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How to create a beast that can keep its promise... [Làm sao có thể đẻ ra một con-vật biết jữ lời-hứa...]



Nietzsche’s Dilemma on the Genealogy of Morals 1



Nỗi băn-khoăn của Nietsche về nguồn-gốc luân-lí


Nhân zịp tới Đại-hội Triết-học Thế-jới kì 23 tại University of Athens, Greece để trình bày đề-tài On the Beautiful and the Creative of Commonplace, vào ngày August 7, 2013 (2:00-2:50 pm), tôi đã sửa-soạn thêm một bài sau đây chia Sẻ cùng học-jả.
Bài viết này khai triển từ í của Nietzsche trong cuốn Zur Genealogies der Moral với nỗ-lực tìm hiểu “Tính-súc-vật” trong con-người, đặc biệt trong Chính-trị. Con-Vật ấy chuyên môn zùng sức-mạnh để nuốt lời hứa, và tiếp-tục tìm cách xâm-lăng. Nó là Tầu.
“Con-vật nơi con người” gọi lương-tâm của nó là sức-mạnh và í-chí vô-địch: muốn nhớ thì nhớ, muốn quên thì quên. Càng đau nó càng hung-zữ. Đó là trường-hợp của “Con-vật Tầu” đối lân-bang, đặc-biệt Việt Nam. Như thế có đúng với Luân-lí hay không?
Nhưng chính người Việt lại có vấn-đề về Luân-lí vì họ “thờ-fụng con Vật Tầu” ngay trong huyết-quản, bằng cách theo fọng-tục, suy-tư, luật-lệ, học-thuật và luân-lí của nó, trong quá khứ và ngay trong hiện-tại.
Chuyên-luận này fân-tích những vấn-đề nan-jải và nguy-hiểm fản luân-lí, và còn được tiếp tục khai-triển trong những bài kế tiếp. Chuyên-luận này soạn ra để trình bày tại Đại-hội International and Interdisciplinary Conference tại University of Vaasa, Finland., May 21-23, 2014.
Sau Đại-hội ở Athens, tôi sẽ chuyển toàn bài sang Việt-ngữ để chia sẻ cùng độc-jả.
1. The Roots of Morals
2. Forgetfulness and Conscience
3. The Instinct of the Beast
4. Power and Conscience of the Beast: Free Will
5. Creditor and Debtor



This writing developed from the first part of Nietzsche’s second essay “Guilt, Bad Conscience, and the Like” in On the Genealogy of Morals is my on-going inquiry into the world political behaviors, especially into Chinese motifs and the Vietnamese inability of self-becoming.



“Guilty or Not Guilty?” The question flashes up itself at imminence of problem originated from the beginning of human history. It does not require a juridical system to deliberate the verdict. Rather it lies in human conscience or a matter of ethics therewith comes a system of morals varied in different cultures, but necessitated for the whole world if the community of mankind would seek an ideal foundation of peace.

Is there any connection between natural principle and man to help formulate this theme how to create a beast that can keep its promise so seriously to be at the center of our conscience? For Nietzsche, this is man’s problem; especially it concerns the sovereignty or the political system that does not keep promise. Breaking the promise simply means an act of consciousness to delete certain predicament or duty from memory at will. As such, forgetfulness is not a passive (vis inertice) motif, a point often misconstrued by many.

In the default of its promise or committing to forgetfulness on its obligations, the government (sovereignty) uses authority or force to bolster its targeted policy. Thus, forgetfulness is vividly powerful with a clear intent. Nietzsche calls this forgetfulness a “psychic absorption”, a symptom incorporating many motifs. Forgetfulness is a temporary shutting on the doors or windows to consciousness. It is a clamant alarums or an urgent exit for safety of someone to working on conflicts. To gently keep his mind under quietude or tabular rasa of the consciousness; namely it makes believe that there is no initial promise at all, and clearly expounds the sovereign’s authority as the art of malice.



