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Category: Friedrich Nietzsche

One and the same

“The God of Plato and Aristotle, of Plotinus and Augustine, of Aquinas and Bonaventure, of Newman and C. S. Lewis; the eternal immutable, infinite, ubiquitous, omnipotent, omniscient Supreme Being, Unmoved Mover, ens realissimum, whose existence is identical with His essence and who is without body, parts, or passions, is one of the sublimest achievements of the human imagination. He, not Yahweh, is the deepest mystery, for metaphysics (as His reluctant admire Nietzsche pointed out) is the subtlest psychology, the supreme fiction.” – George Scialabba, “God: A Biography”

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Tree falling in the forest, variation ∞

”No one can extract from things, books included, more than he already knows.  What one has no access to through experience one has no ear for.  Now let us imagine an extreme case: that a book speaks of nothing but events which lie outside the possibility of general or even of rare experience—that it is the first language for a new range of experiences.  In this case simply nothing will be heard, with the acoustical illusion that where nothing is heard there is nothing,” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)


Still doing what they can

“Christianity robbed us of the harvest of the culture of the ancient world, it later went on to rob us of the harvest of the culture of Islam.  The wonderful Moorish cultural world of Spain, more closely related to us at bottom, speaking more directly to our senses and taste, than Greece and Rome, was trampled down (—I do not say by what kind of feet—): why? because it was noble, because it owed its origin to manly instincts, because it said Yes to life even in the rare and exquisite treasures of Moorish life!…  Later on, the Crusaders fought against something they would have done better to lie down in the dust before—a culture compared with which even our nineteenth century may well think itself very impoverished and very ‘late.’—They wanted booty, to be sure: the Orient was rich….  But let us not be prejudiced!  The Crusades—higher piracy, that is all!  German knighthood, Viking Knighthood at bottom, was there in its element: the Church knew only too well what German knighthood can be had for….  The German knights, always the ‘Switzers’ of the Church, always in the service of all the bad instincts of the Church—but well paid….  That it is precisely with the aid of German swords, German blood and courage, that the Church has carried on its deadly war against everything noble on earth!  A host of painful questions arises at this point.  The German aristocracy is virtually missing in the history of higher culture: one can guess the reason….  Christianity, alcohol—the two great means of corruption.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (trans. Hollingdale; emphases and ellipses in original)

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They bruise easily

“A right is a privilege.  The privilege of each is determined by the nature of his being.  Let us not underestimate the privileges of the mediocre.  Life becomes harder and harder as it approaches the heights—the coldness increases, the responsibility increases.  A high culture is a pyramid: it can stand only on a broad base, its very first prerequisite is a strongly and soundly consolidated mediocrity.  The crafts, trade, agriculture, science, the greater part of art, in a word the entire compass of professional activity, are in no way compatible with anything other than mediocrity in ability and desires; these things would be out of place among the élite, the instinct pertaining to them is as much opposed to aristocracy as it is to anarchy.  To be a public utility, a cog, a function, is a natural vocation, it is not society, it is a kind of happiness of which the great majority are alone capable, which makes intelligent machines of them.  For the mediocre it is happiness to be mediocre; mastery in one thing, specialization, is for them a natural instinct.  It would be quite unworthy of a more profound mind to see an objection in mediocrity as such.  It is even the prime requirement for the existence of exceptions; a high culture is conditional upon it.  When an exceptional human being handles the mediocre more gently than he does himself or his equals, this is not merely politeness of the heart—it is simply his duty.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (trans. Hollingdale; emphases in original)

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Don’t touch that!

“The old God, all ‘spirit,’ all high priest, all perfection, promenades in his garden: but he is bored.  Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain.  What does he do?  He invents man—man is entertaining….  But behold, man too is bored.  God’s sympathy with the only kind of distress found in every Paradise knows no bounds: he forthwith creates other animals.  God’s first blunder: man did not find the animals entertaining—he dominated them, he did not even want to be an ‘animal.’—Consequently God created woman.  And then indeed there was an end to boredom—but also to something else!  Woman was God’s second blunder.—‘Woman is in her essence serpent, Heva’—every priest knows that; ‘every evil comes into the world through woman’—every priest knows that likewise.  ‘Consequently, science too comes into the world through her’….  Only through woman did man learn to taste the tree of knowledge.—What had happened?  A mortal terror seized on the old God.  Man himself had become God’s greatest blunder; God had created for himself a rival, science makes equal to God—it is all over with priests and gods if man becomes scientific!—Moral: science is the forbidden in itself—it alone is forbidden.  Science is the first sin, the germ of all sins, original sin.  This alone constitutes morality.—‘Thou shalt not know’—the rest follows.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (trans. Hollingdale; emphases and ellipses in original)

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My family fears for my soul when I post such quotes as this

