Reading Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morals (4: Essay 1, Sections 1-2)

Part of my ongoing project to re-read On the Genealogy of Morals, sharing some thoughts as I go along.

First Essay – “Good and Evil, Good and Bad”


Nietzsche begins with his rivals – the ‘English’ psychologists. He appears hostile to their view of psychology, in which humans act for reasons they wouldn’t always be proud of:

(for example, in the vis inertiae of habit, or in forgetfulness, or in a blind and fortuitous mechanism and association of ideas, or in some factor that is purely passive, reflex, molecular, or fundamentally stupid)

Worth remembering, when he talks about ‘molecular’ reasons, that he’s probably including evolutionary theories of behaviour here as well – such as those put forward in Rée’s book. He instinctively opposes all these reasons as they put humanity in a passive role: things just happen to people and that’s why they act how they do, as though humans were subject to the same deterministic laws as everybody else. He wants people to turn out to be fundamentally active and self-determining. Nietzsche is an instinctive conspiracy theorist: he would also prefer to believe in malice than in passivity, inertness or coincidence. That’s why he doesn’t directly attack these views – instead, he questions what motivates the ‘English’ (remember, it’s not just a geographical term, it’s a term of abuse – anyone who thinks like the English is ‘English’). He suggests a variety of sordid motivations, but ultimately claims to personally think they have noble intentions, that they have “specifically trained themselves to sacrifice what is desirable to what is true”.



He lambasts the “crass ineptitude” of the English, and singles out some overly English-esque words: “utility”, “forgetting”, “habit”, “error”. Nietzsche’s point is that for most of history, when people have reflected on the fact that they have a sense of what is good, they generally feel proud of their ethical existence, as though knowing good was both something good and something they had in some way attained – whereas the English argue that the concept of the good is almost a sort of historical accident, a happenstance foisted upon humanity through the machinations of impersonal forces, something that just sort of emerges out evolution and history. Despite his earlier words, Nietzsche returns to the idea that the English are saying this for political reasons: that they are intentionally setting out to eliminate human pride and traditional systems of values. But where are they going wrong exactly? Well:

Now the first argument that comes ready to my hand is that the real homestead of the concept “good” is sought and located in the wrong place: the judgement “good” did not originate among those to whom goodness was shown. Much rather has it been the good themselves, that is, the aristocratic, the powerful, the high-stationed, the high-minded, who have felt that they themselves were good, and their actions were good, that is to say of the first order, in contradistinction to all the low, the low-minded, the vulgar, and the plebaian. It was out of this pathos of distance that they first arrogated the right to create values for their own profit, and to coin the names of such values: what had they to do with utility?

Here we come to the concrete. The English have argued that the idea of the good arises from the fact that goodness is beneficial, and that those it benefits, or would benefit, encourage people to follow goodness, and even create the concept of ‘goodness’, as what is beneficial (this ‘English’ approach is based on, on the one hand, utilitarianism, and on the other evolution). But Nietzsche, who always instinctively wants to reverse everything, says that it instead comes from the people who are good, who create the term to distinguish themselves from those who are not good.


That’s one thing, and an interesting idea – that the concept of morality is at least as much a matter of pride in what already separates us from the immoral (and ultimately from the animals) as it is about an attempt to improve ourselves and to control each other. But Nietzsche uses a sort of shock-and-awe style of rhetoric, in which he lands some startling theory, often a reversal of received wisdom, and then sends his ground troops creeping in behind while his reader is still reeling. In this case, he sneaks in the assumption that the people who created the term ‘good’ were aristocrats congratulating themselves on being aristocrats. There’s surely something true to this – many moral judgements, particularly regarding personal virtues, are indeed bound up in concepts of class superiority and status – ‘being a gentleman’, ‘being a man of honour’. ‘Low’ and ‘base’ aren’t just descriptors of social status, but also terms for condemning behaviour deemed unfitting, whereas ‘noble’ is both a status and a commendation. And yet I can’t help but feel that Nietzsche is rushing to an unsubtle conclusion here – he assumes that these terms describe how the nobles see themselves, for instance, rather than how the nobles wish to be, and he also assumes that he must locate a single part of society as the origin of the whole concept of goodness. I would suggest instead that various parts of society each have contributed ethical concepts relating to the values of their own class, and that alongside terms based on nobility there are also terms based on the values of craftsmen and labourers.


