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On the Genealogy of Morals

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  16,794 ratings  ·  568 reviews
On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) is a book about the history of ethics and about interpretation. Nietzsche rewrites the former as a history of cruelty, exposing the central values of the Judaeo-Christian and liberal traditions - compassion, equality, justice - as the product of a brutal process of conditioning designed to domesticate the animal vitality of earlier ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 25th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1887)
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Rebecca Garrard I'd say yes, if not more so. Definitely worth the read - despite Nietzsche's sass...…moreI'd say yes, if not more so. Definitely worth the read - despite Nietzsche's sass... (less)

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Rowland Pasaribu
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
On The Genealogy of Morals is made up of three essays, all of which question and critique the value of our moral judgments based on a genealogical method whereby Nietzsche examines the origins and meanings of our different moral concepts.

The first essay, "'Good and Evil,' 'Good and Bad'" contrasts what Nietzsche calls "master morality" and "slave morality." Master morality was developed by the strong, healthy, and free, who saw their own happiness as good and named it thus. By contrast, they
Luís C.
"The Genealogy of Morals" is articulated in three dissertations: "the good and the bad", "the resentment" and "the ascetic ideals". It seems that this essay is one of the most accessible of Nietzsche …
Nevertheless, this reading turns out to be very interesting and at first very remarkable for the style ... Mr Nietzsche knew, without any doubt, how to handle the words. I will not engage in a long criticism (impure reason) but some points of the argument tickle me, when others convince me.
Brad Lyerla
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
When I was an undergraduate, I tried some Nietzsche. I read BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, THE GAY SCIENCE and THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY. This was reading that I did on my own and not as part of a class. I don’t remember how I chose those books, but I can report now with no embarassment that my reading was superficial and that I did not genuinely understand much, if any, of it. More surprisingly, I did not like Nietzsche. He is too much work. He uses words in idiosyncratic ways that are confusing and force ...more
Apr 09, 2009 added it
Imagine that you are in a nameless suburb, say California for example, and you stumble home drunk on bad whiskey and stoned off of cheap weed. This is purely hypothetical. You hover over the toilet and puke up the bad whiskey and some nameless food substance. The next morning you sit on the toilet reading this book. You read the lines "the complete and definitive victory of atheism might free mankind of this whole feeling of guilty indebtedness towards its origin, its causa prima. Atheism and a ...more
Introduction & Notes
Note on the Text and Translation
Further Reading

--First Essay: 'Good and Evil', 'Good and Bad'
--Second Essay: 'Guilt', 'Bad Conscience' and Related Matters
--Third Essay: What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?

Roy Lotz
For all his brilliance, Nietzsche was not one for exposition or systematic investigation. He writes in impassioned bursts rather than extended thoughts—a style in keeping with his abhorrence for all things stale, academic, and ‘English’. This quality is evident right from the preface, which is divided into several shorter prefaces. These frequent breaks are maintained throughout the book, each essay being divided into chunks too short for subchapters, but too long for aphorisms.

On one level,
Kyle van Oosterum
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This treatise stands as the most sustained criticism of Judaeo-Christian values, or rather, the origin of said values. Nietzsche redefines them as the products of the brutal conditioning of our animal instincts over the centuries. The failure to retaliate became "goodness", fear into "humility", submission to those who one hates "obedience" and cowardice into "patience".

Discarding the methods of his contemporaries, Nietzsche comes up with a theory, which delineates how morals come to evolve
Jack Fingal
A truly delightful intellectual romp that is both entertaining and disturbing.

It is entertaining because Nietzsche is an outrageously brilliant writer who expresses his complex philosophical ideas in a creative way, and who makes even the most cynical ideas sound beautiful. Nietzsche is truly blessed for having the analytical brain of a philosopher as well as masterful skill in sculpting beautiful phrases, like a poet.

It is disturbing because of Nietzsche's tremendous cynicism, which can often
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Three essays each coherent. This is Nietzsche's best work. Almost all of his major ideas lurk within this book. I would recommend the audio version. There's just something about Nietzsche that when he's read aloud you just feel the contempt and frustration you know he has for mankind and even the reader of his book.

