Free Essay About Nietzsche: The Modern Culture And Individuality

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Culture, Ethics, Nietzsche, Morality, Society, Religion, People, Reason

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/17

The understanding of the individual or the self has been subjected to intensive debates over the years. Various philosophers have sought to understand how the individual or the self is manifested in the society. There has also been a massive inquiry into how culture affects aspects of individuality. Nietzsche is one of the philosophers who have explored this aspect in great detail. Generally speaking, Nietzsche is world renowned critic of modernity and his arguments on various aspects of modernity, and their authenticity or credibility have been discussed by various scholars over the years. One of the areas that Nietzsche had dedicated a large portion of his writing on is the nature of modernity and its influence. A deep analysis of his writing reveals his greatest argument on modernity and individuality. Nietzsche hypothesizes that the modern culture is characterized by humongous industrialization and rationalization that act in a hostile way towards individuality and seems to campaign for a proliferation of a common thought among the people as well as the institutionalization of people into common ethical and morality philosophies.
Nietzsche begins his argument by looking at the ancient Greek culture. This culture was extremely competitive in nature and was characterized by individuals having expertise in different fields. These individual did not hold anything back when it came to supremacy battles unlike the modern era where people seem even afraid exhibit their personal skills fearing that they may rub off as selfish or hurt the feelings of others. The competitive nature of the ancient Greek culture meant that individuality and personal heroism were praised. However, the Greek culture had its faults and it emphasis on individuality was in fact faulted by some who thought the world would be a better place if a common thought or way of life was adopted and if the goals of people were harmonized. This then led to the creation of the Socratic culture. Unlike the ancient Greek culture, the Socratic culture was characterized by the blossoming of homogenous and shared values and procedures, or ways of doing things. Socrates who was somehow the leader of this movement introduced the concept of Socratic reasoning and logic and thus, rationalization was introduced to the world. These were aimed at curbing the various individual impulses that characterized the society of the time. Virtue, knowledge and reason were equated and consequently, the instrument for both morality and truth became reason. It is from this Socratic culture that the modern culture has been built on.
Nietzsche does not hold back when it comes criticizing this modem culture and attributes the loss of individuality to it claiming that it espouses values that prevent people from flourishing as individuals and instead orients towards societal success. This is primarily reason why there are no modern heroes. Mass society and industrialization have led to the demise of opportunities for heroic individualism. The Socratic culture introduced the concept of “theoretical man”, something that still characterizes the modern society. According to Nietzsche, this celebration of the theoretical man, whereby everything is based on logical and rationally constructed concepts, has essentially led to the development of a culture of subjectification. In this culture, rationalization and reason have led to the formation of a cultural complex that is not only hostile but actually very incompatible with cultural diversity, the human body, as well as strong individuality. The modern culture is a subjectified culture where unwarranted rationalization and reason negate individuality and the human body to social control and discipline.
The other characteristic of the modern culture and that Nietzsche has sensationally criticized is religion, specifically Christianity. In his view, Christianity also curtails individuality. This religion suppresses bodily instincts which are essentially the foundation of individuality. Christianity also promotes some sense of guilt and sin that is unhealthy and that leads to self-denial of the body and thus loss of individuality
Unlike the older cultures that provided authority and practiced self-discipline thus enabling individuals to feel alive and to be stronger, the modern culture does not espouse any of these characteristics. According to Nietzsche, the modern culture does not encourage individuality of even self-belief. It promotes a “cultural complex “where people feel like they to follow one similar path or direction that has been universally constructed for them through rational thought and reason. There is no room for spontaneity meaning that individuals rarely to get to show off their naturally given gifts. Nietzsche refers to this as “herd-like” behavior which he also contends to be quite mediocre. This aspect is clear in the part where he writes that “We modern men, very delicate, very vulnerable and paying and receiving consideration in a hundred ways”. The meaning of this phrase is that there is no room for individuality or heroic individualism because instead of acting on impulse like individuality would dictate, people nowadays have to consider many things before taking a particular action.
The loss of strong individuality in the modern culture has presented challenges to ethics and morality. The modern culture is also subjectified when it comes to ethics and morality. The society is forced to ascribe to a specific forms of ethics and morality that are inconsiderate of individual and personal goals. In fact, in many of his writings, Nietzsche is seen despising morality because of the fact that it is inconsiderate of the self or the individual. According to Nietzsche, the state of things in the current society where individuality has been wiped off means that a special code of ethics and a philosophy of morality is created for everyone to follow and ascribe to. This according to Nietzsche is an insult to the reason why these two concepts were formulated in the first place. Nietzsche is of the opinion that a particular action should not be judged as ethical or unethical depending on the intention of the person committing that action but should rather be judged based on the deep character from which this particular action stems. He emphasizes that ethics and moral emanate from one‘s passions and the subsequent conversion of these passions to virtues.
The problems presented by the modern culture on individuality as well on morals and ethics and be solved by the adjustment of the current culture and the discarding of some of its values including Christianity. Nietzsche hypothesizes that the adoption of a culture (for the example the ancient Greek culture) that promotes competition of different ideals and ideas, and ways of life encourage individuality. It also leads to a redefinition of ethics and morals whereby the ethical and moral nature of an individual is judged based on deep character and personal goals and not on an institutionalized code of ethics.
Ultimately, the theory of Nietzsche in regards to ethics and moral seems to be very feasible. Ethics and morals are subjective terms and, therefore, the tendency of the modern society to create standard codes of these two aspects for everybody is unwarranted because it leads to the blocking of individual aspirations and goals.

Works Cited

Kellner, Douglas. “Modernity and Its Discontents: Nietzsche’s Critique”. Columbia University. N. d. Print
May, Simon. Nietzsche's Ethics and His War on ‘morality'. Oxford University Press, 1999.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. "Untimely Meditations, trans. RJ Hollingdale. Introduction by JP Stern." (1983): 60.
Turner, Bryan S. Religion and modern society: Citizenship, secularisation and the state. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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