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On the Genealogy of Morality

            In the first essay of his book On the Genealogy of Morality, Friedrich Nietzsche discusses the origins and the evolution of morality. His discussion leads to two central themes that become the driving force for his characterization of people's perception of "good" and "bad", master morality and slave morality. Master morality according to Nietzsche is the system of values and principles that is held by noble or powerful people[GM,I,3]. Their concept of morality is characterized by valuing strength, wealth and happiness as "good" and weakness and destitution as "bad". The priests and the poor who abide by slave morality on the other hand detest master morality due to the fact that they perceive the noble as the oppressors and thus develop a sense of anger towards their existence. .
             Two important characteristics that are a byproduct of these systems are the concept of depth of thought and the valuation of an adherence to structure as opposed to the free-will of an individual[GM,II,10-12]. According to Nietzsche, masterful people display a sense of contempt and indifference to their "bad" of slavish counterparts while the slaves develop a strong sense of resentment and blame the masters for their own sufferings. This particular struggle leads to slavish as building a strong sense of passion and depth in thought while the masters are only consumed in gratification and a pursuit of happiness [GM,II,11]. Looking at these particular ideas through literary pieces offers a new dimension to the ideas of slave morality and master morality. The works of Poetics by Aristotle and Medea by Euripides offer contrasting styles possessed by both authors who each respectively show a strong sense of slave morality and master morality. Euripides' work is characterized by a flair for the dramatic and a sense of open-mindedness towards what a tragedy must be like while Aristotle surgically breaks down piece by piece what it takes to write an effective tragedy.

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