Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Volume 57, Issue 2, June 1997

Bernard Reginster
Pages 281-305

Nietzsche on Ressentiment and Valuation

The paper examines Nietzsche’s claim that valuations born out of a psychological condition he calls “ressentiment” are objectionable. It argues for a philosophically sound construal of this type of criticism, according to which the criticism is directed at the agent who holds values out of ressentiment, rather than at those values themselves. After presenting an analysis of ressentiment, the paper examines its impact on valuation and concludes with an inquiry into Nietzsche’s reasons for claiming that ressentiment valuation is “corrupt.” Specifically, the paper proposes that ressentiment valuation involves a form of self-deception, that such self-deception is objectionable because it undermines the integrity of the self, and that the lack of such integrity ensnares the agent in a peculiar kind of practical inconsistency. The paper ends with a brief review of the problems and prospects of this interpretation.