The Dawn

Thoughts on the Prejudices of morality.



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


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


So far it is on Good and Evil that we have meditated least profoundly: this was always too dangerous a subject. Conscience, a good reputation, hell, and at times even the police, have not allowed and do not allow of impartiality; in the presence of morality, as before all authority, we must not even think, much less speak: here we must obey! Ever since the beginning of the world, no authority has permitted itself to be made the subject of criticism; and to criticise morals -- to look upon morality as a problem, as problematic -- what! was that not -- is that not -- immoral? -- But morality has at its disposal not only every means of intimidation wherewith to keep itself free from critical hands and instruments of torture: its security lies rather in a certain art of enchantment, in which it is a past master -- it knows how to "enrapture." It can often paralyse the critical will with a single look, or even seduce it to itself: yea, there are even cases where morality can turn the critical will against itself; so that then, like the scorpion, it thrusts the sting into its own body. Morality has for ages been an expert in all kinds of devilry in the art of convincing: even at the present day there is no orator who would not turn to it for assistance (only hearken to our anarchists, for instance: how morally they speak when they would fain convince! In the end they even call themselves "the good and the just"). Morality has shown herself to be the greatest mistress of seduction ever since men began to discourse and persuade on earth -- and, what concerns us philosophers even more, she is the veritable Circe of philosophers. For, to what is it due that, from Plato onwards, all the philosophic architects in Europe have built in vain? that everything which they themselves honestly believed to be aere perennius threatens to subside or is already laid in ruins? Oh, how wrong is the answer which, even in our own day, rolls glibly off the tongue when this question is asked: "Because they have all neglected the prerequisite, the examination of the foundation, a critique of all reason " -- that fatal answer made by Kant, who has certainly not thereby attracted us modern philosophers to firmer and less treacherous ground! (and, one may ask apropos of this, was it not rather strange to demand that an instrument should criticise its own value and effectiveness? that the intellect itself should "recognise" its own worth, power, and limits? was it not even just a little ridiculous?) The right answer would rather have been, that all philosophers, including Kant himself, were building under the seductive influence of morality -- that they aimed at certainty and "truth" only in appearance; but that in reality their attention was directed towards "majestic moral edifices," to use once more Kant's innocent mode of expression, who deems it his "less brilliant, but not undeserving" task and work " to level the ground and prepare a solid foundation for the erection of those majestic moral edifices" (Critique of Pure Reason, ii. 257). Alas! He did not succeed in his aim, quite the contrary -- as we must acknowledge to-day. With this exalted aim, Kant was merely a true son of his century, which more than any other may justly be called the century of exaltation: and this he fortunately continued to be in respect to the more valuable side of this century (with that solid piece of sensuality, for example, which he introduced into his theory of knowledge). He, too, had been bitten by the moral tarantula, Rousseau; he, too, felt weighing on his soul that moral fanaticism of which another disciple of Rousseau's, Robespierre, felt and proclaimed himself to be the executor: de fonder sur la terre l'empire de la sagesse, de la justice, et de la vertu. (Speech of June 4th, 1794.) On the other hand, with such a French fanaticism in his heart, no one could have cultivated it in a less French, more deep, more thorough and more German manner -- if the word German is still permissible in this sense -- than Kant did: in order to make room for his "moral kingdom," he found himself compelled to add to it an indemonstrable world, a logical "beyond " -- that was why he required his critique of pure reason! In other words, he would not have wanted it, if he had not deemed one thing to be more important than all the others: to render his moral kingdom unassailable by -- or, better still, invisible to, reason, -- for he felt too strongly the vulnerability of a moral order of things in the face of reason. For, when confronted with nature and history, when confronted with the ingrained immorality of nature and history, Kant was, like all good Germans from the earliest times, a pessimist: he believed in morality, not because it is demonstrated through nature and history, but despite its being steadily contradicted by them. To understand this "despite," we should perhaps recall a somewhat similar trait in Luther, that other great pessimist, who once urged it upon his friends with true Lutheran audacity: "If we could conceive by reason alone how that God who shows so much wrath and malignity could be merciful and just what use should we have for faith?" For, from the earliest times, nothing has ever made a deeper impression upon the German soul, nothing has ever "tempted" it more, than that deduction, the most dangerous of all, which for every true Latin is a sin against the intellect: credo quia absurdum est. -- With it German logic enters for the first time into the history of Christian dogma; but even to-day, a thousand years later, we Germans of the present, late Germans in every way, catch the scent of truth, a possibility of truth, at the back of the famous fundamental principle of dialectics with which Hegel secured the victory of the German spirit over Europe --"contradiction moves the world; all things contradict themselves." We are pessimists -- even in logic.


