Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is inequality necessarily wrong?

In line with the discussion on Nietzsche, I am wondering what the thoughts are out there in regards to equality. Is it wrong to say that one person is better than another based on their actions and life? The mastery/slave morality shows that people are not equal. Without carrying it to the extreme (the grouping of people into 'better' and 'worse' categories), can there be people who are truly better according to a societies norms? When I look at someone like Mother Theresa as compared to Hitler, there seems to be little doubt in my mind that she was a much better person than Hitler. I would imagine most would agree. What about on a 'lower' level? What about common people? Say a friend of mine does not drink in excess, does not curse, volunteers their time, etc. and is in every sense of the word is a good person. Another friend drinks like a fish, has a record, shows blatant disregard for their fellow man and is in every sense of the word a bad person. Is it wrong to say that friend A is better than friend B as an individual? That they have more worth? Maybe someone is better than another based on the life they have chosen to lead and the decisions they make on a daily basis. When I look at life around me in nature, I see very few equalities. Why should humans automatically be different? Just some thoughts...


jeff said...

Based on our discussion in class, and how we defined the master and slave morality, I developed alternative terms for the morality mindsets than the ones we were using. To me, the master morality seemed to be in line with what we would call "nature," or basic instinct. If we look to the animal/plant world around us, we see every living thing's desire for power and survival with neither ill intention or compassion for the beings surrounding each creature. This existence seems to be right on par with Nietzsche's idea of master morality. So if you accept Nietzsche's master morality, which I would argue is the mindset of any Darwinist, than no, inequality is not wrong. It is merely the way the universe operates, or to quote the Lion King, the circle of life.

However, if we accept that master morality exists, than we must accept that slave morality exists (and the evidence has already been provided in Nietzshe's own argument). Thus, since I have dubbed master morality "nature," I dub slave morality "humanity." This terms incorporates compassion, charity, and empathy, all of which we categorize as uniquely human. This "humanity" is what separates us from the animals.

So having answered (in my viewpoint and assuming that we accept Nietzsche's arguments) that inequality is not wrong, I ask another question. Which are humans more inclined to? We both have the "nature" and the "humanity" side, but is there one that is ingrained in us that the other competes with? I would answer yes, but I would like to see how everyone else would argue this question.

Sophia said...

As social animals, Humans cannot survive by living only for themselves, or for fighting for their own individual power.

This is obvious in the case of babies. They do not raise themselves, and they cannot raise themselves. Without these new humans, the human species would die out, so we take care of babies, despite their powerlessness.

People also tend not to take survival necessities away from people weaker then them, because even though they may be weaker, without these supposed mentally weak blind followers, the masters would have to do all the slave work themselves.

Inequality, I would say, is wrong in that it is bad for the whole species. Although survival of the fittest is how natural selection works, human interaction is much more complicated.

Humans don't have to follow the laws of natural selection in their interactions with people. Someone could help another person because the person has empathy for the helpless. People have empathy because they have the ability to reason, which is something nothing else in nature can do. Humans can understand what other humans are thinking and feeling, and relate it to themselves. They see that people are equal.

The problem is that the world IS a world that encourages individual survival, as opposed to the survival of the entire species. People who, by chance, have better luck ARE allowed to exploit people less lucky then them.

Though working your way out of bad luck, and lack of opportunities is possible sometimes, it often is not. For example, to get a good job, one has to go to college, and to go to college, they need money. The same money they can't get unless they have a good job.

pamela1103 said...

Although it seems elementary I think that the idea of good or bad, better or worse depend upon who you are asking. If you are to ask a Christian wether person A or B were better, they would most likely say A because their way of living is more in accordance with God's teachings. On the other hand if you were to ask someone with similar lifestyle choices as person B, they may think that B is a better person.

I think our society has shaped us to believe what makes a good person, or bad person, and what makes one person more important than another. Certain ideals are valued in our society as being what everyone should follow. I think our current society places worth on status, career, money, prestigue, and individualism. All of these traits I think cause people to try and separate and compete with each other in order to become "better" than other people.

There have been times in history were small "utopian" communities that were socialist tried to live, but eventually they have fallen. Unless everyone is willing to try to be equal it will never work. Our society has become to individualistic for people to ever be equal. We were founded upon individualism through the Constitution and the Articles of the Confederation.

So I guess in short, I agree that there are very few equalities left in the world today.

Andrew Fitch said...

