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Friedrich Nietzsche: Philosophy of Atrocity

Before graduating from IUPUI I decided to minor in Philosophy. I was only 9 credits shy from fulfilling the minimum requirements, so why not? Though, I must admit- I was not prepared for the mind-blowing theories that expanded my Indiana roots.

It began with Logic, a math alternative for stats (no time for that). I enjoyed Logic because it taught me how to solve a puzzle in my mind and the importance of words (premise, negation, etc.). Next, I undertook the Philosophy of Atrocity, which focused on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. The final courses (Native American Philosophy and W.M. James on Religious Experience Philosophy) were unique in their own right but learning Nietzsche answered so many questions I had about life. Why are people evil or commit heinous acts?

As an anthropologist in training, I was also simultaneously learning about frowned upon practices around the world in different cultures such as genital mutilation, China's old one child rule, the effects of genocide and more. However, learning the human reasoning and human thought behind such acts is eerie. Nietzsche answered the question of Bad vs Evil.

Individually, I've always wondered if a person who did bad things- could they be classified as evil? For example, could normal citizens begin to participate in the mass murder of their neighbors. According to Nietzsche, this is possibly when Evil appears to be acceptable in society by the greater good. For example, once the general public became frightened of the Nazis they turned on their neighbors. German friends would participate in their Jewish friends being sent to extermination camps by informing Nazi officers where they may have been hiding.

I believe the reason for such is a mixture of fear and power. If you were a German person you either had to conform or be question. Though I cannot relate I would find it difficult to treat someone I've known for years any differently just because a few people decided to be racist one day. Nietzsche explained that humans all have Evil deeply rooted inside of us. The moment it becomes the favored trait the souls of individuals become dark, especially when it is praised.


I remember talking to one of my philosophy professors in the past about wanting to teach it to people younger than me, so they could open their minds early on. He blatantly told me I was not ready for that. My feelings weren't hurt, but looking back I must admit he might be right. Even writing just this snippet I feel the need to be technical because so much can be translated through language and writing. I want leave the audience with a clear fragment of the knowledge I gained in the Philosophy of Autracity class while studying Friedrich Nietzsche without overreaching my abilities.


Continuing: What made some of the German citizens Evil versus Bad? Relating to Nietzsche, spitting on an longtime pal just because they were Jewish is Bad. Though, telling law enforcement where a Jewish family is staying....that's Evil. It is Evil because you are directly interfering with their natural will to live. Essentially, you are directly related to their death (asshole). Whereas, spitting on someone will not interfere with their life. It just makes you a bad person.

However, in order to be a well-balanced person one must do Bad. A person can never know the importance of being Good if they never explore past the realm. Once you have done Bad your subconscious will link it to a negative response under normal circumstances. However, if the Bad is widely accepted (i.e. female genital mutilation) then it becomes the norm and a negative response is diluted.

To be Evil is a step above having Bad actions. To be Evil (my takeaway) means to directly interfere with someone's life.

For example: If you are a Doctor who performs female genital mutilation your actions are Bad. However, if your patient dies from unsterilized surgical tools then your actions turn to Evil. You can control Evil whereas Bad actions may occur spontaneously with impulse.

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German Philosopher alive from October 15th, 1844 until August 25, 1900. He is also known as a cultural critic who discussed nihilism and other radical thoughts.

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