go far beyond conscious intent, back to an agent’s unchangeable “deep character.”Nietzsche calls this perspective “extra-moral.” The “decisive value of an action,” infact, “lies precisely in what is unintentional in it.” In
Human, All Too Human,
Nietzsche unmasks the “fable of intelligible freedom” by saying that we cannot holdpeople responsible for their actions or even their nature because human nature “is itself an inevitable consequence, an outgrowth of the elements and influences of past andpresent things; that is, man cannot be made responsible for anything, neither his nature,nor his motives, nor his actions, nor the effects of his actions.” Free will is an error.This is closely connected to his rejection of moral “oughts.” If deep character goesbeyond conscious intention and determines actions, mere imperatives will have noabiding effect on the agent’s actions; they will not change the incorrigible deep character.People can only “become who they are” and nothing more. With the rejection of oughts comes the rejection of universal imperatives. Nietzsche rejects “the desired man”in favor of “the actual man” who has much higher value. All
about man havebeen “absurd and dangerous excesses through which a single type of man tried toestablish his conditions of preservation and growth as a law for all mankind.”Nietzsche eschews universal ideals and imperatives because they demand actions andattitudes that do not universally facilitate growth in power and health: “Reality shows usan enchanting wealth of types, the abundance of a lavish play and change of forms—andsome wretched loafer of a moralist comments: ‘No! Man ought to be different.’”Related to this is Nietzsche’s rejection of what he called “opposite values.” The way athing is, is taken to be negative, but the way it is not is taken to be positive. Thesedichotomistic evaluations include: ought and ought not, right and wrong, good and evil,and true and false. But Nietzsche claims “there are no opposites.” Such dichotomisticthinking is mistaken.This brief survey has covered only some salient points of the morality thatNietzsche rejects. But before critiquing Nietzsche’s program, a brief overview of Nietzsche’s moralism is in order.
By “moralism” I mean Nietzsche’s positive ethical program. Of course, it bearslittle resemblance to the moralism he constantly criticizes, but it is a moral system in thesense of evaluation and prescription. Nietzsche rejects all universalizing, absolutistmoralities because he deemed them to be life-negating. Everything must, for Nietzsche,serve life, enhance life. In
he says quite clearly: “What is good?Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself.What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness.” Yet Nietzsche is never altogetherclear about what this “life” really means. The doctrine of self-creation is central toNietzsche’s moralism. In
he states that he who creates “creates man’s goaland gives the earth its meaning and its future. That anything is good and evil—that is hiscreation.” The creators of value must also be destroyers of the old absolutisms: “Andwhoever must be a creator in good and evil, verily, he must first be an annihilator and
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