Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Future Philosophy, by Friedrich Nietzsche

Part Five

A Natural History of Morals


Moral feeling in Europe is now just as refined, old, multifaceted, sensitive, and sophisticated as the “Science of Morality” associated with it is still young, amateurish, awkward, and fumbling:— an attractive contrast which now and then even becomes visibly incorporated in the person of a moralist. Even the phrase “Science of Morals” is, so far as what it designates is concerned, much too arrogant and contrary to good taste, which tends always to prefer more modest terms. We should in all seriousness admit to ourselves what we have needed to do for a long time here and still need to do, the only thing that is justified at this point, that is, to assemble materials, organize conceptually, and set in order an immense realm of delicate feelings of value and differences in values, which live, grow, reproduce, and die off — and, perhaps, to attempt to clarify the recurring and more frequent forms of these living crystallizations — as a preparation for a theory of types of morality. Naturally, so far we have not been so modest. As soon as philosophers busied themselves with morality as a science, they collectively have demanded from themselves, with a formal seriousness which makes one laugh, something very much higher, more ambitious, more solemn. They have been looking for the rational basis of morality — and every philosopher so far has believed that he has provided such a rational grounding for morality. But morality itself has been considered something “given.” How distant from their stodgy pride lay that apparently unspectacular task, left in the dust and mould, of a description, although for that task the subtlest hands and senses could hardly be subtle enough! The very fact that the moral philosophers had only a crude knowledge of the moral facts, in an arbitrary selection or an accidental abbreviation, something like the morality of their surroundings, their class, their church, the spirit of their age, their climate and region of the world — the very fact that they were poorly educated and not even very curious with respect to peoples, ages, and past events — meant that they never confronted at all the essential problems of morality — all of which come to the surface only with a comparison of several moralities. In all the “science of morality” up to this point what is still lacking, odd as it may sound, is the problem of morality itself. What’s missing is the suspicion that here there may be something problematic. What the philosophers have called a “rational grounding of morality” and demanded from themselves was, seen in the right light, only a scholarly version of good faith in the ruling morality, some new way of expressing it, and thus itself an element in the middle of a determined morality, even indeed, in the final analysis, a form of denial that this morality could be grasped as a problem — and, at any rate, the opposite of a test, analysis, questioning, or vivisection of this particular belief. Listen, for example, to how even Schopenhauer presents his own task with such an almost admirable innocence, and make your own conclusions about the scientific nature of a “science” whose ultimate masters still talk like children and little old women: “The principle,” he says (on p. 136 of The Fundamental Problem of Morality), “the basic assumption whose meaning all ethicists are essentially in agreement about — neminem laede, immo omnes, quantum potes, juve [hurt no one, instead help everyone, as much as you can] — that is essentially the principle which all teachers of morality struggle to ground in reason . . . the essential foundation of ethics, which people have been seeking for thousands of years as the philosopher’s stone.” The difficulty of rationally grounding the principle quoted above may, of course, be considerable — as we know, it’s not something even Schopenhauer was successful in doing — and whoever has once thoroughly understood just how tastelessly false and sentimental this principle is in a world whose essence is the will to power may permit himself to recall that Schopenhauer, although a pessimist, actually — played the flute. . . . Every day, after his meal: just read his biographer on this point. And here’s an incidental question: a pessimist, a man who denies God and the world, who stops in front of morality — who says yes to morality and blows his flute, to the laede-neminem [hurt no one] morality — How’s that? Is that essentially — a pessimist?


Even apart from the value of such claims as “There is in us a categorical imperative,” we can still always ask: What does such a claim express about the person making it? There are moralities which are intended to justify their creators before other people; other moralities are meant to calm him down and make him satisfied with himself; with others he wants to nail himself to the cross and humiliate himself; with others he wants to practise revenge; with others to hide himself; with others to be transfigured and set himself above, high up and far away. This morality serves its originator so that he forgets; that morality so that he or something about him is forgotten; some moralists may want to exercise their power and creative mood on humanity, some others, perhaps even Kant as well, want us to understand with their morality: “What is respectable about me is that I can obey — and things should be no different for you than they are for me”— in short, moralities are also only a sign language of the feelings.


