When Darwin speaks of “survival of the fittest” as the “how” of living beings, he is making a statement regarding justice or the praxis or actions of living beings i.e. how they are required to be if they are to be at all. His statement is an ontological one; it says something about the essence of the being of beings. Whether his statement is compatible with democracy and “equality” as the political ends of action, that is of human beings living in communities, is quite another matter; but we are examining the foundation of the metaphysics of the thinking here. “Survival” is the urge or will to permanence and this will is the command of life itself. “Fittest” are those living beings who are most successful in applying the law of contradiction to the conditions of life, or what has been called algorithms lately, our conception of ourselves as the animal rationale as our essence.
As I have said in these writings on Nietzsche and elsewhere, technology is the highest form of will to power. Technology is conceived as both the means for making events happen and the establishment of the ends or goals of the actions through the use of those means. The word “technology” expresses the uniqueness of the “knowing” that understands itself as “will to power” (“enhancement”) and the “making” of modern civilization that was not present in, for example, Greek civilization. This co-penetration of the arts and the sciences is shown most clearly in Nietzsche. This is what we have come to call culture. This thinking is Western: the history of Chinese science and the writings of those civilizations based on the Sanskrit of the Vedanta show that such an understanding of knowing and making was not present in them. What was known regarding Nature in the Greek, Chinese and Vedanta was not a knowledge that put the energies of nature at their disposal, a knowledge of nature that viewed the beings of nature as disposables. It was through Nietzsche, primarily, that our understanding of the arts and sciences was changed from what was meant by those civilizations prior to our own.
According to Nietzsche, knowledge is the securing of permanence through a conception of truth i.e. it is a value. Art, however, is of a value of higher value and is more necessary than knowledge. The transforming of life creates greater possibilities for the “surpassing” of life including all those noble activities undertaken to alleviate the suffering of human beings that are brought about by the conditions of life. Knowledge posits the fixated boundaries or horizons so that there can be something to surpass. Art and knowledge require each other in their essence. Art and knowledge (techne + logos) come together to bring about the full securing of permanence of the animate world. The securing of permanence comes about through the fixation of chaos through knowledge and the transforming of chaos through art. Knowledge and art assimilate (homoiösis) human beings to chaos. This assimilation is what Nietzsche understands as justice, not justice understood as a moral or legal term. Justice as a holding-to-be-true makes assimilation to chaos possible and necessary. It is what is “right” or correct, exact, the suitable, what makes sense, what fits. Justice is what points in the right direction and what conforms to that direction, to set a direction, and to send someone along the way in that direction. The desire to achieve “results”, for example, and the manners in which that desire will be achieved are examples of what is meant by “justice” here. A current cliche metaphor being used is “moral compass”. Justice is the grounding and understanding of the “moral compass” and it determines any sense of direction that might be found within that moral compass.
Nietzsche sees justice as a “mode of thinking”. What kind of thinking? “Justice as a constructive, exclusive, annihilative mode of thought, arising from estimations of value: supreme representative of life itself”.
What role does “freedom” play here? In Thus Spoke Zarathustra in the section “On the Way of the Creator” the relation of justice to freedom is outlined:
You call yourself free? Your dominating thought I want to hear, and not that you escaped from a yoke.
Are you the kind of person who had the right to escape from a yoke?
There are some who threw away their last value when they threw away their servitude.
Free from what? What does Zarathustra care! But brightly your eyes should signal to me: free for what?
Can you give yourself your own evil and good and hang your will above yourself like a law? Can you be your own judge and the avenger of your law?
It is terrible to be alone with the judge and avenger of one’s own law.
Thus does a star get thrown out into desolate space and into the icy breath of solitary being (loneliness).
Today you suffer still from the many, you lonely one: for today you still have your courage and your hopes intact…
Injustice and filth they throw at the lonely one. But my brother, if you want to be a star then you must shine through for them all the more!
The justice that is the mode of thinking for Nietzsche is not an everyday thinking that calculates by moving back and forth within a fixed horizon without being aware of that horizon. Thinking as poetizing and commanding is the thinking of Nietzsche and it is the establishment of the horizon in advance whose permanence provides a condition of the vitality of what lives. Justice is a way of thinking “arising from estimations of value”. Value-estimation is positing the conditions of life. By “values” Nietzsche does not mean the arbitrary circumstances of life. “Value” is an essential condition for what lives. “Value” is the essence of the making possible. The values of making possible are technology itself. “Values” are what are posited in determining what the essence of man is and what the essence of all beings are. Justice is not one way of thinking among many possible ways of thinking. Thinking is the activity of value-positing itself and is not a consequence of previous estimations of value. It is constructive, exclusive and annihilative. It is “technological thinking”.
This mode of “technological thinking” is “constructive” because it fashions the sort of thing that is not yet and is not yet ready-to-hand. We use the words “invent”, “create”, “produce” to indicate this mode of thinking to ourselves. It is “novelty”. To fashion is to “erect”, to build towards the heights. First, “the heights” must be attained and cleared. Those heights are the drive towards a perfection inherent in every “pro-duction” and “bringing forth” when that bringing forth is completed.
This constructive thought is “exclusive”. It fixes and maintains what can support the edifice of “pro-duction” and fends off whatever endangers it. It secures the foundation and selects the building materials. The most common example of this “exclusive” and “excluding” thought is the “fact/value” distinction arising from the “scientific method” and its applications in the social sciences. This thinking is a “value” in itself.
