The Relation between Sovereignty and Guilt in Nietzsche's Genealogy

European Journal of Philosophy 20 (S1):E107-e142 (2013)
This paper interprets the relation between sovereignty and guilt in Nietzsche's Genealogy. I argue that, contrary to received opinion, Nietzsche was not opposed to the moral concept of guilt. I analyse Nietzsche's account of the emergence of the guilty conscience out of a pre-moral bad conscience. Drawing attention to Nietzsche's references to many different forms of conscience and analogizing to his account of punishment, I propose that we distinguish between the enduring and the fluid elements of a ‘conscience’, defining the enduring element as the practice of forming self-conceptions. I show that for Nietzsche, the moralization of the bad conscience results from mixing it with the material concepts of guilt and duty, a process effected by prehistoric religious institutions by way of the concept of god. This moralization furnishes a new conception of oneself as a responsible agent and holds the promise of sovereignty by giving us a freedom unknown to other creatures, but at the price of our becoming subject to moral guilt. According to Nietzsche, however, the very forces that made it possible have spoiled this promise and, under the pressures of the ascetic ideal, a harmful notion of responsibility understood in terms of sin now dominates our lives. Thus, to fully realize our sovereignty, we must liberate ourselves from this sinful conscience
Keywords Nietzsche  Sovereignty  Guilt  Autonomy  Conscience  Free Will  Sin  Nihilism  Ascetic Ideal
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2011.00484.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Rafael Pangilinan (2009). Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosopher of Immoralism? Lumina: An Interdisciplinary Research and Scholarly Journal of Holy Name University 20 (2):1-28.
Mathias Risse (2005). On God and Guilt: A Reply to Aaron Ridley. Journal of Nietzsche Studies 29 (1):46-53.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

54 ( #63,378 of 1,727,166 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #289,836 of 1,727,166 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.