TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS
Translation by : Unknown
Maxims and Arrows
The Problem of Socrates
"Reason" in Philosophy
How the "True World" Finally Became a Fable
Morality as Anti-Nature
The Four Great Errors
The "Improvers" of Mankind
What the Germans Lack
Skirmishes of an Untimely Man
What I Owe to the Ancients
The Hammer Speaks
Maintaining cheerfulness in the midst of a gloomy affair, fraught with immeasurable responsibility, is no small feat; and yet what is needed more than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds if prankishness has no part in it. Excess of strength alone is the proof of strength.
A revaluation of all values, this question mark, so black, so tremendous that it casts shadows upon the man who puts it down--such a destiny of a task compels one to run into the sun every moment to shake off a heavy, all-too-heavy seriousness. Every means is proper for this; every "case"--a case of luck. Especially, war. War has always been the great wisdom of all spirits who have become too inward, too profound; even in a wound there is the power to heal. A maxim, the origin of which I withhold from scholarly curiosity, has long been my motto:
Increscunt animi, virescit volnere virtus.
["The spirits increase, vigor grows through a wound."]
Another mode of convalescence--under certain circumstances even more to my liking--is sounding out idols. There are more idols than realities in the world: that is my "evil eye" for this world; that is also my "evil ear." For once to pose questions here with a hammer, and, perhaps, to hear as a reply that famous hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails--what a delight for one who has ears even behind his ears, for me, an old psychologist and pied piper before whom just that which would remain silent must become outspoken.
This essay too--the title betrays it--is above all a recreation, a spot of sunshine, a leap sideways into the idleness of a psychologist. Perhaps a new war, too? And are new idols sounded out? This little essay is a great declaration of war; and regarding the sounding out of idols, this time they are not just idols of the age, but eternal idols, which are here touched with a hammer as with a tuning fork: there are altogether no older, no more convinced, no more puffed-up idols--and none more hollow. That does not prevent them from being those in which people have the most faith; nor does one ever say "idol," especially not in the most distinguished instance.
Turin, September 30, 1888, on the day when the first book of the Revaluation of All Values was completed.
MAXIMS AND ARROWS
1 Idleness is the beginning of all psychology. What? Should psychology be a vice?
2 Even the most courageous among us only rarely has the courage for that which he really knows.
3 To live alone one must be a beast or a god, says Aristotle. Leaving out the third case: one must be both--a philosopher.
4 "All truth is simple." Is that not doubly a lie?
5 I want, once and for all, not to know many things. Wisdom sets limits to knowledge too.
6 In our own wild nature we find the best recreation from our un-nature, from our spirituality.
7 What? Is man merely a mistake of God's? Or God merely a mistake of man's?
8 Out of life's school of war: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.
9 Help yourself, then everyone will help you. Principle of neighbor-love.
10 Not to perpetrate cowardice against one's own acts! Not to leave them in the lurch afterward! The bite of conscience is indecent.
11 Can an ass be tragic? To perish under a burden one can neither bear nor throw off? The case of the philosopher.
12 If we have our own why of life, we shall get along with almost any how. Man does not strive for pleasure; only the Englishman does.
13 Man has created woman--out of what? Out of a rib of his god--of his "ideal."
14 What? You search? You would multiply yourself by ten, by a hundred? You seek followers? Seek zeros!
15 Posthumous men--I, for example--are understood worse than timely ones, but heard better. More precisely: we are never understood--hence our authority.
16 Among women: "Truth? Oh, you don't know truth! Is it not an attempt to assassinate all our pudeurs?"
17 That is an artist as I love artists, modest in his needs: he really wants only two things, his bread and his art--panem et Circen. ["bread and Circe"]
18 Whoever does not know how to lay his will into things, at least lays some meaning into them: that means, he has the faith that they already obey a will. (Principle of "faith.)
19 What? You elected virtue and the swelled bosom and yet you leer enviously at the advantages of those without qualms? But virtue involves renouncing "advantages." (Inscription for an anti-Semite's door.)
20 The perfect woman perpetrates literature as she perpetrates a small sin: as an experiment, in passing, looking around to see if anybody notices it--and to make sure that somebody does.
21 To venture into all sorts of situations in which one may not have any sham virtues, where, like the tightrope walker on his rope, one either stands or falls--or gets away.
22 "Evil men have no songs." How is it, then, that the Russians have songs?
23 "German spirit": for the past eighteen years a contradiction in terms.
24 By searching out origins, one becomes a crab. The historian looks backward; eventually he also believes backward.
25 Contentment protects even against colds. Has a woman who knew herself to be well dressed ever caught cold? I am assuming that she was barely dressed.
26 I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.
27 Women are considered profound. Why? Because one never fathoms their depths. Women aren't even shallow.
28 If a woman has manly virtues, one feels like running away; and if she has no manly virtues, she herself runs away.
29 "How much conscience has had to chew on in the past! And what excellent teeth it had! And today--what is lacking?" A dentist's question.
30 One rarely rushes into a single error. Rushing into the first one, one always does too much. So one usually perpetrates another one--and now one does too little.
31 When stepped on, a worm doubles up. That is clever. In that way he lessens the probability of being stepped on again. In the language of morality: humility.
32 There is a hatred of lies and simulation, stemming from an easily provoked sense of honor. There is another such hatred, from cowardice, since lies are forbidden by a divine commandment. Too cowardly to lie.
33 How little is required for pleasure! The sound of a bagpipe. Without music, life would be an error. The German imagines even God singing songs.
34 On ne peut penser et ecrire qu'assis [One cannot think and write except when seated] (G. Flaubert). There I have caught you, nihilist! The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.
35 There are cases in which we are like horses, we psychologists, and become restless: we see our own shadow wavering up and down before us. A psychologist must turn his eyes from himself to eye anything at all.
36 Whether we immoralists are harming virtue? Just as little as anarchists harm princes. Only since the latter are shot at do they again sit securely on their thrones. Moral: morality must be shot at.
37 You run ahead? Are you doing it as a shepherd? Or as an exception? A third case would be the fugitive. First question of conscience.
38 Are you genuine? Or merely an actor? A representative? Or that which is represented? In the end, perhaps you are merely a copy of an actor. Second question of conscience.
39 The disappointed one speaks. I searched for great human beings; I always found only the apes of their ideals.
40 Are you one who looks on? Or one who lends a hand? Or one who looks away and walks off? Third question of conscience.
41 Do you want to walk along? Or walk ahead? Or walk by yourself? One must know what one wants and that one wants. Fourth question of conscience.
42 Those were steps for me, and I have climbed up over them: to that end I had to pass over them. Yet they thought that I wanted to retire on them.
43 What does it matter if I remain right. I am much too right. And he who laughs best today will also laugh last.
44 The formula of my happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal.
THE PROBLEM OF SOCRATES
1 Concerning life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is no good. Always and everywhere one has heard the same sound from their mouths--a sound full of doubt, full of melancholy, full of weariness of life, full of resistance to life. Even Socrates said, as he died: "To live--that means to be sick a long time: I owe Asclepius the Savior a rooster." Even Socrates was tired of it. What does that evidence? What does it evince? Formerly one would have said (--oh, it has been said, and loud enough, and especially by our pessimists): "At least something of all this must be true! The consensus of the sages evidences the truth." Shall we still talk like that today? May we? "At least something must be sick here," we retort. These wisest men of all ages--they should first be scrutinized closely. Were they all perhaps shaky on their legs? late? tottery? decadents? Could it be that wisdom appears on earth as a raven, inspired by a little whiff of carrion?
2 This irreverent thought that the great sages are types of decline first occurred to me precisely in a case where it is most strongly opposed by both scholarly and unscholarly prejudice: I recognized Socrates and Plato to be symptoms of degeneration, tools of the Greek dissolution, pseudo-Greek, anti-Greek (Birth of Tragedy, 1872). The consensus of the sages--I comprehended this ever more clearly--proves least of all that they were right in what they agreed on: it shows rather that they themselves, these wisest men, agreed in some physiological respect, and hence adopted the same negative attitude to life--had to adopt it. Judgments, judgments of value, concerning life, for it or against it, can, in the end, never be true: they have value only as symptoms, they are worthy of consideration only as symptoms; in themselves such judgments are stupidities. One must by all means stretch out one's fingers and make the attempt to grasp this amazing finesse, that the value of life cannot be estimated. Not by the living, for they are an interested party, even a bone of contention, and not judges; not by the dead, for a different reason. For a philosopher to see a problem in the value of life is thus an objection to him, a question mark concerning his wisdom, an un-wisdom. Indeed? All these great wise men--they were not only decadents but not wise at all? But I return to the problem of Socrates.
3 In origin, Socrates belonged to the lowest class: Socrates was plebs. We know, we can still see for ourselves, how ugly he was. But ugliness, in itself an objection, is among the Greeks almost a refutation. Was Socrates a Greek at all? Ugliness is often enough the expression of a development that has been crossed, thwarted by crossing. Or it appears as declining development. The anthropologists among the criminologists tell us that the typical criminal is ugly: monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo. But the criminal is a decadent. Was Socrates a typical criminal? At least that would not be contradicted by the famous judgment of the physiognomist which sounded so offensive to the friends of Socrates. A foreigner who knew about faces once passed through Athens and told Socrates to his face that he was a monstrum--that he harbored in himself all the bad vices and appetites. And Socrates merely answered: "You know me, sir!"
4 Socrates' decadence is suggested not only by the admitted wantonness and anarchy of his instincts, but also by the hypertrophy of the logical faculty and that sarcasm of the rachitic which distinguishes him. Nor should we forget those auditory hallucinations which, as "the daimonion of Socrates," have been interpreted religiously. Everything in him is exaggerated, buffo, a caricature; everything is at the same time concealed, ulterior, subterranean. I seek to comprehend what idiosyncrasy begot that Socratic equation of reason, virtue, and happiness: that most bizarre of all equations which, moreover, is opposed to all the instincts of the earlier Greeks.
5 With Socrates, Greek taste changes in favor of dialectics. What really happened there? Above all, a noble taste is thus vanquished; with dialectics the plebs come to the top. Before Socrates, dialectic manners were repudiated in good society: they were considered bad manners, they were compromising. The young were warned against them. Furthermore, all such presentations of one's reasons were distrusted. Honest things, like honest men, do not carry their reasons in their hands like that. It is indecent to show all five fingers. What must first be proved is worth little. Wherever authority still forms part of good bearing, where one does not give reasons but commands, the dialectician is a kind of buffoon: one laughs at him, one does not take him seriously. Socrates was the buffoon who got himself taken seriously: what really happened there?
6 One chooses dialectic only when one has no other means. One knows that one arouses mistrust with it, that it is not very persuasive. Nothing is easier to erase than a dialectical effect: the experience of every meeting at which there are speeches proves this. It can only be self-defense for those who no longer have other weapons. One must have to enforce one's right: until one reaches that point, one makes no use of it. The Jews were dialecticians for that reason; Reynard the Fox was one--and Socrates too?
7 Is the irony of Socrates an expression of revolt? Of plebeian ressentiment? Does he, as one oppressed, enjoy his own ferocity in the knife-thrusts of his syllogisms? Does he avenge himself on the noble people whom he fascinates? As a dialectician, one holds a merciless tool in one's hand; one can become a tyrant by means of it; one compromises those one conquers. The dialectician leaves it to his opponent to prove that he is no idiot: he makes one furious and helpless at the same time. The dialectician renders the intellect of his opponent powerless. Indeed? Is dialectic only a form of revenge in Socrates?
8 I have given to understand how it was that Socrates could repel: it is therefore all the more necessary to explain his fascination. That he discovered a new kind of agon, that he became its first fencing master for the noble circles of Athens, is one point. He fascinated by appealing to the agonistic impulse of the Greeks--he introduced a variation into the wrestling match between young men and youths. Socrates was also a great erotic.
9 But Socrates guessed even more. He saw through his noble Athenians; he
comprehended that his own case, his idiosyncrasy, was no longer exceptional. The
same kind of degeneration was quietly developing everywhere: old Athens was
coming to an end. And Socrates understood that all the world needed him--his
means, his cure, his personal artifice of self-preservation. Everywhere the
instincts were in anarchy everywhere one was within five paces of excess:
monstrum in animo was the general danger. "The impulses want to play the
tyrant; one must invent a counter-tyrant who is stronger. When the physiognomist
had revealed to Socrates who he was--a cave of bad appetites--the great master
of irony let slip another word which is the key to his character. "This is
true," he said, "but I mastered them all." How did Socrates
become master over himself? His case was, at bottom, merely the extreme case,
only the most striking instance of what was then beginning to be a universal
distress: no one was any longer master over himself, the instincts turned
against each other. He fascinated, being this extreme case; his awe-inspiring
ugliness proclaimed him as such to all who could see: he fascinated, of course,
even more as an answer, a solution, an apparent cure of this case.
10 When one finds it necessary to turn reason into a tyrant, as Socrates did, the danger cannot be slight that something else will play the tyrant. Rationality was then hit upon as the savior; neither Socrates nor his "patients" had any choice about being rational: it was de rigeur, it was their last resort. The fanaticism with which all Greek reflection throws itself upon rationality betrays a desperate situation; there was danger, there was but one choice: either to perish or--to be absurdly rational. The moralism of the Greek philosophers from Plato on is pathologically conditioned; so is their esteem of dialectics. Reason-virtue-happiness, that means merely that one must imitate Socrates and counter the dark appetites with a permanent daylight--the daylight of reason. One must be clever, clear, bright at any price: any concession to the instincts, to the unconscious, leads downward.
11 I have given to understand how it was that Socrates fascinated: he seemed to be a physician, a savior. Is it necessary to go on to demonstrate the error in his faith in "rationality at any price"? It is a self-deception on the part of philosophers and moralists if they believe that they are extricating themselves from decadence when they merely wage war against it. Extrication lies beyond their strength: what they choose as a means, as salvation, is itself but another expression of decadence; they change its expression, but they do not get rid of decadence itself. Socrates was a misunderstanding; the whole improvement-morality, including the Christian, was a misunderstanding. The most blinding daylight; rationality at any price; life, bright, cold, cautious, conscious, without instinct, in opposition to the instincts--all this too was a mere disease, another disease, and by no means a return to "virtue," to "health," to happiness. To have to fight the instincts--that is the formula of decadence: as long as life is ascending, happiness equals instinct.
12 Did he himself still comprehend this, this most brilliant of all self-outwitters? Was this what he said to himself in the end, in the wisdom of his courage to die? Socrates wanted to die: not Athens, but he himself chose the hemlock; he forced Athens to sentence him. "Socrates is no physician," he said softly to himself, "here death alone is the physician. Socrates himself has merely been sick a long time."
"REASON" IN PHILOSOPHY
1 You ask me which of the philosophers' traits are really idiosyncrasies? For example, their lack of historical sense, their hatred of the very idea of becoming, their Egypticism. They think that they show their respect for a subject when they de-historicize it, sub specie aeternitas--when they turn it into a mummy. All that philosophers have handled for thousands of years have been concept-mummies; nothing real escaped their grasp alive. When these honorable idolators of concepts worship something, they kill it and stuff it; they threaten the life of everything they worship. Death, change, old age, as well as procreation and growth, are to their minds objections--even refutations. Whatever has being does not become; whatever becomes does not have being. Now they all believe, desperately even, in what has being. But since they never grasp it, they seek for reasons why it is kept from them. "There must be mere appearance, there must be some deception which prevents us from perceiving that which has being: where is the deceiver?"
