Most Helpful First | Newest First
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important work,
This review is from: The Genealogy of Morals (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)This particular piece of Nietzsche's writing is a marvelous work - it is interesting and lively, much as Nietzsche's own writing and tendency toward the dramatic was noted by his contemporaries.
Nietzsche's father was a Lutheran minister, but he died five years after Nietzsche's birth in 1844. Nietzsche was raised by his mother, grandmother and aunts; later in his life, his sister would become executor of his estate (after Nietzsche had become incapable of managing his own affairs) and reshape his philosophy and writings in her own idea - this becomes a running motif in later anthologies of Nietzsche; editors can quote and clip to fit their own agendas. In some ways, that is true of the text here, but in much less inappropriate ways than others, particularly Nietzsche's first editor, his sister.
Nietzsche was a star pupil from his earliest days at university in Bonn and Leipzig. His formal study was in classical philology, but his attentions turned in various directions quickly during his writing and professional life - he had an intense interest in drama and the arts, with Wagner's music and Greek drama in principal interest. His first book was devoted to these topics - 'The Birth of Tragedy'. It was not highly regarded at the time, but has since become much more appreciated as an anticipation of later developments in philosophy and aesthetics.
Nietzsche's life after this period was a very choppy one - he left the university, claiming illness, and while this developed later to be a true situation, at the time is was probably academic politics and difficulties fitting in with the establishment he was trying to break. He had a formal falling-out with Wagner, even writing later a piece entitled ' Nietzsche contra Wagner', finished just a few week prior to his going insane.
In another edition, Walter Kaufmann states that Nietzsche's real career took off after his active life was over; under his sister's direction, many of the writings Nietzsche had managed to do and not get published, or which were published but forgotten, really took off in major directions. While his major works of Zarathustra, Ecce Homo, Will to Power and Genealogy of Morals were in various editions of disrepair (indeed, the Will to Power was never more complete than a series of notes), Nietzsche had a knack for language that made him very quotable, and his influence continued to grow well into the first half of the twentieth century, influencing art, philosophy, history, and politics in dramatic ways, if not always the ways in which Nietzsche envisioned.
For example, Nietzsche was not particularly impressed with the 'typical' German anti-semitism, which later erupted into the Nazi movement. He considered it rather bourgeois, and while he undoubted had his own issues with Jews (Nietzsche had issues with almost everyone, particularly any group, Christians included, who had a religious connection), the Nazi use of Nietzsche's work owes more to Nietzsche's sister's influence than anyone else.
'The Genealogy of Morals' is perhaps the closest in form to English-speaking philosophical discourse. This is a discussion that involves philosophy, psychology and linguistic theory, looking at morality in three different essays. The first essay explores the idea of good and evil as good and bad; Nietzsche develops the idea of master and slave morality - the slave resists the ideas of the master, and thus values things that are less likely to gain power - Nietzsche sees Christianity as an example of slave morality.
The second essay looks at the issues of conscience and guilt, and how these spawned the invention of gods. The third essay concludes the work with a look at ascetic ideas, how these relate to aesthetic ideas, and where in Nietzsche's opinion the great philosophers of the past have gone wrong.
In his book Ecce Homo (first published posthumously), Nietzsche analyses his own work piece by piece, as well as gives an overall assessment of his life. Nietzsche's insights into his own writings in hindsight is fascinating to behold. His own idea of 'The Genealogy of Morals' can be found in this piece as follows:
'Regarding expression, intention, and the art of suprise, the three inquiries which constitute this Genealogy are perhaps uncannier than anything else written so far. Dionysus is, as is known, also the god of darkness.'
Nietzsce is not easy reading, and this work is not the best for casual reading or the first-time reader of Nietzsche. However, for those who have already made some headway into understanding him, this is a good volume.
36 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Etymology to Blonde Beasts,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Genealogy of Morals (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)Genealogy of Morals is perhaps the most direct, and therefore easiest to understand, of Nietzsche's books. Disguarding the poetry of Zarathustra and the riddles of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche sets to work tracing the etymological origins of our moral verbage. Picking up on a theme which he hints at in Zarathustra and opens out in Beyond Good and Evil, that of the Master morality and Slave morality, Nietzsche argues that the meanings we attach to words such as Good and bad are not etymologically correct. As he argues in Book One, "...the aristocracy, not the people, reserved for itself the right to give language and meaning as their perogative", and goes on to say that originally words like bad were associated with the poor and the slave castes, whereas good was associated with the powerful and the nobility. Christianity, so it is claimed arose out of the poor, jealous and the weak and was a rebellion against the warlike and aggressive aristocracy, one, however, for more effective than that of Spartacus. Nietzsche now looks at this alteration in moral meanings, good now becomes associated with the invalids, the cowardly, the meak, the stupid and the ugly and those who are bad are the antitheses of these qualities.
At this point, it is vital to understand the core of Nietzsche's philosophy. Nietzsche is primarily concerned with values reasons and motives (as indeed any psychologist should be) and it was because of these things that he rejected Slave Morality. He points out that it is borne from jealousy, vengeance, resentment and fear whereas Master Moprality is borne out of a "Healthy exuberence for life". Here is the second part of Nietzsche's philosophy: social Darwinism. He argues; why should we champion the very people who are useless and weak over the very people who are able?
The last book deals with ascetism and the ideals associated with it. Nietzsche draws a line between the Saintly and the true ascetics. He argues that the saintly of us are hypocrites; people who are too weak to channel the beastly emotions so attempt to crush them, thus becoming sick both physically and mentally. Those who are strong can channel the wills and desires which drive us and use them creatively.
In short Genealogy of Morals is a fascinating book and a crucial addition to the library of any man who thinks about life and values.
7 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE HIGHLIGHT ABOUT MORALITY,
This review is from: The Genealogy of Morals (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)This is a REAL HIGHLIGHT out of the last "creative period" of Nietzsche, dating from about one and a half year before he fell in that cruel mental illness (NOT syphillis, as is told in the streets...), that lead him to his death. HE WROTE THIS WORK IN ONE BREATHE, WITHOUT INTERRUPTION, IN 3 WEEKS: FROM JULY 10th UNTIL 30th OF 1887 !!!
In his 'Genealogy" we find back some basic concepts, principles of ethics as there are "GOOD AND EVIL", "GUILT AND CONSCIENCE" and "THE ASCETIC IDEAL". These themes stay central anywhere in the book. But the author DOES NOT AT ALL "TREAT" these notions conform to their normal usage in the philosophy of morality.
He is NOT INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY MEAN or their VALUE in whatever kind of morality, NOR in their NORMATIVE VALUE OR MERIT. Instead he is in search of their "BIRTH", their "ORIGIN" and in how they "FUNCTION" in an organised society.
Again, it is NOT IMPORTANT to Nietzsche what is the VALUE of this or that action. WHAT IS REALLY OF IMPORTANCE HERE IS THE VALUE/MERIT OF THIS OR THAT VALUE ITSELF. As he wrote (and said so many times: "WE NEED A CRITICISM OF MORAL VALUES: FIRST OF ALL, THE VALUE OF THESE VALUES MUST BE QUESTIONED.".
This MASTERPIECE from this giant German philosopher DOES NOT READ like a good novel. BUT THE BOOK IS SO IMPORTANT FOR THE THOUGHTS, THIS HIGHEST-LEVEL THINKING of this genius concerning morals which he describes, even DISSECTS here. "Not an easy read" DOES NOT MEAN that it can't and/or shouldn't be read!
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Genealogy of Morals (Dover Thrift Editions) by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (Paperback - 1 Jun 2003)