Thoughts on Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil21 Jan 2023
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Nietzsche’s writings are full of doubt, and so, in the Maoist tradition, I must first doubt myself. What is the intention (or unintention) of this post? Is the desire to express thoughts on such a lofty (or so-perceived) subject fundamentally self-serving?
In my more naïve days, I used to call this “honest expression”, but what purpose is there to express anything with the world? Is it not enough to possess knowledge internally? Is it not enough to think in private, not enough to write it in private, not enough to discuss it in private with a trusted friend, but to publish it, to announce it to the world, in anticipation of what? I doubt it is benevolence that urges me to disseminate my “thoughts”, but rather a self-aggrandizing, pedantic motivation. How can cynical intellectuals simultaneously loathe the world but crave its attention?
What is it that I seek? What am I trying to prove? That I am cultured and intellectual, in a direction orthogonal to my tech persona, in the spirit of Bay Area technocrats? It has all been done before.
Equal parts of me desire and fear fame. In the modern context, fame is partially enslavement to the capricious masses. 人怕出名猪怕壮。Perhaps this will haunt me in forty years when I run for office.
I read Nietzsche partly as literature, not completely as strict academic philosophy, which suffers today as all academia does—from hyperspecialization.
Nietzsche lent me his voice: I compose the following ‘thoughts’ by digesting his ideas and then regurgitating them. It is difficult to say whether any of my ideas are truly original, they can be seen as variations upon his ‘tune’, improvisations on his ‘changes’. Even so, Nietzsche resists my attempts to quote him directly, he must not be taken out of context!
This post is imperfect and unfinished. I am embarrassed but not ashamed.
Here Nietzsche lays hints for the major themes he will explore in this book: the predominant dogmatic philosophy, the state of the European man, and the “tension of the bow” present in modern times.
On the Prejudices on Philosophers
Why truth? Why not untruth? Why black and white, truth and falsehood? Why not grey?
The philosopher is driven by instinct. He undergoes post-hoc reasoning to arrive at “self-evident ‘truths’”, “immediate certainties”, “absolute knowledge” and “thing in itself”, which are seductions of words (16). A modern analogy is the Humean elephant and the rider as described in The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.
The nihilists are those that prefer a “certain nothing over an uncertain everything” (10). In spite of all these modern ideas, modern advancements, we still yearn for God. We can modernize everything except ourselves.
What often is misunderstood about Nietzsche is his ‘will to power’. It is the most fundamental drive of a human, the evolutionary pressure of Homo Sapiens towards “procreation and nourishment”, that pressure which is responsible for everything we are today, everything we feel and think (36).
And you, my gentle intellectual, it does not serve you to seclude yourself in some ‘castle’, away from the mouth-breathing masses, to say, “I am the exception to the rule”. Perhaps so, but the rule is more interesting than the exception.
The paradox: Freedom of will means obedience of body.
The Free Spirit
In me and my contemporaries lies a will to nothing, similar to that infamous will to power. Do not confuse it with nihilism. Nowadays, it is not ideology or rationalism that drives us but rather technology, which exploits our innate circuits, meets the will to power face-to-face and then penetrates a level deeper. The zeitgeist of the young generation, that grew up with technology in their faces magnifying their every twitch, and training a timid self-awareness, is that of reclusive self-preservation. Those who capitalize on this are those who can become more self-unaware, who can possess an aware non-awareness, the modern answer to Nietzsche’s proposition of an independent free spirit.
Who are these ‘free spirits’? They are the doubters, the mutterers, the ones who doubt their freedom the most when others cherish it. They do not hide away in their ‘castles’, rather mull about in the crowds, masked, and strive to understand even the most unstomachable stupidity of the masses without any intention of pandering to them (26), or devising a ‘common good’ for them, for “[g]ood is no longer good when one’s neighbor mouths it … whatever can be common always has little value” (43).
‘Modern thinkers’, slaves to ‘modern ideas’ of goodness, are more unfree than the common man, who possesses the flexibility of human nature in the face of his own survival, the flexibility which ‘modern thinkers’ attempt to outlaw.
“Whatever is profound loves masks; what is most profound even hates image and parable”, shame arises in these ‘profound spirits’ for being understood too readily, the masks they wear shield them against the numerous misinterpretations made against them (40).
A man whose sense of shame has some profundity encounters his destinies and delicate decisions, too, on paths which few ever reach and of whose mere existence his closes intimates must not know: his mortal danger is concealed from their eyes, and so is his regained sureness of life. Such a concealed man who instinctively needs speech for silence and for burial in silence and who is inexhaustible in his evasion of communication, wants and sees to it that a mask of him roams in his place through the hearts and heads of his friends. And supposing he did not want it, he would still realize sone day that in spite of that a mask of him is there—and that this is well. Every profound spirit needs a mask: even more, around every profound spirit a mask is growing continually, owing to the constantly false, namely shallow, interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life he gives.— (40)
“The text finally disappeared under the interpretation” (38), ah, friend—perhaps the text never existed at all.
Das Religiöse Wesen
What is religious is what acknowledges the people’s suffering, what rebels against the aristocratic apathy towards suffering.
Modern people are often made to be ashamed of their suffering, ashamed of not being ‘happy’, instead, one ought to find meaning in suffering and bear it with pride (Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning). Religion allows its subjects to bear tremendous suffering, in particular, Christians indulge in their suffering in the image of their all-suffering Saviour!
The Christian religion, which demands “sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of the spirit; at the same time, enslavement and self-mockery, self-mutilation” was a rebellion against those refined, classical tastes of the Romans and their lighthearted disregard for anything so religious, so ascetic, so cruel.
Modern men, obtuse to all Christian nomenclature, no longer feel the gruesome superlative that struck a classical taste in the paradoxical formula “god on the cross.” Never yet and nowhere has there been an equal boldness in inversion, anything as horrible, questioning, and questionable as this formula: it promised a revaluation of all the values of antiquity. (46)
To put “god on the cross” is to mutilate the all-knowing son of God for his love of man and for the sins of mankind.
The ecstasy of the Oriental slave against the lighthearted disregard of their Roman masters:
It is the Orient, deep Orient, it is the Oriental slave who revenged himself in this way on Rome and its noble and frivolous tolerance, on the Roman “catholicity” of faith. It has always been not faith but the freedom from faith, that half-stoical and smiling unconcern with the seriousness of faith, that enraged slaves in their masters—against their masters. “Enlightenment” enrages: for the slave wants the unconditional; he understands only what is tyrannical, in morals, too; he loves as he hates, without nuance, to the depths, to the point of pain, of sickness—his abundant concealed suffering is enraged against the noble taste that seems to deny suffering. (46)
Contrasting Christianity with Judaism, “the book of divine justice” puts on display the ruins of mankind and what man once was, this book stands at stark contrast with the compassionate “book of grace” (52).
To have glued this New Testament, a king of rococo of taste in every respect, to the Old Testament to make one book, as the “Bible,” as “the book par excellence”—that is perhaps the greatest audacity and “sin against the spirit” that literary Europe has on its conscience. (52)
How is it that the most powerful men prostrate themselves before the ‘holy fool’ (Dostoevsky, Demons)? Such sacrifice and self-denial in a man arouses a suspicion that he may know something that we do not, that he may possess a powerful spirituality that may withstand time and nature, that he may be the key to life and death.
Those who have looked down into “the most world-denying of all possible ways of thinking—beyond good and evil and no longer […] under the spell and delusion of morality” may have realized the opposite ideal of high spirituality and humanism, and become he “who not only come to terms and learned to get along with whatever was and is, but who want to have what was and is repeated into all eternity” (56). The cycle of religious beliefs continues, only the objects of beliefs change.
[T]he concepts “God” and “sin,” will seem no more important to us than a child’s toy and a child’s pain seem to an old man—and perhaps “the old man” will then be in need of another toy and another pain—still child enough, an eternal child! (57)
“[M]uch wisdom lies in the superficiality of men” (59), what is most meaningful may be what is unintentional. Could this be ideology?
Religion beautifies, falsifies man and his suffering, and turns him “into so much art, surface, play of colors, graciousness that his sight no longer makes one suffer” (59). To love man for God’s sake and not for his own sake is a noble feeling most remote from humanism. Love of man needs an ulterior, transcendental motive to make it sacred and untouchable through the turbulence of mankind. (60)
It is the profound, suspicious fear of an incurable pessimism that forces whole millennia to bury their teeth in and cling to a religious interpretation of existence: the fear of that instinct which sense that one might get a hold of the truth too soon, before man has become strong enough, hard enough, artist enough. (59)
Piety requires an aristocratic leisure, whereas modern industriousness dissolves certain religious instincts, or replaces the Catholic lavish and grace with a self-sufficient Protestant work ethic.
Religion stabilizes the social strata and teaches them how to behave, act, and accept their fate. If Christ suffered so much for all of humanity, then surely I may endure the brief suffering of my life.
Christianity turned the European into its modern form: a self-destructive herd animal that hates the earth and worldly things almost as much as it hates itself. In The Prince, Machiavelli blamed the Catholic Church and its values for the suppression of virtú and ambition (and an Italian identity), turning men into troughs of pigs.
Men, not high and hard enough to have any right to try to form man as artists; men, not strong and farsighted enough to let the foreground law of thousandfold failure and ruin prevail, thought it cost them sublime self-conquest; men, not noble enough to see the abysmally different order of rank, chasm of rank, between man and man—such men have so far held sway over the fate of Europe, with their “equal before God,” until finally a smaller, almost ridiculous type, a herd animal, something eager to please, sickly, and mediocre has been bred, the European of today— (62)
Religion and religious morality are the foundation of stable societies (Durkheim), yet sovereign, organized religions, like Roman Catholicism, have held Europe back for many centuries and preserved that which ought to have perished. Even if we view religion as a means to an end, different people across different generations have different ends, and all that remains is the means.
Epigrams and Interludes
One of few places appropriate to quote Nietzsche verbatim.
Whoever despises himself still respects himself as one who despises. (78)
It is terrible to die of thirst in the ocean. Do you have to salt your truth so heavily that it does not even—quench thirst anymore? (81)
- Such refined truth cannot give us a reason to live.
What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal. (97)
- A great man — a philosopher — creates his own values.
The voice of disappointment: “I listened for an echo and heard nothing but praise—” (99)
- The common man: “He praises me: hence he think I am right” (283).
There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena— (108)
- If moral phenomena were to exist, what queer things would they be? (Mackie, Ethics: inventing right and wrong)
The will to overcome an affect [affekt] is ultimately only the will of another, or of several other, affects. (117)
- Mindfulness 101
Enjoying praise is in some people merely a courtesy of the heart—and just the opposite of vanity of the spirit. (122)
When we have to change our mind about a person, we hold the inconvenience he causes us very much against him. (125)
A people is a detour of nature to get to six or seven great men.— Yes, and then to get around them. (126)
All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses. (134)
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. (146)
What a time experiences a evil is usually an untimely echo of what was formerly experiences as good—the atavism of a more ancient ideal. (149)
“Where the tree of knowledge stands, there is always Paradise”: thus speak the oldest and the youngest serpents. (152)
- We the banished must beware of new serpents whispering the new utopia of knowledge.
One has to repay good and ill—but why precisely to the person who has done us good or ill? (159)
In the end one loves one’s desire and not what is desired. (175)
- Philosophy offers great love advice.
The familiarity of those who are superior embitters because it may not be returned.— (182)
- It’s difficult to be friends with anyone who can fire you.
I don’t like him.”— Why?— “I am not equal to him.”— Has any human being ever answered that way? (185)
Natural History of Morals
Moral ‘scientists’ attempted to theorize a rational foundational for morality, as if it were a natural phenomenon like gravity. What they produce in the end is more akin to a pseudo-rationalized faith in their particular morality. They consider problems of abstract morality, ‘morality in a vacuum’ (but really in their own moral system), and never any problems of morality that arose in the comparison of different moralities. They accept their particular system values without any serious doubt while renouncing what they call ‘faith’, that is, a more explicit ecclesiastical belief. The moral philosophers of the past and well as the New Atheists of the present both fail to recognize that behind their scientific method lies a deep faith. (186)
That for thousands of years European thinkers thought merely in order to prove something—today, conversely, we suspect every thinker who “wants to prove something”—that the conclusions that ought to be the result of their most rigorous reflection were always settled from the start … (188)
The tyrannical moralities of the past are perhaps more natural, more human, more conducive to art and beauty, than the new and vacuous laisser aller liberalism. Even in our descent to the freest state, we are bound by multitudinous latent laws with no closed-form expression; it is precisely these laws that dictate and define us in our highest, most subconcious states. Our identities come from our restrictions, and not what exists when we ‘let go’.
