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Title: The Dawn of Day
Author: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900
Language: English
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                           Friedrich Nietzsche

                             The Dawn of Day

                              Translated by

                          John McFarland Kennedy

Author of “The Quintessence of Nietzsche”, “Religions and Philosophers of
                                the East”

    There are many dawns which have yet to shed their light.—RIG-VEDA.

                                 New York

                          The MacMillan Company



Author’s Preface.
Book I.
Book II.
Book III.
Book IV.
Book V.


When Nietzsche called his book _The Dawn of Day_, he was far from giving
it a merely fanciful title to attract the attention of that large section
of the public which judges books by their titles rather than by their
contents. _The Dawn of Day_ represents, figuratively, the dawn of
Nietzsche’s own philosophy. Hitherto he had been considerably influenced
in his outlook, if not in his actual thoughts, by Schopenhauer, Wagner,
and perhaps also Comte. _Human, all-too-Human_, belongs to a period of
transition. After his rupture with Bayreuth, Nietzsche is, in both parts
of that work, trying to stand on his own legs, and to regain his spiritual
freedom; he is feeling his way to his own philosophy. _The Dawn of Day_,
written in 1881 under the invigorating influence of a Genoese spring, is
the dawn of this new Nietzsche. “With this book I open my campaign against
morality,” he himself said later in his autobiography, the _Ecce Homo_.

Just as in the case of the books written in his prime—_The Joyful Wisdom_,
_Zarathustra_, _Beyond Good and Evil_, and _The Genealogy of Morals_—we
cannot fail to be impressed in this work by Nietzsche’s deep psychological
insight, the insight that showed him to be a powerful judge of men and
things unequalled in the nineteenth or, perhaps, any other century. One
example of this is seen in his searching analysis of the Apostle Paul
(Aphorism 68), in which the soul of the “First Christian” is ruthlessly
and realistically laid bare to us. Nietzsche’s summing-up of the Founder
of Christianity—for of course, as is now generally recognised, it was
Paul, and not Christ, who founded the Christian Church—has not yet called
forth those bitter attacks from theologians that might have been expected,
though one reason for this apparent neglect is no doubt that the portrait
is so true, and in these circumstances silence is certainly golden on the
part of defenders of the faith, who are otherwise, as a rule, loquacious
enough. Nor has the taunt in Aphorism 84 elicited an answer from the
quarter whither it was directed; and the “free” (not to say dishonest)
interpretation of the Bible by Christian scholars and theologians, which
is still proceeding merrily, is now being turned to Nietzsche’s own
writings. For the philosopher’s works are now being “explained away” by
German theologians in a most naïve and daring fashion, and with an ability
which has no doubt been acquired as the result of centuries of skilful
interpretation of the Holy Writ.

Nor are professional theologians the only ones who have failed to answer
Nietzsche; for in other than religious matters the majority of savants
have not succeeded in plumbing his depths. There is, for example, the
question of race. Ten years ago, twenty years after the publication of
_The Dawn of Day_, Nietzsche’s countrymen enthusiastically hailed a book
which has recently been translated into English, Chamberlain’s
_Foundations of __ the Nineteenth Century_. In this book the Teutons are
said to be superior to all the other peoples in the world, the reason
given being that they have kept their race pure. It is due to this purity
of race that they have produced so many great men; for every “good” man in
history is a Teuton, and every bad man something else. Considerable skill
is exhibited by the author in filching from his opponents the Latins their
best trump cards, and likewise _the_ trump card, Jesus Christ, from the
Jews; for Jesus Christ, according to Chamberlain’s very plausible
argument, was not a Jew but an Aryan, _i.e._ a member of that great family
of which the Teutons are a branch.

What would Nietzsche have said to this legerdemain? He has constantly
pointed out that the Teutons are so far from being a pure race that they
have, on the contrary, done everything in their power to ruin even the
idea of a pure race for ever. For the Teutons, through their Reformation
and their Puritan revolt in England, and the philosophies developed by the
democracies that necessarily followed, were the spiritual forbears of the
French Revolution and of the Socialistic régime under which we are
beginning to suffer nowadays. Thus this noble race has left nothing undone
to blot out the last remnant of race in Europe, and it even stands in the
way of the creation of a new race. And with such a record in history the
Germans write books, eulogising themselves as the salt of the earth, the
people of peoples, the race of races, while in truth they are nothing else
than _nouveaux-riches_ endeavouring to draw up a decent pedigree for
themselves. We know that honesty is not a prerequisite of such pedigrees,
and that patriotism may be considered as a good excuse even for a wrong
pedigree; but the race-pandemonium that followed the publication of Mr.
Chamberlain’s book in Germany was really a very unwise proceeding in view
of the false and misleading document produced. What, it may be asked
again, would Nietzsche have said if he had heard his countrymen screaming
odes to their own glory as the “flower of Europe”? He would assuredly have
dismissed their exalted pretensions with a good-natured smile; for his
study of history had shown him that even slaves must have their saturnalia
now and then. But as to his philosophical answer there can be no doubt;
for in Aphorism 272 of _The Dawn of Day_ there is a single sentence which
completely refutes the view of modern racemongers like Chamberlain and his
followers: “It is probable,” we read, “that there are no pure races, but
only races which have become purified, and even these are extremely rare.”
There are even stronger expressions to be met with in “Peoples and
Countries” (Aphorism 20; see the _Genealogy of Morals_, p. 226): “What
quagmires and mendacity must there be about if it is possible, in the
modern European hotch-potch, to raise the question of ‘race’!” and again,
in Aphorism 21: “Maxim—to associate with no man who takes any part in the
mendacious race-swindle.”

A man like Nietzsche, who makes so little impression upon mankind in
general, is certainly not, as some people have thought and openly said, a
public danger, so the guardians of the State need not be uneasy. There is
little danger of Nietzsche’s revolutionising either the masses or the
classes; for, as Goethe used to say, “Seulement celui qui ressemble le
peuple, l’émeut.” Nietzsche’s voice has as yet hardly been lifted in this
country; and, until it is fully heard, both masses and classes will calmly
proceed on their way to the extremes of democracy and anarchy, as they now
appear to be doing. Anarchy, though, may be too strong a word; for there
is some doubt whether, throughout Europe and America at all events, the
people are not now too weak even for anarchy. A revolt is a sign of
strength in a slave; but our modern slaves have no strength left.

In the meantime, however, it will have become clear that Nietzsche tried
to stop this threatening degradation of the human race, that he
endeavoured to supplant the morality of altruism—the cause of this
degradation—by another, a super-Christian morality, and that he has
succeeded in this aim, if not where the masses and the classes are
concerned, at any rate in the case of that small minority of thinkers to
which he really wished to appeal. And this minority is naturally grateful
to the philosopher for having supplied them with a morality which enables
them to be “good” without being fools—an unpleasant combination which,
unfortunately, the Nazarene morality is seldom able to avoid. This
Nazarene morality has doubtless its own merits, and its “good” and “evil”
in many cases coincide with ours; but common sense and certain
intellectual qualities are not too highly appreciated in the table of
Christian values (see, for instance, 1 Cor. iii. 19), whence it will be
observed that the enlightenment of a Christian is not always quite equal
to his otherwise excellent intentions. We Nietzschians, however, must show
that patience to them which they always pretend to show to their
opponents. Nietzsche himself, indeed, recommends this in Aphorism 103 of
this book, an aphorism which is almost too well known to need repetition;
for it likewise disproves the grotesque though widely circulated
supposition that all kinds of immorality would be indulged in under the
sway of the “Immoralistic” philosopher:

“I should not, of course, deny—unless I were a fool—that many actions
which are called immoral should be avoided and resisted; and in the same
way that many which are called moral should be performed and encouraged;
but I hold that in both cases these actions should be performed from
motives other than those which have prevailed up to the present time. We
must learn anew in order that at last, perhaps very late in the day, we
may be able to do something more: feel anew.”

In regard to the translation itself—which owes a good deal to many
excellent suggestions made by Mr. Thomas Common—it adheres, as a rule,
closely to the German text; and in only two or three instances has a
slightly freer rendering been adopted in order to make the sense quite
clear. There are one or two cases in which a punning or double meaning
could not be adequately rendered in English: _e.g._ Aphorism 50, where the
German word “Rausch” means both “intoxication” and also “elation” (_i.e._
the exalted feelings of the religious fanatic). Again, we have “Einleid,”
“Einleidigkeit,” in Aphorism 63—words which do not quite correspond to
pity, compassion, or fellow-feeling, and which, indeed, are not yet known
to German lexicographers. A literal translation, “one-feeling,” would be
almost meaningless. What is actually signified is that both sufferer and
sympathiser have nerves and feelings in common: an experience which
Schopenhauer, as Nietzsche rightly points out, mistook for compassion or
pity (“Mitleid”), and which lacked a word, even in German, until the later
psychologist coined “Einleid.” Again, in Aphorism 554 we have a play upon
the words “Vorschritt” (leading, guidance) and “Fortschritt” (progress).

All these, however, are trifling matters in comparison with the substance
of the book, and they are of more interest to philologists than to
psychologists. It is for psychologists that this book was written; and
such minds, somewhat rare in our time, may read in it with much profit.

J. M. Kennedy.

LONDON, _September_ 1911.


In this book we find a “subterrestrial” at work, digging, mining,
undermining. You can see him, always provided that you have eyes for such
deep work,—how he makes his way slowly, cautiously, gently but surely,
without showing signs of the weariness that usually accompanies a long
privation of light and air. He might even be called happy, despite his
labours in the dark. Does it not seem as if some faith were leading him
on, some solace recompensing him for his toil? Or that he himself desires
a long period of darkness, an unintelligible, hidden, enigmatic something,
knowing as he does that he will in time have his own morning, his own
redemption, his own rosy dawn?—Yea, verily he will return: ask him not
what he seeketh in the depths; for he himself will tell you, this apparent
Trophonius and subterrestrial, whensoever he once again becomes man. One
easily unlearns how to hold one’s tongue when one has for so long been a
mole, and all alone, like him.—


Indeed, my indulgent friends, I will tell you—here, in this late
preface,(1) which might easily have become an obituary or a funeral
oration—what I sought in the depths below: for I have come back, and—I
have escaped. Think not that I will urge you to run the same perilous
risk! or that I will urge you on even to the same solitude! For whoever
proceeds on his own path meets nobody: this is the feature of one’s “own
path.” No one comes to help him in his task: he must face everything quite
alone—danger, bad luck, wickedness, foul weather. He goes his own way;
and, as is only right, meets with bitterness and occasional irritation
because he pursues this “own way” of his: for instance, the knowledge that
not even his friends can guess who he is and whither he is going, and that
they ask themselves now and then: “Well? Is he really moving at all? Has
he still ... a path before him?”—At that time I had undertaken something
which could not have been done by everybody: I went down into the deepest
depths; I tunnelled to the very bottom; I started to investigate and
unearth an old _faith_ which for thousands of years we philosophers used
to build on as the safest of all foundations—which we built on again and
again although every previous structure fell in: I began to undermine our
_faith in morals_. But ye do not understand me?—


So far it is on Good and Evil that we have meditated least profoundly:
this was always too dangerous a subject. Conscience, a good 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 criticise 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
paralyse the critical will with a single look, or even seduce it to
itself: yea, 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 hearken 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_ 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 criticise its own value
and effectiveness? that the intellect itself should “recognise” 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 to-day. 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 4th, 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
to-day, 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 judgments are not the deepest and most fundamental to which
the daring of our suspicion descends: the confidence in reason which is
inseparable from the validity of these judgments, 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
speaketh 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, are we 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 neighbour, 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—yea, 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. I have not been a
philologist in vain—perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I
even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my
taste—a perverted taste, maybe—to write nothing but what will drive to
despair every one who is “in a hurry.” For philology is that venerable art
which exacts from its followers one thing above all—to step to one side,
to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow—the
leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must
carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not _lento_. For this
very reason philology is now more desirable than ever before; for this
very reason it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of
“work”: that is to say, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry,
which is intent upon “getting things done” at once, even every book,
whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not “get things done”
so hurriedly: it teaches how to read _well_: _i.e._ slowly, profoundly,
attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar,
with delicate fingers and eyes ... my patient friends, this book appeals
only to perfect readers and philologists: _learn_ to read me well!


_Autumn_, 1886.



SUBSEQUENT JUDGMENT.—All things that endure for a long time are little by
little so greatly permeated by reason that their origin in unreason
becomes improbable. Does not almost every exact statement of an origin
strike us as paradoxical and sacrilegious? Indeed, does not the true
historian constantly contradict?


PREJUDICE OF THE LEARNED.—Savants are quite correct in maintaining the
proposition that men in all ages believed that they _knew_ what was good
and evil, praiseworthy and blamable. But it is a prejudice of the learned
to say _that we now know it better_ than any other age.


A TIME FOR EVERYTHING.—When man assigned a sex to all things, he did not
believe that he was merely playing; but he thought, on the contrary, that
he had acquired a profound insight:—it was only at a much later period,
and then only partly, that he acknowledged the enormity of his error. In
the same way, man has attributed a moral relationship to everything that
exists, throwing the cloak of _ethical significance_ over the world’s
shoulders. One day all that will be of just as much value, and no more, as
the amount of belief existing to-day in the masculinity or femininity of
the sun.(2)


out of the world all this _false_ grandeur, for it is contrary to the
justice that all things about us may claim. And for this reason we must
not see or wish the world to be more disharmonic than it is!


BE THANKFUL!—The most important result of the past efforts of humanity is
that we need no longer go about in continual fear of wild beasts,
barbarians, gods, and our own dreams.


THE JUGGLER AND HIS COUNTERPART.—That which is wonderful in science is
contrary to that which is wonderful in the art of the juggler. For the
latter would wish to make us believe that we see a very simple causality,
where, in reality, an exceedingly complex causality is in operation.
Science, on the other hand, forces us to give up our belief in the simple
causality exactly where everything looks so easily comprehensible and we
are merely the victims of appearances. The simplest things are _very
_“complicated”—we can never be sufficiently astonished at them!


RECONCEIVING OUR FEELING OF SPACE.—Is it real or imaginary things which
have built up the greater proportion of man’s happiness? It is certain, at
all events, that the extent of the distance between the highest point of
happiness and the lowest point of unhappiness has been established only
with the help of imaginary things. As a consequence, _this_ kind of a
conception of space is always, under the influence of science, becoming
smaller and smaller: in the same way as science has taught us, and is
still teaching us, to look upon the earth as small—yea, to look upon the
entire solar system as a mere point.


TRANSFIGURATION.—Perplexed sufferers, confused dreamers, the hysterically
ecstatic—here we have the three classes into which Raphael divided
mankind. We no longer consider the world in this light—and Raphael himself
dare not do so: his own eyes would show him a new transfiguration.


CONCEPTION OF THE MORALITY OF CUSTOM.—In comparison with the mode of life
which prevailed among men for thousands of years, we men of the present
day are living in a very immoral age: the power of custom has been
weakened to a remarkable degree, and the sense of morality is so refined
and elevated that we might almost describe it as volatilised. That is why
we late comers experience such difficulty in obtaining a fundamental
conception of the origin of morality: and even if we do obtain it, our
words of explanation stick in our throats, so coarse would they sound if
we uttered them! or to so great an extent would they seem to be a slander
upon morality! Thus, for example, the fundamental clause: morality is
nothing else (and, above all, nothing more) than obedience to customs, of
whatsoever nature they may be. But customs are simply the traditional way
of acting and valuing. Where there is no tradition there is no morality;
and the less life is governed by tradition, the narrower the circle of
morality. The free man is immoral, because it is his _will_ to depend upon
himself and not upon tradition: in all the primitive states of humanity
“evil” is equivalent to “individual,” “free,” “arbitrary,” “unaccustomed,”
“unforeseen,” “incalculable.” In such primitive conditions, always
measured by this standard, any action performed—_not_ because tradition
commands it, but for other reasons (_e.g._ on account of its individual
utility), even for the same reasons as had been formerly established by
custom—is termed immoral, and is felt to be so even by the very man who
performs it, for it has not been done out of obedience to the tradition.

What is tradition? A higher authority, which is obeyed, not because it
commands what is useful to us, but merely because it commands. And in what
way can this feeling for tradition be distinguished from a general feeling
of fear? It is the fear of a higher intelligence which commands, the fear
of an incomprehensible power, of something that is more than
personal—there is _superstition_ in this fear. In primitive times the
domain of morality included education and hygienics, marriage, medicine,
agriculture, war, speech and silence, the relationship between man and
man, and between man and the gods—morality required that a man should
observe her prescriptions without thinking of _himself_ as individual.
Everything, therefore, was originally custom, and whoever wished to raise
himself above it, had first of all to make himself a kind of lawgiver and
medicine-man, a sort of demi-god—in other words, he had to create customs,
a dangerous and fearful thing to do!—Who is the most moral man? On the one
hand, he who most frequently obeys the law: _e.g._ he who, like the
Brahmins, carries a consciousness of the law about with him wherever he
may go, and introduces it into the smallest divisions of time, continually
exercising his mind in finding opportunities for obeying the law. On the
other hand, he who obeys the law in the most difficult cases. The most
moral man is he who makes the greatest _sacrifices_ to morality; but what
are the greatest sacrifices? In answering this question several different
kinds of morality will be developed: but the distinction between the
morality of the _most frequent obedience_ and the morality of the _most
difficult obedience_ is of the greatest importance. Let us not be deceived
as to the motives of that moral law which requires, as an indication of
morality, obedience to custom in the most difficult cases! Self-conquest
is required, not by reason of its useful consequences for the individual;
but that custom and tradition may appear to be dominant, in spite of all
individual counter desires and advantages. The individual shall sacrifice
himself—so demands the morality of custom.

On the other hand, those moralists who, like the followers of Socrates,
recommend self-control and sobriety to the _individual_ as his greatest
possible advantage and the key to his greatest personal happiness, are
_exceptions_—and if we ourselves do not think so, this is simply due to
our having been brought up under their influence. They all take a new
path, and thereby bring down upon themselves the utmost disapproval of all
the representatives of the morality of custom. They sever their connection
with the community, as immoralists, and are, in the fullest sense of the
word, evil ones. In the same way, every Christian who “sought, above all
things, his _own_ salvation,” must have seemed evil to a virtuous Roman of
the old school. Wherever a community exists, and consequently also a
morality of custom, the feeling prevails that any punishment for the
violation of a custom is inflicted, above all, on the community: this
punishment is a supernatural punishment, the manifestations and limits of
which are so difficult to understand, and are investigated with such
superstitious fear. The community can compel any one member of it to make
good, either to an individual or to the community itself, any ill
consequences which may have followed upon such a member’s action. It can
also call down a sort of vengeance upon the head of the individual by
endeavouring to show that, as the result of his action, a storm of divine
anger has burst over the community,—but, above all, it regards the guilt
of the individual more particularly as _its own_ guilt, and bears the
punishment of the isolated individual as its own punishment—“Morals,” they
bewail in their innermost heart, “morals have grown lax, if such deeds as
these are possible.” And every individual action, every individual mode of
thinking, causes dread. It is impossible to determine how much the more
select, rare, and original minds must have suffered in the course of time
by being considered as evil and dangerous, _yea, because they even looked
upon themselves as such_. Under the dominating influence of the morality
of custom, originality of every kind came to acquire a bad conscience; and
even now the sky of the best minds seems to be more overcast by this
thought than it need be.


CAUSALITY.—As the sense of causality increases, so does the extent of the
domain of morality decrease: for every time one has been able to grasp the
necessary effects, and to conceive them as distinct from all incidentals
and chance possibilities (_post hoc_), one has, at the same time,
destroyed an enormous number of _imaginary causalities_, which had
hitherto been believed in as the basis of morals—the real world is much
smaller than the world of our imagination—and each time also one casts
away a certain amount of one’s anxiousness and coercion, and some of our
reverence for the authority of custom is lost: morality in general
undergoes a diminution. He who, on the other hand, wishes to increase it
must know how to prevent results from becoming controllable.


MORALS AND MEDICINES OF THE PEOPLE.—Every one is continuously occupied in
bringing more or less influence to bear upon the morals which prevail in a
community: most of the people bring forward example after example to show
the _alleged relationship between cause and effect_, guilt and punishment,
thus upholding it as well founded and adding to the belief in it. A few
make new observations upon the actions and their consequences, drawing
conclusions therefrom and laying down laws; a smaller number raise
objections and allow belief in these things to become weakened.—But they
are all alike in the crude and _unscientific_ manner in which they set
about their work: if it is a question of objections to a law, or examples
or observations of it, or of its proof, confirmation, expression or
refutation, we always find the material and method entirely valueless, as
valueless as the material and form of all popular medicine. Popular
medicines and popular morals are closely related, and should not be
considered and valued, as is still customary, in so different a way: both
are most dangerous and make-believe sciences.


CONSEQUENCE AS ADJUVANT CAUSE.—Formerly the consequences of an action were
considered, not as the result of that action, but a voluntary
adjuvant—_i.e._ on the part of God. Can a greater confusion be imagined?
Entirely different practices and means have to be brought into use for
actions and effects!


well-disposed and willing to assist, lend your aid in the endeavour to do
away with that conception of punishment which has swept over the whole
world! No weed more harmful than this! It is not only to the consequences
of our actions that this conception has been applied—and how horrible and
senseless it is to confuse cause and effect with cause and punishment!—but
worse has followed: the pure accidentality of events has been robbed of
its innocence by this execrable manner of interpreting conception of
punishment. Yea, they have even pushed their folly to such extremes that
they would have us look upon existence itself as a punishment—from which
it would appear that the education of mankind had hitherto been confided
to cranky gaolers and hangmen.


formidable pressure of the “morality of custom,” under which all human
communities lived—thousands of years before our own era, and during our
own era up to the present day (we ourselves are dwelling in the small
world of exceptions, and, as it were, in an evil zone):—if, I say, in
spite of all this, new and divergent ideas, valuations, and impulses have
made their appearance time after time, this state of things has been
brought about only with the assistance of a dreadful associate: it was
insanity almost everywhere that paved the way for the new thought and cast
off the spell of an old custom and superstition. Do ye understand why this
had to be done through insanity? by something which is in both voice and
appearance as horrifying and incalculable as the demoniac whims of wind
and sea, and consequently calling for like dread and respect? by something
bearing upon it the signs of entire lack of consciousness as clearly as
the convulsions and foam of the epileptic, which appeared to typify the
insane person as the mask and speaking-trumpet of some divine being? by
something that inspired even the bearer of the new thought with awe and
fear of himself, and that, suppressing all remorse, drove him on to become
its prophet and martyr?—Well, in our own time, we continually hear the
statement reiterated that genius is tinctured with madness instead of good
sense. Men of earlier ages were far more inclined to believe that,
wherever traces of insanity showed themselves, a certain proportion of
genius and wisdom was likewise present—something “divine,” as they
whispered to one another. More than this, they expressed their opinions on
the point with sufficient emphasis. “All the greatest benefits of Greece
have sprung from madness,” said Plato, setting on record the opinion of
the entire ancient world. Let us take a step further: all those superior
men, who felt themselves irresistibly urged on to throw off the yoke of
some morality or other, had no other resource—_if they were not really
mad_—than to feign madness, or actually to become insane. And this holds
good for innovators in every department of life, and not only in religion
and politics. Even the reformer of the poetic metre was forced to justify
himself by means of madness. (Thus even down to gentler ages madness
remained a kind of convention in poets, of which Solon, for instance, took
advantage when urging the Athenians to reconquer Salamis.)—“How can one
make one’s self mad when one is not mad and dare not feign to be so?”
Almost all the eminent men of antiquity have given themselves up to this
dreadful mode of reasoning: a secret doctrine of artifices and dietetic
jugglery grew up around this subject and was handed down from generation
to generation, together with the feeling of the innocence, even sanctity,
of such plans and meditations. The means of becoming a medicine-man among
the Indians, a saint among Christians of the Middle Ages, an angecok among
Greenlanders, a Pagee among Brazilians, are the same in essence: senseless
fasting, continual abstention from sexual intercourse, isolation in a
wilderness, ascending a mountain or a pillar, “sitting on an aged willow
that looks out upon a lake,” and thinking of absolutely nothing but what
may give rise to ecstasy or mental derangements.

Who would dare to glance at the desert of the bitterest and most
superfluous agonies of spirit, in which probably the most productive men
of all ages have pined away? Who could listen to the sighs of those lonely
and troubled minds: “O ye heavenly powers, grant me madness! Madness, that
I at length may believe in myself! Vouchsafe delirium and convulsions,
sudden flashes of light and periods of darkness; frighten me with such
shivering and feverishness as no mortal ever experienced before, with
clanging noises and haunting spectres; let me growl and whine and creep
about like a beast, if only I can come to believe in myself! I am devoured
by doubt. I have slain the law, and I now dread the law as a living person
dreads a corpse. If I am not _above_ the law, I am the most abandoned of
wretches. Whence cometh this new spirit that dwelleth within me but from
you? Prove to me, then, that I am one of you—nothing but madness will
prove it to me.” And only too often does such a fervour attain its object:
at the very time when Christianity was giving the greatest proof of its
fertility in the production of saints and martyrs, believing that it was
thus proving itself, Jerusalem contained large lunatic asylums for
shipwrecked saints, for those whose last spark of good sense had been
quenched by the floods of insanity.


THE MOST ANCIENT MEANS OF SOLACE.—First stage: In every misfortune or
discomfort man sees something for which he must make somebody else suffer,
no matter who—in this way he finds out the amount of power still remaining
to him; and this consoles him. Second stage: In every misfortune or
discomfort, man sees a punishment, _i.e._ an expiation of guilt and the
means by which he may get rid of the malicious enchantment of a real or
apparent wrong. When he perceives the _advantage_ which misfortune bring
with it, he believes he need no longer make another person suffer for
it—he gives up this kind of satisfaction, because he now has another.


FIRST PRINCIPLE OF CIVILISATION.—Among savage tribes there is a certain
category of customs which appear to aim at nothing but custom. They
therefore lay down strict, and, on the whole, superfluous regulations
(_e.g._ the rules of the Kamchadales, which forbid snow to be scraped off
the boots with a knife, coal to be stuck on the point of a knife, or a
piece of iron to be put into the fire—and death to be the portion of every
one who shall act contrariwise!) Yet these laws serve to keep people
continually reminded of the custom, and the imperative necessity on their
parts to conform to it: and all this in support of the great principle
which stands at the beginning of all civilisation: any custom is better
than none.


GOODNESS AND MALIGNITY.—At first men imposed their own personalities on
Nature: everywhere they saw themselves and their like, _i.e._ their own
evil and capricious temperaments, hidden, as it were, behind clouds,
thunder-storms, wild beasts, trees, and plants: it was then that they
declared Nature was evil. Afterwards there came a time, that of Rousseau,
when they sought to distinguish themselves from Nature: they were so tired
of each other that they wished to have separate little hiding-places where
man and his misery could not penetrate: then they invented “nature is


THE MORALITY OF VOLUNTARY SUFFERING.—What is the highest enjoyment for men
living in a state of war in a small community, the existence of which is
continually threatened, and the morality of which is the strictest
possible? _i.e._ for souls which are vigorous, vindictive, malicious, full
of suspicion, ready to face the direst events, hardened by privation and
morality? The enjoyment of cruelty: just as, in such souls and in such
circumstances, it would be regarded as a virtue to be ingenious and
insatiable in cruelty. Such a community would find its delight in
performing cruel deeds, casting aside, for once, the gloom of constant
anxiety and precaution. Cruelty is one of the most ancient enjoyments at
their festivities. As a consequence it is believed that the gods likewise
are pleased by the sight of cruelty and rejoice at it—and in this way the
belief is spread that _voluntary suffering_, self-chosen martyrdom, has a
high signification and value of its own. In the community custom gradually
brings about a practice in conformity with this belief: henceforward
people become more suspicious of all exuberant well-being, and more
confident as they find themselves in a state of great pain; they think
that the gods may be unfavourable to them on account of happiness, and
favourable on account of pain—not compassionate! For compassion is looked
upon with contempt, and unworthy of a strong and awe-inspiring soul—but
agreeable to them, because the sight of human suffering put these gods
into good humour and makes them feel powerful, and a cruel mind revels in
the sensation of power. It was thus that the “most moral man” of the
community was considered as such by virtue of his frequent suffering,
privation, laborious existence, and cruel mortification—not, to repeat it
again and again, as a means of discipline or self-control or a desire for
individual happiness—but a a virtue which renders the evil gods
well-disposed towards the community, a virtue which continually wafts up
to them the odour of an expiatory sacrifice. All those intellectual
leaders of the nations who reached the point of being able to stir up the
sluggish though prolific mire of their customs had to possess this factor
of voluntary martyrdom as well as insanity in order to obtain
belief—especially, and above all, as is always the case, belief in
themselves! The more their minds followed new paths, and were consequently
tormented by pricks of conscience, the more cruelly they battled against
their own flesh, their own desires, and their own health—as if they were
offering the gods a compensation in pleasure, lest these gods should wax
wroth at the neglect of ancient customs and the setting up of new aims.

Let no one be too hasty in thinking that we have now entirely freed
ourselves from such a logic of feeling! Let the most heroic souls among us
question themselves on this very point. The least step forward in the
domain of free thought and individual life has been achieved in all ages
to the accompaniment of physical and intellectual tortures: and not only
the mere step forward, no! but every form of movement and change has
rendered necessary innumerable martyrs, throughout the entire course of
thousands of years which sought their paths and laid down their
foundation-stones, years, however, which we do not think of when we speak
about “world-history,” that ridiculously small division of mankind’s
existence. And even in this so-called world-history, which in the main is
merely a great deal of noise about the latest novelties, there is no more
important theme than the old, old tragedy of the martyrs _who tried to
move the mire_. Nothing has been more dearly bought than the minute
portion of human reason and feeling of liberty upon which we now pride
ourselves. But it is this very pride which makes it almost impossible for
us to-day to be conscious of that enormous lapse of time, preceding the
period of “world-history” when “morality of custom” held the field, and to
consider this lapse of time as _the real and decisive epoch that
established the character of mankind_: an epoch when suffering was
considered as a virtue, cruelty as a virtue, hypocrisy as a virtue,
revenge as a virtue, and the denial of the reason as a virtue, whereas, on
the other hand, well-being was regarded as a danger, longing for knowledge
as a danger, peace as a danger, compassion as a danger: an epoch when
being pitied was looked upon as an insult, work as an insult, madness as a
divine attribute, and every kind of change as immoral and pregnant with
ruin! You imagine that all this has changed, and that humanity must
likewise have changed its character? Oh, ye poor psychologists, learn to
know yourselves better!


MORALITY AND STUPEFACTION.—Custom represents the experiences of men of
earlier times in regard to what they considered as useful and harmful; but
the _feeling of custom_ (morality) does not relate to these feelings as
such, but to the age, the sanctity, and the unquestioned authority of the
custom. Hence this feeling hinders our acquiring new experiences and
amending morals: _i.e._ morality is opposed to the formation of new and
better morals: it stupefies.


FREE-DOERS AND FREE-THINKERS.—Compared with free-thinkers, free-doers are
at a disadvantage, because it is evident that men suffer more from the
consequences of actions than of thoughts. If we remember, however, that
both seek their own satisfaction, and that free-thinkers have already
found their satisfaction in reflection upon and utterance of forbidden
things, there is no difference in the motives; but in respect of the
consequences the issue will be decided against the free-thinker, provided
that it be not judged from the most superficial and vulgar external
appearance, _i.e._ not as every one would judge it. We must make up for a
good deal of the calumny with which men have covered all those who have,
by their actions, broken away from the authority of some custom—they are
generally called criminals. Every one who has hitherto overthrown a law of
established morality has always at first been considered as a _wicked
man_: but when it was afterwards found impossible to re-establish the law,
and people gradually became accustomed to the change, the epithet was
changed by slow degrees. History deals almost exclusively with these
_wicked men_, who later on came to be recognised as _good men_.


“FULFILMENT OF THE LAW.”—In cases where the observance of a moral precept
has led to different consequence from that expected and promised, and does
not bestow upon the moral man the happiness he had hoped for, but leads
rather to misfortune and misery, the conscientious and timid man has
always his excuse ready: “Something was lacking in the proper _carrying
out_ of the law.” If the worst comes to the worst, a deeply-suffering and
down-trodden humanity will even decree: “It is impossible to carry out the
precept faithfully: we are too weak and sinful, and, in the depths of our
soul, incapable of morality: consequently we have no claim to happiness
and success. Moral precepts and promises have been given for better beings
than ourselves.”


WORKS AND FAITH.—Protestant teachers are still spreading the fundamental
error that faith only is of consequence, and that works must follow
naturally upon faith. This doctrine is certainly not true, but it is so
seductive in appearance that it has succeeded in fascinating quite other
intellects than that of Luther (_e.g._ the minds of Socrates and Plato):
though the plain evidence and experience of our daily life prove the
contrary. The most assured knowledge and faith cannot give us either the
strength or the dexterity required for action, or the practice in that
subtle and complicated mechanism which is a prerequisite for anything to
be changed from an idea into action. Then, I say, let us first and
foremost have works! and this means practice! practice! practice! The
necessary faith will come later—be certain of that!


IN WHAT RESPECT WE ARE MOST SUBTLE.—By the fact that, for thousands of
years, _things_ (nature, tools, property of all kinds) were thought to be
alive and to possess souls, and able to hinder and interfere with the
designs of man, the feeling of impotence among men has become greater and
more frequent than it need have been: for one had to secure one’s things
like men and beasts, by means of force, compulsion, flattery, treaties,
sacrifices—and it is here that we may find the origin of the greater
number of superstitious customs, _i.e._ of an important, _perhaps
paramount_, and nevertheless wasted and useless division of mankind’s
activity!—But since the feeling of impotence and fear was so strong, and
for such a length of time in a state of constant stimulation, the feeling
of _power_ in man has been developed in so subtle a manner that, in this
respect, he can compare favourably with the most delicately-adjusted
balance. This feeling has become his strongest propensity: and the means
he discovered for creating it form almost the entire history of culture.


THE PROOF OF A PRECEPT.—The worth or worthlessness of a recipe—that for
baking bread, for example—is proved, generally speaking, by the result
expected coming to pass or not, provided, of course, that the directions
given have been carefully followed. The case is different, however, when
we come to deal with moral precepts, for here the results cannot be
ascertained, interpreted, and divined. These precepts, indeed, are based
upon hypotheses of but little scientific value, the proof or refutation of
which by means of results is impossible:—but in former ages, when all
science was crude and primitive, and when a matter was _taken for granted_
on the smallest evidence, then the worth or worthlessness of a moral
recipe was determined as we now determine any other precept: by reference
to the results. If the natives of Alaska believe in a command which says:
“Thou shalt not throw a bone into the fire or give it to a dog,” this will
be proved by the warning: “If thou dost thou wilt have no luck when
hunting.” Yet, in one sense or another, it almost invariably happens that
one has “no luck when hunting.” It is no easy matter to _refute_ the worth
of the precept in this way, the more so as it is the community, and not
the individual, which is regarded as the bearer of the punishment; and,
again, some occurrence is almost certain to happen which seems to prove
the rule.


CUSTOMS AND BEAUTY.—In justice to custom it must not be overlooked that,
in the case of all those who conform to it whole-heartedly from the very
start, the organs of attack and defence, both physical and intellectual,
begin to waste away; _i.e._ these individuals gradually become more
beautiful! For it is the exercise of these organs and their corresponding
feelings that brings about ugliness and helps to preserve it. It is for
this reason that the old baboon is uglier than the young one, and that the
young female baboon most closely resembles man, and is hence the most
handsome.—Let us draw from this our own conclusions as to the origin of
female beauty!


ANIMALS AND MORALS.—The rules insisted upon in polite society, such, for
example, as the avoidance of everything ridiculous, fantastic,
presumptuous; the suppression of one’s virtues just as much as of one’s
most violent desires, the instant bringing of one’s self down to the
general level, submitting one’s self to etiquette and self-depreciation:
all this, generally speaking, is to be found, as a social morality, even
in the lowest scale of the animal world—and it is only in this low scale
that we see the innermost plan of all these amiable precautionary
regulations: one wishes to escape from one’s pursuers and to be aided in
the search for plunder. Hence animals learn to control and to disguise
themselves to such an extent that some of them can even adapt the colour
of their bodies to that of their surroundings (by means of what is known
as the “chromatic function”). Others can simulate death, or adopt the
forms and colours of other animals, or of sand, leaves, moss, or fungi
(known to English naturalists as “mimicry”).

It is in this way that an individual conceals himself behind the
universality of the generic term “man” or “society,” or adapts and
attaches himself to princes, castes, political parties, current opinions
of the time, or his surroundings: and we may easily find the animal
equivalent of all those subtle means of making ourselves happy, thankful,
powerful, and fascinating. Even that sense of truth, which is at bottom
merely the sense of security, is possessed by man in common with the
animals: we do not wish to be deceived by others or by ourselves; we hear
with some suspicion the promptings of our own passions, we control
ourselves and remain on the watch against ourselves. Now, the animal does
all this as well as man; and in the animal likewise self-control
originates in the sense of reality (prudence). In the same way, the animal
observes the effects it exercises on the imagination of other beasts: it
thus learns to view itself from their position, to consider itself
“objectively”; it has its own degree of self-knowledge. The animal judges
the movements of its friends and foes, it learns their peculiarities by
heart and acts accordingly: it gives up, once and for all, the struggle
against individual animals of certain species, and it likewise recognises,
in the approach of certain varieties, whether their intentions are
agreeable and peaceful. The beginnings of justice, like those of wisdom—in
short, everything which we know as the _Socratic virtues_—are of an
_animal_ nature: a consequence of those instincts which teach us to search
for food and to avoid our enemies. If we remember that the higher man has
merely raised and refined himself in the _quality_ of his food and in the
conception of what is contrary to his nature, it may not be going too far
to describe the entire moral phenomenon as of an animal origin.


marriage stubbornly upholds the belief that love, although a passion, is
nevertheless capable of duration as such, yea, that lasting, lifelong love
may be taken as a general rule. By means of the tenacity of a noble
belief, in spite of such frequent and almost customary refutations—thereby
becoming a _pia fraus_—marriage has elevated love to a higher rank. Every
institution which has conceded to a passion the _belief in the duration of
the latter_, and responsibility for this duration, in spite of the nature
of the passion itself, has raised the passion to a higher level: and he
who is thenceforth seized with such a passion does not, as formerly, think
himself lowered in the estimation of others or brought into danger on that
account, but on the contrary believes himself to be raised, both in the
opinion of himself and of his equals. Let us recall institutions and
customs which, out of the fiery devotion of a moment, have created eternal
fidelity; out of the pleasure of anger, eternal vengeance; out of despair,
eternal mourning; out of a single hasty word, eternal obligation. A great
deal of hypocrisy and falsehood came into the world as the result of such
transformations; but each time, too, at the cost of such disadvantages, a
new and _superhuman_ conception which elevates mankind.


STATE OF MIND AS ARGUMENT.—Whence arises within us a cheerful readiness
for action?—such is the question which has greatly occupied the attention
of men. The most ancient answer, and one which we still hear, is: God is
the cause; in this way He gives us to understand that He approves of our
actions. When, in former ages, people consulted the oracles, they did so
that they might return home strengthened by this cheerful readiness; and
every one answered the doubts which came to him, if alternative actions
suggested themselves, by saying: “I shall do whatever brings about that
feeling.” They did not decide, in other words, for what was most
reasonable, but upon some plan the conception of which imbued the soul
with courage and hope. A cheerful outlook was placed in the scales as an
argument and proved to be heavier than reasonableness; for the state of
mind was interpreted in a superstitious manner as the action of a god who
promises success; and who, by this argument, lets his reason speak as the
highest reasonableness. Now, let the consequences of such a prejudice be
considered when shrewd men, thirsting for power, availed themselves of
it—and still do so! “Bring about the right state of mind!”—in this way you
can do without all arguments and overcome every objection!


ACTORS OF VIRTUE AND SIN.—Among the ancients who became celebrated for
their virtue there were many, it would seem, _who acted to themselves_,
especially the Greeks, who, being actors by nature, must have acted quite
unconsciously, seeing no reason why they should not do so. In addition,
every one was striving to outdo some one else’s virtue with his own, so
why should they not have made use of every artifice to show off their
virtues, especially among themselves, if only for the sake of practice! Of
what use was a virtue which one could not display, and which did not know
how to display itself!—Christianity put an end to the career of these
actors of virtue; instead it devised the disgusting ostentation and
parading of sins: it brought into the world a state of _mendacious
sinfulness_ (even at the present day this is considered as _bon ton_ among
orthodox Christians).


REFINED CRUELTY AS VIRTUE.—Here we have a morality which is based entirely
upon our thirst for distinction—do not therefore entertain too high an
opinion of it! Indeed, we may well ask what kind of an impulse it is, and
what is its fundamental signification? It is sought, by our appearance, to
grieve our neighbour, to arouse his envy, and to awaken his feelings of
impotence and degradation; we endeavour to make him taste the bitterness
of his fate by dropping a little of _our_ honey on his tongue, and, while
conferring this supposed benefit on him, looking sharply and triumphantly
into his eyes.

Behold such a man, now become humble, and perfect in his humility—and seek
those for whom, through his humility, he has for a long time been
preparing a torture; for you are sure to find them! Here is another man
who shows mercy towards animals, and is admired for doing so—but there are
certain people on whom he wishes to vent his cruelty by this very means.
Look at that great artist: the pleasure he enjoyed beforehand in
conceiving the envy of the rivals he had outstripped, refused to let his
powers lie dormant until he became a great man—how many bitter moments in
the souls of other men has he asked for as payment for his own greatness!
The nun’s chastity: with what threatening eyes she looks into the faces of
other women who live differently from her! what a vindictive joy shines in
those eyes! The theme is short, and its variations, though they might well
be innumerable, could not easily become tiresome—for it is still too
paradoxical a novelty, and almost a painful one, to affirm that the
morality of distinction is nothing, at bottom, but joy in refined cruelty.
When I say “at bottom,” I mean here, every time in the first generation.
For, when the habit of some distinguished action becomes _hereditary_, its
root, so to speak, is not transmitted, but only its fruits (for only
feelings, and not thoughts, can become hereditary): and, if we presuppose
that this root is not reintroduced by education, in the second generation
the joy in the cruelty is no longer felt: but only pleasure in the habit
as such. _This_ joy, however, is the first degree of the “good.”


PRIDE IN SPIRIT.—The pride of man, which strives to oppose the theory of
our own descent from animals and establishes a wide gulf between nature
and man himself—this pride is founded upon a prejudice as to what the mind
is; and this prejudice is relatively recent. In the long prehistorical
period of humanity it was supposed that the mind was everywhere, and men
did not look upon it as a particular characteristic of their own. Since,
on the contrary, everything spiritual (including all impulses,
maliciousness, and inclinations) was regarded as common property, and
consequently accessible to everybody, primitive mankind was not ashamed of
being descended from animals or trees (the noble races thought themselves
honoured by such legends), and saw in the spiritual that which unites us
with nature, and not that which severs us from her. Thus man was brought
up in modesty—and this likewise was the result of a prejudice.


THE BRAKE.—To suffer morally, and then to learn afterwards that this kind
of suffering was founded upon an error, shocks us. For there is a unique
consolation in acknowledging, by our suffering, a “deeper world of truth”
than any other world, and we would much rather suffer and feel ourselves
above reality by doing so (through the feeling that, in this way, we
approach nearer to that “deeper world of truth”), than live without
suffering and hence without this feeling of the sublime. Thus it is pride,
and the habitual fashion of satisfying it, which opposes this new
interpretation of morality. What power, then, must we bring into operation
to get rid of this brake? Greater pride? A new pride?


occurrences which take place at times in the community, such as sudden
storms, bad harvests, or plagues, lead members of the community to suspect
that offences against custom have been committed, or that new customs must
be invented to appease a new demoniac power and caprice. Suspicion and
reasoning of this kind, however, evade an inquiry into the real and
natural causes, and take the demoniac cause for granted. This is one
source of the hereditary perversion of the human intellect; and the other
one follows in its train, for, proceeding on the same principle, people
paid much less attention to the real and natural consequences of an action
than to the supernatural consequences (the so-called punishments and
mercies of the Divinity). It is commanded, for instance, that certain
baths are to be taken at certain times: and the baths are taken, not for
the sake of cleanliness, but because the command has been made. We are not
taught to avoid the real consequences of dirt, but merely the supposed
displeasure of the gods because a bath has been omitted. Under the
pressure of superstitious fear, people began to suspect that these
ablutions were of much greater importance than they seemed; they ascribed
inner and supplementary meanings to them, gradually lost their sense of
and pleasure in reality, and finally reality is considered as valuable
_only to the extent that it is a symbol._ Hence a man who is under the
influence of the morality of custom comes to despise causes first of all,
secondly consequences, and thirdly reality, and weaves all his higher
feelings (reverence, sublimity, pride, gratitude, love) _into an imaginary
world_: the so-called higher world. And even to-day we can see the
consequences of this: wherever, and in whatever fashion, man’s feelings
are raised, that imaginary world is in evidence. It is sad to have to say
it; but for the time being _all higher sentiments_ must be looked upon
with suspicion by the man of science, to so great an extent are they
intermingled with illusion and extravagance. Not that they need
necessarily be suspected _per se_ and for ever; but there is no doubt
that, of all the gradual _purifications_ which await humanity, the
purification of the higher feelings will be one of the slowest.


MORAL FEELINGS AND CONCEPTIONS.—It is clear that moral feelings are
transmitted in such a way that children perceive in adults violent
predilections and aversions for certain actions, and then, like born apes,
imitate such likes and dislikes. Later on in life, when they are
thoroughly permeated by these acquired and well-practised feelings, they
think it a matter of propriety and decorum to provide a kind of
justification for these predilections and aversions. These
“justifications,” however, are in no way connected with the origin or the
degree of the feeling: people simply accommodate themselves to the rule
that, as rational beings, they must give reasons for their pros and cons,
reasons which must be assignable and acceptable into the bargain. Up to
this extent the history of the moral feelings is entirely different from
the history of moral conceptions. The first-mentioned are powerful
_before_ the action, and the latter especially after it, in view of the
necessity for making one’s self clear in regard to them.


feelings comprise nothing final, original; feelings are based upon the
judgments and valuations which are transmitted to us in the shape of
feelings (inclinations, dislikes). The inspiration which springs from a
feeling is the grandchild of a judgment—often an erroneous judgment!—and
certainly not one’s own judgment! Trusting in our feelings simply means
obeying our grandfather and grandmother more than the gods within
_ourselves_: our reason and experience.


A FOOLISH PIETY, WITH _ARRIÈRE-PENSÉES_.—What! the inventors of ancient
civilisations, the first makers of tools and tape lines, the first
builders of vehicles, ships, and houses, the first observers of the laws
of the heavens and the multiplication tables—is it contended that they
were entirely different from the inventors and observers of our own time,
and superior to them? And that the first slow steps forward were of a
value which has not been equalled by the discoveries we have made with all
our travels and circumnavigations of the earth? It is the voice of
prejudice that speaks thus, and argues in this way to depreciate the
importance of the modern mind. And yet it is plain to be seen that, in
former times, hazard was the greatest of all discoverers and observers and
the benevolent prompter of these ingenious ancients, and that, in the case
of the most insignificant invention now made, a greater intellect,
discipline, and scientific imagination are required than formerly existed
throughout long ages.


WRONG CONCLUSIONS FROM USEFULNESS.—When we have demonstrated the highest
utility of a thing, we have nevertheless made no progress towards an
explanation of its origin; in other words, we can never explain, by mere
utility, the necessity of existence. But precisely the contrary opinion
has been maintained up to the present time, even in the domain of the most
exact science. In astronomy, for example, have we not heard it stated that
the (supposed) usefulness of the system of satellites—(replacing the light
which is diminished in intensity by the greater distance of the sun, in
order that the inhabitants of the various celestial bodies should not want
for light)—was the final object of this system and explained its origin?
Which may remind us of the conclusions of Christopher Columbus The earth
has been created for man, ergo, if there are countries, they must be
inhabited. “Is it probable that the sun would throw his rays on nothing,
and that the nocturnal vigils of the stars should be wasted upon
untravelled seas and unpeopled countries?”


impression of the blame cast upon it by custom, develops into the painful
feeling of cowardice, or else the pleasurable feeling of _humility_, in
case a morality, like that of Christianity, has taken it to its heart and
called it _good_. In other words, this instinct will fall under the
influence of either a good conscience or a bad one! In itself, _like every
instinct_, it does not possess either this or indeed any other moral
character and name, or even a definite accompanying feeling of pleasure or
displeasure; it does not acquire all these qualities as its second nature
until it comes into contact with impulses which have already been baptized
as good and evil, or has been recognised as the attribute of beings
already weighed and valued by the people from a moral point of view. Thus
the ancient conception of envy differed entirely from ours. Hesiod reckons
it among the qualities of the _good_, benevolent Eris, and it was not
considered as offensive to attribute some kind of envy even to the gods.
This is easy to understand in a state of things inspired mainly by
emulation, but emulation was looked upon as good, and valued accordingly.

The Greeks were likewise different from us in the value they set upon
hope: they conceived it as blind and deceitful. Hesiod in one of his poems
has made a strong reference to it—a reference so strong, indeed, that no
modern commentator has quite understood it; for it runs contrary to the
modern mind, which has learnt from Christianity to look upon hope as a
virtue. Among the Greeks, on the other hand, the portal leading to a
knowledge of the future seemed only partly closed, and, in innumerable
instances, it was impressed upon them as a religious obligation to inquire
into the future, in those cases where we remain satisfied with hope. It
thus came about that the Greeks, thanks to their oracles and seers, held
hope in small esteem, and even lowered it to the level of an evil and a

The Jews, again, took a different view of anger from that held by us, and
sanctified it: hence they have placed the sombre majesty of the wrathful
man at an elevation so high that a European cannot conceive it. They
moulded their wrathful and holy Jehovah after the images of their wrathful
and holy prophets. Compared with them, all the Europeans who have
exhibited the greatest wrath are, so to speak, only second-hand creatures.


THE PREJUDICE CONCERNING “PURE SPIRIT.”—Wherever the doctrine of _pure
spirituality_ has prevailed, its excesses have resulted in the destruction
of the tone of the nerves: it taught that the body should be despised,
neglected, or tormented, and that, on account of his impulses, man himself
should be tortured and regarded with contempt. It gave rise to gloomy,
strained, and downcast souls—who, besides, thought they knew the reason of
their misery and how it might possibly be relieved! “It _must_ be in the
body! For it still _thrives_ too well!”—such was their conclusion, whilst
the fact was that the body, through its agonies, protested time after time
against this never-ending mockery. Finally, a universal and chronic
hyper-nervousness seized upon those virtuous representatives of the pure
spirit: they learned to recognise joy only in the shape of ecstasies and
other preliminary symptoms of insanity—and their system reached its climax
when it came to look upon ecstasy as the highest aim of life, and as the
standard by which all earthly things must be _condemned_.


MEDITATIONS UPON OBSERVANCES.—Numerous moral precepts, carelessly drawn
from a single event, quickly became incomprehensible; it was as difficult
a matter to deduce their intentions with any degree of certainty as it was
to recognise the punishment which was to follow the breaking of the rule.
Doubts were even held regarding the order of the ceremonies; but, while
people guessed at random about such matters, the object of their
investigations increased in importance, it was precisely the greatest
absurdity of an observance that developed into a holy of holies. Let us
not think too little of the energy wasted by man in this regard throughout
thousands of years, and least of all of the effects of such _meditations
upon observances_! Here we find ourselves on the wide training-ground of
the intellect—not only do religions develop and continue to increase
within its boundaries: but here also is the venerable, though dreadful,
primeval world of science; here grow up the poet, the thinker, the
physician, the lawgiver. The dread of the unintelligible, which, in an
ambiguous fashion, demanded ceremonies from us, gradually assumed the
charm of the intricate, and where man could not unravel he learnt to


men leading a contemplative life, what kind of evil and misfortunes have
overtaken the men of the _vita activa_ as the result of contemplation—in
short, what sort of contra-account the _vita activa_ has to offer _us_, if
we exhibit too much boastfulness before it with respect to our good deeds.
It would show us, in the first place, those so-called religious natures,
who predominate among the lovers of contemplation and consequently
represent their commonest type. They have at all times acted in such a
manner as to render life difficult to practical men, and tried to make
them disgusted with it, if possible: to darken the sky, to obliterate the
sun, to cast suspicion upon joy, to depreciate hope, to paralyse the
active hand—all this they knew how to do, just as, for miserable times and
feelings, they had their consolations, alms, blessings, and benedictions.
In the second place, it can show us the artists, a species of men leading
the _vita contemplativa_, rarer than the religious element, but still
often to be met with. As beings, these people are usually intolerable,
capricious, jealous, violent, quarrelsome: this, however, must be deduced
from the joyous and exalting effects of their works.

