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Title: Nietzsche and other Exponents of Individualism
Author: Carus, Paul
Language: English
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[Illustration: Friedrich Nietzsche. Statue by Klein.]




Philosophies are world-conceptions presenting three main features:
(1) A systematic comprehension of the knowledge of their age; (2) An
emotional attitude toward the cosmos; and (3) A principle that will
serve as a basis for rules of conduct. The first feature determines the
worth of the several philosophical systems in the history of mankind,
being the gist of that which will last, and giving them strength and
backbone. The second one, however, appeals powerfully to the sentiments
of those who are imbued with the same spirit and thus constitutes its
immediate acceptability; while the ethics of a philosophy becomes the
test by which its use and practicability can be measured.

The author's ideal has been to harmonize these three features by making
the first the regulator of the second and a safe basis of the third.
What we need is truth; our fundamental emotion must be truthfulness,
and our ethics must be a living of the truth. Truth is not something
that we can fashion according to our pleasure; it is not subjective;
its very nature is objectivity. But we must render it subjective by a
love of truth; we must make it our own, and by doing so our conduct in
life will unfailingly adjust itself.

Former philosophies made the subjective element predominant, and thus
every philosopher worked out a philosophy of his own, endeavoring to
be individual and original. The aim of our own philosophy has been
to reduce the subjective to its proper sphere, and to establish, in
agreement with the scientific spirit of the age, a philosophy of
objective validity.

It is a well known experience that the march of progress does not
advance in a straight line but proceeds in epicycles. Man seems to tire
of the rigor of truth. From time to time he wants fiction. A strict
adherence to exact methods becomes monotonous to clever minds lacking
the power of concentration, and they gladly hail vagaries. Truth, they
claim, is relative, knowledge mere opinion, and poetry had better
replace science. Then they say: Error, be thou our guide; Error, thou
art a liberator from the tyranny of truth. Glory be to Error!

Similar retrograde movements take place from time to time in art.
Classical taste changes with romantic tendencies. Goethe, Schiller and
Lessing are followed by Schlegel and Tieck, Mozart and Beethoven by

The last half-century has been an age of unprecedented progress in
science and we would expect that with all the wonderful successes and
triumphs of scientific invention this age of science ought to find its
consummation in the adoption of a philosophy of science. But no! The
mass of mankind is weary of science, and anti-scientific tendencies
grow up like mushrooms, finding spokesmen in philosophers like William
James and Henri Bergson who have the ear of large masses, proclaiming
the superiority of subjectivism over objectivism, and the advantages of
animal instinct over human reason.

These subjective philosophies if considered as expressions of
sentiment, as sentimental attitudes toward the world, as poetical
effusions of a semi-philosophical nature, are perfectly legitimate and
can be indulged in as well as the several religions which in allegories
attune the minds of their followers toward the All of which they are
parts. There is no need to condemn arts or emotions for they have a
right to exist just as they are.

We protest against subjectivism in philosophy only when it denies the
possibility of an objective philosophy. We do not deny that the masses
of the world are not, cannot be and never will be scientific thinkers.
Science is the prerogative of the few, and the large masses of mankind
will always be of a pragmatist type. If the pragmatist considered
himself as a psychologist pure and simple showing how the majority
of mankind argues, how people are influenced by their own interest
and how their thoughts are warped by what they wish the facts to be,
pragmatism would be a commendable branch of the science of the soul.
Pragmatism explains the errors of philosophy and we can learn much from
a consideration of its principles. It becomes objectionable only in so
far as it claims to be philosophy in the strict sense of the word.

The name philosophy is used in two senses, first as we defined it
above, as a world-conception based upon critically sifted knowledge;
and secondly it is used in a vague general sense as wisdom in the
practical affairs of life. And if pragmatism claims to be a philosophy
in this second sense it ought not to deny that philosophy as a science
is possible.

Philosophy as a science is philosophy _par excellence_. It is the only
philosophy of objective validity. All other philosophies are effusions
of subjective points of view, of attitudes, of sentiment. But we must
insist that these two contrasts may exist side by side just as art does
not render mathematics supererogatory, and as a physicist who in his
profession devotes himself to a study of nature according to methods of
an objective exactness may in his leisure hours paint a _Stimmungsbild_
to give an artistic expression to a subjective mood.

This world is not merely the object of science. There are innumerable
tendencies which exist and have a right to exist, but they ought not to
banish science, scientific enquiry and scientific ideals from the place
they hold; for science is the mariners' compass which guides us over
the ocean of life, and though the majority of the passengers do not
and need not worry about it, science is after all the only means which
makes for progress and lifts mankind to higher and higher levels.

If we criticize men like James and Bergson and other philosophers of
subjectivism we do it as a defence of the indispensable character of
the objectivity of science as well as of philosophy as a science.

James and Bergson were by no means the originators of their method of
philosophizing. There have been many sages before them who deemed the
spectacles through which they viewed the world to be the most important
or even the only significant issue of life's problems. The Ionian
physicists were outdone by the sophists, and in modern times Friedrich
Nietzsche expressed the most sovereign contempt for science.

Among all the philosophies of modern times there is perhaps none which
in its inmost principle is more thoroughly opposed to our own than
Nietzsche's, and yet there are some points of mutual contact which
are well worth pointing out. The problem which is at the basis of
Nietzsche's thought is the same as in our philosophy, but our solution
is radically different from his.

Friedrich Nietzsche is a philosopher who astonishes his readers by the
boldness with which he rebels against every tradition, tearing down
the holiest and dearest things, preaching destruction of all rule, and
looking with disdain upon the heap of ruins in which his revolutionary
thoughts would leave the world.

For more than a century Germany has been the storm-center of
philosophical thought. The commotions that started in the Fatherland
reached other countries, France, England, and the United States, after
they had lost their force at home. Kant's transcendentalism and Hegel's
phenomenalism began to flourish among the English-speaking races after
having become almost extinct in the home of their founders. Prof. R.
M. Wenley of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., expresses
this truth with his native Scotch wit in the statement which I do
not hesitate to endorse, that "German professors when they die go to
Oxford," and we may add that from Oxford they travel west to settle for
a while in Concord, Boston, Washington, or other American cities.

Hegelianism had scarcely died out in the United States when
Schopenhauer and Nietzsche began to become fashionable. The influence
of the former has been felt in a quiet way for some time while the
Nietzsche movement is of more recent date and also of a more violent

Nietzsche represents a type of most modern date. His was a genius after
the heart of Lombroso. He was eccentric and atypical.

Lombroso's psychology is an outgrowth of nominalism which does not
recognize an objective norm for truth, health, reason, or normality
of any kind, and regards the average as the sole method of finding a
norm. If, however, the average type is the standard of measurement, the
unusually excellent specimens, being rare in number, must be classed
together with all other deviations from the average, and thus a genius
is regarded as abnormal as much as a criminal--a theory which has found
many admirers in this age that is sicklied over with agnosticism, the
modern offshoot of nominalism. The truth is that true genius (not
the pseudo-genius of erratic minds, not the would-be genius of those
who make a failure of life) is uncommonly normal--I had almost said
"abnormally normal."

A perfect crystal is rare; so the perfectly normal man is an exception;
yet for all that he is a better representative of the ideal of his type
than the average.

Nietzsche was most assuredly very ingenious; he was unusually talented
but he was not a genius in the full sense of the word. He was abnormal,
titanic in his pretensions and aims, and erratic. Breaking down under
the burden of his own thought, he ended his tragical career in an
insane asylum.

The mental derangement of Nietzsche may be an unhappy accident but
it appears to have come as the natural result of his philosophy.
Nietzsche, by nature modest and tractable, almost submissive, was, as a
thinker, too proud to submit to anything, even to truth. Schopenhauer
had taught him that the intellect, with its comprehension of truth,
is a mere slave of the will, ancilla voluntatis. Our cognition of the
truth has a purpose; it must accommodate itself to our own interest.
But the self is sovereign; the self wants to assert itself; the self
alone has a right to exist; and the self that does not dare to be
itself is a servile, menial creature. Therefore Nietzsche preaches the
ethics of self-assertion and pride. He is too proud to recognize the
duty of inquiry, the duty of adapting his mind to the world, or of
recognizing the cosmic order of the universe as superior to his self.
He feels bigger than the cosmos; he is himself; and he wants to be
himself. His own self is sovereign; and if the world is not satisfied
to submit to his will, the world may go to ruin. If the world breaks to
pieces, it will only cause him to laugh; on the other hand, if his very
self is forced to the wall in this conflict, he will still, from sheer
pride, not suffer himself to abandon his principle of the absolute
sovereignty of selfhood. He will not be a man, human and humane, but
an overman (_Uebermensch_), a superhuman despiser of humanity and
humaneness. The multitudes are to him like cattle to be used, to be
milked, fleeced and butchered, and Nietzsche calls them herds, animals
of the flock, _Heerdentiere_.

Nietzsche's philosophy is unique in being throughout the expression of
an emotion--the proud sentiment of a self-sufficient sovereignty of
self. It rejects with disdain both the methods of the intellect, which
submit the problems of life to an investigation, and the demands of
morality, which recognize the existence of duty.

Other philosophers have claimed that rights imply duties and duties,
rights. Nietzsche knows of rights only. Nietzsche claims that there is
no objective science save by the permission of the sovereign self, nor
is there any "ought," except for slaves and fools. He prides himself
on being "the first Unmoralist," implying the absolute sovereignty of
man--of the overman--and the foolishness as well as falsity of moral


Professor Paul Deussen, Sanskritist and philosopher of Kiel, was
Friedrich Nietzsche's most intimate friend. They were chums together in
school in Schulpforta, and remained friends to the end of Nietzsche's
life. Nietzsche had come to Schulpforta in 1858, and Deussen entered
the next year in the same class. Once Nietzsche, who as the senior of
the class had to keep order among his fellow scholars during working
periods and prevent them from making a disturbance, approached Deussen
while he sat in his seat peacefully chewing the sandwich he had brought
for his lunch and said, "Don't talk so loud to your crust!" using
here the boys' slang term for a sandwich. These were the first words
Nietzsche had spoken to Deussen, and Deussen says:[1] "I see Nietzsche
still before me, how with the unsteady glance peculiar to extremely
near-sighted people, his eye wandered over the rows of his classmates
searching in vain for an excuse to interfere."

YEAR 1861.]

Nietzsche and Deussen began to take walks together and soon became
chums, probably on account of their common love for Anacreon, whose
poems were interesting to both perhaps on account of the easy Greek in
which they are written.

In those days the boys of Schulpforta addressed each other by the
formal _Sie_; but one day when Deussen happened to be in the dormitory,
he discovered in the trunk under his bed a little package of snuff;
Nietzsche was present and each took a pinch. With this pinch they swore
eternal brotherhood. They did not drink brotherhood as is the common
German custom, but, as Deussen humorously says, they "snuffed it"; and
from that time they called each other by the more intimate _du_. This
friendship continued through life with only one interruption, and on
Laetare Sunday in 1861, they stepped to the altar together and side by
side received the blessing at their confirmation. On that day both were
overcome by a feeling of holiness and ecstasy. Thus their friendship
was sealed in Christ, and though it may seem strange of Nietzsche who
was later a most iconoclastic atheist, a supernatural vision filled
their young hearts for many weeks afterwards.

There was a third boy to join this friendship--a certain Meyer, a
young, handsome and amiable youth distinguished by wit and the ability
to draw excellent caricatures. But Meyer was in constant conflict with
his teachers and generally in rebellion against the rules of the
school. He had to leave school before he finished his course. Nietzsche
and Deussen accompanied him to the gate and returned in great sorrow
when he had disappeared on the highway. What has become of Meyer is
not known. Deussen saw him five years later in his home at Oberdreis,
but at that time he was broken in health and courage, disgruntled with
God, the world and himself. Later he held a subordinate position in the
custom house, and soon after that all trace of him was lost. Probably
he died young.

This Meyer was attached to Nietzsche for other reasons than Deussen.
While Deussen appreciated more the intellectuality and congeniality of
his friend, Meyer seems to have been more attracted by his erratic and
wayward tendencies and this for some time endeared him to Nietzsche.
Thus it came to pass that the two broke with Deussen for a time.

The way of establishing a state of hostility in Schulpforta was to
declare oneself "mad" at another, and to some extent this proved to be
a good institution, for since the boys came in touch with each other
daily and constantly in the school, those who could not agree would
have easily come to blows had it not been for this tabu which made
it a rule that they were not on speaking terms. This state of things
lasted for six weeks, and was only broken by an incidental discussion
in a Latin lesson, when Nietzsche proposed one of his highly improbable
conjectures for a verse of Virgil. The discussion grew heated, and
when the professor after a long Latin disquisition finally asked
whether any one had something to say on the subject, Deussen rose and
extemporized a Latin hexameter which ran thus:

      "_Nietzschius erravit, neque coniectura probanda est_"

On account of the declared state of "mad"-ness, the debate was carried
on through the teacher, addressing him each time with the phrase: "Tell
Nietzsche," "Tell Deussen," "Tell Meyer," etc., but in the heat of
the controversy they forgot to speak in the third person, and finally
addressed their adversaries directly. This broke the spell of being
"mad" and they came to an understanding and a definite reconciliation.

Nietzsche never had another friend with whom he became so intimate as
with Deussen. Deussen says (page 9): "At that time we understood each
other perfectly. In our lonely walks we discussed all possible subjects
of religion, philosophy, poetry, art and music. Often our thoughts ran
wild and when words failed us we would look into each other's eyes,
and one would say to the other: 'We understand each other.' These
words became a standing phrase which forthwith we decided to avoid as
trivial, and we had to laugh when occasionally it escaped our lips in
spite of us. The great ordeal of the final examination came. We had to
pass first through our written tests. In German composition, on the
'advantages and dangers of wealth' Nietzsche passed with No. 1; also in
a Latin exercise _de bello Punico primo_; but in mathematics he failed
with the lowest mark, No. 4. This upset him and in fact he who was
almost the most gifted of us all was compelled to withdraw."

While the two were strolling up and down in front of the schoolhouse,
Nietzsche unburdened his grief to his friend, and Deussen tried to
comfort him. "What difference does it make," said he, "if you pass
badly, if only you pass at all? You are and will always be more gifted
than all the rest of us, and will soon outstrip even me whom you now
envy. You must increase but I must decrease."

The course of events was as Deussen had predicted, for Nietzsche
though not passing with as much distinction as he may have deserved
nevertheless received his diploma.

When Deussen with his wife visited Nietzsche in August 1907 at
Sils-Maria, Nietzsche showed him a requiem which he had composed for
his own funeral, and he added: "I do not believe that I will last much
longer. I have reached the age at which my father died, and I fear
that I shall fall a victim to the same disease as he." Though Deussen
protested vigorously against this sad prediction and tried to cheer him
up, Nietzsche indeed succumbed to his sad fate within two years.


       *       *       *       *       *

Professor Deussen, though Nietzsche's most intimate friend, is by no
means uncritical in judging his philosophy. It is true he cherishes
the personal character and the ideal tendencies of his old chum, but
he is not blind to his faults. Deussen says of Nietzsche: "He was
never a systematic philosopher.... The great problems of epistemology,
of psychology, of æsthetics and ethics are only tentatively touched
upon in his writings.... There are many pearls of worth upon which he
throws a brilliant side light, as it were in lightning flashes....
His overwhelming imagination is always busy. His thoughts were
always presented in pleasant imagery and in language of dazzling
brilliancy, but he lacked critical judgment and was not controlled by a
consideration of reality. Therefore the creation of his pen was never
in harmony with the actual world, and among the most valuable truths
which he revealed with ingenious profundity there are bizarre and
distorted notions stated as general rules although they are merely rare
exceptions, as is also frequently the case in sensational novels. Thus
Nietzsche produced a caricature of life which means no small danger for
receptive and inexperienced minds. His readers can escape this danger
only when they do what Nietzsche did not do, when they confront every
thought of his step by step by the actual nature of things, and retain
only what proves to be true under the touchstone of experience."

Between the negation of the will and its affirmation Nietzsche granted
to Deussen while still living in Basel, that the ennoblement of the
will should be man's aim. The affirmation of the will is the pagan
ideal with the exception of Platonism. The negation of the will is the
Christian ideal, and according to Nietzsche the ennoblement of the will
is realized in his ideal of the overman. Deussen makes the comment that
Nietzsche's notion of the overman is in truth the ideal of all mankind,
whether this highest type of manhood be called Christ or overman; and
we grant that such an ideal is traceable everywhere. It is called
"Messiah" among the Jews; "hero" among the Greeks, "Christ" among
the Christians, and chiün, the superior man, or to use Nietzsche's
language, "the overman," among the Chinese; but the characteristics
with which Nietzsche endows his overman are unfortunately mere brutal
strength and an unscrupulous will to play the tyrant. Here Professor
Deussen halts. It appears that he knew the peaceful character of his
friend too well to take his ideal of the overman seriously.

We shall discuss Nietzsche's ideal of the overman more fully further
down in a discussion of his most original thoughts, the typically
Nietzschean ideas.

[1] See Dr. Paul Deussen's _Erinnerungen an Friedrich Nietzsche._
Leipsic, 1901.


According to Nietzsche, the history of philosophy from Plato to his
own time is a progress of the idea that objective truth (a conception
of "the true world") is not only not attainable, but does not exist
at all. He expresses this idea in his Twilight of the Idols (English
edition, pp. 122-123) under the caption, "How the 'True World' Finally
Became a Fable," which describes the successive stages as follows:

      "1. The true world attainable by the wise, the pious, and
      the virtuous man,--he lives in it, he embodies it.

      "(Oldest form of the idea, relatively rational, simple,
      and convincing. Transcription of the proposition, 'I,
      Plato, am the truth,')

      "2. The true world unattainable at present, but promised
      to the wise, the pious, and the virtuous man (to the
      sinner who repents).

      "(Progress of the idea: it becomes more refined, more
      insidious, more incomprehensible,--it becomes feminine, it
      becomes Christian.)

      "3. The true world unattainable, undemonstrable, and
      unable to be promised; but even as conceived, a comfort,
      an obligation, and an imperative.

      "(The old sun still, but shining only through mist and
      scepticism; the idea becomes sublime, pale, northerly,

      "4. The true world--unattainable? At any rate unattained.
      And being unattained also unknown. Consequently also
      neither comforting, saving nor obligatory: what obligation
      could anything unknown lay upon us?

      "(Gray morning. First dawning of reason. Cock-crowing of

      "5. The 'true world'--an idea neither good for anything,
      nor even obligatory any longer,--an idea become useless
      and superfluous; consequently a refuted idea; let us do
      away with it!

      "(Full day; breakfast; return of _bon sens_ and
      cheerfulness; Plato blushing for shame; infernal noise of
      all free intellects,)

      "6. We have done away with the true world: what world is
      left? perhaps the seeming?... But no! in doing away with
      the true, we have also done away with the seeming world!

      "(Noon; the moment of the shortest shadow; end of the
      longest error; climax of mankind; _Incipit Zarathustra!_)"

The reader will ask, "What next?" Probably afternoon and evening, and
then night. In the night presumably "the old sun," i. e., the idea of
Plato's true world, which (according to Nietzsche) grew pale in the
morning, will shine again.

Nietzsche's main desire was to live the real life and make his home not
in an imaginary Utopia but in this actual world of ours. He reproached
the philosophers as well as the religious leaders and ethical teachers
for trying to make mankind believe that the teal world is purely
phenomenal, for replacing it by the world of thought which they called
"the true world" or the world of truth. To Nietzsche the typical
philosopher is Plato. He and all his followers are accused of hypocrisy
for making people believe that "the true world" of their own fiction is
real and that man's ambition should be to attain to this "true world"
(the world of philosophy, of science, of art, of ethical ideals) built
above the real world. Nietzsche means to shatter all the idols of the
past, and he has come to the conclusion that even the scientists were
guilty of the same fault as the philosophers. They erected a world of
thought, of subjective conception from the materials of the real world,
and so he denounces even their attempts at constructing a "true world"
as either a self-mystification or a lie. It is as imaginary as the
world of the priest. In order to lead a life worthy of the "overman,"
we should assert ourselves and feel no longer hampered by rules of
conduct or canons of logic or by any consideration for truth.

With all his hatred of religion, Nietzsche was nevertheless an
intensely religious character, and knowing that he could not clearly
see a connection between his so-called "real world" and his actual
surroundings, he developed all the symptoms of religious fanaticism
which characterizes religious leaders of all ages. He indulged in
a mystic ecstacy, preaching it as the essential feature of his
philosophy, and his Dionysiac enthusiasm is not the least of the
intoxicants which are contained in his thought and bring so many
poetical and talented but immature minds under his control.

It is obvious that "the real world" of Nietzsche is more unreal than
"the true world" of philosophy and of religion which he denounces as
fictitious, but he was too naive and philosophically crude to see this.
Nietzsche's "real world" is a fabric of his own personal imagination,
while the true world of science is at least a thought-construction
of the world which pictures facts with objective exactness; it is
controlled by experience and can be utilized in practical life; it is
subject to criticism and its propositions are being constantly tested
either to be refuted or verified. Nietzsche's "real world" is the hope
(and perhaps not even a desirable hope) of a feverish brain whose
action is influenced by a decadent body.

