Genealogy of Morals, Essay 2

it is only the bad conscience, only the will for self-abuse, that provides the necessary conditions for the existence of altruism as a value.
.............Nietzsche, Friedrich (2010). On the Genealogy of Morals (A Modernized Translation with a New Introduction and Biography) (p. 87). Kindle Edition.

Nietzsche's anaysis of punishment and conscience is quite penetrating. He argues convincingly that conscience does not originate in punishment, instead arguing that it is imposed on the populace as a condition of civilization. In his view, the imposer is his magical creative conquerors, but I think that part is his typical romantic nonsense.

I am surprised that he does not see its origin in the more primitive notion of shame - a fundamental social instinct far predating civilization, though FN would have been unlikely to have known that.

Something like shame actually seems to exist in other social animals such as dogs and chimpanzees. As social animals, it behooves us to have a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, or at least our immediate group.

To me it seems odd that Nietzsche would not pick up on that, but if he was in fact somewhat autistic, he might not have picked up on the fundamental role of that central social signal.


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