Gorean Morality & Nietzsche

The Goreans have very different notions of morality from those of Earth.

Marauders of Gor, p.7

     It seems simple enough that to be Gorean is to embrace a different notion of morality, how one determines what is right and wrong, than what most people of Earth embrace.  Morality has long been a significant aspect of philosophy, at least since the time of Socrates, who is largely credited with being the first philosophy concerned with such issues.  To follow a philosophy, but to exclude its morality, would be incomplete, rejecting an essential element.  How can one be Gorean yet reject Gorean morality?  How can one be Gorean and embrace Earth morality, sometime so different from Gorean morality?

      Certainly can easily define what it means to be  Gorean  in any way they desire.  It could even be defined as to exclude the necessity of Gorean morality.  Yet is that not simply defining  Gorean  as to one s own personal preferences?  Is that not creating a biased definition, a more subjective than objective one?  If the books clearly state that Gorean morality is different than Earth morality, then why shouldn’t Gorean morality be essential to being Gorean?  And if Gorean morality can be ignored, then what other aspects of Gorean philosophy can also be ignored? 

      If we accept the significance of Gorean morality to being Gorean then we next need to determine and explain the nature of Gorean morality.  Fortunately the books provide a lengthy passage that largely does that.  In addition, there are a number of other passages in the books that support this view of Gorean morality.  Yet for some strange reason, the following is not one of the passages that often gets discussed.  It is not a passage that is commonly seen on Gorean websites or message boards.  Why is that so?  We can try to address that answer later.  For now, let us present that passage.     

        I wondered how men should live.  In my chair I had thought long on such matters.

      I knew only that I did not know the answer to this question.  Yet it is an important question, is it not?  Many wise men give wise answers to this question, and yet they do not agree among themselves.

     Only the simple, the fools, the unreflective, the ignorant, know the answer to this question.

     Perhaps to a question this profound the answer cannot be known.  Perhaps it is a question too deep to be answered.  Yet we do know there are false answers to such a question.  This suggests that there may be a true answer, for how can there be falsity without truth?

     One thing seems clear to me, that a morality which produces guilt and self-torture, which results in anxiety and agony, which shortens life spans, cannot be the answer.  

     Many of the competitive moralities of Earth are thus mistaken.

     But what is not mistaken? 

     The Goreans have very different notions of morality from those of Earth.

     Yet who is to say who is the more correct?

     I envy sometimes the simplicities of those of Earth, and those of Gor, who, creatures of their conditioning, are untroubled by such matters, but I would not be as either of them.  If either should be correct it is for them no more than a lucky coincidence.  They would have fallen into truth, but to take truth for granted is not to know it.  Truth not won is not possessed.  We are not entitled to truths for which we have not fought.

     Do we not learn to live by doing, as we learn to speak by speaking, to paint by painting, to build by building?

     Those who know best how to live, sometimes it seems to me, are those least likely to be articulate in such skills.  It is not that they have not learned but, having learned, they find they cannot tell what they know, for only words can be told, and what is learned in living is more than words, other than words, beyond words.  We can say,  This building is beautiful,  but we do not learn the beauty of the building from the words; the building it is which teaches us its beauty; and how can one speak the beauty of the building, as it is?  Does one say that it has so many pillars, that it has a roof of a certain type, and such?  Can one simply say,  The building is beautiful?   Yes, one can say that but what one learns when one sees the beauty of the building cannot be spoken; it is not words; it is the building s beauty.

     The morality of Earth, from the Gorean point of view, is a morality which would be viewed as more appropriate to slaves than free men.  It would be seen in terms of the envy and resentment of inferiors for their superiors.  It lays great stress on equalities and being humble and being pleasant and avoiding friction and being ingratiating and small.  It is a morality in the best interest of slaves, who would be only too eager to be regarded as the equals of others.  We are all the same.  That is the hope of slaves; that is what it is in their interest to convince others of.  The Gorean morality on the other hand is more one of inequalities, based on the assumption that individuals are not the same, but quite different in many ways.  It might be said to be, though this is oversimple, a morality of masters.  Guilt is almost unknown in Gorean morality, though shame and anger are not.  Many Earth moralities encourage resignation and accommodation; Gorean morality is bent more toward conquest and defiance; many Earth moralities encourage tenderness, pity and gentleness, sweetness; Gorean morality encourages honor, courage, hardness and strength.  To Gorean morality many Earth moralities might ask,  Why so hard?   To these Earth moralities, the Gorean ethos might ask,  Why so soft?