But logical judgments are not the deepest and most fundamental to which the daring of our suspicion descends: the confidence in reason which is inseparable from the validity of these judgments, is, as confidence, a moral phenomenon . . . perhaps German pessimism has yet to take its last step? Perhaps it has once more to draw up its "credo" opposite its "absurdum" in a terrible manner? And if this book is pessimistic even in regard to morals, even above the confidence in morals -- should it not be a German book for that very reason? For, in fact, it represents a contradiction, and one which it does not fear: in it confidence in morals is retracted -- but why? Out of morality! Or how shall we call that which takes place in it -- in us? for our taste inclines to the employment of more modest phrases. But there is no doubt that to us likewise there speaketh a "thou shalt"; we likewise obey a strict law which is set above us -- and this is the last cry of morals which is still audible to us, which we too must live: here, if anywhere, are we still men of conscience, because, to put the matter in plain words, we will not return to that which we look upon as decayed, outlived, and superseded, we will not return to something "unworthy of belief," whether it be called God, virtue, truth, justice, love of one's neighbour, or what not; we will not permit ourselves to open up a lying path to old ideals; we are thoroughly and unalterably opposed to anything that would intercede and mingle with us; opposed to all forms of present-day faith and Christianity; opposed to the lukewarmness of all romanticism and fatherlandism; opposed also to the artistic sense of enjoyment and lack of principle which would fain make us worship where we no longer believe -- for we are artists -- opposed, in short, to all this European feminism (or idealism, if this term be thought preferable) which everlastingly "draws upward," and which in consequence everlastingly "lowers" and" degrades." Yet, being men ofthis conscience, we feel that we are related to that German uprightness and piety which dates back thousands of years, although we immoralists and atheists may be the late and uncertain offspring of these virtues -- yea, we even consider ourselves, in a certain respect, as their heirs, the executors of their inmost will: a pessimistic will, as I have already pointed out, which is not afraid to deny itself, because it denies itself with joy! In us is consummated, if you desire a formula -- the autosuppression of morals.


But, after all, why must we proclaim so loudly and with such intensity what we are, what we want, and what we do not want? Let us look at this more calmly and wisely; from a higher and more distant point of view. Let us proclaim it, as if among ourselves, in so low a tone that all the world fails to hear it and us! Above all, however, let us say it slowly. . . This preface comes late, but not too late: what, after all, do five or six years matter? Such a book, and such a problem, are in no hurry; besides, we are friends of the lento, I and my book. I have not been a philologist in vain -- perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste -- a perverted taste, maybe -- to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is "in a hurry." For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all -- to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow -- the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. For this very reason philology is now more desirable than ever before; for this very reason it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of "work": that is to say, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is intent upon "getting things done "at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not "get things done" so hurriedly: it teaches how to read well: i.e. slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes . . . my patient friends, this book appeals only to perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!

Ruta, near Genoa,
Autumn, 1886.
Added to the 1881 Edtion

Book One


Rationality ex post facto.— Whatever lives long is gradually so saturated with reason that its irrational origins become improbable. Does not almost every accurate history of the origin of something sound paradoxical and sacrilegious to our feelings? Doesn't the good historian contradict all the time?


Prejudice of the learned.— The learned judge correctly that people of all ages have believed they know what is good and evil, praise- and blameworthy. But it is a prejudice of the learned that we now know better than any other age.


Everything has its day.— When man gave all things a sex he thought, not that he was playing, but that he had gained a profound insight:—it was only very late that he confessed to himself what an enormous error this was, and perhaps even now he has not confessed it completely.— In the same way man has ascribed to all that exists a connection with morality and laid an ethical significance on the world's back. One day this will have as much value, and no more, as the belief in the masculinity or femininity of the sun has today.


Concept of morality of custom.— In comparison with the present mode of life of whole millennia of mankind we present-day men live in a very immoral age: the power of custom is astonishingly enfeebled and the moral sense so rarefied and lofty it may be described as having more or less evaporated. That is why the fundamental insights into the origin of morality are so difficult for us latecomers, and even when we have acquired them we find it impossible to enunciate them, because they sound so uncouth or because they seem to slander morality! This is, for example, already the case with the chief proposition: morality is nothing other (therefore no more!) than obedience to customs, of whatever kind they may be; customs, however, are the traditional way of behaving and evaluating. In things in which no tradition commands there is no morality; and the less life is determined by tradition, the smaller the circle of morality. The free human being is immoral because in all things he is determined to depend upon himself and not upon a tradition: in all the original conditions of mankind, "evil" signifies the same as "individual," "free," "capricious," "unusual," "unforeseen," "incalculable." Judged by the standard of these conditions, if an action is performed not because tradition commands it but for other motives (because of its usefulness to the individual, for example) even indeed for precisely the motives which once founded the tradition, it is called immoral and is felt to be so by him who performed it: for it was not performed in obedience to tradition. What is tradition? A higher authority which one obeys, not because it commands what is useful to us, but because it commands.— What distinguishes this feeling in the presence of tradition from the feeling of fear in general? It is fear in the presence of a higher intellect which here commands, of an incomprehensible, indefinite power, of something more than personal—there is superstition in this fear.— Originally all education and care of health, marriage, cure of sickness, agriculture, war, speech and silence, traffic with one another and with the gods belonged within the domain of morality: they demanded one observe prescriptions without thinking of oneself as an individual. Originally, therefore, everything was custom, and whoever wanted to elevate himself above it had to become a lawgiver and medicine man and a kind of demi-god: that is to say, he had to make customs—a dreadful, mortally dangerous thing! [...] Those moralists who, following in the footsteps of Socrates, offer the individual a morality of self-control and temperance as a means to his own advantage, as his personal key to happiness, are the exceptions—and if it seems otherwise to us that is because we have been brought up in their aftereffect: they all take a new path under the highest disapprobation of all advocates of the morality of custom—they cut themselves off from the community, as immoral men, and are in the profoundest sense evil. Thus to a virtuous Roman of the old stamp every Christian who "considered first of all his own salvation" appeared—evil. [...] Every individual action, every individual mode of thought arouses dread; it is impossible to compute what precisely the rarer, choicer, more original spirits in the whole course of history have had to suffer through being felt as evil and dangerous, indeed through feeling themselves to be so. Under the dominion of the morality of custom, originality of every kind has acquired a bad conscience; the sky above the best men is for this reason to this very moment gloomier than it need be.


First proposition of civilization.— Among barbarous peoples there exists a species of customs whose purpose appears to be custom in general: minute and fundamentally superfluous stipulations [...] which, however, keep continually in the consciousness the constant proximity of custom, the perpetual compulsion to practice customs: so as to strengthen the mighty proposition with which civilization begins: any custom is better than no custom.


The morality of voluntary suffering.— What is the supreme enjoyment for men who live in the state of war of those small, continually endangered communities which are characterized by the strictest mores? In other words, for vigorous, vindictive, vicious, suspicious souls who are prepared for what is most terrible and hardened by deprivations and mores? The enjoyment of cruelty; and in these circumstances it is even accounted among the virtues of such a soul if it is inventive and insatiable in cruelty. The community feels refreshed by cruel deeds, and casts off for once the gloom of continual anxiety and caution. Cruelty belongs to the most ancient festive joys of mankind. Hence one supposes that the gods, too, feel refreshed and festive when one offers them the sight of cruelty; and so the idea creeps into the world that voluntary suffering, torture one has chosen oneself, has value and makes good sense.

Gradually, the mores shape a communal practice in accordance with this idea: all extravagant well-being henceforth arouses some mistrust, and all hard and painful states more and more confidence. One supposes that the gods might look upon us ungraciously because of our happiness, and graciously because of our suffering—not by any means with pity. For pity is considered contemptible and unworthy of a strong and terrible soul. Rather, graciously, because it delights them and puts them into good spirits; for those who are cruel enjoy the supreme titillation of the feeling of power.

