Friedrich Nietzsche

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Thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
It is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 184425 August 1900) was a German philosopher, whose critiques of contemporary culture, religion, and philosophy centered on a basic question regarding the foundation of values and morality.

See also:
The Antichrist
Beyond Good and Evil
Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Quotes[edit]

Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world? … These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!
Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
  • I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by "instinct." Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect — but in five main points of his doctrine I recognize myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. Even though the divergencies are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the difference in time, culture, and science. In summa: my lonesomeness, which, as on very high mountains, often made it hard for me to breathe and make my blood rush out, is now at least a twosomeness. Strange! Incidentally, I am not at all as well as I had hoped. Exceptional weather here too! Eternal change of atmospheric conditions! — that will yet drive me out of Europe! I must have clear skies for months, else I get nowhere. Already six severe attacks of two or three days each. With affectionate love, Your friend.
  • Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.
  • There are no facts, only interpretations.
    • Notebooks (Summer 1886 – Fall 1887)
    • Variant translation: Against that positivism which stops before phenomena, saying "there are only facts," I should say: no, it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations…
      • As translated in The Portable Nietzsche (1954) by Walter Kaufmann, p. 458.
  • In Germany there is much complaining about my "eccentricities." But since it is not known where my center is, it won't be easy to find out where or when I have thus far been "eccentric." That I was a philologist, for example, meant that I was outside my center (which fortunately does not mean that I was a poor philologist). Likewise, I now regard my having been a Wagnerian as eccentric. It was a highly dangerous experiment; now that I know it did not ruin me, I also know what significance it had for me — it was the most severe test of my character.
    • Letter to Carl Fuchs (14 December 1887).
  • So far no one had had enough courage and intelligence to reveal me to my dear Germans. My problems are new, my psychological horizon frighteningly comprehensive, my language bold and clear; there may well be no books written in German which are richer in ideas and more independent than mine.
    • Letter to Carl Fuchs (14 December 1887).
  • I've seen proof, black on white, that Herr Dr. Förster has not yet severed his connection with the anti-Semitic movement. ... Since then I've had difficulty coming up with any of the tenderness and protectiveness I've so long felt toward you. The separation between us is thereby decided in really the most absurd way. Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world? ... Now it has gone so far that I have to defend myself hand and foot against people who confuse me with these anti-Semitic canaille; after my own sister, my former sister, and after Widemann more recently have given the impetus to this most dire of all confusions. After I read the name Zarathustra in the anti-Semitic Correspondence my forbearance came to an end. I am now in a position of emergency defense against your spouse's Party. These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!!
  • You have committed one of the greatest stupidities — for yourself and for me! Your association with an anti-Semitic chief expresses a foreignness to my whole way of life which fills me again and again with ire or melancholy. ... It is a matter of honor with me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal in relation to anti-Semitism, namely, opposed to it, as I am in my writings. I have recently been persecuted with letters and Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheets. My disgust with this party (which would like the benefit of my name only too well!) is as pronounced as possible, but the relation to Förster, as well as the aftereffects of my former publisher, the anti-Semitic Schmeitzner, always brings the adherents of this disagreeable party back to the idea that I must belong to them after all. ... It arouses mistrust against my character, as if publicly I condemned something which I have favored secretly — and that I am unable to do anything against it, that the name of Zarathustra is used in every Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheet, has almost made me sick several times.
  • Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.
    • As quoted in The Puzzle Instinct : The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life‎ (2004) by Marcel Danesi, p. 71 from Human All-Too-Human
  • Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.
    • He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
    • "Beyond Good and Evil", Aphorism 146 (1886).
  • Man verdirbt einen Jüngling am sichersten, wenn man ihn anleitet, den Gleichdenkenden höher zu achten, als den Andersdenkenden.
    • The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
    • The Dawn, Sec. 297.
  • Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.
    • As translated in The Portable Nietzsche (1954) by Walter Kaufmann, p. 96.
  • Freier Wille ohne Fatum ist ebenso wenig denkbar, wie Geist ohne Reelles, Gutes ohne Böses.
    • Free will without fate is no more conceivable than spirit without matter, good without evil.
      • “Fatum und Geschichte,” April 1862.
  • The modern scientific counterpart to belief in God is the belief in the universe as an organism: this disgusts me. This is to make what is quite rare and extremely derivative, the organic, which we perceive only on the surface of the earth, into something essential, universal, and eternal! This is still an anthropomorphizing of nature!
    • KSA 9,11 [201]
  • Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease? He contaminates everything he touches - he has made music sick.
    • Der Fall Wagner (1888)

The Birth of Tragedy (1872)[edit]

The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1873), later expanded as The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism (1886), Shaun Whiteside translation, Penguin Classics (1993)
Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life
The man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life.
We cannot help but see Socrates as the turning-point, the vortex of world history.
  • Nochmals gesagt, heute ist es mir ein unmögliches Buch, - ich heisse es schlecht geschrieben, schwerfällig, peinlich, bilderwüthig und bilderwirrig, gefühlsam, hier und da verzuckert bis zum Femininischen, ungleich im Tempo, ohne Willen zur logischen Sauberkeit, sehr überzeugt und deshalb des Beweisens sich überhebend, misstrauisch selbst gegen die Schicklichkeit des Beweisens, als Buch für Eingeweihte, als "Musik" für Solche, die auf Musik getauft, die auf gemeinsame und seltene Kunst-Erfahrungen hin von Anfang der Dinge an verbunden sind, als Erkennungszeichen für Blutsverwandte in artibus, - ein hochmüthiges und schwärmerisches Buch, das sich gegen das profanum vulgus der "Gebildeten" von vornherein noch mehr als gegen das "Volk" abschliesst, welches aber, wie seine Wirkung bewies und beweist, sich gut genug auch darauf verstehen muss, sich seine Mitschwärmer zu suchen und sie auf neue Schleichwege und Tanzplätze zu locken.
    • To say it once again: today I find it an impossible book — badly written, clumsy and embarrassing, its images frenzied and confused, sentimental, in some places saccharine-sweet to the point of effeminacy, uneven in pace, lacking in any desire for logical purity, so sure of its convictions that it is above any need for proof, and even suspicious of the propriety of proof, a book for initiates, 'music' for those who have been baptized in the name of music and who are related from the first by their common and rare experiences of art, a shibboleth for first cousins in artibus [in the arts] an arrogant and fanatical book that wished from the start to exclude the profanum vulgus [the profane mass] of the 'educated' even more than the 'people'; but a book which, as its impact has shown and continues to show, has a strange knack of seeking out its fellow-revellers and enticing them on to new secret paths and dancing-places.
    • "Attempt at a Self-Criticism", p. 5.
  • Oh wie ferne war mir damals gerade dieser ganze Resignationismus!
    • How far I was then from all that resignationism!
    • "Attempt at a Self-criticism", p. 10.
  • Diesen Ernsthaften diene zur Belehrung, dass ich von der Kunst als der höchsten Aufgabe und der eigentlich metaphysischen Thätigkeit dieses Lebens im Sinne des Mannes überzeugt bin, dem ich hier, als meinem erhabenen Vorkämpfer auf dieser Bahn, diese Schrift gewidmet haben will.
    • Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life...
    • "Preface to Richard Wagner", p. 13.
  • Wie nun der Philosoph zur Wirklichkeit des Daseins, so verhält sich der künstlerisch erregbare Mensch zur Wirklichkeit des Traumes; er sieht genau und gern zu: denn aus diesen Bildern deutet er sich das Leben, an diesen Vorgängen übt er sich für das Leben. Nicht etwa nur die angenehmen und freundlichen Bilder sind es, die er mit jener Allverständigkeit an sich erfährt: auch das Ernste, Trübe, Traurige, Finstere, die plötzlichen Hemmungen, die Neckereien des Zufalls, die bänglichen Erwartungen, kurz die ganze "göttliche Komödie" des Lebens, mit dem Inferno, zieht an ihm vorbei, nicht nur wie ein Schattenspiel - denn er lebt und leidet mit in diesen Scenen - und doch auch nicht ohne jene flüchtige Empfindung des Scheins; und vielleicht erinnert sich Mancher, gleich mir, in den Gefährlichkeiten und Schrecken des Traumes sich mitunter ermuthigend und mit Erfolg zugerufen zu haben: "Es ist ein Traum! Ich will ihn weiter träumen!" Wie man mir auch von Personen erzählt hat, die die Causalität eines und desselben Traumes über drei und mehr aufeinanderfolgende Nächte hin fortzusetzen im Stande waren: Thatsachen, welche deutlich Zeugniss dafür abgeben, dass unser innerstes Wesen, der gemeinsame Untergrund von uns allen, mit tiefer Lust und freudiger Nothwendigkeit den Traum an sich erfährt.
    • Thus the man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life. It is not only pleasant and agreeable images that he experiences with such universal understanding: the serious, the gloomy, the sad and the profound, the sudden restraints, the mockeries of chance, fearful expectations, in short the whole 'divine comedy' of life, the Inferno included, passes before him, not only as a shadow-play — for he too lives and suffers through these scenes — and yet also not without that fleeting sense of illusion; and perhaps many, like myself, can remember calling out to themselves in encouragement, amid the perils and terrors of the dream, and with success: 'It is a dream! I want to dream on!' Just as I have often been told of people who have been able to continue one and the same dream over three and more successive nights: facts which clearly show that our innermost being, our common foundation, experiences dreams with profound pleasure and joyful necessity.
    • p. 15.
  • ...in diesen Sanct-Johann- und Sanct-Veittänzern erkennen wir die bacchischen Chöre der Griechen wieder, mit ihrer Vorgeschichte in Kleinasien, bis hin zu Babylon und den orgiastischen Sakäen. Es giebt Menschen, die, aus Mangel an Erfahrung oder aus Stumpfsinn, sich von solchen Erscheinungen wie von "Volkskrankheiten", spöttisch oder bedauernd im Gefühl der eigenen Gesundheit abwenden: die Armen ahnen freilich nicht, wie leichenfarbig und gespenstisch eben diese ihre "Gesundheit" sich ausnimmt, wenn an ihnen das glühende Leben dionysischer Schwärmer vorüberbraust.
    • In these dancers of Saint John and Saint Vitus we can recognize the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their prehistory in Asia Minor, as far back as Babylon and the orgiastic Sacaea. Some people, either through a lack of experience or through obtuseness, turn away with pity or contempt from phenomena such as these as from 'folk diseases', bolstered by a sense of their own sanity; these poor creatures have no idea how blighted and ghostly this 'sanity' of theirs sounds when the glowing life of Dionysiac revellers thunders past them.
    • p. 17.
  • Es geht die alte Sage, dass König Midas lange Zeit nach dem weisen Silen, dem Begleiter des Dionysus, im Walde gejagt habe, ohne ihn zu fangen. Als er ihm endlich in die Hände gefallen ist, fragt der König, was für den Menschen das Allerbeste und Allervorzüglichste sei. Starr und unbeweglich schweigt der Dämon; bis er, durch den König gezwungen, endlich unter gellem Lachen in diese Worte ausbricht: `Elendes Eintagsgeschlecht, des Zufalls Kinder und der Mühsal, was zwingst du mich dir zu sagen, was nicht zu hören für dich das Erspriesslichste ist? Das Allerbeste ist für dich gänzlich unerreichbar: nicht geboren zu sein, nicht zu sein, nichts zu sein. Das Zweitbeste aber ist für dich - bald zu sterben.
    • According to the old story, King Midas had long hunted wise Silenus, Dionysus' companion, without catching him. When Silenus had finally fallen into his clutches, the king asked him what was the best and most desirable thing of all for mankind. The daemon stood still, stiff and motionless, until at last, forced by the king, he gave a shrill laugh and spoke these words: 'Miserable, ephemeral race, children of hazard and hardship, why do you force me to say what it would be much more fruitful for you not to hear? The best of all things is something entirely outside your grasp: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second-best thing for you — is to die soon.'
    • p. 22.
  • Der philosophische Mensch hat sogar das Vorgefühl, dass auch unter dieser Wirklichkeit, in der wir leben und sind, eine zweite ganz andre verborgen liege...
    • Underneath this reality in which we live and have our being, another and altogether different reality lies concealed...
    • p. 23, William Haussmann translation
  • Mit dem Tode der griechischen Tragödie dagegen entstand eine ungeheure, überall tief empfundene Leere; wie einmal griechische Schiffer zu Zeiten des Tiberius an einem einsamen Eiland den erschütternden Schrei hörten "der grosse Pan ist todt": so klang es jetzt wie ein schmerzlicher Klageton durch die hellenische Welt: "die Tragödie ist todt! Die Poesie selbst ist mit ihr verloren gegangen! Fort, fort mit euch verkümmerten, abgemagerten Epigonen! Fort in den Hades, damit ihr euch dort an den Brosamen der vormaligen Meister einmal satt essen könnt!"
    • Greek tragedy met her death in a different way from all the older sister arts: she died tragically by her own hand, after irresolvable conflicts, while the others died happy and peaceful at an advanced age. If a painless death, leaving behind beautiful progeny, is the sign of a happy natural state, then the endings of the other arts show us the example of just such a happy natural state: they sink slowly, and with their dying eyes they behold their fairer offspring, who lift up their heads in bold impatience. The death of Greek tragedy, on the other hand, left a great void whose effects were felt profoundly, far and wide; as once Greek sailors in Tiberius' time heard the distressing cry 'the god Pan is dead' issuing from a lonely island, now, throughout the Hellenic world, this cry resounded like an agonized lament: 'Tragedy is dead! Poetry itself died with it! Away, away with you, puny, stunted imitators! Away with you to Hades, and eat your fill of the old masters' crumbs!'
    • p. 54.
  • Bei diesem Zusammenhange ist die leidenschaftliche Zuneigung begreiflich, welche die Dichter der neueren Komödie zu Euripides empfanden; so dass der Wunsch des Philemon nicht weiter befremdet, der sich sogleich aufhängen lassen mochte, nur um den Euripides in der Unterwelt aufsuchen zu können: wenn er nur überhaupt überzeugt sein dürfte, dass der Verstorbene auch jetzt noch bei Verstande sei.
    • This context enables us to understand the passionate affection in which the poets of the New Comedy held Euripides; so that we are no longer startled by the desire of Philemon, who wished to be hanged at once so that he might meet Euripides in the underworld, so long as he could be sure that the deceased was still in full possession of his senses.
    • p. 55.
  • ...aesthetischen Sokratismus...dessen oberstes Gesetz ungefähr so lautet: "alles muss verständig sein, um schön zu sein"; als Parallelsatz zu dem sokratischen "nur der Wissende ist tugendhaft."
    • ...aesthetic Socratism, the chief law of which is, more or less: "to be beautiful everything must first be intelligible" — a parallel to the Socratic dictum: "only the one who knows is virtuous."
    • p. 62.
  • Nun aber schien Sokrates die tragische Kunst nicht einmal "die Wahrheit zu sagen": abgesehen davon, dass sie sich an den wendet, der "nicht viel Verstand besitzt", also nicht an den Philosophen: ein zweifacher Grund, von ihr fern zu bleiben. Wie Plato, rechnete er sie zu den schmeichlerischen Künsten, die nur das Angenehme, nicht das Nützliche darstellen und verlangte deshalb bei seinen Jüngern Enthaltsamkeit und strenge Absonderung von solchen unphilosophischen Reizungen; mit solchem Erfolge, dass der jugendliche Tragödiendichter Plato zu allererst seine Dichtungen verbrannte, um Schüler des Sokrates werden zu können.
    • But for Socrates, tragedy did not even seem to "tell what's true", quite apart from the fact that it addresses "those without much wit", not the philosopher: another reason for giving it a wide berth. Like Plato, he numbered it among the flattering arts which represent only the agreeable, not the useful, and therefore required that his disciples abstain most rigidly from such unphilosophical stimuli — with such success that the young tragedian, Plato, burnt his writings in order to become a pupil of Socrates.
    • p. 68.
  • Darum hat Lessing, der ehrlichste theoretische Mensch, es auszusprechen gewagt, dass ihm mehr am Suchen der Wahrheit als an ihr selbst gelegen sei...
    • Lessing, the most honest of theoretical men, dared to say that he took greater delight in the quest for truth than in the truth itself.
    • p. 73.
  • ...der kann sich nicht entbrechen, in Sokrates den einen Wendepunkt und Wirbel der sogenannten Weltgeschichte zu sehen. Denn dächte man sich einmal diese ganze unbezifferbare Summe von Kraft, die für jene Welttendenz verbraucht worden ist, nicht im Dienste des Erkennens, sondern auf die praktischen d.h. egoistischen Ziele der Individuen und Völker verwendet, so wäre wahrscheinlich in allgemeinen Vernichtungskämpfen und fortdauernden Völkerwanderungen die instinctive Lust zum Leben so abgeschwächt, dass, bei der Gewohnheit des Selbstmordes, der Einzelne vielleicht den letzten Rest von Pflichtgefühl empfinden müsste, wenn er, wie der Bewohner der Fidschiinseln, als Sohn seine Eltern, als Freund seinen Freund erdrosselt: ein praktischer Pessimismus, der selbst eine grausenhafte Ethik des Völkermordes aus Mitleid erzeugen könnte - der übrigens überall in der Welt vorhanden ist und vorhanden war, wo nicht die Kunst in irgend welchen Formen, besonders als Religion und Wissenschaft, zum Heilmittel und zur Abwehr jenes Pesthauchs erschienen ist.
    • We cannot help but see Socrates as the turning-point, the vortex of world history. For if we imagine that the whole incalculable store of energy used in that global tendency had been used not in the service of knowledge but in ways applied to the practical — selfish — goals of individuals and nations, universal wars of destruction and constant migrations of peoples would have enfeebled man's instinctive zest for life to the point where, suicide having become universal, the individual would perhaps feel a vestigial duty as a son to strangle his parents, or as a friend his friend, as the Fiji islanders do: a practical pessimism that could even produce a terrible ethic of genocide through pity, and which is, and always has been, present everywhere in the world where art has not in some form, particularly as religion and science, appeared as a remedy and means of prevention for this breath of pestilence.
    • p. 73.
  • Aber wie verändert sich plötzlich jene eben so düster geschilderte Wildniss unserer ermüdeten Cultur, wenn sie der dionysische Zauber berührt! Ein Sturmwind packt alles Abgelebte, Morsche, Zerbrochne, Verkümmerte, hüllt es wirbelnd in eine rothe Staubwolke und trägt es wie ein Geier in die Lüfte. Verwirrt suchen unsere Blicke nach dem Entschwundenen: denn was sie sehen, ist wie aus einer Versenkung an's goldne Licht gestiegen, so voll und grün, so üppig lebendig, so sehnsuchtsvoll unermesslich. Die Tragödie sitzt inmitten dieses Ueberflusses an Leben, Leid und Lust, in erhabener Entzückung, sie horcht einem fernen schwermüthigen Gesange - er erzählt von den Müttern des Seins, deren Namen lauten: Wahn, Wille, Wehe. - Ja, meine Freunde, glaubt mit mir an das dionysische Leben und an die Wiedergeburt der Tragödie. Die Zeit des sokratischen Menschen ist vorüber: kränzt euch mit Epheu, nehmt den Thyrsusstab zur Hand und wundert euch nicht, wenn Tiger und Panther sich schmeichelnd zu euren Knien niederlegen. Jetzt wagt es nur, tragische Menschen zu sein: denn ihr sollt erlöst werden. Ihr sollt den dionysischen Festzug von Indien nach Griechenland geleiten! Rüstet euch zu hartem Streite, aber glaubt an die Wunder eures Gottes!
    • But what changes come upon the weary desert of our culture, so darkly described, when it is touched by the magic of Dionysus! A storm seizes everything decrepit, rotten, broken, stunted; shrouds it in a whirling red cloud of dust and carries it into the air like a vulture. In vain confusion we seek for all that has vanished; for what we see has risen as if from beneath he earth into the gold light, so full and green, so luxuriantly alive, immeasurable and filled with yearning. Tragedy sits in sublime rapture amidst this abundance of life, suffering and delight, listening to a far-off, melancholy song which tells of the Mothers of Being, whose names are Delusion, Will, Woe
      Yes, my friends, join me in my faith in this Dionysiac life and the rebirth of tragedy. The age of Socratic man is past: crown yourselves with ivy, grasp the thyrsus and do not be amazed if tigers and panthers lie down fawning at your feet. Now dare to be tragic men, for you will be redeemed. You shall join the Dionysiac procession from India to Greece! Gird yourselves for a hard battle, but have faith in the miracles of your god!
    • p. 98.

