Nietzsche – Book Report/Review Example

Nietzsche In Friedrich Nietzsche’s book On the Genealogy of Morality, he explores the ways in which human thought developed as a process of human exchange built upon our ability to remember. Essentially, he seems to trace out a possible means of social evolution in which the basic processes of capitalism, the exchange of one thing for another, and the need to remember promises made led to the development of higher thinking and the creation of established laws and codes of behavior. These laws and codes of behavior make us predictable so that we can remember to uphold our promises and be held accountable for them if we forget. The process of forgetting is also discussed as an active defense mechanism in which we naturally try to forget that which is hurtful or painful in life. He discusses how the German words for ‘guilt’ and ‘debt’ are very similar and suggests that our feelings of guilt are little more than our sense that there is a debt that must still be repaid. This evolution of thought led to the possibility that those to whom we owed something would have the right to cause us suffering if we failed to pay as a means of getting some kind of repayment and ensuring that we didn’t forget our promises next time. Suffering thus served a specific purpose in life, but only when it was witnessed by others to testify that we had paid our debt. This led to the creation of God as a means of ensuring that there would always be a witness to the grand design, seeing that we had paid our dues and were thus worthy to walk among others again. This approach seems to reinforce the approach Nietzsche took in his first essay in which he suggests that religion was merely an invention of the ruling classes to help them keep the greater numbers of the peasant classes in line.