Styles of Piety: Practicing Philosophy after the Death of God

By S. Clark Buckner; Matthew Statler | Go to book overview

2

Fatherhood and the Promise of Ethics

Kelly Oliver

In On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche describes Judeo-Christian morality as a result of the resentment of the weak who affirm themselves only by hating others: "Slave morality from the outset says No to what is 'outside,' what is 'different,' what is 'not itself.'"1 God in all His forms and the pious adherence to religion, philosophy, or science are the creations of weak wills who need something transcendent in order to justify and redeem earthly life. The master morality, on the other hand, is not so much the affirmation of difference or an embrace of others as a noble indifference to what is outside, different, not itself.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Nietzsche mourns the death of God as the end of security and a stable horizon, but he also celebrates the death of God as the beginning of the power of humans and the value of earthly life. At the end of the twentieth century, our earthly life is in fact threatened by our power to destroy as well as create life. As we harness the power of the earth, we can both destroy the world and all of its inhabitants and create and populate the world with designer life-forms. Technological advances make the slave morality's no to what is not itself into the threat of the literal annihilation of entire civilizations. Thus, at the end of the twentieth century, eth-

An earlier version of this essay was published in Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary
Criticism
27, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 45–58.

-35-

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