On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873)[edit]

In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge.
Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn (1873)
The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence.
Are designations congruent with things? Is language the adequate expression of all realities?
We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.
Nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.
Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema, and thus to dissolve an image into a concept.
Only by forgetting that he himself is an artistically creating subject, does man live with any repose, security, and consistency...
Between two absolutely different spheres, as between subject and object, there is no causality, no correctness, and no expression; there is, at most, an aesthetic relation...
Part 1.
  • Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.
    • Variant translation: In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of "world history" — yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.
      One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened.
  • The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence. For this pride contains within itself the most flattering estimation of the value of knowing. Deception is the most general effect of such pride, but even its most particular effects contain within themselves something of the same deceitful character.
  • Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself — in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity — is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them. They are deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images; their eyes merely glide over the surface of things and see "forms."
    • Variant translation: The constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make its appearance among men.
  • What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him — even concerning his own body — in order to confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! She threw away the key.
  • The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real. He says, for example, "I am rich," when the proper designation for his condition would be "poor." He misuses fixed conventions by means of arbitrary substitutions or even reversals of names. If he does this in a selfish and moreover harmful manner, society will cease to trust him and will thereby exclude him. What men avoid by excluding the liar is not so much being defrauded as it is being harmed by means of fraud. Thus, even at this stage, what they hate is basically not deception itself, but rather the unpleasant, hated consequences of certain sorts of deception. It is in a similarly restricted sense that man now wants nothing but truth: he desires the pleasant, life-preserving consequences of truth. He is indifferent toward pure knowledge which has no consequences; toward those truths which are possibly harmful and destructive he is even hostilely inclined.
  • Are designations congruent with things? Is language the adequate expression of all realities?
    It is only by means of forgetfulness that man can ever reach the point of fancying himself to possess a "truth" of the grade just indicated. If he will not be satisfied with truth in the form of tautology, that is to say, if he will not be content with empty husks, then he will always exchange truths for illusions.
  • The various languages placed side by side show that with words it is never a question of truth, never a question of adequate expression; otherwise, there would not be so many languages. The "thing in itself" (which is precisely what the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for. This creator only designates the relations of things to men, and for expressing these relations he lays hold of the boldest metaphors.' To begin with, a nerve stimulus is transferred into an image: first metaphor. The image, in turn, is imitated in a sound: second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one.
  • We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.
  • Every word instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin; but rather, a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases — which means, purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal. Every concept arises from the equation of unequal things. Just as it is certain that one leaf is never totally the same as another, so it is certain that the concept "leaf" is formed by arbitrarily discarding these individual differences and by forgetting the distinguishing aspects.
  • We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.
  • Was ist also Wahrheit? Ein bewegliches Heer von Metaphern, Metonymien, Anthropomorphismen, kurz eine Summe von menschlichen Relationen, die, poetisch und rhetorisch gesteigert, übertragen, geschmückt wurden, und die nach langem Gebrauch einem Volke fest, kanonisch und verbindlich dünken: die Wahrheiten sind Illusionen, von denen man vergessen hat, daß sie welche sind, Metaphern, die abgenutzt und sinnlich kraftlos geworden sind, Münzen, die ihr Bild verloren haben und nun als Metall, nicht mehr als Münzen, in Betracht kommen.
    • What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.
  • We still do not yet know where the drive for truth comes from. For so far we have heard only of the duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors. Thus, to express it morally, this is the duty to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries' old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth.
  • The venerability, reliability, and utility of truth is something which a person demonstrates for himself from the contrast with the liar, whom no one trusts and everyone excludes. As a "rational" being, he now places his behavior under the control of abstractions. He will no longer tolerate being carried away by sudden impressions, by intuitions.
  • Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema, and thus to dissolve an image into a concept. For something is possible in the realm of these schemata which could never be achieved with the vivid first impressions: the construction of a pyramidal order according to castes and degrees, the creation of a new world of laws, privileges, subordinations, and clearly marked boundaries — a new world, one which now confronts that other vivid world of first impressions as more solid, more universal, better known, and more human than the immediately perceived world, and thus as the regulative and imperative world.
  • One may certainly admire man as a mighty genius of construction, who succeeds in piling an infinitely complicated dome of concepts upon an unstable foundation, and, as it were, on running water. Of course, in order to be supported by such a foundation, his construction must be like one constructed of spiders' webs: delicate enough to be carried along by the waves, strong enough not to be blown apart by every wind.
  • As a genius of construction man raises himself far above the bee in the following way: whereas the bee builds with wax that he gathers from nature, man builds with the far more delicate conceptual material which he first has to manufacture from himself.
  • When someone hides something behind a bush and looks for it again in the same place and finds it there as well, there is not much to praise in such seeking and finding. Yet this is how matters stand regarding seeking and finding "truth" within the realm of reason. If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare "look, a mammal' I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value. That is to say, it is a thoroughly anthropomorphic truth which contains not a single point which would be "true in itself" or really and universally valid apart from man. At bottom, what the investigator of such truths is seeking is only the metamorphosis of the world into man.
  • Only by forgetting this primitive world of metaphor can one live with any repose, security, and consistency: only by means of the petrification and coagulation of a mass of images which originally streamed from the primal faculty of human imagination like a fiery liquid, only in the invincible faith that this sun, this window, this table is a truth in itself, in short, only by forgetting that he himself is an artistically creating subject, does man live with any repose, security, and consistency. If but for an instant he could escape from the prison walls of this faith, his "self consciousness" would be immediately destroyed. It is even a difficult thing for him to admit to himself that the insect or the bird perceives an entirely different world from the one that man does, and that the question of which of these perceptions of the world is the more correct one is quite meaningless, for this would have to have been decided previously in accordance with the criterion of the correct perception, which means, in accordance with a criterion which is not available.
  • Between two absolutely different spheres, as between subject and object, there is no causality, no correctness, and no expression; there is, at most, an aesthetic relation: I mean, a suggestive transference, a stammering translation into a completely foreign tongue — for which I there is required, in any case, a freely inventive intermediate sphere and mediating force. "Appearance" is a word that contains many temptations, which is why I avoid it as much as possible. For it is not true that the essence of things "appears" in the empirical world. A painter without hands who wished to express in song the picture before his mind would, by means of this substitution of spheres, still reveal more about the essence of things than does the empirical world. Even the relationship of a nerve stimulus to the generated image is not a necessary one. But when the same image has been generated millions of times and has been handed down for many generations and finally appears on the same occasion every time for all mankind, then it acquires at last the same meaning for men it would have if it were the sole necessary image and if the relationship of the original nerve stimulus to the generated image were a strictly causal one. In the same manner, an eternally repeated dream would certainly be felt and judged to be reality. But the hardening and congealing of a metaphor guarantees absolutely nothing concerning its necessity and exclusive justification.
  • If each us had a different kind of sense perception — if we could only perceive things now as a bird, now as a worm, now as a plant, or if one of us saw a stimulus as red, another as blue, while a third even heard the same stimulus as a sound — then no one would speak of such a regularity of nature, rather, nature would be grasped only as a creation which is subjective in the highest degree. After all, what is a law of nature as such for us? We are not acquainted with it in itself, but only with its effects, which means in its relation to other laws of nature — which, in turn, are known to us only as sums of relations. Therefore all these relations always refer again to others and are thoroughly incomprehensible to us in their essence.
  • We produce these representations in and from ourselves with the same necessity with which the spider spins. If we are forced to comprehend all things only under these forms, then it ceases to be amazing that in all things we actually comprehend nothing but these forms. For they must all bear within themselves the laws of number, and it is precisely number which is most astonishing in things. All that conformity to law, which impresses us so much in the movement of the stars and in chemical processes, coincides at bottom with those properties which we bring to things. Thus it is we who impress ourselves in this way
The drive toward the formation of metaphors is the fundamental human drive, which one cannot for a single instant dispense with in thought, for one would thereby dispense with man himself.
There is no regular path which leads from these intuitions into the land of ghostly schemata, the land of abstractions. There exists no word for these intuitions; when man sees them he grows dumb, or else he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard — of combinations of concepts.
Part 2
  • We have seen how it is originally language which works on the construction of concepts, a labor taken over in later ages by science. Just as the bee simultaneously constructs cells and fills them with honey, so science works unceasingly on this great columbarium of concepts, the graveyard of perceptions.
  • Whereas the man of action binds his life to reason and its concepts so that he will not be swept away and lost, the scientific investigator builds his hut right next to the tower of science so that he will be able to work on it and to find shelter for himself beneath those bulwarks which presently exist. And he requires shelter, for there are frightful powers which continuously break in upon him, powers which oppose scientific "truth" with completely different kinds of "truths" which bear on their shields the most varied sorts of emblems.
  • The drive toward the formation of metaphors is the fundamental human drive, which one cannot for a single instant dispense with in thought, for one would thereby dispense with man himself. This drive is not truly vanquished and scarcely subdued by the fact that a regular and rigid new world is constructed as its prison from its own ephemeral products, the concepts. It seeks a new realm and another channel for its activity, and it finds this in myth and in art generally. This drive continually confuses the conceptual categories and cells by bringing forward new transferences, metaphors, and metonymies. It continually manifests an ardent desire to refashion the world which presents itself to waking man, so that it will be as colorful, irregular, lacking in results and coherence, charming, and eternally new as the world of dreams. Indeed, it is only by means of the rigid and regular web of concepts that the waking man clearly sees that he is awake; and it is precisely because of this that he sometimes thinks that he must be dreaming when this web of concepts is torn by art.
  • Because of the way that myth takes it for granted that miracles are always happening, the waking life of a mythically inspired people — the ancient Greeks, for instance — more closely resembles a dream than it does the waking world of a scientifically disenchanted thinker.
  • Man has an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived and is, as it were, enchanted with happiness when the rhapsodist tells him epic fables as if they were true, or when the actor in the theater acts more royally than any real king. So long as it is able to deceive without injuring, that master of deception, the intellect, is free; it is released from its former slavery and celebrates its Saturnalia. It is never more luxuriant, richer, prouder, more clever and more daring.
  • That immense framework and planking of concepts to which the needy man clings his whole life long in order to preserve himself is nothing but a scaffolding and toy for the most audacious feats of the liberated intellect. And when it smashes this framework to pieces, throws it into confusion, and puts it back together in an ironic fashion, pairing the most alien things and separating the closest, it is demonstrating that it has no need of these makeshifts of indigence and that it will now be guided by intuitions rather than by concepts. There is no regular path which leads from these intuitions into the land of ghostly schemata, the land of abstractions. There exists no word for these intuitions; when man sees them he grows dumb, or else he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard — of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful present intuition.
  • There are ages in which the rational man and the intuitive man stand side by side, the one in fear of intuition, the other with scorn for abstraction. The latter is just as irrational as the former is inartistic. They both desire to rule over life: the former, by knowing how to meet his principle needs by means of foresight, prudence, and regularity; the latter, by disregarding these needs and, as an "overjoyed hero," counting as real only that life which has been disguised as illusion and beauty.
  • The man who is guided by concepts and abstractions only succeeds by such means in warding off misfortune, without ever gaining any happiness for himself from these abstractions. And while he aims for the greatest possible freedom from pain, the intuitive man, standing in the midst of a culture, already reaps from his intuition a harvest of continually inflowing illumination, cheer, and redemption — in addition to obtaining a defense against misfortune. To be sure, he suffers more intensely, when he suffers; he even suffers more frequently, since he does not understand how to learn from experience and keeps falling over and over again into the same ditch.

Untimely Meditations (1876)[edit]

No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.
  • In order to be able thus to misjudge, and thus to grant left-handed veneration to our classics, people must have ceased to know them. This, generally speaking, is precisely what has happened. For, otherwise, one ought to know that there is only one way of honoring them, and that is to continue seeking with the same spirit and with the same courage, and not to weary of the search.
  • [Philistines] only devised the notion of an epigone-age in order to secure peace for themselves, and to be able to reject all the efforts of disturbing innovators summarily as the work of epigones. With the view of ensuring their own tranquility, these smug ones even appropriated history, and sought to transform all sciences that threatened to disturb their wretched ease into branches of history. ... No, in their desire to acquire an historical grasp of everything, stultification became the sole aim of these philosophical admirers of “nil admirari.” While professing to hate every form of fanaticism and intolerance, what they really hated, at bottom, was the dominating genius and the tyranny of the real claims of culture.
  • In this way, a philosophy which veiled the Philistine confessions of its founder beneath neat twists and flourishes of language proceeded further to discover a formula for the canonization of the commonplace. It expatiated upon the rationalism of all reality, and thus ingratiated itself with the Culture-Philistine, who also loves neat twists and flourishes, and who, above all, considers himself real, and regards his reality as the standard of reason for the world. From this time forward he began to allow every one, and even himself, to reflect, to investigate, to aestheticise, and, more particularly, to make poetry, music, and even pictures—not to mention systems of philosophy; provided, of course, that ... no assault were made upon the “reasonable” and the “real”—that is to say, upon the Philistine.
  • I do not know what meaning classical studies could have for our time if they were not untimely—that is to say, acting counter to our time and thereby acting on our time and, let us hope, for the benefit of a time to come.
    • “On the uses and disadvantages of history for life,” R. Hollingdale, trans. (1983), § 2.0, p. 60
  • Perhaps no philosopher is more correct than the cynic. The happiness of the animal, that thorough cynic, is the living proof of cynicism.
  • In his heart every man knows quite well that, being unique, he will be in the world only once and that no imaginable chance will for a second time gather together into a unity so strangely variegated an assortment as he is: he knows it but he hides it like a bad conscience—why? From fear of his neighbor, who demands conventionality and cloaks himself with it. But what is it that constrains the individual to fear his neighbor, to think and act like a member of a herd, and to have no joy in himself? Modesty, perhaps, in a few rare cases. With the great majority it is indolence, inertia. ... Men are even lazier than they are timid, and fear most of all the inconveniences with which unconditional honesty and nakedness would burden them. Artists alone hate this sluggish promenading in borrowed fashions and appropriated opinions and they reveal everyone’s secret bad conscience, the law that every man is a unique miracle.
  • The man who does not wish to belong to the mass needs only to cease taking himself easily; let him follow his conscience, which calls to him: “Be your self! All you are now doing, thinking, desiring, is not you yourself.”
  • There exists no more repulsive and desolate creature in the world than the man who has evaded his genius and who now looks furtively to left and right, behind him and all about him. ... He is wholly exterior, without kernel, a tattered, painted bag of clothes.
  • If it is true to say of the lazy that they kill time, then it is greatly to be feared that an era which sees its salvation in public opinion, this is to say private laziness, is a time that really will be killed: I mean that it will be struck out of the history of the true liberation of life. How reluctant later generations will be to have anything to do with the relics of an era ruled, not by living men, but by pseudo-men dominated by public opinion.
  • We are responsible to ourselves for our own existence; consequently we want to be the true helmsman of this existence and refuse to allow our existence to resemble a mindless act of chance.
  • I will make an attempt to attain freedom, the youthful soul says to itself; and is it to be hindered in this by the fact that two nations happen to hate and fight one another, or that two continents are separated by an ocean, or that all around it a religion is taught with did not yet exist a couple of thousand years ago. All that is not you, it says to itself. No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.
  • How can a man know himself? He is a thing dark and veiled; and if the hare has seven skins, man can slough off seventy times seven and still not be able to say: “this is really you, this is no longer outer shell.”
  • That is the secret of all culture: it does not provide artificial limbs, wax noses or spectacles—that which can provide these things is, rather, only sham education. Culture is liberation, the removal of all the weeds, rubble and vermin that want to attack the tender buds of the plant.
  • I always believed that at some time fate would take from me the terrible effort and duty of educating myself. I believed that, when the time came, I would discover a philosopher to educate me, a true philosopher whom one could follow without any misgiving because one would have more faith in him than one had in oneself. Then I asked myself: what would be the principles by which he would educate you?—and I reflected on what he might say about the two educational maxims which are being hatched in our time. One of them demands that the educator should quickly recognize the real strength of his pupil and then direct all his efforts and energy and heat at them so as to help that one virtue to attain true maturity and fruitfulness. The other maxim, on the contrary, requires that the educator should draw forth and nourish all the forces which exist in his pupil and bring them to a harmonious relationship with one another. ... But where do we discover a harmonious whole at all, a simultaneous sounding of many voice in one nature, if not in such men as Cellini, men in whom everything, knowledge, desire, love, hate, strives towards a central point, a root force, and where a harmonious system is constructed through the compelling domination of this living centre? And so perhaps these two maxims are not opposites at all? Perhaps the one simply says that man should have a center and the other than he should also have a periphery? That educating philosopher of whom I dreamed would, I came to think, not only discover the central force, he would also know how to prevent its acting destructively on the other forces: his educational task would, it seemed to me, be to mould the whole man into a living solar and planetary system and to understand its higher laws of motion.

