Term Paper: Morality Jean Jacques Rousseau Wrote

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This work likewise tackled guilt, bad conscience and punished as developing, not out of any sense of moral transgression, but only out of an indebtedness and punishment was a form of securing a repayment or recompense (Hollingdate 1989). Nietzsche attributed the development of moral concepts to the rise of slave morality and a sense of guilt or sin as originating from society's inhibition of the animal instinct of aggression or cruelty and its turning these acts inward upon the individual who gave expression of the instinct. It also addressed asceticism that dominated modern-day life and judged asceticism as the expression of a weak and sick will (Hollingdate). He interpreted this as the weak and sick will's inability to free itself from these instincts and its attempts to subdue and tame itself as much as possible. It condoned that the will to live was so pathetically strong that it would rather will nothingness than not will (Hollingdate).

Nietzsche is hard stuff because he demanded no less than the suspension or overturning of many of the assumptions upon which reasoning itself relies. He is considered one of the Western tradition's deepest thinkers precisely because he questions a great deal of things and perhaps, for the sake of questioning only. He subjected the distinction between a thing and its meaning to question against the universal posture of assuming on the meanings of things. One example was punishment, which could mean the act of punishing or the reason behind the act of punishment. Nietzsche believed that these had different meanings at different times - a celebration of power, an act of cruelty, a simple expression of an inclination or motivation. Whatever its origin or nature, the same meaning is universally ascribed.

Nietzsche exerted arduous effort at constructing a genealogy of moral concepts in an attempt at arriving at some other source or starting point from which current moral concept could have grown. But morality is generally or universally held sacred because of some transcendental basis or ground for it, whether it is a God, reason, tradition or something else. His genealogy illustrated how universal assumptions of good and evil evolved and thus disclosed the illusion as to the absoluteness or consistency of time-honored truths or moral concepts. These differing meanings of things in the course of long life spans led him to suspect the reliability of these concepts or things as the stuff that made up reality and investigated the hidden motivations behind the diversification of meanings. He discovered force and will behind these motivations and concluded that all of existence was a struggle between and among individual wills for the feeling of power (Hollingdate 1989). Of the different life strata, this struggle was most evident in the human level, where the stiffest kind and amount of constant competition occur, and often, for no compelling or justifiable reason other than the sheer pleasure of feeling superior to the defeated.

To Nietzsche, the meaning of a thing merely indicated some wills that dominated that meaning and bent it toward a particular interpretation. If a thing gathered different meanings over different periods of time could only mean different wills alternating dominance of these meanings. What was considered "good," for example was the interpreted advantage or preference of the will of healthy and strong conquerors at one time. At other times, the interpretation made by dominating but weak and sick ascetics changed the interpretation towards the wills' justification. Nietzsche propounded that believing in absolute premises or anything absolute would tantamount to yielding to a particular meaning or interpretation of something and to allowing oneself to be swayed or determined by a particular will or class of wills.

Nietzsche strongly argued that, in order to remain free, the will must be without absolutes of any kind and that nothing could be held sacred or absolute or true at all. He proposed that morality was only an arbitrary code, rather than a set of duties passing from God to human generations, wherein the only constant was the striving for more power and the constant virtue was a powerful will and freedom from a bad conscience, hatred and resentment. He thus traced present morality as rooted from resentment and hatred felt for anything stronger, healthier and mightier. He also faulted present-day morality as jeopardizing the future health and prosperity of the human species. In the meantime, he proposed that current-day morality grew out of aggressive instincts turned inwards and of an admission of the wilderness within each individual that he or she must struggle against. Nietzsche held ideal the maintenance of this depth while feeling comfortable with one's animal instincts along with the essence of life that sparkles within each human being (Hollingdate).


Hollingdate, Walter, trans. On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche. New York: Vintage Books, 1989

Kemerling, Garth. Nietzsche: Beyond Morality. Philosophy Pages, 2002. http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/5v.htm

Radical Academy. The Philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. The Great Thinkers of Western Philosophy, 2004. http://radicalacademy.con/philschopenhauer.htm

Wikipedia. Jean Jacques Rousseau. MediaWiki, 2004. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Jacques_Rousseau#Philosophy_of_Rousseau

Nietzsche. MediaWiki, 2004. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche#His_Works_and_Ideas [END OF PREVIEW]

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