[A]ll there is or has been on earth of freedom, subtlety, boldness, dance, and masterly sureness, whether in thought itself or in government, or in rhetoric and persuasion, in the arts just as in ethics, has developed only owing to the “tyranny of such capricious laws”; and in all seriousness, the probability is by no means small that precisely this is “nature” and “natural”—and not that laisser aller (188)
Morality limits freedom, demands obedience, teaches slavery of the mind, narrows the perspective, inspires fear, and ultimately teaches us to hate that laisser aller (188).
The essence of rational utopianism: No one really wants to do bad things, they only do so out of ignorance. If they knew better, they would cease to do bad. (190) Similar to Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, through the voice of the ‘Underground Man’, also regards rational utopianism as an illusory “crystal edifice” and states that man will act irrationally just to prove to himself that he is autonomous and not a “piano key” (Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground).
Why must reason and instinct tend towards the Good? Even Socrates, through self-examination, realized that he, like the Athenians who condemned him, was also a man of instinct, and that “one must follow the instincts but persuade reason to assist them with good reasons” (191). In the end, one’s reason can only suggests gently to one’s instinct. We follow our senses more than we are aware of, we detest what is foreign to us, and even our interpretations of great works are often reaffirmations of what we already knew and believed. Reason is not the authority of humanity, as Descartes believed, but a mere “instrument” (191).
What is it to possess? It is not enough for her to give herself to me, to give up all she possesses, but to give it to the real me, in all devilry, and not some mask, no matter how profound it is (194). The paradox of those profound masked individuals when lain bare before their dearest ones is the equivocation between the subtle supplication of “Understand me!” and the defiant rebuttal “You will never understand me.”
Morality as Herd Timidity
Moralists and psychologists seek a ‘pathology’ in the monsters of men where instead, there is simply nature. The corresponding modern phenomenon is the over-medicalization of perceived aberrations: Everything is a disorder, everything can be diagnosed, everything can be medicalized.
Morality is a restraint of individual dangerousness, no more meaningful than “prudence, mixed with stupidity” (198). Formerly, rulers feign obedience to transcendental values, such as the divine right of kings. Now, obedience to great rulers has been replaced by parliament and procedure, hence further transforming the European into a “herd-animal”. The abstract authority causes the people to yearn for the appearance of an unconditional commander, such as Napoleon, who strikes the “herd-animal Europeans as an immense comfort and salvation from a gradually intolerable pressure” (199).
Nietzsche’s claim that multiple values and moralities in an individual weakens him is similar to the claim by the character Shatov in Demons that when moralities become common, nations and their people become weak (Dostoevsky, Demons). Whatever values become common amongst disparate groups of people due to the mixing of races in contemporary Europe can only be the lowest common denominator. (200)
When morality is the utility of the herd, and immorality is what endangers the herd, it is “fear of the neighbor” , not “love of the neighbor” that drives moral judgment (201).
The highest and strongest drives, when they break out passionately and drive the individual far above the average and the flats of the herd conscience, wreck the self-confidence of the community, its faith in itself, and it is as if its spine snapped. Hence just these drives are branded and slandered most. High and independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, even a powerful reason are experienced as dangers; everything that elevates an individual above the herd and intimidates the neighbor is henceforth called evil and the fair, modest, submissive, conforming mentality, the mediocrity of desires attains moral designations and honors. (201)
Herd morality seeks to eradicate danger. Observe the tenderness of those who envelope even criminals in compassion: to them, punishing criminals is unpleasant, unfair—they would rather neuter than punish: “Is it not enough to render him undangerous? Why still punish? Punishing itself is terrible … Supposing that one could altogether abolish danger, the reason for fear, this morality would be abolished, too, eo ipso” (201).
[T]he imperative of herd timidity: “ we want that some day there should be nothing any more to be afraid of!” Some day—throughout Europe, the will and way to this day is now called “progress.” (201)
The evolutionary purpose of morality is herd preservation, or rather, it is only because it served this purpose—through enhanced group cooperation and increased survival rates—that it exists today. The democratic movement, the heir of the Christian movement (202), is no exception, just in modern, secular times, and with less pomp and circumstance (or perhaps more?—more reasoning, more ‘logic’ to convince someone of what was already accepted).
The man of modern ideas “now knows in Europe what Socrates thought he did not know and what that famous old serpent once promised to teach—today once ‘knows’ what is good and evil” (202).
The anarchists, nihilists, and other howling revolutionary dogs, impatient and impetuous, seem opposite to peaceful democrats and tame socialists, but are really of the same lot. The peaceful democratic movement gives rise to the later, more violent offspring, just as the 1840s gave rise to the 1860s, and 1919 gave rise to 1949. They are hostile to all forms of society other than that of the autonomous herd, they resist any means of distinguishing individuals from the masses; they oppose all privileges and special rights, eventually, they will deny all rights, “for once all are equal nobody needs any ‘rights’ any more” (202).
The culmination of the Enlightenment and all Christian and European progress is a universal pity with all that suffers—a “pity with God”. They regard this new shared pity as the height of man and regard the herd—themselves—as the saviours of mankind. (202)
The over-all degeneration of man down to what today appears to the socialist dolts and flatheads as their “man of the future”—as their ideal—this degeneration and diminution of man into the perfect herd animal (or, as they say, to the man of “free society”), this animalization of man into the dwarf animal of equal rights and claims, is possible, there is no doubt of it. (203)
Nietzsche calls to new philosophers, to ‘free spirits’ who can penetrate the blind confidence in modern ideas with independence and individual hardness. In this respect, similar to Plato and his rule by philosophers, Nietzsche is quite the idealist, even optimistic regarding what “might yet be made of man … how man is still unexhausted for the greatest possibilities”, despite the many times great men have been sunk during their becoming. (203)
The celebration of uniqueness today is yet another smoke-screen. It is a uniqueness without hierarchy, for if we are all unique, none of us are unique, there must be something to be unique against, that is, the common.
In this section, Nietzsche begins a dismissal of scholars, analytic thinkers, empiricists, scientists, “nimble smarties” and mechanics, all those who declared their independence from philosophy. More importantly, he raises the philosopher above the aforementioned, to a level of creative power and authority that is gained through his vast breadth of knowledge and experience (213). To Nietzsche, philosophers must have a broad look and not be detained in any specialization, especially in today’s ultra-specialized world. As fields of study become more specialized and pragmatic, philosophy has continued to be marginalized and abandoned in favour of science, and science now is beginning to be overshadowed by an even more pragmatic field. Science has become the luxury that philosophy once was!
