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There is not a philosopher living or dead who has remotely understood what Nietzsche was trying to teach the world when he wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra. There has been endless philosophical conjecture on his ‘philosophy’, but he was not writing a philosophy when he composed that body of work. He was writing about a higher level of human cognitive awareness that every philosopher since that time has utterly failed to comprehend. I have no problem criticizing the herd mentality in every one of its forms, because the herd is totally driven by the ego and its need for group acceptance, whether that be acceptance by peer groups, academia, politics, religion or culture. The ego is a herd animal, plain and simple.
The only author I have found that remotely understands what Nietzsche was trying to relate to humanity is Endall Beall, and he explains it fully in the book Willful Evolution, for anyone truly interested in what Nietzsche was writing about in all of his works. We don’t need a philosophy for the future, we need actionable alterations in human consciousness without the ego. For those who may wish to contradict these observations, Nietzsche himself wrote this about the ego:
“The “ego” subdues and kills: it operates like an organic cell: it is a robber and it is violent. It wants to regenerate itself–pregnancy. It wants to give birth to its god and see all mankind at his feet.”
The ego is the seed of all herd mentality, it is the curse on the consciousness of humanity, and humanity will only advance when it can transcend the control of the ego in everyone. Nietzsche was destroyed by small minds controlled by the ego whose only aim is to protect its limited perceptual reality. The caution should not be leveled against challenging the herd mentality, but we should all ask why should we allow the herd mentality to continue in all of its small-minded supremacy? That is the REAL problem, not challenging the herd in its limited state of cognitive understanding.
Yes, I agree with martouk. I don’t see the relation between the general idea of the picture and Nietzsche’s philosophy and your comment about the herd mentality. Actually Nietzsche itself states clearly that there are two types of people – masters (free will, have free time to think and understand the world) and slaves (herd) (feel or are required to work most of their day, have no time/will to think, try to keep the status-quo, are species of low culture).
@martouk, I read your post very carefully and I liked it a lot. Only I don’t think that Nietzsche was destroyed by anyone. The man was just too ahead of his time, nevertheless he did a great job and his life was not lived in vain at all. His legacy is to be continued by people like us. :)
I utterly challenge the herd mentality in every herd. There is no such thing as mastery except self-mastery over one’s own ego. The herd is driven by ego and reinforced by ego-group mentality. Ego mentality requires validation and nothing makes the ego stronger than group validation shared by those with similar ego expectations and beliefs. This is the beast that controls the consciousness of virtually all of humanity at this point in time, and also what Nietzsche wrote his criticisms against. I didn’t state his life was lived in vain, only that he was ostracized by the egos of his peers (although they were only professional peers and not remotely peers in conscious awareness), and prevented from continuing his livelihood by ego-controlled mental midgets. Hope this helps clarify my comments.
i like your interpretation of Nietzsche. i’m looking for more passages where he discusses the ego. this one, for instance, seems to contradict the one you posted, and i’m interested in getting more context. do you know the larger passage from which your quote was taken?
‘At the risk of displeasing innocent ears, I submit that egoism belongs to the essence of a noble soul, I mean the unalterable belief that to a being such as “we,” other beings must naturally be in subjection, and have to sacrifice themselves. The noble soul accepts the fact of his egoism without question, and also without consciousness of harshness, constraint, or arbitrariness therein, but rather as something that may have its basis in the primary law of things:–if he sought a designation for it he would say: “It is justice itself.”‘
– Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter 9
the ‘noble soul’ is the opposite of the herd, for Nietzsche, and here he says that ego is the essence of the noble soul. how do you reconcile this with your view that ego is the essence of the herd?
You would be better advised to read Nietzsche more closely. From Chapter 9 from which you quoted, Nietzsche notes the following in describing the ‘noble soul’.
“There is MASTER-MORALITY and SLAVE-MORALITY,—I would at once add, however, that in all higher and mixed civilizations, there are also attempts at the reconciliation of the two moralities, but one finds still oftener the confusion and mutual misunderstanding of them, indeed sometimes their close juxtaposition—even in the same man, within one soul. The distinctions of moral values have either originated in a ruling caste, pleasantly conscious of being different from the ruled—or among the ruled class, the slaves and dependents of all sorts. In the first case, when it is the rulers who determine the conception “good,” it is the exalted, proud disposition which is regarded as the distinguishing feature, and that which determines the order of rank. The noble type of man separates from himself the beings in whom the opposite of this exalted, proud disposition displays itself he despises them. Let it at once be noted that in this first kind of morality the antithesis “good” and “bad” means practically the same as “noble” and “despicable”. . . ”
Where Nietzsche is referring to the ‘noble soul’, he is speaking about the arrogance and egoism of the ruling class, one of the MASTER-MORALITY. This egotistic noble soul works to separate itself from the herd by ruling over the herd and dictating to the rest of the herd. The noble soul in this context does not remotely signify what Nietzsche himself achieved, it is a polemical criticism of the mentality of the elite members of the human herd who have deemed themselves more egotistically worthy as a ‘noble’ to rule over the rest of the herd. The term noble is meant as derogatory, not as an endorsement of this elitist egotistical mentality. It is a stark criticism about the elite, who hold themselves above the herd, but who are equally a part of the human ego herd that they place under subjugation due to their own form of elitist ego enchantment with themselves by considering themselves ‘noble’, as in royalty. I see no contradiction in what I shared and what Nietzsche is sharing and observing here.