Every morality is — in contrast to laisser aller [letting go] — a part of tyranny against “nature,” also against “reason”: that is, however, not yet an objection to it. For to object, we would have to decree, once again on the basis of some morality or other, that all forms of tyranny and irrationality are not permitted. The essential and invaluable part of every morality is that it is a lengthy compulsion: to understand Stoicism or Port Royal or Puritanism people should remember the compulsion under which every language so far has achieved strength and freedom — the metrical compulsion, the tyranny of rhyme and rhythm.1 In every people how much trouble poets and orators have made for themselves! — not excepting some contemporary prose writers in whose ears a relentless conscience dwells —“for the sake of some foolishness,” as utilitarian fools say, who think that makes them clever, —“out of obsequiousness to arbitrary laws,” as the anarchists say, who think that makes them “free,” even free spirited. The strange fact, however, is that everything there is or has been on earth to do with freedom, refinement, boldness, dance, and masterly certainty, whether it is in thinking itself, or in governing, or in speaking and persuading, in arts just as much as in morals, developed only thanks to the “tyranny of such arbitrary laws,” and in all seriousness, the probability is not insignificant that this is “nature” and “natural”— and not that laisser aller! Every artist knows how far from the feeling of letting himself go his “most natural” condition is, the free ordering, setting, disposing, shaping in moments of “inspiration”— and how strictly and subtly he obeys at that very moment the thousand-fold laws which make fun of all conceptual formulations precisely because of their hardness and decisiveness (even the firmest idea, by comparison, contains something fluctuating, multiple, ambiguous —). The essential thing “in heaven and on earth,” so it appears, is, to make the point again, that there is obedience for a long time and in one direction: in the process there comes and always has come eventually something for whose sake living on earth is worthwhile, for example, virtue, art, virtue, music, dance, reason, spirituality — something or other transfiguring, subtle, amazing, and divine. The long captivity of the spirit, the mistrustful compulsion in our ability to communicate our thoughts, the discipline which the thinker imposed on himself to think within the guiding principles of a church or court or with Aristotelian assumptions, the long spiritual will to interpret everything which happens according to a Christian scheme and to discover and justify the Christian god once again in every coincidence — all this powerful, arbitrary, hard, dreadful, anti-rational activity has turned out to be the means by which the European spirit cultivated its strength, its reckless curiosity, and its subtle flexibility. Admittedly by the same token a great deal of irreplaceable force and spirit must have been overwhelmed in the process, crushed, and ruined as well (for here as everywhere “nature” reveals herself as she is, in her totally extravagant and indifferent magnificence, which is an outrage, but something noble). The fact that for thousands of years European thinkers only thought in order to prove something — nowadays, by contrast, we distrust any thinker who “wants to prove something”— and the fact that for them what was to emerge as the result of their strictest thinking was always already clearly established, something like with the Asiatic astrologers earlier, or like the harmless Christian moralistic interpretation of the most intimate personal experience “for the honour of God” or “for the salvation of the soul” still present today — this tyranny, this arbitrariness, this strict and grandiose stupidity, has trained the spirit. Apparently slavery is, in the cruder and more refined sense, the indispensable means for disciplining and cultivating the spirit. We can examine every morality in this way: “nature” in it is what teaches hatred of the laisser aller, of that all-too-great freedom, and plants the need for limited horizons, for work close at hand — it teaches the narrowing of perspective and also, in a certain sense, stupidity as a condition of living and growth. “You are to obey someone or other and for a long time: otherwise you perish and lose final respect for yourself”— this seems to me to be the moral imperative of nature, which, of course, is nether “categorical,” as old Kant wanted the imperative to be (hence the “otherwise”), nor directed at the individual (what does nature care about individuals!), but rather at peoples, races, ages, classes, but above all at the whole animal “man,” at the human beings.


The industrious races complain a great deal about having to tolerate idleness: it was a masterpiece of the English instinct to make Sunday so holy and so tedious, a form of cleverly invented and shrewdly introduced fasting, that the Englishman, without being aware of the fact, became eager again for weekdays and workdays. Things like it are frequently seen also in the ancient world (even if, as is reasonable among southern people, not exactly connected to work —). There must be fasts of several kinds, and in every place where powerful impulses and habits rule, the lawgivers had to take care to insert extra days in the calendar [Schalttage] in which such an impulse is placed in chains and learns once again to go hungry. Seen from a higher viewpoint, the periods when entire races and ages get afflicted with some moral fanaticism or other look like such imposed times of compulsion and fasting, during which an impulse learns to cower down and abase itself, but also to cleanse itself and become sharper. Individual philosophical sects (for example the Stoa in the midst of Hellenistic culture and its lecherous air heavy with aphrodisiac scents) permit this sort of interpretation as well. — And with this is also given a hint for an explanation of that paradox why it was precisely in Europe’s Christian period and, in general, first under the pressure of Christian value judgments that the sex drive sublimated itself into love (amour-passion).


