On the Genealogy of Morals : A Polemic. By way of clarification and supplement to my last book Beyond Good and Evil: A Polemic. By way of clarification and supplement to my last book Beyond Good and Evil

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Oxford University Press, UK, Jan 23, 1997 - Philosophy - 208 pages
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On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) is a book about the history of ethics and about interpretation. Nietzsche rewrites the former as a history of cruelty, exposing the 4entral values of the Judaeo-Christian and liberal traditions - compassion, equality, justice - as the product of a brutal process of conditioning designed to domesticate the animal vitality of earlier cultures. The result is a book which raises profoundly disquieting issues about the violence of both ethics and interpretation. Nietzsche questions moral certainties by showing that religion and science have no claim to absolute truth, before turning on his own arguments in order to call their very presuppositions into question. The Genealogy is the most sustained of Nietzsche's later works and offers one of the fullest expressions of his characteristic concerns. This edition places his ideas within the cultural context of his own time and stresses the relevance of his work for a contemporary audience. - ;`Reason, seriousness, mastery over the emotions, the whole murky affair which goes by the name of thought, all the privileges and showpieces of man: what a high price has been paid for them! How much blood and horror is at the bottom of all "good things!"' On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) is a book about the history of ethics and about interpretation. Nietzsche rewrites the former as a history of cruelty, exposing the central values of the Judaeo-Christian and liberal traditions - compassion, equality, justice - as the product of a brutal process of conditioning designed to domesticate the animal vitality of earlier cultures. The result is a book which raises profoundly disquieting issues about the violence of both ethics and interpretation. Nietzsche questions moral certainties by showing that religion and science have no claim to absolute truth, before turning on his own arguments in order to call their very presuppositions into question. The Genealogy is the most sustained of Nietzsche's later works and offers one of the fullest expressions of his characteristic concerns. This edition places his ideas within the cultural context of his own time and stresses the relevance of his work for a contemporary audience. -
 

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About the author (1997)

The son of a Lutheran pastor, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in 1844 in Roecken, Prussia, and studied classical philology at the Universities of Bonn and Leipzig. While at Leipzig he read the works of Schopenhauer, which greatly impressed him. He also became a disciple of the composer Richard Wagner. At the very early age of 25, Nietzsche was appointed professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, Nietzsche served in the medical corps of the Prussian army. While treating soldiers he contracted diphtheria and dysentery; he was never physically healthy afterward. Nietzsche's first book, The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1872), was a radical reinterpretation of Greek art and culture from a Schopenhaurian and Wagnerian standpoint. By 1874 Nietzsche had to retire from his university post for reasons of health. He was diagnosed at this time with a serious nervous disorder. He lived the next 15 years on his small university pension, dividing his time between Italy and Switzerland and writing constantly. He is best known for the works he produced after 1880, especially The Gay Science (1882), Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-85), Beyond Good and Evil (1886), On the Genealogy of Morals (1887), The Antichrist (1888), and Twilight of the Idols (1888). In January 1889, Nietzsche suffered a sudden mental collapse; he lived the last 10 years of his life in a condition of insanity. After his death, his sister published many of his papers under the title The Will to Power. Nietzsche was a radical questioner who often wrote polemically with deliberate obscurity, intending to perplex, shock, and offend his readers. He attacked the entire metaphysical tradition in Western philosophy, especially Christianity and Christian morality, which he thought had reached its final and most decadent form in modern scientific humanism, with its ideals of liberalism and democracy. It has become increasingly clear that his writings are among the deepest and most prescient sources we have for acquiring a philosophical understanding of the roots of 20th-century culture.

Douglas Smith was born in Winnipeg in 1949. He is a teacher and poet.

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