On the Genealogy of Morals: Preface and First Essay …

The highly purified character of moralized guilt suggests how it mightbe a powerful tool for moral revaluation and simultaneously indicatessome of Nietzsche’s reasons for skepticism against it. AsWilliams (1993a) observes, a purified notion of guilt pertaining towhat is completely under the agent’s control (and so entirelyimmune from luck) stands in a particularly tight fit withblame: “Blame needs an occasion—anaction—and a target—the person who did the action and goeson to meet the blame” (Williams 1993a: 10). The pure idea ofmoralized guilt answers this need by tying any wrong actioninextricably and uniquely to a blamable agent. As we saw, the impulseto assign blame was central to the ressentiment thatmotivated the moral revaluation of values, according to the FirstTreatise. Thus, insofar as people (even nobles) become susceptible tosuch moralized guilt, they might also become vulnerable to therevaluation, and Nietzsche offers some speculations about how and whythis might happen (GM II, 16–17).

On the Genealogy of Morals: Second Essay (“Guilt”, …

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The most celebrated evil-skeptic, nineteenth century Germanphilosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, also argues that the concept of evilshould be abandoned because it is dangerous. But his reasons forthinking that the concept of evil is dangerous are different fromthose discussed above. Nietzsche believes that the concept of evil isdangerous because it has a negative effect on human potential andvitality by promoting the weak in spirit and suppressing thestrong. In On the Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic, Nietzscheargues that the concept of evil arose from the negative emotions ofenvy, hatred, and resentment (he uses the French termressentiment to capture an attitude that combines theseelements). He contends that the powerless and weak created the conceptof evil to take revenge against their oppressors. Nietzsche believesthat the concepts of good and evil contribute to an unhealthy view oflife which judges relief from suffering as more valuable than creativeself-expression and accomplishment. For this reason Nietzsche believesthat we should seek to move beyond judgements of good and evil(Nietzsche 1886 and 1887).

Genealogy of morals nietzsche essay 1 - …

When he was a student in Leipzig, Nietzsche met Richard Wagner, andafter his move to Basel, he became a frequent guest in the Wagnerhousehold at Villa Tribschen in Lucerne. Nietzsche’s friendshipwith Wagner (and Cosima Liszt Wagner) lasted into the mid-1870s, andthat friendship—together with their ultimate break—werekey touchstones in his personal and professional life. His first book,The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music (1872), wasnot the careful work of classical scholarship the field might haveexpected, but a controversial polemic combining speculations about thecollapse of the tragic culture of fifth century Athens with a proposalthat Wagnerian music-drama might become the source of a renewed tragicculture for contemporary Germany. The work was generally ill receivedwithin classical studies—and savagely reviewed by UlrichWilamovitz-Möllendorff, who went on to become one of the leadingclassicists of the generation—even though it contained somestriking interpretive insights (e.g., about the role of the chorus inGreek tragedy). Following the first book, Nietzsche continued hisefforts to influence the broader direction of German intellectualculture, publishing essays intended for a wide public on DavidFriedrich Strauss, on the “use of history for life”, onSchopenhauer, and on Wagner. These essays are known collectively asthe Untimely Meditations.

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On The Genealogy of Morals is made up of three essays, ..

But Nietzsche’s main concern in the Second Treatise is thedanger he takes moralized guilt to pose to psychological health. Thesecriticisms have attracted an increasingly subtle secondary literature;see Reginster (2011), as well as Williams (1993a, b),Ridley (1998), May (1999: 55–80), Leiter (2002: 223–44),Risse (2001, 2005), Janaway (2007: 124–42), and Owen (2007:91–112). One salient thought is that guilt’s very moralpurity makes it liable to turn against the agent herself—even incases where it plays no legitimate role in self-regulation, or in waysthat outstrip any such role. For example, given guilt’s intenseinternalization, no connection to an actual victim isessential to it. Any observer (whether real or ideal/imagined) of theviolation can equally be entitled to resent the guilty party, and thatfact makes space for religious (or other ideological) systems toattach guilt to practically any kind of rule violation, even when noone was harmed. In such cases, free-floating guilt can lose its socialand moral point and develop into something hard to distinguish from apathological desire for self-punishment.

On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) is a book about the history of ethics and about interpretation

Nietzsche genealogy of morals essay 2 section 12 - aqotwf …

This survey hits only a few highlights of Nietzsche’sfar-reaching critique of traditional moral and religious values, whichextends to many other moral ideas (e.g., sin, otherworldlytranscendence, the doctrine of free will, the value of selflessness,anti-sensualist moral outlooks, and more). For him, however, humanbeings remain valuing creatures in the last analysis. It follows thatno critique of traditional values could be practically effectivewithout suggesting replacement values capable of meeting ourneeds as valuers (see GS 347; Anderson 2009, esp. at225–7). Nietzsche thought it was the job of philosophers tocreate such values (BGE 211), so readers have long andrightly expected to find an account of value creation in hisworks.

Published: 8 Dec 2008 On the Genealogy of Morals, part 7: Nietzsche contra dogma

nietzsche on the genealogy of morals first essay

As Reginster (2006: 222–7) observes, it is more difficult toexplain the role of the third constraint, eternity. It isnevertheless clear that it does make a practical difference: to put asharp point on it, return to Clark’s marriage analogy; one mightwell be very happy to live one’s marriage again (once, or twice,or even many times), but still prefer some variation in spousalarrangements over the course of eternity—indeed, Milan Kundera(1991) seems to be putting his character Agnes in something like thatsituation in his use of the Nietzschean thought experiment early on inImmortality. Reginster proposes that the eternity constraintis meant to reinforce the idea that the thought experiment calls foran especially wholehearted form ofaffirmation—joy—whose strength is measured by theinvolvement of a wish that our essentially finite lives could beeternal. More modestly, one might think that Nietzsche considered itimportant to rule out as insufficient a particular kind ofconditional affirmation, which is suggested by the Christianeschatological context, and which would leave in place the judgmentthat earthly human life carries intrinsically negative value. Afterall, the devout Christian might affirm her earthly life as a testof faith, which is to be redeemed by an eternal heavenly rewardshould one pass that test—all the while retaining her commitmentthat, considered by itself, earthly life is a sinful condition to berejected. Imagining that my finite life recurs eternallyblocks this avenue (and returns the focus of assessment to the finitefeatures of real life) by supposing that there will never be a pointat which one could pretend that finite life is once and for all“over and done with” (Anderson 2005: 198, 203; 2009:237–8).