Ideas from 'Beyond Good and Evil' by Friedrich Nietzsche [1886], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Beyond Good and Evil' by Nietzsche,Friedrich (ed/tr Hollingdale,R.J.) [Penguin 1973,0-14-044-267-7]].

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 1. Philosophy
Great philosophies are confessions by the author, growing out of moral intentions
                        Full Idea: It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy has hitherto been: a confession on the part of its author, and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir, ...with moral intentions being the real germ of its life.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §006)
                        A reaction: This attitude is what places Nietzsche as the parent of post-modernism, and is the reason why most 'continental' philosophers seem to have given up the attempt to simply reason about life. It is anti-Enlightenment, and it is wicked.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 2. Possibility of Metaphysics
Metaphysics divided the old unified Greek world into two
                        Full Idea: Nietzsche famously defines metaphysics as the division of one world into two; the unity of the mythical pre-philosophical experience of the world is sundered, with Plato, into being and seeming, reality and appearance, supersensible and sensible.
                        From: report of Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886]) by Simon Critchley - Continental Philosophy - V. Short Intro
                        A reaction: (Critchley doesn't give a reference; Idea 2860 is close). This is the discredited status that metaphysics gradually acquired after Kant, but I see modern metaphysics as reuniting human thought by digging down to the foundations to reveal roots and links.
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 3. Value of Truth
Why do we want truth, rather than falsehood or ignorance? The value of truth is a problem
                        Full Idea: What really is it in us that wants 'the truth'? ...Granted we want truth: why not rather untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance? The problem of the value of truth stepped before us.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §001)
                        A reaction: I think this is one of the great moments in philosophy, when something that has been taken for granted, as a kind of mantra, is suddenly looked in the face and challenged. Truth at all costs? What sacrifices would you make for truth?
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / c. Becoming
Nietzsche resists nihilism through new values, for a world of becoming, without worship
                        Full Idea: Nietzsche's work is a resistance to nihilism. This is why he insists that new categories and values are required that would permit us to endure this world of becoming without either falling into despair or inventing some new god and bowing before it.
                        From: report of Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886]) by Simon Critchley - Continental Philosophy - V. Short Intro
                        A reaction: The trouble is that all Nietzsche offers is the invention of values out of nothing by some wretched Germanic übermensch who is obsessed with militarism and dominance. If values don't grow out of human nature, then 'all is permitted'.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
We see an approximation of a tree, not the full detail
                        Full Idea: We do not see a tree exactly and entire with regard to its leaves, branches, colour and shape; it is so much easier for us to see an approximation of a tree.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §192)
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 2. Pragmatic justification
We shouldn't object to a false judgement, if it enhances and preserves life
                        Full Idea: The falseness of a judgement is to us not necessarily an objection to a judgement. To what extent is it life-advancing, life-preserving, species-preserving. Our fundamental tendency is to assert that our falsest judgements are the most indispensable.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §004)
                        A reaction: This is the standard objection to pragmatism, that what is false may still be useful, and that clever blighter Nietzsche embraces the idea!
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 4. Cultural relativism
Morality becomes a problem when we compare many moralities
                        Full Idea: The real problems of morality come into view only if we compare many moralities.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §186)
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 10. Conatus/Striving
The ranking of a person's innermost drives reveals their true nature
                        Full Idea: To know 'who he is', we must know the order of rank the innermost drives of his nature stand in relative to one another.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §006)
                        A reaction: This is clearly an essentialist view of a person, as having a 'nature', which is 'inner', and which we can try to specify. Ranking drives and values seems a good proposal for getting at it. I'm also intrigued by what people find interesting.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will
A thought comes when 'it' wants, not when 'I' want
                        Full Idea: A thought comes when 'it' wants, not when 'I' want.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §017)
                        A reaction: A wonderful remark (which I have since found in Schopenhauer). I don't see how the most enthusiastic free will libertarian can deny it.
Wanting 'freedom of will' is wanting to pull oneself into existence out of the swamp of nothingness by one's own hair
                        Full Idea: The desire for 'freedom of will' is nothing less than the desire to pull oneself into existence out of the swamp of nothingness by one's own hair.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §021)
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 1. Psychology
It is psychology which reveals the basic problems
                        Full Idea: Psychology is now once again the road to the fundamental problems.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §023)
                        A reaction: This may become the epigraph of my great book, which will have as working title 'The Psychology of Metaphysics'. If you trawl through this collection, you will see where I am going! (A tough job, but easier than reading Hegel).
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / c. Right and good
Morality originally judged people, and actions only later on
                        Full Idea: Designation of moral values was everywhere first applied to human beings, and only later and derivatively to actions.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §260)
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
In the earliest phase of human history only consequences mattered
                        Full Idea: Throughout the longest part of history ('prehistoric times') the value or non-value of an action was derived from its consequences. …but now men are unanimous that value of an action is in the intention behind it.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §032)
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / a. Idealistic ethics
The most boring and dangerous of all errors is Plato's invention of pure spirit and goodness
                        Full Idea: The worst, most wearisomely protracted and most dangerous of all errors hitherto has been a dogmatist's error, namely Plato's invention of pure spirit and the good in itself.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], Pref)
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / d. Biological ethics
Nietzsche felt that Plato's views downgraded the human body and its brevity of life
                        Full Idea: Nietzsche believed that by elevating the importance of the mind, Plato downplayed the wonders of the body, and by searching for a timeless Truth he degraded the indisputable fact of human temporality.
