Translation copyright Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC
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The following translation retains Nietzsche’s short quotations and phrases in languages other than German and includes, immediately after such phrases, an English translation in the text, placed in italics within square brackets (e.g. [English translation]). If the quotation is more than a few words long, the English version is included in the text, and Nietzsche’s original quotation appears in a note at the end of the translation.
Sometimes, when there may be some ambiguity about the meaning of a word or phrase in the original, this text also includes in square brackets a term from Nietzsche’s German text.
The endnotes, which provide information about people or quotations mentioned in the text, have been provided by the translator.
Beyond Good and Evil, one of the most important works of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), was first published in 1886. For a very brief introduction to Nietzsche see the section on the Life and Work of Friedrich Nietzsche at the end of this translation.
Suppose truth is a woman, what then? Wouldn’t we have good reason to suspect that all philosophers, insofar as they were dogmatists, had a poor understanding of women, that the dreadful seriousness and the awkward pushiness with which they so far have habitually approached truth were clumsy and inappropriate ways to win over a woman? It’s clear that truth did not allow herself to be won over. And every form of dogmatism nowadays is standing there dismayed and disheartened — if it’s still standing at all! For there are mockers who assert that they’ve collapsed, that all dogmatisms are lying on the floor, even worse, that they’re at death’s door. Speaking seriously, there are good reasons to hope that every dogmatism in philosophy — no matter how solemnly, conclusively, and decisively it has conducted itself — may have been merely a noble and rudimentary childish game, and the time is perhaps very close at hand, when people will again and again understand just how little has sufficed to provide the foundation stones for such lofty and unconditional philosophical constructions of the sort dogmatists have erected up to now — any popular superstition from unimaginably long ago (like the superstition of the soul, which today, in the form of the superstition about the subject and the ego, has still not stopped stirring up mischief), perhaps some game with words, a seduction by some grammatical construction, or a daring generalization from very narrow, very personal, very human, all-too-human facts. The philosophies of the dogmatists were, one hopes, only a promise which lasted for thousands of years, as the astrologers were in even earlier times. In their service, people perhaps expended more work, gold, and astute thinking than for any true scientific knowledge up to that point. We owe to them and their “super-terrestrial” claims the grand style of architecture in Asia and Egypt. It seems that in order for all great things to register their eternal demands on the human heart, they first have to wander over the earth as monstrously and frighteningly distorted faces. Dogmatic philosophy has been such a grimace, for example, the Vedanta doctrine in Asia and Platonism in Europe. We should not be ungrateful for it, even though we must also certainly concede that the worst, most protracted, and most dangerous of all errors up to now has been the error of a dogmatist, namely, Plato’s invention of the purely spiritual and of the good as such. But now that has been overcome, and, as Europe breathes a sigh of relief after this nightmare and at least can enjoy a more healthy sleep, those of us whose task it is to stay awake are the inheritors of all the forces which the fight against this error has fostered. To speak of the spirit and the good in this way, as Plato did, was, of course, a matter of standing truth on its head and even of denying the fundamental condition of all life, perspective. Indeed, one could, as a doctor, ask, “How did such a disease get to Plato, the most beautiful plant of antiquity? Did the evil Socrates really corrupt him? Could Socrates have been a corruptor of youth, after all? Did he deserve his hemlock?” But the fight against Plato, or, to put the matter in a way more intelligible to “the people,” the fight against the thousands of years of pressure from the Christian church — for Christianity is Platonism for “the people”— created in Europe a splendid tension in the spirit, something unlike anything existing before on earth before. With such a tensely arched bow, from now on we can shoot for the most distant targets. Naturally, European man experiences this tension as a state of emergency. Already there have been two attempts in the grand style to ease the tension in the bow — the first time with Jesuitism, the second time with the democratic Enlightenment, through which, with the help of the freedom of the press and reading newspapers, a state might, in fact, be attained in which the spirit itself is not so easily experienced as “need”! (Germans invented gunpowder — all honour to them! — but they made up for that when they invented the printing press). But those of us who are neither Jesuits, nor Democrats, nor even German enough, we good Europeans and free, very free spirits — we still have the need, the entire spiritual need and the total tension of its bow! And perhaps we also have the arrow, the work to do, and — who knows? — the target . . .
Oberengadin, June 1885.
The will to truth, which is still going to tempt us to many a daring exploit, that celebrated truthfulness of which all philosophers up to now have spoken with respect, what questions this will to truth has already set down before us! What strange, serious, dubious questions! There is already a long history of that — and yet it seems that this history has scarcely begun. Is it any wonder that at some point we become mistrustful, lose patience and, in our impatience, turn ourselves around, that we learn from this sphinx to ask questions for ourselves? Who is really asking us questions here? What is it in us that really wants “the truth”? In fact, we paused for a long time before the question about the origin of this will — until we finally remained completely and utterly immobile in front of an even more fundamental question. We asked about the value of this will. Suppose we want truth. Why should we not prefer untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance? The problem of the value of truth stepped up before us — or were we the ones who stepped up before the problem? Who among us here is Oedipus? Who is the Sphinx?1 It seems to be a tryst between questions and question marks. And could one believe that we are finally the ones to whom it seems as if the problem has never been posed up to now, as if we were the first ones to see it, to fix our eyes on it, and to dare confront it? For there is a risk involved in this — perhaps there is no greater risk.
“How could something arise out of its opposite? For example, truth out of error? Or the will to truth out of the will to deception? Or selfless action out of self-seeking? Or the pure sunny look of the wise man out of greed? Origins like these are impossible. Anyone who dreams about them is a fool, in fact, something worse. Things of the highest value must have another origin peculiar to them. They cannot be derived from this ephemeral, seductive, deceptive, trivial world, from this confusion of madness and desire! Their basis must lie, by contrast, in the womb of being, in the immortal, in hidden gods, in ‘the thing in itself’— their basis must lie there, and nowhere else!” This way of shaping an opinion creates the typical prejudice which enables us to recognize once more the metaphysicians of all ages. This way of establishing value stands behind all their logical procedures. From this “belief” of theirs they wrestle with their “knowledge,” with something which is finally, in all solemnity, christened “the truth.” The fundamental belief of the metaphysicians is the belief in the opposition of values. Even the most careful among them has never had the idea of raising doubts right here on the threshold, where such doubts are surely most essential, even when they promised themselves “de omnibus dubitandum” [one must doubt everything]. For we are entitled to doubt, first, whether such an opposition of values exists at all and, second, whether that popular way of estimating worth and that opposition of values, on which the metaphysicians have imprinted their seal, are perhaps only evaluations made in the foreground, only temporary perspectives, perhaps even a view from a corner, perhaps from underneath, a frog’s viewpoint, as it were, to borrow an expression familiar to painters. For all the value which the true, genuine, unselfish man may be entitled to, it might be possible that a higher and more fundamental value for everything in life must be ascribed to appearance, the will for deception, self-interest, and desire. It might even be possible that whatever creates the value of those fine and respected things exists in such a way that it is, in some duplicitous way, related to, tied to, intertwined with, perhaps even essentially the same as those undesirable, apparently contrasting things. Perhaps! — But who is willing to bother with such a dangerous Perhaps? For that we must really await the arrival of a new style of philosopher, the kind who has some different taste and inclination, the reverse of philosophers so far, in every sense, philosophers of the dangerous Perhaps. And speaking in all seriousness, I see such new philosophers arriving on the scene.
After examining philosophers between the lines with a sharp eye for a sufficient length of time, I tell myself the following: we must consider even the greatest part of conscious thinking among the instinctual activities. Even in the case of philosophical thinking we must re-learn here, in the same way we re-learned about heredity and what is “innate.” Just as the act of birth merits little consideration in the procedures and processes of heredity, so there’s little point in setting up “consciousness” in any significant sense as something opposite to what is instinctual — the most conscious thinking of a philosopher is led on secretly and forced into particular paths by his instincts. Even behind all logic and its apparent dynamic authority stand evaluations of worth or, putting the matter more clearly, physiological demands for the preservation of a particular way of life — for example, that what is certain is more valuable than what is uncertain, that appearance is of less value than the “truth.” Evaluations like these could, for all their regulatory importance for us, still be only foreground evaluations, a particular kind of niaiserie [stupidity], necessary for the preservation of beings precisely like us. That’s assuming, of course, that not just man is the “measure of things” . . .
For us, the falsity of a judgment is still no objection to that judgment — that’s where our new way of speaking sounds perhaps most strange. The question is the extent to which it makes demands on life, sustains life, maintains the species, perhaps even creates species. And as a matter of principle we are ready to assert that the falsest judgments (to which a priori synthetic judgments belong) are the most indispensable to us, that without our allowing logical fictions to count, without a way of measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, without a constant falsification of the world through numbers, human beings could not live — that if we managed to give up false judgments, it would amount to a renunciation of life, a denial of life.2 To concede the fictional nature of the conditions of life means, of course, taking a dangerous stand against the customary feelings about value. A philosophy which dares to do that is for this reason alone already standing beyond good and evil.
What’s attractive about looking at all philosophers in part suspiciously and in part mockingly is not that we find again and again how innocent they are — how often and how easily they make mistakes and get lost, in short, how childish and child-like they are — but that they are not honest enough in what they do, while, as a group, they make huge, virtuous noises as soon as the problem of truthfulness is touched on, even remotely. Collectively they take up a position as if they had discovered and arrived at their real opinions through the self-development of a cool, pure, god-like disinterested dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of all ranks, who are more honest than they are and more stupid with their talk of “inspiration”—), while basically they defend with reasons sought out after the fact an assumed principle, an idea, an “inspiration,” for the most part some heart-felt wish which has been abstracted and sifted. They are all advocates who do not want to call themselves that. Indeed, for the most part they are even mischievous pleaders for their judgments, which they baptize as “Truths,”— and very remote from the courage of conscience which would admit this, even this, to itself, very remote from that brave good taste which would concede as much, whether to warn an enemy or friend, or whether to mock themselves as an expression of their own high spirits. That equally stiff and well-behaved Tartufferie [hypocrisy] of old Kant with which he enticed us onto the clandestine path of dialectic leading or, more correctly, seducing us to his “categorical imperative”— this dramatic performance makes us discriminating people laugh, for it amuses us in no small way to keep a sharp eye on the sophisticated scheming of the old moralists and preachers of morality.3 Or that sort of mathematical hocus-pocus with which Spinoza presented his philosophy — in the last analysis “the love of his own wisdom,” to use the correct and proper word — as if it were armed in metal and masked, in order in this way to intimidate from the start the courage of an assailant who would dare to cast an eye on this invincible virgin and Pallas Athena — how much of his own shyness and vulnerability is betrayed by this masquerade of a solitary invalid!4
Gradually I came to learn what every great philosophy has been up to now, namely, the self-confession of its originator and a form of unintentional and unrecorded memoir, and also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy made up the essential living seed from which on every occasion the entire plant has grown. In fact, when we explain how the most remote metaphysical claims in a philosophy really arose, it’s good (and shrewd) for us always to ask first: What moral is it (is he —) aiming at? Consequently, I don’t believe that a “drive to knowledge” is the father of philosophy but that knowledge (and misunderstanding) have functioned only as a tool for another drive, here as elsewhere. But whoever explores the basic drives of human beings, in order to see in this very place how far they may have carried their game as inspiring geniuses (or demons and goblins), will find that all drives have already practised philosophy at some time or another — and that every single one of them has all too gladly liked to present itself as the ultimate purpose of existence and the legitimate master of all the other drives. For every drive seeks mastery and, as such, tries to practise philosophy. Of course, with scholars, men of real scientific knowledge, things may be different —“better” if you will — where there may really be something like a drive for knowledge, some small independent clock mechanism or other which, when well wound up, bravely goes on working, without all the other drives of the scholar playing any essential role. The essential “interests” of scholars thus commonly lie entirely elsewhere, for example, in the family or in earning a living or in politics. Indeed, it is almost a matter of indifference whether his small machine is placed on this or on that point in science and whether the “promising” young worker makes a good philologist or expert in fungus or chemist — whether he becomes this or that does not define who he is.5 By contrast, with a philosopher nothing is at all impersonal. And his morality, in particular, bears a decisive and crucial witness to who he is — that is, to the rank ordering in which the innermost drives of his nature are placed relative to each other.
How malicious philosophers can be! I know nothing more poisonous than the joke which Epicurus permitted himself against Plato and the Platonists: he called them Dionysiokolakes. The literal meaning of that, what stands in the foreground, is “flatterers of Dionysus,” hence accessories of tyrants and lickspittles.6 But the phrase says still more than that —“they are all actors, with nothing true about them” (for Dionysokolax was a popular description of an actor). And that last part is the real maliciousness which Epicurus hurled against Plato: the magnificent manners which Plato, along with his pupils, understood, the way they stole the limelight — things Epicurus did not understand! — that irritated him, the old schoolmaster from Samos, who sat hidden in his little garden in Athens and wrote three hundred books, who knows, perhaps out of rage and ambition against Plato? — It took a hundred years until Greece came to realize who this garden god Epicurus was. — Did they realize?
In every philosophy there is a point where the “conviction” of the philosopher steps onto the stage, or, to make the point in the language of an old mystery play:
The ass arrived
Beautiful and most valiant.7
Do you want to live “according to nature”? O you noble Stoics, what a verbal swindle! Imagine a being like nature — extravagant without limit, indifferent without limit, without purposes and consideration, without pity and justice, simultaneously fruitful, desolate, and unknown — imagine this indifference itself as a power — how could you live in accordance with this indifference?8 Living — isn’t that precisely a will to be something different from what this nature is? Isn’t living appraising, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And if your imperative “live according to nature” basically means what amounts to “live according to life”— why can you not just do that? Why make a principle out of what you yourselves are and must be? The truth of the matter is quite different: while you pretend to be in raptures as you read the canon of your law out of nature, you want something which is the reverse of this, you weird actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to prescribe to and incorporate into nature, this very nature, your morality, your ideal. You demand that nature be “in accordance with the stoa,” and you’d like to make all existence merely living in accordance with your own image of it — as a huge and eternal glorification and universalizing of stoicism! With all your love of truth, you have forced yourselves for such a long time and with such persistence and hypnotic rigidity to look at nature falsely, that is, stoically, until you’re no long capable of seeing nature as anything else — and some abysmal arrogance finally inspires you with the lunatic hope that, because you know how to tyrannize over yourselves — Stoicism is self-tyranny — nature also allows herself to be tyrannized. Is the Stoic then not a part of nature? . . . . But this is an ancient eternal story: what happened then with the Stoics is still happening today, as soon as a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates a world in its own image. It cannot do anything different. Philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the spiritual will to power, to a “creation of the world,” to the causa prima [first cause].
The enthusiasm and the delicacy — I might even say the cunning — with which people everywhere in Europe today go at the problem “of the true and the apparent world” make one think and listen — and whoever hears only a “will to truth” in the background and nothing else certainly doesn’t enjoy the keenest hearing. In single rare cases such a will to truth, some extravagant and adventurous spirit, a metaphysical ambition to hold an isolated post, may really be involved, something which in the end still prefers a handful of “certainty” to an entire wagon full of beautiful possibilities. There may even be Puritan fanatics of conscience who still prefer to lie down and die on a certain nothing than on an uncertain something. But this is nihilism and the indication of a puzzled, deathly tired soul, no matter how brave the gestures of such virtue may look. But among stronger thinkers, more full of life, still thirsty for life, it appears to be something different. When they take issue with appearances and already in their arrogance mention the word “perspective,” when they determine that the credibility of their own bodies is about as low as they rank the credibility of appearances which asserts that “the earth stands still,” and, as result, in an apparently good mood, let go of their surest possession (for nowadays what do we think is more secure than our bodies?), who knows whether they don’t, at bottom, want to win back something which people previously possessed with even more certainty, something or other of the old ownership of an earlier faith, perhaps “the immortal soul,” perhaps “the old god,” in short, ideas according to which life could be lived better, that is, more powerfully and more cheerfully than according to “modern ideas”? It’s a mistrust of these modern ideas; it’s a lack of faith in everything which has been built up yesterday and today; it’s perhaps a slight mixture of excess and scorn, which can no longer tolerate the bric-á-brac of ideas coming from different places, of the sort so-called positivism brings to market these days, a disgust of the discriminating taste with the fairground colourful patchiness of all these pseudo-philosophers of reality, in whom there is nothing new or genuine, other than these motley colours. In my view, we should, in these matters, side with today’s sceptical anti-realists and microscopists of knowledge: their instinct, which forces them away from modern reality, is irrefutable — what do we care about their retrogressive secret paths! The fundamental issue with them is not that they want to go “back,” but that they want to go away. With some more power, flight, courage, and artistry they’d want to move up — and not backwards.
It strikes me that nowadays people everywhere are trying to direct their gaze away from the real influence which Kant exercised on German philosophy, that is, cleverly to slip away from the value which he ascribed to himself. Above everything else, Kant was first and foremost proud of his table of categories. With this table in hand, he said, “That is the most difficult thing that ever could be undertaken on behalf of metaphysics.”— But people should understand this “could be”! He was proud of the fact that he had discovered a new faculty in human beings, the ability to make synthetic judgments a priori. Suppose that he deceived himself here. But the development and quick blood of German philosophy depend on this pride and on the competition among all his followers to discover, if possible, something even prouder — at all events “new faculties”! But let’s think this over. It’s time we did. “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” Kant asked himself. And what did his answer essentially amount to? Thanks to a faculty [Vermöge eines Vermögens]. However, unfortunately he did not answer in three words, but so labouriously, venerably, and with such an expenditure of German profundity and flourishes that people failed to hear the comical niaiserie allemande [German stupidity] inherent in such an answer. People even got really excited about this new faculty, and the rejoicing reached its height when Kant discovered yet another additional faculty — a moral faculty — in human beings, for then the Germans were still moral and not yet at all “political realists.” Then came the honeymoon of German philosophy. All the young theologians of the Tubingen seminary went off right away into the bushes — all looking for “faculties.” And what didn’t they find — in that innocent, rich, still youthful time of the German spirit, in which Romanticism, that malicious fairy, played her pipes and sang, a time when people did not yet know how to distinguish between “finding” and “inventing”! Above all, a faculty for the “super-sensory.” Schelling christened this intellectual contemplation and, in so doing, complied with the most heartfelt yearnings of his Germans, whose cravings were basically pious.9 — The most unfair thing we can do to this entire rapturously enthusiastic movement, which was adolescent, no matter how much it boldly dressed itself up in gray and antique ideas, is to take it seriously and treat it with something like moral indignation. Enough — people grew older — the dream flew away. There came a time when people rubbed their foreheads. People are still rubbing them today. They had dreamed: first and foremost — the old Kant. “By means of a faculty,” he had said, or at least meant. But is that an answer? An explanation? Or is it not rather a repetition of the question? How does opium make people sleep? “By means of a faculty,” namely, the virtus dormitiva [sleeping virtue], answered that doctor in Moliere.
Because it has the sleeping virtue
whose nature makes the senses sleep.10
But answers like that belong in comedy, and the time has finally come to replace the Kantian question “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” with another question, “Why is the belief in such judgments necessary?”— that is, to understand that for the purposes of preserving beings of our type we must believe that such judgments are true, although, of course, they could still be false judgments! Or to speak more clearly, crudely, and fundamentally: synthetic judgments a priori should not “be possible” at all: we have no right to them. In our mouths they are nothing but false judgments. Of course, it’s true that a belief in their truth is necessary as a foreground belief and appearance which belong in the perspective optics of living. In order finally to recall the immense influence which “German philosophy”— you understand, I hope, its right to quotation marks? — has exercised throughout Europe, there should be no doubt that a certain virtus dormitiva [virtue of making people sleep] was a part of that: people — among them noble loafers, the virtuous, the mystics, artists, three-quarter Christians, and political obscurantists of all nations — were delighted to have, thanks to German philosophy, an antidote to the still overpowering sensuality which flowed over from the previous century into this one, in short — to have a “sensus assoupire” [way of putting the senses to sleep].
So far as the materialistic atomism is concerned, it belongs with the most effectively refuted things we have, and perhaps nowadays in Europe no scholar remains so unscholarly that he still ascribes a serious meaning to it other than for convenient hand-and-household use (that is, as an abbreviated way of expressing oneself)— thanks primarily to that Pole Boscovich, who, together with the Pole Copernicus, has so far been the greatest and most victorious opponent of appearances. For while Copernicus convinced us to believe, contrary to all our senses, that the earth did not stand still, Boscovich taught us to renounce the belief in the final thing which made the earth “stand firm,” the belief in “stuff,” in “material,” in what was left of the earth, in atomic particles. It was the greatest triumph over the senses which has ever been achieved on earth so far.11 But we must go even further and also declare war, a relentless war to the bitter end, against the “atomistic need,” which still carries on a dangerous afterlife in places where no one suspects, like that celebrated “metaphysical need.”— We must at the start also get rid of that other and more disastrous atomism, which Christianity has taught best and longest, the atomism of the soul. With this phrase let me be permitted to designate the belief which assumes that the soul is something indestructible, eternal, indivisible — like a monad, like an atomon. We should rid scientific knowledge of this belief! Just between us, it is not at all necessary to get rid of “the soul” itself and to renounce one of the oldest and most venerable hypotheses, as habitually happens with the clumsiness of the naturalists, who hardly touch upon “the soul” without losing it. But the way to new versions and refinements of the hypothesis of the soul stands open: and ideas like “mortal soul”‘ and “soul as the multiplicity of the subject” and “soul as the social structure of drives and affects” from now on want to have civil rights in scientific knowledge. While the new psychologist is preparing an end to superstition, which so far has flourished with an almost tropical lushness in the way the soul has been imagined, at the same time he has naturally pushed himself, as it were, into a new desert and a new mistrust — it may be the case that the older psychologists had a more comfortable and happier time —; finally, however, he knows that in that very process he himself is condemned also to invent, and — who knows? — perhaps to discover .
Physiologists should think carefully about setting up the drive to preserve the self as the cardinal drive in an organic being. Above everything else, something living wants to release its power — living itself is will to power. Self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of that. In short, here as everywhere, beware of extraneous teleological principles! The drive for self-preservation is one such principle (we have Spinoza’s inconsistency to thank for it —). For the essential principle of economy must hold — that’s what method demands.
Nowadays in perhaps five or six heads the idea is dawning that even physics is only an interpretation and explication of the world (for our benefit, if I may be permitted to say so) and not an explanation of the world. But to the extent it rests upon a faith in the senses, it counts for more and must continue to count for more for a long time yet, that is, as an explanation. Physics has eyes and fingers on its side; it has appearance and tangibility on its side. That works magically on an age with basically plebeian taste — persuasively and convincingly — indeed, it follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternally popular sensuality. What is clear, what is “explained”? Only whatever lets itself be seen and felt — every problem has to be pushed that far. By contrast, the reluctance to accept obvious evidence of the senses constituted the magic of the Platonic way of thinking, which was a noble way of thinking — perhaps among human beings who enjoyed even stronger and more discriminating senses than our contemporaries have, but who knew how to experience a higher triumph in remaining master of these senses and to do this by means of the pale, cool, gray, conceptual nets which they threw over the colourful confusion of sense, the rabble of the senses, as Plato called them. That form of enjoyment in overcoming this world and interpreting the world in the manner of Plato was different from the one which today’s physicists offer us, as well as the Darwinists and anti-teleologists among the physiological workers, with their principle of the “smallest possible force” and the greatest possible stupidity. “Where human beings have nothing more to look at and to grip, there they have also no more to seek out”— that is, of course, an imperative different from the Platonic one, but nonetheless for a crude, diligent race of mechanics and bridge builders of the future, who have nothing but rough work to do, it might be precisely the right imperative.
In order to carry on physiology in good conscience, people must hold to the principle that the sense organs are not phenomena in the sense of idealistic philosophy: as such they could not, in fact, be causes! And so sensualism at least as a regulative hypothesis, if not as a heuristic principle. — What’s that? And other people even say that the outer world might be the work of our organs? But then our bodies, as a part of this outer world, would, in fact, be the work of our organs! But then our organs themselves would, in fact, be — the work of our organs. It seems to me that this is a fundamental reductio ad absurdum [absurd conclusion] provided that the idea of causa sui [something being its own cause] is fundamentally absurd. Consequently, is the exterior world not the work of our organs —?
There are still harmless observers of themselves who believe that there are “immediate certainties,” for example, “I think,” or that superstition of Schopenhauer’s, “I will,” just as if perception here was able to seize upon its object pure and naked, as “ thing in itself,” and as if there was no falsification either on the part of the subject or on the part of the object.12 However, the fact is that “immediate certainty,” just as much as “absolute cognition” and “thing in itself,” contains within itself a contradictio in adjecto [contradiction in terms]. I’ll repeat it a hundred times: people should finally free themselves of the seduction of words! Let folk believe that knowing is knowing all of something. The philosopher must say to himself, “When I dismantle the process which is expressed in the sentence ‘I think,’ I come upon a series of daring assertions whose grounding is difficult, perhaps impossible — for example, that I am the one who thinks, that there must be some general something that thinks, that thinking is an action and effect of a being which is to be thought of as a cause, that there is an ‘I’, and finally that it is already established what we mean by thinking — that I know what thinking is. For if I had not yet decided these questions in myself, how could I assess that what just happened might not perhaps be ‘willing’ or ‘feeling’?” In short, this “I think” presupposes that I compare my immediate condition with other conditions which I know in myself in order to establish what it is. Because of this referring back to other forms of “knowing,” it certainly does not have any immediate “certainty” for me. Thus, instead of that “immediate certainty,” which the people may believe in the case under discussion, the philosopher encounters a series of metaphysical questions, really essential problems of intellectual knowledge, as follows: “Where do I acquire the idea of thinking? Why do I believe in cause and effect? What gives me the right to speak of an ‘I,’ and indeed of an ‘I’ as a cause, finally even of an ‘I’ as the cause of thinking?” Anyone who dares to answer those metaphysical questions right away with an appeal to some kind of intuitive cognition, as does the man who says “I think and know that at least this is true, real, and certain”— such a person nowadays will be met by a philosopher with a smile and two question marks. “My dear sir,” the philosopher will perhaps give him to understand, “it is unlikely that you are not mistaken but why such absolute truth?”—
So far as the superstitions of the logicians are concerned, I will never tire of emphasizing over and over again a small brief fact which these superstitious types are unhappy to concede — namely, that a thought comes when “it” wants to and not when “I” wish, so that it’s a falsification of the facts to say that the subject “I” is the condition of the predicate “think.” It thinks: but that this “it” is precisely that old, celebrated “I” is, to put it mildly, only an assumption, an assertion, in no way an “immediate certainty.” After all, we’ve already done too much with this “it thinks”: this “it” already contains an interpretation of the event and is not part of the process itself. Following grammatical habits we conclude here as follows: “Thinking is an activity. To every activity belongs someone who does the action, therefore —.” With something close to this same pattern, the older atomists, in addition to the “force” which created effects, also looked for that clump of matter where the force was located, out of which it worked — the atom. Stronger heads finally learned how to cope without this “remnant of earth,” and perhaps one day people, including even the logicians, will also grow accustomed to cope without that little “it” (to which the honourable old “I” has reduced itself).
It’s true that the fact that a theory can be disproved is not the least of its charms: that’s precisely what attracts more sophisticated minds to it. Apparently the theory of “free will,” which has been refuted hundreds of times, owes its continuing life to this very charm alone — someone or other comes along again and again and feels he’s strong enough to refute it.
Philosophers habitually speak of the will as if it was the best-known thing in the world. Indeed, Schopenhauer let it be known that the will is the only thing really known to us, totally known, understood without anything taken away or added. But still, again and again it seems to me that Schopenhauer, too, in this case has only done what philosophers just do habitually — he’s taken over and exaggerated a popular opinion. Willing seems to me, above all, something complicated, something which is unified only in the word — and popular opinion simply inheres in this one word, which has overmastered the always inadequate caution of philosophers. So if we are, for once, more careful, if we are “un-philosophical,” then let’s say, firstly, that in every act of willing there is, first of all, a multiplicity of feelings, namely, the feeling of the condition away from which, a feeling of the condition towards which, the feeling of this “away” and “towards” themselves, then again, an accompanying muscular feeling which comes into play through some kind of habit, without our putting our “arms and legs” into motion, as soon as we “will.” Secondly, just as we acknowledge feelings, indeed many different feelings, as ingredients of willing, so we should also acknowledge thinking. In every act of will there is a commanding thought — and people should not believe that this thought can be separated from the “will,” as if then the will would still be left over! Thirdly, the will is not only a complex of feeling and thinking but, above all, an affect, and, indeed, an affect of the commander. What is called “freedom of the will” is essentially the feeling of superiority with respect to the one who has to obey: “I am free; ‘he’ must obey”— this awareness inheres in every will, just as much as that tense attentiveness inheres, that direct gaze fixed exclusively on one thing, that unconditional value judgment “Do this now — nothing else needs to be done,” that inner certainty about the fact that obedience will take place, and everything else that accompanies the condition of the one issuing commands. A man who wills — gives orders to something in himself which obeys or which he thinks obeys. But now observe what is the strangest thing about willing — about this multifaceted thing for which the people have only a single word: insofar as we are in a given case the one ordering and the one obeying both at the same time and as the one obeying we know the feelings of compulsion, of pushing and pressing, resistance and movement, which habitually start right after the act of will, and insofar as we, by contrast, have the habit of disregarding this duality and deceiving ourselves, thanks to the synthetic idea of “I,” a whole series of mistaken conclusions and, consequently, false evaluations of the will have attached themselves to the act of willing, in such a way that the person doing the willing believes in good faith that willing is sufficient for action. Because in the vast majority of cases a person only wills something where he may expect his command to take effect in obedience and thus in action, what is apparent has translated itself into a feeling, as if there might be some necessary effect. In short, the one who is doing the willing believes, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that will and action are somehow one thing — he ascribes his success, the carrying out of the will, to the will itself and, in the process, enjoys an increase in that feeling of power which all success brings with it. “Freedom of the will”— that’s the word for that multifaceted condition of enjoyment in the person willing, who commands and at the same identifies himself with what is carrying out the order. As such, he enjoys the triumph over things which resist him, but in himself is of the opinion that it is his will by itself which really overcomes this resistance. The person doing the willing thus acquires the joyful feelings of the successful implements carrying out the order, the serviceable “under-wills” or under-souls — our body is, in fact, merely a social construct of many souls — in addition to his joyful feeling as the one who commands. L’effet c’est moi [the effect is I]. What happens here is what happens in every well-constructed and happy commonality — the ruling class identifies itself with the successes of the community. All willing is simply a matter of giving orders and obeying, on the basis, as mentioned, of a social construct of many “souls”: for this reason a philosopher should arrogate to himself the right to include willing as such within the field of morality: morality, that is, understood as a doctrine of the power relationships under which the phenomenon “living” arises.
That individual philosophical ideas are not something spontaneous, not things which grow out of themselves, but develop connected to and in relationship with each other, so that, no matter how suddenly and arbitrarily they may appear to emerge in the history of thinking, they nevertheless belong to a system just as much as do the collective members of the fauna of a continent, that point finally reveals itself by the way in which the most diverse philosophers keep filling out again and again a certain ground plan of possible philosophies. Under an invisible spell they always run around the same orbit all over again: they may feel they are still so independent of each other with their critical or systematic wills, but something or other inside leads them, something or other drives them in a particular order one after the other, that very inborn taxonomy and relationship of ideas. Their thinking is, in fact, much less a discovery than a recognition, a remembering again, a journey back home into a distant primordial collective household of the soul, out of which those ideas formerly grew. To practise philosophy is to this extent a form of atavism of the highest order. The strange family similarity of all Indian, Greek, and German ways of practising philosophy can be explained easily enough. It’s precisely where a relationship between languages is present that we cannot avoid the fact that, thanks to the common philosophy of grammar — I mean thanks to the unconscious mastery and guidance exercised by the same grammatical functions — everything has been prepared from the beginning for a similar development and order of philosophical systems, just as the road to certain other possibilities of interpreting the world seems sealed off. There will be a greater probability that philosophers from the region of the Ural-Altaic language (in which the idea of the subject is most poorly developed) will look differently “into the world” and will be found on other pathways than Indo-Germans or Muslims: the spell of particular grammatical functions is, in the final analysis, the spell of physiological judgments of value and racial conditions. — So much for the repudiation of Locke’s superficiality in connection with the origin of ideas.13
The causa sui [something being its own cause] is the best self-contradiction which has been thought up so far, a kind of logical rape and perversity. But the excessive pride of human beings has worked to entangle itself deeply and terribly with this very nonsense. The demand for “freedom of the will,” in that superlative metaphysical sense, as it unfortunately still rules in the heads of the half-educated, the demand to bear the entire final responsibility for one’s actions oneself and to relieve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society of responsibility for it, is naturally nothing less than this very causa sui and an attempt to pull oneself into existence out of the swamp of nothingness by the hair, with more audacity than Munchhausen.14 Suppose someone in this way gets behind the boorish simplicity of this famous idea of the “free will” and erases it from his head, then I would invite him now to push his “enlightenment” still one step further and erase also the inverse of this incomprehensible idea of “free will” from his head: I refer to the “unfree will,” which leads to an abuse of cause and effect. People should not mistakenly reify “cause” and “effect” the way those investigating nature do (and people like them who nowadays naturalize their thinking —), in accordance with the ruling mechanistic foolishness which allows causes to push and shove until they “have an effect.” People should use “cause” and “effect” merely as pure ideas, that is, as conventional fictions to indicate and communicate, not as an explanation. In the “in itself” there is no “causal connection,” no “necessity,” no “psychological unfreedom,” no “effect following from the cause”; no “law” holds sway. We are the ones who have, on our own, made up causes, causal sequences, for-one-another, relativity, compulsion, number, law, freedom, reason, and purpose, and when we fabricate this world of signs inside things as something “in itself,” when we stir it into things, then we’re once again acting as we have always done, namely, mythologically. The “unfree will” is a myth: in real life it’s merely a matter of strong and weak wills. — It is almost always already a symptom of something lacking in a thinker himself when he senses in all “causal connections” and “psychological necessity” some purpose, necessity, inevitable consequence, pressure, and unfreedom. That very feeling is a telltale give away — the person is betraying himself. And if I have seen things correctly, the “unfreedom of the will” has generally been seen as a problem from two totally contrasting points of view, but always in a deeply personal way: some people are not willing at any price to let go of their “responsibility,” their belief in themselves, their personal right to their credit (the vain races belong to this group —); the others want the reverse: they don’t wish to be responsible for or guilty of anything, and demand, out of an inner self-contempt, that they can shift blame for themselves somewhere else. People in this second group, when they write books, are in the habit nowadays of taking up the cause of criminals; a sort of socialist pity is their most attractive disguise. And in fact, the fatalism of those with weak wills brightens up amazingly when it learns how to present itself as “la religion de la souffrance humaine” [the religion of human suffering] — that’s its “good taste.”
