Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Part II: Chapters 1–7
The Child with the Mirror
Back on his mountain, Zarathustra dreams of a child showing him a mirror in which he sees the face of a devil. Realizing that his enemies are perverting his teaching, and full of a new need to share his wisdom, Zarathustra descends from the mountain and returns to the people.
Upon the Blessed Isles
Zarathustra equates the creative will with freedom. A belief in God inhibits creativity because a creative God would leave nothing left for us to create.
On the Pitying
Pity does nobody good. If we show pity and mercy to the unfortunate, they will come to resent us for exposing their powerlessness. This resentment eats away unnoticed at the insides like a fungus. Feeling joy is better than feeling pity: in learning joy we learn not to hurt others.
Priests see life as suffering, and so want to make others suffer as well. The uncertainty and hardships of life are too much for them, and so they have given up on life. They are little more than corpses, believing that their God and their pity are an escape.
On the Virtuous
Popular morality promises rewards for being virtuous, or at least preaches that virtue is its own reward. Popular misconceptions of virtue include being vengefully just, or being too weak to cause any harm. Zarathustra suggests instead that virtue is simply a matter of putting oneself wholeheartedly into one's deeds. This is not done out of hope for reward or punishment, but simply out of an exuberance of being.
On the Rabble
The multitudes of common people spoil everything that they touch. Suffering from nausea, Zarathustra wonders whether this rabble might actually be necessary for life. By rising above the rabble, he finds purity, peace, and valuable friendship.
On the Tarantulas
Zarathustra calls those who preach democracy, equality, and justice "tarantulas": secretly, they spread the poison of revenge. By preaching equality, they seek to avenge themselves on all those who are not their equals. Life thrives on conflict and self-overcoming. If we were to make everyone equal, how could we strive for the overman?
Nietzsche's contempt for "the rabble" and for egalitarian sentiments goes deeper than mere snobbery or elitism. In ##The Genealogy of Morals##, he draws a sharp distinction between the "master morality" of the ancient aristocracy that we find for instance in ancient Greece, and the "slave morality" that developed among the lower classes and the priestly caste. While his attitude is far more complex than simply approval of master morality and disapproval of slave morality, there is a great deal about slave morality, as expressed in Christianity and democracy, that he finds contemptible.
The weak and powerless establish slave morality as vengeance upon their aristocratic masters. We find the concept of ressentiment, or resentment (Nietzsche uses the French word), at the bottom of Nietzsche's account of slave morality. The weak resent the power of their masters, and resent even more their own inability to enact vengeance upon their masters. Because they are unable to strike back in any substantial way in this life, the weak invent the idea of an afterlife and of divine justice, which will avenge them after death. Thus, divine justice is the invention of a people too weak to secure justice for themselves.
The slave class also invented the concept of "evil," which Nietzsche cites as one of humankind's greatest inventions. The aristocratic masters, and everything about them—wealth, health, happiness, strength, vigor—were considered "evil" and contemptible. By contrast, then, the slaves identified the notion of "good" with everything that these masters were not: poor, unhappy, sick, weak, mediocre—in short, they identified themselves as "good." This new slave morality was a complete reversal of the older, master morality.
Nietzsche understandably identifies Christianity and democracy with slave morality. The biblical Sermon on the Mount (Matthew: 5–7) is one of the clearest examples of Christianity as slave morality. In it, Jesus commends a life of meekness and poverty, devoid of earthly riches. As for democracy, it is based on notions of equality and justice that Nietzsche would probably view as being rooted in slave morality. As we saw, Nietzsche considers the idea of justice to be the invention of those who cannot secure justice on their own. Democracy ensures that the weak do not have to suffer the abuses of the strong and that the strong cannot oppress the weak. At least, that's what democracy is supposed to do.
Nietzsche is not entirely opposed to slave morality. In particular, he admires the creativity and the sublimating power of people who are capable of reversing an entire system of morality. However, he strongly opposes the spirit of ressentiment as petty and contrary to life, as it leads to the conclusion that life is something that must be suffered and that justice and happiness are to be found after this life. This spirit of ressentiment is fundamental to slave morality, and Christianity and democracy are doubly damned, first for basing their morality on ressentiment, and second, to be hypocritical enough to deny this fact. Neitzsche would say that modern Christians and democrats even lack the creativity of the originators of that slave morality. Today, they are just uncreatively perpetuating a tradition.
Rather than accept a world marked by pity and forced equality, Nietzsche longs for a world of creative freedom, marked by the natural inequality between people. Here, each person will be his own chief ambition and ultimate end. While Christian virtues are in themselves unpleasant and need some external reward, Nietzsche's ideal virtues of creativity and self-improvement are pursued not because they are "virtuous" but because they are good in and of themselves. In such a worldview, pity is bad both for the pitied and the person who is pitying. Suffering is an essential part of life and growth, and the instinct to pity suffering flows from the instinct of ressentiment that sees inequality and thus life itself as bad.
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