The Role of Life in the Genealogy

In Simon May (ed.), The Cambridge Guide to Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 142-69 (2011)

In THE GENEALOGY OF MORALITY Nietzsche assess the value of the value judgments of morality from the perspective of human flourishing. His positive descriptions of the “higher men” he hopes for and the negative descriptions of the decadent humans he thinks morality unfortunately supports both point to a particular substantive conception of what such flourishing comes to. The Genealogy, however, presents us with a puzzle: why does Nietzsche’s own evaluative standard not receive a genealogical critique? The answer to this puzzle, I argue, lies in recognizing the centrality of the notion of “life”, and its connection to power, in Nietzsche’s overall account. Leiter has argued that his “Millian Model” provides the most charitable reconstruction of appeals to a privileged evaluative standard of power; this model ascribes an inference from a strong doctrine of the will to power according to which only power can be desired. I propose a “Benthamite Model” that ascribes an inference from the inescapability of a tendency towards power, a tendency that is essential to life. I argue that this model avoids the objections Leiter directs at the Millian Model.
Keywords Nietzsche  genealogy  meta-ethics  metaethics  will to power  life  flourishing  Leiter
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