Category: Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry, Logic & Scientific Philosophy, Social & Political Philosophy
Tags: kristina, nietzsche, philosophy
The best part of Nietzsche (in my view) is something he calls ‘the transvaluation of values’. You see this in quite a number of his work.
Basically, the idea is, you take a value that seems really core to society, and you reverse it. Then you ask yourself what an argument for this value would look like.
This is one of the major uses of the concept of the ‘Superman’ (also developed by Nietzsche). Superman lives in fear of no one, so he can live by whatever values he chooses. So what values does he choose?
For example, one core value of society is ‘you should not kill’. But if you’re superman, why wouldn’t you kill? Humans kill all the time – we swat mosquitoes, we eat lettuce, we slaughter cows. In some cases, state-sanctioned killing of humans is required, as in war or (in less developed countries) executions. Certainly Superman could determine which humans to kill, and arguably society would be better off with the dangerous elements of it removed.
The ‘transvaluation of values’ gives you a global view of ethics and morality. It is similar to a Taoist understanding of ‘the way’ – the understanding that all categorizations, all valuations, are human artifacts, that we impose on reality, as ways of seeing and flowing through reality, but which are not inherent to reality in and of itself.
Understanding this (as Lao Tzu observes) gives us great power (actually *makes* us Superman) because when we are able to understand which limitations on our lives are arbitrary, we are able more easily to make use and follow those that are inherent to the underlying reality of the world.
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