Nietzsche first essay good and evil good and bad summary

This page work of non-fiction is comprised of five sections with no index or glossary. Three essays comprise the main body of the work but the biographical Note and Preface sections help to understand the author and his purpose in writing. The preface and each of the essays is further divided in subsections.

Nietzsche Genealogy Of Morals First Essay Summary

Chapters and chapter subsections range in size. There are 78 chapter subsections. The amount of detail suggested by the number of subsections does not significantly contribute to the clarity of Nietzsche's work. He writes in German that is translated into English in Sentences are long with commas, colons and semicolons to separate thoughts and ideas.

English grammarians might consider them "run-on" sentences. Subsection and sentence structure make the work's purported ideas challenging to find and difficult to understand.


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Nietzsche is apparently aware and unconcerned about the readers' difficulty as by his comment, "If this writing be obscure to any individual, and jar on his ears, I do not think that it is necessarily I who am to blame. Read more from the Study Guide. Browse all BookRags Study Guides.

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All rights reserved. Toggle navigation. Sign Up. Sign In. Get On the Genealogy of Morals from Amazon. View the Study Pack. Plot Summary. The incompetence of their genealogies of morals reveals itself at the very beginning, where the issue is to determine the origin of the idea and of the judgment "good.

Later people forgot how this praise began, and because unegoistic actions had, according to custom, always been praised as good, people then simply felt them as good, as if they were something inherently good. We see right away that this initial derivation already contains all the typical characteristics of the idiosyncrasies of English psychologists—we have "usefulness," "forgetting," "habit," and finally "error," all as the foundation for an evaluation in which the higher man up to this time has taken pride, as if it were a sort of privilege of men generally.

This pride should be humbled, this evaluation of worth emptied of value. Has that been achieved? Now, first of all, it's obvious to me that from this theory the origin of the idea "good" has been sought for and established in the wrong place: the judgment "good" did not move here from those to whom "goodness" was shown! It is much more that case that the "good people" themselves, that is, the noble, powerful, higher-ranking and higher-thinking people felt and set themselves and their actions up as good, that is to say, of the first rank, in contrast to everything low, low-minded, common, and vulgar.

From this pathos of distance they first arrogated to themselves the right to create values, to stamp out the names for values. What did they care about usefulness! In relation to such a hot pouring out of the highest rank-ordering, rank-setting judgments of value, the point of view which considers utility is as foreign and inappropriate as possible.

Here the feeling has reached the opposite of that low level of warmth which is a condition for that calculating shrewdness, that calculation by utility—and not just for a moment, not for an exceptional hour, but permanently. 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 "god" and "bad. Given this origin, the word "good" was not in any way necessarily tied up with "unegoistic" actions, as the superstitions of those genealogists of morality tell us.

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. Secondly, however, and quite separate from the fact that this hypothesis about the origin of the value judgment "good" is historically untenable, it suffers from an inherent psychological contradiction.

The utility of the unegoistic action is supposed to be the origin of the praise it receives, and this origin has allegedly been forgotten: but how is this forgetting even possible? Could the usefulness of such actions at some time or other just stop? The case is the opposite: this utility has rather been an everyday experience throughout the ages, and thus something that has always been constantly re-emphasized.

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Hence, instead of disappearing out of consciousness, instead of becoming something forgettable, it must have pressed itself into the consciousness with ever-increasing clarity. How much more sensible is the contrasting theory which is not therefore closer to the truth , for example, the one which is advocated by Herbert Spencer: he proposes that the idea "good" is essentially the same as the idea "useful" or "functional," so that in judgments about "good" and "bad" human beings sum up and endorse the experiences they have not forgotten and cannot forget concerning the useful-functional and the harmful-useless.

SparkNotes: Genealogy of Morals: Summary

According to this theory, good is something which has always proved useful, so that it may assert its validity as "valuable in the highest degree" or as "valuable in itself. I was given a hint in the right direction by this question: What, from an etymological perspective, do the meanings of "Good" as manifested in different languages really mean? There I found that all of them lead back to the same transformation of ideas, that everywhere "noble" or "aristocratic" in a social sense is the fundamental idea out of which "good" in the sense of "spiritually noble," "aristocratic," "spiritually high-minded," "spiritually privileged" necessarily develop—a process which always runs in parallel with that other one which finally transforms "common," "vulgar," and "low" into the concept "bad.

