Misreading Nietzsche First Draft

Misreading Nietzsche
John S Moore

More than most philosophers, Nietzsche has been subjected to a variety of very different interpretations. There are deeply antagonistic views on what is essential in his work. Many people are inspired by him, and he is invoked in support of diametrically opposed political or philosophical beliefs. We may be thoroughly immersed in and familiar with his writings, yet fundamental questions still arise as to how well we understand him. Wherever we think we have grasped something important, there is as often than not an opposing interpretation. So we take sides. Reading Nietzsche, it is a common enough experience to come across passages which seem to support one's adversaries, dismayingly sweeping the ground from one's feet. A little reflection is usually enough to overcome the disturbance. When interpreting one takes serious notice only of what seems to oneself to be sensible and productive. The voices to which one responds vary according to such considerations as whether one rejects the possibility of metaphysics or embraces it, or whether one believes in the necessity for political revolution, or deplores the very suggestion. If you read him with sympathy, Nietzsche's discoveries are likely to seem compatible with whatever philosophical ideas seem right to you. The way in which he is read suggests the way Christians read the scriptures. There are many mutually antagonistic readings. Out of any ten sentences, some are neutral, some may be attractive, some repellent. Reading him involves filtering. We pick out what is important. Others read the same passages in a completely different way. They select a part which to us seems banal or insignificant, and accuse us of neglecting what is most vital in him.
For such reasons it is not enough simply to quote or to cite him. He is not like Hegel or Kant, where meaning is often more obscure than ambiguous. He straddles some of the most fundamental disagreements between people. One needs to argue each position attributed to him on its own ground. Beyond a certain point, more detailed knowledge of what he wrote is not necessarily the path to greater understanding, though the filling out of the historical context is virtually limitless in its possibilities. It can be fascinating to explore the now forgotten writers he read, the nineteenth century philosophy in which he was immersed, together with the contemporary science, politics, and his own life history.
Many these days take his "perspectivism" as central to his achievement, taking his attack on Plato's idea of the "unity of truth" as what is most important, marking a significant step forward in philosophy. Others for those for whom this attack is philosophically unimpressive, find other more congenial suggestions in his writings. Accepting Nietzsche, one will judge him compatible with whatever philosophy one finds acceptable. Further than that, he can even seem to contain in embryo the developed systems of later thinkers. Existentialists, and later postmodernists, have seen him as one of their own, even their first exponent. Alternatively one may be tempted to see him as anticipating later Wittgenstein if one is oneself a Wittgensteinian. There are lots of hints and suggestions in his writings. What he said, if we are attracted to it, we put into the context of whatever philosophical ideas we believe in. But there must be a limit to this. There is something that he really meant, and difficulties that arise with understanding what he was saying, that do not simply reduce to how we fit him into some other philosophy. What reform is he inviting us to accept? What does 'will to power' mean? It surely makes sense to look in him for that which is most original. If we discover in him powerful and coherent ideas that are found in no previous thinker, then perhaps we these may be identified as his true message. This must involve disregarding some of what Nietzsche himself counted important.
Right up till his last recorded writings, he was still concerned with arguments many might consider trivial or irrelevant. We may not think much of the physico-mathematical argument for eternal recurrence which there is a lot of evidence to suggest he took perfectly seriously . Other philosophical opinions some may see as unimpressive are the theory that representation involves falsification, or the idea that the human being is a battleground of instincts each with its own separate will to power. Some ideas we may not wish to respect, were perhaps very important to Nietzsche himself. So we will almost inevitably discard quite a bit of what he himself considered important. This does not mean that it is up to each of us to reject whatever we dislike. Whether or not will to power can be dismissed as an irrelevant concept is a most contentious issue. While some people treat even this as simply an extravagant hypothesis, for others it is a key concept and a most valuable contribution to human thought. I take the latter view. At the end of his career he identified will to power and transvaluation of values as the most important themes, the cornerstones of his achievement. These were the titles he chose for what was intended to be his masterpiece. Something may be made of this, which makes it a significant and not a trivial claim. I try to make sense of it, bearing in mind that the very attempt is controversial.
Even if we pass the first hurdle by settling on what is important, there are many more obstacles to be faced. Even among those who concede that transvaluation and will to power, are significant and valuable ideas, there is deep controversy as to what he meant, or could have meant by them. The idea that in seeing everything as will to power we are to take sides with one or other manifestation of power seems plausible, though some deny it. Nietzsche had strong opinions about many things, and people look in various different directions to find where to take sides, which creates endless argument. Related difficulties arise with the ideas about morality that we find in the Genealogy of Morals. What is Nietzsche advocating? Is he suggesting that we adopt master morality? Or instead that we reconcile ourselves to being something in between masters and slaves? And what should we take master morality as meaning?
