Is Love Beyond Good and Evil?

Fiedrich Nietzsche once stated the following (verbatim):

“What is done for love is beyond good and evil.”

I’ve found several “holes” in this theory. :confused:
First of all, how to define good and evil? An action which is “good” is one which will provide us with a lucrative outcome, evil being the antipode to this. Also, we must keep in mind that an action is neither good nor bad per se, but rather it is the outcome that defines its position in the relm of good and evil.
In other words, if we were to do something out of “love” (or a very ardent emotional attatchement), and the latter to our actions inflicts some sort of negative impact, we have done something that is politically defined as “evil”, the opposite can be said for the antipode.

So what other arguments have we here for Nietzsche or against his theory?
Discuss!

Supposing, as was done by you, that outcomes define what must be good, what evil,
Behold a humble, secret-hidden act of love that never sought to benefit itself,
-------------------- nor all the others either, others who are “we”
To judge - in truth you see He loved only You.
And called this social crime the truth in love, ten thousand feet above all prejudgements of men.
Calling from Beyond their good and evil masks.

-WL

He probably meant that what we speak of as ‘Love’ is way more complicated than the very simple structures and examples that we make of Good and Evil. That Love is a big process that must be led carefully and with intelligence and dedication. Not just keep doing our typical BS while keep babling about Love. Love is definitely one of the most complicated and hard-fighting things in the world, which indeed needs enormous dedication for it in parallel.

This is an intriguing notion. The question is: what did Nietzsche mean by love, good and evil? Regarding love, Nietzsche appears to be all over the board. Reminding me a bit of Hamlet, Nietzsche says that there is madness in love but that there is always some reason in madness. Then again he says that love is “understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do”. Also, Nietzsche doesn’t have much of anything positive to say about womanly or physical love, leading me to think that the kind of “love” he had in mind when he said that “That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil” probably has nothing to with lust or sex, but maybe not. This does make the issue complex since certainly sex can be an action done out of love. So maybe even for Nietzsche, womanly love and sex as an expression of love are possibilities at least in theory if not in fact. As for good and evil, I suspect that for Nietzsche the good would be whatever is “life-affirming” and the bad whatever is “life-denying.” So I would say that all kinds of expressions of love are on the table, so to speak, since both sex and women can be seen in the light of life affirmation along with many other kinds of affirmation.

Thus, if what is “done for love” goes beyond both the affirmation and denial of life, then love is an energy that is itself transcendent to or beyond life itself and its energy is thus not of this world. I take that to mean that it is not bound by time and space, either, that it is then something on the order of the divine or, at the least, the a priori noumenous essence that informs all of existence but is eternal and infinite in a way that cannot be comprehended by the earthbound mind.

Of course, what Nietzsche might have meant is that the act of love takes us out of the bounds of morality in this world. This can get tricky though because it implies that there would be no laws for love and no system of justice by which to judge its actions. The implication is that even a crime committed in the name of love could be condoned and the perpetrator not tried according to law, either human or divine. That is something to think about.

j

The quote is “What is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.”

Wrong; this is just one possible value-Positing (Wertsetzung).

“Good and bad” is not the same as “good and evil” for Nietzsche; rather to the contrary (see the last section of the first treatise of the Genealogy).

What is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil because love itself posits what is good and what is evil. It does not, however, posit what is good and what is bad. For example, if I love to eat certain unhealthy food, to do so is not evil for me, but it’s still bad for me.

It does not matter what is politically defined as “evil”; love itself defines good and evil anew.

I think we need to stick with what Nietzsche meant by “good,” as that which is “life-affirming,” not just any possible “value-Positing,” whatever that means.

The first essay or treatise of the GofM is entitled: “Good and Evil,” “Good and Bad”. The last section is number 17. This takes us past all the stuff on good being associated with rank, nobility, aristocracy, mastery and bad being associated with commonness, plainness, and slavery; past master-slave chapters and past the discussion of “ressentiment.”

Anyway, in section 17, Nietzsche claims assertively that Beyond Good and Evil does not mean Beyond Good and Bad, so it might be supposed that we could then just dismiss the ideas on rank and commonness when dealing with what is beyond good and evil. But in this book Nietzsche seems obsessed with the notions of morality and values in relation to rank and strength as per survival of both the individual and the species. Of course, that connection with survival and strength could be winnowed down to what is “life-affirming” which I believe is at the heart of the Nietzschean concept of “good.”

Here I think we should distinguish between the use of the word “love” when it actually means “like” or “have a taste for.” Thus, even in the Nietzschean sense, if you happen to have a predilection for something that is bad for you, that would neither be an act of love nor “good” in the sense of “life-affirming.” In the sense that it is then not “life-affirming,” I would suppose it to be “evil” and not just “bad.”

Yes, I think that is a valid conclusion regarding the way love goes beyond morality and values.