Human, All Too Human (1878)[edit]

Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today.
Menschliches, Allzumenschliches
One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear.
In the mountains of truth you will never climb in vain: either you will get up higher today or you will exercise your strength so as to be able to get up higher tomorrow.
  • Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today.
    • Preface 7.
  • One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.
    • I.59.
  • ... die Hoffnung: sie ist in Wahrheit das übelste der Übel, weil sie die Qual der Menschen verlängert.
    • In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.
    • I.71.
  • One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear.
    • I.74.
  • When virtue has slept, she will get up more refreshed.
    • I.83
  • Every tradition grows ever more venerable — the more remote its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires awe.
    • I.96.
  • Where there is happiness, there is found pleasure in nonsense. The transformation of experience into its opposite, of the suitable into the unsuitable, the obligatory into the optional (but in such a manner that this process produces no injury and is only imagined in jest), is a pleasure; ...
    • I.213.
  • Main deficiency of active people. Active men are usually lacking in higher activity--I mean individual activity. They are active as officials, businessmen, scholars, that is, as generic beings, but not as quite particular, single and unique men. In this respect they are lazy.
It is the misfortune of active men that their activity is almost always a bit irrational. For example, one must not inquire of the money-gathering banker what the purpose for his restless activity is: it is irrational. Active people roll like a stone, conforming to the stupidity of mechanics.
Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.
  • We often contradict an opinion for no other reason than that we do not like the tone in which it is expressed.
  • Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive.
  • Unpleasant, even dangerous, qualities can be found in every nation and every individual: it is cruel to demand that the Jew be an exception. In him, these qualities may even be dangerous and revolting to an unusual degree; and perhaps the young stock-exchange Jew is altogether the most disgusting invention of mankind.
    • I.475.
  • He who thinks a great deal is not suited to be a party man: he thinks his way through the party and out the other side too soon.
    • I.579.
  • The advantage of a bad memory is that one can enjoy the same good things for the first time several times.
    • I.580.
  • No one talks more passionately about his rights than he who in the depths of his soul doubts whether he has any. By enlisting passion on his side he wants to stifle his reason and its doubts: thus he will acquire a good conscience and with it success among his fellow men.
    • I.597.
  • If you have hitherto believed that life was one of the highest value and now see yourselves disappointed, do you at once have to reduce it to the lowest possible price?
    • II.1.
  • The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.
    • II.77.
  • Mancher wird nur deshalb kein Denker, weil sein Gedächtnis zu gut ist.
    • Many a man fails to become a thinker only because his memory is too good.
    • II.122.
  • The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole.
    • II.137.
  • A witticism is an epigram on the death of a feeling.
    • II.202.
  • A Path to Equality. - A few hours of mountain climbing turn a rascal and a saint into two pretty similar creatures. Fatigue is the shortest way to Equality and Fraternity--and, in the end, Liberty will surrender to Sleep.
    • II.263.
  • It says nothing against the ripeness of a spirit that it has a few worms.
    • II.353.
  • With all great deceivers there is a noteworthy occurrence to which they owe their power. In the actual act of deception... they are overcome by belief in themselves. It is this which then speaks so miraculously and compellingly to those who surround them.[specific citation needed]
  • In the mountains of truth you will never climb in vain: either you will get up higher today or you will exercise your strength so as to be able to get up higher tomorrow. (II.293, maxim 358)
  • It is mere illusion and pretty sentiment to expect much from mankind if he forgets how to make war. And yet no means are known which call so much into action as a great war, that rough energy born of the camp, that deep impersonality born of hatred, that conscience born of murder and cold-bloodedness, that fervor born of effort of the annihilation of the enemy, that proud indifference to loss, to one's own existence, to that of one's fellows, to that earthquake-like soul-shaking that a people needs when it is losing its vitality.[specific citation needed]

Helen Zimmern translation[edit]

It is the privilege of greatness to grant supreme pleasure through trifling gifts.
(1909-1913)
The distinction that lies in being unhappy (as if to feel happy were a sign of shallowness, lack of ambition, ordinariness) is so great that when someone says, "But how happy you must be!" we usually protest.
Young people love what is interesting and odd, no matter how true or false it is. More mature minds love what is interesting and odd about truth. Fully mature intellects, finally, love truth, even when it appears plain and simple, boring to the ordinary person; for they have noticed that truth tends to reveal its highest wisdom in the guise of simplicity.
It is not the struggle of opinions that has made history so violent, but rather the struggle of belief in opinions, that is, the struggle of convictions.
  • Feinde der Wahrheit. - Überzeugungen sind gefährlichere Feinde der Wahrheit, als Lügen.
    • Enemies of truth. Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 483.
  • Ziel und Wege. - Viele sind hartnäckig in Bezug auf den einmal eingeschlagenen Weg, Wenige in Bezug auf das Ziel.
    • Destination and paths. Many people are obstinate about the path once it is taken, few people about the destination.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 494.
  • Das Empörende an einer individuellen Lebensart. - Alle sehr individuellen Maassregeln des Lebens bringen die Menschen gegen Den, der sie ergreift, auf; sie fühlen sich durch die aussergewöhnliche Behandlung, welche jener sich angedeihen lässt, erniedrigt, als gewöhnliche Wesen.
    • The infuriating thing about an individual way of living. People are always angry at anyone who chooses very individual standards for his life; because of the extraordinary treatment which that man grants to himself, they feel degraded, like ordinary beings.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 495.
  • Vorrecht der Grösse. - Es ist das Vorrecht der Grösse, mit geringen Gaben hoch zu beglücken.
    • Privilege of greatness. It is the privilege of greatness to grant supreme pleasure through trifling gifts.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 496.
  • Jeder in Einer Sache überlegen. - In civilisirten Verhältnissen fühlt sich Jeder jedem Anderen in Einer Sache wenigstens überlegen: darauf beruht das allgemeine Wohlwollen, insofern Jeder einer ist, der unter Umständen helfen kann und desshalb sich ohne Scham helfen lassen darf.
    • Everyone superior in one thing. In civilized circumstances, everyone feels superior to everyone else in at least one way; this is the basis of the general goodwill, inasmuch as everyone is someone who, under certain conditions, can be of help, and need therefore feel no shame in allowing himself to be helped.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 509.
  • Das Leben als Ertrag des Lebens. - Der Mensch mag sich noch so weit mit seiner Erkenntniss ausrecken, sich selber noch so objectiv vorkommen: zuletzt trägt er doch Nichts davon, als seine eigene Biographie.
    • Life as the product of life. However far man may extend himself with his knowledge, however objective he may appear to himself - ultimately he reaps nothing but his own biography.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 513.
  • Aus der Erfahrung. - Die Unvernunft einer Sache ist kein Grund gegen ihr Dasein, vielmehr eine Bedingung desselben.
    • From experience. That something is irrational is no argument against its existence, but rather a condition for it.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 515.
  • Gefahr unserer Cultur. - Wir gehören einer Zeit an, deren Cultur in Gefahr ist, an den Mitteln der Cultur zu Grunde zu gehen.
    • Danger of our culture. We belong to a time in which culture is in danger of being destroyed by the means of culture.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 520.
  • Die Länge des Tages. - Wenn man viel hineinzustecken hat, so hat ein Tag hundert Taschen.
    • The day's length. If a man has a great deal to put in them, a day will have a hundred pockets.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 529.
  • Unglück. - Die Auszeichnung, welche im Unglück liegt (als ob es ein Zeichen von Flachheit, Anspruchslosigkeit, Gewöhnlichkeit sei, sich glücklich zu fühlen), ist so gross, dass wenn Jemand Einem sagt: "Aber wie glücklich Sie sind!" man gewöhnlich protestirt.
    • Unhappiness. The distinction that lies in being unhappy (as if to feel happy were a sign of shallowness, lack of ambition, ordinariness) is so great that when someone says, "But how happy you must be!" we usually protest.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 534.
  • Den Andern zum Vorbild. - Wer ein gutes Beispiel geben will, muss seiner Tugend einen Gran Narrheit zusetzen: dann ahmt man nach und erhebt sich zugleich über den Nachgeahmten, - was die Menschen lieben.
    • Model for others. He who wants to set a good example must add a grain of foolishness to his virtue; then others can imitate and, at the same time, rise above the one being imitated - something which people love.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 561.
  • Schatten in der Flamme. - Die Flamme ist sich selber nicht so hell,als den Anderen, denen sie leuchtet: so auch der Weise.
    • Shadow in the flame. The flame is not so bright to itself as to those on whom it shines: so too the wise man.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 570.
  • Eigene Meinungen. - Die erste Meinung, welche uns einfällt, wenn wir plötzlich über eine Sache befragt werden, ist gewöhnlich nicht unsere eigene, sondern nur die landläufige, unserer Kaste, Stellung, Abkunft zugehörige; die eigenen Meinungen schwimmen selten oben auf.
    • Our own opinions. The first opinion that occurs to us when we are suddenly asked about a matter is usually not our own, but only the customary one, appropriate to our caste, position, or parentage; our own opinions seldom swim near the surface.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 571.
  • Lebensalter und Wahrheit. - junge Leute lieben das Interessante und Absonderliche, gleichgültig wie wahr oder falsch es ist. Reifere Geister lieben Das an der Wahrheit, was an ihr interessant und absonderlich ist. Ausgereifte Köpfe endlich lieben die Wahrheit auch in Dem, wo sie schlicht und einfältig erscheint und dem gewöhnlichen Menschen Langeweile macht, weil sie gemerkt haben, dass die Wahrheit das Höchste an Geist, was sie besitzt, mit der Miene der Einfalt zu sagen pflegt.
    • Age and truth. Young people love what is interesting and odd, no matter how true or false it is. More mature minds love what is interesting and odd about truth. Fully mature intellects, finally, love truth, even when it appears plain and simple, boring to the ordinary person; for they have noticed that truth tends to reveal its highest wisdom in the guise of simplicity.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 609.
  • Der Gegenwart entfremdet. - Es hat grosse Vortheile, seiner Zeit sich einmal in stärkerem Maasse zu entfremden und gleichsam von ihrem Ufer zurück in den Ocean der vergangenen Weltbetrachtungen getrieben zu werden. Von dort aus nach der Küste zu blickend, überschaut man wohl zum ersten Male ihre gesammte Gestaltung und hat, wenn man sich ihr wieder nähert, den Vortheil, sie besser im Ganzen zu verstehen, als Die, welche sie nie verlassen haben.
    • Alienated from the present. There are great advantages in for once removing ourselves distinctly from our time and letting ourselves be driven from its shore back into the ocean of former world views. Looking at the coast from that perspective, we survey for the first time its entire shape, and when we near it again, we have the advantage of understanding it better on the whole than do those who have never left it.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 616.
  • Philosophisch gesinnt sein. - Gewöhnlich strebt man darnach, für alle Lebenslagen und Ereignisse eine Haltung des Gemüthes, eine Gattung von Ansichten zu erwerben, - das nennt man vornehmlich philosophisch gesinnt sein. Aber für die Bereicherung der Erkenntniss mag es höheren Werth haben, nicht in dieser Weise sich zu uniformiren, sondern auf die leise Stimme der verschiedenen Lebenslagen zu hören; diese bringen ihre eigenen Ansichten mit sich. So nimmt man erkennenden Antheil am Leben und Wesen Vieler, indem man sich selber nicht als starres, beständiges, Eines Individuum behandelt.
    • A philosophical frame of mind. Generally we strive to acquire one emotional stance, one viewpoint for all life situations and events: we usually call that being of a philosophical frame of mind. But rather than making oneself uniform, we may find greater value for the enrichment of knowledge by listening to the soft voice of different life situations; each brings its own views with it. Thus we acknowledge and share the life and nature of many by not treating ourselves like rigid, invariable, single individuals.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 618.
  • Verkehr mit dem höheren Selbst. - Ein jeder hat seinen guten Tag, wo er sein höheres Selbst findet; und die wahre Humanität verlangt, jemanden nur nach diesem Zustande und nicht nach den Werktagen der Unfreiheit und Knechtung zu schätzen. Man soll zum Beispiel einen Maler nach seiner höchsten Vision, die er zu sehen und darzustellen vermochte, taxiren und verehren. Aber die Menschen selber verkehren sehr verschieden mit diesem ihrem höheren Selbst und sind häufig ihre eigenen Schauspieler, insofern sie Das, was sie in jenen Augenblicken sind, später immer wieder nachmachen. Manche leben in Scheu und Demuth vor ihrem Ideale und möchten es verleugnen: sie fürchten ihr höheres Selbst, weil es, wenn es redet, anspruchsvoll redet. Dazu hat es eine geisterhafte Freiheit zu kommen und fortzubleiben wie es will; es wird desswegen häufig eine Gabe der Götter genannt, während eigentlich alles Andere Gabe der Götter (des Zufalls) ist: jenes aber ist der Mensch selber.
    • Traffic with one's higher self. Everyone has his good day, when he finds his higher self; and true humanity demands that we judge someone only when he is in this condition, and not in his workdays of bondage and servitude. We should, for example, assess and honor a painter according to the highest vision he was able to see and portray. But people themselves deal very differently with this, their higher self, and often act out the role of their own self, to the extent that they later keep imitating what they were in those moments. Some regard their ideal with shy humility and would like to deny it: they fear their higher self because, when it speaks, it speaks demandingly. In addition, it has a ghostly freedom of coming or staying away as it wishes; for that reason it is often called a gift of the gods, while actually everything else is a gift of the gods (of chance): this, however, is the man himself.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 624.
  • Leben und Erleben. - Sieht man zu, wie Einzelne mit ihren Erlebnissen - ihren unbedeutenden alltäglichen Erlebnissen - umzugehen wissen, so dass diese zu einem Ackerland werden, das dreimal des Jahres Frucht trägt; während Andere - und wie Viele! - durch den Wogenschlag der aufregendsten Schicksale, der mannigfaltigsten Zeit- und Volksströmungen hindurchgetrieben werden und doch immer leicht, immer obenauf, wie Kork, bleiben: so ist man endlich versucht, die Menschheit in eine Minorität (Minimalität) Solcher einzutheilen, welche aus Wenigem Viel zu machen verstehen: und in eine Majorität Derer, welche aus Vielem Wenig zu machen verstehen; ja man trifft auf jene umgekehrten Hexenmeister, welche, anstatt die Welt aus Nichts, aus der Welt ein Nichts schaffen.
    • Life and experience. If one notices how some individuals know how to treat their experiences (their insignificant everyday experiences) so that these become a plot of ground that bears fruit three times a year; while others (and how many of them!) are driven through the waves of the most exciting turns of fate, of the most varied currents of their time or nation, and yet always stay lightly on the surface, like cork: then one is finally tempted to divide mankind into a minority (minimality) of those people who know how to make much out of little and a majority of those who know how to make a little out of much; indeed, one meets those perverse wizards who, instead of creating the world out of nothing, create nothing out of the world.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 627.
  • Es ist nicht der Kampf der Meinungen, welcher die Geschichte so gewaltthätig gemacht hat, sondern der Kampf des Glaubens an die Meinungen, das heisst der Ueberzeugungen.
    • It is not the struggle of opinions that has made history so violent, but rather the struggle of belief in opinions, that is, the struggle of convictions.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / excerpt from aphorism 630.
  • Wir sind im Wesentlichen noch dieselben Menschen, wie die des Zeitalters der Reformation: wie sollte es auch anders sein? Aber dass wir uns einige Mittel nicht mehr erlauben, um mit ihnen unsrer Meinung zum Siege zu verhelfen, das hebt uns gegen jene Zeit ab und beweist, dass wir einer höhern Cultur angehören. Wer jetzt noch, in der Art der Reformations-Menschen, Meinungen mit Verdächtigungen, mit Wuthausbrüchen bekämpft und niederwirft, verräth deutlich, dass er seine Gegner verbrannt haben würde, falls er in anderen Zeiten gelebt hätte, und dass er zu allen Mitteln der Inquisition seine Zuflucht genommen haben würde, wenn er als Gegner der Reformation gelebt hätte. Diese Inquisition war damals vernünftig, denn sie bedeutete nichts Anderes, als den allgemeinen Belagerungszustand, welcher über den ganzen Bereich der Kirche verhängt werden musste, und der, wie jeder Belagerungszustand, zu den äussersten Mitteln berechtigte, unter der Voraussetzung nämlich (welche wir jetzt nicht mehr mit jenen Menschen theilen), dass man die Wahrheit, in der Kirche, habe, und um jeden Preis mit jedem Opfer zum Heile der Menschheit bewahren müsse. Jetzt aber giebt man Niemandem so leicht mehr zu, dass er die Wahrheit habe: die strengen Methoden der Forschung haben genug Misstrauen und Vorsicht verbreitet, so dass Jeder, welcher gewaltthätig in Wort und Werk Meinungen vertritt, als ein Feind unserer jetzigen Cultur, mindestens als ein zurückgebliebener empfunden wird. In der That: das Pathos, dass man die Wahrheit habe, gilt jetzt sehr wenig im Verhältniss zu jenem freilich milderen und klanglosen Pathos des Wahrheit-Suchens, welches nicht müde wird, umzulernen und neu zu prüfen.
    • Essentially, we are still the same people as those in the period of the Reformation - and how should it be otherwise? But we no longer allow ourselves certain means to gain victory for our opinion: this distinguishes us from that age and proves that we belong to a higher culture. These days, if a man still attacks and crushes opinions with suspicions and outbursts of rage, in the manner of men during the Reformation, he clearly betrays that he would have burnt his opponents, had he lived in other times, and that he would have taken recourse to all the means of the Inquisition, had he lived as an opponent of the Reformation. In its time, the Inquisition was reasonable, for it meant nothing other than the general martial law which had to be proclaimed over the whole domain of the church, and which, like every state of martial law, justified the use of the extremest means, namely under the assumption (which we no longer share with those people) that one possessed truth in the church and had to preserve it at any cost, with any sacrifice, for the salvation of mankind. But now we will no longer concede so easily that anyone has the truth; the rigorous methods of inquiry have spread sufficient distrust and caution, so that we experience every man who represents opinions violently in word and deed as any enemy of our present culture, or at least as a backward person. And in fact, the fervor about having the truth counts very little today in relation to that other fervor, more gentle and silent, to be sure, for seeking the truth, a search that does not tire of learning afresh and testing anew.
    • Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / aphorism 633.

