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On the Genealogy of Morals

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  19,323 ratings  ·  707 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 culture ...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...

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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
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 mu ...more
E. G.
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, t
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 wit
Victor Finn
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 femin
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Floating Sphere

Whenever I want to give someone a metaphor for what being actively engaged in close reading might look like, I often ask them to imagine a floating sphere. I suggest they view it from every possible vantage point: up, down, around, below, above—etcetera. And then they go deeper: “Of what material is it constructed?”, “How old is it?”, “What might it symbolize by itself or in relation to X?”, and more. The answers are arbitrary of course, but the results are not. This exercise is to first examine
In Genealogy, Nietzsche re-evaluates moral values ​​by raising, not only, their origins (which found in the feelings and actions of Judeo-Christianity), but also by criticizing them, by the reconstruction of the historical, psychological and genesis. Anthropological analysis of these values ​​and attitudes to better unmask them, namely to make them appear as so many illusions and lies.
In this book, he distinguishes between the morality of masters and that of slaves. There is, therefore, on the o
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 Fo ...more
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
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.
Sajid Ahmed
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s book, “On the Genealogy of Morals,” consists of three interrelated essays discussing his understanding of the origins of human morality and offering a critique of their development. He writes the book in the year 1887 within the context of a newly unified Germany, which, despite prevailing national optimism, Nietzsche characterizes as “nihilistic” — that is, lacking moral principles. In the first essay, “Good and Evil,” “Good and Bad,” he asserts that the ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A Review of On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic: A Polemic

Look, I’ll admit this from the outset: Kierkegaard, a favourite writer of mine, is not acclaimed for his philosophical methodology. Like Nietzsche, he’s a polemicist of sorts; he’s a ‘philosopher’ who uses the tools of poetry, aphorisms, exegesis, narrative, etc. to represent the culmination of his intuitions, research and beliefs. My intuitions tend to mirror Kierkegaard’s—it’s not necessarily the case that he’s convinced me, per se, t
Sumit Ghosh
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-college
I didn't know what I was in for when I started reading this book. I had only read parts of Thus Spoke Zarathustra before this, and I loved that, but I didn't understand it properly. Well, I should've listened when people said that don't start with the Zarathustra.

This was, however, a much more systematic work, not equivocal to the degree Zarathustra is. He presents his genealogy—which is kind of a history of origin—of different moral concepts we're familiar with. It consists of three essays: in
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, soun ...more
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
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
Read in Dutch. Collection of brilliant and less brilliant insights, many of whom have become commonplace in the meantime.
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
":( church fatherz suk" - neechshit
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.
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 ‘Whenc ...more
Francesko Kola
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nietzsche gives an historic account of how morality has developed in the world. Unlike many others, Nietzsche takes a historical approach to the development of morality and gets into the etymology of the ancient languages.
Great read and the analysis of Christianity was amusing as well.
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 defini
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 h
Aug 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
A profoundly and arrogantly racist work, grounded entirely in baseless supposition and sweeping generalization. It reads like a fervent and heartfelt prayer whose direct answer came in the person of Adolf Hitler. It may be true that Nietzsche, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, was not an anti-Semite - however, his unmasked contempt and loathing for the infirm and marginalized members of society looms large and ironical given his own eventual fate.

The chief point of interest that I found
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nietzsche
"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!"
Nietzsche suffers from an unfortunate tendency to baselessly and endlessly interpret--which is really a shame, given that his philology and historiography are so themselves interesting. Powerfully alive writing, profound analysis and original thought, and incalculable influence is brought down to sophistry by its own conclusions.
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 o
Unpil Baek
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all thinkers
Shelves: philosophy, favorites
This is a profound book that turns upside-down the contemporary consensus on topics of morality. With his genealogical approach, Nietzsche traces back the origin of concepts like "good", "bad", "evil", "guilt", and "conscience" to show how their original meanings have shifted after the advent of the slave morality. Nietzsche claims that such shifts in meaning, provoked by ressentiment in part, reflect the deterioration of humanity. Waiting for a philosophical physician to restore humanity to hea ...more
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 ha
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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 “life- ...more

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