Thirdly, we have the philosophers, men who unite religious and artistic
qualities, combined, however, with a third element, namely, dialectics and
the love of controversy. They are the authors of evil in the same sense as
the religious men and artists, in addition to which they have wearied many
of their fellow-men with their passion for dialectics, though their number
has always been very small. Fourthly, the thinkers and scientific workers.
They but rarely strove after effects, and contented themselves with
silently sticking to their own groove. Thus they brought about little envy
and discomfort, and often, as objects of mockery and derision, they
served, without wishing to do so, to make life easier for the men of the
_vita activa_. Lastly, science ended by becoming of much advantage to all;
and if, _on account of this utility_, many of the men who were destined
for the _vita activa_ are now slowly making their way along the road to
science in the sweat of their brow, and not without brain-racking and
maledictions, this is not the fault of the crowd of thinkers and
scientific workers: it is “self-wrought pain.”(3)


ORIGIN OF THE _VITA CONTEMPLATIVA_.—During barbarous ages, when
pessimistic judgments held sway over men and the world, the individual, in
the consciousness of his full power, always endeavoured to act in
conformity with such judgments, that is to say, he put his ideas into
action by means of hunting, robbery, surprise attacks, brutality, and
murder: including the weaker forms of such acts, as far as they are
tolerated within the community. When his strength declines, however, and
he feels tired, ill, melancholy, or satiated—consequently becoming
temporarily void of wishes or desires—he is a relatively better man, that
is to say, less dangerous; and his pessimistic ideas will now discharge
themselves only in words and reflections—upon his companions, for example,
or his wife, his life, his gods,—his judgments will be _evil_ ones. In
this frame of mind he develops into a thinker and prophet, or he adds to
his superstitions and invents new observances, or mocks his enemies.
Whatever he may devise, however, all the productions of his brain will
necessarily reflect his frame of mind, such as the increase of fear and
weariness, and the lower value he attributes to action and enjoyment. The
substance of these productions must correspond to the substance of these
poetic, thoughtful, and priestly moods; the evil judgment must be supreme.

In later years, all those who acted continuously as this man did in those
special circumstances—_i.e._ those who gave out pessimistic judgments, and
lived a melancholy life, poor in action—were called poets, thinkers,
priests, or “medicine-men.” The general body of men would have liked to
disregard such people, because they were not active enough, and to turn
them out of the community; but there was a certain risk in doing so: these
inactive men had found out and were following the tracks of superstition
and divine power, and no one doubted that they had unknown means of power
at their disposal. This was the value which was set upon _the ancient race
of contemplative natures_—despised as they were in just the same degree as
they were not dreaded! In such a masked form, in such an ambiguous aspect,
with an evil heart and often with a troubled head, did Contemplation make
its first appearance on earth: both weak and terrible at the same time,
despised in secret, and covered in public with every mark of superstitious
veneration. Here, as always, we must say: _pudenda origo_!


considerations of the senses, to raise one’s self to abstract
contemplations: this is what was formerly regarded as _elevation_; but now
it is not practicable for us to share the same feelings. Luxuriating in
the most shadowy images of words and things; playing with those invisible,
inaudible, imperceptible beings, was considered as existence in another
and _higher_ world, a world that sprang from the deep contempt felt for
the world which was perceptible to the senses, this seductive and wicked
world of ours. “These _abstracta_ no longer mislead us, but they may lead
us”—with such words men soared aloft. It was not the _substance_ of these
intellectual sports, but the sports themselves, which was looked upon as
“the higher thing” in the primeval ages of science. Hence we have Plato’s
admiration for dialectics, and his enthusiastic belief in the necessary
relationship of dialectics to the good man who has risen superior to the
considerations of his senses. It was not only knowledge that was
discovered little by little, but also the different means of acquiring it,
the conditions and operations which precede knowledge in man. And it
always seemed as if the newly-discovered operation or the
newly-experienced condition were not a means of acquiring knowledge, but
was even the substance, goal, and sum-total of everything that was worth
knowing. What does the thinker require?—imagination, inspiration,
abstraction, spirituality, invention, presentiment, induction, dialectics,
deduction, criticism, ability to collect materials, an impersonal mode of
thinking, contemplation, comprehensiveness, and lastly, but not least,
justice, and love for everything that exists—but each one of these means
was at one time considered, in the history of the _vita contemplativa_, as
a goal and final purpose, and they all secured for their inventors that
perfect happiness which fills the human soul when its final purpose dawns
upon it.


ORIGIN AND MEANING.—Why does this thought come into my mind again and
again, always in more and more vivid colours?—that, in former times,
investigators, in the course of their search for the origin of things,
always thought that they found something which would be of the highest
importance for all kinds of action and judgment: yea, that they even
invariably postulated that the salvation of mankind depended upon _insight
into the origin of things_—whereas now, on the other hand, the more we
examine into origins, the less do they concern our interests: on the
contrary, all the valuations and interestedness which we have placed upon
things begin to lose their meaning, the more we retrogress where knowledge
is concerned and approach the things themselves. _The origin becomes of
less significance in proportion as we acquire insight into it_; whilst
things nearest to ourselves, around and within us, gradually begin to
manifest their wealth of colours, beauties, enigmas, and diversity of
meaning, of which earlier humanity never dreamed. In former ages thinkers
used to move furiously about, like wild animals in cages, steadily glaring
at the bars which hemmed them in, and at times springing up against them
in a vain endeavour to break through them: and happy indeed was he who
could look through a gap to the outer world and could fancy that he saw
something of what lay beyond and afar off.


A TRAGIC TERMINATION TO KNOWLEDGE.—Of all the means of exaltation, human
sacrifices have at times done most to elevate man. And perhaps the one
powerful thought—the idea of _self-sacrificing humanity_—might be made to
prevail over every other aspiration, and thus to prove the victor over
even the most victorious. But to whom should the sacrifice be made? We may
already swear that, if ever the constellation of such an idea appeared on
the horizon, the knowledge of truth would remain the single but enormous
object with which a sacrifice of such a nature would be
commensurate—because no sacrifice is too great for it. In the meantime the
problem has never been expounded as to how far humanity, considered as a
whole, could take steps to encourage the advancement of knowledge; and
even less as to what thirst for knowledge could impel humanity to the
point of sacrificing itself with the light of an anticipated wisdom in its
eyes. When, perhaps, with a view to the advancement of knowledge, we are
able to enter into communication with the inhabitants of other stars, and
when, during thousands of years, wisdom will have been carried from star
to star, the enthusiasm of knowledge may rise to such a dizzy height!


DOUBT IN DOUBT.—“What a good pillow doubt is for a well-balanced head!”
This saying of Montaigne always made Pascal angry, for nobody ever wanted
a good pillow so much as he did. Whatever was the matter with him?


WORDS BLOCK UP OUR PATH.—Wherever primitive men put down a word, they
thought they had made a discovery. How different the case really was!—they
had come upon a problem, and, while they thought they had solved it, they
had in reality placed an obstacle in the way of its solution. Now, with
every new piece of knowledge, we stumble over petrified words and
mummified conceptions, and would rather break a leg than a word in doing


“KNOW THYSELF” IS THE WHOLE OF SCIENCE.—Only when man shall have acquired
a knowledge of all things will he be able to know himself. For things are
but the boundaries of man.


people sought to show the feeling of man’s greatness by pointing to his
divine descent. This, however, has now become a forbidden path, for the
ape stands at its entrance, and likewise other fearsome animals, showing
their teeth in a knowing fashion, as if to say, No further this way! Hence
people now try the opposite direction: the road along which humanity is
proceeding shall stand as an indication of their greatness and their
relationship to God. But alas! this, too, is useless! At the far end of
this path stands the funeral urn of the last man and grave-digger (with
the inscription, _Nihil humani a me alienum puto_). To whatever height
mankind may have developed—and perhaps in the end it will not be so high
as when they began!—there is as little prospect of their attaining to a
higher order as there is for the ant and the earwig to enter into kinship
with God and eternity at the end of their career on earth. What is to come
will drag behind it that which has passed: why should any little star, or
even any little species on that star, form an exception to that eternal
drama? Away with such sentimentalities!


BELIEF IN INEBRIATION.—Those men who have moments of sublime ecstasy, and
who, on ordinary occasions, on account of the contrast and the excessive
wearing away of their nervous forces, usually feel miserable and desolate,
come to consider such moments as the true manifestation of their real
selves, of their “ego,” and their misery and dejection, on the other hand,
as the _effect of the _“non-ego”. This is why they think of their
environment, the age in which they live, and the whole world in which they
have their being, with feelings of vindictiveness. This intoxication
appears to them as their true life, their actual ego; and everywhere else
they see only those who strive to oppose and prevent this intoxication,
whether of an intellectual, moral, religious, or artistic nature.

Humanity owes no small part of its evils to these fantastic enthusiasts;
for they are the insatiable sowers of the weed of discontent with one’s
self and one’s neighbour, of contempt for the world and the age, and,
above all, of world-lassitude. An entire hell of criminals could not,
perhaps, bring about such unfortunate and far-reaching consequences, such
heavy and disquieting effects that corrupt earth and sky, as are brought
about by that “noble” little community of unbridled, fantastic, half-mad
people—of geniuses, too—who cannot control themselves, or experience any
inward joy, until they have lost themselves completely: while, on the
other hand, the criminal often gives a proof of his admirable
self-control, sacrifice, and wisdom, and thus maintains these qualities in
those who fear him. Through him life’s sky may at times seem overcast and
threatening, but the atmosphere ever remains brisk and
vigorous.—Furthermore, these enthusiasts bring their entire strength to
bear on the task of imbuing mankind with belief in inebriation as in life
itself: a dreadful belief! As savages are now quickly corrupted and ruined
by “fire-water,” so likewise has mankind in general been slowly though
thoroughly corrupted by these spiritual “fire-waters” of intoxicating
feelings and by those who keep alive the craving for them. It may yet be
ruined thereby.


SUCH AS WE STILL ARE.—“Let us be indulgent to the great one-eyed!” said
Stuart Mill, as if it were necessary to ask for indulgence when we are
willing to believe and almost to worship them. I say: Let us be indulgent
towards the two-eyed, both great and small; for, _such as we are now_, we
shall never rise beyond indulgence!


WHERE ARE THE NEW PHYSICIANS OF THE SOUL?—It is the means of consolation
which have stamped life with that fundamental melancholy character in
which we now believe: the worst disease of mankind has arisen from the
struggle against diseases, and apparent remedies have in the long run
brought about worse conditions than those which it was intended to remove
by their use. Men, in their ignorance, used to believe that the stupefying
and intoxicating means, which appeared to act immediately, the so-called
“consolations,” were the true healing powers: they even failed to observe
that they had often to pay for their immediate relief by a general and
profound deterioration in health, that the sick ones had to suffer from
the after-effects of the intoxication, then from the absence of the
intoxication, and, later on, from a feeling of disquietude, depression,
nervous starts, and ill-health. Again, men whose illness had advanced to a
certain extent never recovered from it—those physicians of the soul,
universally believed in and worshipped as they were, took care of that.

It has been justly said of Schopenhauer that he was one who again took the
sufferings of humanity seriously: where is the man who will at length take
the antidotes against these sufferings seriously, and who will pillory the
unheard-of quackery with which men, even up to our own age, and in the
most sublime nomenclature, have been wont to treat the illnesses of their


ABUSE OF THE CONSCIENTIOUS ONES.—It is the conscientious, and not the
unscrupulous, who have suffered so greatly from exhortations to penitence
and the fear of hell, especially if they happened to be men of
imagination. In other words, a gloom has been cast over the lives of those
who had the greatest need of cheerfulness and agreeable images—not only
for the sake of their own consolation and recovery from themselves, but
that humanity itself might take delight in them and absorb a ray of their
beauty. Alas, how much superfluous cruelty and torment have been brought
about by those religions which invented sin! and by those men who, by
means of such religions, desired to reach the highest enjoyment of their


THOUGHTS ON DISEASE.—To soothe the imagination of the patient, in order
that he may at least no longer keep on thinking about his illness, and
thus suffer more from such thoughts than from the complaint itself, which
has been the case hitherto—that, it seems to me, is something! and it is
by no means a trifle! And now do ye understand our task?


THE “WAYS.”—So-called “short cuts” have always led humanity to run great
risks: on hearing the “glad tidings” that a “short cut” had been found,
they always left the straight path—_and lost their way_.


THE APOSTATE OF THE FREE SPIRIT.—Is there any one, then, who seriously
dislikes pious people who hold formally to their belief? Do we not, on the
contrary, regard them with silent esteem and pleasure, deeply regretting
at the same time that these excellent people do not share our own
feelings? But whence arises that sudden, profound, and unreasonable
dislike for the man who, having at one time possessed freedom of spirit,
finally becomes a “believer”? In thinking of him we involuntarily
experience the sensation of having beheld some loathsome spectacle, which
we must quickly efface from our recollection. Should we not turn our backs
upon even the most venerated man if we entertained the least suspicion of
him in this regard? Not, indeed, from a moral point of view, but because
of sudden disgust and horror! Whence comes this sharpness of feeling?
Perhaps we shall be given to understand that, at bottom, we are not quite
certain of our own selves? Or that, early in life, we build round
ourselves hedges of the most pointed contempt, in order that, when old age
makes us weak and forgetful, we may not feel inclined to brush our own
contempt away from us?

Now, speaking frankly, this suspicion is quite erroneous, and whoever
forms it knows nothing of what agitates and determines the free spirit:
how little, to him, does the _changing_ of an opinion seem contemptible
_per se_! On the contrary, how highly he prizes the _ability_ to change an
opinion as a rare and valuable distinction, especially if he can retain it
far into old age! And his pride (not his pusillanimity) even reaches so
high as to be able to pluck the fruits of the _spernere se sperni_ and the
_spernere se ipsum_: without his being troubled by the sensation of fear
of vain and easy-going men. Furthermore, the doctrine of the innocence of
all opinions appears to him to be as certain as the doctrine of the
innocence of all actions: how could he act as judge and hangman before the
apostate of intellectual liberty! On the contrary, the sight of such a
person would disgust him as much as the sight of a nauseous illness
disgusts the physician: the physical repulsion caused by everything
spongy, soft, and suppurating momentarily overcomes reason and the desire
to help. Hence our goodwill is overcome by the conception of the monstrous
dishonesty which must have gained the upper hand in the apostate from the
free spirit: by the conception of a general gnawing which is eating its
way down even to the framework of the character.


OTHER FEARS, OTHER SAFETIES.—Christianity overspread life with a new and
unlimited _insecurity_, thereby creating new safeties, enjoyments and
recreations, and new valuations of all things. Our own century denies the
existence of this insecurity, and does so with a good conscience, yet it
clings to the old habit of Christian certainties, enjoyments, recreations,
and valuations!—even in its noblest arts and philosophies. How feeble and
worn out must all this now seem, how imperfect and clumsy, how arbitrarily
fanatical, and, above all, how uncertain: now that its horrible contrast
has been taken away—the ever-present fear of the Christian for his
_eternal_ salvation!


CHRISTIANITY AND THE EMOTIONS.—In Christianity we may see a great popular
protest against philosophy: the reasoning of the sages of antiquity had
withdrawn men from the influence of the emotions, but Christianity would
fain give men their emotions back again. With this aim in view, it denies
any moral value to virtue such as philosophers understood it—as a victory
of the reason over the passions—generally condemns every kind of goodness,
and calls upon the passions to manifest themselves in their full power and
glory: as _love_ of God, _fear_ of God, fanatic _belief_ in God, blind
_hope_ in God.


ERROR AS A CORDIAL.—Let people say what they will, it is nevertheless
certain that it was the aim of Christianity to deliver mankind from the
yoke of moral engagements by indicating what it believed to be the
_shortest way to perfection_: exactly in the same manner as a few
philosophers thought they could dispense with tedious and laborious
dialectics, and the collection of strictly-proved facts, and point out a
royal road to truth. It was an error in both cases, but nevertheless a
great cordial for those who were worn out and despairing in the


ALL SPIRIT FINALLY BECOMES VISIBLE.—Christianity has assimilated the
entire spirituality of an incalculable number of men who were by nature
submissive, all those enthusiasts of humiliation and reverence, both
refined and coarse. It has in this way freed itself from its own original
rustic coarseness—of which we are vividly reminded when we look at the
oldest image of St. Peter the Apostle—and has become a very intellectual
religion, with thousands of wrinkles, _arrière-pensées_, and masks on its
face. It has made European humanity more clever, and not only cunning from
a theological standpoint. By the spirit which it has thus given to
European humanity—in conjunction with the power of abnegation, and very
often in conjunction with the profound conviction and loyalty of that
abnegation—it has perhaps chiselled and shaped the most subtle
individualities which have ever existed in human society: the
individualities of the higher ranks of the Catholic clergy, especially
when these priests have sprung from a noble family, and have brought to
their work, from the very beginning, the innate grace of gesture, the
dominating glance of the eye, and beautiful hands and feet. Here the human
face acquires that spiritualisation brought about by the continual ebb and
flow of two kinds of happiness (the feeling of power and the feeling of
submission) after a carefully-planned manner of living has conquered the
beast in man. Here an activity, which consists in blessing, forgiving
sins, and representing the Almighty, ever keeps alive in the soul, _and
even in the body_, the consciousness of a supreme mission; here we find
that noble contempt concerning the perishable nature of the body, of
well-being, and of happiness, peculiar to born soldiers: their _pride_
lies in obedience, a distinctly aristocratic trait; their excuse and their
idealism arise from the enormous impossibility of their task. The
surpassing beauty and subtleties of these princes of the Church have
always proved to the people the truth of the Church; a momentary
brutalisation of the clergy (such as came about in Luther’s time) always
tended to encourage the contrary belief. And would it be maintained that
this result of beauty and human subtlety, shown in harmony of figure,
intellect, and task, would come to an end with religions? and that nothing
higher could be obtained, or even conceived?


THE NEEDFUL SACRIFICE.—Those earnest, able, and just men of profound
feelings, who are still Christians at heart, owe it to themselves to make
one attempt to live for a certain space of time without Christianity! they
owe it _to their faith_ that they should thus for once take up their abode
“in the wilderness”—if for no other reason than that of being able to
pronounce on the question as to whether Christianity is needful. So far,
however, they have confined themselves to their own narrow domain and
insulted every one who happened to be outside of it: yea, they even become
highly irritated when it is suggested to them that beyond this little
domain of theirs lies the great world, and that Christianity is, after
all, only a corner of it! No; your evidence on the question will be
valueless until you have lived year after year without Christianity, and
with the inmost desire to continue to exist without it: until, indeed, you
have withdrawn far, far away from it. It is not when your nostalgia urges
you back again, but when your judgment, based on a strict comparison,
drives you back, that your homecoming has any significance!—Men of coming
generations will deal in this manner with all the valuations of the past;
they must be voluntarily _lived_ over again, together with their
contraries, in order that such men may finally acquire the right of
shifting them.


ON THE ORIGIN OF RELIGIONS.—How can any one regard his own opinion of
things as a revelation? This is the problem of the formation of religions:
there has always been some man in whom this phenomenon was possible. A
postulate is that such a man already believed in revelations. Suddenly,
however, a new idea occurs to him one day, _his_ idea; and the entire
blessedness of a great personal hypothesis, which embraces all existence
and the whole world, penetrates with such force into his conscience that
he dare not think himself the creator of such blessedness, and he
therefore attributes to his God the cause of this new idea and likewise
the cause of the cause, believing it to be the revelation of his God. How
could a man be the author of so great a happiness? ask his pessimistic
doubts. But other levers are secretly at work: an opinion may be
strengthened by one’s self if it be considered as a revelation; and in
this way all its hypothetic nature is removed; the matter is set beyond
criticism and even beyond doubt: it is sanctified. It is true that, in
this way, a man lowers himself to playing the rôle of “mouthpiece,” but
his thought will end by being victorious as a divine thought—the feeling
of finally gaining the victory conquers the feeling of degradation. There
is also another feeling in the background: if a man raises his products
above himself, and thus apparently detracts from his own worth, there
nevertheless remains a kind of joyfulness, paternal love, and paternal
pride, which compensates man—more than compensates man—for everything.


HATRED OF ONE’S NEIGHBOUR.—Supposing that we felt towards our neighbour as
he does himself—Schopenhauer calls this compassion, though it would be
more correct to call it auto-passion, fellow-feeling—we should be
compelled to hate him, if, like Pascal, he thought himself hateful. And
this was probably the general feeling of Pascal regarding mankind, and
also that of ancient Christianity, which, under Nero, was “convicted” of
_odium generis humani_, as Tacitus has recorded.


THE BROKEN-HEARTED ONES.—Christianity has the instinct of a hunter for
finding out all those who may by hook or by crook be driven to
despair—only a very small number of men can be brought to this despair.
Christianity lies in wait for such as those, and pursues them. Pascal made
an attempt to find out whether it was not possible, with the help of the
very subtlest knowledge, to drive everybody into despair. He failed: to
his second despair.


BRAHMINISM AND CHRISTIANITY.—There are certain precepts for obtaining a
consciousness of power: on the one hand, for those who already know how to
control themselves, and who are therefore already quite used to the
feeling of power; and, on the other hand, for those who cannot control
themselves. Brahminism has given its care to the former type of man;
Christianity to the latter.


THE FACULTY OF VISION.—During the whole of the Middle Ages it was believed
that the real distinguishing trait of higher men was the faculty of having
visions—that is to say, of having a grave mental trouble. And, in fact,
the rules of life of all the higher natures of the Middle Ages (the
religiosi) were drawn up with the object of making man capable of vision!
Little wonder, then, that the exaggerated esteem for these half-mad
fanatics, so-called men of genius, has continued even to our own days.
“They have seen things that others do not see”—no doubt! and this fact
should inspire us with caution where they are concerned, and not with


THE PRICE OF BELIEVERS.—He who sets such a value on being believed in has
to promise heaven in recompense for this belief: and every one, even a
thief on the Cross, must have suffered from a terrible doubt and
experienced crucifixion in every form: otherwise he would not buy his
followers so dearly.


THE FIRST CHRISTIAN.—The whole world still believes in the literary career
of the “Holy Ghost,” or is still influenced by the effects of this belief:
when we look into our Bibles we do so for the purpose of “edifying
ourselves,” to find a few words of comfort for our misery, be it great or
small—in short, we read ourselves into it and out of it. But who—apart
from a few learned men—know that it likewise records the history of one of
the most ambitious and importunate souls that ever existed, of a mind full
of superstition and cunning: the history of the Apostle Paul?
Nevertheless, without this singular history, without the tribulations and
passions of such a mind, and of such a soul, there would have been no
Christian kingdom; we should have scarcely have even heard of a little
Jewish sect, the founder of which died on the Cross. It is true that, if
this history had been understood in time, if we had read, _really read_,
the writings of St. Paul, not as the revelations of the “Holy Ghost,” but
with honest and independent minds, oblivious of all our personal
troubles—there were no such readers for fifteen centuries—it would have
been all up with Christianity long ago: so searchingly do these writings
of the Jewish Pascal lay bare the origins of Christianity, just as the
French Pascal let us see its destiny and how it will ultimately perish.
That the ship of Christianity threw overboard no inconsiderable part of
its Jewish ballast, that it was able to sail into the waters of the
heathen and actually did do so: this is due to the history of one single
man, this apostle who was so greatly troubled in mind and so worthy of
pity, but who was also very disagreeable to himself and to others.

This man suffered from a fixed idea, or rather a fixed question, an
ever-present and ever-burning question: what was the _meaning_ of the
Jewish Law? and, more especially, _the fulfilment of this Law_? In his
youth he had done his best to satisfy it, thirsting as he did for that
highest distinction which the Jews could imagine—this people, which raised
the imagination of moral loftiness to a greater elevation than any other
people, and which alone succeeded in uniting the conception of a holy God
with the idea of sin considered as an offence against this holiness. St.
Paul became at once the fanatic defender and guard-of-honour of this God
and His Law. Ceaselessly battling against and lying in wait for all
transgressors of this Law and those who presumed to doubt it, he was
pitiless and cruel towards all evil-doers, whom he would fain have
punished in the most rigorous fashion possible.

Now, however, he was aware in his own person of the fact that such a man
as himself—violent, sensual, melancholy, and malicious in his
hatred—_could_ not fulfil the Law; and furthermore, what seemed strangest
of all to him, he saw that his boundless craving for power was continually
provoked to break it, and that he could not help yielding to this impulse.
Was it really “the flesh” which made him a trespasser time and again? Was
it not rather, as it afterwards occurred to him, the Law itself, which
continually showed itself to be impossible to fulfil, and seduced men into
transgression with an irresistible charm? But at that time he had not
thought of this means of escape. As he suggests here and there, he had
many things on his conscience—hatred, murder, sorcery, idolatry,
debauchery, drunkenness, and orgiastic revelry,—and to however great an
extent he tried to soothe his conscience, and, even more, his desire for
power, by the extreme fanaticism of his worship for and defence of the
Law, there were times when the thought struck him: “It is all in vain! The
anguish of the unfulfilled Law cannot be overcome.” Luther must have
experienced similar feelings, when, in his cloister, he endeavoured to
become the ideal man of his imagination; and, as Luther one day began to
hate the ecclesiastical ideal, and the Pope, and the saints, and the whole
clergy, with a hatred which was all the more deadly as he could not avow
it even to himself, an analogous feeling took possession of St. Paul. The
Law was the Cross on which he felt himself crucified. How he hated it!
What a grudge he owed it! How he began to look round on all sides to find
a means for its total annihilation, that he might no longer be obliged to
fulfil it himself! And at last a liberating thought, together with a
vision—which was only to be expected in the case of an epileptic like
himself—flashed into his mind: to him, the stern upholder of the Law—who,
in his innermost heart, was tired to death of it—there appeared on the
lonely path that Christ, with the divine effulgence on His countenance,
and Paul heard the words: “Why persecutest thou Me?”

What actually took place, then, was this: his mind was suddenly
enlightened, and he said to himself: “It is unreasonable to persecute this
Jesus Christ! Here is my means of escape, here is my complete vengeance,
here and nowhere else have I the destroyer of the Law in my hands!” The
sufferer from anguished pride felt himself restored to health all at once,
his moral despair disappeared in the air; for morality itself was blown
away, annihilated—that is to say, _fulfilled_, there on the Cross! Up to
that time that ignominious death had seemed to him to be the principal
argument against the “Messiahship” proclaimed by the followers of the new
doctrine: but what if it were necessary for doing away with the Law? The
enormous consequences of this thought, of this solution of the enigma,
danced before his eyes, and he at once became the happiest of men. The
destiny of the Jews, yea, of all mankind, seemed to him to be intertwined
with this instantaneous flash of enlightenment: he held the thought of
thoughts, the key of keys, the light of lights; history would henceforth
revolve round him! For from that time forward he would be the apostle of
the _annihilation of the Law_! To be dead to sin—that meant to be dead to
the Law also; to be in the flesh—that meant to be under the Law! To be one
with Christ—that meant to have become, like Him, the destroyer of the Law;
to be dead with Him—that meant likewise to be dead to the Law. Even if it
were still possible to sin, it would not at any rate be possible to sin
against the Law: “I am above the Law,” thinks Paul; adding, “If I were now
to acknowledge the Law again and to submit to it, I should make Christ an
accomplice in the sin”; for the Law was there for the purpose of producing
sin and setting it in the foreground, as an emetic produces sickness. God
could not have decided upon the death of Christ had it been possible to
fulfil the Law without it; henceforth, not only are all sins expiated, but
sin itself is abolished; henceforth the Law is dead; henceforth “the
flesh” in which it dwelt is dead—or at all events dying, gradually wasting
away. To live for a short time longer amid this decay!—this is the
Christian’s fate, until the time when, having become one with Christ, he
arises with Him, sharing with Christ the divine glory, and becoming, like
Christ, a “Son of God.” Then Paul’s exaltation was at its height, and with
it the importunity of his soul—the thought of union with Christ made him
lose all shame, all submission, all constraint, and his ungovernable
ambition was shown to be revelling in the expectation of divine glories.

Such was the first Christian, the inventor of Christianity! before him
there were only a few Jewish sectaries.


INIMITABLE.—There is an enormous strain and distance between envy and
friendship, between self-contempt and pride: the Greek lived in the
former, the Christian in the latter.


THE USE OF A COARSE INTELLECT.—The Christian Church is an encyclopædia of
primitive cults and views of the most varied origin; and is, in
consequence, well adapted to missionary work: in former times she
could—and still does—go wherever she would, and in doing so always found
something resembling herself, to which she could assimilate herself and
gradually substitute her own spirit for it. It is not to what is Christian
in her usages, but to what is universally pagan in them, that we have to
attribute the development of this universal religion. Her thoughts, which
have their origin at once in the Judaic and in the Hellenic spirit, were
able from the very beginning to raise themselves above the exclusiveness
and subtleties of races and nations, as above prejudices. Although we may
admire the power which makes even the most difficult things coalesce, we
must nevertheless not overlook the contemptible qualities of this
power—the astonishing coarseness and narrowness of the Church’s intellect
when it was in process of formation, a coarseness which permitted it to
accommodate itself to any diet, and to digest contradictions like pebbles.


THE CHRISTIAN VENGEANCE AGAINST ROME.—Perhaps nothing is more fatiguing
than the sight of a continual conqueror: for more than two hundred years
the world had seen Rome overcoming one nation after another, the circle
was closed, all future seemed to be at an end, everything was done with a
view to its lasting for all time—yea, when the Empire built anything it
was erected with a view to being _aere perennius_. We, who know only the
“melancholy of ruins,” can scarcely understand that totally different
_melancholy of eternal buildings_, from which men endeavoured to save
themselves as best they could—with the light-hearted fancy of a Horace,
for example. Others sought different consolations for the weariness which
was closely akin to despair, against the deadening knowledge that from
henceforth all progress of thought and heart would be hopeless, that the
huge spider sat everywhere and mercilessly continued to drink all the
blood within its reach, no matter where it might spring forth. This mute,
century-old hatred of the wearied spectators against Rome, wherever Rome’s
domination extended, was at length vented in Christianity, which united
Rome, “the world,” and “sin” into a single conception. The Christians took
their revenge on Rome by proclaiming the immediate and sudden destruction
of the world; by once more introducing a future—for Rome had been able to
transform everything into the history of its _own_ past and present—a
future in which Rome was no longer the most important factor; and by
dreaming of the last judgment—while the crucified Jew, as the symbol of
salvation, was the greatest derision on the superb Roman prætors in the
provinces; for now they seemed to be only the symbols of ruin and a
“world” ready to perish.


THE “LIFE AFTER DEATH.”—Christianity found the idea of punishment in hell
in the entire Roman Empire: for the numerous mystic cults have hatched
this idea with particular satisfaction as being the most fecund egg of
their power. Epicurus thought he could do nothing better for his followers
than to tear this belief up by the roots: his triumph found its finest
echo in the mouth of one of his disciples, the Roman Lucretius, a poet of
a gloomy, though afterwards enlightened, temperament. Alas! his triumph
had come too soon: Christianity took under its special protection this
belief in subterranean horrors, which was already beginning to die away in
the minds of men; and that was clever of it. For, without this audacious
leap into the most complete paganism, how could it have proved itself
victorious over the popularity of Mithras and Isis? In this way it managed
to bring timorous folk over to its side—the most enthusiastic adherents of
a new faith! The Jews, being a people which, like the Greeks, and even in
a greater degree than the Greeks, loved and still love life, had not
cultivated that idea to any great extent: the thought of final death as
the punishment of the sinner, death without resurrection as an extreme
menace: this was sufficient to impress these peculiar men, who did not
wish to get rid of their bodies, but hoped, with their refined Egypticism,
to preserve them for ever. (A Jewish martyr, about whom we may read in the
Second Book of the Maccabees, would not think of giving up his intestines,
which had been torn out: he wanted to have them at the resurrection: quite
a Jewish characteristic!)

Thoughts of eternal damnation were far from the minds of the early
Christians: they thought they were _delivered_ from death, and awaited a
transformation from day to day, but not death. (What a curious effect the
first death must have produced on these expectant people! How many
different feelings must have been mingled together—astonishment,
exultation, doubt, shame, and passion! Verily, a subject worthy of a great
artist!) St. Paul could say nothing better in praise of his Saviour than
that he had opened the gates of immortality to everybody—he did not
believe in the resurrection of those who had not been saved: more than
this, by reason of his doctrine of the impossibility of carrying out the
Law, and of death considered as a consequence of sin, he even suspected
that, up to that time, no one had become immortal (or at all events only a
very few, solely owing to special grace and not to any merits of their
own): it was only in his time that immortality had begun to open its
gates—and only a few of the elect would finally gain admittance, as the
pride of the elect cannot help saying.

In other places, where the impulse towards life was not so strong as among
the Jews and the Christian Jews, and where the prospect of immortality did
not appear to be more valuable than the prospect of a final death, that
pagan, yet not altogether un-Jewish addition of Hell became a very useful
tool in the hands of the missionaries: then arose the new doctrine that
even the sinners and the unsaved are immortal, the doctrine of eternal
damnation, which was more powerful than the idea of a _final death_, which
thereafter began to fade away. It was science alone which could overcome
this idea, at the same time brushing aside all other ideas about death and
an after-life. We are poorer in one particular: the “life after death” has
no further interest for us! an indescribable blessing, which is as yet too
recent to be considered as such throughout the world. And Epicurus is once
more triumphant.


FOR THE “TRUTH”!—“The truth of Christianity was attested by the virtuous
lives of the Christians, their firmness in suffering, their unshakable
belief and above all by the spread and increase of the faith in spite of
all calamities.”—That’s how you talk even now. The more’s the pity. Learn,
then, that all this proves nothing either in favour of truth or against
it; that truth must be demonstrated differently from conscientiousness,
and that the latter is in no respect whatever an argument in favour of the


A CHRISTIAN _ARRIÈRE-PENSÉE_.—Would not this have been a general
reservation among Christians of the first century: “It is better to
persuade ourselves into the belief that we are guilty rather than that we
are innocent; for it is impossible to ascertain the disposition of so
powerful a judge—but it is to be feared that he is looking out only for
those who are conscious of guilt. Bearing in mind his great power, it is
more likely that he will pardon a guilty person than admit that any one is
innocent, in his presence.” This was the feeling of poor provincial folk
in the presence of the Roman prætor: “He is too proud for us to dare to be
innocent.” And may not this very sentiment have made its influence felt
when the Christians endeavoured to picture to themselves the aspect of the
Supreme Judge?


NEITHER EUROPEAN NOR NOBLE.—There is something Oriental and feminine in
Christianity, and this is shown in the thought, “Whom the Lord loveth, He
chasteneth”; for women in the Orient consider castigations and the strict
seclusion of their persons from the world as a sign of their husband’s
love, and complain if these signs of love cease.


IF YOU THINK IT EVIL, YOU MAKE IT EVIL.—The passions become evil and
malignant when regarded with evil and malignant eyes. It is in this way
that Christianity has succeeded in transforming Eros and Aphrodite—sublime
powers, capable of idealisation—into hellish genii and phantom goblins, by
means of the pangs which every sexual impulse was made to raise in the
conscience of the believers. Is it not a dreadful thing to transform
necessary and regular sensations into a source of inward misery, and thus
arbitrarily to render interior misery necessary and regular _in the case
of every man_! Furthermore, this misery remains secret with the result
that it is all the more deeply rooted, for it is not all men who have the
courage, which Shakespeare shows in his sonnets, of making public their
Christian gloom on this point.

Must a feeling, then, always be called evil against which we are forced to
struggle, which we must restrain even within certain limits, or, in given
cases, banish entirely from our minds? Is it not the habit of vulgar souls
always to call an _enemy_ evil! and must we call Eros an enemy? The sexual
feelings, like the feelings of pity and adoration, possess the particular
characteristic that, in their case, one being gratifies another by the
pleasure he enjoys—it is but rarely that we meet with such a benevolent
arrangement in nature. And yet we calumniate and corrupt it all by our bad
conscience! We connect the procreation of man with a bad conscience!

But the outcome of this diabolisation of Eros is a mere farce: the “demon”
Eros becomes an object of greater interest to mankind than all the angels
and saints put together, thanks to the mysterious Mumbo-Jumboism of the
Church in all things erotic: it is due to the Church that love stories,
even in our own time, have become the one common interest which appeals to
all classes of people—with an exaggeration which would be incomprehensible
to antiquity, and which will not fail to provoke roars of laughter in
coming generations. All our poetising and thinking, from the highest to
the lowest, is marked, and more than marked, by the exaggerated importance
bestowed upon the love story as the principal item of our existence.
Posterity may perhaps, on this account, come to the conclusion that its
entire legacy of Christian culture is tainted with narrowness and


THE TORTURES OF THE SOUL.—The whole world raises a shout of horror at the
present day if one man presumes to torture the body of another: the
indignation against such a being bursts forth almost spontaneously. Nay;
we tremble even at the very thought of torture being inflicted on a man or
an animal, and we undergo unspeakable misery when we hear of such an act
having been accomplished. But the same feeling is experienced in a very
much lesser degree and extent when it is a question of the tortures of the
soul and the dreadfulness of their infliction. Christianity has introduced
such tortures on an unprecedented scale, and still continues to preach
this kind of martyrdom—yea, it even complains innocently of backsliding
and indifference when it meets with a state of soul which is free from
such agonies. From all this it now results that humanity, in the face of
spiritual racks, tortures of the mind, and instruments of punishment,
behaves even to-day with the same awesome patience and indecision which it
exhibited in former times in the presence of the cruelties practised on
the bodies of men or animals. Hell has certainly not remained merely an
empty sound; and a new kind of pity has been devised to correspond to the
newly-created fears of hell—a horrible and ponderous compassion, hitherto
unknown; with people “irrevocably condemned to hell,” as, for example, the
Stony Guest gave Don Juan to understand, and which, during the Christian
era, should often have made the very stones weep.

Plutarch presents us with a gloomy picture of the state of mind of a
superstitious man in pagan times: but this picture pales when compared
with that of a Christian of the Middle Ages, who _supposes_ that nothing
can save him from “torments everlasting.” Dreadful omens appear to him:
perhaps he sees a stork holding a snake in his beak and hesitating to
swallow it. Or all nature suddenly becomes pale; or bright, fiery colours
appear across the surface of the earth. Or the ghosts of his dead
relations approach him, with features showing traces of dreadful
sufferings. Or the dark walls of the room in which the man is sleeping are
suddenly lighted up, and there, amidst a yellow flame, he perceives
instruments of torture and a motley horde of snakes and devils.
Christianity has surely turned this world of ours into a fearful
habitation by raising the crucifix in all parts and thereby proclaiming
the earth to be a place “where the just man is tortured to death!” And
when the ardour of some great preacher for once disclosed to the public
the secret sufferings of the individual, the agonies of the lonely souls,
when, for example, Whitefield preached “like a dying man to the dying,”
now bitterly weeping, now violently stamping his feet, speaking
passionately, in abrupt and incisive tones, without fearing to turn the
whole force of his attack upon any one individual present, excluding him
from the assembly with excessive harshness—then indeed did it seem as if
the earth were being transformed into a “field of evil.” The huge crowds
were then seen to act as if seized with a sudden attack of madness: many
were in fits of anguish; others lay unconscious and motionless; others,
again, trembled or rent the air with their piercing shrieks. Everywhere
there was a loud breathing, as of half-choked people who were gasping for
the breath of life. “Indeed,” said an eye-witness once, “almost all the
noises appeared to come from people who were dying in the bitterest

Let us never forget that it was Christianity which first turned the
death-bed into a bed of agony, and that, by the scenes which took place
there, and the terrifying sounds which were made possible there for the
first time, it has poisoned the senses and the blood of innumerable
witnesses and their children. Imagine the ordinary man who can never
efface the recollection of words like these: “Oh, eternity! Would that I
had no soul! Would that I had never been born! My soul is damned, damned;
lost for ever! Six days ago you might have helped me. But now all is over.
I belong to the devil, and with him I will go down to hell. Break, break,
ye poor hearts of stone! Ye will not break? What more can be done for
hearts of stone? I am damned that ye may be saved! There he is! Yea; there
he is! Come, good devil! Come!”


AVENGING JUSTICE.—Misfortune and guilt: these two things have been put on
one scale by Christianity; so that, when the misfortune which follows a
fault is a serious one, this fault is always judged accordingly to be a
very heinous one. But this was not the valuation of antiquity, and that is
why Greek tragedy—in which misfortune and punishment are discussed at
length, and yet in another sense—forms part of the great liberators of the
mind to an extent which even the ancients themselves could not realise.
They remained ingenuous enough not to set up an “adequate relation”
between guilt and misfortune. The guilt of their tragic heroes is, indeed,
the little pebble that makes them stumble, and on which account they
sometimes happen to break an arm or knock out an eye. Upon this the
feeling of antiquity made the comment, “Well, he should have gone his way
with more caution and less pride.” It was reserved for Christianity,
however, to say: “Here we have a great misfortune, and behind this great
misfortune there must lie a great fault, an equally _serious fault_,
though we cannot clearly see it! If, wretched man, you do not feel it, it
is because your heart is hardened—and worse than this will happen to you!”

Besides this, antiquity could point to examples of real misfortunes,
misfortunes that were pure and innocent; it was only with the advent of
Christianity that all punishment became well-merited punishment: in
addition to this it renders the imagination of the sufferer still more
suffering, so that the victim, in the midst of his distress, is seized
with the feeling that he has been morally reproved and cast away. Poor
humanity! The Greeks had a special word to stand for the feeling of
indignation which was experienced at the misfortune of another: among
Christian peoples this feeling was prohibited and was not permitted to
develop; hence the reason why they have no name for this _more virile_
brother of pity.


A PROPOSAL.—If, according to the arguments of Pascal and Christianity, our
ego is always hateful, how can we permit and suppose other people, whether
God or men, to love it? It would be contrary to all good principles to let
ourselves be loved when we know very well that we deserve nothing but
hatred—not to speak of other repugnant feelings. “But this is the very
Kingdom of Grace.” Then you look upon your love for your neighbour as a
grace? Your pity as a grace? Well, then, if you can do all this, there is
no reason why you should not go a step further: love yourselves through
grace, and then you will no longer find your God necessary, and the entire
drama of the Fall and Redemption of mankind will reach its last act in


THE COMPASSIONATE CHRISTIAN.—A Christian’s compassion in the presence of
his neighbour’s suffering has another side to it: viz. his profound
suspicion of all the joy of his neighbour, of his neighbour’s joy in
everything that he wills and is able to do.


THE SAINT’S HUMANITY.—A saint had fallen into the company of believers,
and could no longer stand their continually expressed hatred for sin. At
last he said to them: “God created all things, except sin: therefore it is
no wonder that He does not like it. But man has created sin, and why,
then, should he disown this only child of his merely because it is not
regarded with a friendly eye by God, its grandfather? Is that human?
Honour to whom honour is due—but one’s heart and duty must speak, above
all, in favour of the child—and only in the second place for the honour of
the grandfather!”


THE THEOLOGICAL ATTACK.—“You must arrange that with yourself; for your
life is at stake!”—Luther it is who suddenly springs upon us with these
words and imagines that we feel the knife at our throats. But we throw him
off with the words of one higher and more considerate than he: “We need
form no opinion in regard to this or that matter, and thus save our souls
from trouble. For, by their very nature, the things themselves cannot
compel us to express an opinion.”


POOR HUMANITY!—A single drop of blood too much or too little in the brain
may render our life unspeakably miserable and difficult, and we may suffer
more from this single drop of blood than Prometheus from his vulture. But
the worst is when we do not know that this drop is causing our
sufferings—and we think it is “the devil!” Or “sin!”


THE PHILOLOGY OF CHRISTIANITY.—How little Christianity cultivates the
sense of honesty can be inferred from the character of the writings of its
learned men. They set out their conjectures as audaciously as if they were
dogmas, and are but seldom at a disadvantage in regard to the
interpretation of Scripture. Their continual cry is: “I am right, for it
is written”—and then follows an explanation so shameless and capricious
that a philologist, when he hears it, must stand stock-still between anger
and laughter, asking himself again and again: Is it possible? Is it
honest? Is it even decent?

It is only those who never—or always—attend church that underestimate the
dishonesty with which this subject is still dealt in Protestant pulpits;
in what a clumsy fashion the preacher takes advantage of his security from
interruption; how the Bible is pinched and squeezed; and how the people
are made acquainted with every form of _the art of false reading_.

When all is said and done, however, what can be expected from the effects
of a religion which, during the centuries when it was being firmly
established, enacted that huge philological farce concerning the Old
Testament? I refer to that attempt to tear the Old Testament from the
hands of the Jews under the pretext that it contained only Christian
doctrines and _belonged_ to the Christians as the true people of Israel,
while the Jews had merely arrogated it to themselves without authority.
This was followed by a mania of would-be interpretation and falsification,
which could not under any circumstances have been allied with a good
conscience. However strongly Jewish savants protested, it was everywhere
sedulously asserted that the Old Testament alluded everywhere to Christ,
and nothing but Christ, more especially His Cross, and thus, wherever
reference was made to wood, a rod, a ladder, a twig, a tree, a willow, or
a staff, such a reference could not but be a prophecy relating to the wood
of the Cross: even the setting-up of the Unicorn and the Brazen Serpent,
even Moses stretching forth his hands in prayer—yea, the very spits on
which the Easter lambs were roasted: all these were allusions to the
Cross, and, as it were, preludes to it! Did any one who kept on asserting
these things ever _believe_ in them? Let it not be forgotten that the
Church did not shrink from putting interpolations in the text of the
Septuagint (_e.g._ Ps. xcvi. 10), in order that she might later on make
use of these interpolated passages as Christian prophecies. They were
engaged in a struggle, and thought of their foes rather than of honesty.


SUBTLETY IN PENURY.—Take care not to laugh at the mythology of the Greeks
merely because it so little resembles your own profound metaphysics! You
should admire a people who checked their quick intellect at this point,
and for a long time afterwards had tact enough to avoid the danger of
scholasticism and hair-splitting superstition.


stomach, the intestines, the beating of the heart, the nerves, the bile,
the seed—all those indispositions, debilities, irritations, and the whole
contingency of that machine about which we know so little—a Christian like
Pascal considers it all as a moral and religious phenomenon, asking
himself whether God or the devil, good or evil, salvation or damnation, is
the cause. Alas for the unfortunate interpreter! How he must distort and
worry his system! How he must distort and worry himself in order to gain
his point!


THE MORAL MIRACLE.—In the domain of morality, Christianity knows of
nothing but the miracle; the sudden change in all valuations, the sudden
renouncement of all habits, the sudden and irresistible predilection for
new things and persons. Christianity looks upon this phenomenon as the
work of God, and calls it the act of regeneration, thus giving it a unique
and incomparable value. Everything else which is called morality, and
which bears no relation to this miracle, becomes in consequence a matter
of indifference to the Christian, and indeed, so far as it is a feeling of
well-being and pride, an object of fear. The canon of virtue, of the
fulfilled law, is established in the New Testament, but in such a way as
to be the canon of _impossible virtue_: men who still aspire to moral
perfections must come to understand, in the face of this canon, that they
are further and further _removed_ from their aim; they must _despair_ of
virtue, and end by throwing themselves at the feet of the Merciful One.

It is only in reaching a conclusion like this that moral efforts on the
part of the Christian can still be regarded as possessing any value: the
condition that these efforts shall always remain sterile, painful, and
melancholy is therefore indispensable; and it is in this way that those
efforts could still avail to bring about that moment of ecstasy when man
experiences the “overflow of grace” and the moral miracle. This struggle
for morality is, however, not _necessary_; for it is by no means uncommon
for this miracle to happen to the sinner at the very moment when he is, so
to speak, wallowing in the mire of sin: yea, the leap from the deepest and
most abandoned sinfulness into its contrary seems easier, and, as a clear
proof of the miracle, even more desirable.

What, for the rest, may be the signification of such a sudden,
unreasonable, and irresistible revolution, such a change from the depths
of misery into the heights of happiness? (might it be a disguised
epilepsy?) This should at all events be considered by alienists, who have
frequent opportunities of observing similar “miracles”—for example, the
mania of murder or suicide. The relatively “more pleasant consequences” in
the case of the Christian make no important difference.


LUTHER, THE GREAT BENEFACTOR.—Luther’s most important result is the
suspicion which he awakened against the saints and the entire Christian
_vita contemplativa_; only since his day has an un-Christian _vita
contemplativa_ again become possible in Europe, only since then has
contempt for laymen and worldly activity ceased. Luther continued to be an
honest miner’s son even after he had been shut up in a monastery, and
there, for lack of other depths and “borings,” he descended into himself,
and bored terrifying and dark passages through his own depths—finally
coming to recognise that an introspective and saintly life was impossible
to him, and that his innate “activity” in body and soul would end by being
his ruin. For a long time, too long, indeed, he endeavoured to find the
way to holiness through castigations; but at length he made up his mind,
and said to himself: “There is no real _vita contemplativa_! We have been
deceived. The saints were no better than the rest of us.” This was truly a
rustic way of gaining one’s case; but for the Germans of that period it
was the only proper way. How edified they felt when they could read in
their Lutheran catechism: “Apart from the Ten Commandments there is no
work which could find favour in the eyes of God—these much-boasted
spiritual works of the saints are purely imaginary!”


DOUBT AS SIN.—Christianity has done all it possibly could to draw a circle
round itself, and has even gone so far as to declare doubt itself to be a
sin. We are to be precipitated into faith by a miracle, without the help
of reason, after which we are to float in it as the clearest and least
equivocal of elements—a mere glance at some solid ground, the thought that
we exist for some purpose other than floating, the least movement of our
amphibious nature: all this is a sin! Let it be noted that, following this
decision, the proofs and demonstration of the faith, and all meditations
upon its origin, are prohibited as sinful. Christianity wants blindness
and frenzy and an eternal swan-song above the waves under which reason has
been drowned!


EGOISM _VERSUS_ EGOISM.—How many are there who still come to the
conclusion: “Life would be intolerable were there no God!” Or, as is said
in idealistic circles: “Life would be intolerable if its ethical
signification were lacking.” Hence there must be a God—or an ethical
signification of existence! In reality the case stands thus: He who is
accustomed to conceptions of this sort does not desire a life without
them, hence these conceptions are necessary for him and his
preservation—but what a presumption it is to assert that everything
necessary for my preservation must exist _in reality_! As if my
preservation were really necessary! What if others held the contrary
opinion? if they did not care to live under the conditions of these two
articles of faith, and did not regard life as worth living if they were
realised!—And that is the present position of affairs.


THE HONESTY OF GOD.—An omniscient and omnipotent God who does not even
take care that His intentions shall be understood by His creatures—could
He be a God of goodness? A God, who, for thousands of years, has permitted
innumerable doubts and scruples to continue unchecked as if they were of
no importance in the salvation of mankind, and who, nevertheless,
announces the most dreadful consequences for any one who mistakes his
truth? Would he not be a cruel god if, being himself in possession of the
truth, he could calmly contemplate mankind, in a state of miserable
torment, worrying its mind as to what was truth?

Perhaps, however, he really is a God of goodness, and was unable to
express Himself more clearly? Perhaps he lacked intelligence enough for
this? Or eloquence? All the worse! For in such a case he may have been
deceived himself in regard to what he calls his “truth,” and may not be
far from being another “poor, deceived devil!” Must he not therefore
experience all the torments of hell at seeing His creatures suffering so
much here below—and even more, suffering through all eternity—when he
himself can neither advise nor help them, except as a deaf and dumb
person, who makes all kinds of equivocal signs when his child or his dog
is threatened with the most fearful danger? A distressed believer who
argues thus might be pardoned if his pity for the suffering God were
greater than his pity for his “neighbours”; for they are his neighbours no
longer if that most solitary and primeval being is also the greatest
sufferer and stands most in need of consolation.

Every religion shows some traits of the fact that it owes its origin to a
state of human intellectuality which was as yet too young and immature:
they all make light of the necessity for speaking the truth: as yet they
know nothing of the _duty of God_, the duty of being clear and truthful in
His communications with men. No one was more eloquent than Pascal in
speaking of the “hidden God” and the reasons why He had to keep Himself
hidden, all of which indicates clearly enough that Pascal himself could
never make his mind easy on this point: but he speaks with such confidence
that one is led to imagine that he must have been let into the secret at
some time or other. He seemed to have some idea that the _deus
absconditus_ bore a few slight traces of immorality; and he felt too much
ashamed and afraid of acknowledging this to himself: consequently, like a
man who is afraid, he spoke as loudly as he could.


AT THE DEATH-BED OF CHRISTIANITY.—All truly active men now do without
inward Christianity, and the most moderate and thoughtful men of the
intellectual middle classes possess only a kind of modified Christianity;
that is, a peculiarly simplified Christianity. A God who, in his love,
ordains everything so that it may be best for us, a God who gives us our
virtue and our happiness and then takes them away from us, so that
everything at length goes on smoothly and there is no reason left why we
should take life ill or grumble about it: in short, resignation and
modesty raised to the rank of divinities—that is the best and most
lifelike remnant of Christianity now left to us. It must be remembered,
however, that in this way Christianity has developed into a soft
_moralism_: instead of “God, freedom, and immortality,” we have now a kind
of benevolence and honest sentiments, and the belief that, in the entire
universe, benevolence and honest sentiments will finally prevail: this is
the euthanasia of Christianity.


WHAT IS TRUTH?—Who will not be pleased with the conclusions which the
faithful take such delight in coming to?—“Science cannot be true; for it
denies God. Hence it does not come from God; and consequently it cannot be
true—for God is truth.” It is not the deduction but the premise which is
fallacious. What if God were not exactly truth, and if this were proved?
And if he were instead the vanity, the desire for power, the ambitions,
the fear, and the enraptured and terrified folly of mankind?


REMEDY FOR THE DISPLEASED.—Even Paul already believed that some sacrifice
was necessary to take away the deep displeasure which God experienced
concerning sin: and ever since then Christians have never ceased to vent
the ill-humour which they felt with themselves upon some victim or
another—whether it was “the world,” or “history,” or “reason,” or joy, or
the tranquillity of other men—something good, no matter what, had to die
for _their_ sins (even if only _in effigie_)!


prove that there was no God—now it is shown how the belief that a God
existed could have _originated_, and by what means this belief gained
authority and importance: in this way the counterproof that there is no
God becomes unnecessary and superfluous.—In former times, when the
“evidences of the existence of God” which had been brought forward were
refuted, a doubt still remained, viz. whether better proofs could not be
found than those which had just been refuted: at that time the atheists
did not understand the art of making a _tabula rasa_.