My translation here has Nietzsche going further than class:


The pathos of nobility and distance, as I have said, the chronic and despotic esprit de corps and fundamental instinct of a higher dominant race coming into association with a meaner race, an ‘under race’ – this is the origin of the antithesis of good and bad.


However, we have to be wary of translations. The word translated ‘race’ here can apparently be translated as everything from ‘species’ at one end through via ‘character’ down to the vague ‘sort’. So I’m not sure that we can necessarily accuse Nietzsche of racism at this point. What is essential here is the idea that there are natural masters and natural underlings, defined in terms of character and ‘instinct’ – whether these characteristics have a cultural, genetic, or even sui generis origin, is a secondary question, and not one we necessarily have to see Nietzsche as having decided – at least not yet.


It should be mentioned at this point that despite Nietzsche’s claims to epoch-defining originality, he’s actually doing something very old here. Nietzsche elsewhere admits his admiration for the Sophists in general and for (the possibly fictional character) Callicles in particular (Nietzsche believes Callicles to be a paradigm sophist, although the only story he appears in states explicitly that he hates the sophists and is not one of them). It was the Sophists who created the genealogical attack on moral convention – the idea being that by dividing out what is genuinely the product of nature (physis) from what is merely the product of human convention (nomos), we can come to see how contingent and artificial the latter is, stripping from it the unchallengeable force that it commandeers by hiding itself among physis. Nietzsche does not spell it out, but that seems to be what he is doing in his own genealogy also. More particularly, the discussion of whether morality comes from the strong or from the weak is the old argument of Thrasymachus and Callicles. Here Nietzsche disagrees with Callicles, who believes, like the English, that morality (Callicles is talking about ‘justice’ rather than ‘goodness’) is the creation of the weak to spancel the strong – although we’ll come back to this. Instead he sides with Thrasymachus, who beleives that morality is a creation of the strong for their advantage. It’s not a perfect agreement, however – Nietzsche’s emphasis is less on the strong using the language of morality for their own functional advantage, their manipulation of the weak, and more on a sort of self-congratulation and self-definition. Nietzsche also seems closer to Callicles in wanting to juxtapose this false and nomic conception of the good against some true-in-nature sense of virtue (Callicles identifies the virtues of intelligence and courage, which Nietzsche would likely approve of).


However, one has to wonder whether the appeal to what is true in nature is still really as powerful in the 19th or 21st centuries as it was in its original context in Ancient Greece, given that few of Nietzsche’s rivals (not since Hume, at least) would ever concede that morality could be learnt by observing what is ‘natural’.


This section also contains two further points of interest. First, Nietzsche argues that language reflects power:


(The Masters’ right of giving names goes so far that it is permissable to look upon language itself as the expression of the power of the Masters: they say “this is such and such”, they seal finally every object and event with a sound, and thereby at the same time take possession of it.)


It’s an interesting myth that people still repeat today – feminist campaigns against this word or that, for instance, often carry with them this idea of the dominant elements of society ‘sealing objects with a sound’, imposing their power by imposing their vocabulary (leading critics of their power to, naturally enough, attempt to change their vocabulary in order to unseat their power, in a ritual of hostile name-changing that goes back to the oldest fairy tales in our culture). The trouble is that outside myth, this has no basis in reality: it may have made sense from the philological worldview of the hierarchy-dominated 19th century, but scientific study of the issues has long since disproven it. Dominant elites actually have surprisingly little power, or even influence, over ordinary language – which is why conquerors almost always adopt the language of their slaves and chattels, and not the other way around, except where the conquerors utterly overwhelm the conquered in numbers (and even there, there are still cases where the under-language ends up dominant: the success of Guaraní in Paraguay, for instance). On a social level, language is not imposed by the patriarchy: language is controlled by women, specifically women in early middle age from lower-middle-class backgrounds. [Young men are the greatest source of innovations in language – in vocabulary, grammar, and phonology – but most of their innovations are temporary exuberances that pass rapidly and leave no trace; what determines the future of the language as a whole, beyond this street, this neighbourhood, this year in linguistic fashion, is which of those innovations appeal to those men’s girlfriends, and even more so which appeal to, and are adopted by, their girlfriends’ mothers.]


