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date: 21 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines various readings of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality (GM). It treats key issues regarding each of the book’s three essays. The first essay presents slave morality as arising out of ressentiment against masters; Nietzsche thinks that this resentful attitude or affect becomes ingrained and is inherited in later generations. The second essay centers on the phenomenon of “bad conscience.” Nietzsche treats this not just critically, but also as enabling the “artist’s cruelty” which makes possible a new kind of human enhancement. The third essay is about the “ascetic idea,” a “will to transcend” certain essential features of life—such as appearance, change, even willing—from which life suffers. Although Nietzsche finds this ascetic ideal present in the “unconditional will to truth,” this by no means implies that Nietzsche abandons truth as an aim. These three stories should be viewed as “conjectures” and as examples of the kind of thinking needed to understand morality and values.

Keywords: Genealogy of Morality, morals, Friedrich Nietzsche, slave morality, bad conscience

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