Ressentiment—the hateful desire for revenge—plays a pivotal role in Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals. Ressentiment explains the formation of bad conscience, guilt, asceticism, and, most importantly, it motivates the "slave revolt" that gives rise to Western morality’s values. Ressentiment, however, has not enjoyed a thorough treatment in the secondary literature. This book brings it sharply into focus and provides the first detailed examination of Nietzsche’s psychology of ressentiment. Unlike other books on the Genealogy, it uses ressentiment as a key to the Genealogy and focuses on the intriguing relationship between ressentiment and justice. It shows how ressentiment, despite its blindness to justice, gives rise to moral justice—the central target of Nietzsche’s critique. This critique notwithstanding, the Genealogy shows Nietzsche’s enduring commitment to the virtue of non-moral justice: a commitment that grounds his provocative view that moral justice spells the ‘end of justice’. The result provides a novel view of Nietzsche's moral psychology in the Genealogy, his critique of morality, and his views on justice.
Table of Contents
1. Ressentiment as the ‘Home of Justice’?
2. The Psychology of Ressentiment
3. Resentiment’s Injustice
4. Slave Revolt, Self-Deception, the Free Subject
5. Interlude: Bad Conscience, Guilt, and the Priestly Ascetic Ideal
6. The Emergence of Moral Justice
7. A Genealogy of the Capacity to be Just to Others
Guy Elgat is a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has appeared in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, History of Philosophy Quarterly, and The Journal of Nietzsche Studies.
"It's pleasing that in the book under review Nietzsche's account of ressentiment is carefully investigated and diligently analyzed . . . There is much in his book to learn from and admire, especially, in my view, the original and promising ideas he [Elgat] develops in his last chapter, concerning the role of justice as an epistemic or cognitive virtue in Nietzsche's philosophy . . . Though we still recognize justice of this sort in such expressions as ‘doing (or not doing) justice to a subject matter’, it has received surprisingly little attention from mainstream philosophers generally, and interpreters of Nietzsche specifically. Here's hoping that the pioneering efforts found in these pages inspire at least the latter group to further work on the deep and subtle issues involved." – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews