The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist

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Buddhism, I repeat, is a hundred times colder, more truthful, more objective. It no longer requires[Pg 152] to justify pain and its susceptibility to suffering by the interpretation of sin,—it simply says what it thinks, "I suffer." To the barbarian, on the other hand, suffering in itself is not a respectable thing: in order to acknowledge to himself that he suffers, what he requires, in the first place, is an explanation (his instinct directs him more readily to deny his suffering, or to endure it in silence). In his case, the word "devil" was a blessing: man had an almighty and terrible enemy,—he had no reason to be ashamed of suffering at the hands of such an enemy.—

At bottom there are in Christianity one or two subtleties which belong to the Orient In the first place it knows that it is a matter of indifference whether a thing be true or not; but that it is of the highest importance that it should be believed to be true. Truth and the belief that something is true: two totally separate worlds of interest, almost opposite worlds, the road to the one and the road to the other lie absolutely apart To be initiated into this fact almost constitutes one a sage in the Orient: the Brahmins understood it thus, so did Plato, and so does every disciple of esoteric wisdom. If for example it give anyone pleasure to believe himself delivered from sin, it is not a necessary prerequisite thereto that he should be sinful, but only that he should feel sinful. If, however, faith is above all necessary, then reason, knowledge, and scientific research must be brought into evil repute: the road to truth becomes the forbidden road.—Strong hope is a much greater stimulant of life than any single realised joy could be. Sufferers must be sustained[Pg 153] by a hope which no actuality can contradict,—and which cannot ever be realised: the hope of another world. (Precisely on account of this power that hope has of making the unhappy linger on, the Greeks regarded it as the evil of evils, as the most mischievous evil: it remained behind in Pandora's box.) In order that love may be possible, God must be a person. In order that the lowest instincts may also make their voices heard God must be young. For the ardour of the women a beautiful saint, and for the ardour of the men a Virgin Mary has to be pressed into the foreground. All this on condition that Christianity wishes to rule over a certain soil, on which Aphrodisiac or Adonis cults had already determined the notion of a cult. To insist upon chastity only intensifies the vehemence and profundity of the religious instinct—it makes the cult warmer, more enthusiastic, more soulful.—Love is the state in which man sees things most widely different from what they are. The force of illusion reaches its zenith here, as likewise the sweetening and transfiguring power. When a man is in love he endures more than at other times; he submits to everything. The thing was to discover a religion in which it was possible to love: by this means the worst in life is overcome—it is no longer even seen.—So much for three Christian virtues Faith, Hope, and Charity: I call them the three Christian precautionary measures.—Buddhism is too full of aged wisdom, too positivistic to be shrewd in this way.


Here I only touch upon the problem of the origin[Pg 154] of Christianity. The first principle of its solution reads: Christianity can be understood only in relation to the soil out of which it grew,—it is not a counter-movement against the Jewish instinct, it is the rational outcome of the latter, one step further in its appalling logic. In the formula of the Saviour: "for Salvation is of the Jews."—The second principle is: the psychological type of the Galilean is still recognisable, but it was only in a state of utter degeneration (which is at once a distortion and an overloading with foreign features) that he was able to serve the purpose for which he has been used,—namely, as the type of a Redeemer of mankind.

The Jews are the most remarkable people in the history of the world, because when they were confronted with the question of Being or non-Being, with simply uncanny deliberateness, they preferred Being at any price: this price was the fundamental falsification of all Nature, all the naturalness and all the reality, of the inner quite as much as of the outer world. They hedged themselves in behind all those conditions under which hitherto a people has been able to live, has been allowed to live; of themselves they created an idea which was the reverse of natural conditions,—each in turn, they twisted first religion, then the cult, then morality, history and psychology, about in a manner so perfectly hopeless that they were made to contradict their natural value. We meet with the same phenomena again, and exaggerated to an incalculable degree, although only as a copy:—the Christian Church as compared with the "chosen people," lacks all claim to originality. Precisely on this account the Jews are the most fatal[Pg 155] people in the history of the world: their ultimate influence has falsified mankind to such an extent, that even to this day the Christian can be anti-Semitic in spirit, without comprehending that he himself is the final consequence of Judaism.