Daybreak — Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (1881)[edit]

He who is punished is never he who performed the deed. He is always the scapegoat.
  • Who is the most moral man? First, he who obeys the law most frequently, who ... is continually inventive in creating opportunities for obeying the law. Then, he who obeys it even in the most difficult cases. The most moral man is he who sacrifices the most to custom. ... Self-overcoming is demanded, not on account of any useful consequences it may have for the individual, but so that hegemony of custom and tradition shall be made evident.
    • § 9.
  • Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed: - history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!
    • 20
  • He who is punished is never he who performed the deed. He is always the scapegoat.
    • 252.
  • He who lives as children live — who does not struggle for his bread and does not believe that his actions possess any ultimate significance — remains childlike.
    • 280.
  • It is not enough to prove something, one has also to seduce or elevate people to it. That is why the man of knowledge should learn how to speak his wisdom: and often in such a way that it sounds like folly!
    • 330.
  • For those who need consolation no means of consolation is so effective as the assertion that in their case no consolation is possible: it implies so great a degree of distinction that they at once hold up their heads again.
    • 380.
  • One has attained to mastery when one neither goes wrong nor hesitates in the performance.
    • 537.

The Gay Science (1882)[edit]

We are, all of us, growing volcanoes that approach the hour of their eruption; but how near or distant that is, nobody knows — not even God.
Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (1882)
What does your conscience say? — "You shall become the person you are."
To what extent can truth endure incorporation? That is the question; that is the experiment.
Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings — always darker, emptier, simpler.
We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake the same way — not at all or in an interesting manner.
The secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and greatest enjoyment is — to live dangerously.
I would not know what the spirit of a philosopher might wish more to be than a good dancer.
  • We are, all of us, growing volcanoes that approach the hour of their eruption; but how near or distant that is, nobody knows — not even God.
    • Sec. 9.
  • Benefiting and hurting others are ways of exercising one's power upon others; that is all one desires in such cases. One hurts those whom one wants to feel one's power, for pain is a much more efficient means to that end than pleasure; pain always raises the question about its origin while pleasure is inclined to stop with itself without looking back. We benefit and show benevolence to those who are already dependent on us in some way (which means that they are used to thinking of us as causes); we want to increase their power because in that way we increase ours, or we want to show them how advantageous it is to be in our power; that way they will become more satisfied with their condition and more hostile to and willing to fight against the enemies of our power.
    • Sec. 13.
  • People who live in an age of corruption are witty and slanderous; they know that there are other kinds of murder than by dagger or assault; they also know that whatever is well said is believed...
    • Sec. 23.
  • The reasons and purposes for habits are always lies that are added only after some people begin to attack these habits and to ask for reasons and purposes. At this point the conservatives of all ages are thoroughly dishonest: they add lies.
    • Sec. 29.
  • Even the most beautiful scenery is no longer assured of our love after we have lived in it for three months, and some distant coast attracts our avarice: possessions are generally diminished by possession…
  • A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions — as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.
    • Sec. 41.
  • Pardon me, my friends, I have ventured to paint my happiness on the wall.
    • Sec. 56.
  • But let us not forget this either: it is enough to create new names and estimations and probabilities in order to create in the long run new "things."
    • Sec. 58.
  • Without art we would be nothing but foreground and live entirely in the spell of that perspective which makes what is closest at hand and most vulgar appear as if it were vast, and reality itself.
    • Sec. 78.
  • Good prose is written only face to face with poetry.
    • Sec. 92.
  • Art furnishes us with eyes and hands and above all the good conscience to be able to turn ourselves into such a phenomenon.
    • Sec. 107.
  • Gott ist tot! aber so wie die Art der Menschen ist, wird es vielleicht noch Jahrtausende lang Höhlen geben, in denen man seinen Schatten zeigt. — Und wir — Wir müssen auch noch seinen Schatten besiegen.
    • God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. — And we — we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.
    • Sec. 108.
  • To what extent can truth endure incorporation? That is the question; that is the experiment.
    • Sec. 110.
  • Morality is herd instinct in the individual.
    • Sec. 116.
  • Gott ist tot! Gott bleibt tot! Und wir haben ihn getötet.
    • God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
    • Sec. 125.
  • Mystical explanations are considered deep; the truth is, they are not even shallow.
    • Sec. 126; variant translation: Mystical explanations are thought to be deep; the truth is that they are not even shallow.
  • Der christliche Entschluss, die Welt hässlich und schlecht zu finden, hat die Welt hässlich und schlecht gemacht.
    • The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
    • Sec. 130.
  • What is now decisive against Christianity is our taste, no longer our reasons.
    • Sec. 132.
  • To find everything profound — that is an inconvenient trait. It makes one strain one's eyes all the time, and in the end one finds more than one might have wished.
    • Sec. 158.
  • We are always in our own company.
    • Sec. 166.
  • Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings — always darker, emptier, simpler.
    • Sec. 179.
  • The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.
    • Sec. 191.
  • We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake the same way — not at all or in an interesting manner.
    • Sec. 232.
  • New Domestic Animals. I want to have my lion and my eagle about me, that I may always have hints and premonitions concerning the amount of my strength or weakness. Must I look down on them today, and be afraid of them? And will the hour come once more when they will look up to me, and tremble?
    • Sec. 250.
  • Die Leugner des Zufalls. — 'Kein Sieger glaubt an den Zufall.'
    • Those who deny chance. — 'No victor believes in chance.'
      • Sec. 258.
  • Was sagt dein Gewissen? — 'Du sollst der werden, der du bist.'
    • What does your conscience say? — "You shall become the person you are."
    • Variant translation: Become who you are.
    • It is noted here, here and here that the phrase was first used by Pindar, and was merely re-used by Nietzsche.
    • Sec. 270.
  • What is the seal of liberation? — No longer being ashamed in front of oneself.
    • Sec. 275.
  • There is something laughable about the sight of authors who enjoy the rustling folds of long and involved sentences: they are trying to cover up their feet.
    • Sec. 282.
  • Glaubt es mir! – das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heißt: gefährlich leben!
    • For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! Soon the age will be past when you could be content to live hidden in forests like shy deer! At long last the search for knowledge will reach out for its due: — it will want to rule and possess, and you with it!
    • Sec. 283; Variant translation: For believe me: the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and greatest enjoyment is — to live dangerously.
  • Everything good, fine or great they do is first of all an argument against the skeptic inside them.
    • Sec. 284.
  • Perhaps man will rise ever higher as soon as he ceases to flow out into a god.
    • Sec. 285.
  • Eins ist not. — Seinem Charakter 'Stil geben'.
    • One thing is needful — to 'give style' to one's character.
    • Sec. 290.
  • We want to be poets of our life — first of all in the smallest most everyday matters.
    • Sec. 299.
  • Do you believe then that the sciences would have arisen and grown up if the sorcerers, alchemists, astrologers and witches had not been their forerunners; those who, with their promisings and foreshadowings, had first to create a thirst, a hunger, and a taste for hidden and forbidden powers?
    • Variant translation: Do you believe then that the sciences would ever have arisen and become great if there had not beforehand been magicians, alchemists, astrologers and wizards, who thirsted and hungered after abscondite and forbidden powers?
    • Sec. 300.
  • Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature — nature is always value-less, but has been given value at some time, as a present — and it was we who gave and bestowed it.
    • Sec. 302.
  • It is true that there are men who, on the approach of severe pain, hear the very opposite call of command, and never appear more proud, more martial, or more happy than when the storm is brewing; indeed, pain itself provides them with their supreme moments! These are the heroic men, the great pain-bringers of mankind: those few and rare ones who need just the same apology as pain generally — and verily, it should not be denied them. They are forces of the greatest importance for preserving and advancing the species, be it only because they are opposed to smug ease, and do not conceal their disgust at this kind of happiness.
    • Sec. 318.
  • Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women and even slaves often attain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of it — that is great, that belongs to greatness.
    • Sec. 325.
  • The heaviest burden: “What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again—and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!’ If this thought were to gain possession of you, it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, “do you want this once more and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?.
    • Sec. 341.
  • Could one count such dilettantes and old spinsters as that mawkish apostle of virginity, Mainlander, as a genuine German? In the last analysis he probably was a Jew (all Jews become mawkish when they moralize).
    • Sec. 357.
  • I would not know what the spirit of a philosopher might wish more to be than a good dancer.
    • Sec. 381.
  • We "conserve" nothing; neither do we want to return to any past periods; we are not by any means "liberal"; we do not work for "progress"; we do not need to plug up our ears against the sirens who in the market place sing of the future: their song about "equal rights," "a free society," "no more masters and no servants" has no allure for us.
  • We simply do not consider it desirable that a realm of justice and concord should be established on earth (because it would certainly be the realm of the deepest leveling and chinoiserie); we are delighted with all who love, as we do, danger, war, and adventures, who refuse to compromise, to be captured, reconciled, and castrated; we count ourselves among conquerors; we think about the necessity for new orders, also for a new slavery — for every strengthening and enhancement of the human type also involves a new kind of enslavement.
    • The term chinoiserie indicates "unnecessary complication" and some translations point out that this passage invokes ideas in the concluding poem of Beyond Good and Evil: "nur wer sich wandelt bleibt mit mir verwandt" : Only those who keep changing remain akin to me.
  • Is it not clear that with all this we are bound to feel ill at ease in an age that likes to claim the distinction of being the most humane, the mildest, and the most righteous age that the sun has ever seen? It is bad enough that precisely when we hear these beautiful words we have the ugliest suspicions. What we find in them is merely an expression — and a masquerade — of a profound weakening, of weariness, of old age, of declining energies. What can it matter to us what tinsel the sick may use to cover up their weakness? Let them parade it as their virtue; after all, there is no doubt that weakness makes one mild, oh so mild, so righteous, so inoffensive, so "humane"!
    • Sec. 377.
  • Preparatory human beings. — I welcome all signs that a more virile, warlike age is about to begin, which will restore honor to courage above all! For this age shall prepare the way for one yet higher, and it shall gather the strength that this higher age will require some day — the age that will carry heroism into the search for knowledge and that will wage wars for the sake of ideas and their consequences.
  • To this end we now need many preparatory courageous human beings who cannot very well leap out of nothing — any more than out of the sand and slime of present-day civilization and metropolitanism: human beings who know how to be silent, lonely, resolute, and content and constant in invisible activities; human beings who are bent on seeking in all things for what in them must be overcome; human beings distinguished as much by cheerfulness, patience, unpretentiousness, and contempt for all great vanities as by magnanimity in victory and forbearance regarding the small vanities of the vanquished; human beings whose judgment concerning all victors and the share of chance in every victory and fame is sharp and free; human beings with their own festivals, their own working days, and their own periods of mourning, accustomed to command with assurance but instantly ready to obey when that is called for, equally proud, equally serving their own cause in both cases; more endangered human beings, more fruitful human beings, happier beings!

