Thursday, June 15, 2006

Baby and Bathwater

This post was inspired by a discussion of good and evil in a recent post. We have been going beyond 'good and evil' since Nietzsche, but no one subscribing to his claim has satisfactorily (for me!) pointed out just what he/she means by good and evil.

Here is something I just found that may come close to answering Beyond Good and Evil:

"To see life as irrational chaos which we must embrace and such joyous affirmation as the value-generating activity in our human lives, while at the same time recognizing its ultimate meaninglessness to the individual, to many people seems like a prescription for insanity. What we, as human beings, must have to live a fulfilled human life is an image of eternal meaning." (If you by chance don't know this, Nietzsche died insane, and many have followed him along that path since.) (quote from Ian Johnston)

Now this "image of eternal meaning" is what I like to call the greater good.

The course of "Beyond Good and Evil" and its various (Eastern and Western) exponents is a special case of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater". No good and evil? As one of the brothers Karamazov said, "everything is permissible", leading to a pretty messy world.

Order! we old geezers like it; the young despise it. Think about that. Who's right?

The flower children of the sixties threw out one hell of a lot; but what has it got us? A long development leading to Terror, the great bugaboo used to bring people back to order, to be good little obedient children of a strong leader.

Whose good? Maybe your good is my evil, or vice versa (that's certainly the situation between the patriots and the terrorists). Revolutionaries abolish good and evil. But good and evil needs to be redefined to include more than a single tribe.

Is it possible to go through life with no desideratum, like Camus' Stranger? Yes, it's possible, but it leads to what happened to the stranger, if that's what you want. Maybe you want something better, more. Maybe you want a sense of meaning for your life.

When I was thirty I realized that's what I wanted; I asked, and boy did I get it! Hurrah!


xianchick said...

someone once told me that the first commandment in the satanic bible is "do whatever you want"

how's that for beyond good and evil?

< . ) |
< . ) | <- supposed to be a scary
mustachioed demon face

Larry said...

The holy bible has it, too, Chick: Judges 21:25. So you might say that both Bibles are like the little boy "who was often wrong".

xianchick said...

i'm sure that doing whatever you want would be different than doing what is right in your own eyes.

for instance, when the creepy millipede crawled through my window the other day (making me scream in horror and run to the other room) i wanted to kill it.

that was not right in my own eyes though... it was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did nothing to deserve corporal punishment, so i caught it (while screaming) and let it go.

...what do you think?

Larry said...

You're sure right, Chick.