Nietzsche on the Origin of Conscience and Obligation

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 50 (2):310-331 (2019)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
The second essay of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality (GM) offers a naturalistic and developmental account of the emergence of conscience, a faculty uniquely responsive to remembering and honoring obligations. This article attempts to solve an interpretive puzzle that is invited by the second essay's explanation of nonmoral obligation, prior to the capacity to feel guilt. Ostensibly, Nietzsche argues that the conscience and our concept of obligation originated within contractual (“creditor-debtor”) relations, when creditors punished delinquent debtors (GM II:5). However, this interpretation, which I call the contractualist reading, is incoherent and subject to an insoluble bootstrapping problem. I argue instead that Nietzsche provides two accounts of nonmoral obligation in the second essay, and that the conscience originated in the morality of custom to track rule prohibitions (“I will nots” [GM II:3]), which Nietzsche conceives of as involuntary or reciprocal obligations that, unlike contractual debts, do not require the making of promises
Categories
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
SNENOT-2
Upload history
Archival date: 2019-11-18
View other versions
Added to PP index
2019-11-15

Total views
91 ( #35,111 of 51,204 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
61 ( #8,581 of 51,204 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.