Nietzsche's New Morality as Reaction to the Old Essay

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Nietzsche's New Morality as Reaction to the Old

The purpose of Friedrich Nietzsche's On The Genealogy of Morals (1887) is to answer the following questions, which he clearly lays out in the preface: "under what conditions did man devise these value judgments good and evil? And what value do they themselves possess? Have they hitherto hindered or furthered human prosperity? Are they a sign of distress, of impoverishment, of the degeneration of life? Or is there revealed in them, on the contrary, a plenitude, force, and will of life, its courage, certainty, future?" (17). These questions come about from Nietzsche's rejection of the Darwinian-Spencerian-utilitarian explanation of morality, characterized by his portrayal of the
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They believe that natural selection promotes altruism because it favors the existence of society and the survival of groups. With principles of selection in mind, the "good" thus becomes what is socially useful while the "bad" becomes what is harmful to society and others. Soon one forgets why altruistic actions are good in the first place, but since this system of value is already so ingrained in one's mind, one continues acting out of altruism—what man always has done becomes what man always does.

Nietzsche certainly has in mind Paul Rée, Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and other English utilitarian philosophers (Mill, Bentham et al) when he speaks of the "English psychologists." In fact he writes in the preface that Rée's book, The Origin of the Moral Sensations (1877), first gave him the impetus to publish his own origin of morality (17-18). Nietzsche refutes this genealogy of morals, however:

This
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