What Nietzsche Taught

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As long as the priest represented the highest type of man, every valuable kind of man was depreciated.... The time is coming—this I guarantee—when he will pass as the lowest type, as our Chandala, as the falsest and most disreputable kind of man. 105

Everything good is an inheritance: that which is not inherited is imperfect, it is simply a beginning. 107

Christianity with its contempt of the body is the greatest mishap that has ever befallen mankind. 108

I also speak of a "return to nature," although it is not a process of going back but of going up—up into lofty, free[Pg 249] and even terrible nature and naturalness; such a nature as can play with great tasks and may play with them. 108

The doctrine of equality!... But there is no more deadly poison than this for it seems to proceed from the very lips of justice, whereas in reality it draws the curtain down on all justice.... "To equals equality, to unequals inequality"—that would be the real speech of justice and that which follows from it. "Never make unequal things equal." The fact that so much horror and blood are associated with this doctrine of equality, has lent this "modern idea" par excellence such a halo of fire and glory, that the Revolution as a drama has misled even the most noble minds. 108-109

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"The Antichrist"

"The Antichrist" ("Der Antichrist") was written in September, 1888, work evidently having been begun on it as soon as "The Twilight of the Idols" had been sent to the publisher. Its composition could not have occupied more than a few weeks at most, for the former book was not despatched until September 7, and the present work was completed before October. At this time Nietzsche was working at high pressure. He must have had some presentiment of his impending breakdown for he filled in every available minute with ardent and rapid writing. The fall of 1888 was the most prolific period of his life. No less than four books "The Twilight of the Idols," "The Antichrist," "Nietzsche contra Wagner" and "Ecce Homo"—were completed by him between the late summer and the first of the year; and in addition to this he made many notes for his future volumes and read and corrected a considerable amount of proofs. "The Antichrist," however, though completed in 1888, was not published until the end of 1894, six years after he had laid aside his work forever, and at a time when his mind was too darkened to know or care about the circumstances of its issuance. It appeared in Vol. XIII of Nietzsches Werke which, although published at the close of 1894, bore the date of the following year.

"The Antichrist" which, like "Beyond Good and[Pg 251] Evil," "The Genealogy of Morals" and "The Twilight of the Idols," forms a part of Nietzsche's final philosophic scheme, was intended—to judge from the evidence contained in his notebooks—as the first division of a work to be entitled "The Trans valuation of All Values" ("Die Umwertung Aller Werte"). In fact this title and also "The Will to Power" were considered alternately for his magnum opus which he intended writing after the completion of "The Transvaluation of All Values." He finally decided on the latter title for his great work, although he used the former caption as a subtitle. The complete outline for the volumes which were to be called "The Transvaluation of All Values" and which were to be incorporated in his final general plan, is as follows:

1. "The Antichrist. An Attempted Criticism of Christianity." ("Der Antichrist: Versuch einer Kritik des Christenthums.")

2. "The Free Spirit. A Criticism of Philosophy as a Nihilistic Movement." ("Der freie Geist: Kritik der Philosophie als einer nihilistischen Bewegung")

3. "The Immoralist. A Criticism of the Most Fatal Species of Ignorance, Morality." ("Der Immoralist: Kritik der verhngnissvollsten Art von Unwissenheit, der Moral")

4. "Dionysus, the Philosophy of Eternal Recurrence." ("Dionysus, Philosophie der ewigen Wiederkunft")

But Nietzsche did not finish this task, although "The Antichrist" is in the form in which he intended it to be published. Nevertheless, it must be considered merely as a fragment of a much more extensive plan.[Pg 252] Though Nietzsche was far from being the first, he yet was the most effective critic who ever waged war against Christianity. This was due to the fact that he went about his destructive work from an entirely new angle. Before him there had been many competent anti-Christian writers and scientists. Even during his own time there was a large and loud school of atheists at work undermining the foundations of Nazarene morality. With the methods of his predecessors and contemporaries, however, he had nothing in common. He saw that, despite the scientific denial of the miracles of Christianity and the biological opposition to the origin of Christian history, the theologian was always able to reply to the denial of Christian truth with the counter-argument of Christian practicability. Thus, while the reasoning of such men as Darwin, Huxley and Spencer held good so far as the scientific aspects of Christianity went, the results of Christianity were not involved. The church, meeting the onslaughts of the "higher criticism," denied the necessity of a literal belief in the Gospels, and asserted that, while all the anti-Christian critics might be accurate in their purely scientific and logical conclusions, Christianity itself as a workable code was still efficient and deserving of consideration as the most perfect system of conduct the world had ever known. Nietzsche therefore did not go into the field already ploughed by Voltaire, Hume, Huxley, Spencer, Paine and a host of lesser "free thinkers." The preliminary battles in the great warfare against Christianity had already been won, and he saw the futility of proceeding along historical and scientific lines. Consequently he turned his attention to a consideration of the effects of Christian morality upon the race, to an inquiry into the[Pg 253] causes of pity-morality, and to a comparison of moral codes in their relation to the needs of humanity. Whether or not the origins of Christianity conformed to biological laws did not concern him, although he assumed as his hypothesis the conclusions of the scientific investigators. The only way of determining the merits and demerits of the Christian code, he argued, was to ascertain the actual results of its application, and to compare these with the results which had accrued from the application of hardier and healthier codes. To this investigation Nietzsche devotes practically the whole of "The Antichrist," although there are a few analytical passages relating to the early dissemination of Jewish ethics. But with these passages the student need not seriously concern himself. They are speculative and non-essential.

Nietzsche's criticism of the effects of Christian virtues, however, did not begin in "The Antichrist," although this book is the final flowering of those anti-Christian ideas which cropped up continually throughout his entire work. This religious antipathy was present even in his early academic essays, and in "Human, All-Too-Human" we find him well launched upon his campaign. No book of his, with the exception of his unfinished pamphlet, "The Eternal Recurrence," is free from this criticism. But one will find all his earlier conclusions and arguments drawn together in a compact and complete whole in the present volume.

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