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Sparknotes nietzsche genealogy of morals first essay

Accountability and responsibility, which are connected with the concept of free will, are in no way connected with "guilt" as it was originally conceived. As Nietzsche remarks in section 13 of the first essay, "free will" is a recent invention that accompanies slave morality.

Punishment, according to slave morality, is then meted out because, and only because the offender could have acted otherwise. If someone is for whatever reason deemed not to have acted freely insanity, duress, accident, etc.

Nietzsche's conception of the ancient world is far crueler, but, he suggests, far more "cheerful. If you fail to keep your promise to me, at least I get the pleasure of beating you up. Here we see the original association of "guilt" with "debt.

If you fail to keep your promise, you must pay off the debt in some other way. If that "other way" is my gouging your eye out, there are no hard feelings afterward, and there is no sense of a corrective measure being taken.

  • N sees a historical question in how conscience and the ability to keep promises arose;
  • Nietzsche tries to argue that eternal return is a real possibility, but I think he did not need that -- his point is sufficient as a thought experiment;
  • He sees in our time a dislike of life and living -- it seems here he means that in denouncing cruelty, since cruelty is part of life and civilization, we are denouncing living;
  • But this does not mean that the resentful slave morality is beneficial because it cages this blond beast;
  • But he suggests also that a civilized society has then a history of pain and punishment;
  • Bad and evil are both the opposite of "good," but bad and evil are different.

There is simply an agreement that now our debts are settled and we can go our different ways. It is quite easy to understand why Nietzsche would characterize an age of torture, mutilation, and delight at the suffering of others as "cruel," but it might be harder to understand why he might characterize it as "cheerful.

Nietzsche essay 2 sparknotes

None of this was present in Nietzsche's conception of ancient societies. Our lack of cheer today stems from the fact that our wrongdoings and our guilt stay with us and plague us.

In ancient times, one would submit to punishment and that would be the end of it. For most of the time, the ancients did not trouble themselves much about what they ought to be doing or about whether they had done wrong. They lived free of moral torments and were thus more cheerful.

Second Essay, Sections 1-7

Nietzsche presents frustratingly little evidence for his claims about how things were in times past. In a sense, he is much like Freud: In other of his writings, Nietzsche often comes down quite harshly against the British empiricists and their methods, so it is understandable that he would not want to proceed in an empirical spirit. Still, we might find ourselves feeling a little more inclined toward the careful defense of empirical claims when we consider how little Nietzsche's arguments would stand up if his unsupported historical claims proved false.