On the Genealogy of Morality

I just finished Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality. While I digest the book for a longer write-up, here are some passages I found thought provoking:

We modern men are heirs to the ancient practice of vivisecting our consciences, and inflicting curelty upon our animal selves. This we have practices for the longest time, and it has perhaps become our characteristic art; at any rate it represents our refinement, the indulgence of our taste. Man has for too long regarded his natural inclinations maliciously, and thus eventually, they have become in his mind associated with ‘bad conscience.’


Except for the ascetic ideal, Man, the animal man, has had no meaning. His existence on earth had no purpose; ‘what is the purpose of Man at all?’ was a question without an answer; the will for man and the world was lacking; behind every great human destiny rang, like a refrain, a still greater ‘in vain!’ The ascetic ideal simply means that something was lacking, that man was surrounded by a tremendous void – he did not know how to justify himself, to explain himself, to affirm himself; he suffered from the problem of his own meaning. He suffered also in other ways; he was in the main a diseased animal; his problem was not suffering itself, though, but the lack of an answer to that crying question, ‘Why do we suffer?’…. The senselessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse which lay upon humanity… any meaning is better than no meaning… man will desire oblivion rather than not desire at all.

If that piqued your interest, but you don’t feel up to the whole book, I highly recommend the Talking Politics: The History of Ideas episode on the book. If Stoicism is the most overrated philosophy in the self-help section, Nietzsche is the most underrated.

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