Existential Stoic Podcast, dobetterwithdan, self help, Motivation, Quick Fix, how to, necessary, valued
with Danny & Randy

We all want to be needed, to be essential…In this Quick Fix, Danny and Randy discuss tips for how to be indispensable.  

The Existential Stoic Quick Fix 148 – How to be Indispensable – Available wherever you get your podcasts!

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Want to discover more? Please check out my related articles: Discovering Small Delights, Our Relationship to Suffering, Comparisons & Mistakes We Make, Defining a Life Project, Meditation & Balance, The Only Proof of Strength, What is Virtue?, A Formula for Happiness, and The Authentic Life.

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Existential Stoic Podcast, dobetterwithdan, self help, Motivation
with Danny & Randy

New from The Existential Stoic Podcast!

Many of us tie our self-worth to our productivity. We assume we need to prove our worth and validate our existence. Is this the best way to determine self-worth?

Episode 41 – You are more valuable than you think…

Discover why you are more valuable than you think.

The Existential Stoic Podcast, Episode 41 – You are more Valuable than You Think – available wherever you get your podcasts.

Check out The Existential Stoic Podcast YouTube Channel Here.

Or check out all ESP content here.

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Want to discover more? Please check out my related articles: Reason & Autonomy in Kant’s Ethics, Imagination, Happiness, and Utilitarianism, Morality & the Individual, Creating Opportunities, Comparisons & Mistakes We Make, Belief as a Noble Risk, Note to Self, Defining a Life Project, Perspective—In Pursuit of Truth, Developing a Positive Mindset, and Understanding Our Relationship to Suffering.

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dobetterwithdan, Nietzsche, Philosophy, Authenticity, Authentic Life

“To acknowledge untruth as a condition of life: this clearly means resisting the usual value feelings in a dangerous manner; and a philosophy that risks such a thing would by that gesture alone place itself beyond good and evil.”

Nietzsche

How can “untruth” be a condition of life? What does it mean to be “beyond good and evil”?

I’ve always admired Nietzsche’s philosophy and writing style. Philosophers ask difficult questions, to be sure, but in Nietzsche I found a philosopher who seemed utterly unafraid of pursuing or asking even the most difficult of questions.

(Please see my related article, The Death of God – Nietzsche and Nihilism)

I can recall being fascinated by the idea of going “beyond good and evil” when I first came across it in Nietzsche’s work that bears the same name. The idea seemed attractive—to exist beyond good and evil, to exist, to think, to live outside the normal value constraints we place upon ourselves. To be proudly amoral…even immoral?

But I was naïve when I first came across this idea. I was naïve in the sense that I didn’t fully appreciate what it could mean, what it implied, and what it meant for an individual to live, to exist, beyond “the usual value feelings.” I didn’t appreciate the subtle nuances, nor did I understand the level of difficulty and the loneliness involved in existing beyond good and evil.

(See my related article, What is Strength of Will? – Nietzsche on Honesty and Authenticity)

The Usual Value Feelings

What are the “usual value feelings”? Most of us take for granted that the world is a certain way, that life is a certain way. We accept as given certain values, a certain way of looking at and seeing the world.

The norms we accept, the tacit worldview we accept, is often whatever perspective dominates within our community. From a young age we are taught to think a certain way, to value a certain way, and to see the world as our neighbor sees the world.  

(See my related article, Understanding Our Relationship to Suffering)

We are pressured by social norms, practices, and expectations to be a certain way, to conform. The “usual value feelings” are the dominate values and value feelings of conformity, they are characteristic of the dominant way of looking at and making sense of the world.

For example, we might judge our own appearance against the standard notion of beauty within our society/culture. Or we judge our success against the dominant notion of success.

This is evident, for instance, if you ask any college student why he or she attends university. It is very rare to find a student who is attending college because she wants to learn, to better herself. No, most students are going because they want a good job, they want to be successful and earn money—They want, in short, the life they have been told they should pursue, the one they should value.  

We have taught youth to associate a college degree with success, a good job, and earning power. This norm, this belief that is taken for granted and reinforced in social life, is the dominant motivation for their choices.

(See my related article, Applying to College)

The “usual value feelings” are complicated, diverse, and likely influence most decisions you make in life. To free oneself from such value feelings, from such ways of looking at the world, is a difficult task. We are taught to see the world a certain way, and we are often unaware of just how influential social values, norms, and practices are in determining our own actions and choices.