He'll say the world needs artist and poets. He feels his truths and the reader feels them too. There's good and there's bad with Nietzsche. He has special dislike for women and
Dustyn Hessie
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Thinkers
Recommended to Dustyn by: Michel Foucault
I think it will be useful for future readers that I point out a few of Nietzsche's highly problematic ideas in this book (this book is not one of my favorite Nietzsche books, but it's still full of great ideas):

1) Nietzsche goes a little too far in his attack of dirtiness when he states that we should segregate the sick from the healthy, he suggests that the healthy and happy men should, "keep clear of the madhouses and hospitals". Didn't Nietzsche spend quite a lot of time in a madhouse?

2) He
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very readable, once I got into it. I would recommend to anyone wanted to make a start with Nietzsche, and it's really short too. He was obviously a very troubled man as well as a bit of a psychologist. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't give a second thought to my opinion though - I'm definitely one of the sick. From a history of ideas point of view, his take-up of ideas about degeneration and frequent health and illness related metaphors are particularly useful. And good to read in conjunction with ...more
Rebecca McNutt
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
detailed and extensive account on the history of ethics and how religion and idealism has changed and shaped human morality over time. It was incredibly interesting, well-written and definitely worth reading.
Lea Dokter
Oh Nietzsche.. You have such great insights, such valid points. It's just such a shame that I have to struggle through so much blah to get to them.
Alexander McAuliffe
Fascinating series of essays. I think Nietzsche is one of the most original thinkers I've come into contact with, and every part of his "polemic" gave me something new to think about, argue with, or even laugh at. Even in translation, with lots of ellipses, exclamations, italics, etc., there is a playfulness to his probing, far-reaching and creative criticism of orthodoxy.
The essays are analyzing 1) the origin of good and evil (as opposed to good and bad) - much of his earlier thinking about
John Pistelli
I feel like I've been reading this book all my life, but I've never done it carefully and cover to cover before. I first tried it when I was too young to understand (18 or 19--a crack-spined copy purchased at a now-defunct occult shop on the South Side of Pittsburgh), then again in the summer of 2003, when I did understand a bit, more than I wanted; it put me off Nietzsche for a while--the description of the beast of prey, performing murder, rape, and arson like a schoolboy playing a prank, ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One has got to be thankful they have everything unabridged on audiobook now.
I could never read him, because frankly his writing style is pompous, arrogant and on the whole insufferable. He thinks he is terribly clever and he rubs your nose in it. Well of course he is, but the style obscures what could have been a more pleasant read. When someone else is reading him though, one can sit through it. I am glad I finally got around to him as the content was really wonderful and original. Will
Muhammad Arqum
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second from this eccentric mad genius and although it wasn't as streamlined as The Antichrist, it still offered the anticipated food for thought that I can regurgitate for a while.

Some of the topics covered are:
- Master and Slave Morality
- The sick must be kept away from the healthy.
- Amor Fati, love all the tragedies and losses and delights and health and sickness of your life. It is your fate, be a man of action, but what cannot be changed must be loved.
- The ascetic ideals
- Man will rather
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I found this the most accessible of Nietzsche's books because it comes closest - especially in the second essay - to a straight exposition of his theories. The trouble is I liked it too much to paraphrase anything. I will only give one quote, which you will notice is excessively lengthy:

Section 13: To give at least an idea of how uncertain, how supplemental, how accidental the “meaning” of punishment is, and how one and the same procedure can be employed, interpreted, adapted to ends that differ
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nietzsche is coffee for the soul


Nietzsche traces the lines of descent throughout human history to paint a clearer picture of ourselves and in a fuller light.