“IN HOC SIGNO VINCES.”—To whatever degree of progress Europe may have
attained in other respects, where religious affairs are concerned it has
not yet reached the liberal naïveté of the ancient Brahmins, which proves
that, in India, four thousand years ago, people meditated more profoundly
and transmitted to their descendants more pleasure in meditating than is
the case in our own days. For those Brahmins believed in the first place
that the priests were more powerful than the gods, and in the second place
that it was observances which constituted the power of the priests: as a
result of which their poets were never tired of glorifying those
observances (prayers, ceremonies, sacrifices, chants, improvised melodies)
as the real dispensers of all benefits. Although a certain amount of
superstition and poetry was mingled with all this, the principles were
_true_! A step further, and the gods were cast aside—which Europe likewise
will have to do before very long! One more step further, and priests and
intermediaries could also be dispensed with—and then Buddha, the teacher
of the religion of self-redemption, appeared. How far Europe is still
removed from this degree of culture! When at length all the customs and
observances, upon which rests the power of gods, priests, and saviours,
shall have been destroyed, when as a consequence morality, in the old
sense, will be dead, then there will come ... yea, what will come then?
But let us refrain from speculating; let us rather make certain that
Europe will retrieve that which, in India, amidst this people of thinkers,
was carried out thousands of years ago as a commandment of thought!

Scattered among the different nations of Europe there are now from ten to
twenty millions of men who no longer “believe in God”—is it too much to
ask that they should give each other some indication or password? As soon
as they recognise each other in this way, they will also make themselves
known to each other; and they will immediately become a power in Europe,
and, happily, a power _among_ the nations! among the classes! between rich
and poor! between those who command, and those who obey! between the most
restless and the most tranquil, tranquillising people!



ONE BECOMES MORAL—but not because one is moral! Submission to morals may
be due to slavishness or vanity, egoism or resignation, dismal fanaticism
or thoughtlessness. It may, again, be an act of despair, such as
submission to the authority of a ruler; but there is nothing moral about
it _per se_.


ALTERATIONS IN MORALS.—Morals are constantly undergoing changes and
transformations, occasioned by successful crimes. (To these, for example,
belong all innovations in moral judgments.)


WHEREIN WE ARE ALL IRRATIONAL.—We still continue to draw conclusions from
judgments which we consider as false, or doctrines in which we no longer
believe,—through our feelings.


AWAKING FROM A DREAM.—Noble and wise men once upon a time believed in the
music of the spheres; there are still noble and wise men who believe in
“the moral significance of existence,” but there will come a day when this
music of the spheres also will no longer be audible to them. They will
awake and perceive that their ears have been dreaming.


OPEN TO DOUBT.—To accept a belief simply because it is customary implies
that one is dishonest, cowardly, and lazy.—Must dishonesty, cowardice, and
laziness, therefore, be the primary conditions of morality?


THE MOST ANCIENT MORAL JUDGMENTS.—What attitude do we assume towards the
acts of our neighbour?—In the first place, we consider how they may
benefit ourselves—we see them only in this light. It is this effect which
we regard as the intention of the acts,—and in the end we come to look
upon these intentions of our neighbour as permanent qualities in him, and
we call him, for example, “a dangerous man.” Triple error! Triple and most
ancient mistake! Perhaps this inheritance comes to us from the animals and
their faculty of judgment! Must not the origin of all morality be sought
in these detestable narrow-minded conclusions: “Whatever injures me is
evil (something injurious in itself), whatever benefits me is good
(beneficial and profitable in itself), whatever injures me once or several
times is hostile _per se_; whatever benefits me once or several times is
friendly _per se_.” _O pudenda origo!_ Is not this equivalent to
interpreting the contemptible, occasional, and often merely accidental
relations of another person to us as his primary and most essential
qualities, and affirming that towards himself and every one else he is
only capable of such actions as we ourselves have experienced at his hands
once or several times! And is not this thorough folly based upon the most
immodest of all mental reservations: namely, that we ourselves must be the
standard of what is good, since we determine good and evil?


mean, in the first place, to deny the moral inducements which, men
pretend, have urged them on to their actions,—which is equivalent to
saying that morality merely consists of words and forms, part of that
coarse and subtle deceit (especially self-deceit) which is characteristic
of mankind, and perhaps more especially of those men who are celebrated
for their virtues. In the second place, it may mean our denying that moral
judgments are founded on truths. It is admitted in such a case that these
judgments are, in fact, the motives of the actions, but that in this way
it is really errors as the basis of all moral judgments which urge men on
to their moral actions. This is my point of view; but I should be far from
denying that in very many cases a subtle suspicion in accordance with the
former point of view—_i.e._ in the spirit of La Rochefoucauld—is also
justifiable, and in any case of a high general utility.—Therefore I deny
morality in the same way as I deny alchemy, _i.e._ I deny its hypotheses;
but I do not deny that there have been alchemists who believed in these
hypotheses and based their actions upon them. I also deny immorality—not
that innumerable people feel immoral, but that there is any true reason
why they should feel so. I should not, of course, deny—unless I were a
fool—that many actions which are called immoral should be avoided and
resisted; and in the same way that many which are called moral should be
performed and encouraged; but I hold that in both cases these actions
should be performed from motives other than those which have prevailed up
to the present time. We must learn anew in order that at last, perhaps
very late in the day, we may be able to do something more: feel anew.


OUR VALUATIONS.—All actions may be referred back to valuations, and all
valuations are either one’s own or adopted, the latter being by far the
more numerous. Why do we adopt them? Through fear, _i.e._ we think it more
advisable to pretend that they are our own, and so well do we accustom
ourselves to do so that it at last becomes second nature to us. A
valuation of our own, which is the appreciation of a thing in accordance
with the pleasure or displeasure it causes us and no one else, is
something very rare indeed!—But must not our valuation of our
neighbour—which is prompted by the motive that we adopt his valuation in
most cases—proceed from ourselves and by our own decision? Of course, but
then we come to these decisions during our childhood, and seldom change
them. We often remain during our whole lifetime the dupes of our childish
and accustomed judgments in our manner of judging our fellow-men (their
minds, rank, morality, character, and reprehensibility), and we find it
necessary to subscribe to their valuations.


PSEUDO-EGOISM.—The great majority of people, whatever they may think and
say about their “egoism,” do nothing for their ego all their life long,
but only for a phantom of this ego which has been formed in regard to them
by their friends and communicated to them. As a consequence, they all live
in a haze of impersonal and half-personal opinions and of arbitrary and,
as it were, poetic valuations: the one always in the head of another, and
this head, again, in the head of somebody else—a queer world of phantoms
which manages to give itself a rational appearance! This haze of opinions
and habits grows in extent and lives almost independently of the people it
surrounds; it is it which gives rise to the immense effect of general
judgments on “man”—all those men, who do not know themselves, believe in a
bloodless abstraction which they call “man,” _i.e._ in a fiction; and
every change caused in this abstraction by the judgments of powerful
individualities (such as princes and philosophers) produces an
extraordinary and irrational effect on the great majority,—for the simple
reason that not a single individual in this haze can oppose a real ego, an
ego which is accessible to and fathomed by himself, to the universal pale
fiction, which he could thereby destroy.


AGAINST DEFINITIONS OF MORAL AIMS.—On all sides we now hear the aim of
morals defined as the preservation and advancement of humanity; but this
is merely the expression of a wish to have a formula and nothing more.
Preservation wherein? advancement whither? These are questions which must
at once be asked. Is not the most essential point, the answer to this
_wherein?_ and _whither?_ left out of the formula? What results therefrom,
so far as our own actions and duties are concerned, which is not already
tacitly and instinctively understood? Can we sufficiently understand from
this formula whether we must prolong as far as possible the existence of
the human race, or bring about the greatest possible disanimalisation of
man? How different the means, _i.e._ the practical morals, would have to
be in the two cases! Supposing that the greatest possible rationality were
given to mankind, this certainly would not guarantee the longest possible
existence for them! Or supposing that their “greatest happiness” was
thought to be the answer to the questions put, do we thereby mean the
highest degree of happiness which a few individuals might attain, or an
incalculable, though finally attainable, average state of happiness for
all? And why should morality be the way to it? Has not morality,
considered as a whole, opened up so many sources of displeasure as to lead
us to think that man up to the present, with every new refinement of
morality, has become more and more discontented with himself, with his
neighbour, and with his own lot? Has not the most moral of men hitherto
believed that the only justifiable state of mankind in the face of morals
is that of the deepest misery?


OUR RIGHT TO OUR FOLLY.—How must we act? Why must we act? So far as the
coarse and immediate needs of the individual are concerned, it is easy to
answer these questions, but the more we enter upon the more important and
more subtle domains of action, the more does the problem become uncertain
and the more arbitrary its solution. An arbitrary decision, however, is
the very thing that must be excluded here,—thus commands the authority of
morals: an obscure uneasiness and awe must relentlessly guide man in those
very actions the objects and means of which he cannot at once perceive.
This authority of morals undermines our thinking faculty in regard to
those things concerning which it might be dangerous to think wrongly,—it
is in this way, at all events, that morality usually justifies itself to
its accusers. Wrong in this place means dangerous; but dangerous to whom?
It is not, as a rule, the danger of the doer of the action which the
supporters of authoritative morals have in view, but their own danger; the
loss which their power and influence might undergo if the right to act
according to their own greater or lesser reason, however wilfully and
foolishly, were accorded to all men. They on their part make unhesitating
use of their right to arbitrariness and folly,—they even command in cases
where it is hardly possible, or at all events very difficult, to answer
the questions, “How must they act, why must they act?” And if the reason
of mankind grows with such extraordinary slowness that it was often
possible to deny its growth during the whole course of humanity, what is
more to blame for this than this solemn presence, even omnipresence, of
moral commands, which do not even permit the individual question of how
and why to be asked at all? Have we not been educated precisely in such a
way as to make us feel pathetic, and thus to obscure our vision at the
very time when our reason should be able to see as clearly and calmly as
possible—_i.e._ in all higher and more important circumstances?


SOME THESES.—We should not give the individual, in so far as he desires
his own happiness, any precepts or recommendations as to the road leading
to happiness; for individual happiness arises from particular laws that
are unknown to anybody, and such a man will only be hindered or obstructed
by recommendations which come to him from outside sources. Those precepts
which are called moral are in reality directed against individuals, and do
not by any means make for the happiness of such individuals. The
relationship of these precepts to the "happiness and well-being of
mankind" is equally slight, for it is quite impossible to assign a
definite conception to these words, and still less can they be employed as
guiding stars on the dark sea of moral aspirations. It is a prejudice to
think that morality is more favourable to the development of the reason
than immorality. It is erroneous to suppose that the unconscious aim in
the development of every conscious being (namely, animal, man, humanity,
etc.) is its “greatest happiness”: on the contrary, there is a particular
and incomparable happiness to be attained at every stage of our
development, one that is neither high nor low, but quite an individual
happiness. Evolution does not make happiness its goal; it aims merely at
evolution, and nothing else. It is only if humanity had a universally
recognised goal that we could propose to do this or that: for the time
being there is no such goal. It follows that the pretensions of morality
should not be brought into any relationship with mankind: this would be
merely childish and irrational. It is quite another thing to recommend a
goal to mankind: this goal would then be something that would depend upon
our own will and pleasure. Provided that mankind in general agreed to
adopt such a goal, it could then impose a moral law upon itself, a law
which would, at all events, be imposed by their own free will. Up to now,
however, the moral law has had to be placed above our own free will:
strictly speaking, men did not wish to impose this law upon themselves;
they wished to take it from somewhere, to discover it, or to let
themselves be commanded by it from somewhere.


six essentially different methods for combating the vehemence of an
impulse. First of all, we may avoid the occasion for satisfying the
impulse, weakening and mortifying it by refraining from satisfying it for
long and ever-lengthening periods. Secondly, we may impose a severe and
regular order upon ourselves in regard to the satisfying of our appetites.
By thus regulating the impulse and limiting its ebb and flow to fixed
periods, we may obtain intervals in which it ceases to disturb us; and by
beginning in this way we may perhaps be able to pass on to the first
method. In the third place, we may deliberately give ourselves over to an
unrestrained and unbounded gratification of the impulse in order that we
may become disgusted with it, and to obtain by means of this very disgust
a command over the impulse: provided, of course, that we do not imitate
the rider who rides his horse to death and breaks his own neck in doing
so. For this, unhappily, is generally the outcome of the application of
this third method.

In the fourth place, there is an intellectual trick, which consists in
associating the idea of the gratification so firmly with some painful
thought, that after a little practice the thought of gratification is
itself immediately felt as a very painful one. (For example, when the
Christian accustoms himself to think of the presence and scorn of the
devil in the course of sensual enjoyment, or everlasting punishment in
hell for revenge by murder; or even merely of the contempt which he will
meet with from those of his fellow-men whom he most respects, if he steals
a sum of money, or if a man has often checked an intense desire for
suicide by thinking of the grief and self-reproaches of his relations and
friends, and has thus succeeded in balancing himself upon the edge of
life: for, after some practice, these ideas follow one another in his mind
like cause and effect.) Among instances of this kind may be mentioned the
cases of Lord Byron and Napoleon, in whom the pride of man revolted and
took offence at the preponderance of one particular passion over the
collective attitude and order of reason. From this arises the habit and
joy of tyrannising over the craving and making it, as it were, gnash its
teeth. “I will not be a slave of any appetite,” wrote Byron in his diary.
In the fifth place, we may bring about a dislocation of our powers by
imposing upon ourselves a particularly difficult and fatiguing task, or by
deliberately submitting to some new charm and pleasure in order thus to
turn our thoughts and physical powers into other channels. It comes to the
same thing if we temporarily favour another impulse by affording it
numerous opportunities of gratification, and thus rendering it the
squanderer of the power which would otherwise be commandeered, so to
speak, by the tyrannical impulse. A few, perhaps, will be able to restrain
the particular passion which aspires to domination by granting their other
known passions a temporary encouragement and license in order that they
may devour the food which the tyrant wishes for himself alone.

In the sixth and last place, the man who can stand it, and thinks it
reasonable to weaken and subdue his entire physical and psychical
organisation, likewise, of course, attains the goal of weakening a single
violent instinct; as, for example, those who starve their sensuality and
at the same time their vigour, and often destroy their reason into the
bargain, such as the ascetics.—Hence, shunning the opportunities,
regulating the impulse, bringing about satiety and disgust in the impulse,
associating a painful idea (such as that of discredit, disgust, or
offended pride), then the dislocation of one’s forces, and finally general
debility and exhaustion: these are the six methods. But the will to combat
the violence of a craving is beyond our power, equally with the method we
adopt and the success we may have in applying it. In all this process our
intellect is rather merely the blind instrument of another rival craving,
whether it be the impulse to repose, or the fear of disgrace and other
evil consequences, or love. While “we” thus imagine that we are
complaining of the violence of an impulse, it is at bottom merely one
impulse which is complaining of another, _i.e._ the perception of the
violent suffering which is being caused us presupposes that there is
another equally or more violent impulse, and that a struggle is impending
in which our intellect must take part.


THAT WHICH OPPOSES.—We may observe the following process in ourselves, and
I should like it to be often observed and confirmed. There arises in us
the scent of a kind of pleasure hitherto unknown to us, and consequently a
new craving. Now, the question is, What opposes itself to this craving? If
it be things and considerations of a common kind, or people whom we hold
in no very high esteem, the aim of the new craving assumes the appearance
of a “noble, good, praiseworthy feeling, and one worthy of sacrifice”: all
the moral dispositions which have been inherited will adopt it and will
add it to the number of those aims which we consider as moral—and now we
imagine that we are no longer striving after a pleasure, but after a
morality, which greatly increases our confidence in our aspirations.


TO THE ADMIRERS OF OBJECTIVENESS.—He who, as a child, has observed in his
parents and acquaintances in the midst of whom he has grown up, certain
varied and strong feelings, with but little subtle discernment and
inclination for intellectual justice, and has therefore employed his best
powers and his most precious time in imitating these feelings, will
observe in himself when he arrives at years of discretion that every new
thing or man he meets with excites in him either sympathy or aversion,
envy or contempt. Under the domination of this experience, which he is
powerless to shake off, he admires neutrality of feeling or “objectivity”
as an extraordinary thing, as something connected with genius or a very
rare morality, and he cannot believe that even this neutrality is merely
the product of education and habit.


ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF DUTY AND RIGHT.—Our duties are the claims which
others have upon us. How did they acquire these claims? By the fact that
they considered us as capable of making and holding agreements and
contracts, by assuming that we were their like and equals, and by
consequently entrusting something to us, bringing us up, educating us, and
supporting us. We do our duty, _i.e._ we justify that conception of our
power for the sake of which all these things were done for us. We return
them in proportion as they were meted out to us. It is thus our pride that
orders us to do our duty—we desire to re-establish our own independence by
opposing to that which others have done for us something that we do for
them, for in that way the others invade our sphere of power, and would for
ever have a hand in it if we did not make reprisals by means of “duty,”
and thus encroach upon their power. The rights of others can only have
regard to that which lies within our power; it would be unreasonable on
their part to require something from us which does not belong to us. To
put the matter more accurately, their rights can only relate to what they
imagine to be in our power, provided that it is something that we
ourselves consider as being in our power. The same error may easily occur
on either side. The feeling of duty depends upon our having the same
belief in regard to the extent of our power as other people have, _i.e._
that we can promise certain things and undertake to do them freely (“free

My rights consist of that part of my power which others have not only
conceded to me, but which they wish to maintain for me. Why do they do it?
On the one hand they are actuated by wisdom, fear and prudence: whether
they expect something similar from us (the protection of their rights),
whether they consider a struggle with us as dangerous or inopportune, or
whether they see a disadvantage to themselves in every diminution of our
power, since in that case we should be ill adapted for an alliance with
them against a hostile third power. On the other hand rights are granted
by donations and cessions. In this latter case, the other people have not
only enough power, but more than enough, so that they can give up a
portion and guarantee it to the person to whom they give it: whereby they
presuppose a certain restricted sense of power in the person upon whom
they have bestowed the gift. In this way rights arise: recognised and
guaranteed degrees of power. When the relations of powers to one another
are materially changed, rights disappear and new ones are formed, as is
demonstrated by the constant flux and reflux of the rights of nations.
When our power diminishes to any great extent, the feelings of those who
hitherto guaranteed it undergo some change: they consider whether they
shall once again restore us to our former possession, and if they do not
see their way to do this they deny our “rights” from that time forward. In
the same way, if our power increases to a considerable extent the feelings
of those who previously recognised it, and whose recognition we no longer
require, likewise change: they will then try to reduce our power to its
former dimensions, and they will endeavour to interfere in our affairs,
justifying their interference by an appeal to their “duty.” But this is
merely useless word-quibbling. Where right prevails, a certain state and
degree of power is maintained, and all attempts at its augmentation and
diminution are resisted. The right of others is the concession of our
feeling of power to the feeling of power in these others. Whenever our
power shows itself to be thoroughly shattered and broken, our rights
cease: on the other hand, when we have become very much stronger, the
rights of others cease in our minds to be what we have hitherto admitted
them to be. The man who aims at being just, therefore, must keep a
constant lookout for the changes in the indicator of the scales in order
that he may properly estimate the degrees of power and right which, with
the customary transitoriness of human things, retain their equilibrium for
only a short time and in most cases continue to rise and fall. As a
consequence it is thus very difficult to be “just,” and requires much
experience, good intentions, and an unusually large amount of good sense.


STRIVING FOR DISTINCTION.—When we strive after distinction we must
ceaselessly keep our eyes fixed on our neighbour and endeavour to
ascertain what his feelings are; but the sympathy and knowledge which are
necessary to satisfy this desire are far from being inspired by
harmlessness, compassion, or kindness. On the contrary, we wish to
perceive or find out in what way our neighbour suffers from us, either
internally or externally, how he loses control over himself and yields to
the impression which our hand or even our mere appearance makes on him.
Even when he who aspires to distinction makes or wishes to make a joyful,
elevating, or cheerful impression, he does not enjoy this success in that
he rejoices, exalts, or cheers his neighbour, but in that he leaves his
impress on the latter’s soul, changing its form and dominating it
according to his will. The desire for distinction is the desire to subject
one’s neighbour, even if it be merely in an indirect fashion, one only
felt or even only dreamt of. There is a long series of stages in this
secretly-desired will to subdue, and a very complete record of them would
perhaps almost be like an excellent history of culture from the early
distortions of barbarism down to the caricatures of modern over-refinement
and sickly idealism.

This desire for distinction entails upon our neighbour—to indicate only a
few rungs of the long ladder—torture first of all, followed by blows, then
terror, anxious surprise, wonder, envy, admiration, elevation, pleasure,
joy, laughter, derision, mockery, sneers, scourging and self-inflicted
torture. There at the very top of the ladder stands the ascetic and
martyr, who himself experiences the utmost satisfaction, because he
inflicts on himself, as a result of his desire for distinction, that pain
which his opposite, the barbarian on the first rung of the ladder,
inflicts upon those others, upon whom and before whom he wishes to
distinguish himself. The triumph of the ascetic over himself, his
introspective glance, which beholds a man split up into a sufferer and a
spectator, and which henceforth never looks at the outside world but to
gather from it, as it were, wood for his own funeral pyre: this final
tragedy of the desire for distinction which shows us only one person who,
so to speak, is consumed internally—that is an end worthy of the
beginning: in both cases there is an inexpressible happiness at the sight
of torture; indeed, happiness considered as a feeling of power developed
to the utmost, has perhaps never reached a higher pitch of perfection on
earth than in the souls of superstitious ascetics. This is expressed by
the Brahmins in the story of King Visvamitra, who obtained so much
strength by thousands of years of penance that he undertook to construct a
new heaven. I believe that in the entire category of inward experiences
the people of our time are mere novices and clumsy guessers who “try to
have a shot at it”: four thousand years ago much more was known about
these execrable refinements of self-enjoyment. Perhaps at that time the
creation of the world was imagined by some Hindu dreamer to have been an
ascetic operation which a god took upon himself! Perhaps this god may have
wished to join himself to a mobile nature as an instrument of torture in
order thus to feel his happiness and power doubled! And even supposing him
to have been a god of love: what a delight it would have been for him to
create a suffering mankind in order that he himself might suffer divinely
and super-humanly from the sight of the continual torture of his
creatures, and thus to tyrannise over himself! And, again, supposing him
to have been not only a god of love, but also a god of holiness, we can
scarcely conceive the ecstasies of this divine ascetic while creating sins
and sinners and eternal punishment, and an immense place of eternal
torture below his throne where there is a continual weeping and wailing
and gnashing of teeth!

It is not by any means impossible that the soul of a St. Paul, a Dante, or
a Calvin, and people like them, may once have penetrated into the
terrifying secrets of such voluptuousness of power, and in view of such
souls we may well ask whether the circle of this desire for distinction
has come to a close with the ascetic. Might it not be possible for the
course of this circle to be traversed a second time, by uniting the
fundamental idea of the ascetic, and at the same time that of a
compassionate Deity? In other words, pain would be given to others in
order that pain might be given to one’s self, so that in this way one
could triumph over one’s self and one’s pity to enjoy the extreme
voluptuousness of power.—Forgive me these digressions, which come to my
mind when I think of all the possibilities in the vast domain of psychical
debaucheries to which one may be led by the desire for power!


ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUFFERER.—The state of sick men who have suffered
long and terribly from the torture inflicted upon them by their illness,
and whose reason has nevertheless not been in any way affected, is not
without a certain amount of value in our search for knowledge—quite apart
from the intellectual benefits which follow upon every profound solitude
and every sudden and justified liberation from duties and habits. The man
who suffers severely looks forth with terrible calmness from his state of
suffering upon outside things: all those little lying enchantments, by
which things are usually surrounded when seen through the eye of a healthy
person, have vanished from the sufferer; his own life even lies there
before him, stripped of all bloom and colour. If by chance it has happened
that up to then he has lived in some kind of dangerous fantasy, this
extreme disenchantment through pain is the means, and possibly the only
means, of extricating him from it. (It is possible that this is what
happened to the Founder of Christianity when suspended from the Cross; for
the bitterest words ever pronounced, “My God, My God, why hast Thou
forsaken Me?” if understood in their deepest sense, as they ought to be
understood, contain the evidence of a complete disillusionment and
enlightenment in regard to the deceptions of life: in that moment of
supreme suffering Christ obtained a clear insight into Himself, just as in
the poet’s narrative did the poor dying Don Quixote.)

The formidable tension of the intellect that wishes to hold its own
against pain shows everything that one now looks upon in a new light, and
the inexpressible charm of this new light is often powerful enough to
withstand all the seductiveness of suicide and to make the continuation of
life seem very desirable to the sufferer. His mind scornfully turns to the
warm and comfortable dream-world in which the healthy man moves about
thoughtlessly, and he thinks with contempt of the noblest and most
cherished illusions in which he formerly indulged. He experiences delight
in conjuring up this contempt as if from the depths of hell, and thus
inflicting the bitterest sufferings upon his soul: it is by this
counterpoise that he bears up against physical suffering—he feels that
such a counterpoise is now essential! In one terrible moment of
clear-sightedness he says to himself, “Be for once thine own accuser and
hangman; for once regard thy suffering as a punishment which thou hast
inflicted on thyself! Enjoy thy superiority as a judge: better still,
enjoy thine own will and pleasure, thy tyrannical arbitrariness! Raise
thyself above thy life as above thy suffering, and look down into the
depth of reason and unreason!”

Our pride revolts as it never did before, it experiences an incomparable
charm in defending life against such a tyrant as suffering and against all
the insinuations of this tyrant, who would fain urge us to give evidence
against life,—we are taking the part of life in the face of this tyrant.
In this state of mind we take up a bitter stand against all pessimism in
order that it may not appear to be a consequence of our condition, and
thus humiliate us as conquered ones. The charm of being just in our
judgments was also never greater than now; for now this justice is a
triumph over ourselves and over so irritated a state of mind that
unfairness of judgment might be excused,—but we will not be excused, it is
now, if ever, that we wish to show that we need no excuse. We pass through
downright orgies of pride.

And now appears the first ray of relief, of recovery, and one of its first
effects is that we turn against the preponderance of our pride: we call
ourselves foolish and vain, as if we had undergone some unique experience.
We humiliate ungratefully this all-powerful pride, the aid of which
enabled us to endure the pain we suffered, and we call vehemently for some
antidote for this pride: we wish to become strangers to ourselves and to
be freed from our own person after pain has forcibly made us personal too
long. “Away with this pride,” we cry, “it was only another illness and
convulsion!” Once more we look longingly at men and nature and recollect
with a sorrowful smile that now since the veil has fallen we regard many
things concerning them in a new and different light,—but we are refreshed
by once more seeing the softened lights of life, and emerge from that
fearfully dispassionate daylight in which we as sufferers saw things and
through things. We do not get angry when we see the charms of health
resume their play, and we contemplate the sight as if transformed, gently
and still fatigued. In this state we cannot listen to music without


THE SO-CALLED “EGO.”—Language and the prejudices upon which language is
based very often act as obstacles in our paths when we proceed to explore
internal phenomena and impulses: as one example, we may instance the fact
that there are only words to express the superlative degrees of these
phenomena and impulses. Now, it is our habit no longer to observe
accurately when words fail us, since it is difficult in such cases to
think with precision: in former times, even, people involuntarily came to
the conclusion that where the domain of words ceased, the domain of
existence ceased also. Wrath, hatred, love, pity, desire, recognition,
joy, pain: all these are names indicating extreme conditions; the milder
and middle stages, and even more particularly the ever active lower
stages, escape our attention, and yet it is they which weave the warp and
woof of our character and destiny. It often happens that these extreme
outbursts—and even the most moderate pleasure or displeasure of which we
are actually conscious, whether in partaking of food or listening to a
sound, is possibly, if properly estimated, merely an extreme
outburst,—destroy the texture and are then violent exceptions, in most
cases the consequences of some congestions,—and how easily as such can
they mislead the observer! as indeed they mislead the person acting! We
are all of us not what we appear to be according to the conditions for
which alone we have consciousness and words, and consequently praise and
blame. We fail to recognise ourselves after these coarse outbursts which
are known to ourselves alone, we draw conclusions from data where the
exceptions prove stronger than the rules; we misinterpret ourselves in
reading our own ego’s pronouncements, which appeared to be so clear. But
our opinion of ourselves, this so-called ego which we have arrived at by
this wrong method, contributes henceforth to form our character and


THE UNKNOWN WORLD OF THE “SUBJECT.”—What men have found it so difficult to
understand from the most ancient times down to the present day is their
ignorance in regard to themselves, not merely with respect to good and
evil, but something even more essential. The oldest of illusions lives on,
namely, that we know, and know precisely in each case, how human action is
originated. Not only “God who looks into the heart,” not only the man who
acts and reflects upon his action, but everybody does not doubt that he
understands the phenomena of action in every one else. “I know what I want
and what I have done, I am free and responsible for my act, and I make
others responsible for their acts; I can mention by its name every moral
possibility and every internal movement which precedes an act,—ye may act
as ye will, I understand myself and I understand you all!” Such was what
every one thought once upon a time, and almost every one thinks so even
now. Socrates and Plato, who in this matter were great sceptics and
admirable innovators, were nevertheless intensely credulous in regard to
that fatal prejudice, that profound error, which holds that “The right
knowledge must necessarily be followed by the right action.” In holding
this principle they were still the heirs of the universal folly and
presumption that knowledge exists concerning the essence of an action.

“It would indeed be dreadful if the comprehension of the essence of a
right action were not followed by that right action itself”—this was the
only manner in which these great men thought it necessary to demonstrate
this idea, the contrary seemed to them to be inconceivable and mad; and
nevertheless this contrary corresponds to the naked reality which has been
demonstrated daily and hourly from time immemorial. Is it not a “dreadful”
truth that all that we know about an act is never sufficient to accomplish
it, that the bridge connecting the knowledge of the act with the act
itself has never yet been built? Acts are never what they appear to us to
be. We have taken great pains to learn that external things are not as
they appear to us.—Well! It is the same with internal phenomena. All moral
acts are in reality “something different,”—we cannot say anything more
about them, and all acts are essentially unknown to us. The general
belief, however, has been and still is quite the contrary: the most
ancient realism is against us: up to the present humanity has thought, “An
action is what it appears to be.” (In re-reading these words a very
expressive passage from Schopenhauer occurs to me, and I will quote it as
a proof that he, too, without the slightest scruple, continued to adhere
to this moral realism: “Each one of us is in reality a competent and
perfect moral judge, knowing exactly good and evil, made holy by loving
good and despising evil,—such is every one of us in so far as the acts of
others and not his own are under consideration, and when he has merely to
approve or disapprove, whilst the burden of the performance of the acts is
borne by other shoulders. Every one is therefore justified in occupying as
confessor the place of God.”)


IN PRISON.—My eye, whether it be keen or weak, can only see a certain
distance, and it is within this space that I live and move: this horizon
is my immediate fate, greater or lesser, from which I cannot escape. Thus,
a concentric circle is drawn round every being, which has a centre and is
peculiar to himself. In the same way our ear encloses us in a small space,
and so likewise does our touch. We measure the world by these horizons
within which our senses confine each of us within prison walls. We say
that this is near and that is far distant, that this is large and that is
small, that one thing is hard and another soft; and this appreciation of
things we call sensation—but it is all an error _per se_! According to the
number of events and emotions which it is on an average possible for us to
experience in a given space of time, we measure our lives; we call them
short or long, rich or poor, full or empty; and according to the average
of human life we estimate that of other beings,—and all this is an error
_per se_!

If we had eyes a hundred times more piercing to examine the things that
surround us, men would seem to us to be enormously tall; we can even
imagine organs by means of which men would appear to us to be of
immeasurable stature. On the other hand, certain organs could be so formed
as to permit us to view entire solar systems as if they were contracted
and brought close together like a single cell: and to beings of an inverse
order a single cell of the human body could be made to appear in its
construction, movement, and harmony as if it were a solar system in
itself. The habits of our senses have wrapped us up in a tissue of lying
sensations which in their turn lie at the base of all our judgments and
our “knowledge,”—there are no means of exit or escape to the real world!
We are like spiders in our own webs, and, whatever we may catch in them,
it will only be something that our web is capable of catching.


WHAT IS OUR NEIGHBOUR?—What do we conceive of our neighbour except his
limits: I mean that whereby he, as it were, engraves and stamps himself in
and upon us? We can understand nothing of him except the changes which
take place upon our own person and of which he is the cause, what we know
of him is like a hollow, modelled space. We impute to him the feelings
which his acts arouse in us, and thus give him a wrong and inverted
positivity. We form him after our knowledge of ourselves into a satellite
of our own system, and if he shines upon us, or grows dark, and we in any
case are the ultimate cause of his doing so, we nevertheless still believe
the contrary! O world of phantoms in which we live! O world so perverted,
topsy-turvy and empty, and yet dreamt of as full and upright!


EXPERIENCE AND INVENTION.—To however high a degree a man can attain to
knowledge of himself, nothing can be more incomplete than the conception
which he forms of the instincts constituting his individuality. He can
scarcely name the more common instincts: their number and force, their
flux and reflux, their action and counteraction, and, above all, the laws
of their nutrition, remain absolutely unknown to him. This nutrition,
therefore, becomes a work of chance: the daily experiences of our lives
throw their prey now to this instinct and now to that, and the instincts
gradually seize upon it; but the ebb and flow of these experiences does
not stand in any rational relationship to the nutritive needs of the total
number of the instincts. Two things, then, must always happen: some
cravings will be neglected and starved to death, while others will be
overfed. Every moment in the life of man causes some polypous arms of his
being to grow and others to wither away, in accordance with the nutriment
which that moment may or may not bring with it. Our experiences, as I have
already said, are all in this sense means of nutriment, but scattered
about with a careless hand and without discrimination between the hungry
and the overfed. As a consequence of this accidental nutrition of each
particular part, the polypus in its complete development will be something
just as fortuitous as its growth.

To put this more clearly: let us suppose that an instinct or craving has
reached that point when it demands gratification,—either the exercise of
its power or the discharge of it, or the filling up of a vacuum (all this
is metaphorical language),—then it will examine every event that occurs in
the course of the day to ascertain how it can be utilised with the object
of fulfilling its aim: whether the man runs or rests, or is angry, or
reads or speaks or fights or rejoices, the unsatiated instinct watches, as
it were, every condition into which the man enters, and, as a rule, if it
finds nothing for itself it must wait, still unsatisfied. After a little
while it becomes feeble, and at the end of a few days or a few months, if
it has not been satisfied, it will wither away like a plant which has not
been watered. This cruelty of chance would perhaps be more conspicuous if
all the cravings were as vehement in their demands as hunger, which
refuses to be satisfied with imaginary dishes; but the great majority of
our instincts, especially those which are called moral, are thus easily
satisfied,—if it be permitted to suppose that our dreams serve as
compensation to a certain extent for the accidental absence of “nutriment”
during the day. Why was last night’s dream full of tenderness and tears,
that of the night before amusing and gay, and the previous one adventurous
and engaged in some continual obscure search? How does it come about that
in this dream I enjoy indescribable beauties of music, and in that one I
soar and fly upwards with the delight of an eagle to the most distant

These inventions in which our instincts of tenderness, merriment, or
adventurousness, or our desire for music and mountains, can have free play
and scope—and every one can recall striking instances—are interpretations
of our nervous irritations during sleep, very free and arbitrary
interpretations of the movements of our blood and intestines, and the
pressure of our arm and the bed coverings, or the sound of a church bell,
the weathercocks, the moths, and so on. That this text, which on the whole
is very much the same for one night as another, is so differently
commented upon, that our creative reason imagines such different causes
for the nervous irritations of one day as compared with another, may be
explained by the fact that the prompter of this reason was different
to-day from yesterday—another instinct or craving wished to be satisfied,
to show itself, to exercise itself and be refreshed and discharged: this
particular one being at its height to-day and another one being at its
height last night. Real life has not the freedom of interpretation
possessed by dream life; it is less poetic and less unrestrained—but is it
necessary for me to show that our instincts, when we are awake, likewise
merely interpret our nervous irritations and determine their “causes” in
accordance with their requirements? that there is no really essential
difference between waking and dreaming! that even in comparing different
degrees of culture, the freedom of the conscious interpretation of the one
is not in any way inferior to the freedom in dreams of the other! that our
moral judgments and valuations are only images and fantasies concerning
physiological processes unknown to us, a kind of habitual language to
describe certain nervous irritations? that all our so-called consciousness
is a more or less fantastic commentary of an unknown text, one which is
perhaps unknowable but yet felt?

Consider some insignificant occurrence. Let us suppose that some day as we
pass along a public street we see some one laughing at us. In accordance
with whatever craving has reached its culminating point within us at that
moment, this incident will have this or that signification for us; and it
will be a very different occurrence in accordance with the class of men to
which we belong. One man will take it like a drop of rain, another will
shake it off like a fly, a third person will try to pick a quarrel on
account of it, a fourth will examine his garments to see if there is
anything about them likely to cause laughter, and a fifth will in
consequence think about what is ridiculous _per se_, a sixth will be
pleased at having involuntarily contributed to add a ray of sunshine and
mirth to the world,—in all these cases some craving is gratified, whether
anger, combativeness, meditation, or benevolence. This instinct, whatever
it may be, has seized upon that incident as its prey: why that particular
one? Because, hungry and thirsty, it was lying in ambush.

Not long ago at 11 o’clock in the morning a man suddenly collapsed and
fell down in front of me as if struck by lightning. All the women who were
near at once gave utterance to cries of horror, while I set the man on his
feet again and waited until he recovered his speech. During this time no
muscle of my face moved and I experienced no sensation of fear or pity; I
simply did what was most urgent and reasonable and calmly proceeded on my
way. Supposing some one had told me on the previous evening that at 11
o’clock on the following day a man would fall down in front of me like
this, I should have suffered all kinds of agonies in the interval, lying
awake all night, and at the decisive moment should also perhaps have
fallen down like the man instead of helping him; for in the meantime all
the imaginable cravings within me would have had leisure to conceive and
to comment upon this incident. What are our experiences, then? Much more
what we attribute to them than what they really are. Or should we perhaps
say that nothing is contained in them? that experiences in themselves are
merely works of fancy?


TO TRANQUILLISE THE SCEPTIC.—“I don’t know at all what I am doing. I don’t
know in the least what I ought to do!”—You are right, but be sure of this:
you are being done at every moment! Mankind has at all times mistaken the
active for the passive: it is its eternal grammatical blunder.


CAUSE AND EFFECT.—On this mirror—and our intellect is a mirror—something
is going on that indicates regularity: a certain thing is each time
followed by another certain thing. When we perceive this and wish to give
it a name, we call it cause and effect,—fools that we are! as if in this
we had understood or could understand anything! For, of course, we have
seen nothing but the images of causes and effects, and it is just this
figurativeness which renders it impossible for us to see a more
substantial relation than that of sequence!


THE PURPOSES IN NATURE.—Any impartial investigator who examines the
history of the eye and its form in the lower creatures, and sees how the
visual organ was slowly developed, cannot help recognising that sight was
not the first purpose of the eye, but probably only asserted itself when
pure hazard had contributed to bring together the apparatus. One single
example of this kind, and the “final purposes” fall from our eyes like


REASON.—How did reason come into the world? As is only proper, in an
irrational manner; by accident. We shall have to guess at this accident as
a riddle.


WHAT IS VOLITION?—We laugh at a man who, stepping out of his room at the
very minute when the sun is rising, says, “It is my _will_ that the sun
shall rise”; or at him who, unable to stop a wheel, says, “I _wish_ it to
roll”; or, again, at him who, thrown in a wrestling match, says, “Here I
lie, but here I _wish_ to lie.” But, joking apart, do we not act like one
of these three persons whenever we use the expression “I wish”?


ON THE DOMAIN OF FREEDOM.—We can _think_ many more things than we can do
and experience—_i.e._ our faculty of thinking is superficial and is
satisfied with what lies on the surface, it does not even perceive this
surface. If our intellect were strictly developed in proportion to our
power, and our exercise of this power, the primary principle of our
thinking would be that we can understand only that which we are able to
do—if, indeed, there is any understanding at all. The thirsty man is
without water, but the creations of his imagination continually bring the
image of water to his sight, as if nothing could be more easily procured.
The superficial and easily satisfied character of the intellect cannot
understand real need, and thus feels itself superior. It is proud of being
able to do more, to run faster, and to reach the goal almost within the
twinkling of an eye: and in this way the domain of thought, when
contrasted with the domain of action, volition, and experience, appears to
be the domain of liberty, while, as I have already stated, it is nothing
but the domain of superficiality and self-sufficiency.


FORGETFULNESS.—It has never yet been proved that there is such a thing as
forgetfulness: all that we know is that we have no power over
recollection. In the meantime we have filled up this gap in our power with
the word “forgetfulness,” exactly as if it were another faculty added to
our list. But, after all, what is within our power? If that word fills up
a gap in our power, might not the other words be found capable of filling
up a gap in the knowledge which we possess of our power?


FOR A DEFINITE PURPOSE.—Of all human actions probably the least understood
are those which are carried out for a definite purpose, because they have
always been regarded as the most intelligible and commonplace to our
intellect. The great problems can be picked up in the highways and byways.


DREAMING AND RESPONSIBILITY.—You would wish to be responsible for
everything except your dreams! What miserable weakness, what lack of
logical courage! Nothing contains more of your own work than your dreams!
Nothing belongs to you so much! Substance, form, duration, actor,
spectator—in these comedies you act as your complete selves! And yet it is
just here that you are afraid and ashamed of yourselves, and even Oedipus,
the wise Oedipus, derived consolation from the thought that we cannot be
blamed for what we dream. From this I must conclude that the great
majority of men must have some dreadful dreams to reproach themselves
with. If it were otherwise, to how great an extent would these nocturnal
fictions have been exploited in the interests of man’s pride! Need I add
that the wise Oedipus was right, that we are really not responsible for
our dreams any more than for our waking hours, and that the doctrine of
free will has as its parents man’s pride and sense of power! Perhaps I say
this too often; but that does not prove that it is not true.


THE ALLEGED COMBAT OF MOTIVES.—People speak of the “combat of motives,”
but they designate by this expression that which is not a combat of
motives at all. What I mean is that, in our meditative consciousness, the
consequences of different actions which we think we are able to carry out
present themselves successively, one after the other, and we compare these
consequences in our mind. We think we have come to a decision concerning
an action after we have established to our own satisfaction that the
consequences of this action will be favourable. Before we arrive at this
conclusion, however, we often seriously worry because of the great
difficulties we experience in guessing what the consequences are likely to
be, and in seeing them in their full importance, without exception—and,
after all this, we must reckon up any fortuitous elements that are likely
to arise. Then comes the chief difficulty: all the consequences which we
have with such difficulty determined one by one must be weighed on some
scales against each other; and it only too often comes about that, owing
to the difference in the quality of all the conceivable consequences, both
scales and weights are lacking for this casuistry of advantage.

Even supposing, however, that in this case we are able to overcome the
difficulty, and that mere hazard has placed in our scales results which
permit of a mutual balance, we have now, in the idea of the consequences
of a particular action, a motive for performing this very action, but only
one motive! When we have finally decided to act, however, we are fairly
often influenced by another order of motives than those of the “image of
the consequences.” What brings this about may be the habitual working of
our inner machinery, or some little encouragement on the part of a person
whom we fear or honour or love, or the love of comfort which prefers to do
that which lies nearest; or some stirring of the imagination provoked at
the decisive moment by some event of trifling importance; or some physical
influence which manifests itself quite unexpectedly; a mere whim brings it
about; or the outburst of a passion which, as it accidentally happens, is
ready to burst forth—in a word, motives operate which we do not understand
very well, or which we do not understand at all, and which we can never
balance against one another in advance.

It is probable that a contest is going on among these motives too, a
driving backwards and forwards, a rising and lowering of the parts, and it
is this which would be the real “contest of motives,” something quite
invisible and unknown to us. I have calculated the consequences and the
successes, and in doing so have set a very necessary motive in the line of
combat with the other motives,—but I am as little able to draw up this
battle line as to see it: the battle itself is hidden from my sight, as
likewise is the victory, as victory; for I certainly come to know what I
shall finally do, but I cannot know what motive has in the end proved to
be the victor. Nevertheless, we are decidedly not in the habit of taking
all these unconscious phenomena into account, and we generally conceive of
the preliminary stages of an action only so far as they are conscious:
thus we mistake the combat of the motives for a comparison of the possible
consequences of different actions,—a mistake that brings with it most
important consequences, and consequences that are most fatal to the
development of morals.


AIMS? WILL?—We have accustomed ourselves to believe in two kingdoms, the
domain of purposes and volition, and the domain of chance. In this latter
domain everything is done senselessly, there is a continual going to and
fro without any one being able to say why or wherefore. We stand in awe of
this powerful realm of the great cosmic stupidity, for in most instances
we learn to know it when it falls down upon the other world, that of aims
and intentions, like a slate from a roof, always overwhelming some
beautiful purpose of ours.

This belief in these two kingdoms arises from ancient romanticism and
legend: we clever dwarfs, with all our will and aims, are interfered with,
knocked down, and very often crushed to death by those ultra-stupid
giants, the accidents,—but in spite of this we should not like to be
deprived of the fearful poetry of their proximity, for these monsters very
often make their appearance when life in the spider’s web of definite aims
has become too tiresome or too anxious for us, and they sometimes bring
about a divine diversion when their hands for once tear the whole web in
pieces,—not that these irrational beings ever intend to do what they do,
or even observe it. But their coarse and bony hands rend our web as if it
were thin air.

Moira was the name given by the Greeks to this realm of the incalculable
and of sublime and eternal limitedness; and they set it round their gods
like a horizon beyond which they could neither see nor act,—with that
secret defiance of the gods which one meets with in different nations; the
gods are worshipped, but a final trump card is held in readiness to play
against them. As instances of this we may recollect that the Indians and
the Persians, who conceived all their gods as having to depend upon the
sacrifices of mortals, so that if it came to the worst the mortals could,
at least, let the gods die of starvation; or the gods of the stubborn and
melancholy Scandinavians, who enjoyed a quiet revenge in the thought that
a twilight of the gods was to come as some compensation for the perpetual
fear which their evil gods caused them. The case of Christianity was very
different, for its essential feelings were not those of the Indians,
Persians, Greeks, or Scandinavians. Christianity commanded its disciples
to worship in the dust the spirit of power, and to kiss the very dust. It
gave the world to understand that this omnipotent “realm of stupidity” was
not so stupid as it seemed, and that we, on the contrary, were stupid when
we could not perceive that behind this realm stood God Himself: He who,
although fond of dark, crooked and wonderful ways, at last brought
everything to a “glorious end.” This new myth of God, who had hitherto
been mistaken for a race of giants or Moira, and who was now Himself the
spinner and weaver of webs and purposes even more subtle than those of our
own intellect—so subtle, indeed, that they appear to be incomprehensible
and even unreasonable—this myth was so bold a transformation and so daring
a paradox that the over-refined ancient world could not resist it, however
extravagant and contradictory the thing seemed: for, let it be said in
confidence, there was a contradiction in it,—if our intellect cannot
divine the intellect and aims of God, how did it divine this quality of
its intellect and this quality of God’s intellect?

In more modern times, indeed, the doubt has increased as to whether the
slate that falls from the roof is really thrown by “Divine love,” and
mankind again harks back to the old romance of giants and dwarfs. Let us
learn then, for it is time we did so, that even in our supposed separate
domain of aims and reason the giants likewise rule. And our aims and
reason are not dwarfs, but giants. And our own webs are just as often and
as clumsily rent by ourselves as by the slate. And not everything is
purpose that is called purpose, and still less is everything will that is
called will. And if you come to the conclusion, “Then there is only one
domain, that of stupidity and hazard?” it must be added that possibly
there is only one domain, possibly there is neither will nor aim, and we
may only have imagined these things. Those iron hands of necessity that
shake the dice-box of chance continue their game indefinitely: hence, it
must happen that certain throws perfectly resemble every degree of
appropriateness and good sense. It may be that our own voluntary acts and
purposes are merely such throws, and that we are too circumscribed and
vain to conceive our extremely circumscribed state! that we ourselves
shake the dice-box with iron hands, and do nothing in our most deliberate
actions but play the game of necessity. Possibly! To rise beyond this
“possibly” we should indeed have been guests in the Underworld, playing at
dice and betting with Proserpine at the table of the goddess herself.


MORAL FASHIONS.—How moral judgments as a whole have changed! The greatest
marvels of the morality of antiquity, such as Epictetus, knew nothing of
the glorification, now so common, of the spirit of sacrifice, of living
for others: after the fashion of morality now prevailing we should really
call them immoral; for they fought with all their strength for their own
ego and against all sympathy for others, especially for the sufferings and
moral imperfections of others. Perhaps they would reply to us by saying,
“If you feel yourselves to be such dull and ugly people, by all means
think of others more than yourselves. You will be quite right in doing


THE LAST ECHOES OF CHRISTIANITY IN MORALS.—“On n’est bon que par la pitié:
il faut donc qu’il y ait quelque pitié dans tous nos sentiments”—so says
morality nowadays. And how does this come about? The fact that the man who
performs social, sympathetic, disinterested, and benevolent actions is now
considered as the moral man: this is perhaps the most general effect, the
most complete transformation, that Christianity has produced in Europe;
perhaps in spite of itself, and not by any means because this was part of
its essential doctrine. But this was the residuum of those Christian
feelings that prevailed at the time when the contrary and thoroughly
selfish faith in the “one thing needful,” the absolute importance of
eternal and personal salvation, together with the dogmas upon which this
belief had rested, were gradually receding, and when the auxiliary beliefs
in “love” and “love of one’s neighbour,” harmonising with the
extraordinary practice of charity by the Church, were thereby coming to
the front. The more people gradually became separated from the dogmas, the
more did they seek some sort of justification for this separation in a
cult of the love of humanity: not to fall short in this respect of the
Christian ideal, but to excel it if possible, was the secret stimulus of
all the French free-thinkers from Voltaire to Auguste Comte; and this
latter with his famous moral formula “vivre pour autrui” has indeed
out-christianised even Christianity!

It was Schopenhauer in Germany and John Stuart Mill in England who were
the means of bringing into the greatest prominence this doctrine of
sympathetic affections and of pity or utility to others as a principle of
action; but these men themselves were only echoes. From about the time of
the French Revolution these doctrines have manifested themselves in
various places with enormous force. Since then they have shown themselves
in their coarsest as well has their most subtle form, and all Socialistic
principles have almost involuntarily taken their stand on the common
ground of this doctrine. At the present time there is perhaps no more
widely spread prejudice than that of thinking that we know what really and
truly constitutes morality. Every one now seems to learn with satisfaction
that society is beginning to adapt the individual to the general needs,
and that it is at the same time the happiness and sacrifice of each one to
consider himself as a useful member and instrument of the whole. They have
still, however, doubts as to the form in which this whole is to be looked
for, whether in a state already existing, or in one which has yet to be
established, or in a nation, or in an international brotherhood, or in new
and small economic communities. On this point there is still much
reflection, doubt, struggling, excitement, and passion; but it is pleasant
and wonderful to observe the unanimity with which the “ego” is called upon
to practice self-denial, until, in the form of adaptation to the whole, it
once again secures its own fixed sphere of rights and duties,—until,
indeed, it has become something quite new and different. Nothing else is
being attempted, whether admitted or not, than the complete
transformation, even the weakening and suppression of the individual: the
supporters of the majority never tire of enumerating and anathematising
all that is bad, hostile, lavish, expensive, and luxurious in the form of
individual existence that has hitherto prevailed; they hope that society
may be administered in a cheaper, less dangerous, more uniform, and more
harmonious way when nothing is left but large corporations and their
members. All that is considered as good which in any way corresponds to
this desire for grouping men into one particular society, and to the minor
cravings which necessarily accompany this desire,—this is the chief moral
current of our time; sympathy and social feelings are working hand in
glove. (Kant is still outside of this movement: he expressly teaches that
we should be insensible to the sufferings of others if our benevolence is
to have any moral value,—a doctrine which Schopenhauer, very angrily, as
may easily be imagined, described as the Kantian absurdity.)


“NO LONGER THINKING OF ONE’S SELF.”—Let us seriously consider why we
should jump into the water to rescue some one who has just fallen in
before our eyes, although we may have no particular sympathy for him. We
do it for pity’s sake; no one thinks now but of his neighbour,—so says
thoughtlessness. Why do we experience grief and uneasiness when we see
some one spit blood, although we may be really ill-disposed towards him
and wish him no good? Out of pity; we have ceased to think of
ourselves,—so says thoughtlessness again. The truth is that in our pity—I
mean by this what we erroneously call “pity”—we no longer think
consciously of ourselves, but quite unconsciously, exactly as when
slipping we unconsciously make the best counter-motions possible in order
to recover our balance, and in doing so clearly use all our intelligence.
A mishap to another offends us; it would bring our impotence, or perhaps
our cowardice, into strong relief if we could do nothing to help him; or
in itself it would give rise to a diminution of our honour in the eyes of
others and of ourselves. Or again, accidents that happen to others act as
finger-posts to point out our own danger, and even as indications of human
peril and frailty they can produce a painful effect upon us. We shake off
this kind of pain and offence, and balance it by an act of pity behind
which may be hidden a subtle form of self-defence or even revenge. That at
bottom we strongly think of ourselves may easily be divined from the
decision that we arrive at in all cases where we can avoid the sight of
those who are suffering or starving or wailing. We make up our minds not
to avoid such people when we can approach them as powerful and helpful
ones, when we can safely reckon upon their applause, or wish to feel the
contrast of our own happiness, or, again, when we hope to get rid of our
own boredom. It is misleading to call the suffering that we experience at
such a sight, and which may be of a very different kind, commiseration.
For in all cases it is a suffering from which the suffering person before
us is free: it is our own suffering, just as his suffering is his own. It
is thus only this personal feeling of misery that we get rid of by acts of
compassion. Nevertheless, we never act thus from one single motive: as it
is certain that we wish to free ourselves from suffering thereby, it is
also certain that by the same action we yield to an impulse of pleasure.
Pleasure arises at the sight of a contrast to our own condition, at the
knowledge that we should be able to help if only we wished to do so, at
the thought of the praise and gratitude which we should gain if we did
help, at the very act of helping, in so far as this might prove successful
(and because something which is gradually seen to be successful gives
pleasure to the doer); but even more particularly at the feeling that our
intervention brings to an end some deplorable injustice,—even the outburst
of one’s indignation is invigorating.