"We have found him," they cry ecstatically; "it is the senses! These senses, which are so immoral in other ways too, deceive us concerning the true world. Moral: let us free ourselves from the deception of the senses, from becoming, from history, from lies; history is nothing but faith in the senses, faith in lies. Moral: let us say No to all who have faith in the senses, to all the rest of mankind; they are all 'mob.' Let us be philosophers! Let us be mummies" Let us represent monotono-theism by adopting the expression of a gravedigger! And above all, away with the body, this wretched idee fixe of the senses, disfigured by all the fallacies of logic, refuted, even impossible, although it is impudent enough to behave as if it were real!"
2 With the highest respect, I except the name of Heraclitus. When the rest of the philosophic folk rejected the testimony of the senses because they showed multiplicity and change, he rejected their testimony because they showed things as if they had permanence and unity. Heraclitus too did the senses an injustice. They lie neither in the way the Eleatics believed, nor as he believed--they do not lie at all. What we make of their testimony, that alone introduces lies; for example, the lie of unity, the lie of thinghood, of substance, of permanence. "Reason" is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. But Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction. The "apparent" world is the only one: the "true" world is merely added by a lie.
3 And what magnificent instruments of observation we possess in our senses! This nose, for example, of which no philosopher has yet spoken with reverence and gratitude, is actually the most delicate instrument so far at our disposal: it is able to detect minimal differences of motion which even a spectroscope cannot detect. Today we possess science precisely to the extent to which we have decided to accept the testimony of the senses--to the extent to which we sharpen them further, arm them, and have learned to think them through. The rest is miscarriage and not-yet-science--in other words, metaphysics, theology, psychology, epistemology--or formal science, a doctrine of signs, such as logic and that applied logic which is called mathematics. In them reality is not encountered at all, not even as a problem--no more than the question of the value of such a sign-convention as logic.
4 The other idiosyncrasy of the philosophers is no less dangerous; it consists in confusing the last and the first. They place that which comes at the end--unfortunately! for it ought not to come at all!--namely, the "highest concepts," which means the most general, the emptiest concepts, the last smoke of evaporating reality, in the beginning, as the beginning. This again is nothing but their way of showing reverence: the higher may not grow out of the lower, may not have grown at all. Moral: whatever is of the first rank must be causa sui. Origin out of something else is considered an objection, a questioning of value. All the highest values are of the first rank; all the highest concepts, that which has being, the unconditional, the good, the true, the perfect--all these cannot have become and must therefore be causes. All these, moreover, cannot be unlike each other or in contradiction to each other. Thus they arrive at their stupendous concept, "God." That which is last, thinnest, and emptiest is put first, as the cause, as ens realissimum. Why did mankind have to take seriously the brain afflictions of sick web-spinners? They have paid dearly for it!
5 At long last, let us contrast the very different manner in which we conceive the problem of error and appearance. (I say "we" for politeness' sake.) Formerly, alteration, change, any becoming at all, were taken as proof of mere appearance, as an indication that there must be something which led us astray. Today, conversely, precisely insofar as the prejudice of reason forces us to posit unity, identity, permanence, substance, cause, thinghood, being, we see ourselves somehow caught in error, compelled into error. So certain are we, on the basis of rigorous examination, that this is where the error lies.
It is no different in this case than with the movement of the sun: there our eye is the constant advocate of error, here it is our language. In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things--only thereby does it first create the concept of "thing." Everywhere "being" is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a capacity. Today we know that it is only a word.
Very much later, in a world which was in a thousand ways more enlightened, philosophers, to their great surprise, became aware of the sureness, the subjective certainty, in our handling of the categories of reason: they concluded that these categories could not be derived from anything empirical--for everything empirical plainly contradicted them. Whence, then, were they derived?
And in India, as in Greece, the same mistake was made: "We must once have been at home in a higher world (instead of a very much lower one, which would have been the truth); we must have been divine, for we have reason!" Indeed, nothing has yet possessed a more naive power of persuasion than the error concerning being, as it has been formulated by the Eleatics, for example. After all, every word and every sentence we say speak in its favor. Even the opponents of the Eleatics still succumbed to the seduction of their concept of being: Democritus, among others, when he invented his atom. "Reason" in language--oh, what an old deceptive female she is! I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.
6 It will be appreciated if I condense so essential and so new an insight into four theses. In that way I facilitate comprehension; in that way I provoke contradiction.
First proposition. The reasons for which "this" world has been characterized as "apparent" are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable.
Second proposition. The criteria which have been bestowed on the "true being" of things are the criteria of not-being, of naught, the "true world" has been constructed out of contradiction to the actual world: indeed an apparent world, insofar as it is merely a moral-optical illusion.
Third proposition. To invent fables about a world "other" than this one has no meaning at all, unless an instinct of slander, detraction, and suspicion against life has gained the upper hand in us: in that case, we avenge ourselves against life with a phantasmagoria of "another," a "better" life.
Fourth proposition. Any distinction between a "true" and an "apparent" world--whether in the Christian manner or in the manner of Kant (in the end, an underhanded Christian)--is only a suggestion of decadence, a symptom of the decline of life. That the artist esteems appearance higher than reality is no objection to this proposition. For "appearance" in this case means reality once more, only by way of selection, reinforcement, and correction. The tragic artist is no pessimist: he is precisely the one who says Yes to everything questionable, even to the terrible--he is Dionysian.
HOW THE "TRUE WORLD" FINALLY BECAME A FABLE. The History of an Error
1. The true world--attainable for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man; he lives in it, he is it.
(The oldest form of the idea, relatively sensible, simple, and persuasive. A circumlocution for the sentence, "I, Plato, am the truth.")
2. The true world--unattainable for now, but promised for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man ("for the sinner who repents").
(Progress of the idea: it becomes more subtle, insidious, incomprehensible--it becomes female, it becomes Christian. )
3. The true world--unattainable, indemonstrable, unpromisable; but the very thought of it--a consolation, an obligation, an imperative.
(At bottom, the old sun, but seen through mist and skepticism. The idea has become elusive, pale, Nordic, Konigsbergian.)
4. The true world--unattainable? At any rate, unattained. And being unattained, also unknown. Consequently, not consoling, redeeming, or obligating: how could something unknown obligate us?
(Gray morning. The first yawn of reason. The cockcrow of positivism.)
5. The "true" world--an idea which is no longer good for anything, not even obligating--an idea which has become useless and superfluous--consequently, a refuted idea: let us abolish it!
(Bright day; breakfast; return of bon sens and cheerfulness; Plato's embarrassed blush; pandemonium of all free spirits.)
6. The true world--we have abolished. What world has remained? The apparent one perhaps? But no! With the true world we have also abolished the apparent one.
(Noon; moment of the briefest shadow; end of the longest error; high point of humanity; INCIPIT ZARATHUSTRA.)
MORALITY AS ANTI-NATURE
1 All passions have a phase when they are merely disastrous, when they drag down their victim with the weight of stupidity--and a later, very much later phase when they wed the spirit, when they "spiritualize" themselves. Formerly, in view of the element of stupidity in passion, war was declared on passion itself, its destruction was plotted; all the old moral monsters are agreed on this: il faut tuer les passions. The most famous formula for this is to be found in the New Testament, in that Sermon on the Mount, where, incidentally, things are by no means looked at from a height. There it is said, for example, with particular reference to sexuality: "If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out." Fortunately, no Christian acts in accordance with this precept. Destroying the passions and cravings, merely as a preventive measure against their stupidity and the unpleasant consequences of this stupidity--today this itself strikes us as merely another acute form of stupidity. We no longer admire dentists who "pluck out" teeth so that they will not hurt any more.
To be fair, it should be admitted, however, that on the ground out of which Christianity grew, the concept of the "spiritualization of passion" could never have been formed. After all, the first church, as is well known, fought against the "intelligent" in favor of the "poor in spirit." How could one expect from it an intelligent war against passion? The church fights passion with excision in every sense: its practice, its "cure," is castratism. It never asks: "How can one spiritualize, beautify, deify a craving?" It has at all times laid the stress of discipline on extirpation (of sensuality, of pride, of the lust to rule, of avarice, of vengefulness). But an attack on the roots of passion means an attack on the roots of life: the practice of the church is hostile to life.
2 The same means in the fight against a craving--castration, extirpation--is instinctively chosen by those who are too weak-willed, too degenerate, to be able to impose moderation on themselves; by those who are so constituted that they require La Trappe, to use a figure of speech, or (without any figure of speech) some kind of definitive declaration of hostility, a cleft between themselves and the passion. Radical means are indispensable only for the degenerate; the weakness of the will--or, to speak more definitely, the inability not to respond to a stimulus--is itself merely another form of degeneration. The radical hostility, the deadly hostility against sensuality, is always a symptom to reflect on: it entitles us to suppositions concerning the total state of one who is excessive in this manner.
This hostility, this hatred, by the way, reaches its climax only when such types lack even the firmness for this radical cure, for this renunciation of their "devil." One should survey the whole history of the priests and philosophers, including the artists: the most poisonous things against the senses have been said not by the impotent, nor by ascetics, but by the impossible ascetics, by those who really were in dire need of being ascetics.
3 The spiritualization of sensuality is called love: it represents a great triumph over Christianity. Another triumph is our spiritualization of hostility. It consists in a profound appreciation of the value of having enemies: in short, it means acting and thinking in the opposite way from that which has been the rule. The church always wanted the destruction of its enemies; we, we immoralists and Antichristians, find our advantage in this, that the church exists. In the political realm too, hostility has now become more spiritual--much more sensible, much more thoughtful, much more considerate. Almost every party understands how it is in the interest of its own self-preservation that the opposition should not lose all strength; the same is true of power politics. A new creation in particular--the new Reich, for example--needs enemies more than friends: in opposition alone does it feel itself necessary, in opposition alone does it become necessary.
Our attitude to the "internal enemy" is no different: here too we have spiritualized hostility; here too we have come to appreciate its value. The price of fruitfulness is to be rich in internal opposition; one remains young only as long as the soul does not stretch itself and desire peace. Nothing has become more alien to us than that desideratum of former times, "peace of soul," the Christian desideratum; there is nothing we envy less than the moralistic cow and the fat happiness of the good conscience. One has renounced the great life when one renounces war.
In many cases, to be sure, "peace of soul" is merely a misunderstanding--something else, which lacks only a more honest name. Without further ado or prejudice, a few examples. "Peace of soul" can be, for one, the gentle radiation of a rich animality into the moral (or religious) sphere. Or the beginning of weariness, the first shadow of evening, of any kind of evening. Or a sign that the air is humid, that south winds are approaching. Or unrecognized gratitude for a good digestion (sometimes called "love of man"). Or the attainment of calm by a convalescent who feels a new relish in all things and waits. Or the state which follows a thorough satisfaction of our dominant passion, the well-being of a rare repletion. Or the senile weakness of our will, our cravings, our vices. Or laziness, persuaded by vanity to give itself moral airs. Or the emergence of certainty, even a dreadful certainty, after long tension and torture by uncertainty. Or the expression of maturity and mastery in the midst of doing, creating, working, and willing--calm breathing, attained "freedom of the will." Twilight of the Idols--who knows? perhaps also only a kind of "peace of soul."
I reduce a principle to a formula. Every naturalism in morality--that is, every healthy morality--is dominated by an instinct of life, some commandment of life is fulfilled by a determinate canon of "shalt" and "shalt not"; some inhibition and hostile element on the path of life is thus removed. Anti-natural morality--that is, almost every morality which has so far been taught, revered, and preached--turns, conversely, against the instincts of life: it is condemnation of these instincts, now secret, now outspoken and impudent. When it says, "God looks at the heart," it says No to both the lowest and the highest desires of life, and posits God as the enemy of life. The saint in whom God delights is the ideal eunuch. Life has come to an end where the "kingdom of God" begins.
5 Once one has comprehended the outrage of such a revolt against life as has become almost sacrosanct in Christian morality, one has, fortunately, also comprehended something else: the futility, apparentness, absurdity, and mendaciousness of such a revolt. A condemnation of life by the living remains in the end a mere symptom of a certain kind of life: the question whether it is justified or unjustified is not even raised thereby. One would require a position outside of life, and yet have to know it as well as one, as many, as all who have lived it, in order to be permitted even to touch the problem of the value of life: reasons enough to comprehend that this problem is for us an unapproachable problem. When we speak of values, we speak with the inspiration, with the way of looking at things, which is part of life: life itself forces us to posit values; life itself values through us when we posit values. From this it follows that even that anti-natural morality which conceives of God as the counter-concept and condemnation of life is only a value judgment of life--but of what life? of what kind of life? I have already given the answer: of declining, weakened, weary, condemned life. Morality, as it has so far been understood--as it has in the end been formulated once more by Schopenhauer, as "negation of the will to life"--is the very instinct of decadence, which makes an imperative of itself. It says: "Perish!" It is a condemnation pronounced by the condemned.
6 Let us finally consider how naive it is altogether to say: "Man ought to be such and such!" Reality shows us an enchanting wealth of types, the abundance of a lavish play and change of forms--and some wretched loafer of a moralist comments: "No! Man ought to be different." He even knows what man should be like, this wretched bigot and prig: he paints himself on the wall and comments, "Ecce homo!" But even when the moralist addresses himself only to the single human being and says to him, "You ought to be such and such!" he does not cease to make himself ridiculous. The single human being is a piece of fatum from the front and from the rear, one law more, one necessity more for all that is yet to come and to be. To say to him, "Change yourself!" is to demand that everything be changed, even retroactively. And indeed there have been consistent moralists who wanted man to be different, that is, virtuous--they wanted him remade in their own image, as a prig: to that end, they negated the world! No small madness! No modest kind of immodesty!
Morality, insofar as it condemns for its own sake, and not out of regard for the concerns, considerations, and contrivances of life, is a specific error with which one ought to have no pity--an idiosyncrasy of degenerates which has caused immeasurable harm.
We others, we immoralists, have, conversely, made room in our hearts for every kind of understanding, comprehending, and approving. We do not easily negate; we make it a point of honor to be affirmers. More and more, our eyes have opened to that economy which needs and knows how to utilize everything that the holy witlessness of the priest, the diseased reason in the priest, rejects--that economy in the law of life which finds an advantage even in the disgusting species of the prigs, the priests, the virtuous. What advantage? But we ourselves, we immoralists, are the answer.
THE FOUR GREAT ERRORS
1 The error of confusing cause and effect. There is no more dangerous error than that of mistaking the effect for the cause: I call it the real corruption of reason. Yet this error belongs among the most ancient and recent habits of mankind: it is even hallowed among us and goes by the name of "religion" or "morality." Every single sentence which religion and morality formulate contains it; priests and legislators of moral codes are the originators of this corruption of reason.
