The Genealogy of Morals

The three essays which make up this genealogy are, as regards expression, aim, and the technique of the unexpected, perhaps the most curious things that have ever been written. Dionysus, as you know, is also the god of darkness. In each case the beginning is calculated to lead one astray; it is cool, scientific, even ironical, intentionally thrust to the fore, intentionally reticent. Gradually the atmosphere becomes less calm; there is an occasional flash of lightning; exceedingly unpleasant truths emphasize their appearance with a dull, rumbling sound from out remote distances-until finally a fierce tempo is attained in which everything strains forward with terrible intensity. At the end, in each case, amid fearful thunderclaps, a new truth becomes visible through heavy clouds. The truth of the first essay is the psychology of Christianity: the birth of Christianity out of the spirit of resentment, not, as is supposed, out of the "Spirit" essentially a counter-movement, a great rebellion against domination by noble values. This second essay deals with the psychology of conscience: this is not, as is supposed, "the voice of God in man"; it is the instinct of cruelty, turning in upon itself after it can no longer release itself outwardly. Cruelty is here revealed, for the first time, as one of the oldest and most indispensable elements in the foundation of culture. The third essay is a reply to the question as to the origin of the terrific power of the ascetic ideal, of the priest ideal, despite the fact that this ideal is essentially harmful, that it is the will to annihilation and decadence. Reply: it was powerful not because God was active behind the priests, as is supposed, but because it was a faute de mieux-hitherto it has been the only ideal; it has had no competition. "For man would rather aspire to nothingness than not aspire at all." The main trouble was that before Zarathustra, a counter-ideal was lacking. You have understood my meaning. Three decisive psychological overtures preceding a Transvaluation of all Values.-This book contains the first psychology of the priest.

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