It can seem a pressing issue to keep some kind of grip upon everyday moral judgements. We feel a need to repel the nazi interpretations that surround his reputation, together with a fascistic account of 'nobility' or 'master morality'. It is not entirely a question of whether or not Nietzsche himself was some kind of proto fascist, more one of whether his ideas can be of any use to most of us today. Those to whom it is quite evident that they can, may yet feel forced onto the defensive when challenged.
There are those who see Nietzsche as holding that we are each some inextricable mixture of master and slave, that it is wrong to think he wants us to take the side of the master against the slave, that being all part slaves ourselves, our values will be partly slavish, and that is to be accepted . If we want to avoid the idea of identification with master morality on the grounds that that would be fascistic, this interpretation offers a way of doing so. But there are other readings of what is meant by master morality. Many would argue that he urges us to become masters, being masters relating to control we have over our own lives. Adopting master morality, does not involve acting like ancient Greek slave owners, because that is not what we are.
It seems to some that the mixture view, together with the fascist view to which it is a response, stems from a serious failure to grasp the whole meaning of the distinction Nietzsche is trying to make. It is not the case that my values have to be part slave values simply because I am part slave by descent, or that my power is subject to various limitations. My present will might have had all kinds of influences to bear on its formation, from the most reputable to the most base. Life is subject to a constant metamorphosis, such as springs from the constant battle between values. What comes into being has its own standards of strength and weakness, that are not tied to its origins. None of this means that morality of the weak is not to be deplored, it just relates such judgements to the existing individual. It is pointless to look for wrong turnings in history. Our feelings and desires are what they are, whatever their origins, and it is on that understanding that Nietzsche addresses his analysis.

Two papers at the ninth Nietzsche conference, 'Nietzsche and Post Analytic Philosophy', suggested different answers, to these difficulties. Schacht, drawing on Hegel, as well as on Wittgenstein, argued that we view morality in terms of 'forms of life' . We should see morality as enabling rather than prohibitive. As Nietzscheans we need have no problem with making moral judgements. We do not have to see morality as restraint on our power, rather it is part of our power, expression of the form of life that we are. As I understand this, we are no more nazis than we are burglars or serial killers. Fear of the police and concern for our own reputations are factors that come into play, and quite legitimate ones. So far so good, but what then is he against? Rather than attacking all morality, on this account Nietzsche is only attacking what is sick, the pathological forms of morality associated with slave values. This gives his thought the quality of something like a medical diagnosis. The guiding value behind it would therefore be some kind of benevolence. He would be like a physician. But then why, on his own principles, should he express such a benevolent value? And how would we justify our diagnosis of anyone else’s values as sick?
Staten prefers an impartial view of will to power, citing a passage from Ecce Homo describing an objectivity towards which Nietzsche claims to aspire. On this view Nietzsche is not taking any sides at all. He presents an impartial perspective that does not even make a truth claim. At least this avoids the suggestion that Nietzsche is largely the benevolent physician. However it seems to fly in the face of many of Nietzsche's more committed remarks as well as what is usually taken to be the whole orientation of his thought.
Both these interpretations involve difficulties of their own, and are attempts to deal with difficulties to which there is a simple and straightforward solution. If it is supposed that Nietzsche is advocating some ideal, the question naturally arises as to where he gets it from, what is its justification, and how it can be made coherent. People go to quite some lengths to make sense of it. Where does it come from? From a love of health, or fairness, or what? There is no need to get tangled up in such questions.
One way to clarify what Nietzsche means, is to look at the motives that inspired his philosophy. While it may be difficult to get from purely descriptive language to value judgement, in Hume's famous dichotomy, there is no such problem in deriving a value from a given desire, whatever its origin, a feeling in the real world, Nietzsche's here and now. Nietzsche had many such desires and feelings. We do not have to choose which manifestation of will to power to commit ourselves to if the very origin of the idea lies in the attempt to justify an original attitude. We are led to his resentment. Lest anyone think that the idea of resentment is alien to his understanding of himself, take this passage from Twilight of the Idols:-
"All innovators of the spirit bear for a time the pallid, fatalistic sign of the Chandala on their brow: not because they are felt to be so but because they themselves feel the terrible chasm which divides them from all that is traditional and held in honour. Almost every genius knows as one phase of his development the 'Catilinarian existence' , a feeling of hatred, revengefulness and revolt against everything which already is, which is no longer becoming…" Expeditions of an Untimely Man, §45.
