I recently read excerpts from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil in The Moral Life edited by Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn. This was my first encounter with the great, but dark, thinker known as Nietzsche. He claims that there are two types of morality: master-morality and slave-morality. The former deals with the noble humans that “regards himself as a determiner of values; he does not require to be approved of; he passes judgement…he is a creator of values. He honours whatever he recognises to himself: such morality is self-glorification” (Pojman and Vaughn 127). The latter deals with the more cowardly slaves rule morality. Nietzsche says that slave-morality is the morality of utility. It comes about due to resentment towards the noble humans. This gives the slaves moral values (sympathy, kindness, patience, diligence, humility, friendliness, etc…).
This, of course, perplexes a Christian like me. Nietzsche says something about Christianity, the main example of slave morality”
Christianity is the religion of pity. Pity oppresses the noble passions which heighten our vitality.. It has a depressing effect, depriving us of strength. As we multiply the instances of pity we gradually lose our strength of nobility. Pity makes suffering contagious and under certain conditions it may cause a total loss of life and vitality out of all proportion to the magnitude of the cause. . . Pity is the practice of nihilism. (Pojman and Vaughn 134)
This is quite a striking evaluation of Christianity. However, it makes me question his thinking. Nietzsche comes from the point of view that the main goal in life is to have and gain power. This seems strange to me. Of course, it makes sense, given the tendency of humans striving for power. In contrast, when someone really sits down and thinks about life, I find it hard to believe they would come to the conclusion that Life is The Will to Power (as Nietzsche believes). This leads me question Nietzsche’s obsession with power. Is it really a desire to have power? Maybe. Or is it that he is frightened, even anxious, about not being in control? It is evident that so many things in life aren’t in our control. Is he just compensating for that feeling of being incompetent rather than accepting that he cannot have ultimate control.
This leads me to two conclusion. First, I conclude that Nietzsche is wrong in his evaluation of morality. Are “faith in oneself, pride in oneself, a radical enmity and irony towards ‘selflessness,’ careless scorn, [and] precaution in presence of sympathy and the ‘warm heart'” really good moral values (Pojman and Vaughn127)? This just seems ultimately wrong and twisted to me. Secondly, I find Nietzsche not to be a “noble” as he so believes. Rather, I believe this thinker to be an anxious human, worried about not being in control; he is unwilling to accept the fact that a being other than himself is far more powerful than himself.