Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German
philosopher, whose critiques of contemporary culture, religion, and philosophy centered on a basic question regarding the foundation of values and morality.
See also: The Antichrist, Beyond Good and Evil, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra
; 1 Sourced
; 1.1 The Birth of Tragedy (1872)
; 1.2 On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense
; 1.3 Human, All Too Human (1878)
; 1.3.1 Helen Zimmern translation
; 1.4 Daybreak — Thoughts on the Prejudices of
; 1.5 The Gay Science (1882)
; 1.6 Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885)
; 1.6.1 not placed by chapter
; 1.7 On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)
; 1.8 Twilight of the Idols (1888)
; 1.9 The Antichrist (1888)
; 1.10 Ecce Homo (1888)
; 1.11 The Will to Power (1888)
; 2 Disputed
; 3 Quotes about Nietzsche
; 4 External links
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those
who think alike than those who think differently. ; There are no facts, only interpretations.
; Notebooks, (Summer 1886 – Fall 1887)
; Longer: Against that positivism which stops before phenomena,
saying "there are only facts," I should say: no, it is precisely facts
that do not exist, only interpretations....
; Reported in Walter Kaufmann, translator, The Portable
Nietzsche (1954), p. 458.
; In Germany there is much complaining about my "eccentricities." But since it is not known where my center is, it won't be easy to find out where or when I have thus far been "eccentric." That I was a philologist, for example,
meant that I was outside my center (which fortunately does not mean that I was a poor philologist). Likewise, I now regard my having been a Wagnerian as
eccentric. It was a highly dangerous experiment; now that I know it did not ruin
me, I also know what significance it had for me — it was the most severe test of
; Letter to Carl Fuchs (14 December 1887)
; So far no one had had enough courage and intelligence to reveal me to my
dear Germans. My problems are new, my psychological horizon frighteningly comprehensive, my language bold and clear; there may well be no books written in German which are richer in ideas and more independent than mine.
; Letter to Carl Fuchs (14 December 1887)
; I've seen proof, black on white, that Herr Dr. Förster has not yet severed his
connection with the anti-Semitic movement. ... Since then I've had difficulty coming up with any of the tenderness and protectiveness I've so long felt toward you. The separation between us is thereby decided in really the most absurd way. Have you grasped nothing of the reason why I am in the world? ... Now it has
gone so far that I have to defend myself hand and foot against people who confuse me with these anti-Semitic canaille; after my own sister, my former sister, and
after Widemann more recently have given the impetus to this most dire of all confusions. After I read the name Zarathustra in the anti-Semitic
Correspondence my forbearance came to an end. I am now in a position of emergency defense against your spouse's Party. These accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my ideal!!
; Draft for a letter to his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (December
; You have committed one of the greatest stupidities — for yourself and for me!
Your association with an anti-Semitic chief expresses a foreignness to my whole way of life which fills me again and again with ire or melancholy. ... It is a matter
of honor with me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal in relation to anti-Semitism, namely, opposed to it, as I am in my writings. I have recently been persecuted with letters and Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheets. My
disgust with this party (which would like the benefit of my name only too well!) is as pronounced as possible, but the relation to Förster, as well as the
aftereffects of my former publisher, the anti-Semitic Schmeitzner, always brings the adherents of this disagreeable party back to the idea that I must belong to them after all. ... It arouses mistrust against my character, as if publicly I condemned something which I have favored secretly — and that I am unable
to do anything against it, that the name of Zarathustra is used in every
Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheet, has almost made me sick several times.
; Objecting to his sister Elisabeth, about her marriage to the anti-semite
Bernhard Förster, in a Christmas letter (1887) in Friedrich Nietzsche's
Collected Letters, Vol. V, #479
; I have somehow something like "influence" ... In the Anti-Semitic
Zarathustra ... Correspondence ... my name is mentioned in almost every issue.
has charmed the anti-Semites; there is a special anti-Semitic interpretation of it that made me laugh very much.
; As quoted in "Idea of Anti-Semitism Filled Nietzsche With Ire and
Melancholy" in The New York Times (19 December 1987)
; Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.
; As quoted in (?： ，?：：?： ？(?，?(，， ； (?： ！：；(?(~ )； ，?：：?：? ?( ？??；(
，?；： (2004) by Marcel Danesi, p. 71 from Human All-Too-Human
; He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
; "Beyond Good and Evil", Aphorism 146 (1886)
; The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
; The Dawn, Sec. 297
; Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.
; Reported in Walter Kaufmann, translator, The Portable Nietzsche
(1954), p. 96-97.
