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Preface

Preface

Nietzsche begins by criticizing traditional philosophical approaches for lacking a "Historical sense," meaning they fail to account for the origins and development of moral concepts over time. He introduces the concept of genealogy as a method to trace the evolution of morals back to their beginnings. Nietzsche aims to challenge established moral values and their supposed objectivity, Suggesting they are rooted in subjective human experiences and power dynamics. This sets the stage for his critique of morality and exploration of its underlying motives and effects.

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First Essay: "Good and Evil," "Good and Bad"

First Essay: "Good and Evil," "Good and Bad"

In the first essay, Nietzsche contrasts two moral systems: master morality (based from good and bad) and slave morality (based from good and evil).

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Original Morality (Good And Bad)

Original Morality (Good And Bad)

Master morality

  • Powerful individuals set standards of good (master morality).
  • Good defined by strength, courage, and excellence.
  • They saw themselves as inherently good and others as Bad if they lacked these traits.

Nietzsche also acknowledges that ancient societies like Sparta valued violence and domination as virtues is good.

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Shift in Morality (Good and Evil)

Shift in Morality (Good and Evil)

Slave Morality 

  • Oppressed and powerless redefine from good and bad to good and evil (Slave morality).
  • They invert values of the powerful (Master morality) label oppressors as Evil.
  • Traits like humility, empathy, and meekness become virtues of goodness.

He argues that the shift happens between the era of Spartan (were domination and violence is virtues) up to rise of Christianity (were domination and violence is evil).

Nietzsche argues that slave morality arises from a reaction to oppression and is characterized by resentment and a desire for revenge against those perceived as oppressors.

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Lamb And The Bird Of Prey Analogy

Lamb And The Bird Of Prey Analogy

The lambs (representing the weaker, oppressed classes (slave morality)) see The birds of prey (representing the stronger, dominant (master morality)) as evil because the birds prey on them. In response, the lambs develop a sense of resentment and label their own gentleness and weakness as good. The birds of prey, on the other hand, see their predatory nature as natural and good, without any resentment. "We don’t bear any grudge at all towards these good lambs, in fact we love them, nothing is tastier than a tender lamb" say the Bird of prey.

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FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

It is just as absurd to ask strength not to express itself as strength, not to be a desire to overthrow, crush, become master, to be a thirst for enemies, resistance and triumphs, as it is to ask weakness to express itself as strength. 

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

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<p>Nietzsche suggests that the...

Nietzsche suggests that the morality of the birds of prey is rooted in their natural instincts and power, making it a more authentic expression of life. They act according to their nature, without guilt or resentment. The lambs, on the other hand, create a moral system based on their weakness and resentment towards the birds of prey. This "slave morality" values like meekness and humility, which Nietzsche sees as a reaction against the Natural order.

Nietzsche argues that the resentment-based morality of the lambs distorts true values by labeling strength and power as evil and weakness as good.

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He critiques the origin of slave morality as being less authentic and life-affirming compared to the master morality of the birds of prey.

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Second Essay: "Guilt," "Bad Conscience," and Related Matters

Second Essay: "Guilt," "Bad Conscience," and Related Matters

The second essay delves into the origins of guilt and bad conscience.

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The Origins of Guilt

The Origins of Guilt

The Debtor-Creditor Relationship

In primitive societies, guilt starts as a tangible, external phenomenon tied to the debtor-creditor relationship. If a debtor fails to repay a debt, they owe something to the creditor, creating a sense of guilt and obligation.

Example:

Person A borrows a cow from Person B. The agreement is that Person A will repay with 2 cows after a year. Person A fails to repay the debt, he feel a sense of guilt towards Person B. This guilt is external: based on the specific debt. He might face punishment, or be required to offer something else as compensation, like labor.

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Evolution into Bad Conscience

Evolution into Bad Conscience

With the rise of slave morality, which values traits like humility, obedience, and self-denial, guilt takes on a new form. It shifts from an external debt to an internalized bad conscience.

Internalization of Guilt

Individuals start to feel guilty not just for failing to repay debts or breaking laws, but for having thoughts and desires that conflict with societal norms. This is bad conscience.

Example:

A person might desire wealth and power but feels guilty because slave morality deems these desires as selfish and wrong. This guilt is internalized; they start to see themselves as morally flawed.

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Impact

Impact

Repression of Instincts

Slave morality values traits like humility and obedience, which suppress natural instincts. For example, aggressive or ambitious impulses (Master moral) might be deemed immoral.

Self-Policing

Individuals begin to police their own thoughts and behaviors, feeling guilty for natural desires. This internal conflict leads to a perpetual state of bad conscience.

Ascetic Ideals

To cope with this guilt, individuals might adopt ascetic practices, denying themselves pleasures and punishing themselves to align with the moral standards of slave morality.

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Third Essay: What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?

Third Essay: What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?

The third essay examines ascetic ideals—practices such as self-denial, fasting, and chastity—which Nietzsche sees as a fundamental aspect of religious and philosophical traditions.

Nietzsche critiques asceticism for its role in perpetuating a life-denying attitude that suppresses human potential and creativity. He argues that ascetic ideals are used by priests and philosophers to gain power by controlling and manipulating individuals through guilt and the promise of otherworldly rewards.

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Ascetic Ideals

Ascetic Ideals

Interpretation of Suffering

Ascetic ideals provide frameworks for interpreting and understanding suffering. They propose that suffering has a higher purpose or moral significance, often tied to spiritual growth.

Control Over Instincts

Ascetic practices aim to regulate and suppress human instincts and desires.

Claim to Moral Superiority

Asceticism often entails a claim to moral superiority over those who indulge in worldly pleasures.

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Promise of Otherworldly Rewards

Many ascetic traditions promise rewards in an afterlife or spiritual realm for adherents who faithfully practice self-denial and endure suffering in this life.

These promises and ideals serves as a powerful motivator for individuals to adopt ascetic lifestyles despite the rebellion to nature, hardships, and sacrifices involved.

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Nietzsche's General Critique of Ascetic Ideals

Nietzsche's General Critique of Ascetic Ideals

Life-Denying Nature

Nietzsche views ascetic ideals as fundamentally life-denying, promoting a rejection of earthly pleasures and physical existence. He argues that this life-denying attitude stifles creativity, spontaneity, and the full expression of human potential.

Manipulation and Control

Nietzsche suggests that ascetic ideals are often exploited by religious and philosophical authorities to manipulate and control individuals. By promoting guilt and shame associated with natural desires, ascetics assert authority over moral and ethical standards, reinforcing their own power within society.

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Challenge to Human Flourishing

Nietzsche contends that asceticism poses a significant challenge to human flourishing and happiness. By advocating self-denial and suppression of instincts, ascetic ideals inhibit personal growth, creativity, and the pursuit of genuine fulfillment.

Nietzsche challenges the supposed purity and objectivity claimed by ascetics and questions the motives behind adopting such ideals. He calls for a reevaluation of asceticism and a recognition of its effects on human psychology and society.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

kyoie99

Just doin Philosophy

CURATOR'S NOTE

On the Genealogy of Morality full summary

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