Originally these words designated the plain, common man, but without any suspicious side glance, simply in contrast to the nobility. Around the time of the Thirty Years War approximately—hence late enough—this sense changed into the one used now. In connection with the genealogy of morals, this point strikes me as a fundamental insight—that it was first discovered so late we can ascribe to the repressive influence which democratic prejudice in the modern world exercises over all questions of origin.

And this occurs in the apparently objective realm of natural science and physiology, a point which I can only hint at here. But the sort of mischief this prejudice can cause, once it has become unleashed as hatred, particularly where morality and history are concerned, is revealed in the well-known case of Buckle: the plebeian nature of the modern spirit, which originated in England, broke out once again on its home turf, as violently as a muddy volcano and with the same salty, overloud, and common eloquence with which all previous volcanoes have spoken 1.

With respect to our problem—which for good reasons we can call a quiet problem, so refined that it directs itself only at a few ears—there is no little interest in establishing the point that often in those words and roots which designate "good" there still shines through the main nuance of what made the nobility feel they were men of higher rank.

It's true that in most cases they perhaps named themselves simply after their superiority in power as "the powerful," "the masters," "those in command" or after the most visible sign of their superiority, for example, as "the rich" or "the owners" that is the meaning of arya , and the corresponding words in Iranian and Slavic. But they also named themselves after a typical characteristic, and that is the case which is our concern here. For instance, they called themselves "the truthful"—above all the Greek nobility, whose mouthpiece is the Megarian poet Theogonis.

The word developed for this characteristic— esthlos [fine, noble] —indicates, according to its root meaning, a man who is, who possess reality, who really exists. Then, with a subjective transformation, it indicates the true man as the truthful man. In this phase of conceptual transformation it became the slogan and catch phrase for the nobility, and its sense shifted entirely over to "aristocratic," to mark a distinction from the lying common man, as Theogonis takes and presents him, until finally, after the decline of the nobility, the word remains as a designation of spiritual nobility and, so to speak, becomes ripe and sweet.

In the word kakos [weak, worthless] as in the word deilos [cowardly] the plebeian in contrast to the agathos [good, excellent] the cowardice is emphasized. This perhaps provides a hint about the direction in which we have to seek the etymological origin for the multiple meanings of agathos.

Nietzsche Genealogy Morals Essay 1 – 565745

In the Latin word malus [bad] which I place alongside melas [black] the common man could be designated as the dark-coloured, above all as the dark-haired " hic niger est " [this man is black] , as the pre-Aryan inhabitant of Italian soil, who stood out from those who became dominant, the blonds, that is, the conquering race of Aryans, most clearly through this colour. At any rate, the Gaelic race offers me an exactly corresponding example. The word fin for example, in the name Fin-Gal , the term designating nobility and finally the good, noble, and pure, originally referred to the blond-headed man in contrast to the dusky, dark-haired original inhabitants.

Incidentally, the Celts were a thoroughly blond race. People are wrong when they link the traces of a basically dark-haired population, which are noticeable on the carefully prepared ethnographic maps of Germany, with any Celtic origin and mixing of blood, as Virchow does. It is much rather the case that in these places the pre-Aryan population of Germany emerged. The same is true for almost all of Europe: essentially the conquered races finally attained the upper hand for themselves once again in colour, shortness of skull, perhaps even in the intellectual and social instincts: who can confirm for us that modern democracy, the even more modern anarchism, and indeed that preference for the "Commune," for the primitive form of society, which all European socialists now share, does not indicate a monstrous counter-attack and that the ruling and master race, the Aryans, is not being defeated, even physiologically?

Hence, bonus as a man of war, of division duo , as a warrior.


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  • We can see what constituted a man's "goodness" in ancient Rome. What about our German word " Gut " [good] itself. And isn't it identical to the people's originally the nobles' name for the Goths? The basis for this hypothesis does not belong here. From this rule that the concept of political superiority always resolves itself into the concept of spiritual priority, it is not really an exception although there is room for exceptions , when the highest caste is also the priest caste and consequently for its total range of meanings prefers a scale of values which recalls its priestly function.


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    • So, for example, for the first time the words "pure" and "impure" appear as marks of one's social position and later a "good" and a "bad" develop which no longer refer to social position.