Nietzsche (1)

by : Someone Is My Fans

Genealogy of Morals, the concept of noble morality stands out as a highly important phenomenon. From the characteristics he attributed to the noble, as well as the essentials of life, such as “injury, assault, exploitation, destruction”(Nietzsche, Second Essay: 11), or noble’s self-designation of “themselves simply by their superiority in power (as “the powerful”, “the masters”, “the commanders”)” (Nietzsche, First Essay: 5), can easily lead to a conclusion that noble morality is an anti-egalitarian, and promotes an unequal social order. But, is it really the case? In this paper, I will try to argue that Nietzsche’s noble morality, based on power assertion, can actually be compatible with the notion of equality and egalitarianism, by referring to his notion of power and to his conditions that he regards as sufficient for the establishment of noble and slave moralities. While doing that, I will also be trying to answer the possible objections to my argument, namely, the possible claim that power and domination cannot be separated from each other, and secondly, the argument that noble values has a peculiarity that generates social hierarchy.

To begin with, it can be argued that domination and power is inseparable from each other in Nietzsche’s Genealogy, and as a result, equality cannot be achieved in Nietzschean philosophy. This argument, however, can be counter argued by taking a closer look at Nietzsche’s concept of “power”. As we discussed in the class, the power, for Nietzsche, is a notion that is performative. That means, there is no distinction between power and performance of power for Nietzsche. He argues that “popular morality separates strenght from expressions of strenght, as if there were a neutral substratum behind the strong man, which was free to express strenght or not to do so. But there is no such substratum; there is no “being” behind doing, effecting, becoming; “the doer” is merely a fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything” (Nietzsche, First Essay: 13). That means, power, for Nietzsche is not determined through the domination of others, but through the action, the performance of power itself. It is the one’s ability to act and perform, rather than his action upon another individual.

As a second objection to my claim that Nietzsche’s noble morality can embrace the notion of equality, can be the argument that his noble morality is intertwined with social hierarchy. However, if we take a closer look at what Nietzsche regards as sufficient for the development of noble and slave moralities, we see that it is not noble morality that necessitates hierarchy, it is slave morality that does it.

In terms of the noble, Nietzsche argues that they “felt themselves to be men of a higher rank” (Nietzsche, First Essay: 5). Slave morality, on the other hand, is dependent on oppression or domination to flourish. In his words; “ While every morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is “outside”, what is “different”, what is “not itself” (Nietzsche, First Essay: 10). “Slave morality always first needs a hostile external world; it needs, psysiologically speaking, external stimulii in order to act at all – its action is fundamentally reaction” (Nietzsche, First Essay: 10). This explanation of Nietzsche about noble and the slave moralities justifies the point that as the noble morality is not dependent on any external stimuli, we cannot assume that social hierarchy or domination is a direct precondition for noble morality. For slave morality, however, as Nietzsche clearly argues, domination and social hierarchy is a must. For this reason, it cannot be argued that noble morality is incompatible with equality, as hierarchy is not a must for the development of noble morality. Instead, slave morality is the type of morality that comes along with social inequality.

To sum up, although Nietzsche’s attributions to power and noble morality at first seems as noble morality is non – egalitarian and hierarchical in nature, after a careful examination of his concept of power and his attributions to the necessary conditions for the evolution of noble and slave morality, it is clear that Nietzsche’s notion of noble morality can actually be conducive to equality and non-hierarchical social order. Whether or not Nietzsche is promoting that kind of a morality while criticizing the slave morality, however, is another question.


F. Nietzsche, On Genealogy of Morality Essays I-II (Selections).


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