Wrong. You’re talking about good as opposed to “bad”; the quote is about good as opposed to “evil”.

Nietzsche often uses the word Wertsetzung, which literally means “value-Positing” (capital P because the gerund is meant, not the participle).

According to Nietzsche, evil and its opposite are always posited, there is no evil-in-itself; there is, however, a bad-in-itself:

[size=95]What is bad?—Everything that stems from weakness.
[Nietzsche, The Antichrist, section 2.][/size]

Only if you skip all that. I of course have read the whole book many times.

Wrong, good is to bad as nobility is to commonness, as you say above. Therefore, that is precisely what is not to be dismissed (“not beyond good and bad”).

I wouldn’t say “obsessed”, just “concerned”. Anyway, it’s not just about survival; rather about enhancement. Nietzsche replaced the Spinozan principle of the ‘drive to self-preservation’ with his own ‘will to power’.

As opposed to “bad”, yes.

Between that and what else, then?

Love always implies a strong like or predilection, if you ask me.

The predilection itself would not be an act, no; any action springing from it would.

Another example, to be compared with that of unhealthy food:

[size=95]Thus spake the devil unto me, once on a time: “Even God hath his hell: it is his love for man.”
[Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, ‘Of the Pitiful’.][/size]

And in that supposition you are mistaken. However, I do think Nietzsche actually posits a new good and evil in accordance with this—unposited!—good and bad: see BGE 221.

I think not. I’ve already shown what Nietzsche meant when he distinguished between good and bad.

I suppose “value-Positing” might be considered as part of the way one could mentally prepare for the act of love that occurs beyond good and evil.

I think this is looking for a distinction where none is required.

Not everyone has read it even once. That is why I thought it a good idea to show where the distinction between good and bad came from and what it meant.

So what? We’re talking about good and evil, good being whatever is “life-affirming” and evil being whatever is “life-denying.” If you interpret anything Nietzsche says in those terms, you really can’t go wrong. I think the distinction stems basically from his affinity to the energy of Dionysus, and his antipathy to the rational or Socratic energy.

It appears to have some relation to Nietzsche’s desire for the “elevation” of the human. Whether this can be seen as “good” and anything not conducive to “elevation” as “evil” is another question. That would show some kind of progression in his thinking, but if instead these are just relative values subordinate to the life-affirming “good” and the life-denying “evil,” it would be much easier to retain the sense that Nietzsche was not advocating the ideas of the master-slave, rank, and so on in the way that some take them on in a literal neo-nazi fashion.

And so much more …

Agreed.

Sorry, I don’t follow.

I do not think I am mistaken. Even if Nietzsche appears to have been all over the board on these distinctions, all of his views clarify with the sense that good is life-affirming and evil is life-denying.

I’m not sure whether I am reading your reference to BGE correctly. If it is the section from Ch. VII, Our Virtues, it reads like this:

As far as I can tell, it’s just more preaching on rank and morality, with an argument against philanthropy that could be construed as life-denying, hence evil. I would agree with this view absent the idea of rank, in the sense that it is life-denying to assume that my view of what is good for you is oppressive and divisive if I take it to missionary extremes. However, that would never presuppose that altruism and philanthropy are in themselves always “evil” when in fact they are ultimately “good” when they affirm life on both sides equally.

What you need to show is that you understand the distinction between “good and bad” on the one hand and “good and evil” on the other.

If you mean the distinction between “good and bad” on the one hand and “good and evil” on the other: that is what the whole first treatise of the Genealogy is about! You said it yourself:

There you go again! As I’ve said, good is whatever is ‘life-affirming’ and bad (not evil!) is whatever is ‘life-denying’.

You get confused at this point because you use the word “evil” instead of “bad” (at the point I made bold).

But he was advocating those ideas…

Why haven’t you answered this question, jonquil?

Like what?

To be in hell is obviously bad for ya…

  1. You are mistaken. 2. Nietzsche was not ‘all over the board’, nor does he appear that way to me. 3. Nietzsche argues that life-affirmation is good and life-denial is bad, not evil. However, he then legislates life-affirmation as good as opposed to “evil”. This is where he enters the comedy himself. See below.

You make no sense to me here. Anyway, the thing is that Nietzsche is himself his moralistic pedant and bonhomme. He legislated the good as opposed to “the bad” by treating it as good as opposed to “evil”, he twinned the bad with the bad conscience (GM II 24).—

In that case, my take on good and evil makes a good deal of sense. If, then, what is done out of love occurs beyond good and evil, there are indeed both mystical and moral ramifications that are most interesting, to both of which I have already commented. To repeat:

… if what is “done for love” goes beyond both the affirmation and denial of life, then love is an energy that is itself transcendent to or beyond life itself and its energy is thus not of this world. I take that to mean that it is not bound by time and space, either, that it is then something on the order of the divine or, at the least, the a priori noumenous essence that informs all of existence but is eternal and infinite in a way that cannot be comprehended by the earthbound mind.