The emotional autobiography that is the key to much of his philosophy is to be found in Zarathustra. Here we can see the almost surreal intensity of feeling it took to produce an idea such as the Ubermensch. The Ubermensch is an expression of extreme desire that suggests megalomania. Such unlimited ambition is the Muse that inspired his thought, the emotional force that went into the creation of his philosophy. In this book he expressed his frustration at not being heard. To say this did not amount to resentment is surely stretching a point, whatever he said in Ecce Homo.
We need to grasp the confusion he is concerned to overcome, the demoralising and depressing ideas (egalitarian, relativistic etc) that he feels he is wearing down. Against these, he aims to uphold and restore his own will. He searches for arguments that can succeed in doing so. This restoration of depressed morale is one of the principal effects of his philosophy and explains why it appeals to people of views so divergent that they appear to have little to nothing in common. However, when we try to conceptualise this revitalising effect, we are easily thrown into perplexity. Does he want us to accept master morality as a way of restoring morale? If so what does this mean, how are we to understand it? Are we to become like ancient nobles? Alternatively are we to accept ordinary morality but only reject the 'pathological' versions? Or are we not to take sides at all? For those who take Nietzsche to be against all resentment, what about his own resentment, the hostility he expresses towards Wagner, Christianity, socialism etc? To some people he seems to be turning on himself. People take his attacks on resentment and construct moral theories according to which whatever springs from resentment is to be condemned. And being consistent they are prepared to convict him of inconsistency on these grounds. Such seems to follow from Deleuze's famous reading.
The proposition that Nietzsche expects us to accept master morality is a good focal point on which converge the different ways in which he is understood or misread. What might he mean by this, given that it makes sense for us to accept it without abolishing all decent feelings, which he gives us to understand is not his intention? (TI)
From Nietzsche's experience of emotional crisis came his most original philosophical insight. To access this, we need to be able to identify with his rage and resentment at being unheard. From his own reaction comes the conscious perspective of will to power. His claim is that this embodies truth to a greater extent than alternative perspectives. To a great extent this comes down to the concrete possibility of selfish, dissident, points of view, a fact which has identifiable empirical manifestations he is concerned to uncover.
We should look at his perspectivism, not as a metaphysical theory of truth, but as relating to his understanding of will to power. As a result of their different perspectives, their conflicting desires, ambitions, and the different ideas in their heads, different people assert very different things. Nietzsche's own perspective he calls will to power. This perspective insists upon recognising the suppression of alternative possibilities that is involved in any change or assertion, and sees different viewpoints as striving with each other for mastery. Crucially, there are some perspectives with which this demonstrably conflicts. Insofar as Nietzsche can convict these of untruth, or falsification, his own perspective is vindicated. Insofar as it uncovers material facts which an opposing perspectives denies or conceals, his is a true perspective. To do this it is not necessary to have a metaphysical theory of truth, that might rather be an encumbrance. His concern is with truth in an ordinary, everyday sense, that can win general assent.
It might be objected that this account depends on an interpretation of will to power that does not command general acceptance. This interpretation is not something that has been devised to meet these specific difficulties. It appears to me to be the most natural and straightforward interpretation of will to power, which otherwise seems a random hypothesis which hardly bears the weight he puts upon it as his most important discovery. As metaphysical metaphor without truth claim the concept would be insufficient to defeat the democratic and relativist arguments that have such demoralising power.
In places Nietzsche does float an idea of will to power as mere interpretation. In BGE 22, for example, he writes:- "There may arise an interpreter who might so focus your eyes on the unexceptionality and unconditionality of all 'will to power' that almost every word that you now know, including the word 'tyranny' would finally become useless and sound like a weakening and palliative metaphor-as something too human. And yet he might end up by asserting about this world exactly what you assert, namely that it runs a 'necessary' and 'calculable' course-but not because it is ruled by laws, but because laws are absolutely lacking, because at each moment each power is ultimately self consistent. Let us admit that this too would be only an interpretation - and you will be eager enough to make this objection. Well so much the better!""
