Memory in Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil

Powerful Essays
In Beyond Good & Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche seeks to develop the idea of moral philosophy beyond basic pleasures, how they relate to the general population, and further into our own personal intricacies and how they create a set of rules that apply to most individuals. Throughout the book, Nietzsche articulate well over 200 epigrams, each of which highlights a different aspect of human morality. Nietzsche’s 68th epigram dictates: “‘I have done that,’ says my memory. ‘I cannot have done that,’ says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually--memory yields.” When assessing this aphorism, it is not only important to assess why our memory yields and what ensues as a result, but also what would occur if we didn’t. One could argue that we must remember our mistakes and learn from them and, by choosing to forget our mistakes for our own pride’s sake, we stall our own moral progression. However, it could also be said that forgetting our own mistakes is vital to our moral progression because rather than merely learning from our mistakes, by constantly remembering them, we allow ourselves to be caught in a cycle of guilt, preventing us from truly moving on. Rather than blindly assessing the aphorism on its own, one must look through Nietzsche’s lens regarding the concepts of intention and truth in order to determine which of the above interpretations is more plausible. Although the first notion is a reasonable interpretation of Nietzsche’s epigram regarding widely accepted notions of morality, the second proves to be a more valid conclusion when following Nietzschean philosophy. While the first interpretation allows for moral recognition and awareness, the second allows for actual progress in the individual. The first notion relies heavily on previously conceived notions of morality from past philosophers. Following the ideas of widely accepted pre-Nietzschean moral philosophy, in forgetting our mistakes so that we can “feel better” about ourselves, we discard the

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