“The great lie of personal immortality destroys all rationality, all naturalness of instinct—all that is salutary, all that is life-furthering, all that holds a guarantee of the future in the instincts henceforth excites mistrust.  So to live that there is no longer any meaning in living: that now becomes the meaning of life….  What is the point of public spirit, what is the point of gratitude for one’s descent and one’s forefathers, what is the point of co-operation, trust, of furthering and keeping in view the general welfare?…  So many ‘temptations,’ so many diversions from the ‘right road’—‘one thing is needful’….  That, as an ‘immortal soul,’ everybody is equal to everybody else, that in the totality of beings the ‘salvation’ of every single one is permitted to claim to be of everlasting moment, that little bigots and three-quarters madmen are permitted to imagine that for their sakes the laws of nature are continually being broken—such a raising of every sort of egoism to infinity, to impudence, cannot be branded with sufficient contempt.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (trans. Hollingdale; emphases and ellipses in original)

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Son of a preacher-man

“Even with the most modest claim to integrity one must know today that a theologian, a priest, a pope does not merely err in every sentence he speaks, he lies—that he is no longer free to lie ‘innocently,’ out of ‘ignorance.’  The priest knows as well as anyone that there is no longer any ‘God,’ any ‘sinner,’ any ‘redeemer’—that ‘free will,’ ‘moral world-order’ are lies—intellectual seriousness, the profound self-overcoming of the intellect, no longer permits anyone not to know about these things….  All the concepts of the Church are recognized for what they are: the most malicious false-coinage there is for the purpose of disvaluing nature and natural values; the priest himself is recognized for what he is: the most dangerous kind of parasite, the actual poison-spider of life….  We know, our conscience knows today—what those sinister inventions of priest and Church are worth, what end they serve, with which that state of human self-violation has brought about which is capable of exciting disgust at the sight of mankind—the concepts ‘Beyond,’ ‘Last Judgement,’ ‘immortality of the soul,’ the ‘soul’ itself: they are instruments of torture, they are forms of systematic cruelty by virtue of which the priest has become master, stays master….  Everyone knows this: and everyone none the less remains unchanged.  Where have the last feelings of decency and self-respect gone when even our statesmen, in other ways very unprejudiced kinds of men and practical anti-Christians through and through, still call themselves Christians today and go to Communion?” — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (trans. Hollingdale; emphases and ellipses in original)


For instance, education

“The entire West has lost those instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which the future grows: perhaps nothing goes so much against the grain of its ‘modern spirit’ as this.  One lives for today, one lives very fast—one lives very irresponsibly: it is precisely this which one calls ‘freedom’.  That which makes institutions institutions is despised, hated, rejected: whenever the word ‘authority’ is so much as heard one believes oneself in danger of a new slavery.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (trans. Hollingdale; emphases in original)

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Nothing to stick your tongue out at

“The struggle against purpose in art is always a struggle against the moralizing tendency in art, against the subordination of art to morality.  L’art pour l’art means : ‘the devil take morality!’—But this very hostility betrays that moral prejudice is still dominant.  When one has excluded from art the purpose of moral preaching and human improvement it by no means follows that art is completely purposeless, goalless, meaningless, in short l’art pour l’art—a snake biting its own tail.  ‘Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!’—thus speaks mere passion.  A psychologist asks on the other hand: what does all art do? does it not praise? does it not glorify? does it not select? does it not highlight?  By doing all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (trans. Hollingdale; emphases in original)

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Dancing on the ceiling

“No one can spend more than he has—that is true of individuals, it is also true of nations.  If one spends oneself on power, grand politics, economic affairs, world commerce, parliamentary institutions, military interests—if one expends in this direction the quantum of reason, seriousness, will, self-overcoming that one is, then there will be a shortage in the other direction.  Culture and the state—one should not deceive oneself over this—are antagonists: the ‘cultural state’ is merely a modern idea.  The one lives off the other, the one thrives at the expense of the other.  All great cultural epochs are epochs of political decline: that which is great in the cultural sense has been unpolitical, even anti-political.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)


And how many pushups can you do?

“Examine all those epochs in a nation’s history when the scholar assumes a prominent position: those are always the crepuscular times of fatigue and decline; the times of reckless health, instinctual security, confidence in the future, are over.  It does not augur well for a culture when the mandarins are in the saddle, any more than does the advent of democracy, of arbitration courts in place of wars, of equal rights for women, of a religion of pity—to mention but a few of the symptoms of declining vitality.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (trans. Golffing)

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Inquisitive buggers, too

“Priests are the most evil enemies to have—why should this be so?  Because they are the most impotent.  It is their impotence which makes their hate so violent and sinister, so cerebral and poisonous.  The greatest haters in history—but also the most intelligent haters—have been priests.  Beside the brilliance of priestly vengeance all other brilliance fades.  Human history would be a dull and stupid thing without the intelligence furnished by its impotents.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (trans. Golffing)

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So much for love and friendship

“A human being who strives for something great regards everybody he meets on his way either as a means or as a delay and hindrance—or as a temporary resting-place.  The lofty goodness towards his fellow men which is proper to him becomes possible only when he has reached his height and he rules.  Impatience and his consciousness that until that time he is condemned to comedy—for even war is a comedy and a concealment, just as every means conceals the end—spoil all his association with others: this kind of man knows solitude and what is most poisonous in it.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)

