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Genealogy Of Morals Essay 3 Sparknotes 1984

In philosophy, genealogy is a historical technique in which one questions the commonly understood emergence of various philosophical and social beliefs by attempting to account for the scope, breadth or totality of Discourse, thus extending the possibility of analysis, as opposed to the Marxist use of the term Ideology to explain the totality of historical discourse within the time period in question by focusing on a singular or dominant discourse (ideology). Moreover, a genealogy often attempts to look beyond the discourse in question toward the conditions of their possibility (particularly in Foucault's genealogies). It has been developed as continuation of the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.


Nietzsche criticized "the genealogists" in On the Genealogy of Morals and proposed the use of a historic philosophy to critique modern morality by supposing that it developed into its current form through power relations. But scholars note that he emphasizes that, rather than being purely necessary developments of power relations, these developments are to be exposed as at least partially contingent, the upshot being that the present conception of morality could always have been constituted otherwise.[1] Even though the philosophy of Nietzsche has been characterized as genealogy, he only uses the term in On the Genealogy of Morals. The later philosophy that has been influenced by Nietzsche, and which is commonly described as genealogy, shares several fundamental aspects of Nietzschean philosophical insight. Nietzschean historic philosophy has been described as "a consideration of oppositional tactics" that embraces, as opposed to forecloses, the conflict between philosophical and historical accounts.[2]


In the late twentieth century, Michel Foucault expanded the concept of genealogy into a counter-history of the position of the subject which traces the development of people and societies through history.[3] His genealogy of the subject accounts "for the constitution of knowledges, discourses, domains of objects, and so on, without having to make reference to a subject which is either transcendental in relation to the field of events or runs in its empty sameness throughout the course of history."[4]

As Foucault discussed in his essay "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History", Foucault's ideas of genealogy were greatly influenced by the work that Nietzsche had done on the development of morals through power. Foucault also describes genealogy as a particular investigation into those elements which "we tend to feel [are] without history".[5] This would include things such as sexuality, and other elements of everyday life. Genealogy is not the search for origins, and is not the construction of a linear development. Instead it seeks to show the plural and sometimes contradictory past that reveals traces of the influence that power has had on truth.

As one of the important theories of Michel Foucault, genealogy deconstructs truth, arguing that truth is, more often than not, discovered by chance, backed up by the operation of Power/knowledge or the consideration of interest. Furthermore, all truths are questionable. Pointing out the unreliability of truth, which is often accused as "having tendency of relativity and nihilism",[citation needed] the theory flatly refuses the uniformity and regularity of history, emphasizing the irregularity and inconstancy of truth and toppling the notion that history progresses in a linear order.

The practice of genealogy is also closely linked to what Foucault called the "archeological method:"

In short, it seems that from the empirical observability for us of an ensemble to its historical acceptability, to the very period of time in which it is actually observable, the analysis goes by way of the knowledge-power nexus, supporting it, recouping it at the point where it is accepted, moving toward what makes it acceptable, of course, not in general, but only where it is accepted. This is what can be characterized as recouping it in its positivity. Here, then, is a type of procedure, which, unconcerned with legitimizing and consequently excluding the fundamental point of view of the law, runs through the cycle of positivity by proceeding from the fact of acceptance to the system of acceptability analyzed through the knowledge-power interplay. Let us say that this is, approximately, the archaeological level [of analysis].[6]


Michel Foucault

Essays, lectures,
dialogues and anthologies
  • Introduction to Kant's Anthropology (1964)
  • "What Is an Author?" (1969)
  • Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France
  • I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered my Mother, my Sister and my Brother (1973)
  • Language, Counter-Memory, Practice (1977)
  • Sexual Morality and the Law (1978)
  • Herculine Barbin (1978)
  • Power/Knowledge (1980)
  • Remarks on Marx (1980)
  • Le Désordre des familles (1982)
  • The Foucault Reader (1984)
  • Politics, Philosophy, Culture (1988)
  • Foucault Live (1996)
  • The Politics of Truth (1997)
  • Society Must Be Defended (1997)
  • Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (Essential Works Volume 1) (1997)
  • Aesthetics, Method, Epistemology (Essential Works Volume 2) (1998)
  • Abnormal (1999)
  • Power (Essential Works Volume 3) (2000)
  • Fearless Speech (2001)
  • The Hermeneutics of the Subject (2001)
  • The Essential Foucault (2003)
  • Psychiatric Power (2003)
  • Security, Territory, Population (2004)
  • The Birth of Biopolitics (2004)
  • The Government of Self and Others (2008)
  • The Courage of Truth (2009)
  • Lectures on the Will to Know (2011)
  • On the Government of the Living (2012)
  • Subjectivity and Truth (2012)
  • Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling (2013)
  • On the Punitive Society (2015)
Related articles
  1. ^di Georgio, Paul (2013). "Contingency and Necessity in the Genealogy of Morality". TELOS. 2013 (162): 97–111. doi:10.3817/0313162097. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  2. ^Ransom, John (1997). Foucault's Discipline. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-8223-1878-4. 
  3. ^Michel Foucault Lectures At The College de France Society Must Be Defended 1975
  4. ^Foucault, Michel (2003). The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential works of Foucault, 1954-1984. New York, NY: The New Press. p. 306. ISBN 1-56584-801-2. 
  5. ^Foucault, Michel (1980). Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. p. 139. ISBN 0-8014-9204-1. 
  6. ^Foucault, Michel. "What is Critique?" in The Politics of Truth, Ed. Sylvère Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 2007, pg. 61.

