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Nietzsche- Genealogy Essay 2 (II)

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University of Toronto St. George
Peter King

NIETZSCHE: GENEALOGY, SECOND ESSAY (II) [1] Recall Nietzsche’s aim in the Second Essay: to explore the “long history of the origins of responsibility” (§2). He’s given us a picture of the mechanics of the process, which, in a nutshell, identifies the infliction of pain as the impetus behind the development of memory, which in its turn leads to the development of the inner self (psychogenesis). But why did it all happen? [2] In §16 of the Second Essay, Nietzsche proposes his theory: that ‘bad conscience’ evolved as a response to, well, civilization: I look on bad conscience as a serious illness to which man was forced to succumb by the pressure of the most fundamental of all changes which he experienced,—that change whereby he finaly found himself imprisoned within the confines of society and peace. In short, the attempt to maintain a peaceful common existence required humans to regulate their impulses, or at least to prevent them from acting on them. The development of memory, so that we recall the pain that would accompany the discharge of one of our impulses, causes us to prevent their discharge. But, Nietzsche reasons, the impulse does no go away; instead, it is directed inwardly, again oneself, to set in train “the internalization of man” as he calls it. It is a “forcible breach” with our “animal past.” [3] Guilt, then, is the
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