Between πόλεμος and δύναμις: the notion of power as origin of the noble and slave morality in Nietzsche’s On the genealogy of morals

Hernan Esteban Guerrero-Troncoso


This article focuses on the first treatise of Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, regarding the historical origins of the noble and slave morality, and proposes the intrinsic possession or lack of power as a key notion to understand these origins. Given the significance that Nietzsche ascribed to the Ancient world, the notion of power will be elucidated through a comparison with some selected texts by Heraclitus and Plato. The first part deals with intrinsic power as the primary source of the noble morality, its consequences with regards to the notion of good and the image human beings have of themselves and their place in the world. The second part presents powerlessness as the root of all moral resentment, i.e. of the slave morality, focusing on Plato’s conception of the ἰδέαι, as well as his definition of being as the power (δύναμις) to perform an action or to be acted upon. The third part synthesizes the previous sections and shows the relation between the noble and slave morality regarding both power and cruelty, i.e. their own account of what good and evil are.

Keywords: Greek philosophy, Heraclitus, history of morality, Homer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Paul Rée.

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ISSN: 1984-8234 - Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License [Updated on September 23, 2016].

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