Genealogy Of Morals 1st Essay

The Irish distinguished between the fair and the dark ‘Gauls’ who invaded them (traditionally assumed to be Norwegians vs Danes) – but it’s not clear this is a racial difference (the words may simply mean ‘old’ and ‘new’ in this context).

More importantly, while it’s true that the word for ‘fair’ does have noble connotations, so does the word for ‘dark’, which has connotations of might and power. However, since in this hypothesis he’s right that the latter ‘contains’ the former (it’s a diminutive, ‘little good thing’, either ironic or referring originally to particular acts of valour), it’s the word for ‘war’ that’s derived from the word for ‘good’, rather than vice versa.

Indeed, Buckle identified the growing participation of women in intellectual society as the defining trait of modern civilisation compared to all the inferior ones that had come before, and of England over the barbaric, misogynist continent.

Nietzsche’s view on this question was quite different – in European civilisation, on the grounds that even though they’re idiots, there’s been an increasing and abominable trend to let them cook, devastating male productivity through their inedible and poisonous products – the continuing incompetence of female cooking he takes as evidence that women are not ‘thinking creatures’ at all, and that women must at all costs be kept of the kitchen. He takes the observation Buckle makes that, unlike modern civilisation, Greek civilisation became more misogynist as it developed, and takes this to show the superiority of misogny.

Nietzsche says that words for ‘good’, in his experience, all lead back to words for aristocracy, and words for ‘bad’ originate in words for the lower classes.

It can’t be argued that this does often happen: my translation gives three examples in English of the latter, ‘vulgar’, ‘base’ and ‘low’, compared with ‘noble’ for the former.

Nietzsche says that this is ‘pyschologically tenable’, and ‘coherent’, and much more logical than the English view, but also that it is wrong. We see here what I seem to recall being a trope in Nietzsche: he takes one minor theory and uses it to bash down a major theory, allowing him to damage the credibility of the theory he hates without having to get his hands dirty by commiting to things himself.

He then hopes that he will look serious and charitable for having spoken better of one of his lesser rivals, and leaves the matter there, not bothering to discredit the theory he has just used.

He argues that words for ‘good’ all indicated originally aristocracy, and that words of aristocracy in turn indicated how the aristocrats saw themselves, with a contrary association for words for the peasantry.

Unfortunately, Nietzsche’s philology was considered dodgy in the 19(Sanskrit): ‘the possessors’.


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