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Why think that everyone's sense of power always predicated on diminishing that of someone else's, and is it the case? I think the question isn't a trivial "no reason to think it".

power lies not in just any form of opposition, but in the feeling of actively resisting, of ‘striving against’ a resistance

The Equivocal Use of Power in Nietzsche’s Failed Anti-Egalitarianism (PDF)

It seems this supposes that our sense of power actively resists that of someone else, which strongly suggests it will be more active when their power is less. I don't mean a "zero sum game", but that there is no gain without loss.

Zero-sum game is a mathematical representation in game theory and economic theory of a situation that involves two sides, where the result is an advantage for one side and an equivalent loss for the other.

Though more liberal definitions of the phrase exist. If it's at all reasonable, is this reason to think morality is meaningless in the sense of us having no moral obligations.

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    I'm curious to see where this goes . . . this is a topic I'll touch upon in my dissertation actually (hence why I cannot post an answer: would be shameless self-promotion).
    – Hokon
    Sep 21, 2023 at 22:18
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    hahah @Hokon you can always leave a comment on your conclusion or are we in open conflict?
    – user67675
    Sep 21, 2023 at 22:27
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    i think it's philosophy gone mad to think that people cannot co-operate @Hokon especially if that is legitimatised with culture.
    – user67675
    Sep 21, 2023 at 22:30
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    Why? Power in morality is not like conserved energy in classic physics at all, otherwise ethics would be subsumed into physics long time ago. Per Bacon's famous equality motto 'knowledge is power', one's sense of knowledge is not predicated on diminishing another's knowledge and the usual JTB knowledge is not quantum thus cannot interfere with each other. Rather, opinions without firm understanding of its underlying knowledge is easily swayed and interfered by other opinions... Sep 22, 2023 at 0:02
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    You might want to improve the question. (1) In its current state, the answer to the question in the title clearly is "no", and @DoubleKnot explained some reasons for that. That answer eliminates the reason of being of the rest of the post. (2) Asking both why something might be the case and whether it is the case lacks definiteness. (3) It is unclear "whose power [you] want to see", whose acts you intend to respond, and why are tags "Nietzsche" and "nihilism" relevant to the question. Sep 22, 2023 at 15:05

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the enlightened pursuit of ones own happiness coincides with the happiness of the community as a whole...[not a] zero sum game

Thanks for the phrase.

Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography - Page 310

This is (allegedly, though I agree instinctively) unlike Machiavelli's, Hobbes', Clausewitz's and Foucault's theories of power. FWIW I agree power isn't like that, though I don't understand why Nietzsche acts the way he does - like a universal benefit is worthless - if so.

Maybe what is key is that, while there may be no point hating yourself for other people, your actions do affect them in many ways.

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  • Why does Nietzsche see the world in terms of realpolitik?
    – J D
    Sep 25, 2023 at 22:46
  • Zero sum thinking is common in society today, and it's nothing more than game theoretic terminology for "being out for yourself". As to why did Nietzsche gravitate towards realpolitik? That's a psychological question, however, if you really look at how human beings interact, unfettered and optimistic altruism are both rare (because they are exploited by bad actors) and so looking at the world, one could get the impression, particularly if one is libertarian in one's thinking, that the world is fundamentally dog-eat-dog. Hobbes certainly thought so.
    – J D
    Sep 25, 2023 at 22:50
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In regards to Nietzsche, so if you approach the question about the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche within the context of will to power, AND if one is working with a psychological interpretation of his theory, then the response is clear. No, because that would be zero sum thinking. From WP:

Zero-sum thinking perceives situations as zero-sum games, where one person's gain would be another's loss. The term is derived from game theory. However, unlike the game theory concept, zero-sum thinking refers to a psychological construct—a person's subjective interpretation of a situation. Zero-sum thinking is captured by the saying "your gain is my loss" (or conversely, "your loss is my gain").

In a metaphysical interpretation, things become less clear. You go on to ask:

It seems this supposes that our sense of power actively reacts and resists that of someone else, which strongly suggests it will be more active when their power is less. If it's at all reasonable, this reason to think morality is meaningless?

Indeed. Modern psychology have a parallel to the notion our sense of power actively resists, and that is related to the concepts of reactivity and reactance. From WP:

In psychology, reactance is an unpleasant motivational reaction to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when an individual feels that an agent is attempting to limit one's choice of response and/or range of alternatives.

Therefore, from a highly naturalized epistemological approach, one can argue that psychological altruism even from a Darwinian perspective suggests that morality is necessary and advantageous, and that the conflict inherent between an individual's needs and society's needs are in tension necessarily. This of course, moves the conflict of will to power to groups of people, and brings us neatly to another bias related to zero sum bias, the bias of in- and out-group thinking. Now, we see why morality is not meaningless, because it derives its meaning from the social-psychological purpose of morality, an organizing force among individuals.

Thus, morality, which we are biologically wired to have, is a sociobiological phenomenon, and is not meaningless, but meaningful and impactful. This sheds light on the struggle of organized religion, and ties in Nietzsche's objection to religion as an opiate of the masses neatly. Freedom, free will, and will to power is endemic to political philosophy, and it should be no surprise that followed to its ends, liberalism leads to critical theory in its modern practice.

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  • you don't show your point, which is disappointing, especially as you consider it so obvious. anyway, zero sum game is the wrong term for what i asked.
    – user67675
    Sep 22, 2023 at 16:13
  • you must understand how annoying it is to ask a question which you think the answer is "no" and have the polemical response that it is so obviously no that it's barely worth answering, while failing to answer the question. i would suggest working on reading questions better than writing long answers
    – user67675
    Sep 22, 2023 at 16:15
  • why do you think it's a zero sum game? i can see that sense if every relation of power is viewed impersonally such that each side has the goal of having as many winners as possible. idgi, sorry
    – user67675
    Sep 22, 2023 at 16:33
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    what? don't bother answering questions you don't care about. it doesn't come off as apathetic, but ignorant and arrogant
    – user67675
    Sep 22, 2023 at 16:37
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    @ScottRowe It depends on which sense of meaningless you use. And I would be careful of equivocation on the metaphorical force of causality in explanation and the literal force of causality in the physical universe.
    – J D
    Sep 25, 2023 at 22:53
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Dimishing the power of another only yields power for the diminisher in the fashion of looking thinner by hanging out with fatter people.

Power belongs to the individual, and it is amassed independent of the condition of others.