So it doesn’t matter in the slightest what the Master decides to call such-and-such; what matters is what his Mistress’s charwoman, seamstress and nanny decide to call such-and-such.


What can we salvage from Nietzsche’s suggestion? Well, we may consider it in a broader, less literal sense – perhaps the Masters do control language, but only indirectly. They do not name things, but perhaps by shaping their culture they are able to encourage others to name things as the Masters would like. But that gives us something of a circuitous argument, since it is meant to be through their control of language that they shape the thoughts of the under-people; and moreover, if this influence is anything less than absolute, then the application of language – and in particular here the definitions of values – would be not a shaping of the linguistic world to meet the desires of the Masters, but rather a multilateral negotiation, in which the final definitions would reflect the will not only of the rulers but also of the broader populace.


(Incidentally, and trivially, I can’t but see in Nietzsche’s use of parentheses – entire sentences in parentheses, and sometimes parenthetical utterances that are incomplete, suggestive but not settled – a foreëcho (no I don’t normally spell it like that, but I just felt like it for some reason, and it looks pretty) of the later Wittgenstein’s ellipses… – and dashes? – I don’t recall reading any pre-Nietzsche writer who does this, although it’s not something I’ve thought about before so I could well be forgetting something/somebody. It’s part of the unusual clash of styles in Nietzsche – at times as informal as though jotting something down in a notebook, at other times so otiose and porphyrous that it seems he should be writing poetry or bellowing out rhetoric rather than discussing philosophy in text – I wonder how much of this is intentional, and how much is the natural uncertainty of mode that flows from writing for a small and hidden audience with whom the writer has no direct communication?)


Finally, Nietzsche phrases a point in an interesting way. Having argued that the original ‘goodness’ was not a term created by the masses to mean whatever was in the interests of the masses (i.e. altruism) but rather a term created by the rulers to refer to whatever it was rulers felt like doing, he then laments how in the modern world:


…today the prejudice is predominant, which, acting even now with all the intensity of an idée fixe and brain disease, holds that “moral”, “altruistic” and “disinterested” are concepts of equal value.


Fair enough from what he’s said so far, but the interesting bit is instead:


…it is on the occasion of the decay of aristocratic values that the antitheses between “egoistic” and “altruistic” presses more and more heavily on the human conscience.