People should forgive me, as an old philologist who cannot prevent himself from maliciously setting his finger on the arts of bad interpretation — but that “conformity to nature” which you physicists talk about so proudly, as if — it exists only thanks to your interpretation and bad “philology”— it is not a matter of fact, a “text.” It is much more only a naively humanitarian emendation and distortion of meaning, with which you make concessions ad nauseam to the democratic instincts of the modern soul! “Equality before the law everywhere — in that respect nature is no different and no better than we are”: a charming ulterior motive, in which once again lies disguised the rabble’s hostility to everything privileged and autocratic, as well as a second and more sophisticated atheism. Ni dieu, ni maître [neither god nor master] — that’s how you want it, and therefore “Up with natural law!” Isn’t that so? But, as mentioned, that is interpretation, not text, and someone could come along who had an opposite intention and style of interpretation and who would know how to read out of this same nature, with a look at the same phenomena, the tyrannically inconsiderate and inexorable enforcement of power claims — an interpreter who set right before your eyes the unexceptional and unconditional nature in all “will to power,” in such a way that almost every word, even that word “tyranny,” would finally appear unusable or an already weakening metaphor losing its force — as too human — and who nonetheless in the process finished up asserting the same thing about this world as you claim, namely, that it has a “necessary” and “calculable” course, but not because laws rule the world but because there is a total absence of laws, and every power draws its final consequence in every moment. Supposing that this also is only an interpretation — and you will be eager enough to raise that objection? — well, so much the better.
All psychology so far has remained hung up on moral prejudices and fears. It has not dared to go into the depths. To understand it as the morphology and doctrine of the development of the will to power — the way I understand it — no one in his own thinking has even touched on that, insofar, that is, as one is permitted to recognize in what has been written up to now a symptom of what people so far have kept silent about. The power of moral prejudices has driven deep into the most spiritual, the most apparently cool world, the one with the fewest assumptions, and, as is self-evident, damages, limits, blinds, and distorts that world. A true physical psychology has to fight against an unconscious resistance in the heart of the researcher. It has “the heart” against it. Even a doctrine of the mutual interdependence of the “good” and the “bad” drives creates, as a more refined immorality, distress and weariness in a still powerful and hearty conscience — even more so a doctrine of how all the good drives are derived from the bad ones. But assuming that someone takes the affects of hate, envy, greed, and ruling as the affects which determine life, as something that, in the whole household of life, have to be present fundamentally and essentially, and, as a result, still have to be intensified if life is still to be further intensified — he suffers from an orientation in his judgment as if he were seasick. Nevertheless, even this hypothesis is not nearly the most awkward or the strangest in this immense and still almost new realm of dangerous discoveries; — and, in fact, there are a hundred good reasons that everyone should stay away from it, anyone who can! On the other hand, if someone aboard ship ends up here at some point — well, then! Come on! Now’s the time to keep one’s teeth tightly clenched, the eyes open, and the hand firm on the tiller! — We’re moving directly over and away from morality, and in the process we’re overwhelming, perhaps smashing apart, what’s left of our morality, as we dare make our way there — but what does that matter to us! Never before has a more profound world of insights revealed itself to daring travellers and adventurers: and the psychologist who in this manner “makes a sacrifice”— it is not the sacrifizio dell’intelletto [sacrifice of the intellect], quite the opposite — will for that reason at least be permitted to demand that psychology is recognized again as the mistress of the sciences, with the other sciences there to prepare things in her service. For from now on psychology is once more the route to fundamental problems.
1. . . . Oedipus . . . Sphinx: In Greek mythology, the Sphinx was a monster who terrorized Thebes. The peril could only be averted by answering a riddle. Oedipus answered the riddle successfully and was made king of Thebes.
2. . . . a priori synthetic judgements: a central claim of Kant’s theory of knowledge, these are judgments which do not arise from experience (i.e., they are innate) but which reveal knowledge of experience (like deductively argued mathematically based scientific laws).
3. . . . Kant . . . categorical imperative: the key phrase in Kant’s morality, the idea that moral action consists of acting upon a principle which could become a rational moral principle without creating a moral contradiction (“Act so that the maxim [which determines your will] may be capable of becoming a universal law for all rational beings.” Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was an enormously influential German Enlightenment philosopher.
4. . . . Spinoza; Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), an important and controversial Dutch philosopher. Pallas Athena: the Greek goddess of wisdom.
5. Nietzsche’s word Wissenschaft, here translated as science, also means scientific scholarship or scientific research methods and activities in general. Its meaning is by no means confined to natural science.
6. . . . Dionysus (432 to 367 BC), tyrant of Syracuse.
7. . . . and most valiant: Nietzsche quotes the Latin: “Adventavit asinus/ Pulcher et fortissimus.”
8. . . . you noble Stoics: The Stoics were a Greek philosophical school teaching patient endurance and repression of the emotions.
9. . . . Schelling: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854), a German philosopher.
10. . . . the senses sleep: Nietzsche quotes the Latin: “Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva/ Cujus est natura sensus assoupire.”
11. . . . Boscovich: Roger Boscovich (1711-1787), a Jesuit philosopher and an important scientific thinker, denied material substance to atoms. His ethnic identity is contested. Copernicus: Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Polish monk and astronomer, offered a scientific theory for a sun-centred solar system.
12. . . . Schopenhauer: Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), an important German philosopher whose work had a significant influence upon Nietzsche.
13. . . . Locke: John Locke (1632-1704), a very influential English philosopher, proposed that the mind at birth was a blank slate, without innate ideas.
14. . . . Munchhausen: the hero of a book of tall tales.
O sancta simplicitas [blessed simplicity]! Human beings live in such a peculiarly simple and counterfeit way! Once a man develops eyes to see this wonder, he cannot check his amazement! How bright and free and light and simple we have made everything around us! How we have learned to give our senses free license for everything superficial, our thinking a divine craving for wanton leaps and erroneous conclusions! How we have learned ways, right from the start, to maintain our ignorance in order to enjoy a hardly conceivable freedom, safety, carelessness, heartiness, and merriment in life — in order to enjoy life. And only on this now firm granite foundation of ignorance could scientific knowledge up to now rise up, the will to know on the foundation of a much more powerful will, the will not to know, to uncertainty, to what is not true! Not as its opposite, but — as its refinement! For if language, here as elsewhere, does not cast off its clumsiness and continues to speak about opposites, where there are only degrees and many subtleties of gradation, and similarly if inveterate Tartufferie [hypocrisy] in morality, which nowadays belongs to our invincible “flesh and blood,” turns the words even of us knowledgeable people around in our mouths, here and there we understand that and laugh about how it’s precisely the best scientific knowledge that most wants to hold us in this simplified, completely artificial, appropriately created, and appropriately falsified world, how it loves error, voluntarily and involuntarily, because, as something alive — it loves life!
After such a cheerful start, I’d like you to not to miss hearing a serious word: it’s directed at the most serious people. Be careful, you philosophers and friends, of knowledge — protect yourself from martyrdom! From suffering “for the sake of the truth”! Even from defending yourselves! That corrupts all the innocence and refined neutrality in your consciences. It makes you stubborn against objections and red rags; it dulls your minds, brutalizes you, and puts you in a daze when, in the struggle with danger, malice, suspicion, expulsion, and even dirtier consequences of your hostility, you finally have to play out your role as the defenders of truth on earth, as though “the truth” were such a harmless and clumsy character as to require defenders! And as for you, you knights with the sorrowful countenances, my good gentlemen, you spiritual loafers and cobweb spinners! Ultimately you yourselves know well enough that it really doesn’t matter if you are the ones who are right. You also know that up to now no philosopher has been right and that a more praiseworthy truthfulness could lie in every small question mark which you set after your favourite words and cherished doctrines (and occasionally after yourselves), than in all the ceremonial gestures and trump cards before prosecutors and courts of justice! Better to stand aside! Run off to some secluded place! And retain your mask and your subtlety, so that people confuse you with someone else — or fear you a little! And for my sake don’t forget the garden, the garden with the golden trellis! And have people around you who are like a garden — or like music over water in the evening, when the day is already becoming a memory. Choose good solitude, the free, high-spirited, easy solitude, which gives you also a right to remain, in some sense or other, still good yourselves! How poisonous, how crafty, how bad every long war makes us, when it does not let us fight with open force! How personal a long fear makes us, a long attention on our enemies, on potential enemies! These social outcasts, these men long persecuted and wickedly hunted down — as well as the compulsory recluses, the Spinozas or Giordano Brunos1 — in the end always become, maybe under a spiritual masquerade and perhaps without realizing it themselves, sophisticated avengers and makers of poisons (just dig into the foundation of Spinoza’s ethics and theology)— to say nothing of the foolishness of moral indignation, which in a philosopher is the unmistakable sign that his philosophical humour has run away from him. The martyrdom of a philosopher, his “sacrifice for the truth,” brings forcefully to light how much of the agitator and actor he contains within himself. And if people have looked at him with only an artistic curiosity up to this point, then, in the case of several philosophers, we can naturally understand the dangerous wish to see him also in his degeneration (degenerated into a “martyr,” into a brawler on the stage and in tribunals). But with such a wish, people must be clear about what they are going to see in every case — only a satyr play, only a farcical epilogue, only continuing proof that the long, real tragedy is over, assuming that every philosophy in its origin was a long tragedy.
Every special human being strives instinctively for his own castle and secrecy, where he is saved from the crowd, the many, the majority, where he can forget the rule-bound “people,” for he is an exception to them — but for the single case where he is pushed by an even stronger instinct straight against these rules, as a person who seeks knowledge in a great and exceptional sense. Anyone who, in his intercourse with human beings, does not, at one time or another, shimmer with all the colours of distress — green and gray with disgust, surfeit, sympathy, gloom, and loneliness — is certainly not a man of higher taste. But provided he does not take all this weight and lack of enthusiasm freely upon himself, always keeps away from it, and stays, as mentioned, hidden, quiet, and proud in his castle, well, one thing is certain: he is not made for, not destined for, knowledge. For if he were, he would one day have to say to himself, “The devil take my good taste! The rule-bound man is more interesting than the exception — than I am, the exception!”— and he would make his way down, above all, “inside.” The study of the average man — long, serious, and requiring much disguise, self-control, familiarity, bad company — all company is bad company except with one’s peers — that constitutes a necessary part of the life story of every philosopher, perhaps the most unpleasant, foul-smelling part, the richest in disappointments. But if he’s lucky, as is appropriate for a fortunate child of knowledge, he encounters real short cuts and ways of making his task easier — I’m referring to the so-called cynics, those who, as cynics, simply recognize the animal, the meanness, the “rule-bound man” in themselves and, in the process, still possess that degree of intellectual quality and urge to have to talk about themselves and people like them before witnesses; — now and then they even wallow in books, as if in their very own dung. Cynicism is the single form in which common souls touch upon what honesty is, and the higher man should open his ears to every cruder and more refined cynicism and think himself lucky every time a shameless clown or a scientific satyr announces himself directly in front of him. There are even cases where enchantment gets mixed into the disgust: for example, in those places where, by some vagary of nature, genius is bound up with such an indiscreet billy-goat and ape — as in the Abbé Galiani, the most profound, sharp-sighted, and perhaps also the foulest man of his century — he was much deeper than Voltaire and consequently a good deal quieter.2 More frequently it happens that, as I’ve intimated, the scientific head is set on an ape’s body, a refined and exceptional understanding in a common soul — among doctors and moral physiologists, for example, that’s not an uncommon occurrence. And where anyone speaks without bitterness and quite harmlessly of men as a belly with two different needs and a head with one, everywhere someone constantly sees, looks for, and wants to see only hunger, sexual desires, and vanity, as if these were the real and only motivating forces in human actions, in short, wherever people speak “badly” of human beings — not even in a nasty way — there the lover of knowledge should pay fine and diligent attention; he should, in general, direct his ears to wherever people talk without indignation. For the indignant man and whoever is always using his own teeth to tear himself apart or lacerate himself (or, as a substitute for that, the world, or God, or society) may indeed, speaking morally, stand higher than the laughing and self-satisfied satyr, but in every other sense he is the more ordinary, the more trivial, the more uninstructive case. And no one lies as much as the indignant man.
It is difficult to be understood, particularly when one thinks and lives gangastrotogati [like the flow of the river Ganges], among nothing but people who think and live differently, namely kurmagati [like the movements of a tortoise] or, in the best cases “following the gait of frogs” mandeikagati — I’m simply doing everything to make myself difficult to be understood? — and people should appreciate from their hearts the good will in some subtlety of interpretation. But so far as “good friends” are concerned, those who are always too comfortable and believe they have a particular right as friends to a life of comfort, one does well to start by giving them a recreation room and playground of misunderstanding:— so one has to laugh — or else to get rid of them altogether, these good friends — and also to laugh!
The most difficult thing about translating from one language into another is the tempo of its style, which is rooted in the character of the race — physiologically speaking, in the average tempo of its “metabolism.” There are honestly intended translations which, as involuntarily coarse versions of the original, are almost misrepresentations, simply because its brave and cheerful tempo, which springs over and neutralizes everything dangerous in things and words, cannot be translated. A German is almost incapable of presto [quick tempo] in his language and thus, as you can reasonably infer, is also incapable of many of the most delightful and most daring nuances of free and free-spirited thinking. Just as the buffoon and satyr are foreign to him, in body and conscience, so Aristophanes and Petronius are untranslatable for him. Everything solemn, slow moving, ceremonially massive, all lengthy and boring varieties in style are developed among the Germans in a lavish diversity. You must forgive me for the fact that even Goethe’s prose, with its mixture of stiffness and daintiness, is no exception, as a mirror image of the “good old time” to which it belongs, and as an expression of German taste in an age when there still was a “German taste,” a rococo taste in moribus et artibus [in customs and the arts].3 Lessing is an exception, thanks to his play-actor’s nature, which understood a great deal and knew how to do many things. He was not the translator of Bayle for nothing and was happy to take refuge in Diderot’s or Voltaire’s company — and even happier among the Roman writers of comic drama. In tempo, Lessing also loved free-spiritedness, the flight from Germany. But how could the German language — even in the prose of a Lessing — imitate the tempo of Machiavelli, who in his Prince allows one to breathe the fine dry air of Florence and cannot not help presenting the most serious affairs in a boisterous allegrissimo [very quick tempo], perhaps not without a malicious artistic feeling about what a contrast he was risking — long, difficult, hard, dangerous ideas, and a galloping tempo and the very best, most high-spirited of moods.4 Finally, who could even venture a German translation of Petronius, who was the master of the presto — more so than any great musician so far — in invention, ideas, words. Ultimately what is so important about all the swamps of the sick, nasty world, even “the ancient world,” when someone like him has feet of wind, drive, and breath, the liberating scorn of a wind which makes everything healthy, as he makes everything run! And so far as Aristophanes is concerned, that transfiguring, complementary spirit for whose sake we excuse all Hellenism for having existed, provided that we have understood in all profundity everything that needs to be forgiven and transfigured; — I don’t know what allows me to dream about Plato’s secrecy and sphinx-like nature more than that petit fait [small fact], which fortunately has been preserved, that under the pillow on his death bed people found no “Bible,” nothing Egyptian, Pythagorean, or Platonic — but something by Aristophanes. How could even a Plato have endured life — a Greek life, to which he said no — without an Aristophanes! —
It’s the business of very few people to be independent:— that is a right of the strong. And whoever attempts it — even with the best right to it, but without being compelled to — shows by that action that he is probably not only strong but exuberantly daring. He is entering a labyrinth; he is increasing a thousand-fold the dangers which life already brings with it, not the least of which is the fact that no one’s eyes see how and where he goes astray, gets isolated, and is torn to pieces by some cavern-dwelling Minotaur of conscience.5 Suppose such a person comes to a bad end, that happens so far away from men’s understanding that they feel nothing and have no sympathy:— and he cannot go back any more! He cannot even go back to human pity! —
Our loftiest insights must — and should! — ring out like foolishness, under some circumstances like crimes, when in some forbidden way they come to the ears of those for whom they are not suitable and who are not predestined to hear them. The exoteric and the esoteric views, as people earlier differentiated them among philosophers, with Indians as with Greeks, Persians, and Muslims, in short, wherever people believed in a hierarchy and not in equality and equal rights — this differentiation does not arise so much from the fact that the exoteric view stands outside and looks, assesses, measures, and judges from the outside, not from the inside: the more essential point is that the exoteric view sees the matter looking up from underneath, but the esoteric sees it looking down from above! There are heights of the soul viewed from which even tragedy ceases to work its tragic effect, and if we gathered all the sorrow of the world into one sorrow, who could dare to decide if a glance at it would necessarily seduce and compel us to pity and thus to a doubling of that sorrow? . . . What serves the higher kind of men as nourishment or refreshment must be almost poison to a very different and lower kind of man. The virtues of the common man would perhaps amount to vices and weaknesses in a philosopher; it could be possible that a higher kind of person, if he is degenerating and nearing his end, only then acquires characteristics for whose sake people in the lower world, into which he has sunk, would find it necessary to honour him as a saint from now on. There are books which have an opposite value for the soul and for health, depending on whether the lower soul, the lower vitality, or the higher and more powerful soul makes use of them: with the first group, the books are dangerous, shattering, disintegrating; with the second group, they are a herald’s summons which provokes the bravest to show their courage. Books for the whole world always smell foul: the stink of small people clings to them. Where the folk eat and drink, even where they worship, the place usually stinks. One should not go into churches if one wants to breathe clean air.
In their young years, people worship and despise still without that art of subtlety which constitutes the greatest gain in life. And it’s reasonable enough that they must atone, with some difficulty, for having bombarded men and things in such a way with Yes and No. Everything is arranged so that the worst of all tastes, the taste for the absolute, will be terribly parodied and misused until people learn to put some art into their feelings and even prefer risking an attempt with artificiality, as the real artists of life do. The anger and reverence typical of the young do not seem to ease up until they have sufficiently distorted men and things so that they can vent themselves on them. — Youth is in itself already something fraudulent and deceptive. Later, when the young soul, tortured by nothing but disappointments, finally turns back against itself suspiciously, still hot and wild, even in its suspicion and pangs of conscience, how it rages against itself from this point on, how it tears itself apart impatiently, how it takes revenge for its lengthy self-deception, just as if it had been a voluntary blindness! In this transition people punish themselves through their mistrust of their own feeling; they torment their enthusiasm with doubt; indeed, they already feel good conscience as a danger, as a veiling of the self, so to speak, and exhaustion of their finer honesty. Above all, people take sides, basically the side against “the young.”— A decade later, they understand that all this was also still — youth!
Throughout the lengthiest period of human history — we call it the prehistoric age — the value or the lack of value in an action was derived from its consequences. The action in itself was thus considered just as insignificant as its origin, but, in somewhat the same way as even today in China an honour or disgrace reaches back from the child to the parents, so then it was the backward working power of success or lack of success which taught people to consider an action good or bad. Let’s call this period the pre-moralistic period of humanity: the imperative “Know thyself!” was then still unknown. In the last ten millennia, by contrast, in a few large regions of the earth people have come, step by step, a great distance in allowing the value of an action to be determined, no longer by its consequences, but by its origin. As a whole, this was a great event, a considerable improvement in vision and standards, the unconscious influence of the ruling power of aristocratic values and of faith in “origins,” the sign of a period which one can designate moralistic in a narrower sense: with it the first attempt at self- knowledge was undertaken. Instead of the consequences, the origin: what a reversal of perspective! And this reversal was surely attained only after lengthy battles and variations! Of course, in the process a disastrous new superstition, a peculiar narrowing of interpretation, gained control. People interpreted the origin of an action in the most particular sense as an origin from an intention. People became unanimous in believing that the value of an action lay in the value of the intention behind it. The intention as the entire origin and prehistory of an action: in accordance with this bias people on earth have, almost right up to the most recent times, given moral approval, criticized, judged, and also practised philosophy. But today shouldn’t we have reached the point where we must once again make up our minds about a reversal and fundamental shift in values, thanks to a further inward contemplation and profundity in human beings? Are we not standing on the threshold of a period which we might at first designate negatively as beyond morality, today, when, at least among us immoralists, the suspicion stirs that the decisive value of an action may lie precisely in what is unintentional in it and that all its intentionality, everything which we can see in it, know, “become conscious of,” still belongs to its surface layer and skin — which, like every skin, indicates something but conceals even more? In short, we believe that the intention is only a sign and a symptom, something which still needs interpretation, and furthermore a sign which carries too many meanings and, thus, by itself alone means almost nothing. We think that morality, in the earlier sense, that is, a morality based on intentions, has been a prejudice, something rash and perhaps provisional, something along the lines of astrology and alchemy, but, in any case, something that must be overcome. The overpowering of morality, in a certain sense even the self-conquering of morality: let that be the name for that long secret work which remains reserved for the finest and most honest, and also the most malicious, consciences nowadays, as the living touchstones of the soul.
That is the only way: we must mercilessly put in question and bring before the court feelings of devotion, sacrificing for one’s neighbour, the entire morality of self-renunciation, and, in exactly the same way, the aesthetic of “disinterested contemplation,” according to which the castration of art seductively enough tries these days to create a good conscience for itself. There is much too much magic and sweetness in those feelings “for others,” “not for myself,” for us not to find it necessary to grow doubly mistrustful here and to ask, “Are these not perhaps — seductions?”— The fact that those feelings please — the person who has them and the one who enjoys their fruits, as well as the one who merely looks on — this still provides no argument for them. On the contrary, that demands immediate caution. So let’s be cautious!
No matter what philosophical standpoint people may adopt nowadays, from every point of view the falsity of the world in which we think we live is the most certain and firmest thing which our eyes are still capable of apprehending:— for that we find reason after reason, which would like to entice us into conjectures about a fraudulent principle in the “essence of things.” But anyone who makes our very thinking, that is, “the spirit,” responsible for the falsity of the world — an honourable solution which every conscious or unconscious advocatus dei [pleader for god] uses —: whoever takes this world, together with space, time, form, and movement as a false inference, such a person would at least have good ground finally to learn to be distrustful of all thinking itself. Wouldn’t it be the case that thinking has played the greatest of all tricks on us up to this point? And what guarantee would there be that thinking would not continue to do what it has always done? In all seriousness: the innocence of thinkers has something touching, something inspiring reverence, which permits them even today still to present themselves before consciousness with the request that it give them honest answers: for example, to the question whether it is “real,” and why it really keeps itself so absolutely separate from the outer world, and similar sorts of questions. The belief in “immediate certainties” is a moral naivete which brings honour to us philosophers — but we should not be “merely moral” men! Setting aside morality, this belief is a stupidity, which brings us little honour! It may be the case that in bourgeois life the constant willingness to suspect is considered a sign of a “bad character” and thus belongs among those things thought unwise. Here among us, beyond the bourgeois world and its affirmations and denials — what is there to stop us from being unwise and saying the philosopher has an absolute right to a “bad character,” as the being who up to this point on earth has always been fooled the best — today he has the duty to be suspicious, to glance around maliciously from every depth of suspicion. Forgive me the joke of this gloomy grimace and way of expressing myself. For a long time ago I myself learned to think very differently about and make different evaluations of deceiving and being deceived, and I keep ready at least a couple of digs in the ribs for the blind anger with which philosophers themselves resist being deceived. Why not? It is nothing more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than appearance. That claim is even the most poorly demonstrated assumption there is in the world. People should at least concede this much: there would be no life at all if not on the basis of appearances and assessments from perspectives. And if people, with the virtuous enthusiasm and foolishness of some philosophers, wanted to do away entirely with the “apparent world,” assuming, of course, you could do that, well then at least nothing would remain any more of your “truth” either! In fact, what compels us generally to the assumption that there is an essential opposition between “true” and “false”? Is it not enough to assume degrees of appearance and, as it were, lighter and darker shadows and tones for the way things appear — different valeurs [values], to use the language of painters? Why could the world about which we have some concern — not be a fiction? And if someone then asks “But doesn’t an author belong to a fiction?” could he not be fully answered with Why? Doesn’t this “belong to” perhaps belong to the fiction? Is it then forbidden to be a little ironic about the subject as well as about the predicate and the object? Is the philosopher not permitted to rise above a faith in grammar? All due respect to governesses, but might it not be time for philosophy to renounce faith in governesses? —
O Voltaire! O humanity! O nonsense! There’s something about the “truth,” about the search for truth. And when someone goes after it in far too human a way —“il ne cherche le vrai que pour faire le bien” [he seeks the truth only to do good] — I’ll wager he comes up with nothing!
If we assume that nothing is “given” as real other than our world of desires and passions and that we cannot access from above or below any “reality” other than the direct reality of our drives — for thinking is only a relationship of these drives to each other —: are we not allowed to make the attempt and to ask the question whether this given is not a sufficient basis also for understanding the so-called mechanical (or “material”) world on the basis of things like this given. I don’t mean to understand it as an illusion, an “appearance,” an “idea” (in the sense of Berkeley and Schopenhauer6), but as having the same degree of reality as our affects themselves have — as a more primitive form of the world of affects in which everything is still combined in a powerful unity, something which then branches off and develops in the organic process (also, as is reasonable, gets softer and weaker —), as a form of instinctual life in which the collective organic functions, along with self-regulation, assimilation, nourishment, excretion, and metabolism, are still synthetically bound up with one another — as an early form of life? In the end making this attempt is not only permitted but is also demanded by the conscience of the method. Not to assume various forms of causality as long as the attempt to manage with a single one has been pushed to its furthest limit (— all the way to nonsense, if I may say so): that is one moral of the method which people nowadays may not evade; — as a mathematician would say, it is a consequence “of its definition.” In the end the question is whether we acknowledge the will as something really efficient, whether we believe in the causal properties of the will. If we do — and basically our faith in this is simply our faith in causality itself — then we must make the attempt to set up hypothetically the causality of the will as the single causality. Of course, “will” can work only on “will”— and not on “stuff” (not, for example, on “nerves”—). Briefly put, we must venture the hypothesis whether in general, wherever we recognize “effects,” will is not working on will — and whether every mechanical event, to the extent that a force is active in it, is not force of will, an effect of the will. — Suppose finally that we were to succeed in explaining our entire instinctual life as a development and branching off of a single fundamental form of the will — that is, of the will to power, as my principle asserts — and suppose we could trace back all organic functions to this will to power and also locate in it the solution to the problem of reproduction and nourishment — that is one problem — then in so doing we would have earned the right to designate all efficient force unambiguously as will to power. Seen from inside, the world defined and described according to its “intelligible character” would be simply “will to power” and nothing else. —
“What’s that? Doesn’t that mean in popular language that God is disproved, but the devil is not —?” To the contrary, to the contrary, my friends! And in the devil’s name, who is forcing you to speak such common language?
What happened only very recently, in all the brightness of modern times, with the French Revolution, that ghastly and, considered closely, superfluous farce, which, however, noble and rapturous observers from all Europe have interpreted from a distance for so long and so passionately according to their own outrage and enthusiasm until the text disappeared under the interpretation, in the same way a noble posterity could once again misunderstand all the past and only by doing that perhaps make looking at that past tolerable. — Or rather, hasn’t this already happened? Were we ourselves not — this “noble posterity”? And, to the extent that we understand this point, is not this the very moment when — it is over?
No one will readily consider a doctrine true simply because it makes us happy or virtuous, except perhaps the gentle “idealists,” who go into raptures about the good, the true, and the beautiful and allow all sorts of colourful, clumsy, and good-natured desirable things to swim around in confusion in their pond. Happiness and virtue are no arguments. But people, even prudent people, do like to forget that causing unhappiness and evil are by the same token no counterarguments. Something could well be true, although it is at the same time harmful and dangerous to the highest degree. In fact, it could even be part of the fundamental composition of existence that people are destroyed when they fully recognize this point — so that the strength of a spirit might be measured by how much it could still endure of the “truth,” or put more clearly, by the degree it would have to have the truth diluted, sweetened, muffled, or falsified. But there is no doubt about the fact that evil and unhappy people are more favoured and have a greater probability of success in discovering certain parts of the truth, to say nothing of the evil people who are happy — a species which moralists are silent about. Perhaps toughness and cunning provide more favourable conditions for the development of the strong, independent spirit and the philosopher than that gentle, refined, conciliatory good nature and that art of taking things lightly which people value in a scholar, and value rightly. If we assume, first of all, that the notion of a “philosopher” is not restricted to the philosopher who writes books — or even puts his own philosophy into books! — A final characteristic in the picture of the free-spirited philosopher is provided by Stendhal. Because of German taste I don’t wish to overlook emphasizing him:— for he goes against German taste. This last great psychologist states the following: “To be a good philosopher it is necessary to be dry, clear, without illusions. A banker who has made a fortune has one part of the character required to make discoveries in philosophy, that is to say, to see clearly into what is.”7
Everything profound loves masks. The most profound things of all even have a hatred for images and allegories. Shouldn’t the right disguise in which the shame of a god walks around be something exactly opposite? A questionable question: it would be strange if some mystic or other had not already ventured something like that on his own. There are processes of such a delicate sort that people do well to bury them in something crude and make them unrecognizable. There are actions of love and of extravagant generosity, after which there is nothing more advisable than to grab a stick and give an eyewitness a good thrashing:— in so doing we cloud his memory. Some people know how to befuddle or batter their own memories in order at least to take revenge on this single witness:— shame is resourceful. It is not the worst things that make people feel the worst shame. Behind a mask there is not only malice — there is so much goodness in cunning. I could imagine that a person who had something valuable and vulnerable to hide might roll through his life as coarse and round as an old green wine barrel with strong hoops. The delicacy of his shame wants it that way. For a person whose shame is profound runs into his fate and delicate decisions on pathways which few people ever reach and of whose existence those closest to him and his most intimate associates are not permitted to know. His mortal danger hides itself from their eyes, just as much as his confidence in life does, once he regains it. A person who is concealed in this way, who from instinct uses speaking for silence and keeping quiet and who is tireless in avoiding communication, wants and demands that, instead of him, a mask of him wanders around in the hearts and heads of his friends. And suppose he does not want that mask: one day his eyes will open to the fact that nonetheless there is a mask of him there — and that that’s a good thing. Every profound spirit needs a mask; even more, around every profound spirit a mask is continuously growing, thanks to the constantly false, that is, shallow interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life he gives. —
A person has to test himself, to see that he is meant for independence and command — and he must do this at the right time. He should not evade his tests, although they are perhaps the most dangerous game he can play, tests which in the end are made only with ourselves as witnesses and with no other judges. Not to get stuck on a single person:— not even on the someone one loves the most. Every person is a prison — a cranny as well. And don’t remain stuck on one’s fatherland:— not even if it is enduring the greatest suffering and in the greatest need of assistance — it is less difficult to disentangle one’s heart from a victorious fatherland. Don’t get stuck on pity, even in the case of higher men whose rare torment and helplessness some fortuitous circumstance has allowed us to see. Don’t get stuck on a science, not even if it tempts us with the most precious discoveries apparently reserved explicitly for us. Don’t get stuck on one’s own detachment, on that sensual distancing and strangeness of a bird which constantly flies further up into the heights in order always to see more beneath it:— the danger of man in flight. Don’t get stuck on our own virtues and let our totality become a sacrifice to some particular detail in us, for example, our “hospitality,” the danger of dangers for lofty and rich souls, who spread themselves around lavishly, almost indifferently, and push the virtue of liberality into a vice. One must know how to preserve oneself: the sternest test of independence.
A new sort of philosopher is emerging: I venture to baptize them with a name which is not without danger. As I figure them out — to the extent that they let themselves be figured out, for it belongs to their type to want to remain something of an enigma — these philosophers of the future may have a right, perhaps also a wrong, to be described as attempters. This name itself is finally merely an attempt and, if you will, a temptation.