The act of “forgetfulness” negotiates with consciousness to buy out time for all misconduct governmental representatives to work on some tasks under the guise of “noble” motives. Shutting on doors and windows of consciousness provides sovereign with sufficient room, future strategy and direction of predeterminations. “Forgetfulness” is used as an outlook, an art of counseling, a maneuver of peace, and a manipulation of social order. Taking all such skillful plans into strategy, speaking in Nietzsche’s own words, would make one’s life happy if one expects no dyspeptic symptom.

On hypothetical point of view alone, the animal-man desperately looks for serious remedy of forgetfulness because the ability to forget cannot run its courses without indispensable power, resistance, and memory of irksome consequences. Forgetfulness is essentially the product of strong will. Both ignoring a promise and holding one’s ground with promise, if necessary, must disparate a matter of survival to re-define the concept of co-called “noble” commitment. In the latter case soul-searching does not direct to any civilized solution, but in reality chess move to an end avoiding nasty conflict. Furthermore, once the sovereign determines to use the power to forget and the power to promise, he is vested also with the power of veto. As a result, the sovereign lives up with his own conscience settlement, neither with the particular, nor with the universal, for his game playing deals not with “good and evil”, but with his justification; namely I forget therefore I am.

For Nietzsche to create an animal-man capable of his words, first and foremost, requires an exhausting research of long history based on the origin of responsibility that is about morality. There are certain exceptions where maintaining responsibility; hence keeping promise become impossible, such as being under extremely difficult tasks, upholding despotism, or being stuck with stupidity. Concerning the nature of “forgetfulness”, Nietzsche advances this debate with a number of questions:

1. Hypothetically speaking where is the central point of “forgetfulness”?
2. What is the future it might actually play?
3. Do men need learning and experience in order to know what essentially would come about affecting “promise”?
4. Do men need to think about causality?
5. What consists in prediction and anticipation?
6. How to solve a problem and what is the end?
7. How to make the means to an end?
8. Would it be feasible following 7, by way of strong analysis and wise determination?
9. And, above all, do men need serious discipline and right action to keep promise against forgetfulness if they expect a future themselves?

Simply put, the sovereign be it a despot or a totalitarian, is regarded as the Lord with free will. He knows that he is great and capable of keeping his promises. He is confident because he has his own security, trust, and awe. Who would dare him? He declares his directive the ultimate conscience similarly to “L’état c’est moi!” arrogantly cried out Napoléon Bonaparte. This sovereign is self-assured of being endowed with superior morals; everlastingly independent and capable of making promise – keeping it or forgetting it at will.



The absolute sovereign believes he controls nature, his destiny, and all circumstances including those whose will is weaker than his. His unbreakable will sets up standard of values thereof he claims foreign lands and seas his property regardless cries for justice and ignoring international laws. This is currently the case of China, the beast nurtured by the West, which has been frustrated by the consequence of breeding an animal whose consciousness of moral values originates from cruelty, which in fact reflects its conscience defined by its own terms.

The absolute sovereign makes use of ignorami who only promise to perform their duty when available. He punishes those who do nothing but lip-service. His super-consciousness or the “extraordinary privilege” of responsibility, a rare freedom he enjoys attaining his power over his fate. This consciousness becomes his own nature that is called the dominating instinct that entitles him a sovereign of his very own conscience.

What is his conscience? Nietzsche holds that the conscience of this “brute-man” is evidence of a supreme symbol made by him and for him. This peculiar symbol symptomatically traces back to a long history and evolution created for this man-animal’s “supreme self” that knows nothing but satisfaction of his unbridled desire. That how long does it take to attain this “supreme self” is something no one would make a promise. Similarly, it is quite impossible for anyone to be certain when the latest ripe fruit on the tree ready to pick up. Nietzsche hinted at a long process historically and psychologically, and deeply in man’s heart and mind. The worship of the Han clan for expansionism that the Chinese dutifully and fanatically carry out for more than two thousand years supports Nietzsche’s insight of the “supreme self” of animal-man.



