Gallery Guides About Me

- Expansion of Nietzsche's Pseudo Egoism -

Nietzsche Originally states, in his common poetic form:
"whatever they may think about their 'egoism', the great majority nonetheless do nothing for their ego their whole life long: what they do is done for the phantom of their ego which has formed itself in the heads of those around them and has been communicated to them -- as a consequence they all of them dwell in a fog of impersonal, semi-personal opinions, and arbitrary, as it were poetical evaluations, the one for ever in the head of someone else, and the head of this someone else again in the heads of others: a strange world of phantasms -- which at the same time knows how to put on so sober an appearance! this fog of habits and opinions lives and grows almost independently of the people it envelops; it is in this fog that there lies the tremendous effect of general judgments about 'man' -- all these people, unknown to themselves, believe in the bloodless abstraction 'man', that is to say, in a fiction; and every alteration effected to this abstraction by the judgments of the individual powerful figures (such as princes and philosophers) produces an extraordinary and grossly disproportionate effect on the great majority -- all because no individual among this majority is capable of setting up a real ego, accessible to him and fathomed by him, in opposition to the general pale fiction and thereby annihilating it."
To most who read this excerpt, they are bound to see pseudo egoism in a negative light. Because, most individuals do not like, and sometimes can't even admit, that who they are, is not 100% derived from themselves. In other words, we often do not like that our individuality is actually based on a larger "whole", and that we as individuals actually are not that different. It is their shared traits, beliefs, and general ways of thinking that create and harbor a pseudo ego. But, can't it be seen, that th similar traits that create this overarching pseudo ego of the masses, actually increases the solidarity of our culture and society? Further, who is to say that the pseudo egos formed by these conditions are truly all encompassing?
I disagree with the inference by Nietzsche, that those who have formed pseudo egos are therefore incapable of supporting a true individual ego. Examples of a pseudo ego accompanied by a main ego (forming a whole functioning ego) can be seen today. It can be seen that being an "American" is a form of pseudo egoism. Do not Americans have shared beliefs, traits, and ways of thinking and as a whole constitute a pseudo ego? Indeed it does, but one that is beneficial and not of totality. However, that is a light example, in this day and age of mass media, our cultural bounds are shrinking; the net effect is the solidarity of the world as a whole is increasing. This provides the very real possibility for a pseudo ego of unprecedented size to form. So the very idea of psuedo egoism relating to society is of even greater importance than previously thought in Nietzsche's era.
If you agree with the premise of a whole ego containing a mixture of an individual main ego and a pseudo ego, you must take into consideration of what is the proper balance? It must be admitted by everyone that an individual of complete individuality would not mesh well with society. And if you admit this, then you must admit that at least some pseudo egoism is needed for society to exist. The very idea of pseudo egoism is that the ego which an individual holds to be one of true individuality is in fact a mixture of shared ideas and beliefs. The only way for a pseudo ego to be willed out of existence would be to become a true individual, but is such a thing possible? And if it is, would you want this for the majority who live in a society? Thus, the only conclusion to come to, is that at least a small portion of a person's whole ego must be that of a pseudo ego. So, at what point is the portion of a pseudo ego in ratio to the main ego, too much? This is where Nietzsche�s main statement holds truth, when the balance is interrupted and a pseudo ego becomes one of totality.
A pseudo ego can indeed be considered beneficial, and has been seen to have the very existence of society depend on it, but what happens when the scales are tipped toward the pseudo ego of the masses? They almost fail to become beings that have the ability to think for themselves and form their own unique beliefs, essentially a culture devolving into the mind of one. Now, this is the very real danger for which Nietzsche speaks of. When this happens, you get the conditions where a single individual can produce "an extraordinary and grossly disproportionate effect on the great majority". This truly can be observed today.
When the masses fall into a pseudo ego of totality, what can be done?


All Content Copyright Jarrod Christman - 2015