     I have sometimes thought that the Goreans might do well to learn something of tenderness, and, perhaps, that those of Earth might do well to learn something of hardness.  But I do not know how to live.  I have sought the answers, but I have not found them.  The morality of slaves says,  You are equal to me; we are both the same ; the morality of masters says,  We are not equal; we are not the same; become equal to me; then we will be the same.   The morality of slaves reduces all to bondage; the morality of masters encourages all to attain, if they can, the heights of freedom.  I know of no prouder, more self-reliant, more magnificent creature than the free Gorean, male or female; they are often touchy, and viciously tempered, but they are seldom petty or small; moreover they do not hate and fear their bodies or their instincts;  when they restrain themselves it is a victory over titanic forces; not the consequence of a slow metabolism; but sometimes they do not restrain themselves; they do not assume that their instincts and blood are enemies and spies; saboteurs in the house of themselves; they know them and welcome them as part of their persons; they are as little suspicious of them as the cat of its cruelty, or the lion of its hunger; their desire for vengeance, their will to speak out and defend themselves, their lust, they regard as intrinsically and gloriously a portion of themselves as their hearing and their thinking.  Many Earth moralities make people little; the object of Gorean morality, for all its faults, is to make people free and great.  These objectives are quite different it is clear to see.  Accordingly, one would expect that the implementing moralities would, also, be considerably different.  

(Marauders of Gor, p.7-9)

      What is the context of this passage?  At the start of Marauders of Gor, Tarl Cabot is sitting alone in the great hall within his residence in Port Kar.  The left side of his body is paralyzed, an effect of wounds he suffered at the edge of the northern forests, possibility caused by poison.  He begins thinking about how a person should live, something he has done often while sitting in this chair after his paralyzation.  He then compares the moralities of Gor to those of Earth.  

     If we examine this passage, we see that Norman is stating that  many  Earth moralities, but not all, are  slave moralities.   He does not specifically identify which Earth moralities fall into that category but explains generalities about such moralities.  Thus, one can examine for oneself which Earth moralities meet the conditions that Norman has outlined.  In addition, Norman does not specifically identify the nature of Gorean morality, again providing generalities so that one can identify on their own to what he refers.  Are the answers difficult?  Can one easily identify the missing pieces?  Has Norman provided sufficient clues to this puzzle?

      To some individuals, the concepts within the above passage will seem very familiar.  They will resonate within certain people, those who have a familiarity with the source material.  Thus, the answers will be quite obvious to them.  For others, who lack knowledge of the source material, the answers will be more difficult to discern.  And there is a good chance that one might come to an incorrect conclusion.  Especially as most people on Earth are unfamiliar with certain types of morality, and thus would not readily think of those unknown moralities as possible solutions.    

     This is one possible reason why this passage is rarely discussed online.  For if numerous people are unsure as to the meaning of the passage, they may not wish to show their ignorance and raise the issue.  There often seems to be a reluctance to ask questions, and thus evidence that one may not know something.  Especially if such individuals claim that they are  Gorean.   For if they claim to be  Gorean,  but cannot identify what Gorean morality entails, then asking questions could reflect poorly on their claim to be  Gorean.

      Master morality vs. slave morality.  Hardness vs. softness.  Inequality vs equality.  Resentment.  Cruelty.  These terms and concepts did not originate with Norman.  In fact, Norman essentially paraphrased some key elements from the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, a famous and controversial German philosopher of the nineteenth century.  So, to better understand what Norman intended, one needs to examine Nietzsche s view in this area.  Norman did not add to or alter Nietzsche s views in the above passage.  Thus, it appears he is adopting Nietzsche s beliefs concerning morality for Gor.

