Sunday, September 27, 2009

Morality is Natural

I have a problem with Nietzsche saying that the next step for humans is to lose their conscience. That we are need to lose our sense of morality and our need of a higher being to evolve. Nietzsche says that having a sense of morality is unnatural, that animals do not have morality and that humans will soon lose it as well. Well looking at it from a Utilitarian point of view, morality is the most natural thing of all. A utilitarian like Bentham says that we are guided by pleasure and pain. We naturally seek pleasure, and naturally we avoid pain. Mankind creates rules and morality so that we can maximize pleasure and minimize pain, we just made the rules universal. We make rules like never steal or kill so that society can function, and we can enjoy things like computers and IPods. Animals share the feelings of pleasure and pain. A wolf knows that it is bad to attack another member of the pack because it will lose its own personal security. Morality is something we created as a defense mechanism so that we can function in society and maximize pleasure. In our world we stress people not to do certain things, like don’t steal and don’t kill, we do not tell people how to actually live their life. Our moral rules do not say that people have to be lawyers when they grow up. This demonstrates that our morality is a set of rules so that we may all pursue our own happiness. Nietzsche might say that a strong man wouldn’t care about morality and do whatever pleased him, however it would not be practical for anyone to do so, it is too hard to scrape by a living that way. Sometimes it pays when people play the game so everyone can flourish.

If you grant me the idea that pleasure and pain are natural motivations for animals, this will not be too far of a stretch. Utilitarianism can also explain the reason why people want a higher power. Having faith in an all knowing god that will provide eternal happiness is a comforting feeling. Even if God is just something mankind made up, it is something we made up in our pursuit of happiness. The idea of a higher being will give people comfort in death and allow people to cope with pain better. The idea of god would therefore be considered natural because of the natural forces of pleasure and pain. Regardless of whether or not god exist objectively, it still can be practical to believe in one.


  1. *perhaps it is the universalization of this utilitarian guide that is problematic*
    Anyway I like your point, but I also feel that morality is not always a means of maximizing pleasure. Doing the right and moral thing does not always lead to pleasure does it?

  2. I don't think a society can function without commonly accepted rules aka morals. If conscience goes, I think so does society, at least the way we know it. In society we all give up some of our freedom/power to benefit mutually. No longer do we have to live in fear of being killed or hunted by others or have our stuff stolen, because there is an incentive for all of us to behave according to rules. When these rules are broken, society teams up against the infractor and it is usually detrimental for him or her. I couldn't agree more with the game analogy Jared.

  3. I think there's a conflict between motivations concerning this issue. Self-interest and interest in the advancement of the entire human race are two very different things which often find themselves in direct opposition. Nietzsche might say that not all humans deserve to advance equally, and that the Übermensch should take over sans all those pesky morals. But then what? Wouldn't the Übermensch also have to eventually create some kind of social contract before they started killing each other too?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.