Sunday, September 07, 2008

Nietzsche - The Root of the Culture War

Nietzsche - The Root of the Culture War

By Richard P. Salbato



The writings of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche gave birth to a Culture War that has effected every part of human society. It is a war between husbands and wives, parents and children, parents and schools, Churches and governments, science and religion, and created the entire mess of the 20th Century. This is the thinking that produced two world wars, created Hitler, created the thinking of Carl Marx, gave birth to Psychiatry, destroyed the American School System, produced the woman's lib movement, produced abortion on demand, made people their own gods, and took the moral law out of governments. It produced an American Movie Industry that would rather sell immorality than make money, an industry that stopped making things like "The Ten Commandments", "Ben Hur", "Shirley Temple", "Pinocchio", "Joan of Ark", etc. that had moral messages and made a great amount of money and started making movies about homosexuals, single moms, fiction, or any deviant behavior that they could think of and they did it even if it did not make money. Modern technology has saved them from bankruptcy by great graphics when in fact there is no story at all, like "Star Wars" or "The Matrix".



Instigated by liberal elites who manipulated—and were manipulated by—the so-called "youth movement" of the 1960s, this cultural decadence has become evident in ways that are now all too familiar. The deterioration of art and music; the popularization of pornography; the collapse of the family and consequent social disintegration; the radicalization of academia, law, and politics; legislation for divorce on demand, abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia; racial politics; and the decline of religion under multiple assaults from feminism and political correctness. The revolution has been both deliberate and successful, and has transformed our society into something no one could have imagined fifty years earlier.



The Catholic Church can be a major opponent of the nihilism of modern liberal culture. Pope John Paul II has been attempting to lead an intellectual and spiritual reinvigoration, but there is resistance within the Church. Modern liberal culture has made inroads with some of the Catholic hierarchy as well as the laity. It remains to be seen whether intellectual orthodoxy can stand firm against the currents of radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. The absence of an orthodox Catholic voice in society was of vital importance in allowing the cultural collapse of the 1960s.





The cultural war is an international phenomenon and the courts have the power of judicial review to strike down statues or accept them. They have taken one side in the culture war — the side of the intellectual elite, those people who think they have a superior attitude in life and that those of us lower down the social ladder should be coerced into accepting their views.



We have been loosing this Culture War for the last 100 years but what makes me want to write about it now is that something happened that makes me think we can now turn this war around and win it. And that is the success of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". What has happened to the people who have seen this movie gives me hope that the 100 year war can be won. But to win this war we must understand it, we must see the enemy in our own distorted thinking, we must see the enemy in the books we read, the movies we see, the teaching at school, in almost everything secular today. Our Lady of Fatima said that Communism would spread its errors throughout the world. Those errors are the first modern atheist thinking born of the writings of Nietzsche.



Life of Friedrich Nietzsche



Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844. His father died when he was 4 year old. Most of his family were Lutheran ministers. He was raized by his mother, Franziska (1826-1897), his paternal grandmother, Erdmuthe, his father's two sisters, Auguste and Rosalie, and his younger sister, Therese Elisabeth Alexandra (1846-1935) - all women.



Momentous for Nietzsche in 1865 was his accidental discovery of Arthur Schopenhauer's atheistic and turbulent vision of the world, The World as Will and Representation, a work which criticized materialist metaphysical theories from the standpoint of Kant's critique of metaphysics in general. In 1867, he met the composer Richard Wagner. Wagner and Nietzsche shared an enthusiasm for Schopenhauer



Nietzsche's enthusiasm for Schopenhauer, his studies in classical philology, his inspiration from Wagner, his reading of Lange, and his frustration with the contemporary German culture, coalesced in his first book -- The Birth of Tragedy (1872) -- which was published when he was 28. Wagner showered the book with unqualified praise. Nietzsche met Paul Rée, who, while living in close company with Nietzsche, would write On the Origin of Moral Feelings.



In 1876, at age 32, Nietzsche made an unsuccessful marriage proposal to a Dutch piano student in Geneva named Mathilde Trampedach. During this time, His ailing health, which led to migraine headaches, eyesight problems and vomiting, necessitated his resignation from the university in June, 1879.



