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Nietzsche 101: "On the Genealogy of Morals" - part 1

"Would anyone like to take a look into the secret of how ideals are made on earth?"

For our next trip down Nietzsche lane, we will be reading one of his most influential works "On the Genealogy of Morals."  In this work several (in?)famous themes of Nietzsche are fleshed out - master/slave morality, good-bad becoming good-evil, and his, er, 'dislike' for Judeo-Christianity.

For Nietzsche nothing is ever simple.  If you're looking for answers in his works - you will probably only find more questions.  But questions, perhaps, point to new perspectives - new ways of looking at the world.

 A clip from the text:

"For with the priests everything becomes more dangerous, not only cures and remedies, but also arrogance, revenge, acuteness, profligacy, love, lust to rule, virtue, disease - but it is only fair to add that it was on the soil of this essentially dangerous  form of human existence, the priestly form, that man first became an interesting animal, that only here did the human soul in a higher sense acquire depth and become evil - and these are the two basic respects in which man has hitherto been superior to other beasts!"


The work is in three short essays.  For the first week we will read the first essay.  Reading the preface is encouraged (it is, after all, Nietzsche).

No prior knowledge of Nietzsche is assumed, and those new to philosophy are welcome.


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  • cristina

    very informative

    1 · May 19, 2014

  • Mike B.

    Rick, the last two quotations you cited suggest to me that Nietsche is the kind of writer who is accustomed to being misunderstood, and that he accepts the situation, seeing it as a sign both of his uniqueness and profundity.

    May 18, 2014

    • Rick O.

      ...and part of his charm

      1 · May 18, 2014

  • Anneliese

    Something came up. :(

    May 18, 2014

  • Mike B.

    I have the impression that, given that his prose is so nuanced, Nietzsche is the type of person who jealousy guards the complexity of his thought. And if anyone claimed to agree with him, Nietzsche would claim that simple agreement would prove ignorance. (I would not know how to begin a defense of the above view; it is just my pet opinion.)

    May 17, 2014

    • Rick O.

      from the preface:
      "Let is suffice that, after this prospect had opened up before me, I had reasons to look about me for scholarly, bold, and industrious comrades (I am still looking)." s7
      "If this book is incomprehensible to anyone and jars on his ears, the fault, it seems to me, is not necessarily mine." s8

      1 · May 18, 2014

  • Mike B.

    I was wondering if anyone else is struck by Nietzsche's tone or attitude. To me, he comes across as one who is mad at everything, the whole world and everybody in it. We all can find sarcasm an attractive quality, especially when we side with Nietzsche. Yet I feel that Nietzsche was depressed and depressing and the kind of person who spends his time demonstrating that he's the smartest guy in the room.

    May 17, 2014

    • Rick O.

      Curious - why do you find him depressing? - is there something in the writing that makes you think he was depressed? - I'm not sure if he would claim he was the smartest one in the room - I think he would say that those that agree with him are also smart.

      May 17, 2014

  • Rick O.

    I like how Nietzsche can't get through the first sentence without laying in the sarcasm. My kinda guy.

    1 · May 17, 2014

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