Nietzsche: Morality Essay, Research Paper
?Nietzsche: morality; ?How ought I to be??
Nietzsche abhorred all morality; he felt it is fodder for the mindless masses (the herd). It deadens and destroys the individual, condemns creativity, and gives man no credit to make choices. It assumes man can not know what to do, so it lays down pre-made decisions for him to mindlessly follow. It ignores the nature of human instinct and stifles the growth of mankind.
Moralists and philosophers both sought an order for the universe and a basis on which to define a universal morality. Nietzsche throws these ideas out the window, claiming no order to the universe, but instead chaos. Likewise he felt that one doctrine of morality, while being good for one man, might be the worst thing for another. All societies have moral structures but those structures vary widely from a single society to the next. Conventional morality wants clear-cut, black-&-white definitions of good and evil. Nietzsche sought an ideal ?beyond good or evil.? He even went as far as to claim evil is good ? it serves as a means for comparison and a catalyst for change.
Nietzsche had little esteem for the works of Kant; there can be no categorical imperative in a chaotic world. Kant?s view of the moral man is one whose moral duty always takes precedence over his natural inclinations. This places man in a state of ?constant irritability in the face of all natural stirrings . . . armed against himself with sharp and mistrustful eyes.? Kant?s morality equates to shame ? shame for his natural inclinations, and shame for not attaining unattainable moral standards.
Kant claimed acts of love, charity and brotherhood did not qualify as moral acts unless they were done completely for selfless motives. According to Nietzsche these acts are usually performed out of avarice, greed and egoism. His interpretation of the categorical imperative might read, ?Do unto others so they will do unto you,? he would see this as more consistent with human nature. He, like Firestone, saw sexual love clearly as a lust for possession, though he did not see it from a feminist point of view. Kant has no concern for human nature ? being selfish by nature does not assuage our moral duties.
Nietzsche had little reverence for the utilitarian ideals of Mill either. The concept ? maximize pleasure and minimize pain ? is simplistic by Nietzsche?s standards. He aptly points out that sometimes the maximum displeasure is necessary to achieve ?the growth of an abundance of subtle pleasures and joys that have rarely been relished yet.? Minimizing displeasure eliminates the ?capacity for joy.? The virtues of Mill?s morality are aimed at the maximum good for the many; acts are judged based on their consequences to society. However Nietzsche felt that while these virtues may be for the good of society as a whole, they could be harmful to those who possess them. He calls them ?victims of virtue.? Man can be so focused on virtues that ?he resists the effort of reason to keep them in balance with their other instincts.? These virtues can not come from an individual?s reason because they ?lead the individual to allow himself to be transformed into a mere function of the whole.?
Christian morality may be the most disturbing of all to Nietzsche. In fact, he has a cynical view of monotheism as a whole; it is the rigid consequence of the doctrine alleging one normal human type. Prayer is for those with no thoughts of their own and those, who on their own, can know no elevation of the soul. He scoffs at the idea of the Christian God as an object of love; if God were to be an object of love he should give up judging and justice. God is proud and vindictive, his love is not unconditional but instead depends on if?s. The Christian resolve – through judgment, guilt, and its concept of original sin ? to find the world negative and bad, has made the world a bad and ugly place. The Christian church is full of those who are ignorant and afraid; they mindlessly prattle prayers. Knowing not what else to do, they follow like a herd. A true religious person ?is an exception in any religion,? according to Nietzsche. Christianity is a narcotic, the opiate of the masses. It says the world is arduous but you can hide from the pain in the Church. Morality is clothing for the soul to hide behind.
Christianity calls us to become members of the family of God. Its answer to, ?how ought I to be?? is the same as Kant?s categorical imperative. Curran?s ontology of the person is centered in the community and the church. Ontological change or growth is spawned by grace, being saved by God. Nietzsche believed the opposite ? the growth of the individual is crushed by morality and conventional religion denies us even the possibility of elevated moods.
Nietzsche sought to replace conventional morality/religion with artistic metaphors. Life should be like a work of art, a creation unique unto itself, and limited only by the self. One should survey his strengths and weaknesses and meld them to a plan where they all appear as art. To him, this is a higher level of thinking. Conventionality has only made us good at becoming just like everyone else. Our duty is to question morality and to have the courage to embrace the freedom of self-creation. His answer to, ?how ought I to be? is: ?to become those who we are.? He seeks a new day when a man can fashion an existence that he would happily lead over and over again.
?Homosexuality: Perverse and/or immoral??
The question of the perversion or immorality of homosexuality cannot be answered in a universal way. The definitions of immoral or perverse acts are both culturally and personally subjective. Catholic morality tends to oversimplify human nature, and even to deny the subjective differences each man possesses, in a vain attempt to create universal laws of morality.
The Church?s position on homosexual acts states that ?Under no circumstances can they be approved.? Their position is based on several things. Foremost, the scripture defines homosexuality as an act of grave depravity in contradiction with natural law. To deprave means: to make bad or worse. The Church itself admits that a significant portion of mankind has homosexual tendencies. They accept that homosexuality is not a choice. They can define no psychological cause. The frequency with which it occurs in nature (in both man and beast) is proof enough that it is a part of natural law. Asking homosexuals to go through life alone, or living a lie by hiding beneath the garments of a prescribed morality, is contrary to natural law. Homosexuals are not making each other, or society, bad or worse by doing what comes naturally to them. Surely, more harm has come from forcing these ?moral lepers? to try and be what they are not. For example: A man knows he is gay but gets married, trying to put on the airs of acceptable social norms. He has three kids with a wife who wants to spend the rest of her life with him. Around the time she begins to wonder why their infrequent lovemaking has ceased, he realizes he can?t live this way anymore. The result is a fractured family, not only his immediate family unit, but also the extended family when they shun him in shock at his ?perversion.? Curran says the family is the basic unit of society yet condones a morality that is condemned to damage that unit a significant portion of the time ? it is estimated that up to 10-15% of our society is homosexual.
The Church considers homosexuality to be a trial; homosexuals are called to chastity. They are to overcome what nature tells them to do ?by the virtues of self-mastery;? through ?prayer and sacramental grace? they are to strive for Christian perfection. One must ask, ?Who is this God of love that afflicts 10-15% of the population with a nature that calls them to grave depravity?? I cannot believe that God does this, nor that he chooses babies to be born smart, retarded, athletic, intelligent, or addicted to crack, if I did I would like him none too much. Over and over we here of those who were ?called to chastity? in this way. Unfortunately, many thought the priesthood was the cure for their perversion, only to have their desires surface in the presence of an adolescent boy.
None of the twelve apostles were called to chastity. In fact, the only chaste man in thousands of pages of scripture is Jesus, who they claim is God and therefore not subject to, or limited by, human nature.
The Church believes all sexuality should be procreative and unitive. While homosexual relations cannot provide ?the gift of life,? chastity steals part of a man or woman?s life if they are naturally inclined to live otherwise. Certainly homosexual sex can be unitive, natural, meaningful and non-exploitive between consenting adults who care about each other. According to Curran, ?the virtue of temperance is to moderate and direct these appetites (for physical pleasures), not to deny, suppress, or annihilate them.?
?Sexual ethics and the Catholic Church?
Catholic sexual ethics are based on what the Church refers to as natural law, similar to the teachings of Thomas Aquinas on the subject. The one and only end to all sexual acts is procreation and love unity. If a sexual act does not include both of these purposes, and take place within the permanent bonds of a Church-recognized marriage, it is morally reprehensible. ?Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.? Therefore, lust, masturbation, birth control, pornography, oral/anal sex, fornication, prostitution and rape are morally disordered.
The Church of the 20th century has begun to loosen its stance on its universal, moral imperatives, this has created some confusion, and to many of those dissimilar of mind, has made the Church?s universal natural law seem even more ridiculous. The Church still tries to find universal laws to govern every one of a vast number of situations occurring in human sexuality. For instance, it is now acceptable to lust after your fianc?, but to act on this in any way before the bond of marriage is sealed is unacceptable. However, the change is still growth. Regardless of the conservatism and lethargy that has kept the pace of change in the Church behind that of society?s, it is positive.
?Catholic teaching and practice have accepted a relationship-responsibility model in some areas, especially social ethics, but continue to employ a legal model in areas of personal and sexual morality.? The Church?s stance on lying has been modified. The conventional premise was that lying was morally wrong because it ?violated the God-given finality of the faculty of speech,? your neighbor has the right to the truth. Similarly, the previously described acts violate the God-given faculty of procreation. Now, when considering the morality of a lie, the Church takes into account the relationship to the person and the person?s relationship to others in society, making a long leap from absolute universal law. It is not considered a sin to tell a lie if its purpose is to save the lives of innocents. In this instance the Church adapts an almost utilitarian view by concentrating on the consequences of the action and the greater good.
Some Catholic theologians have concluded that if the relationship-responsibility model can be applied to the faculty of speech it is only logical to use it to examine the sexual faculty. Curran suggests that the Church could use this relationship-responsibility model more widely. However he feels it should be done in a way that does not ?destroy the need for some universal principles and norms.? While this model is more objective, Catholic morality always takes into account the good of the community first and foremost. The appetites of the flesh have good in them but are subject to abuse and need to be ordered in a human way. The Catholic Church must remain the foremost authority of theology and morality. Man is incapable of a personal relationship with God, and personal moralities are still morally disordered.
The hard-line stand of the Catholic Church has forced upon its members many different personal moralities. Many say, ?I take the good, and leave the bad,? this is true of those to whom the Church plays an important part in their lives. They stay tied to the Catholic Church for cultural or family reasons, and because they don’t see the dogma?s of other Churches to be decisively more appealing. Countries such as Ireland, once entrenched legislatively in Catholic morality, have done things such as legalize birth control. How archaic it was to have condoms unavailable in the era of the A.I.D.S. epidemic. Elevated, dynamic legislation such as this has become required to attain membership in the European Union. It becomes increasingly easy to defend the laws of the Catholic Church as it moves further away from its guilt-based, absolutist definition of morality.