On a visit to Rome in 1882, Nietzsche, now at age thirty-seven, met Lou Salomé, a twenty-one-year-old Russian woman who was studying philosophy and theology in Zurich. He soon fell in love with her, and offered his hand in marriage. She declined, and the future of Nietzsche's friendship with her and Paul Rée appears to have suffered as a consequence. In the years to follow, Salomé would become an associate of Sigmund Freud, and would write with psychological insight of her association with Nietzsche.



On the morning of January 3, 1889, while in Turin, Nietzsche experienced a mental breakdown which left him an invalid for the rest of his life. That Nietzsche had an extraordinarily sensitive nervous constitution and took an assortment of medications is well-documented as a more general fact. After a brief hospitalization in Basel, he spent 1889 in a sanatorium in Jena at the Binswanger Clinic, and in March 1890 his mother took him back home to Naumburg, where he lived under her care for the next seven years. After his mother's death in 1897, his sister Elisabeth -- having previously returned home from Paraguay, where she had been working with her husband Bernhard Förster to establish an Aryan, anti-Semitic German colony called "New Germany" ("Nueva Germania") -- assumed responsibility for Nietzsche's welfare. On August 25, 1900, Nietzsche died in the villa as he approached his 56th year, apparently of pneumonia in combination with a stroke.



The Influence of Nietzsche



Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was notoriously unread and un-influential during his own lifetime, and his works suffered considerable distortion in the hands of his sister Elisabeth, who managed his literary estate and twisted his philosophy into a set of ideas supporting Hitler and Nazism (Hitler had Thus Spoke Zarathustra issued to every soldier in the German army). By far his most often quoted utterance--seldom understood--is "God is dead," which placed his thought beyond the pale for many readers.



But Nietzsche's influence has been much richer and varied than these simple stereotypes suggest. It is not surprising that an author who embraced such contradictions should have influenced thinkers of an extraordinary variety.



Philosophy



The only philosopher to feel his influence while he could be aware of it was the Danish critic and philosopher Georg Brandes (1842-1927), who in the late 1880s developed a philosophy which he called "aristocratic radicalism" inspired by Nietzsche's notion of the "overman." Nietzsche's insistence that the decay of religion (the "death of God") requires that humanity take responsibility for setting its own moral standards inspired existentialists from Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) to Albert Camus (1913-1960).



Nietzsche's relativism has had a powerful influence on two of the most important modern French Deconstructionist philosophers, Jacques Derrida (b. 1930) and Michel Foucault (1926-1984).



Theologians



Oddly enough, he has also been a powerful influence on certain theologians, notably Paul Tillich (1886-1965), who developed an Existentialist, human-centered theology which tried to salvage elements of traditional faith while drawing on rationalism. Thomas Altizer (b.1927) created a sensation (and found himself on the cover of Time) in the 1960s by helping to create the oxymoronically named "death of God theology" together with a number of other theologians who argued for religion without God. Their constant use of Nietzsche's catch phrase is a reminder of their indebtedness to him. Although the direct influence of this school hardly lasted out the decade, other theologians used Nietzsche's thought as well, notably embracing his idea that human values should be based not on denial ("thou shalt not") but on affirmation ("thou shalt"). The Jewish theologian Martin Buber (1878-1965)--also a great influence on Christian theology--translated part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra into Polish. He read Nietzsche's works very early, beginning in 1892. His emphasis on process in theology resembles some of Nietzsche's ideas.



Although he did not draw directly on Nietzsche's work, the notions of "creative evolution" espoused by Henri Bergson (1859-1941) had a powerful influence on the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis (1885-1957), who combined his studies under Bergson with his reading of Nietzsche to produce a version of what is known as "process theology" which is most readily studied in the little book The Saviors of God and is also expressed in his most popular novel, Zorba the Greek. According to Kazantzakis, God is the result of whatever the most energetic and heroic people value and create. This is clearly very similar to Nietzsche's ideas about the sources of religion. Nietzsche's notion of heroes as creators is at the heart of Kazantzakis' philosophy.



Psychology



The two grandfathers of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Carl Jung (1875-1961), both had a deep admiration for Nietzsche and credited him with many insights into the human character.



