By creating the concept of freewill and motivated by hatred and resentment, the Jews declared the warrior class evil because of their strength. Now, “the miserable alone are the good… whereas you, you noble and powerful ones, you are in all eternity the evil…” (16). 1 Thus originated slave morality, which Nietzsche argues spread vis-à-vis Christianity and modern secular thought. This slave morality achieves justice through an imagined revenge, denying people their true reactions. Nietzsche argues that this denial creates a deep a lasting resentment like a can of worms digging in; he contrasts this with the noble morality of the Greeks who didn’t need to lie themselves into an artificial state of happiness—they could take it for themselves. Some argue that Nietzsche’s genealogical argument doesn’t provide a reason to reject Christianity or its secular forms because it commits the genetic fallacy. The fallacy occurs when a criticism of a theory is based on its source rather than its content. This argument appears to have weight because Nietzsche spends a lot of time demonstrating that the Jews had ill will when challenging the warrior morality of the Romans. Assuming its validity, Nietzsche’s account of the creation of slave morality seems to have a strong explanatory power. However, some argue
this does little to deny Christianity’s validity, let alone secular theories such as Kant’s, which could be true despite their origins. This application of the genetic fallacy is flawed because it relies on the assumption that Nietzsche rejects slave morality on historical grounds; this is not the case. I will argue that the crux of his argument is ahistorical because it’s based on slave morality’s life denying nature. If Nietzsche’s argument is indeed based on the nature of slave morality rather than its creation, it would by definition not raise the genetic fallacy. It appears that Nietzsche foresees this exact criticism when he plays devil’s advocate with himself in Aphorism Nine of Book I: “But why are you still talking about nobler ideals!... the people were victorious… if this happened through the Jews, so be it!.. The church, not its poison, repels us… Leaving the church aside, we, too, love the poison” (18). 1 The question raised by the passage mirrors the genetic fallacy’s; despite its unsavory source (the church), the poison (slave morality) could be desirable, so why reject it on face? To that, Nietzsche presents his ahistorical argument.
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- Winter '20
- Philosophy, Attacking Faulty Reasoning, Ressentiment