The Treatment of the Vulnerable

A comparative Analysis of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil with King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail


The rich people in the society tend to exploit the poor for their selfish gains. The vulnerable in the society including the poor, and black people in white territory among others are exploited in the society by being treated as slaves. However, society should fight for equal treatment. Legally, all people irrespective of their class, colour, education level, and social status have equal rights and should be treated justly. This paper seeks to compare Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil with MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. While Nietzsche supports exploitation of the weak to promote the success of the nobles, King supports equality treatment under the guidance of moral and God’s law.

Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil

Nietzsche says that he wants slavery because it is essential for having an aristocracy. He wants an aristocracy that beats down the weak because the weak are supposed to be hurt. Failure to hurt the weak is similar to treating them as equal which is denying aristocrat life. Without looking down on subordinates and keeping a distance between classes, then the mysterious pathos cannot arise. Nietzsche (2012) argues that beating the weak is part of the nature of human being which is as an impact of will to life. Exploitation is a major organic function and should be taken as a fundamental fact.

In chapter 9 section 257 Nietzsche described people as beasts. The term more complete beasts refer to people of a higher rank. He argues that aristocracy has improved human species. In the new society, people are ranked along with the value differences. Aristocracy has imposed slavery on the society. The ranking has created a desire for some people to overcome others. By enforcing political and social distinctions, some people are able to be ranked higher than others. These views support the claim of beating down the vulnerable. This is because by beating them some people will assume the higher rank in the society.

Nietzsche uses an example of the Javanese climbing plant to support his claim. In his views he compares human to everything in nature. He claims that some people have to be sacrificed and be reduced slaves and instruments for the sake of those in a higher rank. The climbing explains his claim by looking at how it uses an oak to climb up until it finds the sun. At the top the plant while still supported by the oak unfolds under the sun exhibiting the happiness. The oak remains exploited just like how some people should be exploited for the sake of happiness of others.

In describing the essence of life, Nietzsche assumes that life itself is good and therefore we should beat people down. Nietzsche argues that life is basically an assumption, conquest of the weak and the strange, injury, suppression, obtrusion of irregular forms, and exploitation. Refraining from violence, exploitation, and injury and treating other people equally when taken as an important principle of society is similar to a denial of life. It is like ending life. Nietzsche (2012) argues that preventing exploitation is like is like preventing creating a life mode that refrains from the organic function. Exploitation is part of the human nature and is the primary organic function.

In section 260 Nietzsche contrasts moralities of the master and slaves. With the argument, Nietzsche is claiming that both the noble and the slaves are using each other. While the noble use the slaves to achieve a higher rank, the slaves use the nobles to attain freedom. Logically the weaker cannot claim it is ok to use the nobles but the nobles cannot use the weak. However according to the principle of contradiction, two contradicting statements cannot be considered true at the same time and sense. The statement that the weaker can use the nobles and another that the nobles cannot use the weak are two contradicting statements and are thus untrue. This suggests that both the noble and the slaves use each other.

King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

King (2012) noted that black people were treated differently in the US because they were outsiders and there was a need to treat them equally with other people. He said that all people living in the US should be treated with equality. Black people were experiencing segregation, vicious mobs lynch, drowning at whim. The policemen were cursing, kicking, brutalizing, and killing the black. Blacks were also suffocating out of poverty in a rich country. His daughter was filled with tears in her eyes after learning that Funtown was closed for coloured people. She even started developing hatred towards the white people. His son, five years old wondered why the white people were mean to the blacks. The whites were contradicting themselves according to the principle of contradiction because, they claimed to be ok in the way the blacks were treated and at the same time they were not ok. The arguments are false because, two contradicting arguments cannot be true at the same time. It is either they support or oppose the treatment.

MLK supported his view by appealing for justice for the African American. By fighting for justice, MLK proves that the blacks were really being mistreated and there was a need for intervention. The segregation, killings, and other abuses seemed to be part of the black lives and MLK held that there was a need to provide justice to the population. By talking about Augustine’s, Aquinas’, Martin Buber, and Paul Tillich’s views of justice, MLK believes that the blacks should experience justice by being protected by moral law or God’s law which uplifts their personality. Blacks should not endure segregation because it destroys their personality. They should instead be subjected to issues that promote their human personality. By stating that blacks require treatment that promotes their personality, MLK indicates that blacks experience injustice supporting his claim. King (2012) believed in democracy. He said that all people living in the US should be treated equally and not some as outsiders. He said that blacks should be treated democratically by treating them in accordance with the just law. A law that is in harmony with the moral law and God’s law. Additionally, even when the law used in just it should be applied justly too. This was black people with experience equal treatment.


In Conclusion between Nietzsche and MLK views on how to treat the vulnerable, I support MLK. The weaknesses of Nietzsche views include support of hurting the weak in the society for the success of the stringer individuals. Supporting such views would make the world unbearable for the minority. Nietzsche only promotes the wellbeing of the nobles at the expense of the weaker people which is wrong. On the other hand, MLK’s strengths include fighting for the rights of the minority, fighting for equality, promoting democracy, and promoting just laws that uplift personality. He also uses certain examples and personal experiences making giving the approach strong argument. MLK uses the logical principle of finishing the letter by requesting for peace ensuring that the reader is aware of the motivation for peace.


Martin Luther King, Jr., (2012). “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in Fifty Readings in Philosophy, ed. Donald Abel, 4th ed. New York City, 484-491.

Nietzsche, F. (2012). Beyond Good and Evil in Fifty Readings in Philosophy, ed. Donald Abel, 4th ed. New York City, 378- 385