PHIL 1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 30: Self-Ownership, Friedrich Nietzsche
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Intro to Philosophy
Notes: Phil 1
● A brief history of Conscience
○ Descartes starts from god’s perfection and claims our thinking faculties are an
imperfect copy of God’s.
○ Hume thought of humans as part of nature, he ignored the part about what we
should do (the ought)
○ Kant added the “should” part, the duty, the conscience, which he thought hume
had left out. He did not think it was necessarily god, he thought it was “reason”
that talks to us.
○ Nietzsche thinks that kant is an idiot for thinking that we have this faculty called
“reason” that is in us and tell us to do the opposite of what we normally want to
○ Nietzsche sees humans as part of nature and gives us his naturalistic explanation
of our “conscience”, which does not involve god or reason.
● Nietzsche as a psychologist
○ Nietzsche’s “naturalism” starts from “human animal” to explain our psychology
and beliefs about things
○ Nietzsche always referred to himself as a psychologist (the first and the best, he
says). Psychology is a study of the soul, literally.
● What is our conscience?
○ From nietzsche’s autobiography
■ “It is the instinct of cruelty, which turns inwards ones it is unable to
discharge itself outwardly”
● Nietzsche’s story: the beginning
○ Nietzsche's premise: human beings are animals, driven by instincts and feelings
that developed in the natural world over millions of years (we have not been
created by god in his image)
○ When human beings settled in large sedentary groups, the human animal had to be
tamed. Social coexistence required that human behavior be man uniform and
predictable. Our natural aggressive instincts had to be repressed.
○ This is the beginning of morality
● The modern “sovereign individual”
○ In the beginning, the taming of the human animal happened through coercion
○ But over the course of human history, this gave rise to the “sovereign individual””
the individual moved by his or own independent free will, autonomous in the
kantian sense, who follows the morality of custom in his/her own free will.