Beyond Good and Evil

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Jenseits von Gut und Böse [Beyond Good and Evil] (1886) is a major 19th century philosophical work by Friedrich Nietzsche.


  • Es scheint, dass alle grossen Dinge, um der Menschheit sich mit ewigen Forderungen in das Herz einzuschreiben, erst als ungeheure und furchteinflössende Fratzen über die Erde hinwandeln müssen [1]
    • It seems that in order to inscribe themselves upon the heart of humanity with everlasting claims, all great things have first to wander about the earth as enormous and awe-inspiring caricatures [2]
  • Christenthum ist Platonismus für's „Volk“ [3]
    • Christianity is Platonism for the "people" [4]

Chapter I: On the Prejudices of Philosophers[edit]

Aphorism 4[edit]

  • The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds most strangely. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life- preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing, and we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions ...

Aphorism 6[edit]

  • Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant has grown.

Aphorism 9[edit]

The noble soul has reverence for itself.
  • So you want to live 'according to nature?' Oh, you noble Stoics, what a fraud is in this phrase! Imagine something like nature, profligate without measure, indifferent without measure, without purpose and regard, without mercy and justice, fertile and barren and uncertain at the same time, think of indifference itself as power — how could you live according to this indifference? Living — isn't that wanting specifically to be something other than this nature? Isn't living assessing, preferring, being unfair, being limited, wanting to be different? And assuming your imperative to 'live according to nature' basically amounts to 'living according to life' — well how could you not? Why make a principle out of what you yourselves are and must be?

Aphorism 11[edit]

  • It seems to me that today attempts are made everywhere to divert attention from the actual influence Kant exerted on German philosophy, and especially to ignore prudently the value he set upon himself. Kant was first and foremost proud of his table of categories; with that in his hand he said: "This is the most difficult thing that could ever be undertaken on behalf of metaphysics".

Aphorism 13[edit]

  • Physiologists should think twice before positioning the drive for self-preservation as the cardinal drive of an organic being. Above all, a living thing wants to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power -: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of this.

Chapter II: The Free Spirit[edit]

Aphorism 26[edit]

  • Niemand lügt soviel als der Entrüstete.[5]
    • No one is such a liar as the indignant man.[6]

Aphorism 29[edit]

  • Independence is an issue that concerns very few people: — it is a prerogative of the strong. And even when somebody has every right to be independent, if he attempts such a thing without having to do so, he proves that he is probably not only strong, but brave to the point of madness. He enters a labyrinth, he multiplies by a thousand the dangers already inherent in the very act of living, not the least of which is the fact that no one with eyes will see how and where he gets lost and lonely and is torn limb from limb by some cave-Minotaur of conscience. And assuming a man like this is destroyed, it is an event so far from human comprehension that people do not feel it or feel for him: — and he cannot go back again! He cannot go back to their pity again!
  • Walter Kaufmann's translation: Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it even with the best right but without inner constraint proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring to the point of recklessness. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life brings with it in any case, not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing one like that comes to grief, this happens so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it nor sympathize. And he cannot go back any longer. Nor can he go back to the pity of men.

Aphorism 33[edit]

  • "There is no other way: the feelings of devotion, self-sacrifice for one’s neighbor, the whole morality of self-denial must be questioned mercilessly and taken to court- no less than the aesthetics of “contemplation devoid of all interest” which is used today as a seductive hose for emasculation of art, to give it a good conscience"
    • trns: Walter Kauffmann

Aphorism 35[edit]

  • 'Truth' and the search for truth are no trivial matter; and if a person goes about searching in too human a fashion, I'll bet he won't find anything !
  • O Voltaire! O humaneness! O nonsense! There is something about "truth", about the search for truth; and when a human being is too human about it- "il ne cherche le vrai que pour faire le bien"- I bet he finds nothing.

Aphorism 42[edit]

  • Will they be new friends of "truth," these coming philosophers? Very probably, for all philosophers hitherto have loved their truths. But assuredly they will not be dogmatists. It must be contrary to their pride, and also contrary to their taste, that their truth should still be truth for every one--that which has hitherto been the secret wish and ultimate purpose of all dogmatic efforts. "My opinion is MY opinion:another person has not easily a right to it"--such a philosopher of the future will say, perhaps. One must renounce the bad taste of wishing to agree with many people. "Good" is no longer good when one's neighbour takes it into his mouth. And how could there be a "common good"! The expression contradicts itself; that which can be common is always of small value. In the end things must be as they are and have always been--the great things remain for the great, the abysses for the profound, the delicacies and thrills for the refined, and, to sum up shortly, everything rare for the rare.

Chapter III: What is Religious[edit]

Aphorism 54[edit]

  • People used to believe in 'the soul' as they believed in grammar and the grammatical subject: people said that 'I' was a condition and 'think' was a predicate and conditioned — thinking is an activity and a subject must be thought of as its cause. Now, with admirable tenacity and cunning, people are wondering whether they can get out of this net — wondering whether the reverse might be true: that 'think' is the condition and 'I' is conditioned, in which case 'I' would be a synthesis that only gets produced through thought itself.