I give an example. Everybody knows the book of the famous Cornaro in which he recommends his slender diet as a recipe for a long and happy life--a virtuous one too. Few books have been read so much; even now thousands of copies are sold in England every year. I do not doubt that scarcely any book (except the Bible, as is meet) has done as much harm, has shortened as many lives, as this well-intentioned curiosum. The reason: the mistaking of the effect for the cause. The worthy Italian thought his diet was the cause of his long life, whereas the precondition for a long life, the extraordinary slowness of his metabolism, the consumption of so little, was the cause of his slender diet. He was not free to eat little or much; his frugality was not a matter of "free will": he became sick when he ate more. But whoever is no carp not only does well to eat properly, but needs to. A scholar in our time, with his rapid consumption of nervous energy, would simply destroy himself with Cornaro's diet. Crede experto. [Believe him who has tried.]
2 The most general formula on which every religion and morality is founded is: "Do this and that, refrain from this and that--then you will be happy! Otherwise..." Every morality, every religion, is this imperative; I call it the great original sin of reason, the immortal unreason. In my mouth, this formula is changed into its opposite--first example of my "revaluation of all values": a well-turned-out human being, a "happy one," must perform certain actions and shrinks instinctively from other actions; he carries the order, which he represents physiologically, into his relations with other human beings and things. In a formula: his virtue is the effect of his happiness. A long life, many descendants--these are not the wages of virtue: rather virtue itself is that slowing down of the metabolism which leads, among other things, also to a long life, many descendants--in short, to Cornarism.
The church and morality say: "A generation, a people, are destroyed by license and luxury." My recovered reason says: when a people approaches destruction, when it degenerates physiologically, then license and luxury follow from this (namely, the craving for ever stronger and more frequent stimulation, as every exhausted nature knows it). This young man turns pale early and wilts; his friends say: that is due to this or that disease. I say: that he became diseased, that he did not resist the disease, was already the effect of an impoverished life or hereditary exhaustion. The newspaper reader says: this party destroys itself by making such a mistake. My higher politics says: a party which makes such mistakes has reached its end; it has lost its sureness of instinct. Every mistake in every sense is the effect of the degeneration of instinct, of the disintegration of the will: one could almost define what is bad in this way. All that is good is instinct--and hence easy, necessary, free. Laboriousness is an objection: the god is typically different from the hero. (In my language: light feet are the first attribute of divinity.)
3 The error of a false causality. People have believed at all times that they knew what a cause is; but whence did we take our knowledge--or more precisely, our faith--that we had such knowledge? From the realm of the famous "inner facts," of which not a single one has so far proved to be factual. We believed ourselves to be causal in the act of willing: we thought that here at least we caught causality in the act. Nor did one doubt that all the antecedents of an act, its causes, were to be sought in consciousness and would be found there once sought--as "motives": else one would not have been free and responsible for it. Finally, who would have denied that a thought is caused? that the ego causes the thought?
Of these three "inward facts" which seem to guarantee causality, the first and most persuasive is that of the will as cause. The conception of a consciousness ("spirit") as a cause, and later also that of the ego as cause (the "subject"), are only afterbirths: first the causality of the will was firmly accepted as given, as empirical.
Meanwhile we have thought better of it. Today we no longer believe a word of all this. The "inner world" is full of phantoms and will-o'-the-wisps: the will is one of them. The will no longer moves anything, hence does not explain anything either--it merely accompanies events; it can also be absent. The so-called motive: another error. Merely a surface phenomenon of consciousness, something alongside the deed that is more likely to cover up the antecedents of the deeds than to represent them. And as for the ego! That has become a fable, a fiction, a play on words: it has altogether ceased to think, feel, or will!
What follows from this? There are no mental causes at all. The whole of the allegedly empirical evidence for that has gone to the devil. That is what follows! And what a fine abuse we had perpetrated with this "empirical evidence"; we created the world on this basis as a world of causes, a world of will, a world of spirits. The most ancient and enduring psychology was at work here and did not do anything else: all that happened was considered a doing, all doing the effect of a will; the world became to it a multiplicity of doers; a doer (a "subject") was slipped under all that happened. It was out of himself that man projected his three "inner facts"--that in which he believed most firmly: the will, the spirit, the ego. He even took the concept of being from the concept of the ego; he posited "things" as "being," in his image, in accordance with his concept of the ego as a cause. Small wonder that later he always found in things only that which he gad put into them. The thing itself, to say it once more, the concept of thing is a mere reflex of the faith in the ego as cause. And even your atom, my dear mechanists and physicists--how much error, how much rudimentary psychology is still residual in your atom! Not to mention the "thing-in-itself," the horrendum pudendum of the metaphysicians! The error of the spirit as cause mistaken for reality! And made the very measure of reality! And called God!
4 The error of imaginary causes. To begin with dreams: ex post facto, a cause is slipped under a particular sensation (for example, one following a far-off cannon shot)--often a whole little novel in which the dreamer turns up as the protagonist. The sensation endures meanwhile in a kind of resonance: it waits, as it were, until the causal instinct permits it to step into the foreground--now no longer as a chance occurrence, but as "meaning." The cannon shot appears in a causal mode, in an apparent reversal of time. What is really later, the motivation, is experienced first--often with a hundred details which pass like lightning and the shot follows. What has happened? The representations which were produced by a certain state have been misunderstood as its causes.
In fact, we do the same thing when awake. Most of our general feelings--every kind of inhibition, pressure, tension, and explosion in the play and counterplay of our organs, and particularly the state of the nervus sympaticus--excite our causal instinct: we want to have a reason for feeling this way or that--for feeling bad or for feeling good. We are never satisfied merely to state the fact that we feel this way or that: we admit this fact only--become conscious of it only--when we have furnished some kind of motivation. Memory, which swings into action in such cases, unknown to us, brings up earlier states of the same kind, together with the causal interpretations associated with them--not their real causes. The faith, to be sure, that such representations, such accompanying conscious processes are the causes is also brought forth by memory. Thus originates a habitual acceptance of a particular causal interpretation, which, as a matter of fact, inhibits any investigation into the real cause--even precludes it.
5 The psychological explanation of this. To derive something unknown from something familiar relieves, comforts, and satisfies, besides giving a feeling of power. With the unknown, one is confronted with danger, discomfort, and care; the first instinct is to abolish these painful states. First principle: any explanation is better than none. Since at bottom it is merely a matter of wishing to be rid of oppressive representations, one is not too particular about the means of getting rid of them: the first representation that explains the unknown as familiar feels so good that one "considers it true." The proof of pleasure ("of strength") as a criterion of truth.
The causal instinct is thus conditional upon, and excited by, the feeling of fear. The "why?" shall, if at all possible, not give the cause for its own sake so much as for a particular kind of cause--a cause that is comforting, liberating, and relieving. That it is something already familiar, experienced, and inscribed in the memory, which is posited as a cause, that is the first consequence of this need. That which is new and strange and has not been experienced before, is excluded as a cause. Thus one searches not only for some kind of explanation to serve as a cause, but for a particularly selected and preferred kind of explanation--that which has most quickly and most frequently abolished the feeling of the strange, new, and hitherto unexperienced: the most habitual explanations. Consequence: one kind of positing of causes predominates more and more, is concentrated into a system and finally emerges as dominant, that is, as simply precluding other causes and explanations. The banker immediately thinks of "business," the Christian of "sin," and the girl of her love.
6 The whole realm of morality and religion belongs under this concept of imaginary causes. The "explanation" of disagreeable general feelings. They are produced by beings that are hostile to us (evil spirits: the most famous case--the misunderstanding of the hysterical as witches). They are produced by acts which cannot be approved (the feeling of "sin," of "sinfulness," is slipped under a physiological discomfort; one always finds reasons for being dissatisfied with oneself). They are produced as punishments, as payment for something we should not have done, for what we should not have been (impudently generalized by Schopenhauer into a principle in which morality appears as what it really is--as the very poisoner and slanderer of life: "Every great pain, whether physical or spiritual, declares what we deserve; for it could not come to us if we did not deserve it." World as Will and Representation II, 666). They are produced as effects of ill-considered actions that turn out badly. (Here the affects, the senses, are posited as causes, as "guilty"; and physiological calamities are interpreted with the help of other calamities as "deserved.")
The "explanation" of agreeable general feelings. They are produced by trust in God. They are produced by the consciousness of good deeds (the so-called "good conscience"--a physiological state which at times looks so much like good digestion that it is hard to tell them apart). They are produced by the successful termination of some enterprise (a naive fallacy: the successful termination of some enterprise does not by any means give a hypochondriac or a Pascal agreeable general feelings). They are produced by faith, charity, and hope--the Christian virtues.
In truth, all these supposed explanations are resultant states and, as it were, translations of pleasurable or unpleasurable feelings into a false dialect: one is in a state of hope because the basic physiological feeling is once again strong and rich; one trusts in God because the feeling of fullness and strength gives a sense of rest. Morality and religion belong altogether to the psychology of error: in every single case, cause and effect are confused; or truth is confused with the effects of believing something to be true; or a state of consciousness is confused with its causes.
7 The error of free will. Today we no longer have any pity for the concept of "free will": we know only too well what it really is--the foulest of all theologians' artifices aimed at making mankind "responsible" in their sense, that is, dependent upon them. Here I simply supply the psychology of all "making responsible."
Wherever responsibilities are sought, it is usually the instinct of wanting to judge and punish which is at work. Becoming has been deprived of its innocence when any being-such-and-such is traced back to will, to purposes, to acts of responsibility: the doctrine of the will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that is, because one wanted to impute guilt. The entire old psychology, the psychology of will, was conditioned by the fact that its originators, the priests at the head of ancient communities, wanted to create for themselves the right to punish--or wanted to create this right for God. Men were considered "free" so that they might be judged and punished--so that they might become guilty: consequently, every act had to be considered as willed, and the origin of every act had to be considered as lying within the consciousness (and thus the most fundamental counterfeit in psychologicis was made the principle of psychology itself).
Today, as we have entered into the reverse movement and we immoralists are trying with all our strength to take the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment out of the world again, and to cleanse psychology, history, nature, and social institutions and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue with the concept of a "moral world-order" to infect the innocence of becoming by means of "punishment" and "guilt." Christianity is a metaphysics of the hangman.
8 What alone can be our doctrine? That no one gives man his qualities--neither God, nor society, nor his parents and ancestors, nor he himself. (The nonsense of the last idea was taught as "intelligible freedom" by Kant--perhaps by Plato already.) No one is responsible for man's being there at all, for his being such-and-such, or for his being in these circumstances or in this environment. The fatality of his essence is not to be disentangled from the fatality of all that has been and will be. Man is not the effect of some special purpose, of a will, an end; nor is he the object of an attempt to attain an "ideal of humanity" or an "ideal of happiness" or an "ideal of morality." It is absurd to wish to devolve one's essence on some end or other. We have invented the concept of "end": in reality there is no end.
One is necessary, one is a piece of fatefulness, one belongs to the whole, one is in the whole; there is nothing which could judge, measure, compare, or sentence our being, for that would mean judging, measuring, comparing, or sentencing the whole. But there is nothing besides the whole. That nobody is held responsible any longer, that the mode of being may not be traced back to a causa prima, that the world does not form a unity either as a sensorium or as "spirit"--that alone is the great liberation; with this alone is the innocence of becoming restored. The concept of "God" was until now the greatest objection to existence. We deny God, we deny the responsibility in God: only thereby do we redeem the world.
THE "IMPROVERS" OF MANKIND
1 My demand upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself. This demand follows from an insight which I was the first to formulate: that there are altogether no moral facts. Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena--more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to a stage of ignorance at which the very concept of the real, and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking; thus "truth," at this stage, designates all sorts of things which we today call "imaginings." Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally: so understood, they always contain mere absurdity. Semeiotically, however, they remain invaluable: they reveal, at least for those who know, the most valuable realities of cultures and inwardnesses which did not know enough to "understand" themselves. Morality is mere sign language, mere symptomatology: one must know what it is all about to be able to profit from it.
2 A first example, quite provisional. At all times they have wanted to "improve" men: this above all was called morality. Under the same word, however, the most divergent tendencies are concealed. Both the taming of the beast, man, and the breeding of a particular kind of man have been called "improvement." Such zoological terms are required to express the realities--realities, to be sure, of which the typical "improver," the priest, neither knows anything nor wants to know anything.
To call the taming of an animal its "improvement" sounds almost like a joke to our ears. Whoever knows what goes on in menageries doubts that the beasts are "improved" there. They are weakened, they are made less harmful, and through the depressive effect of fear, through pain, through wounds, and through hunger, they become sickly beasts. It is no different with the tamed man whom the priest has "improved." In the early Middle Ages, when the church was indeed, above all, a menagerie, the most beautiful specimens of the "blond beast" were hunted down everywhere; and the noble Teutons, for example, were "improved." But how did such an "improved" Teuton who had been seduced into a monastery look afterward? Like a caricature of man, like a miscarriage: he had become a "sinner," he was stuck in a cage, imprisoned among all sorts of terrible concepts. And there he lay, sick, miserable, malevolent against himself, full of hatred against the springs of life, full of suspicion against all that was still strong and happy. In short, a "Christian."
Physiologically speaking: in the struggle with beasts, to make them sick may be the only means for making them weak. This the church understood: it ruined man, it weakened him--but it claimed to have "improved" him.
3 Let us consider the other case of so-called morality, the case of breeding, a particular race and kind. The most magnificent example of this is furnished by Indian morality, sanctioned as religion in the form of "the law of Manu." Here the task set is to breed no less than four races at once: one priestly, one warlike, one for trade and agriculture, and finally a race of servants, the Sudras. Obviously, we are here no longer among animal tamers: a kind of man that is a hundred times milder and more reasonable is the condition for even conceiving such a plan of breeding. One heaves a sigh of relief at leaving the Christian atmosphere of disease and dungeons for this healthier, higher, and wider world. How wretched is the New Testament compared to Manu, how foul it smells!
Yet this organization too found it necessary to be terrible--this time not in the struggle with beasts, but with their counter-concept, the unbred man, the mishmash man, the chandala. And again it had no other means for keeping him from being dangerous, for making him weak, than to make him sick--it was the fight with the "great number." Perhaps there is nothing that contradicts our feeling more than these protective measures of Indian morality. The third edict, for example (Avadana-Sastra I), "on impure vegetables," ordains that the only nourishment permitted to the chandala shall be garlic and onions, seeing that the holy scripture prohibits giving them grain or fruit with grains, or water or fire. The same edict orders that the water they need may not be taken from rivers or wells, nor from ponds, but only from the approaches to swamps and from holes made by the footsteps of animals. They are also prohibited from washing their laundry and from washing themselves, since the water they are conceded as an act of grace may be used only to quench thirst. Finally, a prohibition that Sudra women may not assist chandala women in childbirth, and a prohibition that the latter may not assist each other in this condition.
The success of such sanitary police measures was inevitable: murderous epidemics, ghastly venereal diseases, and thereupon again "the law of the knife," ordaining circumcision for male children and the removal of the internal labia for female children. Manu himself says: "The chandalas are the fruit of adultery, incest, and crime (these, the necessary consequences of the concept of breeding). For clothing they shall have only rags from corpses; for dishes, broken pots; for adornment, old iron; for divine services, only evil spirits. They shall wander without rest from place to place. They are prohibited from writing from left to right, and from using the right hand in writing: the use of the right hand and of from-left-to-right is reserved for the virtuous, for the people of race."
