The Will To Power, Books I and II

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A Plan     5

I. Nihilism—

1. Nihilism as an Outcome of the Valuations and Interpretations
of Existence which have prevailed hitherto     8
2. Further Causes of Nihilism   23
3. The Nihilistic Movement as an Expression of Decadence   31
4. The Crisis: Nihilism and the Idea of Recurrence   47

II. Concerning the History of European Nihilism—

(a) Modern Gloominess   55
(b) The Last Centuries   73
(c) Signs of Increasing Strength   91


I. Criticism of Religion—

1. Concerning the Origin of Religions 113
2. Concerning the History of Christianity 132
3. Christian Ideals 179

II. A Criticism of Morality—

1. The Origin of Moral Valuations 210
2. The Herd 226
3. General Observations concerning Morality 237
4. How Virtue is made to Dominate 248
5. The Moral Ideal—
A. A Criticism of Ideals 264
B. A Criticism of the “Good Man,” of the Saint, etc. 282
C. Concerning the Slander of the so-called Evil Qualities 291
D. A Criticism of the Words: Improving, Perfecting, Elevating 312
6. Concluding Remarks concerning the Criticism of Morality 320

III. Criticism of Philosophy—

1. General Remarks 327
2. A Criticism of Greek Philosophy 345
3. The Truths and Errors of Philosophers 369
4. Concluding Remarks in the Criticism of Philosophy 378









The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche

The First Complete and Authorised English Translation

Edited by Dr Oscar Levy

Volume Fourteen



In the volume before us we have the first two books of what was to be Nietzsche's greatest theoretical and philosophical prose work. The reception given to Thus Spake Zarathustra had been so unsatisfactory, and misunderstandings relative to its teaching had become so general, that, within a year of the publication of the first part of that famous philosophical poem, Nietzsche was already beginning to see the necessity of bringing his doctrines before the public in a more definite and unmistakable form. During the years that followed—that is to say, between 1883 and 1886—this plan was matured, and although we have no warrant, save his sister's own word and the internal evidence at our disposal, for classing Beyond Good and Evil (published 1886) among the contributions to Nietzsche's grand and final philosophical scheme, "The Will to Power," it is now impossible to separate it entirely from his chief work as we would naturally separate The Birth of Tragedy, the Thoughts out of Season, the volumes entitled Human, all-too-Human, The Dawn of Day, and Joyful Wisdom.

Beyond Good and Evil, then, together with its sequel, The Genealogy of Morals, and the two little volumes, The Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist (published in 1889 and 1894 respectively), must be regarded as forming part of the general plan of which The Will to Power was to be the opus magnum.

Unfortunately, The Will to Power was never completed by its author. The text from which this translation was made is a posthumous publication, and it suffers from all the disadvantages that a book must suffer from which has been arranged and ordered by foster hands. When those who were responsible for its publication undertook the task of preparing it for the press, it was very little more than a vast collection of notes and rough drafts, set down by Nietzsche from time to time, as the material for his chief work; and, as any liberty taken with the original manuscript, save that of putting it in order, would probably have resulted in adding or excluding what the author would on no account have added or excluded himself, it follows that in some few cases the paragraphs are no more than hasty memoranda of passing thoughts, which Nietzsche must have had the intention of elaborating at some future time. In these cases the translation follows the German as closely as possible, and the free use even of a conjunction has in certain cases been avoided, for fear lest the meaning might be in the slightest degree modified. It were well, therefore, if the reader could bear these facts in mind whenever he is struck by a certain clumsiness, either of expression or disposition, in the course of reading this translation.

It may be said that, from the day when Nietzsche first recognised the necessity of making a more unequivocal appeal to his public than the Zarathustra had been, that is to say, from the spring of 1883, his work in respect of The Will to Power suffered no interruption whatsoever, and that it was his chief preoccupation from that period until his breakdown in 1889.

That this span of six years was none too long for the task he had undertaken, will be gathered from the fact that, in the great work he had planned, he actually set out to show that the life-principle, "Will to Power," was the prime motor of all living organisms.

To do this he appeals both to the animal world and to human society, with its subdivisions, religion, art, morality, politics, etc. etc., and in each of these he seeks to demonstrate the activity of the principle which he held to be the essential factor of all existence.

Frau Foerster-Nietzsche tells us that the notion that "The Will to Power" was the fundamental principle of all life, first occurred to her brother in the year 1870, at the seat of war, while he was serving as a volunteer in a German army ambulance. On one occasion, at the close of a very heavy day with the wounded, he happened to enter a small town which lay on one of the chief military roads. He was wandering through it in a leisurely fashion when, suddenly, as he turned the [Pg i]corner of a street that was protected on either side by lofty stone walls, he heard a roaring noise, as of thunder, which seemed to come from the immediate neighbourhood. He hurried forward a step or two, and what should he see, but a magnificent cavalry regiment—gloriously expressive of the courage and exuberant strength of a people—ride past him like a luminous stormcloud. The thundering din waxed louder and louder, and lo and behold! his own beloved regiment of field artillery dashed forward at full speed, out of the mist of motes, and sped westward amid an uproar of clattering chains and galloping steeds. A minute or two elapsed, and then a column of infantry appeared, advancing at the double—the men's eyes were aflame, their feet struck the hard road like mighty hammer-strokes, and their accoutrements glistened through the haze. While this procession passed before him, on its way to war and perhaps to death,—so wonderful in its vital strength and formidable courage, and so perfectly symbolic of a race that will conquer and prevail, or perish in the attempt,—Nietzsche was struck with the thought that the highest will to live could not find its expression in a miserable "struggle for existence," but in a will to war, a Will to Power, a will to overpower! This is said to be the history of his first conception of that principle which is at the root of all his philosophy, and twelve years later, in Thus Spake Zarathustra, we find him expounding it thus:—

"Wherever I found a living thing, there found I Will to Power; and even in the will of the servant found I the will to be master.

"Only where there is life, is there also will: not, however, Will to Life, but—so teach I thee—Will to Power!

"Much is reckoned higher than life itself by the living one; but out of the very reckoning speaketh—the Will to Power!"

And three years later still, in Beyond Good and Evil, we read the following passage:—

"Psychologists should bethink themselves before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength—life itself is Will to Power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results thereof."

But in this volume, and the one that is to follow, we shall find Nietzsche more mature, more sober, and perhaps more profound than in the works above mentioned. All the loves and hates by which we know him, we shall come across again in this work; but here he seems to stand more above them than he had done heretofore; having once[Pg ii] enunciated his ideals vehemently and emphatically, he now discusses them with a certain grim humour, with more thoroughness and detail, and he gives even his enemies a quiet and respectful hearing. His tolerant attitude to Christianity on pages 8-9, 107, 323, for instance, is a case in point, and his definite description of what we are to understand by his pity (p. 293) leaves us in no doubt as to the calm determination of this work. Book One will not seem so well arranged or so well worked out as Book Two; the former being more sketchy and more speculative than the latter. Be this as it may, it contains deeply interesting things, inasmuch as it attempts to trace the elements of Nihilism—as the outcome of Christian values—in all the institutions of the present day.

In the Second Book Herbert Spencer comes in for a number of telling blows, and not the least of these is to be found on page 237, where, although his name is not mentioned, it is obviously implied. Here Nietzsche definitely disclaims all ideas of an individualistic morality, and carefully states that his philosophy aims at a new order of rank.

It will seem to some that morality is dealt with somewhat cavalierly throughout the two books; but, in this respect, it should not be forgotten that Nietzsche not only made a firm stand in favour of exceptional men, but that he also believed that any morality is nothing more than a mere system of valuations which are determined by the conditions in which a given species lives. Hence his words on page 107: "Beyond Good and Evil,—certainly; but we insist upon the unconditional and strict preservation of herd-morality"; and on page 323: "Suppose the strong were masters in all respects, even in valuing: let us try and think what their attitude would be towards illness, suffering, and sacrifice! Self-contempt on the part of the weak would be the result: they would do their utmost to disappear and to extirpate their kind. And would this be desirable?—should we really like a world in which the subtlety, the consideration, the intellectuality, the[Pg iii] plasticity—in fact, the whole influence of the weak—was lacking?"

