Beyond Selflessness:Reading Nietzsche's Genealogy: Reading Nietzsche's Genealogy

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Clarendon Press, Jul 12, 2007 - Philosophy - 304 pages
Christopher Janaway presents a full commentary on Nietzsche's most studied work, On the Genealogy of Morality, and combines close reading of key passages with an overview of Nietzsche's wider aims. Arguing that Nietzsche's goal is to pursue psychological and historical truths concerning the origins of modern moral values, Beyond Selflessness is distinctive in that it also emphasizes the significance of Nietzsches rhetorical methods as an instrument of persuasion.Nietzsche's outlook is broadly naturalist, but he is critical of typical scientific and philosophical methods for their advocacy of impersonality and suppression of the affects. In contrast to his opponents, Schopenhauer and Paul Rée, who both account for morality in terms of selflessness, Nietzsche believes that ourallegiance to a post-Christian morality that centres around selflessness, compassion, guilt, and denial of the instincts is not primarily rational but affective: underlying feelings, often ambivalent and poorly grasped in conscious thought, explain our moral beliefs. The Genealogy is designed to detach the reader from his or her allegiance to morality and prepare for the possibility of new values. Janaway shows how, according to Nietzsches perspectivism, one can best understand atopic such as morality through allowing as many of ones feelings as possible to speak about it, and how Nietzsche seeks to enable us to feel differently': his provocation of the reader's affects helps us grasp the affective origins of our attitudes and prepare the way for healthier values such as the affirmationof life (as tested by the thought of eternal return) and the self-satisfaction to be attained by 'giving style to one's character'.

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About the author (2007)

Christopher Janaway is at the University of Southampton.

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