Thus the concept of the "most moral man" of the community comes to contain the virtue of frequent suffering, deprivation, a hard way of life, and of cruel self-mortification—not, to say this again and again, as a means of self-discipline, self-control, and the desire for individual happiness, but as a virtue that makes the community look good to the evil gods, steaming up to them like a continual sacrifice of atonement upon some altar. All those spiritual leaders of peoples who succeeded in stirring something in the inert but fertile mud of their mores, had need not only of madness but also of voluntary torture to engender faith—and most and first of all, as always, their faith in themselves. The more their own spirit moved along novel paths and was therefore tormented by pangs of conscience and anxieties, the more cruelly they raged against their own flesh, their own desires, and their own health—as if they wanted to offer the deity some substitute gratification in case it should perhaps be embittered on account of customs one had neglected and fought against and new goals one had championed.

Let us not believe too quickly that now we have rid ourselves completely of such a logic of feeling. Let the most heroic souls question themselves about this. Every smallest step on the field of free thought and the individually formed life has always been fought for with spiritual and physical torments: not only moving forward, no, above all moving, motion, change have required innumerable martyrs, all through the long path-seeking and basic millennia of which, to be sure, people don't think when they talk, as usual, about "world history," that ridiculously small segment of human existence. And even in this so-called world history, which is at bottom much ado about the latest news, there is no really more important theme than the primordial tragedy of the martyrs who wanted to move the swamps.

Nothing has been bought more dearly than that little bit of human reason and of a feeling of freedom that now constitutes our pride. But it is this very pride that now makes it almost impossible for us to feel with those vast spans of time characterized by the "morality of mores" which antedate "world history" as the real and decisive main history that determined the character of humanity—when suffering was a virtue, cruelty a virtue, dissimulation a virtue, revenge a virtue, the slander of reason a virtue, while well-being was a danger, the craving for knowledge a danger, peace a danger, pity a danger, being pitied ignominy, work ignominy, madness divine, change immoral and pregnant with disaster.

You think that all this has changed, and that humanity must thus have changed its character? You who think you know men, learn to know yourselves better!


Free-doers and freethinkers.— Free-doers are at a disadvantage compared with freethinkers because people suffer more obviously from the consequences of deeds than from those of thoughts. If one considers, however, that both the one and the other are in search of gratification, and that in the case of the freethinker the mere thinking through and enunciation of forbidden things provides this gratification, both are on an equal footing with regard to motive: and with regard to consequences the decision will even go against the freethinker, provided one does not judge—as all the world does—by what is most immediately and crassly obvious. One has to take back much of the defamation which people have cast upon all those who broke through the spell of a custom by means of a deed—in general, they are called criminals. Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted the predicate gradually changed;—history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!


Animals and morality.— The practices demanded in polite society: careful avoidance of the ridiculous, the offensive, the presumptuous, the suppression of one's virtues as well as of one's strongest inclinations, self-adaptation, self-deprecation, submission to orders of rank—all this is to be found as social morality in a crude form everywhere, even in the depths of the animal world—and only at this depth do we see the purpose of all these amiable precautions: one wishes to elude one's pursuers and be favored in the pursuit of one's prey. For this reason the animals learn to master themselves and alter their form, so that many, for example, adapt their colorings to the coloring of their surroundings (by virtue of the so-called "chromatic function"), pretend to be dead or assume the forms and colors of another animal or of sand, leaves, lichen, fungus (what English researchers designate "mimicry"). Thus the individual hides himself in the general concept "man," or in society, or adapts himself to princes, classes, parties, opinions of his time or place: and all the subtle ways we have of appearing fortunate, grateful, powerful, enamored have their easily discoverable parallels in the animal world. [...] The beginnings of justice, as of prudence, moderation, bravery—in short, of all we designate as the Socratic virtues, are animal: a consequence of that drive which teaches us to seek food and elude enemies. Now if we consider that even the highest human being has only become more elevated and subtle in the nature of his food and in his conception of what is inimical to him, it is not improper to describe the entire phenomenon of morality as animal.