All this, including even things still more subtle, comprises “pity.” How
clumsily with this one word does language fall foul of such a complex and
polyphonous organism! That pity, on the other hand, is identical with the
suffering the sight of which brings it about, or that it has a
particularly subtle and penetrating comprehension of it: this is in
contradiction to experience, and he who has glorified pity under these two
heads lacked sufficient experience in the domain of morals. That is why I
am seized with some doubts when reading of the incredible things
attributed by Schopenhauer to pity. It is obvious that he thereby wished
to make us believe in the great novelty he brought forward, viz., that
pity—the pity which he observed so superficially and described so
badly—was the source of all and every past and future moral action,—and
all this precisely because of those faculties which he had begun by
attributing to it.

What is it in the end that distinguishes men without pity from men who are
really compassionate? In particular, to give merely an approximate
indication, they have not the sensitive feeling for fear, the subtle
faculty for perceiving danger: nor yet is their vanity so easily wounded
if something happens which they might have been able to prevent,—the
caution of their pride commands them not to interfere uselessly with the
affairs of others; they even act on the belief that every one should help
himself and play his own cards. Again, in most cases they are more
habituated to bearing pain than compassionate men, and it does not seem at
all unjust to them that others should suffer, since they themselves have
suffered. Lastly, the state of soft-heartedness is as painful to them as
is the state of stoical impassability to compassionate men: they have only
disdainful words for sensitive hearts, as they think that such a state of
feeling is dangerous to their own manliness and calm bravery,—they conceal
their tears from others and wipe them off, angry with themselves. They
belong to a different type of egoists from the compassionate men,—but to
call them, in a distinct sense, evil and the compassionate ones good, is
merely a moral fashion which has had its innings, just as the reverse
fashion had also its innings, and a long innings, too.


TO WHAT EXTENT WE MUST BEWARE OF PITY.—Pity, in so far as it actually
gives rise to suffering—and this must be our only point of view here—is a
weakness, like every other indulgence in an injurious emotion. It
increases suffering throughout the world, and although here and there a
certain amount of suffering may be indirectly diminished or removed
altogether as a consequence of pity, we must not bring forward these
occasional consequences, which are on the whole insignificant, to justify
the nature of pity which, as has already been stated, is prejudicial.
Supposing that it prevailed, even if only for one day, it would bring
humanity to utter ruin. In itself the nature of pity is no better than
that of any other craving; it is only where it is called for and
praised—and this happens when people do not understand what is injurious
in it, but find in it a sort of joy—that a good conscience becomes
attached to it; it is only then that we willingly yield to it, and do not
shrink from acknowledging it. In other circumstances where it is
understood to be dangerous, it is looked upon as a weakness; or, as in the
case of the Greeks, as an unhealthy periodical emotion the danger of which
might be removed by temporary and voluntary discharges. If a man were to
undertake the experiment of deliberately devoting his attention to the
opportunities afforded by practical life for the exercise of pity, and
were over and over again to picture in his own mind the misery he might
meet with in his immediate surroundings, he would inevitably become
melancholy and ill. If, however, he wished in any sense of the word to
serve humanity as a physician, he would have to take many precautions with
respect to this feeling, as otherwise it would paralyse him at all
critical moments, undermine the foundations of his knowledge, and unnerve
his helpful and delicate hand.


AROUSING PITY.—Among savages men think with a moral shudder of the
possibility of becoming an object of pity, for such a state they regard as
deprived of all virtue. Pitying is equivalent to despising: they do not
want to see a contemptible being suffer, for this would afford them no
enjoyment. On the other hand, to behold one of their enemies suffering,
some one whom they look upon as their equal in pride, but whom torture
cannot induce to give up his pride, and in general to see some one suffer
who refuses to lower himself by appealing for pity—which would in their
eyes be the most profound and shameful humiliation—this is the very joy of
joys. Such a spectacle excites the deepest admiration in the soul of the
savage, and he ends by killing such a brave man when it is in his power,
afterwards according funeral honours to the unbending one. If he had
groaned, however; if his countenance had lost its expression of calm
disdain; if he had shown himself to be contemptible,—well, in such a case
he might have been allowed to live like a dog: he would no longer have
aroused the pride of the spectator, and pity would have taken the place of


HAPPINESS IN PITY.—If, as is the case among the Hindus, we decree the end
and aim of all intellectual activity to be the knowledge of human misery,
and if for generation after generation this dreadful resolution be
steadily adhered to, pity in the eyes of such men of hereditary pessimism
comes to have a new value as a preserver of life, something that helps to
make existence endurable, although it may seem worthy of being rejected
with horror and disgust. Pity becomes an antidote to suicide, a sentiment
which brings pleasure with it and enables us to taste superiority in small
doses. It gives some diversion to our minds, makes our hearts full,
banishes fear and lethargy, and incites us to speak, to complain, or to
act: it is a relative happiness when compared with the misery of the
knowledge that hampers the individual on every side, bewilders him, and
takes away his breath. Happiness, however, no matter of what nature it may
be, gives us air and light and freedom of movement.


WHY DOUBLE THE “EGO”?—To view our own experiences in the same light as we
are in the habit of looking at those of others is very comforting and an
advisable medicine. On the other hand, to look upon the experiences of
others and adopt them as if they were our own—which is called for by the
philosophy of pity—would ruin us in a very short time: let us only make
the experiment without trying to imagine it any longer! The first maxim
is, in addition, undoubtedly more in accordance with reason and goodwill
towards reason; for we estimate more objectively the value and
significance of an event when it happens to others,—the value, for
instance, of a death, loss of money or slander. But pity, taking as its
principle of action the injunction, “Suffer the misfortune of another as
much as he himself,” would lead the point of view of the ego with all its
exaggerations and deviations to become the point of view of the other
person, the sympathiser: so that we should have to suffer at the same time
from our own ego and the other’s ego. In this way we would voluntarily
overload ourselves with a double irrationality, instead of making the
burden of our own as light as possible.


BECOMING MORE TENDER.—Whenever we love some one and venerate and admire
him, and afterwards come to perceive that he is suffering—which always
causes us the utmost astonishment, since we cannot but feel that the
happiness we derive from him must flow from a superabundant source of
personal happiness—our feelings of love, veneration, and admiration are
essentially changed: they become more tender; that is, the gap that
separates us seems to be bridged over and there appears to be an approach
to equality. It now seems possible to give him something in return, whilst
we had previously imagined him as being altogether above our gratitude.
Our ability to requite him for what we have received from him arouses in
us feelings of much joy and pleasure. We endeavour to ascertain what can
best calm the grief of our friend, and we give it to him; if he wishes for
kind words, looks, attentions, services, or presents, we give them; but,
above all, if he would like to see us suffering from the sight of his
suffering, we pretend to suffer, for all this secures for us the enjoyment
of active gratitude, which is equivalent in a way to good-natured revenge.
If he wants none of these things, and refuses to accept them from us, we
depart from him chilled and sad, almost mortified; it appears to us as if
our gratitude had been declined, and on this point of honour even the best
of men is still somewhat touchy. It results from all this that even in the
best case there is something humiliating in suffering, and something
elevating and superior in sympathy,—a fact which will keep the two
feelings apart for ever and ever.


HIGHER IN NAME ONLY.—You say that the morality of pity is a higher
morality than that of stoicism? Prove it! But take care not to measure the
“higher” and “lower” degrees of morality once more by moral yardsticks;
for there are no absolute morals. So take your yardstick from somewhere
else, and be on your guard!


PRAISE AND BLAME.—When a war has come to an unsuccessful conclusion we try
to find the man who is to blame for the war; when it comes to a successful
conclusion we praise the man who is responsible for it. In all
unsuccessful cases attempts are made to blame somebody, for non-success
gives rise to dejection, against which the single possible remedy is
involuntarily applied; a new incitement of the sense of power; and this
incitement is found in the condemnation of the “guilty” one. This guilty
one is not perhaps the scapegoat of the faults of others; he is merely the
victim of the feeble, humiliated, and depressed people who wish to prove
upon some one that they have not yet lost all their power. Even
self-condemnation after a defeat may be the means of restoring the feeling
of power.

On the other hand, glorification of the originator is often but an equally
blind result of another instinct that demands its victim,—and in this case
the sacrifice appears to be sweet and attractive even for the victim. This
happens when the feeling of power is satiated in a nation or a society by
so great and fascinating a success that a weariness of victory supervenes
and pride wishes to be discharged: a feeling of self-sacrifice is aroused
and looks for its object. Thus, whether we are blamed or praised we
merely, as a rule, provide opportunities for the gratification of others,
and are only too often caught up and whirled away for our neighbours to
discharge upon us their accumulated feelings of praise or blame. In both
cases we confer a benefit upon them for which we deserve no credit and
they no thanks.


MORE BEAUTIFUL BUT LESS VALUABLE.—Picturesque morality: such is the
morality of those passions characterised by sudden outbursts, abrupt
transitions; pathetic, impressive, dreadful, and solemn attitudes and
gestures. It is the semi-savage stage of morality: never let us be tempted
to set it on a higher plane merely on account of its æsthetic charms.


SYMPATHY.—In order to understand our neighbour, that is, in order to
reproduce his sentiments in ourselves, we often, no doubt, plumb the cause
of his feelings, as, for example, by asking ourselves, Why is he sad? in
order that we may become sad ourselves for the same reason. But we much
more frequently neglect to act thus, and we produce these feelings in
ourselves in accordance with the _effects_ which they exhibit in the
person we are studying,—by imitating in our own body the expression of his
eyes, his voice, his gait, his attitude (or, at any rate, the likeness of
these things in words, pictures, and music), or we may at least endeavour
to mimic the action of his muscles and nervous system. A like feeling will
then spring up in us as the result of an old association of movements and
sentiments which has been trained to run backwards and forwards. We have
developed to a very high pitch this knack of sounding the feelings of
others, and when we are in the presence of any one else we bring this
faculty of ours into play almost involuntarily,—let the inquirer observe
the animation of a woman’s countenance and notice how it vibrates and
quivers with animation as the result of the continual imitation and
reflection of what is going on around her.

It is music, however, more than anything else that shows us what
past-masters we are in the rapid and subtle divination of feelings and
sympathy; for even if music is only the imitation of an imitation of
feelings, nevertheless, despite its distance and vagueness, it often
enables us to participate in those feelings, so that we become sad without
any reason for feeling so, like the fools that we are, merely because we
hear certain sounds and rhythms that somehow or other remind us of the
intonation and the movements, or perhaps even only of the behaviour, of
sorrowful people. It is related of a certain Danish king that he was
wrought up to such a pitch of warlike enthusiasm by the song of a minstrel
that he sprang to his feet and killed five persons of his assembled court:
there was neither war nor enemy; there was rather the exact opposite; yet
the power of the retrospective inference from a feeling to the cause of it
was sufficiently strong in this king to overpower both his observation and
his reason. Such, however, is almost invariably the effect of music
(provided that it thrills us), and we have no need of such paradoxical
instances to recognise this,—the state of feeling into which music
transports us is almost always in contradiction to the appearance of our
actual state, and of our reasoning power which recognises this actual
state and its causes.

If we inquire how it happened that this imitation of the feelings of
others has become so common, there will be no doubt as to the answer: man
being the most timid of all beings because of his subtle and delicate
nature has been made familiar through his timidity with this sympathy for,
and rapid comprehension of, the feelings of others, even of animals. For
century after century he saw danger in everything that was unfamiliar to
him, in anything that happened to be alive, and whenever the spectacle of
such things and creatures came before his eyes he imitated their features
and attitude, drawing at the same time his own conclusion as to the nature
of the evil intentions they concealed. This interpretation of all
movements and all facial characteristics in the sense of intentions, man
has even brought to bear on things inanimate,—urged on as he was by the
illusion that there was nothing inanimate. I believe that this is the
origin of everything that we now call a feeling for nature, that sensation
of joy which men experience at the sight of the sky, the fields, the
rocks, the forests, the storms, the stars, the landscapes, and spring:
without our old habits of fear which forced us to suspect behind
everything a kind of second and more recondite sense, we should now
experience no delight in nature, in the same way as men and animals do not
cause us to rejoice if we have not first been deterred by that source of
all understanding, namely, fear. For joy and agreeable surprise, and
finally the feeling of ridicule, are the younger children of sympathy, and
the much younger brothers and sisters of fear. The faculty of rapid
perception, which is based on the faculty of rapid dissimulation,
decreases in proud and autocratic men and nations, as they are less timid;
but, on the other hand, every category of understanding and dissimulation
is well known to timid peoples, and among them is to be found the real
home of imitative arts and superior intelligence.

When, proceeding from the theory of sympathy such as I have just outlined,
I turn my attention to the theory, now so popular and almost sacrosanct,
of a mystical process by means of which pity blends two beings into one,
and thus permits them immediately to understand one another, when I
recollect that even so clear a brain as Schopenhauer’s delighted in such
fantastic nonsense, and that he in his turn transplanted this delight into
other lucid and semi-lucid brains, I feel unlimited astonishment and
compassion. How great must be the pleasure we experience in this senseless
tomfoolery! How near must even a sane man be to insanity as soon as he
listens to his own secret intellectual desires!—Why did Schopenhauer
really feel so grateful, so profoundly indebted to Kant? He revealed on
one occasion the undoubted answer to this question. Some one had spoken of
the way in which the _qualitias occulta_ of Kant’s Categorical Imperative
might be got rid of, so that the theory itself might be rendered
intelligible. Whereupon Schopenhauer gave utterance to the following
outburst: “An intelligible Categorical Imperative! Preposterous idea!
Stygian darkness! God forbid that it should ever become intelligible! The
fact that there is actually something unintelligible, that this misery of
the understanding and its conceptions is limited, conditional, final, and
deceptive,—this is beyond question Kant’s great gift.” Let any one
consider whether a man can be in possession of a desire to gain an insight
into moral things when he feels himself comforted from the start by a
belief in the inconceivableness of these things! one who still honestly
believes in illuminations from above, in magic, in ghostly appearances,
and in the metaphysical ugliness of the toad!


WOE TO US IF THIS IMPULSE SHOULD RAGE!—Supposing that the impulse towards
devotion and care for others (“sympathetic affection”) were doubly as
strong as it now is, life on earth could not be endured. Let it only be
considered how many foolish things every one of us does day by day and
hour by hour, merely out of solicitude and devotion for himself, and how
unbearable he seems in doing so: and what then would it be like if we were
to become for other people the object of the stupidities and importunities
with which up to the present they have only tormented themselves! Should
we not then take precipitately to our heels as soon as one of our
neighbours came towards us? And would it not be necessary to overwhelm
this sympathetic affection with the abuse that we now reserve for egoism?


clouded by the complaints and suffering of other mortals, who must bear
the consequences of such gloom? No doubt those other mortals, in addition
to all their other burdens! If we are merely to be the echoes of their
complaints, we cannot accord them either help or comfort; nor can we do so
if we were continually keeping our ears open to listen to them,—unless we
have learnt the art of the Olympians, who, instead of trying to make
themselves unhappy, endeavoured to feel edified by the misfortunes of
mankind. But this is something too Olympian for us, although, in our
enjoyment of tragedy, we have already taken a step towards this ideal
divine cannibalism.


“UNEGOISTIC.”—This man is empty and wishes to be filled, that one is
over-full and wishes to be emptied: both of them feel themselves urged on
to look for an individual who can help them. And this phenomenon,
interpreted in a higher sense, is in both cases known by the same name,
“love.” Well? and could this love be something unegoistic?


LOOKING BEYOND OUR NEIGHBOUR.—What? Ought the nature of true morality to
consist for us in fixing our eyes upon the most direct and immediate
consequences of our action for other people, and in our coming to a
decision accordingly? This is only a narrow and bourgeois morality, even
though it may be a morality: but it seems to me that it would be more
superior and liberal to look beyond these immediate consequences for our
neighbour in order to encourage more distant purposes, even at the risk of
making others suffer,—as, for example, by encouraging the spirit of
knowledge in spite of the certainty that our free-thought will have the
instant effect of plunging others into doubt, grief, and even worse
afflictions. Have we not at least the right to treat our neighbour as we
treat ourselves? And if, where we are concerned, we do not think in such a
narrow and bourgeois fashion of immediate consequences and sufferings, why
should we be compelled to act thus in regard to our neighbour? Supposing
that we felt ready to sacrifice ourselves, what is there to prevent us
from sacrificing our neighbour together with ourselves,—just as States and
Sovereigns have hitherto sacrificed one citizen to the others, “for the
sake of the general interest,” as they say?

We too, however, have general interests, perhaps even more general than
theirs: so why may we not sacrifice a few individuals of this generation
for the benefit of generations to come? so that their affliction, anxiety,
despair, blunders, and misery may be deemed essential because a new plough
is to break up the ground and render it fertile for all. Finally, we
communicate the disposition to our neighbour by which he is enabled to
feel himself a victim: we persuade him to carry out the task for which we
employ him. Are we then devoid of all pity? If, however, we wish to
achieve a victory over ourselves beyond our pity, is not this a higher and
more liberal attitude and disposition than that in which we only feel safe
after having ascertained whether an action benefits or harms our
neighbour? On the contrary, it is by means of such sacrifice—including the
sacrifice of ourselves, as well as of our neighbours—that we should
strengthen and elevate the general sense of human power, even supposing
that we attain nothing more than this. But even this itself would be a
positive increase of happiness. Then, if even this ... but not a word
more! You have understood me at a glance.


THE CAUSE OF “ALTRUISM.”—Men have on the whole spoken of love with so much
emphasis and adoration because they have hitherto always had so little of
it, and have never yet been satiated with this food: in this way it became
their ambrosia. If a poet wished to show universal benevolence in the
image of a Utopia, he would certainly have to describe an agonising and
ridiculous state of things, the like of which was never seen on
earth,—every one would be surrounded, importuned, and sighed for, not as
at present, by one lover, but by thousands, by everybody indeed, as the
result of an irresistible craving which would then be as vehemently
insulted and cursed as selfishness has been by men of past ages. The poets
of this new condition of things, if they had sufficient leisure to write,
would be dreaming of nothing but the blissful and loveless past, the
divine selfishness of yore, and the wonderful possibilities in former
times of remaining alone, not being run after by one’s friends, and of
even being hated and despised—or any other odious expressions which the
beautiful animal world in which we live chooses to coin.


LOOKING FAR AHEAD.—If, in accordance with the present definition, only
those actions are moral which are done for the sake of others, and for
their sake only, then there are no moral actions at all! If, in accordance
with another definition, only those actions are moral which spring from
our own free will, then there are no moral actions in this case either!
What is it, then, that we designate thus, which certainly exists and
wishes as a consequence to be explained? It is the result of a few
intellectual blunders; and supposing that we were able to free ourselves
from these errors, what would then become of “moral actions”? It is due to
these errors that we have up to the present attributed to certain actions
a value superior to what was theirs in reality: we separated them from
“egoistic” and “non-free” actions. When we now set them once more in the
latter categories, as we must do, we certainly reduce their value (their
own estimate of value) even below its reasonable level, because “egoistic”
and “non-free” actions have up to the present been under-valued owing to
that alleged profound and essential difference.

In future, then, will these very actions be less frequently performed,
since they will be less highly esteemed? Inevitably! Or at all events for
a fairly long time, as long as the scale of valuations remains under the
reacting influence of former mistakes! But we make some return for this by
giving back to men their good courage for the carrying out of actions that
are now reputed to be selfish, and thus restore their value,—we relieve
men’s bad consciences! and as up to the present egoistic actions have been
by far the most frequent, and will be so to all eternity, we free the
whole conception of these actions and of life from its evil appearance!
This is a very high and important result. When men no longer believe
themselves to be evil, they cease to be so.



matters of custom against our own better judgments; to yield in practice
while reserving our own intellectual liberty; to behave like everybody
else and thus to show ourselves amiable and considerate to all, to
compensate them, as it were, even if only to some extent, for our
unconventional opinions—all this among many tolerably liberal-minded men
is looked upon not only as permissible but even as “honourable,” “humane,”
“tolerant,” and “unpedantic,” or whatever fine words may be used to lull
to sleep the intellectual conscience. So, for example, one man, although
he may be an atheist, has his infant baptized in the usual Christian
fashion; another goes through his period of military service, though he
may severely condemn all hatred between nations; and a third runs into the
Church with a girl because she comes from a religious family, and makes
his vows to a priest without feeling ashamed of it. “It is of no
importance if one of us does what every one else does and has done”—so
says ignorant prejudice! What a profound mistake! For nothing is of
greater importance than that a powerful, long-established, and irrational
custom should be once again confirmed by the act of some one who is
recognised as rational. In this way the proceeding is thought to be
sanctioned by reason itself! All honour to your opinions! but little
unconventional actions are of still greater value.


THE HAZARD OF MARRIAGES.—If I were a god, and a benevolent god, the
marriages of men would cause me more displeasure than anything else. An
individual can make very great progress within the seventy years of his
life—yea, even within thirty years: such progress, indeed, as to surprise
even the gods! But when we then see him exposing the inheritance and
legacy of his struggles and victories, the laurel crown of his humanity,
on the first convenient peg where any female may pick it to pieces for
him; when we observe how well he can acquire and how little he is capable
of preserving his acquisitions, and how he does not even dream that by
procreation he might prepare a still more victorious life,—we then,
indeed, become impatient and say, “Nothing can in the end result from
humanity, individuals are wasted, for all rationality of a great advance
of humanity is rendered impossible by the hazard of marriages: let us
cease from being the assiduous spectators and fools of this aimless
drama!” It was in this mood that the gods of Epicurus withdrew long ago to
their divine seclusion and felicity: they were tired of men and their love


HERE ARE NEW IDEALS TO INVENT.—At a time when a man is in love he should
not be allowed to come to a decision about his life and to determine once
and for all the character of his society on account of a whim. We ought
publicly to declare invalid the vows of lovers, and to refuse them
permission to marry: and this because we should treat marriage itself much
more seriously, so that in cases where it is now contracted it would not
usually be allowed in future! Are not the majority of marriages such that
we should not care to have them witnessed by a third party? And yet this
third party is scarcely ever lacking—the child—and he is more than a
witness; he is the whipping-boy and scapegoat.


FORMULA OF OATH.—“If I am now telling a lie I am no longer an honourable
man, and every one may say so to my face.” I recommend this formula in
place of the present judicial oath and its customary invocation to the
Deity: it is stronger. There is no reason why even religious men should
oppose it; for as soon as the customary oath no longer serves, all the
religious people will have to turn to their catechism, which says, “Thou
shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”


THE MALCONTENT.—He is one of the brave old warriors: angry with
civilisation because he believes that its object is to make all good
things—honour, rewards, and fair women—accessible even to cowards.


CONSOLATION AMID PERILS.—The Greeks, in the course of a life that was
always surrounded by great dangers and cataclysms, endeavoured to find in
meditation and knowledge a kind of security of feeling, a last _refugium_.
We, who live in a much more secure state, have introduced danger into
meditation and knowledge, and it is in life itself that we endeavour to
find repose, a refuge from danger.


EXTINCT SCEPTICISM.—Hazardous enterprises are rarer in modern times than
in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, probably because modern times have no
more belief in omens, oracles, stars, and soothsayers. In other words, we
have become incapable of believing in a future which is reserved for us,
as the ancients did, who—in contradistinction to ourselves—were much less
sceptical regarding that which is to be than that which is.


EVIL THROUGH EXUBERANCE.—“Oh, that we should not feel too happy!”—such was
the secret fear of the Greeks in their best age. _That_ is why they
preached moderation to themselves. And we?


THE WORSHIP OF NATURAL SOUNDS.—What signification can we find in the fact
that our culture is not only indulgent to the manifestations of grief,
such as tears, complaints, reproaches, and attitudes of rage and humility,
but even approves them and reckons them among the most noble and essential
things?—while, on the other hand, the spirit of ancient philosophy looked
down upon them with contempt, without admitting their necessity in any
way. Let us remember how Plato—who was by no means one of the most inhuman
of the philosophers—speaks of the Philoctetus of the tragic stage. Is it
possible that our modern culture is wanting in “philosophy”? or, in
accordance with the valuations of those old philosophers, do we perhaps
all form part of the “mob”?


THE CLIMATE FOR FLATTERY.—In our day flatterers should no longer be sought
at the courts of kings, since these have all acquired a taste for
militarism, which cannot tolerate flattery. But this flower even now often
grows in abundance in the neighbourhood of bankers and artists.


THE REVIVERS.—Vain men value a fragment of the past more highly from the
moment when they are able to revive it in their imagination (especially if
it is difficult to do so), they would even like if possible to raise it
from the dead. Since, however, the number of vain people is always very
large, the danger presented by historical studies, if an entire epoch
devotes its attention to them, is by no means small: too great an amount
of strength is then wasted on all sorts of imaginable resurrections. The
entire movement of romanticism is perhaps best understood from this point
of view.


VAIN, GREEDY, AND NOT VERY WISE.—Your desires are greater than your
understanding, and your vanity is even greater than your desires,—to
people of your type a great deal of Christian practice and a little
Schopenhauerian theory may be strongly recommended.


BEAUTY CORRESPONDING TO THE AGE.—If our sculptors, painters, and musicians
wish to catch the significance of the age, they should represent beauty as
bloated, gigantic, and nervous: just as the Greeks, under the influence of
their morality of moderation, saw and represented beauty in the Apollo di
Belvedere. We should, indeed, call him ugly! But the pedantic
“classicists” have deprived us of all our honesty!


THE IRONY OF THE PRESENT TIME.—At the present day it is the habit of
Europeans to treat all matters of great importance with irony, because, as
the result of our activity in their service, we have no time to take them


AGAINST ROUSSEAU.—If it is true that there is something contemptible about
our civilisation, we have two alternatives: of concluding with Rousseau
that, “This despicable civilisation is to blame for our bad morality,” or
to infer, contrary to Rousseau’s view, that “Our good morality is to blame
for this contemptible civilisation. Our social conceptions of good and
evil, weak and effeminate as they are, and their enormous influence over
both body and soul, have had the effect of weakening all bodies and souls
and of crushing all unprejudiced, independent, and self-reliant men, the
real pillars of a strong civilisation: wherever we still find the evil
morality to-day, we see the last crumbling ruins of these pillars.” Thus
let paradox be opposed by paradox! It is quite impossible for the truth to
lie with both sides: and can we say, indeed, that it lies with either?
Decide for yourself.


PERHAPS PREMATURE.—It would seem at the present time that, under many
different and misleading names, and often with a great want of clearness,
those who do not feel themselves attached to morals and to established
laws are taking the first initial steps to organise themselves, and thus
to create a right for themselves; whilst hitherto, as criminals,
free-thinkers, immoral men and miscreants, they have lived beyond the pale
of the law, under the bane of outlawry and bad conscience, corrupted and
corrupting. On the whole, we should consider this as right and proper,
although it may result in insecurity for the coming century and compel
every one to bear arms.—There is thereby a counterforce which continually
reminds us that there is no exclusively moral-making morality, and that a
morality which asserts itself to the exclusion of all other morality
destroys too much sound strength and is too dearly bought by mankind. The
non-conventional and deviating people, who are so often productive and
inventive, must no longer be sacrificed: it must never again be considered
as a disgrace to depart from morality either in actions or thought; many
new experiments must be made upon life and society, and the world must be
relieved from a huge weight of bad conscience. These general aims must be
recognised and encouraged by all those upright people who are seeking


A MORALITY WHICH DOES NOT BORE ONE.—The principal moral commandments which
a nation permits its teachers to emphasise again and again stand in
relation to its chief defects, and that is why it does not find them
tiresome. The Greeks, who so often failed to employ moderation, coolness,
fair-mindedness, and rationality in general, turned a willing ear to the
four Socratic virtues,—they stood in such need of them, and yet had so
little talent for them!


AT THE PARTING OF THE WAYS.—Shame! You wish to form part of a system in
which you must be a wheel, fully and completely, or risk being crushed by
wheels! where it is understood that each one will be that which his
superiors make of him! where the seeking for “connections” will form part
of one’s natural duties! where no one feels himself offended when he has
his attention drawn to some one with the remark, “He may be useful to you
some time”; where people do not feel ashamed of paying a visit to ask for
somebody’s intercession, and where they do not even suspect that by such a
voluntary submission to these morals, they are once and for all stamped as
the common pottery of nature, which others can employ or break up of their
free will without feeling in any way responsible for doing so,—just as if
one were to say, “People of my type will never be lacking, therefore, do
what you will with me! Do not stand on ceremony!”


UNCONDITIONAL HOMAGE.—When I think of the most read German philosopher,
the most popular German musician, and the most distinguished German
statesman, I cannot but acknowledge that life is now rendered unusually
arduous for these Germans, this nation of unconditional sentiments, and
that, too, by their own great men. We see three magnificent spectacles
spread out before us: on each occasion there is a river rushing along in
the bed which it has made for itself, and even so agitated that one thinks
at times it intends to flow uphill. And yet, however we might admire
Schopenhauer, who would not, all things considered, like to have other
opinions than his? Who in all greater and smaller things would now share
the opinions of Richard Wagner, although there may be truth in the view
expressed by some one: viz. that wherever Wagner gave or took offence some
problem lay hidden,—which, however, he did not unearth for us. And,
finally, how many are there who would be willing and eager to agree with
Bismarck, if only he could always agree with himself, or were even to show
some signs of doing so for the future! It is true that it is by no means
astonishing to find statesmen without principles, but with dominant
instincts; a versatile mind, actuated by these dominant and violent
instincts, and hence without principles—these qualities are looked upon as
reasonable and natural in a statesman. But, alas, this has up to the
present been so un-German; as un-German as the fuss made about music and
the discord and bad temper excited around the person of the musician; or
as un-German as the new and extraordinary position taken up by
Schopenhauer: he did not feel himself to be either above things or on his
knees before them—one or other of these alternatives might still have been
German—but he assumed an attitude against things! How incredible and
disagreeable! to range one’s self with things and nevertheless be their
adversary, and finally the adversary of one’s self,—what can the
unconditional admirer do with such an example? And what, again, can he do
with three such examples who cannot keep the peace towards one another!
Here we see Schopenhauer as the antagonist of Wagner’s music, Wagner
attacking Bismarck’s politics, and Bismarck attacking Wagnerism and
Schopenhauerism. What remains for us to do? Where shall we flee with our
thirst for wholesale hero-worship! Would it not be possible to choose from
the music of the musician a few hundred bars of good music which appealed
to the heart, and which we should like to take to heart because they are
inspired by the heart,—could we not stand aside with this small piece of
plunder, and forget the rest? And could we not make a similar compromise
as regards the philosopher and the statesman,—select, take to heart, and
in particular forget the rest?

Yes, if only forgetfulness were not so difficult! There was once a very
proud man who would never on any account accept anything, good or evil,
from others,—from any one, indeed, but himself. When he wanted to forget,
however, he could not bestow this gift upon himself, and was three times
compelled to conjure up the spirits. They came, listened to his desire,
and said at last, “This is the only thing it is not in our power to give!”
Could not the Germans take warning by this experience of Manfred? Why,
then, should the spirits be conjured up? It is useless. We never forget
what we endeavour to forget. And how great would be the “balance” which we
should have to forget if we wished henceforth to continue wholesale
admirers of these three great men! It would therefore be far more
advisable to profit by the excellent opportunity offered us to try
something new, _i.e._ to advance in the spirit of honesty towards
ourselves and become, instead of a nation of credulous repetition and of
bitter and blind animosity, a people of conditional assent and benevolent
opposition. We must come to learn in the first place, however, that
unconditional homage to people is something rather ridiculous, that a
change of view on this point would not discredit even Germans, and that
there is a profound and memorable saying: “Ce qui importe, ce ne sont
point les personnes: mais les choses.” This saying is like the man who
uttered it—great, honest, simple, and silent,—just like Carnot, the
soldier and Republican. But may I at the present time speak thus to
Germans of a Frenchman, and a Republican into the bargain? Perhaps not:
perhaps I must not even recall what Niebuhr in his time dared to say to
the Germans: that no one had made such an impression of true greatness
upon him as Carnot.


A MODEL.—What do I like about Thucydides, and how does it come that I
esteem him more highly than Plato? He exhibits the most wide-spread and
artless pleasure in everything typical in men and events, and finds that
each type is possessed of a certain quantity of good sense: it is this
good sense which he seeks to discover. He likewise exhibits a larger
amount of practical justice than Plato; he never reviles or belittles
those men whom he dislikes or who have in any way injured him in the
course of his life. On the contrary: while seeing only types, he
introduces something noble and additional into all things and persons; for
what could posterity, to which he dedicates his work, do with things not
typical! Thus this culture of the disinterested knowledge of the world
attains in him, the poet-thinker, a final marvellous bloom,—this culture
which has its poet in Sophocles, its statesman in Pericles, its doctor in
Hippocrates, and its natural philosopher in Democritus: this culture which
deserves to be called by the name of its teachers, the Sophists, and
which, unhappily, from the moment of its baptism at once begins to grow
pale and incomprehensible to us,—for henceforward we suspect that this
culture, which was combated by Plato and all the Socratic schools, must
have been very immoral! The truth of this matter is so complicated and
entangled that we feel unwilling to unravel it: so let the old error
(_error veritate simplicior_) run its old course.


THE GREEK GENIUS FOREIGN TO US.—Oriental or modern, Asiatic or European:
compared with the ancient Greeks, everything is characterised by enormity
of size and by the revelling in great masses as the expression of the
sublime, whilst in Paestum, Pompeii, and Athens we are astonished, when
contemplating Greek architecture, to see with what small masses the Greeks
were able to express the sublime, and how they loved to express it thus.
In the same way, how simple were the Greeks in the idea which they formed
of themselves! How far we surpass them in the knowledge of man! Again, how
full of labyrinths would our souls and our conceptions of our souls appear
in comparison with theirs! If we had to venture upon an architecture after
the style of our own souls—(we are too cowardly for that!)—a labyrinth
would have to be our model. That music which is peculiar to us, and which
really expresses us, lets this be clearly seen! (for in music men let
themselves go, because they think there is no one who can see them hiding
behind their music).


ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW.—How we babble about the Greeks! What do we
understand of their art, the soul of which was the passion for naked
masculine beauty! It was only by starting therefrom that they appreciated
feminine beauty. For the latter they had thus a perspective quite
different from ours. It was the same in regard to their love for women:
their worship was of a different kind, and so also was their contempt.


THE FOOD OF THE MODERN MAN.—He has learned to digest many things; nay,
almost everything; it is his ambition to do so. He would, however, be
really of a higher order if he did not understand this so well: _homo
pamphagus_ is not the finest type of the human race. We live between a
past which had a more wayward and deranged taste than we, and a future
which will possibly have a more select taste,—we live too much midway.


TRAGEDY AND MUSIC.—Men of essentially warlike disposition, such, for
example, as the ancient Greeks in the time of Æschylus, are difficult to
rouse, and when pity once triumphs over their hardness they are seized as
by a kind of giddiness or a “demoniacal power,”—they feel themselves
overpowered and thrilled by a religious horror. After this they become
sceptical about their condition; but as long as they are in it they enjoy
the charm of being, as it were, outside themselves, and the delight of the
marvellous mixed with the bitterest gall of suffering: this is the proper
kind of drink for fighting men,—something rare, dangerous, and
bitter-sweet, which does not often fall to one’s lot.

Tragedy appeals to souls who feel pity in this way, to those fierce and
warlike souls which are difficult to overcome, whether by fear or pity,
but which lose nothing by being softened from time to time. Of what use,
however, is tragedy to those who are as open to the “sympathetic
affections” as the sails of a ship to the wind! When at the time of Plato
the Athenians had become more softened and sensitive, oh, how far they
were still removed from the gushing emotions of the inhabitants of our
modern towns and villages! And yet even then the philosophers were
beginning to complain of the injurious nature of tragedy. An epoch full of
danger such as that now beginning, in which bravery and manliness are
rising in value, will perhaps again harden souls to such an extent that
they will once more stand in need of tragic poets: but in the meantime
these are somewhat superfluous, to put it mildly. For music, too, a better
age may be approaching (it will certainly be a more evil age!) when
artists will have to make their music appeal to strongly individual
beings, beings which will have become hard and which will be dominated by
the gloomy earnestness of their own passion; but of what use is music to
the little souls of the present age which is fast passing away, souls that
are too unsteady, ill-developed, half-personal, inquisitive, and covetous
of everything?


THE FLATTERERS OF WORK.—In the glorification of “work” and the
never-ceasing talk about the “blessing of labour,” I see the same secret
_arrière-pensée_ as I do in the praise bestowed on impersonal acts of a
general interest, viz. a fear of everything individual. For at the sight
of work—that is to say, severe toil from morning till night—we have the
feeling that it is the best police, viz. that it holds every one in check
and effectively hinders the development of reason, of greed, and of desire
for independence. For work uses up an extraordinary proportion of nervous
force, withdrawing it from reflection, meditation, dreams, cares, love,
and hatred; it dangles unimportant aims before the eyes of the worker and
affords easy and regular gratification. Thus it happens that a society
where work is continually being performed will enjoy greater security, and
it is security which is now venerated as the supreme deity.—And now,
horror of horrors! it is the “workman” himself who has become dangerous;
the whole world is swarming with “dangerous individuals,” and behind them
follows the danger of dangers—_the_ individuum!


present moral fashion: “Moral actions are actions performed out of
sympathy for others,” I see the social instinct of fear, which thus
assumes an intellectual disguise: this instinct sets forth as its supreme,
most important, and most immediate principle that life shall be relieved
of all the dangerous characteristics which it possessed in former times,
and that every one must help with all his strength towards the attainment
of this end. It is for that reason that only those actions which keep in
view the general security and the feeling of security of society are
called “good.” How little joy must men now have in themselves when such a
tyranny of fear prescribes their supreme moral law, if they make no
objection when commanded to turn their eyes from themselves and to look
aside from themselves! And yet at the same time they have lynx eyes for
all distress and suffering elsewhere! Are we not, then, with this gigantic
intention of ours of smoothing down every sharp edge and corner in life,
utilising the best means of turning mankind into sand! Small, soft, round,
infinite sand! Is that your ideal, ye harbingers of the “sympathetic
affections”? In the meantime even the question remains unanswered whether
we are of more use to our neighbour in running immediately and continually
to his help,—which for the most part can only be done in a very
superficial way, as otherwise it would become a tyrannical meddling and
changing,—or by transforming ourselves into something which our neighbour
can look upon with pleasure,—something, for example, which may be compared
to a beautiful, quiet, and secluded garden, protected by high walls
against storms and the dust of the roads, but likewise with a hospitable


FUNDAMENTAL BASIS OF A CULTURE OF TRADERS.—We have now an opportunity of
watching the manifold growth of the culture of a society of which commerce
is the soul, just as personal rivalry was the soul of culture among the
ancient Greeks, and war, conquest, and law among the ancient Romans. The
tradesman is able to value everything without producing it, and to value
it according to the requirements of the consumer rather than his own
personal needs. “How many and what class of people will consume this?” is
his question of questions. Hence, he instinctively and incessantly employs
this mode of valuation and applies it to everything, including the
productions of art and science, and of thinkers, scholars, artists,
statesmen, nations, political parties, and even entire ages: with respect
to everything produced or created he inquires into the supply and demand
in order to estimate for himself the value of a thing. This, when once it
has been made the principle of an entire culture, worked out to its most
minute and subtle details, and imposed upon every kind of will and
knowledge, this is what you men of the coming century will be proud of,—if
the prophets of the commercial classes are right in putting that century
into your possession! But I have little belief in these prophets. _Credat
Judæus Apella_—to speak with Horace.


THE CRITICISM OF OUR ANCESTORS.—Why should we now endure the truth, even
about the most recent past? Because there is now always a new generation
which feels itself in contradiction to the past and enjoys in this
criticism the first-fruits of its sense of power. In former times the new
generation, on the contrary, wished to base itself on the old and began to
feel conscious of its power, not only in accepting the opinions of its
ancestors but, if possible, taking them even more seriously. To criticise
ancestral authority was in former times a vice; but at the present time
our idealists begin by making it their starting-point.


TO LEARN SOLITUDE.—O ye poor fellows in the great centres of the world’s
politics, ye young and talented men, who, urged on by ambition, think it
your duty to propound your opinion of every event of the day,—for
something is always happening,—who, by thus making a noise and raising a
cloud of dust, mistake yourselves for the rolling chariot of history; who,
because ye always listen, always suit the moment when ye can put in your
word or two, thereby lose all real productiveness. Whatever may be your
desire to accomplish great deeds, the deep silence of pregnancy never
comes to you! The event of the day sweeps you along like straws before the
wind whilst ye lie under the illusion that ye are chasing the event,—poor
fellows! If a man wishes to act the hero on the stage he must not think of
forming part of the chorus; he should not even know how the chorus is made


DAILY WEAR AND TEAR.—These young men are lacking neither in character, nor
talent, nor zeal, but they have never had sufficient time to choose their
own path; they have, on the contrary, been habituated from the most tender
age to have their path pointed out to them. At the time when they were
ripe enough to be sent into the “desert,” something else was done with
them. They were turned to account, estranged from themselves, and brought
up in such a way that they became accustomed to be worn out by their daily
toil. This was imposed on them as a duty, and now they cannot do without
it; they would not wish it to be otherwise. The only thing that cannot be
refused to these poor beasts of burden is their “holidays”—such is the
name they give to this ideal of leisure in an overworked century;
“holidays,” in which they may for once be idle, idiotic, and childish to
their heart’s content.


AS LITTLE STATE AS POSSIBLE!—All political and economic matters are not of
such great value that they ought to be dealt with by the most talented
minds: such a waste of intellect is at bottom worse than any state of
distress. These matters are, and ever will be, the province of smaller
minds, and others than the smaller minds should not be at the service of
this workshop: it would be better to let the machinery work itself to
pieces again! But as matters stand at the present time, when not only do
all people believe that they must know all about it day by day, but wish
likewise to be always busy about it, and in so doing neglect their own
work, it is a great and ridiculous mistake. The price that has to be paid
for the “public safety” is far too high, and, what is maddest of all, we
effect the very opposite of “public safety” a fact which our own dear
century has undertaken to prove, as if this had never been proved before!
To make society secure against thieves and fire, and to render it
thoroughly fit for all kinds of trade and traffic, and to transform the
State in a good and evil sense into a kind of Providence—these aims are
low, mediocre, and not by any means indispensable; and we should not seek
to attain them by the aid of the highest means and instruments which
exist—means which we should reserve precisely for our highest and rarest
aims! Our epoch, however much it may babble about economy, is a
spendthrift: it wastes intellect, the most precious thing of all.


WARS.—The great wars of our own day are the outcome of historical study.


GOVERNING.—Some people govern because of their passion for governing;
others in order that they may not be governed,—the latter choose it as the
lesser of two evils.


ROUGH AND READY CONSISTENCY.—People say of a man with great respect, “He
is a character”—that is, when he exhibits a rough and ready consistency,
when it is evident even to the dullest eye. But, whenever a more subtle
and profound intellect sets itself up and shows consistency in a higher
manner, the spectators deny the existence of any character. That is why
cunning statesmen usually act their comedy under the cloak of a kind of
rough and ready consistency.


THE OLD AND THE YOUNG.—“There is something immoral about Parliaments,”—so
many people still think,—“for in them views even against the Government
may be expressed.”—“We should always adopt that view of a subject which
our gracious Lord commands,”—this is the eleventh commandment in many an
honest old head, especially in Northern Germany. We laugh at it as an
out-of-date fashion, but in former times it was the moral law itself.
Perhaps we shall again some day laugh at that which is now considered as
moral by a generation brought up under a parliamentary régime, namely, the
policy of placing one’s party before one’s own wisdom, and of answering
every question concerning the public welfare in such a way as to fill the
sails of the party with a favourable gust of wind. “We must take that view
of a subject which the position of our party calls for”—such would be the
canon. In the service of such morals we may now behold every kind of
sacrifice, even martyrdom and conquest over one’s self.


tractable men there are always a few backsliders and intractable people.
For the present the latter have joined the Socialists more than any other
party. If it should happen that these people once come to have the making
of the laws, they may be relied upon to impose iron chains upon
themselves, and to practise a dreadful discipline,—they know themselves!
and they will endure these harsh laws with the knowledge that they
themselves have imposed them—the feeling of power and of this particular
power will be too recent among them and too attractive for them not to
suffer anything for its sake.


BEGGARS.—Beggars ought to be suppressed; because we get angry both when we
help them and when we do not.


BUSINESS MEN.—Your business is your greatest prejudice, it binds you to
your locality, your society and your tastes. Diligent in business but lazy
in thought, satisfied with your paltriness and with the cloak of duty
concealing this contentment: thus you live, and thus you like your
children to be.


A POSSIBLE FUTURE.—Is it impossible for us to imagine a social state in
which the criminal will publicly denounce himself and dictate his own
punishment, in the proud feeling that he is thus honouring the law which
he himself has made, that he is exercising his power, the power of a
lawmaker, in thus punishing himself? He may offend for once, but by his
own voluntary punishment he raises himself above his offence, and not only
expiates it by his frankness, greatness, and calmness, but adds to it a
public benefit.—Such would be the criminal of a possible future, a
criminal who would, it is true, presuppose a future legislation based upon
this fundamental idea: “I yield in great things as well as in small only
to the law which I myself have made.” How many experiments must yet be
made! How many futures have yet to dawn upon mankind!


STIMULANTS AND FOOD.—Nations are deceived so often because they are always
looking for a deceiver, _i.e._ a stimulating wine for their senses. When
they can only have this wine they are glad to put up even with inferior
bread. Intoxication is to them more than nutriment—this is the bait with
which they always let themselves be caught! What, to them, are men chosen
from among themselves—although they may be the most expert specialists—as
compared with the brilliant conquerors, or ancient and magnificent
princely houses! In order that he may inspire them with faith, the
demagogue must at least exhibit to them a prospect of conquest and
splendour. People will always obey, and even do more than obey, provided
that they can become intoxicated in doing so. We may not even offer them
repose and pleasure without this laurel crown and its maddening influence.

This vulgar taste which ascribes greater importance to intoxication than
nutrition did not by any means originate in the lower ranks of the
population: it was, on the contrary, transplanted there, and on this
backward soil it grows in great abundance, whilst its real origin must be
sought amongst the highest intellects, where it flourished for thousands
of years. The people is the last virgin soil upon which this brilliant
weed can grow. Well, then, is it really to the people that we should
entrust politics in order that they may thereby have their daily


HIGH POLITICS.—Whatever may be the influence in high politics of
utilitarianism and the vanity of individuals and nations, the sharpest
spur which urges them onwards is their need for the feeling of power—a
need which rises not only in the souls of princes and rulers, but also
gushes forth from time to time from inexhaustible sources in the people.
The time comes again and again when the masses are ready to stake their
lives and their fortunes, their consciences and their virtue, in order
that they may secure that highest of all enjoyments and rule as a
victorious, tyrannical, and arbitrary nation over other nations (or at all
events think that they do).

On occasions such as these, feelings of prodigality, sacrifice, hope,
confidence, extraordinary audacity, and enthusiasm will burst forth so
abundantly that a sovereign who is ambitious or far-sighted will be able
to seize the opportunity for making war, counting upon the good conscience
of his people to hide his injustice. Great conquerors have always given
utterance to the pathetic language of virtue; they have always been
surrounded by crowds of people who felt themselves, as it were, in a state
of exaltation and would listen to none but the most elevated oratory. The
strange madness of moral judgments! When man experiences the sensation of
power he feels and calls himself good; and at exactly the same time the
others who have to endure his power call him evil!—Hesiod, in his fable of
the epochs of man, has twice in succession depicted the same epoch, that
of the heroes of Homer, and has thus made two epochs out of one: to those
who lived under the terrible iron heel of those adventurous despots, or
had heard their ancestors speak of them, the epoch appeared to be evil;
but the descendants of those chivalric races worshipped it as the “good
old times,” and as an almost ideally blissful age. The poet could thus not
help doing what he did,—his audience probably included the descendants of
both races.


FORMER GERMAN CULTURE.—When the Germans began to interest other European
nations, which is not so very long ago, it was owing to a culture which
they no longer possess to-day, and which they have indeed shaken off with
a blind ardour, as if it had been some disease; and yet they have not been
able to replace it by anything better than political and national lunacy.
They have in this way succeeded in becoming even more interesting to other
nations than they were formerly through their culture: and may that
satisfy them! It is nevertheless undeniable that this German culture has
fooled Europeans, and that it did not deserve the interest shown in it,
and much less the imitation and emulation displayed by other nations in
trying to rival it.

Let us look back for a moment upon Schiller, Wilhelm von Humboldt,
Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Schelling; let us read their correspondence and
mingle for a time with the large circle of their followers: what have they
in common, what characteristics have they, that fill us, as we are now,
partly with a feeling of nausea and partly with pitiful and touching
emotions? First and foremost, the passion for appearing at all costs to be
morally exalted, and then the desire for giving utterance to brilliant,
feeble, and inconsequential remarks, together with their fixed purpose of
looking upon everything (characters, passions, times, customs) as
beautiful—“beautiful,” alas, in accordance with a bad and vague taste,
which nevertheless pretended to be of Hellenic origin. We behold in these
people a weak, good-natured, and glistening idealism, which, above all,
wished to exhibit noble attitudes and noble voices, something at once
presumptuous and inoffensive, and animated by a cordial aversion to “cold”
or “dry” reality—as also to anatomy, complete passions, and every kind of
philosophical continence and scepticism, but especially towards the
knowledge of nature in so far as it was impossible to use it as religious

Goethe, in his own characteristic fashion, observed from afar these
movements of German culture: placing himself beyond their influence,
gently remonstrating, silent, more and more confirmed in his own better
course. A little later, and Schopenhauer also was an observer of these
movements—a great deal of the world and devilry of the world had again
been revealed to him, and he spoke of it both roughly and
enthusiastically, for there is a certain beauty in this devilry! And what
was it, then, that really seduced the foreigners and prevented them from
viewing this movement as did Goethe and Schopenhauer, or, better, from
ignoring it altogether? It was that faint lustre, that inexplicable
starlight which formed a mysterious halo around this culture. The
foreigners said to themselves: “This is all very very remote from us; our
sight, hearing, understanding, enjoyment, and powers of valuations are
lost here, but in spite of that there may be some stars! There may be
something in it! Is it possible that the Germans have quietly discovered
some corner of heaven and settled there? We must try to come nearer to
these Germans.” So they did begin to come nearer to the Germans, while not
so very long afterwards the Germans put themselves to some trouble to get
rid of this starlight halo: they knew only too well that they had not been
in heaven, but only in a cloud!


BETTER MEN.—They tell me that our art is meant for the men of the present
day, these greedy, unsatisfied, undisciplined, disgusted, and harassed
spirits, and that it exhibits to them a picture of happiness, exaltation,
and unworldliness beside that of their own brutality, so that for once
they may forget and breathe freely; nay, perhaps find that they may derive
some encouragement towards flight and conversion from that oblivion. Poor
artists, with such a public as this; half of whose thoughts require the
attention of a priest, and the other half the attention of an alienist!
How much happier was Corneille—“Our great Corneille!” as Madame de Sévigné
exclaimed, with the accent of a woman in the presence of a whole man,—how
far superior was his audience, which he could please with pictures of
chivalric virtues, strict duty, generous devotion, and heroic self-denial!
How differently did he and they love existence, not as coming from blind
and confused “will,” which we curse because we cannot destroy it; but
loving existence as a place, so to speak, where greatness joined with
humanity is possible, and where even the greatest restraint of form, such
as submission to the caprice of priests and princes, could not suppress
either the pride, chivalric feeling, the grace or the intellect of
individuals, but could, on the contrary, be felt as a charm and incentive,
as a welcome contrast to innate self-glorification and distinction and the
inherited power of volition and passion.


