A Personal Take on the “Genealogy”

The more I read Nietzsche the more I like this guy!

I don’t think I’ve had as many “yes” moments with any other philosopher I’ve studied in courses here so far than I have with Nietzsche. When he says that a Homer could not have written an Achilles if he himself was one, or when he points out that the path to power is NOT the same as the path to happiness, but in fact is something we might prize over happiness, that could even lead to our unhappiness, I find myself ticking off mental checkboxes in my head. These (and others in earlier treatises) are ideas I had thought of independently before even coming Nietzsche, and at this point this is becoming so common that I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve maybe been reading a lot of stuff inspired by him without knowing it. Otherwise, the similarities are certainly starting to become freaky.

On a personal note, Nietzsche is often considered to be an INTJ on the widely-used MBTI personality test, the exact same type I am, which could explain many of the similarities in thought process (even though we don’t agree on everything).┬áThis is part of the reason I mentioned the other day in class that he maybe might not have intended for us to take the precise components of his arguments as particularly as we do, since INTJs are often known to be more concerned with making a point in the “best” (clearest, strongest, most vivid) way possible than about the formal “rigour” of the arguments themselves – which is not to say they can’t be analytical, of course. Obviously, Nietzsche was a highly gifted scholar who was more than capable of writing in the conventional “philosophical” style, but certainly in the “Genealogy” at least that doesn’t seem to be his main focus. Perhaps a more literary style of textual analysis would be more appropriate here?

Speaking of which, this post doesn’t seem to be all that “philosophical” either, but I just had to put this out there, since the “Genealogy” has just been such a fun read – something I never thought I’d say about a philosophical text!

2 thoughts on “A Personal Take on the “Genealogy”

  1. danielanderson

    I think it’s often a difficult call how to read existentialists. Yet, I think there are certain concepts which are more explicit than others, for example: the will to power, the SI, master vs. slave morality, Christianity, Nihilism (to mention a few). However, in other areas, he uses lots of metaphorical language, which leaves more space for interpretation (i.e., eagles and lambs etc.). Perhaps he designed his works to be constantly shifting in order to avoid the stagnancy of truth, which he criticizes. If we take his works to be “TRUE,” maybe we have missed the point of our own freedom. In “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” Zarathustra is constantly paranoid that he would become an idol that would later crush his followers. Maybe we could attribute his rhetoric to this deep concern of his.

  2. Christina Hendricks

    I can certainly see the merit in doing a more literary style of analysis for Nietzsche’s GM, which has many literary elements. Our discussion on his rhetoric in Treatise I was me trying to do a little of that! But then, I get so caught up in just trying to figure out what he’s saying in the second and third treatises (What is the sovereign individual? What does he mean by perspectivism and how does this affect the status of his own truth claims?, etc.), that I lose sight of his style to some degree. Well, one can never fully lose sight of it b/c it’s in your face, but I spend most of my time trying to figure out the philosophical issues he’s bringing forward. There is much to be studied in regards to how he is making his claims, and the value of doing so even without a good deal of careful argumentation. Still, I can’t help but look at this text from a philosophical viewpoint, being a philosopher and being excited about such things!

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