On The Genealogy of Morality by Nietzsche

I read Nietzche’s Genealogy when I was about eighteen, sitting in a little hut selling tickets to a local festival. The sun was warm and the town was generally silent. A little river ran past the foot of the lawn where the hut sat. At lunchtimes I bought freshly made sandwiches from the local deli and ate them standing on the bridge, watching the river flow. It was a serene and tranquil environment; perfect for reading philosophy.

Here are some quotes from the book.

Nietzsche On The Genealogy of Morals“The highest expression of the human will is to be found in self-abnegation.” – Nietzsche, describing Schopenhauer’s philosophy.

“For Nietzsche, the historical attitude has become a historical sickness (the interminable rumination of the past) and requires the antidotes of the suprahistorical (an orientation towards the eternally valid examples of the past) and the unhistorical (a deliberate forgetting of the past in the interests of the present) in order to maintain what he calls the ‘hygiene of life’.” – Introduction


“The insistence upon the careful distinctions to be made between root and branch, between a tree and its fruit.” – Introduction

“The values of ressentiment, founded upon a violent repression of instinct, have come to dominate Western culture and have established themselves as the absolute foundation of ethics… for Nietzsche it is a hopelessly destructive and demoralising legacy – in his view, the hegemony of slave morality represents a threat to the development of humanity in so far as its egalitarian values promote weakness and mediocrity at the expense of vitality and dynamism, substituting the inevitable goal of gradual universal progress for the random possibility of outstanding individual achievement.” – Introduction


“Branding and amputation, practices which produce the depths of the soul by inscribing and defacing the surface of the body.” – Introduction

“Any dismissal of truth paradoxically presupposes its own truthfulness.” – Introduction

“He is not speaking so much to convince a passive reader as to antagonise a potentially active one.” – Introduction

“Oh how fortunate we are, we seekers after knowledge, provided only that we do not break our silence prematurely.”


“The will prefers to will nothingness rather than not will.” – Introduction

“Art has no pretentions to truth – its lies declare themselves as such.” – Introduction

“I have learned to separate theology from morality and ceased looking for the origin of evil behind the word.”

“The whole anti-sensual and enervating metaphysics of the priests, their self-hypnosis in the manner of fakers and Brahmins – Brahma used as a crystal ball and idée fixe – and the ultimate, only too understandable general satiety with its radical cure, with nothingness (or God – the desire for a unio mystica with God is the Buddhist’s desire for nothingness, nirvana – and nothing more!)”

“(A good example of this in the modern world is Mirabeau, who had no memory for the insults and malicious behaviour directed against him and could not forgive simply because he could not remember.) Such a man with a single shrug shakes off much of that which worms and digs its way into others. Here alone is actual love of one’s enemy possible.”

“What is nihilism today, if not this? We are weary of man.”

“No such substratum exists; there is no ‘being’ behind doing, acting, becoming; ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction imposed on the doing – the doing itself is everything.”


“What indications for the direction of further research does linguistics, and in particular the study of etymology, provide for the history of the development of moral concepts?”

“Here the conviction prevails that the race only exists by virtue of the sacrifice and achievements of the forefathers – and that one is obliged to repay them through sacrifice and achievements a debt is recognised, which grows incessantly by virtue of the fact that these forefathers, in their continued existence as powerful spirits, never cease to grant the race new advantages and advances in strength.”

“There we find as the ripest fruit on their tree the sovereign individual, the individual who resembles no one but himself.”

“‘Autonomous’ and ‘moral’ are mutually exclusive.”


“In order for a shrine to be set up, another shrine must be broken into pieces.”

“One does well to separate the artist from his work, which should be taken more seriously than he is.”

“Every evil is justified, whose sight uplifts a god.”

“A secret path towards nothingness.”


“Ultimately, the forefather is necessarily transfigured into a god.”

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