2

Hegel discusses the parable of the slave & master in his Phenomenology of Spirit. In the form of a hegelian dialectic, this takes the form thesis=slave, antithesis=master and synthesis=equals. This has been interpreted in atheistic terms where the slave term is interpreted as Man, the master term as God, and equals as Man becomes God, that is master of his own destiny.

Given that Nietzsche was German, the high esteem that Hegel was held in during his time and after, and that he was born just after Hegels death one suppose that there is likely to be some influence.

One could even suppose, the interpretation offered above is a retrospective refitting of Nietschzes emancipation of Man from God, and his master & slave morality onto Hegels master-slave dialectic.

Is there any evidence that Nietzches master-slave moralities is descended from Hegels, other than a correspondance of name and proxmity of geography and chronology?

Further, it seems Hegels master-slave dialectic is at least descriptively correct; for he suggests that two parties come together, one over-powers the other; tat is one is master & the other slave; but by the very condition of what slavery is, the slave eventually masters the master. Now, if Nietzsche is correct in characterising Christian-Judeo morality as slave morality in opposition to Roman-Greek master morality, one can predict via Hegel that Christian-Judeo morality would vanquish Rome, whereas Nietszche can only resent that this became true.

3

There are some arguments that Nietzsche's slave/master-morality (Sklaven- und Herrenmoral) and Hegel's master-slave dialectic (Herrschaft und Knechtschaft) is intimately linked:

Philip J. Kain. 1996. Nietzschean genealogy and Hegelian history in 'The Genealogy of Morals'. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26(1).

William Callison. 2011. Nietzsche and Hegel: Identity-formation and the Slave/Master dialectic. Gnosis 9(3) NB! Post-grad journal.

I would posit that GM I represents a re-writing (sublation/aufheben) of master-slave dialectic expanding recognition and power with identity and morality, yet expunging the Hegelian teleology. However, much depends on wether or not you accept Deleuze's argument portraying Nietzsche and Hegel as opposites. (Hegel was a systematiser, and Nietzsche disapproved of that).

It would be a mistake to think of Nietzsche or Hegel in the simple terms of whether they thought the master or the slave was better. Take Nietzsche for example. He does not merely side with the master: "The history of mankind would be far too stupid a thing if it had not had the intellect [Geist] of the powerless injected into it" (GM I: 3). Combine that with his contempt for 'the haters of Christianity' also, and a much more complex Nietzsche emerges than one who simply wants to re-assert Master-morality.

  • Where is the quote 'haters of Christianity' located? – Mozibur Ullah Jun 30 '14 at 1:46
3

Although misguided, I don't think this question deserves to be ignored, so I will answer ..

Hegel discusses the parable of the slave & master in his Phenomenology of Spirit. In the form of a hegelian dialectic, this takes the form thesis=slave, antithesis=master and synthesis=equals. This has been interpreted in atheistic terms where the slave term is interpreted as Man, the master term as God, and equals as Man becomes God, that is master of his own destiny.

This ^ I think should be omitted from the question

Is there any evidence that Nietzches master-slave moralities is descended from Hegels, other than a correspondance of name and proxmity of geography and chronology?

I would suggest the more interesting affinities between Hegel and Nietzsche's discussion of the master and the slave are to be found at the conceptual, rather than geographical or chronological level. Hegel describes the conditions of emergence which characterise an individual's relation to an other, and the gradual but inevitable alterations which occur through the master's dependence on the slave in order to sustain his position, and the slaves emancipation through work. Hegel's point is that the master remains the master, and the slave remains the slave, but the nature of their respective positions in relation to each other change, because the master relies on the slave relying on him/her, whereas the slave's position is maintained by much more complex, mutable lines of subjectivation.

Nietzsche describes a different scenario. It's not entirely fair to say that Nietzsche's master does not require a slave, but without deviating too much for reasons why I would recommend his discussion of how much violence was necessary 'to breed a nature of thinkers' in his Genealogy of Morals. The simple answer is that the master for Nietzsche is the self legislating agent, the individual who freely chooses values which expand his capacities to affect and be advantageously affected by the world. The slave inverts this formula through ressentiment, and extols the virtues of privation, selflessness, and immaterial or other worldly (for Nietzsche non-existent) things.

The conceptual affinity is this - the slave morality is exemplified par exellence by Christianity. The Genealogy of Morals narrates the history of the triumph of this slave morality, in the form of Christianity, over master morality. So there is again, as in Hegel, a triumph of slave morality over master morality. Nietzsche knew his Hegel, and it's this shift which I would suggest motivated Nietzsche to describe this in these terms.

  • 1
    Good answer. You do say that for Nietszche 'as in Hegel, a triumph of slave morality', whereas 'Hegels point is the master remains the master, and the slave the slave, but the nature of their respective positions change'. This seems a clear difference, which I think you do acknowledge. If Nietszche was writing The Genealogy today, would he also be narrating the extinguishing of Christianity in Europe through the (re)assertion of Master morality? It was this rotation of Master-Slave that I was trying to identify. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 19 '13 at 7:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.