Love your enemy; resist not the evil man

… what? what does it even mean to love one’s enemy? is such a love even possible?

or is the issue at hand merely a lack of perceived enemies? if that’s the case, how might such a perspective be possible? under what conditions?

and what about not resisting the evil man - who could possibly manage to do (or avoid doing) such a thing? is such a practice utterly foolish, or courageous beyond measure?


was this man a complete fool? or out of his mind? perhaps a fool and out of his mind?

or was the thief… onto something?

how was this possible?

I think this “love” could easily be interpretted as mere tolerance, though I think it is intended as more than this.

The slave morality in reluctantly giving in to being a punchbag is obvious, though the “bringer of glad tidings”/“holy man” proposes a mentality to overcome the normal ressentiment experienced when falling victim to one more powerful.

Slave morality reaches maturity once one can make a virtue out of one’s impotence - to have tamed the instinctive “animal” reflex of reacting to dominance: this is slave morality’s strongest achievement. The end of infancy is marked by learning not to react outwardly, with aggression, to those more powerful than you; the end of adolescence is marked by also learning not to react inwardly, with ressentiment, in reaction to such dominance.

As the strongest display possible of slave morality, it is an honour for such a person to have his strength called upon by such people as “the thief”.

Herein lies the nature of the “love” of one who “loves” his/her enemy. This is how martyrs are born.
It’s in the gratefulness to be inspired to feel the strongest that a slave moralist can feel. It is the equivalent of a nobleman meeting his masterful match, and responding with chivalry.

In this light, it’s not exactly foolish, courageous or insane - but simply physiological, given the available experience that the slave moralist is limited to.

This is it, I believe. To feel love for one’s enemy is to deny the ressentiment that victimhood (even potential victimhood) can give birth to.

Insofar as such a love is equated with the type of love one might feel for oneself, or for the object of one’s affection, my answer has to be in the negative. The love in question has to be a different kind of love, an overcoming of ressentiment, as Silhouette has put it.

Courageous beyond measure, to be sure. Consider the following passage, for it is perhaps the best elucidation of such an idea, and from Nietzsche himself as well.

[size=90]And perhaps the great day will come when a people, distinguished by wars and victories and by the highest development of a military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices for these things, will exclaim of its own free will, “We break the sword,” and will smash its entire military establishment down to its lowest foundations. Rendering oneself unarmed when one has been the best-armed, out of a height of feeling – that is the means to real peace, which always rests on a peace of mind; whereas the so-called armed peace, as it now exists in all countries, is the absence of peace of mind. One trusts neither oneself nor one’s neighbor and, half from hatred, half from fear, does not lay down arms. Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared – this must some day become the highest maxim for every single commonwealth, too.
[Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, 284]. [/size]

I think it would be quite a stretch to say Jesus merely ‘tolerated’ being ridiculed, beaten, tortured, and nailed to a cross. We tolerate many things – petty annoyances, unfulfilled wants of various kinds, adversity to a degree, etc. – but I’m not sure tolerance does Jesus’ situation justice, personally. He did far more than merely tolerate.

It seems to me victim is another word that scarcely applies to the situation at hand. As Nietzsche makes pretty clear - “He does not resist, he does not defend his rights, he takes no steps to avert the worst that can happen to him – more, he provokes it.”

Instead of denying so to save himself, Jesus stands firm and affirms himself, his truth, in the face of an unfathomably slow and painful death - suffering and torture of a magnitude we can scarcely comprehend (crucifixion is no joke). He could’ve easily avoided his incomprehensibly terrible fate, but instead he affirmed it, stuck it out to the very end. The word ‘victim’ seems inadequate or lacking in this context, doesn’t it?

Much of what you’re describing here with regard to Nietzsche’s master-slave dichotomy - particularly with regard to non-reaction, mastery of one’s reactions - actually characterizes part of his notions of nobility and a lofty spirituality. The ability to resist reacting to such severe brutality and punishment is actually noble beyond measure, not merely some refined ‘slave morality.’ Slave morality, according to its father, is born of ressentiment; but ressentiment is precisely what’s missing from the story of Jesus.