THE DESIRE FOR PERFECT OPPONENTS.—It cannot be denied that the French have
been the most Christian nation in the world, not because the devotion of
masses in France has been greater than elsewhere, but because those
Christian ideals which are most difficult to realise have become
incarnated here instead of merely remaining fancies, intentions, or
imperfect beginnings. Take Pascal, for example, the greatest of all
Christians in his combination of ardour, intellect, and honesty, and
consider what elements had to be combined in his case! Take Fénelon, the
most perfect and attractive embodiment of ecclesiastical culture in all
its power: a sublime golden mean of whom a historian would be tempted to
prove the impossibility, whilst in reality he was merely the perfection of
something exceedingly difficult and improbable. Take Madame de Guyon among
her companions, the French Quietists: and everything that the eloquence
and ardour of the Apostle Paul has endeavoured to divine with regard to
the Christian’s state of semi-divinity, this most sublime, loving, silent,
and ecstatic state is seen verified in her, without, however, that Jewish
obtrusiveness that Paul showed towards God—due in the case of Madame de
Guyon to the real old French artlessness in words and gestures,
artlessness at once womanly, subtle, and distinguished. Consider, again,
the founder of the Trappists—the last person who really took seriously the
ascetic ideal of Christianity, not because he was an exception among
Frenchmen, but because he was a true Frenchman: for up to our own day his
gloomy organisation has not been able to acclimatise itself and to
prosper, except among Frenchmen; and it has followed them into Alsace and

Let us not forget the Huguenots, either: that combination of a martial and
industrial spirit, refined manners and Christian severity, has never been
more beautifully exhibited. And it was at Port Royal that the great
Christian erudition beheld its last era of prosperity; and in France more
than anywhere else great men know how to prosper. Though not at all
superficial, a great Frenchman has always his apparent superficiality;—he
has, so to speak, a natural skin for his real contents and depth,—while,
on the other hand, the depth of a great German is generally, as it were,
closed up in an ugly-shaped box, like an elixir, which, by means of a hard
and curious covering, endeavours to preserve itself from the light of day
and the touch of thoughtless hands. And now let us endeavour to find out
why a people like the French, so prolific in perfect types of Christians,
likewise necessarily brought forth the perfect contrary types, those of
unchristian free-thought! The French free-thinker, in his own inward
being, had to fight against truly great men, and not, like the
free-thinkers of other nations, merely against dogmas and sublime


_ESPRIT_ AND MORALS.—The German, who possesses the secret of knowing how
to be tedious in spite of wit, knowledge, and feeling, and who has
habituated himself to consider tediousness as moral, is in dread in the
presence of French _esprit_ lest it should tear out the eyes of
morality—but a dread mingled with “fascination,” like that experienced by
the little bird in the presence of the rattlesnake. Amongst all the
celebrated Germans none possessed more _esprit_ than Hegel, but he also
had that great German dread of it which brought about his peculiar and
defective style. For the nature of this style resembles a kernel, which is
wrapped up so many times in an outer covering that it can scarcely peep
through, now and then glancing forth bashfully and inquisitively, like
“young women peeping through their veils,” to use the words of that old
woman-hater, Æschylus. This kernel, however, is a witty though often
impertinent joke on intellectual subjects, a subtle and daring combination
of words, such as is necessary in a society of thinkers as gilding for a
scientific pill—but, enveloped as it is in an almost impenetrable cover,
it exhibits itself as the most abstruse science, and likewise as the worst
possible moral tediousness. Here the Germans had a permissible form of
_esprit_ and they revelled in it with such boundless delight that even
Schopenhauer’s unusually fine understanding could not grasp it—during the
whole of his life he thundered against the spectacle that the Germans
offered to him, but he could never explain it.


VANITY OF THE TEACHERS OF MORALS.—The relatively small success which
teachers of morals have met with may be explained by the fact that they
wanted too much at once, _i.e._ they were too ambitious and too fond of
laying down precepts for everybody. In other words, they were beating the
air and making speeches to animals in order to turn them into men; what
wonder, then, that the animals thought this tedious! We should rather
choose limited circles and endeavour to find and promote morals for them:
for instance, we should make speeches to wolves with the object of turning
them into dogs; but, above all, the greatest success will remain for the
man who does not seek to educate either everybody or certain limited
circles, but only one single individual, and who cannot be turned to the
right or left from his straight purpose. The last century was superior to
ours precisely because it possessed so many individually educated men, as
well as educators in the same proportion, who had made this their life’s
task, and who with this task were dignified not only in their own eyes but
in those of all the remaining “good society.”


THE SO-CALLED CLASSICAL EDUCATION.—Alas! we discover that our life is
consecrated to knowledge and that we should throw it away, nay, that we
should even have to throw it away if this consecration did not protect us
from ourselves: we repeat this couplet, and not without deep emotion:

    Thee, Fate, I follow, though I fain would not,
    And yet I must, with many a sigh and groan!

And then, in looking backwards over the course of our lives, we discover
that there is one thing that cannot be restored to us: the wasted period
of our youth, when our teachers did not utilise these ardent and eager
years to lead us to the knowledge of things, but merely to this so-called
“classical education”! Only think of this wasted youth, when we were
inoculated clumsily and painfully with an imperfect knowledge of the
Greeks and Romans as well as of their languages, contrary to the highest
principle of all culture, which holds that we should not give food except
to those who hunger for it! Think of that period of our lives when we had
mathematics and physics forced down our throats, instead of being first of
all made acquainted with the despair of ignorance, instead of having our
little daily life, our activities, and everything occurring in our houses,
our workshops, in the sky, and in nature, split up into thousands of
problems, painful, humiliating and irritating problems—and thus having our
curiosity made acquainted with the fact that we first of all require a
mathematical and mechanical knowledge before we can be allowed to rejoice
in the absolute logic of this knowledge! If we had only been imbued with
reverence for those branches of science, if we had only been made to
tremble with emotion—were it only for once—at the struggles, the defeats,
and the renewed combats of those great men, of the martyrdom which is the
history of pure science! But, on the contrary, we were allowed to develop
a certain contempt for those sciences in favour of historical training,
formal education(4) and “classicism.”

And we allowed ourselves to be so easily deceived! Formal education! Might
we not have pointed to the best teachers at our high schools and asked
laughingly, “Where then do they keep their formal education? and, if it is
wanting in them, how can they teach it?” And classicism! Did we get any of
that instruction which the ancients used to impart to their youth? Did we
learn to speak or to write like them? Did we ceaselessly exercise
ourselves in that duel of speech, dialectic? Did we learn to move as
beautifully and proudly as they did, and to excel as they did in
wrestling, throwing, and boxing? Did we learn anything of that practical
asceticism of all the Greek philosophers? Did we receive any training in a
single ancient virtue, and in the way in which the ancients were trained
in it? Was not all meditation upon morals wanting in our education?—And
how much more the only possible criticism on the subject of morality,
those courageous and earnest attempts to live according to this or that
morality! Did our teachers ever stir up a feeling in us which the ancients
valued more highly than moderns? Did they in the spirit of the ancients
indicate to us the divisions of the day and of life, and those aims by
which the lives of the ancients were guided? Did we learn the ancient
languages as we now learn the modern ones, viz. that we might speak them
fluently and well? Nowhere can we find a real proficiency or any new
faculty as the result of those toilsome years! only the knowledge of what
men had learnt and were able to do in past ages!

And what knowledge! Nothing becomes clearer to me year by year than the
fact that the entire Greek and ancient mode of life, however simple and
evident it must seem to our eyes, is in truth very difficult to
understand, and even scarcely accessible, and that the customary ease with
which we babble about the ancients is either giddy levity or the old
hereditary conceit of our thoughtlessness. We are deceived by words and
ideas which appear to resemble our own, but behind them there is always
concealed a feeling which must be strange, incomprehensible, or painful to
our modern conceptions. And these are realms in which boys are allowed to
roam about! Enough: we roamed about them in our childhood, and there we
became seized with an almost ineradicable antipathy for all antiquity, the
antipathy arising from an intimacy which was apparently too great! For so
great is the conceit of our classical teachers, who would almost make it
appear that they had gained full control over the ancients, that they pass
on this conceit to their pupils, together with the suspicion that such a
possession is of little use for making people happy, but is good enough
for honest, foolish old book-worms. “Let them brood over their treasure:
it is well worthy of them!”—It is with this unexpressed thought that we
completed our classical education. It can’t be changed now—for us, at all
events! But let us not think of ourselves alone!


THE MOST PERSONAL QUESTIONS OF TRUTH.—What am I really doing, and what do
I mean by doing it? That is the question of truth which is not taught
under our present system of education, and consequently not asked, because
there is no time for it. On the other hand, we have always time and
inclination for talking nonsense with children, rather than telling them
the truth; for flattering women who will later on be mothers, rather than
telling them the truth; and for speaking with young men about their future
and their pleasures, rather than about the truth!

But what, after all, are seventy years!—Time passes, and they soon come to
an end; it matters as little to us as it does to the wave to know how and
whither it is rolling! No, it might even be wisdom not to know it.

“Agreed; but it shows a want of pride not even to inquire into the matter;
our culture does not tend to make people proud.”

“So much the better!”

“Is it really?”


contributions which in the first half of this century the Germans made to
general culture by their intellectual work. In the first place, let us
take the German philosophers: they went back to the first and oldest stage
of speculation, for they were content with conceptions instead of
explanations, like the thinkers of dreamy epochs—a pre-scientific type of
philosophy was thus revived by them. Secondly, we have the German
historians and romanticists: their efforts on the whole aimed at restoring
to the place of honour certain old and primitive sentiments, especially
Christianity, the “soul of the people,” folk-lore, folk-speech,
mediævalism, Oriental asceticism, and Hinduism. In the third place, there
are the natural philosophers who fought against the spirit of Newton and
Voltaire, and, like Goethe and Schopenhauer, endeavoured to re-establish
the idea of a deified or diabolised nature, and of its absolute ethical
and symbolical meaning. The main general tendency of the Germans was
directed against enlightenment and against those social revolutions which
were stupidly mistaken for the consequences of enlightenment: the piety
towards everything that existed tried to become piety towards everything
that had ever existed, only in order that heart and mind might be
permitted to fill themselves and gush forth again, thus leaving no space
for future and novel aims. The cult of feeling took the place of the cult
of reason, and the German musicians, as the best exponents of all that is
invisible, enthusiastic, legendary, and passionate, showed themselves more
successful in building up the new temple than all the other artists in
words and thoughts.

If, in considering these details, we have taken into account the fact that
many good things were said and investigated, and that many things have
since then been more fairly judged than on any previous occasion, there
yet remains to be said of the whole that it was a general danger, and one
by no means small, to set knowledge altogether below feeling under the
appearance of an entire and definitive acquaintance with the past—and, to
use that expression of Kant, who thus defined his own particular task—“To
make way again for belief by fixing the limits of knowledge.” Let us once
more breathe freely, the hour of this danger is past! And yet, strange to
say, the very spirits which these Germans conjured up with such eloquence
have at length become the most dangerous for the intentions of those who
did conjure them up: history, the comprehension of origin and development,
sympathy with the past, the new passion for feeling and knowledge, after
they had been for a long time at the service of this obscure exalted and
retrograde spirit, have once more assumed another nature, and are now
soaring with outstretched wings above the heads of those who once upon a
time conjured them forth, as new and stronger genii of that very
enlightenment to combat which they had been resuscitated. It is this
enlightenment which we have now to carry forward,—caring nothing for the
fact that there has been and still is “a great revolution,” and again a
great “reaction” against it: these are but playful crests of foam when
compared with the truly great current on which we float, and want to


ASSIGNING PRESTIGE TO ONE’S COUNTRY.—It is the men of culture who
determine the rank of their country, and they are characterised by an
innumerable number of great inward experiences, which they have digested
and can now value justly. In France and Italy this fell to the lot of the
nobility; in Germany, where up to now the nobility has been, as a rule,
composed of men who had not much intellect to boast about (perhaps this
will soon cease to be the case), it was the task of the priests, the
school teachers and their descendants.


WE ARE NOBLER.—Fidelity, generosity, concern for one’s good reputation:
these three qualities, combined in one sentiment, we call noble,
distinguished, aristocratic; and in this respect we excel the Greeks. We
do not wish to give this up at any cost under the pretext that the ancient
objects of these virtues have rightly fallen in esteem, but we wish
cautiously to substitute new objects for these most precious and
hereditary impulses. To understand why the sentiments of the noblest
Greeks must be considered as inferior and scarcely respectable in the
present age, where we are still under the influence of the chivalric and
feudal nobility, we must recall the words of consolation to which Ulysses
gave utterance in the midst of the most humiliating situations, “Bear with
it, my dear heart, bear with it! Thou hast borne with many more swinish
things(5) than these!” As an instance of this mythical example, consider
also the tale of that Athenian officer, who, when threatened with a stick
by another officer in the presence of the entire general staff, shook off
his disgrace with the words, “Strike, but listen to me.” (This was
Themistocles, that ingenious Ulysses of the classical epoch, who was just
the man at the moment of disgrace to address to his “dear heart” that
verse of comfort and affliction.)

The Greeks were far from making light of life and death because of an
insult, as we, influenced by a hereditary spirit of chivalric
adventurousness and self-devotion, are in the habit of doing; or from
looking for opportunities of honourably risking life and death, as in
duels; or from valuing the preservation of an unstained name (honour) more
than the acquirement of an evil reputation, when the latter was compatible
with glory and the feeling of power; or from remaining faithful to the
prejudices and the articles of faith of a caste, when these could prevent
them from becoming tyrants. For this is the ignoble secret of the good
Greek aristocrat: out of sheer jealousy he treats every one of the members
of his caste as being on an equal footing with himself, but he is ready at
every moment to spring like a tiger on his prey—despotism. What matter
lies, murders, treason, or the betrayal of his native city to him! Justice
was an extremely difficult matter for people of this kind to
understand—nay, justice was almost something incredible. “The just man”
was to the Greeks what “the saint” was to the Christians. When Socrates,
however, laid down the axiom, “The most virtuous man is the happiest,”
they could not trust their ears; they thought they had heard a madman
speaking. For, as a picture of the happiest man, every nobleman had in his
mind the cheeky audacity and devilry of the tyrant who sacrifices
everything and every one to his own exuberance and pleasure. Among people
whose imagination secretly raved about such happiness, the worship of the
State could not, of course, have been too deeply implanted—but I think
that men whose desire for power does not rage so blindly as that of the
Greek noblemen no longer stand in need of such idolatry of the State, by
means of which, in past ages, such a passion was kept within due bounds.


ENDURANCE OF POVERTY.—There is one great advantage in noble extraction: it
makes us endure poverty better.


THE FUTURE OF THE NOBILITY.—The bearing of the aristocratic classes shows
that, in all the members of their body the consciousness of power is
continually playing its fascinating game. Thus people of aristocratic
habits, men or women, never sink worn out into a chair; when every one
else makes himself comfortable, as in a train, for example, they avoid
reclining at their ease; they do not appear to get tired after standing at
Court for hours at a stretch; they do not furnish their houses in a
comfortable manner, but in such a way as to produce the impression of
something grand and imposing, as if they had to serve as a residence for
greater and taller beings; they reply to a provoking speech with dignity
and clearness of mind, and not as if scandalised, crushed, shamed, or out
of breath in the plebeian fashion. As the aristocrat is able to preserve
the appearance of being possessed of a superior physical force which never
leaves him, he likewise wishes by his aspect of constant serenity and
civility of disposition, even in the most trying circumstances, to convey
the impression that his mind and soul are equal to all dangers and
surprises. A noble culture may resemble, so far as passions are concerned,
either a horseman who takes pleasure in making his proud and fiery animal
trot in the Spanish fashion,—we have only to recollect the age of Louis
XIV.,—or like the rider who feels his horse dart away with him like the
elemental forces, to such a degree that both horse and rider come near
losing their heads, but, owing to the enjoyment of the delight, do keep
very clear heads: in both these cases this aristocratic culture breathes
power, and if very often in its customs only the appearance of the feeling
of power is required, nevertheless the real sense of superiority continues
constantly to increase as the result of the impression which this display
makes upon those who are not aristocrats.

This indisputable happiness of aristocratic culture, based as it is on the
feeling of superiority, is now beginning to rise to ever higher levels;
for now, thanks to the free spirits, it is henceforth permissible and not
dishonourable for people who have been born and reared in aristocratic
circles to enter the domain of knowledge, where they may secure more
intellectual consecrations and learn chivalric services even higher than
those of former times, and where they may look up to that ideal of
victorious wisdom which as yet no age has been able to set before itself
with so good a conscience as the period which is about to dawn. Lastly,
what is to be the occupation of the nobility in the future if it becomes
more evident from day to day that it is less and less indecorus to take
any part in politics?


THE CARE OF THE HEALTH.—We have scarcely begun to devote any attention to
the physiology of criminals, and yet we have already reached the
inevitable conclusion that between criminals and madmen there is no really
essential difference: _if we suppose that the current moral fashion of
thinking is a healthy way of thinking_. No belief, however, is nowadays
more firmly believed in than this one, so we should not therefore shrink
from drawing the inevitable conclusion and treating the criminal like a
lunatic—above all, not with haughty pitifulness, but with medical skill
and good will. He may perhaps be in need of a change of air, a change of
society, or temporary absence: perhaps of solitude and new
occupations—very well! He may perhaps feel that it would be to his
advantage to live under surveillance for a short time in order thus to
obtain protection from himself and from a troublesome tyrannical
impulse—very well! We should make clear to him the possibility and the
means of curing him (the extermination, transformation, and sublimation of
these impulses), and also, in the worst cases, the improbability of a
cure; and we should offer to the incurable criminal, who has become a
useless burden to himself, the opportunity of committing suicide. While
holding this in reserve as an extreme measure of relief, we should neglect
nothing which would tend above all to restore to the criminal his good
courage and freedom of spirit; we should free his soul from all remorse,
as if it were something unclean, and show him how he may atone for a wrong
which he may have done some one by benefiting some one else, perhaps the
community at large, in such way that he might even do more than balance
his previous offence.

All this must be done with the greatest tact! The criminal must, above
all, remain anonymous or adopt an assumed name, changing his place of
residence frequently, so that his reputation and future life may suffer as
little as possible. At the present time it is true that the man who has
been injured, apart altogether from the manner in which this injury might
be redressed, wishes for revenge in addition, and applies to the courts
that he may obtain it—and this is why our dreadful penal laws are still in
force: Justice, as it were, holding up a pair of shopkeeper’s scales and
endeavouring to balance the guilt by punishment; but can we not take a
step beyond this? Would it not be a great relief to the general sentiment
of life if, while getting rid of our belief in guilt, we could also get
rid of our old craving for vengeance, and gradually come to believe that
it is a refined wisdom for happy men to bless their enemies and to do good
to those who have offended them, exactly in accordance with the spirit of
Christian teaching! Let us free the world from this idea of sin, and take
care to cast out with it the idea of punishment. May these monstrous ideas
henceforth live banished far from the abodes of men—if, indeed, they must
live at all, and do not perish from disgust with themselves.

Let us not forget also, however, that the injury caused to society and to
the individual by the criminal is of the same species as that caused by
the sick: for the sick spread cares and ill-humour; they are
non-productive, consume the earnings of others, and at the same time
require attendance, doctors, and support, and they really live on the time
and strength of the healthy. In spite of this, however, we should
designate as inhuman any one who, for this reason, would wish to wreak
vengeance on the sick. In past ages, indeed, this was actually done: in
primitive conditions of society, and even now among certain savage
peoples, the sick man is treated as a criminal and as a danger to the
community, and it is believed that he is the resting-place of certain
demoniacal beings who have entered into his body as the result of some
offence he has committed—those ages and peoples hold that the sick are the

And what of ourselves? Are we not yet ripe for the contrary conception?
Shall we not be allowed to say, “The guilty are the sick”? No; the hour
for that has not yet come. We still lack, above all, those physicians who
have learnt something from what we have hitherto called practical morals
and have transformed it into the art and science of healing. We still lack
that intense interest in those things which some day perhaps may seem not
unlike the “storm and stress” of those old religious ecstasies. The
Churches have not yet come into the possession of those who look after our
health; the study of the body and of dietary are not yet amongst the
obligatory subjects taught in our primary and secondary schools; there are
as yet no quiet associations of those people who are pledged to one
another to do without the help of law courts, and who renounce the
punishment and vengeance now meted out to those who have offended against
society. No thinker has as yet been daring enough to determine the health
of society, and of the individuals who compose it, by the number of
parasites which it can support; and no statesman has yet been found to use
the ploughshare in the spirit of that generous and tender saying, “If thou
wilt till the land, till it with the plough; then the bird and the wolf,
walking behind thy plough, will rejoice in thee—all creatures will rejoice
in thee.”


AGAINST BAD DIET.—Fie upon the meals which people nowadays eat in hotels
and everywhere else where the well-off classes of society live! Even when
eminent men of science meet together their tables groan under the weight
of the dishes, in accordance with the principle of the bankers: the
principle of too many dishes and too much to eat. The result of this is
that dinners are prepared with a view to their mere appearance rather than
the consequences that may follow from eating them, and that stimulating
drinks are required to help in driving away the heaviness in the stomach
and in the brain. Fie on the dissoluteness and extreme nervousness which
must follow upon all this! Fie upon the dreams that such repasts bring!
Fie upon the arts and books which must be the desert of such meals!
Despite all the efforts of such people their acts will taste of pepper and
ill-temper, or general weariness! (The wealthy classes in England stand in
great need of their Christianity in order to be able to endure their bad
digestions and their headaches.) Finally, to mention not only the
disgusting but also the more pleasant side of the matter, these people are
by no means mere gluttons: our century and its spirit of activity has more
power over the limbs than the belly. What then is the meaning of these
banquets? They represent! What in Heaven’s name do they represent?
Rank?—no, money! There is no rank now! We are all “individuals”! but money
now stands for power, glory, pre-eminence, dignity, and influence; money
at the present time acts as a greater or lesser moral prejudice for a man
in proportion to the amount he may possess. Nobody wishes to hide it under
a bushel or display it in heaps on a table: hence money must have some
representative which can be put on the table—so behold our banquets!


DANÆ AND THE GOD OF GOLD.—Whence arises this excessive impatience in our
day which turns men into criminals even in circumstances which would be
more likely to bring about the contrary tendency? What induces one man to
use false weights, another to set his house on fire after having insured
it for more than its value, a third to take part in counterfeiting, while
three-fourths of our upper classes indulge in legalised fraud, and suffer
from the pangs of conscience that follow speculation and dealings on the
Stock Exchange: what gives rise to all this? It is not real want,—for
their existence is by no means precarious; perhaps they have even enough
to eat and drink without worrying,—but they are urged on day and night by
a terrible impatience at seeing their wealth pile up so slowly, and by an
equally terrible longing and love for these heaps of gold. In this
impatience and love, however, we see re-appear once more that fanaticism
of the desire for power which was stimulated in former times by the belief
that we were in the possession of truth, a fanaticism which bore such
beautiful names that we could dare to be inhuman with a good conscience
(burning Jews, heretics, and good books, and exterminating entire cultures
superior to ours, such as those of Peru and Mexico). The means of this
desire for power are changed in our day, but the same volcano is still
smouldering, impatience and intemperate love call for their victims, and
what was once done “for the love of God” is now done for the love of
money, _i.e._ for the love of that which at present affords us the highest
feeling of power and a good conscience.


THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.—One of the spectacles which the next century will
invite us to witness is the decision regarding the fate of the European
Jews. It is quite obvious now that they have cast their die and crossed
their Rubicon: the only thing that remains for them is either to become
masters of Europe or to lose Europe, as they once centuries ago lost
Egypt, where they were confronted with similar alternatives. In Europe,
however, they have gone through a schooling of eighteen centuries such as
no other nation has ever undergone, and the experiences of this dreadful
time of probation have benefited not only the Jewish community but, even
to a greater extent, the individual. As a consequence of this, the
resourcefulness of the modern Jews, both in mind and soul, is
extraordinary. Amongst all the inhabitants of Europe it is the Jews least
of all who try to escape from any deep distress by recourse to drink or to
suicide, as other less gifted people are so prone to do. Every Jew can
find in the history of his own family and of his ancestors a long record
of instances of the greatest coolness and perseverance amid difficulties
and dreadful situations, an artful cunning in fighting with misfortune and
hazard. And above all it is their bravery under the cloak of wretched
submission, their heroic _spernere se sperni_ that surpasses the virtues
of all the saints.

People wished to make them contemptible by treating them contemptibly for
nearly twenty centuries, and refusing them access to all honourable
positions and dignities, and by pushing them further down into the meaner
trades—and under this process indeed they have not become any cleaner. But
contemptible? They have never ceased for a moment from believing
themselves qualified for the very highest functions, nor have the virtues
of the suffering ever ceased to adorn them. Their manner of honouring
their parents and children, the rationality of their marriages and
marriage customs, distinguishes them amongst all Europeans. Besides this,
they have been able to create for themselves a sense of power and eternal
vengeance from the very trades that were left to them (or to which they
were abandoned). Even in palliation of their usury we cannot help saying
that, without this occasional pleasant and useful torture inflicted on
their scorners, they would have experienced difficulty in preserving their
self-respect for so long. For our self-respect depends upon our ability to
make reprisals in both good and evil things. Nevertheless, their revenge
never urges them on too far, for they all have that liberty of mind, and
even of soul, produced in men by frequent changes of place, climate, and
customs of neighbours and oppressors, they possess by far the greatest
experience in all human intercourse, and even in their passions they
exercise the caution which this experience has developed in them. They are
so certain of their intellectual versatility and shrewdness that they
never, even when reduced to the direst straits, have to earn their bread
by manual labour as common workmen, porters, or farm hands. In their
manners we can still see that they have never been inspired by chivalric
and noble feelings, or that their bodies have ever been girt with fine
weapons: a certain obtrusiveness alternates with a submissiveness which is
often tender and almost always painful.

Now, however, that they unavoidably inter-marry more and more year after
year with the noblest blood of Europe, they will soon have a considerable
heritage of good intellectual and physical manners, so that in another
hundred years they will have a sufficiently noble aspect not to render
themselves, as masters, ridiculous to those whom they will have subdued.
And this is important! and therefore a settlement of the question is still
premature. They themselves know very well that the conquest of Europe or
any act of violence is not to be thought of; but they also know that some
day or other Europe may, like a ripe fruit, fall into their hands, if they
do not clutch at it too eagerly. In the meantime, it is necessary for them
to distinguish themselves in all departments of European distinction and
to stand in the front rank: until they shall have advanced so far as to
determine themselves what distinction shall mean. Then they will be called
the pioneers and guides of the Europeans whose modesty they will no longer

And then where shall an outlet be found for this abundant wealth of great
impressions accumulated during such an extended period and representing
Jewish history for every Jewish family, this wealth of passions, virtues,
resolutions, resignations, struggles, and conquests of all kinds—where can
it find an outlet but in great intellectual men and works! On the day when
the Jews will be able to exhibit to us as their own work such jewels and
golden vessels as no European nation, with its shorter and less profound
experience, can or could produce, when Israel shall have changed its
eternal vengeance into an eternal benediction for Europe: then that
seventh day will once more appear when old Jehovah may rejoice in Himself,
in His creation, in His chosen people—and all, all of us, will rejoice
with Him!


THE IMPOSSIBLE CLASS.—Poverty, cheerfulness, and independence—it is
possible to find these three qualities combined in one individual;
poverty, cheerfulness, and slavery—this is likewise a possible
combination: and I can say nothing better to the workmen who serve as
factory slaves; presuming that it does not appear to them altogether to be
a shameful thing to be utilised as they are, as the screws of a machine
and the stopgaps, as it were, of the human spirit of invention. Fie on the
thought that merely by means of higher wages the essential part of their
misery, _i.e._ their impersonal enslavement, might be removed! Fie, that
we should allow ourselves to be convinced that, by an increase of this
impersonality within the mechanical working of a new society, the disgrace
of slavery could be changed into a virtue! Fie, that there should be a
regular price at which a man should cease to be a personality and become a
screw instead! Are you accomplices in the present madness of nations which
desire above all to produce as much as possible, and to be as rich as
possible? Would it not be your duty to present a counter-claim to them,
and to show them what large sums of internal value are wasted in the
pursuit of such an external object?

But where is your internal value when you no longer know what it is to
breathe freely; when you have scarcely any command over your own selves,
and often feel disgusted with yourselves as with some stale food; when you
zealously study the newspapers and look enviously at your wealthy
neighbour, made covetous by the rapid rise and fall of power, money, and
opinions; when you no longer believe in a philosophy in rags, or in the
freedom of spirit of a man who has few needs; when a voluntary and idyllic
poverty without profession or marriage, such as should suit the more
intellectual ones among you, has become for you an object of derision? On
the other hand, the piping of the Socialistic rat-catchers who wish to
inspire you with foolish hopes is continually sounding in your ears: they
tell you to be ready and nothing further, ready from this day to the next,
so that you wait and wait for something to come from outside, though
living in all other respects as you lived before—until this waiting is at
length changed into hunger and thirst and fever and madness, and the clay
of the _bestia triumphans_ at last dawns in all its glory. Every one of
you should on the contrary say to himself: “It would be better to emigrate
and endeavour to become a master in new and savage countries, and
especially to become master over myself, changing my place of abode
whenever the least sign of slavery threatens me, endeavouring to avoid
neither adventure nor war, and, if things come to the worst, holding
myself ready to die: anything rather than continuing in this state of
disgraceful thraldom, this bitterness, malice and rebelliousness!” This
would be the proper spirit: the workmen in Europe ought to make it clear
that their position as a class has become a human impossibility, and not
merely, as they at present maintain, the result of some hard and aimless
arrangement of society. They should bring about an age of great swarming
forth from the European beehive such as has never yet been seen,
protesting by this voluntary and huge migration against machines and
capital and the alternatives that now threaten them either of becoming
slaves of the State or slaves of some revolutionary party.

May Europe be freed from one-fourth of her inhabitants! Both she and they
will experience a sensation of relief. It is only far in the distance, in
the undertaking of vast colonisations, that we shall be able to observe
how much rationality, fairness, and healthy suspicion mother Europe has
incorporated in her sons—these sons who could no longer endure life in the
home of the dull old woman, always running the danger of becoming as
bad-tempered, irritable, and pleasure-seeking as she herself. The European
virtues will travel along with these workmen far beyond the boundaries of
Europe; and those very qualities which on their native soil had begun to
degenerate into a dangerous discontent and criminal inclinations will,
when abroad, be transformed into a beautiful, savage naturalness and will
be called heroism; so that at last a purer air would again be wafted over
this old, over-populated, and brooding Europe of ours. What would it
matter if there was a scarcity of “hands”? Perhaps people would then
recollect that they had accustomed themselves to many wants merely because
it was easy to gratify them—it would be sufficient to unlearn some of
these wants! Perhaps also Chinamen would be called in, and these would
bring with them their modes of living and thinking, which would be found
very suitable for industrious ants. They would also perhaps help to imbue
this fretful and restless Europe with some of their Asiatic calmness and
contemplation, and—what is perhaps most needful of all—their Asiatic


things, but he is unlikely to accomplish them, for he obeys whenever he
can, as suits a naturally lazy intellect. If he is ever in the dangerous
situation of having to stand alone and cast aside his sloth, when he finds
it no longer possible to disappear like a cipher in a number (in which
respect he is far inferior to a Frenchman or an Englishman), he shows his
true strength: then he becomes dangerous, evil, deep, and audacious, and
exhibits to the light of day that wealth of latent energy which he had
previously carried hidden in himself, and in which no one, not even
himself, had ever believed. When in such a case a German obeys himself—it
is very exceptional for him to do so—he does so with the same heaviness,
inflexibility, and endurance with which he obeys his prince and performs
his official duties: so that, as I have said, he is then capable of great
things which bear no relation to the “weak disposition” he attributes to

As a rule, however, he is afraid of depending upon himself alone, he is
afraid of taking the initiative: that is why Germany uses up so many
officials and so much ink. Light-heartedness is a stranger to the German;
he is too timid for it: but in entirely new situations which rouse him
from his torpor he exhibits an almost frivolous spirit—he then delights in
the novelty of his new position as if it were some intoxicating drink, and
he is, as we know, quite a connoisseur in intoxication. It thus happens
that the German of the present day is almost always frivolous in politics,
though even here he has the advantage and prejudice of thoroughness and
seriousness; and, although he may take full advantage of these qualities
in negotiations with other political powers, he nevertheless rejoices
inwardly at being able for once in his life to feel enthusiastic and
capricious, to show his fondness for innovations, and to change persons,
parties, and hopes as if they were masks. Those learned German scholars,
who hitherto have been considered as the most German of Germans, were and
perhaps still are as good as the German soldiers on account of their
profound and almost childish inclination to obey in all external things,
and on account of being often compelled to stand alone in science and to
answer for many things: if they can only preserve their proud, simple, and
patient disposition, and their freedom from political madness at those
times when the wind changes, we may yet expect great things from them—such
as they are or such as they were, they are the embryonic stage of
something higher.

So far the advantages and disadvantages of the Germans, including even
their learned men, have been that they were more given to superstition and
showed greater eagerness to believe than any of the other nations; their
vices are, and always have been, their drunkenness and suicidal
inclinations (the latter a proof of the clumsiness of their intellect,
which is easily tempted to throw away the reins). Their danger is to be
sought in everything that binds down the faculties of reason and unchains
the passions (as, for example, the excessive use of music and spirits),
for the German passion acts contrarily to its own advantage, and is as
self-destructive as the passions of the drunkard. Indeed, German
enthusiasm is worth less than that of other nations, for it is barren.
When a German ever did anything great it was done at a time of danger, or
when his courage was high, with his teeth firmly set and his prudence on
the alert, and often enough in a fit of generosity.—Intercourse with these
Germans is indeed advisable, for almost every one of them has something to
give, if we can only understand how to make him find it, or rather recover
it (for he is very untidy in storing away his knowledge).

Well: when people of this type occupy themselves with morals, what
precisely will be the morality that will satisfy them? In the first place,
they will wish to see idealised in their morals their sincere instinct for
obedience. “Man must have something which he can implicitly obey”—this is
a German sentiment, a German deduction; it is the basis of all German
moral teaching. How different is the impression, however, when we compare
this with the entire morality of the ancient world! All those Greek
thinkers, however varied they may appear to us, seem to resemble, as
moralists, the gymnastic teacher who encourages his pupils by saying,
“Come, follow me! Submit to my discipline! Then perhaps you may carry off
the prize from all the other Greeks.” Personal distinction: such was the
virtue of antiquity. Submission, obedience, whether public or private:
such is German virtue. Long before Kant set forth his doctrine of the
Categorical Imperative, Luther, actuated by the same impulse, said that
there surely must be a being in whom man could trust implicitly—it was his
proof of the existence of God; it was his wish, coarser and more popular
than that of Kant, that people should implicitly obey a person and not an
idea, and Kant also finally took his roundabout route through morals
merely that he might secure obedience for the person. This is indeed the
worship of the German, the more so as there is now less worship left in
his religion.

The Greeks and Romans had other opinions on these matters, and would have
laughed at such “there must be a being”: it is part of the boldness of
their Southern nature to take up a stand against “implicit belief,” and to
retain in their inmost heart a trace of scepticism against all and every
one, whether God, man, or idea. The thinker of antiquity went even
further, and said _nil admirari_: in this phrase he saw reflected all
philosophy. A German, Schopenhauer, goes so far in the contrary direction
as to say: _admirari id est philosophari_. But what if, as happens now and
then, the German should attain to that state of mind which would enable
him to perform great things? if the hour of exception comes, the hour of
disobedience? I do not think Schopenhauer is right in saying that the
single advantage the Germans have over other nations is that there are
more atheists among them than elsewhere; but I do know this: whenever the
German reaches the state in which he is capable of great things, he
invariably raises himself above morals! And why should he not? Now he has
something new to do, viz. to command—either himself or others! But this
German morality of his has not taught him how to command! Commanding has
been forgotten in it.



A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE.—“Now, _in summa_, tell me what this new thing is
that you want.”—“We no longer wish causes to be sinners and effects to be


THE UTILITY OF THE STRICTEST THEORIES.—People are indulgent towards a
man’s moral weaknesses, and in this connection they use a coarse sieve,
provided that he always professes to hold the most strict moral theories.
On the other hand, the lives of free-thinking moralists have always been
examined closely through a microscope, in the tacit belief that an error
in their lives would be the best argument against their disagreeable


THE “THING IN ITSELF.”—We used to ask formerly: What is the ridiculous?—as
if there were something above and beyond ourselves that possessed the
quality of provoking laughter, and we exhausted ourselves in trying to
guess what it was (a theologian even held that it might be “the _naïveté_
of sin”). At the present time we ask: What is laughter? how does it arise?
We have considered the point, and finally reached the conclusion that
there is nothing which is good, beautiful, sublime, or evil in itself; but
rather that there are conditions of soul which lead us to attribute such
qualities to things outside ourselves and in us. We have taken back their
predicates from things; or we have at all events recollected that we have
merely lent the things these predicates. Let us be careful that this
insight does not cause us to lose the faculty of lending, and that we do
not become at the same time wealthier and more avaricious.


TO THOSE WHO DREAM OF IMMORTALITY.—So you desire the everlasting
perpetuity of this beautiful consciousness of yourselves? Is it not
shameful? Do you forget all those other things which would in their turn
have to support _you_ for all eternity, just as they have borne with you
up to the present with more than Christian patience? Or do you think that
you can inspire them with an eternally pleasant feeling towards yourself?
A single immortal man on earth would imbue everyone around him with such a
disgust for him that a general epidemic of murder and suicide would be
brought about. And yet, ye petty dwellers on earth, with your narrow
conceptions of a few thousand little minutes of time, ye would wish to be
an everlasting burden on this everlasting universal existence! Could
anything be more impertinent? After all, however, let us be indulgent
towards a being of seventy years: he has not been able to exercise his
imagination in conceiving his own “eternal tediousness”—he had not time
enough for that!


WHEREIN WE KNOW OURSELVES.—As soon as one animal sees another it mentally
compares itself with it; and men of uncivilised ages did the same. The
consequence is that almost all men come to know themselves only as regards
their defensive and offensive faculties.


MEN WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN FAILURES.—Some men are built of such stuff that
society is at liberty to do what it likes with them—they will do well in
any case, and will not have to complain of having failed in life. Other
men are formed of such peculiar material—it need not be a particularly
noble one, but simply rarer—that they are sure to fare ill except in one
single instance: when they can live according to their own designs,—in all
other cases the injury has to be borne by society. For everything that
seems to the individual to be a wasted or blighted life, his entire burden
of discouragement, powerlessness, sickness, irritation, covetousness, is
attributed by him to society—and thus a heavy, vitiated atmosphere is
gradually formed round society, or, in the most favourable cases, a


WHAT INDULGENCE!—You suffer, and call upon us to be indulgent towards you,
even when in your suffering you are unjust towards things and men! But
what does our indulgence matter! You, however, should take greater
precautions for your own sake! That’s a nice way of compensating yourself
for your sufferings, by imposing still further suffering on your own
judgment! Your own revenge recoils upon yourselves when you start reviling
something: you dim your own eyes in this way, and not the eyes of others;
you accustom yourself to looking at things in the wrong way, and with a


THE MORALITY OF VICTIMS.—“Enthusiastic sacrifice,” “self-immolation”—these
are the catch-words of your morality, and I willingly believe that you, as
you say, “mean it honestly”: but I know you better than you know
yourselves, if your “honesty” is capable of going arm in arm with such a
morality. You look down from the heights of this morality upon that other
sober morality which calls for self-control, severity, and obedience; you
even go so far as to call it egoistic—and you are indeed frank towards
yourselves in saying that it displeases you—it must displease you! For, in
sacrificing and immolating yourselves with such enthusiasm, you delight in
the intoxication of the thought that you are now one with the powerful
being, God or man, to whom you are consecrating yourselves: you revel in
the feeling of his power, which is again attested by this sacrifice.

In reality, however, you only _appear_ to sacrifice yourselves; for your
imagination turns you into gods and you enjoy yourselves as such. Judged
from the point of view of this enjoyment, how poor and feeble must that
other “egoistic” morality of obedience, duty, and reason seem to you: it
is displeasing to you because in this instance true self-sacrifice and
self-surrender are called for, without the victim thinking himself to be
transformed into a god, as you do. In a word, you want intoxication and
excess, and this morality which you despise takes up a stand against
intoxication and excess—no wonder it causes you some displeasure!


EVIL PEOPLE AND MUSIC.—Should the full bliss of love, which consists in
unlimited confidence, ever have fallen to the lot of persons other than
those who are profoundly suspicious, evil, and bitter? For such people
enjoy in this bliss the gigantic, unlooked-for, and incredible _exception_
of their souls! One day they are seized with that infinite, dreamy
sensation which is entirely opposed to the remainder of their private and
public life, like a delicious enigma, full of golden splendour, and
impossible to be described by mere words or similes. Implicit confidence
makes them speechless—there is even a species of suffering and heaviness
in this blissful silence; and this is why souls that are overcome with
happiness generally feel more grateful to music than others and better
ones do: for they see and hear through music, as through a coloured mist,
their love becoming, as it were, more distant, more touching, and less
heavy. Music is the only means that such people have of observing their
extraordinary condition and of becoming aware of its presence with a
feeling of estrangement and relief. When the sound of music reaches the
ears of every lover he thinks: “It speaks of me, it speaks in my stead; it
knows everything!”


THE ARTIST.—The Germans wish to be transported by the artist into a state
of dreamy passion; by his aid the Italians wish to rest from their real
passions; the French wish him to give them an opportunity of showing their
judgment and of making speeches. So let us be just!


weaknesses and come in the end to look upon them as laws beyond ourselves,
I wish that everybody may be possessed of as much artistic capacity as
will enable him to set off his virtues by means of his weaknesses, and to
make us, through his weaknesses, desirous of acquiring his virtues: a
power which great musicians have possessed in quite an exceptional degree.
How frequently do we notice in Beethoven’s music a coarse, dogmatic, and
impatient tone; in Mozart, the joviality of an honest man, whose heart and
mind have not overmuch to give us; in Richard Wagner, an abrupt and
aggressive restlessness, in the midst of which, just as the most patient
listener is on the point of losing his temper, the composer regains his
powers, and likewise the others. Through their very weaknesses, these
musicians have created in us an ardent desire for their virtues, and have
given us a palate which is ten times more sensitive to every note of this
tuneful intellect, tuneful beauty, and tuneful goodness.


DECEIT IN HUMILIATION.—By your foolishness you have done a great wrong to
your neighbour and destroyed his happiness irretrievably—and then, having
overcome your vanity, you humble yourself before him, surrender your
foolishness to his contempt, and fancy that, after this difficult scene,
which is an exceedingly painful one for you, everything has been set
right, that your own voluntary loss of honour compensates your neighbour
for the injury you have done to his happiness. With this feeling you take
your leave comforted, believing that your virtue has been re-established.

Your neighbour, however, suffers as intensely as before. He finds nothing
to comfort him in the fact that you have been irrational and have told him
so: on the contrary, he remembers the painful appearance you presented to
him when you were disparaging yourself in his presence—it is as if another
wound had been inflicted on him. He does not think of revenging himself,
however; and cannot conceive how a proper balance can be struck between
you and him. In point of fact, you have been acting that scene for
yourself and before yourself: you invited a witness to be present, not on
his account, but on your own—don’t deceive yourself!


DIGNITY AND TIMIDITY.—Ceremonies, official robes and court dresses, grave
countenances, solemn aspects, the slow pace, involved speech—everything,
in short, known as dignity—are all pretences adopted by those who are
timid at heart: they wish to make themselves feared (themselves or the
things they represent). The fearless (_i.e._ originally those who
naturally inspire others with awe) have no need of dignity and ceremonies:
they bring into repute—or, still more, into ill-repute—honesty and
straightforward words and bearing, as characteristics of their
self-confident awefulness.


THE MORALITY OF SACRIFICE.—The morality which is measured by the spirit of
sacrifice is that of a semi-civilised state of society. Reason in this
instance gains a hard-fought and bloody victory within the soul; for there
are powerful contrary instincts to be overcome. This cannot be brought
about without the cruelty which the sacrifices to cannibal gods demand.


WHERE FANATICISM IS TO BE DESIRED.—Phlegmatic natures can be rendered
enthusiastic only by being fanaticised.


THE DREADED EYE.—Nothing is dreaded more by artists, poets, and writers
than the eye which sees through their little deceptions and subsequently
notices how often they have stopped at the boundary where the paths branch
off either to innocent delight in themselves or to the straining after
effect; the eye which checks them when they try to sell little things
dear, or when they try to exalt and adorn without being exalted
themselves; the eye which, despite all the artifices of their art, sees
the thought as it first presented itself to them, perhaps as a charming
vision of light, perhaps also, however, as a theft from the whole world,
or as an everyday conception which they had to expand, contract, colour,
wrap up, and spice, in order to make something out of it, instead of the
thought making something out of them.—Oh, this eye, which sees in your
work all your restlessness, inquisitiveness, and covetousness, your
imitation and exaggeration (which is only envious imitation) which knows
both your blush of shame and your skill in concealing it from others and
interpreting it to yourselves!


and straightway the “compassionate” ones come to him and depict his
misfortune to him. At last they go away again, satisfied and elevated,
after having gloated over the unhappy man’s misfortune and their own, and
spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon.


TO BE QUICKLY DESPISED.—A man who speaks a great deal, and speaks quickly,
soon sinks exceedingly low in our estimation, even when he speaks
rationally—not only to the extent that he annoys us personally, but far
lower. For we conjecture how great a burden he has already proved to many
other people, and we thus add to the discomfort which he causes us all the
contempt which we presume he has caused to others.


RELATIONS WITH CELEBRITIES.—_A._ But why do you shun this great man?—_B._
I should not like to misunderstand him. Our defects are incompatible with
one another: I am short-sighted and suspicious, and he wears his false
diamonds as willingly as his real ones.


THE CHAIN-WEARERS.—Beware of all those intellects which are bound in
chains! clever women, for example, who have been banished by fate to
narrow and dull surroundings, amid which they grow old. True, there they
lie in the sun, apparently lazy and half-blind; but at every unknown step,
at everything unexpected, they start up to bite: they revenge themselves
on everything that has escaped their kennel.


REVENGE IN PRAISE.—Here we have a written page which is covered with
praise, and you call it flat; but when you find out that revenge is
concealed in this praise you will find it almost too subtle, and you will
experience a great deal of pleasure in its numerous delicate and bold
strokes and similes. It is not the man himself, but his revenge, which is
so subtle, rich, and ingenious: he himself is scarcely aware of it.


PRIDE.—Ah, not one of you knows the feeling of the tortured man after he
has been put to the torture, when he is being carried back to his cell,
and his secret with him!—he still holds it in a stubborn and tenacious
grip. What know ye of the exultation of human pride?


“UTILITARIAN.”—At the present time men’s sentiments on moral things run in
such labyrinthic paths that, while we demonstrate morality to one man by
virtue of its utility, we refute it to another on account of this utility.


ON GERMAN VIRTUE.—How degenerate in its taste, how servile to dignities,
ranks, uniforms, pomp, and splendour must a nation have been, when it
began to consider the simple as the bad, the simple man (_schlicht_) as
the bad man (_schlecht_)! We should always oppose the moral bumptiousness
of the Germans with this one little word “bad,” and nothing else.


FROM A DISPUTE.—_A._ Friend, you have talked yourself hoarse.—_B._ Then I
am refuted, so let’s drop the subject.


THE “CONSCIENTIOUS” ONES.—Have you noticed the kind of men who attach the
greatest value to the most scrupulous conscientiousness? Those who are
conscious of many mean and petty sentiments, who are anxiously thinking of
and about themselves, are afraid of others, and are desirous of concealing
their inmost feelings as far as possible. They endeavour to impose upon
themselves by means of this strict conscientiousness and rigorousness of
duty, and by the stern and harsh impression which others, especially their
inferiors, cannot fail to receive of them.


DREAD OF FAME.—_A._ The endeavour to avoid one’s renown, the intentional
offending of one’s panegyrists, the dislike of hearing opinions about
one’s self, and all through fear of renown: instances like these are to be
met with; they actually exist—believe it or not!—_B._ They are found, no
doubt! They exist! A little patience, Sir Arrogance!


REFUSING THANKS.—We are perfectly justified in refusing a request, but it
is never right to refuse thanks—or, what comes to the same thing, to
accept them coldly and conventionally. This gives deep offence—and why?


PUNISHMENT.—A strange thing, this punishment of ours! It does not purify
the criminal; it is not a form of expiation; but, on the contrary, it is
even more defiling than the crime itself.


PARTY GRIEVANCES.—In almost every party there is a ridiculous, but
nevertheless somewhat dangerous grievance. The sufferers from it are those
who have long been the faithful and honourable upholders of the doctrine
propagated by the party, and who suddenly remark that one day a much
stronger figure than themselves has got the ear of the public. How can
they bear being reduced to silence? So they raise their voices, sometimes
changing their notes.


STRIVING FOR GENTLENESS.—When a vigorous nature has not an inclination
towards cruelty, and is not always preoccupied with itself; it
involuntarily strives after gentleness—this is its distinctive
characteristic. Weak natures, on the other hand, have a tendency towards
harsh judgments—they associate themselves with the heroes of the contempt
of mankind, the religious or philosophical traducers of existence, or they
take up their position behind strict habits and punctilious “callings”: in
this way they seek to give themselves a character and a kind of strength.
This is likewise done quite involuntarily.


A HINT TO MORALISTS.—Our musicians have made a great discovery. They have
found out that interesting ugliness is possible even in their art; this is
why they throw themselves with such enthusiastic intoxication into this
ocean of ugliness, and never before has it been so easy to make music. It
is only now that we have got the general, dark-coloured background, upon
which every luminous ray of fine music, however faint, seems tinged with
golden emerald lustre; it is only now that we dare to inspire our audience
with feelings of impetuosity and indignation, taking away their breath, so
to speak, in order that we may afterwards, in an interval of restful
harmony, inspire them with a feeling of bliss which will be to the general
advantage of a proper appreciation of music.

We have discovered the contrast: it is only now that the strongest effects
are possible—and cheap. No one bothers any more about good music. But you
must hurry up! When any art has once made this discovery, it has but a
short space of time to live.—Oh, if only our thinkers could probe into the
depths of the souls of our musicians when listening to their music! How
long we must wait until we again have an opportunity of surprising the
inward man in the very act of his evil doing, and his innocence of this
act! For our musicians have not the slightest suspicion that it is their
own history, the history of the disfigurement of the soul, which they are
transposing into music. In former times a good musician was almost forced
by the exigencies of his art to become a good man—and now!


THE MORALITY OF THE STAGE.—The man who imagines that the effect of
Shakespeare’s plays is a moral one, and that the sight of Macbeth
irresistibly induces us to shun the evil of ambition, is mistaken, and he
is mistaken once more if he believes that Shakespeare himself thought so.
He who is truly obsessed by an ardent ambition takes delight in beholding
this picture of himself; and when the hero is driven to destruction by his
passion, this is the most pungent spice in the hot drink of this delight.
Did the poet feel this in another way? How royally and with how little of
the knave in him does his ambitious hero run his course from the moment of
his great crime! It is only from this moment that he becomes
“demoniacally” attractive, and that he encourages similar natures to
imitate him.—There is something demoniacal here: something which is in
revolt against advantage and life, in favour of a thought and an impulse.
Do you think that Tristan and Isolde are warnings against adultery, merely
because adultery has resulted in the death of both of them? This would be
turning poets upside down, these poets who, especially Shakespeare, are in
love with the passions in themselves, and not less so with the readiness
for death which they give rise to: this mood in which the heart no more
clings to life than a drop of water does to the glass. It is not the guilt
and its pernicious consequences which interests these poets—Shakespeare as
little as Sophocles (in the _Ajax_, _Philoctetes_, _Œdipus_)—however easy
it might have been in the cases just mentioned to make the guilt the lever
of the play, it was carefully avoided by the poets.

In the same way the tragic poet by his images of life does not wish to set
us against life. On the contrary, he exclaims; “It is the charm of charms,
this exciting, changing, and dangerous existence of ours, so often gloomy
and so often bathed in sun! Life is an adventure—whichever side you may
take in life it will always retain this character!”—Thus speaks the poet
of a restless and vigorous age, an age which is almost intoxicated and
stupefied by its superabundance of blood and energy, in an age more evil
than our own: and this is why it is necessary for us to adapt and
accommodate ourselves first to the purpose of a Shakespearian play, that
is, by misunderstanding it.


FEAR AND INTELLIGENCE.—If that which is now expressly maintained is true,
viz. that the cause of the black pigment of the skin must not be sought in
light, might this phenomenon perhaps be the ultimate effect of frequent
fits of passion accumulated for century after century (and an afflux of
blood under the skin)? while in other and more intelligent races the
equally frequent spasms of fear and blanching may have resulted in the
white colour of the skin?—For the degree of timidity is the standard by
which the intelligence may be measured; and the fact that men give
themselves up to blind anger is an indication that their animal nature is
still near the surface, and is longing for an opportunity to make its
presence felt once more. Thus a brownish-grey would probably be the
primitive colour of man—something of the ape and the bear, as is only


INDEPENDENCE.—Independence (which in its weakest form is called “freedom
of thought”) is the type of resignation which the tyrannical man ends by
accepting—he who for a long time had been looking for something to govern,
but without finding anything except himself.


THE TWO COURSES.—When we endeavour to examine the mirror in itself we
discover in the end that we can detect nothing there but the things which
it reflects. If we wish to grasp the things reflected we touch nothing in
the end but the mirror.—This is the general history of knowledge.


DELIGHT IN REALITY.—Our present inclination to take delight in reality—for
almost every one of us possesses it—can only be explained by the fact that
we have taken delight in the unreal for such a long time that we have got
tired of it. This inclination in its present form, without choice and
without refinement, is not without danger—its least danger is its want of


THE SUBTLETY OF THE FEELING OF POWER.—Napoleon was greatly mortified at
the fact that he could not speak well, and he did not deceive himself in
this respect: but his thirst for power, which never despised the slightest
opportunity of showing itself, and which was still more subtle than his
subtle intellect, led him to speak even worse than he might have done. It
was in this way that he revenged himself upon his own mortification (he
was jealous of all his emotions because they possessed power) in order to
enjoy his autocratic pleasure.