Are they new friends of the “truth,” these emerging philosophers? That seems plausible enough: for all philosophers up to this point have loved their truths. But they certainly will not be dogmatists. It must go against their pride as well as their taste if their truth is still supposed to be some truth for everyman: and that’s been the secret wish and deeper meaning of all dogmatic efforts up to now. “My opinion is my opinion: someone else has no casual right to it”— that’s what such a philosopher of the future will perhaps say. One must rid oneself of the bad taste of wanting to agree with many. “Good” is no longer good when one’s neighbour utters it. And how could there even be a “common good”! That expression contradicts itself: what can be common always has only little value. In the end things must stand as they stand and have always stood: great things remain for the great, the abysses for the profound, the delicacies and shudders for the refined, and, to sum up all this in brief, everything rare for the rare. —
Do I need after all that still expressly to state that they will also be free, very free spirits, these philosophers of the future — although it’s also certain that they will not be merely free spirits but something more, higher, greater, and fundamentally different that does not wish to be misunderstood and confused with something else? But as I say this, I feel a duty almost as much to them as to us who are their heralds and precursors, we free spirits! — the duty to blow away an old stupid prejudice and misunderstanding about us both, something which for too long has made the idea “free spirit” as impenetrable as a fog. In all the countries of Europe and in America as well there is now something which drives people to misuse this name, a very narrow, confined, chained-up type of spirit which wants something rather like the opposite to what lies in our intentions and instincts — to say nothing of the fact that, so far as those emerging new philosophers are concerned, such spirits definitely must be closed windows and bolted doors. To put the matter briefly and seriously, they belong with the levellers, these falsely named “free spirits”— as eloquent and prolific writing slaves of democratic taste and its “modern ideas”: collectively people without solitude, without their own solitude, coarse brave lads whose courage or respectable decency should not be denied. But they are simply unfree and ridiculously superficial, above all with their basic tendency to see in the forms of old societies up to now the cause for almost all human misery and failure, a process which turns the truth happily on its head! What they would like to strive for with all their powers is the universal, green, pasture-happiness of the herd, with security, absence of danger, comfort, an easing of life for everyone. The two songs and doctrines they sing most frequently are called “Equality of Rights” and “pity for all things that suffer”— and they assume that suffering itself is something we must do away with. We who are their opposites, we who have opened our eyes and consciences for the question where and how up to now the plant “Man” has grown most powerfully to the heights, we think that this has happened every time under the opposite conditions, that for that to happen the danger of his situation first had to grow enormously, his power of invention and pretence (his “spirit”—) had to develop under lengthy pressure and compulsion into something refined and audacious, his will for living had to intensify into an unconditional will for power:— we think that hardness, violence, slavery, danger in the alleys and in the hearts, seclusion, stoicism, the art of attempting, and devilry of all kinds, that everything evil, fearful, tyrannical, predatory, snake-like in human beings serves well for the ennobling of the species “Man,” as much as its opposite does:— in fact, when we say only this much we have not said enough, and we find ourselves at any rate with our speaking and silence at a point at the other end of all modern ideology and things desired by the herd, perhaps as their exact opposites? Is it any wonder that we “free spirits” are not the most talkative spirits? That we do not want to give away every detail of what a spirit can free itself and in what direction it may then perhaps be driven? And so far as the meaning of the dangerous formula “beyond good and evil” is concerned, with which we at least protect ourselves from being confused with others, we are something quite different from “libres-penseurs,” “liberi pensatori,” “Freidenker,” and whatever else all these good advocates of “modern ideas” love to call themselves.8 Having been at home in many countries of the spirit, or at least a guest, having slipped away again and again from the musty comfortable corners into which preference and prejudice, youth, descent, contingencies of men and books, or even exhaustion from wandering around seem to have banished us, full of malice against the enticement of dependency, which lies hidden in honours, or gold, or offices, or sensuous enthusiasm, thankful even for poverty and richly changing sickness, because they always free us from some rule or other and its “prejudice,” thankful to god, devil, sheep, and worm in us, curious to a fault, researchers all the way to cruelty, with fingers spontaneously working for the unimaginable, with teeth and stomachs for the most indigestible things, ready for any job which demands astuteness and keen senses, ready for any exploit, thanks to an excess of “free will,” with front-souls and back-souls whose final intentions no one can easily see, with foregrounds and backgrounds which no foot may move through to the end, hidden under a cloak of light, conquerors, whether we appear like heirs and spendthrifts, stewards and collectors from dawn to dusk, miserly with our wealth and our crammed drawers, economical in learning and forgetting, resourceful in coming up with schemes, sometimes proud of tables of categories, sometimes pedants, sometimes night owls at work, even in broad daylight, in fact, when necessary, even scarecrows — and nowadays that’s necessary: that is, to the extent that we are born the sworn jealous friends of loneliness, of our own most profound midnight and noon loneliness:— we are that kind of men, we free spirits! And perhaps you also are something like that, you who are coming, you new philosophers?
1. . . . Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an Italian philosopher who defended the theories of Copernicus (among other things), was burned at the stake for heresy. Spinoza: Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), a Dutch philosopher, was constantly attacked for his heretical views.
2. . . . Galiani: Ferdinand Galiani (1728-1787), an Italian philosopher. Voltaire: pen name of Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778), a very important and famous French Enlightenment writer.
3. Aristophanes (456-386 BC), foremost writer of Old Comedy in classical Athens; Petronius (27-66 AD), a famous Roman satirist. Goethe: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Germany’s greatest man of letters and literary artist.
4. . . . Lessing: Gotthold Ehraim Lessing (1729-1781), an important German dramatist. Bayle: Marie Henri Bayle (1783-1842), a well-known French novelist who wrote under the pen name Stendhal. Diderot: Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher and writer, a major figure in the Enlightenment. Machiavelli: Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), Italian diplomat, dramatist, and political philosopher.
5. . . . Minotaur: In Greek mythology a monster, part man, part bull, living in the middle of the Labyrinth in Cnossus in Crete.
6. . . . Berkeley: George Berkeley (1685-1753), Irish bishop and philosopher.
7. . . . Stendhal: The pen name of the French novelist Marie Henri Bayle (1783-1842). Nietzsche quotes from the French: “Pour être bon philosophe, il faut être sec, clair, sans illusion. Un banquier, qui a fait fortune, a une partie du caractère requis pour faire des découvertes en philosophie, c’est-á-dire pour voir clair dans ce qui est.”
8. These phrases all mean “free thinkers.”
The human soul and its boundaries, the range of human inner experiences so far attained, the heights, depths, and extent of these experiences, the whole history of the soul up to this point and its still undrained possibilities: for a born psychologist and lover of the “great hunt” that is the predestined hunting ground. But how often must such a man say to himself in despair: “I’m just one man! Alas, only one man! And this is a huge wood, a primordial forest!” And so he wishes he could have few hundred helpers in the hunt and finely trained tracking dogs which he could drive into the history of the human soul in order to corner his wild animal there. A vain hope. He experiences over and over again, thoroughly and bitterly, how difficult it is to find helpers and hounds for all things which appeal to his curiosity. The problem he has in sending scholars out into new and dangerous hunting grounds, where courage, intelligence, and refinement are necessary in every sense, is that that’s precisely the place where scholars are no longer useful, where the “great hunt” but also the great danger begins:— right there they lose their eyes and noses for hunting. In order to ascertain and to establish, for example, what sort of history the problem of knowledge and conscience in the soul of the homines religiosi [religious men] has had up to now, the individual would himself perhaps have to be as profound, as wounded, and as monstrous as the intellectual conscience of Pascal was:— and then it would still be necessary to have that expansive heaven of bright, malicious spirituality capable of surveying this teeming mass of dangerous and painful experiences from above, of ordering it, and of forcing it into formulas.1 But who would perform this service for me? And who would have time to wait for such servants? — It’s clear they arise too rarely. In all ages they are so unlikely! In the end, a person must do everything himself in order to know a few things himself: that means that one has much to do! — But at all events a curiosity of the sort I have remains the most pleasant of all burdens. — Forgive me. I wanted to say this: the love of the truth has its reward in heaven and even on earth. —
The faith demanded and not rarely attained by early Christianity in the midst of a sceptical and southern world of free spirits that had behind and within it a centuries-long battle among philosophical schools, in addition to the education in tolerance provided by the imperium Romanum [Roman empire] — this faith is not that naive and gruff faith of the subordinate, something like the faith with which a Luther or a Cromwell or some other northern barbarian of the spirit hung onto his God and his Christianity.2 That earlier faith resonates much more with Pascal’s belief, which looks, in a terrifying way, something like a constant suicide of reason, a tenacious, long-lived, worm-like reason, which cannot be killed once and for all with a single blow. From the start Christian faith has been sacrifice: a sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all inherent certainty about the spirit, and at the same time slavery and self-mockery, self-mutilation. There is cruelty and a religious Phoenicianism in this faith, which one expects in a crumbling, multi-layered, and very spoilt conscience: its assumption is that the subjection of the spirit is indescribably painful, that the entire past and the habits of such a spirit resist the absurdissimum [the most extreme absurdity], which is how he encounters this “faith.” Modern people, with their insensitivity to all Christian nomenclature, do not sense any more the ghastly superlative that lay in the paradox of the formula “God on the cross” for the taste of classical antiquity. To this point there has never yet been anywhere such an audacious reversal — anything as dreadful, questioning, and questionable, as this formula: it promised an inversion of all ancient values. — It is the Orient, the deep Orient, it is the oriental slave who in this way took his revenge on Rome and its noble and frivolous tolerance, on the Roman “catholicity” of faith:— and what always enraged the slaves about their masters and against their masters was not their faith but their freedom from faith, that half-stoic, smiling lack of concern about the seriousness of belief. “Enlightenment” fills people with rage, for the slave wants something absolute; he understands only the tyrannical, even in morality; he loves as he hates, without subtlety, to the depths, to the point of pain, to the point of sickness. His many hidden sufferings grow incensed against the noble taste, which seems to deny suffering. The scepticism against suffering, basically only an attitude of aristocratic morality, was also not the most insignificant factor in the origin of the last great slave revolt, which began with the French Revolution.
Up to this point, wherever religious neurosis has appeared on earth, we find it tied up with three dangerous dietary rules: isolation, fasting, and sexual abstinence — although it would be impossible to determine with certainty what in this may be cause and what may be effect and whether there might be in general a relationship between cause and effect here. This final doubt is justified by the fact that among its most regular symptoms, both with savage and docile peoples, belongs also the most sudden and most dissolute sensuousness which then, just as suddenly, turns into spasms of repentance and a denial of the world and of the will: we could interpret both perhaps as masked epilepsy? But nowhere should people resist interpretations more than here. About no type up to this point has such a glut of absurdity and superstition proliferated. No other type so far seems to have interested human beings, even the philosophers, more than this one. It’s high time to become a little cool on this issue, to learn caution, or better yet, to look away, to go away. Even in the background of the most recent philosophy, the work of Schopenhauer, there stands, almost as the essential problem, this dreadful question mark of the religious crisis and awakening. How is denial of the will possible? How is the saint possible? — This seems, in fact, to have been the question which prompted Schopenhauer to become a philosopher and to begin. Hence, it was a result really worthy of Schopenhauer that his most convinced follower (perhaps also his last, where Germany is concerned), namely, Richard Wagner, brought his own life’s work to an end at this very point and finally led out onto the stage the living physical embodiment of that fearful and eternal type as Kundry, type vécu [a real-life type], at the very time when the psychiatrists of almost all the countries of Europe had an opportunity to study it up close, in every place where the religious neurosis — or as I call it, “the religious nature”— had its most recent epidemic outbreak and paraded around as the “Salvation Army.”3 But if we ask ourselves what has really been so wildly interesting in the whole phenomenon of the saint for people of all types and ages, even for philosophers, then undoubtedly it is the appearance of a miracle which is associated with it, that is, the immediate succession of opposites, of conditions of the soul which are valued in morally opposed ways. People thought here they could get a grip on the fact that all of a sudden a “bad man” became a “saint,” a good man. On this point, psychology so far has suffered a shipwreck. Didn’t that happen primarily because psychology subordinated itself to the control of morality, because it itself believed in opposite moral evaluations and saw, allowed, and interpreted these opposites into the text and the facts? How’s that? The “miracle” is only a failure of interpretation? A lack of philology? —
It seems that Catholicism is much more inwardly bound up with the Latin races than all of Christianity is in general for us northerners and that, as a result, in Catholic countries unbelief means something entirely different from what it means in Protestant countries — namely, a form of rebellion against the spirit of the race; whereas, among us it means rather a turning back to the spirit (or non spirit) of the race. We northerners undoubtedly stem from races of barbarians, and this also holds with respect to our talent for religion. We are badly equipped for it. One can make the Celtic people an exception to that, and for this reason they also provided the best soil for the start of the Christian infection in the north:— in France the Christian ideal bloomed only as much as the pale northern sun permitted. How strangely devout for our taste even these recent French sceptics still are, to the extent they have some Celtic blood in their ancestry! How Catholic, how un-German, August Comte’s sociology smells to us, with its Roman logic of the instincts! How Jesuitical that charming and clever cicerone [tour guide] from Port Royal, Sainte-Beuve, in spite of all his hostility to the Jesuits! And then there’s Ernest Renan: how inaccessible to us northerners the language of such a Renan sounds, in which at every moment some nothing of religious tension destroys the equilibrium of his soul, which is, in a more refined sense, sensual and reclining comfortably! One should repeat after him these beautiful sentences — and how much malice and high spirits at once arise in response in our probably less beautiful and harder, that is, more German souls: “Let us then boldly assert that religion is a product of the normal man, that man is most in touch with truth when he is most religious and most assured of an infinite destiny . . . When he is good he wants virtue to correspond to an eternal order, when he contemplates things in a disinterested manner he finds death revolting and absurd. How can we not assume that it is in those former moments that man sees best? . . .”4 These sentences are so entirely antithetical to my ears and habits that when I found them my initial rage wrote beside them “la niaiserie religieuse par excellence!” [the finest example of religious stupidity] — until my later anger grew to like them, these sentences which turn the truth on its head! It is so nice, so distinguished, to have one’s very own antithesis!
The thing that astonishes one about the religiosity of the ancient Greeks is the unrestrained fullness of gratitude which streams out of it:— it is a very noble kind of man who stands before nature and life in this way! Later, as the rabble gained prominence in Greece, fear grew all over religion as well, and preparations were made for Christianity.
The passion for God: there are sincere, peasant, pushy types, like Luther’s — all Protestantism lacks the southern delicatezza [delicacy]. There is an oriental way of existing beyond the self [Aussersichsein], as with a slave who, without deserving it, has been blessed or ennobled, for example, Augustine, who lacks in an offensive way all nobility of gestures and desires.5 There is some feminine tenderness and desire in it which pushes itself bashfully and ignorantly towards a unio mystica et physica [a mystical and physical union], as with Madame de Guyon.6 Strangely enough, in many cases it appears as a disguise for puberty in a young woman or man, and here and there even as the hysteria of an old spinster, also as her last ambition:— in such cases the church has often already declared the woman a saint.
Up to now the most powerful people have still bowed reverently before the saint, as the riddle of self-conquest and of intentional final sacrifice. Why did they bow? They sensed in him — and, so to speak, behind the question mark of his frail and pathetic appearance — the superior power which wished to test itself in such a victory, the strength of the will, in which they knew how to recognize and honour their own strength and pleasure in mastery once more. They were honouring something in themselves when they revered the saint. It got to the point that the sight of a saint aroused a suspicion in them: such a monster of denial, something so contrary to nature, would not have been desired for no reason — that’s what they said and questioned themselves about. Perhaps there is a reason for that, a really great danger, about which the ascetic, thanks to his secret comforters and visitors might provide more precise information? In short, the powerful people of the earth learned from the saint a new fear; they sensed a new power, a strange, as yet unconquered enemy:— it was the “will to power” which compelled them to halt in front of the saint. They had to ask him —
In the Jewish “Old Testament,” the book of divine justice, there are men, things, and speeches of such impressive style that the world of Greek and Indian literature has nothing to place beside them. We stand with fear and reverence before these tremendous remnants of what human beings once were and will in the process suffer melancholy thoughts about old Asia and its protruding peninsula of Europe, which, in marked contrast to Asia, would like to represent the “progress of man.” Naturally, whoever is, in himself, only a weak, tame domestic animal and who knows only the needs of domestic animals (like our educated people nowadays, including the Christians of “educated” Christianity), among these ruins such a man finds nothing astonishing or even anything to be sad about — a taste for the Old Testament is a touchstone with respect to “great” and “small”:— perhaps he finds the New Testament, that book of grace, still preferable to his heart (in it there is a good deal of the really tender, stifling smell of over-pious and small-souled people). To have glued together this New Testament, a sort of rococo of taste in all respects, with the Old Testament into a single book, as the “Bible,” and “the essential book,” that is perhaps the greatest act of daring and “sin against the spirit” which literary Europe has on its conscience.
Why atheism today? —“The father” in God has been fundamentally disproved, as well as “the judge,” “the rewarder.” Together with his “free will.” He is not listening — and if he were to hear, he wouldn’t know how to help anyway. The worst thing is this: he appears incapable of communicating clearly. Is he indistinct? — From a number of different conversations, asking and listening, this is what I have unearthed as the cause of the decline of European theism. It seems to me that the religious instinct is, in fact, growing powerfully — but that it is rejecting, with profound distrust, theistic satisfaction.
When you get down to it, what is all recent philosophy doing? Since Descartes — and, in fact, more in defiance of him than on the basis of what he had done before — all philosophers are trying to assassinate the old idea of the soul, under the appearance of a critique of the idea of the subject and predicate — that means an attempt to kill the basic assumption of Christian teaching.7 More recent philosophy, as an epistemological scepticism, is, in a concealed or open manner, anti-Christian, although (and this is said for more refined ears) in no way anti-religious. Formerly, that is, people believed in “the soul,” as they believed in grammar and the grammatical subject. They said “I” is the condition, “think” is the predicate and conditioned — thinking is an activity for which a subject must be thought of as cause. Now, people tried, with an admirable tenacity and trickery, to see whether they could get out of this net, whether perhaps the opposite might not be true: “think” as the condition, “I” the conditioned — thus “I” is only a synthesis which is itself created by thinking. Basically Kant wanted to show that if we started with the subject we could not prove the subject — or the object. The possibility of an apparent existence of the subject, hence “the soul,” might not have always been alien to him — that thought which, as Vedanta philosophy, was once before present with enormous power on earth.8
There is a large ladder of religious atrocities, with many rungs. But three of them are the most important. First people sacrificed human beings to their gods, perhaps the very ones whom they loved best. Here belong the sacrifices of the first born in all prehistoric religions, also the sacrifice of Emperor Tiberius in the grotto to Mithras on the island of Capri, that most terrible of all Roman anachronisms.9 Then, in the moral ages of humanity, people sacrificed to their gods the strongest instincts which man possessed, his “nature.” This celebratory joy sparkles in the cruel glance of the ascetic, of the enthusiastic “anti-natural man.” Finally, what was still left to sacrifice? Didn’t people finally have to sacrifice everything comforting, holy, healing, all hope, all belief in a hidden harmony, in future blessedness and justice? Didn’t people have to sacrifice God himself and, out of cruelty against themselves, worship stone, stupidity, gravity, fate, and nothingness? To sacrifice God for nothingness — this paradoxical mystery of the last act of cruelty is saved for the generation which is coming along right now. We all already know something about this.
Anyone who, like me, has, with some enigmatic desire or other, made an effort for a long time to think profoundly about pessimism and to rescue it from the half-Christian, half-German restrictions and simple-mindedness with which it has most recently appeared in this century, that is, in the form of Schopenhauer’s philosophy; anyone who really has, with an Asian and super-Asiatic eye, looked into and down on the most world-denying of all possible ways of thinking — beyond good and evil and no longer as Buddha and Schopenhauer do, under the spell and delusion of morality — such a man has perhaps in the process, without really wanting to do so, opened his eyes for the reverse morality: for the ideal of the most high-spirited, most lively, and most world-affirming human being, who has not only learned to come to terms with and accept what was and is but wants to have what was and is come back for all eternity, calling out insatiably da capo [from the beginning], not only to himself but to the entire play and spectacle, and not only to a spectacle but basically to the man who needs this particular spectacle and who makes the spectacle necessary, because over and over again he needs himself — and makes himself necessary. How’s that? Wouldn’t this be circulus vitiosus deus [god as a vicious circle]?
With the power of his spiritual glance and insight the distance and, as it were, the space around man expand: his world becomes deeper; new stars and new riddles and pictures always come into his view. Perhaps everything on which the eye of his spirit practised its astuteness and profundity was just an excuse for exercise, a matter of play, something for children and childish heads. Perhaps one day the most solemn ideas, the ones over which we have fought and suffered the most, the ideas of “God” and “sin,” will seem to us no more important than a children’s toy or childish pain appears to an old man — and perhaps then “the old man” will need again another children’s toy and another pain — still sufficiently a child, an eternal child!
Have people well observed just how much a genuinely religious life (both its favourite task of microscopic self-examination and that tender calmness which is called “prayer” and is a constant preparedness for the “coming of God”) requires an outward leisure or half-leisure — I mean leisure with a good conscience, from time immemorial, from blood, to which the aristocratic feeling that work is dishonourable is not entirely foreign — that is, the feeling that work makes the soul and body coarse and thus that, as a result, the modern blaring, time-consuming industriousness, so proud of itself, stupidly proud, trains and prepares people precisely for “unbelief” more than for anything else? Among those now living, for example, in Germany, who keep religion at a distance, I find people who hold to “freethinking” of various kinds and origins, but above all a majority of those whose industriousness, from generation to generation, has dissolved the religious instincts, so that they have no idea any more what purpose religions serve and take note of their presence in the world with, as it were, only a kind of indifferent wonder. They already feel that generous demands are made of them, these good people, whether from their businesses or from their pleasures, to say nothing of the “Fatherland” and the newspapers and the “obligations to the family”: it seems that they have no time at all left over for religion; it is especially unclear to them whether religion involves a new business or a new pleasure — for it’s not possible, they tell themselves, that people go to church merely to spoil their own good moods. They are no enemies of religious customs. If in certain circumstances people demand of them participation in such traditions (something required by the state, for example), they do what people require, just the way people do so many things — with a patient and modest seriousness and without much curiosity and concern. They just live too much apart and on the outside to find it necessary in such cases to conduct an argument with themselves for or against the matter. Among these indifferent people nowadays belongs the majority of German Protestants in the middle classes, particularly in the great industrious centres of trade and traffic, including most of the hard-working scholars and all the accessories of the university (with the exception of the theologians, whose existence and possibility there constantly provide the psychologist with more and ever more sophisticated riddles to sort out). From the viewpoint of the devout or merely church-going people, we rarely imagine how much good will — one could say how much arbitrary will — is involved nowadays when a German scholar takes the problem of religion seriously. On the basis of his whole trade (and, as mentioned, on the basis of the industriousness of the tradesman, which his modern conscience requires of him) he inclines to a supercilious, almost kindly amusement towards religion, mixed now and then with a slight contempt for the “uncleanliness” of the spirit which he assumes is present wherever people still profess their faith in the church. The scholar succeeds only with the help of history (hence not from his own personal experience) in bringing to religion a reverent seriousness and a certain timid consideration. But even if his feelings about religion have managed to rise all the way to gratitude towards it, in his own person he hasn’t yet come a step closer to what still constitutes church and piety: perhaps the reverse is the case. The practical indifference about religious matters in which he was born and raised tends to sublimate itself in him to caution and cleanliness, things which avoid contact with religious men and things. And it could well be the very depth of his tolerance and humanity which tells him to stay out of the way of complex emergencies which tolerance brings with it. Every period has its own divine form of naivete whose invention other ages may envy:— and how much naivete, respectful, childish, and boundlessly foolish naivete lies in this belief of the scholar in his own superiority, in the good conscience of his toleration, in the unsuspecting, unsophisticated certainty with which his instinct treats religious people as a less worthy and lower type, above whom he himself has grown up, out, and away from — the scholar, the small, presumptuous dwarf and member of the rabble, the diligent and nimble head-and-hand-worker of “ideas,” “modern ideas”!
Whoever has looked deep into the world will readily guess what wisdom exists in the fact that men are superficial. It is their preserving instinct, which teaches them to be changeable, light, and false. Here and there we find a passionate and exaggerated adoration of “pure forms,” among philosophers as well as among artists. No one should doubt that whoever requires the cult of surfaces that much has at some time or another grasped beneath those surfaces, with unhappy results. Perhaps with respect to these scorched children, the born artists, who still find the good things of life only in the intention to falsify its image (as it were, in a prolonged revenge against life), there is even a rank ordering: we could derive the degree to which life has been spoiled for them by the extent to which they wish to see its image falsified, diluted, transcended, deified. Among the artists we could count the homines religiosi [men of religion] as their highest rank. It is the deep suspicious fear of an incurable pessimism which compels entire millennia to sink their teeth into a religious interpretation of existence, the fear of that instinct which has a premonition that people could grasp the truth too early, before man has become strong enough, hard enough, artistic enough. . . . From this point of view, piety, the “life in God,” could appear as the most refined and final spawn of the fear of truth, as an artist’s worship and intoxication in the face of the most logical of all falsifications, as the will to the reversal of the truth, to untruth at any price. Perhaps up to this point there has been no stronger means to make human beings themselves look more beautiful than this very piety: through it the human being can become so much art, surface, play of colours, and goodness, that one no longer suffers at the sight of him. —
To love human beings for God’s sake — so far that has been the most noble and most remote feeling that has been attained among men. The fact that without some consecrating intention behind it the love of human beings is one more stupidity and brutishness, that the inclination to this love of humanity must first derive its extent, delicacy, its grains of salt and specks of ambergris from some higher inclination — whatever human being it happened to be who first felt and “experienced” this, no matter how much his tongue may have stumbled as it tried to express such a delicacy, let him remain for all time sanctified among us and worthy of reverence as the man who so far has flown the highest and has lost his way most beautifully!
The philosopher, the way we understand him, we free spirits, as the man of the most all-encompassing responsibility, who has the conscience for the collective development of human beings — this philosopher will help himself to religion for use in his work of cultivation and education, just as he will use contemporary political and economic conditions. The selective and cultivating influence (which means always both the destructive as well as the creative and shaping influence) which can be practised with the help of religions is something multifaceted and different, according to the type of human beings who are put under its spell and protection. For strong, independent people, those prepared and predestined to command, those in whom the reason and culture of a ruling race become something living, religion is a means of overcoming resistance, so that they will be able to rule; it’s like a bond which ties ruler and subjects together in common and betrays and hands over to the former the consciences of the latter, something hidden in their innermost selves which would like to evade obedience. And in the event a few individual natures of such noble descent, because of their high mindedness, feel drawn towards a more secluded and more peaceful life and reserve for themselves only the most refined form of ruling (over chosen disciples or brethren in an order), then religion itself can be used as a means to create some peace for oneself from the noise and hardship of the cruder forms of ruling and cleanliness from the dirt which necessarily comes with all political action. That’s something the Brahmin, for example, understood: with the help of a religious organization they arrogated to themselves the power to appoint a king for the people, while they held themselves apart and outside, sensing that they were human beings with higher purposes, something beyond kingship.10 Meanwhile religion also provides instruction for some of the ruled and an opportunity to prepare themselves for ruling and ordering in the future, those slowly ascending classes and groups, that is, those in which, because of fortunate marriage traditions, the force and desire of the will, the will to rule oneself, is always rising:— to these people religion offers sufficient stimuli and temptations to travel the route to a higher spirituality, to test the feelings of great self-conquest, of silence and solitude:— asceticism and Puritanism are almost indispensable means for educating and ennobling people when a race wishes to become master of its origins from the rabble and works its way up towards future ruling power. Finally, for ordinary people, the vast majority, who are there to serve for common needs and are permitted to exist only to that extent, religion gives an invaluable modest satisfaction with their situation and type, all sorts of peace at heart, an ennoblement of obedience, one more source of joy and suffering with people like them, and something of a transfiguration and beautification of and a justification for the whole routine, the whole baseness, the whole half-animal poverty of their souls. Religion and the religious significance of life bring the brilliance of the sun onto such constantly troubled men and make it bearable for them to look at themselves. Religion works just as an Epicurean philosophy usually works on suffering people of a higher rank — refreshing and refining and, as it were, exploiting the suffering, finally even blessing and justifying it. In Christianity and Buddhism there is perhaps nothing so venerable as their art of teaching even the most abject people to place themselves, through their piety, into an illusory higher order of things and thus to hang onto their satisfaction with the real order, in the middle of which their life is hard enough — and this hardness is precisely what’s necessary!
Finally, of course, to evaluate the opposing bad effects of such religions, as well, and to bring to light their terrible danger, there’s always an increasingly expensive and fearful price to pay when religions prevail, not as a means of cultivation and education in the hand of philosophers, but as some inherently sovereign power, when religions want themselves to be the final purpose and not a means alongside other means. Among human beings, as among all other animal species, there is an excess of failures, invalids, degenerates, infirm individuals, those who necessarily suffer. Successful examples are always the exception, among human beings as well, and, given that the human being is the as-yet-undetermined animal, the rare exception. But even worse: the higher the type of human being which a particular person represents, the more improbable it becomes that he will turn out well. The contingent, the law of absurdity in the collective household of humanity, reveals itself in the most frightening manner in its destructive effects on the higher people, whose conditions of life are refined, multifaceted, and hard to estimate. Now, how do the two greatest religions mentioned above stand in relation to this excess of unsuccessful cases? They seek to preserve, to maintain alive, anything which merely allows itself to be preserved. In fact, they basically side with these unsuccessful cases as religions for those who are suffering; they agree with all those who suffer from life as from some illness, and they would like to see to it that every other feeling of life was judged false and became impossible. Even if we still wish to fix a high value on this protecting and preserving care, inasmuch as it is concerned and has been concerned with, among all the other people, the highest type of human being as well, the one who up to this point has almost always suffered the most, nonetheless in the total reckoning, the religions so far, that is, the sovereign religions, belong among the major causes which have kept the type “man” on a lower rung — they have preserved too much of what should have perished. We have to thank them for something invaluable. And who is rich enough in gratitude not to become poor in the face of everything which, for example, the “spiritual men” of Christianity have done for Europe up to this point? And yet, if they gave consolation to sufferers, courage to the oppressed and despairing, a staff and support to those who could not stand on their own, and enticed away from society and into monasteries and spiritual prisons those suffering from inner destruction and those who had become wild, what must they have done in addition, in order to work in this way in good conscience basically for the preservation of everything sick and suffering, which amounts, in fact and truth, for the deterioration of the European race? Turn all evaluations of worth on their heads — that’s what they had to do! Break up the strong men, infect great hopes, bring joy in beauty under suspicion, bend all self-mastery, everything manly, lofty, domineering, all instincts characteristic of the loftiest and most successful type of “man” into uncertainty, a distressed conscience, self-destruction, in fact, to turn all love for earthly things and for dominion over the earth into hate for the earth and the earthly — that’s the task the church gave itself and had to give itself, until finally in its estimation “unworldliness,” “lack of sensuality,” and “higher man” melted together into a single feeling. Suppose we could survey with the mocking and disinterested eye of an Epicurean god the strangely painful comedy of European Christianity, as crude as it is refined, I believe we would find no end to our amazement and laughter. Does it not seem that for eighteen centuries there has been ruling over Europe a will to turn the human being into a sublime monstrosity?11 However, anyone who, with the opposite needs, no longer Epicurean, but with some divine hammer in his hand, were to approach this almost voluntary degeneration and decay of a human being like the Christian European (Pascal, for example), would he not have to cry out with fury, pity, and horror, “You fools! You arrogant, pitying fools, what have you done here! Was that a work for your hands? What a mess you’ve made, ruining my most beautiful stone! What have you presumed!” What I wanted to say was this: Christianity has been the most disastrous sort of arrogance so far. Men, not lofty and hard enough to be permitted to shape men as artists; men not strong and far-sighted enough to allow, with a sublime conquest of the self, the foreground law of thousandfold failure and destruction to prevail; men not noble enough to see the abysmally different rank ordering, gaps separating ranks between man and man:— such men have, with their “equal before God,” so far ruled over the fate of Europe to the point where finally a diminished, almost ridiculous type has been bred, a herd animal, something obliging, sickly, and mediocre — the contemporary European . . . .
1. . . . Pascal: Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), a brilliant French mathematician known for the extreme strictness and mortification of his religious beliefs.
2. . . . Luther: Martin Luther (1483-1546), German monk and theologian whose work launched the Reformation and Protestantism. Cromwell: Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), English Protestant leader against King Charles I and founder of the Commonwealth (the short-lived English experiment with republican government).
3. . . . Richard Wagner (1813-1883), German composer and essayist, famous for his operas. Kundry is a character in Wagner’s opera Parsifal (1882), the high messenger of the Holy Grail.
4. . . . Comte: August Comte (1798-1857), a French philosopher who founded positivism and is considered the father of modern sociology. Port Royal: an important French religious community in the seventeenth century which encouraged self-renunciation. Sainte-Beuve: Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869), a prominent French poet and literary critic. Ernest Renan (1823-1892), a well-known French writer on Christianity. Nietzsche quotes the French: “disons donc hardiment que la religion est un produit de l’homme normal, que l’homme est le plus dans le vrai quand il est le plus religieux et le plus assuré d’une destinée infinie. . . . C’est quand il est bon qu’il veut que la vertu corresponde á un ordre éternel, c’est quand il contemple les choses d’une manière désintéressée qu’il trouve la mort révoltante et absurde. Comment ne pas supposer que c’est dans ces moments-lá, que l’homme voit le mieux? . . .”
5. . . . Augustine: Saint Augustine (345-430), Bishop of Hippo, a key figure in the development of early Christianity.
6. . . . Madame de Guyon: a sixteenth-century French mystic.
7. . . . Descartes: Rene Descartes (1596-1650), extremely influential French philosopher and mathematician.
8. . . . Vedanta: a philosophical tradition within Hinduism.
9. . . . Emperor Tiberius: the Roman emperor after Augustus (from 14 AD to 37 AD). The worship of Mithras involved pagan sun worship.
10. . . . Brahmin: the elite priesthood in Hinduism.
11. . . . Epicurean: a follower of Epicurus (341 BC-270 BC), who taught that the highest good was pleasure, especially mental pleasure.
Whoever is fundamentally a teacher takes all things seriously only in relation to his students — including even himself.
“Knowledge for its own sake,”— that is the ultimate snare which morality sets: with that one gets fully entangled once again in morality.
The charm of knowledge would be slight, if there were not so much embarrassment to overcome on the route to knowledge.
Man is most dishonest in relation to his god: he is not permitted to sin!
The inclination to diminish oneself, to rob oneself, to let oneself be deceived and exploited could be the embarrassment of a god among men.
Love of one man is a barbarity: for it is practised at the expense of all the rest. Also the love for God.
“I have done that” says my memory. I could not have done that — says my pride and remains implacable. Finally — my memory gives up.
One has watched life badly if one has not also seen the hand which, in a considerate manner — kills.
If a person has character, he still has his typical experience, which always repeats itself.
The wise man as astronomer — so long as you still feel the stars as something “above you,” you still lack the eye of a man who knows.
It’s not the strength but the duration of the lofty sensation that makes lofty people.
Whoever attains his ideal, in the act of doing just that goes beyond it.
