Nietzsche: your conscience is no saint

Why listen to your conscience?

Isn’t it strange that we all have that little voice in our heads that continually deciphers good from evil? We often think our conscience is something close to a perfect moral compass. We only go morally astray when we don’t listen to it. But, Nietzsche argues, quite convincingly, certainly unsettlingly, that our conscience is just as fallible as the rest of us. Writes Christopher Janaway.


The twentieth-century French philosopher Paul Ricoeur described Friedrich Nietzsche as one of three modern ‘masters of suspicion’. The other two were Marx and Freud. All three encourage us to distrust the surface, the accepted face of things, and realise that something murkier is going on underneath. Like Marx, though for starkly opposite reasons, Nietzsche wants us to see ourselves as products of history in a way that could transform our culture’s future. Like Freud, he wants us to be suspicious of ourselves.

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Phillip Melton 17 January 2024

You've been cautioned not to let your rage control you and that, as long as you control it effectively, feeling angry is OK on occasion.