Here Nietzsche identifies that the ‘modern’ worldview he hates is based not just on the concept of the dread ‘altruism’, but on the antithesis between egoism and altruism: not just that the moral is equated with the altruistic, but that, through opposition to the egoistic, the altruistic must itself become the disinterested. The disinterested, of course, is horrible to Nietzsche on philosophical grounds: having identified that goodness is the healthy striving of the will, an attitude of ‘disinterest’ toward anything in the world, let alone toward all of it and toward one’s own actions, is abhorrent. [And this concept of ‘disinterest’ is supposed in the philosopher of his day to unite both morality and art] Here again I think that Nietzsche is going to get trapped in his own unexamined preconceptions: because he often talks as though his enemy is altruism, when in fact his true enemy should be, on his own grounds, the altruism/egoism antithesis itself, without which altruism need not be relegated to mere disinterest. It is interesting to note that this preconception is actually one place where Nietzsche fails to pay enough attention to Schopenhauer, as Schopenhauer’s ethical system is unusual in part because it does not dichotomise altruism and egoism: for Schopenhauer, altruism is egoism, only coupled with a true understanding of one’s own nature as a part of the world and a manifestation of the one universal Will. In Schopenhauer, therefore, the juxtaposition is not between moral altruism and immoral egoism, but between moral compassion and immoral malice, with egoism (and self-loathing) as fundamentally non-moral, neither good nor bad; and perhaps more directly importantly for Nietzsche, Schopenhauer’s compassionate altruism is therefore essentially not disinterested, is essentially connected and affirmative. Of course, no philosopher is required to consider every possible alternative view, but it is surprising that Nietzsche passes over here a third possibility of which he was indubitably, at least on some level, aware, given his own youthful enthusiasm for Schopenhauerianism. Indeed, Nietzsche’s whole phrasing of the debate is indebted to Schopenhauer, when he phrases the issue of altruism not in terms of rationality but of ‘pity’, not of laws but of instincts. Although Nietzsche’s proximal targets are the English evolutionary/sociological approach to morality (ironic then that both Nietzsche and English theorists like Spencer have ended up frequently equated with ‘social Darwinism’), which may perhaps have retained a little of ‘compassion’ from the time of Hume, the general prominence in Nietzsche’s day of the this idea of compassion (as opposed to obediance to a divine or moral law) as the basis of morality originated with Schopenhauer.


But I wonder whether Nietzsche is being driven here by a deeper instinctive reaction to his predecessor. After all, Schopenhauer does say things like: “The conviction that the world, and therefore man too, is something which really ought not to exist is in fact calculated to instill in us indulgence towards one another: for what can be expected of beings placed in such a situation as we are? … this reminds us of what are the most necessary of all things: tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity, which each of us needs and which each of us therefore owes.”


If Schopenhauer makes the link explicit in this way – that tolerance and charity are important precisely because we realise that all existence is worth than worthless and we’d all be better off never having been born – perhaps we should not be surprised that Nietzsche reflexively takes that link and inverts it – if tolerance and charity spring from negation and despair, then so much the worse for tolerance and charity!


Sometimes reading Nietzsche is like watching an intelligent man screaming in an argument, so determined to avoid compromise that he avoids even those things that might look like compromise that are in actuality in his own best interest.


Then again, maybe that’s, in part, the point.



25 thoughts on “Reading Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morals (4: Essay 1, Sections 1-2)

  1. Hans says:

    The pathos of nobility and distance, as I have said, the chronic and despotic esprit de corps and fundamental instinct of a higher dominant race coming into association with a meaner race, an ‘under race’ – this is the origin of the antithesis of good and bad.
    It’s unfortunate that the English translation you use doesn’t seem to pay sufficient attention to distinctions in German. Here, Nietzsche uses Art, which means “kind” (or, in Biology, “species”). So he doesn’t explicitly refer to racist theories at this point, which perhaps may mean something – because he later (par. 5) does use Rasse explicitly, where he goes on about the blonde Aryan conqueror race first subjugating dark-haired pre-Aryans, only to get swamped by them and their lordly ethics turned into mushy democratic pity-fests. (Yes, I’m summarizing sarcastically). What you say about women shaping language wouöd probably be grist on his mills – the old misogynist probably would latch on to the idea that dark-haired concubines are the culprit when the ethics of strength become today’s soft-hearted morals. 🙂

  2. Oh, quite so – sometimes reading Nietzsche’s views on history, one gets the impression he believes women were only invented sometime in the 11th century… (and I’m going to rant a little about that in the next update)

    Yes, the translation I have in book form is an old one, and like most old translations of philosophical texts, it puts style above detail; fortunately, I don’t think Nietzsche is a writer who tries to make too many systematic distinctions. And there are advantages to the more literary translation: it’s easier to read, and sometimes I think it feels more true to the sentiment than a more literal word-for-word translation might be. But in any case, yes, I’ve noticed the problems in the translation and now have two different translations up in my browser while I’m writing, to double-check with…

    Could I just say, by the way, how much I appreciate your comments? It’s fantastic not only in the practical sense of having a German-speaker help out, but just to have some indication of interest! (in this project and elsewhere on my blog). Thank you! (most of what I put up here I’d put up here even if nobody in the world read my blog, but it’s still encouraging to know that isn’t the case).

