The Genealogy of Morals

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The philosophical works The Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche provides the reader with an opinion on what human morality means. The following paper will explore Neitzche’s l as implementation of analysis for his philosophy.  In Neitzche’s The Genealogy of Morals the concept of humanity and the way in which God produced or created humanity and gave them certain attributes of good or evil will also be represented in this paper.  In fact, the basis of Neitzche’s writing is about good and evil and the way in which humanity, history, religion, and philosophy have created, or manipulated these concepts to fit their own devices.

Nietzsche restricts the presence of God in his equation by saying that the concepts of good and evil have changed with the progression of history and that these two paradigms of human behavior and secular code will continue to evolve toward the demands of a changing society. Nietzsche, therefore, makes the argument that morals are constructs of the times in which we will and have evolved much as human beings have over the ages, but that this is not necessarily a good thing because it is meant as a manner of preventing others from having control over us. This is because people inherently wish to exercise power over others and morals are a way of leveling things off so that the strongest members of society do not dominate, as Nietzsche emphasizes,

The pathos of nobility and distance, as mentioned, the lasting and domineering feeling, something total and complete, of a higher ruling nature in relation to a lower nature, to an "beneath"—that is the origin of the opposition between "good" and "bad." (The right of the master to give names extends so far that we could permit ourselves to grasp the origin of language itself as an expression of the power of the rulers: they say "that is such and such," seal every object and event with a sound and, in so doing, take possession of it.)

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In the Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche presents his idea about the morality of human beings and why it is flawed: Nietzsche begins by discounting many of society’s assumptions on how they function in life, as he believes that we tend to view things as having inherent meanings

But all purposes, all uses, are only signs that a will to power has become master over something with less power and has stamped on it its own meaning of some function, and the entire history of a "thing," an organ, a practice can by this process be seen as a continuing chain of signs of constantly new interpretations and adjustments, whose causes need not be connected to each other—they rather follow and take over from each other under merely contingent circumstances.

Nietzsche uses punishment as an example in this case, as human beings tend to believe that punishment is an action that happens to a person as a result of that person doing something that he or she deserves to be punished, although counter to this Nietzsche also states that suffering is meaningless and therefore, punishment may also with Nietzche’s own philosophy be meaningless. He would argue that punishment is completely separate from this, however, as punishment is very often used as a way of showing off one’s power or in some cases, as an act of cruelty.

This suggests that the punishment does not always fit the crime, as the cliché is written, so those two things should not necessarily be associated with each other. It cannot be understood how these two things are the same thing, so it is necessary to keep them separate. Nietzsche then continues this argument to show how morality has arrived at the point that it is at right now. He believes that morals have become such an important thing in a person’s life because they have very sacred reasons for having these morals, which include religion, culture, and reason.

These, morals, however, are flawed because what constitutes a good, bad, or evil act can change over the course of history in a social morality as situations change because there is no absolute truth to them. What this means is that an action could be considered either good or bad depending on the situation, so it is impossible for morals to be considered absolute as well.

Nietzsche, rather than defining good and bad, looks at what helps to define what shape an action will take over the course of our lives. Nietzsche argues that all of existence, especially in human beings, is a struggle between different wills for the feeling of power. This means that society wishes to have some sort of control over their own lives and also over the lives of others. This is why competition and the nature of this in man is so prevalent in society,

Rather, that occurs for the first time with the collapse of aristocratic value judgments, when this entire contrast between "egoistic" and "unegoistic" pressed itself ever more strongly into human awareness—it is, to use my own words, the instinct of the herd which, through this contrast, finally gets its word (and its words). And even so, it took a long time until this instinct in the masses became ruler, with the result that moral evaluation got downright hung up and bogged down on this opposition (as is the case, for example, in modern Europe: today the prejudice that takes "moralistic," "unegoistic," "désintéressé" [disinterested] as equally valuable ideas already governs, with the force of a "fixed idea" and a disease of the brain).

It is all a competition to achieve this power, even if there is no physical reward for winning these competitions. Nietzsche shows the constant changing of the ideologies of good and bad by stating that in past generations, the concept of good was defined by the strongest people in society. In barbaric times, anything that the stronger members of society did was defined as good, while the weaker members of society were seen as bad. This is not something that we would agree upon today, but members of these past societies would not agree with the way we do things either.

Therefore, Nietzsche believes that to give anything an absolute interpretation does not work because as the times change, so will this interpretation. It is wills which define this, so as wills change, so will the apparent truth. If it is truly desirable to have free will, therefore, a person must not believe in any absolutes, but rather view the world as a constantly changing place and let our wills define the things that are occurring around and in society. This includes looking at things from as many different perspectives as possible in order to decide contingently upon personal perspectives which viewpoint a person wishes to make.

This can also be applied to morality as, since nothing is absolute, morals are constantly changing as well. Morality is not something that was passed down from God to human beings, but is rather something that has evolved and changed since the beginning of time and will continue to do so. The only thing that has not change in human beings is that they inherently have the desire to achieve more power over their fellow human beings, because of the existence of free wills.

This means that the present morality that human beings possess has been born due to hatred for those things that are stronger in the presence of society. Nietzsche argues that a person will have fear of things that could possibly have power over them, so a person must have developed this moral code in order to protect themselves from the stronger members of society. Nietzsche believes that a person must embrace these animalistic instincts because a person is currently hurting themselves by repressing them.

Nietzsche says that morals are a result of trying to deter others from having power.  The notion of human morality is something that philosophers have debates over for centuries and will continue to do so as society progresses as well as thoughts of absolutes and God evolve.

Work Cited

Neitzche, F.  Genealogy of Morals.  Dover Thrift Edition.  New York.  2003.







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The Genealogy of Morals. (2017, May 13). Retrieved from

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