For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo

by Nietzsche, Friedrich (1989)


The great philosopher's major work on ethics, along with Ecce Homo, Nietzche's remarkable review of his life and works. On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) shows him using philsophy, psychology, and classical philology in an effort to give new direction to an ancient discipline.The work consists of three essays. The first contrasts master morality and slave morality and indicates how the term "good" has widely different meanings in each. The second inquiry deals with guilt and the bad conscience; the third with ascetic ideals—not only in religion but also in the academy. Ecce Homo, written in 1898 and first published posthumously in 1908, is Nietzsche's review of his life and works. It contains chapters on all the books he himself published. His interpretations are as fascinating as they are invaluable. Nothing Nietzsche wrote is more stunning stylistically or as a human document. Walter Kaufmann's masterful translations are faithful of the word and spirit of Nietzsche, and his running footnote commentaries on both books are more comprehensive than those in his other Nietzsche translations because these tow works have been so widely misunderstood.

Key Passage

 This precisely is the long story of how responsibility originated. The task of breeding an animal with the right to make promises evidently embraces and presupposes as a preparatory task that one first makes men to a certain degree necessary, uniform, like among like, regular, and consequently calculable. The tremendous labor of that which I have called "morality of mores" (Dawn, sections 9, 14, 16}—the labor performed by man upon himself during the greater part of the existence of the human race, his entire prehistoric labor, finds in this its meaning, its great justification, notwithstanding the severity, tyranny, stupidity, and idiocy involved in it: with the aid of the morality of mores and the social straitjacket. man was actually made calculable. (p.58)


Nietzsche, Responsibility, Morality, Ethics, Mores, Tyranny


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