  3. rottingham says:

    Women used to exist solely for the conqueror’s pleasure, but now that we no longer treat them as subhumanly as they deserve, they have all but impurified our precious bodily fluids. bleh Has consoling yourself with violent fantasies ever been expressed more explicitly?

    The part that confuses me about Nietzsche’s worldview is why he thinks that masters, whose main job appears to be seizing what others possess, must be in charge for Life to flourish. That just doesn’t scan for me, not even in a vague and symbolic way. When I think of Flourishing Life, I imagine the world being filled with more light, beauty and elegance, not reducing everything to a rugged and brutish existence. In what sense is that a case of flourishing?

  4. rottingham says:

    Is it possible to reason out a Nietzschean approach to the dialectic by referring back to Hegel’s master/slave dialectic? The thesis dominating the antithesis by all means at its disposal to prevent the rise of any synthesis ever, maybe?

  5. rottingham says:

    (Speaking of race, this map gives the impression that compared to Germans, Slavs are among the more genetically Indo-European people in Europe: (but I don’t actually understand what it says) Nietzsche claimed to be of Polish descent, but I see that that’s disputed.)

  6. rottingham says:

    Is Nietzsche implying that those who are the best at stealing are also the best at creating, maybe?

  7. I’m not sure that Nietzsche DOES talk about masters having to be in charge for Life to flourish. Now, there’s a lot been written about the political implications of his work, and I’m not going to try to say anything definite about that. But I think the suggestion rather misses the point: that’s quite a utilitarian way of approaching the problem – who should be in charge to maximise this good that we want? I think that what Nietzsche likes about the Masters isn’t what they do, but rather what they are.
    More generally, though, regarding his idea of what constitutes flourishing: he wants the world to be dangerous. He’s all in favour of beauty and elegance, I think, but he would associate those things with tigers and lightning strikes rather than with cows and daisies. But I think the problem for him is not so much the existence of cows, but rather the attempt to turn everything into a cow, the attempt to pen, herd and farm humanity in an organised way, even if it’s done for the most utilitarian reasons – I think he sees the attempt to restrain and constrain life in its most dangerous forms as inherently anti-Life, and, furthermore, that this also applies to passive restrains (i.e. to making-safe, removing the opportunity for violent and dangerous life to flourish).

    But hey, this is only section 2 of the first essay…

  8. rottingham says:

    Okay, so he wants a wild garden. I had the impression that Nietzsche wants life to flourish, actually flourish in a utilitarian sense, and yet he approves the most of people who steal what others create. If Nietzsche has no utilitarian considerations at all, that means he wants no change in reality, or even if he does, then he’ll only get what he wants if he’s in luck. Even wanting the world to be a dangerous place sounds to me like a utilitarian reconstruction of his philosophy that puts severe constraints on how humanity is and isn’t allowed to develop.

    Does it make sense to talk about what people “are” apart from what they do? Also, how is constraining life in an organized way worse than constraining life in a disorganized way, which nature does whether we approve or not? For Nietzsche, does “dangerous” only stand for “dangerous in the ancestral environment”? I mean, tigers aren’t really dangerous at all to fat businessmen. The existence of tigers is usually a source of delight to them, and at worst a minor nuisance unless the situation somehow regresses to an ancestral state, which practically never happens. Does the connotation of master as “someone who can take advantage of any situation” not exist in Nietzsche? That is, any situation except maybe herds of whining undermen, Superman’s only weakness?

    In any case, can cows coexist with a world full of smart tigers without being herded by them? If these tigers have at least human-level power to predict outcomes, then why should they refrain from using it to maximize the fulfillment of their desires? How is that situation distinct from the tigers being in charge, or cows being exterminated, in the approach that you say Nietzsche advocates? And most importantly, won’t women steal our languages from us unless the masters are in charge?

