Nietzsche on guilt: Dependency, debt, and imperfection

European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):974-990 (2018)
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In this paper, I offer a new way of reading Nietzsche's second essay in On the Genealogy of Morality. At the heart of my account is the claim that Nietzsche is primarily interested in a persistent or existential form of guilt in this essay and only concerned with locally reactive cases of guilt as a function of this deeper phenomenon. I argue that, for Nietzsche, this persistent form of guilt develops out of a deep feeling of indebtedness or owing that accompanies a fearful sense of dependency on the gods. When this sense of dependent indebtedness mixes with bad conscience, which arises through the shift from prehistoric tribes to state‐like communities, it becomes a moral problem; vast numbers of “slaves and serfs” (GM II.20) start to feel like they are not sufficiently honoring their dependent relationship with the gods. It is this feeling of persistent guilt that Nietzsche thinks metastasizes into Christian guilt.



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Nietzsche on Morality.Brian Leiter - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (3):729-740.
Nietzsche's Ethics and His War on 'Morality'.Simon May - 1999 - Philosophy 76 (297):464-468.
Introduction.Brian Leiter - 2004 - In The Future for Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--23.

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