Sunday, October 26, 2014

Notes on Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human Section 2: On the History of Moral Feelings

35. The art of psychological observation is a rich source of entertainment and relief, but it is not widely practiced today. The polished maxim is the unappreciated pinnacle of this art.

36. Conversely, perhaps a blind faith in the goodness of human nature, rather than psychological perspicacity, will make man happier and less distrustful.

37. Often the errors of great philosophers result from false explanations of human actions and feelings. The solution is to inquire as to the origins and history of those feelings, but due to the reputation of such inquiries as gossip, the approach has been viewed with suspicion.

38. Science, which is the imitation of nature in concepts, cannot do without psychological observation. Earnest individuals sometimes need frivolity, just as unreliable people sometimes need heavy burdens for their health.

39. To avoid the charge of inevitability, there is a progression of moral judgments from outcomes, to actions, to motives, to nature, and finally the realization that responsibility and freedom of will are an error. According to Schopenhauer, man feels remorse or pride because he thinks he is free, not because he is. To judge is to be unjust, even when judging oneself.

40. "Without the errors inherent in the postulates of morality, man would have remained an animal."

41. "The brevity of human life misleads us to many an erroneous assertion about the qualities of man." For example, "it is not true that one's character is unchangeable."

42. The hierarchy of morality is not determined from the point of view of morality, and it varies over time. But actions are judged by the standards of the present.

43. We must think of cruel men as remnants from earlier cultural stages: they show us what we all were, and frighten us. But they are not responsible for being this way.

44. For the powerful man, gratitude is a milder form of revenge.

45. Historically, in the soul of the ruling clans, men who have the power to requite are "good," and those who are not powerful in this way are "bad." The enemy is not evil because he can requite. In the souls of the oppressed, every other man is evil; under the latter notion of good and evil, community can barely be established and cannot last.

46. When a friend is guilty of ignominious action, we feel it more painfully than he does.

47. Hypochondria arising from compassion is a kind of pity akin to disease.

48. Kindness and love are such precious remedies that one would hope they would be used economically, but this is impossible.

49. Good nature, friendliness, and courtesy have made much greater contriburtions to culture than pity, charity, and self-sacrifice. There is much more happiness apparent in the world if we do not forget the plentiful moments of ease in every day that even occur among the oppressed.

50. One ought to express pity but should guard against actually having it. Thirst for pity is thirst for self-enjoyment at the expense of fellow men. Who will be honest enough to admit the pleasure in inflicting pain?

51. "If someone wants to seem to be something, stubbornly and for a long time, he eventually finds it hard to be anything else. The profession of almost every man, even the artist, begins with hypocrisy, as he imitates from the outside, copies what is effective." Holding a friendly countenance eventually makes one actually benevolent.

52. In all great deceivers, belief in themselves overcomes them, and this is what is so convincing to others.

53. Sensitive men feel that moral actions and intellectual insights are necessarily connected, but it is not so.

54. Men normally tell the truth because it is advantageous and easier than the imagination and memory required of lies, but if one grew up in complicated domestic circumstances, lying comes more naturally.

55. The strength of the Catholic Church resides in the consistency of those priests who live a self-imposed harsh existence.

56. One gains wisdom by thinking for a while that men are basically evil, but this and its opposite are both wrong, and the entire realm of moral ideas is in a continual state of flux. The man who seeks peace makes it his only goal to understand as well as he can; this will soften his disposition.

57. What we usually consider to be "selfless" states and actions are not; instead they are loving one aspect of oneself more than others.

58. "One can promise actions, but not feelings, for the latter are involuntary." We can honestly claim everlasting love because we promise the semblance of love.

59. "One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one has given. One must have strong powers of imagination to be able to have pity. So closely is morality bound to the quality of the intellect."

60. If a morality assesses only intentions, then thoughts of revenge are treated equally whether or not one executes them. Usually the execution is deemed worse; both evaluations are short-sighted. Failing to act on vengeful desires creates a chronic suffering.

61. "Passion will not wait. The tragedy in the lives of great men often lies not in their conflict with the times and the baseness of their fellow men, but rather in their inability to postpone their work for a year or two. They cannot wait."

62. Crude men tend to assess the degree of insult as high as possible, so they can revel in the aroused feelings of hatred.

63. The great majority of men find it necessary to belittle the image they form of everyone else, in order to maintain their self-respect and effectiveness in their actions.

64. A cold glance that incites fear by making physical savageness visible is a cultural remnant; women have preserved this.

65. Speaking honestly of one's motives, or exposing things that people do not want to see about themselves, will bring about ostracism and other punishment.

66. "Our crime against criminals is that we treat them like scoundrels."

67. "Every virtue has its privileges, one being to deliver its own little bundle of wood to the funeral pyre of a condemned man."

68. Motives and intentions are seldom clear, and the success of a deed often causes incorrect attribution of motives, even in oneself. This can sometimes even displace more substantial arguments about truth.

69. Why do we overestimate love to the disadvantage of justice? Love is foolish, and dispenses her gifts to everyone - she is as nonpartisan as rain.