     If one feels Nietzsche is irrelevant to a discussion of Gorean morality, then one must address the reasons why Norman clearly paraphrased Nietzsche s views.  Why would Norman do so if he did not intend to rely on Nietzsche s views?  Where is the evidence that Norman s views differ from Nietzsche in this regard?  If it does differ, how does it then differ from Nietzsche?  It is only logical that if Norman paraphrased Nietzsche when discussing Gorean morality, then Norman intended to use Nietzsche s view on morality to explain Gorean morality.  And if one delves deeper into the subject, one will find much support for this proposition within the Gor novels.

      Although the beginnings of Nietzsche s views on morality can be found in his earlier works, such as Daybreak and Human, All Too Human, it first was stated in full within Beyond Good and Evil and then later expanded in On the Genealogy of Morals.  It is these two later books that address  master morality  and  slave morality.   Nietzsche praised master morality and saw slave morality as detrimental to mankind.  At its simplest, master morality is based on virtue ethics and is best exemplified by the ancient Athenian Greeks.  Slave morality is based on action-centered/rules based morality and derives from feelings of resentment against superiors, oppressors and masters.  It is best exemplified by Christianity, Judaism and Kant. 

     So, let us now read a sampling of some quotes from Nietzsche concerning such morality.  This will then give us some understanding of Nietzsche s views and how they apply to Gorean morality.

Beyond Good & Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche 

       This inversion of values (which includes using the word  poor  as synonymous with  holy  and  friend ) constitutes the significance of the Jewish people: they mark the beginning of the slave rebellion in morals.  (Part 5, Chapter 195) 

       In the beginning, the noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their predominance did not lie mainly in physical strength but in strength of the soul they were more whole human beings (which also means, at every level,  more whole beasts ). (Part 9, Chapter 257) 

      Their fundamental faith simply has to be that society must not exist for society s sake but only as the foundation and scaffolding on which a choice type of being is able to raise itself to its higher task and to a higher state of being—    (Part 9, Chapter 258) 

      There are master morality and slave morality I add immediately that in all the higher and more mixed cultures there also appear attempts at mediation between these two moralities, and yet more often the interpenetration and mutual misunderstandings of both, and at times they occur directly alongside each other even in the same human being, within a single soul.  The moral discrimination of values has originated either among a ruling group whose consciousness of its difference from the ruled group was accompanied by delight or among the ruled, the slaves and dependents of every degree.

      In the first case, when the ruling group determines what is  good,  these exalted, proud states of the soul are experienced as conferring distinction and determining the order of rank.  The noble human being separates from himself those in whom the opposite of such exalted, proud states finds expression: he despises them.  It should be noted immediately that in this first type of morality the opposition of  good  and  bad  means approximately the same as  noble  and  contemptible.   (The opposition of  good  and  evil  has a different origin.)  One feels contempt for the cowardly, the anxious, the petty, those intent on narrow utility; also for the suspicious with their unfree glances, those who humble themselves, the doglike people who allow themselves to be maltreated, the begging flatterers, above all the liars; it is part of the fundamental faith of all aristocrats that the common people lie.   We truthful ones  thus the nobility of ancient Greece referred to itself.   (Part 9, Chapter 260) 

      It is obvious that moral designations were everywhere first applied to human beings and only later, derivatively, to actions.   (Part 9, Chapter 260) 

       The noble type of man experiences itself as determining values; it does not need approval; it judges,  what is harmful to me is harmful in itself ; it knows itself to be that which first accords honor to things; it is value creating.  Everything it knows as part of itself it honors; such a morality is self-glorification.  In the foreground there is the feeling of fullness, of power that seeks to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of wealth that would give and bestow: the noble human being, too, helps the unfortunate, but not, or almost not, from pity, but prompted more by an urge begotten by excess of power.  The noble human being honors himself as one who is powerful, also as one who has power over himself, who knows how to speak and be silent, who delights in being severe and hard with himself and respects all severity and hardness.   (Part 9, Chapter 260) 