It was in my "Genealogy of Morals" that I first gave a psychological exposition of the idea of the antithesis noble and resentment-morality, the latter having arisen out of an attitude of negation to the former: but this is Judo-Christian morality heart and soul. In order to be able to say Nay to everything that represents the ascending movement of life, prosperity, power, beauty, and self-affirmation on earth, the instinct of resentment, become genius, bad to invent another world, from the standpoint of which that Yea-saying to life appeared as the most evil and most abominable thing. From the psychological standpoint the Jewish people are possessed of the toughest vitality. Transplanted amid impossible conditions, with profound self-preservative intelligence, it voluntarily took the side of all the instincts of decadence,—not as though dominated by them, but because it detected a power in them by means of which it could assert itself against "the world." The Jews are the opposite of all decadents: they have been forced to represent them to the point of illusion, and with a non plus ultra of histrionic genius, they have known how to set themselves at the head of all decadent movements (St Paul and Christianity for instance), in order to create something from them which is stronger than every party saying Yea to life. For the category of men which aspires to power in Judaism and Christianity,[Pg 156]—that is to say, for the sacerdotal class, decadence is but a means; this category of men has a vital interest in making men sick, and in turning the notions "good" and "bad," "true" and "false," upside down in a manner which is not only dangerous to life, but also slanders it.


The history of Israel is invaluable as the typical history of every denaturalization of natural values: let me point to five facts which relate thereto. Originally, and above all in the period of the kings, even Israel's attitude to all things was the right one —that is to say, the natural one. Its Jehovah was the expression of its consciousness of power, of its joy over itself, of its hope for itself: victory and salvation were expected from him, through him it was confident that Nature would give what a people requires—above all rain. Jehovah is the God of Israel, and consequently the God of justice: this is the reasoning of every people which is in the position of power, and which has a good conscience in that position. In the solemn cult both sides of this self-affirmation of a people find expression: it is grateful for the great strokes of fate by means of which it became uppermost; it is grateful for the regularity in the succession of the seasons and for all good fortune in the rearing of cattle and in the tilling of the soil.—This state of affairs remained the ideal for some considerable time, even after it had been swept away in a deplorable manner by anarchy from within and the Assyrians from without But the people still retained, as their highest desideratum, that vision[Pg 157] of a king who was a good soldier and a severe judge; and he who retained it most of all was that typical prophet (—that is to say, critic and satirist of the age), Isaiah.—But all hopes remained unrealised. The old God was no longer able to do what he had done formerly. He ought to have been dropped. What happened? The idea of him was changed,—the idea of him was denaturalised: this was the price they paid for retaining him.—Jehovah, the God of "Justice,"—is no longer one with Israel, no longer the expression of a people's sense of dignity: he is only a god on certain conditions.... The idea of him becomes a weapon in the hands of priestly agitators who henceforth interpret all happiness as a reward, all unhappiness as a punishment for disobedience to God, for "sin": that most fraudulent method of interpretation which arrives at a so-called "moral order of the Universe," by means of which the concept "cause" and "effect" is turned upside down. Once natural causation has been swept out of the world by reward and punishment, a causation hostile to nature becomes necessary; whereupon all the forms of unnaturalness follow. A God who demands,—in the place of a God who helps, who advises, who is at bottom only a name for every happy inspiration of courage and of self-reliance.... Morality is no longer the expression of the conditions of life and growth, no longer the most fundamental instinct of life, but it has become abstract, it has become the opposite of life,—Morality as the fundamental perversion of the imagination, as the "evil eye" for all things. What is Jewish morality, what is Christian morality? Chance robbed of its innocence; unhappiness[Pg 158] polluted with the idea of "sin"; well-being interpreted as a danger, as a "temptation"; physiological indisposition poisoned by means of the canker-worm of conscience....

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