It is obvious from this passage that Nietzsche only objected to the influence of herd-morality outside the herd—that is to say, among exceptional and higher men who may be wrecked by it. Whereas most other philosophers before him had been the "Altruist" of the lower strata of humanity, Nietzsche may aptly be called the Altruist of the exceptions, of the particular lucky cases among men. For such "varieties," he thought, the morality of Christianity had done all it could do, and though he in no way wished to underrate the value it had sometimes been to them in the past, he saw that at present, in any case, it might prove a great danger. With Goethe, therefore, he believed that "Hypotheses are only the pieces of scaffolding which are erected round a building during the course of its construction, and which are taken away as soon as the edifice is completed. To the workman, they are indispensable; but he must be careful not to confound the scaffolding with the building."[1]

It is deeply to be deplored that Nietzsche was never able to complete his life-work. The fragments of it collected in volumes i. and ii. of The Will to Power are sufficiently remarkable to convey some idea of what the whole work would have been if only its author had been able to arrange and complete it according to his original design.

It is to be hoped that we are too sensible nowadays to allow our sensibilities to be shocked by serious and well-meditated criticism, even of the most cherished among our institutions, and an honest and sincere reformer ought no longer to find us prejudiced—to the extent of deafness—against him, more particularly when he comes forward with a gospel—"The Will to Power"—which is, above all, a test of our power to will.


[1] Naturwissenschaft im Allgemeinen (Weimar Edition, i. II, p. 132).

[Pg 1]



Concerning great things one should either be silent or one should speak loftily:—loftily—that is to say, cynically and innocently.


What I am now going to relate is the history of the next two centuries. I shall describe what will happen, what must necessarily happen: the triumph of Nihilism. This history can be written already; for necessity itself is at work in bringing it about. This future is already proclaimed by a hundred different omens; as a destiny it announces its advent everywhere, for this music of to-morrow all ears are already pricked. The whole of our culture in Europe has long been writhing in an agony of suspense which increases from decade to decade as if in expectation of a catastrophe: restless, violent, helter-skelter, like a torrent that will reach its bourne, and refuses to reflect—yea, that even dreads reflection.


On the other hand, the present writer has done little else, hitherto, than reflect and meditate, like[Pg 2] an instinctive philosopher and anchorite, who found his advantage in isolation—in remaining outside, in patience, procrastination, and lagging behind; like a weighing and testing spirit who has already lost his way in every labyrinth of the future; like a prophetic bird-spirit that looks backwards when it would announce what is to come; like the first perfect European Nihilist, who, however, has already outlived Nihilism in his own soul—who has out-grown, overcome, and dismissed it.


For the reader must not misunderstand the meaning of the title which has been given to this Evangel of the Future. "The Will to Power: An Attempted Transvaluation of all Values"—with this formula a counter-movement finds expression, in regard to both a principle and a mission; a movement which in some remote future will supersede this perfect Nihilism; but which nevertheless regards it as a necessary step, both logically and psychologically, towards its own advent, and which positively cannot come, except on top of and out of it. For, why is the triumph of Nihilism inevitable now? Because the very values current amongst us to-day will arrive at their logical conclusion in Nihilism,—because Nihilism is the only possible outcome of our greatest values and ideals,—because we must first experience Nihilism before we can realise what the actual worth of these "values" was.... Sooner or later we shall be in need of new values.

[Pg 3]
[Pg 4]


[Pg 5]




1. Nihilism is at our door: whence comes this most gruesome of all guests to us?—To begin with, it is a mistake to point to "social evils," "physiological degeneration," or even to corruption as a cause of Nihilism. This is the most straightforward and most sympathetic age that ever was. Evil, whether spiritual, physical, or intellectual, is, in itself, quite unable to introduce Nihilism, i.e., the absolute repudiation of worth, purpose, desirability. These evils allow of yet other and quite different explanations. But there is one very definite explanation of the phenomena: Nihilism harbours in the heart of Christian morals.

2. The downfall of Christianity,—through its morality (which is insuperable), which finally turns against the Christian God Himself (the sense of truth, highly developed through Christianity, ultimately revolts against the falsehood and fictitiousness of all Christian interpretations of the world and its history. The recoil-stroke of "God [Pg 6]is Truth" in the fanatical Belief, is: "All is false." Buddhism of action....).

3. Doubt in morality is the decisive factor. The downfall of the moral interpretation of the universe, which loses its raison d'être once it has tried to take flight to a Beyond, meets its end in Nihilism. "Nothing has any purpose" (the inconsistency of one explanation of the world, to which men have devoted untold energy,—gives rise to the suspicion that all explanations may perhaps be false). The Buddhistic feature: a yearning for nonentity (Indian Buddhism has no fundamentally moral development at the back of it; that is why Nihilism in its case means only morality not overcome; existence is regarded as a punishment and conceived as an error; error is thus held to be punishment—a moral valuation). Philosophical attempts to overcome the "moral God" (Hegel, Pantheism). The vanquishing of popular ideals: the wizard, the saint, the bard. Antagonism of "true" and "beautiful" and "good."

4. Against "purposelessness" on the one hand, against moral valuations on the other: how far has all science and philosophy been cultivated heretofore under the influence of moral judgments? And have we not got the additional factor—the enmity of science, into the bargain? Or the prejudice against science? Criticism of Spinoza. Christian valuations everywhere present as remnants in socialistic and positivistic systems. A criticism of Christian morality is altogether lacking.

5. The Nihilistic consequences of present natural [Pg 7]science (along with its attempts to escape into a Beyond). Out of its practice there finally arises a certain self-annihilation, an antagonistic attitude towards itself—a sort of anti-scientificality. Since Copernicus man has been rolling away from the centre towards x.

6. The Nihilistic consequences of the political and politico-economical way of thinking, where all principles at length become tainted with the atmosphere of the platform: the breath of mediocrity, insignificance, dishonesty, etc. Nationalism. Anarchy, etc. Punishment. Everywhere the deliverer is missing, either as a class or as a single man—the justifier.

7. Nihilistic consequences of history and of the "practical historian," i.e., the romanticist. The attitude of art is quite unoriginal in modern life. Its gloominess. Goethe's so-called Olympian State.

8. Art and the preparation of Nihilism. Romanticism (the conclusion of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung).

[Pg 8]



1. Nihilism As an Outcome of the Valuations and Interpretations of Existence Which Have Prevailed Heretofore.


What does Nihilism mean?—That the highest values are losing their value. There is no bourne. There is no answer to the question: "to what purpose?"


Thorough Nihilism is the conviction that life is absurd, in the light of the highest values already discovered; it also includes the view that we have not the smallest right to assume the existence of transcendental objects or things in themselves, which would be either divine or morality incarnate.

This view is a result of fully developed "truthfulness": therefore a consequence of the belief in morality.


What advantages did the Christian hypothesis of morality offer?

[Pg 9](1) It bestowed an intrinsic value upon men, which contrasted with their apparent insignificance and subordination to chance in the eternal flux of becoming and perishing.

(2) It served the purpose of God's advocates, inasmuch as it granted the world a certain perfection despite its sorrow and evil—it also granted the world that proverbial "freedom": evil seemed full of meaning.

(3) It assumed that man could have a knowledge of absolute values, and thus granted him adequate perception for the most important things.

(4) It prevented man from despising himself as man, from turning against life, and from being driven to despair by knowledge: it was a self-preservative measure.

In short: Morality was the great antidote against practical and theoretical Nihilism.


But among the forces reared by morality, there was truthfulness: this in the end turns against morality, exposes the teleology of the latter, its interestedness, and now the recognition of this lie so long incorporated, from which we despaired of ever freeing ourselves, acts just like a stimulus. We perceive certain needs in ourselves, implanted during the long dynasty of the moral interpretation of life, which now seem to us to be needs of untruth: on the other hand, those very needs represent the highest values owing to which we are able to endure life. We have ceased from [Pg 10]attaching any worth to what we know, and we dare not attach any more worth to that with which we would fain deceive ourselves—from this antagonism there results a process of dissolution.


This is the antinomy: In so far as we believe in morality, we condemn existence.


The highest values in the service of which man ought to live, more particularly when they oppressed and constrained him most—these social values, owing to their tone-strengthening tendencies, were built over men's heads as though they were the will of God or "reality," or the actual world, or even a hope of a world to come. Now that the lowly origin of these values has become known, the whole universe seems to have been transvalued and to have lost its significance—but this is only an intermediate stage.


The consequence of Nihilism (disbelief in all values) as a result of a moral valuation:—We have grown to dislike egotism (even though we have realised the impossibility of altruism);—we have grown to dislike what is most necessary (although we have recognised the impossibility of a liberum [Pg 11]arbitrium and of an "intelligible freedom"[1]). We perceive that we do not reach the spheres in which we have set our values—at the same time those other spheres in which we live have not thereby gained one iota in value. On the contrary, we are tired, because we have lost the main incentive to live. "All in vain hitherto!"


"Pessimism as a preparatory state to Nihilism."


A. Pessimism viewed as strength—in what respect? In the energy of its logic, as anarchy, Nihilism, and analysis.

B. Pessimism regarded as collapse—in what sense? In the sense of its being a softening influence, a sort of cosmopolitan befingering, a "tout comprendre," and historical spirit.

Critical tension: extremes make their appearance and become dominant.


The logic of Pessimism leads finally to Nihilism: what is the force at work?—The notion that there are no values, and no purpose: the recognition of the part that moral valuations have played in all other lofty values.

[Pg 12] Result: moral valuations are condemnations, negations; morality is the abdication of the will to live....

[1] This is a Kantian term. Kant recognised two kinds of Freedom—the practical and the transcendental kind. The first belongs to the phenomenal, the second to the intelligible world.—TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.


The Collapse of Cosmopolitan Values.


Nihilism will have to manifest itself as a psychological condition, first when we have sought in all that has happened a purpose which is not there: so that the seeker will ultimately lose courage. Nihilism is therefore the coming into consciousness of the long waste of strength, the pain of "futility," uncertainty, the lack of an opportunity to recover in some way, or to attain to a state of peace concerning anything—shame in one's own presence, as if one had cheated oneself too long.... The purpose above-mentioned might have been achieved: in the form of a "realisation" of a most high canon of morality in all worldly phenomena, the moral order of the universe; or in the form of the increase of love and harmony in the traffic of humanity; or in the nearer approach to a general condition of happiness; or even in the march towards general nonentity—any sort of goal always constitutes a purpose. The common factor to all these appearances is that something will be attained, through the process itself: and now we perceive that Becoming has been aiming at nothing, and has achieved nothing. Hence the disillusionment in regard to a so-called purpose in existence, as a cause of Nihilism; whether this [Pg 13]be in respect of a very definite purpose, or generalised into the recognition that all the hypotheses are false which have hitherto been offered as to the object of life, and which relate to the whole of "Evolution" (man no longer an assistant in, let alone the culmination of, the evolutionary process).

Nihilism will manifest itself as a psychological condition, in the second place, when man has fixed a totality, a systematisation, even an organisation in and behind all phenomena, so that the soul thirsting for respect and admiration will wallow in the general idea of a highest ruling and administrative power (if it be the soul of a logician, the sequence of consequences and perfect reasoning will suffice to conciliate everything). A kind of unity, some form of "monism":' and as a result of this belief man becomes obsessed by a feeling of profound relativity and dependence in the presence of an All which is infinitely superior to him, a sort of divinity. "The general good exacts the surrender of the individual ..." but lo, there is no such general good! At bottom, man loses the belief in his own worth when no infinitely precious entity manifests itself through him—that is to say, he conceived such an All, in order to be able to believe in his own worth.

Nihilism, as a psychological condition, has yet a third and last form. Admitting these two points of view: that no purpose can be assigned to Becoming, and that no great entity rules behind all Becoming, in which the individual may completely lose himself as in an element of superior value; there still remains the subterfuge which would consist [Pg 14]in condemning this whole world of Becoming as an illusion, and in discovering a world which would lie beyond it, and would be a real world. The moment, however, that man perceives that this world has been devised only for the purpose of meeting certain psychological needs, and that he has no right whatsoever to it, the final form of Nihilism comes into being, which comprises a denial of a metaphysical world, and which forbids itself all belief in a real world. From this standpoint, the reality of Becoming is the only reality that is admitted: all bypaths to back-worlds and false godheads are abandoned—but this world is no longer endured, although no one wishes to disown it.

What has actually happened? The feeling of worthlessness was realised when it was understood that neither the notion of "Purpose" nor that of "Unity" nor that of "Truth" could be made to interpret the general character of existence. Nothing is achieved or obtained thereby; the unity which intervenes in the multiplicity of events is entirely lacking: the character of existence is not "true," it is false; there is certainly no longer any reason to believe in a real world. In short, the categories, "Purpose," "Unity," "Being," by means of which we had lent some worth to life, we have once more divorced from it—and the world now appears worthless to us....


Admitting that we have recognised the impossibility of interpreting world by means of these [Pg 15]three categories, and that from this standpoint the world begins to be worthless to us; we must ask ourselves whence we derived our belief in these three categories. Let us see if it is possible to refuse to believe in them. If we can deprive them of their value, the proof that they cannot be applied to the world, is no longer a sufficient reason for depriving that world of its value.

Result: The belief in the categories of reason[2] is the cause of Nihilism—we have measured the worth of the world according to categories which can only be applied to a purely fictitious world.

Conclusion: All values with which we have tried, hitherto, to lend the world some worth, from our point of view, and with which we have therefore deprived it of all worth (once these values have been shown to be inapplicable)—all these values, are, psychologically, the results of certain views of utility, established for the purpose of maintaining and increasing the dominion of certain communities: but falsely projected into the nature of things. It is always man's exaggerated ingenuousness to regard himself as the sense and measure of all things.

[2] This probably refers to Kant's celebrated table of twelve categories. The four classes, quantity, quality, relation, and modality, are each provided with three categories.—TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.


Nihilism represents an intermediary pathological condition (the vast generalisation, the conclusion that there is no purpose in anything, is pathological): [Pg 16]whether it be that the productive forces are not yet strong enough—or that decadence still hesitates and has not yet discovered its expedients.

The conditions of this hypothesis:—That there is no truth; that there is no absolute state of affairs—no "thing-in-itself." This alone is Nihilism, and of the most extreme kind. It finds that the value of things consists precisely in the fact that these values are not real and never have been real, but that they are only a symptom of strength on the part of the valuer, a simplification serving the purposes of existence.


Values and their modification are related to the growth of power of the valuer.

The measure of disbelief and of the "freedom of spirit" which is tolerated, viewed as an expression of the growth of power.

"Nihilism" viewed as the ideal of the highest spiritual power, of the over-rich life, partly destructive, partly ironical.


What is belief? How is a belief born? All belief assumes that something is true.

The extremest form of Nihilism would mean that all belief—all assumption of truth—is false: because no real world is at hand. It were therefore: only an appearance seen in perspective, whose origin must be found in us (seeing that we are constantly in need of a narrower, a shortened, and simplified world).

[Pg 17]This should be realised, that the extent to which we can, in our heart of hearts, acknowledge appearance, and the necessity of falsehood, without going to rack and ruin, is the measure of strength.

In this respect, Nihilism, in that it is the negation of a real world and of Being, might be a divine view of the world.


If we are disillusioned, we have not become so in regard to life, but owing to the fact that our eyes have been opened to all kinds of "desiderata." With mocking anger we survey that which is called "Ideal": we despise ourselves only because we are unable at every moment of our lives to quell that absurd emotion which is called "Idealism." This pampering by means of ideals is stronger than the anger of the disillusioned one.


To what extent does Schopenhauerian Nihilism continue to be the result of the same ideal as that which gave rise to Christian Theism? The amount of certainty concerning the most exalted desiderata, the highest values and the greatest degree of perfection, was so great, that the philosophers started out from it as if it had been an a priori and absolute fact: "God" at the head, as the given quantity—Truth. "To become like God," "to be absorbed into the Divine Being"—[Pg 18]these were for centuries the most ingenuous and most convincing desiderata (but that which convinces is not necessarily true on that account: it is nothing more nor less than convincing. An observation for donkeys).

The granting of a personal-reality to this accretion of ideals has been unlearned: people have become atheistic. But has the ideal actually been abandoned? The latest metaphysicians, as a matter of fact, still seek their true "reality" in it—the "thing-in-itself" beside which everything else is merely appearance. Their dogma is, that because our world of appearance is so obviously not the expression of that ideal, it therefore cannot be "true"—and at bottom does not even lead back to that metaphysical world as cause. The unconditioned, in so far as it stands for that highest degree of perfection, cannot possibly be the reason of all the conditioned. Schopenhauer, who desired it otherwise, was obliged to imagine this metaphysical basis as the antithesis to the ideal, as "an evil, blind will": thus it could be "that which appears," that which manifests itself in the world of appearance. But even so, he did not give up that ideal absolute—he circumvented it....

