Thoughts on the prejudices of morality.
In this book we will find a "subterranean" at work, one who tunnels, mines, and undermines. You will see him-presupposing you have eyes capable of seeing this work in its depths-going forward, slowly, cautiously, gently inexorable, without bearing much of the distress which any protracted deprivation of light and air must entail. You might even call him contented, working there in the dark. Does it not seem as though some faith were leading him on, some consolation offering him compensation? As though he perhaps desires this prolonged obscurity, desires to be incomprehensible, concealed, enigmatic, because he knows what he will thereby acquire: his own morning, his own redemption, his own rosy dawn? He will return, that is certain: do not ask him what he is looking for down there, he will tell you himself of his own accord, this seeming Trophonius and subterranean, as soon as he has "become a man" again. Being silent is something one completely unlearns if, like him, one has been for so long a solitary mole- - -
And indeed, my patient friends, I shall now tell you what I was after down there-here in this late preface, which could easily have become a funeral oration-for I have returned and, believe it or not, returned safe and sound. Do not think for a moment that I intend to invite you to the same hazardous enterprise! Or even only to the same solitude! For he who proceeds on his own path in this fashion encounters no one: this is inherent in "proceeding on one's own path." No one comes along to help him: all the perils, accidents, malice, and bad weather which assail him he has to tackle by himself. For his path is his alone-of course, the bitterness and occasional ill-humor he feels at this "his alone": among which is included, for instance, the knowledge that even his friends are able to divine where he is or whither he is going, that they will sometimes ask themselves: "What? is he going at all? does he still have-a path?" At that time I undertook something not everyone may undertake: I descended into the depths, I tunneled into the foundations, commenced an investigation and digging out of an ancient faith, one upon which we philosophers have for a couple of millennia been accustomed to build as if upon the firmest of all foundations-and have continued to do so even though every building hitherto erected has fallen down: I commenced to undermine our faith in morality. But you do not understand me?
Hitherto, it is Good and Evil that we have reflected on least profoundly: this was too dangerous a subject. Conscience, reputation, Hell, and at times even the police, have not allowed and do not allow of impartiality; in the presence of morality, as before all authority, we must not even think, much less speak: here we must obey! Ever since the beginning of the world, no authority has permitted itself to be made the subject of criticism; and to criticize morals-to look upon morality as a problem, as problematic-what! was that not-is that not-immoral? But morality has at its disposal not only every means of intimidation wherewith to keep itself free from critical hands and instruments of torture: its security lies rather in a certain art of enchantment, in which it is a past master-it knows how to "enrapture." It can often paralyze the critical will with a single look, or even seduce it to itself: yes, there are even cases where morality can turn the critical will against itself; so that then, like the scorpion, it thrusts the sting into its own body. Morality has for ages been an expert in all kinds of devilry in the art of convincing: even at the present day there is no orator who would not turn to it for assistance (only listen to our anarchists, for instance: how morally they speak when they would fain convince! In the end they even call themselves "the good and the just"). Morality has shown herself to be the greatest mistress of seduction ever since men began to discourse and persuade on earth-and, what concerns us philosophers even more, she is the veritable Circe of philosophers. For, to what is it due that, from Plato onwards, all the philosophic architects in Europe have built in vain? that everything which they themselves honestly believed to be aere perennius ["More enduring than bronze."] threatens to subside or is already laid in ruins? Oh, how wrong is the answer which, even in our own day, rolls glibly off the tongue when this question is asked: "Because they have all neglected the prerequisite, the examination of the foundation, a critique of all reason"-that fatal answer made by Kant, who has certainly not thereby attracted us modern philosophers to firmer and less treacherous ground! (and, one may ask apropos of this, was it not rather strange to demand that an instrument should criticize its own value and effectiveness? that the intellect itself should "recognize" its own worth, power, and limits? was it not even just a little ridiculous?) The right answer would rather have been, that all philosophers, including Kant himself, were building under the seductive influence of morality-that they aimed at certainty and "truth" only in appearance; but that in reality their attention was directed towards "majestic moral edifices," to use once more Kant's innocent mode of expression, who deems it his "less brilliant, but not undeserving" task and work " to level the ground and prepare a solid foundation for the erection of those majestic moral edifices" (Critique of Pure Reason, ii. 257). Alas! He did not succeed in his aim, quite the contrary-as we must acknowledge today. With this exalted aim, Kant was merely a true son of his century, which more than any other may justly be called the century of exaltation: and this he fortunately continued to be in respect to the more valuable side of this century (with that solid piece of sensuality, for example, which he introduced into his theory of knowledge). He, too, had been bitten by the moral tarantula, Rousseau; he, too, felt weighing on his soul that moral fanaticism of which another disciple of Rousseau's, Robespierre, felt and proclaimed himself to be the executor: de fonder sur la terre l'empire de la sagesse, de la justice, et de la vertu. (Speech of June 7th, 1794.) On the other hand, with such a French fanaticism in his heart, no one could have cultivated it in a less French, more deep, more thorough and more German manner-if