Philosophy is not ‘wisdom’, which is the religious elevation to handle life and its wickedness. A genuine philosopher is not a secluded, wise hermit, but rather “lives ‘unphilosophically’ and ‘unwisely,’ above all imprudently, and feels the burden and duty of a hundred attempts and temptations of life—he risks himself constantly, he plays the wicked game—”(205). Old wisdom is comforting, but the more philosophy one reads, the more uncomfortable one becomes with the world.
Nietzsche dismisses the ‘scientific man’ as a sort of tinkering, industrious worker, with no capacity for authority or greatness. He is ‘mediocre’, and seeks to instill mediocrity in all.
The worst and most dangerous thing of which scholars are capable comes from their sense of the mediocrity of their own type—from that Jesuitism of mediocrity which instinctively works at the annihilation of the uncommon man and tries to break every bent bow, or preferably, to unbend it. (206)
Nietzsche cautions against high-minded objectivism that depersonalizes the spirit in pursuit of “disinterested knowledge” (207). In this regard, the ideal scholar is no more than a mirror that submits itself before what is to be known, there is no ‘him’, no ‘person’, no ‘individual’, he is some glad little cog, sans individualité, cannot bear to answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. He is an instrument! A sublime slave, a tool to measure phenomena, a pot waiting to be filled that conforms to its contents. This type of man ought not be confused with the philosopher. (208)
The mixing of classes and races, hence values and moralities, breeds a skepticism that paralyzes Europe with a “sickness of the will” (208). In late 19th century Europe, Nietzsche sees the impending crisis of the co-habitation of multiple moralities and the dilemma of moral relativism, as well as the resurgence of those with a sufficient strength of will who can conquer these sentiments. Today we are more mixed, more confused, more righteous, than ever.
At the same time, Nietzsche praises a different type of skepticism: a “virile”, strong skepticism, that doubts but is not paralyzed by its doubts, that pushes back against the herd and the temptation of romanticism, to forge an independent spirit and acquire a dangerous freedom (209), to reject the feeble “democratic feelings” or idealistic “elevation by Truth” (210).
This skepticism despises and nevertheless seizes; it undermines and takes possession; it does not believe but does not lose itself in the process; it gives the spirit dangerous freedom, but it is severe on the heart… (209)
The philosopher must resist the temptation to specialize, he must attain a wide view as seen from above, above the scientific specialists, critics and “axiomizers”, who are mere tools. The philosopher may undergo several stages of development (artist, critic, skeptic, poet, etc.) to arrive at new heights, but his ultimate task is to use his wide perspective of values in order to create new ones.
[The philosopher] himself must have been critic and skeptic and dogmatist and historian and also poet and collector and traveler and solver of riddles and moralist and seer and “free spirit” and almost everything in order to pass through the whole range of human values and value feelings and to be able to see with many different eyes and consciences, from a height and into every distance, from the depths into every height, from a nook into every expanse. But all these are merely preconditions of his task: this task itself demands something different—it demands that he create values. (211)
Philosophers are not idle thinkers, their knowledge and world view compels them to creation and action, to rule and shape the future.
Genuine philosophers, however, are commanders and legislators: they say, “thus it shall be!” They first determine the Whither and For What of man and in so doing have at their disposal the preliminary labor of all philosophical laborers, all who have overcome the past. With a creative hand they reach for the future, and all that is and has been becomes a means for them, an instrument, a hammer. Their “knowing” is creating, their creating is a legislation, their will to truth is—will to power. (211)
The philosopher is a man of tomorrow, and so, conflicts with today. He vivisects present virtues and values to uncover “how many lies lay hidden under the best honored type of their contemporary morality, how much virtue was outlived” (212). He must have the individual hardness to go against “modern values”, against herd morality and the equality of rights, which seeks to eliminate all elevation and individuality.
Today, conversely, when only the herd animal receives and dispense honors, when “equality of rights” could all too easily be changed into equality in violating rights—I mean, into a common war on all that is rare, strange, privileged, the higher man, the higher soul, the higher duty—today the concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently. And the philosopher will betray something of his own ideal when he posits: “He shall be greatest who can be loneliest, the most concealed, the most deviant, the human being beyond good and evil, the master of his virtues, he that is overrich in will. Precisely this shall be called greatness: being capable of being as manifold as whole, as ample as full.” And to ask it once more: today—is greatness possible? (212)
The philosophical state derives from experience unknown to most scholars, it cannot be taught. It is a state of necessity, not desire or voluntary action, that impels them to attempt the highest questions. As a believer in the heredity of acquired characteristics, Nietzsche suggests that genetics (“blood”) may play a role in the creation of a philosopher, and that the philosopher must necessarily be the result of the cultivation of many generations. (213)
Kaufmann suggests that much of Nietzsche’s thoughts of ‘elevated nobility’ was influenced by Aristotle’s greatness of the soul—megalopsychia—greatness which is self-determined and self-justified, and is accompanied by a sense of elevation and pride (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, IV.3). Nietzsche also invokes the ‘great’ image of Socrates, who incessantly questioned the traditional virtues of Athenian citizens, but in his self-reflection realized that he was a man of his time as well and could not escape the irrationality which he criticized in lesser men.
Moralists are limited in spiritual capacity, hence they seek a ‘lower’, herd-like morality before which they assume all to be equal.
Moral judgments and condemnations constitute the favorite revenge of the spiritually limited against those less limited … It pleases them deep down in their hearts that there are standards before which those overflowing with the wealth and privileges of the spirit are their equals: they fight for the “equality of all men before God” and almost need faith in God just for that. (219)
The ultimate product of moral qualities is “high spiritualization” of grace, justice and severity across generations through discipline and exercise, which separates and ranks men (219).
Nietzsche criticizes the”disinterest” in disinterested action and knowledge. There is no such mythical, transcendental disinterest, such an unegoistic sacrifice; there is always something of interest for the self (220). It is commonplace for on to proclaim himself free of self-interest and then purport to speak for the universal good of mankind:
Every unegoistic morality that takes itself for unconditional and addresses itself to all does not only sin against taste: it is a provocation to sins of omission, one more seduction under the mask of philanthropy—and precisely a seduction and injury for the higher, rare, privileged. Moralities must be forced to bow first of all before the order of rank; their presumption must be brought home to their conscience—until they finally reach agreement that is immoral to say: “what is right for one is fair for the other.”(221)
Higher and lower moralities ought to not be treated the same—the order of rank of values can be discerned by a people’s “historical sense” by which they know in their collective subconscious the relation between different value systems that existed and went extinct, that competed and combined with each other. The collective memory of all forms of “semi-barbarism” allows a people to endure suffering that to other peoples with younger memories (or no memories) would be absurd and unbearable (though naïvety may be more useful than learned helplessness). Nietzsche claims that the “democratic mingling of classes and races” (in nineteenth century Europe) accelerated the chaotic accrual of this instinct (224). Today, the hyper mixing and co-existence of disparate cultures erases the unique “historical sense” of a people and reduces moral thought to the lowest common denominator, e.g. ‘do-no-harm’ utilitarianism.