Aphorism 55[edit]

  • There is a great ladder of religious cruelty, and, of its many rungs, three are the most important. People used to make human sacrifices to their god, perhaps even sacrificing those they loved the best ... Then, during the moral epoch of humanity, people sacrificed the strongest instincts they had, their 'nature,' to their god; the joy of this particular festival shines in the cruel eyes of the ascetic, that enthusiastic piece of 'anti-nature.' Finally: what was left to be sacrificed? In the end, didn't people have to sacrifice all comfort and hope, everything holy or healing, any faith in hidden harmony or a future filled with justice and bliss? Didn't people have to sacrifice God himself and worship rocks, stupidity, gravity, fate, or nothingness out of sheer cruelty to themselves? To sacrifice God for nothingness — that paradoxical mystery of the final cruelty has been reserved for the race that is now approaching: by now we all know something about this.

Chapter IV: Maxims and Interludes[edit]

If you still experience the stars as something "over you," you still don't have the eyes of a knower.

Aphorism 67[edit]

  • Die Liebe zu Einem ist eine Barbarei: denn sie wird auf Unkosten aller Übrigen ausgeübt. Auch die Liebe zu Gott.
    • Translation: Love of one is a piece of barbarism: for it is practised at the expense of all others. Love of God likewise.
    • Source: Projekt Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Penguin Classics edition, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, ISBN 014044923X

Aphorism 68[edit]

  • "Das habe ich getan" sagt mein Gedächtnis. Das kann ich nicht getan haben — sagt mein Stolz und bleibt unerbittlich. Endlich — gibt das Gedächtnis nach.
    • "I have done that", says my memory. "I cannot have done that" — says my pride, and remains adamant. At last — memory yields.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 69[edit]

  • One has only seen little of life, if one hasn't also seen the hand that mercifully — kills.

Aphorism 71[edit]

  • To stage as astronomer, So long as thou feelest the stars as an ‘above thee’, Thou lackest the eye of the discerning one

Helen Zimmern translation from German into English

Aphorism 74[edit]

  • Ein Mensch mit Genie ist unausstehlich, wenn er nicht mindestens noch zweierlei dazu besitzt: Dankbarkeit und Reinlichkeit.
    • Translation: A man with genius is unendurable if he does not also possess at least two things: gratitude and cleanliness.
    • Note: An earlier translation had "purity" in place of "cleanliness".
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 78[edit]

  • Anyone who despises himself will still respect himself as a despiser.

Aphorism 85[edit]

  • Die gleichen Affekte sind bei Mann und Weib doch im Tempo verschieden: deshalb hören Mann und Weib nicht auf, sich misszuverstehn.
    • Translation: The same emotions in man and woman are, however, different in tempo: therefore man and woman never cease to misunderstand one another.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 94[edit]

  • Reife des Mannes: das heisst den Ernst wiedergefunden haben, den man als Kind hatte, beim Spiel.
    • Translation: Mature manhood: that means to have rediscovered the seriousness one had as a child at play.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 98[edit]

  • Wenn man sein Gewissen dressirt, so küsst es uns zugleich, indem es beisst.
    • Translation: If one trains one's conscience it will kiss us as it bites.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 120[edit]

  • Die Sinnlichkeit übereilt oft das Wachsthum der Liebe, so dass die Wurzel schwach bleibt und leicht auszureissen ist.
    • Translation: Sensuality often makes love grow too quickly, so that the root remains weak and is easy to pull out.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 121[edit]

  • Es ist eine Feinheit, daß Gott griechisch lernte, als er Schriftsteller werden wollte, und ebenso dies, daß er es nicht besser lernte!
    • Translation: It was subtle of God to learn Greek when he wished to become an author – and not to learn it better.
    • Variant: It is a curious thing that God learned Greek when he wished to turn author - and that he did not learn it better.

Aphorism 123[edit]

  • Even cohabitation has been corrupted—by marriage.

Aphorism 132[edit]

  • Man wird am besten für seine Tugenden bestraft.
    • Translation: One is punished most for one's virtues.
    • Note: An earlier translation had "best" in place of "most".
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 136[edit]

  • One seeks a midwife for his thoughts, another someone to whom he can be a midwife: thus originates a good conversation.

Aphorism 138[edit]

  • Wir machen es auch im Wachen wie im Traume: wir erfinden und erdichten erst den Menschen, mit dem wir verkehren — und vergessen es sofort.
    • Translation: What we do in dreams we also do when we are awake: we invent and fabricate the person with whom we associate — and immediately forget we have done so.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 143[edit]

  • Was wir am besten thun, von dem möchte unsre Eitelkeit, dass es grade als Das gelte, was uns am schwersten werde. Zum Ursprung mancher Moral.
    • Translation: Our vanity would have just that which we do best count as that which is hardest for us. The origin of many a morality.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 146[edit]

  • 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.
    • Translation: He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale
      • Variant Translation: Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster; for if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.

