Nietzschean Genealogy and Hegelian History in the Genealogy of Morals

Document Type


Publication Date



Canadian Journal of Philosophy/Taylor & Francis


I would like to offer an interpretation of the Genealogy of Morals, of the relationship of master morality to slave morality, and of Nietzsche's philosophy of history that is different from the interpretation that is normally offered by Nietzsche scholars. Contrary to Nehamas, Deleuze, Danto, and many others, I wish to argue that Nietzsche does not simply embrace master morality and spurn slave morality.1 I also wish to reject the view, considered simply obvious by most scholars, that the iibermensch develops out of, or on the model of, the master, not the slave.2 And to make the case for all of this, I want to explore the relationship between Hegel's master-slave dialectic and the conflict Nietzsche sees between master morality and slave morality. That Nietzsche does not intend us to recall the famous master-slave dialectic of Hegel's Phenomenology as we read the Genealogy of Morals, I find difficult to believe. Yet very few commentators ever notice, let alone explore, this connection. Those who do, like Deleuze, Greene, and Houlgate, think that Nietzsche, in direct opposition to Hegel, simply sides with the master, not the slave, and that Nietzschean genealogy renounces all Hegelian dialectic - or any sort of Hegelian developmental view ofhistory.3 I do not think any of these views are correct. I wish to argue that Nietzsche is very much influenced by Hegel and that Nietzschean genealogy and Hegelian history are intimately linked in the Genealogy of Morals. Thus I think that there is a limit that must be put to the recent tendency, otherwise most insightful and illuminating, to see Nietzsche as radically postmodem, as totally breaking with the nineteenth century, and, certainly, as having little to do with Hegel.