The Birth of Tragedy (1872)
The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1873), later expanded as The
Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism (1886), Shaun Whiteside
translation, Penguin Classics (1993)
; To say it once again: today I find it an impossible book— badly written,
clumsy and embarrassing, its images frenzied and confused, sentimental, in some places saccharine-sweet to the point of effeminacy, uneven in pace, lacking in any desire for logical purity, so sure of its convictions that it is above any need for proof, and even suspicious of the propriety of proof, a book for initiates, 'music'
for those who have been baptized in the name of music and who are related from the first by their common and rare experiences of art, a shibboleth for first cousins in artibus [in the arts] an arrogant and fanatical book that wished from the start to exclude the profanum vulgus [the profane mass] of the 'educated' even more than the 'people'; but a book which, as its impact has shown and continues to show, has a strange knack of seeking out its fellow-revellers and enticing them on to new
secret paths and dancing-places.
; "Attempt at a Self-Criticism", p. 5
; How far I was then from all that resignationism!
; "Attempt at a Self-criticism", p. 10
; Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life...
; "Preface to Richard Wagner", p. 13
; Thus the man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life. It is not only pleasant and agreeable images that he experiences with such universal understanding: the serious, the gloomy, the sad and the profound, the sudden restraints, the mockeries of chance, fearful expectations, in short the whole 'divine comedy' of life, the Inferno included, passes before him, not only as a shadow-play—for he too lives and
suffers through these scenes—and yet also not without that fleeting sense of
illusion; and perhaps many, like myself, can remember calling out to themselves in encouragement, amid the perils and terrors of the dream, and with success: 'It is a dream! I want to dream on!' Just as I have often been told of people who have been able to continue one and the same dream over three and more successive nights: facts which clearly show that our innermost being, our common foundation, experiences dreams with profound pleasure and joyful necessity.
; p. 15
; In these dancers of Saint John and Saint Vitus we can recognize the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their prehistory in Asia Minor, as far back as Babylon and the orgiastic Sacaea. Some people, either through a lack of experience or through obtuseness, turn away with pity or contempt from phenomena such as these as from 'folk diseases', bolstered by a sense of their own sanity; these poor creatures have no idea how blighted and ghostly this 'sanity' of theirs sounds when the glowing life of Dionysiac revellers thunders past them.
; p. 17
; According to the old story, King Midas had long hunted wise Silenus,
Dionysus' companion, without catching him. When Silenus had finally fallen into his clutches, the king asked him what was the best and most desirable thing of all for mankind. The daemon stood still, stiff and motionless, until at last, forced by the king, he gave a shrill laugh and spoke these words: 'Miserable, ephemeral race, children of hazard and hardship, why do you force me to say what it would be much more fruitful for you not to hear? The best of all things is something entirely outside your grasp: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second-best
thing for you—is to die soon.'
; p. 22
; Underneath this reality in which we live and have our being, another and altogether different reality lies concealed...
; p. 23 [William Haussmann translation]
; Greek tragedy met her death in a different way from all the older sister arts: she died tragically by her own hand, after irresolvable conflicts, while the others died happy and peaceful at an advanced age. If a painless death, leaving behind beautiful progeny, is the sign of a happy natural state, then the endings of the other arts show us the example of just such a happy natural state: they sink slowly, and with their dying eyes they behold their fairer offspring, who lift up their heads in bold impatience. The death of Greek tragedy, on the other hand, left a great void whose effects were felt profoundly, far and wide; as once Greek sailors in Tiberius' time heard the distressing cry 'the god Pan is dead' issuing from a lonely island, now, throughout the Hellenic world, this cry resounded like an agonized lament: 'Tragedy is dead! Poetry itself died with i! Away, away with you, puny, stunted imitators! Away with you to Hades, and eat your fill of the old masters' crumbs!'
; p. 54
; This context ebnables us to understand the passionate affection in which the poets of the New Comedy held Euripides; so that we are no longer startled by the desire of Philemon, who wished to be hanged at once so that he might meet Euripides in the underworld, so long as he could be sure that the deceased was still in full possession of his senses.
; p. 55
; ...aesthetic Socratism, the chief law of which is, more or less: "to be beautiful everything must first be intelligible" — a parallel to the Socratic dictum: "only the
one who knows is virtuous."
; p. 62
; But for Socrates, tragedy did not even seem to "tell what's true", quite apart from the fact that it addresses "those without much wit", not the philosopher: another reason for giving it a wide berth. Like Plato, he numbered it among the
flattering arts which represent only the agreeable, not the useful, and therefore required that his disciples abstain most rigidly from such unphilosophical stimuli — with such success that the young tragedian, Plato, burnt his writings in order to become a pupil of Socrates.
; p. 68
; Lessing, the most honest of theoretical men, dared to say that he took greater delight in the quest for truth than in the truth itself.