4 These regulations are instructive enough: here we encounter for once Aryan humanity, quite pure, quite primordial--we learn that the concept of "pure blood" is the opposite of a harmless concept. On the other hand, it becomes clear in which people the hatred, the chandala hatred, against this "humaneness" has eternalized itself, where it has become religion, where it has become genius. Seen in this perspective, the Gospels represent a document of prime importance; even more, the Book of Enoch. Christianity, sprung from Jewish roots and comprehensible only as a growth on this soil, represents the counter-movement to any morality of breeding, of race, privilege: it is the anti-Aryan religion par excellence. Christianity--the revaluation of all Aryan values, the victory of chandala values, the gospel preached to the poor and base, the general revolt of all the downtrodden, the wretched, the failures, the less favored, against "race": the undying chandala hatred as the religion of love.
5 The morality of breeding, and the morality of taming, are, in the means they use, entirely worthy of each other: we may proclaim it as the supreme principle that, to make morality, one must have the unconditional will to its opposite. This is the great, the uncanny problem which I have been pursuing the longest: the psychology of the "improvers" of mankind. A small, and at bottom modest, fact--that of the so-called pia fraus [holy lie]--offered me the first approach to this problem: the pia fraus, the heirloom of all philosophers and priests who "improved" mankind. Neither Manu nor Plato nor Confucius nor the Jewish and Christian teachers have ever doubted their right to lie. They have not doubted that they had very different rights too. Expressed in a formula, one might say: all the means by which one has so far attempted to make mankind moral were through and through immoral.
WHAT THE GERMANS LACK
1 Among Germans today it is not enough to have spirit: one must arrogate it, one must have the arrogance to have spirit.
Perhaps I know the Germans, perhaps I may even tell them some truths. The new Germany represents a large quantum of fitness, both inherited and acquired by training, so that for a time it may expend its accumulated store of strength, even squander it. It is not a high culture that has thus become the master, and even less a delicate taste, a noble "beauty" of the instincts; but more virile virtues than any other country in Europe can show. Much cheerfulness and self-respect, much assurance in social relations and in the reciprocality of duties, much industriousness, much perseverance--and an inherited moderation which needs the spur rather than the brake. I add that here one still obeys without feeling that obedience humiliates. And nobody despises his opponent.
One will notice that I wish to be just to the Germans: I do not want to break faith with myself here. I must therefore also state my objections to them. One pays heavily for coming to power: power makes stupid. The Germans--once they were called the people of thinkers: do they think at all today? The Germans are now bored with the spirit, the Germans now mistrust the spirit; politics swallows up all serious concern for really spiritual matters. Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles--I fear that was the end of German philosophy.
"Are there any German philosophers? Are there German poets? Are there good German books?" they ask me abroad. I blush; but with the courage which I maintain even in desperate situations I reply: "Well, Bismarck." Would it be permissible for me to confess what books are read today? Accursed instinct of mediocrity!
2 What the German spirit might be--who has not had his melancholy ideas about that! But this people has deliberately made itself stupid, for nearly a millennium: nowhere have the two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity, been abused more dissolutely. Recently even a third has been added--one that alone would be suffficient to dispatch all fine and bold fiexibility of the spirit--music, our constipated, constipating German music.
How much disgruntled heaviness, lameness, dampness, dressing gown--how much beer there is in the German intelligence! How is it at all possible that young men who dedicate their lives to the most spiritual goals do not feel the first instinct of spirituality, the spirit's instinct of self-preservation--and drink beer? The alcoholism of young scholars is perhaps no question mark concerning their scholarliness--without spirit one can still be a great scholar--but in every other respect it remains a problem. Where would one not find the gentle degeneration which beer produces in the spirit? Once, in a case that has almost become famous, I put my finger on such a degeneration--the degeneration of our number-one German free spirit, the clever David Strauss, into the author of a beer-bench gospel and "new faith." It was not for nothing that he had made his vow to the "fair brunette" [dark beer] in verse--loyalty unto death.
3 I was speaking of the German spirit: it is becoming cruder, it is becoming shallower. Is that enough? At bottom, it is something quite different that alarms me: how German seriousness, German depth, German passion in spiritual matters are declining more and more. The verve has changed, not just the intellectuality. Here and there I come into contact with German universities: what an atmosphere prevails among their scholars, what desolate spirituality--and how contented and lukewarm it has become! It would be a profound misunderstanding if one wanted to adduce German science against me-it would also be proof that one has not read a word I have written. For seventeen years I have never tired of calling attention to the despiritualizing influence of our current science-industry. The hard helotism to which the tremendous range of the sciences condemns every scholar today is a main reason why those with a fuller, richer, profounder disposition no longer find a congenial education and congenial educators. There is nothing of which our culture suffers more than of the superabundance of pretentious jobbers and fragments of humanity; our universities are, against their will, the real hothouses for this kind of withering of the instincts of the spirit. And the whole of Europe already has some idea of this--power politics deceives nobody. Germany is considered more and more as Europe's flatland. I am still looking for a German with whom I might be able to be serious in my own way--and how much more for one with whom I might be cheerful! Twilight of the Idols: who today would comprehend from what seriousness a philosopher seeks recreation here? Our cheerfulness is what is most incomprehensible about us.
4 Even a rapid estimate shows that it is not only obvious that German culture is declining but that there is sufficient reason for that. In the end, no one can spend more than he has: that is true of an individual, it is true of a people. If one spends oneself for power, for power politics, for economics, world trade, parliamentarianism, and military interests--if one spends in the direction the quantum of understanding, seriousness, will, and self- overcoming which one represents, then it will be lacking for the other direction.
Culture and the state--one should not deceive one-self about this--are antagonists: "Kultur-Staat" is merely a modern idea. One lives off the other, one thrives at the expense of the other. All great ages of culture are ages of political decline: what is great culturally has always been unpolitical, even anti-political. Goethe's heart opened at the phenomenon of Napoleon--it closed at the "Wars of Liberation." At the same moment when Germany comes up as a great power, France gains a new importance as a cultural power. Even today much new seriousness, much new passion of the spirit, have migrated to Paris; the question of pessimism, for example, the question of Wagner, and almost all psychological and artistic questions are there weighed incomparably more delicately and thoroughly than in Germany--the Germans are altogether incapable of this kind of seriousness. In the history of European culture the rise of the "Reich" means one thing above all: a displacement of the center of gravity. It is already known everywhere: in what matters most--and that always remains culture--the Germans are no longer worthy of consideration. One asks: Can you point to even a single spirit who counts from a European point of view, as your Goethe, your Hegel, your Heinrich Heine, your Schopenhauer counted? That there is no longer a single German philosopher--about that there is no end of astonishment.
5 The entire system of higher education in Germany has lost what matters most: the end as well as the means to the end. That education, that Bildung, is itself an end--and not "the Reich"--and that educators are needed to that end, and not secondary-school teachers and university scholars--that has been forgotten. Educators are needed who have themselves been educated, superior, noble spirits, proved at every moment, proved by words and silence, representing culture which has grown ripe and sweet--not the learned louts whom secondary schools and universities today offer our youth as "higher wet nurses." Educators are lacking, not counting the most exceptional of exceptions, the very first condition of education: hence the decline of German culture. One of this rarest of exceptions is my venerable friend, Jacob Burckhardt in Basel: it is primarily to him that Basel owes its pre-eminence in humaneness.
What the "higher schools" in Germany really achieve is a brutal training, designed to prepare huge numbers of young men, with as little loss of time as possible, to become usable, abusable, in government service. "Higher education" and huge numbers--that is a contradiction to start with. All higher education belongs only to the exception: one must be privileged to have a right to so high a privilege. All great, all beautiful things can never be common property: pulchrum est paucorum hominum. What contributes to the decline of German culture? That "higher education" is no longer a privilege--the democratism of Bildung, which has become "common"--too common. Let it not be forgotten that military privileges really compel an all-too-great attendance in the higher schools, and thus their downfall.
In present-day Germany no one is any longer free to give his children a noble education: our "higher schools" are all set up for the most ambiguous mediocrity, with their teachers, curricula, and teaching aims. And everywhere an indecent haste prevails, as if something would be lost if the young man of twenty-three were not yet "finished," or if he did not yet know the answer to the "main question": which calling? A higher kind of human being, if I may say so, does not like "callings," precisely because he knows himself to be called. He has time, he takes time, he does not even think of "finishing": at thirty one is, in the sense of high culture, a beginner, a child. Our overcrowded secondary schools, our overworked, stupefied secondary-school teachers, are a scandal: for one to defend such conditions, as the professors at Heidelberg did recently, there may perhaps be causes--reasons there are none.
6 I put forward at once--lest I break with my style, which is affirmative and deals with contradiction and criticism only as a means, only involuntarily--the three tasks for which educators are required. One must learn to see, one must learn to think, one must learn to speak and write: the goal in all three is a noble culture. Learning to see--accustoming the eye to calmness, to patience, to letting things come up to it; postponing judgment, learning to go around and grasp each individual case from all sides. That is the first preliminary schooling for spirituality: not to react at once to a stimulus, but to gain control of all the inhibiting, excluding instincts. Learning to see, as I understand it, is almost what, unphilosophically speaking, is called a strong will: the essential feature is precisely not to "will"--to be able to suspend decision. All unspirituality, all vulgar commonness, depend on the inability to resist a stimulus: one must react, one follows every impulse. In many cases, such a compulsion is already pathology, decline, a symptom of exhaustion--almost everything that unphilosophical crudity designates with the word "vice" is merely this physiological inability not to react. A practical application of having learned to see: as a learner, one will have become altogether slow, mistrustful, recalcitrant. One will let strange, new things of every kind come up to oneself, inspecting them with hostile calm and withdrawing one's hand. To have all doors standing open, to lie servilely on one's stomach before every little fact, always to be prepared for the leap of putting oneself into the place of, or of plunging into, others and other things--in short, the famous modern "objectivity"--is bad taste, is ignoble par excellence.
7 Learning to think: in our schools one no longer has any idea of this. Even in the universities, even among the real scholars of philosophy, logic as a theory, as a practice, as a craft, is beginning to die out. One need only read German books: there is no longer the remotest recollection that thinking requires a technique, a teaching curriculum, a will to mastery--that thinking wants to be learned like dancing, as a kind of dancing. Who among Germans still knows from experience the delicate shudder which light feet in spiritual matters send into every muscle? The stiff clumsiness of the spiritual gesture, the bungling hand at grasping--that is German to such a degree that abroad one mistakes it for the German character as such. The German has no fingers for nuances.
That the Germans have been able to stand their philosophers at all, especially that most deformed concept-cripple of all time, the great Kant, provides not a bad notion of German grace. For one cannot subtract dancing in every form from a noble education--to be able to dance with one's feet, with concepts, with words: need I still add that one must be able to dance with the pen too--that one must learn to write? But at this point I should become completely enigmatic for German readers.
SKIRMISHES OF AN UNTIMELY MAN
1 My impossible ones. -- Seneca: or the toreador of virtue. Rousseau: or the return to nature in impuris naturalibus [in natural filth]. Schiller: or the Moral-Trumpeter of Sackingen. Dante: or the hyena who writes poetry in tombs. Kant: or cant as an intelligible character. Victor Hugo: or the pharos at the sea of nonsense. Liszt: or the school of smoothness--with women. George Sand: or lactea ubertas--in translation, the milk cow with "a beautiful style."Michelet: or the enthusiasm which takes off its coat. Carlyle: or pessimism as a poorly digested dinner. John Stuart Mill: or insulting clarity. Les freres de Goncourt: or the two Ajaxes in battle with Homer--music by Offenbach. Zola: or "the delight in stinking."
2 Renan. -- Theology: or the corruption of reason by 'original sin" (Christianity). Witness Renan who, whenever he risks a Yes or No of a more general nature scores a miss with painful regularity. He wants for example, to weld together la science and la noblesse: but la science belongs with democracy; what could be plainer? With no little ambition, he wishes to represent an aristocracy of the spirit: yet at the same time he is on his knees before its very counter-doctrine, the evangile des humbles--and not only on his knees. To what avail is all free-spiritedness, modernity, mockery, and wry-neck suppleness, if in one's guts one is still a Christian, a Catholic--in fact, a priest! Renan is most inventive, just like a Jesuit and father confessor, when it comes to seduction; his spirituality does not even lack the broad fat popish smile--like all priests, he becomes dangerous only when he loves. Nobody can equal him when it comes to adoring in a manner endangering life itself. This spirit of Renan's, a spirit which is enervated, is one more calamity for poor, sick, will-sick France.
3 Sainte Beuve. -- Nothing of virility, full of petty wrath against all virile spirits. Wanders around, cowardly, curious, bored, eavesdropping--a female at bottom, with a female's lust for revenge and a female's sensuality. As a psychologist, a genius of medisance [slander], inexhaustibly rich in means to that end; no one knows better how to mix praise with poison. Plebeian in the lowest instincts and related to the ressentiment of Rousseau: consequently, a romantic--for underneath all romantisme lie the grunting and greed of Rousseau's instinct for revenge. A revolutionary, but still pretty well harnessed by fear. Without freedom when confronted with anything strong (public opinion, the Academy, the court, even Port Royal). Embittered against everything great in men and things, against whatever believes in itself. Poet and half-female enough to sense the great as a power; always writhing like the famous worm because he always feels stepped upon. As a critic, without any standard, steadiness, and backbone, with the cosmopolitan libertine's tongue for a medley of things, but without the courage even to confess his libertinage. As a historian, without philosophy, without the power of the philosophical eye--hence declining the task of judging in all significant matters, hiding behind the mask of "objectivity." It is different with his attitude to all things in which a fine, well-worn taste is the highest tribunal: there he really has the courage to stand by himself and delight in himself--there he is a master. In some respects, a preliminary version of Baudelaire.
4 De imitatione Christi is one of those books which I cannot hold in my hand without a physiological reaction: it exudes a perfume of the Eternal-Feminine which is strictly for Frenchmen--or Wagnerians. This saint has a way of talking about love which arouses even Parisian women to curiosity. I am told that that cleverest of Jesuits, Auguste Comte, who wanted to lead his Frenchmen to Rome via the detour of science, found his inspiration in this book. I believe it: "the religion of the heart."
5 G. Eliot. -- They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English consistency; we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females a la Eliot. In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there.
We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth--it stands and falls with faith in God.
When the English actually believe that they know "intuitively" what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.
6 George Sand. -- I read the first Lettres d'un voyageur: like everything that is descended from Rousseau, false, fabricated, bellows, exaggerated. I cannot stand this motley wallpaper style any more than the mob aspiration for generous feelings. The worst feature, to be sure, is the female's coquetry with male attributes, with the manners of naughty boys. How cold she must have been throughout, this insufferable artist! She wound herself up like a clock--and wrote. Cold, like Hugo, like Balzac, like all the romantics as soon as they took up poetic invention. And how self-satisfied she may have lain there all the while, this fertile writing-cow who had in her something German in the bad sense, like Rousseau himself, her master, and who in any case was possible only during the decline of French taste! But Renan reveres her.
