Nietzsche on the genealogy of morals critical essays

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Nietzsche on the genealogy of morals critical essays

Although Nietzsche is now hailed by many as the seminal thinker in post-modernist thought, for a long time serious philosophers considered Nietzsche a Nazi forbear, or even a mere sophomoric ranter, and so thorough criticism of Nietzsche remained scarce until after the Second World War [1].

Nietzsche on the genealogy of morals third essay summary

It is often overlooked that Nietzsche exerted a decisive influence on many modernist writers—Andre Gide, Thomas Mann, Albert Camus, Henry Milleramong many, many others—none of whom took him for racist.

These may seem like excessively strong claims, and it would be an error Nietzsche on the genealogy of morals critical essays give Nietzsche undue credit for the general rise of secular society in the West, a trend that would certainly have continued without him.

Nietzsche, as philosopher, indeed believed that truth was nearly impossible to convey intellectually, and this belief reveals itself in his style, which aims for penetrating yet disjointed insights often covering a staggering breadth of subject matter in a single, piquant phrase.

Despite his valiant efforts to break completely free from traditional moral thought, even in his last works we find him violently struggling against the tides of Christianity in which he felt we were all awash. For Nietzsche, value-judgments first arose from the original value-creators, the natural aristocracy.

They first used the term to describe themselves, and employed antithetical terms for the weak slave classes. Already Nietzsche betrays his predilection for offering his own unprovable etiology of a pre-historical concept.

Here is the hinge of his entire thesis, not only for The Genealogy of Morals, but for much of his entire philosophy. For Nietzsche, since the golden age of the Greeks man has experienced inexorable decline; a loss of animalism, of feeling at home in nature, or instinct and strength.

In its stead has come arid intellectualism, petty utility over aesthetic grandeur, the debasement of the natural aristocracy at the hands of the herd-like multitude. And the catalyst for this cataclysm began with the general rise of the priestly caste, especially in Palestine and India, but occurring in some form everywhere.

The Jews, slaves in Egypt for centuries, managed to turn the original, aristocratic morality on its head. They created a God who favored them, the vanquished, as the chosen race; who saw their race as clean and others unclean; who promised eventual deliverance.

With the rise of the priestly caste in India and elsewhere began the first, sinister transvaluation of values, from which, Nietzsche insists we still suffer. But Nietzsche is more at home in the West than the East, and the first essay follows the historical thread of his argument from prehistoric times to his own day.

In however sketchy a form, Nietzsche provides an original and alternative view of history. Having never fully escaped the ghost of the Hegelian dialectic [9]Nietzsche traces the gargantuan battle of opposing value systems over two millennia: Lending such colossal drama to history is exciting stuff, but relies on appeals to our intuition tantamount to a suspension of disbelief.

It is here that Nietzsche is most original and convincing. First the priest manufactures the illusion of the moral agent, making weak and strong alike responsible for their state, a matter of choice, rather than a manifestation of natural accident and breeding. Instead of supposed natural generosity of aristocrats to their own, we now have the onus of responsibility to others regardless of our estimation of their worth.

Perhaps exploring the contemporary effects of morality on mankind can equally expose their effects on ancient man, for whom morality was perhaps not inevitable, at least in its familiar form. To support his case, Nietzsche must dissuade us from our conception of conscience, as well as our views toward the underlying motivations of pity, kindness, meekness and other attributes of the ascetic priest, who, despite being seen as increasingly misguided by Enlightenment and Romantic thinkers alike, was usually not depicted as being evil incarnate.

To achieve this end, Nietzsche portrays a time when ancient man held no moral views, lived in his glorious animal nature, and had not yet been subverted by the wicked priestly caste. In this early state, promises existed only between equals, a responsibility toward immediate family and perhaps fellow warriors, certainly not toward the downtrodden.

Nietzsche on the genealogy of morals critical essays

The notion of punishment originated as retaliation for broken contracts and failure of repayment, and has none of its later righteous tincture. With this key conception in place, justice is soon conceived as the means to exact comparable revenge from debtors; a table of punishments can be drawn up, now that acts can be evaluated in terms of their damage to the creditor.

Mutuality and commensurateness replace the former individuality of all persons and actions. Instead, Nietzsche anxiously presses on to a critique of the State, asserting that it emerged in much the same position as the early creditor.

Always eager to extol the virtues of the state, courts of law exist as much to remind law-breakers of the benefits the state has given them as to punish them.

SparkNotes: Genealogy of Morals

As societies grow in power, offenses are taken less seriously; offenders as seen more as pesky insects. For Nietzsche, this already represents a degeneration in the notion of justice, which Nietzsche believes degenerates pari passu to the extent that it is a reactive feeling—Nietzsche attaching greater value to proactive behavior of any sort.

For Nietzsche, the fact that before responding to aggression the reactive man must first consult a table of punishments—implicit or explicit—means that he is somehow false and counter-instinctual.

Consider this extraordinary passage: The democratic idiosyncrasy against everything which rules and wishes to rule, the modern misarchism to coin a bad word for a bad thinghas gradually but so thoroughly transformed itself into the guise of intellectualism, the most abstract intellectualism, that even nowadays it penetrates and has the right to penetrate step by step into the most exact and apparently the most objective sciences:From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes Genealogy of Morals Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE On the Genealogy of Morality. CAMBRIDGE TEXTS IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT Series editors contains a critical introduction together with chronologies, biographical essays, newly translated here, can be found in volume 1 of Nietzsche.

Jan 01,  · This astonishingly rich volume collects the work of an international group of scholars, including some of the best known in academia. Experts in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, political theory, aesthetics, history, critical theory, and hermeneutics bring to light the best philosophical scholarship what is arguably 4/5(4).

On the Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic (German: Zur Genealogie der Moral: Eine Streitschrift) is an book by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It consists of a preface and three interrelated essays that expand and follow through on concepts Nietzsche . Nietzsche genealogy of morals essay 2 pdf.

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Note's on Nietzsche's Genealogy