Nietzsche's so-called "real world" is one ideal among many others. It
is as much subjective as the ideals of other mortals,--of men who seek
happiness in wealth, or in pleasures, or in fame, or in scholarship,
or in a religious life--all of them imagine that the world of their
thoughts is real and the goal which they endeavor to reach is the only
thing that possesses genuine worth. In Nietzsche's opinion all are
dreamers catching at shadows, but the shadow of his own fancy appeared
to him as real.

According to Nietzsche the universe is not a cosmos but a chaos. He
says (_La Gaya Scienza_, German edition, p. 148):

      "The astral order in which we live is an exception. This
      order and the relative stability which is thereby caused,
      made the exception' of exceptions possible,--the formation
      of organisms. The character-total of the world is into all
      eternity chaos, not in the sense of a missing necessity,
      but of missing order, articulation, form, beauty, wisdom,
      and as all our æsthetic humanities may be called."

In agreement with this conception of order, Nietzsche says of man, the
rational animal:

      "I fear that animals look upon man as a being of their own
      kind, which in a most dangerous way has lost the sound
      animal-sense,--as a lunatic animal, a laughing animal, a
      crying animal, a miserable animal." (_La Gaya Scienza_,
      German edition, p. 196.)

If reason is an aberration, the brute must be superior to man and
instinct must range higher than logical thought. Man's reason,
according to this consistent nominalist view, is purely subjective and
has no prototype in the objective world. This is a feature common to
all nominalistic philosophies. John Stuart Mill regards the theorems
of logic and mathematics, not only not as truths, but as positive
untruths. He says:

      "The points, lines, circles, and squares, which any one
      has in his mind, are (I apprehend) simply copies of the
      points, lines, circles, and squares which he has known in
      his experience. Our idea of a point, I apprehend to be
      simply our idea of the _minimum visibile_, the smallest
      portion of surface which we can see. A line, as defined
      by geometers, is wholly inconceivable. We can reason
      about a line as if it had no breadth; because we have a
      power, which is the foundation of all the control we can
      exercise over the operations of our minds; the power, when
      a perception is present to our senses, or a conception
      to our intellects, of attending to a part only of that
      perception or conception, instead of the whole. But we
      cannot conceive a line without breadth; we can form no
      mental picture of such a line: all the lines which we have
      in our minds are lines possessing breadth."

Nietzsche shows his nominalistic tendencies by repeatedly pronouncing
the same propositions in almost literally the same words,[1] without,
however, acknowledging the school in which he picked up this error.

It is quite true that mathematical lines and circles are human
conceptions, but they are not purely subjective conceptions, still
less untruths; they are great and important discoveries. They are
not arbitrarily devised but constructed according to the laws of the
uniformities that dominate existence. They represent actual features
of the factors which shape the objective universe, and thus only is it
possible that the astronomer through the calculation of mathematical
curves can predict the motion of the stars.[2]

Reason is the key to the universe, because it is the reflex of cosmic
order, and the cosmic order, the intrinsic regularity and immanent
harmony of the uniformities of nature, is not a subjective illusion but
an objective reality.

When Goethe claims that all things transitory are symbols of that
which is intransitory and eternal, Nietzsche answers that the idea of
anything intransitory is a mere symbol, and God (the idea of anything
eternal) a poet's lie.

Like a mocking-bird, the nominalist philosopher imitates the ring of
Goethe's well-known lines at the conclusion of the second part of
"Faust," in which the "real world" of transient things is considered as
a mere symbol of the true world of eternal verities:

    "Das Unvergangliche
    Ist nur dein Gleichniss.
    Gott der Verfängliche
    Ist Dichter-Erschleichniss.
    Weltspiel, das herrische,
    Mischt Sein und Schein:--
    Das Ewig-Närrische
    Mischt uns--hinein."

    "The non-deciduous
    Is a symbol of _thy_ sense,
    God ever invidious,
    A poetical license.
    World-play domineeringly
    Mixes semblance and fact,
    And between them us sneeringly
    The Ever-Foolish has packed."

In spite of Nietzsche's hunger for the realities of life, that is
to say for objectivity, he was in fact the most subjective of all
philosophers--so much so that he was incapable of formulating any
thought as an objectively precise statement. He did not believe in
truth: "There is probability, but no truth," says he in _Der Wanderer
und sein Schatten_, p. 190; and he adds concerning the measure of the
value of truth (ibid., Aphorism 4): "The trouble in ascending mountains
is no measure of their height, and should it be different in science?"

It is true that such words as "long" and "short" are relative, because
dependent on subjective needs and valuations. But must we for that
reason give up all hope of describing facts in objective terms? Are not
meters and foot-measures definite magnitudes, whether or not they be
long for one purpose and short for another? Relativity itself admits
of a description in objective terms; but if a statement of facts in
objective terms were impossible, the ideals of exact science (as all
ideals) would be a dream.

That Nietzsche prefers the abrupt style of aphorisms to dispassionate
inquisitions is a symptom that betrays the nature of his philosophy.
His ideas, thus expressed, are easily understood. They are but very
loosely connected, and we find them frequently contradictory. They are
not presented in a logical, orderly way, but sound like reiterated
challenges to battle. They are appeals to all wild impulses and a
clamor for the right of self-assertion.

While Nietzsche's philosophy is in itself inconsistent and illogical,
it is yet born of the logic of facts; it is the consistent result and
legitimate conclusion of principles uttered centuries ago and which
were slowly matured in the historical development of thought.

The old nominalistic school is the father of Nietzsche's philosophy.
A consistent nominalist will be driven from one conclusion to another
until he reaches the stage of Nietzsche, which is philosophical
anarchism and extreme individualism.

The nominalist denies the reality of reason; he regards the existence
of universals as a fiction, and looks upon the world as a heap of
particulars. He loses sight of the unity of the world and forgets that
form is a true feature of things. It is form and the sameness of the
laws of form which makes universality of reason possible.

Nominalism rose in opposition to the medieval realism of the schoolmen
who looked upon universals as real and concrete things, representing
them as individual beings that existed _ante res, in rebus_, and
_post res_, i. e., in the particulars, before them and after them.
The realists were wrong in so far as they conceived universals as
substances or distinct essences, as true realities (hence the name
"realism"); only they were supposed to be of a more spiritual nature
than material things but, after all, they were concrete existences.
They were said to have been created by God as an artisan would make
patterns or molds for the things which he proposes to produce.
According to Plato, ideas serve the Creator as models of concrete
objects of which they are deemed to be the prototypes. The realists
were mistaken in regarding the ideal as concrete and real, but the
nominalists, on the other hand, also went too far in denying the
objective significance of universals and declaring that universals were
mere names (_nomina_ and _flatus vocis_), i. e., words invented for the
sake of conveniently thinking things and serving no other purpose.

At the bottom of the controversy lies the problem as to the nature of
things. The question arises, What are things in themselves? Do things,
or do they not, possess an independence of their own? Kant's reply is,
that things in themselves can not be known; but our reply is, that
the nature of a thing consists in its form; a thing is such as it is
because it has a definite form. Therefore "things in themselves" do not
exist; but there are "forms in themselves."

Form is not a non-entity but the most important feature of reality,
and the pure laws of form are the determinative factors of the world.
The sciences of the laws of pure form, logic, arithmetic, algebra,
geometry, etc., are therefore the key to a comprehension of the world,
and morality is the realization of ideals, i. e., of the conceptions of
pure forms, which are higher, nobler, and better than those which have
been actualized.

From our standpoint, evolution is a process in which the eternal laws
of being manifest themselves in a series of regular transformations,
reaching a point at which sentiency appears. And then evolution takes
the shape of progress, that is to say, sentient beings develop
mind; sentiments become sensations, i. e., representative images;
and words denote the universals. Then reason originates as a reflex
of the eternal laws of pure form. Human reason is deepened in a
scientific world-conception, and becoming aware of the moral aspect of
universality it broadens out into comprehensive sympathy with all forms
of existence that like ourselves aspire after a fuller comprehension of

Thus the personality of man is the reflex of that system of
eternalities which sways the universe, and humanity is found to be a
revelation of the core of the cosmos, an incarnation of Godhood. This
revelation, however, is not closed. The appearance of the religions of
good-will and mutual sympathy merely marks the beginning of a new era,
and we may expect that the future of mankind will surpass the present,
as much as the present surpasses savagery. Such is the higher humanity,
the true "overman," representing a higher species of mankind, whom we

Nietzsche's philosophy of "unmorality" looms on the horizon of human
thought as a unique conception apparently ushered into this world
without any preparation and without any precedent. It sets itself up
against tradition. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche's immediate predecessor,
regarded history as the desolate dream of mankind, and Nietzsche
exhibits a remorseless contempt for everything that comes to us as a
product of history. Nietzsche scorns not only law and order, church
and state, but also reason, argument, and rule; he scorns consistency
and logic which are regarded as toys for weaklings or as tools of the

Nietzsche is a nominalist with a vengeance. His philosophy is
particularism carried to extremes. There is no unity of existence to
him. The God-idea is dead--not only the old metaphysical notion of a
God-individual, but also God in the sense of the ultimate ground of
being, the supreme norm of the cosmos. Nietzsche's world is split up
into particular selves. He does not ask how they originated; he only
knows that they are here. Above all, he knows that his own self is
here, and there is no bond of sympathy between it and other selves. The
higher self is that which assumes dominion over the world. His ideal
is brutal strength, his overman the tyrant who tramples under foot his
fellowmen. Democracy is an abomination to him, and he despises the
gospel of love as it is preached by both Christ and Buddha. This is
the key to his anti-moralism and to the doctrine of the autonomy of

Nietzsche's philosophy might be called philosophical nihilism, if
he did not object to the word. He calls it positivism, but it is
particularism, or rather an aristocratic individualism which in the
domain of thought plays the same role that political nihilism plays
in Russia. It would dethrone the hereditary Czar, the ruler by God's
grace, but it would not establish a republic. It would set on the
throne a ruthless demagogue, a self-made political boss--the overman.
It is the philosophy of protest, and Nietzsche is conscious of being
Slavic in thought and aspiration. Nor does he forget that his ancestors
belonged to the nobility. He claims to have been descended from a
Polish nobleman by the name of Niëtzki, a Protestant who came to
Germany in the eighteenth century as a religious refugee.

Nietzsche's love of Slavism manifested itself in his childhood, for
when the news of the fall of Sebastopol became known, Nietzsche, at
that time a mere boy, was so dejected that he could not eat and gave
expression to his chagrin in mournful strains of verse.

He who has faith in truth accepts truth as authority; he who accepts
truth as authority recognizes duty; he who recognizes duty beholds
a goal of life. He has found a purpose for which life appears worth
living, and reaches out beyond the bounds of his narrow individuality
into the limitless cosmos. He transcends himself, he grows in truth, he
increases in power, he widens in his sympathies.

Here we touch upon the God problem. In denning God as the ultimate
authority of conduct, we are confronted by the dilemma, Is there, or
is there not a norm of morality, a standard of right and wrong, to
which the self must submit? And this question is another version of
the problem as to the existence of truth. Is there truth which we
must heed, or is truth a fiction and is the self not bound to respect
anything? We answer this question as to the existence of truth in the
affirmative, Nietzsche in the negative.

But he who rejects truth cuts himself loose from the fountain-head of
the waters of life. He may deify selfhood, but his own self will die of
its self-apotheosis. His divinity is not a true God-incarnation, it is
a mere assumption and the self-exaltation of a pretender.

Nietzsche's philosophy is more consistent than it appears on its face.
Being the negation of the right of consistency, its lack of consistency
is its most characteristic feature. If the intellect is truly, as
Schopenhauer suggests, the servant of the will, then there is no
authority in reason, and arguments have no strength. All quarrels are
simply questions of power. Then, there is might, but not right; right
is simply the _bon plaisir_ of might. Then there is no good nor evil;
good is that which I will, bad is that which threatens to thwart my
will. Good and evil are distinctions invented for the enslavement of
the masses, but the free man, the genius, the aristocrat, who craftily
tramples the masses under foot, knows no difference. He is beyond good
and evil.

This, indeed, is the consequence which Nietzsche boldly draws. It is a
consistent anarchism; it is unmoralism, a courageous denial of ethical
rule; and a proud aristocratism, the ruthless shout of triumph of the
victor who hails the doctrine of the survival of the strongest and
craftiest as a "joyful science."

Nietzsche would not refute the arguments of those who differ from
him; for refutation of other views does not befit a positive mind that
posits its own truth. "What have I to do with refutations!" exclaims
Nietzsche in the Preface to his Genealogy of Morals. The self is
lord. There is no law for the lord, and so he denounces the ethics of
Christianity as slave-morality, and preaches the lord-morality of the
strong which is self-assertion.

Morality itself is denounced by Nietzsche as immoral. Morality is the
result of evolution, and man's moral ideas are products of conditions
climatic, social, economical, national, religious, and what not. Why
should we submit to the tyranny of a rule which after all proves to be
a relic of barbarism? Nietzsche rejects morality as incompatible with
the sovereignty of selfhood, and, pronouncing our former judgment a
superstition, he proposes "a transvaluation of all values." The self
must be established as supreme ruler, and therefore all rules, maxims,
principles, must go, for the very convictions of a man are mere chains
that fetter the freedom of his soul.

[1] _La Gaya Scienza_, German edition, p. 154; and _passim_ in
_Menschliches_, etc.

[2] For further details of a refutation of this wrong conception of
geometry, see the author's _Foundation of Mathematics_.


One might expect that Nietzsche, who glories in the triumph of the
strong over the weak in the struggle for life, red in tooth and claw,
would look up to Darwin as his master. But Nietzsche recognizes no,
master, and he emphasizes this by speaking in his poetry of Darwin
as "this English joker," whose "mediocre reason" is accepted for
philosophy.[1] To Nietzsche that which exists is the mere incidental
product of blind forces. Instead of working for a development of the
better from the best of the present, which is the method of nature,
he shows his contempt for the human and all-too-human; he prophesies
a deluge and hopes that from its floods the overman will emerge whose
seal of superiority will be the strength of the conqueror that enables
him to survive in the struggle for existence.

Nietzsche has looked deeply into the apparent chaos of life that
according to Darwin is a ruthless struggle for survival. He avoids
the mistake of those sentimentalists who believe that goody-goodyness
can rule the world, who underrate the worth of courage and over-rate
humility, and who would venture to establish peace on earth by
grounding arms. He sees the differences that exist between all things,
the antagonism that obtains everywhere, and preferring to play the part
of the hammer, he showers expressions of contempt upon the anvil.

And Nietzsche's self-assertion is immediate and direct. He does not
pause to consider what his self is, neither how it originated nor what
will become of it. He takes it as it is and opposes it to the authority
of other powers, the state, the church, and the traditions of the past.
An investigation of the nature of the self might have dispelled the
illusion of his self-glorification, but he never thinks of analysing
its constitution. Bluntly and without any reflection or deliberation he
claims the right of the sovereignty of self. He seems to forget that
there are different selves, and that what we need most is a standard by
which we can gauge their respective worth, and not an assertion of the
rights of the self in general.

We do not intend to quarrel with Nietzsche's radicalism. Nor do we
underrate the significance of the self. We, too, believe that every
self has the liberty to choose its own position and may claim as many
rights as it pleases provided it can maintain them. If it cannot
maintain them it will be crushed; otherwise it may conquer its rivals
and suppress counter-claims; but therefore the wise man looks before he
leaps. Reckless self-assertion is the method of brute creation. Neither
the lion nor the lamb meditate on their fate; they simply follow their
instincts. They are carnivorous or herbivorous by nature through the
actions of their ancestors. This is what Buddhists call the law of
deeds or _Karma_. Man's karma leads higher. Man can meditate on his
own fate, and he can discriminate. His self is a personality, i. e.,
a self-controlled commonwealth of motor ideas. Man does not blindly
follow his impulses but establishes rules of action. He can thus
abbreviate the struggle and avoid unnecessary friction; he can rise
from brute violence to a self-contained and well-disciplined strength.
Self-control (i. e., ethical guidance) is the characteristic feature
of the true "overman"; but Nietzsche knows nothing of self-control;
he would allow the self blindly to assert itself after the fashion of
animal instincts.

Nietzsche is the philosopher of instinct. He spurns all logical order,
even truth itself. He has a contempt for every one who learns from
others, for he regards such a man as a slave to other people's thought.
His ambition for originality is expressed in these four lines which he
inserted as a motto to the second edition of _La Gaya Scienza_:

    "Ich wohne in meinem eignen Haus,
    Hab' niemandem nie nichts nachgemacht
    Und--lachte noch jeden Meister aus,
    Der nicht sich selber ausgelacht."

We translate faithfully, preserving even the ungrammatical use of the
double negative, as follows:

    "In my own house do I reside,
    Did never no one imitate,
    And every master I deride,
    Save if himself he'd derogate."

We wonder that Nietzsche did not think of Goethe's little rhyme, which
seems to suit his case exactly:

    "A fellow says: 'I own no school or college;
    No master lives whom I acknowledge;
    And pray don't entertain the thought
    That from the dead I e'er learned aught.'
    This, if I rightly understand,
    Means: 'I'm a fool by own command.'"

Nietzsche observes that the thoughts of most philosophers are secretly
guided by instincts. He feels that all thought is at bottom a "will for
power," and the will for truth has no right to exist except it serve
the will for power. He reproaches philosophers for glorifying truth.

Fichte in his _Duties of the Scholar_ says:

      "My life and my fate are nothing; but the results of my
      life are of great importance. I am a priest of Truth; I am
      in the service of Truth; I feel under obligation to do, to
      risk, and to suffer anything for truth."

Nietzsche declares that this is shallow. Will for truth, he says,
should be called "will to make being thinkable." Here, it seems to us,
Nietzsche simply replaces the word "truth" by one of its functions.
Truth is a systematic representation of reality, a comprehensive
description of facts; the result being that "existence is made

Nietzsche is in a certain sense right when he says that truth in itself
is nothing; for every representation of reality must serve a purpose,
otherwise it is superfluous and useless. And the purpose of truth is
the furtherance of life. Nietzsche instinctively hits the right thing
in saying that at the bottom of philosophy there is the will for power.
In spite of our school-philosopher's vain declamations of "science
for its own sake," genuine philosophy will never be anything else
than a method for the acquisition of power. But this method is truth.
Nietzsche errs when he declares that "the head is merely the intestine
of the heart." The head endeavors to find out the truth, and the truth
is not purely subjective. It is true that truth is of no use to a man
unless he makes it his own; he must possess it; it must be part of
himself, but he cannot create it. Truth cannot be made; it must be
discovered. Since the scholar's specialized business is the elucidation
of the method of discovering the truth--not its purpose, not its
application in practical life--Fichte's ideal of the aim of scholarship
remains justified.

Omit the ideal of truth in a philosophy, and it becomes an _ignis
fatuus_, a will-o'-the-wisp, that will lead people astray. Truth makes
existence thinkable, but thinkableness alone is not as yet a test of
truth. The ultimate test of truth is its practical application. There
is something wrong with a theory that does not work, and thus the self
has a master, which is reality, the world in which it lives, with its
laws and actualities. The subjective self must measure its worth by the
objective standard of truth--to be obtained through exact inquiry and
scientific investigation.

The will for power, in order to succeed, must be clarified by a
methodical comprehension of facts and conditions. The contradictory
impulses in one's own self must be systematized so that they will not
collide and mutually annihilate themselves; and the comprehension of
this orderly disposition is called reason.

Nietzsche is on the right track when he ridicules such ideals as
"virtue for virtue's sake," and even "truth for truth's sake." Virtue
and truth are for the sake of life. They have not their purpose in
themselves, but their nature consists in serving the expansion and
further growth of the human soul. This is a truth which we have always
insisted upon and which becomes apparent when those people who speak of
virtue for its own sake try to define virtue, or determine the ultimate
standard of right and wrong, of goodness and badness. We say, that
whatever enhances soulgrowth, thus producing higher life and begetting
a superior humanity, is good; while whatever cripples or retards those
aspirations is bad. Further, truth is not holy in itself. It becomes
holy in the measure that it serves man's holiest aspirations. We
sometimes meet among scientists, and especially among philologists,
men who with the ideal of "truth for truth's sake," pursue some very
trivial investigations, such, for example, as the use of the accusative
after certain prepositions in Greek, or how often Homer is guilty of a
hiatus. They resemble Faust's famulus Wagner, whom Faust characterizes
as a fool

    ".... whose choice is
    To stick in shallow trash for ever more,
    Who digs with eager hand for buried ore,
    And when he finds an angle-worm rejoices."

Thus there are many trivial truths of no importance, the investigation
of which serves no useful purpose. For instance, whether the correct
pronunciation of the Greek letter _êta_; was _ee_ or _ay_ need not
concern us much, and the philologist who devotes all his life and his
best strength to its settlement is rather to be pitied than admired.
Various truths are very different in value, for life and truth become
holy according to their importance. All this granted, we need not, with
Nietzsche, discard truth, reason, virtue, and all moral aspirations.

Nietzsche apparently is under the illusion that reason, systematic
thought, moral discipline and self-control, are external powers, and
in his love of liberty he objects to their authority. Did he ever
consider that thought is not an external agent, but a clarification of
man's instincts, and that discipline is, or at least in its purpose
and final aim ought to be, self-regulation, so that our contradictory
thoughts would not wage an internecine war? Thus, Nietzsche, the
instinct-philosopher, appears as an ingenious boy whose very
immaturity is regarded by himself as the highest blossom of his
existence. Like an intoxicated youth, he revels in his irresponsibility
and laughs at the man who has learned to take life seriously. Because
the love of truth originates from instincts, Nietzsche treats it as a
mere instinct, and nothing else. He forgets that in the evolution of
man's soul all instincts develop into something higher than instinct,
and the love of truth develops into systematic science.

Nietzsche never investigated what his own self consisted of. He never
analyzed his individuality. Other-wise he would have learned that he
received the most valuable part of his being from others, and that the
bundle of instincts which he called his sovereign self was nothing but
the heirloom of the ages that preceded him. In spite of his repudiation
of any debt to others, he was but the continuation of others. But he
boldly carried his individualism, if not to its logical conclusions,
yet to its moral applications. When speaking of the Order of Assassins
of the times of the Crusades, he said with enthusiasm: "The highest
secret of their leaders was, 'Nothing is true, everything is allowed!'"
And Nietzsche adds: "That indeed, was liberty of spirit; that dismissed
even the belief in truth." The philosopher of instinct even regards
the adherence to truth as slavery and the proclamation of truth as

[1] See Nietzsche's poems in the appendix to _A Genealogy of Morals_,
Eng. ed., Macmillan, p. 248.


He quintessence of Nietzsche's philosophy is the "overman." What is the

The word (_Uebermensch_) comes from a good mint; it is of Goethe's
coinage, and he used it in the sense of an awe-inspiring being, almost
in the sense of _Unmensch_, to characterize Faust, the titanic man of
high aims and undaunted courage,--the man who would not be moved in the
presence of hell and pursued his aspirations in spite of the forbidding
countenance of God and the ugly grin of Satan. But the same expression
was used in its proper sense about two and a half millenniums ago
in ancient China, where at the time of Lao-tze the term _chiün jen_
[Chin. chars], "superior man," or _chiün tse_, "superior sage," was in
common usage. But the overman or _chiün jen_ of Lao-tze, of Confucius
and other Chinese sages is not a man of power, not a Napoleon, not
an unprincipled tyrant, not a self-seeker of domineering will, not a
man whose ego and its welfare is his sole and exclusive aim, but a
Christlike figure, who puts his self behind and thus makes his self--a
nobler and better self--come to the front, who does not retaliate, but
returns good for evil,[1] a man (as the Greek sage describes him) who
would rather suffer wrong than commit wrong.[2]

This kind of higher man is the very opposite of Nietzsche's overman,
and it is the spirit of this nobler conception of a higher humanity
which furnishes the best ideas of all the religions of the world, of
Lao-tze's Taoism, of Buddhism and of Christianity.

Alexander Tille, the English translator of Nietzsche's _Thus Spake
Zarathustra_, translates the word _Uebermensch_ by "beyond-man." But
"beyond" means _jenseits_; and Nietzsche wrote _über_, i. e., superior
to, over, or higher than, and the literal translation "overman" appears
to be the best. It is certainly better than the barbaric combination of
"superman" in which Latin and Saxon are mixed against one of the main
rules for the construction of words. Say "superhuman" and "overman,"
but not "overhuman" or "superman." Emerson in a similar vein, when
attempting to characterize that which is higher than the soul, invented
the term "oversoul," and I can see no objection to the word "overman."

The overman is the higher man, the superhuman man of the future, a
higher, nobler, more powerful, a better being than the present man!
What a splendid idea! Since evolution has been accepted as a truth, we
may fairly trust that we all believe in the overman. All our reformers
believe in the possibility of realizing a higher mankind. We Americans
especially have faith in the coming of the kingdom of the overman, and
our endeavor is concentrated in hastening his arrival. The question is
only, What is the overman and how can we make this ideal of a higher
development actual?

Happy Nietzsche! You need not trouble yourself about consistency;
you reject all ideals as superstitions, and then introduce an ideal
of your own. "There you see," says an admirer of Nietzsche, "what a
splendid principle it is not to own any allegiance to logic, or rule,
or consistency. The best thought of Nietzsche's would never have been
uttered if he had remained faithful to his own principles."

However ingenious the idea of an overman may be, Nietzsche carries his
propositions to such extremes that in spite of many flashes of truth
they become in the end ridiculous and even absurd. His ideal is good,
but he utterly fails to comprehend its nature and also the mode in
which alone the overman can be realized.

Nietzsche proclaims the coming of the "overman," but his overman is not
superior by intellect, wisdom, or nobility of character, but by vigor,
by strength, by an unbending desire for power and an unscrupulous
determination. The blond barbarian of the north who tramples under
foot the citizens of Greece and Rome, Napoleon I, and the Assyrian
conqueror,--such are his heroes in whom this higher manhood formerly
manifested itself.

He saw in the history of human thought, the development of the notion
of the "true world," which to him was a mere subjective phantom, a
superstition; but a reaction must set in, and he prophesied that the
doom of nihilism would sweep over the civilized world applying the
torch to its temples, churches and institutions. Upon the ruins of
the old world the real man, the overman, would rise and establish his
own empire, an empire of unlimited power in which the herds, i. e.,
the common people, would become subservient. The "herd animal" (so
Nietzsche called any one foolish enough to recognize morality and
truth) is born to obey. He is destined to be trodden under foot by the
overman who is strong, and also unscrupulous enough to use the herds
and govern them.

Nietzsche was by no means under the illusion that the rule of the
overman would be lasting, but he took comfort in the thought that
though there would be periods in which the slaves would assert
themselves and establish an era of the herd animals, the overman
would nevertheless assert himself from time to time, and this was
what he called his "doctrine of the eternal return"--the gospel of
his philosophy. The highest summit of existence is reached in those
phases of the denouement of human life when the overman has full
control over the herds which are driven into the field, sheared
and butchered for the sole benefit of him who knows the secret that
this world has no moral significance beyond being a prey to his good
pleasure. Nietzsche's hope is certainly not desirable for the mass
of mankind, but even the fate of the overman himself would appear as
little enviable a condition as that of the tyrant Dionysius under the
sword of Damocles, or the Czar of Russia living in constant fear of the
anarchistic bomb.

Nietzsche, feeling that his thoughts were untimely, lived in the
hope of "the coming of the great day" on which his views would find
recognition. He looked upon the present as a rebellion against the
spirit of strength and vigor; Christianity especially, and its doctrine
of humility and love for the down-trodden was hateful to him. He speaks
of it as a rebellion of slaves and places in the same category the
democraticism that now characterizes the tendency of human development
which he denounces as a pseudo-civilization.

He insists that the overman is beyond good and evil; and yet it
is obvious that though he claims to be the first philosopher who
maintained the principle of unmorality, he was only the first
philosopher boldly to proclaim it. His maxim (or lack of maxims) has
been stealthily and secretly in use among all those classes whom he
calls "overmen," great and small. The great overmen are conquerors
and tyrants, who meteorlike appear and disappear, the small ones are
commonly characterized as the criminal classes; but there is this
difference between the two, that the former, at least so far as they
have succeeded, recognize the absolute necessity of establishing law
and order, and though they may temporarily have infringed upon the
rules of morality themselves, they have finally come always to the
conclusion that in order to maintain their position they must enforce
upon others the usual rules of morality.

Both Alexander and Cæsar were magnanimous at the right moment. They
showed mercy to the vanquished, they exercised justice frequently
against their own personal likes or dislikes, and were by no means men
of impulse as Nietzsche would have his overman be. The same is true
of Napoleon whose success is mainly due to making himself subservient
to the needs of his age. As soon as he assumed the highest power in
France, Napoleon replaced the frivolous tone at his court, to which his
first wife Josephine had been accustomed, by an observance of so-called
_bourgeois_ decency, and he enforced it against her inclinations and
his own.

Further, Napoleon served the interests of Germany more than is
commonly acknowledged by sweeping out of existence the mediæval
system of innumerable sovereigns, ecclesiastical as well as secular,
who in conformity with the conservative tenor of the German people
had irremediably ensconced themselves in their hereditary rights
to the disadvantage of the people. Moreover, the _Code Napoleon_,
the new law book, perhaps the most enduring work of Napoleon, was
compiled by the jurists of the time, not because Napoleon cared for
justice, but because he saw that the only way of establishing a stable
government was by acknowledging rules of equity and by enforcing
their recognition. It is true that Napoleon made his service in the
cause of right and justice a pedestal for himself, but in contrast to
Nietzsche's ideas we must notice that this recognition of principle
was the only way of success to a man whose natural tendency was an
unbounded egotism, an unlimited desire for power.

In spite of his enthusiasm in announcing the advent of an overman,
Nietzsche would be a poor adviser for a rising usurper. He would be
able to cause a great upheaval, to bring about a Volcanic eruption,
or to raise a thunderstorm wherever restlessness prevails, but his
philosophy lacks the principle of using discretion, or advising
self-discipline, of applying scientific methods--all of which is
indispensable for success. He preaches boldness, not wisdom; and a hero
after Nietzsche's heart would be like a navigator who courageously
ventures into the storm but scorns a chart and leaves the mariners'
compass behind; he would steer not as circumstances demand but
according to his own sweet will, and would be wrecked before ever
reaching the harbor of overmanhood.

How much greater is the ideal of the overman as taught by the ancient
philosopher of China! He, the _chiün jen_, the superior man, does not
need power either political or financial to be great; he does not need
a pedestal of oppressed slaves to stand on; he is great in himself,
because he has a great compassionate heart and a broad comprehensive
mind. He is simple, and, as we read in the _Tao Teh King_, "He wears
wool [is not dressed in silk and purple] and wears his jewel concealed
in his bosom."

[1] _Lao-tse's Tao Teh King_, Chaps. 49 and 63.

[2] For a collection of Greek quotations on the ethics of returning
good for evil, see _The Open Court_, Vol. XV, 1901, pp. 9-12.


To those who have not the time to wade through the twelve volumes of
Nietzsche's works and yet wish to become acquainted with him at his
best, we recommend a perusal of his book _Thus Spake Zarathustra_.
It is original and interesting, full of striking passages, sometimes
flashes with deep truths, then again is sterile and unprofitable, or
even tedious, and sometimes absurd; but at any rate it presents the
embodiment of Nietzsche's grandest thoughts in their most attractive
and characteristic form. We need scarcely warn the reader that
Zarathustra is only another name for Friedrich Nietzsche and has
nothing to do with the historical person of that name, the great
Iranian prophet, the founder of Mazdaism.

Nietzsche's Zarathustra is a hermit philosopher who, weary of his
wisdom, leaves his cave and comes to mingle with men, to teach them the
overman. He meets a saint who loves God, and Zarathustra leaving him
says: "Is it possible? This old saint in his forest has not yet heard
that God is dead!"


Zarathustra preaches to a crowd in the market:

      "I teach you the overman. Man is a something that shall be
      surpassed. What have ye done to surpass him?

      "All beings hitherto have created something beyond
      themselves: and are ye going to be the ebb of this great
      tide and rather revert to the animal than surpass man?

      "What with man is the ape? A joke or a sore shame. Man
      shall be the same for the overman, a joke or a sore shame.

      "Behold, I teach you the overman!

      "The overman is the significance of the earth. Your will
      shall say; the overman shall be the significance of the

      "I conjure you, my brethren, remain faithful to the
      earth and do not believe those who speak unto you of
      superterrestrial hopes! Poisoners they are whether they
      know it or not.

      "Verily, a muddy stream is man. One must be the ocean to
      be able to receive a muddy stream without becoming unclean.

      "Behold, I teach you the overman: he is that ocean, in him
      your great contempt can sink.

      "What is the greatest thing ye can experience? That is
      the hour of great contempt. The hour in which not only
      your happiness, but your reason and virtue as well, turn

      "I love him who is of a free spirit and of a free heart:
      thus his head is merely the intestine of his heart, but
      his heart driveth him to destruction.

      "I love all those who are like heavy drops falling one by
      one from the dark cloud lowering over men: they announce
      the coming of the lightning and perish in the announcing.

      "Behold, I am an announcer of the lightning and a heavy
      drop from the clouds; that lightning's name it the

Zarathustra comes as an enemy of the good and the just. He says:

      "Lo, the good and just! Whom do they hate most? Him
      who breaketh to pieces their tables of values,--the
      law-breaker, the criminal:--but he is the creator.

      "The destroyer of morality I am called by the good and
      just: my tale is immoral."

[Illustration: COINS OF ANCIENT ELIS. Each is worth two drachmæ. One
shows on the obverse a Zeus head with a laurel wreath, the other a
winged Victory.]

Nietzsche's favorite animals are the proud eagle and the cunning
serpent, the former because it typifies aristocracy, the latter as
the wisest among all creatures of the earth. It is a strange and
exceptional combination, for these two animals are commonly represented
as enemies. The eagle and serpent was the emblem of ancient Elis and
is at present the coat-of-arms of Mexico, but in both cases the eagle
is interpreted to be the conqueror of the serpent, not its friend,
carrying it as his prey in his claws.

Zarathustra's philosophy is a combination of the eagle's pride and the
serpent's wisdom, which Nietzsche describes thus:

      "Lo! an eagle swept through the air in wide circles,
      a serpent hanging from it not like a prey, but like a
      friend: coiling round its neck.

      "They are mine animals,' said Zarathustra and rejoiced

      "The proudest animal under the sun, and the wisest animal
      under the sun have set out to reconnoitre.

      "They wish to learn whether Zarathustra still liveth.
      Verily, do I still live.

      "More dangerous than among animals I found it among men.
      Dangerous ways are taken by Zarathustra. Let mine animals
      lead me!"

Here is a sentence worth quoting:

      "Of all that is written I love only that which the writer
      wrote with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt
      learn that blood is spirit."

In another chapter on the back-worlds-men Nietzsche writes:

      "Once Zarathustra threw his spell beyond man, like all
      back-worlds-men. Then the world seemed to me the work of a
      suffering and tortured God.

      "Alas! brethren, that God whom I created was man's work
      and man's madness, like all Gods!

      "Man he was, and but a poor piece of man and the I. From
      mine own ashes and flame it came unto me, that ghost yea
      verily! It did not come unto me from beyond!

      "What happened, brethren? I overcame myself, the sufferer,
      and carrying mine own ashes unto the mountains invented
      for myself a brighter flame. And lo! the ghost departed
      from me!

      "Now to me, the convalescent, it would be suffering and
      pain to believe in such ghosts: suffering it would be for
      me and humiliation. Thus spake I unto the back-worlds-men."

Nietzsche's self is not ideal but material; it is not thought, not even
the will, but the body. The following passage sounds like Vedantism as
interpreted by a materialist:

      "He who is awake and knoweth saith: Body I am throughout,
      and nothing besides; and soul is merely a word for a
      something in body.

      "Body is one great reason, a plurality with one sense, a
      war and a peace, a flock and a herdsman.

      "Also thy little reason, my brother, which thou callest
      'spirit'--it is a tool of thy body, a little tool and toy
      of thy great reason.

      "T, thou sayest and art proud of that word. But the
      greater thing is--which thou wilt not believe--thy body
      and its great reason. It doth not say T, but it is the
      acting 'I.'

      "The self ever listeneth and seeketh: it compareth,
      subdueth, conquereth, destroyeth. It ruleth and is the
      ruler of the 'I' as well.

      "Behind thy thoughts and feelings, my brother, standeth a
      mighty lord, an unknown wise man--whose name is self. In
      thy body he dwelleth, thy body he is.

      "There is more reason in thy body than in thy best wisdom.
      And who can know why thy body needeth thy beat wisdom?

      "Thy self laugheth at thine 'I' and its prancings: What
      are these boundings and flights of thought? it saith
      unto itself. A round-about way to my purpose. I am the
      leading-string of the I and the suggester of its concepts.

      "The creative self created for itself valuing and
      despising, it created for itself lust and woe. The
      creative body created for itself the spirit to be the hand
      of its will."

One of the best passages in Zarathustra's sermons is Nietzsche's
command to love the overman, the man of the distant future:

      "I tell you, your love of your neighbor is your bad love
      of yourselves.

      "Ye flee from yourselves unto your neighbor and would
      fain make a virtue thereof; but I see through your

      "The thou is older than the I; the thou hath been
      proclaimed holy, but the I not yet; man thus thrusteth
      himself upon his neighbor.

      "Do I counsel you to love your neighbor? I rather counsel
      you to flee from your neighbor and to love the most remote.

      "Love unto the most remote future man is higher than love
      unto your neighbor. And I consider love unto things and
      ghosts to be higher than love unto men.

      "This ghost which marcheth before thee, my brother, is
      more beautiful than thou art. Why dost thou not give him
      thy flesh and thy bones? Thou art afraid and fleest unto
      thy neighbor.

      "Unable to endure yourselves and not loving yourselves
      enough, you seek to wheedle your neighbor into loving you
      and thus to gild you with his error.

      "My brethren, I counsel you not to love your neighbor; I
      counsel you to love those who are the most remote."

In perfect agreement with the ideal of the overman is Nietzsche's view
of marriage, and verily it contains a very true and noble thought:

      "Thou shalt build beyond thyself. But first thou must be
      built thyself square in body and soul.

      "Thou shalt not only propagate thyself but propagate
      thyself upwards! Therefore the garden of marriage may help

      "Thou shalt create a higher body, a prime motor, a wheel
      of self-rolling,--thou shalt create a creator.

      "Marriage: thus I call the will of two to create that one
      which is more than they who created it I call marriage
      reverence unto each other as unto those who will such a

      "Let this be the significance and the truth of thy
      marriage. But that which the much-too-many call marriage,
      those superfluous--alas, what call I that?

      "Alas! that soul's poverty of two! Alas! that soul's dirt
      of two! Alas! that miserable ease of two!

      "Marriage they call that; and they say marriage is made in

      "Well, I like it not that heaven of the superfluous!"

Nietzsche takes a Schopenhauerian view of womankind, excepting from the
common condemnation his sister alone, to whom he once said, "You are
not a woman, you are a friend." He says of woman:

      "Too long a slave and a tyrant have been hidden in woman.
      Therefore woman is not yet capable of friendship; she
      knoweth love only."

Nietzsche is not aware that the self changes and that it grows by the
acquisition of truth. He treats the self as remaining the same, and
truth as that which our will has made conceivable. Truth to him is a
mere creature of the self. Here is Zarathustra's condemnation of man's
search for truth:

      "'Will unto truth' ye call, ye wisest men, what inspireth
      you and maketh you ardent?

      "'Will unto the conceivableness of all that is,'--thus I
      call your will!

      "All that is ye are going to make conceivable. For with
      good mistrust ye doubt whether it is conceivable.

      "But it hath to submit itself and bend before yourselves!
      Thus your will willeth. Smooth it shall become and subject
      unto spirit as its mirror and reflected image.

      "That is your entire will, ye wisest men, as a will
      unto power; even when ye speak of good and evil and of

      "Ye will create the world before which to kneel down. Thus
      it is your last hope and drunkenness."

Recognition of truth is regarded as submission:

      "To be true,--few are able to be so! And he who is able
      doth not want to be so. But least of all the good are able.

      "Oh, these good people! _Good men never speak the truth_.
      To be good in that way is a sickness for the mind.

      "They yield, these good men, they submit themselves;
      their heart saith what is said unto it, their foundation
      obeyeth. But whoever obeyeth doth not hear _himself_!"

Nietzsche despises science. He must have had sorry experiences with
scientists who offered him the dry bones of scholarship as scientific

      "When I lay sleeping, a sheep ate at the ivy-wreath of my
      head,--ate and said eating: 'Zarathustra is no longer a

      "Said it and went off clumsily and proudly. So a child
      told me.

      "This is the truth: I have departed from the house of
      scholars, and the door I have shut violently behind me.

      "Too long sat my soul hungry at their table. Not, as they,
      am I trained for perceiving as for cracking nuts.

      "Freedom I love, and a breeze over a fresh soil. And I
      would rather sleep on ox-skins then on their honors and

      "I am too hot and am burnt with mine own thoughts, so as
      often to take my breath away. Then I must go into the open
      air and away from all dusty rooms.

      "Like millworks they work, and like corn-crushers. Let
      folk only throw their grain into them! They know only too
      well how to grind corn and make white dust out of it.

      "They look well at each other's fingers and trust each
      other not over-much. Ingenious in little stratagems, they
      wait for those whose knowledge walketh on lame feet; like
      spiders they wait.

      "They also know how to play with false dice; and I found
      them playing so eagerly that they perspired from it.

      "We are strangers unto each other, and their virtues are
      still more contrary unto my taste than their falsehoods
      and false dice."

Even if all scientists were puny sciolists, the ideal of science would
remain, and if all the professed seekers for truth were faithless to
and unworthy of their high calling, truth itself would not be abolished.

So far as we can see, Nietzsche never became acquainted with any one of
the exact sciences. He was a philologist who felt greatly dissatisfied
with the loose methods of his colleagues, but he has not done much
in his own specialty to attain to a greater exactness of results.
His essays on Homer, on the Greek tragedy, and similar subjects,
have apparently not received much recognition among philologists and

Having gathered a number of followers in his cave, one of them, called
the conscientious man, said to the others:

      "We seek different things, even up here, ye and I.
      For I seek more security. Therefore have I come unto
      Zarathustra. For he is the firmest tower and will--

      "Fear--that is man's hereditary and fundamental feeling.
      By fear everything is explained, original sin and original
      virtue. Out of fear also hath grown my virtue, which is
      called Science.

      "Such long, old fears, at last become refined, spiritual,
      intellectual, to-day, methinketh, it is called _Science_."