Of course, what Nietzsche might have meant is that the act of love takes us out of the bounds of morality in this world. This can get tricky though because it implies that there would be no laws for love and no system of justice by which to judge its actions. The implication is that even a crime committed in the name of love could be condoned and the perpetrator not tried according to law, either human or divine. That is something to think about.

To add, if it is something to think about in the context that what is “good” is "life-affirming, then there would be considerable paradox in some things done out of love, such as euthanasia for example. One could make an argument for its morality in that context, but it would entail the idea that something that denies a life can affirm it, or the Hamlet-like notion of being cruel to be kind, something like that. It’s difficult at best, but that’s the way the ironies and ambiguities in human life actually operate. I don’t think Nietzsche was a stranger to these blurred dichotomies, either.

I believe that Good and Evil aren’t constants. I think they’re relative to the individual. Mother nature, the environment and the laws of our universe don’t act according to what we believe to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they simply do what ‘is’. If water is put over fire, it evaporates, as it always has before. It simply ‘is’.

When I read “What is done for love is beyond good and evil”, two thoughts occur to me. One - That Nietzsche may see love as such a natural and instinctual phenomenon, that it can’t be put under either category because love is beyond such things, and ‘is’ what it is, regardless of outside interpretation. If there’s no intent to be either good or evil, it isn’t. Two - That love is what fundamentally gives life meaning, if you take it away, our existence will be empty. By our very structure we are selfish, regardless of what we pursue in life, we wont change. We don’t have a choice, so it can’t be held against us or judged. Love and what we do for love, is also part of our structure so it bypasses things like good or evil, and is what it is.

Good and evil depend on what’s happening to me. Love can reach beyond what’s happening to me.

Funny, but this is not what Nietzsche meant, of course. Love is will to power (cf. Empedocles’ Love and Strife, which Nietzsche unites when he says love is in its means war).

The ‘bounds of morality in this world’ are entirely man-made, so they can also be un-made by men.

Well, only man-made laws and systems.

The word “crime” already implies judgment. As Nietzsche said, there are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena. There are no crimes, only acts interpreted as criminal.

That something that denies a life can affirm life.

As for euthanasia:

[size=95]One has contemplated life badly if one has not also seen the hand that—kills in a sparing way.
[BGE 69.][/size]

This is from the same chapter as the aphorism under discussion, mind you.

deleted for repetition

I never claimed that it was. This was just a personal take on what it might mean to someone else, particularly from a mystical angle. However, Nietzsche does speak like a mystic sometimes; and it appears to me that when he takes the mystical tack from the Dionysian perspective alone, he speaks in the vein of the entire mystical tradition, well and clearly. And since his view of the “good” is basically Dionysian or “life-affirming,” I don’t think that it’s going amiss to take the mystical view on love as a transcendent energy as well.

As for love, I have already shown how Nietzsche spreads himself pretty thin on this subject. He’s all over the board there, and I think linking love in a direct equation to other abstracts probably won’t get us very far in discussion, but of course it’s interesting to see how he waffles and shifts focus so much.

Is that your view or Nietzsche’s or both? While that might be true, it is irrelevant to my point, since moral constructs do exist. Whether they exist rightly or wrongly, and whether these constructs prove to be “life-affirming” or “life-denying” is at the crux of the act of love, hence the blurred dichotomies and paradoxes we face as human beings, both in life and in art.

The thrust of the statement, though, is that an act of love occurs beyond good and evil, and it’s a logical conclusion that this includes “man-made laws and systems.” Remember the words of Hamlet: “… it is a custom / More honoured in the breach than the observance.”

And that, I believe, is the province of a love that in the act goes beyond good and evil. It is not, however, the province of justice. Which one prevails in the act, the praxis, then? Love or justice? That is what Nietzsche is getting at, I think.

Well quoted. Thanks.

Love is a creative force.
Good and evil are creations.

Are you hinting at an induction here? That, if love is a creative force, and good and evil are creations, then love creates both good and evil?

How would that work in the context of Nietzsche’s statement that “What is done out of love occurs beyond good and evil”?

1: yes. 2: love is more fundamental than good and evil; but love good and evil are all part of the same human process.

I would say Love isn’t a creative force. Love to me is Mother Nature’s way to ensure that we will procreate. Once we find love, there is no other function human beings are expected to do in the greater scheme. Hence, we feel fulfilled and have no desire to create, because need is the driving incentive behind creation. I agree with you that Love is fundamental to our structure, and good and evil could be called our ‘creations’, but I see them as expressions of safety and fear.

Expected by whom? Nature is not an entity. ‘She’ does not care whether we procreate or not. Love can lead to procreation, but that does not make procreation its goal.