Nietzsche's Aestheticism: A Language of a New Morality

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Title: Nietzsche's Aestheticism: A Language of a New Morality
Author: Frias, Eleanor
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Philosophy
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 1995
Abstract: Nietzsche's account of morality and ethics in On the Genealogy of Morals delineates a history that presents problems to our understanding of morality today. Nietzsche reveals that our important concept of "good" emerged from a "slave revolt of morality," that our institutions of law and justice are the contemporary manifestations of ancient systems of punishment and humiliation and that our philosophic and priestly ascetic ideals are fundamentally life-denying mechanisms. Nietzsche's critique of the three main components of morality seems to unveil a history to our current beliefs and law systems that completely denies the possibility of maintaining any semblance of morality. The distinctions between good and evil become ambiguous and therefore open the possibility for lawlessness, corruption, violence and danger, where disregard for everyone else is the norm. However, I propose that Nietzsche's critique is only a critique of a morality as we presently understand it and not of morality in general. His genealogy presents criticisms of our current system of ethics in order to deconstruct the binary rigidities of its language. In place of the old language, Nietzsche proposes a new aesthetic language that accommodates a new version of ethical and moral action. The opposition of good and evil are replaced by the will to power as manifested in art. Because the possibilities extend beyond the restraints of either being good or being evil, emphasis is diverted from the "thou shalt nots" and once again placed on activity, individuality, and creativity. Thus, the introduction of this new language of aestheticism allows us to see that it is possible to have multiple or alternate moralities and that Nietzsche does not kill morality but suggests new moralities that allow us to affirm our lives and our humanity.
Subject: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900. Zur Genealogie der Moral
Subject: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900 -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900 -- Views on aesthetics
Subject: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900 -- Views on morality
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Frias, Eleanor. "Nietzsche's Aestheticism: A Language of a New Morality". 1995. Available electronically from

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