70. Why do executions offend us more than murders? Is it the realization that a man is being used as a means to deter others?

71. Hope is the most evil of evils, because it prolongs man's torment.

72. No one knows how far circumstances or passions can drive him.

73. A cowardly man who cares about the opinions of others is exploited by his comrades, who make him into a hero and a martyr even while lacking respect for him.

74. "One will seldom go wrong to attribute extreme actions to vanity, moderate ones to habit, and petty ones to fear."

75. A man who sought pleasure in youth imagines virtue associated with displeasure; one who was plagued by his pasions and vices longs for peace in virtue. Thus two virtuous people may not understand each other at all.

76. The ascetic makes a necessity/misery of virtue.

77. We increase the perceived value of that for which sacrifices are made.

78. One who lacks ambition must have a moral sense to succeed, but ambitious people can make do without it.

79. "How poor the human spirit would be without vanity!"

80. Why is it more praiseworthy for a man grown old, who feels his powers decrease, to await his slow exhaustion and disintegration, rather than to put a term to his life with complete consciousness?

81. There is a difference and gap between the injustice experienced by a perpetrator and felt by a victim. The mighty are accustomed to riches and influence, while every morsel of either is of great consequence to the rabble.

82. Vanity is the skin of the soul, covering and making its stirrings and passions bearable.

83. "When virtue has slept, it will arise refreshed."

84. "Men are not ashamed to think something dirty, but they are ashamed when they imagine that others might believe them capable of these dirty thoughts."

85. "Most men are much too concerned with themselves to be malicious."

86. "We praise or find fault, depending on which of the two provides more opportunity for our powers of judgment to shine."

87. "He who humbleth himself wants to be exalted." (c.f. Luke 18:14)

88. It can be just to kill a man, but never to stop a man from killing himself.

89. A vain man seeks joy through the good opinion of others, even if obtained falsely. He trusts the judgment of others more than his own, so he misleads others into overvaluing him and then accepts that assessment.

90. A man who claims another is a fool, and is proved wrong, becomes annoyed.

91. "How much pleasure we get from morality!" It would be a great loss if irresponsibility held sway.

92. Justice is requital and exchange on the assumption of approximately equal positions of strength; revenge and gratitude fall under this. But men have forgotten the original purpose of just, fair actions and it has gradually come to appear that a just action is a selfless one.

93. A weaker party, such as a slave under a master, has rights to the extent it can destroy itself and thus create a loss to the stronger. Each has as much right as its power is worth.

94. The first phase of morality is acting toward enduring rather than momentary comfort. The second is acting according to a priniciple of honor and seeking respect. The third and final is acting according to one's own standards of what is honorable or profitable.

95. "We wish to work for our fellow men, but only insofar as we find our own highest advantage in this work."

96. The basic opposition in morality is not between egoism and altruism, but rather between adherence to tradition and release from it.

97. "Custom is the union of the pleasant and the useful... as soon as man can exercise force, he exercises it to introduce and enforce his mores, for to him they represent proven wisdom." But we make the error in thinking that this is the only way to achieve such comfort. Yet even harsh customs become more pleasant and mild over time.

98. Shared joy and pleasure taken together makes man better: one feels good oneself and can see the other man feel good in the same way. Shared pleasure and sorrow both awaken the fantasy of empathy, the feeling of being alike.

99. All "evil" actions are motivated by preservation, to gain pleasure and avoid unpleasure, outraging us because we erroneously think the man who harms us has free will. In a society, morality starts as a force, then becomes custom, then free obedience and almost instinct, and once habitual becomes pleasurable and thus is designated a virtue.

100. Shame exists wherever there is a mysterium. Sexual relationships are a mystery of the mature. Kingship is a mystery to the humble. The whole world of inner states is a mysterium to non-philosophers.

101. We should not necessarily judge earlier periods harshly; the instinct for justice was not so highly developed then. That others suffer must be learned, and is never learned completely.

102. The distinction between a thunderstorm and an injurious man is in error, because there is no free will in either case. All morality allows infliction of harm if it is in self-defense, but since all men seek pleasure and avoid unpleasure, then all acts, even those that harm others, are self-preservation.

103. The immorality in malice is not in gaining pleasure at the expense of others, but in the possibility of our unpleasure from requital. Pity does not aim at the pleasure of others any more than malice aims at the pain of others. Pity is rightly placed low in the hierarchy of moral feelings.

104. If self-defense is moral, then most acts of egoism are moral. We do not really know how painful our action is to others - all we know is whether or not it produces pleasure in us, and that is the criterion on which we evaluate it.

105. "Neither punishment nor reward are due to anyone as his; they are given to him because it is useful" in discouraging or encouraging others from acting in the same way.

106. All human actions are necessary, though the acting man is caught in his illusion of volition. This assumption that free will exists is also part of the calculable mechanism.

107. "In hindsight, all our behavior and judgments will appear as inadequate and rash as the behavior and judgments of backward savage tribes now seem to us inadequate and rash." Those who feel sorrow from this will attempt to transform mankind from moral into wise.

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