Nietzsche contra Freud on Bad Conscience

Nietzsche Studien 39:434-454 (2010)
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In the following essay, I argue that Nietzsche’s conception of moral conscience is opposed to Freud’s view in a number of important respects. Freudian moral conscience is essentially and irredeemably a bad conscience, based in an insurmountable conflict of desire and morality and characterized by repression, subordination to prohibition, and inevitable feelings of guilt. Nietzschean conscience, on the contrary, is grounded in affirmation, memory, individual sover- eignty, and the feelings of pride and power. Nietzsche’s psychology of “the will to power” does not assume an essential conflict of desire and morality or the inevitability of guilt; consequently, it does not transform all moral conscience into guilty conscience. Whereas Freudian psychology leads to the pessimistic choice between civilization and happiness, Nietzsche’s view suggests the possibility of forms of moral self-determination that are free of guilt, blame, and self-cruelty: a noble form of moral conscience that might serve as the foundation of noble forms of morality and society.
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