22 points from Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals

nietzsche-friedrichThis week in Contemporary European Philosophy we finished our discussion of Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1887 Genealogy of Morals, which is an essentialized and more systematic presentation of themes from his 1886 Beyond Good and Evil.

Here is my digest of the main line of argument of Genealogy‘s first essay:

1. Evolution and psycho-biology: Humans are an evolved bundle of inbuilt drives that assert themselves.
2. The most basic drive is the will to power.
3. Humans divide into two basic types: those whose drives are strong, and those whose are weak.
4. Humans also divide into those who drives are focused, and those whose drives are diffuse.
5. The strong/focused types exhibit master psychology. The weak/diffuse type exhibit slave psychology.
genealogie_der_moral6. Masters are energetic, adventurous, fearless, delight in self-expression, etc.
7. Slaves are passive, fearful, envious, etc.
8. Moral codes are conscious formulations of one’s needs and interests.
9. So one’s morality is an expression of one’s psycho-biological type.
10. So there are two basic types of morality.
11. Master morality affirms pride, ambition, independence, assertiveness, danger.
12. Slave morality affirms dependence, safety, passivity, humility.
13. Life is essentially conflict and expropriation.
14. Masters are confident in the face of conflict, so the master morality embraces using others for one’s own ends.
15. The slave morality is fearful of conflict and expropriation, so it condemns them.
16. The battle between the master and slave moral codes is of long genealogy.
genealogycover-older17. Historically, the master morality dominated first.
18. But the master morality declined and slave morality ascended.
19. Currently the slave morality is winning.
20. The major symptoms of this are the cultural dominance of socialists, democrats, Judeo-Christian priests, egalitarians, and the like.
21. The slave morality’s dominance is a threat to the advancement of man.
22. So master morality or a new form of it must be rejuvenated.

Related:
Journal article: “Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand” [pdf] and Professor Lester Hunt’s rejoinder [pdf].
Book: Nietzsche and the Nazis.
Blog post: Nietzsche as public choice theorist.

11 thoughts on “22 points from Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals

  • March 10, 2013 at 1:17 am
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    Actually the Nazis I believe used Nietzsche’s rhetoric to justify literal slavery and many other actions including extermination of physically and mentally incapacitated. (Haven’t yet read Professor Hicks’ book on the subject).

    Mr. Dahl: copy that re delish! That was funny (except to the Russian diplomatic corps). Heard it somewhere before. Have to look it up.

    I think Rand made an excellent observation that the master-slave morality is unwholesome for both parties, that the master becomes entrapped in a kind of slavery himself and that the nexus dehumanizes both.

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