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Emotions - a Nietzsche perspective

Emotions - a Nietzsche perspective
bittersteel
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Posted Jun 2, 2008 - 10:54 AM:
Subject: Emotions - a Nietzsche perspective
I've just started reading about emotions - the reasons for our emotions, their causes, effects on the human body and what each emotion demands from the body...Baruch Spinoza states that there are only 3 basic "emotions" or rather their causes (if you could call them that) - pain, pleasure, desire...some others like descartes in his "passions.." takes a more conventional approach - Wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy and sadness.

I was wondering if emotions could be understood from a Nietzsche perspective...here's what I think

Happiness - The feeling that power is growing and resistance is overcome (Taken directly from The Antichrist)
Sadness -The feeling that we have been overcome and our power has decreased
Anger - A feeling that demands resistance to our own 'will to power' be crushed (resistance be met)
Fear - Requires us to conserve our "power" by withdrawl (resistance be avoided) - self preservation

Let me know your views on this !!!

And..um...Im bit of a dabbler in philosophy...the main reason I joined this forum is to learn more about myself and see other peoples views...so humour me if you think the post is a bit absurd and correct me if im wrong
jaoman
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Posted Jun 2, 2008 - 1:08 PM:

If Nietzsche were alive today, he'd probably regret ever mentioning the will to power. People tend to latch on to it and use it to categorize everything that he's done. As if he didn't have another intelligent thought in his head.

Nietzsche would never reduce anything to basic categories unless he were having a REALLY off day or it served a completely different purpose. Everything is a process for Nietzsche. Also, it is important to remember that, while not exactly a Darwinist, Nietzsche was very inspired by the Darwinian way of looking at the world. He wanted natural means wherever possible.

So, in Nietzsche's view, I would imagine there is no fundamental emotion. We feel whatever we feel. If there is a emotion or a group of emotions at the root of all other emotion, it isn't fixed. It depends on the individual. Some people may feel emotions more directed by anger, others by desire, other by pity and weakness. With will and time, the root emotions can be altered if a person is committed enough.

As for why they are there: emotions are essential to the natural order. All development is emotion. Every action is taken as a result of a drive. Emotions are an intrinsic part of the universe, just as the will to power, which is also an emotion, is.
bittersteel
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Posted Jun 2, 2008 - 2:06 PM:

the will to power is an emotion??...i might be wrong but dont emotions need to have a "cause"? you just dont "passively" experience emotions...wehereas the will to power is a fundamental "drive"
And as for all development being emotion, it doesnt apply to simpler organisms that cannot exhibit emotion..or even "feel"...i think its the other way round - the will to power being the root cause of everything...including our emotions...
bittersteel
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Posted Jun 2, 2008 - 2:29 PM:

And as for people "latching on to it", it's simple...axiomatic...Nietzsche himself claims the will to power as the single motivation that underlies all human behaviour...
The only regret Nietzsche would have if he were alive is people spending large amounts of time trying to comprehend his more "intelligent" thoughts...I dont think ideas need to be expressed in complex sentences with 15 letter words to make them interesting...
jaoman
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Posted Jun 2, 2008 - 3:24 PM:

bittersteel wrote:
Nietzsche himself claims the will to power as the single motivation that underlies all human behaviour...


Scholars keep claiming this, yet I've never seen Nietzsche make such a conclusive statement. Does his idea originate from the writings after his breakdown?

bittersteel wrote:
the will to power is an emotion??...i might be wrong but dont emotions need to have a "cause"? you just dont "passively" experience emotions...wehereas the will to power is a fundamental "drive"


Still, in retrospect, I'm willing to grant that Nietzsche might make a stronger distinction than I did. It's the philosophical thing to do, and even Nietzsche had roots in the system. However, he would still look to individualize the issue as much as possible. Most of what I said stands. The way that the drives are manifested into emotions would be different between segments of the population, and again among individuals.
bittersteel
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Posted Jun 3, 2008 - 12:50 AM:

Nietzsche DID claim that...In beyond good and evil

"Physiologists should think twice before positioning the drive for self-preservation as the cardinal drive of an organic being. Above all, a living thing wants to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power -: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of this."

That was in 1886...It was before his 'breakdown'...

Emotions are biological...the way people REACT to emotions is different...

I believe this is the order - the drive followed by an environmental response to the drive followed by the emotion followed by the reaction...when all living beings have the same fundamental drive, then it follows that they experience BASIC emotions in regard to that drive...however the way people REACT is different - this is where degrees of emotions come in...the basic emotion of anger you feel can either be controlled or channeled into rage by endlessly thinking about the cause...
after experiencing loss, everyone feels sad...sadness is the basic response to loss...but wether you go into a depression which is the extreme of sadness or you come out of it depends on the individual...
After the world ceases to be the author of your emotions...after you feel a 'basic' emotion, the mind determines the path taken on the scale of emotions : the reaction. Think about it...this is the very reason why people can OVERCOME their emotions in different ways...this is why THERAPY helps.