that’s a fair interpretation. however, Nietzsche doesn’t always seem to use the term “noble” derogatorily, does he? he felt that great spirits tended to self-select for a noble class, and that this was a welcome state of affairs, as it allowed the greatest people to rise unfettered into whatever heights of realization they may.
i do need to read more Nietzsche to get more context here; i had previously thought that he saw his Ubermensch as likely a member of the noble class; he mentioned the likes of Caesar and Goethe as great spirits, near-Ubermensch, and they were decidedly upper class. in my readings, it has seemed that he favors the master morality, associating it with the ascending line of life, as opposed to the descending, which tends to be embodied in the herd’s pity-based morality.
this passage on Nietzsche’s views on nobility rings true to my readings of his work:
“The morality of nobility has developed from master morality, and it finds its ideal form in the new philosophers. The noble person has a sense of the themselves as determining what is good and bad, and new philosophers will create values. The noble person feels full of greatness and power, the new philosophers express the will to power in its purest form and are full of joy in the affirmation of life. The noble person despises what is weak; the new philosopher ranks people by how much truth and suffering they can bear. Both are independent and are not moved by the suffering of common people.
The best sign of a high rank, Nietzsche says, is an instinct for rank (Beyond Good and Evil, §263), not only among human beings, but a sense of what is great. Every elevation of human beings has been and will be achieved by hierarchical societies (§257). Nobility involves a ‘grand attitude’ (e.g. the perspective of eternal return) and a longing for ‘expansive inner states’, not a sense of being caught up in oneself, but a continual ‘self- overcoming’. This shouldn’t be understood in the usual moral or spiritual terms, e.g. overcoming one’s selfishness or transcending human desires. It isn’t guided by fixed values, but involves the creation of new values, which requires the self-overcoming of all that is too weak to sustain such originality.”
Hi Jordan, thank you for this dialogue.
So, let’s start out with section 257 that you misquoted (or maybe your translation is in error) as a starting place. Where you wrote: “Every elevation of human beings has been and will be achieved by hierarchical societies (§257)”
The actual text reads “EVERY elevation of the type “man,” has hitherto been the work of an aristocratic society and so it will always be. . ”
He does not say ‘human beings’, he says the ‘type “man”. He is stating that with the beast called ‘man’ (in contradistinction to the overman), that it will always devolve to an aristocratic ruling class. Once again, this is a criticism of “man”, and does not represent the overman. To further understand what he was writing about in regard to the ‘noble class’ we only need to read further along in §257 to find the definition:
“Let us acknowledge unprejudicedly how every higher civilization hitherto has ORIGINATED! Men with a still natural nature, barbarians in every terrible sense of the word, men of prey, still in possession of unbroken strength of will and desire for power, threw themselves upon weaker, more moral, more peaceful races (perhaps trading or cattle-rearing communities), or upon old mellow civilizations in which the final vital force was flickering out in brilliant fireworks of wit and depravity. At the commencement, the noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their superiority did not consist first of all in their physical, but in their psychical power—they were more COMPLETE men (which at every point also implies the same as “more complete beasts”).”
I think this passage removes any speculation about your confusion on the alleged noble class. Throughout this dialogue, Nietzsches is once again leveling polemics against the egoistic mindset of the alleged nobles. In no way does his reference to being noble relate to his concept of the overman, but they are strictly observations of the beast (man) in all of his splendent glory operating from ego.
As Nietzsche noted in Zarathustra:
“Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman – a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping.
“What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under.
“I love those who do not know how to live, except by going under, for they are those who cross over.”
When he is writing about the ‘type “man”, this is his perspective, and everything he writes about the ‘noble’ is only a reference to class of egotistical “man”. not the sense of the overman.
When we look more closely at §263:
“There is an INSTINCT FOR RANK, which more than anything else is already the sign of a HIGH rank; there is a DELIGHT in the NUANCES of reverence which leads one to infer noble origin and habits.”
This instinct for high rank is a need of the ego-driven man, once again, not the overman. Here Nietzsche is observing the ego as “delighting in the nuances of reverence which leads others to infer noble origins and habits.” When we observe any human being controlled by ego, these observations hold to be patently true. Here again, he is not endorsing this form of nobility, but criticizing the entire mindset and its prevalence in ego-controlled societies, both from the ego perspective of the noble “man” and those who allow their subjugation to such a concept of nobility. Hope this helps clarify this somewhat.
As a follow up, the original quote I cited is from §768 of The Will to Power: