Thomas Stern

Thomas Stern

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A morality is a particular value system, belonging to a historical group or groups of people, arising among them for contingent reasons that can be the object of sociological study. Nietzsche has various different examples in mind, including Ancient Greek morality, Ancient Israelite morality and Christian morality.
These are useful places to start if you think that Nietzsche
was a proto-Nazi, or, conversely, that he wrote nothing troubling or offensive and was completely misunderstood and unjustly appropriated by the Nazis with the aid of his evil Nazi sister; likewise, if you think that he certainly died of syphilis, or that he was a visionary whose ideas arose free from any intellectual
context or influence, or, indeed, a philosopher working with presuppositions and preoccupations more or less identical to our own. But there is something inhospitable about greeting the reader with a blizzard of references. Rather than attempting the impossible task of clearing away any prejudicial associations,
I move to what I take to be the most feasible alternative: to be as clear as possible about the aims, method and scope of this account of Nietzsche’s ethics.
We can sketch Nietzsche’s view as follows:
living things are necessarily governed by Life, a force that operates through them to achieve power-increasing ends. In this study, ‘the Life Theory’ is my name for this view.
The most striking is surely Nietzsche’s style, which makes it difficult to find a firm footing. Amongst other things, his writing is exuberant, distractible, bet hedging, shape-shifting, grandiose, littered with familiar and unfamiliar names, often overtly fictional and, in turns, attractive and repulsive.
Christian morality is dominant and highly significant in modern Europe. Christian morality’s adherents are not necessarily faithful Christians, nor are all faithful Christians adherents of Christian morality.
The combination of the Schopenhauerian and natural-scientific contexts led, in Nietzsche, to a ‘will’, Life, characterised more in terms of power, conflict, insatiability and exploitation than its Schopenhauerian counterpart.
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