Aphorism 149[edit]

  • Das, was ein Alter fühlt sich böse zu sein ist in der Regel ein vorzeitiges Widerhall dessen, was ehemals als gut - der Atavismus eines alten ideal.
    • Translation: That which an age feels to be evil is usually an untimely echo of what was formerly considered good - the atavism of an old ideal.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 151[edit]

  • Ein Talent haben ist nicht genug: man muss auch eure Erlaubniss dazu haben, — wie? meine Freunde?
    • Translation: It is not enough to possess a talent: one must also possess your permission to possess it — eh, my friends?
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 153[edit]

What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.
  • Was aus Liebe getan wird, geschieht immer Jenseits von Gut und Böse.
    • Translation: What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.
    • Source; Gutenberg-DE
    • Translated by Helen Zimmern

Aphorism 156[edit]

  • Der Irrsinn ist bei Einzelnen etwas Seltenes, — aber bei Gruppen, Parteien, Völkern, Zeiten die Regel.
    • Translation: Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, epochs it is the rule.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 157[edit]

  • Der Gedanke an den Selbstmord ist ein starkes Trostmittel: mit ihm kommt man gut über manche böse Nacht hinweg.
    • Translation: The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: by means of it one gets through many a bad night.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 160[edit]

  • Man liebt seine Erkenntniss nicht genug mehr, sobald man sie mittheilt.
    • Translation: One no longer loves one's knowledge enough when one has communicated it.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 169[edit]

  • Viel von sich reden kann auch ein Mittel sein, sich zu verbergen.
    • Translation: To talk about oneself a great deal can also be a means of concealing oneself.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Aphorism 171[edit]

  • In a man devoted to knowledge, pity seems almost ridiculous, like delicate hands on a cyclops.

Aphorism 176[edit]

  • Die Eitelkeit Andrer geht uns nur dann wider den Geschmack, wenn sie wider unsre Eitelkeit geht.
    • Translation: The vanity of others is only counter to our taste when it is counter to our vanity.
    • Translated by Helen Zimmern

Aphorism 177[edit]

  • Ober Das, was "Wahrhaftigkeit" ist, war vielleicht noch Niemand wahrhaftig genug.
    • Translation: With regard to what "truthfulness" is, perhaps nobody has ever been sufficiently truthful.
    • Translated by Helen Zimmern

Aphorism 179[edit]

  • Die Folgen unsrer Handlungen fassen uns am Schopfe, sehr gleichgültig dagegen, dass wir uns inzwischen "gebessert" haben.
    • Translation: The consequences of our actions take us by the scruff of the neck, altogether indifferent to the fact that we have "improved" in the meantime.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translation source: Hollingdale

Chapter V: The Natural History of Morals[edit]

Aphorism 187[edit]

  • Kurz, die Moralen sind auch nur eine Zeichensprache der Affekte.
    • Translation: In short, systems of morals are only a sign-language of the emotions.
    • Source: Gutenberg-DE
    • Translated by Helen Zimmern

Aphorism 195[edit]

  • The Jews — a people "born for slavery" as Tacitus and the whole ancient world says, "the chosen people" as they themselves say and believe — the Jews achieved that miracle of inversion of values thanks to which life on earth has for a couple of millennia acquired a new and dangerous fascination — their prophets fused "rich", "godless", "evil", "violent", "sensual" into one and were the first to coin the word "world" as a term of infamy. It is in this inversion of values ... that the significance of the Jewish people resides: with them there begins the slave revolt in morals.

Chapter VII: Our Virtues[edit]

Aphorism 217[edit]

  • Selig sind die Vergesslichen: denn sie werden auch mit ihren Dummheiten "fertig."[7]
    • Blessed are the forgetful: for they "get the better" even of their blunders.[8]

Aphorism 227[edit]

  • Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?

Chapter IX: What is Noble?[edit]

Aphorism 257[edit]

  • Every enhancement of the type "man" has so far been the work of an aristocratic society—and it will be so again and again—a society that believes in the long ladder of an order of rank and differences in value between man and man, and that needs slavery in some sense or other.

Aphorism 261[edit]

  • Vanity is an atavism.

Aphorism 287[edit]

  • It is some basic certainty which the noble soul has about itself, something which does not allow itself to be sought out or found or perhaps even to be lost. The noble soul has reverence for itself.
  • What is noble? What does the word “noble” still mean to us today? What betrays, what allows one to recognize the noble human being, under this heavy, overcast sky of the beginning rule of the plebs that makes everything opaque and leaden?

  • It is not actions that prove him – actions are always open to many interpretations, always unfathomable – nor is it “works.” Among artists and scholars today one finds enough of those who betray by their works how they are impelled by a profound desire for what is noble; but just this need for what is noble is fundamentally different from the needs of the noble soul itself and actually the eloquent and dangerous mark of its lack. It is not the works, it is the faith that is decisive here, that determines the order of rank – to take up again an ancient religious formula in a new and more profound sense: some fundamental certainty that a noble soul has about itself, something that cannot be sought, nor found, nor perhaps lost.

The noble soul has reverence for itself.


  • A moral system valid for all is basically immoral.
    • Generally attributed to Nietzsche, this is a quotation from Curtis Cate's Friedrich Nietzsche: A Biography (2003) and is the author's interpretation of Nietzsche's Aphorism 221.

See also[edit]

Works about Beyond Good and Evil

External links[edit]

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