Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type





Barry Allen


Stefan Sciaraffa



Committee Member

Sam Ajzenstat


This thesis provides an expository account and critical analysis of Friedrich Nietzsche’s genealogical position on cruelty. Its primary engagement is with Nietzsche’s On The Genealogy of Morals, however, other works by this author are discussed when relevant. The general import of this thesis is threefold. First, it demonstrates Nietzsche’s genealogical account of cruelty, detailing its complex evolutionary progression and its various facets of influence. Second, this work identifies some authors who are critical of Nietzsche position on cruelty. These criticisms are identified and are then largely refuted on various grounds. Third, this thesis argues that an appropriate critical analysis of Nietzsche’s genealogical theorizing will be based on a cross-examination of his positions with current palaeoanthropological findings. The conclusion drawn from this analysis is that there is insufficient empirical evidence to substantiate Nietzsche’s accounts and his methodical approach to genealogical theorizing is, furthermore, untenable.


Unfortunately I have had bit of difficulty with setting up the page numbers appropriately. I have been unable to figure out how to make the preliminary part of document in Roman numerals while at the same time separating this from the main body of the text using Arabic numbers. My apologies, but I sincerely do not know how to resolve this frustrating problem. I can resolve this problem if I send you the preliminary part and main body as separate documents, but just not as one continuous document. Please contact me if this latter method is the way to go.

McMaster University Library