There is something in Plato’s morality which does not really belong to Plato, but is found in his philosophy, one might say, only in spite of Plato, namely, the Socratism for which Plato was essentially too noble. “No one will do harm to himself; thus, everything bad happens unwillingly. For the bad man inflicts damage on himself: he would not do that, if he knew that bad is bad. Thus, the bad man is bad only from error. If we take his error away from him, we necessarily make him — ‘good.’” This sort of conclusion stinks of the rabble, which with bad actions fixes its eyes only the wretched consequences and really makes the judgment “It is stupid to act badly,” while “good” it assumes without further thought is identical to “useful and agreeable.” So far as every utilitarianism of morality is concerned, we may guess from the start it had this same origin and follow our noses: we will seldom go wrong. — Plato did everything to interpret something refined and noble in the principle of his teacher, above all, himself — Plato, the most daring of all interpreters, took all of Socrates only like a popular tune and folk song from the alleys, in order to vary it into something infinite and impossible, that is, into all his own masks and multiplicities. To speak in jest — and one based on Homer: What is the Platonic Socrates if not prosthe Platon opithen te Platon messe te Chimera [Plato in front, Plato behind, and in the middle the Chimera]?2


The old theological problem of “believing” and “knowing”— or, to put the matter more clearly — of instinct and reason — and thus the question whether in assessing the value of things instinct deserves more authority than rationality, which wants to assess and act according to reasons, according to a “Why?”— according to expediency and utility — it is still that old moral problem, as it first appeared in the person of Socrates, which had already divided minds long before Christianity. Socrates, in fact, set himself, with a taste for his talent — which was that of a superior dialectical thinker — at first on the side of reason, and, in truth, what did he do his whole life long but laugh at the awkward inability of his noble Athenians, who were men of instinct, like all noble men, and who could never provide enough information about the reasons for their actions? Finally, however, in stillness and secret he also laughed at himself. With his more subtle conscience and self-enquiry he found in himself the same difficulty and inability. But, he said to himself, does that mean releasing oneself from instincts! We must give the instincts and reason the proper help. We must follow the instincts but convince reason to assist in the process with good reasons. This was the real falsehood of that great ironist, so rich in secrets. He brought his conscience to the point where it was satisfied with a kind of trick played on itself. Socrates basically had seen through the irrational in moral judgments. Plato, who was more innocent in such things and without the mischievousness of a common man, wanted to use all his power — the greatest power which a philosopher up to that time had had at his command! — to prove that reason and instinct inherently move to a single goal, to the good, to “God,” and since Plato all the theologians and philosophers have been on the same road — that is, in things concerning morality up to now, instinct, or as the Christians call it “faith,” or as I call it, “the herd,” has triumphed. We must grant that Descartes is an exception, the father of rationalism (and thus the grandfather of the revolution), a man who conferred sole authority on reason. But reason is only a tool, and Descartes was superficial.3


Anyone who has followed the history of a particular science finds in its development a textbook case for understanding the oldest and commonest events in all “knowing and perceiving.” There, as here, the rash hypotheses, the fabrications, the good, stupid will to “believe,” the lack of suspicion and of patience develop first of all — our senses learn late and never learn completely to be subtle, true, and cautious organs of discovery. With a given stimulus, our eye finds it more comfortable to produce once more an image which has already been produced frequently than to capture something different and new in an impression. To do the latter requires more power, more “morality.” To listen to something new is embarrassing and hard on our ears; we hear strange music badly. When we hear some different language, we spontaneously try to reshape the sounds we hear into words which sound more familiar and native to us: that’s how, for example, in earlier times, when the German heard the word arcubalista he changed it into Armbrust [arcubalista . . . Armbrust: crossbow]. Something new finds our senses hostile and reluctant, and in general, even with the “simplest” perceptual processes, the emotions like fear, love, hate, including the passive feeling of idleness, are in control. — Just as a reader nowadays hardly reads the individual words (let alone the syllables) on a page — he’s much more likely to take about five words out of twenty at random and “guess” on the basis of these five words the presumed sense they contain — so we hardly look at a tree precisely and completely, considering the leaves, branches, colour, and shape; we find it so very much easier to imagine an approximation of the tree. Even in the midst of the most peculiar experiences we still act in exactly the same way: we make up the greatest part of experience for ourselves and are hardly ever compelled not to look upon any event as “inventors.” What all this adds up to is that basically from time immemorial we have been accustomed to lie. Or to express the matter more virtuously and hypocritically, in short, more pleasantly: we are much more the artist than we realize. In a lively conversation I often see in front of me the face of the person with whom I am speaking so clearly and subtly determined according to the idea which he expresses or which I think has been brought out in him that this degree of clarity far exceeds the power of my ability to see:— thus, the delicacy of the play of muscles and of the expression in his eyes must be something I have made up out of my own head. The person probably had a totally different expression or none at all.


Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris agit [What goes on in the light, acts in the darkness], but the other way around as well. What we experience in a dream, provided we experience it frequently, finally is as much a part of the collective household of our souls as anything “truly” experienced. Thanks to this, we are richer or poorer, have one more need or one less, and finally in the bright light of day and even in the happiest moments of our waking spirit we are ordered around a little by the habits of our dreams. Suppose that an individual in his dreams has often flown and, finally, as soon as he dreams, becomes aware of the power and art of flying as his privilege and also as his own enviable happiness; such a man who believes he is capable of realizing every kind of curving or angled flight with the easiest impulse, who knows the feeling of a certain godlike carelessness, an “upward” without tension and compulsion, a “downward” without condescension and without humiliation — without gravity! — how should a man with such dream experiences and dream habits not also finally discover in his waking day that the word “happiness” has a different colour and definition! How could he not want a different happiness? “A swing upward,” as described by poets, for him must be, in comparison with that “flying,” too earthbound, too muscular, too forceful, even too “heavy.”


The difference between men does not manifest itself only in the difference between the tables of the goods they possess but also in the fact that they consider different goods worth striving for and that they are at odds among themselves about what is more or less valuable, about the rank ordering of the commonly acknowledged goods — the difference becomes even clearer in what counts for them as really having and possessing something. So far as a woman is concerned, for example, a more modest man considers having at his disposal her body and sexual gratification as a satisfactory and sufficient sign of having, of possession. Another man, with his more suspicious and more discriminating thirst for possessions sees the “question mark,” the fact that such a possession is only apparent, and wants a more refined test, above all, to know whether the woman not only gives herself to him but also for his sake gives up what she has or would like to have. Only then does he consider her “possessed.” A third man, however, is at this point not yet finished with his suspicion and desire to possess. He asks himself if the woman, when she gives up everything for him, is not doing this for something like a phantom of himself: he wants to be well known first, fundamentally, even profoundly, in order to be able, in general, to be loved. He dares to allow himself to be revealed. — Only then does he feel that the loved one is fully in his possession, when she is no longer deceived about him, when she loves him just as much for his devilry and hidden insatiability as for his kindness, patience, and spirituality. One man wants to possess a people: and all the higher arts of Cagliostro and Cataline he thinks appropriate for this purpose.4 Another, with a more refined thirst for possession, tells himself “One is not entitled to deceive where one wants to possess.”— He is irritable and impatient at the idea that a mask of him rules the hearts of his people: “Hence I must let myself be known and, first of all, learn about myself!” Among helpful and charitable men one finds almost regularly that crude hypocrisy which first prepares the person who is to be helped, as if, for example, he “earns” help, wants precisely their help, and would show himself deeply thankful, devoted, and obsequious to them for all their help — with these fantasies they dispose of the needy as if they were property, as if they were, in general, charitable and helpful people out of a demand for property. One finds them jealous if one crosses them or anticipates them in their helping. With their child, parents involuntarily act something like these helpers — they call it “an upbringing”— no mother doubts at the bottom of her heart that with a child she has given birth to a possession; no father denies himself the right to be allowed to subjugate the child to his ideas and value judgments. In fact, in earlier times it seemed proper for fathers to dispose of the life and death of newborns at their own discretion (as among the ancient Germans). And like the father, even today the teacher, the state, the priest, and the prince still see in each new man a harmless opportunity for a new possession. And from that follows . . . .


The Jews — a people “born for slavery,” as Tacitus and the entire ancient world said, “the chosen people among peoples,” as they themselves said and believed — the Jews achieved the amazing feat of inverting values, thanks to which life on earth for two millennia has possessed a new and dangerous appeal.5 Their prophets fused “rich,” “godless,” “evil,” “violent,” and “sensuous” into a unity and for the first time coined the word “world” as a word connoting shame. In this inversion of values (to which belongs the use of the word for “poor” as a synonym for “holy” and “friend”) lies the significance of the Jewish people: with them begins the slave rebellion in morality.


