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For example if the master were to act violently or cruelly towards the slave, the slave could not act violently back for risk of being killed. Thus the slave cannot trust his own instincts; he must accept the master’s ways. He assumes that just as he is free not to act, there must be a free subject behind every action, even the actions of the master who now becomes guilty in his eyes; the master becomes the evil in opposition to the slaves passive, reactive goodness (though as we know, to Nietzsche, the master is not free in the same way the slave is.
My aim in this essay is first to provide a distinction between the origination of the ideas ‘good and bad’ and ‘good and evil’ and show how Nietzsche reached these ideas based on his etymological approach.
I shall then show how these distinctions were caused by the active nature of the ‘noble master’ and the reactive nature of the ‘slave’.
In other words he actively evaluates himself as good from within his own perspective rather than taking into account an outside perspective as the basis for his evaluation; his evaluation of the slave as bad is drawn from the opposite of himself.
Thus the good/bad distinction is a pre-moral distinction, one that is purely concerned with idea of rank and not morality.
However one may be forced to ask the question how does Nietzsche come to these conclusions? He gives the examples of the Latin bonus being derived from duonus which signifies a warrior, while malus stems from melas, which designates the common man as the ‘dark coloured one’.
Furthermore he outlines that in Gaelic: the word fin “characterizing the nobility, which ultimately meant the good, the noble, the pure, but originally the blond-headed”8 who were the Celtic conquerors of the native ‘swarthy, dark-haired’ inhabitants.
Those most guilty of this to Nietzsche are the ‘priestly people’, namely the Jews, who Nietzsche argues epitomise the “the most intelligent revenge”6.
Nietzsche’s ideas here seem to draw heavily on the ‘master/slave dialectic’ described in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit7 in which the master and the slave are constantly competing throughout history leading to a progressively more self-conscious being.
Those who embody this role of master include the Romans, Greeks, and Vikings; they are the epitome of the Dionysian man; the man associated with “flux, mysticism, and excess”3.
As Nietzsche himself states “the enduring, dominating, and fundamental overall feeling of a higher ruling kind in relation to a lower kind, to a ‘below’ – that is the origin of the opposition between ‘good’ and ‘bad’”4.