Some commentators make much of such metaphysical speculations but they are only one aspect of what he says about will to power. Whether or not we ourselves treat will to power primarily as a speculative hypothesis is not essential for Nietzsche to carry his point. Obviously there are aspects of pure hypothesis in the very many things he wrote upon the subject. On the view presented here Nietzsche’s theory is a perspective that claims truth. The truth comes from convicting an opposed perspective of error. The possibility of constructing a hypothesis itself contains a significant truth claim, in the very assertion of its meaningfulness. Before we are in a position to agree with Nietzsche's philosophy, we are first asked to understand it, but this is a far from straightforward issue. It can seem that he has wilfully misunderstood, that there is even a conspiracy deliberately to misconstrue what he is saying, to deny the very meaningfulness of the points he is trying to make and to turn them into something else. It is as if some of his opponents feel that to concede meaningfulness is to concede his whole case. With those who take such a view there is a difficulty in communication, sometimes amounting to a dialogue of the deaf.
On the proposed interpretation, will to power is a perspective that definitely claims to be true. The problem is how best to describe the insight contained in this claim. Nietzsche's resentment, his individualist prejudice are what gives him his motive. We may place the root of his philosophy in this, which we can see it as a form of Satanic rebellion. Here is the origin of the will to power doctrine, which insists upon the recognition of how much is at any time suppressed. It is important that his viewpoint is itself felt to be suppressed by prevailing views, and that in pointing this out he undermines the claims of that which suppresses him. To practice Nietzschean philosophy is to strive to expose the falsification that has been perpetrated. To tyrannise, he says, is, in a modern context, unhealthy. Healthy power subsists in the light of truth. But this standard of judgement can prevail only after the tyrannical 'truth', falsely so called, has been vanquished. Victory eventually comes as the reward of struggle. Nietzsche's view of health and strength is something that is asserted from a particular perspective.
What he is primarily against is what threatens to demoralise him, what attacks his own particular will in an identifiably mendacious way. As to the question in what consists his will, his project, we may say it is to procure an existence in the world for his own ideas, ultimately his theory, which he identifies with his own will to power. He is attached to this as a scientist to his own discovery. His guiding motive can be taken as envy or resentment of what stands in his way. His frustration at the obstruction of his own will is a natural source of resentful feeling. With this comes all kinds of angry ambition. Before the perspective is established he has not established the ground to speak convincingly of truth or health.
Beginning from the perspective of my own will, I regard morality of the weak as pathological, not because it is sick, nor even because it is unfair, but because it is directed against myself and can be shown that it relies upon lies and falsification. One resents what frustrates the will, meaning one's own will. What frustrates Nietzsche's will he identifies as morality of the weak. This is objectionable to him but not because of a philanthropic motive which he does not necessarily possess.
Morality of the weak as he describes it may be something that is objectionable to strength everywhere. But his formulation of it is not welcome everywhere, even to what he would call strength. He does not speak words of encouragement to strength everywhere, but only to what is compatible with the particular formulation with which he identifies his cause. What he wants to promote is that theory, his own description of strength and weakness. His object is not so much to help or benefit other people. He may do that incidentally, but that is not where his real originality lies. The point lies in his particular understanding which relates to his own desires. The revaluation of values involved in accepting the will to power idea involves an interpretation of experience which demands acceptance whether one likes it or not. Nietzsche is not just fighting for strength against weakness, but for an interpretation of strength and a specific view of enlightenment. He is against what threatens him, and for his theory which overcomes it. This triumph brings him great joy and satisfaction.
In describing the falsification and demoralisation to which his own will has been subject, he claims to have uncovered a pattern and a model that can be seen as pervading all human life, even all nature. The significance of what he has overcome extends far beyond his personal situation. It claims clear relevance to the demoralisation other people experience in their own lives, a way in which they may describe it and overcome it. From it comes a new ideal of health based on fair combat. This follows from explicit acknowledgement of truth contained in the idea of ‘will to power’. His own experience with his own will is a paradigm of all human nature. He aims to make the rules of the game fair. By fair rules he believes he can defeat his opponents. This is a new standard, a new value. It originates in his own perspective, and his own ambition.
What he is essentially against he calls 'morality of the weak'. also 'decadence', though this is a term with all sorts of meanings, even in his own mouth. He insists upon the intensity of his dislike for what he calls a revolting fact. He is for the exceptional individual, the free spirit, over the gregarious, and places great emphasis on this.