                        From: report of Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], Pref) by David Roochnik - The Tragedy of Reason Prol. X
                        A reaction: Both ideas are very important. The second is widely misunderstood. Nietzsche was not a denier of truth. He asked us to scrutinise the role and value we assign to truth.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / f. Übermensch
Noble people see themselves as the determiners of values
                        Full Idea: The noble type of man feels himself to be the determiner of values.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §260)
                        A reaction: So do criminals
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil
                        Full Idea: That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §153)
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / k. Ethics from nature
Nature is totally indifferent, so you should try to be different from it, not live by it
                        Full Idea: You Stoics want to "live according to nature"? Oh you noble Stoics, what fraudulent words! Nature is prodigal and indifferent beyond measure - how could you live by such indifference? Living is wanting to be other than nature.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §009)
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
The noble soul has reverence for itself
                        Full Idea: The noble soul has reverence for itself.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §287)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / c. Particularism
Moralities extravagantly address themselves to 'all', by falsely generalising
                        Full Idea: All moralities are baroque and unreasonable ...because they address themselves to 'all', because they generalise where one must not generalise.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §198)
                        A reaction: 'Particularism' is a recent label, but one finds passing remarks from many earlier philosophers which support that approach to ethics. No one was ever more opposed to strict moral rules than Nietzsche.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique
Virtue has been greatly harmed by the boringness of its advocates
                        Full Idea: May I be forgiven for the discovery that 'virtue' has been harmed by nothing more than it has been by the boringness of its advocates.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §228)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
The four virtues are courage, insight, sympathy, solitude
                        Full Idea: To remain master of one's four virtues: courage, insight, sympathy, solitude.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §284)
                        A reaction: Compare this with 'Daybreak (Dawn)' 556. Solitude is the surprising addition, defended as the urge to 'cleanliness', when since humanity is 'unclean'.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
In ancient Rome pity was considered neither good nor bad
                        Full Idea: An act of pity was during the finest age of Rome considered neither good nor bad.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §201)
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
The idea of the categorical imperative is just that we should all be very obedient
                        Full Idea: What does the claim that there exists in us a categorical imperative say of the man who asserts it? …that 'what is worthy of respect in me is that I know how to obey - and things ought to be no different with you'.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §187)
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 3. Motivation for Altruism
The morality of slaves is the morality of utility
                        Full Idea: Slave morality is essentially the morality of utility.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §261)
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
The greatest possibilities in man are still unexhausted
                        Full Idea: The greatest possibilities in man are still unexhausted.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §203)
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 3. Angst
The freedom of the subject means the collapse of moral certainty
                        Full Idea: In the 1880s Nietzsche diagnosed the concept of nihilism for a whole range of continental thinkers: the recognition of the subject's freedom goes hand in hand with the collapse of moral certainty in the world.
                        From: report of Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886]) by Simon Critchley - Continental Philosophy - V. Short Intro Ch.5
                        A reaction: Avoiding this dilemma is just one of the many bonuses offered to those who abandon the idea of free will. The fact that one can decide to be wicked doesn't bring an end to morality. Philosophers should think more concretely about human life.
The thought of suicide is a great reassurance on bad nights
                        Full Idea: The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: by means of it one gets through many a bad night.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §157)
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 6. Authentic Self
Man is the animal whose nature has not yet been fixed
                        Full Idea: Man is the animal whose nature has not yet been fixed.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §062)
Nietzsche thinks the human condition is to overcome and remake itself
                        Full Idea: Nietzsche thinks that the human condition is precisely to overcome itself; we continually remake ourselves.
                        From: report of Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886]) by Keith Ansell Pearson - Interview with Baggini and Stangroom p.261
                        A reaction: This is why I think of Nietzsche as a straightforwardly existentialist philosopher. There is a crucial distinction between 'remaking' ourselves and 'realising all our possibilities'. The latter seems right. Which view did Nietzsche take?
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 8. Eternal Recurrence
The great person engages wholly with life, and is happy to endlessly relive the life they created
                        Full Idea: There is an ideal ...of the most exuberant, most living and most world-affirming man, who has not only learned to get on and treat with all that was and is, but who wants to have it again as it was and is to all eternity.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §056)
                        A reaction: This seems to be the main point of the idea of eternal recurrence. Could we inculcate this vision into the teenagers of our nation - that they should each try to design for themselves a life which they would be happy to endlessly repeat? Hm.
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 2. Leaders / d. Elites
Only aristocratic societies can elevate the human species
                        Full Idea: Every elevation of the type 'man' has thitherto been the work of an aristocratic society - and so it will always be: a society which believes in a long scale of orders of rank and differences of worth between man and man, and needs slavery in some sense.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §257)
                        A reaction: The aim of 'elevating the type "man"' does not figure in works of political philosophy very much! I doubt whether one could base a political party on the idea, and win a general election. Could the people still be sold the idea of aristocracy?
A healthy aristocracy has no qualms about using multitudes of men as instruments
                        Full Idea: A good and healthy aristocracy ...accepts with a good conscience the sacrifice of innumerable men who for its sake have to be suppressed and reduced to imperfect men, to slaves and instruments.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §258)
                        A reaction: Something similar might be said of a democracy - that a slavelike workforce is needed to create the great universal goods we all want and need. Do the aristocrats want sacrifices for great art, or for wild parties and fox hunting?
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / f. Against democracy
Democracy diminishes mankind, making them mediocre and lowering their value
                        Full Idea: To us the democratic movement is ...a form of decay, namely the diminution, of man, making him mediocre and lowering his value.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], §203), quoted by Philippa Foot - Nietzsche: the Revaluation of Values p.88
                        A reaction: It is not clear how a society of natural aristocrats followed by sheep would increase the value of mankind. Nor if the talented people are given total freedom, and the rest of us are servants. The value of humanity cannot reside in a few individuals.
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Christianity / a. Christianity
Christianity is Platonism for the people
                        Full Idea: Christianity is Platonism for the people.
                        From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil [1886], Pref)