the word German is still permissible in this sense-than Kant did: in order to make room for his "moral kingdom," he found himself compelled to add to it an indemonstrable world, a logical "beyond"-that was why he required his critique of pure reason! In other words, he would not have wanted it, if he had not deemed one thing to be more important than all the others: to render his moral kingdom unassailable by-or, better still, invisible to, reason-for he felt too strongly the vulnerability of a moral order of things in the face of reason. For, when confronted with nature and history, when confronted with the ingrained immorality of nature and history, Kant was, like all good Germans from the earliest times, a pessimist: he believed in morality, not because it is demonstrated through nature and history, but despite its being steadily contradicted by them. To understand this "despite," we should perhaps recall a somewhat similar trait in Luther, that other great pessimist, who once urged it upon his friends with true Lutheran audacity: "If we could conceive by reason alone how that God who shows so much wrath and malignity could be merciful and just what use should we have for faith?" For, from the earliest times, nothing has ever made a deeper impression upon the German soul, nothing has ever "tempted" it more, than that deduction, the most dangerous of all, which for every true Latin is a sin against the intellect: credo quia absurdum est. With it German logic enters for the first time into the history of Christian dogma; but even today, a thousand years later, we Germans of the present, late Germans in every way, catch the scent of truth, a possibility of truth, at the back of the famous fundamental principle of dialectics with which Hegel secured the victory of the German spirit over Europe-"contradiction moves the world; all things contradict themselves." We are pessimists-even in logic.
But logical evaluations are not the deepest or most fundamental to which our audacious mistrust can descend: the faith in reason with which the validity of these judgments must stand or fall, is, as confidence, a moral phenomenon . . . perhaps German pessimism has yet to take its last step? Perhaps it has once more to draw up its "credo" opposite its "absurdum" in a terrible manner? And if this book is pessimistic even in regard to morals, even above the confidence in morals-should it not be a German book for that very reason? For, in fact, it represents a contradiction, and one which it does not fear: in it confidence in morals is retracted-but why? Out of morality! Or how shall we call that which takes place in it-in us? For our taste inclines to the employment of more modest phrases. But there is no doubt that to us likewise there speaks a "thou shalt"; we likewise obey a strict law which is set above us-and this is the last cry of morals which is still audible to us, which we too must live: here, if anywhere, we are still men of conscience, because, to put the matter in plain words, we will not return to that which we look upon as decayed, outlived, and superseded, we will not return to something "unworthy of belief," whether it be called God, virtue, truth, justice, love of one's neighbor, or what not; we will not permit ourselves to open up a lying path to old ideals; we are thoroughly and unalterably opposed to anything that would intercede and mingle with us; opposed to all forms of present-day faith and Christianity; opposed to the lukewarmness of all romanticism and fatherlandism; opposed also to the artistic sense of enjoyment and lack of principle which would fain make us worship where we no longer believe-for we are artists-opposed, in short, to all this European feminism (or idealism, if this term be thought preferable) which everlastingly "draws upward," and which in consequence everlastingly "lowers" and" degrades." Yet, being men of this conscience, we feel that we are related to that German uprightness and piety which dates back thousands of years, although we immoralists and atheists may be the late and uncertain offspring of these virtues-yes, we even consider ourselves, in a certain respect, as their heirs, the executors of their inmost will: a pessimistic will, as I have already pointed out, which is not afraid to deny itself, because it denies itself with joy! In us is consummated, if you desire a formula-the autosuppression of morals.
But, after all, why must we proclaim so loudly and with such intensity what we are, what we want, and what we do not want? Let us look at this more calmly and wisely; from a higher and more distant point of view. Let us proclaim it, as if among ourselves, in so low a tone that all the world fails to hear it and us! Above all, however, let us say it slowly . . . This preface comes late, but not too late: what, after all, do five or six years matter? Such a book, and such a problem, are in no hurry; besides, we are friends of the lento, I and my book. It is not for nothing that one has been a philologist, perhaps one is a philologist still, that is to say, a teacher of slow reading:-in the end one also writes slowly. Nowadays it is not only my habit, it is also to my taste-a malicious taste, perhaps?-no longer to write anything which does not reduce to despair every sort of man who is "in a hurry." For philology is that venerable art which demands of its votaries one thing above all: to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow-it is a goldsmith's art and connoisseurship of the word which has nothing but delicate, cautious work to do and achieves nothing if it does not achieve it lento. But for precisely this reason it is more necessary than ever today, by precisely this means does it entice and enchant us the most, in the midst of an age of "work," that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to "get everything done" at once, including every old or new book:-this art does not so easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers... My patient friends, this book desires for itself only perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!-
Ruta, near Genoa,
Rationality ex post facto.- Whatever lives long is gradually so saturated with reason that its irrational origins become improbable. Does not almost every accurate history of the origin of something sound paradoxical and sacrilegious to our feelings? Doesn't the good historian contradict all the time?