For the BBC television documentary of the same name, see Human, All Too Human (TV series).

"The Wanderer and His Shadow" redirects here. For the Pantheon I album, see The Wanderer and His Shadow (album).

Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits (German: Menschliches, Allzumenschliches: Ein Buch für freie Geister) is a book by 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1878. A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

The book is Nietzsche's first in the aphoristic style that would come to dominate his writings, discussing a variety of concepts in short paragraphs or sayings. Reflecting an admiration of Voltaire as a free thinker, but also a break in his friendship with composer Richard Wagner two years earlier, Nietzsche dedicated the original 1878 edition of Human, All Too Human “to the memory of Voltaire on the celebration of the anniversary of his death, May 30, 1778.” Instead of a preface, the first part originally included a quotation from Descartes's Discourse on the Method. Nietzsche later republished all three parts as a two-volume edition in 1886, adding a preface to each volume, and removing the Descartes quote as well as the dedication to Voltaire.

Nietzsche in 1876[edit]

In 1876 Nietzsche broke with Wagner, and in the same year his increasingly bad health (possibly the early effects of a brain tumor)[3][4] compelled him to request a leave of absence from his academic duties at the University of Basel. In the autumn of 1876 he joined his friend Paul Rée in Sorrento, at the home of a wealthy patron of the arts, Malwida von Meysenbug, and began work on Human, All Too Human.[5]

Style and structure[edit]

Unlike his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, which was written in essay style, Human, All Too Human is a collection of aphorisms, a style which he would use in many of his subsequent works. The aphorisms of Human, All Too Human range from a few words to a few pages, but most are short paragraphs. The first installment’s 638 aphorisms are divided into nine sections by subject, and a short poem as an epilogue. The phrase itself appears in Aphorism 35 (originally conceived as the first aphorism) "when Nietzsche observes that maxims about human nature can help in overcoming life's hard moments." Implicit also, is a drive to overcome what is human, all too human through understanding it, through philosophy.[6]:xix The second and third installments are an additional 408 and 350 aphorisms respectively.

The genre of the aphorism was already well established at this time – in the German tradition Nietzsche's most important predecessor was a figure of the Enlightenment, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, whose writing Nietzsche greatly admired.[6]:xv Nietzsche's work is indebted also to Schopenhauer's, particularly his Aphorisms for Practical Wisdom, 1851. Above all is the "debt to the French tradition of the aphorism – for Nietzsche's work is a deliberate turn westward."[6]:xv Nietzsche cites the French aphorists Jean de La Bruyère and Prosper Merimée, and in Aphorism 221 celebrates Voltaire. At the beginning of the second section Nietzsche mentions La Rochefoucauld – named here as a model, the epitome of the aphorist – and it is known that Nietzsche had a copy of La Rochefoucauld's Sentences et maximes (1665) in his library. He had been reading it shortly before beginning to write Human, All Too Human, – on the train ride to Sorrento in fact. More than that of the other French aphorists mentioned, it is La Rochefoucauld's work that lies behind that of Nietzsche. Nietzsche's work, however, "is unique; he covers a range of issues far greater than the social and psychological area of interest to La Rochefoucauld. To the cynicism typical of the genre, Nietzsche brings a new dimension by his combination of nihilistic energy with historical consciousness. Finally, he expands the genre to include not merely insights, but argument as well."[6]:xix The aphorism "allows for a loosely organised, shifting whole containing specific ideas but no iron-clad explanation for everything, – [it] constitutes the style that best represents his philosophy."[6]:xiv

This book represents the beginning of Nietzsche's "middle period", with a break from German Romanticism and from Wagner and with a definite positivist slant. Reluctant to construct a systematic philosophy, this book comprises more a collection of debunkings of unwarranted assumptions than an interpretation and "contains the seeds of concepts crucial to Nietzsche's later philosophy, such as the need to transcend conventional Christian morality";[6]:back page he uses his perspectivism and the idea of the will to power as explanatory devices, though the latter remains less developed than in his later thought.

