What Aphorism Does Nietzsche Explicate in GenealogyofMorals, Essay III ? JOHN T. WILCOX A picture held us captive. Wittgenstein ~ AS EVERYONE KNOWS, the dominant opinion is not always correct. Current scholarship, in all likelihood, makes assumptions which have not yet been questioned; and probably some of them will be seen to be false, once they have been examined. I will argue here that there is a dominant but erroneous assumption concerning the Third Essay in Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals. It will be obvious that correcting this error has some serious implications for almost all current interpretations of the essay. After acknowledging, at the end of his Preface to the Genealogy, that some might find his new book "incomprehensible," Nietzsche warns that "the fault.., is not necessarily mine." He assumes, he says, that readers have already worked hard at his earlier writings, themselves "not easy to penetrate ," and have been "wounded" and "delighted" by his Zarathustra. Then he begins one of several passages we must examine carefully: In other cases, people have difficulty with the aphoristic form: this arises from the fact that today this form is not taken seriously enough. An aphorism, properly stamped and molded, has not been "deciphered" when it has simply been read; rather, one has then to begin its exegesis,for which is required an art of exegesis. I have offered in the third essay of the present book an example of what I regard as "exegesis" in such ,"Ein Bild hielt uns gefangen." Ludwig Wittgenstein, PhilosophicalInvestigations,tr. G. E. M. Anscombe (3rd. ed., New York: Macmillan, 1958),I, 115.  594 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 35:4 OCTOBER ~997 a case--an aphorism is prefixed to this essay, the essay itself is a commentary on it. (GM P 8)2 The apparently simple question the present study asks is this: What aphorism /s prefixed to the Third Essay? Or: What/s the Third Essay an exegesis of, or a commentary on? It is remarkable that Nietzsche claims to devote a third of the Genealogy to an aphorism and its exegesis. And given the current concerns with style, including aphoristic style, and with reading, and with Nietzsche on style and reading, this claim alone about Essay III should make it of great contemporary interest--even if the title question of the essay, "What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?,"~ were not also of great interest. But of course to profit from, or to appraise, Nietzsche's lesson in exegesis, we must identify the aphorism he explicates. The thesis of the present paper is that, while some contemporary scholarship is noncommittal (perhaps out of honest uncertainty and scholarly scruple), the identification assumed by those who address the issue is clearly mistaken, if we interpret what Nietzsche writes in the most plausible way. An implication, not developed here but fairly clear, is that almost all current, substantial interpretations of Essay II I need to be reconsidered . Those that misidentify the aphorism need revision, of course. Those that are noncommittal are at best incomplete (on the very point Nietzsche stresses in the Preface). But both the mistakes and the incompleteness have consequences, some of which will be implicit in what follows. I'll mention one: it turns out that the identification of the aphorism reveals the structure of the essay, as Nietzsche understood it; and I think it highly unlikely that one could uncover that structure without seeing what aphorism is explicated (and reporting what one had seen). But the development of this and other implications must be left for other studies. ' Except as noted, I use the Walter Kaufmann translations, as found in his Basic Writings of Nietzsche,First Modern Library ed. (New York, Random House, 1968). (Here I present "taken" in Roman type; Kaufmann used italics.) In my abbreviation scheme, GM is On theGenealogyofMorals, GM I is its First Essay, and so on. GM III 9 is the ninth section ofGM III. GM P 8 is GM's Preface, Section 8. EH isEcceHomo;EH III 4 is the fourth section of EH's third (unnumbered) major part; EH GM is the part of EH (the part of EH III, actually) dealing with On theGenealogyofMorals; EH...
SparkNotes: Genealogy of Morals: Third Essay, Sections 15-22 A summary of Third Essay, Sections 15-22 in Friedrich Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals.
