Slave Morality versus Master Morality

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Interpreting Nietzsche’s words regarding his criticism can be challenging. In order to better understand each term, slave mortality versus master mortality, it’s helpful to break them down into the two separate moralities that they are. If we were to look at master morality, we can realize that the key word in the term is master, or in others words, the person of power. If we were to literally reference a time when there were masters and slaves, we can gather that the ‘masters’ would value power, bravery, courageousness, pride and so on. The masters want what makes life easier for them, they value what they favor in their lives. Examples of this would be wealth, power, and successfulness.

Slave morality, on the other hand, we could say results from resentment of the master. The master has complete control over the slave, commanding him to do whatever the master wants, whenever he wants. In the expert of On The Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche references slave morality as being ‘…among men of ressentiment…’ (I.14). From this resentment, the slaves come up with their own set of values. We could look at these set of values as being humble, obedient, submissive; they strive to be anything other than what their master is.

From this explanation, we can apply that master morality guides morals between good and evil. Good being anything that suits the masters needs, and evil being anything that doesn’t. For example, since a value of masters is one of power, anything that is powerful is good, and anything that is powerless (like slaves) is evil. Slave morality, however, guides morals between good and bad. Good being anything that constitutes morals of slaves, as remaining ‘humble, pious and meek,’ and bad being any characteristic that resembles power, pride, or bravery, such as the master does (Wolff, p. 43). While these are very general ideas of what Nietzsche meant by slave and master morality, it’s an acceptable introduction to how these moralities are displayed today.

Besides Nietzsche’s example of Christianity as slave morality, the best case I can think of that illustrates slave morality is American citizens in relation to the American government. Generally speaking, we as American citizens strive to do what the government says we must. we pay taxes, follow the laws, and stay humble and submissive while doing so. It’s generally frowned upon to do anything that could upset the government, such as holding marches in the streets to protest a newly elected president (just for example). You hear all throughout history complaints of taxes (among other things), which could be an example of the resentment that Nietzsche proposes slave morality exhibits.

In relation to recent events, American citizens, or the ‘slaves,’ have developed a type of resentment toward the American government for taking advantage of their power. It seems that the government can get away with anything they want, with little consequences to show for it. While finding a definite ‘master’ in today’s world is difficult, I feel in this example the best correlation in modern day would be the American government. Especially in Trump’s White House, it seems that power and pride are the main goals. Deporting illegal immigrants could be an illustration of the ‘evil’ that master morality embodies. They are, as pointed out earlier, powerless. Since the immigrants are here illegally, and don’t have a country like our own, they are considered evil and must go. While, again, this is a very general comparison, deportation of illegal immigrants would achieve the goal of American pride, or, ‘making America great again.’

Nonetheless, while there are no longer literal slaves and masters, the moralities of both still remain. It’s challenging to decide which morality is better for human society, and perhaps that is a question we as college students should continue to explore, in hopes of reevaluating future morality.

Cite this paper

Slave Morality versus Master Morality. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/slave-morality-versus-master-morality/



What are the differences between master morality and slave morality?
Master morality is based on individualism, strength, and power, while slave morality is based on empathy, compassion, and obedience to authority. Master morality values excellence and achievement, while slave morality values humility and selflessness.
What is meant by master morality?
Master morality is a system of morality that defines good as what benefits the strong and powerful, and bad as what is harmful to them.
What is one principal difference between Nietzsche's master morality and slave morality?
Nietzsche's master morality is based on the strong conquering the weak, while slave morality is based on the weak conquering the strong.
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