This conception of science is refuted by Nietzsche in this fashion:

      "Thus spake the conscientious one. But Zarathustra, who
      had just returned into his cave and had heard the last
      speech and guessed its sense, threw a handful of roses at
      the conscientious one, laughing at his 'truths.' 'What?'
      he called. 'What did I hear just now? Verily, methinketh,
      thou art a fool, or I am one myself. And thy "truth" I
      turn upside down with one blow, and that quickly.'

      "'For fear is our exception. But courage and adventure,
      and the joy of what is uncertain, what hath never been
      dared--courage, methinketh, is the whole prehistoric
      development of man.

      "'From the wildest, most courageous beasts he hath, by his
      envy and his preying, won all their virtues. Only thus
      hath he become a man.

      "'_This_ courage, at last become refined, spiritual,
      intellectual, this human courage with an eagle's wings and
      a serpent's wisdom--it, methinketh, is called to-day--'

      "'_Zarathustra_!' cried all who sat together there, as
      from one mouth making a great laughter withal."

      In spite of identifying the self with the body, which is
      mortal, Nietzsche longs for the immortal. He says:

      "Oh! how could I fail to be eager for eternity, and for
      the marriage-ring of rings, the ring of recurrence?

      "Never yet have I found the woman by whom I should like to
      have had children, unless it be this woman I love--for I
      love thee, O Eternity!"


The best known of Nietzsche's poems forms the conclusion of Thus Spake
Zarathustra, the most impressive work of Nietzsche, and is called
by him "The Drunken Song." The thoughts are almost incoherent and
it is difficult to say what is really meant by it. Nothing is more
characteristic of Nietzsche's attitude and the vagueness of his fitful
mode of thought. It has been illustrated by Hans Lindlof, in the same
spirit in which Richard Strauss has written a musical composition on
the theme of Nietzsche's _Thus Spake Zarathustra._


"The Drunken Song" reads in our translation as follows:

    "Man, listen, pray!
    What the deep midnight has to say:
    'I lay asleep,
    'But woke from dreams deep and distraught
    The world is deep,
    'E'en deeper than the day e'er thought.
    'Deep's the world's pain,--
    'Joy deeper still than heartache's burning.
    'Pain says, Life's vain!
    'But for eternity Joy's yearning.
    'For deep eternity Joy's yearning!'"

Prof. William Benjamin Smith has translated this same song, and we
think it will be interesting to our readers to compare his translation
with our rendering. It reads as follows:

    "Oh Man! Give ear!
    What saith the midnight deep and drear?
    'From sleep, from sleep
    'I woke as from a dream profound.
    'The world is deep
    'And deeper than the day can sound.
    'Deep is its woe,--
    'Joy, deeper still than heart's distress.
    'Woe saith, Forego!
    'But Joy wills everlastingness,--
    'Wills deep, deep everlastingness.'"


Nietzsche is far from regarding his philosophy as timely. He was
a proud and aristocratic character, spoiled from childhood by an
unfaltering admiration on the part of both his mother and sister.
It was unfortunate for him that his father had died before he could
influence the early years of his son through wholesome discipline.
Not enjoying a vigorous constitution Nietzsche was greatly impressed
with the thought that a general decadence was overshadowing mankind.
The truth was that his own bodily system was subject to many ailments
which hampered his mental improvement. He was hungering for health, he
envied the man of energy, he longed for strength and vigor, but all
this was denied him, and so these very shortcomings of his own bodily
strength--his own decadence--prompted in him a yearning for bodily
health, for an unbounded exercise of energy, and for success. These
were his dearest ideals, and his desire for power was his highest
ambition. He saw in the history of human thought, the development of
the notion of the "true world," which to him was a mere subjective
phantom, a superstition; but a reaction would set in, and he prophesied
that the doom of nihilism would sweep over the civilized world applying
the torch to its temples, churches and institutions. Upon the ruins of
the old world the real man, the overman, would rise and establish his
own empire, an empire of unlimited power in which the herds, i. e., the
common people would become subservient.

Nietzsche's philosophy forms a strange contrast to his own habits of
life. A model of virtue, he made himself the advocate of vice, and
gloried in it. He encouraged the robber[1] to rob, but he himself was
honesty incarnate; he incited the people to rebel against authority of
all kinds, but he himself was a "model child" in the nursery, a "model
scholar" in school, and a "model soldier" while serving in the German
army. His teachers as well as the officers of his regiment fail to find
words enough to _praise Nietzsche's obedience_.[2]

Nietzsche's professors declare that he distinguished himself "_durch
pünktlichen Gehorsam_" (p. 3); his sister tells us that she and her
brother were "_ungeheuer artig, wahre Musterkinder_" (p. 36). He makes
a good soldier, and, in spite of his denunciations of posing, displays
theatrical vanity in having himself photographed with drawn sword (the
scabbard is missing). His martial mustache almost anticipates the
tonsorial art of the imperial barber of the present Kaiser; and yet
his spectacled eyes and good-natured features betray the peacefulness
of his intentions. He plays the soldier only, and would have found
difficulty in killing even a fly.

Nietzsche disclaims ever having learned anything in any school, but
there never was a more grateful German pupil in Germany. He composed
fervid poems on his school--the well known institution Schulpforta,
which on account of its severe discipline he praises, not in irony but
seriously, as the "narrow gate."[3]


Nietzsche denounces the German character, German institutions, and
the German language, his mother-tongue, and is extremely unfair in
his denunciations. He takes pleasure in the fact that _Deutsch_ (see
Ulfila's Bible translation) originally means "pagans or heathen," and
hopes that the dear German people will earn the honor of being called
pagans. (_La Gaya Scienza_, p. 176.) A reaction against his patriotism
set in immediately after the war, when he became acquainted with the
brutality of some vulgar specimens of the victorious nation,--most of
them non-combatants.[4]

Nietzsche not only wrote in German and made the most involved
constructions, but when the war broke out he asked his adopted country
Switzerland, in which he had acquired citizenship after accepting
a position as professor of classical languages at the University
of Basel, for leave of absence to join the German army. In the
Franco-Prussian war he might have had a chance to live up to his
theories of struggle, but unfortunately the Swiss authorities did
not allow him to join the army, and granted leave of absence only on
condition that he would serve as a nurse. Such is the irony of fate.
While Nietzsche stood up for a ruthless assertion of strength and for
a suppression of sympathy which he denounced as a relic of the ethics
of a negation of life, his own tender soul was so over-sensitive that
his sister feels justified in tracing his disease back to the terrible
impressions he received during the war.

Nietzsche speaks of the king as "the dear father of the country."[5]
If there was a flaw in Nietzsche's moral character, it was
goody-goodyness; and his philosophy is a protest against the principles
of his own nature. While boldly calling himself "the first unmoralist,"
justifying even license itself and defending the coarsest lust,[6] his
own life might have earned him the name of sissy, and he shrank in
disgust from moral filth wherever he met with it in practical life.

Nietzsche denounced pessimism, and yet his philosophy was, as he
himself confesses, the last consequence of pessimism. Hegel declared
(says Nietzsche in _Morgenröthe_, p. 8), "Contradiction moves the
world, all things are self-contradictory"; "we (adds Nietzsche) carry
pessimism even into logic." He proposes to vivisect morality; "but
(adds he) you cannot vivisect a thing without killing it." Thus his
"unmoralism" is simply an expression of his earnestness to investigate
the moral problem, and he expresses the result in the terse sentence;
_Moral ist Nothlüge_ (_Menschliches_, p. 63.)

He preached struggle and hatred, and yet was so tender-hearted that
in an hour of dejection he confessed to his sister with a sigh: "I
was not at all made to hate or be an enemy."[7] The decadence which
he imputes to mankind is a mere reflection of his own state of mind,
and the strength which he praises is that quality in which he is most
sorely lacking. Nietzsche himself had the least possible connection
with active life. He was unmarried, had no children, nor any interests
beyond his ambition, and having served as professor of the classical
languages for some time at the small university of Basel, he was for
the greater part of his life without a calling, without duties, without
aims. He never ventured to put his own theories into practice. He did
not even try to rise as a prophet of his own philosophy, and remained
in isolation to the very end of his life.

Nietzsche must have felt the contradiction between his theories and
his habits of life, and it appears that he suffered under it more than
can be estimated by an impartial reader of his books. He was like the
bird in the cage who sings of liberty, or an apoplectic patient who
dreams of deeds of valor as a knight in tournament or as a wrestler in
the prize ring. Never was craving for power more closely united with

It is characteristic of him that he said, "If there were a God, how
should I endure not to be God?" and so his ambition impelled him at
least to prophesy the coming of his ideal, i. e., robust health, full
of bodily vigor and animal spirits, unchecked by any rule of morality,
and an unstinted use of power.

Nietzsche had an exaggerated conception of his vocation and he saw
in himself the mouthpiece of that grandest and deepest truth, viz.,
that man should dare to be himself without any regard of morality
or consideration for his fellow beings. And here we have the tragic
element of his life. Nietzsche, the atheist, deemed himself a God
incarnate, and the despiser of the Crucified, suffered a martyr's fate
in offering his own life to the cause of his hope. The earnestness
with which he preached his wild and untenable doctrines appeals to
us and renders his figure sympathetic, which otherwise would be
grotesque. Think of a man who in his megalomania preaches a doctrine
that justifies an irresponsible desire for power! Would he not be
ridiculous in his impotence to actualize his dream? and on the other
hand, if he were strong enough to practice what he preached, if like
another Napoleon, he would make true his dreams of enslaving the world,
would not mankind in self-defense soon rise in rebellion and treat
him as a criminal, rendering him and his followers incapable of doing
harm? But Nietzsche's personality, weak and impotent and powerless to
appear as the overman and to subjugate the world to his will, suffered
excruciating pains in his soul and tormented himself to death, which
came to him in the form of decadence--a softening of the brain.

Poor Nietzsche! what a bundle of contradictions! None of these
contradictions are inexplicable. All of them are quite natural. They
are the inevitable reactions against a prior enthusiasm, and he swings,
according to the law of the pendulum, to the opposite extreme of his
former position.

How did Nietzsche develop into an unmoralist? Simply by way of
reaction against the influence of Schopenhauer in combination with the
traditional Christianity.

Nietzsche passed through three periods in his development. He was
first a follower of Schopenhauer and an admirer of Wagner, but he
shattered his idols and became a convert to Auguste Comte's positivism.
Schopenhauer was the master at whose feet Nietzsche sat; from him
he learned boldness of thought and atheism, that this world is a
world of misery and struggle. He accepted for a time Schopenhauer's
pessimism but rebelled in his inmost soul against the ethical doctrine
of the negation of the will. He retained Schopenhauer's contempt for
previous philosophers (presumably he never tried to understand them)
yet he resented the thought of a negation of life and replaced it by
a most emphatic assertion. He thus recognized the reactionary spirit
of Schopenhauer, whose system is a Christian metaphysics. Nietzsche
denounces the ethics of a negation of the will as a disease, and since
nature in the old system is regarded as the source of moral evil the
idea dawns on him that he himself, trying to establish a philosophy of
nature, is an immoralist. He now questions morality itself from the
standpoint of an affirmation of the will, and at last goes so far as to
speak of ideals as a symptom of shallowness.[8]


Nietzsche argued that our conception of truth and our ideal world
is but a phantasmagoria, and the picture of the universe in our
consciousness a distorted image of real life. Our pleasures and pains,
too, are both transient and subjective. Accordingly it would be a gross
mistake for us to exaggerate their importance. What does it matter if
we endure a little more or less pain, or of what use are the pleasures
in which we might indulge? The realities of life consist in power, and
in our dominion over the forces that dominate life. Knowledge and truth
are of no use unless they become subservient to this realistic desire
for power. They are mere means to an end which is the superiority of
the overman, the representative of Nietzsche's philosophy by whom
the mass of mankind are to be enslaved. This view constitutes his
third period, in which he wrote those works that are peculiarly
characteristic of his own philosophy.

Nietzsche must not be taken too seriously. He was engaged with the
deepest problems of life, and published his opinions as to their
solution before he had actually attempted to investigate them. He
criticised and attacked like the Irishman who hits a head wherever he
sees it. Here are the first three rules of his philosophical warfare:

"First: I attack only those causes which are victorious, sometimes I
wait till they are victorious. Secondly: I attack them only when I
would find no allies, when I stand isolated, when I compromise myself
alone. Thirdly: I have never taken a step in public which did not
compromise me. That is my criterion of right action."

A man who adopts this strange criterion of right conduct must produce
a strange philosophy. His soul is in an uproar against itself. Says
Nietzsche in his _Götzendämmerung_, Aphorism 45:

      "Almost every genius knows as one phase of his development
      the 'Catilinary existence,' so-called, which is a feeling
      of hatred, of vengeance, of revolution against everything
      that is, which no longer needs to become ... Catiline--the
      form of Cæsar's pre-existence."

Nietzsche changed his views during his life-time, and the unmoralist
Nietzsche originated in contradiction to his habitual moralism. He was
a man of extremes. As soon as a new thought dawned on him, it took
possession of his soul to the exclusion of his prior views, and his
later self contradicts his former self.

Nietzsche says:

"The serpent that cannot slough must die. In the same way, the spirits
which are prevented from changing their opinions cease to be spirits."

So we must expect that if Nietzsche had been permitted to continue
longer in health, he would have cast off the slough of his immoralism
and the negative conceptions of his positivism. His _Zarathustra_ was
the last work of his pen, but it is only the most classical expression
of the fermentation of his soul, not the final purified result of his
philosophy; it is not the solution of the problem that stirred his

While writing his _Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen_, Nietzsche
characterizes his method of work thus:

      "That I proceed with my outpourings considerably like a
      dilettante and in an immature manner, I know very well,
      but I am anxious first of all to get rid of the whole
      polemico-negative material. I wish undisturbedly to sing
      off, up and down and truly dastardly, the whole gamut
      of my hostile feelings, 'that the vaults shall echo
      back.'[9] Later on, i. e., within five years, I shall
      discard all polemics and bethink myself of a really 'good
      work,' But at present my breast is oppressed with disgust
      and tribulation. I must expectorate, decorously and
      indecorously, but radically and for good" [_endgültig_].

The writings of Nietzsche will make the impression of a youthful
immaturity upon any half-way serious reader. There is a hankering
after originality which of necessity leads to aberrations and a
sovereign contempt for the merits of the past. The world seems
endangered, and yet any one who would seriously try to live up to
Nietzsche's ideal must naturally sober down after a while, and we may
apply to him what Mephistopheles says of the baccalaureus:

    "Yet even from him we're not in special peril
    He will, ere long, to other thoughts incline.
    The must may foam absurdly in the barrel.
    Nathless, it turns at last to wine."
                     _Tr. by Bayard Taylor._

Nietzsche did not live long enough to experience a period of matured
thought. He died before the fermentation of his mind had come to its
normal close, and so his life will remain forever a great torso,
without intrinsic worth, but suggestive and appealing only to the
immature, including the "herd animal" who would like to be an overman.

The very immaturity of Nietzsche's view becomes attractive to
immature minds. He wrote while his thoughts were still in a state of
fermentation, and he died before the wine of his soul was clarified.

Nietzsche is an almost tragic figure that will live in art as a
brooding thinker, a representative of the dissatisfied, a man of an
insatiable love of life, with wild and unsteady looks, proud in his
indomitable self-assertion, but broken in body and spirit. Such he was
in his last disease when his mind was wrapt in the eternal night of
dementia, the oppressive consciousness of which made him exclaim in
lucid moments the pitiable complaint. "_Mutter, ich bin dumm_" As such
he is represented in Klein's statue,[10] which in its pathetic posture
is a psychological masterpiece.


Nietzsche's works are poetic effusions more than philosophical
expositions and yet we would hesitate to call him a poet. His poems are
not poetical in the usual sense. They lack poetry and yet they appeal
not only to his admirers, but also to his critics and enemies. Most
of them are artificial yet they are so characteristic that they are
interesting specimens of a peculiar kind of taste. They strike us as
ingenious, because they reflect his eccentricities.

In a poem entitled "Ecce Homo"[11] he characterizes himself:

    "Yea, I know from whence I came!
    Never satiate, like the flame
    Glow I and consume me too
    Into light turns what I find,
    Cinders do I leave behind,
    Flame am I, 'tis surely true."

[1] E.g.:

    "Bitte nie! Lass dies Gewimmer!
    Nimm, ich bitte dich, nimm immer!"

[2] Compare _Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche's_ by his sister, Elisabeth

[3] Leben, pp. 90-97.

[4] (See, e. g., Leben, II., 1, pp. 108-111.) "Nach dem Kriege missfiel
mir der Luxus, die Franzosenverachtung," etc., p. 108. "Ich halte
das jetzige Preussen für eine der Cultur höchst gefährliche Macht."
Nietzsche ridicules the German language as barbarous in sound (_La
Gaya Scienza_, pp. 138-140), "wälderhaft, heiser, wie aus räucherigen
Stuben und unhöflichen Gegenden." Unique is the origin of the standard
style of modern high German from the bureaucratic slang, "kanzleimässig
schreiben, das war etwas Vornehmes" (_La Gaya Scienza_, p. 138), and
at present the German changes into an "Offizierdeutsch" (ibid., p.
139). Nietzsche suspects, "the German depth," "die deutsche Tiefe," to
be a mere mental dyspepsia (see "Jenseits von Gut und Böse," p. 211),
saying, "Der Deutsche verdaut seine Ereignisse schlecht, or wird nie
damit fertig; die deutsche Tiefe ist oft nur eine schwere, zögernde
Verdauung." Nevertheless, he holds that the old-fashioned German depth
is better than modern Prussian "Schneidigkeit und Berliner Witz und
Sand." He prefers the company of the Swiss to that of his countrymen.
(See also "Was den Deutschen abgeht," Vol. 8, p. 108.)

[5] "Unser lieber König," "der Landesvater," etc. See _Leben_, I., p.
24, and IL, 1, p. 248, "Unser lieber alter Kaiser Wilhelm," and "wir
Preussen waren wirklich stolz." These expressions occur in Nietzsche's
description of the Emperor's appearance at Bayreuth.

[6] _E.g._, "Auch der schädlichste Mensch ist vielleicht immer noch
der allernützlichste in Hinsicht auf Erhaltung der Art," etc. _La Gaya
Scienza_, p. 3 ff.

[7] "Ich bin so gar nicht zum Hassen und zum Feind sein gemacht!"

[8] See, e. g., _Leben_, I., p. 135, where he speaks of a new
"Freigeisterei," denouncing the "libres penseurs" as "unverbesserliche
Flachköpfe und Hanswürste," adding, "Sie glauben allesammt noch an's

[9] "Dass das Gewölbe wiederhallt,"--a quotation from Goethe's "Faust."

[10] Reproduced as the frontispiece of this book.


"Ja, ich weiss woher ich stamme!
Ungesättigt gleich der Flamme,
Glühe und verzehr ich mich,
licht wird alles was ich fasse,
Kohle alles was ich lasse:
Flamme bin ich sicherlich!"


Friedrich Nietzsche, the author of _Thus Spake Zarathustra_ and the
inventor of the new ideal called the "overman," is commonly regarded
as the most extreme egotist, to whom morality is non-existent and who
glories in the coming of the day in which a man of his liking--the
overman--would live au grand jour. His philosophy is an individualism
carried to its utmost extreme, sanctioning egotism, denouncing altruism
and establishing the right of the strong to trample the weak under
foot. It is little known, however, that he followed another thinker,
Johann Caspar Schmidt, whose extreme individualism he adopted. But this
forerunner who preached a philosophy of the sovereignty of self and an
utter disregard of our neighbors' rights remained unheeded; he lived in
obscurity, he died in poverty, and under the pseudonym "Max Stirner" he
left behind a book entitled _Der Einzige und sein Eigentum_.

The historian Lange briefly mentioned him in his _History of
Materialism_, and the novelist John Henry Mackay followed up the
reference which led to the discovery of this lonely comet on the
philosophical sky.[1]

The strangest thing about this remarkable book consists in the many
coincidences with Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy. It is commonly
deemed impossible that the famous spokesman of the overman should not
have been thoroughly familiar with this failure in the philosophical
book market; but while Stirner was forgotten the same ideas
transplanted into the volumes of the author of _Thus Spake Zarathustra_
found an echo first in Germany and soon afterwards all over the world.

Stirner's book has been Englished by Stephen T. Byington with an
introduction by J. L. Walker at the instigation of Benjamin R. Tucker,
the representative of American peaceful anarchism, under the title
_The Ego and His Own_. They have been helped by Mr. George Schumm and
his wife, Mrs. Emma Heller Schümm. These five persons, all interested
in this lonely and unique thinker, must have had much trouble in
translating the German original and though the final rendering of the
title is not inappropriate, the translator and his advisers agree
that it falls short of the mark. For the accepted form Mr. B. R.
Tucker is responsible, and he admits in the preface that it is not
an exact equivalent of the German. _Der Einzige_ means "the unique
man," a person of a definite individuality, but in the book itself our
author modifies and enriches the meaning of the term. The unique man
becomes the ego and an owner (_ein Eigener_), a man who is possessed of
property, especially of his own being. He is a master of his own and
he prides himself on his ownhood, as well as his ownership. As such he
is unique, and the very term indicates that the thinker who proposes
this view-point is an extreme individualist. In Stirner's opinion
Christianity pursued the ideal of liberty from the world; and in this
sense Christians speak of spiritual liberty. To become free from
anything that oppresses us we must get rid of it, and so the Christian
to rid himself of the world becomes a prey to the idea of a contempt
of the world. Stirner declares that the future has a better lot in
store for man. Man shall not merely be free, which is a purely negative
quality, but he shall be his own master; he shall become an owner of
his own personality and whatever else he may have to control. His
end and aim is he himself. There is no moral duty above him. Stirner
explains in the very first sentence of his book:

      "What is not supposed to be my concern! First and
      foremost, the good cause, then God's cause, the cause of
      mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice;
      further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland;
      finally, even the cause of mind, and a thousand other
      causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. 'Shame on
      the egoist who thinks only of himself!"

