Nietzche's Master and Slave Morality Essay

2193 Words Jun 22nd, 2013 9 Pages
In Of the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche sought to provide context for what he saw as the central value system of the society in which he lived: slave-morality. Nietzsche saw morality as reflective of the conditions in which its proponents were brought up. He saw the roots of slave morality in oppression and slavery, and posits that it grew as a reaction to the morality of the masters of the time. What follows is a simplified account of Nietzsche’s master-slave dichotomy, and what he saw as the dire consequences for human progress should the pervasiveness of slave morality be allowed to remain at the expense of the master. I will argue that although religion and slave morality may have had significant influence in Nietzsche’s day, his …show more content…
This resentment and bitterness leads to the slave adopting a mentality which demonises the master, and which holds up as good those attributes which are unlike that of the oppressor. Characteristics shown by the master are “evil” and goodness is seen in the traits which oppose them, e.g. Humility, obedience, restraint, self-denial, modesty, patience and acceptance of one’s fate. Slave morality does not aim for self-ascension or self-gratification. Its aims centre on utility: the reduction of suffering for the greatest number of people. It sees evil in the self-aggrandizement and the ruthlessness and violence of the master. Where master morality is for the elite few, slave morality is a value system for the masses. The values inherent in slave morality, not coincidentally, are almost synonymous with Judeo-Christian moral ideals; Judaism and Christianity were, in the past, religions of the poor and the oppressed. Nietzsche sees, in the reactionary nature of slave morality and its dishonest demonization of its oppressors, a desire to make slaves of the masters. Violence and vengefulness are anathema to slave morality, however, if the slave moralists can universalise their value system – through religion, for example – they can convince the masters that they are evil, and in doing so lessen their power and take revenge for past evils. Nietzsche sees slave morality, especially the universalisation of it

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