       It is the powerful who understand how to honor; this is their art, their realm of invention.  The profound reverence for age and tradition all law rests on this double reverence the faith and prejudice in favor of ancestors and disfavor of those yet to come are typical of the morality of the powerful; and when the men of  modern ideas,  conversely, believe almost instinctively in  progress  and  the future  and more and more lack respect for age, this in itself would sufficiently betray the ignoble origin of these  ideas.    (Part 9, Chapter 260) 

       According to slave morality, those who are  evil  thus inspire fear; according to master morality it is precisely those who are  good  that inspire, and wish to inspire fear, while the  bad  are felt to be contemptible.  (Part 9, Chapter 260) 

       Wherever slave morality becomes preponderant, language tends to bring the words  good  and  stupid  closer together.  (Part 9, Chapter 260)

The Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

      A certain amount of historical and philological training together with a native fastidiousness in matters of psychology, before long transformed this problem into another, to wit,  Under what conditions did man construct the value judgments good and evil?   And what is their intrinsic worth?  Have they thus far benefited or retarded mankind?  Do they betoken misery, curtailment, degeneracy or, on the contrary, power, fullness of being, energy, courage in the face of life, and confidence in the future?  (Preface, Chapter III) 

       , that it was the Jews who started the slave revolt in morals; a revolt with two millenia of history behind it, which we have lost sight of today simply because it has triumphed so completely.  (First Essay, Chapter VII) 

      But what is all this talk about nobler values?  Let us face facts: the people have triumphed or the slaves, the mob, the herd, whatever you wish to call them and if the Jews brought it about, then no nation ever had a more universal mission on this earth.  The lords are a thing of the past, and the ethics of the common man is completely triumphant. (First Essay, Chapter VIII) 

      The slave revolt in morals begins by rancor turning creative and giving birth to values the rancor of beings who, deprived of the direct outlet of action, compensate by an imaginary vengeance.  (First Essay, Chapter VIII) 

      All truly noble morality grows out of triumphant self-affirmation.  (First Essay, Chapter VIII) 

      Slave ethics, on the other hand, begins by saying no to an  outside,  an  other,  a non-self, and that no is its creative act.  This reversal of direction of the evaluating look, this invariable looking outward instead of inward, is a fundamental feature of rancor.  Slave ethics requires for its inception a sphere different from and hostile to its own.  Physiologically speaking, it requires an outside stimulus in order to act at all; all its action is reaction.  The opposite is true of aristocratic valuations; such values grow and act spontaneously, seeking out their contraries only in order to affirm themselves even more gratefully and delightedly.  Here the negative concepts, humble, base, bad, are late, pallid counterparts of the positive, intense and passionate credo,  We noble, good, beautiful, happy ones.   (First Essay, Chapter X) 

      Whereas the noble lives before his own conscience with confidence and frankness (gennaios  nobly bred  emphasizes the nuance  truthful  and perhaps also  ingenuous ), the rancorous person is neither truthful nor ingenuous nor honest and forthright with himself.  His soul squints; his mind loves hide-outs, secret paths, and back doors; everything that is hidden seems to him his own world, his security, his comfort; he is expert in silence, in long memory, in waiting, in provisional self-depreciation, and in self-humiliation. (First Essay, Chapter X) 

      When a noble man feels resentment, it is absorbed in his instantaneous reaction and therefore does not poison him.  Moreover, in countless cases where we might expect it, it never arises, while with weak and impotent people it occurs without fail.  (First Essay, Chapter X) 

      The exact opposite is true of the noble-minded, who spontaneously creates the notion good, and later derives from it the conception of the bad.  How ill-matched these two concepts look, placed side by side: the bad of noble origin, and the evil that has risen out of the cauldron of unquenched hatred!  The first is a by-product, a complementary color, almost an afterthought; the second is the beginning, the original creative act of slave ethics.  (First Essay, Chapter XI) 

      But neither is the conception of good the same in both cases, as we soon find out when we ask ourselves who it is that is really evil according to the code of rancor.  The answer is: precisely the good one of the opposite code, that is reenvisaged by the poisonous eye of resentment.  (First Essay, Chapter XI) 

