On The Genealogy Of Morality Summary

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 9/19/2013

"'Good and Evil', 'Good and Bad'"

Nietzsche aims to show that the valuations "good/bad" and "good/evil" have distinct origins and that the two senses of "good" reflect radically opposed meanings. Originally, there were two kinds of people "the noble, the powerful, the superior, and the high-minded" and the "low, low-minded, and plebeian." Nietzsche calls this feeling of the superior over the inferior the pathos of distance. Each kind had his own moral codes. The first, “master” morality, comes from the early rulers and conquerors, "blonde beasts," as Nietzsche calls them. "Blonde" here is a reference to lions rather than to hair color, as Nietzsche bestows this name not only on Vikings and Goths, but also on Arab and Japanese nobility, who judged their own power, wealth, and success to be “good” and the poverty and wretchedness of those they ruled over to be “bad” so it gave the "good/bad" distinction. 
As is well known, the priests are the most evil enemies — but why? Because they are the most impotent. It is because of their impotence that in them hatred grows to monstrous and uncanny proportions, to the most spiritual and poisonous kind of hatred. The truly great haters in the world history have always been priests; likewise the most ingenious haters: other kinds of spirit hardly come into consideration when compared with the spirit of priestly vengefulness.
Then out of hatred for the powerful,a "slave revolt in morality" happened, and gave birth to the second kind of morality, "slave" morality, originating with priests who despise the warrior caste and condemn their lustful power as "evil", while calling their own state of poverty and self-denial "good" so it gave the "good/evil" distinction. Nietzsche associates this morality with Judaism, for it is the bridge which led to the slave revolt of Christian morality by the oppressed masses of the Roman Empire. Christian love is born from hatred. This slave morality turns master morality on its head. Nietzsche worries that it has rendered us all mediocre. Modern humans, who have inherited the mantle of slave morality, prefer safety and comfort to conquest and risk. The slave morality of the priestly caste focuses the attention on the evil of others and on the afterlife, distracting people from enjoying the present. But this kind of morality had its benefits  in allowing resentment and hatred to grow in him, In having to rely on patience, secrets, and scheming, the man of resentment develops an inner life and ultimately becomes cleverer than the noble man. This kind of morality was broken for a moment by the Renaissance, but reasserted by the Reformation (which, in Nietzsche's view, restored the Church), and refreshed again by the French Revolution (in which the "resentment instincts of the rabble" triumphed).

In support of his argument, Nietzsche remarks on the similarity between the German word for "bad" and the words for "plain" and "simple." By contrast, he notes, in most languages, the word for "good" derives from the same root as the words for "powerful" or "masters" or "rich." Nietzsche also remarks on how "dark" and "black" are used as negative terms, presumably because of the dark-haired peoples of Europe who were overrun by blonde, Aryan conquerors. He notes the association of "good" with "war" and "warlike.". Nietzsche notes that almost all the ancient Greek words denoting the lower orders of society are related to variants on the word for "unhappy." 

It is not surprising that the lambs should bear a grudge against the great birds of prey, but that is no reason for blaming the great birds of prey for taking the little lambs. And when the lambs say among themselves, "Those birds of prey are evil, and he who is as far removed from being a bird of prey, who is rather its opposite, a lamb, — is he not good?" then there is nothing to cavil at in the setting up of this ideal, though it may also be that the birds of prey will regard it a little sneeringly, and per-chance say to themselves, "We bear no grudge against them, these good lambs, we even like them: nothing is tastier than a tender lamb." To require of strength that it should not express itself as strength, that it should not be a wish to overpower, a wish to overthrow, a wish to become master, a thirst for enemies and antagonisms and triumphs, is just as absurd as to require of weakness that it should express itself as strength.
Nietzsche illustrates the contrast between the two kinds of morality by reference to a bird of prey and a lamb. Nietzsche imagines that the lambs may judge the birds of prey to be evil for killing and consider themselves good for not killing. These judgments are a mistake, since lambs do not refrain from killing out of some kind of moral loftiness but simply because they are unable to kill. Similarly, it is a mistake to hold beasts of prey to be "evil",it's as if blaming them for existing, for their actions stem from their inherent strength, rather than any malicious intent. One should not blame them for their "thirst for enemies and resistances and triumphs". Lambs have no right "to make the bird of prey accountable for being a bird of prey". We can only condemn birds of prey for killing if we assume that the “doer,” the bird of prey, is somehow detachable from the “deed,” the killing. 

