Virtue as a Hindrance or Necessity to Improving the Human Condition
The ideas and definitions surrounding virtue have changed dramatically over the course of history, stretching from the power complex of Greco-Roman times, to God-fearing values of Judeo-Christian times. As a convert to Christianity and a Catholic Saint, Augustine lives by and professes the great virtues of Christian morality. He uses his autobiographical work, Confessions, to share his conversion experience from a life of vice to a life of virtue. Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals works in direct opposition to Augustinian virtue, a virtue that Nietzsche believes opposes the innate desires of the human person. In fact, Nietzsche labels his entire work a “polemic” against Christian morality (Nietzsche 0.2). Despite his disregard for the Christian value system as a whole, Nietzsche’s demand for a “critique of moral values” suggests that he does not reject all moral systems and, throughout his Genealogy, Nietzsche’s ideals seems to reflect the Greco-Roman view of virtue (Nietzsche 0.6). As a result of each of their experiences and critiques of morality, Nietzsche and Augustine would both argue that virtue is necessary to improve the human condition, however their deviating definitions of virtue and sources of morality set the fundamental perspectives of Augustine and Nietzsche at odds with each other.