This thinking is also “annihilative” in that it destroys whatever stoppages and restraints hinder the construction to the heights. Annihilation offers security against decline. Popper’s suggestion of “falsification” as a mode of thinking in the sciences would be an example of this annihilative thought, but also most of the conclusions that you arrive at in your TOK discussions. It can be said to be captured in the words of Robert Oppenheimer who led American efforts to develop the atomic bomb: “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”
This constructive, exclusive, annihilative thinking characterizes the way of thinking by which justice is understood i.e. they are “fitting” for the being that is human being. By being constructive, the thinking moves towards erecting the heights (the goals, the concepts) so that this height may be achieved and surpassed in order to bring about what is fixated in the theories and concepts under and behind itself. It is a self-surpassing way of thinking, becoming master of oneself from moving to a higher height. We call such self-surpassing heightening empowerment. It is the essence of power.
Power is a kind of force, the storing up of energies. Force is not in control of itself. Energy is the ability to do work. “To work” means to change something at hand into something else. Nietzsche speaks of “energy” and “expressions of energy” rather than of power and power relations. For “Justice as the function of a panoramic power that looks beyond the narrow perspectives of good and evil, and thus has a broader horizon of advantage—the intention to preserve something that is more than this or that person.” To “function” means execution, carrying out—how the power we are referring to is power and empowers. Advantage in its original meaning means “what has been allotted to someone in a distribution before the actual dividing takes place” i.e. what is “owed” to someone in advance. For Nietzsche, justice is the ground of every possibility and necessity of the harmony of human beings with chaos whether this harmony is the higher one of art or the one of knowledge. In this constructive allotment of what is due to other human beings and beings, there are some beings to whom nothing is due. We see something of this in the current agricultural industry, but it is also present in all our technological institutions and technologies.
Much confusion over the thought of Nietzsche has come from the equating of will and power. Nietzsche views will as “commanding” and as self-empowerment, empowerment as the excelling of itself. This empowerment is the homoiösis that is the reciprocal relation of knowledge and art—technology.
Nietzsche’s philosophy may be called extreme humanism: “To ‘humanize’ the world, that is, to feel ourselves more and more masters within it—(WP #614). His anthropomorphism is the end of the history of Western metaphysics: that thinking which thinks beings as a whole, that thinks the what and the how of beings. This end brings about the “overcoming” of the animal rationale together with human being considered as subjectum and ushers in what Nietzsche called the “overman” and what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger called “the technology of the helmsman”.
When we speak of justice in the modern age, we have to understand that that technology understood as justice by Nietzsche, that will to mastery, will be turned towards other human beings. It has its deeper origins in existentialism. One does not need Hemingway’s ‘bullet-proof crap detector’ to see the farce behind such aspirations. One finds the shift in the use of “emotional intelligence” or emotion as a way of knowing in the use of the word “sensitivity” today in a number of writings as another false means of hope in looking for a way to escape the quagmire that is the attempt to understand this technology that understands itself as modern rationality. This use of “emotional intelligence” and “sensitivity” is, perhaps, indicative of our inability to use the word “love” in any kind of meaningful way outside of a biological definition that has become the norm in its understanding of love as primarily sexuality.
As our education system achieves its end of producing mass meaninglessness in its demonstrations of the “what” of things (cosmology), the medical profession (psychiatry) with its palliative drugs as the solution to this lack of meaning pro-duced from this view of nature, will be among those most highly regarded. The new technologies of both human and non-human nature are responses to the crises brought about by technology itself. “Technology” is pervasive in our political and social lives and thus in our praxis. What we have done to nature we first had to do to our own bodies, and we are beings in bodies. We are this technology ourselves and solutions to the problems of the thinking within it are not to be found in the logic and rationalism that created the problems in the first place.
When we remember that technology viewed as the systematic application of reason (framing) to the invention of instruments to assist in the objectifying and the commandeering and ordering of the beings of nature for our disposal, we need to understand that these instruments are not merely hydro dams, computers or drugs, but also our systems of organization: our corporations, bureaucracies, and factories. We do not have the dams, the drugs or the computers without the social organizations necessary for their making. In the West, the novelty (Nietzschean creativity, inventiveness) of our civilization has reached the highest level of effectiveness because it is systematically related to our sciences and their co-penetration with the arts. This is now becoming world-wide.
To describe our fate as human beings as technological is not to judge that fate. The fundamental presuppositions that the majority of us inherit as our ‘shared knowledge’ in our civilization and which are taken for granted as the way things are that they are given to us as an almost absolute status (Darwinism, for instance) may be a great step forward in the ascent of human beings. The destiny imposed on us, technology as fate, has brought about the machines that have assisted us in freeing ourselves from many of the limitations that nature has imposed on us. But we ask, as Nietzsche asked, “What for? Whither? And what then?” One can see from the responses to these blogs that “results” are the goal, not knowledge.
The accounts of justice given to us in the dominant ideologies of our age (liberalism, communism, and historicism) come forth from the account of reasoning which is made so clear in the writings and thinking of Nietzsche. The instruments and our standards of justice in using them are bound together in the same destiny, and both have come forth from that destiny.