Prejudice of the learned.- The learned judge correctly that people of all ages have believed they know what is good and evil, praise- and blameworthy. But it is a prejudice of the learned that we now know better than any other age.
Everything has its day.- When man gave all things a sex he thought, not that he was playing, but that he had gained a profound insight:-it was only very late that he confessed to himself what an enormous error this was, and perhaps even now he has not confessed it completely.- In the same way man has ascribed to all that exists a connection with morality and laid an ethical significance on the world's back. One day this will have as much value, and no more, as the belief in the masculinity or femininity of the sun has today.
Concept of morality of custom.- In comparison with the present mode of life of whole millennia of mankind we present-day men live in a very immoral age: the power of custom is astonishingly enfeebled and the moral sense so rarefied and lofty it may be described as having more or less evaporated. That is why the fundamental insights into the origin of morality are so difficult for us latecomers, and even when we have acquired them we find it impossible to enunciate them, because they sound so uncouth or because they seem to slander morality! This is, for example, already the case with the chief proposition: morality is nothing other (therefore no more!) than obedience to customs, of whatever kind they may be; customs, however, are the traditional way of behaving and evaluating. In things in which no tradition commands there is no morality; and the less life is determined by tradition, the smaller the circle of morality. The free human being is immoral because in all things he is determined to depend upon himself and not upon a tradition: in all the original conditions of mankind, "evil" signifies the same as "individual," "free," "capricious," "unusual," "unforeseen," "incalculable." Judged by the standard of these conditions, if an action is performed not because tradition commands it but for other motives (because of its usefulness to the individual, for example) even indeed for precisely the motives which once founded the tradition, it is called immoral and is felt to be so by him who performed it: for it was not performed in obedience to tradition. What is tradition? A higher authority which one obeys, not because it commands what is useful to us, but because it commands.- What distinguishes this feeling in the presence of tradition from the feeling of fear in general? It is fear in the presence of a higher intellect which here commands, of an incomprehensible, indefinite power, of something more than personal-there is superstition in this fear.- Originally all education and care of health, marriage, cure of sickness, agriculture, war, speech and silence, traffic with one another and with the gods belonged within the domain of morality: they demanded one observe prescriptions without thinking of oneself as an individual. Originally, therefore, everything was custom, and whoever wanted to elevate himself above it had to become a lawgiver and medicine man and a kind of demi-god: that is to say, he had to make customs-a dreadful, mortally dangerous thing! [...] Those moralists who, following in the footsteps of Socrates, offer the individual a morality of self-control and temperance as a means to his own advantage, as his personal key to happiness, are the exceptions-and if it seems otherwise to us that is because we have been brought up in their aftereffect: they all take a new path under the highest disapprobation of all advocates of the morality of custom-they cut themselves off from the community, as immoral men, and are in the profoundest sense evil. Thus to a virtuous Roman of the old stamp every Christian who "considered first of all his own salvation" appeared-evil. [...] Every individual action, every individual mode of thought arouses dread; it is impossible to compute what precisely the rarer, choicer, more original spirits in the whole course of history have had to suffer through being felt as evil and dangerous, indeed through feeling themselves to be so. Under the dominion of the morality of custom, originality of every kind has acquired a bad conscience; the sky above the best men is for this reason to this very moment gloomier than it need be.
First proposition of civilization.- Among barbarous peoples there exists a species of customs whose purpose appears to be custom in general: minute and fundamentally superfluous stipulations [...] which, however, keep continually in the consciousness the constant proximity of custom, the perpetual compulsion to practice customs: so as to strengthen the mighty proposition with which civilization begins: any custom is better than no custom.