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Justice which punishes.— Misfortune and guilt—Christianity has placed these two things on a balance: so that, when misfortune consequent on guilt is great, even now the greatness of the guilt is still involuntarily measured by it. But this is not antique, and that is why the Greek tragedy, which speaks so much yet in so different a sense of misfortune and guilt, is a great liberator of the spirit in a way in which the ancients themselves could not feel it. They were still so innocent as not to have established an "adequate relationship" between guilt and misfortune. The guilt of their tragic heroes is, indeed, the little stone over which they stumble and perhaps break an arm or put out an eye: antique sensibility commented: "Yes, he should have gone his way a little more cautiously and with less haughtiness!" But it was reserved for Christianity to say: "Here is a great misfortune and behind it there must lie hidden a great, equally great guilt, even though it may not be clearly visible! If you, unfortunate man, do not feel this you are obdurate—you will have to suffer worse things!"— Moreover, in antiquity there still existed actual misfortune, pure innocent misfortune; only in Christendom did everything become punishment, well-deserved punishment [...]


Doubt as sin.— Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be a sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glance towards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists for something else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse of our amphibious nature—is sin! And notice that all this means that the foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin is likewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned!

Book Two


One becomes moralnot because one is moral.— Submission to morality can be slavish or vain or selfish or resigned or obtusely enthusiastic or thoughtless or an act of desperation, like submission to a prince: in itself it is nothing moral.


Mutation of morality.— There is a continual moiling and toiling going on in morality—the effect of successful crimes (among which, for example, are included all innovations in moral thinking).


Doubtful.— To accept a faith just because it is customary, means to be dishonest, to be cowardly, to be lazy. And do dishonesty, cowardice, and laziness then appear as the presupposition of morality?


The oldest moral judgments.— What really are our reactions to the behavior of someone in our presence?— First of all, we see what there is in it for us—we regard it only from this point of view. We take this effect as the intention behind the behavior—and finally we ascribe the harboring of such intentions as a permanent quality of the person whose behavior we are observing and thenceforth call him for instance "a harmful person." Threefold error! Threefold primeval blunder! Perhaps inherited from the animals and their power of judgment! Is the origin of all morality not to be sought in the detestable petty conclusions: "what harms me is something evil (harmful in itself); what is useful to me is something good (beneficent and advantageous in itself); what harms me once or several times is the inimical as such and in itself; what is useful to me once or several times is the friendly as such and in itself." O pudenda origo! [...]


On the natural history of duty and right.— [...] Where right rules, a state and degree of power is preserved, and a diminution and increase are resisted. The right of others is the concession of our feeling of power to the feeling of power among these others. When our power is proved to have been profoundly shaken and broken, our rights cease; on the other hand, when we have become a great deal more powerful, the rights of others cease for us, at least in the form in which we have so far conceded them.

The "fair person" constantly needs the fine tact of a scale for the degrees of power and right which, in view of the transitory nature of human affairs, will always be balanced only for a short time, while for the most part they either sink or rise: to be fair is therefore difficult and requires much practice, good will, and a great deal of good spirit.


Reason.— How did reason come into the world? As is fitting, in an irrational manner, by accident. One will have to guess at it as at a riddle.


Fashions in morality.— How the overall moral judgments have shifted! The great men of antique morality, Epictetus for instance, knew nothing of the now normal glorification of thinking of others, of living for others; in the light of our moral fashion they would have to be called downright immoral, for they strove with all their might for their ego and against feeling with others (that is to say, with the sufferings and moral frailties of others). Perhaps they would reply to us: "If you are so boring or ugly an object to yourself, by all means think of others more than of yourself! It is right you should!"


Praise and blame.— If a war proves unsuccessful one asks who was to "blame" for the war; if it ends in victory one praises its instigator. Guilt is always sought wherever there is failure; for failure brings with it a depression of spirits against which the sole remedy is instinctively applied: a new excitation of the feeling of power—and this is to be discovered in the condemnation of the "guilty" [...] To condemn oneself can also be a means of restoring the feeling of power after a defeat. [...]