Alfred Adler (1870-1937) developed an "individual psychology" which argues that each individual strives for what he called "superiority," but is more commonly referred to today as "self-realization" or "self-actualization," and which was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche's notions of striving and self-creation. The entire "human potential movement" and humanistic psychology (Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, etc.) owes a great debt to this line of thought. Even pop psychologists of "self-esteem" preach a gospel little different from that of Zarathustra. The ruthless, self-assertive "objectivism" of Ayn Rand (1905-1982) is difficult to imagine without the influence of Nietzsche.



Fiction



Besides Kanzantzakis, many novelists have drawn on Nietzsche. Thomas Mann (1875-1955) wrote repeatedly about him and his characters are often engaged in struggles to define their ideas in a world in which old philosophies are decaying, like Nietzsche, torn between romanticism and rationalism (notably in The Magic Mountain). Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) similarly explored the necessity for the individuals to overcome their social training and traditional ideas to seek their own way (Steppenwolf and The Glass Bead Game). Many other famous writers influenced by Nietzsche include André Malraux (1901-1976), André Gide (1869-1951), and Knut Hamsun (1859-1952).



Poetry



Given the poetic style in which he wrote, it is not surprising that numerous poets have been drawn to Nietzsche, including Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). He, like many writers influenced by Nietzsche, rejected the kind of traditional Christian dualism which sorts existence into good and evil with the physical and earthly being regarded as a source of evil and goodness identified with pure spirit and the life after death. His celebration of mortal life as a sort of religion is extremely Nietzschean. He was also became lover of Lou Andreas-Salomé, a woman who ten years earlier Nietzsche loved unrequitedly.



Among many others, one can find strong Nietzschean themes in the works of Beat Generation poets such as Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) and Gary Snyder (b. 1930), who were drawn to the vitalistic, anti-dualistic themes also earlier expressed in the English and American traditions by William Blake and Walt Whitman. Blake, Whitman and Nietzsche form a sort of triumvirate whose influence runs through large swaths of modern literature in their rejection of dualism and embrace of the body as good. Like many other poets, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) combined an admiration for Blake with interest in Nietzsche.



Drama



George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) expressed his version of Nietzsche's struggle for power in his play Man and Superman, and more than one character in the plays of Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953) is under Nietzsche's spell.



Influential ideas



If there are few names from the second half of the 20th century cited above that you recognize, it is not because Nietzsche's influence has dwindled. Rather it so pervades modern culture that many who have never read him are influenced by his thought indirectly. Consider the following ideas circulating in American culture today, all of them traceable at least in part to Nietzsche, although many of them are much simpler than similar ideas held by him:



· The goal of life should be to find yourself. True maturity means discovering or creating an identity for yourself.



· The highest virtue is to be true to yourself (consider these song titles from a generation ago: "I Gotta Be Me," "I Did It My Way").



· When you fall ill, your body is trying to tell you something; listen to the wisdom of your body.



· People who hate their bodies or are in tension with them need to learn how to accept and integrate their physical selves with their minds instead of seeing them as in tension with each other. The mind and body make up a single whole.



· Athletes, musicians, etc. especially need to become so attuned to their bodies that their skills proceed spontaneously from the knowledge stored in their muscles and are not frustrated by an excess of conscious rational thought. (The influence of Zen Buddhism on this sort of thinking is also very strong.)



· Sexuality is not the opposite of virtue, but a natural gift that needs to be developed and integrated into a healthy, rounded life.



· Many people suffer from impaired self-esteem; they need to work on being proud of themselves.



· Knowledge and strength are greater virtues than humility and submission.



· Overcoming feelings of guilt is an important step to mental health.



· You can't love someone else if you don't love yourself.



· Life is short; experience it as intensely as you can or it is wasted.



· People's values are shaped by the cultures they live in; as society changes we need changed values.



· Challenge yourself; don't live passively.



It is notable that none of these ideas flows from the traditional Judeo-Christian culture which dominated Europe for a thousand years. Many of them have their roots in Romanticism, with Nietzsche merely articulating impulses that others shared; but he is a major transmitter of them to the modern world.



