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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines Nietzsche’s moral psychology by focusing on his most important contribution to that form of inquiry, On the Genealogy of Morality. The will to power, understood as a self-standing desire for effective agency, emerges as a central concept. The Genealogy is an exploration of what happens to this desire under circumstances in which its satisfaction is severely restricted. In particular, phenomena playing a role in the development of morality such as ressentiment and self-denial are best understood as expressions of the “will to power of the weak.” And the moral outlook that grows out of them may be understood as a strategy to allow even the “weakest” a “feeling of power.” This moral outlook proves to be a kind of psychopathology insofar as it is an expression of the will to power that undermines the very conditions of its pursuit, satisfaction, and enjoyment—a “will to nothingness.”

Keywords: will to power, affective agency, morality, psychology

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