Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Noah Silver: Post #3 Group 8
Written in 1886, Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most well-known and expansive works by German author and philosopher, Fredrich Nietzsche. The text is made up of 296 relatively short aphorisms, separated by topics and categorized into nine distinct chapters. In kicking the book off, Nietzsche is quick to attack religious and philosophical dogmatic thinking (something he claimed was self-serving to ones own prejudices), before moving on to his criticism of traditional moral systems. Nietzsche believed that there were differing levels of spiritual strength among people and that because of this disparity it would be unreasonable to force everyone to follow the same moral codes. Later on in the book, Nietzsche criticizes both nationalism and anti-Semitism – an important section to note for studies of Nietzsche’s work as a whole. No matter what ones personal opinion on the philosophy of Nietzsche is, it is crucial to not let the usage of his (selected) work by supporters of the Third Reich cloud fair and impartial judgment of his ideas. Finally, he concludes the book with an idealized story of a “noble” figure that has rejected the commonplace ideas and accepted customs of their society and as a result must suffer from their elevation above the rest of society. Overall the book deals with several themes, among which the ideas of morality and “goodness” are especially interesting. Nietzsche viewed both good and evil as arbitrary terms made up to describe the morals of different people at different points and history. Nietzsche wanted philosophers of the future to move beyond these ideas (hence the title of the book) and focus more on the their own biases and internal prejudices. He believed that the morals of good and evil as espoused by both Christianity and Marxism were designed to keep the strongest members of society under the control of the weak and petty masses. This idea has been applied to several important world figures including Plato and ironically, Jesus Christ himself, as they both rejected the norms of their society and rose beyond good and evil – only to put a new system of morality in place.