<i>Ressentiment</i> and Second-Personal Resentment

Stephen Darwall

in Honor, History, and Relationship

Published in print October 2013 | ISBN: 9780199662609
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191748417 | DOI:
Ressentiment and Second-Personal Resentment

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  • Moral Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy


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A central aspect of Nietzsche's critique of morality is that morality is born in ressentiment. Personal slights are felt as impersonal offenses — offenses by someone against someone — violations of a standing anyone has and that anyone can be held responsible for violating. This chapter argues that Nietzsche is right to see morality as tied distinctively to guilt and distinctively moral responsibility, but that there are significant differences between ressentiment and the second-personal resentment and other reactive attitudes that are conceptually implicated in morality. In Nietzsche's view, the ‘value’ of morality is compromised when ressentiment's retaliatory and destructive force is turned against the self: moral guilt involves a form of self-hatred. The chapter argues, however, that second-personal resentment expresses a reciprocal respect that differs fundamentally from any attitude that seeks to degrade, contemn, retaliate against, or otherwise devalue their objects.

Keywords: ressentiment; Nietzsche; morality; responsibility; second-personal; respect

Chapter.  6461 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy

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