On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)[edit]

Also translated as Genealogy of Morals
  • There still shines the most important nuance by virtue of which the noble felt themselves to be men of a higher rank. They designate themselves simply by their superiority in power (as "the powerful," "the masters," "the commanders") or by the most clearly visible signs of this superiority, for example, as "the rich," "the possessors" (this is the meaning of 'Arya,' and of corresponding words in Iranian and Slavic).
    • Essay 1, Section 5.
  • As is well known, the priests are the most evil enemies — but why? Because they are the most impotent. It is because of their impotence that in them hatred grows to monstrous and uncanny proportions, to the most spiritual and poisonous kind of hatred. The truly great haters in the world history have always been priests; likewise the most ingenious haters: other kinds of spirit hardly come into consideration when compared with the spirit of priestly vengefulness.
    • Essay 1, Section 7.
  • While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is "outside," what is "different," what is "not itself"; and this No is its creative deed.
    • Essay 1, Section 10.
  • Without cruelty there is no festival: thus the longest and most ancient part of human history teaches — and in punishment there is so much that is festive!
    • Essay 2, Section 6.
  • That every will must consider every other will its equal — would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness.
    • Essay 2, Section 11.
  • It is possible to imagine a society flushed with such a sense of power that it could afford to let its offenders go unpunished.
    • Essay 2, Section 10.
  • The broad effects which can be obtained by punishment in man and beast are the increase of fear, the sharpening of the sense of cunning, the mastery of the desires; so it is that punishment tames man, but does not make him "better."
    • Essay 2, Section 15.
  • All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward — this is what I call the internalization of man: thus it was that man first developed what was later called his "soul."
    • Essay 2, Section 16.
  • The advent of the Christian God, as the maximum god attained so far, was therefore accompanied by the maximum feeling of guilty indebtedness on earth.
    • Essay 2, Section 20.
  • If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed.
    • Essay 2, Section 24.
  • The sick are the greatest danger for the healthy; it is not from the strongest that harm comes to the strong, but from the weakest.
    • Essay 3, Aphorism 14.
  • A strong and well-constituted man digests his experiences (deeds and misdeeds all included) just as he digests his meats, even when he has some tough morsels to swallow.
    • Essay 3, Aphorism 16.
  • O, what nowadays does science not conceal! How much, at least, it is meant to conceal!
    • Essay 3, Aphorism 23.

Twilight of the Idols (1888)[edit]

Götzen-Dämmerung (1888)
Without music, life would be a mistake.
Christianity is a metaphysics of the hangman…
We have already gone beyond whatever we have words for. In all talk there is a grain of contempt.
  • Plato ist langweilig.
    • Plato is boring.
      • What I Owe to the Ancients, 2.
  • Wie? ist der Mensch nur ein Fehlgriff Gottes? Oder Gott nur ein Fehlgriff des Menschen?
    • What is it: is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?
    • Variant: Which? Is man one of God's blunders or is God one of man's blunders?
      • Maxims and Arrows, 7.
  • Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.
    • What does not kill me, makes me stronger.
      • Maxims and Arrows, 8.
  • Hat man sein warum? des Lebens, so verträgt man sich fast mit jedem wie?
    • He who has a Why? in life can tolerate almost any How?
      • Maxims and Arrows, 12.
  • Women are considered profound. Why? Because we never fathom their depths. But women aren't even shallow.
    • Maxims and Arrows, 27.
  • Ohne Musik wäre das Leben ein Irrtum.
    • Without music, life would be a mistake.
      • Maxims and Arrows, 33.
  • Das Christenthum ist eine Metaphysik des Henkers...
    • Christianity is a metaphysics of the hangman...
      • The Four Great Errors, Section 7.
  • Liberalismus: auf deutsch Heerden-Verthierung ...
    • Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization.
      • Skirmishes of an Untimely Man Sect. 38.
  • Freedom is the will to be responsible for ourselves. It is to preserve the distance which separates us from other men. To grow more indifferent to hardship, to severity, to privation, and even to life itself.
    • Sect. 38.
  • Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity.
    • What the Germans lack, 2; also in The Antichrist, Sec. 60, and Gay Science, Sec. 147.
  • Man believes that the world itself is filled with beauty — he forgets that it is he who has created it. He alone has bestowed beauty upon the world — alas! only a very human, an all too human, beauty.
    • Expeditions of an Untimely Man, 19.
  • My conception of freedom. — The value of a thing sometimes does not lie in that which one attains by it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us. I give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. One knows, indeed, what their ways bring: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make men small, cowardly, and hedonistic [genüsslich] — every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization ...
    • Variant translation: Liberal institutions straightway cease from being liberal the moment they are soundly established: once this is attained no more grievous and more thorough enemies of freedom exist than liberal institutions.
    • Expeditions of an Untimely Man, 38.
  • It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a whole book — what everyone else does not say in a whole book.
    • Things the Germans Lack, 51.
  • The doctrine of equality! … But there is no more venomous poison in existence: for it appears to be preached by justice itself, when it is actually the end of justice … "Equality to the equal; inequality to the unequal" — that would be true justice speaking: and its corollary, "never make the unequal equal".
    • Die Lehre von der Gleichheit! ... Aber es giebt gar kein giftigeres Gift: denn sie scheint von der Gerechtigkeit selbst gepredigt, während sie das Ende der Gerechtigkeit ist... "Den Gleichen Gleiches, den Ungleichen Ungleiches - das wäre die wahre Rede der Gerechtigkeit: und, was daraus folgt, Ungleiches niemals gleich machen."
    • Expeditions of an Untimely Man, §48 Progress in my sense (Streifzüge eines Unzeitgemässen §48 Fortschritt in meinem Sinne). Chapter title also translated as: Skirmishes of an Untimely Man, Kaufmann/Hollingdale translation, and Raids of an Untimely Man, Richard Polt translation
  • When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is absolutely not self-evident: one must make this point clear again and again, in spite of English shallowpates.
    • Expeditions of an Untimely Man §5.
  • We have already gone beyond whatever we have words for. In all talk there is a grain of contempt.
    • Expeditions of an Untimely Man §26.
    • Wofür wir Worte haben, darüber sind wir auch schon hinaus. In allem Reden liegt ein Gran Verachtung.
    • Variant translation: That for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts. There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.'
  • These same institutions produce quite different effects while they are still being fought for; then they really promote freedom in a powerful way. On closer inspection it is war that produces these effects, the war for liberal institutions, which, as a war, permits illiberal instincts to continue. And war educates for freedom. For what is freedom? That one has the will to self-responsibility. That one maintains the distance which separates us. That one becomes more indifferent to difficulties, hardships, privation, even to life itself. That one is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's cause, not excluding oneself.
  • Freedom means that the manly instincts which delight in war and victory dominate over other instincts, for example, over those of "pleasure." The human being who has become free — and how much more the spirit who has become free — spits on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, females, Englishmen, and other democrats. The free man is a warrior. —
  • How is freedom measured, in individuals as in nations? By the resistance which must be overcome, by the effort [Mühe] it costs to remain on top. The highest type of free men should be sought where the highest resistance is constantly overcome: five steps from tyranny, close to the threshold of the danger of servitude. This is true psychologically if by "tyrants" are meant inexorable and dreadful instincts that provoke the maximum of authority and discipline against themselves — most beautiful type: Julius Caesar — ; this is true politically too; one need only go through history. The nations which were worth something, became worth something, never became so under liberal institutions: it was great danger that made something of them that merits respect. Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit — and forces us to be strong ...
  • First principle: one must need to be strong — otherwise one will never become strong. — Those large hothouses [Treibhäuser] for the strong, for the strongest kind of human being that has ever been, the aristocratic commonwealths of the type of Rome or Venice, understood freedom exactly in the sense in which I understand the word freedom: as something one has and does not have, something one wants, something one conquers ...
  • Our institutions are no good any more: on that there is universal agreement. However, it is not their fault but ours. Once we have lost all the instincts out of which institutions grow, we lose institutions altogether because we are no longer good for them.

The Antichrist (1888)[edit]

The very word "Christianity" is a misunderstanding — in truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.
Der Antichrist (1888); The Antichrist (English translation at WIkisource) (German) ; for more quotes from this work see The Antichrist
Against boredom even gods struggle in vain.
  • Einige werden posthum geboren.
    • Some are born posthumously.
      • Foreword.
  • What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.
    • Sec. 2.
  • In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point.
    • Sec. 16.
  • Hope, in its stronger forms, is a great deal more powerful stimulans to life than any sort of realized joy can ever be. Man must be sustained in suffering by a hope so high that no conflict with actuality can dash it—so high, indeed, that no fulfilment can satisfy it: a hope reaching out beyond this world.
    • Sec. 23.
  • Love is a state in which a man sees things most decidedly as they are not.
    • Sec. 23.
  • ...to the priestly class — decadence is no more than a means to an end. Men of this sort have a vital interest in making mankind sick, and in confusing the values of "good" and "bad," "true" and "false" in a manner that is not only dangerous to life, but also slanders it.
    • Sec. 24.
  • The 'Kingdom of Heaven' is a condition of the heart — not something that comes 'upon the earth' or 'after death'.
    • Sec. 34.
  • The 'kingdom of God' is not something one waits for; it has no yesterday or tomorrow, it does not come 'in a thousand years' — it is an experience within a heart; it is everywhere, it is nowhere...
    • Sec. 34.
  • The very word "Christianity" is a misunderstanding — in truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.
    • This has commonly been paraphrased: The last Christian died on the cross.
    • Sec. 39.
  • As an artistic triumph in psychological corruption ... the Gospels, in fact, stand alone ... Here we are among Jews: this is the first thing to be borne in mind if we are not to lose the thread of the matter. This positive genius for conjuring up a delusion of personal "holiness" unmatched anywhere else, either in books or by men; this elevation of fraud in word and attitude to the level of an art — all this is not an accident due to the chance talents of an individual, or to any violation of nature. The thing responsible is race.
    • Sec. 44.
  • The whole disaster was only made possible by the fact that there already existed in the world a similar megalomania, allied to this one in race, to wit, the Jewish.
    • Sec. 44.
  • What follows, then? That one had better put on gloves before reading the New Testament. The presence of so much filth makes it very advisable. One would as little choose early Christians for companions as Polish Jews: not that one need seek out an objection to them — neither has a pleasant smell.
    • Sec. 46.
  • "Do I still have to add that in the entire New Testament there is only one solitary figure one is obliged to respect? Pilate, the Roman governor. To take a Jewish affair seriously — he cannot persuade himself to do that. One Jew more or less — what does it matter ?... The noble scorn of a Roman before whom an impudent misuse of the word 'truth' was carried on has enriched the New Testament with the only expression which possesses value — which is its criticism, its annihilation even: 'What is truth?..."
    • Sec. 46.
  • The God that Paul invented for himself, a God who "reduced to absurdity" "the wisdom of this world" (especially the two great enemies of superstition, philology and medicine), is in truth only an indication of Paul's resolute determination to accomplish that very thing himself: to give one's own will the name of God, Torah — that is essentially Jewish.
    • Sec. 47'
  • God created woman. And boredom did indeed cease from that moment — but many other things ceased as well! Woman was God's second mistake.
    • Sec. 48.
  • Gegen die Langeweile kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.
    • Against boredom even gods struggle in vain.
    • Sec. 48.
  • That faith makes blessed under certain circumstances, that blessedness does not make of a fixed idea a true idea, that faith moves no mountains but puts mountains where there are none: a quick walk through a madhouse enlightens one sufficiently about this.
    • Sec. 51; Often paraphrased as: "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything".
  • »Glaube« heißt Nicht-wissen-wollen.
    • "Faith" means not wanting to know what is true.
    • Sec. 52.
  • Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker’s sense of satisfaction with his small existence–who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights.
    • Sec. 57.
  • Nihilist und Christ: das reimt sich, das reimt sich nicht bloss.
    • Nihilist and Christian. They rhyme, and do not merely rhyme...
    • Sec. 58, as translated by R. J. Hollingdale. In German these words do rhyme; variant translation: Nihilist and Christian. They rhyme, and they do indeed do more than just rhyme.
  • Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization. The wonderful culture of the Moors in Spain, which was fundamentally nearer to us and appealed more to our senses and tastes than that of Rome and Greece, was trampled down ( — I do not say by what sort of feet — ) Why? Because it had to thank noble and manly instincts for its origin — because it said yes to life, even to the rare and refined luxuriousness of Moorish life! The crusaders later made war on something before which it would have been more fitting for them to have grovelled in the dust — a civilization beside which even that of our nineteenth century seems very poor and very "senile." [...] Intrinsically there should be no more choice between Islam and Christianity than there is between an Arab and a Jew. The decision is already reached; nobody remains at liberty to choose here. Either a man is a Chandala or he is not.... “War to the knife with Rome! Peace and friendship with Islam!”: this was the feeling, this was the act, of that great free spirit, that genius among German emperors, Frederick II.
    • Sec. 60.
  • I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty — I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.
    • Sec. 62.

