ⓘ Master–slave morality is a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsches works, particularly in the first essay of his book, On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche arg ..


ⓘ Master–slave morality

Master–slave morality is a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsches works, particularly in the first essay of his book, On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: "master morality" and "slave morality". Master morality values pride and power, while slave morality values kindness, empathy, and sympathy. Master morality judges actions as good or bad, unlike slave morality, which judges by a scale of good or evil intentions.

For Nietzsche, a morality is inseparable from the culture which values it, meaning that each cultures language, codes, practices, narratives, and institutions are informed by the struggle between these two moral structures.


1. Master morality

Nietzsche defined master morality as the morality of the strong-willed. Nietzsche criticizes the view which he identifies with contemporary British ideology that good is everything that is helpful, and bad is everything that is harmful. He argues proponents of this view have forgotten the origins of its values and it is based merely on a non-critical acceptance of habit: what is useful has always been defined as good, therefore usefulness is goodness as a value. He continues explaining that in the prehistoric state "the value or non-value of an action was derived from its consequences" but ultimately "here are no moral phenomena at all, only moral interpretations of phenomena." For strong-willed men, the "good" is the noble, strong, and powerful, while the "bad" is the weak, cowardly, timid, and petty.

The essence of master morality is nobility. Other qualities that are often valued in master morality are open-mindedness, courageousness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and an accurate sense of ones self-worth. Master morality begins in the "noble man", with a spontaneous idea of the good; then the idea of bad develops as what is not good. "The noble type of man experiences itself as determining values; it does not need approval; it judges, "what is harmful to me is harmful in itself"; it knows itself to be that which first accords honour to things; it is value-creating." In master morality, individuals define what is good based on whether it benefits that person and their pursuit of self-defined personal excellence. Insofar as something is helpful to the strong-willed man, it is like what he values in himself; therefore, the strong-willed man values such things as good because they aid him in a life-long process of self-actualization through the will to power.


2. Slave morality

According to Nietzsche, masters are creators of morality; slaves respond to master morality with their slave morality. Unlike master morality, which is sentiment, slave morality is based on re-sentiment - devaluing that which the master values and the slave does not have. As master morality originates in the strong, slave morality originates in the weak. Because slave morality is a reaction to oppression, it vilifies its oppressors. Slave morality is the inverse of master morality. As such, it is characterized by pessimism and cynicism. Slave morality is created in opposition to what master morality values as "good".

Slave morality does not aim at exerting ones will by strength, but by careful subversion. It does not seek to transcend the masters, but to make them slaves as well. The essence of slave morality is utility: The good is what is most useful for the whole community, not just the strong. Nietzsche saw this as a contradiction. Since the powerful are few in number, compared to the masses of the weak, the weak gain power by corrupting the strong into believing that the causes of slavery viz., the will to power are "evil", as are the qualities the weak originally could not choose because of their weakness. By saying humility is voluntary, slave morality avoids admitting that their humility was in the beginning forced upon them by a master. Biblical principles of humility, charity, and pity are the result of universalizing the plight of the slave onto all humankind, and thus enslaving the masters as well. "The democratic movement is the heir to Christianity" - the political manifestation of slave morality because of its obsession with freedom and equality.

.the Jews achieved that miracle of inversion of values thanks to which life on earth has for a couple millennia acquired a new and dangerous fascination - their prophets fused "rich", "godless", "evil", "violent", "sensual" into one, and were the first to coin the word "world" as a term of infamy. It is this inversion of values with which is involved the employment of the word for "poor" as a synonym for "holy" and "friend" that the significance of the Jewish people resides: With them, there begins the slave revolt in morals.


3. Society

This struggle between master and slave moralities recurs historically. According to Nietzsche, ancient Greek and Roman societies were grounded in master morality. The Homeric hero is the strong-willed man, and the classical roots of the Iliad and Odyssey exemplified Nietzsches master morality. He calls the heroes "men of a noble culture", giving a substantive example of master morality. Historically, master morality was defeated, as the slave morality of Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire.

After the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD Judea completely lost its independence to Rome, and after defeat of Bar-Kokhba revolt in 136 AD it ceased to exist as a national state of Jewish people. At that time started the essential struggle between polytheistic culture of the Rome master, strong and newly developed Christian monotheism in former Judea and surrounding territories in the Middle East slave, weak, which lasted continuously until 323 AD when Christianity became official religion of the Roman Empire. Nietzsche condemns the triumph of slave morality in the West, saying that the democratic movement is the collective degeneration of man ". He claimed that the nascent democratic movement of his time was essentially slavish and weak. Weakness conquered strength, slave conquered master, re-sentiment conquered sentiment. This ressentiment Nietzsche calls "priestly vindictiveness", which is based on the jealous weak seeking to enslave the strong, and thus erode the basis for power itself by pulling the powerful down. Such movements were, according to Nietzsche, inspired by "the most intelligent revenge" of the weak. Nietzsche saw democracy and Christianity as the same emasculating impulse which sought to make everyone equal by making everyone a slave.

Nietzsche did not necessarily believe that everyone should adopt master morality as the "be-all, end-all" behavior. He thought that the revaluation of morals would correct the inconsistencies in both master and slave moralities. But he asserted that for the individual, master morality was preferable to slave morality.

  • Master slave may refer to: Master slave dialectic, a concept in Hegelian philosophy Master slave morality a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsche s works
  • The master slave dialectic is the common name for a famous passage of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel s Phenomenology of Spirit, though the original German
  • of master slave morality His early paintings portray the modern world of slave morality his later paintings portray an ancient world of master morality
  • slave revolt in morality which, according to him, begins with Judaism 7 for it is the bridge that led to the slave revolt by Christian morality
  • envious and revengeful spirit of the Tschandalas themselves cf. master - slave morality Nietzsche also uses the term Tschandala for some of his opponents
  • influence, and become its lackeys, the majority instinctively resist. Master - slave morality Lobaczewski, Andrzej, Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature
  • Roman Empire. Two classes of slave existed: a purchased slave and a slave born in the master s home. Over the latter the master had complete rights of ownership
  • claimed that Christianity was an alien Semitic slave - morality which was inappropriate for the warrior Aryan master race and he thus supported a melange of aspects
  • genealogical critique of religion and Christian morality and his related theory of master slave morality his aesthetic affirmation of existence in response
  • concerning the psychology of the master slave question articulated in Beyond Good and Evil and the resultant birth of morality Nietzsche s chief development
  • criticized by opponents as a slave trader who transacted in slaves in defiance of modern standards or morality The treatment of slaves in the United States varied