chapter  10
18 Pages

Ressentiment, Revenge and Punishment

Of all the philosophers who have looked beyond punishment to the motives and forces which lie behind it, both as a moral concept and as a social institution, Friedrich Nietzsche is the most prominent. Nietzsche's account is quite different, but he too wants to criticize revenge, and not just condemn it. Nietzsche is choosing the other horn of the moral dilemma posed by an identification of punishment with revenge. If Nietzsche's dialogue with Duhring extends well beyond the realm of moral value, his corresponding relation to Paul Ree is far more narrowly focused. Ree and Nietzsche had been friends during what proved a crucial period of intellectual development for each. The real problem for Nietzsche, he says, is not the origin of morality, but the value of morality. Much of Nietzsche's thinking about morality is a dialogue with Duhring. Nietzsche's use of the category of ressentiment in his analysis of morality has been particularly influential.