      The Romans were the strongest and most noble people who ever lived.  Every vestige of them, every least inscription, is a sheer delight, provided we are able to read the spirit behind the writing.  (First Essay, Chapter XVI) 

     Now, some of the above quotes may seem difficult to comprehend.  Nietzsche is not the easiest of philosophers to understand, for several different reasons.  So, it can be beneficial to rely on other philosophers to assist in deciphering the meaning of Nietzsche s words, helping to build our comprehension.  So, let us present another sampling of quotes which can hopefully benefit our understanding. 

What Nietzsche Really Said by Robert C. Solomon & Kathleen M. Higgins (Schocken Books 2000)

      The watchword of Nietzsche s ethics comes, predictably, from the ancients, in this case from the Greek poet, Pindar (522-438 B.C.E.).  Nietzsche writes, over and over again,  Become who you are!   (Page 105) 

       Each of us, Nietzsche says, has a unique set of virtues, but by thinking that what we really are is defined by a set of general rules or principles (categorical imperatives), we deny that uniqueness and sacrifice those virtues to the bland and anonymous category of  being a good person.   (Page 106) 

      It is not that Nietzsche wants to defend immorality but rather that he wants to defend the idea of human excellence that defines his ethics.   (Page 106) 

       To live a good life one must live in a great city  was a platitude among the ancients.   (Page 107) 

      Nietzsche, to put the matter simply, is more like Aristotle than like Kant.  In contemporary terminology, he defends an ethics of virtue rather than an ethics of rational principles or obligations.   (Page 107) 

      What Nietzsche sometimes condemns as  herd morality  he also describes as  slave morality,  a morality fit for slaves and servants.   (Page 108) 

      Morality, in the singular sense presented in the Bible and defended by Kant, is slave morality.  In its most crude forms it consists of general principles imposed from above (by the rulers or by God) that yoke and constrain the individual.  In its subtler and more sophisticated forms, that external authority is relocated internally in the faculty of reason, for example.  But what is most characteristic of Morality in either its crude or its sophisticated forms is that it is mainly prohibitive and constraining rather than inspiring.   (Page 108-9) 

      Master morality, by contrast, is an ethics of virtue, an ethics in which personal excellence is primary.   (Page 109) 

      Achieving excellence is precisely what makes one happy, according to both Nietzsche and Aristotle.   (Page 109) 

       Slaves do not like themselves, so the idea of becoming who you are is not particularly appealing.   (Page 110) 

      Master morality takes as its watchword  Become who you are,  and whether or not one turns out to be like anyone else, or even whether or not one is acceptable to others, are matters of no concern.   (Page 110) 

      Putting it simply, one might summarize master morality as  being myself, and getting what I want,  with the understanding that what one is and what one wants may be quite refined and noble.  (To interpret  getting what I want  as an expression of selfishness reflects an impoverishment of desire, a sure sign of slave morality.)  Not getting what one wants is bad, not necessarily in any larger sense (such as causing disastrous consequences for the community, or violating God s laws and inviting divine retribution) but simply because it falls short of one s own aspirations and ideals.   (Page 110) 

      For the slaves, by contrast, getting what one wants is just too difficult, too unlikely, too implausible.  Slaves do not like themselves, so the idea of becoming who you are is not particularly appealing.   (Page 110)

      But one might say that the perspective of master morality is in fact an aesthetic perspective.  It has to do with what is beautiful and excellent rather than what is right or obligatory.  Slave morality, by contrast, has only to do with good and evil; aesthetic considerations are ruled out, and the ominousness of evil dominates the conversation.   (Page 110-111)   

      In slave morality, the simple distinction between good and bad gets replaced by the metaphysical distinction between good and evil.   (Page 111) 

      The contrast between slave morality and master morality ultimately comes down to this emotional difference: that the slave nurtures resentment until it  poisons  him, while the master, noble and self-secure, expresses his feelings and frustrations.   (Page 114) 