Nietzsche argues that there is no doer behind the deed, taking as an example the sentence, “lightning flashes.” There is no such thing as lightning separate from the flash. Our assumption that there are doers who are somehow distinct from deeds in reality is simply a prejudice inspired by the subject–predicate form of grammar. Slave morality detaches subject from predicate, doer from deed, and identifies the subject with a “soul,” which is then liable to judgment. Slave morality assumes that "that the strong may freely choose to be weak". Frustratingly, for Nietzsche, it is very difficult to wrap our minds around this idea that there is no doer behind the deed because every written expression of this idea relies on grammatical structures that reinforce the contrary idea.

Slave morality depends on the belief in a subject (or a "soul" or a "free will") which is independent of its deeds, so that it can interpret its weakness as freedom, and its inaction as praiseworthy and as a result guilt is now associated with accountability and responsibility: you are guilty because you could have and should have done otherwise. At first glance, it might appear that Nietzsche is denying free will: which is a mistake, Nietzsche would rather claim that there is no bird of prey independent of its will. To talk about a bird of prey as "having" free will is again to make the subject- predicate error. Will is not a "thing" that one "has": a will is, essentially, what one is. The bird of prey is its will, and that will wills the death of the lamb. Not to kill the lamb would require a different will, that is, a different creature altogether. If we say the bird of prey should not have killed the lamb, we are saying that the bird of prey should have been a different animal. So in a sense Nietzsche says we can't be held accountable for our actions in the sense of law or morals, we are only accountable for our actions in the sense of the will that drives these actions. Thus, in Nietzsche's view, murderers who kill for the sake of money do not transgress any external moral code, but they allow themselves to be controlled by money and thereby show themselves to be weak-willed.

"'Guilt', 'Bad Conscience', and the Like"

That every will must consider every other will its equal — would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness.

Once the slave morality prevails, By blaming the privileged people for their suffering, the descendants of the powerful classes begin to buy into the slave morality, accepting that exercising their power is a moral sin. They start to feel the 'guilt', they feel guilty for having the things that are (now) condemned, e.g., power, wealth, privilege, etc.

This concept of guilt (Schuld) derives from the concept of debt (Schulden) as it appears from the two German words, like when a debtor receives a loan from a creditor, the debtor is in debt now, the creditor receives the loan value with interest in return from the debtor, if a creditor could not have his money back, he could have the pleasure of harming his debtor by punishment. Same is the case in any crime, the culprit receives pleasure from a crime against the victim, the culprit feels the guilt, the victim receives pleasure from punishment as a compensation against the culprit  Punishment, then, is a transaction in which the injury to the autonomous individual is compensated for by the pain inflicted on the culprit. Punishment was not intended to make the debtor feel badly but simply to bring pleasure to the creditor. Punishment was cruel but cheerful: there were no hard feelings afterward. We find the origins of conscience, guilt, and duty in the festiveness of cruelty: their origins were "like the beginnings of everything great on earth, soaked in blood thoroughly and for a long time."

A society with laws is like a creditor: In a state when someone breaks the law, they have harmed society and society can exact punishment. The concept of justice in effect takes punishment out of the hands of individuals by claiming that, in a society, it is not individuals but laws that are transgressed, and so it is the laws, not individuals, that must exact punishment. Under such conditions, man who is by nature a nomadic hunter, find himself constricted, so in order to survive, he had to rely on his conscious mind rather than our unconscious instincts; so instincts that cannot be released outwardly must be turned inward. Instead of roaming in the wilderness, man now turns himself into "an adventure, a place of torture" where "man's suffering of man, of himself". In so doing, we developed an inner life and bad conscience. Bad conscience is thus man's instinct for freedom (his "will to power") "driven back, suppressed, imprisoned within". While this inner life led to the development of slave morality and bad conscience, Nietzsche also mentions some significant improvements: we became "interesting," we developed the concept of beauty, we distanced ourselves from other animals, we learned to control ourselves and understand ourselves. 

Nietzsche traces the development of the bad conscience beginning with the sense of indebtedness early tribe members must have felt toward the founders of the tribe. In a tribe, the current generation always pays homage to its ancestors, offering sacrifices to them as a demonstration of gratitude to them. As the power of the tribe grows the need to offer thanks to the ancestors does not decline, but rather increases as it has ever more reason to pay homage to the ancestors and to fear them. At the maximum of fear, the ancestor is "necessarily transfigured into a god". The Christian God also produces the maximum feeling of guilty indebtedness. This debt cannot possibly be repaid, and so we develop the concepts of eternal damnation and of all people being born with irredeemable original sin. Nietzsche suggests that not all Gods serve to reinforce bad conscience, the Greek gods for example serve as a celebration of their animal instincts, as a force to ward off the bad conscience.

