Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

August 13, 2012

Against the Übermensch

Filed under: Anthroplogy,Bullies — Razib Khan @ 11:56 pm

On some occasions I have disagreed with friends who were influenced by the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche as to the contingent role of Christianity in the introduction of a highly egalitarian moral ethos in the West. The same tendency toward valorization of spiritual equality, and an exaltation of self-sacrifice as opposed to selfishness, were elaborated in a variety of religious-ethical systems between the first Olympic Games and the rise of Islam. Nor do I think these religious-philosophical systems were particularly original. Rather, I suspect that they “hook” into deep rooted intuitions about the moral order of the universe that we already have as human beings. Fairness is at least as much felt as it is taught.

I was reflecting upon this when considering narrative fiction, in particular works of adventure with a heroic protagonist. Though some characters may have flaws, we intuitively know what is the good. One of the fascinating aspects of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire is that the author seems to take joy in shattering the sanitized perceptions of medieval chivalry many have. And yet that heroic ideal persists. We know the archetype, and it’s not some cultural creation. A hero is a ...

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