Monday, May 21, 2012

Genealogy of Morals

Morality is herd instinct in the individual............. F. Nietzsche, The Gay Science
distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful! ........F. Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Nietzsche's penetrating insights go exactly to the heart of the matter. He didn't approve of conventional morality. He probably didn't realize it, since such things weren't known in his time, but he wanted people to be more like Chimpanzees or perhaps Lions.

That instinct to punish is one of the key elements of human morality - in particular the instinct to punish free riders and others who would prevent group selection from doing its work. Of course human "groupishness" is far more elaborate than simple herd instincts, and requires multiple adaptations that herding animals lack. Haidt tends to call it our "hive" mind, since our social powers go far beyond herds and packs, and only bees and a few others can be considered equally groupish.

If Nietzsche had been able to bring himself to comprehend Darwin, he might have seen further.