Stirner undertakes to refute this satirical explanation in his book
on the unique man and his own, and a French critic according to
Paul Lauterbach (p. 5) speaks of his book as _un livre qu'on quitte
monarque_, "a book which one lays aside a king."

Stirner is opposed to all traditional views. He is against church and
state. He stands for the self-development of every individual, and
insists that the highest duty of every one is to stand up for his

J. L. Walker in his Introduction contrasts Stirner with Nietzsche and
gives the prize of superiority to the former, declaring him to be a
genuine anarchist not less than Josiah Warren, the leader of the small
band of New England anarchists. He says:

      "In Stirner we have the philosophical foundation for
      political liberty. His interest in the practical
      development of egoism to the dissolution of the state
      and the union of free men is clear and pronounced, and
      harmonizes perfectly with the economic philosophy of
      Josiah Warren. Allowing for difference of temperament
      and language, there is a substantial agreement between
      Stirner and Proudhon. Each would be free, and sees in
      every increase of the number of free people and their
      intelligence an auxiliary force against the oppressor.
      But, on the other hand, will any one for a moment
      seriously contend that Nietzsche and Proudhon march
      together in general aim and tendency--that they have
      anything in common except the daring to profane the shrine
      and sepulcher of superstition?

      "Nietzsche has been much spoken of as a disciple of
      Stirner, and, owing to favorable cullings from Nietzsche's
      writings, it has occurred that one of his books has been
      supposed to contain more sense than it really does--so
      long as one had read only the extracts.

      "Nietzsche cites scores or hundreds of authors. Had he
      read everything, and not read Stirner?

      "But Nietzsche is as unlike Stirner as a tight-rope
      performance is unlike an algebraic equation.

      "Stirner loved liberty for himself, and loved to see any
      and all men and women taking liberty, and he had no lust
      of power. Democracy to him was sham liberty, egoism the
      genuine liberty.

      "Nietzsche, on the contrary, pours out his contempt
      upon democracy because it is not aristocratic. He is
      predatory to the point of demanding that those who must
      succumb to feline rapacity shall be taught to submit with
      resignation. When he speaks of 'anarchistic dogs' scouring
      the streets of great civilized cities, it is true, the
      context shows that he means the communists; but his
      worship of Napoleon, his bathos of anxiety for the rise
      of an aristocracy that shall rule Europe for thousands
      of years, his idea of treating women in the Oriental
      fashion, show that Nietzsche has struck out in a very
      old path--doing the apotheosis of tyranny. We individual
      egoistic anarchists, however, may say to die Nietzsche
      school, so as not to be misunderstood: We do not ask of
      the Napoleons to have pity, nor of the predatory barons
      to do justice. They will find it convenient for their own
      welfare to make terms with men who have learned of Stirner
      what a man can be who worships nothing, bears allegiance
      to nothing. To Nietzsche's rhodomontade of eagles in
      baronial form, born to prey on industrial lambs, we rather
      tauntingly oppose the ironical question: Where are your
      claws? What if the 'eagles' are found to be plain barnyard
      fowls on which more silly fowls have fastened steel spurs
      to hack the victims, who, however, have the power to
      disarm the sham 'eagles' between two suns?

      "Stirner shows that men make their tyrants as they make
      their gods, and his purpose is to unmake tyrants.

      "Nietzsche dearly loves a tyrant.

      "In style Stirner's work offers the greatest possible
      contrast to the puerile, padded phraseology of Nietzsche's
      _Zarathustra_ and its false imagery. Who ever imagined
      such an unnatural conjuncture as an eagle 'toting' a
      serpent in friendship? which performance is told of in
      bare words, but nothing comes of it. In Stirner we are
      treated to an enlivening and earnest discussion addressed
      to serious minds, and every reader feels that the word
      is to him, for his instruction and benefit, so far as he
      has mental independence and courage to take it and use it
      The startling intrepidity of this book is infused with
      a whole-hearted love for all mankind, as evidenced by
      the fact that the author shows not one iota of prejudice
      or any idea of division of men into ranks. He would lay
      aside government, but would establish any regulation
      deemed convenient, and for this only _our_ convenience
      is consulted. Thus there will be general liberty only
      when the disposition toward tyranny is met by intelligent
      opposition that will no longer submit to such a rule.
      Beyond this the manly sympathy and philosophical bent of
      Stirner are such that rulership appears by contrast a
      vanity, an infatuation of perverted pride. We know not
      whether we more admire our author or more love him.

      "Stirner's attitude toward woman is not special. She is
      an individual if she can be, not handicapped by anything
      he says, feels, thinks, or plans. This was more fully
      exemplified in his life than even in this book; but there
      is not a line in the book to put or keep woman in an
      inferior position to man, neither is there anything of
      caste or aristocracy in the book."

It is not our intention to enter here into a detailed criticism of
Stirner's book. We will only point out that society will practically
remain the same whether we consider social arrangements as voluntary
contracts or as organically developed social institutions, or as
imposed upon mankind by the divine world-order, or even if czars and
kings claim to govern "by the grace of God." Whatever religious or
natural sanction any government may claim to possess, the method of
keeping order will be the same everywhere. Wrongs have been done and in
the future may still be committed in the name of right, and injustice
may again and again worst justice in the name of the law. On the other
hand, however, we can notice a progress throughout the world of a slow
but steady improvement of conditions. Any globe-trotter will find by
experience that his personal safety, his rights and privileges are
practically the same in all civilized countries, whether they are
republics like Switzerland, France and the United States, or monarchies
like Sweden, Germany and Italy. At the same time murders, robberies,
thefts and other crimes are committed all over the world, even in
the homes of those who pride themselves on being the most civilized
nations. The world-conception lying behind our different social
theories is the same wherever the same kind of civilization prevails.
Where social evils prevail, dissatisfaction sets in which produces
theories and reform programs, and when they remain unheeded, a climax
is reached which leads to revolution.

Stirner's book begins with a short exhortation headed with Goethe's

    "My trust in nothingness is placed."

He discusses the character of human life (Chap. I) and contrasts men
of the old and the new eras (Chap. II). He finds that the ancients
idealized bodily existence while Christianity incarnates the ideal.
Greek artists transfigure actual life; in Christianity the divine takes
abode in the world of flesh, God becomes incarnate in man. The Greeks
tried to go beyond the world and Christianity came; Christian thinkers
are pressed to go beyond God, and there they find spirit. They are
led to a contempt of the world and will finally end in a contempt of
spirit. But Stirner believes that the ideal and the real can never be
reconciled, and we must free ourselves from the errors of the past. The
truly free man is not the one who has become free, but the one who has
come into his own, and this is the sovereign ego.

As Achilles had his Homer so Stirner found his prophet in a German
socialist of Scotch Highlander descent, John Henry Mackay. The reading
public should know that Mackay belongs to the same type of restless
reformers, and he soon became an egoistic anarchist, a disciple of
Stirner. His admiration is but a natural consequence of conditions.
Nevertheless Mackay's glorification of Stirner proves that in Stirner
this onesided world-conception has found its classical, its most
consistent and its philosophically most systematic presentation.
Whatever we may have to criticize in anarchism, Stirner is a man of
uncommon distinction, the leader of a party, and the standard-bearer
of a cause distinguished by the extremeness of its propositions which
from the principle of individualism are carried to their consistent

Mackay undertook the difficult task of unearthing the history of a man
who, naturally modest and retired, had nowhere left deep impressions.
No stone remained unturned and every clue that could reveal anything
about his hero's life was followed up with unprecedented devotion. He
published the results of his labors in a book entitled "Max Stirner,
His Life and His Work."[2] The report is extremely touching not so
much on account of the great significance of Stirner's work which to
impartial readers appears exaggerated, but through the personal tragedy
of a man who towers high above his surroundings and suffers the misery
of poverty and failure.

Mr. Mackay describes Stirner as of medium height, rather less so than
more, well proportioned, slender, always dressed with care though
without pretension, having the appearance of a teacher, and wearing
silver-or steel-rimmed spectacles. His hair and beard were blonde
with a tinge of red, his eyes blue and clear, but neither dreamy nor
penetrating. His thin lips usually wore a sarcastic smile, which,
however, had nothing of bitterness; his general appearance was
sympathetic. No portrait of Stirner is in existence except one pencil
sketch which was made from memory in 1892 by the London socialist,
Friedrich Engels, but the criticism is made by those who knew Stirner
that his features, especially his chin and the top of his head, were
not so angular though nose and mouth are said to have been well
portrayed, and Mackay claims that Stirner never wore a coat and collar
of that type.

[Illustration: PENCIL SKETCH OF MAX STIRNER. The only portrait in

Stirner was of purely Frankish blood. His ancestors lived for centuries
in or near Baireuth. His father, Albert Christian Heinrich Schmidt of
Anspach, a maker of wind-instruments, died of consumption in 1807 at
the age of 37, half a year after the birth of his son. His mother,
Sophie Eleanora, née Reinlein of the city of Erlangen, six months later
married H. F. L. Ballerstedt, the assistant in an apothecary shop in
Helmstedt, and moved with him to Kulm on the Vistula. In 1818 the boy
was sent back to his native city where his childless god-father and
uncle, Johann Caspar Martin Sticht, and his wife took care of him.

Young Johann Caspar passed through school with credit, and his
schoolmates used to call him "Stirner" on account of his high forehead
(_Stirn_) which was the most conspicuous feature of his face. This name
clung to him throughout life. In fact his most intimate friends never
called him by any other, his real name being almost forgotten through
disuse and figuring only in official documents.

Stirner attended the universities of Erlangen, Berlin and Königsberg,
and finally passed his examination for admission as a teacher in
gymnasial schools. His stepfather died in the summer of 1837 in Kulm at
the age of 76. It is not known what became of his mother who had been
mentally unsound for some time.

Neither father nor stepfather had ever been successful, and if Stirner
ever received any inheritance it must have been very small. On December
12 of 1837 Stirner married Agnes Clara Kunigunde Burtz, the daughter of
his landlady.

Their married life was brief, the young wife dying in a premature
child-birth on August 29th. We have no indication of an ardent love
on either side. He who wrote with passionate fire and with so much
insistence in his philosophy, was calm and peaceful, subdued and quiet
to a fault in real life.

Having been refused appointment in one of the public or royal schools
Stirner accepted a position in a girls' school October 1, 1839.
During the political fermentation which preceded the revolutionary
year of 1848, he moved in the circle of those bold spirits who called
themselves _Die Freien_ and met at Hippel's, among whom were Ludwig
Buhl, Meyen, Friedrich Engels, Mussak, C. F. Köppen, the author of a
work on Buddha, Dr. Arthur Müller and the brothers Bruno, Egbert and
Edgar Bauer. It was probably among their associates that Stirner met
Marie Dähnhardt of Gadebusch near Schwerin, Mecklenberg, the daughter
of an apothecary, Helmuth Ludwig Dähnhardt. She was as different from
Stirner as a dashing emancipated woman can be from a gentle meek man,
but these contrasts were joined together in wedlock on October 21,
1843. Their happiness did not last long, for Marie Dähnhardt left her
husband at the end of three years.

The marriage ceremony of this strange couple has been described in the
newspapers and it is almost the only fact of Stirner's life that stands
out boldly as a well-known incident. That these descriptions contain
exaggerations and distortions is not improbable, but it cannot be
denied that much contained in the reports must be true.

On the morning of October 21, a clergyman of extremely liberal
views, Rev. Marot, a member of the Consistory, was called to meet
the witnesses of the ceremony at Stirner's room. Bruno Bauer, Buhl,
probably also Julius Faucher, Assessor Kochius and a young English
woman, a friend of the bride, were present. The bride was in her
week-day dress. Mr. Marot asked for a Bible, but none could be found.
According to one version the clergyman was obliged to request Herr Buhl
to put on his coat and to have the cards removed. When the rings were
to be exchanged the groom discovered that he had forgotten to procure
them, and according to Wilhelm Jordan's recollection Bauer pulled out
his knitted purse and took off the brass rings, offering them as a
substitute during the ceremony. After the wedding a dinner with cold
punch was served to which Mr. Marot was invited. But he refused, while
the guests remained and the wedding carousal proceeded in its jolly

In order to understand how this incident was possible we must know that
in those pre-revolutionary years the times were out of joint and these
heroes of the rebellion wished to show their disrespect and absolute
indifference to a ceremony that to them had lost all its sanctity.

Stirner's married life was very uneventful, except that he wrote the
main book of his life and dedicated it to his wife after a year's
marriage, with the words,

    "Meinem Liebchen
    Marie Dähnhardt."

Obviously this form which ignores the fact that they were married,
and uses a word of endearment which in this connection is rather
trivial, must be regarded as characteristic of their relation and their
life principles. Certain it is that she understood only the negative
features of her husband's ideals and had no appreciation of the genius
that stirred within him. Lauterbach, the editor of the Reclam edition
of Stirner's book, comments ironically on this dedication with the
Spanish motto _Da Dios almendras al que no tiene muelas_, "God gives
almonds to those who have no teeth."

Marie Dähnhardt was a graceful blonde woman rather under-sized, with
heavy hair which surrounded her head in ringlets according to the
fashion of the time. She was very striking and became a favorite of
the round table of the _Freien_ who met at Hippel's. She smoked cigars
freely and sometimes donned male attire, in order to accompany her
husband and his friends on their nightly excursions. It appears that
Stirner played the most passive part in these adventures, but true
to his principle of individuality we have no knowledge that he ever
criticized his wife.

Marie Dähnhardt had lost her father early and was in possession of a
small fortune of 10,000 thalers, possibly more. At any rate it was
considered quite a sum in the circle of Stirner's friends, but it did
not last long. Having written his book, Stirner gave up his position
so as to prevent probable discharge and now they looked around for new
resources. Though Stirner had studied political economy he was a most
unpractical man; but seeing there was a dearth of milk-shops, he and
his wife started into business. They made contracts with dairies but
did not advertise their shop, and when the milk was delivered to them
they had large quantities of milk on hand but no patrons, the result
being a lamentable failure with debts.

In the circle of his friends Stirner's business experience offered
inexhaustible material for jokes, while at home it led rapidly to the
dissolution of his marriage. Frau Schmidt complained in later years
that her husband had wasted her property, while no complaints are known
from him. One thing is sure that they separated. She went to England
where she established herself as a teacher under the protection of Lady
Bunsen, the wife of the Prussian ambassador.

Frau Schmidt's later career is quite checkered. She was a well-known
character in the colony of German exiles in London. One of her friends
there was a Lieutenant Techow. When she was again in great distress she
emigrated with other Germans, probably in 1852 or 1853, to Melbourne,
Australia. Here she tasted the misery of life to the dregs. She made a
living as a washerwoman and is reported to have married a day laborer.
Their bitter experiences made her resort to religion for consolation,
and in 1870 or 1871 she became a convert to the Catholic Church. At her
sister's death she became her heir and so restored her good fortune to
some extent. She returned to London where Mr. Mackay to his great joy
discovered that she was still alive at the advanced age of eighty.
What a valuable resource her reminiscences would be for his inquiries!
But she refused to give any information and finally wrote him a letter
which literally reads as follows: "Mary Smith _solemnly avowes_ that
she will have _no more_ correspondence on the subject, and authorizes
Mr. -------[3] to return all those writings to their owners. She is ill
and prepares for death."

The last period of Stirner's life, from the time when his wife left him
to his death, is as obscure as his childhood days. He moved from place
to place, and since his income was very irregular creditors pressed him
hard. His lot was tolerable because of the simple habits of his life,
his only luxury consisting in smoking a good cigar. In 1853 we find
him at least twice in debtor's prison, first 21 days, from March 5 to
26,1853, and then 36 days, from New Year's eve until February 4 of the
next year. In the meantime (September 7) he moved to Philippstrasse 19.
It was Stirner's last home. He stayed with the landlady of this place,
a kind-hearted woman who treated all her boarders like a mother, until
June 25, 1856, when he died rather suddenly as the result of the bite
of a poisonous fly. A few of his friends, among them Bruno Bauer and
Ludwig Buhl, attended his funeral; a second-class grave was procured
for one thaler 10 groats, amounting approximately to one American

During this period Stirner undertook several literary labors from which
he possibly procured some remuneration. He translated the classical
authors on political economy from the French and from the English,
which appeared under the title _Die National-Oekonomen der Franzosen
und Engländer_ (Leipsic, Otto Wigand, 1845-1847).

He also wrote a history of the Reaction which he explained to be a mere
counter-revolution. This _Geschichte der Reaction_ was planned as a
much more comprehensive work, but the two volumes which appeared were
only two parts of the second volume as originally intended.

The work is full of quotations, partly from Auguste Comte, partly from
Edmund Burke. None of these works represent anything typically original
or of real significance in the history of human thought.

His real contribution to the world's literature remains his work
_Der Einzige und sein Eigentum_, the title of which is rendered in
English _The Ego and His Own_, and this, strange to say, enthrones
the individual man, the ego, every personality, as a sovereign power
that should not be subject to morality, rules, obligations, or duties
of any kind. The appeal is made so directly that it will convince all
those unscientific and half-educated minds who after having surrendered
their traditional faith find themselves without any authority in
either religion or politics. God is to them a fable and the state an
abstraction. Ideas and ideals, such as truth, goodness, beauty, are
mere phrases. What then remains but the concrete bodily personality
of every man of which every one is the ultimate standard of right and

[1] See also R. Schellwien, _Max Stirner und Friedrich Nietzsche_; V.
Basch, _L'individualisme anarchiste, Max Stirner_, 1904.

[2] _Max Stirner, sein Leben und sein Werk_. Berlin, 1898.

[3] The name of the gentleman she mentions is replaced by a dash at his
express wish in the facsimile of her letter reproduced in Mr. Mackay's
book (p. 255).


Strange that neither of these philosophers of individuality,
Nietzsche or Stirner, ever took the trouble to investigate what an
individual is! Stirner halts before this most momentous question
of his world-conception, and so he overlooks that his ego, his own
individuality, this supreme sovereign standing beyond right and wrong,
the ultimate authority of everything, is a hazy, fluctuating, uncertain
thing which differs from day to day and Anally disappears.

The individuality of any man is the product of communal life. No one
of us could exist as a rational personality were he not a member
of a social group from which he has imbibed his ideas as well as
his language. Every word is a product of his intercourse with his
fellow-beings. His entire existence consists in his relations toward
others and finds expression in his attitude toward social institutions.
We may criticize existent institutions but we can never do without any.
A denial of either their existence or their significance proves an
utter lack of insight into the nature of personality.

We insert here a few characteristic sentences of Stirner's views, and
in order to be fair we follow the condensation of John Henry Mackay
(pp. 135-192) than whom certainly we could find no more sympathetic or
intelligent student of this individualistic philosophy.

Here are Stirner's arguments:

The ancients arrived at the conclusion that man was spirit. They
created a world of spirit, and in this world of spirit Christianity
begins. But what is spirit? Spirit has originated from nothing. It
is its own creation and man makes it the center of the world. The
injunction was given, Thou shalt not live to thyself but to thy spirit,
to thy ideas. Spirit is the God, the ego and the spirit are in constant
conflict. Spirit dwells beyond the earth. It is in vain to force the
divine into service here for I am neither God nor man, neither the
highest being nor my being. The spirit is like a ghost whom no one has
seen, but of whom there are innumerable creditable witnesses, such as
grandmother can give account of. The whole world that surrounds thee
is filled with spooks of thy imagination. The holiness of truth which
hallows thee is a strange element. It is not thine own and strangeness
is a characteristic of holiness. The specter is truly only in thine
ownhood..... Right is a spleen conferred by a spook; might, that is
myself. I am the mighty one and the owner of might.... Right is the
royal will of society. Every right which exists is created right. I am
expected to honor it where I find it and subject myself to it. But what
to me is the right of society, the right of all? What do I care for
equality of right, for the struggle for right, for inalienable rights?
Right becomes word in law. The dominant will is the preserver of the
states. My own will shall upset them. Every state is a despotism.
All right and all power is claimed to belong to the community of the
people. I, however, shall not allow myself to be bound by it, for I
recognize no duty even though the state may call crime in me what
it considers right for itself. My relation to the state is not the
relation of one ego to another ego. It is the relation of the sinner
to the saint, but the saint is a mere fixed idea from which crimes
originate (Mackay, pages 154-5).

It will sometimes be difficult to translate Stirner's declarations in
their true meaning; for instance: "I am the owner of mankind, I am
mankind and shall do nothing for the benefit of another mankind. The
property of mankind is mine. I do not respect the property of mankind.
Poverty originates when I can not utilize my own self as I want to. It
is the state which hinders men from entering into a direct relation
with others. On the mercy of right my private property depends. Only
within prescribed limits am I allowed to compete. Only the medium of
exchange, the money which the state makes, am I allowed to use. The
forms of the state may change, the purpose of the state always remains
the same. My property, however, is what I empower myself to. Let
violence decide, I expect all from my own.