Of First and Last Things[edit]

In this first section Nietzsche deals with metaphysics, specifically its origins as relating to dreams, the dissatisfaction with oneself, and language as well.

On the History of Moral Feelings[edit]

This section, named in honor of his friend Paul Rée's On the Origin of Moral Sensations, Nietzsche challenges the Christian idea of good and evil,[7] as it was philosophized by Arthur Schopenhauer.

At the waterfall. When we see a waterfall, we think we see freedom of will and choice in the innumerable turnings, windings, breakings of the waves; but everything is necessary; each movement can be calculated mathematically. Thus it is with human actions; if one were omniscient, one would be able to calculate each individual action in advance, each step in the progress of knowledge, each error, each act of malice. To be sure the acting man is caught in his illusion of volition; if the wheel of the world were to stand still for a moment and an omniscient, calculating mind were there to take advantage of this interruption, he would be able to tell into the farthest future of each being and describe every rut that wheel will roll upon. The acting man's delusion about himself, his assumption that free will exists, is also part of the calculable mechanism.[8]

From the Soul of Artists and Writers[edit]

Nietzsche uses this section to denounce the idea of divine inspiration in art, claiming that great art is the result of hard work, not a higher power or "genius".[9] This can be interpreted as a veiled attack on his former friend Wagner (a strong believer in genius), though Nietzsche never mentions him by name, instead simply using the term "the artist".[10]

Signs of Higher and Lower Culture[edit]

Here Nietzsche criticizes Darwin, as he frequently does, as naive and derivative of Hobbes and early English economists and without an account of life from the "inside" (and consider in this light Darwin's own introduction to the first edition of Origin) (consider also Nietzsche's critique to the effect that Darwinism, as typically understood, is trading in a new version of the Providential):

Wherever progress is to ensue, deviating natures are of greatest importance. Every progress of the whole must be preceded by a partial weakening. The strongest natures retain the type, the weaker ones help to advance it. Something similar also happens in the individual. There is rarely a degeneration, a truncation, or even a vice or any physical or "moral" loss without an advantage somewhere else. In a warlike and restless clan, for example, the sicklier man may have occasion to be alone, and may therefore become quieter and wiser; the one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man may see deeper inwardly, and certainly hear better. To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race.[11]

(See Twilight of the Idols for more of Nietzsche's critique of Darwin.)

Nietzsche writes of the "free spirit" or "free thinker" (Freigeist), and his role in society,[12] a sort of proto-Übermensch, forming the basis of a concept he extensively explores in his later work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A free spirit is one who goes against the herd, and “onwards along the path of wisdom” in order to better society.[13] "Better," for Nietzsche, appears to mean ordered toward the production of rare genius and is hardly to be confused with what "a newspaper reader," as Nietzsche might put it, would expect. The essential thing to keep in mind in considering Zarathustra, of course, is that Nietzsche presents Zarathustra as failing.

Man in Society and Women and Child[edit]

These two sections are made up of very short aphorisms on men's, women's and the child's nature or their "evolution," in Nietzsche's subtle, anti-Darwinian sense.

Man Alone with Himself[edit]

Like sections six and seven, Nietzsche's aphorisms here are mostly short, but also poetic and at times could be interpreted as semi-autobiographical, in anticipation of the next volumes: “He who has come only in part to a freedom of reason cannot feel on earth otherwise than as a wanderer."[14]

Nietzsche also distinguishes the obscurantism of the metaphysicians and theologians from the more subtle obscurantism of Kant's critical philosophy and modern philosophical skepticism, claiming that obscurantism is that which obscures existence rather than obscures ideas alone: "The essential element in the black art of obscurantism is not that it wants to darken individual understanding but that it wants to blacken our picture of the world, and darken our idea of existence."[15]

Reception and translation[edit]

