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Nietzsche - Sam Black PHIL 120 NIETZSCHE A.I The Background...

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Sam Black, PHIL 120 NIETZSCHE A.I: The Background Big Picture (See Sect. V for more details) In his body of work, Nietzsche asks: 1) Are the impartial moralities associated with Kant and utilitarianism true? N’s answer is that they are false. His argument is interpreted in two ways (which are probably not consistent). i) Impartial moral theories are false because all moral theories are false. (Impartial morality holds that all human beings count as equals, and moral duties are identified from a perspective where each is counted.) Impartial morality is a collective or social illusion. Philosophy should do anthropology and uncover the origins of that illusion (a method known as ‘philosophical anthropology’). NB: I think this reading is not correct. ii) Impartial moral theories are false because a better moral theory is available. The correct theory has more in common with Pagan moralities that preceded Judao-Christian morality. Philosophical anthropology on this view can help us understand why the West made a ‘wrong turn’ in ethics. The Gist of N’s argument: 1. All moral theories can be classified into two broad varieties: master and slave moralities. 2. Contents: Slave moralities contrast good and evil; master moralities good and bad. Kantian, Utilitarian, and other moralities whose content requires impartial concern for all human beings are all slave moralities. 3. There is no foundation in reason for impartial moralities. We believe that impartial moralities as a matter of common sense b/c and only b/c, of the triumph of the Judao-Christian religious tradition. There is no point in accepting impartial moralities now that ‘God is dead’. 4. The Judao-Christian tradition is a slave revolt, where the weakest 1
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members of society managed to attain dominance by extolling the virtues of humility, equality, humanity and the like. N thinks it was a master-stroke of the Jews to help pull off the “inversion of values”: an instance of the weak imposing their will against the odds, and an exercise of the “will to power”. But the Jews succeeded only by getting others to embrace a perverted ideology. The best and most admirable form of willing does not exploit gullibility and errors of belief. 5. N’s implicit test for a right action: normative egoism + agonistic perfectionism about a person’s good Def’n Right Action: An action right for agent S only if it contributes to S’s perfection by enhancing S’s “will to power” or domination over others. II An Intuitive Case for a Moral Theory Influenced by Nietzsche Some Illustrations of Potentially Admirable Immorality: Contemporary Cases of Admirable Immorality: Lance Armstrong (“go hard or go home”); Vince Lombardi (“winning is not an important thing, it is the only thing”).
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