The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
cal type’s life strategy of survival, and the more one looks at the history of morality evolutionarily and biologically, the more one is struck by dramatic changes in moral codes across time.
And this is the key problem, Nietzsche argues, when we consider the altruist and egoist moral codes, for the historical record shows a disturbing inversion. Formerly, we prized above all excellence and power, and we looked down upon the humble and the lowly. Yet now the meek, the humble, and the common man are the “good,” while the aggressive, the powerful, the strong, the proud are “evil” (GM, 1:4). Somehow the morality of the weak has become dominant, and the morality of the strong has declined.
This moral inversion is dangerous: the traits of strength and power, i.e., those that ennoble man, are now condemned; and the traits of ordinariness and modesty, i.e., those that weaken man, are praised. Morality, accordingly, has become a bad thing; or, more paradoxically, morality has become immoral. As Nietzsche puts it, “So that precisely morality would be to blame if the highest power and splendor actually possible to the type man was never in fact attained? So that precisely morality was the danger of dangers?” Accordingly, Nietzsche argues, “we need a critique of moral values, the value of these values themselves must first be called in question
and for that there is needed a knowledge of the conditions and
circumstances in which they grew, under which they evolved and
changed . somehow declined. explained?
. .” (GM, Preface:6). The morality of the weak has become dominant, and the morality of the strong has How is this rather paradoxical state of affairs to be
Part of the story is bio-psychological—in terms of what morality resonates with what psychological type of person one is. But part of the story is cultural—and here there is a history lesson. “[U]nder what conditions did man devise these value judgments good and evil? and what value do they themselves possess?” (GM, Preface:3). Different moral codes develop under different survival circumstances, so Nietzsche searches history for the survival circumstances that enabled and necessitated the development of the altruistic, slave code. In the West, Nietzsche finds the slave morality’s roots in the Judeo- Christian tradition (GM, 1:7), in a decisive set of events that occurred early in Jewish history, before the time of Moses: the enslavement of