Ecce Homo

Page 16 of 30

[1] Nohl and Pohl were both writers on music; Kohl, however, which literally means cabbage, is a slang expression, denoting superior nonsense.—TR.

[2] Needless to say, Nietzsche distinguishes between Bismarckian Germany and that other Germany—Austria, Switzerland, and the Baltic Provinces—where the German language is also spoken.—TR.

[3] Human, all-too-Human, Part II. in this edition.—TR.

[4] Human, all-too-Human, vol. i. Aph. 37.




With this book I open my campaign against morality. Not that it is at all redolent of powder—you will find quite other and much nicer smells in it, provided that you have any keenness in your nostrils. There is nothing either of light or of heavy artillery in its composition, and if its general end be a negative one, its means are not so—means out of which the end follows like a logical conclusion, not like a cannon-shot. And if the reader takes leave of this book with a feeling of timid caution in regard to everything which has hitherto been honoured and even worshipped under the name of morality, it does not alter the fact that there is not one negative[Pg 92] word, not one attack, and not one single piece of malice in the whole work—on the contrary, it lies in the sunshine, smooth and happy, like a marine animal, basking in the sun between two rocks. For, after all, I was this marine animal: almost every sentence in the book was thought out, or rather caught, among that medley of rocks in the neighbourhood of Genoa, where I lived quite alone, and exchanged secrets with the ocean. Even to this day, when by chance I happen to turn over the leaves of this book, almost every sentence seems to me like a hook by means of which I draw something incomparable out of the depths; its whole skin quivers with delicate shudders of recollection. This book is conspicuous for no little art in gently catching things which whisk rapidly and silently away, moments which I call godlike lizards—not with the cruelty of that young Greek god who simply transfixed the poor little beast; but nevertheless with something pointed—with a pen. "There are so many dawns which have not yet shed their light"—this Indian maxim is written over the doorway of this book. Where does its author seek that new morning, that delicate red, as yet undiscovered, with which another day—ah! a whole series of days, a whole world of new days!—will begin? In the Transvaluation of all Values, in an emancipation from all moral values, in a saying of yea, and in an attitude of trust, to all that which hitherto has been forbidden, despised, and damned. This yea-saying book projects its light, its love, its tenderness, over all evil things, it restores to them their soul, their clear conscience, and their superior right and privilege to exist on earth.[Pg 93] Morality is not assailed, it simply ceases to be considered. This book closes with the word "or?"—it is the only book which closes with an "or?".


My life-task is to prepare for humanity one supreme moment in which it can come to its senses, a Great Noon in which it will turn its gaze backwards and forwards, in which it will step from under the yoke of accident and of priests, and for the first time set the question of the Why and Wherefore of humanity as a whole—this life-task naturally follows out of the conviction that mankind does not get on the right road of its own accord, that it is by no means divinely ruled, but rather that it is precisely under the cover of its most holy valuations that the instinct of negation, of corruption, and of degeneration has held such a seductive sway. The question concerning the origin of moral valuations is therefore a matter of the highest importance to me because it determines the future of mankind. The demand made upon us to believe that everything is really in the best hands, that a certain book, the Bible, gives us the definite and comforting assurance that there is a Providence that wisely rules the fate of man,—when translated back into reality amounts simply to this, namely, the will to stifle the truth which maintains the reverse of all this, which is that hitherto man has been in the worst possible hands, and that he has been governed by the physiologically botched, the men of cunning and burning revengefulness, and the so-called "saints[Pg 94]"—those slanderers of the world and traducers of humanity. The definite proof of the fact that the priest (including the priest in disguise, the philosopher) has become master, not only within a certain limited religious community, but everywhere, and that the morality of decadence, the will to nonentity, has become morality per se, is to be found in this: that altruism is now an absolute value, and egoism is regarded with hostility everywhere. He who disagrees with me on this point, I regard as infected. But all the world disagrees with me. To a physiologist a like antagonism between values admits of no doubt. If the most insignificant organ within the body neglects, however slightly, to assert with absolute certainty its self-preservative powers, its recuperative claims, and its egoism, the whole system degenerates. The physiologist insists upon the removal of degenerated parts, he denies all fellow-feeling for such parts, and has not the smallest feeling of pity for them. But the desire of the priest is precisely the degeneration of the whole of mankind; hence his preservation of that which is degenerate—this is what his dominion costs humanity. What meaning have those lying concepts, those handmaids of morality, "Soul," "Spirit," "Free will," "God," if their aim is not the physiological ruin of mankind? When earnestness is diverted from the instincts that aim at self-preservation and an increase of bodily energy, i.e. at an increase of life; when anmia is raised to an ideal and the contempt of the body is construed as "the salvation of the soul," what is all this if it is not a recipe for decadence? Loss of ballast, resistance[Pg 95] offered to natural instincts, selflessness, in fact—this is what has hitherto been known as morality. With The Dawn of Day I first engaged in a struggle against the morality of self-renunciation.



Dawn of Day is a yea-saying book, profound, but clear and kindly. The same applies once more and in the highest degree to La Gaya Scienza: in almost every sentence of this book, profundity and playfulness go gently hand in hand. A verse which expresses my gratitude for the most wonderful month of January which I have ever lived—the whole book is a gift—sufficiently reveals the abysmal depths from which "wisdom" has here become joyful.

"Thou who with cleaving fiery lances
The stream of my soul from its ice dost free,
Till with a rush and a roar it advances
To enter with glorious hoping the sea:
Brighter to see and purer ever,
Free in the bonds of thy sweet constraint,—
So it praises thy wondrous endeavour,
January, thou beauteous saint!"[1]

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