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Saturday, December 1, 2007

the revaluation of all values?

Recognizing that difficulty with Nietzsche I won't pretend to be addressing him directly here. Instead of the statement from the last post
"the idea of God is no longer capable of acting as a source of any moral code or teleology" (wikipedia)
I prefer
no idealistic philosophical system has ever been capable of acting as a source of moral code or teleology on its own
We just keep giving them more credit than they deserve. I probably believe this because I've been with and without the strong influence of the idea of God and I don't see it as having this sort of impact (it just rarely translates out to distinctive lived practices). I see people defined by their society and those who go against it for good or ill would do so I think with or without the idea of God, it's more to do with their personalities, their personal motivational bearing. An idealistic philosophical system can never be the main story of a person's life because existence is that main story. The struggle between "human will as a law unto itself" and an external story "idealistic philosophical system" is a perpetual struggle that always has been and always will continue to exist. That to me is the central insight of Dostoevsky. Do we have reason to diminish/de-humanize (re-humanize?) the past? Human nature, like The Dude, abides.

So given all this is there a need for the revaluation of all values? I think cultures and religions should be understood as containing truths of experience. When I read proverbs, Confucius or the codified law in the Old Testament I can read it as sharing truths of experience about how we should live. These truths are templates for how to live that I ignore at my own risk. I don't see how they would or could stand or fall on the basis of how I feel about the idea of God. They stand or fall upon how I feel about existence.

Although I don't place much faith in the progress/decline of human nature I do believe in the movement and rearrangement of cultures. My primary concern is that cultures are being destroyed day by day and the monoculture that's coming will be soooo lame (and scientific). This is where our fears should lie. Give up the perennial ideological debates and start looking towards the pluralistic future we're failing to build and the knowledge we're destroying on our way.

Note: If you want a more precise reading of Nietzsche, don't read what I'm writing consult one of the many others who are overly obsessed (and more qualified) to explicate his philosophy. (on the Re-evaluation of values) I shouldn't be jumping haphazardly into something with so much research involved in it but hey, what's blogging for if not the dissemination of half truths and straw men? Maybe (hopefully) someone will bother to correct me in the many ways I'm wrong. I'll be revisiting "Beyond Good and Evil" in subsequent posts.


Anonymous said...

I like your point that "An idealistic philosophical system can never be the main story of a person's life because existence is that main story." You've convinced me, over the years, not to assume that a person's theoretical beliefs have anything to do with their lives. Theory is often epiphenomenal.
But, of course, we are raised in cultures with specific values and practices, and very many factors go into forging them, and some of these factors are connected with theory, religion, philosophy, and metaphysics. Nz would probably be the first to admit that many other factors play bigger roles, like evolution and genetics, demands from the local environment, sheer accident, etc.
Still, suppose you reflect upon your society's values and practices and, for whatever reason, think they stink. One thing you could do is call for the revaluation of all values, and write several books. (Other things you could do: blow up banks, establish a blog, whisper your deepest desires to a small set of snails, kill yourself, join a polka band -- it's not clear to me that any of these are sure to be more effective than any of the others.)
What's interesting to me in the case of Nz is that he thinks he has some ground from which to criticize the Old Values and recommend the New Values. What is that ground? How does it escape the criticisms he launches toward the defenders of the Old?

Mike said...

Those are good questions that I'm not sure how to answer. I'm trying to gain a more holistic understanding of Nietzsche, I think most of my study so far has been piecemeal. I'll look for those as I continue studying BGE.

Charlie H said...

I do have an essay on the question -- "Valuing from life's perspective" -- on the "about CH" section of Huenemanniac.

Mike said...

I'll take a look at it, I read the "Nietzsche's task" paper yesterday. I liked the transformer idea, I'd like to think that's how Nietzsche understood himself. He's certainly valuable to me in that way.