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- In his Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche outlines what he considers to be the origin of the conceptual good individual, those of nobility identified as powerful and separate from the common. The bad, then, are precisely the antithesis of these elite; that being the low, uninteresting and disorderly mob, the hoi pelloi. Those of the first rank obtain their notion of what is ‘bad’ by first looking at themselves and contrasting their intrinsic superiority with the blatant inferiority of those in the second rank. Increasingly cognizant of their inferior status and ability, the second rank begins, as Nietzsche notes, to harbor a jealousy and intense resentment for the first rank. This ressentiment gives rise to brooding on the part of the inferior individual who, inspired by the impotent priestly caste’s positing that the weak are actually the good, begins to reverse moral and societal valuations by condemning the powerful as ‘evil,’ lustful and accursed. The Jews, whom Nietzsche views as the paradigm of priestly peoples, commit such a reversal of values out of spiteful spiritual vengeance, and they are successful in imbuing strikingly similar values into the Christian moral tradition. This tradition, with its victimization of the poor and vilification of the rich, itself influences modern egalitarianism and is doubtlessly an end product of the hatred and jealousness of ressentiment, which becomes simply a covert means of allowing the weak to conquer the strong.
- In contrast to the morality of the aristocratic caste which first looks inwardly to discover good and outwardly to discover bad, the Judeo-Christian moral tradition begins by looking outwardly to designate evil and only then can discover good. As Nietzsche states, “The former (master morality) [is] an after-production, a side issue, a contrasting shade, the latter on the contrary the original thing, the beginning, the distinctive deed in the conception of slave morality” (Nietzsche 128). The difference between master morality’s discovery of good and slave morality’s designation of evil is important, for it is far more forgivable a sin for man to discover good within himself than to arbitrarily designate evil within another.
- Slave morality deems the very notion of master-slave relations as immoral, a violation of the fundamental equality that all humans should observe. Yet no attempts are made at explaining the presence of precisely these relations in their most explicit form within the source material for Western morality: The Holy Bible, ta biblia. Revered men of the Old Testament are found to own slaves and willfully separate themselves from the lowly beggars and those with illness; they live, as it were, entirely according to the master system of morality. It is only when these men are forced to submit to powers greater than themselves that they cleverly attack with what Nietzsche terms as “…a radical revaluation of their enemies’ values…” which is, “…an act of the most spiritual revenge” (121). We see this in the traditional Jewish belief, repeated often in the ancient and even modern Christian world, that “the Jews are the chosen, the beloved people of God.” Any aggressor or opponent of the Jewish people must then be an opponent of God himself. Although such observances may be deemed anti-Semitic, their facticity and overwhelming influence on Western moral thought is difficult, if not impossible, to deny.
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