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


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


Distant prospect.— If only those actions are moral which are performed for the sake of another and only for his sake, as one definition has it, then there are no moral actions! If only those actions are moral which are performed out of freedom of will, as another definition says, then there are likewise no moral actions!— What is it then which is so named and which in any event exists and wants explaining? It is the effects of certain intellectual mistakes.— And supposing one freed oneself from these errors, what would become of "moral actions"?— By virtue of these errors we have hitherto accorded certain actions a higher value than they possess: we have segregated them from the "egoistic" and "unfree" actions. If we now realign them with the latter, as we shall have to do, we shall certainly reduce their value (the value we feel they possess), and indeed shall do so to an unfair degree, because the "egoistic" and "unfree" actions were hitherto evaluated too low on account of their supposed profound and intrinsic difference.— Will they from then on be performed less often because they are now valued less highly?—Inevitably! At least for a good length of time, as long as the balance of value-feelings continues to be affected by the reaction of former errors! But our counter-reckoning is that we shall restore to men their goodwill towards the actions decried as egoistic and restore to these actions their valuewe shall deprive them of their bad conscience! And since they have hitherto been by far the most frequent actions, and will continue to be so for all future time, we thus remove from the entire aspect of action and life its evil appearance! This is a very significant result! When man no longer regards himself as evil he ceases to be so!

Book Three


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


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


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


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


As little state as possible.— All political and economic arrangements are not worth it, that precisely the most gifted spirits should not be permitted, or even obliged, to manage them: such a waste of spirit is really worse than an extremity. These are and remain fields of work for the lesser heads, and other than lesser heads should not be at the service of this workshop: it were better to let the machine go to pieces again. . . . At such a price, one pays far too dearly for the "general security"; and what is most insane, one also produces the very opposite of the general security, as our dear century is undertaking to prove—as if it had never been proved before. To make society secure against thieves and fireproof and infinitely comfortable for every trade and activity, and to transform the state into Providence in the good and bad sense—these are low, mediocre, and not at all indispensable goals, for which one should not strive with the highest means and instruments anywhere in existence, the means one ought to reserve for the highest and rarest ends. Our time, however much it talks of economy, is a squanderer: it squanders what is most precious, the spirit.


From a possible future.— Is a state of affairs unthinkable in which the malefactor calls himself to account and publicly dictates his own punishment, in the proud feeling that he is thus honoring the law which he himself has made, that by punishing himself he is exercising his power, the power of the lawgiver? [...] Such would be the criminal of a possible future, who, to be sure, also presupposes a future lawgiving—one founded on the idea "I submit only to the law which I myself have given, in great things and in small."


On grand politics.— However much utility and vanity, those of individuals as of peoples, may play a part in grand politics: the strongest tide which carries them forward is the need for the feeling of power, which from time to time streams up out of inexhaustible wells not only in the souls of princes and the powerful but not least in the lower orders of the people. There comes again and again the hour when the masses are ready to stake their life, their goods, their conscience, their virtue so as to acquire that higher enjoyment and as a victorious, capriciously tyrannical nation to rule over other nations (or to think it rules). [...] The great conquerors have always mouthed the pathetic language of virtue: they have had around them masses in a condition of elevation who wanted to hear only the most elevated language. Strange madness of moral judgments! When man possesses the feeling of power he feels and calls himself good: and it is precisely then that the others upon whom he has to discharge his power feel and call him evil! [...]


For the promotion of health.— One has hardly begun to reflect on the physiology of the criminal, and yet one already stands before the irrefutable insight that there exists no essential difference between criminals and the insane: presupposing one believes that the usual mode of moral thinking is the mode of thinking of spiritual health. But no belief is still so firmly believed as this is, and so one should not hesitate to accept the consequence and treat the criminal as a mental patient [...] At present, to be sure, he who has been injured [by the criminal], irrespective of how this injury is to be made good, will still desire his revenge and will turn for it to the courts—and for the time being the courts continue to maintain our detestable criminal codes, with their shopkeeper's scales and the desire to counterbalance guilt with punishment: but can we not get beyond this? [...] Let us do away with the concept sin—and let us quickly send after it the concept punishment! [...]


Danäe and god in gold.— [...] The means employed by the lust for power have changed, but the same volcano continues to glow, the impatience and the immoderate love demand their sacrifice: and what one formerly did "for the sake of God" one now does for the sake of money, that is to say, for the sake of that which now gives the highest feeling of power and good conscience.