The morality of voluntary suffering.- What is the supreme enjoyment for men who live in the state of war of those small, continually endangered communities which are characterized by the strictest mores? In other words, for vigorous, vindictive, vicious, suspicious souls who are prepared for what is most terrible and hardened by deprivations and mores? The enjoyment of cruelty; and in these circumstances it is even accounted among the virtues of such a soul if it is inventive and insatiable in cruelty. The community feels refreshed by cruel deeds, and casts off for once the gloom of continual anxiety and caution. Cruelty belongs to the most ancient festive joys of mankind. Hence one supposes that the gods, too, feel refreshed and festive when one offers them the sight of cruelty; and so the idea creeps into the world that voluntary suffering, torture one has chosen oneself, has value and makes good sense.
Gradually, the mores shape a communal practice in accordance with this idea: all extravagant well-being henceforth arouses some mistrust, and all hard and painful states more and more confidence. One supposes that the gods might look upon us ungraciously because of our happiness, and graciously because of our suffering-not by any means with pity. For pity is considered contemptible and unworthy of a strong and terrible soul. Rather, graciously, because it delights them and puts them into good spirits; for those who are cruel enjoy the supreme titillation of the feeling of power.
Thus the concept of the "most moral man" of the community comes to contain the virtue of frequent suffering, deprivation, a hard way of life, and of cruel self-mortification-not, to say this again and again, as a means of self-discipline, self-control, and the desire for individual happiness, but as a virtue that makes the community look good to the evil gods, steaming up to them like a continual sacrifice of atonement upon some altar. All those spiritual leaders of peoples who succeeded in stirring something in the inert but fertile mud of their mores, had need not only of madness but also of voluntary torture to engender faith-and most and first of all, as always, their faith in themselves. The more their own spirit moved along novel paths and was therefore tormented by pangs of conscience and anxieties, the more cruelly they raged against their own flesh, their own desires, and their own health-as if they wanted to offer the deity some substitute gratification in case it should perhaps be embittered on account of customs one had neglected and fought against and new goals one had championed.
Let us not believe too quickly that now we have rid ourselves completely of such a logic of feeling. Let the most heroic souls question themselves about this. Every smallest step on the field of free thought and the individually formed life has always been fought for with spiritual and physical torments: not only moving forward, no, above all moving, motion, change have required innumerable martyrs, all through the long path-seeking and basic millennia of which, to be sure, people don't think when they talk, as usual, about "world history," that ridiculously small segment of human existence. And even in this so-called world history, which is at bottom much ado about the latest news, there is no really more important theme than the primordial tragedy of the martyrs who wanted to move the swamps.
Nothing has been bought more dearly than that little bit of human reason and of a feeling of freedom that now constitutes our pride. But it is this very pride that now makes it almost impossible for us to feel with those vast spans of time characterized by the "morality of mores" which antedate "world history" as the real and decisive main history that determined the character of humanity-when suffering was a virtue, cruelty a virtue, dissimulation a virtue, revenge a virtue, the slander of reason a virtue, while well-being was a danger, the craving for knowledge a danger, peace a danger, pity a danger, being pitied ignominy, work ignominy, madness divine, change immoral and pregnant with disaster.
You think that all this has changed, and that humanity must thus have changed its character? You who think you know men, learn to know yourselves better!
Free-doers and freethinkers.- Free-doers are at a disadvantage compared with freethinkers because people suffer more obviously from the consequences of deeds than from those of thoughts. If one considers, however, that both the one and the other are in search of gratification, and that in the case of the freethinker the mere thinking through and enunciation of forbidden things provides this gratification, both are on an equal footing with regard to motive: and with regard to consequences the decision will even go against the freethinker, provided one does not judge-as all the world does-by what is most immediately and crassly obvious. One has to take back much of the defamation which people have cast upon all those who broke through the spell of a custom by means of a deed-in general, they are called criminals. Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted the predicate gradually changed;-history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!
Animals and morality.- The practices demanded in polite society: careful avoidance of the ridiculous, the offensive, the presumptuous, the suppression of one's virtues as well as of one's strongest inclinations, self-adaptation, self-deprecation, submission to orders of rank-all this is to be found as social morality in a crude form everywhere, even in the depths of the animal world-and only at this depth do we see the purpose of all these amiable precautions: one wishes to elude one's pursuers and be favored in the pursuit of one's prey. For this reason the animals learn to master themselves and alter their form, so that many, for example, adapt their colorings to the coloring of their surroundings (by virtue of the so-called "chromatic function"), pretend to be dead or assume the forms and colors of another animal or of sand, leaves, lichen, fungus (what English researchers designate "mimicry"). Thus the individual hides himself in the general concept "man," or in society, or adapts himself to princes, classes, parties, opinions of his time or place: and all the subtle ways we have of appearing fortunate, grateful, powerful, enamored have their easily discoverable parallels in the animal world. [...] The beginnings of justice, as of prudence, moderation, bravery-in short, of all we designate as the Socratic virtues, are animal: a consequence of that drive which teaches us to seek food and elude enemies. Now if we consider that even the highest human being has only become more elevated and subtle in the nature of his food and in his conception of what is inimical to him, it is not improper to describe the entire phenomenon of morality as animal.
