by cheri block sabraw
For those readers who have not read Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality, I’ll begin by saying that the material is lively and told by an evocative storyteller.
And although I am the only one in the seminar who hasn’t read the entire week’s assignment, so I may be reacting prematurely, the Preface and First Essay reminded me of holding hands with a serious genius and walking into a fun house in which my reality might take on a new reality. Does this make sense?
The discussion opened this morning with a question about the Preface.
What are we to make of the importance of the task of investigating Nietzsche’s treatise on the genealogy of morality and what was the function of the Preface?
What was Nietzsche up to in the Preface?
So asked the tutors, the name appointed to the professors at St. John’s College.
The usual several minutes of meditative silence were broken in about 30 seconds with the following observations and questions from the seminar members:
• The Preface is Nietzsche’s personal genealogy.
• Morality is a personal construct.
• Can morality be in the realm of knowledge or being?
• We may be profoundly wounded and/or profoundly delighted in the reading of the material.
• Is Nietzsche’s intention pedagogic?
• Why do we need to conduct a genealogy of morality as a way to understand our own morality?
• What is the philological approach and how does it help our understanding of Nietzsche’s polemic (as he labels it)?
Listening to others’ observations about Nietzsche is stimulating, to be sure.
As for me, here are some of my thoughts about the Preface.
Nietzsche opened his Preface with a statement that we humans do not know ourselves, and we avoid this “knowing” because of necessity. I thought here about Socrates, who believed we could never know or have true knowledge.
Nietzsche begins with a metaphor: bees. And we are busy in the hives of knowledge. In a few pages, his metaphors range from the dangerous land of thoughts, to thoughts and values like fruits on trees, to his own investigations that were worlds of secret gardens, to the Darwinian beast and finally he ends the Preface with the opposite of busy bees: a cow!! And we are to ruminate.
And ruminating I am!!
I love this progression of thought from a bee to a cow.
Tomorrow we discuss the First Essay and part of the Second Essay.