Within his lifetime, prior to his mental breakdown in 1889, few of Nietzsche's books sold particularly well, and Human, All Too Human was no exception. The first installment was originally printed in 1,000 copies in 1878, and sold only 120 of these, and still less than half of these by 1886 when it was resold as the complete two-volume set.[16] Though his friendship with Richard Wagner was nearly over, Wagner actually received a signed copy, though he never read it, saying Nietzsche would thank him for this one day.[17] It was first translated into English in 1908 by Alexander Harvey, a Belgian-born American journalist,[citation needed]and was published in Chicago by C.H. Kerr - a small but notable publishing house of socially progressive literature[18]. Following this, a 1909 translation by writer Helen Zimmern as part of a complete edition of Nietzsche's books in English, but was never translated by Walter Kaufmann when he translated most of Nietzsche's works into English in the 1950s and '60s. Finally, in the 1980s the first part was translated by Marion Faber and completely translated by R.J. Hollingdale the same decade. Marion Faber was critical of Zimmern's " antiquated Victorian style" which made Nietzsche "sound in her translation like a fusty contemporary of Matthew Arnold." Faber further noted errors in Zimmern's work (for example in Aphorism 61 where Schaf (sheep) is translated by Zimmern as fool where the reference is to Sophocles' play Ajax in which the hero charges a herd of sheep) and bowdlerizations.[6]:xxiv–xxv

Most notoriously, Human, All Too Human was used by archivist Max Oehler, a strong supporter of Hitler, as supposed evidence of Nietzsche's support for nationalism and anti-Semitism, both of which he writes against. Oehler wrote an entire book, Friedrich Nietzsche und die Deutsche Zukunft, dealing with Nietzsche and his connection to nationalism (specifically National Socialism) and anti-Semitism, using quotes from Human, All Too Human, though out of context.[19] Nietzsche would speak against anti-Semitism in other works including Thus Spoke Zarathustra and, most strongly, in The Antichrist:[20] “An anti-Semite is certainly not any more decent because he lies as a matter of principle."[21] In Zarathustra, Nietzsche set up Wagner as a straw man, lampooning his anti-Semitism in the process.

Oehler also had control of Nietzsche's archive during the Nazis' rule, which he shared with Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, a Hitler supporter herself, until her death, when he took it over. It wasn't until much of Walter Kaufmann's work in the 1950s through the 1970s that Nietzsche was able to shed this connection with nationalism and anti-Semitism.


  1. ^ abc"Human, all too human; a book for free spirits, by Friedrich Nietzsche; tr. by Alexander Harvey". Library of Congress Online Catalog. U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  2. ^Brown, Malcolm (5 May 2011). "1878". Nietzsche Chronicle. Dartmouth College. Retrieved 5 July 2013.  
  3. ^"Madness' of Nietzsche was cancer not syphilis"
  4. ^Leonard Sax, “What Was the Cause of Nietzsche's Dementia?"
  5. ^Schaberg, William H (1995). "Four: The Books For Free Spirits". The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication History and Bibliography. Chicago, U.S.A.: University of Chicago Press. pp. 55–64. ISBN 9780226735757. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  6. ^ abcdefgNietzsche, Friedrich (2004). Human, All Too Human. Penguin Classics. Transl. Marion Faber. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140446173. 
  7. ^Nietzsche (1984), pp. 43–44, 67–68. §39, 96
  8. ^Nietzsche (1984), p. 74 §106
  9. ^Nietzsche (1984), pp. 107–108, §155–157
  10. ^Nietzsche (1984), pp. 103–104, §146
  11. ^Nietzsche (1984), pp. 138–139, §224
  12. ^Nietzsche (1984), p. 139, §225
  13. ^Nietzsche (1984), p. 174, §292
  14. ^Nietzsche (1984), p. 266, §638
  15. ^Nietzsche (1996), p. 220, §27
  16. ^Nietzsche (1996), p. xii
  17. ^Tanner, Michael, et al. German Philosophers: Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. P. 370
  18. ^https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001386232
  19. ^Kaufmann (1974), pp. 288–292
  20. ^Kaufmann (1974), p. 298
  21. ^Nietzsche, Friedrich W. The Portable Nietzsche. Trans. Walter A. Kaufmann. New York: Viking Press, 1954. P. 641, §55


  • Kaufmann, Walter A. (1974). "The Master Race". Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (4th ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691019833. 
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich W. (1984) [1878]. Human, All Too Human: a Book for Free Spirits. Translated by Marion Faber & Stephen Lehmann. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich W. (1996) [1878]. Human, All Too Human: a Book for Free Spirits. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 


  • Copleston, Frederick C. A History of Philosophy, Volume VII: Modern Philosophy: From the Post-Kantian Idealists to Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. New York: Doubleday, 1994.
  • Craig, Gordon A. Germany: 1866-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • Kaufmann, Walter A. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. 4th ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich W. Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Trans. Walter A. Kaufmann. New York: Modern Library, 2000.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich W. Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits. Trans. Marion Faber, with Stephen Lehmann. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich W. Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits. Trans. R. J. Hollingdale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich W. The Portable Nietzsche. Trans. Walter A. Kaufmann. New York: Viking Press, 1954.
  • Tanner, Michael, et al. German Philosophers: Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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