Nietzsche proved that origins and utility are worlds apart. Anything that has existed for any length of time has been given all sorts of different interpretations, meanings, and purposes by different powers that master and subdue it. That something has a purpose or utility is only a sign that a "will to power" is acting upon it. Things and concepts have no inherent purpose, but are given purpose by the different forces and wills that act upon them. that's why he preferred the word "Genealogy" instead of origin. As Foucault in his essay "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" said: "And this is what I would call genealogy, that is, a form of history which can account for the constitution of knowledges, discourses, domains of objects etc". So unlike an origin, genealogy has no fixed starting point and no essential features, just a gradual and often haphazard and sometimes contradictory progression from one state to another for subjects that "we tend to feel [are] without history". Therefore, all truths are questionable.
I will at this point give a scheme that has suggested itself to me, a scheme itself based on comparatively small and accidental material. — Punishment, as rendering the criminal harmless and incapable of further injury. — Punishment, as compensation for the injury sustained by the injured party, in any form whatsoever (including the form of sentimental compensation). — Punishment, as an isolation of that which disturbs the equilibrium, so as to prevent the further spreading of the disturbance. — Punishment as a means of inspiring fear of those who determine and execute the punishment. — Punishment as a kind of compensation for advantages which the wrongdoer has up to that time enjoyed (for example, when he is utilised as a slave in the mines) . — Punishment, as the elimination of an element of decay (sometimes of a whole branch, as according to the Chinese laws, consequently as a means to the purification of the race, or the preservation of a social type). — Punishment as a festival, as the violent oppression and humiliation of an enemy that has at last been subdued. — Punishment as a mnemonic, whether for him who suffers the punishment — the so-called "correction," or for the witnesses of its administration. — Punishment, as the payment of a fee stipulated for by the power which protects the evil-doer from the excesses of revenge. Punishment, as a compromise with the natural phenomenon of revenge, in so far as revenge is still maintained and claimed as a privilege by the stronger races. — Punishment as a declaration and measure of war against an enemy of peace, of law, of order, of authority, who is fought by society with the weapons which war provides, as a spirit dangerous to the community, as a breaker of the contract on which the community is based, as a rebel, a traitor, and a breaker of the peace. This list is certainly not complete; it is obvious that punishment is overloaded with utilities of all kinds.
Nietzsche identifies willing with meaning and interpretation. The will to power is the fundamental drive in the universe and it gives every action its meaning or interpretation. For example, my harming you might be an act of bullying or an act of self-defense. In the first case, there is a very crude will to power acting, where I harm you for the feeling of power it gives me. In the second case, I am acting out of an instinct of self-preservation. In both cases, the deed itself might be the same, but the will that drives me to act interprets the deed in very different ways. the act of punishing has always been the same, but the meaning of that act has been interpreted very differently over the years. The meaning is independent of and inessential to the act itself. We see the world in terms of things and deeds rather than wills as Nietzsche does, we are unable to separate the meanings of punishment from the deed itself, and assume that the deed has always had the same meaning. For instance, the act of punishment has been at times a celebration of one's power, at times an act of cruelty, at times a simple tit-for-tat. 
There is only a seeing from a perspective, only a "knowing" from a perspective, and the more emotions we express over a thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we train on the same thing, the more complete will be our "idea" of that thing, our "objectivity." But the elimination of the will altogether, the switching off of the emotions all and sundry, granted that we could do so, vvhat! would not that be called intellectual castration? 
According to Nietzsche, then, a belief in an absolute truth or an absolute anything is to give in to one particular meaning, one particular interpretation of a thing. It is essentially to allow oneself to be dominated by a particular will. A will that wishes to remain free will shun absolutes of all kinds and try to look at a matter from as many different perspectives as possible in order to gain its own. This doctrine that has deeply influenced postmodern thought is called "perspectivism."

"What do ascetic ideals mean?"

The ascetic ideal: this hate of the human, and even more of the animal, and more still of the material, this horror of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this desire to get right away from all illusion, change, growth, death, wishing and even desiring — all this means — let us have the courage to grasp it — a will for Nothingness, a will opposed to life, a repudiation of the most fundamental conditions of life, but it is and remains a will! — and to say at the end that which I said at the beginning — man will wish Nothingness rather than not wish at all.