The impossible class.— [...] Are you accomplices in the current folly of nations? The folly of wanting above all to produce as much as possible and to become as rich as possible? [...]

Book Four


THE "EDIFYING" ELEMENT IN OUR NEIGHBOUR'S MISFORTUNE. -- He is in distress, and straightway the "compassionate" ones come to him and depict his misfortune to him. At last they go away again, satisfied and elevated, after having gloated over the unhappy man's misfortune and their own, and spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon.


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


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


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


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


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


Of German virtue.— How degenerate in taste, how slavish before offices, classes, robes, pomp, and splendor must a people have been when it evaluated the simple [schlicht] as the bad [schlecht], the simple man as the bad man! One should counter the moral arrogance of the Germans with this one little word, schlecht, and nothing more.


From a disputation.— A: My friend, you have talked yourself hoarse. B: Then I stand refuted. Let us not discuss the matter any further.


Punishment.— A strange thing, our punishment! It does not cleanse the criminal, it is no atonement; on the contrary, it pollutes worse than the crime does.


On the morality of the stage.— Whoever thinks that Shakespeare's theater has a moral effect, and that the sight of Macbeth irresistibly repels one from the evil of ambition, is in error: and he is again in error if he thinks Shakespeare himself felt as he feels. He who is really possessed by raging ambition beholds this its image with joy; and if the hero perishes by his passion this precisely is the sharpest spice in the hot draught of this joy. Can the poet have felt otherwise? How royally, and not at all like a rogue, does his ambitious man pursue his course from the moment of his great crime! Only from then on does he exercise "demonic" attraction and excite similar natures to emulation—demonic means here: in defiance against life and advantage for the sake of a drive and idea. Do you suppose that Tristan and Isolde are preaching against adultery when they both perish by it? This would be to stand the poets on their head: they, and especially Shakespeare, are enamored of the passions as such and not least of their death-welcoming moods—those moods in which the heart adheres to life no more firmly than does a drop of water to a glass. It is not the guilt and its evil outcome they have at heart, Shakespeare as little as Sophocles (in Ajax, Philoctetes, Oedipus): as easy as it would have been in these instances to make guilt the lever of the drama, just as surely has this been avoided. The tragic poet has just as little desire to take sides against life with his image of life! He cries rather: "it is the stimulant of stimulants, this exciting, changing, dangerous, gloomy and often sun-drenched existence! It is an adventure to live—espouse what party in it you will, it will always retain this character!"— He speaks thus out of a restless, vigorous age which is half-drunk and stupefied by its excess of blood and energy—out of a wickeder age than ours is: which is why we need first to adjust and justify the goal of a Shakespearean drama, that is to say, not to understand it.


Night and music.— The ear, the organ of fear, could have evolved as greatly as it has only in the night and twilight of obscure caves and woods, in accordance with the mode of life of the age of timidity, that is to say the longest human age there has ever been: in bright daylight the ear is less necessary. That is how music acquired the character of an art of night and twilight.


The demon of power.— Not necessity, not desire—no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything—health, food, a place to live, entertainment—they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied. Take everything from them and satisfy this, and they are almost happy—as happy as men and demons can be. But why do I repeat this? Luther has said it already, and better than I, in the verses: "Let them take from us our body, goods, honor, children, wife: let it all go—the kingdom [Reich] must yet remain to us!" Yes! Yes! The "Reich"!


Corruption.— The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.


A fable.— The Don Juan of knowledge: no philosopher or poet has yet discovered him. He does not love the things he knows, but has spirit and appetite for an enjoyment of the chase and intrigues of knowledge—up to the highest and remotest stars of knowledge!—until at last there remains to him nothing of knowledge left to hunt down except the absolutely detrimental; he is like the drunkard who ends by drinking absinthe and aqua fortis. Thus in the end he lusts after Hell—it is the last knowledge that seduces him. Perhaps it too proves a disillusionment, like all knowledge! And then he would have to stand to all eternity transfixed to disillusionment and himself become a stone guest, with a longing for a supper of knowledge which he will never get!—for the whole universe has not a single morsel left to give to this hungry man.