Where do you find ressentiment in Jesus?

But Jesus did nothing of the kind, and ressentiment is altogether absent in his case - he instead said Yes, Amen, and loved to the very end. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” - these are not the words of a man of ressentiment. He loved and forgave those who inflicted unimaginable pain and suffering on him, as they were inflicting it. This very much seems to be beyond ressentiment, even the strongest, most cultivated and ‘refined’ forms of it.

Again, where are ressentiment and slave morality found in Jesus? You seem to think that because Jesus was tortured and killed, he was therefore a slave in Nietzsche’s moral sense - or something to that effect - but I’m not sure this is the case.

I think the idea has been fuzzed over time…
One can love that doesn’t mean they have to like…
One can love their child, and still punish their child…
Love is more a recognition of the worth of all things and recognition of mutual connection. Even “bad” people lead to growth of all…love all breeds sincere attempts to empathetically understand and find the appropriate means of handling or teaching a person rather then simply taking revenge…

so resiting not the evil man is silly, but the loving part is reasonable… as in not resisting the “evil” man one is facilitating evil, wherein one could have perhaps prevented a better good…

Uh, AF, are you not feeling on top form or something?

…that’s what I said.

When I said “I think it is intended as more than this”, I meant that the “love” in your OP is intended as more than tolerance. Just as you say “He (Jesus) did far more than merely tolerate.”

I also kinda thought it was clear I understood that the “bringer of glad tidings”/“holy man” is honoured to be subject to the worst that can happen to him, or “to have his strength called upon by such people as the thief” - in my words.

When I said that he is “grateful” for this, that’s what I meant. So when I used the word “victim”, of course I was aware of the masochistic nature of his “victimhood” - such that the word “victim” is somewhat challenged. On one hand he is subject to dominance - which is usually synonymous with victimhood, but on the other hand he is grateful for it - as I said. So I’m sorry if you think the word victim is slightly off, but I thought I was pretty clear I understood this already through the rest of what I had to say.

Another thing I said about the “bringer of glad tidings”/“holy man” (such as Jesus) was that, as “matured” slave morality, he is marked by learning not to react inwardly, with ressentiment, in reaction to dominance.

So basically I was saying that someone like Jesus is marked by not having ressentiment (he has overcome it).
I think if you interpret slave morality as shown by ressentiment only and nothing besides, then you have some reading (and understanding) to do.

Jesus was reactionary, responding to controls and higher powers that could not be defeated by people as lowly as he. Thus he came up with a solution defined by those in power: in reaction to those in power. That’s largely what slave morality is: following the dictates of others through whatever means (including defining morality in response to the dominance of others, to cope with it by provoking and being thankful and loving for the dominance you receive). Normally, being subject to the higher powers of others leads to ressentiment, but Jesus found a way around this. But master morality involves leading without being limited by higher powers than you - through only your own unaffacted values, shared by those like you. Jesus never reached this, so despite achieving a certain “mastery” of his slave morality - he did not transcend his slave morality. He merely “refined” it, to use your word.

You can call his approach “noble” in the sense that it is notable and requires strength, but it’s still getting getting dominated lol. Since slave moralists know only being dominated, that is the “most noble” one could hope to be. But to be the one who has the power to dominate and showing chivalry to one’s equals, and mastery over one’s lower subjects - that is real nobility. So I object to your use of the word “noble” in reference to Jesus in much the same way as you have objected to my use of the word “victim”.

This is a wonderful quote to back up everything I have just said.