Brahminism and Christianity.- There are recipes for the feeling of power, firstly for those who can control themselves and who are thereby accustomed to a feeling of power; then for those in whom precisely this is lacking. Brahminism has catered for men of the former sort, Christianity for men of the latter.
Justice which punishes.- Misfortune and guilt-Christianity has placed these two things on a balance: so that, when misfortune consequent on guilt is great, even now the greatness of the guilt is still involuntarily measured by it. But this is not antique, and that is why the Greek tragedy, which speaks so much yet in so different a sense of misfortune and guilt, is a great liberator of the spirit in a way in which the ancients themselves could not feel it. They were still so innocent as not to have established an "adequate relationship" between guilt and misfortune. The guilt of their tragic heroes is, indeed, the little stone over which they stumble and perhaps break an arm or put out an eye: antique sensibility commented: "Yes, he should have gone his way a little more cautiously and with less haughtiness!" But it was reserved for Christianity to say: "Here is a great misfortune and behind it there must lie hidden a great, equally great guilt, even though it may not be clearly visible! If you, unfortunate man, do not feel this you are obdurate-you will have to suffer worse things!"- Moreover, in antiquity there still existed actual misfortune, pure innocent misfortune; only in Christendom did everything become punishment, well-deserved punishment [...]
Doubt as sin.- Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be a sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glance towards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists for something else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse of our amphibious nature-is sin! And notice that all this means that the foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin is likewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned!
One becomes moral-not because one is moral.- Submission to morality can be slavish or vain or selfish or resigned or obtusely enthusiastic or thoughtless or an act of desperation, like submission to a prince: in itself it is nothing moral.
Mutation of morality.- There is a continual moiling and toiling going on in morality-the effect of successful crimes (among which, for example, are included all innovations in moral thinking).
Doubtful.- To accept a faith just because it is customary, means to be dishonest, to be cowardly, to be lazy. And do dishonesty, cowardice, and laziness then appear as the presupposition of morality?
The oldest moral judgments.- What really are our reactions to the behavior of someone in our presence?- First of all, we see what there is in it for us-we regard it only from this point of view. We take this effect as the intention behind the behavior-and finally we ascribe the harboring of such intentions as a permanent quality of the person whose behavior we are observing and thenceforth call him for instance "a harmful person." Threefold error! Threefold primeval blunder! Perhaps inherited from the animals and their power of judgment! Is the origin of all morality not to be sought in the detestable petty conclusions: "what harms me is something evil (harmful in itself); what is useful to me is something good (beneficent and advantageous in itself); what harms me once or several times is the inimical as such and in itself; what is useful to me once or several times is the friendly as such and in itself." O pudenda origo! [...]
On the natural history of duty and right.- [...] Where right rules, a state and degree of power is preserved, and a diminution and increase are resisted. The right of others is the concession of our feeling of power to the feeling of power among these others. When our power is proved to have been profoundly shaken and broken, our rights cease; on the other hand, when we have become a great deal more powerful, the rights of others cease for us, at least in the form in which we have so far conceded them.
The "fair person" constantly needs the fine tact of a scale for the degrees of power and right which, in view of the transitory nature of human affairs, will always be balanced only for a short time, while for the most part they either sink or rise: to be fair is therefore difficult and requires much practice, good will, and a great deal of good spirit.-
Reason.- How did reason come into the world? As is fitting, in an irrational manner, by accident. One will have to guess at it as at a riddle.
Fashions in morality.- How the overall moral judgments have shifted! The great men of antique morality, Epictetus for instance, knew nothing of the now normal glorification of thinking of others, of living for others; in the light of our moral fashion they would have to be called downright immoral, for they strove with all their might for their ego and against feeling with others (that is to say, with the sufferings and moral frailties of others). Perhaps they would reply to us: "If you are so boring or ugly an object to yourself, by all means think of others more than of yourself! It is right you should!"
Praise and blame.- If a war proves unsuccessful one asks who was to "blame" for the war; if it ends in victory one praises its instigator. Guilt is always sought wherever there is failure; for failure brings with it a depression of spirits against which the sole remedy is instinctively applied: a new excitation of the feeling of power-and this is to be discovered in the condemnation of the "guilty" [...] To condemn oneself can also be a means of restoring the feeling of power after a defeat. [...]
