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In essay two of Nietzsche’s ‘On the Genealogy of Morality’, ‘Guilt’, ‘bad conscience’ and related matters, Nietzsche seeks to explore the origins and constructs of guilt and in doing so, presents us with an account where the concept of guilt has been misconstrued by the evolution of society. This very shift in our understanding of guilt has subsequently led to, what Nietzsche claims to be, “bad conscience”. To understand this evolution of guilt and the entity of “bad conscience” it is necessary to closely analyze Nietzsche’s account and in doing so, delve deeper into the mechanics of Nietzsche’s understanding of our morality.

ADD FIRST PART! Nietzsche identifies the etymological properties of the word guilt, noting the similarities between the German word for guilt and the German word for debt. It is from this premise that Nietzsche begins to cultivate the origin of guilt and “bad conscience”. Nietzsche firstly establishes the concept of the “morality of custom”, this being an alternate morality to the slave morality present in modern society. Essentially, this morality of custom was founded on a completely different set of values and that these values reflected something much healthier about early human civilization. Nietzsche suggests that in this morally of custom, guilt had nothing to do with the accountability of oneself nor the recognition of one’s immoral acts but simply was the notion of debt and credit. Through this idea of debt and credit, punishment was not based on guilt but was simply the act of repaying a debt; if someone could not fulfill the promise they owed, the debt could be balanced through the use of pain and cruelty. The creditor, who could not receive pleasure from the promise he was owed, could instead re...

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...ed the suffering of humanity unlike “bad conscience”. It can be argued that Nietzsche sets up a rather bleak look at humanity with an acceptance for values we cannot turn back to. In essence, Nietzsche can be seen to support a cruel approach to life that promotes punishment and suffering. However, whilst such an argument may be the case, Nietzsche firstly explains in the preface that the Genealogy is merely an account that tries to trace the origins of our morals, it does not try to provide a solution to the issue of our nihilistic approach to life QUOTE. This being said, Nietzsche concludes essay two with the impression that if we can reverse the bad conscience we have so that it goes against everything that says no to life, we can reverse our conscience to be something that reinforces life and allows us to accept ourselves as something other than guilty sinners.
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