Nietzsche on Morality

Friedrich Nietzsche
Image by mansionwb via Flickr

“My demand upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself. This demand follows from an insight which I was the first to formulate: that there are altogether no moral facts. Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena—more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to the stage of ignorance at which the very concept of the real and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking; thus “truth,” at this stage, designates all sorts of things which we today call “imaginings.” Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally: so understood, they always contain mere absurdity.”

The Portable Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” p. 501ff

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5 thoughts on “Nietzsche on Morality

  1. Pingback: Dallas Willard on Outrageous Claims Made in the Name of Science « Cloud of Witnesses

  2. Evolutionary science has moved into this kind of territory over the last few decades.

    Try Selfish Gene by Dawkins and the chapter entitles “Nice guys finish first”.

    Vampire Bat anecdotes anyone?

    Regards,

    Psi

    • That’s a good point. It’s interesting that everyone who denies objective morality always ends up making moral judgments of one kind or another.

    • No, Nietzsche isn’t expressing his own morality. If anything, he’s cautioning against confusing the expression of individuated moral opinion with an assertion of moral fact.

      He is exhorting moralists to get beyond thinking in moral terms. He is expressing that one’s morality is simply a reflection of what one finds morally acceptable, and no more. The problem he denounces is that, rather than end there, moralists tend to hold others accountable for a morality that is not their own. He finds this absurd.

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