The lower moral systems are those “that measure the value of things in accordance with pleasure and pain”, that preach a universal pity with all suffering, that diminish man by denying his suffering, that want to abolish suffering altogether—a world where no one suffers would be the greatest possible achievement in this system! The tender feelings of pity followers of this system exhibit is for the “creature” in man—the pitiful, suffering animal—and not the transcendent creator that he has the potential to be. (225)
It is the discipline of suffering that has created all enhancements of man, that is responsible for the greatness in man, that is the fundamental essence of the oldest of religions. In the face of suffering, man cultivates virtue under a great tension of the soul in the form of courage, perseverance and profundity. (225)
Suffering also differentiates greater and lesser men; on the other hand, utilitarianism, which seeks to bring the most happiness to the greatest number of people and promotes the general welfare as the highest virtue, is incapable of recognizing the order of rank between men and moralities. Moreover, it lowers everyone to the same pitiable level. (228)
“[T]he general welfare“ is no ideal, no goal, no remotely intelligible concept, but only an emetic—that what is fair for one cannot by any means for that reason alone also be fair for others; that the demand of one morality for all is detrimental for the higher men; in short, that there is an order of rank between man and man, hence also between man and morality. (228)
I venture to think that even among moralities, utilitarianism would be ranked lower than the grand old Judeo-Christian tradition: the former explains away humanity in rational egoism and immanent utility, and is suspicious of non-useful conceptions of the good, whereas the latter recognizes the fundamental irrationality man and takes away his power to decide what is good and bad.
On Cruelty and the Spirit
The anti-humanist ‘warrior ethic’ with which Nietzsche is associated is presented here as the spiritualization of cruelty for group survival. From hunter-gatherer tribes to agricultural communities to poleis, empires and nation-states, most of what is considered to be “noble” are the cruel practices that have allowed its practitioners to survive together, often at the expense of individuals or other groups. Courage and cowardice is a classic example: without this socially-imposed vice and virtue, the most cowardly of the strongest group of people—”free-riders”—shall benefit the most. Such a society will perish. (Haight, The Righteous Mind)
Almost everything we call “higher culture” is based on the spiritualization of cruelty, on its becoming more profound: this is my proposition. That “savage animal” has not really been “mortified”; it lives and flourishes, it has merely become—divine. (229)
Cruelty is not simply the enjoyment of the suffering of others, it is also the enjoyment of one’s own suffering, as seen in the religious ecstasies of self-denial, self-accusation and repentance. An example is the knowledge-seeker who is cruel to his own intellectual conscience by forcing himself to recognize and explore things that are against his world view, against the “basic will of the spirit” (229).
This will to mere appearance, to implication, to masks , to cloaks, in short, to the surface—for every surface is a cloak—is countered by that sublime inclination of the seeker after knowledge who insists on profundity, multiplicity, and thoroughness, with a will which is a kind of cruelty of the intellectual conscience and taste. (230)
The spirit wants to be master of itself. It simplifies the external world by appropiating experiences in its existing framework of understanding and ignoring those which cannot be perceived in this way. In this regard, all experiences reinforce the self and produce the feeling of growth. Truth-seeking and love of knowledge is cruelty against the basic will of the spirit, which prefers masks and simplicity, and belongs to the human vanity that attempts to hide the fundamental nature of man.
Who can stand these enticing whispers: “You are something more”? Who can ask themselves: “Why have knowledge at all?” (230)
Kaufmann, a modern academic, intelligently distances himself from Nietzsche’s thoughts on women. I, neither modern nor an academic, will take no such heed.
Nietzsche prefaces by recognizing that his thoughts belong to a fundamental prejudice, that the “truths” he speaks about woman are really only his truths:
[A]t the bottom of us, really “deep down,” there is, of course, something unteachable, some granite of spiritual fatum, of predetermined decision and answer to predetermined selected questions. … At times we find certain solutions of problems that inspire strong faith in us; some call them henceforth their “convictions.” Later—we see them only as steps to self-knowledge, signposts to the problem we are—rather, to the great stupidity we are, to our spiritual fatum, to what is unteachable very “deep down.” (231)
Nietzsche mocks the “democratic” movement of woman in the same manner he mocks “modern values”. He venerates traditional femininity, embodied by the Faustian Eternal-Feminine, as the most powerful and elevated state woman may achieve, and views the progression of woman’s rights, her self-determination and “modern” education as a regression of her form. It is important to note that the view that there exists transcendent masculine and feminine forces ought not to be conflated with gender essentialism, which claims that men and women are fundamentally distinct due to their biology, or that men must only embrace masculinity and women must only embrace femininity. To me, one can embody masculinity and femininity to different degrees. Nietzsche’s social critique draws from these two views:
Since the French Revolution, woman’s influence in Europe has decreased proportionately as her right and claims have increased; and the “emancipation of woman,” insofar as that is demanded and promoted by women themselves (and not merely by shallow males) is thus seen to be as an odd symptom of the increasing weakening and dulling of the most feminine instincts. There is stupidity in this movement, an almost masculine stupidity of which a woman who has turned out well—and such women are always prudent—would have to be thoroughly ashamed. (239)
Nietzsche wants to preserve the “natural” notion of woman as a dangerous, suffering figure against the “modernization” of women through education and “cultivation”, which destroys unique female figure in return for a boring (but ‘equal’!) tool that is inseparable from man. Just like how he attacked the democratic movement as “the general uglification of Europe” (232), he regards the “emancipation of woman” as a “defeminization” and “borification” (239). Woman ought to be different from man, but in the modern age, all differences are unfair!
