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Nietzsche's Slave Morality - Why Morality Is Killing Us

Friedrich Nietzsche clearly disdained Christianity because he believed that they tricked the Strong, or Noble, class into submission. Superior strength, domination, greed, and insatiable hunger and thirst characterize Nietzsche's Noble Class. The Priestly class, or the Christians, are defined in the opposite way: weak, humble, meager, so on and so forth. The Christian's morality, a slave morality, he believed was killing everyone. Nietzsche contended that the Priestly class tricked the Nobles by telling them, for example, that "to be the least is greatest," "to turn the other cheek is good," or "to love your enemies." The Priests created this lie to bring the Nobles to an equal playing field, and in doing so, completely tricked them into submission. As such, the Priest displayed their own "will to power." Nietzsche correctly stated that slave morality is killing everyone in light of his Proto-Existentialist thought. Furthermore, I will later show that although some act like violent and aggressive creatures while others do not does not sufficiently refute Nietzsche's arguments.

Nietzsche insists that we enter a world depraved by slave morality. The Christians teach that we should avoid wrong desires or sins of the flesh. Their list of do's and do not's, exemplified in "don't drink," "don't smoke," "don't watch R-rated movies," etc. create quite of conservative "law," many of which the Scriptures vaguely condemn.

We begin to develop this morality and realize the impossibility of upholding these moral codes. The Christians despairs over his failure as a human being and constantly beckons God's grace. Nietzsche says that the battle lies in this tension. In a battle between right and wrong, a person easily loses confidence. The Priestly class wins the battle here because the Nobles allow guilt to overcome strength. Hermann Hesse's Demian illustrates this well. The protagonist, Sinclair, struggles throughout his childhood with the Christian sense of morality. Sinclair's friend, Demian, describes him as bearing "the mark of cain." The Biblical story of Cain and Abel explains that Cain murdered his brother Abel for offering a better sacrifice to God. Thus, God cast Cain out of the land and to bear a mark that all the nations would recognize as evil. One wishes to harness these ulterior motives once he recognizes the "evil" side to his personality, not smother it.

Existentialism really provides helpful insight to Nietzsche's argument. Existence and radical free will (or indeterminism) primarily characterize the philosophical movement. As for existence, Jean Paul Sartre explains that existentialism merely states that existence precedes essence. This suggests that man has no essence within which to fit but rather creates his own essence and being. This doesn't negate a scientific view of heredity but rather shows that man defines himself sociologically. On the other hand, Nancy Holstrom describes will on a continuum of desire. One often has battle volitions of varying orders. For example, one may want to smoke. The first order volition is "I want to smoke." However, a second order volition may exist too that questions or strengthens the first, such as "Smoking is bad for your health." If a concern for health causes one not to smoke, it then becomes the first order volition and "I want to smoke," becomes the second. If this occurs, one has broken the median between determinism and indeterminism. The Nobles lose at this point. They cannot overcome the first order, Christian desires with their more natural "evil" volitions. Hence, the Noble loses his freedom and cannot define his own existence or cannot live.

The question then becomes, "All this rests on our nature being aggressive and violent, groping for power. Some are, in fact, this way, but many others are not. How can this be?" Hesse might explain that some descend from Cain and others from Abel. Nietzsche clearly would admit that those who lack a violent and aggressive nature still possess a will to power. However, since all are groping for power, it is just a matter of the means to that end. The Noble uses strength, and the Priest uses deception. One desires that existential freedom above to make himself his own god. We are thirsty to be gods in our own minds, the center of the universe. All will to power, some are just more violent and aggressive than others depending on their mark, whether they are Cain or Abel. The Priest, Nietzsche maintains, only tricks the Nobleman into thinking he should be weak. This way, the Priest brings his opponent on his level so that he may effectively will to power against the Nobleman. Otherwise, if the Nobleman recognized his strength, he would crush the Priest.

Therefore, the slave system of morality kills everyone, as I stated before, because in losing our freedom, we lose our existence. The slave morality provides a code to which one must adhere. When one fails to adhere to it, he feels "sinful." At this point, one must embrace his freedom and realize that he is his own king, his own god. Then he will fully realize his existence and his lack thereof beforehand. Some are stronger than others, and since all desire to be gods in their own eyes then all take necessary measures to become that god, fulfilling their will to power.

For the best philosophy resources, please visit Best Philosophy Books. You can also visit our blog post: Nietzschean Philosophy in Hermann Hesse's Demian

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Tags: Nietzsche Christian Morality, Existentialism Christian Morality, Nietzsche Slave Morality, Nietzsche, Christianity

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