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Nietzsche and the Mother: A Contrast to Kantian Enlightenment

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  1. Introduction
  2. Nietzsche's critique of the history of religious guilt
  3. Examining the religion of the nobles
  4. The rhetorical brilliance of the passage and the creation of a remarkable synthesis of ideas
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works cited

To what extent does Nietzsche impose his ideals on the reader or create an open and flexible world-view? Upon closing his arguments in On the Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche imagines a reader asking him ?'What are you really doing, erecting an ideal or knocking one down?'? (95). He answers with a rhetorical question: ?But have you ever asked yourselves sufficiently how much the erection of every ideal on earth has cost?? (95). By this we are not to assume that he must therefore be knocking down an ideal, he is simply questioning the nature of the act of ideal creation. Rather than erecting ideals there seems to be latent in his text the idea of a different kind of ideal creation which turns back to the womb, to the potentiality of pregnancy and new generations, and finds in the mother an opportunity for rebirth of society through her artistic gift to and manifested in the child. Crucial to the development idea is an examination of the imposed, which Kant first began in his essay ?What is Enlightenment??

[...] Even the bad conscience itself is not such a bad thing and it can have a high rank as a value if it is harnessed in the proper way if, as Nietzsche proposes, it could be used to make man feel guilty when he did not act according to the will to power which is his natural essence. Nietzsche is too clever to erect an ideal, for he knows the cost of destruction it entails: a temple is to be erected a temple must be destroyed? (95). [...]


[...] important to remember though, that Nietzsche never says that the bad conscience is itself bad or good or evil. He remains aloof in judgement, perhaps because as a historian of morals he knows that its role could shift radically. After all, he says of morals ideas that ?evolution' of a thing, a custom, an organ is thus by no means its progressus toward a goal, even less a logical progressus . (77). One reason for his reservation of judgement on the bad conscience is that Nietzsche is less concerned with calling things good or bad than with determining the ?order of rank among values? (45). [...]

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