Distant prospect.- If only those actions are moral which are performed for the sake of another and only for his sake, as one definition has it, then there are no moral actions! If only those actions are moral which are performed out of freedom of will, as another definition says, then there are likewise no moral actions!- What is it then which is so named and which in any event exists and wants explaining? It is the effects of certain intellectual mistakes.- And supposing one freed oneself from these errors, what would become of "moral actions"?- By virtue of these errors we have hitherto accorded certain actions a higher value than they possess: we have segregated them from the "egoistic" and "unfree" actions. If we now realign them with the latter, as we shall have to do, we shall certainly reduce their value (the value we feel they possess), and indeed shall do so to an unfair degree, because the "egoistic" and "unfree" actions were hitherto evaluated too low on account of their supposed profound and intrinsic difference.- Will they from then on be performed less often because they are now valued less highly?-Inevitably! At least for a good length of time, as long as the balance of value-feelings continues to be affected by the reaction of former errors! But our counter-reckoning is that we shall restore to men their goodwill towards the actions decried as egoistic and restore to these actions their value-we shall deprive them of their bad conscience! And since they have hitherto been by far the most frequent actions, and will continue to be so for all future time, we thus remove from the entire aspect of action and life its evil appearance! This is a very significant result! When man no longer regards himself as evil he ceases to be so!
Those who commend work.- In the glorification of "work," in the unwearied talk of the "blessings of work," I see the same covert ideas as in the praise of useful impersonal actions: that of fear of everything individual. Fundamentally, one now feels at the sight of work-one always means by work that hard industriousness from early till late-that such work is the best policeman, that it keeps everyone in bounds and can mightily hinder the development of reason, covetousness, desire for independence. For it uses up an extraordinary amount of nervous energy, which is thus denied to reflection, brooding, dreaming, worrying, loving, hating; it sets a small goal always in sight and guarantees easy and regular satisfactions. Thus a society in which there is continual hard work will have more security: and security is now worshipped as the supreme divinity.- And now! Horror! Precisely the "worker" has become dangerous! The place is swarming with "dangerous individuals"! And behind them the danger of dangers-the individual!
Moral fashion of a commercial society.- Behind the basic principle of the current moral fashion: "moral actions are actions performed out of sympathy for others," I see the social effect of timidity hiding behind an intellectual mask: it desires, first and foremost, that all the dangers which life once held should be removed from it, and that everyone should assist in this with all his might: hence only those actions which tend towards the common security and society's sense of security are to be accorded the predicate "good"! [...]
As little state as possible.- All political and economic arrangements are not worth it, that precisely the most gifted spirits should not be permitted, or even obliged, to manage them: such a waste of spirit is really worse than an extremity. These are and remain fields of work for the lesser heads, and other than lesser heads should not be at the service of this workshop: it were better to let the machine go to pieces again. . . . At such a price, one pays far too dearly for the "general security"; and what is most insane, one also produces the very opposite of the general security, as our dear century is undertaking to prove-as if it had never been proved before. To make society secure against thieves and fireproof and infinitely comfortable for every trade and activity, and to transform the state into Providence in the good and bad sense-these are low, mediocre, and not at all indispensable goals, for which one should not strive with the highest means and instruments anywhere in existence, the means one ought to reserve for the highest and rarest ends. Our time, however much it talks of economy, is a squanderer: it squanders what is most precious, the spirit.
From a possible future.- Is a state of affairs unthinkable in which the malefactor calls himself to account and publicly dictates his own punishment, in the proud feeling that he is thus honoring the law which he himself has made, that by punishing himself he is exercising his power, the power of the lawgiver? [...] Such would be the criminal of a possible future, who, to be sure, also presupposes a future lawgiving-one founded on the idea "I submit only to the law which I myself have given, in great things and in small."
On grand politics.- However much utility and vanity, those of individuals as of peoples, may play a part in grand politics: the strongest tide which carries them forward is the need for the feeling of power, which from time to time streams up out of inexhaustible wells not only in the souls of princes and the powerful but not least in the lower orders of the people. There comes again and again the hour when the masses are ready to stake their life, their goods, their conscience, their virtue so as to acquire that higher enjoyment and as a victorious, capriciously tyrannical nation to rule over other nations (or to think it rules). [...] The great conquerors have always mouthed the pathetic language of virtue: they have had around them masses in a condition of elevation who wanted to hear only the most elevated language. Strange madness of moral judgments! When man possesses the feeling of power he feels and calls himself good: and it is precisely then that the others upon whom he has to discharge his power feel and call him evil! [...]