“Ressentiment becoming creative” is exactly what Jesus did in his teachings to overcome ressentiment: ressentiment as “natures that are denied true reaction” - his kind were unable to fight back against greater powers (thus denied true reaction). Their “imaginery revenge” was their virtue in being, not just unaffected by being dominated but also grateful for it - a mental task to invert reality into something that can appear like a victory. When physically, they are still being beaten on and dominated. There was even heavenly (unworldly/unphysical/unreal) reward for such virtue, that would be denied to those who inflicted dominance upon them, so the “real” (imaginary) winners were Jesus and his kind. It is their creativity to say “no” to the physical (outside) and different (the ones with real power), affirming only its own type as the one that “wins the war”, despite losing all the battles, by winning heaven.


Perhaps I’m not. Either way, I don’t think the point you’re trying to make is a very insightful one, or even all that valid for that matter.

I may not have been as clear as I might be with regard to my understanding of you. The way I understand you is that you think Jesus’ triumph was primarily one of a masochistic show of strength while otherwise being in a position of weakness, coupled with the ‘honor’ bestowed on him for allowing such horrible things to happen to him - “to have his strength called upon by such people as the thief” - you think this is why he submitted the way he did, and that he was grateful for the words of the thief, his partner in plight, and even grateful for being beaten and nailed to a cross to bleed and suffocate to death - really? In your mind, this was his motivation, at bottom, for everything he endured? He suffered like few have ever suffered for the sake of show and piddly honor? Really? It’s clear we understand Jesus’ story very differently, and I’m not even sure it’s worth the effort to try and reconcile.

We also seem to understand the master/slave distinction quite differently too, not to mention the meaning of the term ressentiment. First, you seem to think the fact that because Jesus was physically dominated (to use your word) by his society and state, that he is therefore a slave in Nietzsche’s moral sense of the term - but I really don’t think this is what Nietzsche had in mind. You seem to think the master/slave distinction primarily concerns the brute facts of circumstance - you are either socially/politically/physically dominating (master), or you are dominated (slave). Jesus was physically dominated and destroyed, therefore in your mind he is a slave in Nietzsche’s moral sense of the term. But I really don’t think this is what Nietzsche had in mind here.

The distinction, as I believe Nietzsche intended it, is far more psychological than it is physical/circumstantial, which is why his (psychological) notion of ressentiment figures in so prominently. Nietzsche considered himself what above all else? A psychologist - and therefore I think we ought to look there first for explanatory insight into his master/slave distinction in morality, don’t you? Ressentiment is a psychological condition that is altogether lacking in Jesus, as Nietzsche recognized - Jesus himself stood above ressentiment, above the key condition/qualification for a slave morality in Nietzsche’s sense. As I see it, this distinction chiefly concerns an individual’s psychology, above and apart from brute circumstance which would otherwise determine who is master and who is slave in the common senses of those terms.

Indeed, a noble person (like Jesus) can find himself in a most unfortunate position of physical brutality and dominance (being dominated), because of chance circumstance and who they are, yet somehow still manage to overcome ressentiment entirely, rise above it spiritually/psychologically - above all feelings of anger, hate, spite, victimhood, vengefulness - thus he harbors noble instincts and master sentiments in the moral sense. Do you see how a capacity to rise above such things might be noble in the highest sense? That this is self-overcoming in the deepest sense?

Ressentiment is born in a psychologically weak, ill-constituted, and spiritually impoverished individual (i.e. most of us) when they are (or believe they are) being dominated, persecuted, cheated, backstabbed, trodden on, oppressed, or what have you. Ressentiment grows spiteful and seeks revenge, however it can manage it – but precisely this was altogether lacking in Jesus; Jesus was a rare man who achieved a rare superiority over his base (human) condition; through a profound love, faith, courage, and forgiveness he stood above such base enmity and vindictiveness. No, his purported triumph/honor/gratitude does not constitute a slavish revolt, at least in any Nietzschean sense of the term (even of a so-called ‘mature’ variety). He said Yes and Amen even to evil, even unto death.

