Nietzsche And The Problem Of Individuality In The Modern Culture And Society Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Ethics, Nietzsche, Culture, Society, Morality, History, Body, Actions

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/17

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Introduction

Nietzsche is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers that ever lived. He especially stands out from other philosophers because of his ruthless criticism of modernity and basically everything that exists in the modern world. Nietzsche present powerful arguments on a variety of modern subjects including morality, philosophy, and religion. He criticizes many of the modern values and institution and deems them as oppressive to the bodily creativity and energies and also as blockers to the generation of a vigorous culture and society that is characterized by strong individuals. In simple terms, Nietzsche postulates that the modern and industrialized world is both repressive and homogenizing to the human body and is at the same time unreceptive and antagonistic towards strong individuality. This lack of individuality has led to the construction of a universal definition of morality and ethics that is inaccurate and the only way to rectify is to revitalize a new cultural complex that resembles the ancient Greek culture that was greatly emphatic on individuality.
In coming up with this argument, Nietzsche goes back to the ancient times and explains the conditions of that time that ensured that there was an opportunity for individual greatness and heroism. In fact, he brings forth the argument that the heroic individuals was essentially cultivated in the ancient era, and the ability to raise such people espousing such a great value of individuality has diminished. He particularly makes reference to the ancient Greek society that he argues was characterized by an almost endless struggle between passion and eroticism (Dionysus), and formalism and rationality (Appolo). Nietzsche then goes to suggest that that healthy life of a person or an individual would essentially need some reconciliation of these two human nature dimensions. According to Nietzsche, this aspect is not possible in the modern world. The modern society has one major problem, and this is the proliferation of industrial civilization, as well as the emergence of mass society, factors that have led to the eclipsing or obscuring of any opportunity for individual heroism.
Nietzsche argues that the modern culture is quite barbarian and basically consists of a structure-less amalgamation of fragmented competing works, styles, and ideas. Some of other negative attributes that he also places on the modern world include shallow optimism, excessive rationalism, egotistical individualism and homogenization. He also suggests that increased volumes of historical studies has made man to become “overwhelmed and almost paralyzed by historical knowledge”. For example, he writes, “We moderns possess nothing that is truly ours”. By this, he means that the modern society has become too emphatic on historical knowledge that developing new and innovative concepts is a hard task. In addition to this, Nietzsche also postulates that the modern society or individuals suffer from some sort of weakened personality, and this is again one of the reasons why it is hard to create strong individuals.
According to Nietzsche, the modern culture tends to have a domesticating effect to the human body meaning that the proliferation of heroic individuality is curtailed. Because of this, modern individuals have no option but to submit themselves to both discipline and instituted social control mechanisms such as religion. He equates the values of the modern culture to those of slavery. The modern culture has led to the creation of “resentment and powerlessness” in individuals. These two virtues are then exploited and manipulated to become social control and discipline. This then leads to the formation of a compliant ‘herd’ of individuals who have no choice but to conform or ascribe to a dominant form of morality. This leaves no room for individuality whatsoever. The rationalization and industrialization of the modern world have essentially led to the cultural domestication of the human body that is repressed inward. Nietzsche credits the Socratic culture as the foundation of this modern culture that is both oppressive to the body and that leads to the creation of relatively weak personalities. The pre-Socratic culture on its part was filled with vigor and unity. This pre-Socratic culture was characterized by agonistic individuals including philosophers, athletes, musicians, political and poets who were all engaged in a battle for supremacy on a public platform. This is in comparison to modern educators who appear to fear ambition and selfishness so much, unlike the traditional Greeks, who had no qualms about unleashing the power of self or the power of the individual. In the ancient society, the competition of conflicting ideas, values as well as ways of life led to the production of a vital culture that was also characterized by a lot of diversity. This is in contrast the “lifeless and homogeneity of the modem culture” according to Nietzsche. The cultural wars of the Greek society depicted a life-affirming and healthy culture that expresses both aesthetical as well as bodily sensibilities that essentially allowed the most creative and the strongest in the society to survive. According to Nietzsche, this is so different from the modern culture which as described earlier is not only repressive and homogenizing but is also antagonistic towards strong individuality.
Nietzsche argument on individuality, therefore, means that he also has a very interesting view when it comes to ethics and morality. Modern culture has led to the proliferation of a common and universal thought and thus a common morality and ethics philosophy. Nietzsche main argument that can be deduced from his writings is that the loss and slow demise of individuality in the modern culture places a challenge on the proper definition of morality and ethics. It leads to the formation of a universal understanding of morality and that cannot be correctly applied in every society or in every individual. According to Nietzsche, the consequences of one's actions and even the conscious intentions behind these actions are not what is ethically important. What really matters in ethical terms about a certain action is the unintentional substratum of this action, that is, the deep character from which this particular action arises. Nietzsche postulates, that the achievement of a virtuous character, and thus an ethical and moral character is made possible not via the suppression of an individual’s desires and passions for the sake of some universal thought, but rather through the adoption of the highest goal that has the ability to convert an individual’s passions into virtues because these virtues have the capability to support the goal and ultimately lead to its realization. This theory of ethics and morality, as observed, has a set of very feasible ideas because it emphasizes on a code of ethics and morals that is personally motivated rather than universally constructed.
In simple terms, therefore, the greatest challenge that is brought about by the problem of individuality loss on the modern cure is the proliferation of a universal understanding of ethics and morality that is not accurate and applicable to all societies.

Works Cited

Kellner, Douglas. “Modernity and Its Discontents: Nietzsche’s Critique”. Columbia University. http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/modernityanditsdiscontents.pdf
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Nietzsche: Untimely Meditations. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Detweiler, Bruce. "Nietzschean Individualism and Liberal Theory."

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