Nietzsche's Writings



The following are Nietzsche's own words on different subjects taken from some of his books. This is the thinking that produced two world wars, created Hitler, created the thinking of Carl Marx, gave birth to Psychiatry, destroyed the American School System, produced the woman's lib movement, produced abortion on demand, made people their own gods, and took the moral law out of governments.



The following are all quotes from Nietzsche's books.



Philosophy



How I understand the philosopher -- as a terrible explosive, endangering everything...



Those who boast so mightily of the scientifically of their metaphysics should receive no answer;



Even today many educated people think that the victory of Christianity over Greek philosophy is a proof of the superior truth of the former - although in this case it was only the coarser and more violent that conquered the more spiritual and delicate. So far as superior truth is concerned, it is enough to observe that the awakening sciences have allied themselves point by point with the philosophy of Epicurus, but point by point rejected Christianity.



If all goes well, the time will come when one will take up the memorabilia of Socrates rather than the Bible as a guide to morals and reason... The pathways of the most various philosophical modes of life lead back to him... Socrates excels the founder of Christianity in being able to be serious cheerfully and in possessing that wisdom full of roguishness that constitutes the finest state of the human soul. And he also possessed the finer intellect.



When we hear the ancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is it really possible! This, for a Jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was God's son? The proof of such a claim is lacking. Certainly the Christian religion is an antiquity projected into our times from remote prehistory; and the fact that the claim is believed - whereas one is otherwise so strict in examining pretensions - is perhaps the most ancient piece of this heritage. A god who begets children with a mortal woman; a sage who bids men work no more, have no more courts, but look for the signs of the impending end of the world; a justice that accepts the innocent as a vicarious sacrifice; someone who orders his disciples to drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god, atoned for by a god; fear of a beyond to which death is the portal; the form of the cross as a symbol in a time that no longer knows the function and ignominy of the cross -- how ghoulishly all this touches us, as if from the tomb of a primeval past! Can one believe that such things are still believed?



Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life's nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in "another" or "better" life.



A Jesus Christ was possible only in a Jewish landscape--I mean one over which the gloomy and sublime thunder cloud of the wrathful Yahweh was brooding continually.



All the world still believes in the authorship of the "Holy Spirit" or is at least still affected by this belief: when one opens the Bible one does so for "edification."...


Paul thought up the idea and Calvin rethought it, that for innumerable people damnation has been decreed from eternity, and that this beautiful world plan was instituted to reveal the glory of God: heaven and hell and humanity are thus supposed to exist - to satisfy the vanity of God! What cruel and insatiable vanity must have flared in the soul of the man who thought this up first, or second. Paul has remained Saul after all - the persecutor of God.



Christianity's Nature - If the Christian dogmas of a revengeful God, universal sinfulness, election by divine grace and the danger of eternal damnation were true, it would be a sign of weak-mindedness and lack of character not to become a priest, apostle or hermit --



The Christian church is an encyclopaedia of prehistoric cults and conceptions of the most diverse origin, and that is why it is so capable of proselytizing.



Christianity possesses the hunters instinct for all those who can by one means or another be brought to despair - of which only a portion of mankind is capable. It is constantly on their track, it lies in wait for them.



Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin.



In former times, one sought to prove that there is no God - today one indicates how the belief that there is a God arose and how this belief acquired its weight and importance: a counter-proof that there is no God thereby becomes superfluous.- When in former times one had refuted the 'proofs of the existence of God' put forward, there always remained the doubt whether better proofs might not be adduced than those just refuted: in those days atheists did not know how to make a clean sweep.



But in the end one also has to understand that the needs that religion has satisfied and philosophy is now supposed to satisfy are not immutable; they can be weakened and exterminated. Consider, for example, that Christian distress of mind that comes from sighing over ones inner depravity and care for ones salvation - all concepts originating in nothing but errors of reason and deserving, not satisfaction, but obliteration.



Christianity came into existence in order to lighten the heart; but now it has first to burden the heart so as afterwards to be able to lighten it. Consequently it shall perish.



After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave - a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. -And we- we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.



There are no facts, only interpretations.



Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.



Every word is a prejudice.



Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.



Mystical explanations are considered deep. The truth is that they are not even superficial.