For the promotion of health.- One has hardly begun to reflect on the physiology of the criminal, and yet one already stands before the irrefutable insight that there exists no essential difference between criminals and the insane: presupposing one believes that the usual mode of moral thinking is the mode of thinking of spiritual health. But no belief is still so firmly believed as this is, and so one should not hesitate to accept the consequence and treat the criminal as a mental patient [...] At present, to be sure, he who has been injured [by the criminal], irrespective of how this injury is to be made good, will still desire his revenge and will turn for it to the courts-and for the time being the courts continue to maintain our detestable criminal codes, with their shopkeeper's scales and the desire to counterbalance guilt with punishment: but can we not get beyond this? [...] Let us do away with the concept sin-and let us quickly send after it the concept punishment! [...]
Danše and god in gold.- [...] The means employed by the lust for power have changed, but the same volcano continues to glow, the impatience and the immoderate love demand their sacrifice: and what one formerly did "for the sake of God" one now does for the sake of money, that is to say, for the sake of that which now gives the highest feeling of power and good conscience.
The impossible class.- [...] Are you accomplices in the current folly of nations? The folly of wanting above all to produce as much as possible and to become as rich as possible? [...]
Of German virtue.- How degenerate in taste, how slavish before offices, classes, robes, pomp, and splendor must a people have been when it evaluated the simple [schlicht] as the bad [schlecht], the simple man as the bad man! One should counter the moral arrogance of the Germans with this one little word, schlecht, and nothing more.
From a disputation.- A: My friend, you have talked yourself hoarse. B: Then I stand refuted. Let us not discuss the matter any further.
Punishment.- A strange thing, our punishment! It does not cleanse the criminal, it is no atonement; on the contrary, it pollutes worse than the crime does.
On the morality of the stage.- Whoever thinks that Shakespeare's theater has a moral effect, and that the sight of Macbeth irresistibly repels one from the evil of ambition, is in error: and he is again in error if he thinks Shakespeare himself felt as he feels. He who is really possessed by raging ambition beholds this its image with joy; and if the hero perishes by his passion this precisely is the sharpest spice in the hot draught of this joy. Can the poet have felt otherwise? How royally, and not at all like a rogue, does his ambitious man pursue his course from the moment of his great crime! Only from then on does he exercise "demonic" attraction and excite similar natures to emulation-demonic means here: in defiance against life and advantage for the sake of a drive and idea. Do you suppose that Tristan and Isolde are preaching against adultery when they both perish by it? This would be to stand the poets on their head: they, and especially Shakespeare, are enamored of the passions as such and not least of their death-welcoming moods-those moods in which the heart adheres to life no more firmly than does a drop of water to a glass. It is not the guilt and its evil outcome they have at heart, Shakespeare as little as Sophocles (in Ajax, Philoctetes, Oedipus): as easy as it would have been in these instances to make guilt the lever of the drama, just as surely has this been avoided. The tragic poet has just as little desire to take sides against life with his image of life! He cries rather: "it is the stimulant of stimulants, this exciting, changing, dangerous, gloomy and often sun-drenched existence! It is an adventure to live-espouse what party in it you will, it will always retain this character!"- He speaks thus out of a restless, vigorous age which is half-drunk and stupefied by its excess of blood and energy-out of a wickeder age than ours is: which is why we need first to adjust and justify the goal of a Shakespearean drama, that is to say, not to understand it.
Night and music.- The ear, the organ of fear, could have evolved as greatly as it has only in the night and twilight of obscure caves and woods, in accordance with the mode of life of the age of timidity, that is to say the longest human age there has ever been: in bright daylight the ear is less necessary. That is how music acquired the character of an art of night and twilight.
The demon of power.- Not necessity, not desire-no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything-health, food, a place to live, entertainment-they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied. Take everything from them and satisfy this, and they are almost happy-as happy as men and demons can be. But why do I repeat this? Luther has said it already, and better than I, in the verses: "Let them take from us our body, goods, honor, children, wife: let it all go-the kingdom [Reich] must yet remain to us!" Yes! Yes! The "Reich"!
Corruption.- The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
A fable.- The Don Juan of knowledge: no philosopher or poet has yet discovered him. He does not love the things he knows, but has spirit and appetite for an enjoyment of the chase and intrigues of knowledge-up to the highest and remotest stars of knowledge!-until at last there remains to him nothing of knowledge left to hunt down except the absolutely detrimental; he is like the drunkard who ends by drinking absinthe and aqua fortis. Thus in the end he lusts after Hell-it is the last knowledge that seduces him. Perhaps it too proves a disillusionment, like all knowledge! And then he would have to stand to all eternity transfixed to disillusionment and himself become a stone guest, with a longing for a supper of knowledge which he will never get!-for the whole universe has not a single morsel left to give to this hungry man.
