What Nietzsche Taught

Page 69 of 74


For hundreds of years, pleasure and pain have been represented as the motives for every action. Upon reflection, however, we are bound to concede that everything would have proceeded in exactly the same way, according to precisely the same sequence of cause and effect, if the states "pleasure" and "pain" had been entirely absent. 8-9

The measure of the desire for knowledge depends upon the extent to which the Will to Power grows in a certain species: a species gets a grasp of a given amount of reality, in order to master it, in order to enlist that amount in its service. 12

It is our needs that interpret the world; our instincts and their impulses for and against. Every instinct is a sort of thirst for power.... 13

That a belief, however useful it may be for the preservation of a species, has nothing to do with the truth, may be seen from the fact that we must believe in time, space, and motion, without feeling ourselves compelled to regard them as absolute realities. 16

Truth is that hind of error without which a certain species of living being cannot exist. 20

In the formation of reason, logic, and the categories, it was a need in us that was the determining power: not the need "to know," but to classify, to schematise, for the purpose of intelligibility and calculation. 29

Logic is the attempt on our part to understand the[Pg 311] actual world according to a scheme of Being devised by ourselves; or, more exactly, it is our attempt at making the actual world more calculable and more susceptible to formulation, for our own purposes.... 33

"Truth" is the will to be master over the manifold sensations that reach consciousness; it is the will to classify phenomena according to definite categories. In this way we start out with a belief in the "true nature" of things (we regard phenomena as real).

The character of the world in the process of Becoming is not susceptible of formulation; it is "false" and "contradicts itself." Knowledge and the process of evolution exclude each other. Consequently, knowledge must be something else; it must be preceded by a will to make things knowable, a kind of Becoming in itself must create the impression of Being. 33-34

The chief error of psychologists: they regard the indistinct idea as of a lower kind than the distinct; but that which keeps at a distance from our consciousness and which is therefore obscure, may on that very account be quite clear in itself. The fact that a thing becomes obscure is a question of the perspective of consciousness. 42

The criterion of truth lies in the enhancement of the feeling of power. 49

Logic was intended to be a method of facilitating thought: a means of expression,—not truth.... Later on it got to act like truth.... 50

In a world which was essentially false, truthfulness would be an anti-natural tendency: its only purpose would be to provide a means of attaining to a higher degree of falsity. 51

We have absolutely no experience concerning cause; viewed psychologically we derive the whole concept[Pg 312] from the subjective conviction, that we ourselves are causes. 55

"Truth" is not something which is present and which has to be found and discovered; it is something which has to be created and which gives its name to a process, or, better still, to the Will to overpower, which in itself has no purpose.... 60

The absolute is even an absurd concept: an "absolute mode of existence" is nonsense, the concept "being," "thing," is always relative to us.

The trouble is that, owing to the old antithesis "apparent" and "real," the correlative valuations "little value" and "absolute value" have been spread abroad. 83

Man seeks "the truth": a world that does not contradict itself, that does not deceive, that does not change, a real world—a world in which there is no suffering: contradiction, deception, variability—the causes of suffering. He does not doubt that there is such a thing as a world as it ought to be; he would fain find a road to it.... Obviously, the will to truth is merely the longing for a stable world.

The senses deceive; reason corrects the errors: therefore, it was concluded, reason is the road to a static state; the most spiritual ideas must be nearest to the "real world." 88

The degree of a man's will-power may be measured from the extent to which he can dispense with the meaning in things, from the extent to which he is able to endure a world without meaning: because he himself arranges a small portion of it. 90

There is no such thing as an established fact, everything fluctuates, everything is intangible, yielding; after all, the most lasting of all things are our opinions. 103

[Pg 313]

That the worth of the world lies in our interpretations (that perhaps yet other interpretations are possible somewhere, besides mankind's); that the interpretations made hitherto were perspective valuations, by means of which we were able to survive in life, i. e. in the Will to Power and in the growth of power; that every elevation of man involves the overcoming of narrower interpretations; that every higher degree of strength or power attained, brings new views in its train, and teaches a belief in new horizons—these doctrines lie scattered through all my works. 107

The triumphant concept "energy" with which our physicists created God and the world, needs yet to be completer: it must be given an inner will which I characterise as the "Will to Power"—that is to say, as an insatiable desire to manifest power; or the application and exercise of power as a creative instinct, etc.... 110

The unalterable sequence of certain phenomena does not prove any "law," but a relation of power between two or more forces. 115

A quantum of power is characterised by the effect it produces and the influence it resists. The adiaphoric state which would be thinkable in itself, is entirely lacking. It is essentially a will to violence and a will to defend one's self against violence. It is not self-preservation: every atom exercises its influence over the whole of existence—it is thought out of existence if one thinks this radiation of will-power away. That is why I call it a quantum of "Will to Power." ... 117-118

My idea is that every specific body strives to become master of all space, and to extend its power (its will to power), and to thrust back everything that resists it. But inasmuch as it is continually meeting the same[Pg 314] endeavours on the part of other bodies, it concludes by coming to terms with those (by "combining" with those) which are sufficiently related to it—and thus they conspire together for power. And the process continues. 121

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