      Nietzsche s emphasis on nobility and resentment in his account of master and slave morality is an attempt to stress character, motivation, and virtue (and with them, tradition and culture) above all else in ethics.  A Master morality of nobility is an expression of good, strong character.   (Page 115) 

      But one might say that the perspective of master morality is in fact an aesthetic perspective.  It has to do with what is beautiful and excellent rather than what is right or obligatory.  Slave morality, by contrast, has only to do with good and evil; aesthetic considerations are ruled out, and the ominousness of evil dominates the conversation.   (Page 210-211)     

Living With Nietzsche: What the Great “Immoralist” Has to Teach Us by Robert C. Solomon (Oxford University Press 2003)

“Slavish values tend to deny joy and celebrate seriousness, decry risk and danger and emphasize security. They encourage cautious reflection and reject or demean passion and ‘instinct.’ In short, they “say ‘no’ to life.” (Page 21)

“Nietzsche’s theory of morality is suggested in his ‘middle works” Daybreak and Gay Science but first fully spelled out in Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and, especially, in his On the Genealogy of Morals (1887).” (Page 25)

“He contends that what we call ‘morality’ originated among the miserable slaves, the Lumpenproletariat of the ancient world (that is, the lowest classes of society, a term introduced by Marx.) Morality continues to be motivated by the servile and resentful emotions of those who are ‘poor in spirit’ and feel themselves to be inferior. ‘Morality,’ however brilliantly rationalized by Immanuel Kant as the dictates of Practical Reason or by the utilitarians as ‘greatest good for the greatest number,’ is essentially the devious strategy of the weak to gain some advantage (or at least not be at a disadvantage) vis- -vis the strong.” (Page 25-26)

“He contrasts slave morality with what he variously calls ‘noble’ and ‘master’ morality, which he presents much more positively.” (Page 44)

“Slave morality, according to Nietzsche, is obsessed with the category of evil, and its virtues are for the most part banal and mere obedience.” (Page 52)

“The core claim of virtue ethics is the importance of moral character and virtues of character in determining moral worth.” (Page 54)

“An action performed out of noble sentiments is a noble action, even if the act itself turns out to be rather insignificant and inconsequential. An action expressing vicious sentiments will be vicious, even if (through error in judgment, by chance or by some sublime act of fate) it turns out to have benign consequences.” (Page 54)

“Resentment, for example, is above all an emotion obsessed with power and status-or rather, with the comparative lack of them. An ethics based on resentment, then, would strive ultimately to satisfy the resentment, even at the expense of pleasure and happiness.” (Page 55-56)

“The emotions, according to Nietzsche, can be divided into two categories. In Twilight, he famously refers to these as the ‘life-enhancing’ and the ‘life-stultifying’ passions.” (Page 81-82)

“Among those passions Nietzsche recognizes as ‘life-stultifying,’ the one which he by far spends most of his energy attacking is the singularly malevolent emotion of resentment, which he calls ressentiment.” (Page 89)

“Slave morality, he tells us, is a defensive reaction against the values of the more powerful, a reaction that is born of resentment.” (Page 89)

“Resentment is most obviously directed against others (as opposed to love and pity, for instance), but unlike hatred and contempt, for instance, it does so from a marked perspective of inferiority. Rather than taking responsibility for one’s own inferior position, resentment always projects the responsibility onto other people (or groups or institutions). Simply stated, resentment is a vitriolic emotion that is always aimed outward and whose presupposition is one’s own sense of oppression or inferiority.” (Page 90)

“The ancient Hebrews and then the early Christians, Nietzsche argues, simmered with resentment against their ancient masters and concocted a fabulous philosophical strategy. Instead of seeing themselves as failures in the competition for wealth and power, they turned the tables (‘revalued’) their values and turned their resentment into self-righteousness. Morality is the product of this self-righteous resentment, which is not nearly so concerned with living the good life as it is with chastising those who do live it.” (Page 90)

“Resentment undermines claims to authority, according to Nietzsche, because it is essentially pathetic. It is an expression of weakness and impotence. Nietzsche is against resentment because it is an emotion of the weak that the strong and powerful do not and cannot feel.” (Page 92)