"Anti Darwin.- What surprises me most on making a general survey of the great destinies of man, is that I invariably see the reverse of what today Darwin and his school sees or will persist in seeing: selection in favour of the stronger, the better constituted, and the progress of the species. Precisely the reverse of this stares one in the face: the suppression of the lucky cases, the uselessness of the more highly constituted types, the inevitable mastery of the mediocre, and even of those who are below mediocrity. Unless we are shown some reason why man is an exception among living creatures, I incline to the view that Darwin's school is everywhere at fault. That will to power, in which I perceive the ultimate reason and character of all change, explains why it is that selection is never in favour of the exceptions, and of the lucky cases: the strongest and happiest natures are weak when they are confronted with a majority ruled by gregarious instincts and the fear which possesses the weak. My general view of the world of values shows that in the highest values which now sway the destiny of man, the happy cases among men, the select specimens, do not prevail: but rather the decadent specimens, - perhaps there is nothing more interesting in the whole world than this unpleasant spectacle.
"Strange as it may seem, the strong have always to be upheld against the weak; and the well constituted against the ill constituted, the healthy against the sick and physiologically botched. If we drew our morals from reality, they would read thus: the mediocre are more valuable than the exceptional creatures, and the decadent than the mediocre, the will to nonentity prevails over the will to life, - and the general aim now is, in Christian, Buddhistic, Schopenhauerian phraseology. 'It is better not to be than to be'.
I protest against this formulating of reality into a moral: and I loathe Christianity with a deadly loathing because it created sublime words and attitudes in order to deck a revolting truth with all the tawdriness of justice, virtue, and godliness….
“I see all philosophers and the whole of science on their knees before a reality which is the reverse of the struggle for life as Darwin and his school understood it,- that is to say, wherever I look, I see those prevailing and surviving, who throw doubt and suspicion upon life and the value of life.- The error of the Darwinian school became a problem to me: how can one be so blind as to make this mistake?" (Will to Power § 685)
The Nietzschean dissident wants to take over the existing order and reinterpret it. Whatever was of beauty and meaning in what he has rebelled against, he inherits, and nothing of value need be lost. Satan conquers Heaven, or in gnostic terms the Saviour overcomes the demiurge. Such philosophy can be properly grounded in resentment, which opens up as much opportunity as we could reasonably desire. In itself resentment is a neutral term that need have no pejorative implication. Like the Buddha Nietzsche begins with a perception of 'this suffering'. We might call it his warlike impulse as he does himself, a sort of natural aggression.
Yet this interpretation as I have put it forward inspires contempt among some who feel it misses the depth that they perceive in Nietzsche. They call for a philosopher who creates out of abundance and strength, bringing a new faith , even a new religion. It is the reaction of the Catholic theologian to the pipsqueak who dares to despise his God. He in turn despises the basic Satanic resentment from which such rebellion springs. He sees it as a low destructive motive and calls for something richer and deeper.
Nietzsche's thought is bound to create furious animosity when he attempts to show that other people's most cherished beliefs are identifiable in the terms in which he describes them. It is only his perspective. His opponents will not see their own beliefs in that way. They are fully ready to impugn his own motives, as did Nordau in his notorious chapter on Nietzsche in Degeneration.
One point at issue is whether or not we go along with Nietzsche’s suggestion in Ecce Homo that his judgements and attitudes spring from a prior understanding of a concept of health, something that has been given to him in the way he describes in that book. One might raise the objection that Nietzsche explicitly denies the existence of resentment in himself. In Ecce Homo he claims to be free from all such low motives:-
"War is another matter. I am warlike by nature. Attacking is one of my instincts….the
aggressive pathos belongs just as necessarily to strength as vengefulness and rancour
belong to weakness. Woman, for example is vengeful: that is due to her weakness, as
much as in her susceptibility to the distress of others" (EH Why I am so Wise §7)
Here Nietzsche's denies resentment in himself and dignifies his hostile feelings by the name of 'aggressive pathos'. Rather than taking this seriously, we may prefer to treat it as a Nietzschean joke. We find similar moves in other inflated egos like Aleister Crowley. Much of Ecce Homo gives the impression of a gratifying self image that suggests megalomania. Nietzsche presents himself as the most noble and generous of beings. That is how we may all tend to see ourselves in our most elated moments. What you call my resentment, I call my aggressive pathos. Whether there is actually any failure of self knowledge here is an interesting question. The master defines what is noble, and it is whatever is like himself.
Depth belongs to youth, he says, clarity to maturity. Going by that, perhaps we should see his deepest work as the Birth of Tragedy. Here, the answers appeared to be given, detailed guidance as to what to think and feel, the revelation of the most profound spiritual truths. The later Nietzsche does not provide such answers. The possibility of happiness is presupposed, not something to be discovered only by philosophical effort. For philosophy to offer faith, is even a form of dishonesty.
