Ecce Homo

Page 11 of 30


The fact that the voice which speaks in my works is that of a psychologist who has not his peer, is perhaps the first conclusion at which a good reader will arrive—a reader such as I deserve, and one who reads me just as the good old philologists used to read their Horace. Those propositions about which all the world is fundamentally agreed—not to speak of fashionable philosophy, of moralists and other empty-headed and cabbage-brained people—are to me but ingenuous blunders: for instance, the belief that "altruistic" and "egoistic"; are opposites, while all the time the "ego" itself is merely a "supreme swindle," an "ideal." ... There are no such things as egoistic or altruistic actions: both concepts are psychological nonsense. Or the proposition that "man pursues happiness"; or the proposition that "happiness is the reward of virtue." ... Or the proposition that "pleasure and pain are opposites." ... Morality, the Circe of mankind, has falsified everything psychological, root and branch—it has demoralised everything, even to the terribly nonsensical point of calling love "unselfish." A man must first be firmly poised, he must stand securely on his two legs, otherwise he cannot love at all.[Pg 65] This indeed the girls know only too well: they don't care two pins about unselfish and merely objective men.... May I venture to suggest, incidentally, that I know women? This knowledge is part of my Dionysian patrimony. Who knows? maybe I am the first psychologist of the eternally feminine. Women all like me.... But that's an old story: save, of course, the abortions among them, the emancipated ones, those who lack the where-withal to have children. Thank goodness I am not willing to let myself be torn to pieces! the perfect woman tears you to pieces when she loves you: I know these amiable Mnads.... Oh! what a dangerous, creeping, subterranean little beast of prey she is! And so agreeable withal! ... A little woman, pursuing her vengeance, would force open even the iron gates of Fate itself. Woman is incalculably more wicked than man, she is also cleverer. Goodness in a woman is already a sign of degeneration. All cases of "beautiful souls" in women may be traced to a faulty physiological condition—but I go no further, lest I should become medicynical. The struggle for equal rights is even a symptom of disease; every doctor knows this. The more womanly a woman is, the more she fights tooth and nail against rights in general: the natural order of things, the eternal war between the sexes, assigns to her by far the foremost rank. Have people had ears to hear my definition of love? It is the only definition worthy of a philosopher. Love, in its means, is war; in its foundation, it is the mortal hatred of the sexes. Have you heard my reply to the question how a woman can be cured, "saved"[Pg 66] in fact?—Give her a child! A woman needs children, man is always only a means, thus spake Zarathustra. "The emancipation of women,"—this is the instinctive hatred of physiologically botched—that is to say, barren—women for those of their sisters who are well constituted: the fight against "man" is always only a means, a pretext, a piece of strategy. By trying to rise to "Woman per se," to "Higher Woman," to the "Ideal Woman," all they wish to do is to lower the general level of women's rank: and there are no more certain means to this end than university education, trousers, and the rights of voting cattle. Truth to tell, the emancipated are the anarchists in the "eternally feminine" world, the physiological mishaps, the most deep-rooted instinct of whom is revenge. A whole species of the most malicious "idealism"—which, by the bye, also manifests itself in men, in Henrik Ibsen for instance, that typical old maid—whose object is to poison the clean conscience, the natural spirit, of sexual love.... And in order to leave no doubt in your minds in regard to my opinion, which, on this matter, is as honest as it is severe, I will reveal to you one more clause out of my moral code against vice—with the word "vice" I combat every kind of! opposition to Nature, or, if you prefer fine words, idealism. The clause reads: "Preaching of chastity is a public incitement to unnatural practices. All depreciation of the sexual life, all the sullying of it by means of the concept 'impure,' is the essential crime against Life—is the essential crime against the Holy Spirit of Life."

[Pg 67]

In order to give you some idea of myself as a psychologist, let me take this curious piece of psychological analysis out of the book Beyond Good and Evil, in which it appears. I forbid, by the bye, any guessing as to whom I am describing in this passage. "The genius of the heart, as that great anchorite possesses it, the divine tempter and born Pied Piper of consciences, whose voice knows how to sink into the inmost depths of every soul, who neither utters a word nor casts a glance, in which some seductive motive or trick does not lie: a part of whose masterliness is that he understands the art of seeming—not what he is, but that which will place a fresh constraint upon his followers to press ever more closely upon him, to follow him ever more enthusiastically and whole-heartedly.... The genius of the heart, which makes all loud and self-conceited things hold their tongues and lend their ears, which polishes all rough souls and makes them taste a new longing—to lie placid as a mirror, that the deep heavens may be reflected in them.... The genius of the heart which teaches the clumsy and too hasty hand to hesitate and grasp more tenderly; which scents the hidden and forgotten treasure, the pearl of goodness and sweet spirituality, beneath thick black ice, and is a divining rod for every grain of gold, long buried and imprisoned in heaps of mud and sand.... The genius of the heart, from contact with which every man goes away richer, not 'blessed' and overcome, not as though favoured and crushed by the good things of others;[Pg 68] but richer in himself, fresher to himself than before, opened up, breathed upon and sounded by a thawing wind; more uncertain, perhaps, more delicate, more fragile, more bruised; but full of hopes which as yet lack names, full of a new will and striving, full of a new unwillingness and counter-striving." ...

[1] Junker-Philosophie. The landed proprietors constitute the dominating class in Prussia, and it is from this class that all officers and higher officials are drawn. The Kreuz-Zeitung is the organ of the Junker party.—TR.



In order to be fair to the Birth of Tragedy (1872) it is necessary to forget a few things. It created a sensation and even fascinated by means of its mistakes—by means of its application to Wagnerism, as if the latter were the sign of an ascending tendency. On that account alone, this treatise was an event in Wagner's life: thenceforward great hopes surrounded the name of Wagner. Even to this day, people remind me, sometimes in the middle of Parsifal, that it rests on my conscience if the opinion, that this movement is of great value to culture, at length became prevalent I have often seen the book quoted as "The Second Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music": people had ears only for new formul for Wagner's art, his object and his mission—and in this way the real hidden value of the book was overlooked. "Hellenism and Pessimism"—this would have been a less equivocal title, seeing that the book contains the first attempt at showing how the Greeks succeeded in disposing: of pessimism—in what manner they overcame it.[Pg 69] ... Tragedy itself is the proof of the fact that the Greeks were not pessimists: Schopenhauer blundered here as he blundered in everything else.—Regarded impartially, The Birth of Tragedy is a book quite strange to its age: no one would dream that it was begun in the thunder of the battle of Wrth. I thought out these problems on cold September nights beneath the walls of Metz, in the midst of my duties as nurse to the wounded; it would be easier to think that it was written fifty years earlier. Its attitude towards politics is one of indifference,—"un-German,"[1] as people would say to-day,—it smells offensively of Hegel; only in one or two formul is it infected with the bitter odour of corpses which is peculiar to Schopenhauer. An idea—the antagonism of the two concepts Dionysian and Apollonian—is translated into metaphysics; history itself is depicted as the development of this idea; in tragedy this antithesis has become unity; from this standpoint things which theretofore had never been face to face are suddenly confronted, and understood and illuminated by each other.... Opera and revolution, for instance.... The two decisive innovations in the book are, first, the comprehension of the Dionysian phenomenon among the Greeks—it provides the first psychological analysis of this phenomenon, and sees in it the single root of all Greek art; and, secondly, the comprehension of[Pg 70] Socraticism—Socrates being presented for the first time as the instrument of Greek dissolution, as a typical decadent. "Reason" versus Instinct. "Reason" at any cost, as a dangerous, life-undermining force. The whole book is profoundly and politely silent concerning Christianity: the latter is neither Apollonian nor Dionysian; it denies all sthetic values, which are the only values that The Birth of Tragedy recognises. Christianity is most profoundly nihilistic, whereas in the Dionysian symbol, the most extreme limits of a yea-saying attitude to life are attained. In one part of the book the Christian priesthood is referred to as a "perfidious order of goblins," as "subterraneans."

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