First off, I would hope to think that everyone is not equal (nor the same). People are what they do; their experiences and environments weighing against one another carried out by one's actions. No two have a history of "equal" experiences nor are they surrounded by "equal" environments, therefore no two are the same or "equal". I feel that this concept of equality is widely ingrained into Americans from documents such as the Declaration of Independence. "...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights..." This is solely in mention of justice and the equality of all citizens in the eyes of the law; that every citizen is free to enjoy the same rights.
I agree with a statement of inequality but not a valuation as to one being "better" or "worse" than another. These labels are subjective terms that one can personally evaluate with their own set of morals. Therefore, in the end, is only a personal opinion, nothing greater or more definitive.
While pondering these labelings though, one must keep in mind that this person may (and most likely does) not share the same set or morals. According to Nietzsche and his master morality, one is not made to adopt others' beliefs but to invent and follow one's own. I am inclined to take that stance as well. Also, I have attempted to steer away from labeling certain things as "good" or "bad", "better" or "worse," but being content in the fact that things are different and that they are what they are. I feel that remaining neutral in emotion towards things allows one a wider, more objective view of the world.

Talia said...

I would have to agree with Pamela here in the discussion of "Person A" and "Person B". It seems to me that one cannot evaluate one's level of "goodness" by looking at societal norms or status quo. The relativity of human opinon is to0 vast and individualized to appropriately place labels onto others. The many variables, natural or societal, that go into a person's make up hinder any factual annalysis for what makes a human good. It is my belief that a person's moral code stems only from what that individual considers moral. Perhaps my defense of Nietzsche's Master mentality stems from that beief. If we consider two individuals: both opperating under the master mentality, the concept of building your own morality. One is completely altruistic (a question for another day...can human's be completely altruistic? just as Augustine asks if he can really love sin for just evil's sake?) looks to helping out his fellow man from a point of his own morality, feeds the hungy...etc etc. The other, also stemming from his own morality, forcloses peoples houses for his personal monetary gain, sells narcotics etc etc. Is it not within a society's consideration that the one who feeds the hungry is good and the one who deals drugs to single mothers is bad? But if they both follow along their own individual moral codes acoording to their personal opinons...would they not both be "good"?

Author Ayn Rand has been on my mind much in considering Nietsche's Ideas on Master/slave morality. In the "Fountainhead", there is no doubt that Howard Roark is opperating on a Level of master morality. Yet the book evaluates the society's criminalization of him. Is there a way to opperate under master morality and have a utiopian soceity? Wouldn't that require everyone to opperate from a place of master morality?

Cash said...

Ok. So I really hope that it's not too late to post for this week, seeing that it is 2am Monday morning. Anyways, I finally got this blog working with my computer and wanted to throw in my input as soon as possible. Hopefully this will make sense, keep in mind I did say its 2am.

So the question brought forth was whether or not inequality necessarily is wrong....I've read through the comments already on this question and have come to the conclusion that rating someone either "good" or "bad" is, in my opinion, bad. It seems as though the consensus is that people are way too different from one another to rate others or have an absolute opinion.

As talia said, “The relativity of human opinon is to0 vast and individualized to appropriately place labels onto others.”

I would like you to entertain an idea for me now. I don’t think it’s too far fetched to believe that people are incapable of determining good and bad. But if this were the case, why do we still have it? Are there things in the world that are universally bad? And if so, where does this universal morality stem from?

Consider for a moment the fact that in order for a good or bad standard to be made there must be someone/something that is either fully good or fully bad. The thought that someone can be "good" or "bad" points to a universal morality, suggesting that relativism isn't an accurate depiction of morality.

But what do we know about the world we live in?

A) We know that every law has a law-giver. You can't have a law unless someone created it. I think that this is a pretty common supposition.

B) We also know that by claiming people can be good or bad we submit to the fact that there is in fact an absolute moral law. (This is how we know, for example, that there is no situation in which rape would be morally right)

C) Knowing this, we can conclude that if this is true there must be an absolute Moral Lawgiver.

By stating that there are even good and bad people we are suggesting that there is some form of higher being/absolute moral law-giver.

If this were not the case, good and bad/equality and inequality couldn’t exist. These ideas would merely be one person's opinion over another.

So what does this mean?

I think this can mean a number of different things. However, if we can even fathom an idea that someone can be good or bad, I think this may point to something other than simple human relativism.

Anyways, just something to think about. Hopefully that makes more sense than i think it does.