He enjoyed this pleasure a second time in respect to the ears and judgment
of his audience, as if it were good enough for them to be addressed in
this way. He even secretly enjoyed the thought of bewildering their
judgment and good taste by the thunder and lightning of his highest
authority—that authority which lies in the union of power and genius—while
both his judgment and his good taste held fast proudly and indifferently
to the truth that he did not speak well.—Napoleon, as the complete and
fully developed type of a single instinct, belongs to ancient humanity,
whose characteristic—the simple construction and ingenious development and
realisation of a single motive or a small number of motives—may be easily
enough recognised.


ARISTOTLE AND MARRIAGE.—Insanity makes its appearance in the children of
great geniuses, and stupidity in those of the most virtuous—so says
Aristotle. Did he mean by this to invite exceptional men to marry?


THE ORIGIN OF A BAD TEMPERAMENT.—Injustice and instability in the minds of
certain men, their disordered and immoderate manner, are the ultimate
consequences of the innumerable logical inexactitudes, superficialities,
and hasty conclusions of which their ancestors have been guilty. Men of a
good temperament, on the other hand, are descended from solid and
meditative races which have set a high value upon reason—whether for
praiseworthy or evil purposes is of no great importance.


DISSIMULATION AS A DUTY.—Kindness has been best developed by the long
dissimulation which endeavoured to appear as kindness: wherever great
power existed the necessity for dissimulation of this nature was
recognised—it inspires security and confidence, and multiplies the actual
sum of our physical power. Falsehood, if not actually the mother, is at
all events the nurse of kindness. In the same way, honesty has been
brought to maturity by the need for a semblance of honesty and integrity:
in hereditary aristocracies. The persistent exercise of such a
dissimulation ends by bringing about the actual nature of the thing
itself: the dissimulation in the long run suppresses itself, and organs
and instincts are the unexpected fruits in this garden of hypocrisy.


WHO, THEN, IS EVER ALONE.—The faint-hearted wretch does not know what it
means to be lonely. An enemy is always prowling in his tracks. Oh, for the
man who could give us the history of that subtle feeling called


NIGHT AND MUSIC.—It was only at night time, and in the semi-obscurity of
dark forests and caverns, that the ear, the organ of fear, was able to
develop itself so well, in accordance with the mode of living of the
timid—that is, the longest human epoch which has ever yet existed: when it
is clear daylight the ear is less necessary. Hence the character of music,
which is an art of night and twilight.


STOICAL.—The Stoic experiences a certain sense of cheerfulness when he
feels oppressed by the ceremonial which he has prescribed for himself: he
enjoys himself then as a ruler.


CONSIDER.—The man who is being punished is no longer he who has done the
deed. He is always the scapegoat.


APPEARANCE.—Alas! what must be best and most resolutely proved is
appearance itself; for only too many people lack eyes to observe it. But
it is so tiresome!


THOSE WHO ANTICIPATE.—What distinguishes poetic natures, but is also a
danger for them, is their imagination, which exhausts itself in advance:
which anticipates what will happen or what may happen, which enjoys and
suffers in advance, and which at the final moment of the event or the
action is already fatigued. Lord Byron, who was only too familiar with
this, wrote in his diary: “If ever I have a son he shall choose a very
prosaic profession—that of a lawyer or a pirate.”



_A._ What do you say to that music?

_B._ It has overpowered me, I can say nothing about it. Listen! there it
is beginning again.

_A._ All the better! This time let us do our best to overpower it. Will
you allow me to add a few words to this music? and also to show you a
drama which perhaps at your first hearing you did not wish to observe?

_B._ Very well, I have two ears and even more if necessary; move up closer
to me.

_A._ We have not yet heard what he wishes to say to us, up to the present
he has only promised to say something—something as yet unheard, so he
gives us to understand by his gestures, for they are gestures. How he
beckons! How he raises himself up! How he gesticulates! and now the moment
of supreme tension seems to have come to him: two more fanfares, and he
will present us with his superb and splendidly-adorned theme, rattling, as
it were, with precious stones.

Is it a handsome woman? or a beautiful horse? Enough, he looks about him
as if enraptured, for he must assemble looks of rapture. It is only now
that his theme quite pleases him: it is only now that he becomes inventive
and risks new and audacious features. How he forces out his theme! Ah,
take care!—he not only understands how to adorn, but also how to gloss it
over! Yes, he knows what the colour of health is, and he knows how to make
it up,—he is more subtle in his self-consciousness than I thought. And now
he is convinced that he has convinced his hearers; he sets off his
impromptus as if they were the most important things under the sun: he
points to his theme with an insolent finger as if it were too good for
this world.—Ah, how distrustful he is! He is afraid we may get tired!—that
is why he buries his melody in sweet notes.—Now he even appeals to our
coarser senses that he may excite us and thus get us once again into his
power. Listen to him as he conjures up the elementary force of tempestuous
and thundering rhythms!

And now that he sees that these things have captivated our attention,
strangle us, and almost overwhelm us, he once again ventures to introduce
his theme amidst this play of the elements in order to convince us,
confused and agitated as we are, that our confusion and agitation are the
effects of his miraculous theme. And from now onwards his hearers believe
in him: as soon as the theme is heard once more they are reminded of its
thrilling elementary effects. The theme profits by this recollection—now
it has become demoniacal! What a connoisseur of the soul he is! He gains
command over us by all the artifices of the popular orator. But the music
has stopped again.

_B._ And I am glad of it; for I could no longer bear listening to your
observations! I should prefer ten times over to let myself be deceived to
knowing the truth once after your version.

_A._ That is just what I wished to hear from you. The best people now are
just like you: you are quite content to let yourselves be deceived. You
come here with coarse, lustful ears, and you do not bring with you your
conscience of the art of listening. On the way here you have cast away
your intellectual honesty, and thus you corrupt both art and artists.
Whenever you applaud and cheer you have in your hands the conscience of
the artists—and woe to art if they get to know that you cannot distinguish
between innocent and guilty music! I do not indeed refer to “good” and
“bad” music—we meet with both in the two kinds of music mentioned! but I
call innocent music that which thinks only of itself and believes only in
itself, and which on account of itself has forgotten the world at
large—this spontaneous expression of the most profound solitude which
speaks of itself and with itself, and has entirely forgotten that there
are listeners, effects, misunderstandings and failures in the world
outside. In short, the music which we have just heard is precisely of this
rare and noble type; and everything I said about it was a fable—pardon my
little trick if you will!

_B._ Oh, then you like _this_ music, too? In that case many sins shall be
forgiven you!


THE HAPPINESS OF THE EVIL ONES.—These silent, gloomy, and evil men possess
a peculiar something which you cannot dispute with them—an uncommon and
strange enjoyment in the _dolce far niente_; a sunset and evening rest,
such as none can enjoy but a heart which has been too often devoured,
lacerated, and poisoned by the passions.


WORDS PRESENT IN OUR MINDS.—We always express our thoughts with those
words which lie nearest to hand. Or rather, if I may reveal my full
suspicion; at every moment we have only the particular thought for the
words that are present in our minds.


FLATTERING THE DOG.—You have only to stroke this dog’s coat once, and he
immediately splutters and gives off sparks like any other flatterer—and he
is witty in his own way. Why should we not endure him thus?


THE QUONDAM PANEGYRIST.—“He has now become silent now in regard to me,
although he knows the truth and could tell it; but it would sound like
vengeance—and he values truth so highly, this honourable man!”


THE AMULET OF DEPENDENT MEN.—He who is unavoidably dependent upon some
master ought to possess something by which he can inspire his master with
fear, and keep him in check: integrity, for example, or probity, or an
evil tongue.


WHY SO SUBLIME!—Oh, I know them well this breed of animals! Certainly it
pleases them better to walk on two legs “like a god”—but it pleases me
better when they fall back on their four feet. This is incomparably more
natural for them!


THE DEMON OF POWER.—Neither necessity nor desire, but the love of power,
is the demon of mankind. You may give men everything possible—health,
food, shelter, enjoyment—but they are and remain unhappy and capricious,
for the demon waits and waits; and must be satisfied. Let everything else
be taken away from men, and let this demon be satisfied, and then they
will nearly be happy—as happy as men and demons can be; but why do I
repeat this? Luther has already said it, and better than I have done, in
the verses:

    “And though they take our life,
    Goods, honour, children, wife,
    Yet is their profit small,
    These things shall vanish all,
    The Kingdom it remaineth.”

The Kingdom! there it is again!(7)


contradiction in what is called genius: genius possesses on the one hand a
great deal of savage disorder and involuntary movement, and on the other
hand a great deal of superior activity in this movement. Joined to this a
genius possesses a mirror which reflects the two movements beside one
another, and within one another, but often opposed to one another. Genius
in consequence of this sight is often unhappy, and if it feels its
greatest happiness in creating, it is because it forgets that precisely
then, with the highest determinate activity, it does something fantastic
and irrational (such is all art) and cannot help doing it.


DECEIVING ONE’S SELF.—Envious men with a discriminating intuition
endeavour not to become too closely acquainted with their rivals in order
that they may feel themselves superior to them.


THERE IS A TIME FOR THE THEATRE.—When the imagination of a people begins
to diminish, there arises the desire to have its legends represented on
the stage: it then tolerates the coarse substitutes for imagination. In
the age of the epic rhapsodist, however, the theatre itself, and the actor
dressed up as a hero, form an obstacle in the path of the imagination
instead of acting as wings for it—too near, too definite, too heavy, and
with too little of dreamland and the flights of birds about them.


WITHOUT CHARM.—He lacks charm and knows it. Ah, how skilful he is in
masking this defect! He does it by a strict virtue, gloomy looks, and
acquired distrust of all men, and of existence itself; by coarse jests, by
contempt for a more refined manner of living, by pathos and pretensions,
and by a cynical philosophy—yea, he has even developed into a character
through the continual knowledge of his deficiency.


WHY SO PROUD?—A noble character is distinguished from a vulgar one by the
fact that the latter has not at ready command a certain number of habits
and points of view like the former: fate willed that they should not be
his either by inheritance or by education.


THE ORATOR’S SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS.—How difficult it was in Athens to speak
in such a way as to win over the hearers to one’s cause without repelling
them at the same time by the form in which one’s speech was cast, or
withdrawing their attention from the cause itself by this form! How
difficult it still is to write thus in France!


SICK PEOPLE AND ART.—For all kinds of sadness and misery of soul we should
first of all try a change of diet and severe manual labour; but in such
cases men are in the habit of having recourse to mental intoxicants, to
art for example—which is both to their own detriment and that of art! Can
you not see that when you call for art as sick people you make the artists
themselves sick?


APPARENT TOLERATION.—Those are good, benevolent, and rational words on and
in favour of science, but, alas! I see behind these words your toleration
of science. In a corner of your inmost mind you think, in spite of all you
say, that _it is not necessary for you_, that it shows magnanimity on your
part to admit and even to advocate it, more especially as science on its
part does not exhibit this magnanimity in regard to your opinion! Do you
know that you have no right whatever to exercise this toleration? that
this condescension of yours is an even coarser disparagement of science
than any of that open scorn which a presumptuous priest or artist might
allow himself to indulge in towards science? What is lacking in you is a
strong sense for everything that is true and actual, you do not feel
grieved and worried to find that science is in contradiction to your own
sentiments, you are unacquainted with that intense desire for knowledge
ruling over you like a law, you do not feel a duty in the need of being
present with your own eyes wherever knowledge exists, and to let nothing
that is “known” escape you. You do not know that which you are treating
with such toleration! and it is only because you do not know it that you
can succeed in adopting such a gracious attitude towards it. You,
forsooth, would look upon science with hatred and fanaticism if it for
once cast its shining and illuminating glance upon you! What does it
matter to us, then, if you do exhibit toleration—and towards a phantom!
and not even towards us!—and what do we matter!


FESTIVE MOODS.—It is exactly those men who aspire most ardently towards
power who feel it indescribably agreeable to be overpowered! to sink
suddenly and deeply into a feeling as into a whirlpool! To suffer the
reins to be snatched out of their hand, and to watch a movement which
takes them they know not where! Whatever or whoever may be the person or
thing that renders us this service, it is nevertheless a great service: we
are so happy and breathless, and feel around us an exceptional silence, as
if we were in the most central bowels of the earth. To be for once
entirely powerless! the plaything of the elementary forces of nature!
There is a restfulness in this happiness, a casting away of the great
burden, a descent without fatigue, as if one had been given up to the
blind force of gravity.

This is the dream of the mountain climber, who, although he sees his goal
far above him, nevertheless falls asleep on the way from utter exhaustion,
and dreams of the happiness of the contrast—this effortless rolling down
hill. I describe happiness as I imagine it to be in our present-day
society, the badgered, ambitious society of Europe and America. Now and
then they _wish_ to fall back into impotence—this enjoyment is offered
them by wars, arts, religions, and geniuses. When a man has temporarily
abandoned himself to a momentary impression which devours and crushes
everything—and this is the modern festive mood—he afterwards becomes
freer, colder, more refreshed, and more strict, and again strives
tirelessly after the contrary of all this: power.


THE PURIFICATION OF RACES.—It is probable that there are no pure races,
but only races which have become purified, and even these are extremely
rare.(8) We more often meet with crossed races, among whom, together with
the defects in the harmony of the bodily forms (for example when the eyes
do not accord with the mouth) we necessarily always find defects of
harmony in habits and appreciations. (Livingstone heard some one say, “God
created white and black men, but the devil created the half-castes.”)

Crossed races are always at the same time crossed cultures and crossed
moralities: they are, as a rule, more evil, cruel, and restless. Purity is
the final result of innumerable adjustments, absorptions, and
eliminations; and progress towards purity in a race is shown by the fact
that the latent strength in the race is more and more restricted to a few
special functions, whilst it formerly had to carry out too many and often
contradictory things. Such a restriction will always have the appearance
of an impoverishment, and must be judged with prudence and moderation. In
the long run, however, when the process of purification has come to a
successful termination, all those forces which were formerly wasted in the
struggle between the disharmonious qualities are at the disposal of the
organism as a whole, and this is why purified races have always become
stronger and more beautiful.—The Greeks may serve us as a model of a
purified race and culture!—and it is to be hoped that some day a pure
European race and culture may arise.


PRAISE.—Here is some one who, you perceive, wishes to praise you: you bite
your lips and brace up your heart: Oh, that _that_ cup might go hence! But
it does not, it comes! let us therefore drink the sweet impudence of the
panegyrist, let us overcome the disgust and profound contempt that we feel
for the innermost substance of his praise, let us assume a look of
thankful joy—for he wished to make himself agreeable to us! And now that
it is all over we know that he feels greatly exalted; he has been
victorious over us. Yes, and also over himself, the villain!—for it was no
easy matter for him to wring this praise from himself.


THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES OF MAN.—We human beings are the only creatures
who, when things do not go well with us, can blot ourselves out like a
clumsy sentence,—whether we do so out of honour for humanity or pity for
it, or on account of the aversion we feel towards ourselves.


THE TRANSFORMED BEING.—Now he becomes virtuous; but only for the sake of
hurting others by being so. Don’t pay so much attention to him.


HOW OFTEN! HOW UNEXPECTED!—How may married men have some morning awakened
to the fact that their young wife is dull, although she thinks quite the
contrary! not to speak of those wives whose flesh is willing but whose
intellect is weak!


WARM AND COLD VIRTUES.—Courage is sometimes the consequence of cold and
unshaken resolution, and at other times of a fiery and reckless élan. For
these two kinds of courage there is only the one name!—but how different,
nevertheless, are cold virtues and warm virtues! and the man would be a
fool who could suppose that “goodness” could only be brought about by
warmth, and no less a fool he who would only attribute it to cold. The
truth is that mankind has found both warm and cold courage very useful,
yet not often enough to prevent it from setting them both in the category
of precious stones.


THE GRACIOUS MEMORY.—A man of high rank will do well to develop a gracious
memory, that is, to note all the good qualities of people and remember
them particularly; for in this way he holds them in an agreeable
dependence. A man may also act in this way towards himself: whether or not
he has a gracious memory determines in the end the superiority,
gentleness, or distrust with which he observes his own inclinations and
intentions, and finally even the nature of these inclinations and


WHEREIN WE BECOME ARTISTS.—He who makes an idol of some one endeavours to
justify himself in his own eyes by idealising this person: in other words,
he becomes an artist that he may have a clear conscience. When he suffers
he does not suffer from his ignorance, but from the lie he has told
himself to make himself ignorant. The inmost misery and desire of such a
man—and all passionate lovers are included in this category—cannot be
exhausted by normal means.


CHILDLIKE.—Those who live like children—those who have not to struggle for
their daily bread, and do not think that their actions have any ultimate
signification—remain childlike.


OUR EGO DESIRES EVERYTHING.—It would seem as if men in general were only
inspired by the desire to possess: languages at least would permit of this
supposition, for they view past actions from the standpoint that we have
been put in possession of something—“I _have_ spoken, struggled,
conquered”—as if to say, I am now in possession of my word, my struggle,
my victory. How greedy man appears in this light! he cannot even let the
past escape him: he even wishes to _have_ it still!


DANGER IN BEAUTY.—This woman is beautiful and intelligent: alas, how much
more intelligent she would have become if she had not been beautiful!


DOMESTIC AND MENTAL PEACE.—Our habitual mood depends upon the mood in
which we maintain our habitual entourage.


NEW THINGS AS OLD ONES.—Many people seem irritated when something new is
told them: they feel the ascendancy which the news has given to the person
who has learnt it first.


WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF THE EGO.—The majority of people take under their
protection, as it were, something that they know, as if the fact of
knowing it was sufficient in itself to make it their property. The
acquisitiveness of the egoistic feeling has no limits: Great men speak as
if they had behind them the whole of time, and had placed themselves at
the head of this enormous host; and good women boast of the beauty of
their children, their clothes, their dog, their physician, or their native
town, but the only thing they dare not say is, “I am all that.” _Chi non
ha non è_—as they say in Italy.


DOMESTIC ANIMALS, PETS AND THE LIKE.—Could there be anything more
repugnant than the sentimentality which is shown to plants and animals—and
this on the part of a creature who from the very beginning has made such
ravages among them as their most ferocious enemy,—and who ends by even
claiming affectionate feelings from his weakened and mutilated victims!
Before this kind of “nature” man must above all be serious, if he is any
sort of a thinking being.


TWO FRIENDS.—They were friends once, but now they have ceased to be so,
and both of them broke off the friendship at the same time, the one
because he believed himself to be too greatly misunderstood, and the other
because he thought he was known too intimately—and both were wrong! For
neither of them knew himself well enough.


THE COMEDY OF THE NOBLE SOULS.—Those who cannot succeed in exhibiting a
noble and cordial familiarity endeavour to let the nobleness of their
nature be seen by their exercise of reserve and strictness, and a certain
contempt for familiarity, as if their strong sense of confidence were
ashamed to show itself.


WHERE WE MAY SAY NOTHING AGAINST VIRTUE.—Among cowards it is thought bad
form to say anything against bravery, for any expression of this kind
would give rise to some contempt; and unfeeling people are irritated when
anything is said against pity.(9)


A WASTE.—We find that with irritable and abrupt people their first words
and actions generally afford no indication of their actual character—they
are prompted by circumstances, and are to some extent simply reproductions
of the spirit of these circumstances. Because, however, as the words have
been uttered and the deeds done, the subsequent words and deeds,
indicating the real nature of such people, have often to be used to
reconcile, amend, or extinguish the former.


ARROGANCE.—Arrogance is an artificial and simulated pride; but it is
precisely the essential nature of pride to be incapable of artifice,
simulation, or hypocrisy—and thus arrogance is the hypocrisy of the
incapacity for hypocrisy, a very difficult thing, and one which is a
failure in most cases. But if we suppose that, as most frequently happens,
the presumptuous person betrays himself, then a treble annoyance falls to
his lot: people are angry with him because he has endeavoured to deceive
them, and because he wished to show himself superior to them, and finally
they laugh at him because he failed in both these endeavours. How
earnestly, therefore, should we dissuade our fellow-men from arrogance!


A SPECIES OF MISCONCEPTION.—When we hear somebody speak it is often
sufficient for his pronunciation of a single consonant (the letter r, for
example) to fill us with doubts as to the honesty of his feelings: we are
not accustomed to this particular pronunciation, and should have to make
it ourselves as it were arbitrarily—it sounds “forced” to us. This is the
domain of the greatest possible misconception: and it is the same with the
style of a writer who has certain habits which are not the habits of
everybody. His “artlessness” is felt as such only by himself, and
precisely in regard to that which he himself feels to be “forced” (because
he has yielded in this matter to the prevailing fashion and to so called
“good taste”), he may perhaps give pleasure and inspire confidence.


THANKFUL.—One superfluous grain of gratitude and piety makes one suffer as
from a vice—in spite of all one’s independence and honesty one begins to
have a bad conscience.


SAINTS.—It is the most sensual men who find it necessary to avoid women
and to torture their bodies.


THE SUBTLETY OF SERVING.—One of the most subtle tasks in the great art of
serving is that of serving a more than usually ambitious man, who, indeed,
is excessively egoistic in all things, but is entirely adverse to being
thought so (this is part of his ambition). He requires that everything
shall be according to his own will and humour, yet in such a way as to
give him the appearance of always having sacrificed himself, and of rarely
desiring anything for himself alone.


DUELLING.—I think it a great advantage, said some one, to be able to fight
a duel—if, of course, it is absolutely necessary; for I have at all times
brave companions about me. The duel is the last means of thoroughly
honourable suicide left to us; but it is unfortunately a circuitous means,
and not even a certain one.


PERNICIOUS.—A young man can be most surely corrupted when he is taught to
value the like-minded more highly than the differently minded.


HERO-WORSHIP AND ITS FANATICS.—The fanatic of an ideal that possesses
flesh and blood is right as a rule so long as he assumes a negative
attitude, and he is terrible in his negation: he knows what he denies as
well as he knows himself, for the simple reason that he comes thence, that
he feels at home there, and that he has always the secret fear of being
forced to return there some day. He therefore wishes to make his return
impossible by the manner of his negation. As soon as he begins to affirm,
however, he partly shuts his eyes and begins to idealise (frequently
merely for the sake of annoying those who have stayed at home). We might
say that there was something artistic about this—agreed, but there is also
something dishonest about it.

The idealist of a person imagines this person to be so far from him that
he can no longer see him distinctly, and then he travesties that which he
can just perceive into something “beautiful”—that is to say, symmetrical,
vaguely outlined, uncertain. Since he wishes to worship from afar that
ideal which floats on high in the distance, he finds it essential to build
a temple for the object of his worship as a protection from the _profanum
vulgus_. He brings into this temple for the object of his worship all the
venerable and sanctified objects which he still possesses, so that his
ideal may benefit by their charm, and that, nourished in this way, it may
grow more and more divine. In the end he really succeeds in forming his
God, but, alas for him! there is some one who knows how all this has been
done, viz. his intellectual conscience; and there is also some one who,
quite unconsciously, begins to protest against these things, viz. the
deified one himself, who, in consequence of all this worship, praise, and
incense, now becomes completely unbearable and shows himself in the most
obvious and dreadful manner to be non-divine, and only too human.

In a case like this there is only one means of escape left for such a
fanatic; he patiently suffers himself and his fellows to be maltreated,
and interprets all this misery _in maiorem dei gloriam_ by a new kind of
self-deceit and noble falsehood. He takes up a stand against himself, and
in doing so experiences, as an interpreter and ill-treated person,
something like martyrdom—and in this way he climbs to the height of his
conceit. Men of this kind to be found, for example, in the entourage of
Napoleon: indeed, perhaps it may have been he who inspired the soul of his
century with that romantic prostration in the presence of the “genius” and
the “hero,” which was so foreign to the spirit of rationalism of the
nineteenth century—a man about whom even Byron was not ashamed to say that
he was a “worm compared with such a being.” (The formulæ of this
prostration have been discovered by Thomas Carlyle, that arrogant old
muddle-head and grumbler, who spent his long life in trying to romanticise
the common sense of his Englishmen: but in vain!)


THE APPEARANCE OF HEROISM.—Throwing ourselves in the midst of our enemies
may be a sign of cowardice.


CONDESCENDING TOWARDS THE FLATTERER.—It is the ultimate prudence of
insatiably ambitious men not only to conceal their contempt for man which
the sight of flatterers causes them: but also to appear even condescending
to them, like a God who can be nothing if not condescending.


“STRENGTH OF CHARACTER.”—“What I have said once I will do”—This manner of
thinking is believed to indicate great strength of character. How many
actions are accomplished, not because they have been selected as being the
most rational, but because at the moment when we thought of them they
influenced our ambition and vanity by some means or another, so that we do
not stop until we have blindly carried them out. Thus they strengthen in
us our belief in our character and our good conscience, in short our
strength; whilst the choice of the most rational acts possible brings
about a certain amount of scepticism towards ourselves, and thus
encourages a sense of weakness in us.


ONCE, TWICE, AND THRICE TRUE.—Men lie unspeakably and often, but they do
not think about it afterwards, and generally do not believe in it.


THE PASTIME OF THE PSYCHOLOGIST.—He thinks he knows me, and fancies
himself to be subtle and important when he has any kind of relations with
me; and I take care not to undeceive him. For in such a case I should
suffer for it, while now he wishes me well because I arouse in him a
feeling of conscious superiority.—There is another, who fears that I think
I know him, and feels a sense of inferiority at this. As a result he
behaves in a timid and vacillating manner, in my presence, and endeavours
to mislead me in regard to himself so that he may regain an ascendancy
over me.


THE DESTROYERS OF THE WORLD.—When some men fail to accomplish what they
desire to do they exclaim angrily, “May the whole world perish!” This
odious feeling is the height of envy which reasons thus: because I cannot
have one thing the whole world in general must have nothing! the whole
world shall not exist!


GREED.—When we set out to buy something our greed increases with the
cheapness of the object—Why? Is it because the small differences in price
make up the little eye of greed?


THE GREEK IDEAL.—What did the Greeks admire in Ulysses? Above all his
capacity for lying and for taking a shrewd and dreadful revenge, his being
equal to circumstances, his appearing to be nobler than the noblest when
necessary, his ability to be everything he desired, his heroic
pertinacity, having all means within his command, possessing genius—the
genius of Ulysses is an object of the admiration of the gods, they smile
when they think of it—all this is the Greek ideal! What is most remarkable
about it is that the contradiction between seeming and being was not felt
in any way, and that as a consequence it could not be morally estimated.
Were there ever such accomplished actors?


FACTA! YES, FACTA FICTA!—The historian need not concern himself with
events which have actually happened, but only those which are supposed to
have happened; for none but the latter have produced an effect. The same
remark applies to the imaginary heroes. His theme—this so-called
world-history—what is it but opinions on imaginary actions and their
imaginary motives, which in their turn give rise to opinions and actions
the reality of which, however, is at once evaporated, and is only
effective as vapour,—a continual generating and impregnating of phantoms
above the dense mists of unfathomable reality. All historians record
things which have never existed, except in imagination.


NOT TO UNDERSTAND TRADE IS NOBLE.—To sell one’s virtue only at the highest
price, or even to carry on usury with it as a teacher, a civil servant, or
an artist, for instance, brings genius and talent down to the level of the
common tradesman. We must be careful not to be clever with our wisdom!


FEAR AND LOVE.—The general knowledge of mankind has been furthered to a
greater extent by fear than by love; for fear endeavours to find out who
the other is, what he can do, and what he wants: it would be dangerous and
prejudicial to be deceived on this point. On the other hand, love is
induced by its secret craving to discover as many beautiful qualities as
possible in the loved object, or to raise this loved object as high as
possible: it is a joy and an advantage to love to be deceived in this
way—and this is why it does it.


GOOD-NATURED PEOPLE.—Good-natured people have acquired their character
from the continual fear of foreign attacks in which their ancestors
lived,—these ancestors, who were in the habit of mitigating and
tranquillising, humbling themselves, preventing, distracting, flattering,
and apologising, concealing their grief and anger, and preserving an
unruffled countenance,—and they ultimately bequeathed all this delicate
and well-formed mechanism to their children and grandchildren. These
latter, thanks to their more favourable lot, did not experience this
feeling of dread, but they nevertheless continue in the same groove.


THE SO-CALLED SOUL.—The sum-total of those internal movements which come
naturally to men, and which they can consequently set in motion readily
and gracefully, is called the soul—men are looked upon as void of soul
when they let it be seen that their inward emotions are difficult and
painful to them.


THE FORGETFUL ONES.—In outbursts of passion and the delusions of dreams
and madness, man rediscovers his own primitive history, and that of
humanity: animality and its savage grimaces. For once his memory stretches
back into the past, while his civilised condition is developed from the
forgetfulness of these primitive experiences, that is to say, from the
failing of this memory. He who, as a forgetful man of a higher nature, has
always remained aloof from these things, does not understand men—but it is
an advantage if from time to time there are individuals who do not
understand men, individuals who are, so to speak, created from the divine
seed and born of reason.


THE FRIEND WHOM WE WANT NO LONGER.—That friend whose hopes we cannot
satisfy we should prefer to have as an enemy.


IN THE SOCIETY OF THINKERS.—In the midst of the ocean of becoming we
adventurers and birds of passage wake up on an island no larger than a
small boat, and here we look round us for a moment with as much haste and
curiosity as possible; for how quickly may some gale blow us away or some
wave sweep over the little island and leave nothing of us remaining! Here,
however, upon this little piece of ground we meet with other birds of
passage and hear of still earlier ones,—and thus we live together for one
precious minute of recognition and divining, amid the cheerful fluttering
of wings and joyful chirping, and then adventure in spirit far out on the
ocean, feeling no less proud than the ocean itself.


PARTING WITH SOMETHING.—To give up some of our property, or to waive a
right, gives pleasure when it denotes great wealth. Generosity may be
placed in this category.


WEAK SECTS.—Those sects which feel that they will always remain weak hunt
up a few intelligent individual adherents, wishing to make up in quality
what they lack in quantity. This gives rise to no little danger for
intelligent minds.


THE JUDGMENT OF THE EVENING.—The man who meditates upon his day’s and
life’s work when he has reached the end of his journey and feels weary,
generally arrives at a melancholy conclusion; but this is not the fault of
the day or his life, but of weariness.—In the midst of creative work we do
not take time, as a rule, to meditate upon life and existence, nor yet in
the midst of our pleasures: but if by a chance this did happen once we
should no longer believe him to be right who waited for the seventh day
and for repose to find everything that exists very beautiful.—He had
missed the right moment.


BEWARE OF SYSTEMISERS!—There is a certain amount of comedy about
systemisers: in trying to complete a system and to round off its horizon
they have to try to let their weaker qualities appear in the same style as
their stronger ones.—They wish to represent complete and uniformly strong


HOSPITALITY.—The object of hospitality is to paralyse all hostile feeling
in a stranger. When we cease to look upon strangers as enemies,
hospitality diminishes; it flourishes so long as its evil presupposition


THE WEATHER.—An exceptional and uncertain state of the weather makes men
suspicious even of one another: at the same time they come to like
innovations, for they must diverge from their accustomed habits. This is
why despots like those countries where the weather is moral.


DANGER IN INNOCENCE.—Innocent people become easy victims in all
circumstances because their lack of knowledge prevents them from
distinguishing between moderation and excess, and from being betimes on
their guard against themselves. It is as a result of this that innocent,
that is, ignorant young women become accustomed to the frequent enjoyment
of sexual intercourse, and feel the want of it very much in later years
when their husbands fall ill or grow prematurely old. It is on account of
this harmless and orthodox conception, as if frequent sexual intercourse
were right and proper, that they come to experience a need which
afterwards exposes them to the severest tribulations, and even worse.

Considering the matter, however, from a higher and more general point of
view, whoever loves a man or a thing without knowing him or it, falls a
prey to something which he would not love if he could see it. In all cases
where experience, precautions, and prudent steps are required, it is the
innocent man who will be most thoroughly corrupted, for he has to drink
with closed eyes the dregs and most secret poison of everything put before
him. Let us consider the procedure of all princes, churches, sects,
parties, and corporations: Is not the innocent man always used as the
sweetest bait for the most dangerous and wicked traps?—just as Ulysses
availed himself of the services of the innocent Neoptolemos to cheat the
old and infirm anchorite and ogre of Lemnos out of his bow and arrows.
Christianity, with its contempt for the world, has made ignorance a
virtue—innocence, perhaps because the most frequent result of this
innocence is precisely, as I have indicated above, guilt, the sense of
guilt, and despair: In other words, a virtue which leads to Heaven by the
circuitous route of Hell; for only then can the gloomy propylæa of
Christian salvation be thrown open, and only then is the promise of a
posthumous second innocence effective. This is one of the finest
inventions of Christianity!


LIVING WITHOUT A DOCTOR WHEN POSSIBLE.—It seems to me that a sick man
lives more carelessly when he is under medical observation than when he
attends to his own health. In the first case it suffices for him to obey
strictly all his Doctor’s prescriptions; but in the second case he gives
more attention to the ultimate object of these prescriptions, namely, his
health; he observes much more, and submits himself to a more severe
discipline than the directions of his physician would compel him to do.

All rules have this effect: they distract our attention from the
fundamental aim of the rule, and make us more thoughtless. But to what
heights of immoderation and destruction would men have risen if ever they
had completely and honestly left everything to the Godhead as to their
physician, and acted in accordance with the words “as God will”!


THE DARKENING OF THE HEAVENS.—Do you know the vengeance of those timid
people who behave in society just as if they had stolen their limbs? The
vengeance of the humble, Christian-like souls who just manage to slink
quietly through the world? The vengeance of those who always judge
hastily, and are as hastily said to be in the wrong? The vengeance of all
classes of drunkards, for whom the morning is always the most miserable
part of the day? and also of all kinds of invalids and sick and depressed
people who have no longer the courage to become healthy?

The number of these petty vengeful people, and, even more, the number of
their petty acts of revenge, is incalculable. The air around us is
continually whizzing with the discharged arrows of their malignity, so
that the sun and the sky of their lives become darkened thereby,—and,
alas! not only theirs, but more often ours and other men’s: and this is
worse than the frequent wounds which they make on our skins and hearts. Do
we not occasionally deny the existence of the sun and sky merely because
we have not seen them for so long?—Well then, solitude! because of this,


THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE ACTOR.—It is the blissful illusion of all great
actors to imagine that the historical personages whom they are
representing were really in the same state of mind as they themselves are
when interpreting them—but in this they are very much mistaken. Their
powers of imitation and divination, which they would fain exhibit as a
clairvoyant faculty, penetrate only far enough to explain gestures,
accent, and looks, and in general anything exterior: that is, they can
grasp the shadow of the soul of a great hero, statesman, or warrior, or of
an ambitious, jealous, or desperate person—they penetrate fairly near to
the soul, but they never reach the inmost spirit of the man they are

It would, indeed, be a fine thing to discover that instead of thinkers,
psychologists, or experts we required nothing but clairvoyant actors to
throw light upon the essence of any condition. Let us never forget,
whenever such pretensions are heard, that the actor is nothing but an
ideal ape—so much of an ape is he, indeed, that he is not capable of
believing in the “essence” or in the “essential”: everything becomes for
him merely performance, intonation, attitude, stage, scenery, and public.


LIVING AND BELIEVING APART.—The means of becoming the prophet and
wonder-worker of one’s age are the same to-day as in former times: one
must live apart, with little knowledge, some ideas, and a great deal of
presumption—we then finish by believing that mankind cannot do without us,
because it is clear that we can do without it. When we are inspired with
this belief we find faith. Finally, a piece of advice to him who needs it
(it was given to Wesley by Boehler, his spiritual teacher): “Preach faith
until you have it; then you will preach it because you have it!”


KNOWING OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.—We may estimate our powers, but not our power.
Not only do circumstances conceal it from us and show it to us time about,
but they even exaggerate or diminish it. We must consider ourselves as
variable quantities whose productive capacity may in favourable
circumstances reach the greatest possible heights: we must therefore
reflect upon these circumstances, and spare no pains in studying them.


A FABLE.—The Don Juan of knowledge—no philosopher or poet has yet
succeeded in discovering him. He is wanting in love for the things he
recognises, but he possesses wit, a lust for the hunting after knowledge,
and the intrigues in connection with it, and he finds enjoyment in all
these, even up to the highest and most distant stars of knowledge—until at
last there is nothing left for him to pursue but the absolutely injurious
side of knowledge, just as the drunkard who ends by drinking absinthe and
aquafortis. That is why last of all he feels a longing for hell, for this
is the final knowledge which seduces him. Perhaps even this would
disappoint him, as all things do which one knows! and then he would have
to stand still for all eternity, a victim to eternal deception, and
transformed into his enemy, the Stony Guest, who longs for an evening meal
of knowledge which will never more fall to his share! for the whole world
of things will not have another mouthful left to offer to these hungry


WHAT IDEALISTIC THEORIES DISCLOSE.—We are most certain to find idealistic
theories among unscrupulously practical men; for such men stand in need of
the lustre of these theories for the sake of their reputation. They adopt
them instinctively without by any means feeling hypocritical in doing
so—no more hypocritical than Englishmen with their Christianity and their
Sabbath-keeping. On the other hand, contemplative natures who have to keep
themselves on the guard against all kinds of fantasies and who dread to be
reputed as enthusiasts, are only to be satisfied with hard realistic
theories: they take possession of them under the same instinctive
compulsion without thereby losing their honesty.


THE CALUMNIATORS OF CHEERFULNESS.—People who have been deeply wounded by
the disappointments of life look with suspicion upon all cheerfulness as
if it were something childish and puerile, and revealed a lack of common
sense that moves them to pity and tenderness, such as one would experience
when seeing a dying child caressing his toys on his death-bed. Such men
appear to see hidden graves under every rose; rejoicings, tumult, and
cheerful music appear to them to be the voluntary illusions of a man who
is dangerously ill and yet wishes to take a momentary draught from the
intoxicating cup of life. But this judgment about cheerfulness is merely
the reflection of the latter on the dark background of weariness and
ill-health: in itself it is something touching, irrational, and pitiable,
even childlike and puerile, but connected with that second childhood which
follows in the train of old age, and is the harbinger of death.


NOT YET ENOUGH!—It is not sufficient to prove a case, we must also tempt
or raise men to it: hence the wise man must learn to convey his wisdom;
and often in such a manner that it may sound like foolishness!


RIGHT AND LIMITS.—Asceticism is the proper mode of thinking for those who
must extirpate their carnal instincts, because these are ferocious
beasts,—but only for such people!


THE BOMBASTIC STYLE.—An artist who does not wish to put his elevated
feelings into a work and thus unburden himself, but who rather wishes to
impart these feelings of elevation to others, becomes pompous, and his
style becomes the bombastic style.


“HUMANITY.”—We do not consider animals as moral beings. But do you think
that animals consider us as moral beings? An animal which had the power of
speech once said: “Humanity is a prejudice from which we animals at least
do not suffer.”


THE CHARITABLE MAN.—The charitable man gratifies a need of his own inward
feelings when doing good. The stronger this need is the less does such a
man try to put himself in the place of those who serve the purpose of
gratifying his desire: he becomes indelicate and sometimes even offensive.
(This remark applies to the benevolence and charity of the Jews, which, as
is well known, is somewhat more effusive than that of other peoples.)(10)


THAT LOVE MAY BE FELT AS LOVE.—We must be honest towards ourselves, and
must know ourselves very well indeed, to be able to practise upon others
that humane dissimulation known as love and kindness.


WHAT ARE WE CAPABLE OF?—A man who had been tormented all day by his wicked
and malicious son slew him in the evening, and then with a sigh of relief
said to the other members of his family: “Well now we can sleep in peace.”
Who knows what circumstances might drive us to!


“NATURAL.”—To be natural, at least in his deficiencies, is perhaps the
last praise that can be bestowed upon an artificial artist, who is in
other respects theatrical and half genuine. Such a man will for this very
reason boldly parade his deficiencies.


CONSCIENCE-SUBSTITUTE.—One man is another’s conscience: and this is
especially important when the other has none else.


THE TRANSFORMATION OF DUTIES.—When our duties cease to be difficult of
accomplishment, and after long practice become changed into agreeable
delights and needs, then the rights of others to whom our duties (though
now our inclinations) refer change into something else: that is, they
become the occasion of pleasant feelings for us. Henceforth the “other,”
by virtue of his rights, becomes an object of love to us instead of an
object of reverence and awe as formerly. It is our own pleasure we seek
when we recognise and maintain the extent of his power. When the Quietists
no longer felt their Christian faith as a burden, and experienced their
delight only in God, they took the motto: “Do all to the glory of God.”
Whatever they performed henceforth in this sense was no longer a
sacrifice, it was as much as to say, “Everything for the sake of our
pleasure.” To demand that duty should be always rather burdensome, as Kant
does, is to demand that it shall never develop into a habit or custom.
There is a small residue of ascetic cruelty in this demand.


APPEARANCES ARE AGAINST THE HISTORIAN.—It is a sufficiently demonstrated
fact that human beings come from the womb; nevertheless when children grow
up and stand by the side of their mother this hypothesis appears very
absurd—all appearances are against it.


THE ADVANTAGE OF IGNORANCE.—Some one has said that in his childhood he
experienced such a contempt for the caprices and whims of a melancholy
temperament that, until he had grown up and had become a middle-aged man,
he did not know what his own temperament was like: it was precisely a
melancholy temperament. He declared that this was the best of all possible
kinds of ignorance.


DO NOT BE DECEIVED!—Yes, he examined the matter from every side and you
think him to be a man of profound knowledge. But he only wishes to lower
the price—he wants to buy it!


A MORAL PRETENCE.—You refuse to be dissatisfied with yourselves or to
suffer from yourselves, and this you call your moral tendency! Very well;
another may perhaps call it your cowardice! One thing, however, is
certain, and that is that you will never take a trip round the world (and
you yourselves are this world), and you will always remain in yourselves
an accident and a clod on the face of the earth! Do you fancy that we who
hold different views from you are merely exposing ourselves out of pure
folly to the journey through our own deserts, swamps, and glaciers, and
that we are voluntarily choosing grief and disgust with ourselves, like
the Stylites?


SUBTLETY IN MISTAKES.—If Homer, as they say, sometimes nodded, he was
wiser than all the artists of sleepless ambition. We must allow admirers
to stop for a time and take breath by letting them find fault now and
then; for nobody can bear an uninterruptedly brilliant and untiring
excellence—and instead of doing good such a master would merely become a
taskmaster, whom we hate while he precedes us.


capable of a small share of happiness: and it is not an argument against
their wisdom if this wisdom is unable to afford them a greater degree of
happiness, any more than it is an argument against medical skill that many
people are incurable, and others always ailing. May every one have the
good fortune to discover the conception of existence which will enable him
to realise _his_ greatest share of happiness! though this will not
necessarily prevent his life from being miserable and not worth envying.


THE ENEMIES OF WOMEN.—“Woman is our enemy”—The man who speaks to men in
this way exhibits an unbridled lust which not only hates itself but also
its means.


THE SCHOOL OF THE ORATOR.—When a man has kept silence for a whole year he
learns to stop chattering, and to discourse instead. The Pythagoreans were
the best statesmen of their age.


THE FEELING OF POWER.—Note the distinction: the man who wishes to acquire
the feeling of power seizes upon any means, and looks upon nothing as too
petty which can foster this feeling. He who already possesses power,
however, has grown fastidious and refined in his tastes; few things can be
found to satisfy him.


NOT SO VERY IMPORTANT.—When we are present at a death-bed there regularly
arises in us a thought that we immediately suppress from a false sense of
propriety: the thought that the act of dying is less important than the
customary veneration of it would wish us to believe, and that the dying
man has probably lost in his life things which were more important than he
is now about to lose by his death. In this case the end is certainly not
the goal.


THE BEST WAY TO PROMISE.—When a man makes a promise it is not merely the
word that promises, but what lies unexpressed behind the word. Words
indeed weaken a promise by discharging and using up a power which forms
part of that power which promises. Therefore shake hands when making a
promise, but put your finger on your lips—in this way you will make the
safest promises.


GENERALLY MISUNDERSTOOD.—In conversation we sometimes observe people
endeavouring to set a trap in which to catch others—not out of
evil-mindedness, as one might suppose, but from delight in their own
shrewdness. Others again prepare a joke so that some one else may utter
it, they tie the knot so that others may undo it: not out of goodwill, as
might be supposed, but from wickedness, and their contempt for coarse


CENTRE.—The feeling, “I am the centre of the world,” forcibly comes to us
when we are unexpectedly overtaken by disgrace: we then feel as if we were
standing dazed in the midst of a surge, and dazzled by the glance of one
enormous eye which gazes down upon us from all sides and looks us through
and through.


FREEDOM OF SPEECH.—“The truth must be told, even if the world should be
shivered in fragments”—so cries the eminent and grandiloquent Fichte.—Yes,
certainly; but we must have it first.—What he really means, however, is
that each man should speak his mind, even if everything were to be turned
upside down. This point, however, is open to dispute.


THE COURAGE FOR SUFFERING.—Such as we now are, we are capable of bearing a
tolerable amount of displeasure, and our stomach is suited to such
indigestible food. If we were deprived of it, indeed, we should perhaps
think the banquet of life insipid; and if it were not for our willingness
to suffer pain we should have to let too many pleasures escape us!


ADMIRERS.—The man who admires up to the point that he would be ready to
crucify any one who did not admire, must be reckoned among the
executioners of his party—beware of shaking hands with him, even when he
belongs to your own side.


THE EFFECT OF HAPPINESS.—The first effect of happiness is the feeling of
power, and this feeling longs to manifest itself, whether towards
ourselves or other men, or towards ideas and imaginary beings. Its most
common modes of manifestation are making presents, derision, and
destruction—all three being due to a common fundamental instinct.


MORAL MOSQUITOES.—Those moralists who are lacking in the love of
knowledge, and who are only acquainted with the pleasure of giving pain,
have the spirit and tediousness of provincials. Their pastime, as cruel as
it is lamentable, is to observe their neighbour with the greatest possible
closeness, and, unperceived, to place a pin in such position that he
cannot help pricking himself with it. Such men have preserved something of
the wickedness of schoolboys, who cannot amuse themselves without hunting
and torturing either the living or the dead.


REASONS AND THEIR UNREASON.—You feel a dislike for him, and adduce
innumerable reasons for this dislike, but I only believe in your dislike
and not in your reasons! You flatter yourself by adducing as a rational
conclusion, both to yourself and to me, that which happens to be merely a
matter of instinct.


APPROVING OF SOMETHING.—We approve of marriage in the first place because
we are not yet acquainted with it, in the second place because we have
accustomed ourselves to it, and in the third place because we have
contracted it—that is to say, in most cases. And yet nothing has been
proved thereby in favour of the value of marriage in general.


NO UTILITARIANS.—“Power which has greatly suffered both in deed and in
thought is better than powerlessness which only meets with kind
treatment”—such was the Greek way of thinking. In other words, the feeling
of power was prized more highly by them than any mere utility or fair


UGLY IN APPEARANCE.—Moderation appears to itself to be quite beautiful: it
is unaware of the fact that in the eyes of the immoderate it seems coarse
and insipid, and consequently ugly.


DIFFERENT IN THEIR HATRED.—There are men who do not begin to hate until
they feel weak and tired: in other respects they are fair-minded and
superior. Others only begin to hate when they see an opportunity for
revenge: in other respects they carefully avoid both secret and open
wrath, and overlook it whenever there is any occasion for it.


MEN OF CHANCE.—It is pure hazard which plays the essential part in every
invention, but most men do not meet with this hazard.


CHOICE OF ENVIRONMENT.—We should beware of living in an environment where
we are neither able to maintain a dignified silence nor to express our
loftier thoughts, so that only our complaints and needs and the whole
story of our misery are left to be told. We thus become dissatisfied with
ourselves and with our surroundings, and to the discomfort which brings
about our complaints we add the vexation which we feel at always being in
the position of grumblers. But we should, on the contrary, live in a place
where we should be ashamed to speak of ourselves and where it would not be
necessary to do so.—Who, however, thinks of such things, or of the choice
in such things? We talk about our “fate,” brace up our shoulders, and
sigh, “Unfortunate Atlas that I am!”


VANITY.—Vanity is the dread of appearing to be original. Hence it is a
lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality.


THE CRIMINAL’S GRIEF.—The criminal who has been found out does not suffer
because of the crime he has committed, but because of the shame and
annoyance caused him either by some blunder which he has made or by being
deprived of his habitual element; and keen discernment is necessary to
distinguish such cases. Every one who has had much experience of prisons
and reformatories is astonished at the rare instances of really genuine
“remorse,” and still more so at the longing shown to return to the old
wicked and beloved crime.


ALWAYS APPEARING HAPPY.—When, in the Greece of the third century,
philosophy had become a matter of public emulation, there were not a few
philosophers who became happy through the thought that others who lived
according to different principles, and suffered from them, could not but
feel envious of their happiness. They thought they could refute these
other people with their happiness better than anything else, and to
achieve this object they were content to appear to be always happy; but,
following this practice, they were obliged to become happy in the long
run! This, for example, was the case of the cynics.


THE CAUSE OF MUCH MISUNDERSTANDING.—The morality of increasing nervous
force is joyful and restless; the morality of diminishing nervous force,
towards evening, or in invalids and old people, is passive, calm, patient,
and melancholy, and not rarely even gloomy. In accordance with what we may
possess of one or other of these moralities, we do not understand that
which we lack, and we often interpret it in others as immorality and


indeed, those who, in order to establish a sense of their own dignity and
importance, stand in need of other people whom they may tyrannise and
oppress—those whose powerlessness and cowardice permits some one to make
sublime and furious gestures in their presence with impunity, so that they
require the baseness of their surroundings to raise themselves for one
short moment above their own baseness!—For this purpose one man requires a
dog, another a friend, a third a wife, a fourth a party, a fifth, again,
one very rarely to be met with, a whole age.


withhold or conceal from yourself anything that may be thought against
your own thoughts. Vow it! This is the essential requirement of honest
thinking. You must undertake such a campaign against yourself every day. A
victory and a conquered position are no longer your concern, but that of
truth—and your defeat also is no longer your concern!


THE EVIL OF STRENGTH.—Violence as the outcome of passion, for example, of
rage, must be understood from the physiological point of view as an
attempt to avoid an imminent fit of suffocation. Innumerable acts arising
from animal spirits and vented upon others are simply outlets for getting
rid of sudden congestion by a violent muscular exertion: and perhaps the
entire “evil of strength” must be considered from this point of view.
(This evil of strength wounds others unintentionally—it must find an
outlet somewhere; while the evil of weakness wishes to wound and to see
signs of suffering.)


TO THE CREDIT OF THE CONNOISSEUR.—As soon as some one who is no
connoisseur begins to pose as a judge we should remonstrate, whether it is
a male or female whipper-snapper. Enthusiasm or delight in a thing or a
human being is not an argument; neither is repugnance or hatred.


TREACHEROUS BLAME.—“He has no knowledge of men” means in the mouth of some
“He does not know what baseness is”; and in the mouths of others, “He does
not know the exception and knows only too well what baseness means.”


THE VALUE OF SACRIFICE.—The more the rights of states and princes are
questioned as to their right to sacrifice the individual (for example, in
the administration of justice, conscription, etc.), the more will the
value of self-sacrifice rise.


SPEAKING TOO DISTINCTLY.—There are several reasons why we articulate our
words too distinctly: in the first place, from distrust of ourselves when
using a new and unpractised language; secondly, when we distrust others on
account of their stupidity or their slowness of comprehension. The same
remark applies to intellectual matters: our communications are sometimes
too distinct, too painful, because if it were otherwise those to whom we
communicate our ideas would not understand us. Consequently the perfect
and easy style is only permissible when addressing a perfect audience.


PLENTY OF SLEEP.—What can we do to arouse ourselves when we are weary and
tired of our ego? Some recommend the gambling table, others Christianity,
and others again electricity. But the best remedy, my dear hypochondriac,
is, and always will be, plenty of sleep in both the literal and figurative
sense of the word. Thus another morning will at length dawn upon us. The
knack of worldly wisdom is to find the proper time for applying this
remedy in both its forms.


there also is our enthusiasm. The enthusiastic principle “love your
enemies” had to be invented by the Jews, the best haters that ever
existed; and the finest glorifications of chastity have been written by
those who in their youth led dissolute and licentious lives.


CLEAN HANDS AND CLEAN WALLS.—Do not paint the picture either of God or the
devil on your walls: for in so doing you will spoil your walls as well as
your surroundings.(11)


PROBABLE AND IMPROBABLE.—A woman secretly loved a man, raised him far
above her, and said to herself hundreds of times in her inmost heart, “If
a man like that were to love me, I should look upon it as a condescension
before which I should have to humble myself in the dust.”—And the man
entertained the same feelings towards the woman, and in his inmost heart
he felt the very same thought. When at last both their tongues were
loosened, and they had communicated their most secret thoughts to one
another, a deep and meditative silence ensued. Then the woman said in a
cold voice: “The thing is quite clear! We are neither of us that which we
loved! If you are what you say you are, and nothing more, then I have
humbled myself in vain and loved you; the demon misled me as well as you.”
This very probable story never happens—and why doesn’t it?


TESTED ADVICE.—Of all the means of consolation there is none so
efficacious for him who has need of it as the declaration that in his case
no consolation can be given. This implies such a distinction that the
afflicted person will at once raise his head again.


KNOWING ONE’S “INDIVIDUALITY”.—We too often forget that in the eyes of
strangers who see us for the first time we are quite different beings from
what we consider ourselves to be—in most cases we exhibit nothing more
than one particular characteristic which catches the eye of the stranger,
and determines the impression we make on him. Thus the most peaceful and
fair-minded man, if only he has a big moustache, may, as it were, repose
in the shade of this moustache; for ordinary eyes will merely see in him
the accessory of a big moustache, that is to say, a military, irascible,
and occasionally violent character, and will act accordingly.


