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Ernesto Rodriguez

Philosophy 12: Ethics

Summer 2004

 

Post #8: What exactly does Nietzsche mean by the “transvaluation of values”? Why is he so critical of Judeo-Christianity? Explain his position.

 

When Nietzsche spoke of a “transvaluation of values”, he meant a redefinition of what are considered to be true values. Those values upheld by the Christian church were the paradigm of ethics, and according to Nietzsche those values were “reversals” of what he considered as true values. Thus Nietzsche argued for a “transvaluation of values”, a reevaluation and reinterpretation to be carried out by those capable of doing so. This restructuring of values involved replacing those values imposed by Christian morality, such as humility, sympathy, and love, with Nietzsche's ideas of values: pride, apathy, and above all things, strength.

 

Nietzsche was offended by Christian morality on many levels, beginning with the “Betrayal of Jesus” that he accredited to Christians. Nietzsche thought of Jesus as good news, and of Paul and the early Christians as the “persecutors of God” who unwittingly distorted this good news. Nietzsche believed that true Christianity is found in the acts, the practice, not in the beliefs or the words. He argued that Jesus was a model of this, that his life and death were intended to be a model for Christians to follow in their lives. But this message was lost, according to Nietzsche; entirely misconstrued by the narcissism of Paul and other early Christians as a symbolic redemption of man’s sins.

 

Nietzsche was in further disagreement with the church because as he saw it, Christian morality and all its principles of humility and sympathy only work to suppress the “Will to Power” which he valued so much. It suppresses the “Will to Power” that Nietzsche contended is central to our advancement, therefore it works against us. Nietzsche argued that those things that Christian morality seeks to suppress are part of nature, thus he condemned it as being “anti-nature”.