Ecce Homo (1888)[edit]

One must pay dearly for immortality; one has to die several times while one is still alive.
I am no man, I am dynamite.
What does not kill him, makes him stronger.
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) indicates the phrase Pontius Pilate used in presenting Jesus to the crowd after his scourging. Cross-references within Ecce Homo are by chapter and paragraph number, with the chapters referred to in abbreviated form as follows: F: Foreword, I: Why I Am So Wise, II: Why I Am So Clever, III: Why I Write Such Good Books, IV: Why I Am a Destiny.
  • Der Mensch der Erkenntniss muss nicht nur seine Feinde lieben, er muss auch seine Freunde hassen können.
    • The knight of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies, but also to hate his friends.
      • Foreword, in the Oscar Levy authorized translation.
    • Variant translations:
    • The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.
  • Man büßt es theuer, unsterblich zu sein: man stirbt dafür mehrere Male bei Lebzeiten.
    • One must pay dearly for immortality; one has to die several times while one is still alive.
    • 5.
  • And nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment.
    • "Why I Am So Wise", 6.
  • I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.
    • "Why I am a Destiny", 1.
  • ... was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn stärker
    • What does not kill him, makes him stronger.
    • "Why I Am So Wise", 2.
    • Cf. Twilight of the Idols (1888), "Maxims and Arrows", aphorism 8: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.
  • I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood. When I look for my diametric opposite, an immeasurably shabby instinct, I always think of my mother and sister, — it would blaspheme my divinity to think I am related to this sort of canaille. The way my mother and sister treat me to this very day is a source of unspeakable horror; a real time bomb is at work here, which can tell with unerring certainty the exact moment I can be hurt — in my highest moments, … because at that point I do not have the strength to resist poison worms …
    • "Why I Am So Wise", 3, as translated in The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings (2005) edited by Aaron Ridley and Judith Norman, p. 77.
  • All things considered, I could never have survived my youth without Wagnerian music. For I seemed condemned to the society of Germans. If a man wishes to rid himself of a feeling of unbearable oppression, he may have to take to hashish. Well, I had to take to Wagner...
    • "Why I am So Clever", 6. Trans. Clifton P. Fadiman.
  • The world is poor for him who has never been sick enough for this 'voluptuousness of hell':
    • "Why I am Destiny", 6. Trans. R. J. Hollingdale
  • Daß man wird, was man ist, setzt voraus, daß man nicht im entferntesten ahnt, was man ist.
    • To become what one is, one must not have the faintest idea what one is.
    • "Why I am So Clever", 9.
    • Variant translations:
    • Becoming what you are presupposes that you have not the slightest inkling what you are.

The Will to Power (1888)[edit]

I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures.
Der Wille zur Macht (1888) is an anthology of material from Nietzsche's notebooks of the 1880s, edited by his friend Peter Gast, supervised by his sister Elisabeth Nietzsche, and misrepresented by her as his unpublished magnum opus. All but 16 of its 1067 fragments can be traced to source texts in the historical-critical edition of Nietzsche's writings, Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Werke, though 204 of the 1067 sections involve patching together paragraphs not originally juxtaposed by Nietzsche, or dividing continuous passages into multiple "aphorisms" and re-arranging their order, and much of the text has been lightly edited to correct punctuation errors. Because of its misrepresentation of Nietzsche's private notes as an all but finished magnum opus, it has been called a "historic forgery".
  • This is the antinomy: Insofar as we believe in morality we pass sentence on existence.
    • Sec. 6 (Notebook W II 2. Autumn 1887, KGW VIII, 2.237, KSA 12.571 [citations are to Nietzsche's manuscripts by archival code, and the page numbers in which the entire section can be found transcribed therefrom, in the hardcover and softcover historical-critical editions]).
  • Moralities and religions are the principal means by which one can make whatever one wishes out of man, provided one possesses a superfluity of creative forces and can assert one's will over long periods of time — in the form of legislation and customs.
    • Sec. 144 (Notebook N VII 1. April - June 1885, KGW VII, 3.198, KSA 11.478).
  • A man as he ought to be: that sounds to us as insipid as "a tree as it ought to be."
    • Sec. 332 (Notebook W II 3. November 1887 - March 1888, KGW VIII, 2.304, KSA 13.62).
  • No more fiction for us: we calculate; but that we may calculate, we had to make fiction first.
  • The stronger becomes master of the weaker, in so far as the latter cannot assert its degree of independence — here there is no mercy, no forbearance, even less a respect for "laws."
    • Sec. 630 (Notebook W I 4. June - July 1885, KGW VII, 3.283, KSA 11.559).
  • Morality is: the mediocre are worth more than the exceptions ... I abhore Christianity with a deadly hatred.
    • Sec. 685 (Notebook W II 5. Spring 1888, KGW VIII, 3.95-7, KSA 13.303-5).
  • The states in which we infuse a transfiguration and a fullness into things and poetize about them until they reflect back our fullness and joy in life...three elements principally: sexuality, intoxication and cruelty — all belonging to the oldest festal joys.
    • Sec. 801 (Notebook W II 1. Fall 1887, KGW VIII, 2.57-8, KSA 12.393-4).
  • The beautiful exists just as little as the true. In every case it is a question of the conditions of preservation of a certain type of man: thus the herd-man will experience the value feeling of the true in different things than will the overman.
    • Sec. 804 (Notebook W II 2. Fall 1887, KGW VIII, 2.220-1, KSA 12.554-5).
  • A declaration of war on the masses by higher men is needed! ... Everything that makes soft and effeminate, that serves the end of the people or the feminine, works in favor of universal suffrage, i.e. the domination of the inferior men. But we should take reprisal and bring this whole affair to light and the bar of judgment.
    • Sec. 864 (Notebook W II 5. Spring 1888, KGW VIII, 3.157-62, KSA 13.365-70).
  • The rights a man arrogates to himself are related to the duties he imposes on himself, to the tasks to which he feels equal. The great majority of men have no right to existence, but are a misfortune to higher men.
    • Sec. 872 (Notebook W I 1. Spring 1884, KGW VII, 2.97-8, KSA 11.101-2).
  • The homogenizing of European man ... requires a justification: it lies in serving a higher sovereign species that stands upon the former which can raise itself to its task only by doing this. Not merely a master race whose sole task is to rule, but a race with its own sphere of life, with an excess of strength ... strong enough to have no need of the tyranny of the virtue-imperative.
    • Sec. 898 (Notebook W II 1. Fall 1887, KGW VIII, 2.88-90, KSA 12.424-6).
  • To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures.
    • Sec 910 (Autumn 1887, KSA 12.513).
  • There is only nobility of birth, only nobility of blood. When one speaks of "aristocrats of the spirit," reasons are usually not lacking for concealing something. As is well known, it is a favorite term among ambitious Jews. For spirit alone does not make noble. Rather, there must be something to ennoble the spirit. What then is required? Blood.
    • Sec. 942 (Notebook W I 5. August - September 1885, KGW VII, 3.412, KSA 11.678).
  • The possibility has been established for the production of...a master race, the future "masters of the earth"...made to endure for millennia — a higher kind of men who...employ democratic Europe as their most pliant and supple instrument for getting hold of the destinies of the earth.
    • Sec. 960 (Notebook W I 8. Fall 1885 - Fall 1886, KGW VIII, 1.85-6, KSA 12.87-8).

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)[edit]

Quotes reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Maxims[edit]

  • The good generally displeases us when it is beyond our ken.
  • Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed.—Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.
  • He that prefers the beautiful to the useful in life will, undoubtedly, like children who prefer sweetmeats to bread, destroy his digestion and acquire a very fretful outlook on the world.
  • On the heights it is warmer than people in the valleys suppose, especially in winter. The thinker recognizes the full import of this simile.
  • The value of many men and books rests solely on their faculty for compelling all to speak out the most hidden and intimate things.
  • Merchant and pirate were for a long period one and the same person. Even today mercantile morality is really nothing but a refinement of piratical morality.
  • I teach you the Overman. Man is something which shall be surpassed.
    • Thus Spake Zarathustra.


Disputed[edit]

  • Rather than cope with the unbearable loneliness of their condition men will continue to seek their shattered God, and for His sake they will love the very serpents that dwell among His ruins.
    • As quoted by J. P. Stern in an interview conducted by Bryan Magee in The Great Philosophers : A History of Western Philosophy (1987).

Quotes about Nietzsche[edit]