To be sure, there are enough imbecilic friends and corrupters of woman among the scholarly asses of the male sex who advise woman to defeminize herself in this way and to imitate all the stupidities with which “man” in Europe, European “manliness,” is sick: they would like to reduce woman to the level of “general education,” probably even of reading the newspapers and talking about politics. Here and there they even want to turn women into freethinkers and scribblers. (239)
Great women arise from the force of their will, not from their modernization:
Altogether one wants to make [woman] more “cultivated” and, as is said, make the weaker sex strong through culture—as if history did not teach us as impressively as possible that making men “cultivated” and making them weak—weakening, splintering, and sicklying over the force of the will—have always kept pace, and that the most powerful and influential women of the world (most recently Napoleon’s mother) owed their power and ascendancy over men to the force of their will—and not to schoolmasters! (239)
More broadly, Nietzsche regards slavery as “a condition of every high culture, every enhancement of culture”, and in particular, considers the restraint and subservience of women a similar necessity (239). (However, in this context, “high culture” cannot be taken blindly as moral justification for what it entails: namely, cruelty.) Does the increase of culture necessarily lead to what we consider today as ‘regressive’ or ‘cruel’ acts, or vice versa? Would this have happened in the state of nature?
It seems to me that the reverence for traditional culture and grand morality is a poor counterargument to modern liberalism. Conservative traditionalism is a distant nostalgia and, at best, a parochial institution; it cannot function as a universal governing system of disparate peoples and cultures.
This begs the question: Is there an end to liberalism? Will modern society and morality (not modern law) be capable of restraining anyone in any way anymore?
Peoples and Fatherlands
Nietzsche returns to a critique of a group of people whose criticism we modern readers are more willing to accept: Germans.
The great statesman, Bismarck, in order to prepare his people for power, replaces their old virtues with coarse nationalism and narrow ‘politicking’. Such people will become strong, but not great; they will be shallow in their spirit, and their spiritual “flattening” will be contrasted with the “deepening” of another group of people (241). The strong may be ruled by the stronger, but the great will never be subjugated, not even to the ‘greater’.
Who will be the tyrant to master the strong? The conditions of democratization that make men into herd animals are also conducive to spawning dangerous individuals that can cultivate the vast diversity of cultures and spirits to their advantage. Meanwhile, the industrialization of man, that is, his reduction to a common tool or useful worker, prepares him for “slavery in the subtlest sense”, that is—slavery in the name of human progress. (242)
Nietzsche channels his inner Oogway：”[Germans] belong to the day before yesterday and the day after tomorrow—as they yet have no today” (240).
The German soul is above all manifold, of diverse origins, more put together and superimposed than actually built: that is due to where it comes from. A German who would make bold to say, “two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast” would violate the truth rather grossly or, more precisely, would fall short of the truth by a good many souls. As a people of the most monstrous mixture and medley of races, … the Germans are more incomprehensible, comprehensive, contradictory, unknown, incalculable, surprising, even frightening than other people are to themselves: they elude definition and would be on that account alone the despair of the French. (244)
Nietzsche’s description of Germans may seem like a far cry from the Germans we see today (rarely do we think of Germans as possessing “diverse origins” or manifold souls), but there is truth in this origin of the eclectic mix of the Germanic and Prussian folk due to their late unification during the twilight of European nationalism. In the late 19th century, the German state, at last, rose from the ashes of the Holy Roman Empire to become its on independent nation, as with Italy and the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, Germans have no longstanding, innate definition, they are cloudy and unclear, they experience and develop:
[T]he German loves clouds and everything that is unclear, becoming, twilit, damp, and overcast: whatever is in any way uncertain unformed, blurred, growing, he feels to be “profound.” The German is not, he becomes, he “develops.” (244)
Nietzsche describes the Germans in paradoxical ways: Germans are contradictorily “[g]ood-natured and vicious”; they have a “boorish indifference to ‘taste’”, and a pondering outlook and slow digestion of events; they lack spiritual contemplation, yet have their own type of profundity. Perhaps the best way to understand Nietzsche’s reflections on Germans would be not to look at modern Germans or even Germans of the past, but rather, examine their spirit in distilled form, such as in the works of Goethe. (244)
There are words of Goethe in which he deprecates with impatient hardness, as if he belonged to a foreign country, what the Germans take pride in: the celebrated German Gemüt he once defined as “indulgence toward the weakness of others as well as one’s own.” (244)
The German does not discern art in either sentences he reads or the rhetoric he hears, save for that which comes from the pulpit:
In Germany the preacher alone knew what a syllable weighs, or a word, and how a sentence strikes, leaps, plunges, runs, runs out; he alone had a conscience in his ears, often enough a bad conscience; for there is no lack of reasons why Germans rarely attain proficiency in rhetoric, and almost always too last. The masterpiece of German prose is therefore, fairly enough, the masterpiece of its greatest preacher: the Bible has so far been the best German book. Compared with Luther’s Bible, almost everything else is mere “literature”—something that did not grow in Germany and therefore also did not grow and does not grow into German hearts—as the Bible did. (247)
Nietzsche portrays the German people as a masculine fertilizer of culture, as opposed to a feminine birther and nurturer of culture:
There are two types of genius, one which above all begets and wants to beget, and another which prefers being fertilized and giving birth. Just so, there are among peoples of genius those to whom the woman’s problem of pregnancy and the secret task of forming, maturing, and perfecting has been allotted—the Greeks, for example, were a people of this type; also the French—and others who must fertilize and become the causes of new orders of life—like the Jews, the Romans, and, asking this in all modesty, the Germans? (248)
It is remarkable that during the period of rising German nationalism, Nietzsche goes against the grain by claiming that the Germans are still a “weak and indefinite people”, and cannot “digest” the existence of a stronger group of people, such as the Jews, for fear of being extinguished by them (251). Nietzsche’s partiality towards the Jews is partially a result of his reverence for their “grand style of morality” (250), Old Testament virtues and their steadfastness in the face of ‘modern values’:
The Jews, however, are beyond any doubt the strongest, toughest, and purest race now living in Europe; they know how to prevail even under the worst conditions (even better than under favorable conditions), by means of virtues that today one would like to mark as vices—thanks above all to a resolute faith that need not be ashamed before “modern ideas” … (251)
Compared to the cohesion and unity of the Jewish race, the European nation is contrived and disunited. The Jews could very well have “literal mastery over Europe”, that they choose not to do so is a sign of their high elevation (251).
Despite all this severe criticism of Germans and praise of Jews, Nazi scholars deliberately misinterpreted Nietzsche to fit their own ideology, hence creating the uninformed perception of Nietzsche as a ‘Nazi’ philosopher that unfortunately persists to this day.
