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On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic. By way of clarification and supplement to my last book Beyond Good and Evil (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Friedrich Nietzsche , Douglas Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)


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Paperback, February 25, 1999 --  

Book Description

February 25, 1999 019283617X 978-0192836175 Revised
On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) is a book about interpretation and the history of ethics which raises profoundly disquieting issues about the violence of both. This is the most sustained of Nietzsche's later works and offers one of the fullest expressions of his characteristic concerns. The introduction places his ideas within the cultural context of his own time and stresses the relevance of his work for a contemporary audience.

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Douglas Smith is Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Warwick. He is currently preparing a book on the reception of Nietzsche in France.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (February 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019283617X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192836175
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,563,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A devastating critique of modernity. September 19, 1999
Format:Paperback
Undoubtedly Nietzsche's most penetrating and philosophical work, the "Genealogy of Morals" is a shattering indictment of science, Judaeo-Christian morality and modern Western values such as liberalism, socialism and feminism. It identifies these phenomena with the reactive, self-preservative "ascetic ideal" - the oppressive "will to truth" - that aims to constrain and deny life. In opposition, Nietzsche propounds art and culture as a counteragent and champions the "Diyonisan tragic artist" who will affirm and celebrate life. - Also a pioneering text for deconstruction and poststructuralism in its analysis of historicism and interpretation.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is a complex, often confusing, yet a very important book, because it gets at the bottom line of one of the thorniest conundrums ever to face man: The problem of where his morals originate. Although several books have readdressed this issue in light of new findings in psychology (Freud in his Civilization and its discontents), social psychology (Robert Wright's Moral Man), and Anthropology (Ernest Becker, Angel in Armor) just to name my three favorites, none have done so with either the emotional intensity or philosophical depth as has Nietzsche.

In this, Nietzsche last book, he locates the origins of morality at the intersection of man's transition from hunter-gathers to agrarian societies. With the advent of agrarian societies, there was a crossover in the survival value of violence versus that of cooperation: man's instinct for violence cease to have the survival value equal to that of cooperation. And as a result, he was forced to learn to outwardly suppress his violent instincts by more and more turning them inward. This conversion of outward violence into an inner struggle, allowed man to use his conscience to carve out an inner life, which was a mixed blessing as there were both collateral benefits and penalties. Along with guilt and bad conscience, man also acquired a sense of beauty. The upshot of his inner struggles was that they eventually got resolved through the development of religion: Bad conscience and moral guilt could be redeemed or forgiven through the grace and mercy of a higher, morally perfect, being.

With this as introduction, Nietzsche's story of morality takes place in three parts over the span of three essays, each of which elaborates a different aspect of the details of his theory.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and fierce May 2, 2000
Format:Paperback
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 the ancient languages. The "good vs. bad/good vs. evil" distinction is very important to get a grasp of as well as the concepts of guilt, conscience, and the ascetic ideal. Along with Beyond Good and Evil, this book should be one of the first by Nietzsche that you should read, in my opinion, to get a good grasp on Nietzsche's thought. Great analysis of Christianity too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Better translation May 29, 2014
Format:Paperback
OK, I gave it one star so you could check out this more recent (2014) and far superior translation The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Vol. 8 (Beyond Good and Evil / On the Genealogy of Morality) This translation is based on the Montinari edition of the german originals. I read Kaufman's translations asa teenager. I later bought the Cambridge editions. Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) I am thankful there are much better translations and critical editions available now. I also recommend the Oxford World'sClassics editions of Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is (Oxford World's Classics), Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody (Oxford World's Classics), and Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (Oxford World's Classics). You can find all of the German texts online if you put [...] in your browser.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be misled! December 12, 2012
Format:Paperback
Rereading the Genealogy of Morals last night, it occurred to me that I have a fine way of differentiating between those who submit to a negative mode of life -i.e. slave morality, ressentiment, punishment and self-abnegation -- and those who operate according to a `master morality'. At the most basic level the question is: Have you submitted to a subject-object reversal, whereby your subjectivity is displaced into some kind of ruling object and its will? Or, are you still your own subject, the master of your own will?

I think there is much room for misunderstanding Nietzsche if one doesn't already thoroughly and fully possess one's own subjectivity. One can invest all of one's philosophical capital in the images that Nietzsche portrays, of oligarchy and a lust for power, along with a kind of unconscious sadism (the eagle that "loves" the lamb). However, there is no point in adopting any of these mannerisms and proclaiming that one is now "master" when one has not first obtained power over one's subjectivity. To assume that one already has this power, when one has not, must be the most common mistake of most of Nietzsche's adherents.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Stupid Nietzsche. Stupid philosophy.
I dropped this class, so this book was a waste of money. If you're a philosophy major, you may find this useful. Then again, you should switch your major.
Published 1 month ago by Southpaw
5.0 out of 5 stars I've been told.
Some very close Friends of Mine suggested this book. I've not read too much of It as yet as I'm finishing up another book in My spare time, It looks like an experience tho. Read more
Published 6 months ago by G. Goltz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Polemic
Genealogy of Morals needs to be read in conjunction with Beyond Good and Evil which it "explains". Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bubo
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation?
On the Genealogy of Morals
Lost in Translation?

I don't read German but I am sometimes tempted to learn if only to read this work in it's original language. Read more
Published 8 months ago by ARWoollock
3.0 out of 5 stars Living in his mind
I know I should fall over from the sheer joy of the experience of Nitzsche but mostly I was just falling over
Published 9 months ago by Louise Milone
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
I ordered this book for my son for school and he passed the class so I would assume that the book was what he needed. Would definitely recommend.
Published 17 months ago by Wendy D
5.0 out of 5 stars A noble blond beast
In his characteristic raging style and with a sometimes obscene vocabulary, Friedrich Nietzsche shouts (`Am I understood? Read more
Published on May 21, 2010 by Luc REYNAERT
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift!
I gave this to my coworker and he couldn't stop talking about how great it was!
Published on February 16, 2007 by M. Hubbard
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