Some peacocks hide their peacock’s tails from all eyes — and call that their pride.
A man with genius is unendurable if he does not possess at least two things in addition: gratitude and cleanliness.
The degree and type of the sexuality of a man extend all the way to the ultimate peak of his spirit.
Under conditions of peace the warlike man attacks himself.
With their principles people want to tyrannize their habits or justify them or honour them or abuse them or hide them:— two men with the same principles probably want them for fundamentally different things.
Anyone who despises himself nonetheless still respects himself as the one doing the despising.
A soul which knows that it is loved but which does not love itself reveals its bottom layers — its deepest stuff comes up.
A matter which is explained ceases to concern us. — What does that god mean who advised “Know thyself”? Does that not perhaps mean “Stop being concerned about yourself! Become objective!”— And Socrates? — And the “scientific man”? —
It is dreadful to die of thirst in the sea. Must you then salt your truth so much that it can no longer — quench your thirst?
“Pity for everyone”— that would hard and tyrannical for you, my neighbour.
Instinct — when the house is burning, people forget even their noonday meal. — Indeed, but people later haul it out of the ashes.
Woman learns to hate to the extent that she forgets how to enchant.
The same emotional affects in men and women have, nonetheless, a different tempo. That’s the reason man and women do not cease misunderstanding each other.
Behind all personal vanity women themselves still have their impersonal contempt — for “woman.”
Bound heart, free spirit. — When one binds one’s heart firmly and keeps it imprisoned, one can provide one’s spirit many freedoms: I have said that already once. But people do not believe me, provided that they do not already know it . . . .
We begin to mistrust very clever people when they become embarrassed.
Dreadful experiences lead one to wonder whether the person who undergoes them is not something dreadful.
Heavy, melancholy men become lighter precisely through what makes other people heavy, through hate and love, and for a while come to their surface.
So cold, so icy that we burn our fingers on him! Every hand that grasps him pulls back! — And for that very reason some assume he’s glowing hot.
For the sake of his good reputation who has not once — sacrificed himself?
In affability there is no hatred for humanity, but for that very reason there is too much contempt for humanity.
Maturity in a man: that means having found once again that seriousness which man had as a child, in play.
For someone to be ashamed of his immorality: that is a step on the staircase at the end of which he is also ashamed of his morality.
People should depart from life in the way Odysseus separated from Nausikaa — blessing it rather than in love with it.1
What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal.
If we train our conscience, it will kiss us at the very moment it bites us.
The disappointed man speaks:—“I listened for the echo, and I heard only praise —”
We all present ourselves to ourselves as more simple than we are: in this way we give ourselves a rest from our fellow human beings.
Today a man with knowledge might easily feel like god transformed into an animal.
To discover that one is loved in return should really bring the lover down about his beloved. “How’s that? Is this person modest enough to love even you? Or stupid enough? Or — or —. . .”
The danger in happiness —“Now everything is turning out the best for me; now I love every destiny:— Who feels like being my destiny?”
It is not their love of humanity but the impotence of their love of humanity that prevents today’s Christians — from burning us.
For the free spirit, the “pious man of discovery”— the pia fraus [pious fraud] is even more contrary to his taste (against his “piety”) than the impia fraus [impious fraud]. Hence his deep lack of understanding of the church, the sort that is associated with the type “free spirit,”— his unfreedom.
Thanks to music the passions enjoy themselves.
Once the decision has been made, to shut your ears even to the best counterarguments: a sign of a strong character. Also an occasional will to stupidity.
There are no moral phenomenon at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena . . . .
The criminal is often enough not equal to his action: he diminishes and disparages it.
The lawyers for a criminal are rarely sufficiently artistic to turn the beautiful terror of his action to the benefit of the person who did it.
Our vanity is most difficult to injure at the very point where our pride has just been hurt.
Anyone who feels himself predestined to observe and not to believe finds all those who believe too noisy and pushy: he fends them off.
“Do you want to win him over for yourself? Then make yourself embarrassed in front of him. —”
The immense expectation concerning sexual love and the shame in this expectation ruin all perspective in women from the beginning.
Where the game has neither love nor hate, woman plays indifferently.
The great epochs of our lives occur when we acquire the courage to rename our evil quality our best quality.
The will to overcome an emotional affect is ultimately only the will of another emotional affect or of several other emotional affects.
There is an innocence in admiration: such innocence belongs to the man who does not yet have any idea that he, too, could at some point be admired.
The disgust with filth can be so great that it prevents us from cleansing ourselves — from “justifying” ourselves.
Sensuality often makes the growth of love too fast, so that the root remains weak and easy to rip out.
There’s something fine about the fact that God learned Greek when he wanted to become a writer — and that he did not learn it better.
To be happy over praise is with some men only a courtesy of the heart — and exactly the opposite of vanity of the spirit.
Even concubinage has been corrupted — by marriage.
The man who still rejoices while being burned at the stake is not triumphing over the pain but over the fact that he feels none of the pain which he expected. A parable.
When we have to change our minds about anyone, we hold the awkwardness which he has thus created for us very much against him.
A people is nature’s detour to produce six or seven great men. — Yes, and then to get around them.
Science offends the modesty of all real women. With it they feel as if someone wanted to peek under their skin — or even worse, under their dress and finery.
The more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must still seduce the senses to it.
The devil has the widest perspective for God; that’s why he keeps himself so far away from Him — for the devil is the oldest friend of knowledge.
What someone is begins to show itself when his talent subsides — when he stops showing what he can do. Talent is also finery, and finery is also a hiding place.
The sexes deceive themselves about each other: this happens because basically they honour and love only themselves (or, to put the matter more pleasantly, only their own ideal —). Hence the man wants the woman to be peaceful — but woman, like a cat, is essentially not peaceful, however much she may have practised an appearance of peacefulness.
People are best punished for their virtues.
The man who does not know how to find the way to his own ideal lives more carelessly and impudently than the man without an ideal.
All credibility, all good conscience, all appearance of the truth come only from the senses.
Pharisaism is not degeneration in a good man: a good part of it is rather the condition of all being-good.2
One man seeks a midwife for his ideas, another seeks someone whom he can help: that’s how a good conversation arises.
By associating with scholars and artists one easily makes mistakes in reverse directions: behind a remarkable scholar we not infrequently find an average human being, and behind an average artist we often find — a very remarkable human being.
We act while awake as we do in a dream: we invent and fabricate the person with whom we associate — and then we immediately forget the fact.
In revenge and love woman is more barbaric than man.
Advice as riddle:—“If the bond is not to break — you must first bite down on it.”
The lower abdomen is the reason man does not so easily consider himself a god.
The most demure saying I have ever heard: “In true love it’s the soul which envelops the body.”3
What we do best our vanity wishes to value as the thing which is most difficult for us. The origin of many a morality.
When a woman has scholarly inclinations, then something is usually wrong with her sexuality. Infertility itself tends to encourage a certain masculinity of taste, for man is, if I may say so, “the infertile animal.”
In comparing man and woman in general we can say that woman would not have the genius for finery if she did not have the instinct for the secondary role.
Anyone who fights with monsters should make sure that he does not in the process become a monster himself. And when you look for a long time into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
From an old Florentine novella, and in addition from life: buona femmina e mala femmina vuol bastone [the good and the bad woman wants a stick]. Sacchetti, Nov. 86.
To seduce a neighbour into a good opinion and, beyond that, to believe faithfully in this opinion of one’s neighbour: who can match women in performing this trick? —
What an age finds evil is commonly an anachronistic echo of what previously was found to be good — the atavism of an older ideal.
Around the hero everything becomes a tragedy, around the demi-god everything becomes a satyr play, and around God everything becomes — what? Perhaps a “world”? —
Having a talent is not enough: one must also have your permission to have it — isn’t that so, my friends?
“Where the tree of knowledge stands is always paradise”: that’s what the oldest and the most recent serpents declare.
What is done out of love always happens beyond good and evil.
Objections, evasions, cheerful mistrust, and love of mockery are indications of health: everything absolute belongs with pathology.
A sense of tragedy ebbs and flows with sensuality.
With individuals madness is something rare — but with groups, parties, peoples, and ages it’s the rule.
The thought of suicide is a strong consolation: with it people get through many an evil night.
Not only our reason but also our conscience submits to our strongest drive, the tyrant in us.
People must repay good and bad things, but why directly to the person who does good or bad things to us?
We don’t love our knowledge enough any more, once we have communicated it.
Poets are shameless about their experiences: they exploit them.
“The one next to us is not our neighbour but our neighbour’s neighbour”— that’s how every people thinks.
Love brings to light the high and the hidden characteristics of the person who loves — what is rare and exceptional about him: to that extent it easily misleads us about what is normal in him.
Jesus said to his Jews: “The law was for slaves — love god as I love him, as his son! What do we sons of God have to do with morality!”’
Concerning every party: a shepherd must still always have a bell wether — or he himself must from time to time be a wether.
People do lie with their mouths, but by the way they shape their mouths in doing so they nonetheless still speak the truth.
With hard people intimacy is shameful thing — and something precious.
Christianity gave Eros poison to drink — but he didn’t die from that. He degenerated into a vice.4
To talk a lot about oneself can also be a means of hiding oneself.
In praise there is more pushiness than in blame.
Pity in a man of knowledge seems almost laughable, like soft hands on a Cyclops.5
From love of humanity people sometimes embrace anyone (because they cannot embrace everybody): but that’s something they cannot reveal to this anyone . . . .
A man does not hate so long as he still rates something low, but only when he rates something equal or higher.
You utilitarians, you also love everything useful only as a cart to carry your inclinations — and you too find the noise of its wheels really unbearable?
Ultimately one loves one’s desires and not the object one desires.
The vanity of others offends our taste only when it offends our vanity.
Concerning what “truthfulness” perhaps no one has yet been sufficiently truthful.
We do not believe in the foolishness of clever men: what a loss of human rights!
The consequences of our actions grab us by the hair, extremely indifferent to whether we have “improved” in the meantime.
There is an innocence in lying which is the sign of good faith in something.
It is inhuman to bless where a man is cursed.
The familiarity of a superior person embitters, because it cannot be returned.
“Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe you has shaken me.”—
There is a high-spirited goodness which looks like malice.
“I dislike him.”— Why? —“I’m no match for him.”— Has a human being ever answered in this way?
1. . . . Nausikaa: a young princess in Homer’s Odyssey.
2. Pharisaism: hypocritical observance of religious or moral laws.
3. Nietzsche quotes the French: “Dans le véritable amour c’est l’âme, qui enveloppe le corps.”
4. Eros: in Greek mythology the god of erotic love.
5. Cyclops: in Greek mythology a giant, one-eyed, cannibal monster.
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.
At the risk that moralizing here also will show itself to be what it always has been — that is, an unabashed montrer ses plais [display of one’s wounds], as Balzac says — I’d like to dare to stand up against an unreasonable and harmful shift in rank ordering which nowadays, quite unnoticed and, as if with the clearest conscience, threatens to establish itself between science and philosophy. I think that we must on the basis of our experience — experience means, as I see it, always bad experience? — have a right to discuss such a higher question of rank, so that we do not speak like blind men about colour or as women and artists do against science (“Oh, this nasty science!” their instinct and embarrassment sigh, “it always finds out what’s behind things”—). The declaration of independence of the scientific man, his emancipation from philosophy, is one of the subtler effects of the order and confusion in democracy: today the self-glorification and self-exaltation of the scholar stand in full bloom everywhere and in their finest spring — but that is still not intended to mean that in this case self-praise smells very nice. “Away with all masters!”— that’s what the instinct of the rabble wants here, too, and once science enjoyed its happiest success in pushing away theology, whose “handmaiden” it was for so long, now it has the high spirits and stupidity to set about making laws for philosophy and to take its turn playing the “master” for once — what am I saying? — playing the philosopher. My memory — the memory of a scientific man, if you’ll permit me to say so! — is full to bursting with the naivete in the arrogance I have heard in remarks about philosophy and philosophers from young natural scientists and old doctors (not to mention from the most educated and most conceited of all scholars, the philologists and schoolmen, who are both of these thanks to their profession —). Sometimes it was a specialist and man who hangs around in corners, who generally instinctively resists all synthetic tasks and capabilities; sometimes the industrious worker, who had taken a whiff of the otium [leisure] and of the noble opulence within the spiritual household of the philosopher and, as he did so, felt himself restricted and diminished. Sometimes it was that colour blindness of the utilitarian man, who sees nothing in philosophy other than a series of refuted systems and an extravagant expense from which no one “receives any benefit.” Sometimes the fear of disguised mysticism and of an adjustment to the boundaries of knowledge sprang up; sometimes the contempt for particular philosophers had unwittingly been generalized into a contempt for philosophy. Finally, among the young scholars I most frequently found behind the arrogant belittlement of philosophy the pernicious effect of a philosopher himself, a man whom people had in general refused to follow but without escaping the spell of his value judgments rejecting other philosophers — something which brought about a collective irritation with all philosophy. (For example, Schopenhauer’s effect on the most modern Germany seems to me to be something like this: with his unintelligent anger against Hegel he created a situation in which the entire last generation of Germans broke away from their connection with German culture, and this culture, all things well considered, was a high point in and a prophetic refinement of the historical sense.1 But Schopenhauer himself in this very matter was impoverished to the point of genius — unreceptive, un-German.) From a general point of view, it may well have been more than anything else the human, all-too-human, in short, the paltriness of the newer philosophy itself which most fundamentally damaged respect for philosophy and opened the gates to the instincts of the rabble. We should nonetheless confess the extent to which, in our modern world, the whole style of Heraclitus, Plato, Empedocles, and of whatever all those royal and splendid hermits of the spirit were called is disappearing. Considering the sort of representatives of philosophy who nowadays, thanks to fashion, are just as much on top as on the very bottom — in Germany, for example, the two lions of Berlin, the anarchist Eugen Dühring and the amalgamist Eduard von Hartmann — an honest man of science is entitled to feel with some justice that he is of a better sort, with a better descent.2 In particular, the sight of these mish-mash philosophers who call themselves “reality philosophers” or “positivists” is capable of throwing a dangerous mistrust into the soul of an ambitious young scholar: they are, in the best of cases, scholars and specialists themselves — that’s clear enough — they are, in fact, collectively defeated, brought back under the rule of science. At some time or other they wanted more from themselves, without having any right to this “more” and to its responsibilities — and now, in word and deed, they represent in a respectable, angry, vengeful way the lack of faith in the ruling task and masterfulness of philosophy. But finally — how could it be anything different? Science nowadays is in bloom, and its face is filled with good conscience, while what all new philosophy has gradually sunk to — this remnant of philosophy today — is busy generating suspicion and ill humour against itself, if not mockery and pity. Philosophy reduced to “theory of knowledge” is, in fact, nothing more than a tentative division of philosophy into epochs and a doctrine of abstinence: a philosophy which does not venture a step over the threshold and awkwardly denies itself the right to enter — that is philosophy at death’s door, an end, an agony, something pitiful! How could such a philosophy — rule!
To tell the truth, there are so many varied dangers for the development of a philosopher today that we may well doubt whether this fruit can, in general, still grow ripe. The scope and the fortress building of the sciences have grown into something monstrous, and with these the probability that the philosopher has already grown tired while he is still learning or has stopped somewhere and allowed himself to “specialize,” so that he no longer reaches his full height, that is, high enough for an overview, for looking round, for looking down. Or else he reaches that point too late, when his best time and power are already over, or he’s become damaged, coarsened, degenerate, so that his glance, his comprehensive value judgment, means little any more. The very refinement of his intellectual conscience perhaps allows him to hesitate along the way and to delay. He’s afraid of being seduced into being a dilettante, a millipede, something with a thousand antennae. He knows too well that a man who has lost respect for himself may no longer give orders as a man of knowledge, may no longer lead. At that point, he would have to be willing to become a great actor, philosophical Cagliostro and a spiritual Pied Piper, in short, a seducer. In the end it’s a question of taste, even if it were not a question of conscience. Moreover, by way of doubling once again the difficulty for the philosopher, it comes to this: he demands from himself a judgment, a Yes or No, not about the sciences but about life and the worth of living — he learns with reluctance to believe that he has a right or even a duty toward this judgment and must seek his own path to that right and that belief only through the most extensive — perhaps the most disturbing, the most destructive — experiences, often hesitating, doubting, saying nothing. As a matter of fact, the masses have for a long time mistaken and misidentified the philosopher, whether with the man of science and ideal scholar, or with the religiously elevated, desensitized, “unworldly” enthusiast drunk on God. If we hear anyone praised at all nowadays on the ground he lives “wisely” or “like a philosopher,” that means almost nothing other than “prudently and on the sidelines.” Wisdom: that seems to the rabble to be some kind of escape, a means and a trick to pull oneself well out of a nasty game. But the real philosopher — as we see it, my friends? — lives “unphilosophically” and “unwisely,” above all imprudently, and feels the burden and the duty of a hundred attempts and temptations of life — he always puts himself at risk. He plays the wicked game . . . .
In comparison with a genius, that is, with a being who either engenders or gives birth, taking both words in their highest sense — the scholar, the average scientific man, always has something of the old maid about him, for, like the old maid, he doesn’t understand the two most valuable things men do. In fact, for both scholars and old maids we concede, as if by way of compensation, that they are respectable — in their cases we stress respectability — and yet having to make this concession gives us the same sense of irritation. Let’s look more closely: What is the scientific man? To begin with, a man who is not a noble type. He has the virtues of a man who is not distinguished, that is, a type of person who is not a ruler, not authoritative, and also not self-sufficient. He has diligence, a patient endorsement of position and rank, equanimity about and moderation in his abilities and needs. He has an instinct for people like him and for what people like him require, for example, that bit of independence and green meadows without which there is no peace in work, that demand for honour and acknowledgement (which assumes, first and foremost, recognition and the ability to be recognized —), that sunshine of a good name, that constant stamp of approval of his value and his utility, which is necessary to overcome again and again the inner suspicion at the bottom of the hearts of all dependent men and herd animals. The scholar also has, as stands to reason, the illnesses and bad habits of a non-noble variety: he is full of petty jealousy and has a lynx eye for the baseness in those natures whose heights are impossible for him to attain. He is trusting, only, however, as an individual who lets himself go but does not let himself flow. With a person who is like a great stream he just stands there all the colder and more enclosed — his eye is then like a smooth, reluctant lake in which there is no longer any ripple of delight or sympathy. The worst and most dangerous thing of which a scholar is capable he gets from his instinctive sense of the mediocrity of his type, from that Jesuitry of mediocrity, which spontaneously works for the destruction of the uncommon man and seeks to break every arched bow or — even better! — to relax it. That is, to unbend it, with consideration, of course, naturally with a flattering hand — to unbend it with trusting sympathy: that is the essential art of Jesuitry, which has always understood how to introduce itself as a religion of pity. —
No matter how gratefully we may accommodate ourselves to the objective spirit — and who has never been sick to death of everything subjective and its damnably excessive obsession with itself [Ipsissimosität]! — we must ultimately also learn caution concerning this gratitude and stop the exaggeration with which in recent years we have celebrated the depersonalizing of the spirit, emptying the self from the spirit, as if that were the goal in itself, redemption and transfiguration. That’s what tends to happen, for example, in the pessimism school, which, for its part, has good reasons for awarding highest honour to “disinterested knowledge.” The objective man who no longer curses and grumbles like the pessimist, the ideal scholar, in whom the scientific instinct after thousands of total and partial failures all of a sudden comes into bloom and keeps flowering to the end, is surely one of the most valuable of implements there are, but he belongs in the hands of someone more powerful. He is only a tool, we say. He is a mirror — he is no “end in himself.” The objective man is, in fact, a mirror: accustomed to submit before everything which wishes to be known, without any delight other than that available in knowing and “mirroring back”— he waits until something comes along and then spreads himself out tenderly so that light footsteps and the spiritual essences slipping past are not lost on his surface and skin. What is still left of his “person” seems to him accidental, often a matter of chance, even more often disruptive, so much has he become a conduit and reflection for strange shapes and experiences. He reflects about “himself” with effort and is not infrequently wrong. He readily gets himself confused with others. He makes mistakes concerning his own needs, and it’s only here that he is coarse and careless. Perhaps he gets anxious about his health or about the pettiness and stifling atmosphere of wife and friend or about the lack of companions and society — indeed, he forces himself to think about his anxieties: but it’s no use! His thoughts have already wandered off to some more general example, and tomorrow he knows as little as he knew yesterday about how he might be helped. He has lost seriousness for himself — as well as time. He is cheerful, not from any lack of need, but from a lack of fingers and handles for his own needs. His habitual concessions concerning all things and all experiences, the sunny and uninhibited hospitality with which he accepts everything which runs into him, his kind of thoughtless good will and dangerous lack of concern about Yes and No — alas, there are enough cases where he must atone for these virtues of his! — and as a human being he generally becomes far too easily the caput mortuum [worthless residue] of these virtues. If people want love and hate from him — I mean love and hate the way God, women, and animals understand the terms — he’ll do what he can and give what he can. But we should not be amazed when it doesn’t amount to much — when he reveals himself in these very matters as inauthentic, fragile, questionable, and rotten. His love is forced, his hate artificial, more a tour de force, a tiny vanity and exaggeration. He is genuine only as long as he is permitted to be objective: only in his cheerful comprehensiveness [Totalismus] is he still “Nature” and “natural.” His mirror soul, always smoothing itself out, no longer knows how to affirm or to deny. He does not command, and he does not destroy. “Je ne méprise presque rien” [there is almost nothing I despise] — he says with Leibnitz: We should not fail to hear and should not underestimate that presque [almost]!3 Moreover, he is no model human being. He does not go ahead of anyone or behind. He places himself in general too far away to have a reason to take sides between good and evil. When people confused him for such a long time with the philosopher, with the Caesar-like breeder and cultural power house, they held him in much too high honour and overlooked the most essential thing about him — he is an instrument, something of a slave, although certainly the most sublime form of slave, but in himself nothing — presque rien [almost nothing]! The objective man is an instrument, an expensive, easily damaged and blunted tool for measurement and an artful arrangement of mirrors, something we should take care of and respect. But he is no goal, no way out or upward, no complementary human being in whom the rest of existence is justified, no conclusion — and even less a beginning, a procreation and first cause. He is nothing strong, powerful, self-assured, something which wants to be master. He is much rather merely a delicate, finely blown mobile pot for forms, which must first wait for some content and meaning or other, in order to “give himself a shape” consistent with it — usually a man without form and content, a “selfless” man. And thus also nothing for women, in parenthesi [in parenthesis]. —
When a philosopher nowadays lets us know he’s not a sceptic — I hope people have sensed this from the description of the objective spirit immediately above? — the whole world is unhappy to hear that. People look at him with some awe and would like to ask so much, to question . . . in fact, among timid listeners, and there are hordes of them today, from that point on he is considered dangerous. For them it is as if in his rejection of scepticism they heard coming from far away some evil threatening noise, as if a new explosive was being tested somewhere, spiritual dynamite, perhaps a newly discovered Russian nihilin, a pessimism bonae voluntatis [of good will], which does not merely say No and will No but — terrible to imagine! — acts No!4 Against this form of “good will”— a will to a truly active denial of life — there is today, by general agreement, no better sleeping pill and sedative than scepticism, the peaceful, gentle, soporific poppy of scepticism, and even Hamlet is prescribed these days by contemporary doctors against the “spirit” and its underground rumblings. “Aren’t people’s ears all full enough already of wicked noises?” says the sceptic, as a friend of peace, almost as a sort of security police: “This subterranean No is terrifying! Be quiet at last, you pessimistic moles!” For the sceptic, this tender creature, is frightened all too easily. His conscience has been trained to twitch with every No, even with every hard, decisive Yes — to respond as if it had been bitten. Yes! And No! — that contradicts his morality. Conversely, he loves to celebrate his virtue with a noble abstinence, by saying with Montaigne, “What do I know?”5 Or with Socrates, “I know that I know nothing.” Or “Here I don’t trust myself. There is no door open to me here.” Or “Suppose the door was open, why go in right away?” Or “What use are all rash hypotheses? Not to make any hypotheses at all could easily be part of good taste. Must you be so keen immediately to bend back something crooked? Or stopping up every hole with some piece of oakum? Isn’t there time for that? Doesn’t time have time? O you devilish fellows, can’t you wait, even for a bit? What is unknown also has its attraction — the Sphinx is a Circe, too, and Circe also was a philosopher.”6 In this way a sceptic consoles himself, and he certainly needs some consolation. For scepticism is the spiritual expression of a certain multifaceted physiological condition which in everyday language is called weak nerves and infirmity. It arises every time races or classes which have been separated from each other a long time suddenly and decisively cross breed. In the new generation, which has inherited in its blood, as it were, different standards and values, everything is restlessness, disturbance, doubt, experiment; the best forces have an inhibiting effect; even the virtues do not allow each other to grow and become strong; the body and soul lack equilibrium, a main focus, a perpendicular self-assurance. But what is most profoundly sick and degenerates in such mixtures is the will. These people no longer know the independence in decision making, the bold sense of pleasure in willing — they have doubts about the “freedom of the will,” even in their dreams. Our Europe today, the scene of an insanely sudden attempt at radical mixing of classes and consequently mixing of races, is as a result sceptical in all heights and depths, sometimes with that flexible scepticism which leaps impatiently and greedily from one branch to another, sometimes gloomy, like a cloud overloaded with question marks, and often sick to death of its will! Paralysis of the will — where nowadays do we not find this cripple sitting! And often how well dressed! In such a seductive outfit! This illness has the most beautifully splendid and deceitful clothing. For example, most of what presents itself in the display windows today as “objectivity,” “the practice of science,” “l’art pour l’art”[art for art’s sake], “purely disinterested knowledge” is only dressed up scepticism and paralysis of the will — I’ll stand by this diagnosis of the European sickness. The sickness of the will has spread unevenly across Europe. It appears in its greatest and most varied form where the culture has already been indigenous for the longest time, and it disappears to the extent that the “barbarian” still — or again — achieves his rights under the baggy clothing of Western culture. Thus, in contemporary France, we can conclude as easily as we can grasp it in our hands that the will is most seriously ill, and France, which has always had a masterful skill in transforming even the fateful changes in its spirit into something attractive and seductive, truly displays its cultural dominance over Europe today as the school and exhibition place for all the magical tricks of scepticism. The power to will and, indeed, to desire a will that lasts a long time, is somewhat stronger in Germany, and in the north of Germany even more so than in the middle, but it’s significantly stronger in England, Spain, and Corsica. In Germany it’s bound up with apathy, and in those other places with hard heads — to say nothing of Italy, which is too young to know yet what it wants and which first must demonstrate whether it can will.7 — But it’s strongest and most amazing in that immense empire in between, where Europe, so to speak, flows back into Asia, that is, in Russia. There the power to will has for a long time lain dormant and built up, there the will waits menacingly — uncertain whether, to borrow a favourite phrase of our physicists today, it will be discharged as a will to negate or a will to affirm. It may require more than Indian wars and developments in Asia for Europe to be relieved of its greatest danger; it will require inner revolutions, too, the breaking up of the empire into small bodies and, above all, the introduction of the parliamentary nonsense, along with every man’s duty to read his newspaper at breakfast. I’m not saying this because it’s what I want. The opposite would be closer to my heart — I mean such an increase in the Russian danger, that Europe would have to decide to become equally a threat, that is, it would have to acquire a will, by means of a new caste which would rule Europe, a long, fearful, individual will, which could set itself goals for thousands of years from now — so that finally the long spun-out comic plot of its small states, together with its multiple dynastic and democratic petty wills, would come to an end. The time for small politics is over. The next century is already bringing on the battle for the mastery of the earth — the compulsion to grand politics.
The extent to which the new warlike age into which we Europeans have evidently entered may perhaps also be favourable to the development of another and stronger variety of scepticism — on that point I’d like to state my views only provisionally through a comparison which friends of German history will understand easily enough. That unthinking enthusiast for good-looking, excessively tall grenadiers, who as King of Prussia, brought into being a military and sceptical genius — and in the process basically created that new type of German who has just recently emerged victorious — the questionable and mad father of Frederick the Great — in one respect himself had the grip and lucky claw of genius.8 He knew what Germany then needed, a lack which was a hundred times more worrisome and more urgent than some deficiency in culture and social style. His aversion to the young Frederick emerged from the anxiety of a profound instinct. What was missing was men. And he suspected to his most bitter annoyance that his own son might not be man enough. On that point he was deceived, but who in his place would not have been deceived? He saw his son decline into atheism, esprit, the luxurious frivolousness of witty Frenchmen:— he saw in the background the great blood sucker, the spider of scepticism. He suspected the incurable misery of a heart that is no longer hard enough for evil and for good, of a fractured will, which no longer commands, no longer can command. But in the meantime there grew up in his son that more dangerous and harder new form of scepticism — who knows how much it was encouraged by that very hate of his father’s and by the icy melancholy of a will pushed into solitude? — the scepticism of the daring masculinity, which is closely related to the genius for war and conquest and which, in the shape of Frederick the Great, first gained entry into Germany. This scepticism despises and nonetheless grabs hold. It undermines and takes possession. It does not believe, but in so doing does not lose itself. It gives the spirit a dangerous freedom, but it is hard on the heart. It is the German form of scepticism, which, as a constant Frederickanism intensified into the highest spirituality, has brought Europe for some time under the dominion of the German spirit and its critical and historical mistrust. Thanks to the invincibly strong and tenacious masculine character of the great German philologists and critical historians (who, if we see them properly, were collectively also artists of destruction and subversion), gradually a new idea of the German spirit established itself, in spite of all the Romanticism in music and philosophy, an idea in which the characteristic of manly scepticism stepped decisively forward: it could be, for example, a fearlessness in the gaze, courage and hardness in the destroying hand, a tough will for dangerous voyages of discovery, for expeditions to the spiritual North Pole under arid and dangerous skies. There may well be good reasons why warm-blooded and superficial humanitarian people cross themselves when confronted with this particular spirit: Michelet, not without a shudder, called it cet esprit fataliste, ironique, méphistophélique [this fatal and ironic Mephistophelean spirit].9 But if we want to feel how distinctive this fear of the “man” in the German spirit is, through which Europe was roused out of its “dogmatic slumber,” we might remember the earlier idea which had to be overthrown by it — and how it is still not so long ago that a masculine woman could dare, with unrestrained presumption, to recommend the Germans to the sympathy of Europe as gentle, good-hearted, weak-willed, poetical idiots.10 Finally we should understand with sufficient profundity Napoleon’s surprise when he came to visit Goethe: that reveals what people had thought about the “German spirit” for centuries. “Voilá un homme!” [There’s a man!] — which is, in effect, saying: That is really a man! And I had expected only a German! —
Assuming, then, that in the image of the philosophers of the future there is some characteristic which raises the question whether they would not perhaps have to be sceptics, in the sense indicated immediately above, that would, nonetheless, indicate only one thing about them — and not what they themselves were. With just as much justification they could be called critics, and it’s certain they will be men who experiment. In the names with which I have ventured to christen them, I have already particularly emphasized the attempting and the enjoyment in making attempts. Did I do this because, as critics in body and soul, they love to use experiments in a new, perhaps broader, perhaps more dangerous sense? In their passion for knowledge, would they have to go further with daring and painful experiments, than could be considered appropriate by the soft-hearted and mollycoddled taste of a democratic century? There is no doubt that these coming philosophers will at least be able to rid themselves of those serious and not unobjectionable characteristics which separate the critic from the sceptic — I mean the certainty in the measure of value, the conscious use of a unity of method, the shrewd courage, the standing alone, and the ability to answer for themselves. In fact, they will confess that they take delight in saying No and in dismantling things and in a certain thought-out cruelty which knows how to guide the knife surely and precisely, even when the heart is still bleeding. They will be harder (and perhaps not always only on themselves) than humane people might wish; they will not get involved with the “truth,” so that the truth can “please” them or “elevate” them and “inspire” them:— by contrast, they will have little faith that the truth in particular brings with it such emotional entertainment. They will smile, these strict spirits, if someone should declare in front of them, “That idea elevates me: how could it not be true?” or “That work delights me: how could it not be beautiful?” or, “That artist enlarges me; how could he not be great?”— Perhaps they are prepared not only to smile at but also to feel a genuine disgust for everything enthusiastic, idealistic, feminine, hermaphroditic in such matters. Anyone who knew how to follow them right into the secret chambers of their hearts would hardly find there any intention to reconcile “Christian feelings” with “the taste of antiquity” or even with “modern parliamentarianism” (a reconciliation which is said to be taking place even among philosophers in our very uncertain and therefore very conciliatory century). These philosophers of the future will demand not only of themselves critical discipline and every habit which leads to purity and strictness in things of the spirit: they could show them off as their own kind of jewellery — nonetheless, for all that they still don’t wish to be called critics. It seems to them no small insult inflicted on philosophy when people decree, as happens so commonly today, “Philosophy itself is criticism and critical science — and nothing else!” This evaluation of philosophy may enjoy the applause of all French and German positivists (— and it’s possible that it would have flattered even the heart and taste of Kant: we should remember the title of his major works —): our new philosophers will nonetheless affirm that critics are the tools of the philosopher and for that very reason, the fact that they are tools, still a great way from being philosophers themselves! Even the great Chinese citizen of Königsberg was only a great critic.11
I insist on the following point: people should finally stop confusing philosophical labourers and scientific people in general with philosophers — that in this particular matter we strictly assign “to each his due” and do not give too much to the former and much too little to the latter. It may be that the education of a real philosopher requires that he himself has stood for a while on all of those steps where his servants, the scientific labourers in philosophy, remain — and must remain. Perhaps he must himself have been critic and sceptic and dogmatist and historian and, in addition, poet and collector and traveller and solver of riddles and moralist and prophet and “free spirit” and almost everything, in order to move through the range of human worth and feelings of value and to be able to look with a variety of different eyes and consciences from the heights into every distance, from the depths into every height, from the corners into every expanse. But all these things are only pre-conditions for his task: the task itself seeks something different — it demands that he create values. Those philosophical labourers on the noble model of Kant and Hegel have to establish some large collection of facts or other concerning estimates of value — that is, earlier statements of value, creations of value which have become dominant and for a while have been called “truths.” They have to press these into formulas, whether in the realm of logic or politics (morality) or art. The task of these researchers is to make everything that has happened and which has been valued up to now clear, easy to imagine, intelligible, and manageable, to shorten everything lengthy, even “time” itself, and to overpower the entire past, a huge and marvellous task, in whose service every sophisticated pride and every tough will can certainly find satisfaction. But the real philosophers are commanders and lawgivers: they say “That is how it should be!” They determine first the “Where to?” and the “What for?” of human beings, and, as they do this, they have at their disposal the preliminary work of all philosophical labourers, all those who have overpowered the past — they reach with their creative hands to grasp the future. In that process, everything which is and has been becomes a means for them, an instrument, a hammer. Their “knowing” is creating; their creating is establishing laws; their will to truth is — will to power. — Are there such philosophers nowadays? Have there ever been such philosophers? Is it not necessary that there be such philosophers? . . . .