We can conclude that there are countless dark bodies in the region of our sun — bodies we will never see. Between us, that’s a parable, and a psychologist of morality reads the entire writing in the stars only as a language of parable and sign language which allows a great deal to remain silent.


We fundamentally misunderstand predatory animals and predatory men (for example, Cesare Borgia), and we misunderstand “Nature,” so long as we still look for a “pathology” at the bottom of these healthiest of all tropical monsters and growths or even for some “Hell” born in them — as almost all moralists so far have done.6 It seems that among moralists there is a hatred for the primaeval forest and the tropics? And that the “tropical man” must at any price be discredited, whether as a sickness and degeneration of human beings or as his own hell and self-torture? But why? For the benefit of the “moderate zones”? For the benefit of the moderate human beings? For the “moral human beings”? For the mediocre? This for the chapter “morality as timidity.”


All these moralities that direct themselves at the individual person, for the sake of his “happiness,” as people say — what are they except proposals about conduct in relation to the degree of danger in which the individual person lives with himself, recipes against his passions, his good and bad inclinations, to the extent that they have a will to power and would like to play the master; small and great clever sayings and affectations, afflicted with the musty enclosed smell of ancient household remedies or old women’s wisdom, all baroque and unreasonable in form — because they direct themselves to “all,” because they generalize where we should not generalize — all speaking absolutely, taking themselves absolutely, all spiced with more than one grain of salt, and much more bearable, sometimes even seductive, only when they learn to smell over-seasoned and dangerous, above all “of the other world.” By any intellectual standard, all that is worth little and still a far cry from “science,” to say nothing of “wisdom,” but, to say it again and to say it three times: prudence, prudence, prudence, mixed in with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity — whether it is now that indifference and coldness of a metaphorical statute against the hot-headed foolishness of the emotions, which the Stoics recommended and applied as a cure; or even that no-more-laughing and no-more-crying of Spinoza, his excessively naive support for the destruction of the emotions through analysis and vivisection; or that repression of the emotions to a harmless mean, according to which they should be satisfied, the Aristotelianism of morality; even morality as the enjoyment of emotions in a deliberate dilution and spiritualization through artistic symbolism, something like music or the love of God and of man for God’s sake — for in religion the passions have civil rights once more, provided that . . .; finally even that accommodating and wanton dedication to the emotions, as Hafis and Goethe taught, that daring permission to let go of the reins, that physical-spiritual licentia morum [freedom in behaviour] in the exceptional examples of wise old owls and drunkards, for whom it “has little danger any more.” This also for the chapter “morality as timidity.”7


Given that at all times, so long as there have been human beings, there have also been herds of human beings (racial groups, communities, tribes, peoples, states, churches) and always a great many followers in relation to the small number of those issuing orders — and taking into consideration also that so far nothing has been better and longer practised and cultivated among human beings than obedience, we can reasonably assume that typically now the need for obedience is inborn in each individual, as a sort of formal conscience which states “You are to do something or other without conditions, and leave aside something else without conditions,” in short, “Thou shalt.” This need seeks to satisfy itself and to fill its form with some content. Depending on its strength, impatience, and tension, it seizes on something, without being very particular, like a coarse appetite, and accepts what someone or other issuing commands — parents, teachers, laws, class biases, public opinion — shouts in people’s ears. The curiously limitation of human development — the way it hesitates, takes so long, often regresses, and turns around on itself — is based on the fact that the herd instinct of obedience is passed on best and at the expense of the art of commanding. If we imagine this instinct at some point striding right to its ultimate excess, then there would finally be a total lack of commanders and independent people, or they would suffer inside from a bad conscience and find it necessary first to prepare a deception for themselves in order to be able to command, as if they, too, were only obeying orders. This condition is what, in fact, exists nowadays in Europe: I call it the moral hypocrisy of those in command. They don’t know how to protect themselves from their bad conscience except by behaving as if they were carrying out older or higher orders (from ancestors, the constitution, rights, law, or even God), or they even borrow herd maxims from the herd way of thinking, for example, as “the first servant of their people” or as “tools of the common good.” On the other hand, the herd man in Europe today makes himself appear as if he is the single kind of human being allowed, and he glorifies those characteristics of his thanks to which he is tame, good natured, and useful to the herd, as the really human virtues, that is, public spiritedness, wishing everyone well, consideration, diligence, moderation, modesty, forbearance, and pity. For those cases, however, where people believe they cannot do without a leader and bell wether, they make attempt after attempt to replace the commander by adding together collections of clever herd people All the representative constitutional assemblies, for example, have this origin. But for all that, what a blissful relief, what a release from a pressure which is growing unbearable is the appearance of an absolute commander for these European herd animals. The effect which the appearance of Napoleon made was the most recent major evidence for that:— the history of the effect of Napoleon is almost the history of the higher happiness which this entire century derived from its most valuable men and moments.


