Nietzsche is one of the most challenging thinkers because he calls so many of our assumptions into question. Following his genealogical method, however, his doctrines become much easier to follow.
Nietzsche's method begins with the initial doubt: is there a distinction between a thing and its meaning? Is the fact of punishment, for example, intrinsically linked to our reasons for doing so?
No. Things have had different meanings at different times - we cannot understand a thing, if we assume that it has always held the same meaning.
In The Genealogy, Nietzsche attempts a genealogy that will show the tumultuous channels down which our different moral concepts have taken to arrive in their present shape. What is the good of goodness? The bad of badness? The evil of evil?
If morality is generally treated as sacred (or even assumes some transcendental ground), such that its value cannot be fully questioned, are we cut off from our humanity in an important way?
For Nietzsche, if we look behind the meaning that drives the concepts making up our reality throughout history, we find always: will to power.
Acknowledgement of this fact allows taking life into one’s own hands, to live fully and thrive. Failure to do so, leads to resentment, or hatred, and living according to the rule, the ‘ratio’, of others.
Let's read the first part of the 3rd essay, "What is the Meaning of Ascetic Ideals?" [Sections 1 - 10]. We will read sections 11- 22 next month.
Meetup Format: JAM SESSION - Although reading is assigned, let's not be afraid to abandon the text in favor of cooperative dialogue, philosophizing freely, and riffing off the themes.
LINK TO TEXT: http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/nietzsche/genealogy3.htm