Thursday, November 20, 2008

Philosophy 118: 19 November, 2008

These notes were taken from my class with Dr. Reyes for Philosophy 118 this Wednesday...

.:Birth Of Tragedy:.

This book was an attempt by Nietzsche to discuss the elements of a good tragedy. He cites two deities working in contrast with each other to produce a good tragedy:

Apollo – The god of wisdom, order, form, and light. Represented by dreams.
Dionysus – The god of chaos, the god of wine, the god of orgy. Represented by life.

A tragedy with only Apollo would be merely a pedantic, pontificating story with no reflection of the reality of life, lacking in drama and conflict. Much like the very clinical animation, Captain Planet. It was merely a lecture.

A tragedy with only Dionysus would merely be a chaotic, passionate, furious narrative with no order, logic, or a point to the story. Much like the popcorn summer movies that we are treated to by Hollywood, really.

He then uses it to translate this into other segments of life, such as preachers who do not have any passion in what they proselytize, or the hedonists whose passions are merely the only thing guiding their lives, senseless as it really is. He seeks to find a balance between “paralysis by analysis”, vis-a-vis plain hedonism. Aeschelus was the pinnacle of balance, and the balance was tipped from Sophocles all the way to Plato towards the pedantic.

Nietzsche is going to start addressing what seems to be happening below the reasoning faculties of man, the “id”, as it were, of Freudian lore. Suppression of the id results in an outpouring of this suppressed inclination through another means. We cannot reduce everything about the human person to merely reason. The only way one can address the id is to sublimate it: to channel it in another direction to find an acceptable outlet for such a desire.

While Nietzsche may predate Freud, he manages to talk about the Apollonian nature of man, which has to contend with his Dionysian nature. Both are needed, and to suppress the latter, or to ignore the former, would deny the authenticity of life. This is the reason why some believe Nietzsche to be the first psychologist, from which Freud merely took his cue.

.:The Critique Of Morality:.

Negative Aspects:

Nietzsche rails against the morality of conformism. A kind of morality that follows what the group expects of you, with the only reason for following it the fact that it is what everyone else does. Thus, we have a morality shaped by fear, shame, and guilt. “Stick To The Status Quo” from High School Musical, anyone?

It becomes a morality where people become mediocre and merely toe the line, for fear that being different would result in persecution. People just become average, to blend in rather than to stand out, such that they would be able to win the approval of the group.

It is a morality of crab mentality. As soon as someone attempts to be different, the group will try to cut down so that they would fit in with the rest by becoming just the same as everyone else. That way, if someone were to dare to stick out, we pull them down so they would conform.

It is also a morality that is based on a hidden agenda. Instead of using morality to properly correct someone, we actually use it to subvert or bring down somebody else. For example, the “nice guy” who sits around for a girl whom they like, expecting to get into their pants in return.

Positive Aspects:

You need to follow your conscience. If you listen closely enough to it, there is one basic thing your conscience will tell you: have the courage to become what you truly are. “To thine own self be true.” This is the main moral imperative for Nietzsche. Never mind what the Group has to say, regard only yourself and your conscience. The man who could be the “Ubermensch” is precisely the one who has the courage to be true to himself, the great individual. The truly moral man is courageous and willing to suffer without wavering to become what he truly is.

Each individual is unique in their own way, and in a conformist society, we forget that. Why do we award the most conformist students as “outstanding” when they literally do not stand out in any way? Is this not a contradiction?

Many people see where Nietzsche is coming from: conformist societies are commonplace, and people lose sense of the positive worth of morality, and that we ignore the individuality of the person.

We may not agree wholeheartedly with Nietzsche, but we understand his point: a morality that is borne out of fear rather than being true to one's self, is not a genuine morality, but merely one that just conforms to stay out of trouble. Doing no wrong is not the same as doing the right thing.

.:The Monkey Experiment:.

I don't know the source, but it makes a lot of sense here...

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.

Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water.

Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, turn off the cold water.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs.

To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.

The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Again, replace a third original monkey with a new one.

The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well.

Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.

Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been around here.

And that's how company policy begins ...

.:Quotable Quote:.

“My father is so ordered and busy, I can't meet him without having to set an appointment with his secretary!” - an old student of Dr. Reyes

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