from Nietzsche and Philosophy ~ master and slave dialectics

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Deleuze p. 10

This is why Nietzsche presents the dialectic as the speculation of the pleb, as the way of thinking of the slave: the abstract thought of contradiction then prevails over the concrete feeling of positive difference, reaction over action, revenge and ressentiment take the place of aggression. And, conversely, Nietzsche shows that what is negative in the master is always a secondary and derivative product of his existence.

Moreover the relation of master and slave is not, in itself, dialectical. Who is the dialectician, who dialectises the relationship? It is the slave, the slave’s perspective, the way of thinking belonging to the slave’s perspective. The famous dialectical aspect of the master-slave relationship depends on the fact that power is conceived not as will to power but as representation of power, representation of superiority, recognition by ”the one” of the superiority of ”the other”. What the wills in Hegel want is to have their power recognised, to represent their power. According to Nietzsche we have here a wholly erroneous conception of the will to power and its nature. This is the slave’s conception, it is the image that the man of ressentiment has of power. The slave only conceives of power as the object of a recognition, the content of a representation, the stake in a competition, and therefore makes it depend, at the end of a fight, on a simple attribution of established values’. If the master-slave relationship can easily take on the dialectical form, to the point where it has become an archetype or a school-exercise for every young Hegelian, it is because the portrait of the master that Hegel offers us is, from the start, a portrait which represents the slave, at least as he is in his dreams, as at best a successful slave. Underneath the Hegelian image of the master we always find the slave.