal perception of right and wrong and behaving in accordance with the social conventions, epitomises our enslaved mentality. We have confined and curtailed our behaviour to adhere to a dogmatic religious code which is Apollonian.
This contradicted Kant’s theory that we all have an instinctive knowledge of when we committing a moral sin.

Nietzsche thought moral and legal law infringed the pursuit of the individual, that it discouraged a life of Dionysian indulgence. Dionysus is the Ancient Greek god of wine, the inspirer of ritual madness and ecstacy and Nietzsche was a big fan, he criticized religon for it’s supression of innate hedonism, something which was encouraged by a Dionysian lifestyle.

Nietzsche believed our ideas of right and wrong or good and evil have evolved over time originating from religious doctrine, this was a form of control, which Nietzsche did not see as a bad thing necesserily, he believed religion should happily control the ‘common people’, the ‘bungled and the botched’ as long as the ‘hero’, the great man could suceed.
So does religion really breed control and restraint, or rather does it sustain a consensus for the masses, does soicety run more efficiently on the idea that we all share a common moral code? If an individual broke the law because he genuinely saw no wrong doing in taking drugs, he would have no defence. Law (generally) is not subjective and cannot be if it is to maintain order so is the same not true of moral law?
Obviously people have different spectrums of good and bad, some people do things which others would find abhorent, but Kant believed that even the people who do ‘bad’ things, have a conscience and a knowledge that what they’ve done is wrong, from telling a lie to murder. Neitzsche denounced this and in his book ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ stated ‘it was a mistake to regard it as a duty to aim at the victory of good and the anhiliation of evil’.


  1. 知足常樂~~有這麼好的文章,人生足矣~~哈哈.........................

  2. good work but you have got paradigm spelling wrong!