GARDENERS AND GARDENS.—Wet dreary days, loneliness, and unkind words give
rise within us to conclusions like fungi; some morning we find that they
have grown up in front of us we know not whence, and there they scowl at
us, sullen and morose. Woe to the thinker who instead of being the
gardener of his plants, is merely the soil from which they spring.


THE COMEDY OF PITY.—However much we may feel for an unhappy friend of
ours, we always act with a certain amount of insincerity in his presence:
we refrain from telling him everything we think, and how we think it, with
all the circumspection of a doctor standing by the bedside of a patient
who is seriously ill.


CURIOUS SAINTS.—There are pusillanimous people who have a bad opinion of
everything that is best in their works, and who at the same time interpret
and comment upon them badly: but also, by a kind of revenge, they
entertain a bad opinion of the sympathy of others, and do not believe in
sympathy at all; they are ashamed to appear to be carried away from
themselves, and feel a defiant comfort in appearing or becoming
ridiculous.—States of soul like these are to be found in melancholy


VAIN PEOPLE.—We are like shop-windows, where we ourselves are constantly
arranging, concealing, or setting in the foreground those supposed
qualities which others attribute to us—in order to deceive _ourselves_.


PATHETIC AND NAÏVE.—It may be a very vulgar habit to let no opportunity
slip of assuming a pathetic air for the sake of the enjoyment to be
experienced in imagining the spectator striking his breast and feeling
himself to be small and miserable. Consequently it may also be the
indication of a noble mind to make fun of pathetic situations, and to
behave in an undignified manner in them. The old, warlike nobility of
France possessed that kind of distinction and delicacy.


A REFLECTION BEFORE MARRIAGE.—Supposing she loved me, what a burden she
would be to me in the long run! and supposing that she did not love me,
what a much greater burden she would be to me in the long run! We have to
choose between two different kinds of burdens; therefore let us marry.


RASCALITY WITH A GOOD CONSCIENCE.—It is exceedingly annoying to be cheated
in small bargains in certain countries,—in the Tyrol, for
example,—because, in addition to the bad bargain, we are compelled to
accept the evil countenance and coarse greediness of the man who has
cheated us, together with his bad conscience and his hostile feeling
against us. At Venice, on the other hand, the cheater is highly delighted
at his successful fraud, and is not in the least angry with the man he has
cheated—nay, he is even inclined to show him some kindness, and above all
to have a hearty laugh with him if he likes.—In short, one must possess
wit and a good conscience in order to be a knave, and this will almost
reconcile the cheated one with the cheat.(12)


RATHER TOO AWKWARD.—Good people who are too awkward to be polite and
amiable promptly endeavour to return an act of politeness by an important
service, or by a contribution beyond their power. It is touching to see
them timidly producing their gold coins when others have offered them
their gilded coppers!


HIDING ONE’S INTELLIGENCE.—When we surprise some one in the act of hiding
his intelligence from us we call him evil: the more so if we suspect that
it is his civility and benevolence which have induced him to do so.


THE EVIL MOMENT.—Lively dispositions only lie for a moment: after this
they have deceived themselves, and are convinced and honest.


THE CONDITION OF POLITENESS.—Politeness is a very good thing, and really
one of the four chief virtues (although the last), but in order that it
may not result in our becoming tiresome to one another the person with
whom I have to deal must be either one degree more or less polite than
I—otherwise we should never get on, and the ointment would not only anoint
us, but would cement us together.


DANGEROUS VIRTUES.—“He forgets nothing, but forgives everything”—wherefore
he shall be doubly detested, for he causes us double shame by his memory
and his magnanimity.


WITHOUT VANITY.—Passionate people think little of what others may think;
their state of mind raises them above vanity.


CONTEMPLATION.—In some thinkers the contemplative state peculiar to a
thinker is always the consequence of a state of fear, in others always of
desire. In the former, contemplation thus seems allied to the feeling of
security, in the latter to the feeling of surfeit—in other words, the
former are spirited in their mood, the latter over-satiated and neutral.


HUNTING.—The one is hunting for agreeable truths, the other for
disagreeable ones. But even the former takes greater pleasure in the hunt
than in the booty.


EDUCATION.—Education is a continuation of procreation, and very often a
kind of supplementary varnishing of it.


HOW TO RECOGNISE THE CHOLERIC.—Of two persons who are struggling together,
or who love and admire one another, the more choleric will always be at a
disadvantage. The same remark applies to two nations.


SELF-EXCUSE.—Many men have the best possible right to act in this or that
way; but as soon as they begin to excuse their actions we no longer
believe that they are right—and we are mistaken.


MORAL PAMPERING.—There are tender, moral natures who are ashamed of all
their successes and feel remorse after every failure.


DANGEROUS UNLEARNING.—We begin by unlearning to love others, and end by
finding nothing lovable in ourselves.


ANOTHER FORM OF TOLERATION.—“To remain a minute too long on red-hot coals
and to be burnt a little does no harm either to men or to chestnuts. The
slight bitterness and hardness makes the kernel all the sweeter.”—Yes,
this is your opinion, you who enjoy the taste! You sublime cannibals!


DIFFERENT PRIDE.—Women turn pale at the thought that their lover may not
be worthy of them; Men turn pale at the thought that they may not be
worthy of the women they love. I speak of perfect women, perfect men. Such
men, who are self-reliant and conscious of power at ordinary times, grow
diffident and doubtful of themselves when under the influence of a strong
passion. Such women, on the other hand, though always looking upon
themselves as the weak and devoted sex, become proud and conscious of
their power in the great exception of passion,—they ask: “Who then is
worthy of me?”


WHEN WE SELDOM DO JUSTICE.—Certain men are unable to feel enthusiasm for a
great and good cause without committing a great injustice in some other
quarter: this is _their_ kind of morality.


LUXURY.—The love of luxury is rooted in the depths of a man’s heart: it
shows that the superfluous and immoderate is the sea wherein his soul
prefers to float.


TO IMMORTALISE.—Let him who wishes to kill his opponent first consider
whether by doing so he will not immortalise him in himself.


AGAINST OUR CHARACTER.—If the truth which we have to utter goes against
our character—as very often happens—we behave as if we had uttered a
clumsy falsehood, and thus rouse suspicion.


choice of being either public evil-doers or secret sorrow-bearers.


ILLNESS.—Among illness are to be reckoned the premature approach of old
age, ugliness, and pessimistic opinions—three things that always go


TIMID PEOPLE.—It is the awkward and timid people who easily become
murderers: they do not understand slight but sufficient means of defence
or revenge, and their hatred, owing to their lack of intelligence and
presence of mind, can conceive of no other expedient than destruction.


WITHOUT HATRED.—You wish to bid farewell to your passion? Very well, but
do so without hatred against it! Otherwise you have a second passion.—The
soul of the Christian who has freed himself from sin is generally ruined
afterwards by the hatred for sin. Just look at the faces of the great
Christians! they are the faces of great haters.


INGENIOUS AND NARROW-MINDED.—He can appreciate nothing beyond himself, and
when he wishes to appreciate other people he must always begin by
transforming them into himself. In this, however, he is ingenious.


PRIVATE AND PUBLIC ACCUSERS.—Watch closely the accuser and inquirer,—for
he reveals his true character; and it is not rare for this to be a worse
character than that of the victim whose crime he is investigating. The
accuser believes in all innocence that the opponent of a crime and
criminal must be by nature of good character, or at least must appear as
such—and this is why he lets himself go, that is to say, he drops his


VOLUNTARY BLINDNESS.—There is a kind of enthusiastic and extreme devotion
to a person or a party which reveals that in our inmost hearts we feel
ourselves superior to this person or party, and for this reason we feel
indignant with ourselves. We blind ourselves, as it were, of our own free
will to punish our eyes for having seen too much.


_REMEDIUM AMORIS._—That old radical remedy for love is now in most cases
as effective as it always was: love in return.


WHERE IS OUR WORST ENEMY?—He who can look after his own affairs well, and
knows that he can do so, is as a rule conciliatory towards his adversary.
But to believe that we have right on our side, and to know that we are
incapable of defending it—this gives rise to a fierce and implacable
hatred against the opponent of our cause. Let every one judge accordingly
where his worst enemies are to be sought.


THE LIMITS OF ALL HUMILITY.—Many men may certainly have attained that
humility which says _credo quia absurdum est_, and sacrifices its reason;
but, so far as I know, not one has attained to that humility which after
all is only one step further, and which says _creda quia absurdus sum_.


ACTING THE TRUTH.—Many a man is truthful, not because he would be ashamed
to exhibit hypocritical feelings, but because he would not succeed very
well in inducing others to believe in his hypocrisy. In a word, he has no
confidence in his talent as an actor, and therefore prefers honestly to
act the truth.


COURAGE IN A PARTY.—The poor sheep say to their bell-wether: “Only lead
us, and we shall never lack courage to follow you.” But the poor
bell-wether thinks in his heart: “Only follow me, and I shall never lack
courage to lead you.”


CUNNING OF THE VICTIM.—What a sad cunning there is in the wish to deceive
ourselves with respect to the person for whom we have sacrificed
ourselves, when we give him an opportunity in which he must appear to us
as we should wish him to be!


THROUGH OTHERS.—There are men who do not wish to be seen except through
the eyes of others: a wish which implies a great deal of wisdom.


MAKING OTHERS HAPPY.—Why is the fact of our making others happy more
gratifying to us than all other pleasures?—Because in so doing we gratify
fifty cravings at one time. Taken separately they would, perhaps, be very
small pleasures; but when put into one hand, that hand will be fuller than
ever before—and the heart also.



IN THE GREAT SILENCE.—Here is the sea, here may we forget the town. It is
true that its bells are still ringing the Angelus—that solemn and foolish
yet sweet sound at the junction between day and night,—but one moment
more! now all is silent. Yonder lies the ocean, pale and brilliant; it
cannot speak. The sky is glistening with its eternal mute evening hues,
red, yellow, and green: it cannot speak. The small cliffs and rocks which
stretch out into the sea as if each one of them were endeavouring to find
the loneliest spot—they too are dumb. Beautiful and awful indeed is this
vast silence, which so suddenly overcomes us and makes our heart swell.

Alas! what deceit lies in this dumb beauty! How well could it speak, and
how evilly, too, if it wished! Its tongue, tied up and fastened, and its
face of suffering happiness—all this is but malice, mocking at your
sympathy: be it so! I do not feel ashamed to be the plaything of such
powers! but I pity thee, oh nature, because thou must be silent, even
though it be only malice that binds thy tongue: nay, I pity thee for the
sake of thy malice!

Alas! the silence deepens, and once again my heart swells within me: it is
startled by a fresh truth—it, too, is dumb; it likewise sneers when the
mouth calls out something to this beauty; it also enjoys the sweet malice
of its silence. I come to hate speaking; yea, even thinking. Behind every
word I utter do I not hear the laughter of error, imagination, and
insanity? Must I not laugh at my pity and mock my own mockery? Oh sea, oh
evening, ye are bad teachers! Ye teach man how to cease to be a man. Is he
to give himself up to you? Shall he become as you now are, pale,
brilliant, dumb, immense, reposing calmly upon himself?—exalted above


FOR WHOM THE TRUTH EXISTS.—Up to the present time errors have been the
power most fruitful in consolations: we now expect the same effects from
accepted truths, and we have been waiting rather too long for them. What
if these truths could not give us this consolation we are looking for?
Would that be an argument against them? What have these truths in common
with the sick condition of suffering and degenerate men that they should
be useful to them? It is, of course, no proof against the truth of a plant
when it is clearly established that it does not contribute in any way to
the recovery of sick people. Formerly, however, people were so convinced
that man was the ultimate end of nature that they believed that knowledge
could reveal nothing that was not beneficial and useful to man—nay, there
could not, should not be, any other things in existence.

Perhaps all this leads to the conclusion that truth as an entity and a
coherent whole exists only for those natures who, like Aristotle, are at
once powerful and harmless, joyous and peaceful: just as none but these
would be in a position to seek such truths; for the others seek remedies
for themselves—however proud they may be of their intellect and its
freedom, they do not seek truth. Hence it comes about that these others
take no real joy in science, but reproach it for its coldness, dryness,
and inhumanity. This is the judgment of sick people about the games of the
healthy.—Even the Greek gods were unable to administer consolation; and
when at length the entire Greek world fell ill, this was a reason for the
destruction of such gods.


WE GODS IN EXILE.—Owing to errors regarding their descent, their
uniqueness, their mission, and by claims based upon these errors, men have
again and again “surpassed themselves”; but through these same errors the
world has been filled with unspeakable suffering, mutual persecution,
suspicion, misunderstanding, and an even greater amount of individual
misery. Men have become suffering creatures in consequence of their
morals, and the sum-total of what they have obtained by those morals is
simply the feeling that they are far too good and great for this world,
and that they are enjoying merely a transitory existence on it. As yet the
“proud sufferer” is the highest type of mankind.


THE COLOUR-BLINDNESS OF THINKERS.—How differently from us the Greeks must
have viewed nature, since, as we cannot help admitting, they were quite
colour-blind in regard to blue and green, believing the former to be a
deeper brown, and the latter to be yellow. Thus, for instance, they used
the same word to describe the colour of dark hair, of the corn-flower, and
the southern sea; and again they employed exactly the same expression for
the colour of the greenest herbs, the human skin, honey, and yellow
raisins: whence it follows that their greatest painters reproduced the
world they lived in only in black, white, red, and yellow. How different
and how much nearer to mankind, therefore, must nature have seemed to
them, since in their eyes the tints of mankind predominated also in
nature, and nature was, as it were, floating in the coloured ether of
humanity! (blue and green more than anything else dehumanise nature). It
is this defect which developed the playful facility that characterised the
Greeks of seeing the phenomena of nature as gods and demi-gods—that is to
say, as human forms.

Let this, however, merely serve as a simile for another supposition. Every
thinker paints his world and the things that surround him in fewer colours
than really exist, and he is blind to individual colours. This is
something more than a mere deficiency. Thanks to this nearer approach and
simplification, he imagines he sees in things those harmonies of colours
which possess a great charm, and may greatly enrich nature. Perhaps,
indeed, it was in this way that men first learnt to take delight in
viewing existence, owing to its being first of all presented to them in
one or two shades, and consequently harmonised. They practised these few
shades, so to speak, before they could pass on to any more. And even now
certain individuals endeavour to get rid of a partial colour-blindness
that they may obtain a richer faculty of sight and discernment, in the
course of which they find that they not only discover new pleasures, but
are also obliged to lose and give up some of their former ones.


THE EMBELLISHMENT OF SCIENCE.—In the same way that the feeling that
“nature is ugly, wild, tedious—we must embellish it (_embellir la
nature_)”—brought about rococo horticulture, so does the view that
“science is ugly, difficult, dry, dreary and weary, we must embellish it,”
invariably gives rise to something called philosophy. This philosophy sets
out to do what all art and poetry endeavour to do, viz., giving amusement
above all else; but it wishes to do this, in conformity with its
hereditary pride, in a higher and more sublime fashion before an audience
of superior intellects. It is no small ambition to create for these
intellects a kind of horticulture, the principal charm of which—like that
of the usual gardening—is to bring about an optical illusion (by means of
temples, perspective, grottos, winding walks, and waterfalls, to speak in
similes), exhibiting science in a condensed form and in all kinds of
strange and unexpected illuminations, infusing into it as much indecision,
irrationality, and dreaminess as will enable us to walk about in it “as in
savage nature,” but without trouble and boredom.

Those who are possessed of this ambition even dream of making religion
superfluous—religion, which among men of former times served as the
highest kind of entertainment. All this is now running its course, and
will one day attain its highest tide. Even now hostile voices are being
raised against philosophy, exclaiming: “Return to science, to nature, and
the naturalness of science!” and thus an age may begin which may discover
the most powerful beauty precisely in the “savage and ugly” domains of
science, just as it is only since the time of Rousseau that we have
discovered the sense for the beauty of high mountains and deserts.


TWO KINDS OF MORALISTS.—To see a law of nature for the first time, and to
see it whole (for example, the law of gravity or the reflection of light
and sound), and afterwards to explain such a law, are two different things
and concern different classes of minds. In the same way, those moralists
who observe and exhibit human laws and habits—moralists with
discriminating ears, noses, and eyes—differ entirely from those who
interpret their observations. These latter must above all be inventive,
and must possess an imagination untrammelled by sagacity and knowledge.


THE NEW PASSION.—Why do we fear and dread a possible return to barbarism?
Is it because it would make people less happy than they are now? Certainly
not! the barbarians of all ages possessed more happiness than we do: let
us not deceive ourselves on this point!—but our impulse towards knowledge
is too widely developed to allow us to value happiness without knowledge,
or the happiness of a strong and fixed delusion: it is painful to us even
to imagine such a state of things! Our restless pursuit of discoveries and
divinations has become for us as attractive and indispensable as hapless
love to the lover, which on no account would he exchange for
indifference,—nay, perhaps we, too, are hapless lovers! Knowledge within
us has developed into a passion, which does not shrink from any sacrifice,
and at bottom fears nothing but its own extinction. We sincerely believe
that all humanity, weighed down as it is by the burden of this passion,
are bound to feel more exalted and comforted than formerly, when they had
not yet overcome the longing for the coarser satisfaction which
accompanies barbarism.

It may be that mankind may perish eventually from this passion for
knowledge!—but even that does not daunt us. Did Christianity ever shrink
from a similar thought? Are not love and death brother and sister? Yes, we
detest barbarism,—we all prefer that humanity should perish rather than
that knowledge should enter into a stage of retrogression. And, finally,
if mankind does not perish through some passion it will perish through
some weakness: which would we prefer? This is the main question. Do we
wish its end to be in fire and light, or in the sands?


LIKEWISE HEROIC.—To do things of the worst possible odour, things of which
we scarcely dare to speak, but which are nevertheless useful and
necessary, is also heroic. The Greeks were not ashamed of numbering even
the cleansing of a stable among the great tasks of Hercules.


THE OPINIONS OF OPPONENTS.—In order to measure the natural subtlety or
weakness of even the cleverest heads, we must consider the manner in which
they take up and reproduce the opinions of their adversaries, for the
natural measure of any intellect is thereby revealed. The perfect sage
involuntarily idealises his opponent and frees his inconsistencies from
all defects and accidentalities: he only takes up arms against him when he
has thus turned his opponent into a god with shining weapons.


INVESTIGATOR AND ATTEMPTER.—There is no exclusive method of knowing in
science. We must deal with things tentatively, treating them by turns
harshly or justly, passionately or coldly. One investigator deals with
things like a policeman, another like a confessor, and yet a third like an
inquisitive traveller. We force something from them now by sympathy and
now by violence: the one is urged onward and led to see clearly by the
veneration which the secrets of the things inspire in him, and the other
again by the indiscretion and malice met with in the explanation of these
secrets. We investigators, like all conquerors, explorers, navigators, and
adventurers, are men of a daring morality, and we must put up with our
liability to be in the main looked upon as evil.


SEEING WITH NEW EYES.—Presuming that by the term “beauty in art” is always
implied the imitation of something that is happy—and this I consider to be
true—according as an age or a people or a great autocratic individuality
represents happiness: what then is disclosed by the so-called realism of
our modern artists in regard to the happiness of our epoch? It is
undoubtedly its type of beauty which we now understand most easily and
enjoy best of any. As a consequence, we are induced to believe that this
happiness which is now peculiar to us is based on realism, on the sharpest
possible senses, and on the true conception of the actual—that is to say,
not upon reality, but upon what we know of reality. The results of science
have already gained so much in depth and extent that the artists of our
century have involuntarily become the glorifiers of scientific “blessings”
_per se_.


INTERCESSION.—Unpretentious regions are subjects for great landscape
painters; remarkable and rare regions for inferior painters: for the great
things of nature and humanity must intercede in favour of their little,
mediocre, and vain admirers—whereas the great man intercedes in favour of
unassuming things.


NOT TO PERISH UNNOTICED.—It is not only once but continuously that our
excellence and greatness are constantly crumbling away; the weeds that
grow among everything and cling to everything ruin all that is great in
us—the wretchedness of our surroundings, which we always try to overlook
and which is before our eyes at every hour of the day, the innumerable
little roots of mean and petty feelings which we allow to grow up all
about us, in our office, among our companions, or our daily labours. If we
permit these small weeds to escape our notice we shall perish through them
unnoticed!—And, if you must perish, then do so immediately and suddenly;
for in that case you will perhaps leave proud ruins behind you! and not,
as is now to be feared, merely molehills, covered with grass and
weeds—these petty and miserable conquerors, as humble as ever, and too
wretched even to triumph.


CASUISTIC.—We are confronted with a very bitter and painful dilemma, for
the solution of which not every one’s bravery and character are equal:
when, as passengers on board a steamer, we discover that the captain and
the helmsman are making dangerous mistakes, and that we are their
superiors in nautical science—and then we ask ourselves: “What would
happen if we organised a mutiny against them, and made them both
prisoners? Is it not our duty to do so in view of our superiority? and
would not they in their turn be justified in putting us in irons for
encouraging disobedience?”

This is a simile for higher and worse situations; and the final question
to be decided is, What guarantees our superiority and our faith in
ourselves in such a case? Success? but in order to do that we must do the
very thing in which all the danger lies—not only dangerous for ourselves,
but also for the ship.


PRIVILEGES.—The man who really owns himself, that is to say, he who has
finally conquered himself, regards it as his own right to punish, to
pardon, or to pity himself: he need not concede this privilege to any one,
though he may freely bestow it upon some one else—a friend, for
example—but he knows that in doing this he is conferring a right, and that
rights can only be conferred by one who is in full possession of power.


MAN AND THINGS.—Why does the man not see the things? He himself is in the
way: he conceals the things.


CHARACTERISTICS OF HAPPINESS.—There are two things common to all
sensations of happiness: a profusion of feelings, accompanied by animal
spirits, so that, like the fishes, we feel ourselves to be in our element
and play about in it. Good Christians will understand what Christian
exuberance means.


NEVER RENOUNCE.—Renouncing the world without knowing it, like a nun,
results in a fruitless and perhaps melancholy solitude. This has nothing
in common with the solitude of the _vita contemplativa_ of the thinker:
when he chooses this form of solitude he wishes to renounce nothing; but
he would on the contrary regard it as a renunciation, a melancholy
destruction of his own self, if he were obliged to continue in the _vita
practica_. He forgoes this latter because he knows it, because he knows
himself. So he jumps into _his_ water, and thus gains _his_ cheerfulness.


up our minds to all that has been and will be, the paler will become that
which actually is. When we live with the dead and participate in their
death, what are our “neighbours” to us? We grow lonelier simply because
the entire flood of humanity is surging round about us. The fire that
burns within us, and glows for all that is human, is continually
increasing—and hence we look upon everything that surrounds us as if it
had become more indifferent, more shadowy,—but our cold glance is


THE RULE.—“The rule always appears to me to be more interesting than the
exception”—whoever thinks thus has made considerable progress in
knowledge, and is one of the initiated.


ON EDUCATION.—I have gradually come to see daylight in regard to the most
general defect in our methods of education and training: nobody learns,
nobody teaches, nobody wishes, to endure solitude.


SURPRISE AT RESISTANCE.—Because we have reached the point of being able to
see through a thing we believe that henceforth it can offer us no further
resistance—and then we are surprised to find that we can see through it
and yet cannot penetrate through it. This is the same kind of foolishness
and surprise as that of the fly on a pane of glass.


WHERE THE NOBLEST ARE MISTAKEN.—We give some one at length our dearest and
most valued possession, and then love has nothing more to give: but the
recipient of the gift will certainly not consider it as his dearest
possession, and will consequently be wanting in that full and complete
gratitude which we expect from him.


HIERARCHY.—First and foremost, there are the superficial thinkers, and
secondly the profound thinkers—such as dive into the depths of a
thing,—thirdly, the thorough thinkers, who get to the bottom of a
thing—which is of much greater importance than merely diving into its
depths,—and, finally, those who leap head foremost into the marsh: though
this must not be looked upon as indicating either depth or thoroughness!
these are the lovers of obscurity.(13)


MASTER AND PUPIL.—By cautioning his pupils against himself the teacher
shows his humanity.


HONOURING REALITY.—How can we look at this exulting multitude without
tears and acquiescence? at one time we thought little of the object of
their exultation, and we should still think so if we ourselves had not
come through a similar experience. And what may these experiences lead us
to! what are our opinions! In order that we may not lose ourselves and our
reason we must fly from experiences. It was thus that Plato fled from
actuality, and wished to contemplate things only in their pale mental
concepts: he was full of sensitiveness, and knew how easily the waves of
this sensitiveness would drown his reason.—Must the sage therefore say, “I
will honour reality, but I will at the same time turn my back to it
because I know and dread it?” Ought he to behave as certain African tribes
do in the presence of their sovereign, whom they approach backwards, thus
showing their reverence at the same time as their dread?


WHERE ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT?—Oh, how greatly it goes against my grain to
impose my own thoughts upon others! How I rejoice over every mood and
secret change within me as the result of which the thoughts of others are
victorious over my own! but from time to time I enjoy an even greater
satisfaction, when I am allowed to give away my intellectual possessions,
like the confessor sitting in his box and anxiously awaiting the arrival
of some distressed person who stands in need of consolation, and will be
only too glad to relate the full misery of his thoughts so that the
listener’s hand and heart will once again be filled, and the troubled soul
eased! Not only has the confessor no desire for renown: he would fain shun
gratitude as well, for it is obtrusive, and does not stand in awe of
solitude or silence.

But to live without a name, and even to be slightly sneered at; too
obscure to arouse envy or enmity; with a head free from fever, a handful
of knowledge, and a pocketful of experience; a physician, as it were, of
the poor in spirit, helping this one or that one whose head is troubled
with opinions, without the latter perceiving who has actually helped him!
without any desire to appear to be in the right in the presence of his
patient, or to carry off a victory. To speak to him in such a way that,
after a short and almost imperceptible hint or objection, the listener may
find out for himself what is right and proudly walk away! To be like an
obscure and unknown inn which turns no one away who is in need, but which
is afterwards forgotten and laughed at! To be without any advantages over
others—neither possessing better food nor purer air, nor a more cheerful
mind—but always to be giving away, returning, communicating, and becoming
poorer! To know how to be humble in order to be accessible to many people
and humiliating to none! To take a great deal of injustice on his
shoulders and creep through the cracks and crannies of all kinds of
errors, in order that we may reach many obscure souls on their secret
paths! ever in possession of some kind of love, and some kind of egoism
and self-enjoyment! in possession of power, and yet at the same time
hidden and resigned! constantly basking in the sunshine and sweetness of
grace, and yet knowing that quite near to us stands the ladder leading to
the sublime!—that would be life! that would indeed be a reason for a long


THE TEMPTATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE.—A glance through the gate of science acts
upon passionate spirits as the charm of charms: they will probably become
dreamers, or in the most favourable cases poets, so great is their desire
for the happiness of the man who can discern. Does it not enter into all
your senses, this note of sweet temptation by which science has announced
its joyful message in a thousand ways, and in the thousand and first way,
the noblest of all, “Begone, illusion! for then ‘Woe is me’ also vanished,
and with it woe itself is gone” (Marcus Aurelius).


FOR WHOM A COURT JESTER IS NEEDFUL.—Those who are very beautiful, very
good, and very powerful scarcely ever learn the full and naked truth about
anything,—for in their presence we involuntarily lie a little, because we
feel their influence, and in view of this influence convey a truth in the
form of an adaptation (by falsifying the shades and degrees of facts, by
omitting or adding details, and withholding that which is insusceptible of
adaptation). If, however, in spite of all this, people of this description
insist upon hearing the truth, they must keep a court jester—a being with
the madman’s privilege of being unable to adapt himself.


IMPATIENCE.—There is a certain degree of impatience in men of thought and
action, which in cases of failure at once drives them to the opposite
camp, induces them to take a great interest in it, and to give themselves
up to new undertakings—until here again the slowness of their success
drives them away. Thus they rove about, like so many reckless adventurers,
through the practices of many kingdoms and natures; and in the end, as the
result of their wide knowledge of men and things, acquired by their
unheard of travel and practice, and with a certain moderation of their
craving, they become powerful practical men. Hence a defect in character
may become the school of genius.


A MORAL INTERREGNUM.—Who is now in a position to describe that which will
one day supplant moral feelings and judgments!—however certain we may be
that these are founded on error, and that the building erected upon such
foundations cannot be repaired: their obligation must gradually diminish
from day to day, in so far as the obligation of reason does not diminish!
To carry out the task of re-establishing the laws of life and action is
still beyond the power of our sciences of physiology and medicine, society
and solitude: though it is only from them that we can borrow the
foundation-stones of new ideals (but not the ideals themselves). Thus we
live a preliminary or after existence, according to our tastes and
talents, and the best we can do in this interregnum is to be as much as
possible our own “_reges_,” and to establish small experimental states. We
are experiments: if we want to be so!


A DIGRESSION.—A book like this is not intended to be read through at once,
or to be read aloud. It is intended more particularly for reference,
especially on our walks and travels: we must take it up and put it down
again after a short reading, and, more especially, we ought not to be
amongst our usual surroundings.


THE PRIMARY NATURE.—As we are now brought up, we begin by acquiring a
secondary nature, and we possess it when the world calls us mature, of
age, efficient. A few have sufficient of the serpent about them to cast
this skin some day, when their primary nature has come to maturity under
it. But in the majority of people the germ of it withers away.


A VIRTUE IN PROCESS OF BECOMING.—Such assertions and promises as those of
the ancient philosophers on the unity of virtue and felicity, or that of
Christianity, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and
all these things shall be added unto you,” have never been made with
absolute sincerity, but always without a bad conscience nevertheless.
People were in the habit of boldly laying down principles—which they
wished to be true—exactly as if they were truth itself, in spite of all
appearances to the contrary, and in doing this they felt neither religious
nor moral compunction; for it was _in honorem maiorem_ of virtue or of God
that one had gone beyond truth, without, however, any selfish intention!

Many good people still act up to this degree of truthfulness: when they
feel unselfish they think it permissible to treat truth more lightly. Let
it be remembered that the word honesty is neither to be found among the
Socratic nor the Christian virtues: it is one of our most recent virtues,
not yet quite mature, frequently misconstrued and misunderstood, scarcely
conscious of itself—something in embryo, which we may either promote or
check according to our inclination.


FINAL TACITURNITY.—There are some men who fare like the digger after
hidden treasures: they quite accidentally discover the carefully-preserved
secrets of another’s soul, and as a result come into the possession of
knowledge which it is often a heavy burden to bear. In certain
circumstances we may know the living and the dead, and sound their inmost
thoughts to such an extent that it becomes painful to us to speak to
others about them: at every word we utter we are afraid of being
indiscreet.—I can easily imagine a sudden silence on the part of the
wisest historian.


THE GREAT PRIZE.—There is a very rare thing, but a very delightful one,
viz. the man with a nobly-formed intellect who possesses at the same time
the character and inclinations, and even meets with the experiences,
suited to such an intellect.


THE MAGNANIMITY OF THE THINKER.—Both Rousseau and Schopenhauer were proud
enough to inscribe upon their lives the motto, _Vitam impendere vero_. And
how they both must have suffered in their pride because they could not
succeed in _verum impendere vitæ!_—_verum_, such as each of them
understood it,—when their lives ran side by side with their knowledge like
an uncouth bass which is not in tune with the melody.

Knowledge, however, would be in a bad way if it were measured out to every
thinker only in proportion as it can be adapted to his own person. And
thinkers would be in a bad way if their vanity were so great that they
could only endure such an adaptation, for the noblest virtue of a great
thinker is his magnanimity, which urges him on in his search for knowledge
to sacrifice himself and his life unshrinkingly, often shamefacedly, and
often with sublime scorn, and smiling.


UTILISING OUR HOURS OF DANGER.—Those men and conditions whose every
movement may mean danger to our possessions, honour, and life or death,
and to those most dear to us, we shall naturally learn to know thoroughly.
Tiberius, for instance, must have meditated much more deeply on the
character and methods of government of the Emperor Augustus, and must have
known far more about them than even the wisest historian.

At the present day we all live, relatively speaking, in a security which
is much too great to make us true psychologists: some survey their
fellow-men as a hobby, others out of ennui, and others again merely from
habit; but never to the extent they would do if they were told “Discern or
perish!” As long as truths do not cut us to the quick we assume an
attitude of contempt towards them: they still appear to us too much like
the “winged dreams,” as if we could or could not have them at our
discretion, as if we could likewise be aroused from these truths as from a


_HIC RHODUS, HIC SALTA._—Our music, which can and must change into
everything, because like the demon of the sea, it has no character of its
own: this music in former times devoted its attention to the Christian
savant, and transposed his ideals into sounds: why cannot it likewise find
those brighter, more cheerful, and universal sounds which correspond to
the ideal thinker?—a music which could rock itself at ease in the vast
floating vaults of the soul? So far our music has been so great and so
good; nothing seemed impossible to its powers. May it therefore prove
possible to create these three sensations at one time: sublimity, deep and
warm light, and rapture of the greatest possible consistency!


SLOW CURES.—Chronic illnesses of the soul, like those of the body, are
very rarely due to one gross offence against physical and mental reason,
but as a general rule they arise from innumerable and petty negligences of
a minor order.—A man, for example, whose breathing becomes a trifle weaker
every day, and whose lungs, by inhaling too little air, are deprived of
their proper amount of exercise, will end by being struck down by some
chronic disease of the lungs. The only remedy for cases like these is a
countless number of minor exercises of a contrary tendency—making it a
rule, for example, to take a long and deep breath every quarter of an
hour, lying flat on the ground if possible. For this purpose a clock which
strikes the quarters should be chosen as a lifelong companion.

All these remedies are slow and trifling; but yet the man who wishes to
cure his soul will carefully consider a change, even in his least
important habits. Many a man will utter a cold and angry word to his
surroundings ten times a day without thinking about it, and he will forget
that after a few years it will have become a regular habit with him to put
his surroundings out of temper ten times a day. But he can also acquire
the habit of doing good to them ten times.


ON THE SEVENTH DAY.—“You praise this as my creation? but I have only put
aside what was a burden to me! my soul is above the vanity of
creators.—You praise this as my resignation? but I have only stripped
myself of what had become burdensome! My soul is above the vanity of the
resigned ones!”


THE DONOR’S MODESTY.—There is such a want of generosity in always posing
as the donor and benefactor, and showing one’s face when doing so! But to
give and bestow, and at the same time to conceal one’s name and favour! or
not to have a name at all, like nature, in whom this fact is more
refreshing to us than anything else—here at last we no more meet with the
giver and bestower, no more with a “gracious countenance.”—It is true that
you have now forfeited even this comfort, for you have placed a God in
this nature—and now everything is once again fettered and oppressed! Well?
are we never to have the right of remaining alone with ourselves? are we
always to be watched, guarded, surrounded by leading strings and gifts? If
there is always some one round about us, the best part of courage and
kindness will ever remain impossible of attainment in this world. Are we
not tempted to fly to hell before this continual obtrusiveness of heaven,
this inevitable supernatural neighbour? Never mind, it was only a dream;
let us wake up!



_A._ What are you looking at? you have been standing here for a very long

_B._ Always the new and the old over again! the helplessness of a thing
urges me on to plunge into it so deeply that I end by penetrating to its
deepest depths, and perceive that in reality it is not worth so very much.
At the end of all experiences of this kind we meet with a kind of sorrow
and stupor. I experience this on a small scale several times a day.


A LOSS OF RENOWN.—What an advantage it is to be able to speak as a
stranger to mankind! When they take away our anonymity, and make us
famous, the gods deprive us of “half our virtue.”


DOUBLY PATIENT.—“By doing this you will hurt many people.”—I know that,
and I also know that I shall have to suffer for it doubly: in the first
place out of pity for their suffering, and secondly from the revenge they
will take on me. But in spite of this I cannot help doing what I do.


THE KINGDOM OF BEAUTY IS GREATER.—We move about in nature, cunning and
cheerful, in order that we may surprise everything in the beauty peculiar
to it; we make an effort, whether in sunshine or under a stormy sky, to
see a distant part of the coast with its rocks, bays, and olive and pine
trees under an aspect in which it achieves its perfection and
consummation. Thus also we should walk about among men as their
discoverers and explorers, meting out to them good and evil in order that
we may unveil the peculiar beauty which is seen with some in the sunshine,
in others under thunder-clouds, or with others again only in twilight and
under a rainy sky.

Are we then forbidden to enjoy the evil man like some savage landscape
which possesses its own bold and daring lines and luminous effects, while
this same man, so long as he behaves well, and in conformity with the law,
appears to us to be an error of drawing, and a mere caricature which
offends us like a defect in nature?—Yes, this is forbidden: for as yet we
have only been permitted to seek beauty in anything that is morally
good,—and this is sufficient to explain why we have found so little and
have been compelled to look for beauty without either flesh or bones!—in
the same way as evil men are familiar with innumerable kinds of happiness
which the virtuous never dream of, we may also find among them innumerable
types of beauty, many of them as yet undiscovered.


THE INHUMANITY OF THE SAGE.—The heavy and grinding progress of the sage,
who in the words of the Buddhist song, “Wanders lonely like the
rhinoceros,” now and again stands in need of proofs of a conciliatory and
softened humanity, and not only proofs of those accelerated steps, those
polite and sociable witticisms; not only of humour and a certain
self-mockery, but likewise of contradictions and occasional returns to the
predominating inconsistencies. In order that he may not resemble the heavy
roller that rolls along like fate, the sage who wishes to teach must take
advantage of his defects, and utilise them for his own adornment; and when
saying “despise me” he will implore permission to be the advocate of a
presumptuous truth.

This sage wishes to lead you to the mountains, and he will perhaps
endanger your life: therefore as the price of his enjoyment he willingly
authorises you to take your revenge either before or afterwards on such a
guide. Do you remember what thoughts came into your head when he once led
you to a gloomy cavern over a slippery path? Your distrustful heart beat
rapidly, and said inwardly, “This guide might surely do something better
than crawl about here! he is one of those idle people who are full of
curiosity—is it not doing him too much honour to appear to attach any
value at all to him by following him?”


MANY AT THE BANQUET.—How happy we are when we are fed like the birds by
the hand of some one who throws them their crumbs without examining them
too closely, or inquiring into their worthiness! To live like a bird which
comes and flies away, and does not carry its name on its beak! I take
great pleasure in satisfying my appetite at the banquet of the many.


ANOTHER TYPE OF LOVE FOR ONE’S NEIGHBOUR.—Everything that is agitated,
noisy, fitful, and nervous forms a contrast to the great passion which,
glowing in the heart of man like a quiet and gloomy flame, and gathering
about it all that is flaming and ardent, gives to man the appearance of
coldness and indifference, and stamps a certain impassiveness on his
features. Such men are occasionally capable of showing their love for
their neighbour, but this love is different from that of sociable people
who are anxious to please. It is a mild, contemplative, and calm
amiability: these people, as it were, look out of the windows of the
castle which serves them as a stronghold, and consequently as a prison;
for the outlook into the far distance, the open air, and a different world
is so pleasant for them!



_A._ But why are you not willing to justify yourself?

_B._ I could do it in this instance, as in dozens of others; but I despise
the pleasure which lies in justification, for all that matters little to
me, and I would rather bear a stained reputation than give those petty
folks the spiteful pleasure of saying, “He takes these things very
seriously.” This is not true. Perhaps I ought to have more consideration
for myself, and look upon it as a duty to rectify erroneous opinions about
myself—I am too indifferent and too indolent regarding myself, and
consequently also regarding everything that is brought about through my


WHERE TO BUILD ONE’S HOUSE.—If you feel great and productive in solitude,
society will belittle and isolate you, and _vice versa_. A powerful
mildness such as that of a father:—wherever this feeling takes possession
of you, _there_ build your house, whether in the midst of the multitude,
or on some silent spot. _Ubi pater sum, ibi patria._(14)


THE ONLY MEANS.—“Dialectic is the only means of reaching the divine
essence, and penetrating behind the veil of appearance.” This declaration
of Plato in regard to dialectic is as solemn and passionate as that of
Schopenhauer in regard to the contrary of dialectic—and both are wrong.
For that to which they wish to point out the way to us does not exist.—And
so far have not all the great passions of mankind been passions for
something non-existent?—and all their ceremonies—ceremonies for something
non-existent also?


BECOMING HEAVY.—You know him not; whatever weights he may attach to
himself he will nevertheless be able to raise them all with him. But you,
judging from the weak flapping of your own wings, come to the conclusion
that he wishes to remain below, merely because he does burden himself with
those weights.


and accumulation of experiences, events, opinions upon these experiences
and events, and dreams upon these opinions—a boundless and delightful
display of wealth! its aspect dazzles the eyes: I can no longer understand
how the poor in spirit can be called blessed! Occasionally, however, I
envy them when I am tired: for the superintendence of such vast wealth is
no easy task, and its weight frequently crushes all happiness.—Alas, if
only the mere sight of it were sufficient! If only we could be misers of
our knowledge!



_A._ Some men emerge from a general moral scepticism bad-tempered and
feeble, corroded, worm-eaten, and even partly consumed—but I on the other
hand, more courageous and healthier than ever, and with my instincts
conquered once more. Where a strong wind blows, where the waves are
rolling angrily, and where more than usual danger is to be faced, there I
feel happy. I did not become a worm, although I often had to work and dig
like a worm.

_B._ You have just ceased to be a sceptic; for you deny!

_A._ And in doing so I have learnt to say yea again.


LET US PASS BY.—Spare him! Leave him in his solitude! Do you wish to crush
him down entirely? He became cracked like a glass into which some hot
liquid was poured suddenly—and he was such a precious glass!


LOVE AND TRUTHFULNESS.—Through our love we have become dire offenders
against truth, and even habitual dissimulators and thieves, who give out
more things as true than seem to us to be true. On this account the
thinker must from time to time drive away those whom he loves (not
necessarily those who love him), so that they may show their sting and
wickedness, and cease to tempt him. Consequently the kindness of the
thinker will have its waning and waxing moon.


INEVITABLE.—No matter what your experience may be, any one who does not
feel well disposed towards you will find in this experience some pretext
for disparaging you! You may undergo the greatest possible revolutions of
mind and knowledge, and at length, with the melancholy smile of the
convalescent, you may be able to step out into freedom and bright
stillness, and yet some one will say: “This fellow looks upon his illness
as an argument, and takes his impotence to be a proof of the impotence of
all others—he is vain enough to fall ill that he may feel the superiority
of the sufferer.” And again, if somebody were to break the chains that
bound him down, and wounded himself severely in doing so, some one else
would point at him mockingly and cry: “How awkward he is! there is a man
who had got accustomed to his chains, and yet he is fool enough to burst
them asunder!”


TWO GERMANS.—If we compare Kant and Schopenhauer with Plato, Spinoza,
Pascal, Rousseau, and Goethe, with reference to their souls and not their
intellects, we shall see that the two first-named thinkers are at a
disadvantage: their thoughts do not constitute a passionate history of
their souls—we are not led to expect in them romance, crises,
catastrophies, or death struggles. Their thinking is not at the same time
the involuntary biography of a soul, but in the case of Kant merely of a
head; and in the case of Schopenhauer again merely the description and
reflection of a character (“the invariable”) and the pleasure which this
reflection causes, that is to say, the pleasure of meeting with an
intellect of the first order.

Kant, when he shimmers through his thoughts, appears to us as an honest
and honourable man in the best sense of the words, but likewise as an
insignificant one: he is wanting in breadth and power; he had not come
through many experiences, and his method of working did not allow him
sufficient time to undergo experiences. Of course, in speaking of
experiences, I do not refer to the ordinary external events of life, but
to those fatalities and convulsions which occur in the course of the most
solitary and quiet life which has some leisure and glows with the passion
for thinking. Schopenhauer has at all events one advantage over him; for
he at least was distinguished by a certain fierce ugliness of disposition,
which showed itself in hatred, desire, vanity, and suspicion: he was of a
rather more ferocious disposition, and had both time and leisure to
indulge this ferocity. But he lacked “development,” which was also wanting
in his range of thought: he had no “history.”


SEEKING ONE’S COMPANY.—Are we then looking for too much when we seek the
company of men who have grown mild, agreeable to the taste, and nutritive,
like chestnuts which have been put into the fire and taken out just at the
right moment? Of men who expect little from life, and prefer to accept
this little as a present rather than as a merit of their own, as if it
were carried to them by birds and bees? Of men who are too proud ever to
feel themselves rewarded, and too serious in their passion for knowledge
and honesty to have time for or pleasure in fame? Such men we should call
philosophers; but they themselves will always find some more modest



_A._ Seek for knowledge! Yes! but always as a man! What? must I always be
a spectator of the same comedy, and always play a part in the same comedy,
without ever being able to observe things with other eyes than those? and
yet there may be countless types of beings whose organs are better adapted
for knowledge than ours! At the end of all their searching for knowledge
what will men at length come to know? Their organs! which perhaps is as
much as to say: the impossibility of knowledge! misery and disgust!

_B._ This is a bad attack you have—reason is attacking you! to-morrow,
however, you will again be in the midst of knowledge, and hence of
irrationality—that is to say, delighted about all that is human. Let us go
to the sea!


GOING OUR OWN WAY.—When we take the decisive step, and make up our minds
to follow our own path, a secret is suddenly revealed to us: it is clear
that all those who had hitherto been friendly to us and on intimate terms
with us judged themselves to be superior to us, and are offended now. The
best among them are indulgent, and are content to wait patiently until we
once more find the “right path”—they know it, apparently. Others make fun
of us, and pretend that we have been seized with a temporary attack of
mild insanity, or spitefully point out some seducer. The more malicious
say we are vain fools, and do their best to blacken our motives; while the
worst of all see in us their greatest enemy, some one who is thirsting for
revenge after many years of dependence,—and are afraid of us. What, then,
are we to do? My own opinion is that we should begin our sovereignty by
promising to all our acquaintances in advance a whole year’s amnesty for
sins of every kind.



_A._ But why this solitude?

_B._ I am not angry with anybody. But when I am alone it seems to me that
I can see my friends in a clearer and rosier light than when I am with
them; and when I loved and felt music best I lived far from it. It would
seem that I must have distant perspectives in order that I may think well
of things.


GOLD AND HUNGER.—Here and there we meet with a man who changes into gold
everything that he touches. But some fine evil day he will discover that
he himself must starve through this gift of his. Everything around him is
brilliant, superb, and unapproachable in its ideal beauty, and now he
eagerly longs for things which it is impossible for him to turn into
gold—and how intense is this longing! like that of a starving man for a
meal! Query: What will he seize?


SHAME.—Look at that noble steed pawing the ground, snorting, longing for a
ride, and loving its accustomed rider—but, shameful to relate, the rider
cannot mount to-day, he is tired.—Such is the shame felt by the weary
thinker in the presence of his own philosophy!


AGAINST THE WASTE OF LOVE.—Do we not blush when we surprise ourselves in a
state of violent aversion? Well, then, we should also blush when we find
ourselves possessed of strong affections on account of the injustice
contained in them. More: there are people who feel their hearts weighed
down and oppressed when some one gives them the benefit of his love and
sympathy to the extent that he deprives others of a share. The tone of his
voice reveals to us the fact that we have been specially selected and
preferred! but, alas! I am not thankful for being thus selected: I
experience within myself a certain feeling of resentment against him who
wishes to distinguish me in this way—he shall not love me at the expense
of others! I shall always try to look after myself and to endure myself,
and my heart is often filled to overflowing, and with some reason. To such
a man nothing ought to be given of which others stand so greatly in need.


FRIENDS IN NEED.—We may occasionally remark that one of our friends
sympathises with another more than with us. His delicacy is troubled
thereby, and his selfishness is not equal to the task of breaking down his
feelings of affection: in such a case we should facilitate the separation
for him, and estrange him in some way in order to widen the distance
between us.—This is also necessary when we fall into a habit of thinking
which might be detrimental to him: our affection for him should induce us
to ease his conscience in separating himself from us by means of some
injustice which we voluntarily take upon ourselves.


THOSE PETTY TRUTHS.—“You know all that, but you have never lived through
it—so I will not accept your evidence. Those ‘petty truths’—you deem them
petty because you have not paid for them with your blood!”—But are they
really great, simply because they have been bought at so high a price? and
blood is always too high a price!—“Do you really think so? How stingy you
are with your blood!”



_A._ So you wish to go back to your desert?

_B._ I am not a quick thinker; I must wait for myself a long time—it is
always later and later before the water from the fountain of my own ego
spurts forth, and I have often to go thirsty longer than suits my
patience. That is why I retire into solitude in order that I may not have
to drink from the common cisterns. When I live in the midst of the
multitude my life is like theirs, and I do not think like myself; but
after some time it always seems to me as if the multitude wished to banish
me from myself and to rob me of my soul. Then I get angry with all these
people, and afraid of them; and I must have the desert to become well
disposed again.



_A._ I can no longer understand myself! It was only yesterday that I felt
myself so tempestuous and ardent, and at the same time so warm and sunny
and exceptionally bright! but to-day! Now everything is calm, wide,
oppressive, and dark like the lagoon at Venice. I wish for nothing, and
draw a deep breath, and yet I feel inwardly indignant at this “wish for
nothing”—so the waves rise and fall in the ocean of my melancholy.

_B._ You describe a petty, agreeable illness. The next wind from the
north-east will blow it away.

_A._ Why so?



_A._ No thinker’s thoughts give me so much pleasure as my own: this, of
course, proves nothing in favour of their value; but I should be foolish
to neglect fruits which are tasteful to me only because they happen to
grow on my own tree!—and I was once such a fool.

_B._ Others have the contrary feeling: which likewise proves nothing in
favour of their thoughts, nor yet is it any argument against their value.


THE LAST ARGUMENT OF THE BRAVE MAN.—There are snakes in this little clump
of trees.—Very well, I will rush into the thicket and kill them.—But by
doing that you will run the risk of falling a victim to them, and not they
to you.—But what do I matter?


OUR TEACHERS.—During our period of youth we select our teachers and guides
from our own times, and from those circles which we happen to meet with:
we have the thoughtless conviction that the present age must have teachers
who will suit us better than any others, and that we are sure to find them
without having to look very far. Later on we find that we have to pay a
heavy penalty for this childishness: we have to expiate our teachers in
ourselves, and then perhaps we begin to look for the proper guides. We
look for them throughout the whole world, including even present and past
ages—but perhaps it may be too late, and at the worst we discover that
they lived when we were young—and that at that time we lost our


THE EVIL PRINCIPLE.—Plato has marvellously described how the philosophic
thinker must necessarily be regarded as the essence of depravity in the
midst of every existing society: for as the critic of all its morals he is
naturally the antagonist of the moral man, and, unless he succeeds in
becoming the legislator of new morals, he lives long in the memory of men
as an instance of the “evil principle.” From this we may judge to how
great an extent the city of Athens, although fairly liberal and fond of
innovations, abused the reputation of Plato during his lifetime. What
wonder then that he—who, as he has himself recorded, had the “political
instinct” in his body—made three different attempts in Sicily, where at
that time a united Mediterranean Greek State appeared to be in process of

It was in this State, and with its assistance, that Plato thought he could
do for the Greeks what Mohammed did for the Arabs several centuries later:
viz. establishing both minor and more important customs, and especially
regulating the daily life of every man. His ideas were quite practicable
just as certainly as those of Mohammed were practicable; for even much
more incredible ideas, those of Christianity, proved themselves to be
practicable! a few hazards less and a few hazards more—and then the world
would have witnessed the Platonisation of Southern Europe; and, if we
suppose that this state of things had continued to our own days, we should
probably be worshipping Plato now as the “good principle.” But he was
unsuccessful, and so his traditional character remains that of a dreamer
and a Utopian—stronger epithets than these passed away with ancient


THE PURIFYING EYE.—We have the best reason for speaking of “genius” in
men—for example, Plato, Spinoza, and Goethe—whose minds appear to be but
loosely linked to their character and temperament, like winged beings
which easily separate themselves from them, and then rise far above them.
On the other hand, those who never succeeded in cutting themselves loose
from their temperament, and who knew how to give to it the most
intellectual, lofty, and at times even cosmic expression (Schopenhauer,
for instance) have always been very fond of speaking about their genius.

These geniuses could not rise above themselves, but they believed that,
fly where they would, they would always find and recover themselves—this
is their “greatness,” and this can be greatness!—The others who are
entitled to this name possess the pure and purifying eye which does not
seem to have sprung out of their temperament and character, but separately
from them, and generally in contradiction to them, and looks out upon the
world as on a God whom it loves. But even people like these do not come
into possession of such an eye all at once: they require practice and a
preliminary school of sight, and he who is really fortunate will at the
right moment also fall in with a teacher of pure sight.


NEVER DEMAND!—You do not know him! it is true that he easily and readily
submits both to men and things, and that he is kind to both—his only wish
is to be left in peace—but only in so far as men and things do not
_demand_ his submission. Any demand makes him proud, bashful, and warlike.


THE EVIL ONE.—“Only the solitary are evil!”—thus spake Diderot, and
Rousseau at once felt deeply offended. Thus he proved that Diderot was
right. Indeed, in society, or amid social life, every evil instinct is
compelled to restrain itself, to assume so many masks, and to press itself
so often into the Procrustean bed of virtue, that we are quite justified
in speaking of the martyrdom of the evil man. In solitude, however, all
this disappears. The evil man is still more evil in solitude—and
consequently for him whose eye sees only a drama everywhere he is also
more beautiful.