The man from an age of dissolution, which mixes the races all together, such a man has an inheritance of a multiple ancestry in his body, that is, conflicting and frequently not merely conflicting drives and standards of value which war among themselves and rarely give each other rest — such a man of late culture and disturbed lights will typically be a weaker man. His most basic demand is that the war which constitutes him should finally end. Happiness seems to him, in accordance with a calming medicine and way of thinking (for example, Epicurean or Christian), principally as the happiness of resting, of having no interruptions, of surfeit, of the final unity, as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” to use the words of the saintly rhetorician Augustine, who was himself such a man. But if the opposition and war in such a nature work like one more charm or thrill in life — and bring along, in addition to this nature’s powerful and irreconcilable drives, also the real mastery and refinement in waging war with itself, and thus transmit and cultivate self-ruling and outwitting of the self, then arise those delightfully amazing and unimaginable people, those enigmatic men predestined for victory and temptation, whose most beautiful expressions are Alcibiades and Caesar (— in their company I’d like to place the first European, according to my taste, the Hohenstaufer Frederick II), and, among artists, perhaps Leonardo da Vinci.8 They appear precisely in the same ages when that weaker type, with its demands for quiet, steps into the foreground: both types belong with one another and arise from the same causes.


As long as the utility which rules in moral value judgments is merely the utility of the herd, as long as our gaze is directed only at the preservation of the community and what is immoral is precisely and conclusively sought in what appears dangerous to the survival of the community, there can be no “morality of loving one’s neighbour.” Assuming there existed in society already a constant small habit of consideration, pity, fairness, kindness, and mutual assistance, assuming also that in this condition of society all those drives were already active which later were described with honourable names as “virtues” and which finally were almost synonymous with the idea “morality,” at that time they are not at all yet in the realm of moral value judgments — they are still outside morality. For example, a compassionate action in the best Roman period was called neither good nor evil, neither moral nor immoral. And even if it was praised, this praise brought with it at best still a kind of reluctant disdain, as soon as it was compared with some action which served the demands of the totality, of the res publica [republic]. Ultimately the “love of one’s neighbour” is always something of minor importance, partly conventional, arbitrary, and apparent in relation to the fear of one’s neighbour. After the structure of society in its entirety is established and appears secure against external dangers, it is this fear of one’s neighbour which creates once again new perspectives of moral value judgments. Certain strong and dangerous instincts, like a love of enterprise, daring, desire for revenge, shiftiness, rapacity, desire for mastery, which up to this point not only were honoured in a sense useful to the community, under different names, of course, from those just chosen here, but had to be enormously inculcated and cultivated (because people constantly needed them for the dangers to the totality, against the enemies of that totality)— these are now strongly experienced as doubly dangerous — now that there is a lack of diversionary channels for them — and they are gradually abandoned, branded as immoral and slanderous. Now the opposing impulses and inclinations acquire moral honour. The herd instinct draws its conclusions, step by step. How much or how little something is dangerous to the community, dangerous to equality, in an opinion, in a condition and emotion, in a will, in a talent, that is now the moral perspective. Here also fear is once again the mother of morality. When the highest and strongest drives break out passionately and impel the individual far above and beyond the average and low level of the herd’s conscience, the feeling of commonality in the community is destroyed; its belief in itself, its spine, as it were, breaks: as a result people brand these very drives and slander them most of all. The high independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, even powerful reasoning, are experienced as a danger. Everything which lifts the individual up over the herd and creates fear of one’s neighbour from now on is called evil. The proper, modest, conforming faith in equality, the happy medium in desires take on the names of morality and honour. Finally, under very peaceful conditions, there is an increasing lack of opportunity and need to educate the feelings in strength and hardness. Now every severity, even in justice, begins to disrupt the conscience. A high and hard nobility and self-responsibility are almost an insult and awaken mistrust; “the lamb” and even more “the sheep” acquire respect. There is a point of morbid decay and decadence in the history of society when it itself takes sides on behalf of the person who harms it, the criminal, and does so, in fact, seriously and honestly. Punishment: that seems to society somehow or other unreasonable. What’s certain is that the idea of “punishment” and “We should punish” causes it distress, makes it afraid. “Is it not enough to make him un-dangerous? Why still punish? To punish is itself dreadful!”— with this question the morality of the herd, the morality of timidity, draws its final conclusion. Assuming people could, in general, do away with the danger, the basis of the fear, then people would have done away with this morality as well: it would no longer be necessary; it would no longer consider itself necessary! Whoever tests the conscience of the contemporary European will always have to pull out from the thousand moral folds and hiding places the same imperative, the imperative of the timidity of the herd: “Our wish is that at some point or other there is nothing more to fear!” At some point or other — nowadays the will and the way to that place everywhere in Europe are called “progress.”