Ascetic ideals spring up spontaneously everywhere on earth, in every time and culture. There must be something desirable in ascetic ideals that it should be so universal although it is a contradiction: it is the will to stop willing, life turned against itself. Nietzsche says that ascetic ideals are born of spiritual sickness as result of a slave morality. The ascetic ideal among the masses is an expression of a sick will to power. The sick are suffering from life, seeing life as a misfortune, and in the ascetic ideal they find a means of asserting themselves. Any positive act of will (pursuing health, happiness, strength, etc.) is beyond their means, and so they cannot will these things. Instead, they will nothingness, the only thing they can successfully will. As Nietzsche claims at the beginning of this essay, "Man would rather will nothingness than not will". The ascetic has to contend with the fact that he secretly desires these things. After all, it was this fact that created such hatred and resentment towards the powerful who own those things in the first place. So the ascetic life, for the sick, is not a goal, but a path away from life toward something different and better, to get those things but in another life.

The will to power is the fundamental drive that motivates all things. This suggestion might contrast with the suggestion that our fundamental drive is the will to life. There are a number of reasons for seeing power as more important to us than life. For instance, the martyr who is willing to die for a cause is essentially saying "you can kill me, you can do anything to my body, but you cannot touch my principles because I am powerful enough to resist all your threats." This martyr clearly values that power of independence more than life itself. Nietzsche even suggests that acts of generosity are ultimately motivated by a will to power. If I do you a favor, I am essentially showing you that I have the power to help you, to put you in my debt.

The extinction of the will is mostly associated with Indian philosophy, and has come to the West largely thanks to Schopenhauer. The Hindu ideal of reuniting with Brahman and the Buddhist ideal of Nirvana both laud the extinction of the ego and the total disappearance of the distinct self into a greater whole. The water drop, so to speak, ceases to see itself as a water drop and comes to see itself as a part of the ocean. 
The sick are the greatest danger for the healthy; it is not from the strongest that harm comes to the strong, but from the weakest.
Nietzsche sees the majority of humanity as sick and from this sickness grows resentment  nihilism, and everything else Nietzsche despises.
It is certain that from the time of Kant every type of transcendentalist is playing a winning game — they are emancipated from the theologians; what luck! — he has revealed to them that secret art, by which they can now pursue their "heart's desire" on their own responsibility, and with all the respectability of science.
The resentment of the masses demands that they find someone to blame for their suffering, and this search for a scapegoat can be violent and dangerous. The ascetic priest serves the purpose of altering the direction of the resentment  by persuading the masses that they themselves, and no one else, are to blame for their suffering. The ascetic ideal because it explains life to them; it explains why they must suffer. This renders them harmless. However, the priest only serves to ease the suffering of the sick without trying to cure the sickness itself. Religion does not give the sick strength so much as it eases their sense of displeasure at life. It organizes them in herds where the individual will weakens by seeing itself in service of a larger community. The will becomes "tamer," less capable of asserting itself and dominating others. Thus, the ascetic priest does nothing to "cure" the "sickness" of the "herd". The herd doesn't have the option of being strong, and so for them, ascetic ideals may be the best alternative. Nietzsche's main objection at this point is that these ascetic ideals have become so dominant that they have poisoned our entire species and harmed some healthy spirits that have no need of slave morality.
Science itself now needs a justification (which is not for a minute to say that there is such a justification). Turn in this context to the most ancient and the most modern philosophers: they all fail to realize the extent of the need of a justification on the part of the Will for Truth — here is a gap in every philosophy — what is it caused by? Because up to the present the ascetic ideal dominated all philosophy, because Truth was fixed as Being, as God, as the Supreme Court of Appeal, because Truth was not allowed to be a problem.
Science and scholarship are not alternatives to the ascetic ideals of religion. They simply replace the worship of God with the worship of truth. A healthy spirit must question the value of truth. 
When the Christian Crusaders in the East came into collision with that invincible order of assassins, that order of free spirits par excellence, whose lowest grade lives in a state of discipline such as no order of monks has ever attained, then in some way or other they managed to get an inkling of that symbol and tally- word, that was reserved for the highest grade alone as their secretum, "Nothing is true, everything is allowed," — in sooth, that was freedom of thought, thereby was taking leave of the very belief in truth.

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