What Nietzsche Taught

Page 10 of 74

"Human, All-Too-Human" is the first work of Nietzsche one should read. In reality it is an elaborate introduction to his later works. In his following book, "The Dawn of Day," comes the birth of his philosophy; it is the first real battle in his righteous warfare, the first great blasphemous assault upon the accepted order of things. But it cannot be readily understood or appreciated unless we have prepared ourselves for it.

The selection of the passages from the present two volumes has been extremely difficult, due to their multiplicity of themes and to the heterogeneity of their treatment. It is impossible to create a convincing effect of a razed forest by presenting a picture of an occasional[Pg 55] fallen tree. Herein has lain my chief difficulty. I have been able to show only sections of the destruction of human values which Nietzsche here accomplishes. Furthermore, it has been impossible to give any very adequate idea of the vast amount of brilliant criticism of men and art which is to be encountered in these two volumes. All this must be got direct. It has been possible only to suggest it here. Those portions of the books which I have been able to comprehend in these excerpts are necessarily limited to Nietzsche's more important destructive conclusions.

[1] "Inopportune Speculations."


Everything essential in human development happened in pre-historic times, long before those four thousand years which we know something of.... 1, 15

Everything has evolved; there are no eternal facts, as there are likewise no absolute truths. 1, 15

It is probable that the objects of religious, moral, sthetic and logical sentiment likewise belong only to the surface of things, while man willingly believes that here, at least, he has touched the heart of the world.... 1, 17

Nothing could be said of the metaphysical world but that it would be a different condition, a condition inaccessible and incomprehensible to us; it would be a thing of negative qualities. Were the existence of such a world ever so well proved, the fact would nevertheless remain that it would be precisely the most irrelevant of all forms of knowledge.... 1, 21-22

Belief in the freedom of the will is an original error of everything organic, as old as the existence of the awakenings of logic in it; the belief in unconditioned[Pg 56] substances and similar things is equally a primordial as well as an old error of everything organic. 1, 33

A degree of culture, and assuredly a very high one, is attained when man rises above superstitious and religious notions and fears, and, for instance, no longer believes in guardian angels or in original sin, and has also ceased to talk of the salvation of his soul,—if he has attained to this degree of freedom, he has still also to overcome metaphysics with the greatest exertion of his intelligence. 1, 35

Away with those wearisomely hackneyed terms Optimism and Pessimism!... We must get rid of both the calumniating and the glorifying conception of the world. 1, 43-44

Error has made man so deep, sensitive, and inventive that he has put forth such blossoms as religions and arts. Pure knowledge could not have been capable of it. 1, 44-45

The usual false conclusions of mankind are these: a thing exists, therefore it has a right to exist. Here there is inference from the ability to live to its suitability; from its suitability to its rightfulness. Then: an opinion brings happiness; therefore it is the true opinion. Its effect is good; therefore it is itself good and true. 1, 45

Every belief in the value and worthiness of life is based on vitiated thought; it is only possible through the fact that sympathy for the general life and suffering of mankind is very weakly developed in the individual. 1, 47-48

Science ... has no consideration for ultimate purposes, any more than Nature has, but just as the latter occasionally achieves things of the greatest suitableness without intending to do so, so also true science, as the imitator of nature in ideas, will occasionally and in many ways further the usefulness and welfare of man,—but also without intending to do so. 1, 58

[Pg 57]

All single actions are called good or bad without any regard to their motives, but only on account of the useful or injurious consequences which result for the community. But soon the origin of these distinctions is forgotten, and it is deemed that the qualities "good" or "bad" are contained in the action itself without regard to its consequences.... 1, 59

The hierarchy of possessions ... is not fixed and equal at all times; if any one prefers vengeance to justice he is moral according to the standard of an earlier civilisation, but immoral according to the present one. 1, 63

People who are cruel nowadays must be accounted for by us as the grades of earlier civilisations which have survived.... 1, 63

Certainly we should exhibit pity, but take good care not to feel it, for the unfortunate are so stupid that to them the exhibition of pity is the greatest good in the world. 1, 68

The thirst for pity is the thirst for self-gratification.... 1, 69

There must be self-deception in order that this and that may produce great effects. For men believe in the truth of everything that is visibly, strongly believed in. 1, 71

One of the commonest mistakes is this: because some one is truthful and honest towards us, he must speak the truth. 1, 71

Why do people mostly speak the truth in daily life?... Because ... the path of compulsion and authority is surer than that of cunning. 1,72

One may promise actions, but no sentiments, for these are involuntary. 1, 76

Our crime against criminals lies in the fact that we treat them like rascals. 1,79

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