Let us state right away one more time what we have already said a hundred times, for today’s ears don’t listen willingly to such truths — to our truths. We know well enough how insulting it sounds when an individual reckons human beings in general plainly and simply and unmetaphorically among the animals, but one thing will make people consider us almost guilty, the fact that we, so far as men of “modern ideas” are concerned, constantly use the terms “herd,” “herd instincts,” and the like. What help is there? We cannot do anything else: for precisely here lies our new insight. We have found that in all major moral judgments Europe, together with those countries where Europe’s influence dominates, has become unanimous. People in Europe apparently know what Socrates thought he didn’t know and what that famous old snake once promised to teach — today people “know” what good and evil are. Now, it must ring hard and badly on their ears when we keep claiming all the time that what here thinks it knows, what here glorifies itself with its praise and censure and calls itself good, is the instinct of the herd animal man, which has come to break through, to overpower, and to dominate other instincts and continues increasingly to do so, in accordance with the growing physiological assimilation and homogeneity, whose symptom it is. Morality today in Europe is the morality of the herd animal — thus only, as we understand the matter, one kind of human morality, alongside which, before which, and after which there are many other possible moralities, above all higher ones, or there should be. Against such a “possibility,” in opposition to such a “should be,” however, this morality defends itself with all its forces: it says stubbornly and relentlessly, “I am morality itself, and nothing outside me is moral”— in fact, with the help of a religion which indulged and catered to the most sublime desires of the herd animal, it has reached the point where we find even in the political and social arrangements an always visible expression of this morality: the democratic movement has come into the inheritance of the Christian movement. But the fact is that its tempo is still much too slow and drowsy for the impatient, the sick, and those addicted to the above-mentioned instincts — evidence for that comes from the wailing, which grows constantly more violent, the increasingly open snarling fangs of the anarchist hounds who now swarm through the alleys of European culture, apparently in contrast to the peacefully industrious democrats and ideologues of the revolution, even more to the foolish pseudo-philosophers and those ecstatic about brotherhood, who call themselves socialists and want a “free society.” But in reality these anarchists are at one with all of them in their fundamental and instinctive hostility to every other form of society than the autonomous herd (all the way to the rejection of the very ideas of “master” and “servant”— ni dieu ni maître [neither god nor master] is the way one socialist formula goes —); at one in their strong resistance to all special claims, all special rights and privileges (that means, in the last analysis, against every right, for when all people are equal, then no one needs “rights” any more —); at one in their mistrust of a justice which punishes (as if it were a violation of the weaker people, a wrong against the necessary consequence of all earlier society —); and equally at one in the religion of pity, of sympathy, wherever there is mere feeling, living, and suffering (right down to the animals, right up to “God”:— the excessive outpouring of “pity with God” belongs to a democratic age —); at one collectively in their cries for and impatience in their pity, in their deadly hatred for suffering generally, in their almost feminine inability to stand there as spectators, to let suffering happen; at one in their involuntary gloom and softness, under whose spell Europe seems threatened by a new Buddhism; at one in their faith in the morality of mutual pity, as if that was morality in and of itself, as the height, the attained height of humanity, the sole hope of the future, the means of consolation for the present, the great absolution from the guilt of earlier times; — altogether at one in their belief in the community as the saviour, thus in the herd, in themselves . . .