(Kant seems to have needed the hypothesis of "intelligible freedom,"[3] in order to relieve the ens perfectum of the responsibility of having contrived this world as it is, in short, in order to explain evil: scandalous logic for a philosopher!).

[3] See Note on p. 11.

[Pg 19]


The most general sign of modern times: in his own estimation, man has lost an infinite amount of dignity. For a long time he was the centre and tragic hero of life in general; then he endeavoured to demonstrate at least his relationship to the most essential and in itself most valuable side of life—as all metaphysicians do, who wish to hold fast to the dignity of man, in their belief that moral values are cardinal values. He who has let God go, clings all the more strongly to the belief in morality.


Every purely moral valuation (as, for instance, the Buddhistic) terminates in Nihilism: Europe must expect the same thing! It is supposed that one can get along with a morality bereft of a religious background; but in this direction the road to Nihilism is opened. There is nothing in religion which compels us to regard ourselves as valuing creatures.


The question which Nihilism puts, namely, "to what purpose?" is the outcome of a habit, hitherto, to regard the purpose as something fixed, given and exacted from outside—that is to say, by some supernatural authority. Once the belief in this has been unlearned, the force of an old habit leads to the search after another authority, which would know how to speak unconditionally, and could point to [Pg 20]goals and missions. The authority of the conscience now takes the first place (the more morality is emancipated from theology, the more imperative does it become) as a compensation for the personal authority. Or the authority of reason. Or the gregarious instinct (the herd). Or history with its immanent spirit, which has its goal in itself, and to which one can abandon oneself. One would like to evade the will, as also the willing of a goal and the risk of setting oneself a goal. One would like to get rid of the responsibility (Fatalism would be accepted). Finally: Happiness and with a dash of humbug, the happiness of the greatest number.

It is said:—

(1) A definite goal is quite unnecessary.

(2) Such a goal cannot possibly be foreseen. Precisely now, when will in its fullest strength were necessary, it is in the weakest and most pusillanimous condition. Absolute mistrust concerning the organising power of the will.


The perfect Nihilist.—The Nihilist's eye idealises in an ugly sense, and is inconstant to what it remembers: it allows its recollections to go astray and to fade, it does not protect them from that cadaverous coloration with which weakness dyes all that is distant and past. And what it does not do for itself it fails to do for the whole of mankind as well—that is to say, it allows it to drop.

[Pg 21]


Nihilism. It may be two things:—

A. Nihilism as a sign of enhanced spiritual strength: active Nihilism.

B. Nihilism as a sign of the collapse and decline of spiritual strength: passive Nihilism.


Nihilism, a normal condition.

It may be a sign of strength; spiritual vigour may have increased to such an extent that the goals toward which man has marched hitherto (the "convictions," articles of faith) are no longer suited to it (for a faith generally expresses the exigencies of the conditions of existence, a submission to the authority of an order of things which conduces to the prosperity, the growth and power of a living creature ...); on the other hand, a sign of insufficient strength, to fix a goal, a "wherefore," and a faith for itself.

It reaches its maximum of relative strength, as a powerful destructive force, in the form of active Nihilism.

Its opposite would be weary Nihilism, which no longer attacks: its most renowned form being Buddhism: as passive Nihilism, a sign of weakness: spiritual strength may be fatigued, exhausted, so that the goals and values which have prevailed hitherto are no longer suited to it and are no longer believed in—so that the synthesis of values and goals (upon which every strong culture stands) [Pg 22]decomposes, and the different values contend with one another: Disintegration, then everything which is relieving, which heals, becalms, or stupefies, steps into the foreground under the cover of various disguises, either religious, moral, political or æsthetic, etc.


Nihilism is not only a meditating over the "in vain!"—not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one's shoulder to the plough; one destroys. This, if you will, is illogical; but the Nihilist does not believe in the necessity of being logical.... It is the condition of strong minds and wills; and to these it is impossible to be satisfied with the negation of judgment: the negation by deeds proceeds from their nature. Annihilation by the reasoning faculty seconds annihilation by the hand.


Concerning the genesis of the Nihilist. The courage of all one really knows comes but late in life. It is only quite recently that I have acknowledged to myself that heretofore I have been a Nihilist from top to toe. The energy and thoroughness with which I marched forward as a Nihilist deceived me concerning this fundamental principle. When one is progressing towards a goal it seems impossible that "aimlessness per se" should be one's fundamental article of faith.

[Pg 23]


The Pessimism of strong natures. The "wherefore" after a terrible struggle, even after victory. That something may exist which is a hundred times more important than the question, whether we feel well or unwell, is the fundamental instinct of all strong natures—and consequently too, whether the others feel well or unwell. In short, that we have a purpose, for which we would not even hesitate to sacrifice men, run all risks, and bend our backs to the worst: this is the great passion.

2. Further Causes of Nihilism.


The causes of Nihilism: (1) The higher species is lacking, i.e., the species whose inexhaustible fruitfulness and power would uphold our belief in Man (think only of what is owed to Napoleon—almost all the higher hopes of this century).

(2) The inferior species ("herd," "ass," "society") is forgetting modesty, and inflates its needs into cosmic and metaphysical values. In this way all life is vulgarised: for inasmuch as the mass of mankind rules, it tyrannises over the exceptions, so that these lose their belief in themselves and become Nihilists.

All attempts to conceive of a new species come to nothing ("romanticism," the artist, the philosopher; against Carlyle's attempt to lend them the highest moral values).

[Pg 24] The result is that higher types are resisted.

The downfall and insecurity of all higher types. The struggle against genius ("popular poetry," etc.). Sympathy with the lowly and the suffering as a standard for the elevation of the soul.

The philosopher is lacking, the interpreter of deeds, and not alone he who poetises them.


Imperfect Nihilism—its forms: we are now surrounded by them.

All attempts made to escape Nihilism, which do not consist in transvaluing the values that have prevailed hitherto, only make the matter worse; they complicate the problem.


The varieties of self-stupefaction. In one's heart of hearts, not to know, whither? Emptiness. The attempt to rise superior to it all by means of emotional intoxication: emotional intoxication in the form of music, in the form of cruelty in the tragic joy over the ruin of the noblest, and in the form of blind, gushing enthusiasm over individual men or distinct periods (in the form of hatred, etc.). The attempt to work blindly, like a scientific instrument; to keep an eye on the many small joys, like an investigator, for instance (modesty towards oneself); the mysticism of the voluptuous joy of eternal emptiness; [Pg 25]art "for art's sake" ("le fait"), "immaculate investigation," in the form of narcotics against the disgust of oneself; any kind of incessant work, any kind of small foolish fanaticism; the medley of all means, illness as the result of general profligacy (dissipation kills pleasure).

(1) As a result, feeble will-power.

(2) Excessive pride and the humiliation of petty weakness felt as a contrast.


The time is coming when we shall have to pay for having been Christians for two thousand years: we are losing the equilibrium which enables us to live—for a long while we shall not know in what direction we are travelling. We are hurling ourselves headlong into the opposite valuations, with that degree of energy which could only have been engendered in man by an overvaluation of himself.

Now, everything is false from the root, words and nothing but words, confused, feeble, or over-strained.

(a) There is a seeking after a sort of earthly solution of the problem of life, but in the same sense as that of the final triumph of truth, love, justice (socialism: "equality of persons").

(b) There is also an attempt to hold fast to the moral ideal (with altruism, self-sacrifice, and the denial of the will, in the front rank).

(c) There is even an attempt to hold fast to a "Beyond": were it only as an antilogical x; but it is forthwith interpreted in such a way that [Pg 26]a kind of metaphysical solace, after the old style, may be derived from it.

(d) There is an attempt to read the phenomena of life in such a way as to arrive at the divine guidance of old, with its powers of rewarding, punishing, educating, and of generally conducing to a something better in the order of things.

(e) People once more believe in good and evil; so that the victory of the good and the annihilation of the evil is regarded as a duty (this is English, and is typical of that blockhead, John Stuart Mill).

(f) The contempt felt for "naturalness," for the desires and for the ego: the attempt to regard even the highest intellectuality of art as a result of an impersonal and disinterested attitude.