The words "good" and "bad" have had different definitions throughout human history. For example--and I'm taking the liberty of using a jocks and nerds metaphor--Nietzsche claims that back in the day "good" was used to describe the good health and standing of the jocks. "Bad" was used to describe the poor health and status of the nerds.
Nietzsche sets himself upon a gargantuan task with his Genealogy. Within its 3 short essays, and with a mixture of devilish delight and horror, he embarks upon a full excavation of the Western moral system. Primarily deploying etymology and physiology as his methodological devices, he creates a diachronic analysis of some of our most dear, instinctive, and holy values.

For Nietzsche, things have gone terribly wrong in Western civilized society: life has turned against itself, the animal in man
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nietzsche, favorites
"perhaps an even more ‘modern’, pleasure-seeking, voluptuous type who flirts with life as much as with the ascetic ideal, who uses the word ‘artist’ as a glove and commandeers for himself the praise of contemplation: oh, how thirsty these cloying wits make me even for ascetics and winter landscapes! No! Let such ‘contemplative’ people go to the devil! I would vastly prefer to wander through the most sombre, grey, cold mists with those historic nihilists!"
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
":( church fatherz suk" - neechshit
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Jenseitz von Gut und Böse (1886) moral philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche claimed the death knell had sounded for Christian morality and emphasized the need for a perspective on life that is (literally) beyond good and evil. He followed up this interesting work with an equally interesting publication: Zur Genealogie der Moral, On the Genealogy of Morals. This book contains three long essays on the origins of our morality, and Nietzsche looks for answers to the question ‘ ...more
David Meditationseed
Nietzsche writes passionately about three main subjects:

1. Concepts and morality do not have an essence, they are interpreted by human perceptions. So there is no one truth but many truths.

2. There is no truth created by anyone but man himself. Any truth that imposes itself (metaphysical, unique, from God, religious or cultura) are falses and serves only to deceive and tame the human being.

3. We are cruel beings, animals of instinct and full of resentment. Systems of power change the direction
A rating is irrelevant for this book. So much that is perceptive is presented cheek by jowl with idiotic asides and offensive statements that I don’t know how to assess it overall. I’m assuming at least some of the chaotic style is due to the fact that Nietzsche was tripping balls when he was writing this.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, owned
A restatement of the last book, mostly. The third essay was the most interesting, but also the most erratic.
Michael Arnold
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is, in some ways, a crash course in Nietzsche's ideas of ethics and morals. The second essay is by far the best and most complex, even if it is anthropology and cultural psychology more than philosophy - actually the same is true of the first essay too. The third essay is more like an extension of The Birth of Tragedy. Honestly, I'm not fully sure what the last essay is doing in this book. Over all, this book has a lot of good answers and poses a lot of good questions ... or is that the ...more
Bry Willis
A strong follow-on to Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. Nietzsche is a master rhetorician, and this polemic is quite enticing. What struck me most is how he presaged Freud by at least a decade.
Sheldon L
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this stunningly awesome book, Nietzsche investigates the origins of morality!

Unlike other philosophers who look for the origins of morality in utility (i.e. what is good is what is useful qualitatively not quantitatively to most persons), Nietzsche conducts an etymology of sin and morals.

Surprisingly, the root words of moral actions have several links with ideas of nobility and slavery.
Nietzsche fleshes this out as the opposition of master/noble morality vs. slave morality.

The master morality
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
This little number packs a wallop.

Unlike The Gay Science and Beyond Good and Evil, the writings here are not in Nietzsche's usual aphoristic form (though still not long by any means). The essays sprawl, ebb into ellipses, and start again with dashes. They are decorated at random by curiously-placed ?'s and !'s, and what can be the most disruptive parenthetical asides, sometimes all within the same sentence. He quotes himself. He seems to be yelling at times, laughing and lamenting in others. He
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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. He was interested in the enhancement of individual and cultural health, and believed in life, creativity, power, and the realities of the world we live in, rather than those situated in a world beyond. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “ ...more
“We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge - and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves - how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves? It has rightly been said: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"; our treasure is where the beehives of our knowledge are.” 38 likes
“Human history would be nothing but a record of stupidity save for the cunning contributions of the weak” 19 likes
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