We, the ones with a different belief — we, who consider the democratic movement not merely a degenerate form of political organization but a degenerate form of humanity, that is, something that diminishes humanity, makes it mediocre and of lesser worth, where do we have to reach out to with our hopes? There’s no choice: we must reach for new philosophers, for spirits strong and original enough to provide the stimuli for an opposing way of estimating value and to re-evaluate and invert “eternal values,” for those sent out as forerunners, for men of the future who at the present time take up the compulsion and the knot which forces the will of millennia into new paths. To teach man the future of humanity as his will, as dependent on a man’s will, and to prepare for great exploits and comprehensive attempts at discipline and cultivation, so as to put an end to that horrifying domination of nonsense and contingency which up to now has been called “history”— the nonsense of the “greatest number” is only its latest form:— for that a new type of philosophers and commanders will at some point be necessary, at the sight of which all hidden, fearsome, and benevolent spirits on earth may well look pale and dwarfish. The image of such a leader is what hovers before our eyes:— may I say that out loud, you free spirits? The conditions which we must partly create and partly exploit for the origin of these leaders, the presumed ways and trials thanks to which a soul might grow to such height and power to feel the compulsion for these tasks, a revaluation of value under whose new pressure and hammer a conscience would be hardened, a heart transformed to bronze, so that it might endure the weight of such responsibility and, on the other hand, the necessity for such leaders, the terrifying danger that they might not appear or could fail and turn degenerate — those are our real worries, the things that make us gloomy. Do you know that, you free spirits? Those are the heavy, distant thoughts and thunderstorms which pass over the heaven of our life. There are few pains as severe as having once seen, guessed, and felt how an extraordinary man goes astray and degenerates, but someone who has the rare eye for the overall danger that “man” himself is degenerating, someone who, like us, has recognized the monstrous accident which has played its game up to this point with respect to the future of humanity — a game in which there was no hand, not even a “finger of god,” playing along! — someone who guesses the fate which lies hidden in the idiotic innocence and the blissful trust in “modern ideas,” and even more in the entire Christian-European morality, such a man suffers from an anxiety which cannot be compared with any other — with one look, in fact, he grasps everything that still might be cultivated in man, given a favourable combination and increase of powers and tasks; he knows with all the knowledge of his conscience how the greatest possibilities for man are still inexhaustible and how often the type man has already stood up to mysterious decisions and new paths:— he knows even better, from his own most painful memory, what wretched things have so far usually broken apart a developing being of the highest rank, shattered him, sunk him, and made him pathetic. The overall degeneration of man, down to what nowadays shows up in the socialist fools and flat heads, as their “man of the future”— as their ideal! — this degeneration and diminution of man to a perfect herd animal (or, as they say, to a man of “free society”), this beastialization of man into a dwarf animal of equal rights and claims is possible — no doubt of that! Anyone who has once thought this possibility through to the end understands one more horror than the remaining men — and perhaps a new task, as well! . . . .

1. . . Stoicism: a Greek school of philosophy from the third century BC. It stressed the importance of overcoming one’s destructive emotions. Port Royal: a convent which became the centre of Jansenism, a challenge within the Catholic Church in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Jansenism came close to preaching the predestination of Calvinism.

2. The Greek alphabet in Nietzsche’s phrase (προσθε Πλατων οπιθεν τε Πλατων μεσση τε Χιμαιρα) has here been transliterated into the Roman alphabet Chimera: a fabulous Greek monster, with the head of a lion, the mid-section of a goat, and a dragon’s tail.

3. . . . Descartes: René Descartes (1596-1650), extremely important French philosopher and mathematician, one of the most important figures in the development of modern science and philosophy.

4. . . . Cagliostro and Cataline: Cagliostro (1743-1795), a notorious Italian fraud; Cataline: Lucius Sergius Catilina (108-62 BC), a contemporary of Julius Caesar, famous as a devious political conspirator.

5. . . . Tacitus: Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56-117), famous Roman historian.

6. . . . Cesare Borgia (1475-1507), Italian statesman and general well known for his ruthlessness and duplicity.

7. . . . Goethe: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: German’s greatest literary figure. Hafis: Hafiz (c. 1325-1389), Persian poet and theologian.

8. . . . Alcibiades: (450-404 BC), charismatic Athenian politician and general. Caesar: Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), prominent Roman politician and general. Frederick II (1194-1250), Holy Roman Emperor of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, an extraordinarily gifted and powerful medieval figure. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), an Italian painter, engineer, and inventor, one of the most amazing geniuses of the Renaissance.

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 21:20