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The Error of Responsibility.

Posted by theatheistempire on February 13, 2007

I`ve just found this interesting paragraph in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche. A lesson for all moralizers and Christians:

 “So we make people responsible first for the impact of their actions, then for their actions, then for their motives, and finally for their nature. Ultimately, we learn that this nature is also not responsible, since it is an absolutely inevitable result and a concretion of the elements and influences of the past and present things: hence, people cannot be held responsible for anything, including their nature, their motives, their actions, and the impact of their actions.”

Nietzsche concludes:

 “We therefore realize that the history of moral feelings is the history of an error, the error of responsibility.”

I agree 100% percent with Nietzsche. And to use a Krishnamurti expression; “Human beings are not free from their past conditioning.”.  The reason that Christians and other moralizers [and so too those Karmajunkies] feel that every human being is accountable for their actions is because they believe in absolute free will. But the belief in absolute free will is just a belief, isn`t it?Absolutes are tricky. A man in chains is free to pick his nose, touch the ground, move about a little bit but he cannot break free of his shackles; he can`t go for a stroll or run around. The will might be like this example. I really don`t see any evidence anyway of free will or even that the will is totally restricted. The idea that the will is totally restricted and tragically bound to shackles is absurd but I think too that free will which is totally free of any constraints is also absurd since we cannot be free from our conditioning. And I don`t excuse or believe those numbskull religious nuts who say [dreaming of the 12 tribes of Israel] the reason that man is not free is because he has gone astray and lead by the devil. What rot! Why speak about the will in those terms if all you have is some excuse of ethical semi-religious nonsense?

No-one has yet proved what the will is really like. But it does seem the case that the will is free and it is not free and neither case to be taken in the absolute.

Is truth a good thing or is it something we must not find out what it is? Imagine a society that doesn`t punish people for commiting a crime?

Within the walls of society however the ‘truth’ of the philosophy I have given above is oppressed and even turned on its head. Human beings are moralizers. ‘Truth’ might not be something good or even proper. The false may indeed enable humans to live in a society that makes someone murder us pay for that murderous act. Justice might lend itself to the false and erroneous interpretations of actions and of cause and effect and keep us all sleeping well in our beds at night. If that is the case then we have to find or furnish some middle ground. If we can`t live with the ‘truth’ and humans must look for the ‘truth’ then we need to protect ourselves from this ‘truth’ so as to not “perish”.


3 Responses to “The Error of Responsibility.”

  1. Taylor said

    The idea that actions are the results of all past causes and effects is equally as silly. There is no proof that we are simply the result of our past. Our concious thought allows us to make decisions. That’s what many people believe separates us from animals. That’s what makes us self-aware beings. The ability to do other than that which our past would lead us to do. Just because you haven’t proven that we have free will does not mean that we do not have free will. One’s nature and motives is not inevitable, though it may seem that way sometimes because it is likely.

  2. Jon said

    It’s sometimes the case that ‘conditioning’ is a convenient euphemism for ‘things I don’t want to admit I chose to do’. We are good at that sort of thing. Lying, that is.

    Certainly we don’t have free will in the sense that we’re born to certain bodies with certain genes that determine that we have two legs, two arms, two eyes, etc. And you can extend that even to less tangible things, such as the ability to learn.

    But I don’t think conditioning is as deterministic as you say. Conditioning is a blind sort of thing. A boy who sees his mother kill his father may grow up to want to kill women. Another boy who sees the same thing may grow up to want to kill men. It’s hard to point to a specific variable that causes a specific behavior. Everyone has a vastly different conflagration of genes, with vastly different inclinations. Some have a strong will, others have a weak will.

  3. Taylor said

    But the point is that we don’t know anything about those links and so we don’t actually know if those links are there in the first place and so it’s foolish to state that they are.

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