(033) Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”, One Paragraph at a Time
I’ve struggled in all my attempts to read and comprehend Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”. These blog posts are my attempt to better understand this material. I encourage any corrections or criticisms in the comments.
Chapter Two: The Free Spirit
33. It cannot be helped: the sentiment of surrender, of sacrifice for one’s neighbour, and all self-renunciation-morality, must be mercilessly called to account, and brought to judgment; just as the aesthetics of “disinterested contemplation,” under which the emasculation of art nowadays seeks insidiously enough to create itself a good conscience.
In the previous aphorism, Nietzsche lays out the fact that we as humans are not transparent to ourselves. Underneath our seemingly pure intentions swims an ocean of unconscious motivation that is perhaps a truer picture of ourselves.
As human beings, we feel a certain pull or devotion toward a feeling of sacrifice for one’s neighbor and renounce ourselves. Nietzsche believes we should question these feelings to understand if they are seductions of a different kind.
There is far too much witchery and sugar in the sentiments “for others” and “NOT for myself,” for one not needing to be doubly distrustful here, and for one asking promptly: “Are they not perhaps — DECEPTIONS?” — That they PLEASE — him who has them, and him who enjoys their fruit, and also the mere spectator — that is still no argument in their FAVOUR, but just calls for caution. Let us therefore be cautious!
Nietzsche describes three categories of person as it relates to positive feelings of altruism:
- the person who has altruistic feelings
- the person who benefits from the altruistic feelings of others
- the person who observes altruism and feels good because of it
He goes on to state that because we like having these feelings doesn’t constitute an argument in favor of them. We should proceed with caution!