7 Moral for psychologists. -- Not to go in for backstairs psychology. Never to observe in order to observe! That gives a false perspective, leads to squinting and something forced and exaggerated. Experience as the wish to experience does not succeed. One must not eye oneself while having an experience; else the eye becomes "an evil eye." A born psychologist guards instinctively against seeing in order to see; the same is true of the born painter. He never works "from nature"; he leaves it to his instinct, to his camera obscura, to sift through and express the "case," "nature," that which is "experienced." He is conscious only of what is general, of the conclusion, the result: he does not know arbitrary abstractions from an individual case.
What happens when one proceeds differently? For example, if, in the manner of the Parisian novelists, one goes in for backstairs psychology and deals in gossip, wholesale and retail? Then one lies in wait for reality, as it were, and every evening one brings home a handful of curiosities. But note what finally comes of all this: a heap of splotches, a mosaic at best, but in any case something added together, something restless, a mess of screaming colors. The worst in this respect is accomplished by the Goncourts; they do not put three sentences together without really hurting the eye, the psychologist's eye.
Nature, estimated artistically, is no model. It exaggerates, it distorts, it leaves gaps. Nature is chance. To study "from nature" seems to me to be a bad sign: it betrays submission, weakness, fatalism; this lying in the dust before petit faits [little facts] is unworthy of a whole artist. To see what is--that is the mark of another kind of spirit, the anti-artistic, the factual. One must know who one is.
8 Toward a psychology of the artist. -- If there is to be art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable: frenzy. Frenzy must first have enhanced the excitability of the whole machine; else there is no art. All kinds of frenzy, however diversely conditioned, have the strength to accomplish this: above all, the frenzy of sexual excitement, this most ancient and original form of frenzy. Also the frenzy that follows all great cravings, all strong affects; the frenzy of feasts, contests, feats of daring, victory, all extreme movement; the frenzy of cruelty; the frenzy in destruction, the frenzy under certain meteorological influences, as for example the frenzy of spring; or under the influence of narcotics; and finally the frenzy of will, the frenzy of an overcharged and swollen will. What is essential in such frenzy is the feeling of increased strength and fullness. Out of this feeling one lends to things, one forces them to accept from us, one violates them--this process is called idealizing. Let us get rid of a prejudice here: idealizing does not consist, as is commonly held, in subtracting or discounting the petty and inconsequential. What is decisive is rather a tremendous drive to bring out the main features so that the others disappear in the process.
9 In this state one enriches everything out of one's own fullness: whatever one sees, whatever one wills, is seen swelled, taut, strong, overloaded with strength. A man in this state transforms things until they mirror his power--until they are reflections of his perfection. This having to transform into perfection is--art. Even everything that he is not yet, becomes for him an occasion of joy in himself; in art man enjoys himself as perfection.
It would be permissible to imagine an opposite state, a specific anti-artistry by instinct--a mode of being which would impoverish all things, making them thin and consumptive. And, as a matter of fact, history is rich in such anti-artists, in such people who are starved by life and must of necessity grab things, eat them out, and make them more meager. This is, for example, the case of the genuine Christian--of Pascal, for example: a Christian who would at the same time be an artist simply does not occur. One should not be childish and object by naming Raphael or some homeopathic Christian of the nineteenth century: Raphael said Yes, Raphael did Yes; consequently, Raphael was no Christian.
10 What is the meaning of the conceptual opposites which I have introduced into aesthetics, Apollinian and Dionysian, both conceived as kinds of frenzy? The Apollinian frenzy excites the eye above all, so that it gains the power of vision. The painter, the sculptor, the epic poet are visionaries par excellence. In the Dionysian state, on the other hand, the whole affective system is excited and enhanced: so that it discharges all its means of expression at once and drives forth simultaneously the power of representation, imitation, transfiguration, transformation, and every kind of mimicking and acting. The essential feature here remains the ease of metamorphosis, the inability not to react (similar to certain hysterical types who also, upon any suggestion, enter into any role). It is impossible for the Dionysian type not to understand any suggestion; he does not overlook any sign of an affect; he possesses the instinct of understanding and guessing in the highest degree, just as he commands the art of communication in the highest degree. He enters into any skin, into any affect: he constantly transforms himself.
Music, as we understand it today, is also a total excitement and a total discharge of the affects, but even so only the remnant of a much fuller world of expression of the affects, a mere residue of the Dionysian histrionicism. To make music possible as a separate art, a number of senses, especially the muscle sense, have been immobilized (at least relatively, for to a certain degree all rhythm still appeals to our muscles); so that man no longer bodily imitates and represents everything he feels. Nevertheless, that is really the normal Dionysian state, at least the original state. Music is the specialization of this state attained slowly at the expense of those faculties which are most closely related to it.
11 The actor, the mime, the dancer, the musician, and the lyric poet are basically related in their instincts and, at bottom, one--but gradually they have become specialized and separated from each other, even to the point of mutual opposition. The lyric poet remained united with the musician for the longest time; the actor, with the dancer.
The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollinian state: here it is the great act of will, the will that moves mountains, the frenzy of the great will which aspires to art. The most powerful human beings have always inspired architects; the architect has always been under the spell of power. His buildings are supposed to render pride visible, and the victory over gravity, the will to power. Architecture is a kind of eloquence of power in forms--now persuading, even flattering, now only commanding. The highest feeling of power and sureness finds expression in a grand style. The power which no longer needs any proof, which spurns pleasing, which does not answer lightly, which feels no witness near, which lives oblivious of all opposition to it, which reposes within itself, fatalistically, a law among laws--that speaks of itself as a grand style.
12 I have been reading the life of Thomas Carlyle, this unconscious and involuntary farce, this heroic-moralistic interpretation of dyspeptic states. Carlyle: a man of strong words and attitudes, a rhetor from need, constantly lured by the craving for a strong faith and the feeling of his incapacity for it (in this respect, a typical romantic!). The craving for a strong faith is no proof of a strong faith, but quite the contrary. If one has such a faith, then one can afford the beautiful luxury of skepticism: one is sure enough, firm enough, has ties enough for that. Carlyle drugs something in himself with the fortissimo of his veneration of men of strong faith and with his rage against the less simple-minded: he requires noise. A constant passionate dishonesty against himself-that is his proprium; in this respect he is and remains interesting. Of course, in England he is admired precisely for his honesty. Well, that is English; and in view of the fact that the English are the people of consummate cant, it is even as it should be, and not only comprehensible. At bottom, Carlyle is an English atheist who makes it a point of honor not to be one.
13 Emerson. -- Much more enlightened, more roving, more manifold, subtler than Carlyle; above all, happier. One who instinctively nourishes himself only on ambrosia, leaving behind what is indigestible in things. Compared with Carlyle, a man of taste. Carlyle, who loved him very much, nevertheless said of him: "He does not give us enough to chew on"--which may be true, but is no reflection on Emerson. Emerson has that gracious and clever cheerfulness which discourages all seriousness; he simply does not know how old he is already and how young he is still going to be; he could say of himself, quoting Lope de Vega, "Yo me sucedo a mi mismo" [I am my own heir]. His spirit always finds reasons for being satisfied and even grateful; and at times he touches on the cheerful transcendency of the worthy gentleman who returned from an amorous rendezvous, tamquiam re bene gesta [as if he had accomplished his mission]. "Ut desint vires," he said gratefully, "tamen est laudanda voluptas" [Though the power is lacking, the lust is nevertheless praiseworthy].
14 Anti-Darwin. -- As for the famous "struggle for existence," so far it seems to me to be asserted rather than proved. It occurs, but as an exception; the total appearance of life is not the extremity, not starvation, but rather riches, profusion, even absurd squandering--and where there is struggle, it is a struggle for power. One should not mistake Malthus for nature.
Assuming, however, that there is such a struggle for existence--and, indeed, it occurs--its result is unfortunately the opposite of what Darwin's school desires, and of what one might perhaps desire with them--namely, in favor of the strong, the privileged, the fortunate exceptions. The species do not grow in perfection: the weak prevail over the strong again and again, for they are the great majority--and they are also more intelligent. Darwin forgot the spirit (that is English!); the weak have more spirit. One must need spirit to acquire spirit; one loses it when one no longer needs it. Whoever has strength dispenses with the spirit ("Let it go!" they think in Germany today; "the Reich must still remain to us"). It will be noted that by "spirit" I mean care, patience, cunning, simulation, great self-control, and everything that is mimicry (the latter includes a great deal of so-called virtue).
15 Casuistry of Psychologists. -- This man knows human nature; why does he really study people? He wants to seize little advantages over them--or big ones, for that matter--he is a politician. That one over there also knows human nature, and you say that he seeks no profit for himself, that he is thoroughly "impersonal." Look more closely! Perhaps he even wants a worse advantage to feel superior to other human beings, to be able to look down on them, and no longer to mistake himself for one of them. This "impersonal" type as a despiser of human beings, while the first type is the more humane species, appearances notwithstanding. At least he places himself on the same plane, he places himself among them.
16 The psychological tact of the Germans seems very questionable to me, in view of quite a number of cases which modesty prevents me from enumerating. In one case I shall not lack a great occasion to substantiate my thesis: I bear the Germans a grudge for having made such a mistake about Kant and his "backdoor philosophy," as I call it--for that was not the type of intellectual integrity. The other thing I do not like to hear is a notorious "and": the Germans say "Goethe and Schiller"--I am afraid they say "Schiller and Goethe." Don't they know this Schiller yet? And there are even worse "ands"; with my own ears I have heard, if only among university professors, "Schopenhauer and Hartmann."
17 The most spiritual human beings, if we assume that they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but just for that reason they honor life because it pits its greatest opposition against them.
18 On the "intellectual conscience." -- Nothing seems rarer to me today than genuine hypocrisy. I greatly suspect that the soft air of our culture is insalubrious for this plant. Hypocrisy belongs in the ages of strong faith when, even though constrained to display another faith, one did not abandon one's own faith. Today one does abandon it; or, even more commonly, one adds a second faith--and in either case one remains honest. Without a doubt, a very much greater number of convictions is possible today than formerly: "possible" means permissible, which means harmless. This begets tolerance toward oneself.
Tolerance toward oneself permits several convictions and they get along with each other: they are careful, like all the rest of the world, not to compromise themselves. How does one compromise oneself today? If one is consistent. If one proceeds in a straight line. If one is not ambiguous enough to permit five conflicting interpretations. If one is genuine.
I fear greatly that modern man is simply too comfortable for some vices, so that they die out by default. All evil that is a function of a strong will--and perhaps there is no evil without strength of will--degenerates into virtue in our tepid air. The few hypocrites whom I have met imitated hypocrisy: like almost every tenth person today, they were actors.
19 Beautiful and ugly ["fair and foul"]. -- Nothing is more conditional--or, let us say, narrower--than our feeling for beauty. Whoever would think of it apart from man's joy in man would immediately lose any foothold. "Beautiful in itself" is a mere phrase, not even a concept. In the beautiful, man posits himself as the measure of perfection; in special cases he worships himself in it. A species cannot do otherwise but thus affirm itself alone. Its lowest instinct, that of self-preservation and self-expansion, still radiates in such sublimities. Man believes the world itself to be overloaded with beauty--and he forgets himself as the cause of this. He alone has presented the world with beauty--alas! only with a very human, all-too-human beauty. At bottom, man mirrors himself in things; he considers everything beautiful that reflects his own image: the judgment "beautiful" is the vanity of his species. For a little suspicion may whisper this question into the skeptic's ear: Is the world really beautified by the fact that man thinks it beautiful? He has humanized it, that is all. But nothing, absolutely nothing, guarantees that man should be the model of beauty. Who knows what he looks like in the eyes of a higher judge of beauty? Daring perhaps? Perhaps even amusing? Perhaps a little arbitrary?
"O Dionysus, divine one, why do you pull me by my ears?" Ariadne once asked her philosophic lover during one of those famous dialogues on Naxos. "I find a kind of humor in your ears, Ariadne: why are they not even longer?"
20 Nothing is beautiful, except man alone: all aesthetics rests upon this naivete, which is its first truth. Let us immediately add the second: nothing is ugly except the degenerating man--and with this the realm of aesthetic judgment is circumscribed. Physiologically, everything ugly weakens and saddens man. It reminds him of decay, danger, impotence; it actually deprives him of strength. One can measure the effect of the ugly with a dynamometer. Wherever man is depressed at all, he senses the proximity of something "ugly." His feeling of power, his will to power, his courage, his pride--all fall with the ugly and rise with the beautiful. In both cases we draw an inference: the premises for it are piled up in the greatest abundance in instinct. The ugly is understood as a sign and symptom of degeneration: whatever reminds us in the least of degeneration causes in us the judgment of "ugly." Every suggestion of exhaustion, of heaviness, of age, of weariness; every kind of lack of freedom, such as cramps, such as paralysis; and above all, the smell, the color, the form of dissolution, of decomposition--even in the ultimate attenuation into a symbol--all evoke the same reaction, the value judgment, "ugly." A hatred is aroused--but whom does man hate then? There is no doubt: the decline of his type. Here he hates out of the deepest instinct of the species; in this hatred there is a shudder, caution, depth, farsightedness--it is the deepest hatred there is. It is because of this that art is deep.
21 Schopenhauer. -- Schopenhauer, the last German worthy of consideration (who represents a European event like Goethe, like Hegel, like Heinrich Heine, and not merely a local event, a "national" one), is for a psychologist a first- rate case: namely, as a maliciously ingenious attempt to adduce in favor of a nihilistic total depreciation of life precisely the counter-instances, the great self-affirmations of the "will to life," life's forms of exuberance. He has interpreted art, heroism, genius, beauty, great sympathy, knowledge, the will to truth, and tragedy, in turn, as consequences of "negation" or of the "will's" need to negate--the greatest psychological counterfeit in all history, not counting Christianity. On closer inspection, he is at this point merely the heir of the Christian interpretation: only he knew how to approve that which Christianity had repudiated, the great cultural facts of humanity--albeit in a Christian, that is, nihilistic, manner (namely, as ways of "redemption," as anticipations of "redemption," as stimuli of the need for "redemption").
22 I take a single case. Schopenhauer speaks of beauty with a melancholy fervor. Why? Because he sees in it a bridge on which one will go farther, or develop a thirst to go farther. Beauty is for him a momentary redemption from the "will"--a lure to eternal redemption. Particularly, he praises beauty as the redeemer from "the focal point of the will," from sexuality--in beauty he sees the negation of the drive toward procreation. Queer saint! Somebody seems to be contradicting you; I fear it is nature. To what end is there any such thing as beauty in tone, color, fragrance, or rhythmic movement in nature? What is it that beauty evokes? Fortunately, a philosopher contradicts him too. No lesser authority than that of the divine Plato (so Schopenhauer himself calls him) maintains a different proposition: that all beauty incites procreation, that just this is the proprium of its effect, from the most sensual up to the most spiritual.