“Resentment is an emotion that does not promote personal excellent but rather dwells on competitive strategy and thwarting others. It does not do what a virtue or a proper motive ought to do-fore Nietzsche as for Aristotle-and that is to inspire excellence and self-confidence in both oneself and others.” (Page 92)

“What is wrong with resentment is that it interferes with the good life as Nietzsche conceives of it, a life of rich ‘inner’ experience as opposed to a life of reaction against external threats and slights. It is thus a life-demeaning and life-stultifying emotion.” (Page 101)

“I said that resentment is an emotion that is distinguished, first of all, by its concern and involvement with power. It is the self-recognition of one’s own inferiority, and a desperate attempt nevertheless to salvage or create what power one can. Resentment is life-stultifying because it focuses all of one’s energy on this salvage attempt.” (Page 102)

“But physical and military prowess is not the ‘power” that Nietzsche is endorsing, “ (Page 105)

“Buts as so often in Nietzsche, morality, strength, and weakness get viewed in aesthetic terms.” (Page 106)

In Birth of Tragedy, he says that the Greeks were ‘beautiful’ because they had the strength to endure their suffering and render it creative.” (Page 106)

“What was ‘beautiful’ and ‘noble’ in the Greeks was their ‘self-overcoming,’ not their blithe self-confidence.” (Page 106)

“Slaves, by contrast, are ‘ugly’ because they are banal and boring. Their demeanor is servile and timid. They protect themselves with humorless, submissive smiles, withour character.” (Page 106)

“Nietzsche insisted instead that life is not meaningless. Life is good, even if it is filled with suffering. The Greeks knew this. That is why, in Nietzsche’s words, ‘they were so beautiful.’ (Page 117)

“But what is critical to an ethics of practice is not the absence of rules; it is rather the overriding importance of the concept of excellence or virtue (ar te).” (Page 122)

“Nietzsche’s ethics, like Aristotle’s, can best be classified in introductory ethics readers as an ethics of ‘self-realization.’ ‘Become who you are’ is the slogan in the middle writings: the telos of the Ubermensch serves as an ideal from Thus Spake Zarathustra on. Indeed, who is the Ubermensch if not Aristotle’s megalopsychos, ‘the great-souled man’ from whom Nietzsche even borrows much of his master-type’ terminology. He is the ideal who ‘deserves and claims great things.'” (Page 129-30)

“The rejection of bourgeois morality does not dictate cruelty but rather places an emphasis on excellence. The will to power is not Reich but Macht and not supremacy but superiority.” (Page 130)

“Though Nietzsche may shock us with his elitist and warrior language, the Ubermenschen near to his heart are his aesthetic comrades, ‘philosophers, saints and artists.’ The unspoken but always present thesis is this: It is in the romantic practice of artistic creativity that modern excellence can be achieved and in an exquisite sense of personal taste and experience that it is realized.” (Page 130-31)

“Elitism is not itself an ethics. Indeed, I think both Aristotle and Nietzsche might well object to it as such. It is rather the presupposition that people’s talents and abilities differ. It is beginning with what is the case.” (Page 131)

“The purpose of an ethics is to maximize people’s potential, to encourage the most and best from all of them, but more by far from the best of them.” (Page 131)

“It is the simple recognition that true talents (and the cultures that encourage their development) are very rare. It is also the recognition that any universal rule-however ingeniously formulated and equally applied-will be disadvantageous to someone, especially if it is the development of artistic talent and not politics that we have in mind. It is also an enormous waste as well as unfair (both authors worry more about the former than the latter) for the strong to be limited by the weak, the productive limited by the unproductive, the creative limited by the uncreative.” (Page 131)

“It will not do to mask the point by saying that elitism does not treat people unequally, only differently. It presumes inequality from the outset and defends it by appeal to the larger picture. Aristotle does this by appeal to the well-being of the city-state and the natural order of things, Nietzsche by a more abstract but very modern romantic appeal to human creativity.” (Page 131)

