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Beyond Good and Evil

Friedrich Nietzsche

7 - "Our Virtues"

6 - "We Scholars"

7 - "Our Virtues", page 2

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One of the driving concepts in this chapter is that there is an "order of rank" that exists between people and between moralities. Some people simply have stronger and more refined spirits than others. Those of lower rank hate those who are exceptional, and this hatred is most commonly expressed in moralizing against and condemning the higher spirits. The idea of divine justice was invented so that people could falsely claim that we are all equal on a fundamental level.

No moral philosopher seems to consider that perhaps no moral laws are universally applicable. For instance, while self- effacement can be a virtue in some people, the self-effacement of a born leader who doesn't feel worthy of taking charge would be the waste of a virtue. In that sense, "it is immoral to say: 'what is right for one is fair for the other.'"

Pity, at bottom, is merely one way of covering up self-contempt. Because misery loves company, a self-condemning person will feel pity for others in order to suffer with them. Pleasure and pain, like pity, are mere surfaces for our deeper drives, and any philosophy that stops with those impulses--such as utilitarianism--is shallow. For instance, suffering is not something to be avoided (if that were possible), but celebrated. Nietzsche suggests that humans are unique in being both creature and creator: we necessarily make ourselves suffer in our creative efforts to make ourselves greater. Pity for suffering is essentially pity for the creature in us that is being remade into something greater. Nietzsche feels pity only for the creator in us that is being stifled by modern society.

Nietzsche goes so far as to suggest that all of higher culture is derived from the "spiritualization of cruelty." We like to think that we've killed our animal instincts for cruelty when in fact we've rendered them divine by turning them against ourselves. The search for knowledge is one of the highest forms of cruelty; we uncover truths we would have been happier not knowing, and go against our natural inclination for superficiality and shallowness. For instance, we would like to believe that we are naturally higher beings, but we learn to our dismay that we are descended from apes and are not essentially different from them.

Among the virtues of Nietzsche's ideal philosophers of the future, this will to go deeper than all superficialities (call it honesty or cruelty, as you prefer) is paramount. The knowledge that scholars try to look at with disinterest is precisely what interests Nietzsche.

Even in the freest of free spirits, however, this digging for truth will hit bedrock. Fundamentally, we all have a set of unshakeable convictions that make up the core of our being, that say "this is I." These expressions of what is fundamentally settled in us show "the great stupidity we are."

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Epigenetics and Inheritance.

by MrXenon, November 15, 2015

Through epigenetic inheritance, some of the experiences of the parents may pass to future generations. At the same time, the epigenome remains flexible as environmental conditions continue to change. Epigenetic inheritance may allow an organism to continually adjust its gene expression to fit its environment - without changing its DNA code.

We used to think that a... Read more

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