    Nietzsche may not put it in this language, and I understand the Schopenhauerian path through which he arrived at his position, but I don’t think it’s illegitimate to point out the consequences of his position that he hasn’t explicitly considered, unless I’ve actually misunderstood it. But yeah, this is mostly a rant. Thanks for this series. I’m looking forward to future installments.

  9. rottingham says:

    Is penning life still anti-Life if the alternative is actually death?

  10. rottingham says:

    I am the most dangerous man in the world! I only require my adversaries to kill themselves first.

    (Okay, that’s it. No more comments.)

  11. No, not being a utilitarian, or any form of consequentialist, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the world to change – although it’s true that I think he sees himself more as a prophet of change than as someone who is going to bring about change himself. Plenty of deontologists and virtue theorists have political ambitions. And no, Nietzsche isn’t in favour of life flourishing in a utilitarian sense – I rather assume he would consider that viewpoint English.

    Regarding masters: remember that the master race were not supermen. Indeed, the master race were essentially sub-human, animalistic.

    EDIT: and personally, I don’t think approaching Nietzsche through Hegel would be that helpful. Not only does Nietzsche not agree with Hegel, he doesn’t really seem to be that aware of him – his inheritence is through Schopenhauer, who detested and largely ignored Hegel’s views, which he taught were nonsense and charlatanry.
    Of course, there must be some second- or third-hand influence of Hegel in Nietzsche – he’s too big a cultural figure for that not to be the case – but I doubt it’s larger enough that it’s illuminate to approach him from that angle. Then again, I’m not a Hegel scholar – no doubt somebody has attempted some sort of Hegelian interpretation of Nietzsche.

  12. Hans says:

    I’m not sure how far we can say that Nietzsche had a clear idea of what he wanted – he knew what he was against (enfeebling morals, women’s influence, the philistine society that he was born into), but my impression is that what he imagined instead is more a series of romantic images (the noble warrior, the genial artist who shatters the complacent world around him in order to create works of stunning beauty), than a blueprint for a well-crafted alternative society. I even think asking for something like this is misunderstanding him – he’s not a systematic philosopher, he’s a (well-read and philosophically educated) writer of prose-poems; like many dreamers and revolutionaries, he’s very well at describing what he doesn’t like and why it’s wrong, but has only vague ideas about what should replace it, and, different to (say) many forms of socialism, his particular dream doesn’t lend itself very much to the detailed planning of a new paradisical world order.

  13. Indeed, Nietzsche goes further and on several occasions explains that he SHOULDN’T have any detailed plans in mind. He sees his work as clearing the ground, and says that it must be left to somebody less contaminated by Nietzsche’s own era to decide what to build on that ground.

  14. rottingham says:

    If I conflated masters and supermen in a way that doesn’t make sense, then masters are vulnerable to bullshit, but supermen are not, right? Even so, wasn’t the idea of superman was conceived in order to salvage some of the savor of the world ruled by masters? A nasty and brutish world? (I don’t think Nietzsche would necessarily disagree with me on aesthetic judgements like that. Didn’t he say that women are pretty baubles for the amusement of the conqueror? I don’t think he’d be happy with me saying that actually, the conquerors are the truly pretty party in this arrangement.)

    Of course non-consequentialists want the world to change too. My point was that tracing the consequences of a non-consequentialist position and then reframing it in consequentialist terms allows me to compare what they want with what I want in a way that a consequentialist like me finds right and proper. And if this cannot be done, then it’s not clear to me what exactly someone thinks needs changing. I would welcome virtue ethicists criticizing me with descriptions of the kind of behavior I should find “virtuous” based on what the consequences would be.

  15. …if they’re defining virtues by their consequences, they’re not virtue theorists, they’re trait-consequentialists.