It is increasingly apparent to me that the philosopher, who is necessarily a man of tomorrow and the day after, has in every age found and had to find himself in contradiction to his today: his enemy every time was the ideal of the day. Up to now all these extraordinary promoters of humanity whom we call philosophers and who themselves seldom felt that they were friends of wisdom but rather embarrassing fools and dangerous question marks have found their work, their hard, unsought for, inescapable task — but finally the greatness of their work — was for them to be the bad consciences of their age. By applying the knife of vivisection to the chest of the virtues of the day, they revealed what their own secret was — to know a new greatness for man, to know a new untrodden path to increasing his greatness. Every time they exposed how much hypocrisy, laziness, letting oneself go, letting oneself fall, how many lies lay hidden under the most highly honoured type of their contemporary morality, how much virtue was out of date; every time they said, “We must go there, out there, where you nowadays are least at home.” Faced with a world of “modern ideas” which would like to banish everyone into a corner and a “specialty,” a philosopher, if there could be a philosopher these days, would be compelled to establish the greatness of mankind, the idea of “greatness,” on the basis of his own particular extensive range and multiplicity, his own totality in the midst of diversity. He would even determine value and rank according to how much and how many different things one could endure and take upon oneself, how far one could extend one’s own responsibility. Today contemporary taste and virtue weaken and dilute the will; nothing is as topical as the weakness of the will. Thus, in the ideal of the philosopher it is precisely the strength of will, the hardness and ability to make long-range decisions that must be part of the idea “greatness”— with just as much justification as the opposite doctrine and the ideal of a stupid, denying, humble, selfless humanity was appropriate to an opposite age, one which suffered, like the sixteenth century, from the bottled up energy of its will and the wildest waters and storm tides of selfishness. At the time of Socrates, among nothing but men of exhausted instincts, among conservative old Athenians, who allowed themselves to go “for happiness,” as they said, and for pleasure, as they did, and who, in the process, still kept mouthing the old splendid words to which their lives no longer gave them any right, perhaps irony was essential for greatness in the soul, that malicious Socratic confidence of the old doctor and member of the rabble, who sliced ruthlessly into his own flesh, as into the flesh and heart of the “noble man,” with a look which spoke intelligibly enough “Don’t play act in front of me! Here — we are the same!” By contrast, today, when the herd animal in Europe is the only one who attains and distributes honours, when “equality of rights” all too easily can get turned around into equality of wrongs — what I mean is into a common war against everything rare, strange, privileged, the higher man, the higher soul, the higher duty, the higher responsibility, the creative fullness of power and mastery — these days the sense of being noble, of willing to be for oneself, of being able to be different, of standing alone, and of having to live by one’s own initiative — these are part of the idea “greatness,” and the philosopher will reveal something of his own ideal if he proposes “The man who is to be the greatest is the one who can be the most solitary, the most hidden, the most deviant, the man beyond good and evil, lord of his virtues, a man lavishly endowed with will — this is simply what greatness is to be called: capable of being as much a totality as something multifaceted, as wide as it is full.” And to ask the question again: today — is greatness possible?
What a philosopher is, that’s difficult to learn because it cannot be taught: one must “know” it out of experience — or one should have the pride not to know it. But the fact that these days the whole world talks of things about which they cannot have any experience holds true above all and in the worst way for philosophers and philosophical situations:— very few people are acquainted with them and are allowed to know them, and all popular opinions about them are false. And so, for example, that genuine philosophical association of a bold, exuberant spirituality, which speeds along presto, with a dialectical strictness and necessity which takes no false steps are unknown to most thinkers and scholars from their own experience, and hence, if someone wishes to talk about it in front of them, they find it implausible. They take the view that every necessity is a need, an awkward requirement to follow and to be compelled, and for them thinking itself is considered something slow, hesitant, almost labourious, and often enough “worth the sweat of the noble”— but under no circumstances something light, divine, closely related to dancing and high spirits! “Thinking” and “taking an issue seriously,” “considering it gravely”— among them these belong together: that’s the only way they have “experienced” thinking. — In such matters artists may have a more subtle sense of smell. They know only too well that at the very moment when they no longer create “arbitrarily” and make everything by necessity, their sense of freedom, refinement, authority, of creative setting up, disposing, and shaping is at its height — in short, that necessity and the “freedom of the will” are then one thing for them. Ultimately there is a rank ordering of spiritual conditions, with which the rank ordering of problems is consistent, and the highest problems shove back without mercy anyone who dares to approach them without having been predestined to solve them with the loftiness and power of his spirituality. What help is it if nimble heads of nondescript people or, as happens so often these days, clumsy honest mechanics and empiricists with their plebeian ambition press forward into the presence of such problems and, as it were, up to the “court of courts”! But on such a carpet crude feet may never tread: there’s still a primeval law of things to look after that: the doors remain closed to these people who push against them, even if they bang or crush their heads against them! One must be born for every lofty world: to put the matter more clearly, one must be cultivated for it: one has a right to philosophy — taking the word in its grand sense — only thanks to one’s descent, one’s ancestors; here, as well, “blood” decides. For a philosopher to arise, many generations must have done the preparatory work. Every single one of his virtues must have been acquired, cared for, passed on, assimilated, and not just the bold, light, delicate walking and running of his thoughts, but above all the willingness to take on great responsibilities, the loftiness of the look which dominates and gazes down, the feeling of standing apart from the crowd and its duties and virtues, the affable protecting and defending what is misunderstood and slandered, whether that is God or the devil, the desire for and practice of great justice, the art of commanding, the breadth of will, the slow eye that seldom admires, seldom looks upward, seldom loves . . . .
1. . . . Hegel: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), important German idealist philosopher.
2. . . . Eugen Dühring (1833-1921) and Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906): two well-known philosophers in Nietzsche’s day.
3. . . . Leibnitz: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716), German philosopher, diplomat, and mathematician.
4. nihilin: a word Nietzsche invents to designate some new form of strong pessimism discovered like some as yet unknown chemical.
5. . . . Montaigne: Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French diplomat and writer.
6. . . . Circe: a goddess in the Odyssey who has magical powers to turn men into swine.
7. . . . Italy: Italy was not unified completely as an independent country until the mid-nineteenth century.
8. . . . Frederick the Great (1712-1786), son of Frederick William I, King of Prussia. Through his military and political skill he greatly enlarged Prussian territory.
9. . . . Michelet: Jules Michelet (1798-1874), a French historian. Mephistopheles is the chief agent of the Devil in Goethe’s Faust.
10. The woman is Madame de Staël, a French writer who produced a book about German and the Germans in 1810.
11. . . . great Chinese citizen of Königsberg: a reference to Immanuel Kant.
Our virtues? It’s probable that we also still have our virtues, although it’s reasonable to think that they will not be those naive, four-square virtues for whose sake we respect our grandfathers, at the same time holding them somewhat at arm’s length. We Europeans of the day-after-tomorrow, we first-born of the twentieth century — with all our dangerous curiosity, our multiplicity, and art of disguise, our tender and, so to speak, sweetened cruelty in spirit and sense — if we’re to have virtues, we’ll presumably have only those which have learned best how to tolerate our most secret and most heartfelt inclinations, our most burning needs. So then let’s look for them in our labyrinths! — where, as we know, so many different things get lost, so many different things disappear for ever. And is there anything more beautiful than seeking out one’s own virtues? Doesn’t this mean that one already almost believes in one’s own virtues? But this phrase “believe in one’s own virtues”— isn’t that basically the same thing people in earlier times used to call their “good conscience,” that long worthy pigtail of an idea which our grandfathers hung behind their heads and often enough behind their understanding as well? Thus, it seems to follow that, no matter how little we may think ourselves as old fashioned and as respectable as our grandfathers in other things, in one respect we are nonetheless the worthy grandsons of these grandfathers, we last Europeans with good consciences: we, too, still carry their pigtail. — Alas, if you knew how soon, how very soon — things will be otherwise! . . .
Just as it sometimes happens in the realm of the stars that two suns determine the orbit of a planet, and in some cases suns of different colours cast their lights around a single planet, sometimes red light, sometimes green light, and then again lighting it both at once, flooding it with colours, in the same way we modern men, thanks to the complicated mechanics of our “starry heaven,” are determined by different moralities; our actions change their lights into different colours. They are rarely unambiguous — and there are enough cases where we carry out actions with many colours.
Love one’s enemies? I think that has been well learned. These days it happens thousands of times, in small and big things. In fact, now and then something even higher and more sublime takes place — we learn to despise when we love, and precisely when we love best: but all this is unconscious, without any fuss, without any pomp and circumstance, rather with that modesty and secret goodness which prohibit solemn words and virtuous formulas. Morality as a pose — that offends our taste nowadays. This is also a step forward, just as it was a step forward for our fathers when religion as a pose finally offended their taste, including hostility to and a Voltairean bitterness against religion (and everything that formerly went along with the sign language of free thinkers). It’s the music in our conscience, the dance in our spirit, which wants to make all Puritan litanies, all moral sermons, and petty bourgeois respectability sound out of tune.
Be careful of those who set a high value on people’s ascribing to them moral tact and refinement in drawing moral distinctions! They never forgive us if they ever make a mistake in front of us (or even against us) — inevitably they become people who instinctively slander and damage us, even when they still remain our “friends.”— Blessed are the forgetful, for they are “done” with their stupidities as well.
Psychologists in France — and where else nowadays are there still any psychologists? — have not yet stopped enjoying the bitter and manifold pleasure they get from bêtise bourgoise [bourgeois stupidity]. It’s as if — but enough, by doing that they are revealing something. For example, Flaubert, that decent citizen of Rouen, finished up by seeing, hearing, and tasting nothing else any more. That was his kind of self-torture and more refined cruelty.1 Now, for a change — since this is becoming tedious — I recommend something else for our delight, and that is the unconscious shiftiness with which all good, thick, well-behaved, average spirits react to higher spirits and their works, that subtle complicated Jesuitical shiftiness, which is a thousand times more subtle than the understanding and taste of these average people in their best moments — or even than the understanding of their victims as well. This is repeated evidence for the fact that “Instinct” is the most intelligent of all forms of intelligence which have been discovered so far. Briefly put, you psychologists should study the philosophy of the “norm” in its war against the “exception.” There you’ll see a drama good enough for the gods and divine maliciousness! Or to put the matter still more clearly: practise vivisection on the “good people,” on the “homo bonae voluntatis” [man of good will] . . . on yourselves!
Moral judgment and condemnation are the favourite revenge of the spiritually limited against those who are less limited, as well as a form of compensation for the fact that Nature has thought ill of them, and finally a chance to acquire some spirit and become refined:— spiritualized malice. Deep in their hearts they feel good that there is a standard before which even those plentifully endowed with spiritual wealth and privilege stand, just like them:— they fight for the “equality of all before God” and almost require a faith in God just for that purpose. Among them are the most powerful opponents of atheism. Anyone who said to them “A high spirituality cannot be compared with any of the solidity and respectability of a man who is merely moral” would make them furious:— I’ll be careful about doing this. I’d much prefer to flatter them with my principle that a high spirituality itself arises only as the final offspring of moral qualities, that it is a synthesis of all those conditions which are ascribed to the “merely moral” man, after they have been acquired one by one through long discipline and practice, perhaps through an entire chain of generations, that the high spirituality is simply the spiritualization of justice and that kind severity which knows that its task is to maintain the order of rank in the world, not only among human beings, but even among things.
Given the present popular praise of “disinterestedness,” we must bring to mind, perhaps not without a certain danger, what it is that really interests the populace, and what, in general, are those things about which the common man is fundamentally and deeply concerned, including educated people, even scholars, and, unless all appearances deceive, perhaps philosophers as well. From that fact it turns out that the vast majority of what interests and charms more refined and more discriminating tastes and every higher nature appears completely “uninteresting” to the average man. Nonetheless, when he notices a devotion to these things, he calls it “désintéressé” [disinterested] and wonders to himself how it is possible to act “without interest.” There have been philosophers who have known how to confer a seductive and mystically transcendental form of expression upon this popular wonder (perhaps because in their own experience they knew nothing of higher nature?)— instead of presenting what’s reasonable — the honest naked truth that the “disinterested” action is a very interesting and interested action, provided . . . . “And love?”— What’s that! Is even an action done from love supposed to be “unegoistic”? You idiots —! “What about the praise for those who make sacrifices?” — But anyone who has really made a sacrifice knows that he wanted and got something for it — perhaps something of himself in exchange for something of himself — he gave up here in order to have more there, perhaps in general to be more or at least to feel himself as “more.” But this is a realm of questions and answers in which a more discriminating spirit does not like to remain, for here even truth already finds it necessary to suppress her yawns if she must answer. In the last analysis, Truth is a woman: we should not treat her with force.
It so happens, said a moralistic pedant and pettifogger, that I respect and honour a selfless man, not because he is selfless but because he seems to me to have a right to be of use to another man at his own expense. All right, but it’s always a question of who he is and who the other is. For example, in a man who is marked out and made to command, self-denial and modest holding back would not be a virtue but a waste of virtue: that’s what it seems like to me. Every unegoistic morality which takes itself unconditionally and applies itself to everyone not only sins against taste; it also provokes sins of omission, one more seduction under the guise of philanthropy — and, in particular, a seduction for and injury to the higher, rarer, and privileged people. We must compel moralities first and foremost to give way before the order of rank. We must force into the conscience of moralities an awareness of their own presumption — until they finally are collectively clear about the fact that it is immoral to say “What’s right for one man is fair to another.” As for my moralistic pedant and fine fellow: does he deserve it when people laugh at him as he advises moralities in this way to become moral? But people should not be too much in the right if they want those who laugh on their side. A small grain of wrong is even a part of good taste.
Nowadays wherever people preach pity — and, if one listens correctly, is there any other religion preached any more? — the psychologist should keep his ears open: through all the vanity, through all the noise characteristic of these preachers (like all preachers), he’ll hear a hoarser, moaning, genuine sound of self-contempt. It’s part of that process of making Europe dark and ugly which has been growing now for a hundred years (and whose first symptoms were already placed in the documentary record in a thoughtful letter from Galiani to Madame d’Epinay): unless it’s the cause of this development! The man of “modern ideas,” this proud ape, is uncontrollably dissatisfied with himself — that’s established. He’s suffering. And his vanity wants him only to suffer “with others”2 . . .
At any rate, the hybrid European man — a reasonably ugly plebeian, all in all — needs a costume. He needs history as a pantry for costumes. Naturally, he then notices that none of them fits his body properly — he changes and changes. Just take a look at the nineteenth century, at the rapid preferences and changes in the masquerade of style, along with the moments of despair over the fact that “nothing suits us”—. It’s no use presenting oneself romantically or classically or in a Christian or Florentine or Baroque or “national” manner in moribus et artibus [in customs and the arts] —“it doesn’t suit us”! But the “spirit,” in particular the “historical spirit,” still sees an advantage for itself even in this despair: over and over again a new piece of pre-history and a foreign country are explored, put on, set aside, packed away, and above all studied:— we are the first age with a real training in “costume”: I mean in moralities, articles of faith, tastes in art, and religions, prepared as no other time ever was for a carnival in the grand style, for a spiritual revelry of laughter and high spirits, for a transcendental height of the loftiest nonsense and Aristophanic mockery of the world.3 Perhaps this is the very place where we’ll still discover the realm of our own inventiveness, that realm where we too can still be original as some sort of satirists of world history and God’s clowns — perhaps when nothing else today has a future, perhaps it’s our laughter that still has one!
The historical sense (or the capability to make quick guesses about the rank ordering of value judgments according to which a people, a society, or a person has lived, the “instinct for divination” concerning the relations between these value judgments, for the connections between the authority of value and the authority of effective forces)— this historical sense which we Europeans claim as our distinctive characteristic, came to us as a consequence of the enchanting and wild semi-barbarianism into which Europe was plunged through the democratic intermixing of the classes and races — the nineteenth century knew about this sense for the first time as its sixth sense. The past of every form and manner of living, of cultures which earlier lay right alongside each other or over each other, flows, thanks to this intermixing, out into us “modern souls”; our instincts now run back all over the place; we ourselves are a kind of chaos. Finally “the spirit,” as I have said, sees an advantage for itself in all this. Because of our semi-barbarism in body and desires we have secret entrances in all directions, in a way no noble age ever possessed, above all the entrances to the labyrinth of unfinished cultures and to every semi-barbarism which has ever been present on earth. Inasmuch as the most considerable part of human culture up to now has been semi-barbarism, the “historical sense” almost means the sense and instinct for everything, the taste and tongue for everything. And that establishes right away that it’s an ignoble sense. For example, we enjoy Homer again. It’s perhaps our happiest asset that we understand how to appreciate Homer, something which men of a noble culture don’t know and didn’t know how to appropriate so easily and which they hardly allowed themselves to enjoy (for example, the French of the seventeenth century, like Saint Evremond, who criticized him for his esprit vaste [vast and all- encompassing spirit], and even Voltaire, their final chorus).4 That very emphatic Yes and No of their palate, their easy disgust, their hesitant holding back with respect to everything strange, their fear of bad taste, even of lively curiosity, and, in general, that reluctance of every noble and self-satisfied culture to acknowledge a new desire, a dissatisfaction with what is its own, an admiration for something foreign; all this disposes and makes them hostile even to the best things of the world which are not their own property or could not become a trophy of theirs — and no sense is more incomprehensible to such people than the historical sense and its obsequious plebeian curiosity. The situation is no different with Shakespeare, this amazing Spanish-Moorish-Saxon synthesis of taste, who would have made an old Athenian, one of Aeschylus’ friends, laugh himself almost to death or irritated him. But we take up this wild display of colours, this confusion of the most delicate, coarsest, and most artificial things with a secret confidence and good will. We enjoy him as the very refinement of art saved especially for us and, in the process, do not allow ourselves to be disturbed at all by the unpleasant stink and the proximity of the English rabble, in which Shakespeare’s art and taste lives, no more so than on the Chiaja in Naples, where we go on our way with all our senses enchanted and willing, no matter how much the sewers of the rabble’s quarter fill the air.5 We men of the “historical sense,” we have our corresponding virtues. That’s beyond dispute. We are undemanding, selfless, modest, brave, full of self-restraint, full of devotion, very grateful, very patient, very obliging:— with all that we are perhaps not very “tasteful.” Let’s finally admit it to ourselves: what’s hardest for us men of “historical sense” to grasp, to feel, to taste again, to love again, what we’re basically prejudiced about and almost hostile to is precisely the perfection and ultimate maturity in every culture and art, what is really noble in works or in men, the moment when their sea is smooth and they have halcyon self-sufficiency, the gold and the coolness displayed by all things which have perfected themselves. Perhaps the great virtue of the historical sense stands in a necessary opposition to good taste, at least to the very best taste, and we can reproduce in ourselves only with difficulty and hesitantly, only by forcing ourselves, the small, short, and highest strokes of luck and transfigurations of human life, as they suddenly shine out here and there: those moments and miracles where a great force voluntarily remains standing before the boundless and unlimited — where an excess of sophisticated pleasure was enjoyed in sudden restraint and petrifaction, in standing firm and holding oneself steady on still trembling ground. Restraint is strange to us. Let’s admit that to ourselves. Our itch is the particular itch for the unlimited, the unmeasured. Like the rider on a steed snorting its way forward we let the reins fall before the infinite, we modern men, we half-barbarians — and only reach our bliss in a place where we are most — in danger.
Whether hedonism, pessimism, utilitarianism, or eudaimonianism6 — all these ways of thinking, which measure the value of things according to pleasure and pain, that is, according to contingent circumstances and secondary issues, are ways of thinking in the foreground and naivete, which everyone who knows about creative forces and an artistic conscience will look down on, not without ridicule and not without pity. Pity for you! — that is, of course, not pity the way you mean the term: that is not pity for social “need,” for “society” and its sick and unlucky people, with those depraved and broken down from the start — they’re lying on the ground all around us — even less is it pity for the grumbling oppressed, the rebellious slave classes, who strive for mastery — they call it “Freedom.” Our pitying is a higher compassion which sees further — we see how man is making himself smaller, how you are making him smaller! — and there are moments when we look at your very pity with an indescribable anxiety, where we defend ourselves against this pity — where we find your seriousness more dangerous than any carelessness. You want, if possible — and there is no more fantastic “if possible”— to do away with suffering. What about us? It does seem that we would prefer it to be even higher and worse than it ever was! Well being, the way you understand it — that is no goal. To us that looks like an end, a condition which immediately makes human beings laughable and contemptible — something which makes their destruction desirable! The discipline of suffering, of great suffering — don’t you realize that up to this point it is only this suffering which has created every enhancement in man up to now? That tension of a soul in misery which develops its strength, its trembling when confronted with great destruction, its inventiveness and courage in bearing, holding out against, interpreting, and using unhappiness, and whatever has been conferred upon it by way of profundity, secrecy, masks, spirit, cunning, and greatness — has that not been given to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering? In human beings, creature and creator are united. In man is material stuff, fragments, excess, clay, mud, nonsense, chaos, but in man there is also creator, artist, hammer hardness, the divinity of the spectator and the seventh day — do you understand this contrast? And do you understand that your pity for the “creature in man” is for what must be formed, broken, forged, torn apart, burned, glow, purified — for what must necessarily suffer and should suffer? And our pity — don’t you understand for whom our reverse pity matters, when it protects itself against your pity as against the most wretched of all mollycoddling and weakness? — And thus pity against pity! — But, to say the point again, there are higher problems than all those of enjoyment, suffering, and pity, and every philosophy that leads only to these is something naive. —
We immoral ones! — This world which we’re concerned with, in which we have to fear and love, this almost invisible and inaudible world of sophisticated commanding, sophisticated obeying, a world of “almost” from every way of looking at it — entangled, embarrassing, cutting, and tender — yes, this world is well defended against clumsy spectators and familiar curiosity! We have been woven into a strict yarn and shirt of duties and cannot get out of it — in that respect we are simply “men of duty,” we as well! Now and then, it’s true, we dance happily in our “chains” and between our “swords.” More often, it’s no less true, we gnash our teeth about it and are impatient with all the secret hardness of our fate. But we can do what we like: the fools and appearance speak against us: “They are men without duty.”— We always have fools and appearance against us!
If we assume that honesty is a virtue of ours from which we cannot escape, we free spirits — well, we’ll want to work on it with all our malice and love and not grow tired of “making ourselves perfect” in our virtue, the only one which remains ours: may its brilliance one day remain lying like a gilded, blue, mocking evening light over this aging culture and its dull and dark seriousness! And if nonetheless our honesty one day grows tired and sighs and stretches its limbs and finds us too hard and would like to have things better, lighter, more loving, like a pleasing vice, let us remain hard, we final Stoics! And let us send her by way of help only what we have in us of devilry — our disgust with what is crude and approximate, our “nitimur in vetitum” [we seek what is forbidden], our courage as adventurers, our shrewd and discriminating curiosity, our most refined, most disguised, and most spiritual will to power and overcoming of the world which roams and swarms greedily around all future realms — let us come to the aid of our “God” with all our “devils”! It is likely that because of this people fail to recognize us and get us confused with others. What does that matter? People will say “Your ‘honesty’— that’s your devilry, nothing more than that.” What does that matter? Even if they were right! Haven’t all gods up to now been like that, devils who became holy by being re-christened? And what finally do we know about ourselves? And that spirit which guides us, what does it want to be called? (It is a matter of names). And how many spirits are we hiding? Our honesty, we free spirits — let’s take care that it does not become our vanity, our finery and splendour, our boundary, our stupidity! Every virtue tends towards stupidity; every stupidity tends towards virtue: “stupid all the way to holiness” people say in Russia — let’s take care that we don’t end up becoming saints and bores through honesty! Isn’t life a hundred times too short to get bored with it? We’d already have to believe in eternal life, in order to . . . .
I hope people forgive me the discovery that all moral philosophy so far has been boring and has belonged among things which send us to sleep — and that, in my eyes, “virtue” has been impaired by nothing so much as by this tediousness of its advocates. In saying this I still don’t wish to deny their general utility. A great deal rests on the fact that as few people as possible think about morality — and so it’s very important that morality does not one day become something interesting! But that’s not something people should worry about! These days things still stand they way they always have: I don’t see anyone in Europe who might have (or might provide) some idea about how reflecting on morality could be conducted dangerously, awkwardly, seductively — that there could be disaster in the process. People should consider, for example, the tireless unavoidable English utilitarians, how they wander around crudely and honourably in Bentham’s footsteps, moving this way and that (a Homeric metaphor says it more clearly), just as Bentham himself had already wandered in the footsteps of the honourable Helvetius (this Helvetius — no, he was no dangerous man!).7 No new idea, nothing of a more refined expression and bending of an old idea, not even a real history of an earlier idea: an impossible literature in its totality, unless we understand how to spice it up with some malice. For in these moralists as well (whom we really have to read with ulterior motives, if we have to read them —) that old English vice called cant and moral Tartufferie [hypocrisy], has inserted itself, this time hidden under a new form of scientific thinking. Nor is there any lack of a secret resistance against the pangs of a guilty conscience, something a race of former Puritans justifiably will suffer from in all its scientific preoccupations with morality. (Isn’t a moralist the opposite of a Puritan, namely, a thinker who considers morality something questionable, worth raising questions about, in short, as a problem? Shouldn’t moralizing be — immoral?). In the end they all want English morality to be considered right, so that then mankind or “general needs” or “the happiness of the greatest number”— no! England’s good fortune — will be best served. They want to prove with all their might that striving for English happiness, I mean for comfort and fashion (and, as the highest priority, a seat in Parliament) is at the same time also the right path to virtue, in fact, that all virtue which has existed in the world so far has consisted of just such striving. Not one of all these ponderous herd animals with uneasy consciences (who commit themselves to promoting egoism as an issue of general welfare —) wants to know or catch a whiff of the fact that the “general welfare” is no ideal, no goal, not even a concept one can somehow grasp, but is only an emetic — that what is right for one man cannot in any way also be right for another man, that the demand for a single morality for everyone is a direct restriction on the higher men, in short, that there is a rank ordering between man and man, and thus, as a result, also between morality and morality. These utilitarian Englishmen are a modest and thoroughly mediocre kind of man and, as mentioned, insofar as they are boring, we cannot think highly enough of their utility. We should even encourage them, just as, to some extent, someone has tried to do in the following rhyme:
Hail to you, brave working lout,
“It’s always better when drawn out.”
Always stiff in head and knee
Never funny, never keen,
Always sticking to the mean.
Sans genie et sans esprit.
[Without genius and without wit]
In those recent ages which may be proud of their humanity, there remains so much residual fear, so much superstitious fear of the “wild cruel beasts,” animals which those more humane ages are particularly proud of having overcome, that even palpable truths stay unspoken for hundreds of years, as if by some agreement, because they look as if they might help those wild beasts, which have been finally slaughtered, come back to life again. Perhaps I am daring something if I allow one such truth to escape me: let others catch it again and give it so much “milk of the devout ways of thinking” to drink until it lies still and forgotten in its old corner. — People should learn to think differently about cruelty and open their eyes. They should finally learn to get impatient, so that such presumptuous, fat errors no longer brazenly wander around as virtues, the way they’ve been fed to us, for example, by old and new philosophers in connection with tragedy. Almost everything which we call “higher culture” rests on the spiritualization and intensification of cruelty — that’s my claim. That “wild beast” hasn’t been killed at all: it’s alive, it’s flourishing. Only it has turned itself into — a god. What constitutes the painful delight in tragedy is cruelty. What has a pleasing effect in so-called tragic pity, and basically even in everything awe-inspiring right up to the highest and most delicate trembling of metaphysics, gets its sweetness only from the additional ingredient of cruelty to the mixture. What the Roman in the arena, Christ in the raptures of the cross, the Spaniard at the sight of a burning at the stake or a bull fight, the Japanese today who crowds into tragedies, the Parisian suburban worker who feels nostalgic for a bloody revolution, the female fan of Wagner who, with her will unhinged, lets herself “submit to” Tristan and Isolde — what all these people enjoy and try to drink down with mysterious enthusiasm is the spicy liquor of the great Circe, “cruelty.” In saying this, we must of course chase off the foolish psychology of former times, which, so far as cruelty is concerned, knew only how to teach us that it arose at the sight of someone else’s suffering. There is a substantial over-abundant enjoyment also with one’s own suffering, with making oneself suffer — and wherever people let themselves be convinced about self-denial in a religious sense or about self-mutilation, as with the Phoenicians and ascetics, or in general about depriving themselves of sensual experience and the flesh, about remorse, Puritan pangs of repentance, about a vivisection of the conscience, and about a Pascalian sacrifizio dell’intelletto [sacrifice of the intellect], they are secretly seduced and pushed on by cruelty, by that dangerous thrill of cruelty turned against themselves. Finally, people should consider that even the knowledgeable man, when he compels his spirit to acknowledge things against his spirit’s inclinations and often enough also against his heart’s desires — that is, to say No where he’d like to affirm something, to love, to worship — rules as an artist and a transformer of cruelty. In fact, every attempt to be profound and thorough is a forceful violation, a willingness to do harm to the basic will of the spirit, which always wants what’s apparent and superficial — even in that desire to know there is a drop of cruelty.
Perhaps people don’t readily understand what I’ve said here about a “basic will of the spirit.” So permit me to offer an explanation. — The something which commands, which people call “the spirit,” wishes to be master in and around itself and to feel that it’s the master. It possesses the will from multiplicity to simplicity, a will which ties up, tames, desires to dominate, and truly does rule. Its needs and capabilities are in this respect the same as those which physiologists indicate belong to everything which lives, grows, and reproduces itself. The power of the spirit to appropriate other things for itself is revealed in its strong inclination to assimilate the new with the old, to simplify what is diverse, to ignore or push away what is totally contradictory, just as it arbitrarily and strongly emphasizes, brings out, and falsifies for its own purposes certain characteristics and lines in what is foreign, in every piece of the “outside world.” Its intention in so doing is the assimilation of new “experiences,” the organization of new things in an old series — and also for growth, or, to put the matter even more clearly, for the feeling of growth, for the feeling of increased power. An apparently contradictory spiritual drive serves this same will, a suddenly erupting decision in favour of ignorance, an arbitrary shutting out, a slamming of its window, an inner cry of No to this or that thing, a refusal to let something in, a kind of defensive condition against much that can be known, a satisfaction with the darkness, with the sealed-off horizon, an affirmation and endorsement of ignorance: and all this is necessary in proportion to the degree of its appropriating power, its “power of digestion,” to speak metaphorically — and “the spirit” is in fact most like a stomach. With this also belongs the occasional will in the spirit to allow itself to be deceived, perhaps with a high-spirited premonition that something or other is not the case, that we simply allow something or other to be valid, a joy in all uncertainty and ambiguity, an exulting enjoyment of the self in the capricious narrowness and secrecy of some corner, in what is all too-near-at-hand, in the foreground, in what is magnified or made smaller, in what has been shifted around or made more beautiful, a self-delight in the arbitrariness of all these expressions of power. Finally with these belongs that not unobjectionable willingness of the spirit to deceive other spirits and to play act in front of them, that constant urge and pressure of a creative, formative, changeable force: here the spirit enjoys its capacity for adopting multiple masks and shiftiness; it also enjoys the feeling of its security in this activity — precisely through its protean art is the spirit, in fact, best defended and hidden! — Working against this will to appearances, to simplification, to masks, to cloaks, in short, to the surface — for every surface is a cloak — is that sublime tendency of the person looking for knowledge who grasps and wants to grasp things thoroughly in their profundity and multiplicity, as a kind of cruelty of the intellectual conscience and taste, which every bold thinker will recognize in himself, provided that he, as is appropriate, has hardened and sharpened his eye for himself long enough and has grown accustomed to strict discipline and to stern language. He’ll say, “There’s something cruel in my spiritual inclination”— let the virtuous and charming try to persuade him that’s not so! In fact, it would sound better if, instead of cruelty, people talked of or whispered about or credited us free, very free spirits as having “excessive honesty”— and that’s perhaps one day how it will really ring out — our posthumous reputation? In the meantime — for there is plenty of time until then — we ourselves may well be the least inclined to dress ourselves up in the finery of those kinds of moralistic word sequins and fringes: our entire work so far spoils for us this very taste and its merry opulence. These are the beautiful, sparkling, jingling, festive words: honesty, love of truth, love of wisdom, sacrifice for knowledge, heroism of the truthful — there is something in them that makes the pride swell up in a man. But we hermits and marmots, we persuaded ourselves long ago, with all the secrecy of a hermit’s conscience, that this worthy verbal pomp also belongs with the old lying finery, rubbish, and gold dust of unconscious human vanity, and that underneath such flattering colours and repainted surfaces we must once again recognize the terrifying basic text of homo natura [natural man]. In fact, to translate men back into nature, to master the many vain and effusive interpretations and connoted meanings which so far have been scribbled and painted over that eternal basic text of homo natura, to bring it about that in future man stands before man in the same way he, grown hard in the discipline of science, already stands these days before the rest of nature, with the fearless eyes of Oedipus and the blocked ears of Odysseus, deaf to the tempting sirens among the old metaphysical bird-catchers, who for far too long have been piping at him, “You are more! You are higher! You are of a different origin!”— that may be a peculiar and mad task, but it is a task — who will deny that? Why did we choose it, this mad task? Or, to put the question differently, “Why knowledge at all?”— Everyone will ask us about that. And we, pressured like this, we, who have already asked ourselves that very question a hundred times, we have found and find no better answer . . .