23 Plato goes further. He says with an innocence possible only for a Greek, not a "Christian," that there would be no Platonic philosophy at all if there were not such beautiful youths in Athens: it is only their sight that transposes the philosopher's soul into an erotic trance, leaving it no peace until it lowers the seed of all exalted things into such beautiful soil. Another queer saint! One does not trust one's ears, even if one should trust Plato. At least one guesses that they philosophized differently in Athens, especially in public. Nothing is less Greek than the conceptual web-spinning of a hermit--amor intellectualis dei [intellectual love of God] after the fashion of Spinoza. Philosophy after the fashion of Plato might rather be defined as an erotic contest, as a further development and turning inward of the ancient agonistic gymnastics and of its presuppositions. What ultimately grew out of this philosophic eroticism of Plato? A new art form of the Greek agon: dialectics. Finally, I recall--against Schopenhauer and in honor of Plato--that the whole higher culture and literature of classical France too grew on the soil of sexual interest. Everywhere in it one may look for the amatory, the senses, the sexual contest, "the woman"--one will never look in vain.
24 L'art pour l'art. -- The fight against purpose in art is always a fight against the moralizing tendency in art, against its subordination to morality. L'art pour l'art means, "The devil take morality!" But even this hostility still betrays the overpowering force of the prejudice. When the purpose of moral preaching and of improving man has been excluded from art, it still does not follow by any means that art is altogether purposeless, aimless, senseless--in short, l'art pour l'art, a worm chewing its own tail. "Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!"--that is the talk of mere passion. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations. Is this merely a "moreover"? an accident? something in which the artist's instinct had no share? Or is it not the very presupposition of the artist's ability? Does his basic instinct aim at art, or rather at the sense of art, at life? at a desirability of life? Art is the great stimulus to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l'art pour l'art?
One question remains: art also makes apparent much that is ugly, hard, and questionable in life; does it not thereby spoil life for us? And indeed there have been philosophers who attributed this sense to it: "liberation from the will" was what Schopenhauer taught as the overall end of art; and with admiration he found the great utility of tragedy in its "evoking resignation." But this, as I have already suggested, is the pessimist's perspective and "evil eye." We must appeal to the artists themselves. What does the tragic artist communicate of himself? Is it not precisely the state without fear in the face of the fearful and questionable that he is showing? This state itself is a great desideratum, whoever knows it, honors it with the greatest honors. He communicates it--must communicate it, provided he is an artist, a genius of communication. Courage and freedom of feeling before a powerful enemy, before a sublime calamity, before a problem that arouses dread--this triumphant state is what the tragic artist chooses, what he glorifies. Before tragedy, what is warlike in our soul celebrates its Saturnalia; whoever is used to suffering, whoever seeks out suffering, the heroic man praises his own being through tragedy--to him alone the tragedian presents this drink of sweetest cruelty.
25 To put up with people, to keep open house with one's heart--that is liberal, but that is merely liberal. One recognizes those hearts which are capable of noble hospitality by the many draped windows and closed shutters: they keep their best rooms empty. Why? Because they expect guests with whom one does not "put up."
26 We no longer have sufficiently high esteem for ourselves when we communicate. Our true experiences are not at all garrulous. They could not communicate themselves even if they tried: they lack the right words. We have already gone beyond whatever we have words for. In all talk there is a grain of contempt. Language, it seems, was invented only for what is average, medium, communicable. By speaking the speaker immediately vulgarizes himself. -- Out of a morality for deaf-mutes and other philosophers.
27 "This picture is enchantingly beautiful...!" The literary female: unsatisfied, excited, her heart and entrails void, ever listening, full of painful curiosity, to the imperative which whispers from the depths of her organism, aut liberi aut libri [either children or books]--the literary female: educated enough to understand the voice of nature even when it speaks Latin, and yet vain enough and goose enough to speak secretly with herself in French: 'je me verrai, je me lirai, je m'extasierai et je dirai: possible, que j'aie eu tant d'esprit?' ["I shall see myself, I shall read myself, I shall go into ecstasies, and I shall say: is it possible that I should have had so much wit?"]
28 The "impersonal" get a word in. -- "Nothing is easier for us than to be wise, patient, and superior. We drip with the oil of forgiveness and sympathy, we are absurdly just, we pardon everything. For that very reason we ought to be a little more strict with ourselves; for that very reason we ought to breed a little affect in ourselves from time to time, a little vice of an affect. It may be hard on us; and among ourselves we may even laugh at the sight we thus offer. But what can be done about it? No other way of self-overcoming is left to us any more: this is our asceticism, our penance." Developing personal traits: the virtue of the "impersonal."
29 From a doctoral examination. -- "What is the task of all higher education?" To turn men into machines. "What are the means?" Man must learn to be bored. "How is that accomplished?" By means of the concept of duty. "Who serves as the model?" The philologist: he teaches grinding. "Who is the perfect man?" The civil servant. "Which philosophy offers the highest formula for the civil servant?" Kant's: the civil servant as a thing-in-itself, raised up to be judge over the civil servant as phenomenon.
30 The right to stupidity. -- The weary laborer who breathes slowly, looks genial, and lets things go as they may--this typical figure, encountered today, in the age of labor (and of the "Reich"!), in all classes of society, claims art, no less, as his proper sphere, including books and, above all, magazines--and even more the beauties of nature, Italy. The man of the evening, with his "savage drives gone to sleep" (as Faust says), needs a summer resort, the seashore, glaciers, Bayreuths. In such ages art has a right to pure foolishness--as a kind of vacation for spirit, wit, and feeling. Wagner understood that. Pure foolishness restores.
31 Another problem of diet. -- The means by which Julius Caesar defended himself against sickliness and headaches: tremendous marches, the most frugal way of life, uninterrupted sojourn in the open air, continuous exertion--these are, in general, the universal rules of preservation and protection against the extreme vulnerability of that subtle machine, working under the highest pressure, which we call genius.
32 The immoralist speaks. -- Nothing offends the philosopher's taste more than man, insofar as man desires. If he sees man in action, even if he sees this most courageous, most cunning, most enduring animal lost in labyrinthian distress--how admirable man appears to him! He still likes him. But the philosopher despises the desiring man, also the "desirable" man--and altogether all desirabilities, all ideals of man. If a philosopher could be a nihilist, he would be one because he finds nothing behind all the ideals of man. Or not even nothing--but only what is abject, absurd, sick, cowardly, and weary, all kinds of dregs out of the emptied cup of his life. Man being so venerable in his reality, how is it that he deserves no respect insofar as he desires? Must he atone for being so capable in reality? Must he balance his activity, the strain on head and will in all his activity, by stretching his limbs in the realm of the imaginary and the absurd?
The history of his desirabilities has so far been the partie honteuse of man: one should beware of reading in it too long. What justifies man is his reality--it will eternally justify him. How much greater is the worth of the real man, compared with any merely desired, dreamed-up, foully fabricated man? with any ideal man? And it is only the ideal man who offends the philosopher's taste.
33 The natural value of egoism. -- Self-interest is worth as much as the person who has it: it can be worth a great deal, and it can be unworthy and contemptible. Every individual may be scrutinized to see whether he represents the ascending or the descending line of life. Having made that decision, one has a canon for the worth of his self-interest. If he represents the ascending line, then his worth is indeed extraordinary--and for the sake of life as a whole, which takes a step farther through him, the care for his preservation and for the creation of the best conditions for him may even be extreme. The single one, the "individual," as hitherto understood by the people and the philosophers alike, is an error after all: he is nothing by himself, no atom, no "link in the chain," nothing merely inherited from former times; he is the whole single line of humanity up to himself. If he represents the descending development, decay, chronic degeneration, and sickness (sicknesses are, in general, the consequences of decay, not its causes), then he has small worth, and the minimum of decency requires that he take away as little as possible from those who have turned out well. He is merely their parasite.
34 Christian and anarchist. -- When the anarchist, as the mouthpiece of the declining strata of society, demands with a fine indignation what is "right," "justice," and "equal rights," he is merely under the pressure of his own uncultured state, which cannot comprehend the real reason for his suffering--what it is that he is poor in: life. A causal instinct asserts itself in him: it must be somebody's fault that he is in a bad way.
Also, the "fine indignation" itself soothes him; it is a pleasure for all wretched devils to scold: it gives a slight but intoxicating sense of power. Even plaintiveness and complaining can give life a charm for the sake of which one endures it: there is a fine dose of revenge in every complaint; one charges one's own bad situation, and under certain circumstances even one's own badness, to those who are different, as if that were an injustice, a forbidden privilege. "If I am canaille, you ought to be too"--on such logic are revolutions made.
Complaining is never any good: it stems from weakness. Whether one charges one's misfortune to others or to oneself--the socialist does the former; the Christian, for example, the latter--really makes no difference. The common and, let us add, the unworthy thing is that it is supposed to be somebody's fault that one is suffering; in short, that the sufferer prescribes the honey of revenge for himself against his suffering. The objects of this need for revenge, as a need for pleasure, are mere occasions: everywhere the sufferer finds occasions for satisfying his little revenge. If he is a Christian--to repeat it once more--he finds them in himself. The Christian and the anarchist are both decadents. When the Christian condemns, slanders, and besmirches "the world," his instinct is the same as that which prompts the socialist worker to condemn, slander, and besmirch society. The "last judgment" is the sweet comfort of revenge--the revolution, which the socialist worker also awaits, but conceived as a little farther off. The "beyond"--why a beyond, if not as a means for besmirching this world?
35 Critique of the morality of decadence. -- An "altruistic" morality--a morality in which self-interest wilts away--remains a bad sign under all circumstances. This is true of individuals; it is particularly true of nations. The best is lacking when self-interest begins to be lacking. Instinctively to choose what is harmful for oneself, to feel attracted by "disinterested" motives, that is virtually the formula of decadence. "Not to seek one's own advantage"--that is merely the moral fig leaf for quite a different, namely, a physiological, state of affairs: "I no longer know how to find my own advantage." Disintegration of the instincts! Man is finished when he becomes altruistic. Instead of saying naively, "I am no longer worth anything," the moral lie in the mouth of the decadent says, "Nothing is worth anything, life is not worth anything." Such a judgment always remains very dangerous, it is contagious: throughout the morbid soil of society it soon proliferates into a tropical vegetation of concepts--now as a religion (Christianity), now as a philosophy (Schopenhauerism). Sometimes the poisonous vegetation which has grown out of such decomposition poisons life itself for millennia with its fumes.
36 Morality for physicians. -- The sick man is a parasite of society. In a certain state it is indecent to live longer. To go on vegetating in cowardly dependence on physicians and machinations, after the meaning of life, the right to life, has been lost, that ought to prompt a profound contempt in society. The physicians, in turn, would have to be the mediators of this contempt--not prescriptions, but every day a new dose of nausea with their patients. To create a new responsibility, that of the physician, for all cases in which the highest interest of life, of ascending life, demands the most inconsiderate pushing down and aside of degenerating life--for example, for the right of procreation, for the right to be born, for the right to live.
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death freely chosen, death at the right time, brightly and cheerfully accomplished amid children and witnesses: then a real farewell is still possible, as the one who is taking leave is still there; also a real estimate of what one has achieved and what one has wished, drawing the sum of one's life--all in opposition to the wretched and revolting comedy that Christianity has made of the hour of death. One should never forget that Christianity has exploited the weakness of the dying for a rape of the conscience; and the manner of death itself, for value judgments about man and the past.
Here it is important to defy all the cowardices of prejudice and to establish, above all, the real, that is, the physiological, appreciation of so-called natural death--which is in the end also "unnatural," a kind of suicide. One never perishes through anybody but oneself. But usually it is death under the most contemptible conditions, an unfree death, death not at the right time, a coward's death. From love of life, one should desire a different death: free, conscious, without accident, without ambush.
Finally, some advice for our dear pessimists and other decadents. It is not in our hands to prevent our birth; but we can correct this mistake--for in some cases it is a mistake. When one does away with oneself, one does the most estimable thing possible: one almost earns the right to live. Society--what am I saying?--life itself derives more advantage from this than from any "life" of renunciation, anemia, and other virtues: one has liberated the others from one's sight; one has liberated life from an objection. Pessimism, pur, vert, is proved only by the self-refutation of our dear pessimists: one must advance a step further in its logic and not only negate life with "will and representation," as Schopenhauer did--one must first of all negate Schopenhauer. Incidentally, however contagious pessimism is, it still does not increase the sickliness of an age, of a generation as a whole: it is an expression of this sickliness. One falls victim to it as one falls victim to cholera: one has to be morbid enough in one's whole predisposition. Pessimism itself does not create a single decadent more; I recall the statistics which show that the years in which cholera rages do not differ from other years in the total number of deaths.
37 Whether we have become more moral. -- Against my conception of "beyond good and evil"--as was to be expected--the whole ferocity of moral hebetation, mistaken for morality itself in Germany, as is well known, has gone into action: I could tell fine stories about that. Above all I was asked to consider the "undeniable superiority" of our age in moral judgment, the real progress we have made here: compared with us, a Cesare Borgia is by no means to be represented after any manner as a "higher man," a kind of overman. A Swiss editor of the Bund went so far that he "understood" the meaning of my work--not without expressing his respect for my courage and daring--to be a demand for the abolition of all decent feelings. Thank you! In reply, I take the liberty of raising the question whether we have really become more moral. That all the world believes this to be the case merely constitutes an objection.
We modern men, very tender, very easily hurt, and offering as well as receiving consideration a hundredfold, really have the conceit that this tender humanity which we represent, this attained unanimity in sympathetic regard, in readiness to help, in mutual trust, represents positive progress; and that in this respect we are far above the men of the Renaissance. But that is how every age thinks, how it must think. What is certain is that we may not place ourselves in renaissance conditions, not even by an act of thought: our nerves would not endure that reality, not to speak of our muscles. But such incapacity does not prove progress, only another, later constitution, one which is weaker, frailer, more easily hurt, and which necessarily generates a morality rich in consideration. Were we to think away our frailty and lateness, our physiological senescence, then our morality of "humanization" would immediately lose its value too (in itself, no morality has any value)--it would even arouse disdain. On the other hand, let us not doubt that we moderns, with our thickly padded humanity, which at all costs wants to avoid bumping into a stone, would have provided Cesare Borgia's contemporaries with a comedy at which they could have laughed themselves to death. Indeed, we are unwittingly funny beyond all measure with our modern "virtues."
The decrease in instincts which are hostile and arouse mistrust--and that is all our "progress" amounts to--represents but one of the consequences attending the general decrease in vitality: it requires a hundred times more trouble and caution to make so conditional and late an existence prevail. Hence each helps the other; hence everyone is to a certain extent sick, and everyone is a nurse for the sick. And that is called "virtue." Among men who still knew life differently--fuller, more squandering, more overflowing--it would have been called by another name: "cowardice" perhaps, "wretchedness," "old ladies' morality."
Our softening of manners--that is my proposition; that is, if you will, my innovation--is a consequence of decline; the hardness and terribleness of morals, conversely, can be a consequence of an excess of life. For in that case much may also be dared, much challenged, and much squandered. What was once the spice of life would be poison for us.