  16. rottingham says:

    Yes! Because *I* am a consequentialist and *they* are virtue theorists, they should criticize me by first deducing the kind of behavior I should find “virtuous” based on my consequentialist theories, and then argue that those behaviors are not in fact virtuous based on their virtue ethics. Just as I would reason out the consequences of following their virtues, and then say that what they want is not in fact what I want.

  17. rottingham says:

    (I’m just saying using your framework to criticize others need not be illegitimate as long as you are clear about what you are doing. Of course, criticizing people under their own assumptions probably takes precedence. I’m probably not stating these things clearly enough. If you think I am wrong, then please tell me so. I’m really sorry about what happened in the other post, and I swear it won’t happen again.)

  18. rottingham says:

    “Shouldn’t have plans”? Many have thought so, only to find that there’s no followup to “clearing the ground”.

    I have a theory that mysoygnist philosophers tend to be more effeminate than most. I’ve read that in the Victorian era, “self-cultivation” (a little learning here, a little knowledge there) was thought to be proper for ladies, whereas gentlemen were supposed to seriously dedicate themselves to acquiring expertise in whatever social function they were supposed to be responsible for. Nietzsche thinks the latter amounts to mutilating yourself: One man has a giant eyeball, another just a nose or whatever. He seems to have approved of self-cultivation like a proper lady.

  19. rottingham says:

    (I think Nietzsche’s criticism there is that such people have disobeyed the diversity of their own wills. I’ll be surprised if it turns out that Nietzsche’s actual complaint is that giant eyeball man has a strange will.)

  20. Hans says:

    I have a theory that mysoygnist philosophers tend to be more effeminate than most. I don’t know about that, but the (similar) idea that Nietzsche became a philosopher praising strength because he detested his own weakness is one that I’ve seen before, and I think there’s some reason to it.

  21. kazisiddiqui says:

    The introduction to the Cambridge 2006 translation says:

    “As in liberalism, Nietzsche’s conception of politics is an instrumental
    one, but he differs radically from the liberal view in his valuation
    of life. For liberalism, politics is a means to the peaceful coexistence of
    individual agents; for Nietzsche, by contrast, it is a means to the production of human greatness.

    Nietzsche looks forward to new philosophers who will be strong and original enough to revalue and reverse so-called ‘eternal values’ and, in teaching human beings that the future depends on their will, ‘will prepare the way for great risk-taking and joint experiments in discipline and breeding’, and in this way, ‘put an end to that terrible reign of nonsense and coincidence that until now has been known as “history” ’ (BGE, 203).

    In the two early essays from 1871–2 included in this volume, ‘The Greek State’ and ‘Homer’s Contest’, we see at work the stress Nietzsche places on political life not as an end in itself but as a means to the production of great human beings and an aristocratic culture. Nietzsche presents a stark choice between ‘culture’ and ‘politics’ (or the claims of justice). He argues that if we wish to promote greatness and serve the ends of culture, then it is necessary to recognize that an essential aspect of society is economic servitude for the majority of individuals.”

    Yep, that was my original impression regarding Nietzsche’s position on instrumentalism as well: that he has definite ends in view which he wants to optimize for.

  22. kazisiddiqui says:

    ( You can get it from “, Friedrich – On the Genealogy of Morality [trans. Diethe] (Cambridge, 2006).pdf” within the next 7 days. )

  23. kazisiddiqui says:

    (Remove the above link if all that is frowned upon.)

  24. kazisiddiqui says:

    “the judgement ‘good’ does not emanate from those to whom goodness is shown!”

    Does Nietzsche really think that people to whom good has been done have never blessed their benefactors and spread the word around as to their praiseworthiness? Why can’t we have uses of “good” corresponding to either one sense or the other? Eg. The old Indian pandits said that the Yavanas (Greeks) are to be revered for their knowledge of astrology even though they are impure out-castes. Here is a historical case where we have both uses side by side.

  25. kazisiddiqui says:

    (Though Nietzsche would probably supplement my descriptions like “brutish, but also fantastic!”)

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