; p. 73
; We cannot help but see Socrates as the turning-point, the vortex of world history. For if we imagine that the whole incalculable store of energy used in that global tendency had been used not in the service of knowledge but in ways
applied to the practical — selfish — goals of individuals and nations, universal
wars of destruction and constant migrations of peoples would have enfeebled man's instinctive zest for life to the point where, suicide having become universal, the individual would perhaps feel a vestigial duty as a son to strangle his parents, or as a friend his friend, as the Fiji islanders do: a practical pessimism that could
even produce a terrible ethic of genocide through pity, and which is, and always has been, present everywhere in the world where art has not in some form, particularly as religion and science, appeared as a remedy and means of prevention for this breath of pestilence.
; pp. 73–74
; But what changes come upon the weary desert of our culture, so darkly described, when it is touched by the magic of Dionysus! A storm seizes everything decrepit, rotten, broken, stunted; shrouds it in a whirling red cloud of dust and carries it into the air like a vulture. In vain confusion we seek for all that has vanished; for what we see has risen as if from beneath he earth into the gold light, so full and green, so luxuriantly alive, immeasurable and filled with yearning. Tragedy sits in sublime rapture amidst this abundance of life, suffering and delight, listening to a far-off, melancholy song which tells of the Mothers of Being, whose names are Delusion, Will, Woe
Yes, my friends, join me in my faith in this Dionysiac life and the rebirth of tragedy. The age of Socratic man is past: crown yourselves with ivy, grasp the thyrsus and do not be amazed if tigers and panthers lie down fawning at your feet. Now dare to be tragic men, for you will be redeemed. You shall join the Dionysiac procession from India to Greece! Gird yourselves for a hard battle, but have faith in the miracles of your god!
; p. 98
On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873)
Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn (1873)
In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar
systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge.
; Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and
mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how
aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.
; Variant translation: In some remote corner of the universe, poured
out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star
on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and
most mendacious minute of "world history" — yet only a minute. After
nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals
had to die.
One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently
how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the
human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did
not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. ; The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence. For this pride contains within itself the most flattering estimation of the value of knowing. Deception is the most general effect of such pride, but even its most particular effects contain within themselves something of the same deceitful character.
; Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself — in short, a continuous
fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity — is so much the rule and the law
among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them. They are deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images; their eyes merely glide over the surface of things and see "forms."
; Variant translation: The constant fluttering around the single flame of
vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more
incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make
its appearance among men.
; What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to
perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him — even concerning his own body — in order to
confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! She threw away the key.
; The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real. He says, for example, "I am
rich," when the proper designation for his condition would be "poor." He misuses fixed conventions by means of arbitrary substitutions or even reversals of names. If he does this in a selfish and moreover harmful manner, society will cease to trust him and will thereby exclude him. What men avoid by excluding the liar is
not so much being defrauded as it is being harmed by means of fraud. Thus, even at this stage, what they hate is basically not deception itself, but rather the unpleasant, hated consequences of certain sorts of deception. It is in a similarly restricted sense that man now wants nothing but truth: he desires the pleasant, life-preserving consequences of truth. He is indifferent toward
pure knowledge which has no consequences; toward those truths which are possibly harmful and destructive he is even hostilely inclined.
We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of
trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things
— metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.
; Are designations congruent with things? Is language the adequate expression of all realities?
It is only by means of forgetfulness that man can ever reach the point of fancying himself to possess a "truth" of the grade just indicated. If he will not be satisfied
with truth in the form of tautology, that is to say, if he will not be content with empty husks, then he will always exchange truths for illusions.
; The various languages placed side by side show that with words it is never a question of truth, never a question of adequate expression; otherwise, there would not be so many languages. The "thing in itself" (which is precisely what
the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for. This creator only designates the relations of things
to men, and for expressing these relations he lays hold of the boldest metaphors.' To begin with, a nerve stimulus is transferred into an image: first metaphor. The image, in turn, is imitated in a sound: second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one.
; We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the
Nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but
only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.
; Every word instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin; but rather, a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases — which means,
purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal. Every concept arises from the equation of unequal things. Just as it is certain
that one leaf is never totally the same as another, so it is certain that the concept "leaf" is formed by arbitrarily discarding these individual differences and by forgetting the distinguishing aspects.
; We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.
; What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.
Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors
that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. ; We still do not yet know where the drive for truth comes from. For so far we have heard only of the duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful
means to employ the usual metaphors. Thus, to express it morally, this is the
duty to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries' old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth. ; The venerability, reliability, and utility of truth is something which a person demonstrates for himself from the contrast with the liar, whom no one trusts and everyone excludes. As a "rational" being, he now places his behavior under
the control of abstractions. He will no longer tolerate being carried away by