What Nietzsche Taught

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The first opinion that occurs to us when we are suddenly asked about anything is not usually our own, but only the current opinion belonging to our caste, position, or family; our own opinions seldom float on the surface. 1, 372

Nobody talks more passionately of his rights than he who, in the depths of his soul, is doubtful about them. 1, 380.

Unconsciously we seek the principles and opinions which are suited to our temperament, so that at last it seems as if these principles and opinions had formed our character and given it support and stability, whereas exactly the contrary has taken place. Our thoughts and judgments are, apparently, to be taken subsequently as the causes of our nature, but as a matter of fact our nature is the cause of our so thinking and judging. 1, 384

The man of unpleasant character, full of distrust, envious of the success of fellow-competitors and neighbours, violent and enraged at divergent opinions, shows that he belongs to an earlier grade of culture, and is, therefore, an atavism; for the way in which he behaves to people was right and suitable only for an age of club-law; he is an atavist. The man of a different character,[Pg 73] rich in sympathy, winning friends everywhere, finding all that is growing and becoming amiable, rejoicing at the honours and successes of others and claiming no privilege of solely knowing the truth, but full of a modest distrust,—he is a forerunner who presses upwards towards a higher human culture. 1, 388

He who has not passed through different phases of conviction, but sticks to the faith in whose net he was first caught, is, under all circumstances, just on account of this unchangeableness, a representative of atavistic culture.... 1, 400

Opinions evolve out of passions; indolence of intellect allows those to congeal into convictions. 1, 404

He who has attained intellectual emancipation to any extent cannot, for a long time, regard himself otherwise than as a wanderer on the face of the earth—and not even as a traveller towards a final goal, for there is no such thing. 1, 405

If we make it clear to any one that, strictly, he can never speak of truth, but only of probability and of its degrees, we generally discover, from the undisguised joy of our pupil, how greatly men prefer the uncertainty of their intellectual horizon, and how in their heart of hearts they hate truth because of its definiteness. 2, 15

With all that enthusiasts say in favour of their gospel or their master they are defending themselves, however much they comport themselves as the judges and not the accused: because they are involuntarily reminded almost at every moment that they are exceptions and have to assert their legitimacy. 2, 18

The belief in truth begins with the doubt of all truths in which one has previously believed. 2, 20

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Philosophic brains will ... be distinguished from others by their disbelief in the metaphysical significance of morality. 2, 29

You hold that sacrifice is the hallmark of moral action?—Just consider whether in every action that is done with deliberation, in the best as in the worst, there be not a sacrifice. 2, 30

It is more convenient to follow one's conscience than one's intelligence, for at every failure conscience finds an excuse and an encouragement in itself. That is why there are so many conscientious and so few intelligent people. 2, 33

All moralists are shy, because they know they are confounded with spies and traitors, so soon as their penchant is noticed. Besides, they are generally conscious of being impotent in action, for in the midst of work the motives of their activity almost withdraw their attention from the work. 2, 42

No one accuses without an underlying notion of punishment and revenge, even when he accuses his fate or himself. All complaint is accusation, all self-congratulation is praise. Whether we do one or the other, we always make some one responsible. 2, 44

We must know how to emerge cleaner from unclean conditions, and, if necessary, how to wash ourselves even with dirty water. 2, 44

The origin of morality may be traced to two ideas: "The community is of more value than the individual," and "The permanent interest is to be preferred to the temporary." The conclusion drawn is that the permanent interest of the community is unconditionally to be set above the temporary interest of the individual, especially his momentary well-being, but also his permanent[Pg 75] interest and even the prolongation of his existence. 2, 46-47

We should not shrink from treading the road to a virtue, even when we see clearly that nothing but egotism, and accordingly utility, personal comfort, fear, considerations of health, reputation, or glory, are the impelling motives. These motives are styled ignoble and selfish. Very well, but if they stimulate us to some virtue—for example, self-denial, dutifulness, order, thrift, measure, and moderation—let us listen to them, whatever their epithets may be! 2, 48

The tendency of a talent towards moral subjects, characters, motives, towards the "beautiful soul" of the work of art, is often only a glass eye put on by the artist who lacks a beautiful soul. 2, 78

Art is above all and meant to embellish life, to make us ourselves endurable and if possible agreeable in the eyes of others. With this task in view, art moderates us and holds us in restraint, creates forms of intercourse, binds over the uneducated to laws of decency, cleanliness, politeness, well-timed speech and silence. Hence art must conceal or transfigure everything that is ugly—the painful, terrible, and disgusting elements which in spite of every effort will always break out afresh in accordance with the very origin of human nature. Art has to perform this duty especially in regard to the passions and spiritual agonies and anxieties, and to cause the significant factor to shine through unavoidable or unconquerable ugliness. To this great, super-great task the so-called art proper, that of works of art, is a mere accessory. A man who feels within himself a surplus of such powers of embellishment, concealment, and transfiguration will finally seek to unburden himself of this[Pg 76] surplus in works of art. The same holds good, under special circumstances, of a whole nation. 2, 01-92

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