What does Nietzsche think of the English? Not far from a Napoleon’s “a nation of shopkeepers”, though the diligent empiricists may be more suitable than “free spirits” for discovering scientific truths, as the latter not only must acquire new knowledge but also embody and actualize the new:
There are truths that are recognized best by mediocre minds because they are most congenial to them; there are truths that have charm and seductive powers only for mediocre spirits … It would be a mistake to suppose that the spirits of a high type that soar on their own paths would be particularly skillful at determining and collecting many small and common facts and then drawing conclusions from them: on the contrary, being exceptions, they are from the start at a disadvantage when it comes to the “rule.” Finally, they have more to do than merely to gain knowledge—namely, to be something new, to signify something new, to represent new values. Perhaps the chasm between know and can is greater, also uncannier, than people suppose: those who can do things in the grand style, the creative, may possibly have to be lacking in knowledge—while, on the other hand, for scientific discoveries of the type of Darwin’s a certain narrowness, aridity, and industrious diligence, something English in short, may not be a bad disposition. (253)
Nietzsche contrasts the tastelessness of the Germans and the “plebeianism” of the English with the noble taste of the French, whom he claims to be the originator of European nobility and highness.
European noblesse—of feeling, of taste, of manners, taking the word, in short, in every higher sense—is the work and invention of France; European vulgarity, the plebeianism of modern ideas, that of England.— (253)
The French should have good reason to resist the “spiritual Germanization” of the soul: their capacity for art, their vielle culture moraliste (signifiant ‘auteur de réflexions sur les mœurs, la nature et la condition humaines’) and their combination of northern and southern characters allows them to rise above the crude and single-tuned fatherlandishness—”the disease of German taste” (254).
Nietzsche concludes the discussion of peoples and fatherlands with the claim that the greatest men of the 19th century have directed themselves towards the creation of a new Europe, a united Europe, and rarely do they lapse back into the modern waves of patriotism. European culture is deeply interconnected: even Wagner’s nationalistic music can be traced to French romanticism and other “supra-German” sources. (256)
What is Noble
In the final chapter of the book, Nietzsche revisits and expounds his theory of master and slave moralities.
Every enhancement of the type “man” has so far been the work of an aristocratic society—and it will be so again and again—a society that believes in the long ladder of an order of rank and difference in value between man and man, and that needs slavery in some sense or other. (257)
Nietzsche lauds the “pathos of distance” that exists between the ruling class and commoners as a form of alienation that nurtures the noble soul into its highest, most comprehensive form. However, Nietzsche acknowledges that the origins of aristocratic society are barbaric and cruel. The ruling class comes to power through their strength of will and desire for power, and by imposing their will and power on those “weaker, more civilized, more peaceful” groups of people:
[T]he noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their predominance did not lie mainly in physical strength but in strength of the soul—they were more whole human beings (which also means, at every level, ‘more whole beasts’) (257).
Over the course of the past few centuries, the aristocratic class has undergone a gradual self-demotion to a mere government function, that culminates, (from a tender fit of moral feelings) in the surrender of all their noble privileges. Nietzsche claims the purpose of the aristocracy is not to be functional or to serve society. On the contrary, society exists to elevate select individuals to a higher plane of being, and these individuals must, without any moralistic doubt, accept their natural ascension over others and their existence as self-fulfilling in meaning. (258)
A modern alternative to aristocratic society is to treat the sentiment of mutual non-harm as the basis of a society. However, Nietzsche claims that life itself is fundamentally suffering, oppression and exploitation, and the primordial will to power that seeks to grow, dominate and exploit is the basic function of life. A society that is based on mutual refrain from harm and exploitation cannot function as it attempts to deny and legalize away the essential will of life. (259)
Master and Slave Moralities
Though Nietzsche attempts to go ‘beyond good and evil’, it is difficult to read his comments on nobility and master morality without discerning the hue of praise and his comments on slave morality and modern ideas without the tone of disdain.
In master morality, the ruling class considers itself to be the creator of values, the decider of what is good, what is noble and what is contemptible. The noble man determines values, determines its own value, and judges; he distances himself from the common men and limits his interactions with them.
The noble type of man experiences itself as determining values; it does not need approval; it judges, “what is harmful to me is harmful in itself”; it knows itself to be that which first accords donor to things; it is value-creating. Everything it knows as part of itself it honours: such a morality is self-glorification. (260)
The noble type of pity from those that look down is different from the pity of sufferers or those who preach to them, a “pathological sensitivity and receptivity to pain; also a repulsive incontinence in lamentation, an increase in tenderness that would use religion and philosophical bric-a-brac to deck itself out as something higher”. This pity has no value and is, in short, “unmanliness” (293).
Egoism—the faith of self-determination—belongs to the noble soul. The noble soul accepts its existence and superiority and the subordination of others without any doubt, and “quite generally it does not like to look ‘up’—but either ahead, horizontally and slowly, or down: it knows itself to be at a height” (265).
In master morality, masters may behave any way they wish to lower beings, but respect their peers and foes, that is, whoever can harm them. The “instinct for rank”, the ability to recognize one’s peers, is a sign of high rank itself, and only with their equals do they consider mutual honours and rights (263).
In slave morality, the violated and the oppressed are skeptical of noble values, and the possibility of a higher “good”. They instead promote values that ease suffering and benefit survival: pity, patience, friendliness, willingness to help—essentially a “morality of utility”. The vain slave desires good opinions of him that he does not even have of himself, whereas the noble self-justify their worth. In slave morality, those who inspire fear in the herd are evil, whereas in master morality, good are those who inspire fear, the contemptible—cowards, opportunists, liars, flatterers—are bad. The slave longs for the happiness of freedom, where the master devotes himself to reverence. (260, 261)
A species comes to be, a type comes fixed and strong, through the long fight with essentially constant unfavorable conditions. Conversely, we know from the experience of breeders that species accorded superabundant nourishment and quite generally extra protection and care soon tend most strong toward variations of the type and become rich in marvels and monstrosities (including monstrous vices). (262)
At the surface, the two paradigms ‘hard times create strong men’ and ‘favourable conditions breed exceptional beings’ seem to be paradoxical. Once conditions grow more favourably, the new generation does not experience the ‘tension’ that the previous generations experienced, the old virtues are no longer a necessity, but a luxury, and so the entire generation as a whole will cease to be ‘hard’.