"You shall not lure me with love, nor catch me with the promise of
communion of possessions, but the question of property will be solved
only through a war of all against all, and what a slave will do as
soon as he has broken his fetters we shall have to see. I know no law
of love. As every one of my sentiments is my property, so also is
love. I give it, I donate it, I squander it merely because it makes me
happy. Earn it if you believe you have a right to it. The measure of
my sentiments can not be prescribed to me, nor the aim of my feelings
determined. We and the world have only one relation toward each other,
that of usefulness. Yea, I use the world and men." (Pp. 156-157.)

As to promises made and confidence solicited Stirner would not allow
a limitation of freedom. He says: "In itself an oath is no more
sacred than a lie is contemptible." Stirner opposes the idea of
communism. "The community of man creates laws for society. Communism
is a communion in equality." Says Stirner, "I prefer to depend on the
egotism of men rather than on their compassion." He feels himself
swelled into a temporary, transient, puny deity. No man expresses him
rightly, no concept defines him; he, the ego, is perfect. Stirner
concludes his book: "Owner I am of my own power and I am such only when
I know myself as the only one. In the only one even the owner returns
into his creative nothingness from which he was born. Any higher being
above, be it God or man, detracts from the feeling of my uniqueness and
it pales before the sun of this consciousness. If I place my trust in
myself, the only one, it will stand upon a transient mortal creator of
himself, who feeds upon himself, and I can say,

    "_Ich hab mein Sach' auf nichts gestellt._"
    "My trust in nothingness is placed.'"

We call attention to Stirner's book, "The Only One and His Ownhood,"
not because we are strongly impressed by the profundity of his thought
but because we believe that here is a man who ought to be answered,
whose world-conception deserves a careful analysis which finally would
lead to a justification of society, the state and the ideals of right
and truth.

Society is not, as Stirner imagines, an artificial product of men who
band themselves together in order to produce a state for the benefit of
a clique. Society and state, as well as their foundation the family,
are of a natural growth. All the several social institutions (kind of
spiritual organisms) are as much organisms as are plants and animals.
The co-operation of the state with religious, legal, civic and other
institutions, are as much realities as are individuals, and any one who
would undertake to struggle against them or treat them as nonentities
will be implicated in innumerable struggles.

Stirner is the philosopher of individualism. To him the individual,
this complicated and fluctuant being, is a reality, indeed the only
true reality, while other combinations, institutions and social
units are deemed to be mere nonentities. If from this standpoint the
individualism of Stirner were revised, the student would come to
radically different conclusions, and these conclusions would show that
not without good reasons has the individual developed as a by-product
of society, and all the possessions, intellectual as well as material,
which exist are held by individuals only through the assistance and
with the permission of the whole society or its dominant factors.

Both socialism and its opposite, individualism, which is ultimately
the same as anarchism, are extremes that are based upon an erroneous
interpretation of communal life. Socialists make society, and
anarchists the individual their ultimate principle of human existence.
Neither socialism nor anarchism are principles; both are factors, and
both factors are needed for preserving the health of society as well
as comprehending the nature of mankind. By neglecting either of these
factors, we can only be led astray and arrive at wrong conclusions.

Poor Stirner wanted to exalt the ego, the sovereign individual, not
only to the exclusion of a transcendent God and of the state or any
other power, divine or social, but even to the exclusion of his
own ideals, be it truth or anything spiritual; and yet he himself
sacrificed his life for a propaganda of the ego as a unique and
sovereign being. He died in misery and the recognition of his labors
has slowly, very slowly, followed after his death. Yea, even after his
death a rival individualist, Friedrich Nietzsche, stole his thunder and
reaped the fame which Stirner had earned. Certainly this noble-minded,
modest, altruistic egotist was paid in his own coin.

Did Stirner live up to his principle of ego sovereignty? In one sense
he did; he recognized the right of every one to be himself, even when
others infringed upon his own well-being. His wife fell out with him
but he respected her sovereignty and justified her irregularities.
Apparently he said to himself, "She has as much right to her own
personality as I have to mine." But in another sense, so far as he
himself was concerned, he did not. What became of his own rights, his
ownhood, and the sweeping claim that the world was his property, that
he was entitled to use or misuse the world and all mankind as he saw
fit; that no other human being could expect recognition, nay not even
on the basis of contracts, or promises, or for the sake of love, or
humaneness and compassion? Did Stirner in his poverty ever act on the
principle that he was the owner of the world, that there was no tie of
morality binding on him, no principle which he had to respect? Nothing
of the kind. He lived and died in peace with all the world, and the
belief in the great ego sovereignty with its bold renunciation of all
morality was a mere Platonic idea, a tame theory which had not the
slightest influence upon his practical life.

Men of Stirner's type do not fare well in a world where the ego has
come into its own. They will be trampled under foot, they will be
bruised and starved, and they will die by the wayside. No, men of
Stirner's type had better live in the protective shadow of a state; the
worst and most despotic state will be better than none, for no state
means mob rule or the tyranny of the bulldozer, the ruffian, the brutal
and unprincipled self-seeker.

Here Friedrich Nietzsche comes in. Like Stirner, Nietzsche was a
peaceful man; but unlike Stirner, Nietzsche had a hankering for power.
Being pathological himself, without energy, without strength and
without a healthy appetite and a good stomach, Nietzsche longed to play
the part of a bulldozer among a herd of submissive human creatures whom
he would control and command. This is Nietzsche's ideal, and he calls
it the "overman." Here Nietzsche modified and added his own notion to
Stirner's philosophy.

Individualistic philosophies are therefore based on an obvious error
by misunderstanding the nature of the individual man, by forgetting
the reality of society and its continued significance for the
individual life. A careful investigation of the nature of the state
as well as of our personality would have taught Stirner that both
the state and the individual are realities. The state and society
exist as much as the individuals of which they are composed,[1] and
no individual can ignore in his maxims of life the rules of conduct,
the moral principles, or whatever you may call that something which
constitutes the conditions of his existence, of his physical and
social surroundings. The dignity and divinity of personality does not
exclude the significance of super-personalities; indeed, the two, super
personal presences with their moral obligations and concrete human
persons with their rights and duties, co-operate with each other and
produce thereby all the higher values of life.

Stirner is onesided but, within the field of his onesided view,
consistent. Nietzsche spurns consistency but accepts the field
of notions created by Stirner, and, glorying in the same extreme
individualism, proclaims the gospel of that individual who on the basis
of Stirner's philosophy would make the best of a disorganized state
of society, who by taking upon himself the functions of the state
would utilize the advantages thus gained for the suppression of his
fellow beings; and this kind of individual is dignified with the title

Nietzsche has been blamed for appropriating Stirner's thoughts and
twisting them out of shape from the self-assertion of every ego
consciousness into the autocracy of the unprincipled man of power; but
we must concede that the common rules of literary ethics can not apply
to individualists who deny all and any moral authority. Why should
Nietzsche give credit to the author from whom he drew his inspiration
if neither acknowledges any rule which he feels obliged to observe?
Nietzsche uses Stirner as Stirner declares that it is the good right of
every ego to use his fellows, and Nietzsche shows us what the result
would be--the rise of a political boss, a brute in human shape, the

Nietzsche is a poet, not a philosopher, not even a thinker, but as a
poet he exercises a peculiar fascination upon many people who would
never think of agreeing with him. Most admirers of Nietzsche belong to
the class which Nietzsche calls the "herd animals," people who have no
chance of ever asserting themselves, and become hungry for power as a
sick man longs for health.

Individualism and anarchism continue to denounce the state, when they
ought to reform it and improve its institutions. In the meantime the
world wags on. The state exists, society exists, and innumerable social
institutions exist. The individual grows under the influence of other
individuals, his ideas--mere spooks of his brain--yet the factors of
his life, right or wrong, guide him and determine his fate. There are
as rare exceptions a few lawless societies in the wild West where a few
outlaws meet by chance, revolver in hand, but even among them the state
of anarchy does not last long, for by habit and precedent certain rules
are established, and wherever man meets man, wherever they offer and
accept one another's help, they co-operate or compete, they join hands
or fight, they make contracts, form alliances, and establish rules, the
result of which is society, the state, with all the institutions of the
state, the administration, the legislature, the judiciary, with all the
intricate machinery that regulates the interrelations of man to man.

The truth is that man develops into a rational, human and humane being
through society by his intercourse with other men. Man is not really an
individual in the sense of Stirner and Nietzsche, a being by himself
and for himself, having no obligations to his fellows. Man is a part
of the society through which he originated and to which he belongs and
to overlook, to neglect and to ignore his relations to society, not to
recognize definite obligations or rules of conduct which we formulate
as duties is the grossest mistake philosophers can make, and this
becomes obvious if we consider the nature of man as a social being as
Aristotle has defined it.

[1] See the author's _The Nature of the State_, 1894, and
_Personality_, 1911.


The assertion of selfhood and the hankering after originality make
Nietzsche the exponent of the absolute uniqueness of everything
particular, and he goes to the extreme of denying all kinds of
universality--even that of formal laws (the so-called uniformities
of nature), reason, and especially its application in the field of
practical life, morality. His ideal is "Be thyself! Be unique! Be
original!" Properly speaking, we should not use the term ideal when
speaking of Nietzsche's maxims of life, for the conception of an
ideal is based upon a recognition of some kind of universality, and
Nietzsche actually sneers at any one having ideals. The adherents of
Nietzsche speak of their master as "_der Einzige_," i. e., "the unique
one," and yet (in spite of the truth that every thing particular is in
its way unique) the uniformities of nature are so real and unfailing
that Nietzsche is simply the representative of a type which according
to the laws of history and mental evolution naturally and inevitably
appears whenever the philosophy of nominalism reaches its climax. He
would therefore not be unique even if he were the only one that aspires
after a unique selfhood; but the fact is that there are a number of
Nietzsches, he happening to be the best known of his type. Other
advocates of selfhood, of course, will be different from Nietzsche in
many unimportant details, but they will be alike in all points that
are essential and characteristic. One of these Nietzsches is George
Moore, a Britain who is scarcely familiar with the writings of his
German double, but a few quotations from his book, _Confessions of a
Young Man_, will show that he can utter thoughts which might have been
written by Friedrich Nietzsche himself. George Moore says:

      "I was not dissipated, but I loved the abnormal" (p. 18).

      "I was a model young man indeed" (p. 20).

      "I boasted of dissipations" (p. 19).

      "I say again, let general principles be waived; it
      will suffice for the interest of these pages if it be
      understood that brain-instincts have always been, and
      still are, the initial and the determining powers of my
      being" (p. 47).

George Moore, like Nietzsche, is one of Schopenhauer's disciples who
has become sick of pessimism. He says:

      "That odious pessimism! How sick I am of it" (p. 310).

When George Moore speaks of God he thinks of him in the old-fashioned
way as a big self, an individual and particular being. Hence he denies
him. God is as dead as any pagan deity. George Moore says:

      "To talk to us, the legitimate children of the nineteenth
      century, of logical proofs of the existence of God,
      strikes us in just the same light as the logical proof of
      the existence of Jupiter Ammon" (p. 137).

George Moore is coarse in comparison with Nietzsche. Nietzsche is no
cynic; he is pure-hearted and noble by nature. Moore is voluptuous
and vulgar. Both are avowed immoralists, and if the principle of an
unrestrained egotism be right, George Moore is as good as Nietzsche,
and any criminal given to the most abominable vices would not be worse
than either.

Nietzsche feels the decadence of the age and longs for health; but he
attributes the cause of his own decadence to the Christian ideals of
virtue, love, and sympathy with others. George Moore cherishes the same
views; he says:

      "We are now in a period of decadence, growing steadily
      more and more acute" (p. 239).

      "Respectability ... continues to exercise a meretricious
      and enervating influence on literature" (p. 240).

      "Pity, that most vile of all vile virtues, has never been
      known to me. The great pagan world I love knew it not" (p.

      "The philanthropist is the Nero of modern times" (p. 185).

Both Nietzsche and Moore long for limitless freedom; but Moore seems
more consistent, for he lacks the ideal of the overman and extends
freedom to the sex relation, saying:

      "Marriage--what an abomination! Love--yes, but not
      marriage...freedom limitless" (p. 168-169).

Moore loves art, but his view of art is cynical, and here too he is
unlike Nietzsche; he says:

      "Art is not nature. Art is nature digested. Art is a
      sublime excrement" (p. 178).

Both believe in the coming of a great social deluge. George Moore says:

      "The French revolution will compare with the revolution
      that is to come, that must come, that is inevitable, as a
      puddle on the road-side compares with the sea. Men will
      hang like pears on every lamp-post, in every great quarter
      of London, there will be an electric guillotine that will
      decapitate the rich like hogs in Chicago" (p. 343).

Ideals are regarded as superstitions, and belief in ideas is deemed
hypocritical. George Moore says:

      "In my heart of hearts I think myself a cut above you,
      because I do not believe in leaving the world better than
      I found it; and you, exquisitely hypocritical reader,
      think that you are a cut above me because you say you
      would leave the world better than you found it" (p. 354).

The deeds of a man, his thoughts and aspirations, which constitute his
spiritual self, count for nothing; the body alone is supposed to be
real, and thus after death a pig is deemed more useful than a Socrates.
Continues Moore:

      "The pig that is being slaughtered as I write this line
      will leave the world better than it found it, but you will
      leave only a putrid carcass fit for nothing but the grave"
      (p. 353).

Wrong is idealized:

      "Injustice we worship; all that lifts us out of the
      miseries of life is the sublime fruit of injustice.

      "Man would not be man but for injustice" (p. 203).

      "Again I say that all we deem sublime in the world's
      history are acts of injustice; and it is certain that if
      mankind does not relinquish at once and for ever, its
      vain, mad, and frantic dream of justice, the world will
      lapse into barbarism" (p. 205).

George Moore gives a moment's thought to the ideal of "a new art, based
upon science, in opposition to the art of the old world that was based
on imagination, an art that should explain all things and embrace
modern life in its entirety, in its endless ramifications, be it, as it
were, a new creed in a new civilization ... that would continue to a
more glorious and legitimate conclusion the work that the prophets have
begun"; but he turns his back upon it. It would be after all a product
of development; it would be the tyranny of a past age, and he says, "as
well drink the dregs of yesterday's champagne" (p. 128).


It is said that barking dogs do not bite, and this being true, we must
look upon Nietzsche's philosophy as a harmless display of words and a
burning desire for power without making any attempt to practice what
he preached. His philosophy, so far as he is concerned, is a purely
Platonic love of an unattainable star whose brilliance dazzled the
imagination of a childlike peaceful weakling. Suppose, however, for
argument's sake, that Nietzsche had been a man of robust health, and
that he had been born at the time of great disturbances, offering
unlimited chances to an unscrupulous ambition, would he under these
circumstances have led the life he preached, and in case he had done
so, would he have boldly and unreservedly admitted his principles while
carrying out his plans? Did ever Cæsar or Napoleon or any usurper,
such as Richard III, who unscrupulously aspired for power, own that he
would shrink from nothing to attain his aim? Such a straightforward
policy for any schemer would be the surest way of missing his aim.
Such men, on the contrary, have played hypocrites, and have pretended
to cherish ideals generally approved by the large masses of the people
whom Nietzsche calls the herd. So it is obvious that the philosophy
of Nietzsche if it were ever practically applied, would have become a
secret doctrine known only to the initiated few, while the broad masses
would be misguided by some demonstrative show of moral principles that
might be pleasing to the multitudes and yet at the same time conceal
the real tendency of the overman to gain possession of his superior

Nietzsche's influence upon professional philosophers is comparatively
weak. Whenever mentioned by them, it is in criticism, and he is
generally set aside as onesided, and perhaps justly, because he was
truly no philosopher in the strict sense of the word. He was no
reasoner, no logician, and we can not, properly speaking, look upon
his philosophy as a system or even a systematized view of the world.
Nietzsche made himself the exponent of a tendency, and as such he has
his followers among large masses of those very people whom he despised
as belonging to the herds. As Nietzsche idealized this very quality
in which he was lacking, so his followers recruit themselves from the
ranks of those people who more than all others would be opposed to the
rule of the overman. His most ardent followers are among the nihilists
of Russia, the socialists and anarchists of all civilized countries.
The secret reason of attraction, perhaps unknown to themselves, seems
to be Nietzsche's defense of the blind impulse and the privilege which
he claims for the overman to be himself in spite of law and order and
morality, and also his contempt for rules, religious, philosophical,
ethical or even logical, that would restrict the great sovereign
passion for power.

Nietzsche's philosophy has taken a firm hold of a number of souls
who rebel against the social, the political, the religious, and even
the scientific, conditions of our civilization. Nietzsche is the
philosopher of protest, and, strange to say, while he himself is
aristocratic in his instincts, he appeals most powerfully to the masses
of the people.

Nietzsche's disciples are not among the aristocrats, not among the
scholars, not among the men of genius. His followers are among
the people who believe in hatred and hail him as a prophet of the
great deluge. His greatest admirers are anarchists, sometimes also
socialists, and above all those geniuses who have failed to find
recognition. Nietzsche's thought will prove veritable dynamite if it
should happen to reach the masses of mankind, the disinherited, the
uneducated, the proletariat, the Catilinary existences. Nietzsche's
philosophy is an intoxicant to those whom he despised most; they see in
him their liberator, and rejoice in his invectives.

Invectives naturally appeal to those who are as unthinking as the
brutes of the field, but feel the sufferings of existence as much as
do the beasts of burden. They are impervious to argument, but being
full of bitterness and envy they can be led most easily by any kind
of denunciations of their betters. Nietzsche hated the masses, the
crowd of the common people, the herd. He despised the lowly and had
a contempt for the ideals of democracy. Nevertheless, his style of
thought is such as to resemble the rant of the leaders of mobs, and
it is quite probable that in the course of time he will become the
philosopher of demagogues.

A great number of Nietzsche's disciples share their master's
eccentricities and especially his impetuosity. Having a contempt for
philosophy as the work of the intellect, they move mainly in the field
of political and social self-assertion; they are anarchists who believe
that the overman is coming in labor troubles, strikes, and through a
subversion of the authority of government in any form.

The best known German expounders of Nietzsche's philosophy have been
Rudolph Steiner and Alexander Tille.[1] Professor Henri Lichtenberger
of the University of Nancy was his interpreter in France,[2] and the
former editor of The Eagle and the Serpent, known under the pseudonym
of Erwin McCall, in England. This periodical, which flourished for a
short time only, characterized its own tendency as follows:

"_The Eagle and the Serpent_ is a bi-monthly journal of egoistic
philosophy and sociology which teaches that in social science altruism
spells damnation and egoism spells salvation. In the war against their
exploiters the exploited cannot hope to succeed till they act as a
unit, an 'ego.'"

A reader of _The Eagle and the Serpent_ humorously criticised the
egoistic philosophy as follows:

      "Dear Eagle and Serpent.--I am one of those unreasonable
      persons who see no irreconcilable conflict between egoism
      and altruism. The altruism of Tolstoy is the shortest
      road to the egoism of Whitman. The unbounded love and
      compassion of Jesus made him conscious of being the son
      of God, and that he and the Father were one. Could egoism
      go further than this? I believe that true egoism and true
      altruism grow in precisely equal degree in the soul, and
      that the alleged qualities which bear either name and
      attempt to masquerade alone without their respective
      make-weights are shams and counterfeits. The real
      desideratum is balance, and that cannot be permanently
      preserved on one leg. However, you skate surprisingly well
      for the time being on one foot, and I have enjoyed the
      first performance so well that I enclose 60 cents for a
      season-ticket--ERNEST H. CROSBY. Rhinebeck, N. Y., U. S.

A German periodical _Der Eigene_, i. e., "he who is his own,"
announced itself as "a journal for all and nobody," and sounded "the
slogan of the egoists," by calling on them to "preserve their ownhood."

Another anarchistic periodical that stood under the influence of
Nietzsche appeared in Budapest,[3] Hungary, in German and Hungarian
under the name Ohne Staat, ("Without Government") as "the organ of
ideal anarchists," under the editorship of Karl Krausz.

Perhaps the most worthy exponent of Nietzsche in England to-day is his
translator Thomas Common. He does not consider himself an orthodox
Nietzsche apostle but thinks that Nietzsche has given the world a very
important revelation and that his new philosophy of history and his
explanation of the role of Christianity are among the most wonderful
discoveries since Darwin. At the same time Mr. Common pronounces
Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence "very foolish" and believes
his use of the terms "good" and "evil" so perverted that he was
frequently confused about them and so misled superficial readers. Mr.
Common published at regular intervals during the years 1903 to 1909
ten numbers of a small periodical entitled variously _Notes for Good
Europeans and The Good European Point of View_, and expects to resume
its publication soon. Its motto is from Nietzsche, "In a word--and it
shall be an honorable word--we are Good Europeans ... the heirs of
thousands of years of the European spirit." Its purpose is expressed in
its first number as follows: "Our general purpose is to spread the best
and most important knowledge relating to human well-being among those
who are worthy to receive it, with a view to reducing the knowledge
to practice, after some degree of unanimity has been attained.... As
Nietzsche's works, notwithstanding some limitations, exaggerations and
minor errors, embody the foremost philosophical thought of the age, it
will be one of our special objects to introduce these works to English

These numbers contain many bibliographical and other notes of interest
to friends or critics of the Nietzsche propaganda. Mr. Common has
published selections from Nietzsche's works under the title, _Nietzsche
as Critic, Philosopher, Poet and Prophet_.[4]

In America Nietzsche's philosophy is represented by a book of Ragnar
Redbeard, entitled _Might is Right, the Survival of the Fittest._[5]
The author characterizes his work as follows:


      "This book is a reasoned negation of the Ten
      Commandments--the Golden Rule--the Sermon on the
      Mount--Republican Principles--Christian Principles--and
      Principles' in general.

