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 Class Forums - Spring 2013
 PHIL 200-002 - Friedrich Nietzsche
 Power & Stepping Stones
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Tucker Blake
Newcomer

4 Posts

Posted - Apr 19 2013 :  4:18:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Today in class much of what we talked about had me thinking just what does keep the noble from stepping on those below them to improve themselves, like stabbing a fellow runner in the leg. I turned to the 26th aphorism in The Gay Science in the section "Joke, Cunning, and Revenge." In this passage, Nietzsche quickly describes someone who "must ascend" steps that are made from other people. The simple choice of the word must makes me think that while the powerful do step on those below them, it is a necessary thing.

Back to the race idea. There needs to be a winner of the race. A "stepping on" people will happen, because there has to be a loser for a winner to rise. However, there is no need to take any such action as stabbing the competitors. Doing something like that would completely be against the noble way. To me, people who have to settle with stabbing their competitors to win would be exemplifying virtues of the weak, namely ressentiment. Weak individuals who know that they could lose their races might resolve to impair the best runners, but they would be acting on feelings of spite and jealousy. The noble want not only to win, but to win against the odds; they want to win the race against the fastest runners. Nobody who would be a Nietzschean "noble" would want to win a race against someone with a leg wound. If he won, he would have beaten a cripple, and if he lost, he would have been beaten by one! It takes no power to engage in a race in which there can be only those two outcomes.

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Ryan Crawford
Moderator

5 Posts

Posted - May 02 2013 :  2:37:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In this particular instance, I believe it is Nietzsche's intention to redefine what is virtuous, maybe claiming that the individual's ascent and the way he makes that ascent (by means of this "stepping on") is virtuous. One "must" do this, if one is to creating advantages for oneself. I could be wrong, but it couldn't hurt to read this through a Machiavellian lens, specifically the thought that virtuous ends will justify seemingly unethical means.

[Lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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Brittny Gadsby
Fledgling

13 Posts

Posted - May 12 2013 :  5:35:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I believe that Ryan has hit the nail on the head, so to speak. In order to be 'on top' you have to take the necessary 'steps' to get there. In order to obtain advantages and opportunities, you must step over others, excel, outdo the others, and attain your goal.

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Jeremy Grooms
Fledgling

7 Posts

Posted - May 12 2013 :  11:44:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Tucker, I agree with you that the Nietzschean noble would never "stab someone in the leg" in order to rise to the top, but my question is if some one does get to the top by "stabbing" someone and society sees him or her as someone who is noble, then what is the difference between the Nietzschean noble and the person who is merely regarded as noble?

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Brittny Gadsby
Fledgling

13 Posts

Posted - May 12 2013 :  11:51:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jeremy, I believe the only difference between the two men is in the way they ascended to the top. One did it the way a real noble would do it and the other cheated, but they both did reach the same status in society. As far as anybody knows, these men are equally great, so is it really that bad of a thing to "race a cripple," if you climb the ladder?

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Jeremy Grooms
Fledgling

7 Posts

Posted - May 12 2013 :  11:55:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Brittny, I do not know if I have an answer for you. I guess what it comes down to is this: can you live with yourself if you do use a "cripple" to climb the ladder in becoming a noble? I do believe that Nietzsche would not consider this man a noble, but then again how would Nietzsche know what this man did to achieve his status?

[Very lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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