“What is essential to this view of ethics-let us not call it elitist ethics but rather an ethics of virtue, areteic ethics-is that the emphasis is wholly on excellence, a teleological conception. The virtues are both conducive to and constitutive of rich, aesthetic experience, and it is such experience that justifies both the virtues and the life that embraces them.” (Page 131)

“What counts for much less is obedience of rules, laws, and principles, for one can be wholly obedient and also dull, unproductive, unimaginative, and a philistine.” (Page 131)

“He advocated a very different way of thinking about ethics, one that encouraged living life to the fullest and cultivating a rich inner life.” (Page 137)

“What is ultimately good, according to this viewpoint, is virtuous character, a person with the right virtues, a person with integrity or what Nietzsche calls ‘nobility.'” (Page 137)

“There is much they share in common, beginning with the warrior culture that Aristotle lived in and Nietzsche fantasized through his reading of the Greeks. Thus courage, for both of them, is the chief virtue, the one that provides something for all of the others.” (Page 139)

“Another critical shared feature, natural to the Greek ar te but lost in the translation to German Tugend or English virtue, is the linkage between virtue and excellence, that is, extraordinary achievement rather than merely appropriate behavior. Nietzsche, like Aristotle, is interested in the ‘great-souled man,’ the hero-aristocrat, not just ‘being a good person.'”(Page 139)

“Philosophically, what is of particular interest is that neither of their accounts of the virtues makes very much use of the supposedly basic distinction between ‘moral’ and non-moral’ virtues.” (Page 139)

“.., I would suggest we follow Swanton, who defines a virtue as “a trait-specifically a human excellence whose possession tends to enable, facilitate, make natural the possessor’s promoting, expressing, honoring, and appreciating value; or enhancing, expressing, honoring or appreciating valuable objects or states of affairs which are valuable.” The emphasis on excellent is important because I would read Nietzsche as insisting that no virtue is good ‘in itself,’ but only as it contributes to something else of value, such as personal style and character, the production of beauty, an ecstatic personal experience, or the cultural enrichment of society.” (Page 140)

“It is unfortunate, perhaps, that although Nietzsche clearly wants to defend aesthetic and artistic values and virtues, he so enjoys warrior-like metaphors that his perspective is easily lost or misread as something brutal and cruel.” (Page 140)

“But more generally, Nietzsche defends a conception of ethics that has not (and had not) been adequately appreciated, either in contemporary ethics or in nineteenth-century German philosophy. And that is an ethics that focuses on the virtues and excellence, and the aesthetic virtues and excellences in particular.” (Page 142)

“I have already suggested that courage, for Nietzsche as for Aristotle, serves as a key virtue and something of a prototype for all of the virtues. But for Nietzsche as for Aristotle, courage is not limited to or for that matter mainly concerned with battlefield bravery that both of them take as their apparent paradigm (or, in Nietzsche’s case, as his most prevalent source of metaphors). There is, as I mentioned, the courage of one’s convictions, which in the case of iconoclast Nietzsche was certainly more of a challenge than for good-old-boy Aristotle. There is the courage of facing up to life,  “ (Page 148)

“Indeed, one tempting way to summarize Nietzsche’s entire ethics is to say, like Confucius, that all moral values become aesthetic values, and one should look at one’s life, as at the world, through aesthetic lenses, as ‘a work of art.'” (Page 163)

“To see the world as beautiful, despite suffering, even because of suffering, remains one of his most explicit aspirations throughout his philosophy and one that he would certainly urge upon us.” (Page 163)

“Nietzsche’s insistence on ‘hardness,’ too, is misunderstood, typically as part of his dubious campaign against compassion and pity. But, Nietzsche put a strong emphasis on self-discipline.” (Page 170)

     The above is a lot of material to digest.  But, after a careful examination and analysis of this information, comparing it to Gorean philosophy and morality, one will see the obvious applicability.  And one will better comprehend what it means to be Gorean.  Simply, Gorean morality is a type of virtue ethics, a master morality. 

Written by Ubar Luther in Gor-Now.net

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One Comment on “Gorean Morality & Nietzsche

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