Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality

12 Jan, 2017 100 Philosophy

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Nietzsche’s On The Genealogy of Morality - A Polemic, which he published in 1887 towards the end of his working life and in which he considered the price humans have paid, and were still paying, to become civilised. In three essays, he argued that having a guilty conscience was the price of living in society with other humans. He suggested that Christian morality, with its consideration for others, grew as an act of revenge by the weak against their masters, ‘the blond beasts of prey’, as he calls them, and the price for that slaves’ revolt was endless self-loathing. These and other ideas were picked up by later thinkers, perhaps most significantly by Sigmund Freud who further explored the tensions between civilisation and the individual.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Stephen Mulhall 8 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy and a Fellow and Tutor at New College, University of Oxford
  • Fiona Hughes 2 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Essex
  • Keith Ansell-Pearson 2 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick

Reading list

  • The New Nietzsche: Contemporary Styles of Interpretation
    David B. Allison (ed.) (The MIT Press, 1985) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals
    Daniel Conway (Continuum, 2008) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche, A Critical Life
    Ronald Hayman (Oxford University Press, 1980) Google Books →
  • Beyond Selflessness: Reading Nietzsche's Genealogy
    Christopher Janaway (Oxford University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ
    Walter Kaufmann (Princeton University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche on Morality
    Brian Leiter and Neil Sinhababu (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality: A Critical Guide
    Simon May (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • On the Genealogy of Morality
    F. Nietzsche (ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson and trans. Carol Diethe) (Cambridge University Press, 2017) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality
    David Owen (Acumen Publishing, 2007) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche, God, and the Jews: His Critique of Judeo-Christianity in relation to the Nazi Myth
    Weaver Santaniello (SUNY Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • Reading Nietzsche
    Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 1988) Google Books →
  • Nietzsche: A Collection of Critical Essays
    Robert Solomon (ed.) (Anchor Books, 1973) Google Books →
  • Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration
    Tracy B. Strong (University of California Press, 1988) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b087rt4z

Episode page:

Auto-category: 100 (Philosophy)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, what price of human animals pay to become civilized?