It is true, there could be a metaphysical world; the absolute possibility of it is hardly to be disputed. We behold all things through the human head and cannot cut off this head; while the question nonetheless remains what of the world would still be there if one had cut it off.



Even great spirits have only their five fingers breadth of experience - just beyond it their thinking ceases and their endless empty space and stupidity begins.



What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms -- in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: Truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.


We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors - in moral terms, the obligation to lie according to fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all



What are man's truths ultimately? Merely his irrefutable errors.



The reasons for which 'this' world has been characterized as 'apparent' are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable.



Let us beware of saying that there are laws in nature. There are only necessities: there is nobody who commands, nobody who obeys, nobody who trespasses... But when will we ever be done with our caution and care? When will all these shadows of God cease to darken our minds? When will we complete our de-deification of nature? When may we begin to "naturalize" humanity in terms of a pure, newly discovered, newly redeemed nature? from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.109,



We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody could now endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error.



Over immense periods of time the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggle for themselves and their progeny. Such erroneous articles of faith... include the following: that there are things, substances, bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for me is also good in itself.



How did logic come into existence in man's head? Certainly out of illogic, whose realm originally must have been immense. Innumerable beings who made inferences in a way different from ours perished; for all that, their ways might have been truer. Those, for example, who did not know how to find often enough what is "equal" as regards both nourishment and hostile animals--those, in other words, who subsumed things too slowly and cautiously--were favored with a lesser probability of survival than those who guessed immediately upon encountering similar instances that they must be equal. The dominant tendency, however, to treat as equal what is merely similar--an illogical tendency, for nothing is really equal--is what first created any basis for logic.



In order that the concept of substance could originate--which is indispensible for logic although in the strictest sense nothing real corresponds to it--it was likewise necessary that for a long time one did not see or perceive the changes in things. The beings that did not see so precisely had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux." At bottom, every high degree of caution in making inferences and every skeptical tendency constitute a great danger for life. No living beings would have survived if the opposite tendency--to affirm rather than suspend judgment, to err and make up things rather than wait, to assent rather than negate, to pass judgment rather than be just-- had not been bred to the point where it became extraordinarily strong.



Cause and effect, such a duality probably never exists; in truth we are confronted by a continuum out of which we isolate a couple of pieces, just as we perceive motion only as isolated points and then infer it without ever actually seeing it. The suddenness with which many effects stand out misleads us; actually, it is sudden only for us. In this moment of suddenness there are an infinite number of processes which elude us. An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum and a flux and not, as we do, in terms of an arbitrary division and dismemberment, would repudiate the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality.



To renounce belief in one's ego, to deny one's own "reality" -- what a triumph! not merely over the senses, over appearance, but a much higher kind of triumph, a violation and cruelty against reason -- a voluptuous pleasure that reaches its height when the ascetic self-contempt and self-mockery of reason declares: "there is a realm of truth and being, but reason is excluded from it!"


Henceforth, my dear philosophers, let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject"; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as "pure reason," absolute spirituality," "knowledge in itself": these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective "knowing"; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our "concept" of this thing, our "objectivity," be. But to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this -- what would that mean but to castrate the intellect?



Morality



Nevertheless. -- however credit and debit balances may stand: at its present state as a specific individual science the awakening of moral observation has become necessary, and mankind can no longer be spared the cruel sight of the moral dissecting table and its knives and forceps... the older philosophy... has, with paltry evasions, always avoided investigation of the origin and history of the moral sensations. With what consequences is now very clearly apparent, since it has been demonstrated in many instances how the errors of the greatest philosophers usually have their point of departure in a false explanation of certain human actions and sensations; ...a false ethics is erected, religion and mythological monsters are then in turn called to buttress it, and the shadow of these dismal spirits in the end falls even across physics and the entire perception of the world.



Custom represents the experiences of men of earlier times as to what they supposed useful and harmful - but the sense for custom (morality) applies, not to these experiences as such, but to the age, the sanctity, the indiscussability of the custom. And so this feeling is a hindrance to the acquisition of new experiences and the correction of customs: that is to say, morality is a hindrance to the development of new and better customs: it makes stupid.



Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; - history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!



What is new, however, is always evil, being that which wants to conquer and overthrow the old boundary markers and the old pieties; and only what is old is good. The good men are in all ages those who dig the old thoughts, digging deep and getting them to bear fruit - the farmers of the spirit. But eventually all land is depleted, and the ploughshare of evil must come again and again.



To admit a belief merely because it is a custom - but that means to be dishonest, cowardly, lazy! - And so could dishonesty, cowardice and laziness be the preconditions for morality?



... hitherto we have been permitted to seek beauty only in the morally good - a fact which sufficiently accounts for our having found so little of it and having had to seek about for imaginary beauties without backbone! - As surely as the wicked enjoy a hundred kinds of happiness of which the virtuous have no inkling, so too they possess a hundred kinds of beauty; and many of them have not yet been discovered.



It is, indeed, a fact that, in the midst of society and sociability every evil inclination has to place itself under such great restraint, don so many masks, lay itself so often on the procrustean bed of virtue, that one could well speak of a martyrdom of the evil man. In solitude all this falls away. He who is evil is at his most evil in solitude: which is where he is at his best - and thus to the eye of him who sees everywhere only a spectacle also at his most beautiful.



Where the poor power of the eye can no longer see the evil impulse as such because it has become too subtle, man posits the realm of goodness; and the feeling that we have now entered the realm of goodness excites all those impulses which had been threatened and limited by the evil impulses, like the feeling of security, of comfort, of benevolence. Hence, the duller the eye, the more extensive the good. Hence the eternal cheerfulness of the common people and of children. Hence the gloominess and grief - akin to a bad conscience - of the great thinkers.



All philosophers have the common failing of starting out from man as he is now and thinking they can reach their goal through an analysis of him. They involuntarily think of 'man' as an aeterna veritas, as something that remains constant in the midst of all flux, as a sure measure of things. Everything the philosopher has declared about man is, however, at bottom no more than a testimony as to the man of a very limited period of time. Lack of historical sense is the family failing of all philosophers.



Error has transformed animals into men; is truth perhaps capable of changing man back into an animal?



Mighty waters draw much stone and rubble along with them; mighty spirits many stupid and bewildered heads.



You will never get the crowd to cry Hosanna until you ride into town on an ass.



The most senile thing ever thought about man is contained in the celebrated saying 'the ego is always hateful'; the most childish is the even more celebrated 'love thy neighbor as thyself'. -- In the former, knowledge of human nature has ceased, in the latter it has not yet even begun.



Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray. Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him!



It is not things, but opinions about things that have absolutely no existence, which have so deranged mankind!



Consider the following signs of those states of society which are necessary from time to time and which are designated with the word "corruption." As soon as corruption sets in anywhere superstition becomes rank. and the previous common faith of a people becomes pale and powerless against it. For superstition is second-order free spirit: those who surrender to it choose certain forms and formulas that they find congenial and permit themselves some freedom of choice.



Fourth, when "morals decay" those men emerge whom one calls tyrants: they are the precursors and as it were the precocious harbingers of individuals... In these ages bribery and treason reach their peak, for the love of the newly discovered ego is much more powerful now than the love of the old, used-up "fatherland"... Individuals--being truly in-and-for-themselves-- care, as is well known, more for the moment than do their opposites, the herd men... The times of corruption are those when the apples fall from the tree: I mean the individuals, for they carry the seeds of the future and are the authors of the spiritual colonization and origin of new states and communities. Corruption is merely a nasty word for the autumn of a people.



The greatest danger that always hovered over humanity and still hovers over it is the eruption of madness - which means the eruption of arbitrariness in feeling, seeing and hearing, the enjoyment of the mind's lack of discipline, the joy in human unreason. Not truth and certainty are the opposite of the world of the madman, but the universality and the universal binding force of a faith; in sum, the non-arbitrary character of judgments... Thus the virtuous intellects are needed - oh, let me use the most unambiguous word - what is needed is virtuous stupidity, stolid metronomes for the slow spirit, to make sure that the faithful of the great shared faith stay together and continue their dance... We others are the exception and the danger - and we need eternally to be opposed. - Well, there actually are things to be said in favor of the exception, provided that it never wants to become the rule.



