Nietzsche On Genealogy Of Morals First Essay

For example if the master were to act violently or cruelly towards the slave, the slave could not act violently back for risk of being killed. Thus the slave cannot trust his own instincts; he must accept the master’s ways.

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In the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche aims to provide a new philosophical standpoint, one based on the concept of value and its role in how we interpret the world.

In the first essay of the book, Nietzsche takes a genealogical approach to this concept and aims to show how value provided the basis for moral thinking, and indeed ‘thinking’ in general.

However one may be forced to ask the question how does Nietzsche come to these conclusions? He gives the examples of the Latin bonus being derived from duonus which signifies a warrior, while malus stems from melas, which designates the common man as the ‘dark coloured one’.

Furthermore he outlines that in Gaelic: the word fin “characterizing the nobility, which ultimately meant the good, the noble, the pure, but originally the blond-headed”8 who were the Celtic conquerors of the native ‘swarthy, dark-haired’ inhabitants.

The latter end of Nietzsche’s first essay begins with the slave revolt in morals; a revolt characterised by the slave’s ressentiment (or resentment).

This ressentiment has been developed by the slave as a response the master’s active, forceful actions; whereas the master is strong enough and sure enough to trust his own instincts, the slave does not have the power to respond to the master with any meaningful impact.

Nietzsche begins his first essay with a critique of the ‘English psychologists’ (by whom he means Locke’s empiricist psychology, Mill and Bentham’s utilitarian ethics and Darwin’s evolutionary theory)1 and their attempts to develop a genesis of the history of morality.

He accuses them of not only being historically inaccurate when trying to figure out the basis of morality but also amateurish in their plight.

The noble man feels himself naturally superior to his opposite, the weak slave, and thus attributes his own actions to be naturally good without any need for reflection on the pain or suffering of the slave.

Nietzsche summarises this thought well in his book Beyond Good and Evil: “The noble type of man experiences itself as deter-mining values”2.

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