On the Origins of Moral Feelings

In reading the Genealogy's Preface we became aware of Nietzsche's preoccupation with Paul Ree as an opponent, and have discussed some of the methodological differences at stake between Nietzsche's genealogy of morality and that which Ree purports to give. Ree is a closer opponent than Schopenhauer, not only because of his acquaintance and collaboration with Nietzsche, but because, while Schopenhauer's account is firmly ahistorical and supported by a transcendent metaphysics, Reee attempts a proper history of morality in naturalistic terms. A first glance at the organization of Ree's book sparks the hypothesis that the Genealogy may be designed as (among many other things) a kind of riposte to his former friend. Ree's first two chapters have titles strikingly similar to Nietzsche's, 'The Origin of the Concepts Good and Evil' and 'The Origin of Conscience' ('Der Ursprung der Begriffe gut und bose', 'Der Ursprung des Gewissens'), and the next two chapters deal with other issues central to Nietzsche's discussion, notably free will (or the absence of), responsibility (or the absence of), punishment, deterrence, and retribution. The dialogue between the Genealogy and Ree's Origin of the Moral Sensations is therefore worth exploring a little further.

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