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Lecture 8


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York University
PHIL 1100
Henry Jackman

PHIL 1100 LECTURE NOTES – FALL TOPIC 10: Nietzsche Intellectual Conscience and Purpose of Existence Intellectual Conscience - “the great majority lacks an intellectual conscience” (p.2, #2) - We believe without wondering: o 1) whether what we believe is true o 2) Why we believe what we believe  Asking this second question makes the first question more pressing  If the answer is independent of the truth, then it will undermine the belief - It is believed we should have this intellectual conscience, but most people don’t because it can make life uncomfortable – especially around people who don’t have this way of thinking Life is not an Argument - The utility of a belief is not the same as its truth - “without … articles of faith no one could endure living! But that does not prove them. Life is not an argument; the conditions of life might include error. (p.8, #121) o False beliefs might make our life easier or more successful, but they can end up being systematically mistaken about many things o Lots of instances where a false belief can be adapted, so the mere fact that we couldn’t get by without certain kind of faith, even if it were true, it wouldn’t mean the belief is true – you have to have this questioning The Teachers of the Purpose of Existence - People who show us how our life has meaning - “man must from time to time believe he knows why he exists; his race cannot thrive without … faith in the reason in life! (pp. 1-2, #1) o Many people feel the need that the nihilistic approach to life is un-endurable - “The ethical teacher makes his appearance … in order that what happens … by itself and without a purpose, shall henceforth seem to be done for a purpose … to this end he invents a second, different existence and takes … the old, ordinary existence off its old, ordinary hinges. (p.1, #1) o Idea that one way of making sense of the world is to say this world we see around us, this chaotic, unjust, unfair world is full of suffering, is only part of the bigger world, which includes heaven and hell, will make sense of all this. All of this suffering is explained in terms of what happens in the life hereafter. The unjust behaviour rewarded in this world will be punished later. Good behaviour punished here will be rewarded later. This narrative has a charm to make this world make sense, seem fair, and things in this world be done for a purpose - We’ve often had a history of certain religious views replacing other religious views, but all of them have been replacing one religion with another one way with embedding this world in something larger to make sense of it The ‘Death of God’ - People have begun to arise that have attempted to provide an explanation for human life in a non-theological way The Madman - The person who comes into the crowd of athiests asking where is god - “The madman jumped into their midst… “Where is God?” he cried; “I’ll tell you! … God is dead! … And we have killed him!” (pp. 8-9, #125) o We used to understand the world in terms of God, that God was a living part of our lives, and that is something that we have taken away. We have stopped seeing the world In deviant terms, no longer seeing it as explicitly created by God. o Madman takes this to be a momentous event New Battles - “God is dead; but given the way people are, there may still for millennia be caves in which they show his shadow. – And we – we must still defeat his shadow as well. (p 6, #108) o A lot of people will still understand the world in theological terms, in a way that would be legitimate if there would be a God, but is illegitimate otherwise. Thinking that this whole social superstructure which was justified by belief in the divine can somehow exist without that. This shadow of God, seeing the world in theological terms, as if things were created for a purpose, will take a lot longer to get over than just the explicit belief in God. Without any justification we are still engaged in theological thinking – we must get passed this The Add-on-Liars - The people who are part of every morality of religion - “The same process occurs… in every prevalent morality and religion: the reasons and purposes for habits are always lies that are added only after some people begin to attack these habits and to ask for reasons and purposes (p.5, #29 o There are people who come with after-the-fact excuses for why we engage in certain moral behaviours, but these stories are just stories which make sense in our practice, but aren’t the real reason behind the practice. Herd Instinct and the ‘Slave Revolt in Morality’ - As we … reject Christian interpretation (created by God for a purpose) and condemn its ‘meaning’ as counterfeit, Schopenhauer’s question immediately comes at us in a terrifying way: Does existence have any meaning at all? o “A few centuries will be needed before this question can ever be heard completely and in its full depth. (p.19, #357)  This shadow is hard to escape from – the theistic way of looking at the world is natural to us, so it is hard to face the realization that life could be meaningless - “that ‘God is dead’ … is already starting to cast its first shadow over Europe. … And, now that this faith has been undermined, how much must collapse because it was built on this faith… for example, our entire European morality. (p.15, #343) o Morality defined by Christianity, and that was justified because that’s what Jesus commanded them to do. But once this justification goes away, the response is to keep that morality in place and look for another justification. o Nietzsche believes there is something unnatural and unintuitive about this Christian morality – it is not a morality that we have always had in Europe Herd Instinct - “wherever we encounter a morality, we find an evaluation and ranking of human drives and actions. These evaluations and rankings are always the expression of the needs of a community and herd. (p.8, #116) o There to promote interests of the group o The morality is just a way of ranking our motives in a way that serves the interest of the herd (community) - “since the conditions for preserving one community have been very different from those of another community, there have been very different moralities. (p.8, #116) o Different groups can have different moralities The Slave Revolt in Morality - Masters and Slaves – can be thought of as a different herd with different moralities - Masters: o Value pride, strength, and ambition – allow you to be successful in the conquering class - Slaves: o Humility, patience, obedience – virtues imposed on them by their conditions as slaves - Different herds have different sense of character traits they need to promote - Masters look at their own things they promote and view those things as “good”, and the characteristics of the slaves are bad – bad in the sense of being “base” – characteristics appropriate of a slave, so it would be inappropriate for a master to act in a slave-ish manner - Slaves look at the masters and see them as people who have taken over the village, doing bad things, seeing their characteristics and seeing them as “bad/evil”. They themselves see each other as “good” - The revolt in morality is that with the rise of Christianity, the moral valuations of the slave class, the idea that humility patience and obedience are good, while pride strength and ambition are bad, came to be adopted by the ruling class themselves. Slaves imposed their morality on everyone else, because Christianity for Nietzsche is paradigmatic slave morality which was fostered by people who were conquered, and eventually adopted by the ruling class. - Testimony to unnatural characteristic of Christianity. It is okay to have the masters have the virtues they have, and what they see as bad is absence of these virtues. However, the slaves only see what is bad - “The European disguises himself with morality because he has become a sick, sickly, maimed animal… it is not the ferocity of the beast of prey that, needs a moral disguise, but the herd animal with its deep mediocrity, fear, and boredom with itself. (p. 18, #352) o They use morality not to prevent them from be
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