The way people REACT after a basic emotion is different...but the initial emotion, i.e. the BASIC emotion experienced is the same.

amohmand
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Posted Jun 12, 2008 - 5:15 AM:

bittersteel

If emotions are to be understood in the Nietzschean sense you talk about in your initial post, then I'd say you're cruisin for a bruisin. That's the whole problem with Nietzsche, the trap he sets for those of his readers who are weak. I generally agree with the notion that ultimately all anyone wants is power but only if "power" is not defined in a monolithic and base way but understood as something lying on a continuum. The lowest form of power is essentially reactionary. The highest form of power is self-willed, a "self-propelled wheel" if you will. That is why your table of emotions is a bit problematic. It seems to suggest that power is a goal and that challenges to it must be overcome. It is a reactionary model. The overman would say, rather, that power is a given, it's assumed, it's already there and his task is to discharge and conserve it in the right way and not to go after it.

Just a thought.
bittersteel
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Posted Jun 16, 2008 - 1:41 AM:

Could you please elaborate on your last post amohmand. Im not sure I entirely understood what you were saying.

How is power a given?
Power is attained by overcoming resitance and becoming stronger, by strife and conflict(?). And if power is not a goal then how would one attain power?
If you mean that all power already exists, then perhaps my definition of power includes the "methods" to discharge and conserve it.

Your last statement makes sense for the overman but not for human beings. In a sense the overman is the goal of mankind, and so makes power a goal for "ordinary" human beings.

amohmand
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Posted Jun 16, 2008 - 3:24 AM:

If you say that power is attained by overcoming resistance and becoming stronger that is a "slave's" definition of power. At least, that is how I read Nietzsche. In the Genealogy the slave class envies or resents the nobility for their power and usurps that power by standing values on their head. They praise meekness as blessed and admonish strength as something evil. They invent the world "evil" as a way to one-up the noble's word "bad" and then apply their invented word to most things which are noble. Their definition of themselves as good is a reaction to what they perceive as the "evils" of the noble class.

Conversely, for the noble class the lower classes are not necessary for them to feel like nobles. "All truly noble morality grows out of triumphant self-affirmation." For the nobility power is not something he strives for, it is not a goal. Power is his birthright. If he spars with others it is not because he doubts his power but rather because he delights in testing it, he delights in play. If he is bested, he gladly recognizes the one who bests him as someone he can learn from, as someone who is there to improve him. His sense of power is not easily threatened.

If one has to struggle to attain power, one is not a noble and one could argue that he would always be in a position of having to defend his power, of worrying that he might loose it. Therefore, when his gaze falls on the slave he would not sense a "pathos of distance" as a noble does but rather a fear of ending up like the slave, a secret fear that maybe he is more akin to the slave. Therefore, his sense of power would be tenuous and dependent on figures lower than himself. This is classic slave mentality. Unfortunately, it is the lens through which our culture interprets the world because we are so much under the spell of slave morality. I'm reminded of a quote from the Old Testament which Kierkegaard took as the title for one of his books: "Work out your salvation in fear and loathing!"
dimitri
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Posted Jun 28, 2008 - 12:26 AM:

It is not quite correct to say that people just need power.
We have wishes and we have plans to realize these wishes. To realize our plans we need the fulfilment of some conditions. So for instance to go driving with a girl you like you need a car, money for gas and concent of the girl... Then a car, money and even the girl we can call conditions of realization of our plan. Accumulating such things as cars, money and so on we can be sure that in similar situations we will be able to provide fulfilment of that part of conditions. When we deal with people, and we always have to resort to their help, we need a kind of guarantee that they (our partners) will perform properly the functions we bastow upon them in our plans. How can we do that? We can negotiate with them in each case we need them. But it's a rather long and troublesome way, which besides is not absolutely secure. Or we can subdue them somhow in an army manner (threatening them...) and so ensure the performances of the things we want... All of us practice such method at different extend in dealing with our associates. We prefer to call it discipline. And of course it would save us much time and energy if people obey us just at a simple order... We do not practice more broadly such method mainly because people do not readily allow us to do so...
So struggle for power I would prefer to call more generally the endeavour to get under your own control of the things necessary for realization of your plans. That besides the wish to control people of which the help you need for realization of your plans includes also your passion for storing up...
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