chapter  8
14 Pages

Debating the Genealogy

In the light of the foregoing analyses, we are now in a position to comprehend the overall argumentative strategy of the Genealogy as a critical re-evaluation of “morality” in which Nietzsche attempts to free us from the grip of “morality”, our captivation by “morality”, such that it becomes an object that can be subjected to critical appraisal and evaluation, to provide us with internal reasons for rejecting “morality” and to mobilize our existing affective dispositions against “morality”. Each of the essays seeks to loosen the grip of “morality” by providing a psychologically realistic account of the formation of its central features, which, in virtue of its naturalistic form, undermines the self-understanding of “morality” and which, in virtue of its psychological content, mobilizes our affective dispositions against “morality”. Moreover, in a somewhat loose sense, these three essays sketch a narrative in which the second essay provides a naturalistic account of how we come to be creatures who stand (and must stand) in evaluative relationships to ourselves and the world, the first essay provides an account of how the different social and political conditions within which we are situated give rise to different forms of ethical reasoning and the third essay indicates how we have come to be held captive by a particular kind of ethical reasoning: “morality”. This raises the question of why the first and second essays are presented in the order that they are. On the account I have offered, Nietzsche has a principled reason to offer them in this order, namely, that the first essay, by presenting “morality” as slave morality, as a counter-movement to, and re-evaluation of, noble morality, immediately and dramatically problematizes the presumption of his audience that “morality” is the only possible ethical perspective in making

visible another mode of ethical reasoning and rhetorically situating the reader within the struggle between them, while also indicating that the enterprise of re-evaluation to which he enjoins his readers is not a novel phenomenon.