To be indifferent--that too is a form of strength--for that we are likewise too old, too late. Our morality of sympathy, against which I was the first to issue a warning--that which one might call l'impressionisme morale--is just another expression of that physiological overexcitability which is characteristic of everything decadent. That movement which tried to introduce itself scientifically with Schopenhauer's morality of pity--a very unfortunate attempt!--is the real movement of decadence in morality; as such, it is profoundly related to Christian morality. Strong ages, noble cultures, all consider pity, "neighbor-love," and the lack of self and self-assurance as something contemptible. Ages must be measured by their positive strength--and then that lavishly squandering and fatal age of the Renaissance appears as the last great age; and we moderns, with our anxious self-solicitude and neighbor-love, with our virtues of work, modesty, legality, and scientism--accumulating, economic, machinelike--appear as a weak age. Our virtues are conditional on, are provoked by, our weaknesses. "Equality" as a certain factual increase in similarity, which merely finds expression in the theory of "equal rights," is an essential feature of decline. The cleavage between man and man, status and status, the plurality of types, the will to be oneself, to stand out--what I call the pathos of distance, that is characteristic of every strong age. The strength to withstand tension, the width of the tensions between extremes, becomes ever smaller today; finally, the extremes themselves become blurred to the point of similarity.
All our political theories and constitutions--and the "German Reich" is by no means an exception--are consequences, necessary consequences, of decline; the unconscious effect of decadence has assumed mastery even over the ideals of some of the sciences. My objection against the whole of sociology in England and France remains that it knows from experience only the forms of social decay, and with perfect innocence accepts its own instincts of decay as the norm of sociological value-judgments. The decline of life, the decrease in the power to organize--that is, to separate, tear open clefts, subordinate and superordinate--all this has been formulated as the ideal in contemporary sociology. Our socialists are decadents, but Mr. Herbert Spencer is a decadent too: he considers the triumph of altruism desirable.
38 My conception of freedom. -- The value of a thing sometimes does not lie in that which one attains by it, but in what one pays for it--what it costs us. I shall give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. Their effects are known well enough: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make men small, cowardly, and hedonistic--every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization.
These same institutions produce quite different effects while they are still being fought for; then they really promote freedom in a powerful way. On closer inspection it is war that produces these effects, the war for liberal institutions, which, as a war, permits illiberal instincts to continue. And war educates for freedom. For what is freedom? That one has the will to assume responsibility for oneself. That one maintains the distance which separates us. That one becomes more indifferent to difficulties, hardships, privation, even to life itself. That one is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's cause, not excluding oneself. Freedom means that the manly instincts which delight in war and victory dominate over other instincts, for example, over those of "pleasure." The human being who has become free--and how much more the spirit who has become free--spits on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, females, Englishmen, and other democrats. The free man is a warrior.
How is freedom measured in individuals and peoples? According to the resistance which must be overcome, according to the exertion required, to remain on top. The highest type of free men should be sought where the highest resistance is constantly overcome: five steps from tyranny, close to the threshold of the danger of servitude. This is true psychologically if by "tyrants" are meant inexorable and fearful instincts that provoke the maximum of authority and discipline against themselves; most beautiful type: Julius Caesar. This is true politically too; one need only go through history. The peoples who had some value, attained some value, never attained it under liberal institutions: it was great danger that made something of them that merits respect. Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong. First principle: one must need to be strong--otherwise one will never become strong.
Those large hothouses for the strong--for the strongest kind of human being that has so far been known--the aristocratic commonwealths of the type of Rome or Venice, understood freedom exactly in the sense in which I understand it: as something one has or does not have, something one wants, something one conquers.
39 Critique of modernity. -- Our institutions are no good any more: on that there is universal agreement. However, it is not their fault but ours. Once we have lost all the instincts out of which institutions grow, we lose institutions altogether because we are no longer good for them. Democracy has ever been the form of decline in organizing power: in Human, All-Too-Human (I, 472) I already characterized modern democracy, together with its hybrids such as the "German Reich," as the form of decline of the state. In order that there may be institutions, there must be a kind of will, instinct, or imperative, which is anti-liberal to the point of malice: the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for centuries to come, to the solidarity of chains of generations, forward and backward ad infinitum. When this will is present, something like the imperium Romanum is founded; or like Russia, the only power today which has endurance, which can wait, which can still promise something--Russia, the concept that suggests the opposite of the wretched European nervousness and system of small states, which has entered a critical phase with the founding of the German Reich.
The whole of the West no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes its "modern spirit" so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: precisely this is called "freedom." That which makes an institution an institution is despised, hated, repudiated: one fears the danger of a new slavery the moment the word "authority" is even spoken out loud. That is how far decadence has advanced in the value-instincts of our politicians, of our political parties: instinctively they prefer what disintegrates, what hastens the end.
Witness modern marriage. All rationality has clearly vanished from modern marriage; yet that is no objection to marriage, but to modernity. The rationality of marriage--that lay in the husband's sole juridical responsibility, which gave marriage a center of gravity, while today it limps on both legs. The rationality of marriage--that lay in its indissolubility in principle, which lent it an accent that could be heard above the accident of feeling, passion, and what is merely momentary. It also lay in the family's responsibility for the choice of a spouse. With the growing indulgence of love matches, the very foundation of marriage has been eliminated, that which alone makes an institution of it. Never, absolutely never, can an institution be founded on an idiosyncrasy; one cannot, as I have said, found marriage on "love"--it can be founded on the sex drive, on the property drive (wife and child as property), on the drive to dominate, which continually organizes for itself the smallest structure of domination, the family, and which needs children and heirs to hold fast--physiologically too--to an attained measure of power, influence, and wealth, in order to prepare for long-range tasks, for a solidarity of instinct between the centuries. Marriage as an institution involves the affirmation of the largest and most enduring form of organization: when society cannot affirm itself as a whole, down to the most distant generations, then marriage has altogether no meaning. Modern marriage has lost its meaning--consequently one abolishes it.
40 The Labor question. -- The stupidity--at bottom, the degeneration of instinct, which is today the cause of all stupidities--is that there is a labor question at all. Certain things one does not question: that is the first imperative of instinct. I simply cannot see what one proposes to do with the European worker now that one has made a question of him. He is far too well off not to ask for more and more, not to ask more immodestly. In the end, he has numbers on his side. The hope is gone forever that a modest and self-sufficient kind of man, a Chinese type, might here develop as a class: and there would have been reason in that, it would almost have been a necessity. But what was done? Everything to nip in the bud even the preconditions for this: the instincts by virtue of which the worker becomes possible as a class, possible in his own eyes, have been destroyed through and through with the most irresponsible thoughtlessness. The worker was qualified for military service, granted the right to organize and to vote: is it any wonder that the worker today experiences his own existence as distressing--morally speaking, as an injustice? But what is wanted? I ask once more. If one wants an end, one must also want the means: if one wants slaves, then one is a fool if one educates them to be masters.
41 "Freedom which I do not mean." -- In times like these, abandonment to one's instincts is one calamity more. Our instincts contradict, disturb, destroy each other; I have a ready defined what is modern as physiological self-contradiction. Rationality in education would require that under iron pressure at least one of these instinct systems be paralyzed to permit another to gain in power, to become strong, to become master. Today the individual still has to be made possible by being pruned: possible here means whole. The reverse is what happens: the claim for independence, for free development, for laisser aller is pressed most hotly by the very people for whom no reins would be too strict. This is true in politics, this is true in art. But that is a symptom of decadence: our modern conception of "freedom" is one more proof of the degeneration of the instincts.
42 Where faith is needed. -- Nothing is rarer among moralists and saints than honesty. Perhaps they say the contrary, perhaps they even believe it. For when a faith is more useful, more effective, and more persuasive than conscious hypocrisy, then hypocrisy soon turns instinctively into innocence: first principle for the understanding of great saints. The philosophers are merely another kind of saint, and their whole craft is such that they admit only certain truths--namely those for the sake of which their craft is accorded public sanction--in Kantian terms, truths of practical reason. They know what they must prove; in this they are practical. They recognize each other by their agreement about "the truths." "Thou shalt not lie": in other words, beware, my dear philosopher, of telling the truth.
43 Whispered to the conservatives. -- What was not known formerly, what is known, or might be known, today: a reversion, a return in any sense or degree is simply not possible. We physiologists know that. Yet all priests and moralists have believed the opposite--they wanted to take mankind back, to screw it back, to a former measure of virtue. Morality was always a bed of Procrustes. Even the politicians have aped the preachers of virtue at this point: today too there are still parties whose dream it is that all things might walk backwards like crabs. But no one is free to be a crab. Nothing avails: one must go forward--step by step further into decadence (that is my definition of modern "progress"). One can check this development and thus dam up degeneration, gather it and make it more vehement and sudden: one can do no more.
44 My conception of genius. -- Great men, like great ages, are explosives in which a tremendous force is stored up; their precondition is always, historically and physiologically, that for a long time much has been gathered, stored up, saved up, and conserved for them--that there has been no explosion for a long time. Once the tension in the mass has become too great, then the most accidental stimulus suffices to summon into the world the "genius," the "deed," the great destiny. What does the environment matter then, or the age, or the "spirit of the age," or "public opinion"!
Take the case of Napoleon. Revolutionary France, and even more, prerevolutionary France, would have brought forth the opposite type; in fact, it did. Because Napoleon was different, the heir of a stronger, older, more ancient civilization than the one which was then perishing in France, he became the master there, he was the only master. Great men are necessary, the age in which they appear is accidental; that they almost always become masters over their age is only because they are stronger, because they are older, because for a longer time much was gathered for them. The relationship between a genius and his age is like that between strong and weak, or between old and young: the age is relatively always much younger, thinner, more immature, less assured, more childish.
That in France today they think quite differently on this subject (in Germany too, but that does not matter), that the milieu theory, which is truly a neurotic's theory, has become sacrosanct and almost scientific and has found adherents even among physiologists--that "smells bad" and arouses sad reflections. It is no different in England, but that will not grieve anybody. For the English there are only two ways of coming to terms with the genius and the "great man": either democratically in the manner of Buckle or religiously in the manner of Carlyle.
The danger that lies in great men and ages is extraordinary; exhaustion of every kind, sterility, follow in their wake. The great human being is a finale; the great age--the Renaissance, for example--is a finale. The genius, in work and deed, is necessarily a squanderer: that he squanders himself, that is his greatness! The instinct of self-preservation is suspended, as it were: the overpowering pressure of outflowing forces forbids him any such care or caution. People call this "self-sacrifice" and praise his "heroism," his indifference to his own well-being, his devotion to an idea, a great cause, a fatherland: without exception, misunderstandings. He flows out, he overflows, he uses himself up, he does not spare himself--and this is a calamitous involuntary fatality, no less than a river's flooding the land. Yet, because much is owed to such explosives, much has also been given them in return: for example, a kind of higher morality. After all, that is the way of human gratitude: it misunderstands its benefactors.
45 The criminal and what is related to him. -- The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick. He lacks the wilderness, a somehow freer and more dangerous environment and form of existence, where everything that is weapons and armor in the instinct of the strong human being has its rightful place. His virtues are ostracized by society; the most vivid drives with which he is endowed soon grow together with the depressing affects--with suspicion, fear, and dishonor. Yet this is almost the recipe for physiological degeneration. Whoever must do secretly, with long suspense, caution, and cunning, what he can do best and would like most to do, becomes anemic; and because he always harvests only danger, persecution, and calamity from his instincts, his attitude to these instincts is reversed too, and he comes to experience them fatalistically. It is society, our tame, mediocre, emasculated society, in which a natural human being, who comes from the mountains or from the adventures of the sea, necessarily degenerates into a criminal. Or almost necessarily; for there are cases in which such a man proves stronger than society: the Corsican, Napoleon, is the most famous case.
The testimony of Dostoevski is relevant to this problem--Dostoevski, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life, even more than my discovery of Stendhal. This profound human being, who was ten times right in his low estimate of the superficial Germans, lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia--hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society--and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil.
Let us generalize the case of the criminal: let us think of men so constituted that for one reason or another, they lack public approval and know that they are not felt to be beneficent or useful--that chandala feeling that one is not considered equal, but an outcast, unworthy, contaminating. All men so constituted have a subterranean hue to their thoughts and actions; everything about them becomes paler than in those whose existence is touched by daylight. Yet almost all forms of existence which we consider distinguished today once lived in this half tomblike atmosphere: the scientific character, the artist, the genius, the free spirit, the actor, the merchant, the great discoverer. As long as the priest was considered the supreme type, every valuable kind of human being was devaluated. The time will come, I promise, when the priest will be considered the lowest type, our chandala the most mendacious, the most indecent kind of human being.
I call attention to the fact that even now--under the mildest regimen of morals which has ever ruled on earth, or at least in Europe--every deviation, every long, all-too-long sojourn below, every unusual or opaque form of existence, brings one closer to that type which is perfected in the criminal. All innovators of the spirit must for a time bear the pallid and fatal mark of the chandala on their foreheads--not because they are considered that way by others, but because they themselves feel the terrible cleavage which separates them from everything that is customary or reputable. Almost every genius knows, as one stage of his development, the "Catilinarian existence"--a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything which already is, which no longer becomes. Catiline--the form of pre-existence of every Caesar.
46 Here the view is free. -- It may be nobility of the soul when a philosopher is silent, it may be love when he contradicts himself; and he who has knowledge maybe polite enough to lie. It has been said, not without delicacy: II est indigne des grand coeurs de repandre le trouble qu'ils ressentent [It is unworthy of great hearts to pour out the disturbance they feel]. But one must add that not to be afraid of the most unworthy may also be greatness of soul. A woman who loves, sacrifices her honor; a knower who "loves" may perhaps sacrifice his humanity; a God who loved became a Jew.
47 Beauty no accident. -- The beauty of a race or a family, their grace and graciousness in all gestures, is won by work: like genius, it is the end result of the accumulated work of generations. One must have made great sacrifices to good taste, one must have done much and omitted much, for its sake--seventeenth-century France is admirable in both respects--and good taste must have furnished a principle for selecting company, place, dress, sexual satisfaction; one must have preferred beauty to advantage, habit, opinion, and inertia. Supreme rule of conduct: before oneself too, one must not "let oneself go." The good things are immeasurably costly; and the law always holds that those who have them are different from those who acquire them. All that is good is inherited: whatever is not inherited is imperfect, is a mere beginning.
In Athens, in the time of Cicero (who expresses his surprise about this), the men and youths were far superior in beauty to the women. But what work and exertion in the service of beauty had the male sex there imposed on itself for centuries! For one should make no mistake about the method in this case: a breeding of feelings and thoughts alone is almost nothing (this is the great misunderstanding underlying German education, which is wholly illusory), one must first persuade the body. Strict perseverance in significant and exquisite gestures together with the obligation to live only with people who do not "let themselves go"--that is quite enough for one to become significant and exquisite, and in two or three generations all this becomes inward. It is decisive for the lot of a people and of humanity that culture should begin in the right place--not in the "soul" (as was the fateful superstition of the priests and half-priests): the right place is the body, the gesture, the diet, physiology; the rest follows from that. Therefore the Greeks remain the first cultural event in history: they knew, they did, what was needed; and Christianity, which despised the body, has been the greatest misfortune of humanity so far.