AGAINST THE GRAIN.—A thinker may for years at a time force himself to
think against the grain: that is, not to pursue the thoughts that spring
up within him, but, instead, those which he is compelled to follow by the
exigencies of his office, an established division of time, or any
arbitrary duty which he may find it necessary to fulfil. In the long run,
however, he will fall ill; for this apparently moral self-command will
destroy his nervous system as thoroughly and completely as regular


MORTAL SOULS.—Where knowledge is concerned perhaps the most useful
conquest that has ever been made is the abandonment of the belief in the
immortality of the soul. Humanity is henceforth at liberty to wait: men
need no longer be in a hurry to swallow badly-tested ideas as they had to
do in former times. For in those times the salvation of this poor
“immortal soul” depended upon the extent of the knowledge which could be
acquired in the course of a short existence: decisions had to be reached
from one day to another, and “knowledge” was a matter of dreadful

Now we have acquired good courage for errors, experiments, and the
provisional acceptance of ideas—all this is not so very important!—and for
this very reason individuals and whole races may now face tasks so vast in
extent that in former years they would have looked like madness, and
defiance of heaven and hell. Now we have the right to experiment upon
ourselves! Yes, men have the right to do so! the greatest sacrifices have
not yet been offered up to knowledge—nay, in earlier periods it would have
been sacrilege, and a sacrifice of our eternal salvation, even to surmise
such ideas as now precede our actions.


ONE WORD FOR THREE DIFFERENT CONDITIONS.—When in a state of passion one
man will be forced to let loose the savage, dreadful, unbearable animal.
Another when under the influence of passion will raise himself to a high,
noble, and lofty demeanour, in comparison with which his usual self
appears petty. A third, whose whole person is permeated with nobility of
feeling, has also the most noble storm and stress: and in this state he
represents Nature in her state of savageness and beauty, and stands only
one degree lower than Nature in her periods of greatness and serenity,
which he usually represents. It is while in this state of passion,
however, that men understand him better, and venerate him more highly at
these moments—for then he is one step nearer and more akin to them. They
feel at once delighted and horrified at such a sight and call it—divine.


FRIENDSHIP.—The objection to a philosophic life that it renders us useless
to our friends would never have arisen in a modern mind: it belongs rather
to classical antiquity. Antiquity knew the stronger bonds of friendship,
meditated upon it, and almost took it to the grave with it. This is the
advantage it has over us: we, on the other hand, can point to our
idealisation of sexual love. All the great excellencies of ancient
humanity owed their stability to the fact that man was standing side by
side with man, and that no woman was allowed to put forward the claim of
being the nearest and highest, nay even sole object of his love, as the
feeling of passion would teach. Perhaps our trees do not grow so high now
owing to the ivy and the vines that cling round them.


RECONCILIATION.—Should it then be the task of philosophy to reconcile what
the child has learnt with what the man has come to recognise? Should
philosophy be the task of young men because they stand midway between
child and man and possess intermediate necessities? It would almost appear
to be so if you consider at what ages of their life philosophers are now
in the habit of setting forth their conceptions: at a time when it is too
late for faith and too early for knowledge.


PRACTICAL PEOPLE.—We thinkers have the right of deciding good taste in all
things, and if necessary of decreeing it. The practical people finally
receive it from us: their dependence upon us is incredibly great, and is
one of the most ridiculous spectacles in the world, little though they
themselves know it and however proudly they like to carp at us unpractical
people. Nay, they would even go so far as to belittle their practical life
if we should show a tendency to despise it—whereto at times we might be
urged on by a slightly vindictive feeling.


work exactly in the spirit of the age that has produced it? but we
experience greater delight and surprise, and get more information out of
it when we do not conceive it in this spirit! Have you not remarked that
every new and good work, so long as it is exposed to the damp air of its
own age is least valuable—just because it still has about it all the odour
of the market, of opposition, of modern ideas, and of all that is
transient from day to day? Later on, however, it dries up, its “actuality”
dies away: and then only does it obtain its deep lustre and its
perfume—and also, if it is destined for it, the calm eye of eternity.


AGAINST THE TYRANNY OF TRUTH.—Even if we were mad enough to consider all
our opinions as truth, we should nevertheless not wish them alone to
exist. I cannot see why we should ask for an autocracy and omnipotence of
truth: it is sufficient for me to know that it is a great power. Truth,
however, must meet with opposition and be able to fight, and we must be
able to rest from it at times in falsehood—otherwise truth will grow
tiresome, powerless, and insipid, and will render us equally so.


NOT TO TAKE A THING PATHETICALLY.—What we do to benefit ourselves should
not bring us in any moral praise, either from others or from ourselves,
and the same remark applies to those things which we do to please
ourselves. It is looked upon as _bon ton_ among superior men to refrain
from taking things pathetically in such cases, and to refrain from all
pathetic feelings: the man who has accustomed himself to this has
retrieved his _naïveté_.


THE THIRD EYE.—What! You are still in need of the theatre! are you still
so young? Be wise, and seek tragedy and comedy where they are better
acted, and where the incidents are more interesting, and the actors more
eager. It is indeed by no means easy to be merely a spectator in these
cases—but learn! and then, amid all difficult or painful situations, you
will have a little gate leading to joy and refuge, even when your passions
attack you. Open your stage eye, that big third eye of yours, which looks
out into the world through the other two.


ESCAPING FROM ONE’S VIRTUES.—Of what account is a thinker who does not
know how to escape from his own virtues occasionally! Surely a thinker
should be more than “a moral being”!


THE TEMPTRESS.—Honesty is the great temptress of all fanatics.(15) What
seemed to tempt Luther in the guise of the devil or a beautiful woman, and
from which he defended himself in that uncouth way of his, was probably
nothing but honesty, and perhaps in a few rarer cases even truth.


BOLD TOWARDS THINGS.—The man who, in accordance with his character, is
considerate and timid towards persons, but is courageous and bold towards
things, is afraid of new and closer acquaintances, and limits his old ones
in order that he may thus make his incognito and his inconsiderateness
coincide with truth.


LIMITS AND BEAUTY.—Are you looking for men with a fine culture? Then you
will have to be satisfied with restricted views and sights, exactly as
when you are looking for fine countries.—There are, of course, such
panoramic men: they are like panoramic regions, instructive and
marvellous: but not beautiful.


TO THE STRONGER.—Ye stronger and arrogant intellects, we ask you for only
one thing: throw no further burdens upon our shoulders, but take some of
our burdens upon your own, since ye are stronger! but ye delight in doing
the exact contrary: for ye wish to soar, so that we must carry your burden
in addition to our own—we must crawl!


THE INCREASE OF BEAUTY.—Why has beauty increased by the progress of
civilisation? because the three occasions for ugliness appear ever more
rarely among civilised men: first, the wildest outbursts of ecstasy;
secondly, extreme bodily exertion, and, thirdly, the necessity of inducing
fear by one’s very sight and presence—a matter which is so frequent and of
so great importance in the lower and more dangerous stages of culture that
it even lays down the proper gestures and ceremonials and makes ugliness a


to hold the belief that benevolence and beneficence are the
characteristics of a good man; but let us not fail to add “provided that
in the first place he exhibits his benevolence and beneficence towards
himself.” For if he acts otherwise—that is to say, if he shuns, hates, or
injures himself—he is certainly not a good man. He then merely saves
himself through others: and let these others take care that they do not
come to grief through him, however well disposed he may appear to be to
them!—but to shun and hate one’s own ego, and to live in and for others,
this has up to the present, with as much thoughtlessness as conviction,
been looked upon as “unselfish,” and consequently as “good.”


TEMPTING INTO LOVE.—We ought to fear a man who hates himself; for we are
liable to become the victims of his anger and revenge. Let us therefore
try to tempt him into self-love.


RESIGNATION.—What is resignation? It is the most comfortable position of a
patient, who, after having suffered a long time from tormenting pains in
order to find it, at last became tired—and then found it.


DECEPTION.—When you wish to act you must close the door upon doubt, said a
man of action.—And are you not afraid of being deceived in doing so?
replied the man of a contemplative mind.


ETERNAL OBSEQUIES.—Both within and beyond the confines of history we might
imagine that we were listening to a continual funeral oration: we have
buried, and are still burying, all that we have loved best, our thoughts,
and our hopes, receiving in exchange pride, _gloria mundi_—that is, the
pomp of the graveside speech. It is thus that everything is made good!
Even at the present time the funeral orator remains the greatest public


EXCEPTIONAL VANITY.—Yonder man possesses one great quality which serves as
a consolation for him: his look passes with contempt over the remainder of
his being, and almost his entire character is included in this. But he
recovers from himself when, as it were, he approaches his sanctuary;
already the road leading to it appears to him to be an ascent on broad
soft steps—and yet, ye cruel ones, ye call him vain on this account!


WISDOM WITHOUT EARS.—To hear every day what is said about us, or even to
endeavour to discover what people think of us, will in the end kill even
the strongest man. Our neighbours permit us to live only that they may
exercise a daily claim upon us! They certainly would not tolerate us if we
wished to claim rights over them, and still less if we wished to be right!
In short, let us offer up a sacrifice to the general peace, let us not
listen when they speak of us, when they praise us, blame us, wish for us,
or hope for us—nay, let us not even think of it.


A QUESTION OF PENETRATION.—When we are confronted with any manifestation
which some one has permitted us to see, we may ask: what is it meant to
conceal? What is it meant to draw our attention from? What prejudices does
it seek to raise? and again, how far does the subtlety of the
dissimulation go? and in what respect is the man mistaken?


THE JEALOUSY OF THE LONELY ONES.—This is the difference between sociable
and solitary natures, provided that both possess an intellect: the former
are satisfied, or nearly satisfied, with almost anything whatever; from
the moment that their minds have discovered a communicable and happy
version of it they will be reconciled even with the devil himself! But the
lonely souls have their silent rapture, and their speechless agony about a
thing: they hate the ingenious and brilliant display of their inmost
problems as much as they dislike to see the women they love too loudly
dressed—they watch her mournfully in such a case, as if they were just
beginning to suspect that she was desirous of pleasing others. This is the
jealousy which all lonely thinkers and passionate dreamers exhibit with
regard to the _esprit_.


THE EFFECT OF PRAISE.—Some people become modest when highly praised,
others insolent.


UNWILLING TO BE A SYMBOL.—I sympathise with princes: they are not at
liberty to discard their high rank even for a short time, and thus they
come to know people only from the very uncomfortable position of constant
dissimulation—their continual compulsion to represent something actually
ends by making solemn ciphers of them.—Such is the fate of all those who
deem it their duty to be symbols.


THE HIDDEN MEN.—Have you never come across those people who check and
restrain even their enraptured hearts, and who would rather become mute
than lose the modesty of moderation? and have you never met those
embarrassing, and yet so often good-natured people who do not wish to be
recognised, and who time and again efface the tracks they have made in the
sand? and who even deceive others as well as themselves in order to remain
obscure and hidden?


UNUSUAL FORBEARANCE.—It is often no small indication of kindness to be
unwilling to criticise some one, and even to refuse to think of him.


HOW MEN AND NATIONS GAIN LUSTRE.—How many really individual actions are
left undone merely because before performing them we perceive or suspect
that they will be misunderstood!—those actions, for example, which have
some intrinsic value, both in good and evil. The more highly an age or a
nation values its individuals, therefore, and the more right and
ascendancy we accord them, the more will actions of this kind venture to
make themselves known,—and thus in the long run a lustre of honesty, of
genuineness in good and evil, will spread over entire ages and nations, so
that they—the Greeks, for example—like certain stars, will continue to
shed light for thousands of years after their sinking.


DIGRESSIONS OF THE THINKER.—The course of thought in certain men is strict
and inflexibly bold. At times it is even cruel towards such men, although
considered individually they may be gentle and pliable. With well-meaning
hesitation they will turn the matter ten times over in their heads, but
will at length continue their strict course. They are like streams that
wind their way past solitary hermitages: there are places in their course
where the stream plays hide and seek with itself, and indulges in short
idylls with islets, trees, grottos, and cascades—and then it rushes ahead
once more, passes by the rocks, and forces its way through the hardest


DIFFERENT FEELINGS TOWARDS ART.—From the time when we begin to live as a
hermit, consuming and consumed, our only company being deep and prolific
thoughts, we expect from art either nothing more, or else something quite
different from what we formerly expected—in a word, we change our taste.
For in former times we wished to penetrate for a moment by means of art
into the element in which we are now living permanently: at that time we
dreamt ourselves into the rapture of a possession which we now actually
possess. Indeed, flinging away from us for the time being what we now
have, and imagining ourselves to be poor, or to be a child, a beggar, or a
fool, may now at times fill us with delight.


“LOVE EQUALISES.”—Love wishes to spare the other to whom it devotes itself
any feeling of strangeness: as a consequence it is permeated with disguise
and simulation; it keeps on deceiving continuously, and feigns an equality
which in reality does not exist. And all this is done so instinctively
that women who love deny this simulation and constant tender trickery, and
have even the audacity to assert that love equalises (in other words that
it performs a miracle)!

This phenomenon is a simple matter if one of the two permits himself or
herself to be loved, and does not deem it necessary to feign, but leaves
this to the other. No drama, however, could offer a more intricate and
confused instance than when both persons are passionately in love with one
another; for in this case both are anxious to surrender and to endeavour
to conform to the other, and finally they are both at a loss to know what
to imitate and what to feign. The beautiful madness of this spectacle is
too good for this world, and too subtle for human eyes.


WE BEGINNERS.—How many things does an actor see and divine when he watches
another on the stage! He notices at once when a muscle fails in some
gesture; he can distinguish those little artificial tricks which are so
calmly practised separately before the mirror, and are not in conformity
with the whole; he feels when the actor is surprised on the stage by his
own invention, and when he spoils it amid this surprise.—How differently,
again, does a painter look at some one who happens to be moving before
him! He will see a great deal that does not actually exist in order to
complete the actual appearance of the person, and to give it its full
effect. In his mind he attempts several different illuminations of the
same object, and divides the whole by an additional contrast.—Oh, that we
now possessed the eyes of such an actor and such a painter for the
province of the human soul!


SMALL DOSES.—If we wish a change to be as deep and radical as possible, we
must apply the remedy in minute doses, but unremittingly for long periods.
What great action can be performed all at once? Let us therefore be
careful not to exchange violently and precipitately the moral conditions
with which we are familiar for a new valuation of things,—nay, we may even
wish to continue living in the old way for a long time to come, until
probably at some very remote period we become aware of the fact that the
new valuation has made itself the predominating power within us, and that
its minute doses to which we must henceforth become accustomed have set up
a new nature within us.—We now also begin to understand that the last
attempt at a great change of valuations—that which concerned itself with
political affairs (the “great revolution”)—was nothing more than a
pathetic and sanguinary piece of quackery which, by means of sudden
crises, was able to inspire a credulous Europe with the hope of a sudden
recovery, and has therefore made all political invalids impatient and
dangerous up to this very moment.


TRUTH REQUIRES POWER.—Truth in itself is no power at all, in spite of all
that flattering rationalists are in the habit of saying to the contrary.
Truth must either attract power to its side, or else side with power, for
otherwise it will perish again and again. This has already been
sufficiently demonstrated, and more than sufficiently!


THE THUMBSCREW.—It is disgusting to observe with what cruelty every one
charges his two or three private virtues to the account of others who may
perhaps not possess them, and whom he torments and worries with them. Let
us therefore deal humanely with the “sense of honesty,” although we may
possess in it a thumbscrew with which we can worry to death all these
presumptuous egoists who even yet wish to impose their own beliefs upon
the whole world—we have tried this thumbscrew on ourselves!


MASTERY.—We have reached mastery when we neither mistake nor hesitate in
the achievement.


THE MORAL INSANITY OF GENIUS.—In a certain category of great intellects we
may observe a painful and partly horrible spectacle: in their most
productive moments their flights aloft and into the far distance appear to
be out of harmony with their general constitution and to exceed their
power in one way or another, so that each time there remains a deficiency,
and also in the long run a defectiveness in the entire machinery, which
latter is manifested among those highly intellectual natures by various
kinds of moral and intellectual symptoms more regularly than by conditions
of bodily distress.

Thus those incomprehensible characteristics of their nature—all their
timidity, vanity, hatefulness, envy, their narrow and narrowing
disposition—and that too personal and awkward element in natures like
those of Rousseau and Schopenhauer, may very well be the consequences of a
periodical attack of heart disease; and this in its turn may be the result
of a nervous complaint, and this latter the consequence of ——(16)

So long as genius dwells within us we are full of audacity, yea, almost
mad, and heedless of health, life, and honour; we fly through the day as
free and swift as an eagle, and in the darkness we feel as confident as an
owl.—But let genius once leave us and we are instantly overcome by a
feeling of the most profound despondency: we can no longer understand
ourselves; we suffer from everything that we experience and do not
experience; we feel as if we were in the midst of shelterless rocks with
the tempest raging round us, and we are at the same time like pitiful
childish souls, afraid of a rustle or a shadow.—Three-fourths of all the
evil committed in the world is due to timidity; and this is above all a
physiological process.


DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT?—Have you never been troubled by the fear that
you might not be at all fitted for recognising what is true? by the fear
that your senses might be too dull, and even your delicacy of sight far
too blunt? If you could only perceive, even once, to what extent your
volition dominates your sight! How, for example, you wished yesterday to
see more than some one else, while to-day you wish to see it differently!
and how from the start you were anxious to see something which would be in
conformity with or in opposition to anything that people thought they had
observed up to the present. Oh, those shameful cravings! How often you
keep your eyes open for what is efficacious, for what is soothing, just
because you happen to be tired at the moment! Always full of secret
predeterminations of what truth should be like, so that you—you,
forsooth!—might accept it! or do you think that to-day, because you are as
frozen and dry as a bright winter morning, and because nothing is weighing
on your mind, you have better eyesight! Are not ardour and enthusiasm
necessary to do justice to the creations of thought?—and this indeed is
what is called sight! as if you could treat matters of thought any
differently from the manner in which you treat men. In all relations with
thought there is the same morality, the same honesty of purpose, the same
_arrière-pensée_, the same slackness, the same faint-heartedness—your
whole lovable and hateful self! Your physical exhaustion will lend the
things pale colours whilst your feverishness will turn them into monsters!
Does not your morning show the things in a different light from the
evening? Are you not afraid of finding in the cave of all knowledge your
own phantom, the veil in which truth is wrapped up and hidden from your
sight? Is it not a dreadful comedy in which you so thoughtlessly wish to
take part?


LEARNING.—Michelangelo considered Raphael’s genius as having been acquired
by study, and upon his own as a natural gift: learning as opposed to
talent; though this is mere pedantry, with all due respect to the great
pedant himself. For what is talent but a name for an older piece of
learning, experience, exercise, appropriation, and incorporation, perhaps
as far back as the times of our ancestors, or even earlier! And again: he
who learns forms his own talents, only learning is not such an easy matter
and depends not only upon our willingness, but also upon our being able to
learn at all.

Jealousy often prevents this in an artist, or that pride which, when it
experiences any strange feeling, at once assumes an attitude of defence
instead of an attitude of scholarly receptiveness. Raphael, like Goethe,
lacked this pride, on which account they were great learners, and not
merely the exploiters of those quarries which had been formed by the
manifold genealogy of their forefathers. Raphael vanishes before our eyes
as a learner in the midst of that assimilation of what his great rival
called _his_ “nature”: this noblest of all thieves daily carried off a
portion of it; but before he had appropriated all the genius of
Michelangelo he died—and the final series of his works, because it is the
beginning of a new plan of study, is less perfect and good, for the simple
reason that the great student was interrupted by death in the midst of his
most difficult task, and took away with him that justifying and final goal
which he had in view.


HOW WE SHOULD TURN TO STONE.—By slowly, very, very slowly, becoming hard
like a precious stone, and at last lie still, a joy to all eternity.


THE PHILOSOPHER AND OLD AGE.—It is not wise to permit evening to act as a
judge of the day; for only too often in this case weariness becomes the
judge of success and good will. We should also take the greatest
precautions in regard to everything connected with old age and its
judgment upon life, more especially since old age, like the evening, is
fond of assuming a new and charming morality, and knows well enough how to
humiliate the day by the glow of the evening skies, twilight and a
peaceful and wistful silence. The reverence which we feel for an old man,
especially if he is an old thinker and sage, easily blinds us to the
deterioration of his intellect, and it is always necessary to bring to
light the hidden symptoms of such a deterioration and lassitude, that is
to say, to uncover the physiological phenomenon which is still concealed
behind the old man’s moral judgments and prejudices, in case we should be
deceived by our veneration for him, and do something to the disadvantage
of knowledge. For it is not seldom that the illusion of a great moral
renovation and regeneration takes possession of the old man. Basing his
views upon this, he then proceeds to express his opinions on the work and
development of his life as if he had only then for the first time become
clearsighted—and nevertheless it is not wisdom, but fatigue, which prompts
his present state of well-being and his positive judgments.

The most dangerous indication of this weariness is above all the belief in
genius, which as a rule only arises in great and semi-great men of
intellect at this period of their lives: the belief in an exceptional
position, and exceptional rights. The thinker who thus believes himself to
be inspired by genius henceforth deems it permissible for him to take
things more easily, and takes advantage of his position as a genius to
decree rather than to prove. It is probable, however, that the need felt
by the weary intellect for alleviation is the main source of this
belief—it precedes it in time, though appearances may indicate the

At this time too, as the result of the love which all weary and old people
feel for enjoyment, such men as those I am speaking of wish to enjoy the
results of their thinking instead of again testing them and scattering the
seeds abroad once more. This leads them to make their thoughts palatable
and enjoyable, and to take away their dryness, coldness, and want of
flavour; and thus it comes about that the old thinker apparently raises
himself above his life’s work, while in reality he spoils it by infusing
into it a certain amount of fantasy, sweetness, flavour, poetic mists, and
mystic lights. This is how Plato ended, as did also that great and honest
Frenchman, Auguste Comte, who, as a conqueror of the exact sciences,
cannot be matched either among the Germans or the Englishmen of this

There is a third symptom of fatigue: that ambition which actuated the
great thinker when he was young, and which could not then find anything to
satisfy it, has also grown old, and, like one that has no more time to
lose, it begins to snatch at the coarser and more immediate means of its
gratification, means which are peculiar to active, dominating, violent,
and conquering dispositions. From this time onwards the thinker wishes to
found institutions which shall bear his name, instead of erecting mere
brain-structures. What are now to him the ethereal victories and honours
to be met with in the realm of proofs and refutations, or the perpetuation
of his fame in books, or the thrill of exultation in the soul of the
reader? But the institution, on the other hand, is a temple, as he well
knows—a temple of stone, a durable edifice, which will keep its god alive
with more certainty than the sacrifices of rare and tender souls.(17)

Perhaps, too, at this period of his life the old thinker will for the
first time meet with that love which is fitted for a god rather than for a
human being, and his whole nature becomes softened and sweetened in the
rays of such a sun, like fruit in autumn. Yes, he grows more divine and
beautiful, this great old man,—and nevertheless it is old age and
weariness which permit him to ripen in this way, to grow more silent, and
to repose in the luminous adulation of a woman. Now it is all up with his
former desire—a desire which was superior even to his own ego—for real
disciples, followers who would carry on his thought, that is, true
opponents. This desire arose from his hitherto undiminished energy, the
conscious pride he felt in being able at any time to become an opponent
himself,—nay, even the deadly enemy of his own doctrine,—but now his
desire is for resolute partisans, unwavering comrades, auxiliary forces,
heralds, a pompous train of followers. He is now no longer able to bear
that dreadful isolation in which every intellect that advances beyond the
others is compelled to live. From this time forward he surrounds himself
with objects of veneration, companionship, tenderness, and love; but he
also wishes to enjoy the privileges of all religious people, and to
worship what he venerates most highly in his little community—he will even
go as far as to invent a religion for the purpose of having a community.

Thus lives the wise old man, and in living thus he falls almost
imperceptibly into such a deplorable proximity to priestly and poetic
extravagances that it is difficult to recollect all his wise and severe
period of youth, the former rigid morality of his mind, and his truly
virile dread of fancies and misplaced enthusiasm. When he was formerly in
the habit of comparing himself with the older thinkers, he did so merely
that he might measure his weakness against their strength, and that he
might become colder and more audacious towards himself; but now he only
makes this comparison to intoxicate himself with his own delusions.
Formerly he looked forward with confidence to future thinkers, and he even
took a delight in imagining himself to be cast into the shade by their
brighter light. Now, however, he is mortified to think that he cannot be
the last: he endeavours to discover some way of imposing upon mankind,
together with the inheritance which he is leaving to them, a restriction
of sovereign thinking. He fears and reviles the pride and the love of
freedom of individual minds: after him no one must allow his intellect to
govern with absolute unrestriction: he himself wishes to remain for ever
the bulwark on which the waves of ideas may break—these are his secret
wishes, and perhaps, indeed, they are not always secret.

The hard fact upon which such wishes are based, however, is that he
himself has come to a halt before his teaching, and has set up his
boundary stone, his “thus far and no farther.” In canonising himself he
has drawn up his own death warrant: from now on his mind cannot develop
further. His race is run; the hour-hand stops. Whenever a great thinker
tries to make himself a lasting institution for posterity, we may readily
suppose that he has passed the climax of his powers, and is very tired,
very near the setting of his sun.


even noble enthusiasts, I know you! You wish to seem right in our eyes as
well as in your own, but especially in your own!—and an irritable and
subtle evil conscience so often spurs you on against your very enthusiasm!
How ingenious you then become in deceiving your conscience, and lulling it
to sleep! How you hate honest, simple, and clean souls; how you avoid
their innocent glances! That better knowledge whose representatives they
are, and whose voice you hear only too distinctly within yourselves when
it questions your belief,—how you try to cast suspicion upon it as a bad
habit, as a disease of the age, as the neglect and infection of your own
intellectual health! It drives you on to hate even criticism, science,
reason! You must falsify history to make it testify in your favour; you
must deny virtues in case they should obscure those of your own idols and

Coloured images where arguments are needed! Ardour and power of
expression! Silver mists! Ambrosian nights! well do you know how to
enlighten and to darken—to darken by means of light! and indeed when your
passion can no longer be kept within bounds the moment comes when you say
to yourselves, “Now I have won for myself a good conscience, now I am
exalted, courageous, self-denying, magnanimous; now I am honest!” How you
long for these moments when your passion will confer upon you full and
absolute rights, and also, as it were, innocence. How happy you are when
engaged in battle and inspired with ecstasy or courage, when you are
elated beyond yourself, when gnawing doubt has left you, and when you can
even decree: “Any man who is not in ecstasy as we are cannot by any chance
know what or where truth is.” How you long to meet with those who share
your belief in this state—which is a state of intellectual depravity—and
to set your own fire alight with their flames! Oh, for your martyrdom,
your victory of the sanctified lie! Must you really inflict so much pain
upon yourselves?—_Must_ you?


HOW PHILOSOPHY IS NOW PRACTISED.—I can see quite well that our
philosophising youths, women, and artists require from philosophy exactly
the opposite of what the Greeks derived from it. What does he who does not
hear the continual exultation that resounds through every speech and
counter-argument in a Platonic dialogue, this exultation over the new
invention of rational thinking, know about Plato or about ancient
philosophy? At that time souls were filled with enthusiasm when they gave
themselves up to the severe and sober sport of ideas, generalisations,
refutations,—that enthusiasm which perhaps those old, great, severe, and
prudent contrapuntists in music have also known. At that time the Greek
palate still possessed that older and formerly omnipotent taste: and by
the side of this taste their new taste appeared to be enveloped in so much
charm that the divine art of dialectic was sung by hesitating voices as if
its followers were intoxicated with the frenzy of love. That old form of
thinking, however, was thought within the bounds of morality, and for it
nothing existed but fixed judgments and established facts, and it had no
reasons but those of authority. Thinking, therefore, was simply a matter
of repetition, and all the enjoyment of speech and dialogue could only lie
in their form.

Wherever the substance of a thing is looked upon as eternal and
universally approved, there is only one great charm, the charm of variable
forms, that is, of fashion. Even in the poets ever since the time of
Homer, and later on in the case of the sculptors, the Greeks did not enjoy
originality, but its contrary. It was Socrates who discovered another
charm, that of cause and effect, of reason and sequence, and we moderns
have become so used to it, and have been brought up to the necessity of
logic that we look upon it as the normal taste, and as such it cannot but
be repugnant to ardent and presumptuous people. Such people are pleased by
whatever stands out boldly from the normal: their more subtle ambition
leads them to believe only too readily that they are exceptional souls,
not dialectic and rational beings, but, let us say, “intuitive” beings
gifted with an “inner sense,” or with a certain “intellectual perception.”
Above all, however, they wish to be “artistic natures” with a genius in
their heads, and a demon in their bodies, and consequently with special
rights in this world and in the world to come—especially the divine
privilege of being incomprehensible.

And people like these are “going in for” philosophy nowadays! I fear they
will discover one day that they have made a mistake—what they are looking
for is religion!


BUT WE DO NOT BELIEVE YOU.—You would fain pass for psychologists, but we
shall not allow it! Are we not to notice that you pretend to be more
experienced, profound, passionate, and perfect than you actually are?—just
as we notice in yonder painter that there is a trifling presumptuousness
in his manner of wielding the brush, and in yonder musician that he brings
forward his theme with the desire to make it appear superior to what it
really is. Have you experienced history within yourselves, commotions,
earthquakes, long and profound sadness, and sudden flashes of happiness?
Have you acted foolishly with great and little fools? Have you really
undergone the delusions and woe of the good people? and also the woe and
the peculiar happiness of the most evil? Then you may speak to me of
morality, but not otherwise!


SLAVE AND IDEALIST.—The followers of Epictetus would doubtless not be to
the taste of those who are now striving after the ideal. The constant
tension of his being, the indefatigable inward glance, the prudent and
reserved incommunicativeness of his eye whenever it happens to gaze upon
the outer world, and above all, his silence or laconic speech: all these
are characteristics of the strictest fortitude,—and what would our
idealists, who above all else are desirous of expansion, care for this?
But in spite of all this the Stoic is not fanatical. He detests the
display and boasting of our idealists: his pride, however great it may be,
is not eager to disturb others. It permits of a certain gentle approach,
and has no desire to spoil anybody’s good humour—nay, it can even smile. A
great deal of ancient humanity is to be seen exemplified in this ideal.
The most excellent feature about it, however, is that the thinker is
completely free from the fear of God, strictly believes in reason, and is
no preacher of penitence.

Epictetus was a slave: his ideal man is without any particular rank, and
may exist in any grade of society, but above all he is to be sought in the
deepest and lowest social classes, as the silent and self-sufficient man
in the midst of a general state of servitude, a man who defends himself
alone against the outer world, and is constantly living in a state of the
highest fortitude. He is distinguished from the Christian especially,
because the latter lives in hope in the promise of “unspeakable glory,”
permits presents to be made to him, and expects and accepts the best
things from divine love and grace, and not from himself. Epictetus, on the
other hand, neither hopes nor allows his best treasure to be given him—he
possesses it already, holds it bravely in his hand, and defies the world
to take it away from him. Christianity was devised for another class of
ancient slaves, for those who had a weak will and weak reason—that is to
say, for the majority of slaves.


THE TYRANTS OF THE INTELLECT.—The progress of science is at the present
time no longer hindered by the purely accidental fact that man attains to
about seventy years, which was the case far too long. In former times
people wished to master the entire extent of knowledge within this period,
and all the methods of knowledge were valued according to this general
desire. Minor questions and individual experiments were looked upon as
unworthy of notice: people wanted to take the shortest path under the
impression that, since everything in this world seemed to be arranged with
a view to man’s needs, even the acquirement of knowledge was regulated in
view of the limits of human life.

To solve everything at a single stroke, with one word—this was the secret
desire; and the task was represented in the symbol of the Gordian knot or
the egg of Columbus. No one doubted that it was possible to reach the goal
of knowledge after the manner of Alexander or Columbus, and to settle all
questions with one answer. “There is a mystery to be solved,” seemed to be
the aim of life in the eyes of the philosopher: it was necessary in the
first place to find out what this enigma was, and to condense the problem
of the world into the simplest enigmatical formula possible. The boundless
ambition and delight of being the “unraveller of the world” charmed the
dreams of many a thinker: nothing seemed to him worth troubling about in
this world but the means of bringing everything to a satisfactory
conclusion. Philosophy thus became a kind of supreme struggle for the
tyrannical sway over the intellect, and no one doubted that such a
tyrannical domination was reserved for some very happy, subtle, ingenious,
bold, and powerful person—a single individual!—and many (the last was
Schopenhauer) fancied themselves to be this privileged person.

From this it follows that, on the whole, science has up to the present
remained in a rather backward state owing to the moral narrow-mindedness
of its disciples, and that henceforth it will have to be pursued from a
higher and more generous motive. “What do I matter?” is written over the
door of the thinker of the future.


VICTORY OVER POWER.—If we consider all that has been venerated up to the
present as “superhuman intellect” or “genius,” we must come to the sad
conclusion that, considered as a whole, the intellectuality of mankind
must have been extremely low and poor: so little mind has hitherto been
necessary in order to feel at once considerably superior to all this! Alas
for the cheap glory of “genius”! How quickly has it been raised to the
throne, and its worship grown into a custom! We still fall on our knees
before power—according to the old custom of slaves—and nevertheless, when
the degree of venerability comes to be determined, only the degree of
reason in the power will be the deciding factor. We must find out, indeed,
to how great an extent power has been overcome by something higher, which
it now obeys as a tool and instrument.

As yet, however, there have been too few eyes for such investigations:
even in the majority of cases the mere valuation of genius has almost been
looked upon as blasphemy. And thus perhaps everything that is most
beautiful still takes place in the midst of darkness and vanishes in
endless night almost as soon as it has made its appearance,—I refer to the
spectacle of that power which a genius does not lay out upon works, but
upon himself as a work, that is, his own self-control, the purifying of
his own imagination, the order and selection in his inspirations and
tasks. The great man ever remains invisible in the greatest thing that
claims worship, like some distant star: his victory over power remains
without witnesses, and hence also without songs and singers. The hierarchy
of the great men in all the past history of the human race has not yet
been determined.


FLIGHT FROM ONE’S SELF.—Those sufferers from intellectual spasms who are
impatient towards themselves and look upon themselves with a gloomy
eye—such as Byron or Alfred de Musset—and who, in everything that they do,
resemble runaway horses, and from their own works derive only a transient
joy and an ardent passion which almost bursts their veins, followed by
sterility and disenchantment—how are they able to bear up! They would fain
attain to something “beyond themselves.” If we happen to be Christians,
and are seized by such a desire as this, we strive to reach God and to
become one with Him; if we are a Shakespeare we shall be glad to perish in
images of a passionate life; if we are like Byron we long for actions,
because these detach us from ourselves to an even greater extent than
thoughts, feelings, and works.

And should the desire for performing great deeds really be at bottom
nothing but a flight from our own selves?—as Pascal would ask us. And
indeed this assertion might be proved by considering the most noble
representations of this desire for action: in this respect let us
remember, bringing the knowledge of an alienist to our aid, that four of
the greatest men of all ages who were possessed of this lust for action
were epileptics—Alexander the Great, Cæsar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; and
Byron likewise was subject to the same complaint.


KNOWLEDGE AND BEAUTY.—If men, as they are still in the habit of doing,
reserve their veneration and feelings of happiness for works of fancy and
imagination, we should not be surprised if they feel chilled and
displeased by the contrary of fancy and imagination. The rapture which
arises from even the smallest, sure, and definite step in advance into
insight, and which our present state of science yields to so many in such
abundance—this rapture is in the meantime not believed in by all those who
are in the habit of feeling enraptured only when they leave reality
altogether and plunge into the depths of vague appearance—romanticism.
These people look upon reality as ugly, but they entirely overlook the
fact that the knowledge of even the ugliest reality is beautiful, and that
the man who can discern much and often is in the end very far from
considering as ugly the main items of that reality, the discovery of which
has always inspired him with the feeling of happiness.

Is there anything “beautiful in itself”? The happiness of those who can
recognise augments the beauty of the world, bathing everything that exists
in a sunnier light: discernment not only envelops all things in its own
beauty, but in the long run permeates the things themselves with its
beauty—may ages to come bear witness to the truth of this statement! In
the meantime let us recall an old experience: two men so thoroughly
different in every respect as Plato and Aristotle were agreed in regard to
what constituted superior happiness—not merely their own and that of men
in general, but happiness in itself, even the happiness of the gods. They
found this happiness to lie in knowledge, in the activity of a well
practised and inventive understanding (not in “intuition” like the German
theologians and semi-theologians; not in visions, like the mystics; and
not in work, like the merely practical men). Similar opinions were
expressed by Descartes and Spinoza. What great delight must all these men
have felt in knowledge! and how great was the danger that their honesty
might give way, and that they themselves might become panegyrists of


FUTURE VIRTUES.—How has it come about that, the more intelligible the
world has become, the more all kinds of ceremonies have diminished? Was
fear so frequently the fundamental basis of that awe which overcame us at
the sight of anything hitherto unknown and mysterious, and which taught us
to fall upon our knees before the unintelligible, and to beg for mercy?
And has the world, perhaps, through the very fact that we have grown less
timid, lost some of the charms it formerly had for us? Is it not possible
that our own dignity and stateliness, our formidable character, has
decreased together with our spirit of dread? Perhaps we value the world
and ourselves less highly since we have begun to think more boldly about
it and ourselves? Perhaps there will come a moment in the future when this
courageous spirit of thinking will have reached such a point that it will
feel itself soaring in supreme pride, far above men and things—when the
wise man, being also the boldest, will see himself and even more
particularly existence, the lowest of all beneath himself?

This type of courage, which is not far removed from excessive generosity,
has been lacking in humanity up to the present.—Oh, that our poets might
once again become what they once were: seers, telling us something about
what might possibly happen! now that what is real and what is past are
being ever more and more taken from them, and must continue to be taken
from them—for the time of innocent counterfeiting is at an end! Let them
try to enable us to anticipate future virtues, or virtues that will never
be found on earth, although they may exist somewhere in the
world!—purple-glowing constellations and whole Milky Ways of the
beautiful! Where are ye, ye astronomers of the ideal?


IDEAL SELFISHNESS.—Is there a more sacred state than that of pregnancy? To
perform every one of our actions in the silent conviction that in one way
or another it will be to the benefit of that which is being generated
within us—that it must augment its mysterious value, the very thought of
which fills us with rapture? At such a time we refrain from many things
without having to force ourselves to do so: we suppress the angry word, we
grasp the hand forgivingly; our child must be born from all that is best
and gentlest. We shun our own harshness and brusqueness in case it should
instil a drop of unhappiness into the cup of the beloved unknown.
Everything is veiled, ominous; we know nothing about what is going on, but
simply wait and try to be prepared. During this time, too, we experience a
pure and purifying feeling of profound irresponsibility, similar to that
felt by a spectator before a drawn curtain; _it_ is growing, _it_ is
coming to light; we have nothing to do with determining its value, or the
hour of its arrival. We are thrown back altogether upon indirect,
beneficent and defensive influences. “Something greater than we are is
growing here”—such is our most secret hope: we prepare everything with a
view to his birth and prosperity—not merely everything that is useful, but
also the noblest gifts of our souls.

We should, and can, live under the influence of such a blessed
inspiration! Whether what we are looking forward to is a thought or a
deed, our relationship to every essential achievement is none other than
that of pregnancy, and all our vainglorious boasting about “willing” and
“creating” should be cast to the winds! True and ideal selfishness
consists in always watching over and restraining the soul, so that our
productiveness may come to a beautiful termination. Thus in this indirect
manner we must provide for and watch over the good of all; and the frame
of mind, the mood in which we live, is a kind of soothing oil which
spreads far around us on the restless souls.—Still, these pregnant ones
are funny people! let us therefore dare to be funny also, and not reproach
others if they must be the same. And even when this phenomenon becomes
dangerous and evil we must not show less respect to that which is
generating within us or others than ordinary worldly justice, which does
not allow the judge or the hangman to interfere with a pregnant woman.


CIRCUITOUS ROUTES.—Where does all this philosophy mean to end with its
circuitous routes? Does it do more than transpose into reason, so to
speak, a continuous and strong impulse—a craving for a mild sun, a bright
and bracing atmosphere, southern plants, sea breezes, short meals of meat,
eggs, and fruit, hot water to drink, quiet walks for days at a time,
little talking, rare and cautious reading, living alone, pure, simple, and
almost soldier-like habits—a craving, in short, for all things which are
suited to my own personal taste? a philosophy which is in the main the
instinct for a personal regimen—an instinct that longs for my air, my
height, my temperature, and my kind of health, and takes the circuitous
route of my head to persuade me to it!

There are many other and certainly more lofty philosophies, and not only
such as are more gloomy and pretentious than mine—and are they perhaps,
taking them as a whole, nothing but intellectual circuitous routes of the
same kind of personal impulses?—In the meantime I look with a new eye upon
the mysterious and solitary flight of a butterfly high on the rocky banks
of the lake where so many plants are growing: there it flies hither and
thither, heedless of the fact that its life will last only one more day,
and that the night will be too cold for its winged fragility. For it, too,
a philosophy might be found, though it might not be my own.


LEADING.(18)—When we praise progress we only praise the movement and those
who do not let us remain on the same spot, and in the circumstances this
is certainly something, especially if we live among Egyptians. In
changeable Europe, however, where movement is “understood,” to use their
own expression, “as a matter of course”—alas, if _we_ only understood
something about it too!—I praise leaders and forerunners: that is to say,
those who always leave themselves behind, and do not care in the least
whether any one is following them or not. “Wherever I halt I find myself
alone: why should I halt! the desert is still so wide!”—such is the
sentiment of the true leader.


THE LEAST IMPORTANT ARE SUFFICIENT.—We ought to avoid events when we know
that even the least important of them frequently enough leave a strong
impression upon us—and these we cannot avoid.—The thinker must possess an
approximate canon of all the things he still wishes to experience.


THE FOUR VIRTUES.—Honest towards ourselves, and to all and everything
friendly to us; brave in the face of our enemy; generous towards the
vanquished; polite at all times: such do the four cardinal virtues wish us
to be.


MARCHING AGAINST AN ENEMY.—How pleasant is the sound of even bad music and
bad motives when we are setting out to march against an enemy!


NOT CONCEALING ONE’S VIRTUES.—I love those men who are as transparent as
water, and who, to use Pope’s expression, hide not from view the turbid
bottom of their stream. Even they, however, possess a certain vanity,
though of a rare and more sublimated kind: some of them would wish us to
see nothing but the mud, and to take no notice of the clearness of the
water which enables us to look right to the bottom. No less a man than
Gautama Buddha has imagined the vanity of these few in the formula, “Let
your sins appear before men, and conceal your virtues.” But this would
exhibit a disagreeable spectacle to the world—it would be a sin against
good taste.


"NOTHING IN EXCESS!"—How often is the individual recommended to set up a
goal which it is beyond his power to reach, in order that he may at least
attain that which lies within the scope of his abilities and most
strenuous efforts! Is it really so desirable, however, that he should do
so? Do not the best men who try to act according to this doctrine,
together with their best deeds, necessarily assume a somewhat exaggerated
and distorted appearance on account of their excessive tension? and in the
future will not a grey mist of failure envelop the world, owing to the
fact that we may see everywhere struggling athletes and tremendous
gestures, but nowhere a conqueror crowned with the laurel, and rejoicing
in his victory?


WHAT WE ARE FREE TO DO.—We can act as the gardeners of our impulses,
and—which few people know—we may cultivate the seeds of anger, pity,
vanity, or excessive brooding, and make these things fecund and
productive, just as we can train a beautiful plant to grow along
trellis-work. We may do this with the good or bad taste of a gardener, and
as it were, in the French, English, Dutch, or Chinese style. We may let
nature take its own course, only trimming and embellishing a little here
and there; and finally, without any knowledge or consideration, we may
even allow the plants to spring up in accordance with their own natural
growth and limitations, and fight out their battle among themselves,—nay,
we can even take delight in such chaos, though we may possibly have a hard
time with it! All this is at our option: but how many know that it is? Do
not the majority of people believe in themselves as complete and perfect
facts? and have not the great philosophers set their seal on this
prejudice through their doctrine of the unchangeability of character?


LETTING OUR HAPPINESS ALSO SHINE.—In the same way as painters are unable
to reproduce the deep brilliant hue of the natural sky, and are compelled
to use all the colours they require for their landscapes a few shades
deeper than nature has made them—just as they, by means of this trick,
succeed in approaching the brilliancy and harmony of nature’s own hues, so
also must poets and philosophers, for whom the luminous rays of happiness
are inaccessible, endeavour to find an expedient. By picturing all things
a shade or two darker than they really are, their light, in which they
excel, will produce almost exactly the same effect as the sunlight, and
will resemble the light of true happiness.—The pessimist, on the other
hand, who paints all things in the blackest and most sombre hues, only
makes use of bright flames, lightning, celestial glories, and everything
that possesses a glaring, dazzling power, and bewilders our eyes: to him
light only serves the purpose of increasing the horror, and of making us
look upon things as being more dreadful than they really are.


THE SETTLED AND THE FREE.—It is only in the Underworld that we catch a
glimpse of that gloomy background of all that bliss of adventure which
forms an everlasting halo around Ulysses and his like, rivalling the
eternal phosphorescence of the sea,—that background which we can never
forget: the mother of Ulysses died of grief and yearning for her child.
The one is driven on from place to place, and the heart of the other, the
tender stay-at-home friend, breaks through it—so it always is. Affliction
breaks the hearts of those who live to see that those whom they love best
are deserting their former views and faith,—it is a tragedy brought about
by the free spirits,—a tragedy which, indeed, occasionally comes to their
own knowledge. Then, perhaps, they too, like Ulysses, will be forced to
descend among the dead to get rid of their sorrow and to relieve their


justice” which requires that every fault shall be atoned and paid for,—the
belief that such a justice existed was a terrible delusion, and useful
only to a limited extent; just as it is also a delusion that everything is
guilt which is felt as such. It is not the things themselves, but the
opinions about things that do not exist, which have been such a source of
trouble to mankind.


BY THE SIDE OF EXPERIENCE.—Even great intellects have only a hand-breadth
experience—in the immediate proximity of this experience their reflection
ceases, and its place is taken by unlimited vacuity and stupidity.


DIGNITY AND IGNORANCE.—Wherever we understand we become amiable, happy,
and ingenious; and when we have learnt enough, and have trained our eyes
and ears, our souls show greater plasticity and charm. We understand so
little, however, and are so insufficiently informed, that it rarely
happens that we seize upon a thing and make ourselves lovable at the same
time,—on the contrary we pass through cities, nature, and history with
stiffness and indifference, at the same time taking a pride in our stiff
and indifferent attitude, as if it were simply due to superiority. Thus
our ignorance and our mediocre desire for knowledge understand quite well
how to assume a mask of dignity and character.


LIVING CHEAPLY.—The cheapest and most innocent mode of life is that of the
thinker; for, to mention at once its most important feature, he has the
greatest need of those very things which others neglect and look upon with
contempt. In the second place he is easily pleased and has no desire for
any expensive pleasures. His task is not difficult, but, so to speak,
southern; his days and nights are not wasted by remorse; he moves, eats,
drinks, and sleeps in a manner suited to his intellect, in order that it
may grow calmer, stronger, and clearer. Again, he takes pleasure in his
body and has no reason to fear it; he does not require society, except
from time to time in order that he may afterwards go back to his solitude
with even greater delight. He seeks and finds in the dead compensation for
the living, and can even replace his friends in this way—viz., by seeking
out among the dead the best who have ever lived.—Let us consider whether
it is not the contrary desires and habits which have made the life of man
expensive, and as a consequence difficult and often unbearable. In another
sense, however, the thinker’s life is certainly the most expensive, for
nothing is too good for him; and it would be an intolerable privation for
him to be deprived of the best.


IN THE FIELD.—“We should take things more cheerfully than they deserve;
especially because for a very long time we have taken them more seriously
than they deserved.” So speak the brave soldiers of knowledge.


POET AND BIRD.—The bird Phœnix showed the poet a glowing scroll which was
being gradually consumed in the flames. “Be not alarmed,” said the bird,
“it is your work! It does not contain the spirit of the age, and to a
still less extent the spirit of those who are against the age: so it must
be burnt. But that is a good sign. There is many a dawn of day.”


TO THE LONELY ONES.—If we do not respect the honour of others in our
soliloquies as well as in what we say publicly, we are not gentlemen.


LOSSES.—There are some losses which communicate to the soul a sublimity in
which it ceases from wailing, and wanders about silently, as if in the
shade of some high and dark cypresses.


THE BATTLE-FIELD DISPENSARY OF THE SOUL.—What is the most efficacious


LIFE SHALL COMFORT US.—If, like the thinker, we live habitually amid the
great current of ideas and feelings, and even our dreams follow this
current, we expect comfort and peacefulness from life, while others wish
to rest from life when they give themselves up to meditation.


CASTING ONE’S SKIN.—The snake that cannot cast its skin perishes. So too
with those minds which are prevented from changing their views: they cease
to be minds.


NEVER FORGET!—The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot


WE AERONAUTS OF THE INTELLECT.—All those daring birds that soar far and
ever farther into space, will somewhere or other be certain to find
themselves unable to continue their flight, and they will perch on a mast
or some narrow ledge—and will be grateful even for this miserable
accommodation! But who could conclude from this that there was not an
endless free space stretching far in front of them, and that they had
flown as far as they possibly could? In the end, however, all our great
teachers and predecessors have come to a standstill, and it is by no means
in the noblest or most graceful attitude that their weariness has brought
them to a pause: the same thing will happen to you and me! but what does
this matter to either of us? _Other birds will fly farther!_ Our minds and
hopes vie with them far out and on high; they rise far above our heads and
our failures, and from this height they look far into the distant horizon
and see hundreds of birds much more powerful than we are, striving whither
we ourselves have also striven, and where all is sea, sea, and nothing but

And where, then, are we aiming at? Do we wish to cross the sea? whither
does this over-powering passion urge us, this passion which we value more
highly than any other delight? Why do we fly precisely in this direction,
where all the suns of humanity have hitherto set? Is it possible that
people may one day say of us that we also steered westward, hoping to
reach India—but that it was our fate to be wrecked on the infinite? Or, my
brethren? or—?


    1 The book was first published in 1881, the preface being added to the
      second edition, 1886.—TR.

    2 This refers, of course, to the different genders of the nouns in
      other languages. In German, for example, the sun is feminine, and in
      French masculine.—TR.

    3 M. Henri Albert points out that this refers to a line of Paul
      Gerhardt’s well-known song: “Befiel du deine Wege.” TR.

    4 “Formal education” is the name given in Germany to those branches of
      learning which tend to develop the logical faculties, as opposed to
      “material” education which deals with the acquisition of facts and
      all kinds of “useful” knowledge.—TR.

    5 The reference is to the _Odyssey_, XX. 18: “Τέτλαθι δή, κραδίη; καὶ
      κύντερον ἄλλο ποτ᾽ ἔτλης...” etc. Κύντερος, from κύων, “a dog,” lit.
      more dog-like, _i.e._ shameless, horrible, audacious.—TR.

    6 If this aphorism seems obscure, the reader may take Tolstoi as an
      example of the first class and Nietzsche as an example of the
      second. Tolstoi’s inconsistencies are generally glossed over,
      because he professed the customary moral theories of the age, while
      Nietzsche has had to endure the most searching criticism because he
      did not. In Nietzsche’s case, however, the scrutiny has been in
      vain; for, having no unworkable Christian theories to uphold, unlike
      Tolstoi, Nietzsche’s life is not a series of compromises. The career
      of the great pagan philosopher was, in essence, much more saintly
      than that of the great Christian. How different from Tolstoi, too,
      was that noble Christian, Pascal, who, from the inevitable clash of
      his creed and his nature, died at thirty-eight, while his weaker
      epigone lived in the fulness of his fame until he was over

    7 A hit at the German Empire, which Nietzsche always despised, since
      it led to the utter extinction of the old German spirit. “Kingdom”
      (in “Kingdom of God”) and “Empire” are both represented by the one
      German word _Reich_.—TR.

    8 This sentence is a complete refutation of a book which caused so
      much stir in Germany about a decade ago, and in England quite
      recently, Chamberlain’s _Nineteenth Century_, in which a purely
      imaginary Teutonic race is held up as the Chosen People of the
      world. Nietzsche says elsewhere, “Peoples and Countries,” aphorism
      21, “Associate with no man who takes part in the mendacious

    9 The fiercest protests against Nietzsche’s teaching even now come
      from the “unfeeling people.” Hence the difficulty—now happily
      past—of introducing him into Anglo-Saxon countries.—TR.

   10 The German Jews are well known for their charity, by means of which
      they probably wish to prove that they are not so bad as the
      Anti-Semites paint them.—TR.

   11 That is, do not speak either of God or the devil. The German proverb
      runs: “Man soll den Teufel nicht an die Wand malen, sonst kommt

   12 The case of that other witty Venetian, Casanova.—TR.

   13 The play upon the words _gründlich_ (thorough) thinkers, and
      _Untergründlichen_ (lit. those underground) cannot be rendered in

   14 A variation of the well-known proverb, _Ubi bene, ibi patria_.—TR.

   15 Hence the violence of all fanatics, who do not wish to shout down
      the outer world so much as to shout down their own inner enemy, viz.

   16 This omission is in the original.—TR.

   17 This, of course, refers to Richard Wagner, as does also the
      following paragraph.—TR.

   18 The play upon the words _Vorschritt_ (leading) and _Fortschritt_
      (progress) cannot be rendered in English.—TR.

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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.