From the viewpoint of youth age means decline. From the viewpoint of age youth is indefinite in its desires, and age’s capacity for enjoyment seems as intense, if not greater. The youth burns with a formless frustration. He desires passionately, but most desires are unattainable, and he responds to their thwarting with destructive anger. There is no solution but that of age, which is perceived as decline, because presented as an answer to youth it is completely inadequate, it seems like death. Youth can only see it as the response of decline in desire. To age it does not appear like this. Age has much more of life in memory. There is a sort of solution which has come, which is the result not just of decline in desire, but of growth, of the existence of more life. Youth sneers at the idea of ripeness or maturity. We all have an idea of the decline that takes place with age, and also an idea that the passion of youth brings a potentially greater happiness than anything available later, even if it is so rarely fulfilled. We speculate that perhaps the rock star achieves it, with his fame and wealth. But then this leads on to thoughts of what even he might be missing. Perhaps the warrior experiences even more joys than that. Perhaps the Ubermensch needs to be literally a predatory warrior.
Of course Nietzsche has much to say against resentment, and the attitudes that flow from it. From his conservative perspective, egalitarian resentment is a most unpleasant phenomenon. To him that is the feeling behind the Jacobin urge to equality, the abstract demand for a levelling so called justice, the idea of reform, revolution, modernisation, couched in a sort of pious rhetoric. From his own ‘healthy’ perspective the Jacobin ideal is suffused with hatred and resentment, while his own is not. Yet other people level exactly the same charges at him. From his perspective egalitarians are resentful, from theirs he is the one with the vicious motive. It is up to Nietzsche to establish the truth of his own perspective.
When the egalitarian lays claim to an ideal of abstract justice, to the Nietzschean that is a dishonest way of disguising destructive desire. But how are we to say what is the reality of feeling? Within this universe of discourse the ‘no facts, only interpretations’ maxim might seem more plausible than elsewhere. So how does he establish his perspective against other perspectives and where does he begin? If it is a truth, how does he establish it as such? Nietzsche resents an authority that seems to him arbitrary and unsound. He does not try to justify his opposition by invoking some abstract ideal of fairness, ghost of a dead God. What he resents he desires to overthrow. He does so by exposing the dishonesty on which it rests, its disregard for plain realities. He sees the dispute as symbolised by Rome versus Judea, with himself the representative of pagan Rome. Accept his view of reality, and to evade it becomes dishonest, self deceiving and the standard of an unhealthy attitude.
When we read what Nietzsche says about health, it is easy to get confused unless we distinguish different concepts he applies in different contexts. One is the ordinary idea of health based around the idea of a norm. Sometimes Nietzsche makes use of such a concept, but that is not to say that he concurs with the implied value judgement. It is a useful reference point. For him the ‘sick’ in this sense may have higher value than the ‘healthy’.
The concept of the Ubermensch, with his supreme intensity of desire suggests another possible ideal of health. Kaufmann's argues of Nietzsche’s praise of Cesare Borgia that he represents health to Nietzsche. Such a principle undoubtedly does have a place in Nietzsche’s thought. But should we adopt such a value, we whose power and health may not make it convenient, as an ideal for ourselves? What sense is there in doing that against all our own interests?
Alternatively, and more sensibly, we find we pursue whatever is our will, in the context of the situation in which we find ourselves. Instead of yielding to masochistic adulation of the Ubermensch, like star struck groupies, we adopt master morality as a way of pursuing our own objectives. In the light of this we conceive a value of health, which involves submission to a standard of fair competition springing from a common acceptance of truth.
It is our own individual wills that we seek to satisfy. Against us is directed the weapon of the weak, slave morality. This appeals to certain groups who feel themselves excluded and weak often fearful and easily offended. The values of weakness are given an immense boost by the dominant religion, which has all kinds of historical prejudice in its favour. We object to this in the sense that we do not want to allow it to rule over us. We are against the alleged interests of the weak to the extent that we insist their values should not prevail over ours. We do not deceive ourselves with the pretence that our own values are necessarily in their interests. Our demand is to prevail over theirs, without necessarily feeling any animosity towards them, or wanting to deprive them of anything they currently have, even the doctrines that console them. Nietzsche offers us a language within which we may describe and achieve these objectives. As many of the concepts of ordinary language becomes problematic when subjected to philosophical scrutiny, even more so do Nietzsche’s. For various reasons, some innocent, some less so, the terms of his solution have been confused and obfuscated, so he is construed as asserting some very different things.

JSM 2000

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