What does Nietzsche Mean by Master Morality?

You cant bring up the concept of Morality to Western people without focusing on the dichotomy of Good vs Evil. You can blame that predominantly on the Christian core of our conceptions about the world.

During Nietzsches time, Science was beginning to displace religion. This inevitably lead the rise of atheism and nihilism. Of course these, at the time, were considered demonic and decried by the Church. Nietzsche swooped in and alleviated that negative sentiment. He did this by basically saying we shouldn’t be so obsessed with these binary notions of good and evil. Anyway, he didn’t see them as being foundational to conceptions of Morality. Basically what Nietzsche argue was that the real culprit in the Morality game was not good vs evil but Master vs slave.

Master vs slave morality

Nietzsche and Hegel are a conflicted history. As for the Master/Slave morality. Herein Nietzsche sort of just ripped of Hegels “Master Slave Dialectic”. The concept is pretty easy to understand, at least superficially. Those with a master morality are those who think about consequences. Likewise, those who think with a slave morality think about intentions.

Traits of a Master Morality

  • Courage
  • Fortitude
  • Pride
  • Strength

Traits of a Slave Morality

  • Kindness
  • Sympathy
  • Devotion
  • Faith
  • Worship

The Big difference between the two: Master Morality vs Slave Morality

Master morality is definitely not about following the herd. In fact that is you want to stand apart from the herd all together. For Nietzsche Master morality was the best way towards his notion of the Ubermensch. It was the best way, he proposed, to master emotions, generate positivity in the world and reduce suffering.

Have you ever seen the movie with Jim Carey where he says “YES” to everything? A Master Moralist is a Yes-man, he says Yes to life.

Slave Morality

Slave Morality is the antithesis of the Master Morality. He saw it as creating people in line with herd think or group think. It’s wholly behind the new influx of NPC Non-Playable-Characters in real life that dominate online.

As slave morality comes from the weak and miserable, it is based on undervaluing what the masters possess but actually do not have. These people’s morality, which is a response to tyranny, leads them to demonize their oppressors. Slave morality makes people perpetually depressed or cynical. People with this kind of morals prefer to bring their masters down to their level so they may become slaves themselves rather than seek to rise above.

Religious people are supremely Slave-ish because their focus is not on this life. Think about Christianity. All that a person does in this life is to the benefit or detriment of the forever after. That’s all well and dandy, but that mentality inherently negates this life. So what, are you a “No” person? Maybe.

Beyond Good and Evil

Nietzsche makes his based distinction between master- and slave-morality in “Beyond Good and Evil.” The phrases excellent to describe the morality of ruler or elite. However, the majority of NPC slave-morality equate this to bad and vile. This is mainly because these phrases are used to be tacked onto persons rather than their deeds.

The criteria in slave-mortality is what is helpful or advantageous to the helpless and weak. Herd mortality is slave-morality. The herd views the excellent man of master-mortality as bad because he is a powerful and autonomous being.

The shocking aspect is that Nietzsche regarded leaders of master morality to also include the likes of Stalin and Hitler. However, he would denounce fascism and communism as being mostly the result of individuals with slave mentalities and slave morality which would owe their weak succumbing to persons with master morals.

Applying Master Morality: The Autonomous Muse

self-obedience and developing one’s own morals. Moral principles can solidify over time. They can form groups and solidify over time or over distance. Nietzsche does not want you to go to the past or to organizations that keep you ignorant all the time for guidance. Thats why Religion or Church or even Stoic principles was out of the question for Nietzsche. Your morals are established by and for you.

Those who feel happy or powerful are those that demonstrate master morals. The foundation of master morality is self-affirmation—”I am good, we are excellent.” The most obvious sign of high moral character is not to take your opponents seriously but to love them. Whether you are genuinely excellent, strong, and powerful, it just won’t matter to you if someone challenges you. Genuine power does not return hatred with more hatred. True power confronts hatred with love and confidence in oneself. The actual core of master morality is this.

Are those who adopt Master Morality Vain and Narcissistic?

Nietzsche considered vanity to be the trait of the weak and helpless. They beg for positive self-esteem because they lack the ability to determine their own worth. Since they lack the capacity to produce worth, people with this kind of slave morality feel they are deserving of praise even if they know they are not deserving of it. Inferiority has the side effect of vanity.

So to answer your question, no.

Beating Nietzsche at his own Game

There is not a single moral that comes from a free man that is not uplifting. He claims that his ideology is for everyone and no one because of this. It’s for you, but also its for you to replace it and say it’s no longer for you. You can never understand Nietzsche’s philosophy if you agree with him. You must understand that it is not your ideology being expressed here.

I guess you could be Nietzschean by not following Nietzsche’s philosophy at all and doing the complete opposite of what he says in developing your own morals. I wonder if you can become a Master Moralist by denying Nietzsche’s assertion and going instead with what would be a more “Slavey-Morality.” Don’t quote me on that, I dunno.

Here is some Extra Credit!

If you’re interested in the “Master/Slave Dialectic” you can watch this example from “A Bugs Life.”

David Ex Machina

David Ex Machina


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