Can the Good be Bad?

” To shut the doors and windows of consciousness for a while; not to be bothered by the noise and battle with which our underworld of serviceable organs work with and against each other; a little peace, a little tabula rasa of consciousness to make room for something new.” This excerpt comes from Freidrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality in which he delves into the beginnings of the normative order and what truly spawned the difference between “good” and “bad” as well as “good” and “evil.”  The quote is situated within the first section of his second treatise and exemplifies his nature of long, connected and expanded sentences that wind around an idea before finally coming to an end.

The nature of this writing style, relatively free from brief sentences lends itself to being slightly misleading. It leaves many opportunities to stray away from the main topic. However, I think this is exactly the rhetorical situation he is trying to develop for the novel as a whole: a space in which the reader can question the very nature of truth and what he is told is good. Nietzsche claims in the first part of the book that the nobility was the group who applied meaning to these words to give a linguistic barrier between themselves and the lower classes. When viewed in this way, we see that good is not positive and bad negative. Instead the two are simply a way to show difference. One is not better than the other. In creating a barrier between sides the “good” nobility were participating in exclusionary practices, a “bad” situation by modern definition. Can we feel confident in what is good and what is bad? Is there a way to separate the true good from the false good by a system of unbiased thinking which did not exist in the community of the nobles?

 

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