Nietzsche actually admired Jesus, truth be told - it was everything that followed in his wake that he despised. But I’ve said enough –

AF, you have gone from completely misunderstanding me to completely understanding me :slight_smile:

At bottom, yes. It was all a masochistic show of honour and gratefulness to be given the chance to reveal the greatest strength that a slave moralist can ever hope to achieve: to turn to one’s oppressors and not only say “bring it on” to even their greatest shows of oppression, but to thank them for it - giving the exact opposite reaction to that which was intended. A token gesture of disrupting the power balance without actually doing so.

But obviously this was not how Jesus justified it to himself and others. Imaginary victories, displays of power and perverted self-gratification are much more beautified to slave moralists when dressed up as “virtues”, externalised as though beyond the self and the physical world - the realm where they are restricted, that they want the power to escape. Dissociate with the real world and you can justify all kinds of nonsense to yourself. My above interpretation is a result of refusing to dissociate with the real world. If you think we can’t reconcile my interpretation with yours then so be it.

The closing line of the first chapter in Beyond Good and Evil is “For psychology is now once again the road to the fundamental problems”. I’m fairly sure Nietzsche spoke highly of psychology elsewhere too, though it would be a mistake to sum him up as a psychologist only.

He probably mentioned Hegel like once (if at all?) in all his books, but it would be a great mistake to think of Nietzsche as someone purely concerned with mind - like Hegel. Ecce Homo, for example, is filled with references to the real, the earthly, the physical - and there are references to this all over his writings. The physical/circumstantial is absolutely essential to understanding him.

Personal experience also shows me numerous examples of people who think themselves psychological creators and masters, but they are steeped in ressentiment because they are simply not in a position of power, and part of a powerful lineage - and as such they are simply unable to sway others despite their psychological compulsion to “master” them. Mind you, those of powerful lineage are often complete pussies - Nietzsche talks of how the different moralities are “bungled and botched” in today’s liberal times, with its “modern values”. But to me, this shows that master morality is not complete when limited to a psychological mindset. Ressentiment comes about when one cannot freely express their will to power. Zarathustra would have come to feel ressentiment, had he continued trying to sway the masses. One needs to have the masterful personality as well as be in a physical circumstance that enables one to physically be in a position of power - like Zarathustra found disciples, and dealt solely with them.

I think we are both right: that both psychology and the physical are necessary for master morality. Jesus may have had the former, but he certaintly did not have the latter.

Self-overcoming is more to do with inverting values by seeing beyond good and evil. In Zarathustra, Nietzsche says that “man is something that is to be surpassed” - man as the rope on the way from animal to the Superman, who creates values by seeing beyond morality. It does not mean setting your humanity against your animality. The superman is connected to the animal via humanity. They must connect/work together to reach the Superman.

We actually agree on the definition of ressentiment. I don’t know how you think I thought of the word differently.
Interesting point about “Yes-saying” btw.
But saying yes to death is highly contrary to Nietzschean philosophy. It welcomes the other-worldly, through sticking to other-worldly, externalised values.

Like Socrates, Jesus turned his “ego” against his “id” (to use Freudian terms). Nietzsche describes the two working together - to say yes to life, and to power. Socrates controlled his true personality in favour of his Socratic method - an effective facade that proved extremely powerful. Jesus controlled his ressentiment in favour of his teachings that overcome it - an effective facade that proved extremely powerful. The power is admirable, even to Nietzsche - as well as the creativity that caused a genuine effect in the real world (Nietzsche identifies two kinds of genius in Beyond Good and Evil 248: “the kind which above all begets and wants to beget, and the kind which likes to be fructified and to give birth” - Jesus and Socrates fall into the former category). But this does not transcend the slave morality from which such strength originated. They are still completely characteristic of slave morality: with those key aspects of externalised and dependent values, and physical conditions of being dominated - even if the mind was somewhat creative and genius, that is not enough to constitute master morality, nor nobility to anyone other than other slave moralists.

I agree that he saw something admirable in Jesus, just as he did in Socrates. But he was nevertheless very critical of both for good reason.

Enemies are a calamity of imaginations. The self is constructed and it can be deconstructed because it is an imagined entity. So now that imagined sees enemies of it imagined world and the other the same.