(g) The Church is still allowed to meddle in all the essential occurrences and incidents in the life of the individual, with a view to consecrating it and giving it a loftier meaning: we still have the "Christian State" and the "Christian marriage."


There have been more thoughtful and more destructively thoughtful[4] times than ours: times like those in which Buddha appeared, for instance, in which the people themselves, after centuries of sectarian quarrels, had sunk so deeply into the abyss of philosophical dogmas, as, from time to [Pg 27]time, European people have done in regard to the fine points of religious dogma. "Literature" and the press would be the last things to seduce one to any high opinion of the spirit of our times: the millions of Spiritists, and a Christianity with gymnastic exercises of that ghastly ugliness which is characteristic of all English inventions, throw more light on the subject.

European Pessimism is still in its infancy—a fact which argues against it: it has not yet attained to that prodigious and yearning fixity of sight to which it attained in India once upon a time, and in which nonentity is reflected; there is still too much of the "ready-made," and not enough of the "evolved" in its constitution, too much learned and poetic Pessimism; I mean that a good deal of it has been discovered, invented, and "created," but not caused.

[4] zerdachtere.


Criticism of the Pessimism which has prevailed hitherto. The want of the eudæmonological standpoint, as a last abbreviation of the question: what is the purpose of it all? The reduction of gloom.

Our Pessimism: the world has not the value which we believed it to have,—our faith itself has so increased our instinct for research that we are compelled to say this to-day. In the first place, it seems of less value: at first it is felt to be of less value,—only in this sense are we pessimists,—that is to say, with the will to acknowledge this [Pg 28]transvaluation without reserve, and no longer, as heretofore, to deceive ourselves and chant the old old story.

It is precisely in this way that we find the pathos which urges us to seek for new values. In short: the world might have far more value than we thought—we must get behind the naïveté of our ideals, for it is possible that, in our conscious effort to give it the highest interpretation, we have not bestowed even a moderately just value upon it.

What has been deified? The valuing instinct inside the community (that which enabled it to survive).

What has been calumniated? That which has tended to separate higher men from their inferiors, the instincts which cleave gulfs and build barriers.


Causes effecting the rise of Pessimism:—

(1) The most powerful instincts and those which promised most for the future have hitherto been calumniated, so that life has a curse upon it.

(2) The growing bravery and the more daring mistrust on the part of man have led him to discover the fact that these instincts cannot be cut adrift from life, and thus he turns to embrace life.

(3) Only the most mediocre, who are not conscious of this conflict, prosper; the higher species fail, and as an example of degeneration tend to dispose all hearts against them—on the other hand, there is some indignation caused by [Pg 29]the mediocre positing themselves as the end and meaning of all things. No one can any longer reply to the question: "Why?"

(4) Belittlement, susceptibility to pain, unrest, haste, and confusion are steadily increasing—the materialisation of all these tendencies, which is called "civilisation," becomes every day more simple, with the result that, in the face of the monstrous machine, the individual despairs and surrenders.


Modern Pessimism is an expression of the uselessness only of the modern world, not of the world and existence as such.


The "preponderance of pain over pleasure" or the reverse (Hedonism); both of these doctrines are already signposts to Nihilism....

For here, in both cases, no other final purpose is sought than the phenomenon pleasure or pain.

But only a man who no longer dares to posit a will, a purpose, and a final goal can speak in this way—according to every healthy type of man, the worth of life is certainly not measured by the standard of these secondary things. And a preponderance of pain would be possible and, in spite of it, a mighty will, a saying of yea to life, and a holding of this preponderance for necessary.

"Life is not worth living"; "Resignation"; "what is the good of tears?"—this is a feeble and [Pg 30]sentimental attitude of mind. "Un monstre gai vaut mieux qu'un sentimental ennuyeux."


The philosophie Nihilist is convinced that all phenomena are without sense and are in vain, and that there ought to be no such thing as Being without sense and in vain. But whence comes this "There ought not to be?"—whence this "sense" and this standard? At bottom the Nihilist supposes that the sight of such a desolate, useless Being is unsatisfying to the philosopher, and fills him with desolation and despair. This aspect of the case is opposed to our subtle sensibilities as a philosopher. It leads to the absurd conclusion that the character of existence must perforce afford pleasure to the philosopher if it is to have any right to subsist.

Now it is easy to understand that happiness and unhappiness, within the phenomena of this world, can only serve the purpose of means: the question yet remaining to be answered is, whether it will ever be possible for us to perceive the "object" and "purpose" of life—whether the problem of purposelessness or the reverse is not quite beyond our ken.


The development of Nihilism out of Pessimism. The denaturalisation of Values. Scholasticism of values. The values isolated, idealistic, instead [Pg 31]of ruling and leading action, turn against it and condemn it.

Opposites introduced in the place of natural gradations and ranks. Hatred of the order of rank. Opposites are compatible with a plebeian age, because they are more easy to grasp.

The rejected world is opposed to an artificially constructed "true and valuable" one. At last we discover out of what material the "true" world was built; all that remains, now, is the rejected world, and to the account of our reasons for rejecting it we place our greatest disillusionment.

At this point Nihilism is reached; the directing values have been retained—nothing more!

This gives rise to the problem of strength and weakness:—

(1) The weak fall to pieces upon it;

(2) The strong destroy what does not fall to pieces of its own accord;

(3) The strongest overcome the directing values.

The whole condition of affairs produces the tragic age.

3. The Nihilistic Movement As an Expression of Decadence.


Just lately an accidental and in every way inappropriate term has been very much misused: everywhere people are speaking of "Pessimism," [Pg 32] and there is a fight around the question (to which some replies must be forthcoming): which is right—Pessimism or Optimism?

People have not yet seen what is so terribly-obvious—namely, that Pessimism is not a problem but a symptom,—that the term ought to be replaced by "Nihilism,"—that the question, "to be or not to be," is itself an illness, a sign of degeneracy, an idiosyncrasy.

The Nihilistic movement is only an expression of physiological decadence.


To be understood:—That every kind of decline and tendency to sickness has incessantly been at work in helping to create general evaluations: that in those valuations which now dominate, decadence has even begun to preponderate, that we have not only to combat the conditions which present misery and degeneration have brought into being; but that all decadence, previous to that of our own times, has been transmitted and has therefore remained an active force amongst us. A universal departure of this kind, on the part of man, from his fundamental instincts, such universal decadence of the valuing judgment, is the note of interrogation par excellence, the real riddle, which the animal "man" sets to all philosophers.


The notion "decadence":—Decay, decline, and waste, are, per se, in no way open to objection;[Pg 33]they are the natural consequences of life and vital growth. The phenomenon of decadence is just as necessary to life as advance or progress is: we are not in a position which enables us to suppress it. On the contrary, reason would have it retain its rights.

It is disgraceful on the part of socialist-theorists to argue that circumstances and social combinations could be devised which would put an end to all vice, illness, crime, prostitution, and poverty.... But that is tantamount to condemning Life ... a society is not at liberty to remain young. And even in its prime it must bring forth ordure and decaying matter. The more energetically and daringly it advances, the richer will it be in failures and in deformities, and the nearer it will be to its fall. Age is not deferred by means of institutions. Nor is illness. Nor is vice.


Fundamental aspect of the nature of decadence: what has heretofore been regarded as its causes are its effects.

In this way, the whole perspective of the problems of morality is altered.

All the struggle of morals against vice, luxury, crime, and even against illness, seems a naïveté, a superfluous effort: there is no such thing as "improvement" (a word against repentance).

Decadence itself is not a thing that can be withstood: it is absolutely necessary and is proper to all ages and all peoples. That which must be [Pg 34]withstood, and by all means in our power, is the spreading of the contagion among the sound parts of the organism.

Is that done? The very reverse is done. It is precisely on this account that one makes a stand on behalf of humanity.

How do the highest values created hitherto stand in relation to this fundamental question in biology? Philosophy, religion, morality, art, etc.

(The remedy: militarism, for instance, from Napoleon onwards, who regarded civilisation as his natural enemy.)


All those things which heretofore have been regarded as the causes of degeneration, are really its effects.

But those things also which have been regarded as the remedies of degeneration are only palliatives of certain effects thereof: the "cured" are types of the degenerate.

The results of decadence: vice—viciousness; illness—sickliness; crime—criminality; celibacy—sterility; hysteria—the weakness of the will; alcoholism; pessimism, anarchy; debauchery (also of the spirit). The calumniators, underminers, sceptics, and destroyers.


