Slave revolt, deflated self-deception

Guy Elgat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The problem of self-deception lies at the heart of Nietzsche's account of the slave revolt in morality in the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morals. The viability of Nietzsche's genealogy of morality is thus crucially dependent on a successful explanation of the self-deception the slaves of the first essay are caught in. But the phenomenon of self-deception is notoriously puzzling. In this paper, after critically examining existing interpretations of the slaves self-deception, I provide, by drawing on Alfred Mele's work on self-deception, a deflationary account of the slaves self-deception; an account which explains the slaves self-deceived predicament but without either the attribution of contradictory mental states or an intention to produce or to facilitate the production of the belief the self-deceived subjects end up holding. In light of my account of self-deception, I interpret Nietzsche's intriguing claim that the slaves revaluation of ressentiment amounts to their most mendacious artistic stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-544
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Nietzsche
  • ressentiment
  • self-deception
  • slave revolt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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