Beyond Good and Evil

To exist beyond good and evil, beyond “the usual value feelings,” is to exist as an individual. It is to have the strength, the self-awareness, to demand and create one’s own reasons for acting.

To exist beyond good and evil means being willing to question even what is most sacred. The individual who exists beyond good and evil thinks for himself, accepts his agency, and makes himself.

The challenge, however, is that to exist beyond good and evil, to live an authentic life, means taking responsibility for oneself. When we conform, we can explain away perceived failures and problems by finding excuses for ourselves. We can blame the system, the information we were given, others… The authentic individual, however, knows that only he is to blame, that he bears full responsibility for his life, his choices.

(See my related article, Freedom & Responsibility)

To free oneself from the fetters of social pressures, social norms and obligations, is to take control of one’s life and exercise one’s agency. To live authentically.

The Takeaway

Truth, Nietzsche thought, was contingent on perspective, on an individual’s or community’s standpoint. To exist beyond good and evil requires acceptance of the perspectival nature of truth. The free individual, the authentic individual, understands that meaning is what he makes of it.

This is no easy task. We live in communities and face constant pressure to conform. The norms, practices, and dominant values are constantly reinforced and endorsed.

To live an authentic life means taking full responsibility for who we are and who we become. It means having the strength to say “No,” to assert one’s agency and make choices for oneself. The authentic individual knows that only he can live his own life.

As I see it, Nietzsche’s point about existing beyond good and evil is a reminder to the individual to question everything, to dig deep, and to examine the values and beliefs he holds. It is a challenge to really explore what motivates us, what reasons we adopt for acting, and to examine whether we accept our agency and freedom.

Nietzsche reminds us to seriously consider why we adopt certain values, why we take certain things for granted, as given, and he reminds us to always risk asking the hard questions. In short, he reminds us of the dangers that exist in the crowd, in conformity. The greatest danger of all is to lose oneself.

To be an individual, to pursue an authentic life, we have to be willing to exist beyond good and evil.

“To acknowledge untruth as a condition of life: this clearly means resisting the usual value feelings in a dangerous manner; and a philosophy that risks such a thing would by that gesture alone place itself beyond good and evil.”

Nietzsche

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Please check out these related articles: The Eternal Recurrence, The Authentic Life – To be an Outsider, The World We Create, Accepting Death, Defining a Life Project, Camus and Authenticity, and Perspective – In pursuit of truth.

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Hiking, Backpacking

I recently hiked for four days in Pennsylvania. It was a lot of fun and it gave me the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature without all the distractions of normal life. (See, for instance, my related article, Are You Distracted? – How to limit smartphone use, here.)

We hiked through mountains and forests full of trees. The vibrant colors of the leaves were a reminder that everything changes, and that change is a good thing—a necessary part of life. As we made our progress each day, we got to see the shifts in vegetation, animals, and landscape from one area to the next. It was beautiful.

Finding Value in Nature

Hiking with a 35-pound pack on your back is not easy. The first day, I was extremely sore and worn out by mile 8 and had to push myself the last 2.5 miles to make it to the campsite. It’s funny to think that I really enjoyed something that caused so much pain…but I did. You realize that you are capable of something you had never tried before, and in doing it you get the chance to experience things that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

It’s easy to forget about the natural world in our everyday lives. We’ve dramatically changed our environments to make them more comfortable, and in the process we’ve built communities comprised of mostly man-made objects and structures. There’s a certain uniformity and comfort in our social world.

When you go out in nature you see diversity and change all around you. You step into a world you don’t own, one that hasn’t been manipulated and changed by human hands. When you are out in the natural world, you start to realize that nature is valuable in its own right. It’s beautiful, full of life, and in a state of constant change and flux.

Enjoy the natural world. Take advantage of it and allow yourself the opportunity to do something different…to look at things from a different perspective. Explore and stay open to the possibilities of life.

Do you value being in nature?

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe, like, and share.

Interested in exploring more? Check out my related articles and posts: What We can Learn Living Underground, The Human Condition – Kafka and Man’s Search for Meaning, The Importance of Exploration and Experimentation, What is Multiple Causation? – Understanding how we explain the world, Developing a Positive Mindset – Discovering Small Delights, and The Experience of Awe.

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