chapter  7
18 Pages

The third essay: “What is the Meaning of Ascetic Ideals?”

The third essay, “What is the Meaning of Ascetic Ideals?”, offers an analysis of the construction and power of the general form of “what have up until now been regarded as ideals, ideals which are all hostile to life, ideals that defame the world” (GM II §24). It does so by addressing “morality” under the aspect of willing in a way that accounts for the form of moral rules as categorical imperatives, that is, as universal and unconditional. Nietzsche needs to provide such an account because the first two essays do not themselves offer a sufficient explanation of these features of “morality”. The first essay provides only an account of the “immanent phase” of the slave revolt and not its transcendent phase (Ridley 1998a: 41-2). The second essay points to this transcendent phase as the “moralization” of the concepts of duty and guilt, their being pushed back into bad conscience, but simply posits rather than accounts for this process. There is, moreover, a further explanatory issue that Nietzsche has yet to address, namely, how the nobles become subject to “morality”, and the third essay will also address this topic.