2. Transvaluation of Values [QP]

Edvard_Munch_-_Golgotha_(1900)

Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th century German philosopher and arguably the most controversial one that ever lived. Among bold concepts such as the eternal recurrence (the belief that time is circular) and the Death of God, Nietzsche persisted in tracking down the origin of the values that we readily incorporate into our lives.

Nietzsche tells us to imagine two sets of creatures; birds of prey and lambs. Birds of prey are necessarily noble, strong and proud creatures and lambs in contrast are weak, timid and cowardly. Lambs possess what we call a “slave morality” and birds of prey a “master morality”. Thus, it is natural for the lambs to get pissed at being carried off by the birds of prey, they succumb to ressentiment of these superior beings. So in order to make themselves feel better, they manufacture “morals” based off of the weaker parts of their character.The failure to retaliate became “goodness”, fear into “humility”, submission to those who one hates “obedience” and cowardice into “patience”. Such is the transvaluation of values.

These morals then spread through society and culture like an infection when weaker natures reevaluate their character and let their envy of superior beings create a code of ethics. Nietzsche proposed an ingenious method of discerning the genealogy of morals, which combatted the common Darwinistic theories that English psychologists defended. Controversial and illuminating, the transvaluation of values still stands today as one of Nietzsche’s most coherent contributions to the world of ethics.

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