      "It proclaims upon scientific evolutionary grounds,
      the unlimited absolutism of Might, and asserts that
      cut-and-dried moral codes are crude and immoral
      inventions, promotive of vice and vassalage."

The author is a most ardent admirer of Nietzsche, as may be learned
from his verses made after the pattern of Nietzsche's poetry. He sings:

      "There is no 'law' in heaven or earth that man must needs
      obey! Take what you can, and all you can; and take it
      while you--may.

      "Let not the Jew-born Christ ideal unnerve you in the
      fight. You have no 'rights,' except the rights you win

      "There is no justice, right, nor wrong; no truth, no good,
      no evil. There is no 'man's immortal soul,' no fiery,
      fearsome Devil.

      "There is no 'heaven of glory:' No!--no 'hell where
      sinners roast' There is no 'God the Father,' No!--no Son,
      no 'Holy Ghost.'

      "This world is no Nirvâna where joy forever flows. It is a
      grewsome butcher shop where dead 'lambs' hang in--rows.

      "Man is the most ferocious of all the beasts of prey. He
      rangeth round the mountains, to love, and feast, and--slay.

      "He sails the stormy oceans, he gallops o'er the plains,
      and sucks the very marrow-bones of captives held

      "Death endeth all for every man,--for every 'son of
      thunder'; then be a lion (not a 'lamb') and--don't be
      trampled under."

A valuable recent addition to the discussion of egoism is _The
Philosophy of Egoism_ by James L. Walker, (Denver, 1905).

We know of no American periodical which stands for Nietzsche's views,
except, perhaps, _The Lion's Paw_ (Chicago) which claims to follow no
one. In the last years of the nineteenth century Clarence L. Swartz
published at Wellesley, Mass., an egoistic periodical called the _I_.
This magazine is no longer in existence, but Mr. Swartz is very active
in the International Intelligence Institute whose aims are universal
language, universal nationality and universal peace. He still maintains
the same philosophical view which he held as editor of the _I_, but his
philosophical egoism has led him in far different paths from those of
Nietzsche--into the paths of peace and not of struggle. He expresses
his present conception as follows:

"In the last analysis there is no right but might. Such is the common
ordinary rule of every-day life, from which there is no escape, even
were escape desirable. Any attempt to overthrow or circumvent or
even dispute the exercise of this prerogative of the mighty is but to
assert or oppose a greater might. Expediency always dictates how might
should be exercised. Politically, I hold that the non-coercion of
the non-invasive individual is the part of wisdom. The individual is
supreme, and should be preserved as against society, for in no other
way can evolution perform its perfect work."

_The Free Comrade_ edited by J. Wm. Lloyd and Leonard Abbott, an
avowedly socialistic and individualistic paper, originally under the
sole editorship of Lloyd, stood for Nietzsche and his egoism, but can
no longer be said to do so.

[1] A. Tille, _Von Darwin bis Nietzsche_. R. Steiner, _Wahrheit und
Wissenschaft_; _Die Philosophie der Freiheit; and F. Nietzsche, ein
Kämpfer gegen seine Zeit_.

We have already mentioned the biography of Nietzsche published by the
philosopher's sister, Frau E. Förster-Nietzsche. A characterization,
disavowed by Nietzsche's admirers, was written by Frau Lou Andreas
Salome, under the title _F. Nietzsche in seinen Werken_. Other
works kindred in spirit are Schellwien's _Der Geist der neueren
Philosophie_, 1895, and Der Darwinismus, 1896; also Adolf Gerecke,
_Die Aussichtslosigkeit des Moralismus_; Schmitt, _An der Grenzscheide
zweier Weltalter_; Károly Krausz, _Nietzsche und seine Weltanschauung._

[2] Henri Lichtenberger, _La Philosophie de Nietzsche_. Paris, Alcan,

[3] We may mention incidentally that a contributor to _Ohne Staat_
reproduced one of the Homilies of St Chrysostom, in which he harangues
after the fashion of the early Christian preachers against wealth
and power. The state's attorney, not versed in Christian patristic
literature, seized the issue and placed the man who quoted the old
Byzantine saint behind the prison bars. In the issue of Nov., 1898, Dr.
Eugen Heinrich Schmitt mentions the case and says: "Thus we have an
exact and historical proof that the liberty of speech and thought was
incomparably greater in miserable, servile Byzantium than it is now in
the much more miserable and more servile despotism of modern Europe."
Does not Dr. Schmitt overlook the fact that in the days of Byzantine
Christianity the saints were protected by the mob, which was much
feared by the imperial government and was kept at bay only by a nominal
recognition of its claims and beliefs?

[4] Other recent English Nietzschean literature is as follows: Grace
Neal Dolson, _The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche_, 1901; Oscar Levy,
_The Revival of Aristocracy_, 1906; A. R. Orage, _Fried. Nietzsche,
the Dionysion Spirit of the Age_, 1906; A. R. Orage, _Nietzsche in
Outline and Alphorism_; Henry L. Mencken, _The Philosophy of Friedrich
Nietzsche_; M. A. Mügge, _Friedrich Nietzsche: His Life and Work_;
Anthony M. Ludovici, _Who Is to Be Master of the World_?

[5] Published by Adolph Mueller, Chicago.


It may be interesting in this connection to mention the case of an
American equivalent to Nietzsche's philosophy, which so far as I know
has never yet seen publicity.

Some time ago the writer of this little book became acquainted with a
journalist who has worked out for his own satisfaction a new system of
philosophy which he calls "Christian economics," the tendency of which
would be to preach a kind of secret doctrine for the initiated few who
would be clever enough to avail themselves of the good opportunity. He
claims that the only thing worth while in life is the acquisition of
power through the instrumentality of money. He who acquires millions
can direct the destiny of mankind, and this tendency was first
realized in the history of mankind in this Christian nation of ours,
whose ostensible faith is Christianity. Our religion, he argues, is
especially adapted to serve as a foil to protect and conceal the real
issue, and so he calls his world-conception, "Christian economics."
Emperors and kings are mere puppets who are exhibited to general
inspection, and so are presidents and all the magistrates in office.
Political government has to obey the behests of the financiers, and the
most vital life of mankind resides in its economical conditions.

The inventor of this new system of "Christian economics" would allow no
other valuation except that of making money, on the sole ground that
science, art and the pleasures of life are nothing to man unless he is
in control of power which can be had only through the magic charm of
the almighty dollar.

I shall not comment upon his view, but shall leave it to the reader,
and am here satisfied to point out its similarity to Nietzsche's
philosophy. There is one point only which I shall submit here for
criticism and that is the principle of valuation which is a weak point
with both the originator of "Christian economics" and with Friedrich

Nietzsche proclaimed with great blast of trumpets, if we may so call
his rhetorical display of phrases, that we need a revaluation of
all values; but the best he could do was to establish a standard of
valuation of his own. Every man in this world attains his mode of
judging values according to his character, which is formed partly by
inherited tendencies, partly by education and is modified by his own
reflections and experiences. There are but few persons in this world
who are clearsighted enough to formulate the ultimately guiding motive
of their conduct. Most people follow their impulses blindly, but in
all of them conduct forms a certain consistent system corresponding to
their own idiosyncrasy. These impulses may sometimes be contradictory,
yet upon the whole they will all agree, just as leaves and blossoms,
roots and branches of the same tree will naturally be formed according
to the secret plan that determines the growth of the whole organism.
Those who work out a specially pronounced system of moral conduct do
not always agree in practical life with their own moral principle,
sometimes because they wilfully misrepresent it and more frequently
because their maxims of morality are such as they themselves would
like to be, while their conduct is such as they actually are. Such are
the conditions of life and we will call that principle which as an
ultimate _raison d'être_ determines the conduct of man, his standard of
valuation. We will see at once that there is a different standard for
each particular character.

A scientist as a rule looks at the world through the spectacles of
the scientist. His estimation of other people depends entirely on
their accomplishments in his own line of science. Artist, musician, or
sculptor does the same. To a professional painter scarcely any other
people exist except his pupils, his master, his rivals and especially
art patrons. The rest of the world is as indifferent as if it did not
exist; it forms the background, an indiscriminate mass upon which all
other values find their setting. All the professions and vocations,
and all the workers along the various lines of life are alike in that
every man has his own standard of valuation.

A Napoleon or a Cæsar might have preached the doctrine that the
sciences, the arts and other accomplishments are of no value if
compared with the acquisition of power, but I feel sure that it would
not have been much heeded by the mass of mankind, for no one would
change his standard of value. A financier might publicly declare that
the only way to judge people is according to the credit they have in
banking, but it would scarcely change the standard of judgment in
society. Beethoven knew as well as any other of his contemporaries the
value of money and the significance of power, and yet he pursued his
own calling, fascinated by his love for music. The same is true not
only of every genius in all the different lines of art and science, but
also of religious reformers and inventors of all classes. Tom, Dick and
Harry in their hankering for pleasure and frivolous amusement are not
less under the influence of the conditions under which they have been
born than the great men whose names are written in the book of fame. It
is difficult for every one of us to create for himself a new standard
of valuation, for what Goethe says of man's destiny in a poem entitled
_Daimon_, is true:[1]

    "As on the day which has begotten thee
    The sun and planets stood in constellation,
    Thus growest and remainest thou to be,
    For't is life's start lays down the regulation
    How thou must be. Thyself thou canst not flee.
    Such sibyl's is and prophet's proclamation.
    For truly, neither force nor time dissolveth,
    Organic form as, living, it evolveth."

The original reads thus:

    "Wie an dem Tag der dich der Welt verliehen,
    Die Sonne stand zum Grusse der Planeten,
    Bist alsobald and fort und fort gediehen
    Nach dem Gesetz, wonach du angetreten.
    So musst du sein, dir kannst du nicht entfliehen,
    So sagten schon Sibyllen, so Propheten;
    Und keine Zeit und keine Macht zerstückelt,
    Geprägte Form, die lebend sich entwickelt."

Our attitude in life depends upon our character, and the basic elements
of character are the product of the circumstances that gave birth to
our being. Our character enters unconsciously or consciously in the
formulation of our standards of value which we will find to be the
most significant factors of our destinies. Now the question arises, Is
the standard of value which we set up, each one of us according to his
character, purely subjective or is there any objective criterion of its

We must understand that to a great extent our choice of a profession
and other preferences in our occupations or valuations are naturally
different according to conditions; some men are fit to be musicians,
or scholars, or traders, or farmers, or manufacturers, and others
are not. The same profession would not be appropriate for every one.
But there is a field common to all occupations which deals with man's
attitude toward his fellow beings and, in fact, toward the whole
universe in general. This it is with which we are mainly concerned
in our discussion of a criterion of value because it is the field
occupied by religion, philosophy and ethics. Tradition has sanctioned
definite views on this very subject which have been codified in certain
rules of conduct different in many details in different countries
according to religion, national and climatic conditions, and the type
of civilization; yet, after all, they agree in most remarkable and
surprising coincidences in all essential points.

Nietzsche, the most radical of radicals, sets up a standard of
valuation of his own, placing it in the acquisition of power, and he
claims that it alone is entitled to serve as a measure for judging
worth because, says he, it alone deals with that which is real in the
world; yet at the same time he disdains to recognize the existence of
any objective criterion of the several standards of value. If he were
consistent, he ought to give the palm of highest morality to the man
who succeeds best in trampling under foot his fellowmen, and he does
so by calling him the overman, but he does not call him moral. To be
sure this would be a novel conception of morality and would sanction
what is commonly execrated as one of the most devilish forms of
immorality. Nietzsche takes morality in its accepted meaning, and so
in contradiction to himself denies its justification in general.

Considering that every one carries a standard of valuation in himself
we propose the question, "Is there no objective criterion of valuation,
or are all valuations purely subjective?" This question means whether
the constitution of the objective world in which we all live, is such
as to favor a definite mode of action determined by some definite
criterion of value.

We answer that subjective standards of valuation may be regarded as
endorsed through experience by the course of events in the world
whenever they meet with success, and thus subjective judgments become
objectively justified. They are seen to be in agreement with the
natural course of the world, and those who adhere to them will in the
long run be rewarded by survival. Such an endorsement of standards can
be determined by experience and has resulted in what is commonly called
"morality." We may here take for granted that the moral valuation is a
product of many millenniums and has been established, not only in one
country and by one religion, nor in one kind of human society, but in
perfect independence in many different countries, under the most varied
conditions, and finds expression in the symbolism of the most divergent
creeds. The beliefs of a Christian, of a Buddhist, of a Mussulman in
Turkey, or a Taoist in the Celestial Empire, of a Parsee in Bombay, or
Japanese Shintoist, are all as unlike as they can be, but all agree
as to the excellency of moral behavior which has been formulated in
these different religions in sayings incorporated in their literature.
We find very little if anything contradictory in their standards of
valuation, and if there is any objective norm for the subjective
valuation of man it is this moral consensus in which all the great
religious prophets and reformers of mankind agree.

A transvaluation of all values is certainly needed, and it is taking
place now. In fact it has always taken place whenever and wherever
mankind grows or progresses or changes the current world-conception.

The old morality has been negative and we feel the need of positive
ideals. The old doctrines are formulated in rules which forbid certain
actions and our commandments begin with the words "Thou shalt not...."
Those folk are esteemed moral who obey these restrictions or at least
do not ostensibly infringe upon them, and this practically limits
morality to mediocrity. How often have great and noble people been
condemned as immoral because some irregularities would not fit the
Procrustean bed of customary respectability! Think only of George Eliot
who had to suffer under the prejudices of Sunday-School morality! We
need a higher standard in which we may set aside the paltry views
of the old morality without losing our ideals. We need a positive
norm, the norm which counts in the actual world and in history, where
man is measured not by his sins of omission but by his positive
accomplishments; not by the errors he has or has not committed, but by
his deeds, by the work with which he has benefited mankind. Therefore
the new morality does not waste much time with the several injunctions,
"Thou shalt not ..." but impresses the growing generation with the
demand: "Do something useful; show thyself efficient; be superior to
others in nobility, in generosity, in energy; excel in one way or
another"; and in this sense a transvaluation of the old values is being
worked out at present.

We will grant that Nietzsche's demand of a transvaluation of all values
may mean to criticize the narrow doctrines and views of the religion
of his surroundings. But as he expresses himself and according to his
philosophical principle he goes so far as to condemn not only the husk
of all these religious movements, but also their spirit. In spite of
his subjectivism which denies the existence of anything ideal, and
goes so far as to deny the right even of truth to have an objective
value, Nietzsche establishes a new objectivism, and proposes his own,
and indeed very crude, subjective standard of valuation as the only
objective one worthy of consideration for the transvaluation of all

Nietzsche's real world, or rather what he deemed to be the real world,
is a dream, the dream of a sick man, to whom nothing possesses value
save the boons denied him, physical health, strength, power to dare and
to do.

The transvaluation of all values which Nietzsche so confidently
prophesied, will not take place, at least not in the sense that
Nietzsche believed. There is no reason to doubt that in the future
as in the past history will follow the old conservative line of
development in which different people according to their different
characters will adopt their own subjective standards, and nature, by a
survival of the fittest will select those for preservation who are most
in agreement with this real world in which we live, a world from which
Nietzsche, according to the sickly condition of his constitution, was
separated by a wide gulf. He thirsted for it in vain, and we believe
that he had a wrong conception of the wealth of its possibilities and

[1] So far as I know, these lines have never been translated before.


Nietzsche is unquestionably a bold thinker, a Faust-like questioner,
and a Titan among philosophers. He is a man who understands that the
problem of all problems is the question, Is there an authority higher
than myself? And having discarded belief in God, he finds no authority
except pretensions.

Nietzsche apparently is only familiar with the sanctions of morality
and the criterion of good and evil as they are represented in the
institutions and thoughts established by history, and seeing how
frequently they serve as tools in the hands of the crafty for the
oppression of the unsophisticated masses of the people, he discards
them as utterly worthless. Hence his truly magnificent wrath, his
disgust, his contempt for underling man, for the masses, this muddy
stream of present mankind.

If Nietzsche had dug deeper, he would have found that there is after
all a deep significance in moral ideals, for there is an authority
above the self by which the worth of the self must be measured. Truth
is not a mere creature of the self, but is the comprehension of the
immutable eternal laws of being which constitute the norm of existence.
Our self, "that creating, willing, valuing 'I,' which (according to
Nietzsche) is the measure and value of all things," is itself measured
by that eternal norm of being, the existence of which Nietzsche does
not recognize.

What is true of Nietzsche applies in all fundamental questions also to
his predecessor, Max Stirner. It applies to individualism in any form
if carried to its consistent and most extreme consequences.

Nietzsche is blind to the truth that there is a norm above the self,
and that this norm is the source of duty and the object of religion;
he therefore denies the very existence of duty, of conviction, of
moral principles, of sympathy with the suffering, of authority in any
shape, and yet he dares to condemn man in the shape of the present
generation of mankind. What right has he, then, to judge the sovereign
self of to-day and to announce the coming of another self in the
overman? From the principles of his philosophical anarchism he has no
right to denounce mankind of to-day, as an underling; for if there is
no objective standard of worth, there is no sense in distinguishing
between the underman of to-day and the overman of a nobler future.

On this point, however, Nietzsche deviates from his predecessor
Stirner. The latter is more consistent as an individualist, but the
former appeals strongly to the egoism of the individual.

Nietzsche is a Titan and he is truly Titanic in his rebellion against
the smallness of everything that means to be an incarnation of what is
great and noble and holy. But he does not protest against the smallness
of the representatives of truth and right, he protests against truth
and right themselves, and thus he is not merely Titanic, but a genuine
Titan,--attempting to take the heavens by storm, a monster, not
superhuman but inhuman in proportions, in sentiment and in spirit.
Being ingenious, he is, in his way, a genius, but he is not evenly
balanced; he is eccentric and, not recognizing the authority of reason
and science, makes eccentricity his maxim. Thus his grandeur becomes

The spirit of negation, the mischief-monger Mephistopheles, says of
Faust with reference to his despair of reason and science:

    "Reason and Knowledge only thou despise,
    The highest strength in man that lies!...
    And I shall have thee fast and sure."
                   --_Tr. by Bayard Taylor._

Being giant-like, the Titan Nietzsche has a sense only for things
of large dimensions. He fails to understand the significance of the
subtler relations of existence. He is clumsy like Gargantua; he is
coarse in his reasoning; he is narrow in his comprehension; his horizon
is limited. He sees only the massive effects of the great dynamical
changes brought about by brute force; he is blind to the quiet and slow
but more powerful workings of spiritual forces. The molecular forces
that are invisible to the eye transform the world more thoroughly than
hurricanes and thunderstorms; yet the strongest powers are the moral
laws, the curses of wrong-doing and oppression, and the blessings of
truthfulness, of justice, of good-will. Nietzsche sees them not; he
ignores them. He measures the worth of the overman solely by his brute

If Nietzsche were right, the overman of the future who is going to take
possession of the earth will not be nobler and better, wiser and juster
than the present man, but more gory, more tiger-like, more relentless,
more brutal.

Nietzsche has a truly noble longing for the advent of the overman, but
he throws down the ladder on which man has been climbing up, and thus
losing his foothold, he falls down to the place whence mankind started
several millenniums ago.

We enjoy the rockets of Nietzsche's genius, we understand his
Faust-like disappointment as to the unavailableness of science such as
he knew it; we sympathize with the honesty with which he offered his
thoughts to the world; we recognize the flashes of truth which occur
in his sentences, uttered in the tone of a prophet; but we cannot help
condemning his philosophy as unsound in its basis, his errors being the
result of an immaturity of comprehension.

Nietzsche has touched upon the problem of problems, but he has not
solved it. He weighs the souls of his fellowmen and finds them
wanting; but his own soul is not less deficient. His philosophy is well
worth studying, but it is not a good guide through life. It is great
only as being the gravest error, boldly, conscientiously, and seriously
carried to its utmost extremes and preached as the latest word of

It has been customary that man should justify himself before the
tribunal of morality, but Nietzsche summons morality itself before
his tribunal. Morality justifies herself by calling on truth, but
the testimony of truth is ruled out, for truth--objective truth--is
denounced as a superstition of the dark ages. Nietzsche knows truth
only as a contemptible method of puny spirits to make existence
conceivable--a hopeless task! Nietzsche therefore finds morality guilty
as a usurper and a tyrant, and he exhorts all _esprits forts_ to shake
off the yoke.