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So much for twittering instagrammatically over the tumbling linked-in facebook

“He shall be the greatest who can be the most solitary, the most concealed, the most divergent, the man beyond good and evil, the master of his virtues, the superabundant of will; this shall be called greatness; the ability to be as manifold as whole, as vast as full.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale)

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But he had such a rough childhood

“There comes a point of morbid mellowing and over-tenderness in the history of society at which it takes the side even of him who harms it, the criminal, and does so honestly and wholeheartedly.  Punishment: that seems to it somehow unfair—certainly the idea of ‘being punished’ and ‘having to punish’ is unpleasant to it, makes it afraid.  ‘Is it not enough to render him harmless? why punish him as well?  To administer punishment is itself dreadful’—with this question herd morality, the morality of timidity, draws its utmost conclusion.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)

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Evil, mean and average

“When the highest and strongest drives, breaking passionately out, carry the individual far above and beyond the average and lowlands of the herd conscience, the self-confidence of the community goes to pieces, its faith in itself, its spine as it were, is broken: consequently it is precisely these drives which are most branded and calumniated.  Lofty spiritual independence, the will to stand alone, great intelligence even, are felt to be dangerous; everything that raises the individual above the herd and makes his neighbour quail is henceforth called evil; the fair, modest, obedient, self-effacing disposition, the mean and average in desires, acquires moral names and honours.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)

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Just another beast of burden

“‘Thou shalt obey someone and for a long time: otherwise thou shalt perish and lose all respect for thyself’—this seems to me to be nature’s imperative, which is, to be sure, neither ‘categorical’ as old Kant demanded it should be (hence the ‘otherwise’—), nor addressed to the individual (what do individuals matter to nature!), but to peoples, races, ages, classes, and above all to the entire animal ‘man’, to mankind.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)

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It’s just a flesh wound

“It has never been faith but always freedom from faith, that half-stoical and smiling unconcern with the seriousness of faith, that has enraged slaves in their masters and against their masters.  ‘Enlightenment’ enrages: for the slave wants the unconditional, he understands in the domain of morality too only the tyrannical, he loves as he hates, without nuance, into the depths of him, to the point of pain, to the point of sickness—the great hidden suffering he feels is enraged at the noble taste which seems to deny suffering.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)

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Deceiving first themselves

“What makes one regard philosophers half mistrustfully and half mockingly is not that one again and again detects how innocent they are—how often and how easily they fall into error and go astray, in short their childishness and childlikeness—but that they display altogether insufficient honesty, while making a mighty and virtuous noise as soon as the problem of truthfulness is even remotely touched on.  They pose as having discovered and attained their real opinions through the self-evolution of a cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest and more stupid than they—these speak of ‘inspiration’): while what happens at bottom is that a prejudice, a notion, an ‘inspiration’, generally a desire of the heart sifted and made abstract, is defended by them with reasons sought after the event—they are one and all advocates who do not want to be regarded as such, and for the most part no better than cunning pleaders for their prejudices, which they baptize ‘truths’—and very far from possessing the courage of the conscience which admits this fact to itself, very far from possessing the good taste of the courage which publishes this fact, whether to warn a foe or a friend or out of high spirits and in order to mock itself.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (trans. Hollingdale; emphasis in original)

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Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king

“Where I found a living creature, there I found will to power; and even in the will of the servant I found the will to be master.  The will of the weaker persuades it to serve the stronger; its will wants to be master over those weaker still; this delight alone it is unwilling to forgo.  And as the lesser surrenders to the greater, that it may have delight and power over the least of all, so the greatest, too, surrenders and for the sake of power stakes–life.  The devotion of the greatest is to encounter risk and danger and play dice for death.  And where sacrifice and service and loving glances are, there too is will to be master.  There the weaker steals by secret paths into the castle and even into the heart of the more powerful–and steals the power.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (trans. Hollingdale)

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The contemptive labor of rebirth

“What is the greatest thing you can experience?  It is the hour of the great contempt.  The hour in which even your happiness grows loathsome to you, and your reason and your virtue also.

“The hour when you say: ‘What good is my happiness?  It is poverty and dirt and a miserable ease.  But my happiness should justify existence itself!’

“The hour when you say: ‘What good is my reason?  Does it long for knowledge as the lion for its food?  It is poverty and dirt and a miserable ease!’

“The hour when you say: ‘What good is my virtue?  It has not yet driven me mad!  How tired I am of my good and my evil!  It is all poverty and dirt and a miserable ease!’

“The hour when you say: ‘What good is my justice?  I do not see that I am fire and hot coals.  But the just man is fire and hot coals!’” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (trans. Hollingdale)

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Dance the blight away

“I ask myself what my body really wants from music generally.  I believe it wants to have relief: so that all animal functions should be accelerated by means of light, bold, unfettered, self-assured rhythms; so that brazen, leaden life should be gilded by means of golden, good, tender harmonies.  My melancholy would fain rest its head in the hiding-places and abysses of perfection: for this reason I need music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (trans. Common)

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