KANT vs. NIETZSCHE - ON THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS
In order to understand the conflict between the two approaches regarding the origin of morals a few facts must be made clear: Kant was the first (between the two) to develop his theory of morals. He defines certain values as having an intrinsic value by them and follows those values as he proceeds to make the following claim; “Duty carries with itself absolute necessity”. That claim alone embodies the whole moral perception of Kant’s moral account. Precisely that is where Nietzsche first disagrees; he does not accept the same values as a given fact and sets out to take what he sees as the next step; Namely, to ask why and how did those values (such as duty) come to have their value. We shall first explore Kant’s argument and later turn to Nietzsche’s genealogy and critique.
By evaluating an action as directly tied to a specific outcome, each action could be morally measured in different ways; Whether the weight is placed on the action by itself, or measured by the outcome of the action and, in particular, by its utility to its beneficiaries. Those are the two extreme views that are held whenever the moral value of an action is sought within its cause-and-effect relation. Immanuel Kant determined the moral value of an action by evaluating the principle that lies behind it, regardless of its consequence. He begins his account by defining good will: “a good will is good not because of what it affects or accomplishes, nor because of its fitness to attain some proposed end; it is good only through its willing. i.e., it is good in itself.”
Placing the will as the primal power behind every choice allows Kant to claim that the moral worth of an action is determined by the principle of the will behind it and has nothing to do with its outcome. Kant applies his theory by using the concept of duty as the guiding power which stands for good by itself; an action which is done strictly from duty is a moral action, not...