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English Psychologist A Essay

1262 words - 5 pages

The English PsychologistsWhat defines morality? It can be argued that the majority of the population perceives caring for the sick as a morally good act, but what defines this act as "good" is subject of great philosophical debate. Friedrich Nietzsche, in his book On the Genealogy of Morals, challenges David Hume's principles of morals. According to Nietzsche, English psychologists, including Hume, believe that moral principles are incorrectly rooted in their utility. Rather, Nietzsche claims that moral principles are rooted in the beliefs and ideals of those considered the powerful and influential throughout history. While Nietzsche may present a strong premise with historical evidence, his argument fails to take into account where power is derived from, and incorrectly interprets the evidence.In the first treatise, Nietzsche analyzes the manner by which contemporary English psychologists of the time defined morals, which in some aspects is arguably similar to Hume's definition of morality. According to Nietzsche, English psychologists of the time believed that the morals resulted from individuals forgetting the origin of praise for a useful action and then believing that the action was intrinsically good. (Nietzsche, pg. 10) Nietzsche specifically states, "unegoistic actions were praised and called good from the perspective of those to whom they were rendered, hence for whom they were useful; later one forgot this origin of the praise and, simply because unegoistic actions were as a matter of habit always praised as good, one also felt them to be good-as if they were something good for themselves." (Nietzsche, pg. 10) From this account, it is clear that Nietzsche emphasizes utility, error, and habit as central to the English psychologist's principles. Although, David Hume makes no account for the origin of morality in his book, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, central to Hume's philosophy is also the role of utility. Hume states, "In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the question cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty, than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind." (Hume pg. 19) According to Hume's philosophy, morals are defined by their utility. For an action to be defined moral, it must serve some social utility that aids human flourishing. Nietzsche, on the contrary, offers a very different account of morality centralized on power and influence.Nietzsche claims morals have been defined throughout history by those considered the powerful and influential. Nietzsche begins his explanation by analyzing both the definitions of the word "good" from various languages, and the transformation the definition of this word has undergone over time. (Nietzsche, pg. 12) He discovered that in many languages the original definition of "good" was...

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