Learning changes us. It achieves what all feeding does which doesn’t merely “preserve,”— as a physiologist knows. But deep in us, really “down there,” is naturally something uneducable, a granite of spiritual fate, of predetermined decision and answer to predetermined selected questions. In every cardinal problem a steadfast “That’s what I am” speaks out. About men and a women, for example, a thinker cannot learn to think differently; he can only complete his learning — only finally discover how things “stand with him” on this question. Sometimes we find certain solutions to problems which create a strong faith in us in particular. Perhaps from then on we call them our “convictions.” Later we see in them mere footsteps to self-knowledge, signposts to the problem which we are — or, better, to the great stupidity which we are, to our spiritual fate, to the unteachable part way “down there.” After this rich civility I have just displayed with respect to myself, perhaps there’s a better chance that I’ll be allowed to speak out a few truths about “woman as such,” so long as from now on people realize from the start just how very much these are simply only my truths.
Woman wants to become independent — and for that reason she is beginning to enlighten men about “woman as such”— that is among the most deleterious developments in the general process of making Europe ugly. For what must these crude attempts of female scholarship and self-exposure bring to light! Woman has so many reasons for shame; hidden in women is so much pedantry, superficiality, so many characteristics of the school teacher, petty arrogance, petty indulgence, and immodesty — just look at the way she interacts with children! — Up to now basically these qualities have best been kept repressed and controlled by fear of man. Woe when the “eternally boring in woman”— she is rich in that! — is first allowed to venture out, when she begins thoroughly and fundamentally to forget her shrewdness and art, her qualities of grace, of play, of driving cares away, of mitigating troubles and taking things lightly, and her delicate skill with agreeable pleasures! Nowadays we can already hear women’s voices which — by holy Aristophanes! — are frightening. They threaten with medical clarity what woman wants from man, from start to finish. Isn’t it in the very worst taste for woman to prepare like this to become scientific? So far, enlightening has fortunately been a man’s business, a man’s talent — in the process we remained “among ourselves.” In dealing with everything which women write about concerning “woman,” we may finally retain a healthy mistrust whether woman really wants enlightenment about herself — or is capable of wanting it. . . . Unless a woman by doing this is seeking some new finery for herself — so I do think that dressing herself up belongs to the eternally feminine? — well, by doing this she does want to arouse fear of herself:— in that way perhaps she wants power. But she does not want the truth. What does a woman have to do with truth! From the very beginning nothing is stranger, more unfavourable, or more hostile to women than truth — her great art is the lie, her highest concern appearance and beauty. We men should admit it — we honour and love precisely this art and this instinct in woman, we who have a hard time of it and are happy to get our relief by associating with beings under whose hands, looks, and tender foolishness our seriousness, our gravity and profundity seem almost silly. Finally I put the question: has a woman ever herself conceded that a woman’s head is profound, that a woman’s heart is just? And isn’t it true that, speaking generally, “woman” up to this point has been held in contempt mostly by woman herself — and not at all by us? We men want a woman not to continue to compromise herself by enlightenment, just as it was masculine care and consideration for woman that made the church decree mulier taceat in ecclesia [let a woman be silent in church]! It was an advantage for woman, when Napoleon let the all-too-loquacious Madame de Staël understand: mulier taceat in politicis [let women be silent in politics]! — And I think that a true friend of women is the man who nowadays shouts out to them: mulier taceat de muliere [let woman be silent about women]!
It reveals a corruption of instincts — quite apart from revealing bad taste — when a woman makes a direct reference to Madame Roland or Madame de Staël or Mr. George Sand, as if by doing so they had something to prove in favour of the “woman as such.”8 Among men those names are the three comical woman as such — nothing more! — and the very best unintentional counter-arguments against emancipation and female self-importance.
Stupidity in the kitchen, woman as cook, the ghastly absence of intelligent thought in taking care of the nourishment of the family and the man of the house! Woman understands nothing about what food means, and she wants to be cook! If woman were a thinking creature, then, as cook for thousands of years, she’d surely have found out the most important physiological facts, while at the same time she’d have had to take ownership of the art of healing! Because of bad female cooks and the complete lack of reason in the kitchen, the development of human beings has been held up for the longest time and suffered the worst damage. Even today things are little better. A speech for fashionable young ladies.
There are expressions and successful projections of the spirit; there are aphorisms, a small handful of words, in which an entire culture, an entire society, suddenly crystallizes. Among these belongs that remark Madame de Lambert made at some point to her son: “Mon ami, ne vous permettez jamais que de folies, qui vous feront grand plaisir” [My dear, never allow yourself anything but those follies which will bring you great pleasure] — which is, by the way, the most motherly and cleverest remark that has ever been directed to a son.
What Dante and Goethe believed about women — the former when he sang “ella guardava suso, ed io in lei” [she looked upward and I at her] and the latter when he translated this passage as “the Eternally Feminine draws us upwards”— I have no doubt that every more aristocratic woman will resist this faith, for she believes the very same about the Eternally Masculine . . . .
How the longest boredom flees — when man crawls to us on his knees!
Old age, alas, and science, too, give strength to even weak virtue.
Dressed in black and speaking never — every woman then looks clever.
When things go well, my gratitude goes — to God and the woman who cuts my clothes.
When young, a flowery cavern home — when old, a dragon on the roam.
A noble name, legs are fine — a man as well — would he were mine!
Brief in speech, the sense quite nice — a female ass on treacherous ice!
Up to now women have been treated by men like birds which have strayed down to them from some high place or other, like something finer, more sensitive, wilder, stranger, sweeter, and with more soul — but like something which man must lock up so that it does not fly away.
To grasp incorrectly the basic problem of “man and woman,” to deny the most profound antagonism here and the necessity of an eternally hostile tension, perhaps in this matter to dream about equal rights, equal education, equal entitlements and duties — that’s a typical sign of superficial thinking. And a thinker who has shown that he’s shallow in this dangerous place — shallow in his instincts! — may in general be considered suspicious or, even worse, betrayed and exposed. Presumably he’ll be too “short” for all the basic questions of life and of life in the future, and he’ll be incapable of any profundity. By contrast, a man who does have profundity in his spirit and in his desires as well, together with that profundity of good will capable of severity and hardness and easily confused with them, can think about woman only in an oriental way: he has to grasp woman as a possession, as a property which he can lock up, as something predetermined for service and reaching her perfection in that service. In this matter he must take a stand on the immense reasoning of Asia, on the instinctual superiority of Asia: just as the Greeks did in earlier times, the best heirs and students of Asia, who, as is well known, from Homer to the time of Pericles, as they advanced in culture and in the extent of their power, also became step by step stricter against women, in short, more oriental. How necessary, how logical, even how humanly desirable this was: that’s something we’d do well to think about!
In no age has the weak sex been treated with such respect on the part of men as in our time — that’s part of the tendency and basic taste of democracy, just like the disrespect for old age. Is it any wonder that this respect immediately leads to abuse? People want more; people learn to make demands. They finally find this toll of respect almost sickening and would prefer a competition for rights, in fact, a completely genuine fight. Briefly put, woman is losing her shame. Let’s add to that at once that she is also losing her taste. She is forgetting to be afraid of man. But the woman who “forgets fear” abandons her most womanly instincts. The fact that woman dares to come out when that part of men which inspires fear — let’s say it more clearly — when the man in men — is no longer wanted and widely cultivated — is reasonable enough, even understandable enough. What’s more difficult to grasp is that in this very process — woman degenerates. That’s happening today: let’s not deceive ourselves about it! Wherever the industrial spirit has triumphed over the military and aristocratic spirit, woman now strives for the economic and legal independence of a shop assistant: “woman as clerk” stands out on the door of the modern society which is now developing. As she thus empowers herself with new rights and strives to become “master” and writes the “progress” of woman on her banners and little flags, it becomes terribly clear that the opposite is taking place: woman is regressing. Since the French Revolution the influence of woman in Europe has grown smaller in proportion to the increase in her rights and demands, and the “Emancipation of Woman,” to the extent that that is desired and demanded by women themselves (and not just by superficial men), has, as a result, produced a peculiar symptom of the growing weakening and deadening of the most feminine instincts. There is stupidity in this development, an almost masculine stupidity, about which a successful woman — who is always an intelligent woman — would have to feel thoroughly ashamed. To lose the instinct for the ground on which one is surest to gain victory, to neglect to practice the art of one’s own true weapons, to allow oneself to let go before men, perhaps even “to produce a book,” where previously one used discipline and a refined cunning humility, to work with a virtuous audacity against man’s faith in a fundamentally different ideal concealed in woman, some eternally and necessarily feminine, with constant chatter to talk men emphatically out of the idea that woman, like a delicate, strangely wild, and often pleasing domestic animal, must be maintained, cared for, protected, and looked after, the awkward and indignant gathering up of everything slavish and serf-like, which has inherently belonged to the position of women in the social order up to this point and which still does (as if slavery were a counter-argument and not rather a condition of every higher culture, every enhancement in culture)— what does all this mean, if not a crumbling away of feminine instinct, a loss of femininity? Of course, there are enough idiotic friends of women and corruptors of women among the scholarly asses of the male sex who counsel woman to defeminize herself in this manner and to imitate all the foolish things which make the “man” in Europe and European “manliness” sick — people who want to bring woman down to the level of a “common education,” perhaps even to reading the newspapers and discussing politics. Here and there they want even to make women into free spirits and literati: as if a woman without piety were not something totally repulsive or ridiculous to a profound and godless man. Almost everywhere people ruin woman’s nerves with the most sickly and most dangerous of all forms of music (our most recent German music) and make her more hysterical every day and more incapable of her first and last vocation, giving birth to strong children. They want to make her in general even more “cultivated” and, as they say, make the “weak sex” strong through culture, as if history didn’t teach us as emphatically as possible that “cultivating” human beings and making them weak — that is, enfeebling, fracturing, making the power of the will sick — always go hand in hand and that the most powerful and most influential women of the world (in most recent times even Napoleon’s mother) can thank the power of their own particular wills — and not their school masters! — for their power and superiority over men. The thing in woman that arouses respect and often enough fear is her nature, which is “more natural” than man’s nature, her genuine predatory and cunning adaptability, her tiger’s claws under the glove, the naivete of her egotism, her ineducable nature and inner wildness, the incomprehensibility, breadth, and roaming of her desires and virtues. . . . With all this fear, what creates sympathy for this dangerous and beautiful cat “woman” is that she appears to suffer more, to be more vulnerable and in need of love, and to be condemned to suffer disappointment more than any animal. Fear and pity: with these feelings man has stood before woman up to this point, always with one foot already in tragedy, which tears to pieces while it delights. How’s that? And is this now to come to an end? Is the magic spell of woman now in the process of being broken? Is the process of making woman boring slowly coming about? O Europe! Europe! We know the horned animal which has always been most attractive to you. Its danger still constantly threatens you! Your old fable could still at some point become “history”— once again a monstrous stupidity could gain mastery of you and drag you away from it! And no god is hiding underneath it, no, only an “idea,” a “modern idea”! . . .
1. . . . Flaubert: Gustave Flaubert (1820-1880), well known French novelist.
2. . . . Galiani: Abbé Ferdinand Glaini (1728-1787), an Italian cleric and philosopher; Madame d’Épinay: Louise d’Épinay (1726-1783), a French writer.
3. . . . Aristophanic: Aristophanes (456-386 BC), a major dramatist in classical Athens, the foremost writer of Old Comedy.
4. . . . Saint Evremond: Charles de Marguetel de Saint-Denis de Saint Evremond (1610-1703), French soldier and writer. Voltaire: pen name of Francois-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), an enormously influential and popular French philosopher and writer.
5. . . . Chiaja: an urban district in central Naples.
6. . . . eudaimonianism: the doctrine that our highest goal is happiness.
7. . . . Bentham: Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), English utilitarian philosopher and social reformer; Helvétius: Claude Helvétius (1715-1771), French philosopher, condemned by the pope and the government for his godlessness.
8. . . . Madame Roland (1754-1793), French historian and writer; George Sand: pen name for Amandine Aurore Dupin (1804-1876), French novelist.
I heard once again for the first time Richard Wagner’s Overture to the Meistersinger: it is a splendid, overloaded, difficult, and late art, which prides itself on the fact that, in order to understand it, one has to assume that two centuries of music is still vital. It is to the Germans’ credit that such a pride did not make an error! What juices and forces, what seasons and heavenly strokes are intermingled here! It impresses us sometimes as old fashioned, sometimes as strange, dry, and too young; it is as arbitrary as it is conventionally grandiose, if not infrequently mischievous, still more frequently tough and coarse — it has fire and courage and, at the same time, the loose dun-coloured skin of fruits which become ripe too late. It streams out wide and full, and suddenly a moment of inexplicable hesitation, a gap, as it were, springs up between cause and effect, a pressure which makes us dream, almost a nightmare — but already the old stream of contentment is spreading and widening once more, the stream of contentment, of manifold contentment, of old and new happiness, which very much includes the happiness of the artist with himself, something he will not conceal, his amazed and happily shared knowledge of the mastery of the means he has used here, new and newly acquired artistic means, so far untried, as he seems to inform us. All in all, no beauty, nothing of the south, nothing of the fine southern brightness of heaven, nothing of grace, no dance, scarcely any will for logic, indeed a certain awkwardness that is even emphasized, as if the artist wanted to tell us, “That is part of my purpose,” a ponderous drapery, something arbitrarily barbaric and ceremonial, a shimmy of scholarly and reverend treasures and fine points; something German, in the best and worst senses of the word, something manifold, formless, and inexhaustible in the German way, a certain German power and spiritual excess, which has no fear of hiding under the refinements of decay — and which perhaps feels at its best only there, a truly authentic landmark of the German soul, young and obsolete both at the same time, over-rotten and still over-rich for the future. This kind of music expresses best what I think of the Germans: they belong to the day before yesterday and the day after tomorrow — but they still have no today.
We “good Europeans,” we too have hours when we allow ourselves a hearty feeling for our fatherland, a bump and relapse into old loves and narrow places — I just gave a sample of that — hours of national tumults, patriotic apprehensions, and all sorts of other floods of old-fashioned emotion. Slower moving spirits than we are might take a longer period of time to be done with things which with us last and have run their course in a matter of hours — some need half a year; others require half a human lifetime, each according to the speed and power with which they digest and “transform their stuff.” In fact, I could think of some dull hesitant races who, even in our shrinking Europe, would require half a century in order to overcome such atavistic attacks of patriotism and attachment to their soil and to return to reason, that is to say, to “good Europeanness.” And while I indulge myself excessively with this possibility, it so happens that I listen in on a conversation between two old “patriots.” They both were obviously hard of hearing and so spoke all the louder. One said, “That man thinks about and understands philosophy as much as a farmer or a student in a fraternity. He is still innocent. But what does that matter these days! This is age of the masses, who prostrate themselves before everything built on a massive scale. That’s how it is in politics, as well. If a statesman piles up a new tower of Babel for them, anything at all that’s immense in riches and power, they call him ‘great.’ What does it matter that in the meantime those of us who are more cautious and more reserved still do not give up the old belief that only a great idea confers greatness on an act or a cause? What if a statesman brought his people into a situation where from that point on they had to practise ‘grand politics,’ something for which they were by nature poorly adapted and prepared, so that it would be necessary for them to sacrifice their love of their old and certain virtues to a new and doubtful mediocrity — suppose that a statesman sentenced his people to a general ‘politicking,’ although up to that point those same people had better things to do and think about and that in the depth of their souls they could not rid themselves of a cautious disgust with the anxiety, emptiness, blaring, and devilish squabbling of those peoples who were truly politicking — suppose such a statesman goaded the sleeping passions and desires of his people, and turned their earlier shyness and their pleasure in standing to one side into stains, their interaction with strangers and their secret boundlessness into a liability, devalued their most heartfelt inclinations, turned their conscience around, made their spirit narrow, their taste ‘national,’— well, would a statesman who did all those things which his people would have to atone for through all future time, in the event they had a future, would such a statesman be great?” “Undoubtedly,” the other old patriot answered him vehemently, “otherwise he would have been incapable of doing it! Perhaps it was idiotic to want something like that? But perhaps every great thing was merely idiotic at the beginning!” “That’s an abuse of words!” cried his conversational partner in response, “Strong! Strong! Strong and idiotic! Not great!” The old men had evidently worked themselves up, as they shouted their “truths” into each other’s faces like this. But I, in my happiness and remoteness, thought about how a stronger man would soon become master over the strong, and also how there is a compensation for the spiritual flattening of one people, namely, the spiritual deepening of another people. —
Now, let’s call what we’re looking for as the distinguishing mark of Europeans “civilization,” or “humanizing,” or “progress”; let’s use a political formula and call it simply, without praise or blame, Europe’s democratic movement. Behind all the moral and political foregrounds indicated with such labels, an immense physiological process is completing itself, something whose momentum is constantly growing — the process by which the Europeans are becoming more similar to each other, the growing detachment from the conditions under which arise races linked to a climate and class, their increasing independence from every distinct milieu which for centuries wanted to inscribe itself on body and soul with the same demands — thus, the slow emergence of an essentially supra-national and nomadic type of man, who, physiologically speaking, possesses as his characteristic mark a maximum of the art and power of adaptation. This process of the developing European, which can be held back by great relapses in tempo, but which for that very reason perhaps acquires and augments its vehemence and depth, the furious storm and stress of “national feeling” still raging today, belongs here, along with that anarchism which is just emerging — this process will probably rush ahead to conclusions which its naive proponents and advocates, the apostles of “modern ideas,” are least likely to expect. The same new conditions which will, on average, create a situation in which men are homogenous and mediocre — useful, hard-working, practical in many tasks, clever men from an animal herd — are to the highest degree suitable for giving rise to exceptional men with the most dangerous and most attractive qualities. For while that power to adapt, which keeps testing constantly changing conditions and begins a new task with every generation, almost with every decade, by no means makes possible the power of the type, while the collective impression of such future Europeans probably will be one of many kinds of extremely useful chattering workers with little will power, men who will need a master, someone to give orders, as much as they need their daily bread, and while the democratizing of Europe thus moves towards the creation of a new type prepared for slavery in the most subtle sense, the strong man, in single and exceptional cases, will have to turn out stronger and richer than he has perhaps ever been before now — thanks to the absence of prejudice in his education, thanks to the immense multiplicity of practice, art, and mask. What I wanted to say is this: the democraticizing of Europe is at the same time an involuntary way of organizing for the breeding of tyrants — understanding that word in every sense, including the most spiritual.
I am pleased to hear that our sun is caught up in a rapid movement towards the constellation Hercules, and I hope that men on this earth act like the sun in this respect. And we first, we good Europeans!
There was a time when people were accustomed to designate the Germans with the label “profound.” Now, when the most successful type of the new Germanism craves completely different honours and perhaps finds “briskness” lacking in everything profound, it is almost timely and patriotic to doubt whether we were not deceiving ourselves previously with that praise: in short, whether German profundity is not basically something else, something worse — and something which, thank God, we are about to succeed in removing. So let’s make the attempt to learn to think differently about German profundity. For that we don’t have to do anything except a little vivisection on the German soul. The German soul is, above all, multifaceted, with different origins, more cobbled together and layered than truly constructed. That comes from how it emerged. A German who wished the audacity to claim “Alas, two souls live inside my breast”1 would be seriously violating the truth, or, putting the matter more correctly, would lag behind the truth by several souls. As a people of the most monstrous mixing and stirring together of races, perhaps even with an excess of pre-Aryan elements, as “a people in the middle” in every sense, the Germans are more incomprehensible, more extensive, more contradictory, more unknown, more unpredictable, more surprising, and more terrifying to themselves than other people are to themselves — they elude definition and for that reason alone are the despair of the French. It’s typical of the Germans that with them the question “What is German?” never dies away. Kotzebue certainly knew his Germans well enough: “We have been acknowledged,” they cheered to him — but Sand also thought he knew them. John Paul knew what he was doing when he expressed his anger over Fichte’s false but patriotic flatteries and exaggerations — but is it likely that Goethe’s thinking about the Germans was any different from Jean Paul’s, even if he thought he was right in his opinion about Fichte?2 What did Goethe really think about the Germans? — But he never spoke clearly about many things around him, and all his life he knew how to keep a delicate silence — he probably had good reasons for that. What’s certain is that “the wars of liberation” did not make him look up in a happier mood, any more than the French Revolution.3 The event which made him rethink his Faust and, indeed, the entire problem of “man” was the appearance of Napoleon. There are words of Goethe in which, as if from a foreign country, he denies with an impatient heart what the Germans reckon as something they can be proud of: the famous German disposition he once defined as “leniency with the weaknesses of strangers and with their own.” Was he wrong in that? It’s a characteristic of the Germans that one is rarely completely wrong about them. The German soul has within it lanes and connecting paths; in it there are high points, hiding places, dungeons. Its lack of order has a great deal of the charm of something full of secrets. On the secret routes to chaos, the German knows what he is doing. And just as everything loves its own metaphorical likeness, so the German loves the clouds and everything associated with a lack of clarity, with becoming, with twilight, with dampness: any kind of uncertainty, shapelessness, shifting around, or developing he senses as something “profound.” In himself, the German man is nothing — he is becoming something, he “is developing himself.” Hence, “developing” is the essential German discovery and invention in the great realm of philosophical formulas — a governing idea which, along with German beer and German music, is working to Germanize all Europe. Foreigners stand there amazed at and attracted to the riddles which the contradictory nature underlying the German soul present to them (something Hegel organized into a system and Richard Wagner finally even set to music). “Good natured and treacherous”— such a juxtaposition, a contradiction if applied to any other people, unfortunately justifies itself too often in Germany. Just live for a while among the Swabians!4 The ponderousness of the German scholar, his social tastelessness, gets on alarmingly well with an inner agility in dancing on a tightrope and with a light impudence, faced with which all the gods have by now learned about fear. If people want an ad oculos [visual] demonstration of “the German soul,” let them only look into German taste, into German arts and customs: what a boorish indifference to “taste”! See how there the noblest and the meanest stand next to each other! How disorderly and rich this entire spiritual household is! The German drags his soul along; he drags along everything he experiences. He digests his experiences badly — he’s never “finished” with them. German profundity is often only a difficult and hesitant “digestion.” And just as all the habitual invalids, all the dyspeptics, have an inclination for comfort, so the German loves “openness” and “conventional probity”: how comfortable it is to be open and conventional! — Today that is perhaps the most dangerous and most successful disguise which the German knows — this trusting, cooperative, cards-on-the-table nature of German honesty. It is his true Mephistophelean art; with it he can “still go far!” The German lets himself go, as he gazes with true, blue, empty German eyes — and foreigners immediately confuse him with his nightgown! What I wanted to say is this — let “German profundity” be what it will — when we are entirely among ourselves perhaps we’ll allow ourselves to laugh about it? — we’ll do well to hold its appearance and its good name in honour in future and not to dispose of our old reputation as people of profundity too cheaply for Prussian “boldness” and Berlin wit and sand. It’s clever for a people to make itself and let others think it profound, clumsy, good natured, honest, unwise. That could even be — profound! Finally one should be a credit to one’s name — not for nothing are we called the “tiusche” people, the deceiving people . . .
The “good old” days are gone. In Mozart they sang themselves out:— how lucky we are that his rococo still speaks to us, that his “good society,” his loving raptures, his childish delight in Chinese effects and curlicues, the civility in his heart, his desire for delicacy, lovers, dancers, those with blissful tears, his faith in the south can still appeal to some remnant in us! Alas, at some point it will be gone! — But who can doubt that the understanding of and taste for Beethoven will be gone even earlier! — He was, in fact, only the final chords of a stylistic transition, a break in style, and not, like Mozart, the final notes of a great centuries-long European taste.5 Beethoven is something that happens between an old crumbling soul which is constantly breaking up and a very young soul of the future which is constantly coming. In his music there lies that half light of eternal loss and of eternally indulgent hoping — that same light in which Europe was bathed when it dreamed with Rousseau, when it danced around the freedom tree of revolution and finally almost worshipped before Napoleon. But how quickly now this very feeling fades. Nowadays how difficult it has already become to know this feeling — how foreign to our ears sounds the talk of Rousseau, Schiller, Shelley, and Byron, in whom collectively the same European fate found a way in words which it knew how to sing in Beethoven!6 What has come in German music since then belongs to the Romantic period, that is, historically considered, to an even shorter, even more fleeting, even more superficial movement than was that great interlude, that transition in Europe from Rousseau to Napoleon and to the arrival of democracy. There’s Weber: but what are Freischutz and Oberon these days for us! Or Marschner’s Hans Heiling and Vampyr! Or even Wagner’s Tannhauser! That music has faded, even if it has not yet been forgotten.7 In addition, all this Romantic music was not sufficiently noble, not sufficiently musical, to justify itself anywhere other than in the theatre and in front of crowds. Right from the start it was second-rate music, of little interest among true musicians. The situation was different with Felix Mendelssohn, that halcyon master, who won rapid admiration for his lighter, purer, and happier soul and then was forgotten just as quickly, as the lovely intermission in German music.8 But in the case of Robert Schumann, who took his work seriously and from the beginning was also taken seriously — he was the last one who founded a school — nowadays don’t we count it as good luck, as a relief, and as a liberation that this very Schumann-style Romanticism has been overthrown? Schumann ran off into the “Saxon Switzerland” of his soul, half like Werther, half like Jean-Paul, but certainly nothing like Beethoven, certainly nothing like Byron! — the music of his Manfred is an error in judgment and a misunderstanding to the point of injustice.9 — Schumann with his taste, which was basically a petty taste (that is, a dangerous tendency, doubly dangerous among the Germans, toward quiet lyricism and a drunken intoxication of feeling), always going off to the side, shyly withdrawing himself and pulling back, a nobly tender soul, who wallowed in nothing but anonymous happiness and sorrow, from the start a sort of young maiden and noli me tangere [do not touch me]: this Schumann was already merely a German event in music, no longer something European, as Beethoven was, and, to an even greater extent, Mozart. With him German music was threatened by its greatest danger, the loss of the voice for the soul of Europe and its descent to something dealing merely with the fatherland.
What a torture are books written in German for the man who has a third ear! How reluctantly he stands beside the slowly revolving swamp of sounds without melody, of rhythms without dance, what among Germans is called a “book!” And as for the German who reads books! How lazily, how reluctantly, how badly he reads! How many Germans know and demand from themselves the knowledge that there is art in every good sentence, art which must be correctly grasped if the sentence is to be understood! With a misunderstanding about its tempo, for example, the sentence itself is misunderstood! That one must not be in doubt about the rhythmically decisive syllables, that one must feel the break in the extremely strict symmetry as intentional and charming, that one must lend a refined and patient ear to every staccato and every rubato, that one sorts out the sense in the series of vowels and diphthongs, how softly and richly they can colour and re-colour each other as they follow in their sequence — who among our book-reading Germans has enough good will to recognize these sorts of duties and demands and to listen for so much art and intentionality in the language? In the end we just “don’t have the ear for that.” And thus the most pronounced contrasts in style are not heard and the most refined artistry is wasted, as if on deaf people. These were my thoughts as I observed how crudely and naively people confused two masters of the art of prose with each other — one whose words drip down, hesitant and cold, as if from the roof of a damp cavern — he’s relying on their dull sound and echo — and the other who handles his language like a flexible sword and feels from his arm down to his toes the dangerous joy in the excessively sharp, shimmering blade that wants to bite, hiss, and cut. —
Just how little German style concerns itself with sound and with the ear is demonstrated in the fact that even our good musicians write badly. The German does not read aloud, not for the ear, but merely with his eyes. In the process he has put his ears away in a drawer. In antiquity a man read, when he read — and that happened rarely enough — to himself aloud and in a loud voice. People were amazed if someone read quietly, and they secretly asked themselves why. With a loud voice — that is to say, with all the swellings, inflections, changes in tone, and shifts in tempo which the ancient public world enjoyed. At that time the principles of writing style were the same as those for the speaking style, and these principles depended in part on the astonishing development and the sophisticated needs of the ear and larynx and in part on the strength, endurance, and power of the ancient lungs. A syntactic period is, as the ancients understood it, above all a physiological totality, insofar as it is held together by a single breath. Such periods, as they manifest themselves in Demosthenes and Cicero, swelling up twice and sinking down twice, all within the single breath — that’s what ancient men enjoyed.10 From their own schooling they knew how to value the virtue in such periods — how rare and difficult it was to deliver them. We really have no right to the great syntactical period, we moderns, we short-winded people in every sense! These ancient people were, in fact, themselves collectively dilettantes in public speaking — and as a result connoisseurs and thus critics. Hence, they drove their speakers to the utmost limits. In a similar way in the last century, once all Italian men and women understood how to sing, among them virtuoso singing (and with that the art of melody as well) reached its high point. But in Germany (right up until very recent times, when a sort of platform eloquence started flapping its young wings timidly and crudely enough) there was really only one form of public speaking which came close to being artistic: what came from the pulpit. In Germany only the preacher understood what a syllable or what a word weighs, how a sentence strikes, leaps, falls, runs, and ends; only he had a conscience in his ears, often enough a bad conscience. For there is no shortage of reasons why it’s precisely the German who rarely, and almost always too late, achieves a proficiency in speaking. It is appropriate therefore that the masterwork of German prose is the masterwork of its greatest preacher: up to this point, the Bible has been the best German book. In comparison with Luther’s Bible, almost everything else is mere “literature”— something that did not grow in Germany and hence also did not grow and does not grow into German hearts, as the Bible has.
There are two kinds of genius: one which above all breeds and desires to breed, and another which is happy to let itself be fertilized and give birth. In just the same way, there are among peoples of genius those to whom the female problem of pregnancy and the secret task of shaping, maturing, and perfecting have been assigned — the Greeks, for example, were a people of this kind, like the French — and there are others who have to fertilize and become the origin of new orders of life — like the Jews, the Romans, and, one could ask in all modesty, the Germans? — People tormented and enchanted by unknown fevers and irresistibly driven outside themselves, in love with and lusting after foreign races (after those who “let themselves be fertilized”—) and thus obsessed with mastery, like everything which has a knowledge of itself as full of procreative power and thus “by the grace of God.” These two types of genius seek each other out, like man and woman, but they also misunderstand each other — like man and woman.
Every people has its characteristic Tartufferie [hypocrisy] and calls it its virtues. — The best that man is he does not know — he cannot know.
What does Europe owe the Jews? — All sorts of things, good and bad, and above all one that is at the same time among the best and the worst: the grand style in morality, the terror and majesty of infinite demands, infinite meanings, the whole romanticism and grandeur of morally questionable things [moralischen Fragwürdigkeiten] — and as a result precisely the most attractive, most awkward, and most exquisite parts of those plays of colours and enticements to life, whose afterglow these days makes the sky of our European culture glow in its evening light — perhaps as it burns itself out. Among the spectators and philosophers, we artists are grateful to the Jews for that.