Concerning the notion "decadence." (1) Scepticism is a result of decadence: just as spiritual debauchery is.

[Pg 35] (2) Moral corruption is a result of decadence (the weakness of the will and the need of strong stimulants).

(3) Remedies, whether psychological or moral, do not alter the march of decadence, they do not arrest anything; physiologically they do not count.

A peep into the enormous futility of these pretentious "reactions"; they are forms of anæsthetising oneself against certain fatal symptoms resulting from the prevailing condition of things; they do not eradicate the morbid element; they are often heroic attempts to cancel the decadent man, to allow only a minimum of his deleterious influence to survive.

(4) Nihilism is not a cause, but only the rationale of decadence.

(5) The "good" and the "bad" are no more than two types of decadence: they come together in all its fundamental phenomena.

(6) The social problem is a result of decadence.

(7) Illnesses, more particularly those attacking the nerves and the head, are signs that the defensive strength of strong nature is lacking; a proof of this is that irritability which causes pleasure and pain to be regarded as problems of the first order.


The most common types of decadence: (1) In the belief that they are remedies, cures are chosen which only precipitate exhaustion;—this is the case with Christianity (to point to the [Pg 36]most egregious example of mistaken instinct);—this is also the case with "progress."

(2) The power of resisting stimuli is on the wane—chance rules supreme: events are inflated and drawn out until they appear monstrous ... a suppression of the "personality," a disintegration of the will; in this regard we may mention a whole class of morality, the altruistic, that which is incessantly preaching pity, and whose most essential feature is the weakness of the personality, so that it rings in unison, and, like an over-sensitive string, does not cease from vibrating ... extreme irritability....

(3) Cause and effect are confounded: decadence is not understood as physiological, and its results are taken to be the causes of the general indisposition:—this applies to all religious morality.

(4) A state of affairs is desired in which suffering shall cease; life is actually considered the cause of all ills—unconscious and insensitive states (sleep and syncope) are held in incomparably higher esteem than the conscious states; hence a method of life.


Concerning the hygiene of the "weak." All that is done in weakness ends in failure. Moral: do nothing. The worst of it is, that precisely the strength required in order to stop action, and to cease from reacting, is most seriously diseased under the influence of weakness: that one never [Pg 37]reacts more promptly or more blindly than when one should not react at all.

The strength of a character is shown by the ability to delay and postpone reaction: a certain ?d?af???a is just as proper to it, as involuntariness in recoiling, suddenness and lack of restraint in "action," are proper to weakness. The will is weak: and the recipe for preventing foolish acts would be: to have a strong will and to do nothing—contradiction. A sort of self-destruction, the instinct of self-preservation is compromised.... The weak man injures himself.... That is the decadent type.

As a matter of fact, we meet with a vast amount of thought concerning the means wherewith impassibility may be induced. To this extent, the instincts are on the right scent; for to do nothing is more useful than to do something....

All the practices of private orders, of solitary philosophers, and of fakirs, are suggested by a correct consideration of the fact, that a certain kind of man is most useful to himself when he hinders his own action as much as possible.

Relieving measures: absolute obedience, mechanical activity, total isolation from men and things that might exact immediate decisions and actions.


Weakness of Will: this is a fable that can lead astray. For there is no will, consequently neither a strong nor a weak one. The [Pg 38] multiplicity and disintegration of the instincts, the want of system in their relationship, constitute what is known as a "weak will"; their co-ordination, under the government of one individual among them, results in a "strong will"—in the first case vacillation and a lack of equilibrium is noticeable: in the second, precision and definite direction.


That which is inherited is not illness, but a predisposition to illness: a lack of the powers of resistance against injurious external influences, etc. etc, broken powers of resistance; expressed morally: resignation and humility in the presence of the enemy.

I have often wondered whether it would not be possible to class all the highest values of the philosophies, moralities, and religions which have been devised hitherto, with the values of the feeble, the insane and the neurasthenic in a milder form, they present the same evils.

The value of all morbid conditions consists in the fact that they magnify certain normal phenomena which are difficult to discern in normal conditions....

Health and illness are not essentially different, as the ancient doctors believed and as a few practitioners still believe to-day. They cannot be imagined as two distinct principles or entities which fight for the living organism and make it their battlefield. That is nonsense and mere idle gossip, which no longer holds water. As a matter of fact, there is only a difference of [Pg 39]degree between these two living conditions: exaggeration, want of proportion, want of harmony among the normal phenomena, constitute the morbid state (Claude Bernard).

Just as "evil" may be regarded as exaggeration, discord, and want of proportion, so can "good" be regarded as a sort of protective diet against the danger of exaggeration, discord, and want of proportion.

Hereditary weakness as a dominant feeling: the cause of the prevailing values.

N.B.—Weakness is in demand—why?... mostly because people cannot be anything else than weak.

Weakening considered a duty: The weakening of the desires, of the feelings of pleasure and of pain, of the will to power, of the will to pride, to property and to more property; weakening in the form of humility; weakening in the form of a belief; weakening in the form of repugnance and shame in the presence of all that is natural—in the form of a denial of life, in the form of illness and chronic feebleness; weakening in the form of a refusal to take revenge, to offer resistance, to become an enemy, and to show anger.

Blunders in the treatment: there is no attempt at combating weakness by means of any fortifying system; but by a sort of justification consisting of moralising; i.e., by means of interpretation.

Two totally different conditions are confused: for instance, the repose of strength, which is essentially abstinence from reaction (the prototype of the gods whom nothing moves), and the peace of exhaustion,[Pg 40] rigidity to the point of anæsthesia. All these philosophic and ascetic modes of procedure aspire to the second state, but actually pretend to attain to the first ... for they ascribe to the condition they have reached the attributes that would be in keeping only with a divine state.


The most dangerous misunderstanding.—There is one concept which apparently allows of no confusion or ambiguity, and that is the concept exhaustion. Exhaustion may be acquired or inherited—in any case it alters the aspect and value of things.

Unlike him who involuntarily gives of the superabundance which he both feels and represents, to the things about him, and who sees them fuller, mightier, and more pregnant with promises,—who, in fact, can bestow,—the exhausted one belittles and disfigures everything he sees—he impoverishes its worth: he is detrimental....

No mistake seems possible in this matter: and yet history discloses the terrible fact, that the exhausted have always been confounded with those with the most abundant resources, and the latter with the most detrimental.

The pauper in vitality, the feeble one, impoverishes even life: the wealthy man, in vital powers, enriches it. The first is the parasite of the second: the second is a bestower of his abundance. How is confusion possible?

When he who was exhausted came forth with [Pg 41]the bearing of a very active and energetic man (when degeneration implied a certain excess of spiritual and nervous discharge), he was mistaken for the wealthy man. He inspired terror. The cult of the madman is also always the cult of him who is rich in vitality, and who is a powerful man. The fanatic, the one possessed, the religious epileptic, all eccentric creatures have been regarded as the highest types of power: as divine.

This kind of strength which inspires terror seemed to be, above all, divine: this was the starting-point of authority; here wisdom was interpreted, hearkened to, and sought. Out of this there was developed, everywhere almost, a will to "deify," i.e., to a typical degeneration of spirit, body, and nerves: an attempt to discover the road to this higher form of being. To make oneself ill or mad, to provoke the symptoms of serious disorder—was called getting stronger, becoming more superhuman, more terrible and more wise. People thought they would thus attain to such wealth of power, that they would be able to dispense it. Wheresoever there have been prayers, some one has been sought who had something to give away.

What led astray, here, was the experience of intoxication. This increases the feeling of power to the highest degree, therefore, to the mind of the ingenuous, it is power. On the highest altar of power the most intoxicated man must stand, the ecstatic. (There are two causes of intoxication: superabundant life, and a condition of morbid nutrition of the brain.)

[Pg 42]


Acquired, not inherited exhaustion: (1) inadequate nourishment, often the result of ignorance concerning diet, as, for instance, in the case of scholars; (2) erotic precocity: the damnation more especially of the youth of France—Parisian youths, above all, who are already dirtied and ruined when they step out of their lycées into the world, and who cannot break the chains of despicable tendencies; ironical and scornful towards themselves—galley-slaves despite all their refinement (moreover, in the majority of cases, already a symptom of racial and family decadence, as all hypersensitiveness is; and examples of the infection of environment: to be influenced by one's environment is also a sign of decadence); (3) alcoholism, not the instinct but the habit, foolish imitation, the cowardly or vain adaptation to a ruling fashion. What a blessing a Jew is among Germans! See the obtuseness, the flaxen head, the blue eye, and the lack of intellect in the face, the language, and the bearing; the lazy habit of stretching the limbs, and the need of repose among Germans—a need which is not the result of overwork, but of the disgusting excitation and over-excitation caused by alcohol.


