Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the guilt is strange. i smoked one cigarette today. that is one more than none. but i think i should have some right to say to myself, 'good job, you have gone from smoking usually at least 10 a day down to one.' but then i feel like i should not allow myself to say that, because i am guilty of the one, and the compromises feed the devious smoker's mind.

please forgive the diversion below, but i was just thinking about guilt, and seemed to recall from 2nd year philosophy nietzsche being all over the guilt thing. some searching and i found this...this is all just taking bits and pieces and totally does not give justice to the totality of the arguments of the original text or the insights of the essay!

"to take upon oneself not punishment, but guilt. that alone would be god-like."

friedrich nietzsche

all quotes below from an essay on nietzsche's genealogy of morals here:

"Guilt, in its general form, is ethically-experienced regret at one's failure (not necessarily intentional) to honour obligations to which one genuinely feels committed;"

the essay goes on to describe the relationship between guilt and the concept of nietzsche's 'bad conscience'. in terms of an awareness of one's 'masterly' instincts for bad, anti-social behaviour and the need to quell these instincts, the experience of 'bad conscience' is an "unpleasant combination of potential guilt towards society, liability towards oneself, and the need for self-aggression towards masterly instincts."

but bad conscience can be active, positive:

"... Nietzsche burn into a great part of one's nature a 'no' to its outward expression, to become contemptuous of instincts of which one was 'formerly' proudest, to live with the contradiction of a freedom that is both restricted (externally) and enhanced (internally), creates a wholly new phenomenology: that of human nature as problematical and contradictory, that of oneself as a riddle to oneself, that of the tortured 'inner life' perpetually examining itself, that of a compromised 'outer' freedom versus a purer 'inner' freedom. In short: with the 'bad conscience' we get 'the internalization of man', his creation of an inner, freer world, later christened 'the soul'. Nietzsche calls this state 'active' bad conscience (GM, II, 16)."

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