The degree of introspection achieved by Nietzsche had never been achieved by anyone, nor is it ever likely to be achieved again. ~ Sigmund Freud
Alphabetized by surname.
The faith men formerly invested in God they would now invest in barbaric "brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of the non-brothers." ~ Tom Wolfe.
  • ... And of this attack we have to say that it was well aimed, that it centered on the point which was vital for Nietzsche as the most consistent champion and prophet of humanity without the fellow-man. It is another matter, and one that objectively considered is to the praise of Nietzsche, that he thus hurled himself against the strongest and not the weakest point in the opposing front. With his discovery of the Crucified and His host he discovered the Gospel itself in a form which was missed even by the majority of its champions, let alone its opponents, in the 19th century. And by having to attack it in this form, he has done us the good office of bringing before us the fact that we have to keep to this form as unconditionally as he rejected it, in self-evident antithesis not only to him, but to the whole tradition on behalf of which he made this final hopeless sally.
  • It is Nietzsche’s merit that he was aware that to philosophize is radically problematic in the cultural, historicist dispensation. He recognized the terrible intellectual and moral risks involved. At the center of his every thought was the question “How is it possible to do what I am doing?” He tried to apply to his own thought the teachings of cultural relativism. This practically nobody else does. For example, Freud says that men are motivated by desire for sex and power, but he did not apply those motives to explain his own science or his own scientific activity. But if he can be a true scientist, i.e., motivated by love of the truth, so can other men, and his description of their motives is thus mortally flawed. Or if he is motivated by sex or power, he is not a scientist, and his science is only one means among many possible to attain those ends. This contradiction runs throughout the natural and social sciences. They give an account of things that cannot possibly explain the conduct of their practitioners.
    • Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), pp. 203-204.
  • Greatness by nature includes a power, but not a will to power. ... The great man, whether we comprehend him in the most intense activity of his work or in the restful equipoise of his forces, is powerful, involuntarily and composedly powerful, but he is not avid for power. What he is avid for is the realization of what he has in mind, the incarnation of the spirit.
    • Martin Buber, criticizing Nietzsche's concept of "Will to Power," Between Man and Man (1965), p. 150
  • The spirit of scientific investigation never ceased to impress [Nietzsche] as uniquely favorable not only for achieving knowledge but also for furnishing an atmosphere of dryness and clarity within which a man of genuinely intellectual conscience might function.
  • In the best of cases, the philosopher is not simply one who ascends from the cave and perceives the sun. Rather, he is one who out of the depths of his own creativity becomes a new sun for mankind.
    • Bruce Detwiler, Nietzsche and the Politics of Aristocratic Radicalism, p. 29.
  • The degree of introspection achieved by Nietzsche had never been achieved by anyone, nor is it ever likely to be achieved again.
    • Sigmund Freud, in remarks (28 October 1908), as reported in Freud, Adler, and Jung (1980) by Walter Arnold Kaufmann, p. 265
    • Variant: Freud several times said of Nietzsche that he had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any other man who ever lived or was likely to live.
      • As reported in Freud, Adler, and Jung (1980) by Walter Arnold Kaufmann, p. 266 (part of this statement has sometimes been taken as a direct quote of Freud, rather than a summation of what he said).
  • One indication of the importance of Nietzsche is the pantheon of major twentieth century intellectuals whom he influenced. ¶ He was an influence on Jean-Paul Sartre and Hermann Hesse, major writers, both of whom won Nobel Prizes. He was an influence on thinkers as diverse in their outlooks as Ayn Rand and Michel Foucault. Rand’s politics are classically liberal -- while Foucault’s are far Left, including a stint as a member of the French Communist Party. There is the striking fact that Nietzsche was an atheist, but he was an influence on Martin Buber, one of the most widely-read theologians of the twentieth century. And Nietzsche said harsh things about the Jews [...] but he was nonetheless admired by Chaim Weizmann, a leader of the Zionist movement and first president of Israel.
    • Stephen Hicks, Nietzsche and the Nazis (2006, 2010), Ockham's Razor, ISBN: 9492262049, pp. 51-52.
  • Rohde became more and more firmly bound to the bourgeois world, its institutions and accepted opinions. … The contrast between the two natures makes Rohde and Nietzsche exemplary representatives of two distinctive worlds. In their youth they both live in the realm of boundless possibilities and feel an affinity through the exuberance of their noble aspirations. Subsequently they go in opposite directions. Nietzsche remains young, leaving concrete reality as his task assumes existential import. Rohde grows old, bourgeois, stable, and skeptical. Hence courage is a fundamental trait in Nietzsche, plaintive self-irony in Rohde. … Rohde retained the interests but not the attitudes of his youth; he looked to the world of the Greeks for the object of his contemplation rather than the norm of obligation.
    • Karl Jaspers, Nietzsche, C. Walraff and F. Schmitz, trans. (Baltimore: 1997), pp. 61-62.
  • Nietzsche’s arrival in modern philosophy signaled an unprecedented necessity: “probity”, “intellectual conscience”, Enlightenment radicalized by a new bravery that scorns any comforts like God.
  • Strauss’ whole study indicates that noble nature as Nietzsche presents it—no, embodies it—replaces divine nature as Plato presents it.
  • The morality of Nietzsche is a mere innovation. The first is an advance because no one who did not admit the validity of the old maxim could see reason for accepting the new one, and anyone who accepted the old would at once recognize the new as an extension of the same principle. If he rejected it, he would have to reject it as a superfluity, something that went too far, not as something simply heterogeneous from his own ideas of value. But the Nietzschean ethic can be accepted only if we are ready to scrap traditional morals as a mere error and then to put ourselves in a position where we can find no ground for any value judgments at all.
    • C. S. Lewis, in The Abolition of Man (1943) Chapter 2. The Way
  • By the middle of the [Eighteenth] century what Nietzsche was later to call a transvaluation of all values was in full blast. Nothing sacred was spared—not even the classical spirit that had been the chief attainment of the Renaissance—and of the ideas and attitudes that were attacked not many survived. It was no longer necessary to give even lip service to the old preposterous certainties, whether theological or political, aesthetic or philosophical. In France, Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot were making a bonfire of all the ancient Christian superstitions; in England Gibbon was preparing to revive the long dormant art of history and Adam Smith was laying the foundations of the new science of economics; in Germany Kant was pondering an ethical scheme that that would give the Great Commandment a rational basis...
  • Along with ignoring the French Revolution, one of the most telling features of the new books on atheism [cf. new atheism ] is their consistent refusal to engage Nietzsche, who, if read correctly, ought to make atheists squirm far more than he has ever caused discomfit to believers. ¶ First, he turned the critical methods of the Enlightenment against their inventors and showed that Enlightened faith in progress was just as illusory as belief in an afterlife. Second, he demanded that a critical philosophy stop pretending to be a substitute religion (he shrewdly called Hegelian idealism “insidious theology”). Third, he insisted on the indissoluble bond between Christian doctrine and Christian morality and poured contempt on novelists like George Eliot for supposing otherwise [...] ¶ Perhaps this why Nietzsche said in Ecce Homo, “the most serious Christians have always been well disposed toward me.” For they at least, unlike Dawkins, Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens, can see that after Nietzsche a moral critique of the Christian God has become impossible, for it denies the very presupposition that makes its own critique possible. Like Abraham asking if the Lord God of justice could not himself do justice, protest atheism must accept the very norms that Nietzsche showed are essential to the meaning of belief. In Nietzsche alone one reads what the world really looks like si Deus non sit [if God does not exist].
  • Speaking of Spinoza he [Nietzsche] says: "How much of personal timidity and vulnerability does this masquerade of a sickly recluse betray!" Exactly the same may be said of him, with the less reluctance since he has not hesitated to say it of Spinoza. It is obvious that in his day-dreams he is a warrior, not a professor; all the men he admires were military. His opinion of women, like every man's, is an objectification of his own emotion towards them, which is obviously one of fear. "[Thou goest to woman?] Forget not thy whip"—but nine women out of ten would get the whip away from him, and he knew it, so he kept away from women, and soothed his wounded vanity with unkind remarks.
  • It does not occur to Nietzsche as possible that a man should genuinely feel universal love, obviously because he himself feels almost universal hatred and fear, which he would fain disguise as lordly indifference. His "noble" man—who is himself in day-dreams—is a being wholly devoid of sympathy, ruthless, cunning, cruel, concerned only with his own power. King Lear, on the verge of madness, says: "I will do such things—What they are yet I know not—but they shall be The terror of the earth." This is Nietzsche's philosophy in a nutshell.
    • Russell, ibid. p. 767
  • I dislike Nietzsche because he likes the contemplation of pain, because he erects conceit into a duty, because the men whom he most admires are conquerors, whose glory is cleverness in causing men to die.
    • Russell, ibid. p. 773
  • Nietzsche, prompted by “some enigmatic desire,” has tried for a long time to penetrate pessimism to its depth and in particular to free it from the delusion of morality which in a way contradicts its world-denying tendency. He thus has grasped a more world-denying way of thinking than any other pessimist. Yet a man who has taken this road has perhaps without intending to do this opened his eyes to the opposite ideal—to the ideal belonging to the religion of the future. It goes without saying that what in some other men was “perhaps” the case was a fact in Nietzsche’s thought and life. The adoration of the nothing proves to be the indispensable transition from every kind of world-denial to the most unbounded Yes: the eternal Yes-saying to everything that was and is.
    • Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, p. 180
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous atheist and ardent enemy of religion and Christianity, knew more about the power the idea of God than many faithful Christians.
    • Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations (1948), Chapter 6. The Escape From God
  • Nietzsche is the most impressive and effective representative of what could be called a "philosophy of life." Life in this term is the process in which the power of being actualizes itself. But in actualizing itself it overcomes that in life which, although belonging to life, negates life.
    • Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be (1952), Chapter 1. Being and Courage
  • This divergence and perversion of the essential question is most striking in what goes today by the name of philosophy. There would seem to be only one question for philosophy to resolve: What must I do? Despite being combined with an enormous amount of unnecessary confusion, answers to the question have at any rate been given within the philosophical tradition on the Christian nations. For example, in Kant´s Critique of Practical Reason, or in Spinoza, Schopenhauer and specially Rousseau. But in more recent times, since Hegel´s assertion that all that exists is reasonable, the question of what one must do has been pushed to the background and philosophy has directed its whole attention to the investigation of things as they are, and to fitting them into a prearranged theory. This was the first step backwards. The second step, degrading human thought yet further, was the acceptance of the struggle for existence as a basic law, simply because that struggle can be observed among animals and plants. According to this theory the destruction of the weakest is a law which should not be opposed. And finally, the third step was taken when the childish originality of Nietzsche´s half-crazed thought, presenting nothing complete or coherent, but only various drafts of immoral and completely unsubstantiated ideas, was accepted by the leading figures as the final word in philosophical science. In reply to the question: what must we do? the answer is now put straightforwardly as: live as you like, without paying attention to the lives of others. If anyone doubted that the Christian world of today has reached a frightful state of torpor and brutalization (not forgeting the recent crimes committed in the Boers and in China, which were defended by the clergy and acclaimed as heroic feats by all the world powers), the extraordinary success of Nietzsche's works is enough to provide irrefutable proof of this. Some disjointed writings, striving after effect in a most sordid manner, appear, written by a daring, but limited and abnormal German, suffering from power mania. Neither in talent nor in their basic argument to these writings justify public attention. In the days of Kant, Leibniz, or Hume, or even fifty years ago, such writings would not only have received no attention, but they would not even have appeared. But today all the so called educated people are praising the ravings of Mr. N, arguing about him, elucidating him, and countless copies of his works are printed in all languages.
    • Leo Tolstoy, What is Religion : Of What Does its Essence Consist? (1902), Ch. 11.
  • The whole world knows that virtue consists in the subjugation of one's passions, or in self-renunciation. It is not just the Christian world, against whom Nietzsche howls, that knows this, but it is an eternal supreme law towards which all humanity has developed, including Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and the ancient Persian religion. And suddenly a man appears who declares that he is convinced that self-renunciation, meekness, submissiveness and love are all vices that destroy humanity (he has in mind Christianity, ignoring all the others religions). One can understand why such a declaration baffled people at first. But after giving it a little thought and failing to find any proof of the strange propositions, any rational person ought to throw the books aside and wonder if there is any kind of rubbish that would not find a publisher today. But this has not happened with Nietzsche´s books. The majority of pseudo-enlightened people seriously look into the theory of the übermensch, and acknowledge its author to be a great philosopher, a descendant of Descartes, Leibniz and Kant. And all this has come about because the majority of pseudo-enlightened men of today object to any reminder of virtue, or to its chief premise: self-renunciation and love -virtues that restrain and condemn the animal side of their life. They gladly welcome a doctrine, however incoherently and disjointedly expressed, of egotism and cruelty, sanctioning the idea of personal happiness and superiority over the lives of others, by which they live.
    • Leo Tolstoy, What is Religion : Of What Does its Essence Consist? (1902), Ch. 11.
  • Nietzsche does not favor reckless, anarchic action. The model of the artist, and more specifically the musician, is important. Rhythm is of the essence; timing of notes, of actions, allows for a style that is cohesive, even if not uniform. The music that emerges comes out over time, it becomes and develops slowly into a whole that is effective if timed well. Again Nietzsche sees that artists, especially musicians and poets, have such a talent. And to the extent that a writer writes poetically, he also shares in this talent.
    • Diego A. von Vacano, The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory (2007, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, pp. 99-100).
  • After Nietzsche’s devastating criticism of those “last men” who “invented happiness,” there is probably no need for me to remind you of the naïve optimism with which we once celebrated science, or the technology for the mastery of life based on it, as the path to happiness. Who believes this, apart from a few overgrown children occupying university chairs or editorial offices?
  • There continue to be complex debates about what Nietzsche understood truth to be. Quite certainly, he did not think, in pragmatist spirit, that beliefs are true if they serve our interests or welfare: we have just seen some of his repeated denials of this idea. The more recently fashionable view is that he was the first of the deniers, thinking that there is no such thing as truth, or that truth is what anyone thinks it is, or that it is a boring category that we can do without. This is also wrong, and more deeply so. Nietzsche did not think that the ideal of truthfulness went into retirement when its metaphysical origins were discovered, and he did not suppose, either, that truthfulness could be detached from a concern for the truth. Truthfulness as an ideal retains its power, and so far from his seeing truth as dispensable or malleable, his main question is how it can be made bearable.
  • Both Nietzsche and Marx did their greatest work seeking to explain the mystery. The term both used was "decadence."
    But if there was decadence, what was decaying? Religious faith and moral codes that had been in place since time was, said Nietzsche, who in 1882 made the most famous statement in modern philosophy — "God is dead" — and three startlingly accurate predictions for the twentieth century. He even estimated when they would begin to come true: about 1915. (1) The faith men formerly invested in God they would now invest in barbaric "brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of the non-brothers." Their names turned out, in due course, to be the German Nazis and the Russian Communists. (2) There would be "wars such as have never been waged on earth." Their names turned out to be World War I and World War II. (3) There no longer would be Truth but, rather, "truth" in quotation marks, depending upon which concoction of eternal verities the modem barbarian found most useful at any given moment. The result would be universal skepticism, cynicism, irony, and contempt. The First World War began in 1914 and ended in 1918. On cue, as if Nietzsche were still alive to direct the drama, an entirely new figure, with an entirely new name, arose in Europe: that embodiment of skepticism, cynicism, irony, and contempt, the Intellectual.
    • Tom Wolfe, "In the Land of the Rococo Marxists," Harpers Monthly (June 2000).

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