A new morality that talks of dignity and neighbourly love will arise, its ultimate goal is to make everyone similarly mediocre, only revere the mediocre. Yet, it is under these ‘favourable’ conditions which cause men to become more alike that certain individuals manifest and separate entirely from the herd, to create new values, to embody new concepts, to have their greatness appear on the horizon. The danger lurks not with the external world or any group but within each individual, each neighbour and friend, each heart, down to the very core.
“Profound suffering makes noble; it separates” (270). The higher man who has suffered looks down upon those who have not suffered in equal, he puts on masks to prevent exposing himself and receiving pity from those that know nothing.
This suffering man receives from woman, who is “clairvoyant in the world of suffering” and “desirous far beyond her strength to help”, eruptions of loving pity (or pitying love), which she believes to be omnipotent in saving all people. In this regard, she is similar to the figure of Christ:
It is possible that underneath the holy fable and disguise of Jesus’ life there lies concealed one of the most painful cases of the martyrdom of knowledge about love: the martyrdom of the most innocent and desirous heart, never sated by any human love; demanding love, to be loved and nothing else, with hardness, with insanity, with terrible eruptions against those who denied him love; the story of a poor fellow, unsated and insatiable in love, who had to invent hell in order to send to it those who did not want to love him—and who finally, having gained knowledge about human love, had to invent a god who is all love, all ability to love—who has mercy on human love because it is so utterly wretched and unknowing. Anyone who feels that way, who knows this about love—seeks death. (269)
The rites of religion, holy places of worship and forbidden acts all demonstrate cleanliness (or sanctity according to moral psychologists) in the separation of high and low, in that there are things you ought not to touch. Priestliness and saintliness are simply the spiritualization and refinement of cleanliness beyond antimicrobial practices (271). Modern thinkers seem to have discarded this innate sense in a fit of feeling of unfairness (they ask, naively, ‘Why?’) as they touch, lick and finger the nooks and crannies of everything. There is more nobility in the peasants who revere at a distance and know not to come too close. (263)
We trend towards an age of increasing commonality, but what, in the end, is common? A common language is not enough, we must have common experiences to understand one another, to cooperate, to reach consensus quickly in times of danger. Here Nietzsche hints at group selection:
[E]asy communicability of need… must have been the most powerful of all powers at whose disposal man has been so far. The human beings who are more similar, more ordinary, have had, and always have, an advantage; those more select, subtle, strange, and difficult to understand, easily remain alone, succumb to accidents, being isolated, and rarely propagate. One must invoke tremendous counter-forces in order to cross this natural, all to natural progressus in simile, the continual development of man toward the similar, ordinary, average, herdlike—common! (268)
To become an independent “free spirit” is to go against the grain of natural evolution. Surely we cannot all be so elevated, otherwise we would go extinct! Thus, the nobler man is at greater risk of perishing from a loss than a lower man (“In a lizard a lost finger is replaced again; not so in man” ). The ruination of the higher man is commonplace, everywhere lies pits for him to fall in, how many of these individuals have been lost to history! What we lesser beings remember is not the tragic hero, nor his inner hopelessness, not the individuals but idols—whose fictions we venerate, whose successes supersede themselves and serve a greater purpose, who are etched into the historical memory of a people.
The human being who strives from greatness considers everything along the way to be a means, delay or obstacle. His height begets graciousness towards his fellow man, all his relations are comedy, all his judgements full of irony, everything everyone is temporary but him—he is solitary. (273)
Beginning of the End
As Nietzsche begins to end his book, I begin to end this post, alas, “[t]he melancholy of everything finished!” (277)
Men of profound sadness betray themselves when they are happy: they have a way of embracing happiness as if they wanted to crush and suffocate it, from jealousy: alas they know only too well that it will flee. (279)
It takes noble self-control to praise only where one disagrees, this often leads to misunderstandings by the vain and common—”He praises me: hence he thinks I am right” (283).
The four virtues are courage, insight, sympathy, and solitude. Why solitude? It arises out of an urge of cleanliness to remove oneself from the filth of society, community and all things common. (284)
Great events, like light from distant stars, are not experienced and comprehended when they ‘occur’ (285), they occur at different times to different observers.
The hermit-skeptic will doubt that any philosopher has ever expressed his truest and deepest opinions in his writings, he thinks to himself: “does one not write books precisely to conceal what one harbors?” There must be something deeper, beneath the surface, there must be a philosophy behind the philosophy. (289)
The philosopher as the wretched soul, the reclusive sufferer:
Every profound thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood. The latter may hurt his vanity, but the former his heart, his sympathy, which always says: “Alas, why do you want to have as hard a time as I did?” (290)
A philosopher—alas, a being that often runs away from itself, often is afraid of itself—but too inquisitive not to “come to” again—always back to himself. (292)
Transcendental irony is the mark of a higher philosopher: the ability to laugh at the world, at others, at oneself. (294)
Man invented morality to simplify his inner manifold so that he may withstand the sight of his own soul! (291)
Genius of the heart, silencer of the self-satisfied, pied-piper luring away the children, Socrates corrupting the youth—the (at)tempter, god of grape-harvest, wine, winemaking, fertility, orchards and fruit, rituals, religious ecstasy, theatre, chaos and creativity, and his last disciple, Nietzsche. Make man stronger, more evil and more profound—and more beautiful. (295)
Through writing, these thoughts have become old, weary and mellow, some are even ready to become truths. There was once a time when these thoughts were young and bright in the morning of the mind; those wicked, multicoloured thoughts as they originally manifested will never be known to anyone else. (296)
From High Mountains: Aftersong
—Da seid ihr, Freunde!—Weh, doch ich bin’s nicht, Zu dem ihr wolltet?
—There you are, friends!—Alas, the man you sought You do not find here?
Ihr zögert, staunt—ach, dass ihr lieber grolltet!
You hesitate, amazed? Anger were kinder!
Nur wer sich wandelt, bleibt mit mir verwandt.
One has to change to stay akin to me.
Nietzsche’s anti-modernism and anti-liberalism stood out to me most strongly when I first read BGE. His repeated attacks on ‘scientific labourers’, modern ‘herd animals’, democrats, egalitarians, utilitarians, advocates of rights are self-indulgent. Nietzsche emphasizes independence of ‘free-spirits’, ‘virile’ masculinity and separation from society to counteract modernity. Most of all, he attempts to go beyond “good and evil”, which is not necessarily the same as going beyond “good and bad”. Nietzsche elaborates in On the Genealogy of Morality, which serves as an excellent sequel to BGE as he elucidates the metaphorical concepts that he laid down in the latter.
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