A theory of exhaustion.—Vice, the insane (also artists), the criminals, the anarchists—these are [Pg 43]not the oppressed classes, but the outcasts of the community of all classes hitherto.

Seeing that all our classes are permeated by these elements, we have grasped the fact that modern society is not a "society" or a "body," but a diseased agglomeration of Chandala,—a society which no longer has the strength even to excrete.

To what extent living together for centuries has very much deepened sickliness:

modern virtuee   }
modern intellect } as forms of disease.
modern science  }


The state of corruption.—The interrelation of all forms of corruption should be understood, and the Christian form (Pascal as the type), as also the socialistic and communistic (a result of the Christian), should not be overlooked (from the standpoint of natural science, the highest conception of society according to socialists, is the lowest in the order of rank among societies); the "Beyond" —corruption: as though outside the real world of Becoming there were a world of Being.

Here there must be no compromise, but selection, annihilation, and war—the Christian Nihilistic standard of value must be withdrawn from all things and attacked beneath every disguise ... for instance, from modern sociology, music, and Pessimism (all forms of the Christian ideal of values).

[Pg 44]

Either one thing or the other is true—that is to say, tending to elevate the type man....

The priest, the shepherd of souls, should be looked upon as a form of life which must be suppressed. All education, hitherto, has been helpless, adrift, without ballast, and afflicted with the contradiction of values.

Either one thing or the other is true—that is to say, tending to elevate the type man....

The priest, the shepherd of souls, should be looked upon as a form of life which must be suppressed. All education, hitherto, has been helpless, adrift, without ballast, and afflicted with the contradiction of values.


If Nature have no pity on the degenerate, it is not therefore immoral: the growth of physiological and moral evils in the human race, is rather the result of morbid and unnatural morality. The sensitiveness of the majority of men is both morbid and unnatural.

Why is it that mankind is corrupt in a moral and physiological respect? The body degenerates if one organ is unsound. The right of altruism cannot be traced to physiology, neither can the right to help and to the equality of fate: these are all premiums for degenerates and failures.

There can be no solidarity in a society containing unfruitful, unproductive, and destructive members, who, by the bye, are bound to have offspring even more degenerate than they are themselves.


Decadence exercises a profound and perfectly unconscious influence, even over the ideals of science: all our sociology is a proof of this proposition, and it has yet to be reproached with the [Pg 45]fact that it has only the experience of society in the process of decay, and inevitably takes its own decaying instincts as the basis of sociological judgment.

The declining vitality of modern Europe formulates its social ideals in its decaying instincts: and these ideals are all so like those of old and effete races, that they might be mistaken for one another.

The gregarious instinct, then,—now a sovereign power,—is something totally different from the instinct of an aristocratic society: and the value of the sum depends upon the value of the units constituting it.... The whole of our sociology knows no other instinct than that of the herd, i.e., of a multitude of mere ciphers—of which every cipher has "equal rights," and where it is a virtue to be——naught....

The valuation with which the various forms of society are judged to-day is absolutely the same with that which assigns a higher place to peace than to war: but this principle is contrary to the teaching of biology, and is itself a mere outcome of decadent life. Life is a result of war, society is a means to war.... Mr. Herbert Spencer was a decadent in biology, as also in morality (he regarded the triumph of altruism as a desideratum!!!).


After thousands of years of error and confusion, it is my good fortune to have rediscovered the road which leads to a Yea and to a Nay.

[Pg 46] I teach people to say Nay in the face of all that makes for weakness and exhaustion.

I teach people to say Yea in the face of all that makes for strength, that preserves strength, and justifies the feeling of strength.

Up to the present, neither the one nor the other has been taught; but rather virtue, disinterestedness, pity, and even the negation of life. All these are values proceeding from exhausted people.

After having pondered over the physiology of exhaustion for some time, I was led to the question: to what extent the judgments of exhausted people had percolated into the world of values.

The result at which I arrived was as startling as it could possibly be—even for one like myself who was already at home in many a strange world: I found that all prevailing values—that is to say, all those which had gained ascendancy over humanity, or at least over its tamer portions, could be traced back to the judgment of exhausted people.

Under the cover of the holiest names, I found the most destructive tendencies; people had actually given the name "God" to all that renders weak, teaches weakness, and infects with weakness.... I found that the "good man" was a form of self-affirmation on the part of decadence.

That virtue which Schopenhauer still proclaimed as superior to all, and as the most fundamental of all virtues; even that same pity I recognised as more dangerous than any vice. [Pg 47]Deliberately to thwart the law of selection among species, and their natural means of purging their stock of degenerate members—this, up to my time, had been the greatest of all virtues....

One should do honour to the fatality which says to the feeble: "perish!"

The opposing of this fatality, the botching of mankind and the allowing of it to putrefy, was given the name "God" One shall not take the name of the Lord one's God in vain....

The race is corrupted—not by its vices, but by its ignorance: it is corrupted because it has not recognised exhaustion as exhaustion: physiological misunderstandings are the cause of all evil.

Virtue is our greatest misunderstanding.

Problem: how were the exhausted able to make the laws of values? In other words, how did they who are the last, come to power?... How did the instincts of the animal man ever get to stand on their heads?...

4. The Crisis: Nihilism and the Idea of Recurrence.


Extreme positions are not relieved by more moderate ones, but by extreme opposite positions. And thus the belief in the utter immorality of nature, and in the absence of all purpose and sense, are psychologically necessary attitudes when the [Pg 48]belief in God and in an essentially moral order of things is no longer tenable.

Nihilism now appears, not because the sorrows of existence are greater than they were formerly, but because, in a general way, people have grown suspicious of the "meaning" which might be given to evil and even to existence. One interpretation has been overthrown: but since it was held to be the interpretation, it seems as though there were no meaning in existence at all, as though everything were in vain.


It yet remains to be shown that this "in vain!" is the character of present Nihilism. The mistrust of our former valuations has increased to such an extent that it has led to the question: "are not all 'values' merely allurements prolonging the duration of the comedy, without, however, bringing the unravelling any closer?" The "long period of time" which has culminated in an "in vain," without either goal or purpose, is the most paralysing of thoughts, more particularly when one sees that one is duped without, however, being able to resist being duped.


Let us imagine this thought in its worst form: existence, as it is, without either a purpose or a goal, but inevitably recurring, without an end in nonentity: "Eternal Recurrence."

This is the extremest form of Nihilism: nothing (purposelessness) eternal!

[Pg 49] European form of Buddhism: the energy of knowledge and of strength drives us to such a belief. It is the most scientific of all hypotheses. We deny final purposes. If existence had a final purpose it would have reached it.


It should be understood that what is being aimed at, here, is a contradiction of Pantheism: for "everything perfect, divine, eternal," also leads to the belief in Eternal Recurrence. Question: has this pantheistic and affirmative attitude to all things also been made possible by morality? At bottom only the moral God has been overcome. Is there any sense in imagining a God "beyond good and evil"? Would Pantheism in this sense be possible? Do we withdraw the idea of purpose from the process, and affirm the process notwithstanding? This were so if, within that process, something were attained every moment—and always the same thing. Spinoza won an affirmative position of this sort, in the sense that every moment, according to him, has a logical necessity: and he triumphed by means of his fundamentally logical instinct over a like conformation of the world.


But his case is exceptional. If every fundamental trait of character, which lies beneath every act, and which finds expression in every act, were recognised by the individual as his fundamental [Pg 50]trait of character, this individual would be driven to regard every moment of his existence in general, triumphantly as good. It would simply be necessary for that fundamental trait of character to be felt in oneself as something good, valuable, and pleasurable.


