One philosopher whose philosophy I find reprehensible is Nietzche's. His philosophy revolves around the mission of finding the meaning of life without the presupposition of a god. I believe that such a pursuit to find the meaning of life independent of the existence of god to be a worthwhile philosophical pursuit by man to attempt to see if indeed, a meaning of life can exist without God, and Nietzche had bothered to take up the initiative. However, the conclusion that he had drawn from his philosophizing is so pessimistic that I would think it better for humans to be deluded by a moralistic religion even if it does not exist.
Alot of virtues are derived from the belief that they are universal concepts; perhaps they be of the divine or intrinsically good by their own quality. When one begins on a quest to answer the question of whether the meaning of life can exist without God , one would need to do away with the presupposition that they come from a divine. However, if virtues are not transcendental, in that they are not conferred upon us from some other realm, then where do they come from? They must be conceived from the minds of Man. But why do humans come up with the concepts of morality and virtues? My hypothesis is that if virtues and all codes of morality derive from Man, and the reason for any characteristics or inventions to persist is that they enhance the survivability of the subject, then the reason Man derives virtues is due to the benefits that they bring to those who uphold virtues over those who do not. Morality is hence a utilitarian dialetics, and what brings about good to a society or to humanity is deemd as virtue. In fact, virtues such as altruism and selflessness come about due to the utility they bring overall to society and that is why they exist. A possible evidence that would confound the reasons for the existence of virtues is if they do not bring as much benefits as if vices were practiced. Moralist philosophers like Socrates would claim that virtue is a good in itself and should exist even if they do not bring about extraeneous benefits. On my part, I believe that it is sufficient that virtues can exist solely on their utility.
Nietzche however, came to a different conclusion from mine. He saw the code of morality that exists as a gross diversion from a more anarchical state of affair that is better at progressing humanity. In Nietzche's point of view, progress is a result of anthropological evolution where the strong triumphs over the weak. The strong would eliminate the weak and subsequently propagate their characteristics of strength. Moral code of conducts, such as those expousing 'slave-like' virtues of selfless serving, is in contrary to this process of anthropological evololution that has led to the progress of humanity. Such morals are notable preached by religious figures such as Jesus. Following from this line of argument, Nietzche concludes that the meaning of life is the triumph of the individual's will over the will of others. Life would find fulfilment when an individual is able to discover his will to power and express it. It is the competitions of wills whereby the strong will win and the weak should most welcome its defeat.
Even if go by Nietzche's line of reasoning, I see virtues as an organic development to humanity and not an unnaturally imposed development by moralists. We can just rationalise the existence of virtues using Nietzche's own logic as the will of virtues triumphing the will of selfish individualism.
However, even if virtues is indeed less beneficial than selfish ambitions, I am not pleased with Nietzche's philosophy that the spontaneous exercise of one's individual will would bring to one fulfilment and the meaning of living. I question the meaning of striving to impose one's will when the impermanence of life renders such a pursuit transient. Nietzche would answer that a life is fulfilling for its own sake and is not to be understood for anything else. I do not find this explanation convincing as I find existence of life to be contingent ( why is there life instead of nothing?), and to confer any absolute meaning of living is artificial and dogmatic.
I also do not suscribe to Nietzche's theory that the aggressive pursuits of individual wills and the triumph of the stronger over the weaker would lead to anthropological evolution and societal progress. Nietzche had proposed it himself that the struggle of wills exists not only in the political and military fields, but in the cultural field as well. The struggle of wills is hence not one-dimensional and can have external effects on other endeavours of humanity. A triumph of military will can degrade cultural will, and certainly, this is a regression of humanity than a progression. Think about the barbarian invasion of Rome that led to the Dark Ages, or the near decimation of Europe from the warfaring but culturally-deficited Mongols. If indeed, the Mongol leader Ogadai had not died and continued his expansion, the military powerful Mongols would have overruned Europe and destroyed whatever cultural remnants of Western Civilization that survived the Dark Ages. In today's context, even if North Korea were to win the war against capitalist countries by developing and using nuclear weapons, it would not atone for the deficits that exists in its communist system but only establish a fact that it is military superior. By evidences provided by history and by reasons, I find it hard to believe that progression of society can be achieved by allowing for an ammoral world where the strong is to triumph over the weak.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Why should one practice immorality if he does not believe in God? It is illogical to do so out of spite for God because this would acknowledge that God exists and if so, why predispose yourself to his disfavourment instead of looking of ways to gain his favour so that he might grant you what you want? It is also illogical to do so as a belief of atheism because an atheist should be looking for ways to exercise morality without the jurisdiction of religion. Since morality brings about benefits for humanity as a whole, even if atheism was indeed true, it would have to consolidate its philosophy with morality to be practical to the world. Otherwise, it would be better to be deluded by religion than to be enlightened by an ammoral atheistic philosophy that brings nothing but a despairing viewpoint of the way the world works. Either way, one should pursue a moral life, whether he believes in God or not.