48 Progress in my sense. -- I too speak of a "return to nature," although it is really not a going back but a going up--an ascent to the high, free, even terrible nature and naturalness where great tasks are something one plays with, one may play with. To put it metaphorically: Napoleon was a piece of "return to nature," as I understand the phrase (for example, in rebus tacticis; even more, as military men know, in matters of strategy).
But Rousseau--to what did he really want to return? Rousseau, this first modern man, idealist and rabble in one person--one who needed moral "dignity" to be able to stand his own sight, sick with unbridled vanity and unbridled self-contempt. This miscarriage, couched on the threshold of modern times, also wanted a "return to nature"; to ask this once more, to what did Rousseau want to return? I still hate Rousseau in the French Revolution: it is the world-historical expression of this duality of idealist and rabble. The bloody farce which became an aspect of the Revolution, its "immorality," is of little concern to me: what I hate is its Rousseauan morality--the so-called "truths" of the Revolution through which it still works and attracts everything shallow and mediocre. The doctrine of equality! There is no more poisonous poison anywhere: for it seems to be preached by justice itself, whereas it really is the termination of justice. "Equal to the equal, unequal to the unequal"--that would be the true slogan of justice; and also its corollary: "Never make equal what is unequal." That this doctrine of equality was surrounded by such gruesome and bloody events, that has given this "modern idea" par excellence a kind of glory and fiery aura so that the Revolution as a spectacle has seduced even the noblest spirits. In the end, that is no reason for respecting it any more. I see only one man who experienced it as it must be experienced, with nausea--Goethe.
49 Goethe--not a German event, but a European one: a magnificent attempt to overcome the eighteenth century by a return to nature, by an ascent to the naturalness of the Renaissance--a kind of self-overcoming on the part of that century. He bore its strongest instincts within himself: the sensibility, the idolatry of nature, the anti-historic, the idealistic, the unreal and revolutionary (the latter being merely a form of the unreal). He sought help from history, natural science, antiquity, and also Spinoza, but, above all, from practical activity; he surrounded himself with limited horizons; he did not retire from life but put himself into the midst of it; he if was not fainthearted but took as much as possible upon himself, over himself, into himself. What he wanted was totality; he fought the mutual extraneousness of reason, senses, feeling, and will (preached with the most abhorrent scholasticism by Kant, the antipode of Goethe); he disciplined himself to wholeness, he created himself.
In the middle of an age with an unreal outlook, Goethe was a convinced realist: he said Yes to everything that was related to him in this respect--and he had no greater experience than that ens realissimum [most real being] called Napoleon. Goethe conceived a human being who would be strong, highly educated, skillful in all bodily matters, self-controlled, reverent toward himself, and who might dare to afford the whole range and wealth of being natural, being strong enough for such freedom; the man of tolerance, not from weakness but from strength, because he knows how to use to his advantage even that from which the average nature would perish; the man for whom there is no longer anything that is forbidden--unless it be weakness, whether called vice or virtue.
Such a spirit who has become free stands amid the cosmos with a joyous and trusting fatalism, in the faith that only the particular is loathesome, and that all is redeemed and affirmed in the whole--he does not negate anymore. Such a faith, however, is the highest of all possible faiths: I have baptized it with the name of Dionysus.
50 One might say that in a certain sense the nineteenth century also strove for all that which Goethe as a person had striven for: universality in understanding and in welcoming, letting everything come close to oneself, an audacious realism, a reverence for everything factual. How is it that the overall result is no Goethe, but a chaos, a nihilistic sigh, an utter bewilderment, an instinct of weariness which in practice continually drives toward a recourse to the eighteenth century? (For example, as a romanticism of feeling, as altruism and hypersentimentality, as feminism in taste, as socialism in politics.) Is not the nineteenth century, especially at its close, merely an intensified, brutalized eighteenth century, that is, a century of decadence? So that Goethe would have been--not merely for Germany, but for all of Europe--a mere interlude, a beautiful "in vain"? But one misunderstands great human beings if one views them from the miserable perspective of some public use. That one cannot put them to any use, that in itself may belong to greatness.
51 Goethe is the last German for whom I feel any reverence: he would have felt three things which I feel--we also understand each other about the "cross."
I am often asked why, after all, I write in German: nowhere am I read worse than in the Fatherland. But who knows in the end whether I even wish to be read today? To create things on which time tests its teeth in vain; in form, in substance, to strive for a little immortality--I have never yet been modest enough to demand less of myself. The aphorism, the apothegm, in which I am the first among the Germans to be a master, are the forms of "eternity"; it is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a book--what everyone else does not say in a book.
I have given mankind the most profound book it possesses, my Zarathustra; shortly I shall give it the most independent.
WHAT I OWE TO THE ANCIENTS
1 In conclusion, a word about that world to which I sought approaches, to which I have perhaps found a new approach--the ancient world. My taste, which may be the opposite of a tolerant taste, is in this case too far from saying Yes indiscriminately: it does not like to say Yes; rather even No; but best of all, nothing. That applies to whole cultures, it applies to books--also to places and landscapes. At bottom it is a very small number of ancient books that counts in my life; the most famous are not among them. My sense of style, for the epigram as a style, was awakened almost instantly when I came into contact with Sallust. I have not forgotten the surprise of my honored teacher, Corssen, when he had to give his worst Latin pupil the best grade: I had finished with one stroke. Compact, severe, with as much substance as possible, a cold sarcasm against "beautiful words" and "beautiful sentiments"--here I found myself. And even in my Zarathustra one will recognize a very serious ambition for a Roman style, for the aere perennius [more enduring than bronze] in style.
Nor was my experience any different in my first contact with Horace. To this day, no other poet has given me the same artistic delight that a Horatian ode gave me from the first. In certain languages that which has been achieved here could not even be attempted. This mosaic of words, in which every word--as sound, as place, as concept--pours out its strength right and left and over the whole, this minimum in the extent and number of the signs, and the maximum thereby attained in the energy of the signs--all that is Roman and, if one will believe me, noble par excellence. All the rest of poetry becomes, in contrast, something too popular--a mere garrulity of feelings.
2 To the Greeks I do not by any means owe similarly strong impressions; and--to come right out with it--they cannot mean as much to us as the Romans. One does not learn from the Greeks--their manner is too foreign, and too fluid, to have an imperative, a "classical" effect. Who could ever have learned to write from a Greek? Who could ever have learned it without the Romans?
For heaven's sake, do not throw Plato at me. I am a complete skeptic about Plato, and I have never been able to join in the admiration for the artist Plato which is customary among scholars. In the end, the subtlest judges of taste among the ancients themselves are here on my side. Plato, it seems to me, throws all stylistic forms together and is thus a first-rate decadent in style: his responsibility is thus comparable to that of the Cynics, who invented the satura Menippea. To be attracted by the Platonic dialogue, this horribly self-satisfied and childish kind of dialectic, one must never have read good French writers--Fontenelle, for example. Plato is boring. In the end, my mistrust of Plato goes deep: he represents such an aberration from all the basic instincts of the Hellene, is so moralistic, so pre-existently Christian--he already takes the concept "good" for the highest concept--that for the whole phenomenon of Plato I would sooner use the harsh phrase "higher swindle," or, if it sounds better, "idealism," than any other. We have paid dearly for the fact that this Athenian got his schooling from the Egyptians (or from the Jews in Egypt?). In that great calamity, Christianity, Plato represents that ambiguity and fascination, called an "ideal," which made it possible for the nobler spirits of antiquity to misunderstand themselves and to set foot on the bridge leading to the cross. And how much Plato there still is in the concept "church," in the construction, system, and practice of the church!
My recreation, my preference, my cure from all Platonism has always been Thucydides. Thucydides and, perhaps, Machiavelli's Principe are most closely related to myself by the unconditional will not to gull oneself and to see reason in reality--not in "reason," still less in "morality." For the wretched embellishment of the Greeks into an ideal, which the "classically educated" youth carries into life as a prize for his classroom drill, there is no more complete cure than Thucydides. One must follow him line by line and read no less clearly between the lines: there are few thinkers who say so much between the lines. With him the culture of the Sophists, by which I mean the culture of the realists, reaches its perfect expression--this inestimable movement amid the moralistic and idealistic swindle set loose on all sides by the Socratic schools. Greek philosophy: the decadence of the Greek instinct. Thucydides: the great sum, the last revelation of that strong, severe, hard factuality which was instinctive with the older Hellenes. In the end, it is courage in the face of reality that distinguishes a man like Thucydides from Plato: Plato is a coward before reality, consequently he flees into the ideal; Thucydides has control of himself, consequently he also maintains control of things.
3 To smell out "beautiful souls," "golden means," and other perfections in the Greeks, or to admire their calm in greatness, their ideal cast of mind, their noble simplicity--the psychologist in me protected me against such "noble simplicity," a niaiserie allemande anyway. I saw their strongest instinct, the will to power: I saw them tremble before the indomitable force of this drive--I saw how all their institutions grew out of preventive measures taken to protect each other against their inner explosives. This tremendous inward tension then discharged itself in terrible and ruthless hostility to the outside world: the city-states tore each other to pieces so that the citizens of each might find peace from themselves. One needed to be strong: danger was near, it lurked everywhere. The magnificent physical suppleness, the audacious realism and immoralism which distinguished the Hellene constituted a need, not "nature." It only resulted, it was not there from the start. And with festivals and the arts they also aimed at nothing other than to feel on top, to show themselves on top. These are means of glorifying oneself, and in certain cases, of inspiring fear of oneself.
How could one possibly judge the Greeks by their philosophers, as the Germans have done, and use the Philistine moralism of the Socratic schools as a clue to what was basically Hellenic! After all, the philosophers are the decadents of Greek culture, the counter-movement to the ancient, noble taste (to the agonistic instinct, to the polis, to the value of race, to the authority of descent). The Socratic virtues were preached because the Greeks had lost them: excitable, timid, fickle comedians, every one of them, they had a few reasons too many for having morals preached to them. Not that it did any good--but big words and attitudes suit decadents so well.
4 I was the first to take seriously, for the understanding of the older, the still rich and even overflowing Hellenic instinct, that wonderful phenomenon which bears the name of Dionysus: it is explicable only in terms of an excess of force. Whoever followed the Greeks, like that most profound student of their culture in our time, Jacob Burckhardt in Basel, knew immediately that something had been accomplished thereby; and Burckhardt added a special section on this phenomenon to his Civilization of the Greeks. To see the opposite, one should look at the almost amusing poverty of instinct among the German philologists when they approach the Dionysian. The famous Lobeck, above all, crawled into this world of mysterious states with all the venerable sureness of a worm dried up between books, and persuaded himself that it was scientific of him to be glib and childish to the point of nausea--and with the utmost erudition, Lobeck gave us to understand that all these curiosities really did not amount to anything. In fact, the priests could have told the participants in such orgies some not altogether worthless things; for example, that wine excites lust, that man can under certain circumstances live on fruit, that plants bloom in the spring and wilt in the fall. As regards the astonishing wealth of rites, symbols, and myths of an orgiastic origin, with which the ancient world is literally overrun, this gave Lobeck an opportunity to become still more ingenious. "The Greeks," he said (Aglaophamus I, 672), "when they had nothing else to do, laughed, jumped, and ran around; or, since man sometimes feels that urge too, they sat down, cried, and lamented. Others came later on and sought some reason for this spectacular behavior; and thus there originated, as explanations for these customs, countless traditions concerning feasts and myths. On the other hand, it was believed that this droll ado, which took place on the feast days after all, must also form a necessary part of the festival and therefore it was maintained as an indispensable feature of the religious service." This is contemptible prattle; a Lobeck simply cannot be taken seriously for a moment.
We have quite a different feeling when we examine the concept "Greek" which was developed by Winckelmann and Goethe, and find it incompatible with that element out of which Dionysian art grows--the orgiastic. Indeed I do not doubt that as a matter of principle Goethe excluded a thing of the sort from the possibilities of the Greek soul. Consequently Goethe did not understand the Greeks. For it is only in the Dionysian mysteries, in the psychology of the Dionysian state, that the basic fact of the Hellenic instinct finds expression--its "will to life." What was it that the Hellene guaranteed himself by means of these mysteries? Eternal life, the eternal return of life, the future promised and hallowed in the past; the triumphant Yes to life beyond all death and change; true life as the overall continuation of life through procreation, through the mysteries of sexuality. For the Greeks the sexual symbol was therefore the venerable symbol par excellence, the real profundity in the whole of ancient piety. Every single element in the act of procreation, of pregnancy, and of birth aroused the highest and most solemn feelings. In the doctrine of the mysteries, pain is pronounced holy: the pangs of the woman giving birth hallow all pain; all becoming and growing--all that guarantees a future--involves pain. That there may be the eternal joy of creating, that the will to life may eternally affirm itself, the agony of the woman giving birth must also be there eternally.
All this is meant by the word Dionysus: I know no higher symbolism than this Greek symbolism of the Dionysian festivals. Here the most profound instinct of life, that directed toward the future of life, the eternity of life, is experienced religiously--and the way to life, procreation, as the holy way. It was Christianity, with its ressentiment against life at the bottom of its heart, which first made something unclean of sexuality: it threw filth on the origin, on the presupposition of our life.
5 The psychology of the orgiastic as an overflowing feeling of life and strength, where even pain still has the effect of a stimulus, gave me the key to the concept of tragic feeling, which had been misunderstood both by Aristotle and, quite especially, by our modern pessimists. Tragedy is so far from proving anything about the pessimism of the Hellenes, in Schopenhauer's sense, that it may, on the contrary, be considered its decisive repudiation and counter-instance. Saying Yes to life even in its strangest and hardest problems, the will to life rejoicing over its own inexhaustibility even in the very sacrifice of its highest types--that is what I called Dionysian, that is what I guessed to be the bridge to the psychology of the tragic poet. Not in order to be liberated from terror and pity, not in order to purge oneself of a dangerous affect by its vehement discharge--Aristotle understood it that way--but in order to be oneself the eternal joy of becoming, beyond all terror and pity--that joy which included even joy in destroying.
And herewith I again touch that point from which I once went forth: The Birth of Tragedy was my first revaluation of all values. Herewith I again stand on the soil out of which my intention, my ability grows--I, the last disciple of the philosopher Dionysus-I, the teacher of the eternal recurrence.
THE HAMMER SPEAKS
"Why so hard?" the kitchen coal once said to the diamond. "After all, are we not close kin?"
Why so soft? O my brothers, thus I ask you: are you not after all my brothers?
Why so soft, so pliant and yielding? Why is there so much denial, self-denial, in your hearts? So little destiny in your eyes?
And if you do not want to be destinies and inexorable ones, how can you one day triumph with me?
And if your hardness does not wish to flash and cut through, how can you one day create with me?
For all creators are hard. And it must seem blessedness to you to impress your hand on millennia as on wax.
Blessedness to write on the will of millennia as on bronze--harder than bronze, nobler than bronze. Only the noblest is altogether hard.
This new tablet, O my brothers, I place over you: Become hard!
--Zarathustra, III: On Old and New Tablets, 29.