chapter  6
22 Pages

The second essay: “‘Guilt’, ‘Bad Conscience’, and Related Matters”

In the second essay, “‘Guilt’, ‘Bad Conscience’ and Related Matters”, Nietzsche turns from the valuations and idea of moral agency characteristic of “morality” to consider “the psychology of conscience” (EH “Why I Write Such Good Books”, on GM). From Daybreak on, Nietzsche had noted that two central features of “morality” are its central reliance on guilt as an emotion of self-assessment and, indeed, its “moralization” of guilt, that is, its treatment of all forms of human suffering as necessarily explicable in terms of the legitimate punishment of guilty agents, on the one hand, and the identification of “morality” with unegoistic motivations, on the other hand. In this essay, Nietzsche will seek to provide a naturalistic explanation of “bad conscience” that accounts for these features of “morality” as products of an instinct for cruelty.