That supreme conscience belonging to that animal is but his own self, with strong memory it tells him to forget his promise. In fact what he really wants to forget refuses to take leave of his mnemonics. So, memory is nothing but the past having many things such as solemnity, seriousness, and mystery that exist “in life of the men and of nations of the world.” (p.32).

Nietzsche sees this, if men find it an urgency to re-create memory, it would require of them a formidable task of difficulty, first and foremost, to revise all tragedies and sacrifices. At the bottom of all religions lie horrible rituals, for example. The Germans cannot forget their low roots (plebeian), the Christians their memory of bloods in persecutions and inquisitions, the Muslims their world conquests, and the Vietnamese their Chinese slavery in regard to culture and history.

Truth and Hypothesis trouble our mind so much that they must stand for trial and our verdict would be based on tremendous effort of investigation. The case of Sino-Viêt or the Sovereign and the Slave is shown in Table A revealing degree of superiority and inferiority might compel two races’ bilateral confrontation and settlement forever.

In reality, history records that for more than two thousand years, how many times did China invade Vietnam? Defeats have not seemed to tame the wild animal. Instead its boiling arrogance runs deeply inside its so-called civilization. Chinese Machiavellian blind ambition built on mass and size and equipped with modern technology learned from the West, it claimed, in plain sight, Tibet and unreasonably demanded sovereignty over some Pacific islands, part of which belongs to Vietnam according to historical records. Where is the United Nations role?

Chinese behavior, according to Nietzsche’s concept of guilt, is “the continually growing “spiritualization” and “deification” of its cruelty, which shuts on the door of its memory for the ascendancy to sovereignty at the expense of others (p.37). By 1979, its brief though unsuccessful invasion into Vietnam renewed Chinese unbridled blood-thirsty animal of man. Its current domino-strategy of claiming streak of islands belonging to other nations in China Sea (sic!) aiming not just about natural resources, in fact strengthens its domination in Southeast and Extreme-Orient. China’s ambition has met with Japanese and Asean block protests. Recently it refused to sign in the Code of Conduct with nations involved in this conflict.12, 13 Even though in the event of the signing if completed in September 2013, gains and losses have already become an after fact that will not prevent further complication caused by Chinese expansionism. The Code of Conduct must be witnessed and monitored by the United Nations and must be clear that there will be no military deployment in those maritime lines.



Judged by the standard degree of guilt of antiquity and modern time, breaking promise not only defaults the debtor’s credits but also severely tarnishes the trust between members of the community as well as between nation and nation. Nietzsche is right about the breach of contract. Politically, social members and races need protection, peace and trust for their own security and against enemies (p. 42).

However how can the weak settle score with the wild as is seen in some part of the world that is still run by the laws of the jungle in which the voice of conscience of the weak does not exist? While some small countries made stunning achievements and respects that warrant the path to equality, other like Vietnam still survive by the kindness of the powerful. Table A shows how the Vietnamese have suffered, in part by the claws of the cruel beast; in part they have inflicted themselves even in the time of peace. Their immediate and exhausting difficulty is to upset the table of inequality, making change to superiority from inferiority. How could they achieve this goal while in their veins the blood of slavery of China is still running, now quietly and now passionately? Some suggestion would be worth of a try. For people like Cambodian, the glory of Angkor Watt and Angkor Thom; for the Viets humiliations and great epics must be evoked to truth from their memory as they must live with them every day instead of worshipping foreign mythology.

Until the Vietnamese can smash the shackles from their ankles of one thousand-year slavery, and walk with their head high in freedom, can they be able to claim the debts. Have they had to shut on the door of their memory? No. Unfortunately, they do not have that sort of consciousness and power to get rid of serfdom. Serfdom exists in a faux “kingdom” where slaves reproduce from themselves to serve one master unconditionally. Remember, even the name of the country Vietnam was charted by the Court of China, and shamefully, the Vietnamese chose the Chinese city name Hanoi to replace their own capital city name Thăng-long. They dropped the most humanistic Lê’s codes in exchange for the Chinese prototype system of laws, and finally, but not the last, they do not know a Vietnamese chief architect named Nguyen An who designed and built the entire plan of the Chinese Forbidden City in Beijing, in the 15th century, and presently it still stands as a symbol of glory for China, and as a servitude for Vietnam.