"Humanity".— We do not regard the animals as moral beings. But do you suppose the animals regard us as moral beings?— An animal which could speak said: "Humanity is a prejudice of which we animals at least are free."


Effect of happiness.— The first effect of happiness is the feeling of power: this wants to express itself, either to us ourselves, or to other men, or to ideas or imaginary beings. The most common modes of expression are: to bestow, to mock, to destroy—all three out of a common basic drive.


No utilitarians.— "Power against which much ill is done and meditated is worth more than impotence which encounters only good"—thus the Greeks felt. That is to say: they valued the feeling of power more highly than any sort of utility or good reputation.

Book Five


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


The tyrants of the spirit.— The march of science is now no longer crossed by the accidental fact that men live for about seventy years, as was for all too long the case. Formerly, a man wanted to reach the far end of knowledge during this period of time and the methods of acquiring knowledge were evaluated in accordance with this universal longing. The small single questions and experiments were counted contemptible: one wanted the shortest route; one believed that, because everything in the world seemed to be accommodated to man, the knowability of things was also accommodated to a human time-span. To solve everything at a stroke, with a single word—that was the secret desire. [...] "There is a riddle to be solved": thus did the goal of life appear to the eye of the philosopher; the first thing to do was to find the riddle and to compress the problem of the world into the simplest riddle-form. The boundless ambition and exultation of being the "unriddler of the world" constituted the thinker's dreams: nothing seemed worthwhile if it was not the means of bringing everything to a conclusion for him! Philosophy was thus a kind of supreme struggle to possess the tyrannical rule of the spirit—that some such very fortunate, subtle, inventive, bold and mighty man was in reserve—one only!—was doubted by none, and several, most recently Schopenhauer, fancied themselves to be that one.— From this it follows that by and large the sciences have hitherto been kept back by the moral narrowness of their disciples and that henceforth they must be carried on with a higher and more magnanimous basic feeling. "What do I matter!"—stands over the door of the thinker of the future.


The good four.Honest with ourselves and whoever else is our friend; courageous with the enemy; magnanimous with the vanquished; courteous—always: thus the four cardinal virtues want us.


Against an enemy.— How good bad music and bad reasons sound when one marches against an enemy!


What we are at liberty to do.— One can dispose of one's drives like a gardener and, though few know it, cultivate the shoots of anger, pity, curiosity, vanity as productively and profitably as a beautiful fruit tree on a trellis; one can do it with the good or bad taste of a gardener and, as it were, in the French or English or Dutch or Chinese fashion; one can also let nature rule and only attend to a little embellishment and tidying-up here and there; one can, finally, without paying attention to them at all, let the plants grow up and fight their fight out among themselves—indeed, one can take delight in such a wilderness, and desire precisely this delight, thought it gives one some trouble, too. All this we are at liberty to do: but how many know we are at liberty to do it? Do the majority not believe in themselves as in complete fully-developed facts? Have the great philosophers not put their seal on this prejudice with the doctrine of the unchangeability of character?


Field-dispensary of the soul.— What is the strongest remedy?— Victory.


Shedding one's skin.— The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes. So do the spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be a spirit.


We aeronauts of the spirit!— All those brave birds which fly out into the distance, into the farthest distance—it is certain! somewhere or other they will be unable to go on and will perch down on a mast or a bare cliff-face—and they will even be thankful for this miserable accommodation! But who could venture to infer from that, that there was not an immense open space before them, that they had flown as far as one could fly! All our great teachers and predecessors have at last come to a stop [...] it will be the same with you and me! Other birds will fly farther! This insight and faith of ours vies with them in flying up and away; it rises above our heads and above our impotence into the heights and from there surveys the distance and sees before it the flocks of birds which, far stronger than we, still strive whither we have striven, and where everything is sea, sea, sea!— And whither then would we go? Would we cross the sea? Whither does this mighty longing draw us, this longing that is worth more to us than any pleasure? Why just in this direction, thither where all the sums of humanity have hitherto gone down? Will it perhaps be said of us one day that we too, steering westward, hoped to reach an India—but that it was our fate to be wrecked against infinity? Or, my brothers. Or?—


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