such as sympathy is universal, and constant enough to constitute the basis for generalizable moral judgments. There is thus an important difference in both form and content between Hume's and Nietzsche's use of the hypothetical method. In content, placing ressentiment rather than Hume's universal sympathy at the origin of morality leads Nietzsche to reject the universal status of ethics. A distinction like that between the values of the noble and the values of the slavish calls into question Hume's claim that there are natural (psychologically universal) as well as artificial (socially useful) virtues. If the virtues of the nobles are more natural than those of the slaves, they are not invariable features of human nature since slave morality can corrupt and replace them.
The arguments against the utility of particular virtues will also be different in form. Nietzsche says, for instance, that asceticism is the result of willing nothingness rather than not willing (GM III:28). Such a claim is both weaker and stronger than Hume's. It is weaker in that it does not claim to be identifying psychological facts. We are not aware psychologically of willing nothingness, and Nietzsche's suggestion that we are willing nothingness although we are not aware of doing so is just an interpretation of what we are willing. The psychological fact is that we think we are willing something. The interpretation is that contrary to what we think, we are really willing nothingness.
But in another respect Nietzsche's claim is stronger than Hume's. As in Kant, there is some logical consideration involved, for supposedly we must , on reflection, come to accept Nietzsche's interpretation rather than our own of what we are doing. For instance, the claim is that we are willing nothingness rather than doing something else, namely, not willing. But of course it is impossible not to will. We could perhaps try not to will, knowing that trying is already willing, and therefore that in trying not to will, we fail in not willing. But Nietzsche follows Kant in believing that it is irrational to try to do the impossible. So the alternative of not willing is inevitably counterfactual. Willing nothingness turns out to be an alternative that is forced on the ascetic. But a lifetime of willing nothingness is impossible in practice, and would be self-defeating. Nietzsche thus derives what Kant called an absurdum practicum to show the incoherence of the attempt to put a certain theory into practice throughout a life. While different in purpose from Kant's use of transcendental arguments in ethics, Nietzsche's arguments nevertheless share with them this kinship in structure.
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