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Genealogical Thinking in Nietzsche's Wake (19th-21st Centuries)

Project description

The evolution of genealogical thinking

In 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche introduced the concept of genealogy as a socio-historical approach to philosophical thought, which he used to critique Western practices of morality. Consequently, this concept has inspired generations of philosophers and authors. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, the Genealogical thought project aims to investigate the origins and meaning of genealogical thinking as inspired by Nietzsche, and as received and interpreted by ensuing philosophers. The corpus of the study includes Nietzsche’s ‘On the Genealogy of Morality’ and the Nietzsche-inspired genealogical approaches of philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Bernard Williams. The project seeks to elucidate how philosophical genealogy can be applied to today’s socio-political, ethical, epistemological and gender-related issues.


Since a few decades, “genealogy” has become a philosophical keyword: self-proclaimed genealogies of X or Y are offered every day (where X can be democracy, modernity, spiritualism, Europe, and so on). Admittedly, the word “genealogy” doesn’t mean much more than “genesis” in most of these contexts. But even this loose understanding of the term seems to echo a philosophical tradition which grew out of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and of some influential readings of it: especially those of Deleuze and Foucault . The present research proposal aims at interrogating this tradition. To circumscribe a real tradition and not a mere intellectual fashion, the genealogical corpus must be defined as a history of explicit receptions of Nietzsche. Thus, Foucault, Judith Butler and Bernard Williams are three major genealogists in the strong sense: they have all engaged in a creative dialogue with the Genealogy of Morals, around the idea of “problematizing” our present norms and values through history . In doing so, however, they have also reinterpreted what Nietzsche initially meant by a “genealogy of morals”. Hence, it seems both needful and worthwhile to write a history of genealogical thinking in Nietzsche’s wake. This history could also help clarify what philosophical genealogy can achieve today in the fields of social and political philosophy, ethics, epistemology and gender studies.


Net EU contribution
€ 172 800,00
1000 Bruxelles / Brussel

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Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/ Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Arr. de Bruxelles-Capitale/Arr. Brussel-Hoofdstad
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 172 800,00