Below is Table B showing historical unsettled scores of tragedies and sufferings committed by the Chinese Machiavellian policy, which makes China an over-due debtor, and the Vietnamese, a poor creditor or simply a defeatist.

After the Holocaust, Jewish people have made it clear: NEVER FORGET. NEVER FORGIVE. Would the Viets know how to boost their memory for good?

One of the statecraft qualifications demands the system ability to defend and empower the trust between representatives and people. And the compliance with good trust must fulfill bilateral promise comprising welfare and civil rights. Therefore, good leadership must always see to promise, responsibility and wisdom for the nation’s stability and success. However, one great and vital element can be of irksomeness to some society is referred to the maturity of people’s background and culture in role playing when crucial issues and determination must be met timely, otherwise the system may fail. This problem addresses to some people for whom freedom and democracy are too abstract a reality of life if customary beliefs in discipline and motivation as miraculously and mystically as God’s disposal refuse to accept challenges to make society healthy and strong against enemies.

To shed more light on the case of Sino-Viet relationship, Table C might be of little more relevance.

Table C shows Vietnamese weakness or incapability in areas that are essential for making social progress and excellence. Therefore, they have borrowed concepts of value from the Chinese, most alarming in the periods of their political independence. Chinese influence overshadows Vietnamese identity and thus ironically turns Vietnam into “debtor” from “creditor” because it fails to demonstrate conscience of self-becoming. This has warranted China self-claimed conscience of superiority by which “forgetfulness” and “memory” are interchangeable. As a result, the Chinese will to power enables them to manipulate the concept of “guiltiness” and “not-guiltiness” aggressively to justification of the animal morals so long as its power and free-will remain unchallenged. Its behavior persists with no-no and win-win maxim.

That how, according to Table B, can a debtor or ower escape his terrible memory elicits his superior power over his weak creditor. He becomes a “peaceless man” (p. 42), a breaker of word or covenant. Simply he is a criminal who uses force to attack the creditor and put him in the wild. In this regard China makes itself the Lord over all the weak that are treated as the impotent and barbarians. His conscience is called “The Law of the Jungle.”

Meanwhile, all radical elements listed in Table C shows to the fact that although the creditor not always victorious in wars but he is forever formidable winner when it comes to terms with the power of his mind that miraculously provides vital nutrition to any races (the debtors) that lack critical thinking, self-conscious and self-becoming.


Quynh Nguyen, July 23, 2013


Next Essay: ‘How to deal with the beast’s forgetfulness: Morality with a Hammer?’




Notes and Selected Readings:

1. Nietzsche, Friedrich, Zur Genealogie der Moral/On the Genealogy of Morales, English Translation by Horace B’ Samuel, Introduction by Costica Bradatan, Barnes and Noble, 2006. Originally published in 1887, two years before he succumbed to mental collapse and passed away on August 25, 1900. See also suggested reading list (2-13) below for up-to-date development of the guilt.
2. Bodeen, Chistopher / Associated Press, “China Criticizes US Force Strengthening in Asia”, April 16, 2013
4. Chang, Gordon G. and Lyons Jr., James A., “America’s China Mistake”, May 30, 2013.
7. Sheldrick, Aaron and Blanchard, Ben / Reuters, “Exclusive – Japan Survey Ships Prepare for Deployment, Tension with China rises”, July 18, 2013
12. Mogato, Manuel and Grudgings / Reuters, “Rivals play down China’s Overture in S. China Sea, no breakthrough”, July 3, 2013.
13. Kate, Daniel Ten and Yoon, Sangwon, “China Takes Friendlier Tone at Asean Summit to Counter U.S. Pivot”, July 2, 20123





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