On the genealogy of morality

Fredrich Nietzsche

Good and Evil versus Good and Bad

"The slaves' revolt in morals begins with this, that ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of those who are denied the real action, that of the deed, and who compensate with an imaginary revenge. Whereas all noble morality grows out of a triumphant affirmation of oneself, slave morality immediately says No to what comes from outside, to what is different, to what is not oneself: and this No is its creative deed. This reversal of the value-positing glance-this necessary direction outward instead of back to oneself-is of the nature of ressentiment: to come into being, slave morality requires an outside world, a counterworld; physiologically speaking, it requires external stimuli in order to react at all: its action is at bottom always a reaction.

The reverse is true of the noble way of evaluating: it acts and grows spontaneously, it seeks out its opposite only in order to say Yes to itself still more gratefully, still more jubilantly; and its negative concept, "base", "mean", "bad", in only an after-born, pale, contrasting image in relation to the positive basic concept, which is nourished through and through with life and passion: "we are noble, god, beautiful, happy!" (p.10)

Guilt, Bad Consciousness, and Related Matters

"Lets us add a word here concerning the origin and aim of punishment-two problems which are, or should be, distinct. Unfortunately, they are usually confounded.

...For every kind of historiography there is no more important proposition than this, which has been discovered with so much effort, but now also ought to be discovered once and for all: the cause of the origin of a thing and its eventual usefulness, its actual employment and incorporation into a system of aims, lies worlds apart…" (p.12)

"To return to the subject, namely punishment, we must distinguish tow things: first, the relatively enduring aspect, the custom, the act, the "drama", a certain strict succession of procedures; on the other hand, the fluid aspect, the meaning, the aim, the expectation which attends the execution of these procedures… Today it is impossible to say definitely why punishment is meted out: ail concepts in which a whole process is comprehended semiotically, escape definition; only what is no history is definable…" (p.13)

What is the Meaning of Ascetic Ideals?

"Apart from the ascetic ideal, man-the animal, man-had no meaning hitherto. His existence on earth had no goal. "why have man at all?" was a question without an answer… Precisely this was the meaning of the ascetic ideal, that something was lacking, that a tremendous gap surrounded man: he did not know how to justify, explain, or affirm himself, he suffered from the problem of his meaning. He suffered in other ways too; he was in the main a sickly animal: yet suffering as such was not his problem, but that the answer was lacking to the cry of the question "Why suffer?" Man, as the animal that is most courageous, most accustomed to suffering, does not negate suffering as such: he wants it, even seeks it out, provided one shows him some meaning in it, some wherefore of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse which hitherto lay spread out over mankind-and the ascetic ideal offered mankind meaning. So far it has been the only meaning; any meaning at all is better than no meaning at all; the ascetic ideal was in every respect the faute de mieux par excellence that we have had so far. Through this, suffering was interpreted; the tremendous emptiness seemed filled out; the door was closed to all suicidal nihilism. The interpretation undoubtedly involved new suffering, even more profound, more inward, more poisonous, that gnawed at life more: it placed all suffering in the perspective of guilt. Yet in spite of that-man was saved: he had a meaning; henceforth he was no longer a leaf in the wind, a football of nonsense, of "no-sense"; he could now want something-and to begin with, it mattered not what, whereto, or how he wanted: the will itself was saved. In the end, one can hardly conceal what it was that this will really expressed when it received its direction form the ascetic ideal: that hatred against everything human, even more, against everything animal, everything material, this disgust with the senses, with reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this desire to get away from all semblance, change, becoming, death, wish, desire itself-the meaning of all this, should we dare to comprehend it, is a will to nothingness, a will running counter to life, a revolt against the most fundamental presuppositions of life; yet it is and remains a will! And, to repeat at the end what I said in the beginning: rather than nothing, man even wants nothingness. (p.28)

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