Suppose nothing else were "given" as real except our world of desires and passions, and we could not get down, or up, to any other "reality" besides the reality of our drives--for thinking is merely a relation of these drives to each other: is it not permitted to make the experiment and to ask the question whether this "given" would not be sufficient for also understanding on the basis of this kind of thing the so-called mechanistic (or "material") world?...



In the end not only is it permitted to make this experiment; the conscience of method demands it. Not to assume several kinds of causality until the experiment of making do with a single one has been pushed to its utmost limit (to the point of nonsense, if I may say so)... The question is in the end whether we really recognize the will as efficient, whether we believe in the causality of the will: if we do--and at bottom our faith in this is nothing less than our faith in causality itself--then we have to make the experiment of positing causality of the will hypothetically as the only one. "Will," of course, can affect only "will"--and not "matter" (not "nerves," for example). In short, one has to risk the hypothesis whether will does not affect will wherever "effects" are recognized--and whether all mechanical occurrences are not, insofar as a force is active in them, will force, effects of will.

Suppose, finally, we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one basic form of the will--namely, of the will to power, as my proposition has it... then one would have gained the right to determine all efficient force univocally as--will to power. The world viewed from inside... it would be "will to power" and nothing else.



In order to sustain the theory of a mechanistic world, therefore, we always have to stipulate to what extent we are employing two fictions: the concept of motion (taken from our sense language) and the concept of the atom (=unity, deriving from our psychical "experience"): the mechanistic theory presupposes a sense prejudice and a psychological prejudice...



The mechanistic world is imagined only as sight and touch imagine a world (as "moved") --so as to be calculable-- thus causal unities are invented, "things" (atoms) whose effect remains constant (--transference of the false concept of subject to the concept of the atom)...


If we eliminate these additions, no things remain but only dynamic quanta, in a relation of tension to all other dynamic quanta: their essence lies in their relation to all other quanta, in their "effect" upon the same. The will to power is not a being, not a becoming, but a pathos --the most elemental fact from which a becoming and effecting first emerge--



My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power.



[Anything which] is a living and not a dying body... will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant - not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power... 'Exploitation'... belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life. Never yield to remorse, but at once tell yourself: remorse would simply mean adding to the first act of stupidity a second. from Nietzsche's The Wanderer and his Shadow,s. 323



My philosophy brings the triumphant idea of which all other modes of thought will ultimately perish. It is the great cultivating idea: the races that cannot bear it stand condemned; those who find it the greatest benefit are chosen to rule.



I want to teach the idea that gives many the right to erase themselves - the great cultivating idea..



Everything becomes and recurs eternally - escape is impossible! - Supposing we could judge value, what follows? The idea of recurrence as a selective principle, in the service of strength (and barbarism!!)...



To endure the idea of the recurrence one needs: freedom from morality; new means against the fact of pain ( pain conceived as a tool, as the father of pleasure...); the enjoyment of all kinds of uncertainty, experimentalism, as a counterweight to this extreme fatalism; abolition of the concept of necessity; abolition of the "will"; abolition of "knowledge-in-itself."



Greatest elevation of the consciousness of strength in man, as he creates the overman. from The Will to Power,



"I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?


All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment...


Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go.


Once the sin against God was the greatest sin; but God died, and these sinners died with him. To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing, and to esteem the entrails of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth...


What is the greatest experience you can have? It is the hour of the great contempt. The hour when your happiness, too, arouses your disgust, and even your reason and your virtue.


The hour when you say, 'What matters my happiness? It is poverty and filth and wretched contentment. But my happiness ought to justify existence itself.'


The hour when you say, 'What matters my reason? Does it crave knowledge as the lion his food? It is poverty and filth and wretched contentment.'


The hour when you say, 'What matters my virtue? As yet it has not made me rage. How weary I am of my good and my evil! All that is poverty and filth and wretched contentment.'



"I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.


Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.


Democratic institutions are quarantine arrangements to combat that ancient pestilence, lust for tyranny: as such they are very useful and very boring



Marriages contracted from love (so-called love-matches) have error for their father and need for their mother.

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