When a people is suffering from nationalistic nervous fever and political ambition and wants to suffer, we have to accept the fact that various kinds of clouds and disturbances — in short, small attacks of dullness — will pass over its spirit: for example, among contemporary Germans sometimes the anti-French stupidity, sometimes the anti-Jewish, sometimes the anti-Polish, sometimes the Christian-Romantic, sometimes the Wagnerian, sometimes the Teutonic, sometimes the Prussian (take a look at these poor historians Sybel and Treitzschke and their thickly bandaged heads —), and whatever else all these small obfuscations of the German spirit and conscience may call themselves.11 May I be forgiven for the fact that I, too, during a short and risky stay in a very infected region did not remain wholly free of this illness and, like all the world, began to have ideas about things which were no concern of mine, the first sign of the political infection. For example, about the Jews. Hear me out. — I have not yet met a single German who was well disposed towards the Jews. And no matter how absolute the rejection of real anti-Semitism on the part of all cautious and political types may be, nonetheless this caution and politics directs itself not against this type of feeling itself, but only against its dangerous excess, in particular against the tasteless and disgraceful expression of this excessive feeling — on that point people should not deceive themselves. That Germany has a richly sufficient number of Jews, that the German stomach and German blood have difficulty (and will still have difficulty for a long time to come) absorbing even this quantum of “Jew”— in the way the Italians, the French, and the English have absorbed them, as a result of a stronger digestive system — that is the clear message and language of a general instinct which we must listen to and according to which we must act. “Let no more Jews in! And especially bar the doors to the east (also to Austria)!” So orders the instinct of a people whose type is still weak and uncertain, so that it could be easily erased, easily dissolved away by a stronger race. But the Jews are without any doubt the strongest, most tenacious, and purest race now living in Europe. They understand how to assert themselves even under the worst conditions (better even than under favourable conditions), as a result of certain virtues which today people might like to stamp as vices — thanks, above all, to a resolute faith which has no need to feel shame when confronted by “modern ideas.” They always change, if they change, only in the way the Russian empire carries out its conquests — as an empire that has time and was not born yesterday — that is, according to the basic principle “as slowly as possible!” A thinker who has the future of Europe on his conscience will, in all the designs which he draws up for himself of this future, take the Jews as well as the Russians into account as, for the time being, the surest and most probable factors in the great interplay and struggle of forces. What we nowadays call a “nation” in Europe is essentially more a res facta [something made] than a res nata [something born] (indeed sometimes it looks confusingly like a res ficta et picta [something made up and unreal]— ), in any case something developing, young, easily adjusted, not yet a race, to say nothing of aere perennius [more enduring than bronze], as is the Jewish type. But these “nations” should be very wary of every hot-headed competition and enmity! That the Jews, if they wanted to — or if people were to force them, as the anti-Semites seem to want to do — could even now become predominant, in fact, quite literally gain mastery over Europe, is certain; that they are not working and planning for that is equally certain. Meanwhile by contrast they desire and wish–-even with a certain insistence — to be absorbed into and assimilated by Europe. They thirst to be finally established somewhere or other, allowed, respected, and to bring to an end their nomadic life, to the “Wandering Jew.” And people should pay full attention to this tendency and impulse (which in itself perhaps even expresses a moderating of Jewish instincts) and accommodate it. And for this, it might perhaps be useful and reasonable to expel the anti-Semitic ranters out of the country. We should comply with all caution, and selectively, more or less the way the English aristocracy does it. It’s clear that the stronger and already firmly established type of the new Germanism could involve itself with them with the least objection, for example, the aristocratic officers from the Mark [of Brandenburg].12 It would be interesting in all sorts of ways to see whether the genius of gold and patience (and above all of some spirit and spirituality, which are seriously deficient in the people just referred to) could be added to and bred into the inherited art of commanding and obeying — in both of which the land mentioned above is nowadays a classic example. But at this point it’s fitting that I break off my cheerful Germanomania [Deutschthümelei] and speech of celebration. For I’m already touching on something serious to me, on the “European problem,” as I understand it, on the breeding of a new ruling caste for Europe. —
These Englishmen are no race of philosophers. Bacon signifies an attack on the spirit of philosophy in general; Hobbes, Hume, and Locke have been a debasement and a devaluing of the idea of a “philosopher” for more than a century. Kant raised himself and rose up in reaction against Hume. It was Locke of whom Schelling was entitled to say, “Je méprise Locke” [I despise Locke]. In the struggle with the English mechanistic dumbing down of the world, Hegel and Schopenhauer (along with Goethe) were unanimous — both of these hostile fraternal geniuses in philosophy, who moved away from each other towards opposite poles of the German spirit and in the process wronged each other, as only brothers can.13 What’s lacking in England, and what has always been missing, that’s something that semi-actor and rhetorician Carlyle understood well enough, the tasteless muddle-headed Carlyle, who tried to conceal under his passionate grimaces what he understood about himself, that is, what was lacking in Carlyle — a real power of spirituality, a real profundity of spiritual insight, in short, philosophy.14 It is characteristic of such an unphilosophical race that it clings strongly to Christianity. They need its discipline to develop their “moralizing” and humanizing. The Englishman is more gloomy, more sensual, stronger willed, and more brutal than the German — he is also for that very reason, as the more vulgar of the two, more pious than the German. He is even more in need of Christianity. For more refined nostrils this same English Christianity has still a lingering and truly English smell of spleen and alcoholic dissipation, against which it is used for good reasons as a medicinal remedy — that is, the more delicate poison against the coarser one. Among crude people, a subtler poisoning is, in fact, already progress, a step towards spiritualization. The crudity and peasant seriousness of the English are still most tolerably disguised or, stated more precisely, interpreted and given new meaning, by the language of Christian gestures and by prayers and singing psalms. And for those drunken and dissolute cattle who in earlier times learned to make moral grunts under the influence of Methodism and more recently once again as the “Salvation Army,” a twitch of repentance may really be, relatively speaking, the highest achievement of “humanity” to which they can be raised: that much we can, in all fairness, concede. But what is still offensive even in the most humane Englishman is his lack of music, speaking metaphorically (and not metaphorically —). He has in the movements of his soul and his body no rhythm and dance — in fact, not even the desire for rhythm and dance, for “music.” Listen to him speak, or watch the most beautiful English woman walk — in no country of the earth are there lovelier doves and swans — and finally, listen to them sing! But I’m demanding too much . . .
There are truths which are best recognized by mediocre heads, because they are most appropriate for them; there are truths which have charm and seductive power only for mediocre minds:— at this very point we are pushed back onto this perhaps unpleasant proposition, since the time the spirit of respectable but mediocre Englishmen — I cite Darwin, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer — has succeeded in gaining pre-eminence in the middle regions of European taste.15 In fact, who could doubt how useful it is that such spirits rule for a while? It would be a mistake to think that highly cultivated spirits who fly off to great distances would be particularly skilful at establishing many small, common facts, collecting them, and pushing to a conclusion:— they are, by contrast, as exceptional men, from the very start in no advantageous position vis-à-vis the “rules.” And finally, they have more to do than merely to have knowledge — for they have to be something new, to mean something new, to present new values! The gap between know and can is perhaps greater as well as more mysterious than people think. It’s possible the man who can act in the grand style, the creating man, will have to be a man who does not know; whereas, on the other hand, for scientific discoveries of the sort Darwin made a certain narrowness, aridity, and diligent carefulness, in short, something English, may not make a bad disposition. Finally we should not forget that the English with their profoundly average quality have already once brought about a collective depression of the European spirit. What people call “modern ideas” or “the ideas of the eighteenth century” or even “French ideas”— in other words, what the German spirit has risen against with a deep disgust — were English in origin. There’s no doubt of that. The French have been only apes and actors of these ideas, their best soldiers, as well, and at the same time unfortunately their first and most complete victims. For with the damnable Anglomania of “modern ideas” the âme française [French soul] has finally become so thin and emaciated that nowadays we remember almost with disbelief its sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its profoundly passionate power, its resourceful nobility. But with our teeth we must hang on to the following principle of historical fairness and defend it against the appearance of the moment: European noblesse — in feeling, in taste, in customs, in short, the word taken in every higher sense — is the work and invention of France; European nastiness, the plebeian quality of modern ideas, the work of England.
Even now France is still the place with the most spiritual and most refined European culture and the leading school of taste. But we have to know how to find this “France of taste.” Whoever belongs to it keeps himself well concealed — the number of those in whom it is embodied and lives may be small, and in addition they may perhaps be people who are not standing on the strongest legs, partly fatalistic, dark, sick, and partly mollycoddled and artificial, such people as have the ambition to conceal themselves. All them have something in common: confronted with the raging stupidity and the noisy chattering of the democratic bourgeois, they keep their ears plugged. In fact, rolling around these days in the foreground is a stupid and coarsened France — recently, at the funeral of Victor Hugo, it celebrated a true orgy of tastelessness and at the same time of self-admiration.16 Something else is also common to them: a good will to stand against spiritual Germanization — and an even better inability to do so! Perhaps these days Schopenhauer is already more at home and has become more indigenous in this France of the spirit, which is also a France of pessimism, than he ever was in Germany, not to mention Heinrich Heine, who has long since been transformed into the flesh and blood of the more sophisticated and discriminating Parisian lyric poets, or Hegel, who today exercises an almost tyrannical influence in the form of Taine, the pre-eminent living historian.17 And so far as Richard Wagner is concerned — the more French music learns to shape itself according to the real needs of the âme moderne [modern soul], the more it will becomes “Wagnerian.” That’s something we can predict — it’s already doing enough of that now. Nonetheless, in spite of all the voluntary or involuntary Germanizing and vulgarizing of taste, there are three things which nowadays the French can still point to with pride as their inheritance and property and as the unforgotten mark of an old cultural superiority over Europe. The first is the capacity for artistic passions, for devotion to “form,” for which the expression l’art pour l’art [art for art’s sake] has been invented, along with a thousand others — something like that has been present in France for three centuries and, thanks to the reverence for the “small number,” has made possible again and again a kind of chamber music in literature which is not to be found in the rest of Europe. — The second thing on which the French can base a superiority over Europe is their ancient multifaceted moralistic culture, because of which we find, on average, even in the small romanciers [novelists] of the newspapers and random boulevardiers of Paris, a psychological sensitivity and curiosity, of which people in Germany, for example, have no idea (to say nothing of the thing itself!). For that the Germans are lacking a couple of centuries of moralistic behaviour which, as mentioned, France did not spare itself. Anyone who calls the Germans “naive” because of this is praising them for a defect. (In contrast to the German inexperience and innocence in voluptate psychologica [psychological delight], which is not too distantly related to the boredom of associating with Germans — and as the most successful expression of a genuine French curiosity and talent for invention in this empire of tender thrills, Henry Beyle may well qualify, that remarkably prescient and pioneering man, who ran at a Napoleonic tempo through his Europe, through several centuries of the European soul, as a tracker and discoverer of this soul. It took two generations to catch up with him somehow, to grasp some of the riddles which tormented and delighted him, this strange Epicurean and question mark of a man, who was France’s last great psychologist). There is still a third claim to superiority: in the nature of the French is a semi-successful synthesis of north and south, which enables them to understand many things and tells them to do other things which an Englishman will never understand. In them, the temperament which periodically turns towards and away from the south and in which, from time to time, the Provencal and Ligurian blood bubbles over, protects them from the dreadful northern gray on gray and the sunless conceptual ghostliness and anaemia — our German sickness of taste, against the excesses of which at the moment we have prescribed for ourselves, with great decisiveness, blood and iron — or I should say “grand politics” (in accordance with a dangerous art of healing which teaches me to wait and wait, but up to this point has not taught me to hope).18 Even today there is still in France an advance understanding of and an accommodation with those rarer and rarely satisfied men who are too all-embracing to find their contentment in some patriotism or other and know how to love the south in the north and the north in the south — the born mid-landers, the “good Europeans.”— For them Bizet created his music, this last genius who saw a new beauty and enticement and — who discovered a piece of the south in music.19
I think all sorts of precautions are necessary against German music. Suppose that someone loves the south the way I love it, as a great school for convalescing in the spiritual and sensual sense, as an unrestrained abundance of sun and transfiguration by the sun, which spreads itself over an existence which rules itself and believes in itself. Now, such a man will learn to be quite careful as far as German music is concerned, because in ruining his taste again it ruins his health again as well. Such a man of the south, not by descent but by faith, must, if he dreams of the future of music, also dream of a redemption of music from the north and have in his ears the prelude to a more profound, more powerful, perhaps more evil and more mysterious music, a supra-German music which does not fade away, turn yellow, and grow pale at the sight of the blue voluptuous sea and the brightness of the Mediterranean sky, the way all German music does, a supra-European music which justifies itself even when confronted with the brown desert sunsets, whose soul is related to the palm trees and knows how to be at home and to wander among huge, beautiful, solitary predatory beasts. . . . I could imagine to myself a music whose rarest magic consisted in the fact that it no longer knew anything about good and evil, only that perhaps here and there some mariner’s nostalgia or other, some golden shadow and tender weaknesses would race across it, an art which from a great distance could see speeding towards it the colours of a sinking moral world — one which has become almost unintelligible — and which would be sufficiently hospitable and deep to take in such late fugitives. —
Thanks to the pathological alienation which the nationalist idiocy has established and still establishes among European peoples, thanks as well to the short-sighted politicians with hasty hands, who are on top nowadays with the help of this idiocy and have no sense of how much the politics of disintegration which they carry on can necessarily be only politics for an intermission — thanks to all this and to some things today which are quite impossible to utter, now the most unambiguous signs indicating that Europe wants to become a unity are being overlooked or wilfully and mendaciously reinterpreted. With all the more profound and more comprehensive men of this century the real overall direction in the mysterious work of their souls has been to prepare the way to that new synthesis and to anticipate, as an experiment, the European of the future. Only in their foregrounds or in their weaker hours, as in old age, did they belong to their “fatherlands”— they were only taking a rest from themselves when they became “patriots.” I’m thinking of men like Napoleon, Goethe, Beethoven, Stendhal, Heinrich Heine, Schopenhauer. Don’t get angry with me if I also count Richard Wagner among them. About him people should not let themselves be seduced by his own misunderstandings — geniuses of his kind rarely have the right to understand themselves. Even less, of course, by the uncivilized noise with which people in France these days close themselves off from and resist Richard Wagner. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the late French Romanticism of the forties and Richard Wagner belong together in the closest and most inner relation. In all the heights and depths of their needs they are related to each other, fundamentally related. It is Europe, the one Europe, whose soul pushes out and upward through their manifold and impetuous art, and it longs to go — where? Into a new light? Towards a new sun? But who could express exactly what all these masters of new ways of speaking did not know how to express clearly? What is certain is that the same storm and stress tormented them, that they sought in the same way, these last great seekers! All of them were dominated by literature up to their eyes and ears — the first artists educated in world literature — most of them were even themselves writers, poets, conveyers of and mixers in the arts and senses (Wagner belongs as a musician with the painters, as a poet with the musicians, as an artist generally with the actors); they were all fanatics of expression “at any price”— I’ll cite Delacroix, the one most closely related to Wagner — they were all great discoverers in the realm of the sublime, as well as of the ugly and the horrific, even greater discoverers in effects, in display, in the art of the store window — all talents far beyond their genius, virtuosos through and through, with mysterious access to everything which seduces, entices, compels, knocks over, born enemies of logic and the straight line, greedy for the strange, the exotic, the monstrous, the crooked, the self-contradictory; as men they were Tantaluses of the will, up-and-coming plebeians, who knew that they were incapable of a noble tempo, a lento [slow movement], in their lives and works — think, for example, of Balzac — unrestrained workers, almost killing themselves with work, antinomians and rebels against customs, ambitious and insatiable without equilibrium and enjoyment; all of them finally collapsing and sinking down before the Christian cross (and they were right and justified in that, for who among them would have been sufficiently profound and original for a philosophy of the Antichrist? —), on the whole, a boldly daring, marvellously violent, high-flying kind of higher men, who pulled others up into the heights, men who first taught the idea of “higher man” to their century — and it’s the century of the masses!20 The German friends of Richard Wagner should think about whether there is anything essentially German in Wagnerian art or whether it is not precisely its distinction that it comes from supra-German sources and urges. In doing that, one should not underestimate just how indispensable Paris was for the development of a type like him, how at the decisive period the depth of his instincts called him there, and how his whole way of appearing and his self-apostleship could first perfect itself at the sight of the model of French socialists. Perhaps with a more sophisticated comparison people will discover, to the honour of Richard Wagner’s German nature, that he had driven himself in all things more strongly, more daringly, harder, and higher than a Frenchman of the nineteenth century could — thanks to the fact that we Germans stand even closer to barbarism than the French. Perhaps the most peculiar thing that Richard Wagner created is even inaccessible and unsympathetic and beyond the emulation of the entire Latin race, which is so mature, for all time and not merely for today: the character of Siegfried, that very free man, who, in fact, may be far too free, too hard, too cheerful, too healthy, too anti-Catholic for the taste of an old and worn cultured people. He may even have been a sin against Romanticism, this anti-romantic Siegfried. Well, Wagner more than made up for this sin in his old and gloomy days when — in anticipation of a taste which in the meantime has become political — he began, with his characteristic religious vehemence, if not to go to Rome, at least to preach the way there. So that you don’t misunderstand these last words of mine, I’ll summon a few powerful rhymes to my assistance, which will reveal to less refined ears what I want — what I have against the “late Wagner” and his Parsifal music:
-Is that still German?
Did this oppressive screech come from a German heart?
Is this self-mutilation of the flesh a German part?
And is this German, such priestly affectation,
this incense-smelling, sensual stimulation?
And German this faltering, plunging, staggering,
this uncertain bim-bam dangling?
This nun-like ogling and ringing Ave bells,
this whole false heavenly super-heaven of spells?
Is that still German?
Think! You’re still standing by the entrance way.
You’re hearing Rome, Rome’s faith without the words they say.
1. A quotation from Goethe’s Faust.
2. . . . Kotzebue: August Kotzebue (1761-1819), a well-known German writer assassinated by Karl Sand (1795-1820). John Paul (1763-1825), pen name of Johann Richter, an influential German writer in the Romantic era. Fichte: Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1797-1879), an influential German philosopher.
3. . . . wars of liberation: the wars against Napoleon which followed the French Revolution.
4. . . . Swabians: inhabitants of a region in eastern Germany.
5. Mozart: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791); Beethoven: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).
6. Freedom tree of revolution: a reference to the French Revolution (1789-1799); Napoleon: Napoleon Bonaparte (I1769-1821) French general, ruler of France, and conqueror of much of Europe; Rousseau: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), critic, philosopher and writer whose work influenced the French Revolution; Schiller: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), German poet, playwright, and philosopher; Shelley: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), a major English poet in the Romantic era; Byron: George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron) (1788-1824), English poet in the Romantic era, a leading international presence in European Romanticism.
7. Weber: Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber (1786-1826), German musician during the Romantic period; Marschner: Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861), German composer of operas.
8. . . . Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) German composer in the early Romantic period.
9. . . . Robert Schumann (1810-1856) German composer and music critic. Werther: Hero of a famous Romantic novel by Goethe. He commits suicide.
10. . . . Cicero (106-43 BC), the greatest of the Roman orators and prose stylists. Demosthenes (384-322 BC), a very famous Greek orator.
11. . . . Sybel and Treitzsche: Heinrich von Sybel (1817-1895) and Heinrich von Treitschke (1834-1896), important mid-nineteenth century German historians.
12. . . . Mark of Brandenburg: a region near Berlin.
13. . . . Hobbes: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), English philosopher. David Hume (1711-1776), Scottish historian and philosopher. John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher. Schelling: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854), German philosopher.
14. . . . Carlyle: Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish essayist, historian, and biographer.
15. . . . Charles Darwin (1809-1882) English scientist, whose Origin of Species was published in 1859; John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), English utilitarian philosopher and economist; Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), English philosopher.
16. . . . Victor Hugo (1802-1885), French poet, playwright, and novelist.
17. . . . Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German lyric poet; Taine: Hippolye Adolphe Taine (1828-1893), French critic and historian.
18. . . . blood and iron: a phrase made famous by Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck (1815-1898), First Chancellor of Germany: “Not by speeches and votes of the majority are the great questions of the time decided . . . but by iron and blood.”
19. . . . Bizet: Georges Bizet (1838-1875), French composer and pianist.
20. . . . Delacroix: Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863), important French Romantic painter; Balzac: Honore de Balzac (1799-1850), prolific French novelist.
Every enhancement in the type “man” up to this point has been the work of an aristocratic society — and that’s how it will always be, over and over again: a society which believes in a long scale of rank ordering and differences in worth between man and man and which, in some sense or other, requires slavery. Without the pathos of distance, the sort which grows out of the deeply rooted difference between the social classes, out of the constant gazing outward and downward of the ruling caste on the subjects and work implements, and out of their equally sustained practice of obedience and command, holding down and holding at a distance, that other more mysterious pathos would have no chance of growing at all, that longing for an ever new widening of distances inside the soul itself, the development of ever higher, rarer, more distant, more expansive, more comprehensive states, in short, simply the enhancement in the type “man,” the constant “self-conquest of man,” to cite a moral formula in a supra-moral sense. Of course, where the history of the origins of aristocratic society is concerned (and thus the precondition for that raising of the type “man”—), we should not surrender to humanitarian illusions: truth is hard. So without further consideration, let’s admit to ourselves how up to this point every higher culture on earth has started! People with a still natural nature, barbarians in every dreadful sense of the word, predatory men still in possession of an unbroken power of the will and a desire for power, threw themselves on weaker, more civilized, more peaceful, perhaps trading or cattle-raising races, or on old, worn cultures, in which at that very moment the final forces of life were flaring up in a dazzling fireworks display of spirit and corruption. At the start the noble caste has always been the barbarian caste: its superiority has lain not primarily in physical might but in spiritual power — it has been a matter of more complete human beings (which at every level also means “more complete beasts”).
Corruption as the expression of the fact that within the instincts anarchy is threatening and that the foundation of the affects, what we call “life,” has been shaken: according to the living structure in which it appears, corruption is something fundamentally different. When, for example, an aristocracy, like France’s at the start of the Revolution, throws away its privileges with a sublime disgust and sacrifices itself to a dissipation of its moral feelings, this is corruption:— essentially it was only the final act in that centuries-long corruption, thanks to which step-by-step it gave up its ruling authority and reduced itself to a function of the monarchy (finally even to the monarch’s finery and display pieces). The essential thing in a good and healthy aristocracy, however, is that it feels itself not as a function (whether of a monarchy or of a community) but as its significance and highest justification — that it therefore with good conscience accepts the sacrifice of an enormous number of people, who for its sake must be oppressed and reduced to incomplete men, slaves, and instruments of work. Its fundamental belief must, in fact, be that the society should exist, not for the sake of the society, but only as a base and framework on which an exceptional kind of nature can raise itself to its higher function and, in general, to a higher form of being, comparable to those heliotropic climbing plants on Java — people call them Sipo Matador — whose branches clutch an oak tree so much and for so long until finally, high over the tree but supported by it, they can unfold their crowns in the open light and make a display of their happiness. —
Mutually refraining from wounding each other, from violence, and from exploitation, and setting one’s will on the same level as others — these can in a certain crude sense become good habits among individuals, if conditions exist for that (namely, a real similarity in the quality of their power and their estimates of value, as well as their belonging together within a single body). However, as soon as people wanted to take this principle further and, where possible, establish it as the basic principle of society, it immediately showed itself for what it is, as the willed denial of life, as the principle of disintegration and decay. Here we must think through to the fundamentals and push away all sentimental weakness: living itself is essentially appropriation from and wounding and overpowering strangers and weaker men, oppression, hardness, imposing one’s own forms, annexing, and at the very least, in its mildest actions, exploitation — but why should we always use these precise words, which have from ancient times carried the stamp of a slanderous purpose? Even that body in which, as previously mentioned, the individuals deal with each other as equals — and that happens in every healthy aristocracy — must itself, if it is a living body and not dying out, do to other bodies all those things which the individuals in it refrain from doing to each other: it will have to be the living will to power, it will grow, grab things around it, pull to itself, and want to acquire predominance — not because of some morality or immorality, but because it is alive and because living is simply the will to power. But in no point is the common consciousness of the European more reluctant to be instructed than here. Nowadays people everywhere, even those in scientific disguises, are raving about the coming conditions of society from which “the exploitative character” is to have disappeared:— to my ears that sounds as if people had promised to invent a life which abstained from all organic functions. The “exploitation” is not part of a depraved or incomplete and primitive society: it belongs in the essential nature of what is living, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the real will to power, which is simply the will to live. — Assuming that this is something new as a theory — it is, nonetheless, in reality the fundamental fact of all history: we should at least be honest with ourselves to this extent!
As the result of a stroll though the many more sophisticated and cruder moral systems which up to this point have ruled or still rule on earth, I found certain characteristics routinely return with each other, bound up together, until finally two basic types revealed themselves to me and a fundamental difference sprang up. There is master morality and slave morality — to this I immediately add that in all higher and mixed cultures attempts at a mediation between both moralities make an appearance as well, even more often, a confusion and mutual misunderstanding between the two, in fact, sometimes their harsh juxtaposition — even in the same man, within a single soul. Distinctions in moral value have arisen either among a ruling group, which was happily conscious of its difference with respect to the ruled — or among the ruled, the slaves and dependent people of every degree. In the first case, when it’s the masters who establish the idea of the good, the elevated and proud conditions of the soul emotionally register as the distinguishing and defining order of rank. The noble man separates his own nature from that of people in whom the opposite of such exalted and proud states expresses itself. He despises them. We should notice at once that in this first kind of morality the opposites “good” and “bad” mean no more than “noble” and “despicable”— the opposition between “good” and “evil” has another origin. The despised one is the coward, the anxious, the small, the man who thinks about narrow utility, also the suspicious man with his inhibited look, the self-abasing man, the species of human dogs who allow themselves to be mistreated, the begging flatterer, above all, the liar:— it is a basic belief of all aristocrats that the common folk are liars. “We tellers of the truth”— that’s what the nobility called themselves in ancient Greece. It’s evident that distinctions of moral worth everywhere were first applied to men and later were established for actions; hence, it is a serious mistake when historians of morality take as a starting point questions like “Why was the compassionate action praised?” The noble kind of man experiences himself as a person who determines value and does not need to have other people’s approval. He makes the judgment “What is harmful to me is harmful in itself.” He understands himself as something which in general first confers honour on things, as someone who creates values. Whatever he recognizes in himself he honours. Such a morality is self-glorification. In the foreground stands the feeling of fullness, the power which wants to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of riches which wants to give and deliver:— the noble man also helps the unfortunate, however not, or hardly ever, from pity, but more in response to an impulse which the excess of power produces. The noble man honours the powerful man in himself and also the man who has power over himself, who understands how to speak and how to keep silent, who takes delight in dealing with himself severely and toughly and respects, above all, severity and toughness. “Wotan set a hard heart in my breast,” it says in an old Scandinavian saga: that’s how poetry emerged, with justice, from the soul of a proud Viking. A man of this sort is simply proud of the fact that he has not been made for pity. That’s why the hero of the saga adds a warning, “In a man whose heart is not hard when he is still young the heart will never become hard.” Noble and brave men who think this way are furthest removed from that morality which sees the badge of morality in pity or actions for others or désintéressement [disinterestedness]. The belief in oneself, pride in oneself, a fundamental hostility and irony against “selflessness” belong to noble morality, just as much as an easy contempt and caution before feelings of pity and the “warm heart.” Powerful men are the ones who understand how to honour; that is their art, their realm of invention. The profound reverence for age and for ancestral tradition — all justice stands on this double reverence — the belief and the prejudice favouring forefathers and working against newcomers are typical in the morality of the powerful, and when, by contrast, the men of “modern ideas” believe almost instinctively in “progress” and the “future” and increasingly lack any respect for age, then in that attitude the ignoble origin of these “ideas” already reveals itself well enough. However, a morality of the rulers is most alien and embarrassing to present taste because of the severity of its basic principle that man has duties only with respect to those like him, that man should act towards those beings of lower rank, towards everything strange, at his own discretion, or “as his heart dictates,” and, in any case, “beyond good and evil.” Here pity and things like that may belong. The capacity for and obligation to a long gratitude and to a long revenge — both only within the circle of one’s peers — the sophistication in paying back again, the refined idea in friendship, a certain necessity to have enemies (as, so to speak, drainage ditches for the feelings of envy, quarrelsomeness, and high spirits — basically in order to be capable of being a good friend): all those are typical characteristics of a noble morality, which, as indicated, is not the morality of “modern ideas” and which is thus nowadays difficult to sympathize with, as well as difficult to dig up and expose. Things are different with the second type of moral system, slave morality. Suppose the oppressed, depressed, suffering, and unfree people, those ignorant of themselves and tired out, suppose they moralize: what will be the common feature of their moral estimates of value? Probably a pessimistic suspicion directed at the entire human situation will express itself, perhaps a condemnation of man, along with his situation. The gaze of a slave is not well disposed towards the virtues of the powerful; he possesses scepticism and mistrust; he has a subtlety of mistrust against everything “good” which is honoured in it — he would like to persuade himself that even happiness is not genuine there. By contrast, those characteristics will be pulled forward and flooded with light which serve to mitigate existence for those who suffer: here respect is given to pity, to the obliging hand ready to help, to the warm heart, to patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness — for these are here the most useful characteristics and almost the only means to endure the pressure of existence. Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility. Here is the focus for the origin of that famous opposition of “good” and “evil”:— people sense power and danger within evil, a certain terror, subtlety, and strength, which does not permit contempt to spring up. According to slave morality, the “evil” man thus inspires fear; according to master morality, it is precisely the “good” man who inspires and desires to inspire fear, while the “bad” man will be felt as despicable. This opposition reaches its peak when, in accordance with the consequences of slave morality, finally a trace of disregard is also attached to the “good” of this morality — it may be light and benevolent — because within the way of thinking of the slave the good man must definitely be the harmless man: he is good natured, easy to deceive, perhaps a bit stupid, a bonhomme [good fellow]. Wherever slave morality gains predominance the language reveals a tendency to bring the words “good” and “stupid” into closer proximity. A final basic difference: the longing for freedom, the instinct for happiness, and the refinements of the feeling for freedom belong just as necessarily to slave morality and morals as art and enthusiasm in reverence and in devotion are the regular symptoms of an aristocratic way of thinking and valuing. From this we can without further ado understand why love as passion — which is our European specialty — must clearly have a noble origin: as is well known, its invention belongs to the Provencal knightly poets, those splendidly inventive men of the “gay saber” [gay science] to whom Europe owes so much — almost its very self.
Vanity is among the things which are perhaps hardest for a noble man to understand: he will be tempted even to deny its existence where another kind of man thinks he has grasped it with both hands. For him the problem is imagining to himself beings who seek to arouse a good opinion of themselves, an opinion of themselves which they do not have — and which, as a result, they also have not “earned”— people who, nonetheless, themselves later believe in this good opinion. Half of this seems to the noble man so tasteless and disrespectful of oneself and the other half so unreasonably Baroque, that he would be happy to understand vanity as an exception and has doubts about it in most cases when people talk of it. For example, he’ll say: “I can make a mistake about my own value and yet still demand that my value, precisely as I determine it, is recognized by others — but that is not vanity (but arrogance or, in the more frequent cases, something called “humility” and “modesty”). Or again, “For many reasons I can take pleasure in the good opinion of others, perhaps because I honour and love them and enjoy all of their pleasures, perhaps also because their good opinion underscores and strengthens the faith I have in my own good opinion of myself, perhaps because the good opinion of others, even in cases where I do not share it, is still useful to me or promises to be useful — but all that is not vanity.” The noble man must first compel himself, particularly with the help of history, to see that since time immemorial, in all the levels of people dependent in some way or other, the common man was only what people thought of him:— not being at all accustomed to set values himself, he measured himself by no value other than by how his masters assessed him (that is the essential right of masters, to create values). We should understand that, as the consequence of an immense atavism, the common man even today still always waits first for an opinion about himself and then instinctively submits himself to it: however, that is by no means merely a “good” opinion, but also a bad and unreasonable one (think, for example, of the greatest part of the self-assessment and self-devaluing which devout women absorb from their father confessors and the devout Christian in general absorbs from his church). Now, in accordance with the slow arrival of the democratic order of things (and its cause, the blood mixing between masters and slaves), the originally noble and rare impulse to ascribe to oneself a value on one’s own and “to think well” of oneself will really become more and more encouraged and widespread. But in every moment it has working against it an older, more extensive, and more deeply incorporated tendency — and where the phenomenon of “vanity” is concerned, this older tendency will become master over the more recent one. The vain man takes pleasure in every good opinion which he hears about himself (quite apart from all considerations of its utility and equally apart from its truth or falsity), just as he suffers from every bad opinion. For he submits to both; he feels himself subjected to them on the basis of that oldest of instincts for submission which breaks out in him. It is “the slave” in the blood of the vain man, a trace of the slave’s roguishness — and how much of the “slave” still remains nowadays in woman, for example! — that tries to tempt him into good opinions of himself; in the same way it’s the slave who later prostrates himself immediately in front of these opinions, as if he had not summoned them up. — To state the matter once again: vanity is an atavism.
A species arises, a type becomes established and strong, under the long struggle with essentially unchanging, unfavourable conditions. By contrast, we know from the experience of breeders that species which receive an ultra-abundant nourishment and, in general, an increase in protection and care immediately tend towards variety in the type in the strongest manner and are rich in wonders and monstrosities (as well as monstrous vices). Now, let’s look for a moment at an aristocratic commonwealth, for example, an ancient Greek polis [city state] or Venice, as an organization, whether voluntary or involuntary, for the purpose of breeding. There are men there living together who rely upon themselves and who want their species to succeed mainly because it has to succeed or run the fearful risk of being annihilated. Here there is a lack of that advantage, that abundance, that protection under which variations are encouraged. The species senses the need for itself as a species, as something which, particularly thanks to its hardness, uniformity, simplicity of form, can generally succeed and enable itself to keep going in the constant struggles with neighbours or with the rebellious oppressed people or with those who threaten rebellion. The most varied experience teaches them which characteristics they have to thank, above all, for the fact that they are still there, in spite of all the gods and men, that they have always been victorious. These characteristics they call virtues, and they cultivate only these virtues to any great extent. They do that with force — in fact, they desire force. Every aristocratic morality is intolerant in its education of the young, its provisions for women, its marriage customs, its relationships between young and old, its penal laws (which fix their eyes only on those who are deviants)— it reckons intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name “justice.” A type with few but very strong characteristics, a species of strict, war-like, shrewdly laconic people, united and reserved (and, as such, having the most sophisticated feelings for the magic and nuances of society) will in this way establish itself over the succession of generations. The constant struggle with unvarying, unfavourable conditions is, as mentioned, the factor that makes a type fixed and hard. Finally, however, at some point a fortunate time arises, which lets the immense tension ease. Perhaps there are no more enemies among the neighbours, and the means for living, even for enjoying life, are there in abundance. With one blow the bond and the compulsion of the old discipline are torn apart: that discipline no longer registers as necessary, as a condition of existence — if it wished to remain in existence, it could do so only as a form of luxury, as an archaic taste. Variation, whether as something abnormal (something higher, finer, rarer) or as degeneration and monstrosity, suddenly bursts onto the scene in the greatest abundance and splendour; the individual dares to be individual and stand out. At these historical turning points there appear alongside each other and often involved and mixed up together marvellous, multifaceted, jungle-like growths, an upward soaring, a kind of tropical tempo in competitiveness for growing and an immense annihilation and self-destruction, thanks to the wild egoisms turned against each other and, as it were, exploding, which wrestle with one another “for sun and light” and no longer know how to derive any limit, any restraint, or any consideration from the morality they have had up to that point. This very morality was the one which built up such immense power, which bent the bow in such a threatening manner — now, at this moment, it has become “outdated.” The dangerous and disturbing point is reached where the greater, more multifaceted, and more comprehensive life lives over and above the old morality; the “individual” stands there, forced to give himself his own laws, his own arts and tricks for self-preservation, self-raising, self-redemption. Nothing but new what-for’s, nothing but new how-to’s, no common formula any more, misunderstanding and contempt bound up together, decay, spoilage, and the highest desires tied together in a ghastly way, the genius of the race brimming over from all the horns of plenty with good and bad, a catastrophic simultaneous presence of spring and autumn, full of new charms and veils, characteristic of young, still unexhausted, still unwearied depravity. Once again there’s danger there, the mother of morality, great danger, this time transferred into the individual, into one’s neighbour and friend, into the alleyways, into one’s own child, into one’s own heart, into all the most personal and most secret wishes and desires. What will the moral philosophers who emerge at such a time now have to preach? They discover, these keen observers and street loafers, that things are quickly coming to an end, that everything around them is going rotten and spreading corruption, that nothing lasts until the day after tomorrow, except for one kind of person, the incurably mediocre. Only the mediocre have the prospect of succeeding, of reproducing themselves — they are the people of the future, the only survivors, “Be like them! Become mediocre!”— from now on that’s the only morality which still makes sense, which people still hear. — But it is difficult to preach, this morality of mediocrity! — it may never admit what it is and what it wants! It must speak about restraint and worth and duty and love of one’s neighbour — it will have difficulty concealing its irony!