The second essay of Nietzsche's "polemic," is a rich and elusive piece, full of valuable hints and suggestions, but difficult finally to pin down. The essays that flank it are, in their own ways, more straightforward, and have attracted the lion's share of critical attention—the first essay for its account of the slave revolt in morality, the third for its account of the principal fruit of that revolt, the ascetic ideal. But the second essay is absolutely central, both as glue to hold essays 1 and 3 together and as a source of answers to questions that its companion pieces either elide or leave hanging. In my book, I offered a reading of the second essay in which I tried to clarify its main theme—the bad conscience—and to show how it fitted in with and illuminated the other two essays. Mathias Risse, in a recent article, has objected to that reading. The immediate issue between us—and one central to an understanding of the essay as a whole—concerns the transformation, by a process that Nietzsche calls "moralization," of the concept of debt into the concept of guilt. My view is that the moralizing process, on Nietzsche's account, is essentially independent of transcendental presuppositions, and is logically prior to the invention of (the Christian) God. Risse disagrees. According to him, a moralized concept of guilt necessarily presupposes God, and so is transcendentally informed from the start. But the difference between us is not merely one of exegesis. If Risse is right, the scope of Nietzsche's insights into the process of moralization is restricted to it as it occurs in certain quite narrowly theocratic contexts. If I am right, the scope of those insights is potentially far wider. To this extent, our disagreement is a disagreement about Nietzsche's continuing importance. I begin by setting out my own position (section 1). I then turn to Risse's reading, which depends on three considerations, none of them, in my view, convincing: a postcard that Nietzsche wrote (section 2); an issue about translation (section 3); and the development of ideas culminating, according to him, in section 21 of the 's second essay (section 4). I conclude by explaining why it matters, in the larger scheme of things, that my reading is right (section 5).
SparkNotes: Genealogy of Morals: Third Essay, Sections 23-28 A summary of Third Essay, Sections 23-28 in Friedrich Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals.
SparkNotes: Genealogy of Morals: Third Essay, Sections 11-14 A summary of Third Essay, Sections 11-14 in Friedrich Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals.
Having established his "historical" depiction of the origins of values in the first essay, Nietzsche turns again to his strength, psychological interpretation, for the second and third essays. To support his case, Nietzsche must dissuade us from our conception of conscience, as well as our views toward the underlying motivations of pity, kindness, meekness and other attributes of the ascetic priest, who, despite being seen as increasingly misguided by Enlightenment and Romantic thinkers alike, was usually not depicted as being evil incarnate.  The notion of conscience has often been used to buttress the validity of morality, and even the existence of God . Preachers avow that our notions of right and wrong "which we all have," must have come from somewhere, presumably hot-wired into us by the Creator. Certainly St. Paul claims as much in saying that all peoples have "the law written on their hearts." In this view, the existence of good suggests the existence of God.
Nietzsche's response to such an objection can be found in third essay of the : that cold, dispassionate quests for truth are too redolent of asceticism; a divorce of one's will from one's perspective; the laughable pretense of bird's-eye objectivity.
Jan 23, 2013 ... We continue our study of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals, focusing now on the third essay: "What is the Meaning of Ascetic Ideals" This ...
Indeed, in the discussion of the third essay, Nietzsche claims not to believe in ultimate truth--in essence undermining the whole scientific and intellectual enterprise (unless of course one believes that the real purpose of science has become to control nature, with a discovery but a necessary means to this end). Nietzsche believed truth still existed in most people's minds as a kind of overarching Platonic Form, and hence a false abstraction. As much as Nietzsche's criticisms do much to undermine the assumptions of science and metaphysics, "truth" in some form, must still be the standard to which he, Nietzsche, as philosopher, must struggle to achieve. Without any standard of truth, all remarks are equally valid, and thus we have no more reason to listen to Nietzsche's doom rather than the drowsy syrup of the ascetic priest.
Aside from these possible objections, critics could object to Nietzsche's passionate espousal of his beliefs; he often lacks the cold, detached stance of the philosopher to which we are accustomed. Nietzsche's response to such an objection can be found in third essay of the Genealogy. that cold, dispassionate quests for truth are too redolent of asceticism; a divorce of one's will from one's perspective; the laughable pretense of bird's-eye objectivity.