Friedrich Nietzsche stands as one of the philosophers who tackled about the complexities of human existence and its condition. It is noteworthy to state that most of his works made several standpoints to what he refers to as the Ubermensch. The conception of such is designed to inspire the individual to substantiate his existence and rouse his self-overcoming and affirmative character. This can be said to arise from the idea of creating a self through the process of undergoing a destructive condition that enables the self to acquire greater power in relation to others.
The development of such a self is dependent upon the recognition of the anti-naturalistic character of morality which he discusses in The Twilight of the Idols in the section entitled “Morality as Anti-Nature”. Within the aforementioned text, Nietzsche argues that morality hinders the individual from experiencing life as it limits an individual’s freewill thereby in the process leading to the creation of an individual who is incapable of life itself.
He states, morality is a “revolt against life” (2006, p. 467). It is a revolt against life as it is based on the negation of an individual’s basic instinct to act freely in accordance to his passions. According to Nietzsche, this is evident in the case of Christian morality which places emphasis on the control of the passions. Within Christian morality, an individual who is incapable of controlling his passions is considered to be immoral as he is incapable of practicing restraint upon himself.
Examples of this are evident if one considers that within Christian morality, to be saintly requires restraining one’s desires and hence one can only follow the path of Christ if one denies all of his desires, the denial of which involves the denial of all worldly things. He states, within the context of this morality “disciplining…has put the emphasis throughout the ages on eradication…but attacking the passions at the root means attacking life at the root: the practice of the church is inimical to life (Nietzsche, 2006, p.
66). The practice of the church, its imposition of morality contradicts the essence of life which is the actualization of an individual’s self since it delimits an individual to one particular kind of existence. For example, Christian morality has the Ten Commandments. If an individual follows these commandments, the individual’s spiritual life is ensured in the afterworld. Nietzsche argues that by following these commandments, the individual is at once delimited to one particular form of existence.
This does not necessarily mean that Nietzsche applauds acts of murder; he is merely stating that by following moral rules and moral norms the individual is at once preventing himself from the experiencing a particular form of life and hence the actuality of life itself. It is important to note that by presenting a criticism of Christian moral values and moral values in general, Nietzsche does not necessarily prescribe an individual to follow his moral code. In fact one might state that Nietzsche does not possess a moral code. He states,
Whenever we speak of values, we speak under the inspiration…of life: life forces us to establish values; life itself evaluates through us when we posit values…It follows from this that even that anti-nature of a morality which conceives God as the antithesis and condemnation of life is merely a value judgment on the part of life. (Nietzsche, 2006, p. 467) Within this context, Nietzsche recognizes that the anti-nature of morality is a value in itself. It differs however from a moral code since it does not delimit an individual by prescribing actions which he ought and ought not to follow.
The importance of the anti-nature of morality lies in its emphasis on the affirmation of the individual. Within the text, Nietzsche claims, “morality in so far as it condemns…is a specific error…We seek our honour in being affirmative” (2006, p. 468). It is within this context that one may understand why for Nietzsche; the Ubermensch is an individual whose choices are dependent upon the ends justifying the means since to state that one performs a particular action since the means justifies the end is equivalent to performing a particular action since the act itself adheres to what a particular moral rule considers to be ‘good’.
This is evident if one considers that in order for an individual S to consider Q a ‘good’ act wherein Q is good due to P and Q necessarily follows from P, it is necessary for P to be good within the context of a moral norm M. For example, a person may consider giving alms to the poor good since the act of giving alms itself is considered ‘good’ within the context of a particular moral norm.
As opposed to the example mentioned above, the Ubermensch acts in accordance to what may be achieved by an act [the end of the act itself] since what the Ubermensch places emphasis on is the joy that may be achieved in the act itself. Alex MacIntyre states, “joy in the actual and active of every kind constitutes the fundamental end from which Nietzsche develops his critique of morality” (1999, p. 6). Although Nietzsche’s criticism of morality and its constraints upon an individual are valid, it is still impossible to conceive of a world wherein no morality is applied.
Within the context of social reality, moral norms function to ensure order within society. Although laws may function by themselves to ensure the order of society, laws themselves are dependent upon a particular moral norm which the society adheres to. References McIntyre, A. (1997). The Sovereignty of Joy: Nietzsche’s Vision of Grand Politics. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Nietzsche, F. (2006). Morality as Anti-Nature. The Nietzsche Reader. Eds. K. Ansell-Pearson & D. Large. London: Wiley-Blackwell.