11 Important Criticisms of Nietzsche’s Moral Principles

The following criticisms have been advanced against Nietzsche’s moral principles:

1. Superman is not beyond good and evil:

To treat superman’s behaviour as beyond moral criticism is to fail to understand the meaning of Ethics. Nietzsche has allowed a strong will power to superman. Whatever he does he does by his strong will power.

Then how can he be believed to be beyond good and bad? Secondly, Nietzsche believes that Superman evolves from man. If this too is to be believed, then how can superman plausibly be beyond good and evil?

The only things that can be beyond good and bad are God and matter. Man, no matter whether he is strong or weak, can never be beyond good and bad. All actions which are voluntarily conducted are objects of moral judgment.

Actually, that which appears right to Nietzsche, superman’s behaviour, of course, is only frivolity. Moral laws are universal. Man cannot break or destroy them. It may be that blinded by his own egoism and power superman may disregard moral laws or even try to imagine a new Ethics but even then his action will be declared good or bad.

The conduct of Nietzsche’s superman like Napolean and Caesar, and even Nietzsche’s own conduct cannot escape the judgment of good and bad. Ethics has some eternal laws which cannot change with man’s desire. Goodness and badness are adjusted by them.

2. Revaluation is immoral:

Nietzsche’s entire principle of revaluation of values is not admissible from the ethical view-point. They create new laws and construct new values. He does not mean to judge them on the criterion of good and bad but merely wants to make them a means to power.

It is an attempt to construct a science of behaviour. He distinguishes between a ‘philosophic laborer’ and a true philosopher. According to him true philosophers differ from the ‘philosophic laborer’ who comments on values on the basis of their feelings.

They examine everything on the basis of their own feelings. But the question here arises that can the principles based on any individual’s feeling or reaction be completely accepted to be true?

Will not the principles of individuals change as the feelings change? Then how will the truth be judged by them? Nietzsche looks upon morality as relative and individual.

Then his Ethics can be correct only in his own mind, what has he to do with others? Such a principle comes to Solipsism. In his assumption “philosophic laborer” Nietzsche applies the then laborer’ to people who ponder over values established by other.

But if the principles of philosopher too are grounded in personal feelings then are they too not worth examining because of their basis in personal feeling? Nietzsche’s revaluation is like making any Ethics for the satisfaction of a desire due to a certain tendency or impulse.

Ethics has some fundamental postulates too. It is based on some everlasting laws which are unqualified by time or space and it is meaningless to attempt to alter them.

And hi this transformation Nietzsche makes his frivolity even more transparent by completely eliminating the qualities of Christianity. It cannot be doubted that moral behaviour does undergo modifications with time and space but it is incorrect to violate the everlasting aspect of Ethics.

3. Biological Principles:

Nietzsche was an atheist He gave a biological interpretation of ‘his world. But Ethics cannot be based on biological principles. The desire to gain power cannot be any spiritual aim. Morality lays in the selfless fulfillment duty. The basis of Ethics should be rational not biological

4. Weak social aspect:

Being an individualist Nietzsche’s Ethics has not done proper justice to the social aspect in an individual both egoistic and altruistic tendencies are fundamental. Pity, love and sympathy, etc. are not an indication of weakness.

They are essential social qualities. There is a lot of deep truth in Gandhiji’s saying that more power is needed for pursuing non-violence than for violence. Self advancement is pure egoism without social service. In the absence of sublime qualities, man’s development is only partial.

5. Relative moralities:

Belief in the relativity of Ethics should make Nietzsche’s modality relative too, stripping it of any everlasting value. Kant was right when he that moral laws are unqualified by circumstances.

This is the difference between them and other laws, the principle of relativity itself being relative field consequently incapable of application to every situation.

6. Negation of freedom:

Nietzsche does treat man as a free and rational being to refuse to recognize an individual’s freedom and to negate his rational nature is to strike at the very roots of Ethics, or very like it. In the event of a lack of freedom meaningful to talk of evolution of superman and a revaluation of values

7. Fascism:

It may be that Nietzsche may not have meant the support of fascism but the evolution of Fascism based on his ethical philosophy makes it apparent about it did contain seeds of such an evolution. Nietzsche openly opposed democracy supported war and praised aristocracy. It these critics called him a Fascist surprise?

8. Absence of sublime qualities:

Nietzsche bitterly criticized the principle of equality arid humanitarian qualities. Classification of the human race into categories of roaster and slave may be a factual description but the moral ideal should be to and not increase them. Lacking the sublime qualities, the suspension of Nietzsche becomes devil.

9. Mutually contradictory thought:

Nietzsche’s thoughts represent extreme, self contradiction- For this reason many critics have decried him while others place it in a rank with Socrates and Shankara. But any impartial student of his writings cannot deny the biased nature of his thinking.

Nietzshe’s ethics can attain a balance only if he compromises with the very Christianity he bitterly criticized fail? Which there are sufficient reasons in his statements for declaring then, extremely immoral?

10. Partial theory:

Nietzsche did not succeed in presenting a novel ethics. He certainly did refute the old morality but his morality is nothing new, it is in fact a contradiction of the old. Against Christian morality he did establish a novel morality but his morality was no less partial than the Christian.

Christianity stressed the sublime qualities. Its ethics is practical in some ways but in the same meaning is it impractical too. Nietzsche’s shortcoming is the disregard or violation of the qualities of Christianity.

11. Will to power is not a satisfactory moral ideal:

The will to power can, under no circumstances, be a basis for a satisfying moral ideal. A moral ideal can be satisfactory only if it can provide for the complete development of all tendencies in human personality.

The will to power is a predominant desire, a fact which cannot be doubted, but besides it there are other equally important desires in individual egoistic and altruistic tendencies are equally present.

Desire for possessing power is obviously egoistic or selfish. In the ethics of Nietzsche, the basis for qualities likes force, vanity, reason, enterprise, fearlessness and pugnacity etc.

Which are characteristic of supermen is selfishness. The ethics of Nietzsche is the ethics of selfishness. To make it satisfactory, the altruistic qualities of Christianity will have to be assimilated hi it

The desire for power is the urge of the person’s biological personality. In the mental and intellectual fields it cannot be considered to be of the utmost importance. At the intellectual level, it is the desire for self sacrifice and self effacement which is more natural. At the mental level, influx is accompanied by out flux.

Looked at with more acute vision, the ideal of possession of power is no moral ideal at all. Moral laws are unrelated to the circumstances and they should be obeyed only from the viewpoint of duty.

No ideal can be created with a passionate basis, the highness of the passion being of no value whatever. No moral theory is a balanced theory which serves to distinguish between social and individual good. And it is wrong to look upon benevolence, pity, sympathy, love, etc. as weakness. When he lacks it a superman is at best a devil.

Submitted by : Professor Jharna, Category : Knowledge