"Humanity".- We do not regard the animals as moral beings. But do you suppose the animals regard us as moral beings?- An animal which could speak said: "Humanity is a prejudice of which we animals at least are free."
Effect of happiness.- The first effect of happiness is the feeling of power: this wants to express itself, either to us ourselves, or to other men, or to ideas or imaginary beings. The most common modes of expression are: to bestow, to mock, to destroy-all three out of a common basic drive.
No utilitarians.- "Power against which much ill is done and meditated is worth more than impotence which encounters only good"-thus the Greeks felt. That is to say: they valued the feeling of power more highly than any sort of utility or good reputation.
To what extent the thinker loves his enemy.- Never keep silent or hold back what may be thought against your thoughts! Praise it! It is part of the fundamental probity of thought. Every day you must conduct your campaign also against yourself. A victory and a conquered stronghold are no longer your concern, but truth is-however, your defeat is no longer your concern, either!
The tyrants of the spirit.- The march of science is now no longer crossed by the accidental fact that men live for about seventy years, as was for all too long the case. Formerly, a man wanted to reach the far end of knowledge during this period of time and the methods of acquiring knowledge were evaluated in accordance with this universal longing. The small single questions and experiments were counted contemptible: one wanted the shortest route; one believed that, because everything in the world seemed to be accommodated to man, the knowability of things was also accommodated to a human time-span. To solve everything at a stroke, with a single word-that was the secret desire. [...] "There is a riddle to be solved": thus did the goal of life appear to the eye of the philosopher; the first thing to do was to find the riddle and to compress the problem of the world into the simplest riddle-form. The boundless ambition and exultation of being the "unriddler of the world" constituted the thinker's dreams: nothing seemed worthwhile if it was not the means of bringing everything to a conclusion for him! Philosophy was thus a kind of supreme struggle to possess the tyrannical rule of the spirit-that some such very fortunate, subtle, inventive, bold and mighty man was in reserve-one only!-was doubted by none, and several, most recently Schopenhauer, fancied themselves to be that one.- From this it follows that by and large the sciences have hitherto been kept back by the moral narrowness of their disciples and that henceforth they must be carried on with a higher and more magnanimous basic feeling. "What do I matter!"-stands over the door of the thinker of the future.
The good four.- Honest with ourselves and whoever else is our friend; courageous with the enemy; magnanimous with the vanquished; courteous-always: thus the four cardinal virtues want us.
Against an enemy.- How good bad music and bad reasons sound when one marches against an enemy!
What we are at liberty to do.- One can dispose of one's drives like a gardener and, though few know it, cultivate the shoots of anger, pity, curiosity, vanity as productively and profitably as a beautiful fruit tree on a trellis; one can do it with the good or bad taste of a gardener and, as it were, in the French or English or Dutch or Chinese fashion; one can also let nature rule and only attend to a little embellishment and tidying-up here and there; one can, finally, without paying attention to them at all, let the plants grow up and fight their fight out among themselves-indeed, one can take delight in such a wilderness, and desire precisely this delight, thought it gives one some trouble, too. All this we are at liberty to do: but how many know we are at liberty to do it? Do the majority not believe in themselves as in complete fully-developed facts? Have the great philosophers not put their seal on this prejudice with the doctrine of the unchangeability of character?
Field-dispensary of the soul.- What is the strongest remedy?- Victory.
Shedding one's skin.- The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes. So do the spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be a spirit.
We aeronauts of
the spirit!- All those brave birds which fly out into the distance, into
the farthest distance-it is certain! somewhere or other they will be unable to
go on and will perch down on a mast or a bare cliff-face-and they will even be
thankful for this miserable accommodation! But who could venture to infer from
that, that there was not an immense open space before them, that they
had flown as far as one could fly! All our great teachers and
predecessors have at last come to a stop [...] it will be the same with you and
me! Other birds will fly farther! This insight and faith of ours vies
with them in flying up and away; it rises above our heads and above our
impotence into the heights and from there surveys the distance and sees before
it the flocks of birds which, far stronger than we, still strive whither we have
striven, and where everything is sea, sea, sea!- And whither then would we go?
Would we cross the sea? Whither does this mighty longing draw us, this
longing that is worth more to us than any pleasure? Why just in this direction,
thither where all the sums of humanity have hitherto gone down? Will it
perhaps be said of us one day that we too, steering westward, hoped
to reach an India-but that it was our fate to be wrecked against infinity?
Or, my brothers. Or?-