We grant that the self should not be the slave of morality; it should
not feel the "ought" as a command; it should identify itself with it
and make its requirements the object of its own free will. Good-will on
earth will render the law redundant; but when you wipe out the ideal
of good-will itself together with its foundation, which is truth and
the recognition of truth, the struggle for existence will reappear
in its primitive fierceness, and mankind will return to the age of
savagery. Let the _esprits forts of Nietzsche's_ type try to realize
their master's ideal, and their attempts will soon lead to their own

We read in _Der arme Teufel_,[1] a weekly whose radical editor would
not have been prevented by conventional reasons from joining the new
fad of Nietzscheanism, the following satirical comment on some modern
poet of original selfhood:

      "'I am against matrimony because I am a poet Wife,
      children, family life,--well, well! they may be good
      enough for the man possessed of the herding instinct But
      I object to trivialities in my own life. I want something
      stimulating, sensation, poetry 1 A wife would be prosaic
      to me, simply on account of being my wife; and children
      who would call me papa would be disgusting. Poetry I need!
      Poetry!' Thus he spoke to a friend, and when the latter
      was gone continued his letter reproaching a waitress for
      again asking for money and at the same time reflecting
      upon the purity of her relations to the bartender who, she
      pretended, was her cousin only...."

If marriage relations were abolished to-day, would not in the course of
time some new form of marriage be established? Those who are too proud
to utilize the experiences of past generations, will have to repeat
them for themselves and must wade through their follies, sins, errors,
and suffer all the consequences and undergo their penalties.

Nietzsche tries to produce a Cæsar by teaching his followers to imitate
the vices of a Catiline; he would raise gods by begetting Titans; he
endeavors to give a nobler and better standard to mankind, not by
lifting the people higher and rendering them more efficient, but by
depriving them of all wisdom and making them more pretentious.

If the ethics of Nietzsche were accepted to-day as authoritative, and
if people at large acted accordingly, the world would be benefited
in one respect, viz., hypocrisy would cease, and the selfishness of
mankind would manifest itself in all its nude bestiality. Passions
would have full sway; lust, robbery, jealousy, murder, and revenge
would increase, and Death in all forms of wild outbursts would reap
a richer harvest than he ever did in the days of prehistoric savage
life. The result would be a pruning on a grand scale, and after a few
bloody decades those only would survive who either by nature or by
hypocritical self-control deemed it best to keep the lower passions
and the too prurient instincts of their selfhood in proper check, and
then the old-fashioned rules of morality, which Nietzsche declared
antiquated, would be given a new trial in the new order of things. They
might receive a different sanction, but they would find recognition.

Nietzsche forgets that the present social order originated from that
general free-for-all fight which he commends, and that if we begin at
the start we should naturally run through the same or a similar course
of development to the same or very similar conditions. Will it not be
better to go on improving than to revert to the primitive state of

There are superstitious notions about the nature of the sanction of
ethics, but for that reason the moral ideals of mankind remain as
firmly established as ever.

The self is not the standard of measurement for good and evil, right
and wrong, as Nietzsche claims in agreement with the sophists of old;
the self is only the condition to which and under which it applies.
There is no good and evil in the purely physical world, there is no
suffering, no pain, no anguish--all this originates with the rise of
organized animal life which is endowed with sentiency; and further
there is no goodness and badness, no morality until the animal rises to
the height of comprehending the nature of evil. The tiger is in himself
neither good nor bad, but he makes himself a cause of suffering to
others; and thus he is by them regarded as bad. Goodness and badness
are relative, but they are not for that reason unreal.

It is true that there is no "ought" in the world as an "ought"; nor are
there metaphysical ghosts of divine commandments revealing themselves.
But man learns the lesson how to avoid evil and reducing it to brief
rules which are easily remembered, he calls them "commandments."

Buddha was aware that there is no metaphysical ghost of an "ought," and
being the first positivist before positivism was ever thought of, his
decalogue is officially called "avoiding the ten evils," not "the ten
commandments," the latter being a popular term of later origin.

Granting that there is no metaphysical "ought" in the world and that
it finds application only in the domain of animate life through the
presence of the self or rather of many selves, we fail to see that
the self is the creator of the norm of good and evil. Granting also
that there are degrees of comprehending the nature of evil and that
different applications naturally result under different conditions,
we cannot for that reason argue that ethics are purely subjective and
that there is no objective norm that underlies the moral evolution of
mankind and comes out in the progress of civilization more and more in
its purity.

Nietzsche is like a schoolboy whose teacher is an inefficient pedant.
He rebels against his authority and having had but poor instruction
proclaims that the multiplication table is a mere superstition with
which the old man tries to enslave the free minds of his scholars. Are
there not different solutions possible of the same example and has not
every one to regard his own solution as the right solution? How can the
teacher claim that he is the standard of truth? Why, the very attempt
at setting up a standard of any kind is tyranny and the recognition of
it is a self-imposed slavery. There is no rightness save the rightness
that can be maintained in a general hand-to-hand contest, for it is
ultimately the fist that decides all controversies.

Nietzsche calls himself an atheist; he denies the existence of God
in any form, and thus carries atheism to an extreme where it breaks
down in self-contradiction. We understand by God (whether personal,
impersonal, or superpersonal) that something which determines the
course of life; the factors that shape the world, including ourselves;
the law to which we must adjust our conduct. Nietzsche enthrones the
self in the place of God, but for all practical purposes his God is
blunt success and survival of the fittest in the crude sense of the
term; for according to his philosophy the self must heed survival in
the struggle for existence alone, and that, therefore, is his God.

Nietzsche's God is power, i. e., overwhelming force, which allows the
wolf to eat the lamb. He ignores the power of the still small voice,
the effectiveness of law in the world which makes it possible that man,
the over-brute, is not the most ferocious, the most muscular, or the
strongest animal. Nietzsche regards the cosmic order, in accommodation
to which ethical codes have been invented, as a mere superstition. Thus
it will come to pass that Nietzsche's type of the overman, should it
really make its appearance on earth, would be wiped out as surely as
the lion, the king of the beasts, the proud pseudo-overbrute of the
animals, will be exterminated in course of time. The lion has a chance
for survival only behind the bars of the zoölogical gardens or when he
allows himself to be tamed by man, that weakling among the brutes whose
power has been built up by a comprehension of the sway of the invisible
laws of life, physical, mental and moral.

What is the secret of Nietzsche's success? While other men of greater
consistency, among them his predecessor Stirner, failed, he attained
an unparalleled fame, and his philosophy exercised an extraordinary
influence upon large classes of people not only in Germany but also
abroad, in Russia, in France, in the United States and even in
conservative England.

We must concede that Nietzsche possesses a poetic power of oratory; he
appeals to sentiment; he is not much of a thinker, not a philosopher,
but a leader and a prophet, and as such he stands for the most extreme
egoism. Nietzsche attempts to establish the absolute sovereignty of
the individual and grants a most irresponsible freedom to the man who
dares; and this principle of doing away with moral maxims has made him

The truth is that our moral sanctions are no longer accepted. People
still believe in God, in the authority of church and state, but their
belief is no longer a living faith. Whatever they may think of God, the
old God, the God of traditional dogmatism, is gone. He is no longer a
living power in the hearts of the people; and so, large masses rejoice
to have the proclamation frankly stated that God is dead, that they
need no longer fear hell, and that the chains of their slavery are

Nietzsche is consistent in his denial of the traditional sanctions. He
understands not only that there are no gods, that the powers of nature
as personifications do not exist, but that the laws of nature are mere
abstract generalizations. We need no longer believe in Hephaestos, the
god of fire; there is no use to bow the knee to him or do homage to his
divinity. Nor is there any truth in the existence of a phlogiston, a
metaphysical fire-stuff, or any fire essence; there are only scattered
facts of burning. Everything else is mere superstition. Generalizations
exist only in our imagination, and so we should get rid of the idea
that there is any truth at all. Science is a pretender which is apt to
make cowards of us. That man is wise who is not hampered by scruple or
doubt of any kind and simply follows the bent of his mind, subjecting
to himself every thing he finds, including his fellow human beings.

This bold and reckless proposition appeals to egoism and it seems so
true that abstract formulas and generalizations are empty. Weight
exists; there is gravity; there are particular phenomena of masses in
mutual attraction, but gravitation, the law of these actual happenings,
is a mere formula, an imaginary quantity, a mere thought about which we
need not worry. The law of gravitation is a human invention and has no
real existence in the realm of facts.

And the same would of course be true about the interrelations among
human beings in their social intercourse, too. All the several maxims
of conduct, which are called moral and constitute our code of ethics,
are built upon generalizations. There is no sanction for them. The gods
who were formerly supposed to be responsible for the several domains
of facts have died long ago. The Jewish deity called Elohim, the
Lord, entered upon the inheritance of the ancient gods, but he too had
to die. Thereupon his place was taken by metaphysical essences, pale
ghosts of a mysterious nature, but they too died and so the last shadow
of anything authoritative is gone. We are _en face du rien_; therefore
let us boldly enjoy our freedom. Let us be ourselves; let our passions
take their course; let us do wrong if it suits us; let us live without
consideration of anything, just as we please. There is no sanction of
moral maxims to be respected; there is no authority of conduct; there
is no judge; there is no evil, no wrong.

This seems pretty plausible to our modern generation raised in the
traditions of nominalism, but would we really ignore the law of
gravitation because the Newtonian formula is a man-made abstraction
and a mere generalization? Yet, if we do not give heed to it we fall,
and the same is true of any law of nature. Our sciences are mental
constructions; they are mind-made, and so far as they are built out
of the material of our experience they tally with facts and we call
them true. Our social interrelations, too, constitute conditions
observable in experience; they can be formulated in Jaws and applied
to practical life; they can be expressed in maxims of conduct and have
received various sanctions successively, the sanctions of religion,
the sanctions of metaphysics, the sanctions of science. In the age of
savagery the sanction of moral maxims was offered us in a mythological
dress. With the rise of monotheism our moral sanction came to us as
the command of a supreme ruler of the universe; in the age of abstract
philosophy as metaphysical principles, and in the age of science these
should be recognized as lessons of experience.

[1] May 13, 1809. Detroit, 949 Gratiot Ave.


We will gladly grant that personifications are mythological fictions,
that metaphysical entities are products of a philosophical imagination
and that the scientific formulas are abstract generalizations, but
we deny that generalizations are unmeaning; they signify some actual
features of reality. Abstract ideas are not purely fictitious; they
denote significant qualities or occurrences, and the relations in life,
the forms of things, combinations, or in general the non-material
configurations, co-operations, combinations and functions are the
most important and the most significant aspects of existence. Indeed,
matter and energy are only the clumsy conditions of being; they denote
actuality and reality, but all things, all events, all facts are such
as they are on account of their form--on account of that feature which
is non-material and non-energetic.

According to Nietzsche the whole history of mankind, especially the
development of reason, knowledge and science, is a great blunder,
and the dawn of day begins with a radical break with the past. We see
in the evolution of life a gradual ascent with a slow but constant
approximation to truth. In the history of religion we see in the dawn
of civilization the beginning of a comprehension of truth. Mythology
is not error pure and simple, not a conglomeration of superstitions;
it is plainly characterized by a groping after great truths, and myths
become foolish inventions only when the poetic character of the tale
is misunderstood. So dogmas become dangerous errors when the symbol is
taken literally, when the letter is exalted and the spirit forgotten.
It is true that science has taken away the charm of many religious
beliefs, but the great lesson of the doctrine of evolution is to show
us that our onward march in the humanization of man does not stop, that
the periods of mythology and dogma are stages in the progress of our
recognition of the truth. There is no need to fear a collapse of past
results but we may boldly build higher. We must search for truth and
we shall have a clearer vision of it, and the future will bring new
glories, new fulfilments of old hopes and grander realization of our
fondest dreams.

Verily, the overman will come, although he is not quite so near at
hand as one might wish. He is at hand though, but he will not come, as
Nietzsche announces him, in the storm of a catastrophe. The fire and
the storm may precede the realization of a higher humanity; but the
higher humanity will be found neither in the fire nor in the storm.
The overman will be born of the present man, not by a contempt for the
shortcomings of the present man, but by a recognition of the essential
features of man's manhood, by developing and purifying the truly human
by making man conform to the eternal norm of rationality, humaneness
and rightness of conduct.

What we need first is the standard of the higher man; and on
this account we must purify our notions of the norm of truth and
righteousness,--of God. Let us find first the over-God, and the overman
will develop naturally. The belief in an individual God-being is giving
way to the recognition of a superpersonal God, the norm of scientific
truth, the standard of right and wrong, the standard of worth by
which we measure the value of our own being; and the kingdom of the
genuine overman will be established by the spread of the scientific
comprehension of the world, in matters physical, social, intellectual,
moral, and religious.


    Abbott, Leonard
    Ambition; for originality; for power
    _Ancilla Voluntatis_, intellect
    Animals superior to man
    Aphorisms, no preference for
    Aristocratic tastes
    Art; nature of
    Authority of conduct
    Average, the

    Ballerstedt, H. F. L.
    Basch, V.
    Bauer, Bruno
    Bergson, Henri
    Blood is spirit
    Body, self is
    Bruno, Edgar and Egbert
    Buddha's Decalogue; gospel of love
    Buhl, Ludwig
    Burke, Edmund
    Burtz, Agnes Clara Kunigunde
    Byington, Stephen T.

    Carus, _Foundation of Mathematics_;
    _Lao-Tse's Too Teh King_;
    _The Nature of the State,_; _Personality_
    Catilinary existences
    Chaos, universe a
    Change of views
    _Chiün jen_
    Christ, overman the
    Christ's gospel of love
    Christian economics
    Christianity a rebellion of slaves
    Classical taste
    Commandments, negative
    Common, Thomas; _Nietzsche as Critic, Philosopher, Poet
    and Prophet_
    Comte, Auguste
    Consistency, N. scorns; of N.; of Stirner
    Contempt for, democratic ideals; man; past;
    philosophy; the all-too-human; truth; world
    Contradictions natural
    Contrast between life and theory
    Cosmic order
    Cosmos, universe not a
    Criterion of right action
    Crosby, Ernest H.
    Cynic, N. not a
    Dähnhardt, Helmuth Ludwig
    Dähnhardt, Marie
    Damocles, sword of
    _Der arme Teufel_
    _Der Eigene_
    _Der Wanderer und sein Schatten_
    Deussen, Paul; his opinion of N.
    _Die Freien_
    Dionysiac enthusiasm
    Doctrine of the eternal return
    Dolson, Grace Neal
    Dream, N.'s real world a
    Dreamers catching at shadows
    _Drunken Song_
    Duty not recognized

    Eagle and Serpent
    _Eagle and the Serpent, The_
    Eliot, George
    Elis, Coins of
    Emotional attitude
    Engels, Friedrich
    Error, a liberator; mythology not
    Eternal return
    Eternity, love for
    Ethics, denial of; denounced; identical;
    no sanction for; of the strong; result of N.'s;
    test of philosophy. See also s. v. "Morality."
    Evolution, defined; lesson of
    Examination at school

    Faucher, Julius
    Fichte, _Duties of the scholar_
    Financier, standard of
    _Flatus vocis_
    Form, importance of
    Forms in themselves
    Förster-Nietzsche, Elisabeth, _Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche's_
    _Free Comrade_
    Freedom fettered by convictions; limitless love of; spiritual

    Garden of marriage
    _Genealogy of morals_
    Generalizations, abstract; not unmeaning
    Genius not abnormal
    Gerecke, Adolph
    German things, dislike of
    Germany a philosophical storm center
    God, a poet's lie; authority of conduct; created by man;
      denial of; idea of; is dead; norm of truth; self in place of
    Goethe; imitation of; quotations from,
    Good, and evil; and evil, overman beyond; men never true
    _Good Europeans, notes for_
    Good will
    Gravitation a human invention

    Hammer and anvil
    Health, N.'s desire for
    Herd animal (_Heerdentier_)
    Hero, overman the
    Hypocrisy, Plato accused of
    Hypocrisy to obtain power

    Ideal, Christianity incarnates
    Ideals are superstitions; needed, positive; significance in
    Identical ethics; world-conceptions
    Idols of the past shattered
    Imaginary, scientist's world
    Immature minds, influence on
    Immaturity; appeal of; of N.
    Immortality, desire for
    Individual defined
    Individualism; aristocratic; error of extreme; ineffective
    Influence of N.
    Instinct higher than reason; N. the philosopher of; self a bundle of
    Intellect _ancilla voluntatis_
    International Intelligence Institute
    Ionian physicist

    James, William
    "Joyful science"

    Key to the universe, reason the
    Köppen, C. F.
    Klein's statue
    Kraust, Károly

    _La Gaya Scienza_
    Lange, _History of Materialism_
    Levy, Oscar
    Lichtenberger, Henri
    Life, truth for the sake of
    Lightning, overman the
    Lion and lamb
    _Lion's Paw_
    Lindlof, Hans
    Lloyd, J. Wm.
    Logic untrue
    Love, freedom of; not your neighbor; Stirner's view of
    Ludovici, Anthony M.

    McCall, Erwin (pseud.)
    Mackay, John Henry
    Man, beast of prey; a muddy stream; a part of society;
      animals' opinion of; contempt for; his own master;
      humanization of; personality of
    Marriage, a poet's objection to; an abomination; N.'s view of
    Masses, are pragmatists; distinction for; enslaved by overman
    Measure of truth
    Mencken, Henry L.
    Messiah, overman the
    Meyer, a fellow student
    Mill, John Stuart
    Moore, George, and N. compared; _Confessions of a Young Man_
    "_Moral ist Nothlüge_,"
    Morality, denial of; immoral; limited to mediocrity;
      See also s. v. "Ethics."
    Mueller, Adolph
    Müller, Dr. Arthur
    Mügge, M. A.
    Mythology not an error

    Nature, uniformities of
    Negation, of will; spirit of
    Negative, commandments
    Neighbor, love not
    Nietzsche, a model of virtue; a modern; a mystic;
      abnormal, not a genius; ancestors of; and George Moore
      compared; and Stirner compared; confirmation of;
      consistency of; contrast between life and theory;
      destroyer of morality; his doctrine of self; immaturity of;
      insanity of, not an accident; nominalistic tendencies of;
      philosophy of, agreement with; philosophy of, result of
      nominalism; religious character of; requiem composed by;
      subjectivity of; success of; tender-hearted
    Nominalism, and realism; of Lombroso; traditions of
    Normal man the exception
    Nothingness, trust in
    Nurse, N. as a

    Objectivism, subjective
    Objectivity of truth
    Ocean, overman the
    _Ohne Staat_
    _Open Court, The_
    Orage, A. R.
    Order; cosmic
    Originality; ambition for; hankering after
    love of; the true

    Personality of man
    Philologist, N. a
    Philosophy as a science; contempt for; three features of
    Pig, usefulness of
    Plato; accused of hypocrisy; ideal of; ideas of
    Pleasure and pain
    Poet, God the lie of
    Poet, N. a; N. not really a
    Positive ideals needed
    Power, acquisition of; desire for;
    God is; hypocrisy to obtain; will for
    Pragmatists, masses are
    Probability but no truth
    Progress, evolution is; in epicycles; in the world
    Protest, against himself; against truth; philosopher of;
      philosophy of

    Quarrels at school

    Real world
    Realism and nominalism
    Reason, a blunder; key to the universe; origin of;
      subjective; tool of body; universality of
    Redbeard, Ragnar, _Might is Right_
    Religion, hatred of
    Revaluation of values
    Richard III
    Right but might, no
    Rules of N.'s philosophical warfare

    Salome, Lou Andreas
    Sandwich, anecdote
    Schellwien, R.
    Schmidt, Albert Christian Heinrich
    Schmidt, Johann Caspar. See
    Stirner, Max.
    Schmitt, Eugen Heinrich
    Schulpforta; a pupil at
    Schümm, George and Mrs. Emma H.
    Science, a blunder; a means; a mental construction;
    a pretender; despised; for its own sake, 3; triumph of;
    unavailableness of; world of
    Sciences of form, the
    Scientist, standard of
    Sebastopol, fall of
    Self, an authority above; is body;
    sovereignty of; truth creature of
    Self-assertion, right of, 24; the ethics of the strong
    Serpent; eagle and
    Smith, William Benjamin
    Snuffing brotherhood
    Society; man a part of
    Soldier, N. as a
    Spectacles not the world
    Spirit, blood is; Stirner on
    Spoiled child
    Standard, of measurement; of valuation; of values needed
    State, a despotism; growth of
    Steiner, Rudolph
    Sticht, Johann Caspar
    Stirner, Max, and Nietzsche compared; arguments of;
    consistent; contrast between life and theory; death of;
    _Der Einzige und sein Eigentum_; description of;
    life of; marriage of; pencil sketch of; the name;
    works of
    Straus, Richard
    Subjective standard
    Subjectivity of N.
    Superpersonal God
    Swartz, Clarence L.
    Switzerland, a citizen of

    Things in themselves
    Three, features of philosophy; periods in N.'s development;
    rules of philosophical warfare
    _Thus Spake Zarathustra_
    Tille, Alexander
    Tradition defied; opposed to; sanction of; sanction of denied
    Tragic, element; figure
    Transvaluation of values
    True world
    Truth, as authority; creature of self; defined; existence of;
      flashes of; for the sake of life; need of; non-existent;
      objectivity of; probability but no; protests against
    Tucker, Benjamin R.
    _Twilight of the Idols_
    Tyrant, morality a; N. loves a; overman a

    Ulfila's bible
    Uniformities dominate existence
    Universality of reason
    Universe a chaos
    Unmoralist; development into; the first
    Unseitgemässe Betrachtungen

    Valuation, principle of
    Vedantism interpreted by a materialist
    Virtue, a model of

    Walker, James, L.; _The Philosophy of Egoism_
    Warren, Josiah
    Wenley, R. M.
    Will, ennoblement of; for power; intellect slave of; negation of
    Woman; Stirner's attitude toward
    World-conceptions identical


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