There is an instinct for rank which, more than anything, is already an indication of a high rank. There is a delight in the nuances of respect which permits us to surmise a noble origin and habits. The refinement, good, and loftiness of a soul are put to a dangerous test when something goes past in front of it which is of the first rank, but which is not yet protected by the shudders of authority from prying clutches and crudities: something that goes its way unmarked, undiscovered, tempting, perhaps arbitrarily disguised and hidden, like a living touchstone. The man whose task and practice is to investigate souls will use precisely this art in a number of different forms in order to establish the ultimate value of a soul, the unalterable innate order of rank to which it belongs: he will put it to the test for its instinct of reverence. Différence engendre haine [difference engenders hatred]: the nastiness of some natures suddenly spurts out like dirty water when some sacred container, some precious object from a locked shrine, some book with marks of a great destiny is carried by. On the other hand, there is an involuntary falling silent, a hesitation in the eye, an end to all gestures, things which express that a soul feels close to something most worthy of reverence. The way in which reverence for the Bible in Europe has, on the whole, been maintained so far is perhaps the best piece of discipline and refinement of tradition for which Europe owes a debt of thanks to Christianity: such books of profundity and ultimate significance need for their protection an externally imposed tyranny of authority in order to last for those thousands of years which are necessary to exhaust them and sort out what they mean. Much has been achieved when in the great mass of people (the shallow ones and all sorts of people with diarrhoea) that feeling has finally been cultivated that they are not permitted to touch everything, that there are sacred experiences before which they have to pull off their shoes and which they must keep their dirty hands off — this is almost the highest intensification of their humanity. By contrast, perhaps nothing makes the so-called educated people, those who have faith in “modern ideas,” so nauseating as their lack of shame, the comfortable impudence in their eyes and hands, with which they touch, lick, and grope everything, and it is possible that these days among a people, one still finds in the common folk, particularly among the peasants, more relative nobility of taste and tactful reverence than among the newspaper-reading demi-monde of the spirit, among the educated.
One cannot erase from a human being’s soul those actions which his ancestors loved most and carried out most steadfastly: whether they were, for example, industrious savers attached to a writing table and money box, modest and bourgeois in their desires, as well as modest in their virtues, or whether they were accustomed to live giving orders from morning until night, fond of harsh entertainment and, along with that, perhaps of even harsher duties and responsibilities; or whether, finally, they had at some time or other once sacrificed the old privileges of their birth and possessions in order to live entirely for their faith — their “God”— as men of an unrelenting and delicate conscience, which blushes when confronted with any compromise. It is in no way possible that a man does not possess in his body the characteristics and preferences of his parents and forefathers, no matter what appearance might say to the contrary. This is the problem of race. If we know something about the parents, then we may draw a conclusion about the child: some unpleasant excess or other, some lurking envy, a crude habit of self-justification — as these three together have at all times made up the essential type of the rabble — something like that must be passed onto the child as surely as corrupt blood, and with the help of the best education and culture people will succeed only in deceiving others about such heredity. And nowadays what else does education and culture want! In our age, one very much of the people — I mean to say our uncouth age —“education” and “culture” must basically be the art of deception — to mislead about the origin of the inherited rabble in one’s body and soul. Today an educator who preached truthfulness above everything else and constantly shouted at his students “Be true! Be natural! Act as you really are!”— even such a virtuous and true-hearted jackass would after some time learn to take hold of that furca [pitchfork] of Horace, in order to naturam expellere [drive out nature]. With what success? “Rabble” usque recurret [always returns].1
At the risk of annoying innocent ears, I propose the following: egoism belongs to the nature of the noble soul; I mean that unshakeable faith that to a being such as “we are” other beings must be subordinate by nature and have to sacrifice themselves. The noble soul takes this fact of its egoism without any question mark and without the feeling that there is anything harsh, compelled, or arbitrary in it, much more as something that may be established in the fundamental law of things. If he sought out a name for this, he would say “It is justice itself.” In some circumstances which make him hesitate at first, he admits that there are those with rights equal to his own. As soon as he has cleared up this question of rank, he moves among these equals who have the same rights as his with the same confident modesty and sophisticated reverence which he has in his dealings with himself — in accordance with an inborn heavenly mechanism which all the stars understand. It is one more part of his egoism, this sophistication and self-restraint in his relations with his equals — every star is such an egoist —: it honours itself in them and in the rights which it concedes to them. It has no doubt that the exchange of respect and rights, as the essential quality of all interactions, also belongs to the natural condition of things. The noble soul gives as it takes, out of the passionate and sensitive instinct for repayment, which lies deep within it. The idea “favour” has no sense and agreeable fragrance inter pares [among equals]; there may be a sublime manner of allowing presents from above to wash over one, as it were, and of drinking them up thirstily like water drops, but for this art and gesture the noble soul has no skill. Here its egoism hinders it: in general, it is not happy to look “up above”— instead it looks either directly forward, horizontally and slowly, or down — it knows that it is on a height.
“We can only truly respect highly the man who is not seeking himself” Goethe to Rat Schlosser.
There is a saying among the Chinese that mothers really teach their children: siao-sin, “Make your heart small!” This is the essential and basic tendency of late civilizations: I have no doubt that an ancient Greek would recognize this self-diminution in us contemporary Europeans as well — and for that reason alone we would already go “against his taste.”
Ultimately, what does it mean to be ignoble? — Words are sound signals for ideas, but ideas are more or less firm image signs for sensations which return frequently and occur together, for groups of sensations. To understand each other, it is not yet sufficient that people use the same words; they must use the same words also for the same form of inner experiences; ultimately they must hold their experience in common with each other. That’s why human beings belonging to a single people understand each other better among themselves than associations of different peoples, even when they themselves use the same language; or rather, when human beings have lived together for a long time under similar conditions (climate, soil, danger, needs, work), then something arises out of that which “understands itself,” a people. In all souls, a similar number of frequently repeating experiences have won the upper hand over those which come more rarely; people understand each other on the basis of the former, quickly and with ever-increasing speed — the history of language is the history of a process of abbreviation. On the basis of this rapid understanding, people bind with one another, closely and with ever-increasing closeness. The greater the danger, the greater the need quickly and easily to come to agreement over what needs to be done; not to misunderstand each other when in danger is what people simply cannot do without in their interactions. With every friendship or love affair people still make this test: nothing of that sort lasts as soon as people reach the point where, with the same words, one of the two feels, means, senses, wishes, or fears something different from the other one. (The fear of the “eternal misunderstanding”: that is the benevolent genius which so often prevents people of different sexes from over-hasty unions, to which their senses and hearts urge them — and not some Schopenhauerish “genius of the species”! —). Which groups of sensations within the soul wake up most rapidly, seize the word, give the order — that decides about the whole rank ordering of its values, that finally determines its tables of goods. The assessments of value in a man reveal something about the structure of his soul and where it looks for its conditions of life, its essential needs. Now, assume that need has always brought together only such people as could indicate with similar signs similar needs, similar experiences, then it would generally turn out that the easy ability to communicate need, that is, in the last analysis, familiarity with only average and common experiences, must have been the most powerful of all the forces which have so far determined things among human beings. People who are more similar and more ordinary were and always have been at an advantage; the more exceptional, more refined, rarer, and more difficult to understand easily remain isolated; in their isolation they are subject to accidents and rarely propagate themselves. People have to summon up huge counter-forces to cross this natural, all-too-natural progressus in simile [advance into similarity], the further training of human beings into what’s similar, ordinary, average, herd-like — into what’s common.
The more a psychologist — a born and inevitable psychologist and analyst of the soul — turns himself towards exceptional examples and human beings, the greater the danger to him of suffocation from pity. He has to be hard and cheerful, more so than another man. For the corruption and destruction of loftier men, of the stranger type of soul, is the rule: it is terrible to have such a rule always before one’s eyes. The multifaceted torture of the psychologist who has uncovered this destructiveness, who once discovers and then almost always rediscovers throughout all history this entire inner “hopelessness” of the loftier people, this eternal “too late!” in every sense, can perhaps one day come to the point where he turns with bitterness against his own lot and attempts self-destruction — where he “corrupts” himself. With almost every psychologist we will see a revealing inclination for and delight in associating with ordinary and well-adjusted people: that indicates that he always needs healing, that he requires some sort of refuge and forgetting, far from what his insights and incisions, his “trade,” has laid on his conscience. Fear of his memory is characteristic of him. He is easily reduced to silence before the judgments of others; he listens with an unmoving face as people revere, admire, love, and transfigure where he has seen, or he even hides his silence, while he expressly agrees with some foreground point of view or other. Perhaps the paradox of his situation gets so terrible that the crowd, the educated, and the enthusiasts learn great admiration precisely where he has learned great pity as well as great contempt — the admiration for “great men” and miraculous animals for whose sake people bless and honour the fatherland, the earth, the value of humanity, and themselves, those to whom they draw the attention of the young and whom they use as role models in their education . . . And who knows whether in all great examples up to this point the very same thing has not happened: the crowd worshipped a god — and the “god” was only a poor sacrificial animal! Success has always been the greatest liar, and the “work” itself is a success; the great statesman, the conqueror, the discoverer is disguised in his creation to the point where he is unrecognizable; the “work” of the artist and the philosopher first invents the man who has created it or is supposed to have created it; the “great men,” as they are honoured, are small inferior works of fiction in the background; in the world of historical values counterfeit is king. These great poets, for example, this Byron, Musset, Poe, Leopardi, Kleist, Gogol (I don’t dare mention greater names, but I have them in mind)— perhaps have to be the way they are now: men of the moment, enthusiastic, sensuous, childish, careless and sudden with trust and mistrust; with souls in which some fracture or other normally has to be concealed; often taking revenge in their works for an inner slur, often seeking with their flights upward to forget some all-too-true memory, often lost in the mud and almost infatuated, until they become like will o’ the wisps around a swamp and pretend that they are stars — then the populace may well call them idealists — often struggling against a long disgust, with a recurring ghost of unbelief which makes them cold and forces them to yearn for gloria [glory] and to gobble up “belief in themselves” from the hands of intoxicated flatterers — what torture are these great artists and the loftier human beings in general for the man who has once guessed who they are! It is so understandable that these artists should so readily experience from woman — who is clairvoyant in the world of suffering and who unfortunately also seeks to help and to save far beyond her powers — those eruptions of unlimited and most devoted pity which the crowd, above all the worshipping masses, does not understand and which it showers with curious and complacent interpretations. This pity regularly deceives itself about its power; woman may believe that love can do everything — that’s a belief essential to her. Alas, anyone who knows about the heart can guess how poor, stupid, helpless, presumptuous, mistaken, more easily destroyed than saved even the best and most profound love is! It is possible that beneath the sacred story and disguise of the life of Jesus there lies hidden one of the most painful examples of the martyrdom of knowledge about love: the martyrdom of the most innocent and most desiring heart, which was never satisfied with any human love, which demanded love, to be loved and nothing else, with hardness, with madness, with fearful outbreaks against those who denied him love; the history of a poor man unsatisfied and insatiable with love, who had to invent hell in order to send there those who did not wish to love him — and who finally, having grown to understand human love, had to invent a God who is entirely love, who is capable of total love — who takes pity on human love because it is so pathetic, so unknowing! Anyone who feels this way, who knows about love in this way — seeks death. — But why dwell on such painful things? Assuming we don’t have to. —
The spiritual arrogance and disgust of every man who has suffered deeply — how profoundly men can suffer almost determines their order of rank — his chilling certainty, with which he is thoroughly soaked and coloured, that thanks to his suffering he knows more than the cleverest and wisest can know, that he has known and at some point been “at home” in many terrible far-off worlds, about which “you know nothing!” . . . this spiritual and silent arrogance of the sufferer, this pride of the one chosen to know, of the “initiate,” of the one who has almost been sacrificed, finds all kinds of disguises necessary to protect himself from contact with prying and compassionate hands and, in general, from everything which is not his equal in pain. Profound suffering ennobles; it separates. One of the most sophisticated forms of disguise is Epicureanism and a certain future courageousness in taste adopted as a show, which takes suffering lightly and resists everything sad and deep. There are “cheerful men” who use cheerfulness because it makes them misunderstood — they want to be misunderstood. There are “scientific men” who use science because that provides a cheerful appearance and because being scientific enables one to infer that the man is superficial — they want to tempt people to a false conclusion. There are free, impudent spirits who would like to hide and deny that they are broken, proud, incurable hearts; and now and then even foolishness is a mask for an unholy, all-too-certain knowledge. Hence, it follows that it’s part of a more sophisticated humanity to have reverence “for the mask” and not to pursue psychology and curiosity in the wrong place.
What most profoundly divides two men is a different sense and degree of cleanliness. What help is all honesty and mutual utility, what help is all the good will for each other: in the end the fact remains — they “can’t stand each other’s smell!” The highest instinct for cleanliness puts the person marked by it in the strangest and most dangerous isolation, as a saint: for that’s simply what saintliness is — the highest spiritualization of the instinct in question. Any awareness of an indescribable abundance of pleasure in the bath, any lust and thirst which constantly drives the soul out of the night into the morning and out of cloudiness, the “affliction,” into what is bright, gleaming, profound, fine; just as such a tendency singles out — it is a noble tendency — so it also separates. The pity of the saint is pity for the dirt of those who are human, all-too-human. And there are degrees and heights where the saint feels pity itself as contamination, as dirt . . .
Signs of nobility: never thinking of reducing our duties to duties for everyone; not wanting to give up one’s own responsibility, not wanting to share it; to include one’s privileges and acting on them among one’s duties.
A human being who strives for something great looks at everyone he meets along his way either as a means or as a delay and an obstacle — or as a temporary place to rest. His characteristic high-quality goodness towards his fellow men is first possible when he has reached his height and governs. His impatience and his awareness that until that point he is always sentenced to comedy — for even war is a comedy and conceals, just as every means hides the end — corrupt all contacts for him: this kind of man knows loneliness and what is most poisonous in it.
The problem for those who wait. — For a higher man in whom the solution to a problem lies asleep, strokes of luck and all sorts of unpredictable things are necessary for him to swing into action at just the right time —“for an eruption,” as we could say. Ordinarily it does not happen, and in all the corners of the earth sit people waiting, who hardly know to what extent they are waiting, but even less that they are waiting in vain. From time to time the call to wake up, that chance which provides the “permission” for action comes too late — at a time when the best youth and power for action have already been used up in sitting still. And many a man, in the very moment he “sprang up,” has found to his horror that his limbs have gone to sleep and his spirit is already too heavy! “It is too late,” he says to himself, having lost faith in himself, and is now forever useless. — In the realm of the genius, could “Raphael without hands,” taking that phrase in the widest sense, perhaps not be the exception but the rule?2 — Genius is perhaps not really so rare, but the five hundred hands needed to tyrannize the kairos, “the right time,” to seize chance by the forelock!
Anyone who does not want to see the height of a man looks all the more keenly at what is low and in his foreground — and in the process gives himself away.
With all kinds of injury and loss the lower and cruder soul is better off than the more noble one: the dangers for the latter must be greater; the probability that it will go wrong and die is even immense, given the multifaceted nature of its living conditions. — With a lizard a finger which has been lost grows back: not so with a man.
Bad enough! The old story again! When we have finished building our house, we suddenly notice that we have learned something in the process, something we simply had to know before we started to build. The eternally tiresome “Too late!”— The melancholy of everything finished! . . .
Wanderer, who are you? I see you going on your way, without scorn, without love, with unfathomable eyes, damp and sad like a lead sinker which has come back unsatisfied from every depth into the light — what was it looking for down there? — with a breast which does not sigh, with a lip which hides its disgust, with a hand which now grasps only slowly: Who are you? What have you been doing? Have a rest here: this place is hospitable to everyone — relax! And whoever you happen to be, what would you like now? What do you need to recuperate? Just name it: what I have I’ll offer you! “For relaxation? For recuperation? O you inquisitive man, what are you talking about! But give me, I beg . . .” What? What? Say it! —“One more mask! A second mask!” . . . .
Men of profound sorrow betray themselves when they are happy: they have a way of grabbing happiness as if they would like to overwhelm and strangle it from jealousy — alas, they know too well that it’s running away from them!
“Bad! Bad! What? Is he not going — back?”— Yes! But you understand him badly if you complain about it. He’s going back, as every man does who wants to make a huge jump. —
“Will people believe me? But I demand that people believe me: I have always thought only badly of myself and about myself, only in very rare cases, only when under compulsion, always without delight ‘for the subject,’ ready to wander off from ‘myself,’ always without faith in the conclusion, thanks to the uncontrollable mistrust of the possibility of self-knowledge which has taken me so far that I find even the idea of ‘immediate knowledge,’ which the theoreticians allow themselves, a contradictio in adjecto [contradiction in terms]: this entire fact is almost the surest thing I know about myself. Within me there must be some kind of aversion to believing anything definite about myself. Is a riddle perhaps hidden in that? Probably, but fortunately nothing for my own teeth. Perhaps it reveals the species to which I belong? — But not to me: and that’s enough to satisfy me.”
“But what has happened to you?”—“I don’t know,” he said, hesitating; “perhaps the harpies have flown over my table.”3 Occasionally nowadays it happens that a mild, moderate, reserved man suddenly becomes violent, smashes plates, throws over the table, screams, stomps around, slanders the entire world — and finally goes to the side ashamed, furious with himself. — Where? What for? To starve off on his own? To suffocate on his memory? Anyone who has the desires of a lofty discriminating soul and only rarely finds his table set and his nourishment ready will be in great danger at all times: but today the danger is extraordinary. Thrown into a noisy and uncouth age, with which he does not want to eat out of the same dish, he can easily perish from hunger and thirst, or, if he finally nonetheless “catches on,”— from sudden disgust. — All of us have probably already sat at tables where we did not belong; and it’s precisely the most spiritual ones among us who are the most difficult to feed, who know that dangerous dyspepsia which comes from a sudden insight and disappointment about our food and those sitting next to us at the table — the after-dinner disgust.
Assuming that one wants to praise at all, there’s a refined and at the same time noble self-control which always gives praise only where one does not agree:— in other cases one would really be praising oneself, something that contradicts good taste — naturally, a self-control which provides a good opportunity and provocation for one to be constantly misunderstood. In order to permit oneself this true luxury of taste and morality, one must not live among spiritual fools, but rather among people whose misunderstandings and false ideas are still amusing for their sophistication — or one will have to pay dearly for it! —“He is praising me: thus, he admits I’m right”— this asinine way of making conclusions ruins half of life for us hermits, for it brings the asses into our neighbourhood and friendship.
To live with an immense and proud composure: always beyond. — To have and not have one’s feelings, one’s for and against, voluntarily, to condescend to them for hours, to sit on them, as if on a horse, often as if on a donkey:— for one needs to know how to use their stupidity as well as their fire. To preserve one’s three hundred foregrounds, as well as one’s dark glasses: for there are occasions when no one should be allowed to look into our eyes, even less into our “reasons.” And to select for company that mischievous and cheerful vice, courtesy. And to remain master of one’s four virtues: courage, insight, sympathy, and loneliness. For solitude is a virtue with us, as a sublime tendency and impulse for cleanliness, which senses how contact between one person and another —“in society”— must inevitably bring impurity with it. Every community somehow, somewhere, sometime makes people — “common.”
The greatest events and ideas — but the greatest ideas are the greatest events — are understood last of all: the generations contemporary with them do not experience such events — they go on living past them. What happens then is something like in the realm of the stars. The light of the most distant star comes to men last of all: and before that light arrives, men deny that there are stars there. “How many centuries does a spirit need in order to be understood?”— that is also a standard with which people construct a rank ordering and etiquette, as is necessary, for spirits and stars. —
“Here the view is free, the spirit elevated.”— But there is a reverse kind of person who is also on the heights and also has a free view — but who looks down.
What is noble? What does the word “noble” still mean to us nowadays? What reveals the noble human being, how do people recognize him, under this heavy, oppressive sky at the beginning of the rule of the rabble, which is making everything opaque and leaden? — It is not the actions which prove him — actions are always ambiguous, always inscrutable —; nor is it the “works.” Among artists and scholars today we find a sufficient number of those who through their works reveal how a profound desire for what is noble drives them: but this very need for what is noble is fundamentally different from the needs of the noble soul itself and is really the eloquent and dangerous indication that such a soul is lacking. It’s not the works; it’s the belief which decides here, which here establishes the order of rank, to take up once more an old religious formula with a new and more profound understanding: some basic certainty which a noble soul has about itself, something which does not allow itself to be sought out or found or perhaps even to be lost. The noble soul has reverence for itself. —
There are human beings who have spirit in an inevitable way. They may toss and turn as they wish and hold their hands in front of their tell-tale eyes (— as if the hand were not a give away! —): finally it always comes out that they have something which they are hiding, that is, spirit. One of the most sophisticated ways to deceive, at least for as long as possible, and to present oneself successfully as stupider than one is — what in common life is often as desirable as an umbrella — is called enthusiasm, including what belongs with it, for example, virtue. For, as Galiani, who must have known, says:— vertu est enthousiasme [virtue is enthusiasm].
In the writings of a hermit we always hear something of the echo of desolation, something of the whispers and the timid gazing around of isolation; from his strongest words, even from his screaming, still resounds a new and dangerous kind of silence, of concealment. Whoever has sat down, year in and year out, day and night, alone in an intimate dispute and conversation with his soul, whoever has become a cave bear or digger for treasure or guardian of treasure and dragon in his own cavern — it can be a labyrinth but also a gold mine — such a man’s very ideas finally take on a distinct twilight colouring and smell as much of mould as they do of profundity, something incommunicable and reluctant, which blows cold wind over everyone passing by. The hermit does not believe that a philosopher — assuming that a philosopher has always first been a hermit — has ever expressed his real and final opinion in his books. Don’t people write books expressly to hide what they have stored inside them? — In fact, he will have doubts whether a philosopher could generally have “real and final” opinions, whether in his case behind every cave there does not still lie, and must lie, an even deeper cavern — a more comprehensive, stranger, richer world beyond the surface, an abyss behind every reason, under every “foundation.” Every philosophy is a foreground-philosophy — that is the judgment of a hermit: “There is something arbitrary about the fact that he remained here, looked back, looked around, that at this point he set his shovel aside and did not dig more deeply — there is also something suspicious about it.” Every philosophy also hides a philosophy; every opinion is also a hiding place, every word is also a mask.
Every deep thinker is more afraid of being understood than being misunderstood. In the latter case, perhaps his vanity suffers, but the former hurts his heart, his sympathy, which always says, “Alas, why do you want to have it as hard as I did?”
Man, a multifaceted, lying, artificial, and impenetrable animal, who spooks other animals less by his power than by his cunning and intelligence, has invented good conscience in order to enjoy his own soul for once as something simple; and all of morality is a long spirited falsification, thanks to which it’s at all possible to enjoy a glimpse at the soul. From this point of view, perhaps much more belongs to the idea of “art” than people commonly believe.
A philosopher: that is a man who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his very own thoughts as if from outside, as if from above and below, as if they are experiences and lightning strikes tailor-made for him; who himself is perhaps a storm which moves along pregnant with new lightning flashes; a fateful man, around whom things always rumble and mutter and gape and mysteriously close. A philosopher: alas, a being which often runs away from itself, often is afraid of itself — but which is too curious not to “come back to itself” again and again. . .
A man who says, “That pleases me. I take that for my own and will protect it and defend it against everyone”; a man who can carry out a task, put a decision into effect, remain true to an idea, hold on to a woman, punish and cast down an insolent person; a man who has his anger and his sword and to whom the weak, the suffering, the distressed, and even the animals are happy to go and belong to by nature — in short, a man who is by nature a master — when such a man has pity, well, this pity is worth something! But what is there in the pity of those who suffer! Or even of those who preach pity! Today in almost all of Europe there is a pathological susceptibility and sensitivity to pain, as well as a nasty lack of restraint in complaining, a mollycoddling, which likes to dress itself up with religion and philosophical bits and pieces as something loftier — there is a formal culture of suffering. In my view, the unmanliness of what is christened “pity” in such enthusiastic circles is what always strikes the eye first. — We must excommunicate this latest form of bad taste, powerfully and thoroughly; and finally I wish that people would set against their hearts and throats the good amulet “gai saber,”— gay science”, to clarify this matter for the Germans.
The Olympian vice. — In spite of that philosopher who, as a genuine Englishman, tried to make laughing a defamation of character among all thinking men —“Laughter is a serious infirmity of human nature which every thinking man will strive to overcome” (Hobbes)— I would really allow myself to order the ranks of philosophers according to the rank of their laughter — right up to those who are capable of golden laughter.4 And assuming that the gods also practise philosophy, a fact which many conclusions have already driven me to — I don’t doubt that in the process they know how to laugh in a superhuman and new way — and at the expense of all serious things! Gods delight in making fun: even where sacred actions are concerned, it seems they cannot stop laughing.
The genius of the heart, as that great hidden presence possesses it, the tempter-god and born pied piper of the conscience, whose voice knows how to climb down into the underworld of every soul, who does not say a word or cast a glance in which there does not lie some concern with and trace of temptation, whose mastery includes the fact that he understands how to seem — and not what he is, but what for those who follow him is one more compulsion to press themselves always closer to him, to follow him ever more inwardly and fundamentally:— that genius of the heart, who makes all noise and self-satisfaction fall silent and teaches it to listen, who smooths out the rough souls and gives them a new desire to taste — to lie still as a mirror so that the deep heaven reflects itself in them —; the genius of the heart who teaches the foolish and over-hasty hand to hesitate and reach out more delicately; who senses the hidden and forgotten treasure, the drop of goodness and sweet spirituality under the thick cloudy ice and is a divining rod for every grain of gold which has lain buried for a long time in a dungeon crammed with mud and sand; the genius of the heart, at whose touch everyone goes forward richer, not divinely gifted and surprised, not as if delighted and oppressed with strange, fine things, but richer in his own self, newer to himself than previously, broken open, blown upon and sounded out by a thawing wind, more uncertain perhaps, more tender, more fragile, more broken, but full of hopes which as yet have no names, full of new will and flowing, full of new dissatisfactions and opposing currents . . . But what am I doing, my friends? Whom am I speaking to you about? Have I forgotten myself so much that I have not once named him to you? It could be that you have already guessed for yourself who this dubious spirit and god is who wants to be praised in such a way. For just as things go with anyone who from the time he walked on childish legs has always been on the move and through alien territory, so many strange and not un-dangerous spirits have crossed my path, too, above all the one I have just been speaking about, who has come again and again, namely, no less a spirit than the god Dionysus, that enormously ambiguous and tempter god, to whom in earlier times, as you know, I offered up my first work, in all secrecy and reverence — as the last person, so I thought, who had offered a sacrifice to him: for I found no one who understood what I was doing then.5 Meanwhile I learned a great deal, much too much, about the philosophy of this god, and, as mentioned, from mouth to mouth — I, the last disciple and initiate of the god Dionysus: and I might well at last begin to give you, my friends, a little taste of this philosophy, as much as I am permitted? In a hushed voice, as is reasonable: for this concerns a number of things which are secret, new, strange, odd, mysterious. Even the fact that Dionysus is a philosopher and that the gods also carry on philosophy seems to me a novelty which is not harmless and which perhaps might excite mistrust precisely among philosophers — among you, my friends it has less against it, although it could be that it comes too late and not at the right moment: for people have revealed to me that nowadays you are not happy to believe in god and gods. Also perhaps the fact that in my explanation I must proceed with more candour than is always pleasing to the strict habits of your ears? Certainly the god under discussion went further, very much further, in conversations like this and was always several steps ahead of me . . . in fact, if it were permitted, I would, following human practices, attach to him beautifully solemn names of splendour and virtue; I would have to provide a great deal of praise for his courage as an explorer and discoverer, for his daring honesty, truthfulness, and love of wisdom. But such a god has no idea how to begin with all this venerable rubbish and pageantry. “Keep that,” he would say, “for yourself and people like you and anyone else who needs it! I have no reason to decorate my nakedness!”— Do people sense that this type of divinity and philosopher perhaps lacks shame? He said it this way once, “In some circumstances, I love human beings”— and in saying that, he was alluding to Ariadne, who was present —“for me a human being is a pleasant, brave, inventive animal which has no equal on earth; it finds the right path even in every labyrinth. I like him: I often reflect how I could bring him further forwards and make him stronger, more evil, and more profound than he is.”—“Stronger, more evil, and more profound?” I asked shocked. “Yes,” he said once more, “stronger, more evil, and more profound, also more beautiful”— and with that the tempter god smiled with his halcyon smile, as if he had just uttered an enchanting compliment We can see here also that it is not just shame this divinity lacks —; and there are in general good reasons to suppose that in some things the gods collectively could learn from us human beings. We human beings are — more human. . .6
Alas, what are you then, my written and painted thoughts! It’s not so long ago that you were still so colourful, young, and malicious, full of stings and secret seasonings, so that you made me sneeze and laugh. — And now? You have already stripped off your novelty and some of you, I fear, are ready to become truths: you already look so immortal, so heartbreakingly honest, so boring! And was it ever different? What things we transcribe in our writing and painting, we mandarins with a Chinese paintbrush, we immortalizers of things which let themselves be written — what are the only things we are capable of painting? Alas, always only what is just about to fade and is beginning to lose its fragrance! Alas, always only storms which are worn out and withdrawing and old yellow feelings! Alas, always only birds which have exhausted themselves flying and lost their way and now let themselves be caught by hand — by our hand! We immortalize what can no longer live and fly, only tired and crumbling things! And it is only your afternoon, my written and painted thoughts, for which I alone have colours, many colours perhaps, many colourful caresses and fifty yellows and browns and greens and reds:— but no one will sense from me how you looked in your dawn, you sudden sparks and miracles of my loneliness, you, my old loved ones — my wicked thoughts!
1. . . . Horace: Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65-8 BC) an important poet in classical Rome.
2. . . . Raphael (1483-1520): major Italian painter of the Renaissance, who died at age thirty-seven.
3. . . harpies: winged monsters from Greek mythology who steal food.
4. What Nietzsche offers here in German as a quotation from Hobbes is not, according to Walter Kaufmann, found in any of Hobbes’ works, although Hobbes does discuss laughter on a number of occasions (see Kaufmann’s translation of Beyond Good and Evil, 231).
5. The “first work” Nietzsche is referring to is his Birth of Tragedy, published in 1872, in which he proposes the struggle between the Apollonian and Dionysian.
6. . . . Ariadne: in Greek mythology the daughter of Minos, king of Crete. She helped Theseus kill the Minotaur in the Labyrinth and escaped with him. When Theseus abandoned Ariadne, Dionysus fell in love with her.
O noon of life! A time to celebrate!
Oh garden of summer!
Restless happiness in standing, gazing, waiting:—
I wait for friends, ready day and night.
You friends, where are you? Come! It's time! It's time!
Was it not for you that the glacier's grayness
today decked itself with roses?
The stream is seeking you, and wind and clouds
with yearning push themselves higher into the blue today
to look for you from the furthest bird's eye view.
For you my table has been set at the highest point.
Who lives so near the stars?
Who's so near the furthest reaches of the bleak abyss?
My realm — what realm has stretched so far?
And my honey — who has tasted that? . . .
There you are, my friends! — Alas, so I am not the man,
not the one you're looking for?
You hesitate, surprised! — Ah, your anger would be better!
Am I no more the one? A changed hand, pace, and face?
And what am I— for you friends am I not the one?
Have I become another? A stranger to myself?
Have I sprung from myself?
A wrestler who overcame himself so often?
Too often pulling against his very own power,
wounded and checked by his own victory?
I looked where the wind blows most keenly?
I learned to live
where no one lives, in deserted icy lands,
forgot men and god, curse and prayer?
Became a ghost that moves over the glaciers?
— You old friends! Look! Now your gaze is pale,
full of love and horror!
No, be off! Do not rage! You can't live here:
here between the furthest realms of ice and rock —
here one must be a hunter, like a chamois.
I've become a wicked hunter! See, how deep
my bow extends!
It was the strongest man who made such a pull —
Woe betide you! The arrow is dangerous —
like no arrow — away from here! For your own good! . . .
You're turning around? — O heart, you deceive enough,
your hopes stayed strong:
hold your door open for new friends!
Let the old ones go! Let go the memory!
Once you were young, now — you are even younger!
What bound us then, a band of one hope —
who reads the signs,
love once etched there — still pale?
I compare it to parchment which the hand
fears to touch — like that discoloured, burned.
No more friends — they are . . . But how can I name that? —
Just friendly ghosts!
That knocks for me at night on my window and my heart,
that looks at me and says, "But we were friends?"—
— O shrivelled word, once fragrant as a rose!
O youthful longing which misunderstands itself!
Those yearned for,
whom I imagined changed to my own kin,
they have grown old, have exiled themselves.
Only the one who changes stays in touch with me.
O noon of life! A second youthful time!
O summer garden!
Restless happiness in standing, gazing, waiting!
I wait for friends, ready day and night.
You friends, where are you? Come! It's time! It's time
The song is done — the sweet cry of yearning
died in my mouth:
A magician did it, a friend at the right hour,
a noontime friend — no! Do not ask who it might be —
it was at noon when one turned into two . . . .
Now we celebrate, certain of victory, united,
the feast of feasts:
friend Zarathustra came, the guest of guests!
Now the world laughs, the horror curtain splits,
the wedding came for light and darkness . . . .
* * * *
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005