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On the Genealogy of Morals (Anglais) Broché – 1969
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These English psychologists, whom one has also to thank for the only attempts hitherto to arrive at a history of the origin of morality-they themselves are no easy riddle; I confess that, as living riddles, they even possess one essential advantage over their books-they are interesting! Lire la première page
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Nietzsche's father was a Lutheran minister, but he died five years after Nietzsche's birth in 1844. Nietzsche was raised by his mother, grandmother and aunts; later in his life, his sister would become executor of his estate (after Nietzsche had become incapable of managing his own affairs) and reshape his philosophy and writings in her own idea - this becomes a running motif in later anthologies of Nietzsche; editors can quote and clip to fit their own agendas. In some ways, that is true of Kaufmann's text here, but in much less inappropriate ways than others, particularly Nietzsche's first editor, his sister.
Nietzsche was a star pupil from his earliest days at university in Bonn and Leipzig. His formal study was in classical philology, but his attentions turned in various directions quickly during his writing and professional life - he had an intense interest in drama and the arts, with Wagner's music and Greek drama in principal interest. His first book was devoted to these topics - 'The Birth of Tragedy'. It was not highly regarded at the time, but has since become much more appreciated as an anticipation of later developments in philosophy and aesthetics.Lire la suite ›
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Ecce Homo -- This would seem like a very pretentious work. It is not. He comes off almost modestly here. This too, clears the air of all that is rotten about what has been said about him. It is as if he had guessed what evil things would be said about him.
Especially if this is your first Nietzsche book, I suggest, instead of buying this, buying the Basic Writings of Nietzsche which contains these two books, as well as three others (Beyond Good & Evil, which is a better place to start anyway; The Birth of Tragedy, and The Case of Wagner), by the same translator, and which costs only a few dollars more now that it's out in paperback.
Nietzsche begins the essay (Good and Evil, Good and Bad), with a philological examination of the words and roots of the words related to good and evil, and a delimitation of their evolution. He makes a connection between the creations of words and places them within the historical context of rulers and nobility. Linguistically, Nietzsche has discovered that the `good' is linked with nobility. He writes: "everywhere `noble,' `aristocratic' in the social sense, is the basic concept from which `good' in the sense of `with aristocratic soul,' `noble,'" (464). Alternatively, words associated with the `bad' invariably were linked with the `plain,' `simple,' and `low.' In this way, morality as a human construction is an extension of power, wealth, and civilization. The origin of evil is intertwined with priestly aristocracies.
Nietzsche moves into a discussion of a shift in the history of morality, in which the morality of the priestly aristocracy is superceded by Jewish morality. For Nietzsche, the Jews inverted the morality of nobility and established a system which places value on the lower order of mankind. He indicates that the Jews believed "the wretched alone are the good; the poor, impotent, lowly alone are the good; the suffering, deprived, sick, ugly alone are pious, alone are blessed by God" (470). Nietzsche describes this turn as `the slave revolt' of morality. He describes the triumph of Judeo-Christian morality over the previous system of values, and indicates that this turn is a triumph for the herd instinct, and for ressentiment. He writes: "The slave revolt in morality begins when ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of natures that are denied the true reaction, that of deeds, and compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge" (472). Noble morality develops as an affirmation of itself, while slave morality always says No to what is external to it. For Nietzsche, the need to constantly turn outward to an external `other' and place judgment on it is the essence of ressentiment.
In the proceeding section of the treatise, Nietzsche discusses civilization's taming of man the animal. Here he writes: "Supposing that what is at any rate believed to be the `truth' really is true, and the meaning of all culture is the reduction of the beast of prey `man' to a tame and civilized animal, a domestic animal, then one would undoubtedly have to regard all those instincts of reaction and ressentiment through whose aid the noble races and their ideal were finally confounded and overthrown as the actual instruments of culture" (478). Nietzsche insists that Europe's taming of man is a tremendous danger, for we are made to be weary of our own being. For Nietzsche, this weariness and fear of man has compelled us to lose our love for him, to turn our backs on our instincts, to reject affirmation.
The second problem I have with this particular edition is that Kaufmann's notes are so shallow, and not really helpful at all. A perfect example is on the first page of the first essay, where Nietzsche abandons his native German for a moment and refers to the English Psychologists pushing the "partie honteuse" of our inner world into view. Kaufmann leaves the phrase untranslated, as he ought, and lets a note do the work of translating it. His note says simply, "shame." In my view, it may be as if he had just omitted the note altogether, because this tells me almost nothing about what Nietzsche means, and doesn't even attempt to get at his metaphor. If one were to turn to Clark and Swenson's translation, put out by Hackett (On the Genealogy of Morality), however, one would learn that the phrase means "shameful part" and when pluralized it is equivalent to the English phrase "private parts." This is a helpful note which explains Nietzsche's metaphor and the connotations he's aiming for.
I'll give this edition three stars because I have to compare it to others, such as Clark and Swenson's, above, or Douglas Smith's translation in the Oxford World Classics edition (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)). In many ways Smith most avoids the "Hegel-ization" of Nietzsche (although it is possible to overdo it, and Smith might be guilty). But in my estimation, Clark and Swenson's is the best, deserving five stars, and Smith's is a close second, perhaps deserving four and a half, or four and three-quarters, not least because Clark and Swenson's notes are better. (Smith's would get five stars if I reviewed it.) Kaufmann's is so far behind these that I cannot justify giving it more than three stars. For a more formulaic, objective approach, you can subtract one star from the translation for at times confusing Nietzsche's thought, and doing so in a confusing way, and subtract one from the edition in general for having mediocre notes. Then you also end up with my three-star rating.