Now, in the case of those men and classes of men who were treated with violence and oppressed by their fellows, morality saved life from despair and from the leap into nonentity:. for impotence in relation to mankind and not in relation to Nature is what generates the most desperate bitterness towards existence. Morality treated the powerful, the violent, and the "masters" in general, as enemies against whom the common man must be protected—that is to say, emboldened, strengthened. Morality has therefore always taught the most profound hatred and contempt of the fundamental trait of character of all rulers—i.e., their Will to Power. To suppress, to deny, and to decompose this morality, would mean to regard this most thoroughly detested instinct with the reverse of the old feeling and valuation. If the sufferer and the oppressed man were to lose his belief in his right to contemn the Will to Power, his position would be desperate. This would be so if the trait above-mentioned were essential to life, in which case it would follow that even that will to morality was only a cloak to this "Will to Power," as are also even that hatred and contempt. The oppressed man would then [Pg 51]perceive that he stands on the same platform with the oppressor, and that he has no individual privilege, nor any higher rank than the latter.


On the contrary! There is nothing on earth which can have any value, if it have not a modicum of power—granted, of course, that life itself is the Will to Power. Morality protected the botched and bungled against Nihilism, in that it gave every one of them infinite worth, metaphysical worth, and classed them altogether in one order which did not correspond with that of worldly power and order of rank: it taught submission, humility, etc. Admitting that the belief in this morality be destroyed, the botched and the bungled would no longer have any comfort, and would perish.

This perishing seems like self-annihilation, like an instinctive selection of that which must be destroyed. The symptoms of this self-destruction of the botched and the bungled: self-vivisection, poisoning, intoxication, romanticism, and, above all, the instinctive constraint to acts whereby the powerful are made into mortal enemies (training, so to speak, one's own hangmen), the will to destruction as the will of a still deeper instinct—of the instinct of self-destruction, of the Will to Nonentity.


Nihilism is a sign that the botched and bungled [Pg 52]in order to be destroyed, that, having been deprived of morality, they no longer have any reason to "resign themselves," that they take up their stand on the territory of the opposite principle, and will also exercise power themselves, by compelling the powerful to become their hangmen. This is the European form of Buddhism, that active negation, after all existence has lost its meaning.


It must not be supposed that "poverty" has grown more acute, on the contrary! "God, morality, resignation" were remedies in the very deepest stages of misery: active Nihilism made its appearance in circumstances which were relatively much more favourable. The fact, alone, that morality is regarded as overcome, presupposes a certain degree of intellectual culture; while this very culture, for its part, bears evidence to a certain relative well-being. A certain intellectual fatigue, brought on by the long struggle concerning philosophical opinions, and carried to hopeless scepticism against philosophy, shows moreover that the level of these Nihilists is by no means a low one. Only think of the conditions in which Buddha appeared! The teaching of the eternal recurrence would have learned principles to go upon (just as Buddha's teaching, for instance, had the notion of causality, etc.).


What do we mean to-day by the words "botched and bungled"? In the first place, they are used [Pg 53]physiologically and not politically. The unhealthiest kind of man all over Europe (in all classes) is the soil out of which Nihilism grows: this species of man will regard eternal recurrence as damnation—once he is bitten by the thought, he can no longer recoil before any action. He would not extirpate passively, but would cause everything to be extirpated which is meaningless and without a goal to this extent; although it is only a spasm, or sort of blind rage in the presence of the fact that everything has existed again and again for an eternity—even this period of Nihilism and destruction. The value of such a crisis is that it purifies, that it unites similar elements, and makes them mutually destructive, that it assigns common duties to men of opposite persuasions, and brings the weaker and more uncertain among them to the light, thus taking the first step towards a new order of rank among forces from the standpoint of health: recognising commanders as commanders, subordinates as subordinates. Naturally irrespective of all the present forms of society.


What class of men will prove they are strongest in this new order of things? The most moderate—they who do not require any extreme forms of belief, they who not only admit of, but actually like, a certain modicum of chance and nonsense; they who can think of man with a very moderate view of his value, without becoming weak and small on that account; the most rich in health, [Pg 54]who are able to withstand a maximum amount of sorrow, and who are therefore not so very much afraid of sorrow—men who are certain of their power, and who represent with conscious pride the state of strength to which man has attained.


How could such a man think of Eternal Recurrence?


The Periods of European Nihilism.

The Period of Obscurity: all kinds of groping measures devised to preserve old institutions and not to arrest the progress of new ones.

The Period of Light: men see that old and new are fundamental contraries; that the old values are born of descending life, and that the new ones are born of ascending life—that all old ideals are unfriendly to life (born of decadence and determining it, however much they may be decked out in the Sunday finery of morality). We understand the old, but are far from being sufficiently strong for the new.

The Periods of the Three Great Passions: contempt, pity, destruction.

The Periods of Catastrophes: the rise of a teaching which will sift mankind ... which drives the weak to some decision and the strong also.

[Pg 55]



(a) Modern Gloominess.


My friends, we had a hard time as youths; we even suffered from youth itself as though it were a serious disease. This is owing to the age in which we were born—an age of enormous internal decay and disintegration which, with all its weakness and even with the best of its strength, is opposed to the spirit of youth. Disintegration—that is to say, uncertainty—is peculiar to this age: nothing stands on solid ground or on a sound faith. People live for the morrow, because the day-after-to-morrow is doubtful. All our road is slippery and dangerous, while the ice which still bears us has grown unconscionably thin: we all feel the mild and gruesome breath of the thaw-wind—soon, where we are walking, no one will any longer be able to stand!


If this is not an age of decay and of diminishing vitality, it is at least one of indiscriminate and arbitrary experimentalising—and it is probable that out of an excess of abortive experiments there [Pg 56]has grown this general impression, as of decay: and perhaps decay itself.


Concerning the history of modern gloominess.

The state-nomads (officials, etc.): "homeless"—.

The break-up of the family.

The "good man" as a symptom of exhaustion.

Justice as Will to Power (Rearing).

Lewdness and neurosis.

Black music: whither has real music gone?

The anarchist.

Contempt of man, loathing.

Most profound distinction: whether hunger or satiety is creative? The first creates the Ideals of Romanticism.

Northern unnaturalness.

The need of Alcohol: the "need" of the working classes.

Philosophical Nihilism.


The slow advance and rise of the middle and lower classes (including the lower kind of spirit and body), which was already well under way before the French Revolution, and would have made the same progress forward without the latter,—in short, then, the preponderance of the herd over all herdsmen and bell-wethers,—brings in its train:—

(1) Gloominess of spirit (the juxtaposition of a stoical and a frivolous appearance of happiness, [Pg 57]peculiar to noble cultures, is on the decline; much suffering is allowed to be seen and heard which formerly was borne in concealment);

(2) Moral hypocrisy (a way of distinguishing oneself through morality, but by means of the values of the herd: pity, solicitude, moderation; and not by means of those virtues which are recognised and honoured outside the herd's sphere of power);

(3) A really large amount of sympathy with both pain and joy (a feeling of pleasure resulting from being herded together, which is peculiar to all gregarious animals—"public spirit," "patriotism," everything, in fact, which is apart from the individual).


Our age, with its indiscriminate endeavours to mitigate distress, to honour it, and to wage war in advance with unpleasant possibilities, is an age of the poor. Our "rich people"—they are the poorest! The real purpose of all wealth has been forgotten.


Criticism of modern man:—"the good man," but corrupted and misled by bad institutions (tyrants and priests);—reason elevated to a position of authority;—history is regarded as the surmounting of errors;—the future is regarded as progress;—the Christian state ("God of the armies");—Christian sexual intercourse (as marriage);—the realm of "justice" (the cult of "mankind");—"freedom."

The romantic attitudes of the modern man;[Pg 58]—the noble man (Byron, Victor Hugo, George Sand);—taking the part of the oppressed and the bungled and the botched: motto for historians and romancers;—the Stoics of duty;—disinterestedness regarded as art and as knowledge;—altruism as the most mendacious form of egoism (utilitarianism), the most sentimental form of egoism.

All this savours of the eighteenth century. But it had other qualities which were not inherited, namely, a certain insouciance, cheerfulness, elegance, spiritual clearness. The spiritual tempo has altered; the pleasure which was begotten by spiritual refinement and clearness has given room to the pleasure of colour, harmony, mass, reality, etc. etc. Sensuality in spiritual things. In short, it is the eighteenth century of Rousseau.


Taken all in all, a considerable amount of humanity has been attained by our men of to-day. That we feel this is in itself a proof of the fact that we have become so sensitive in regard to small cases of distress, that we somewhat unjustly overlook what has been achieved.

Here we must make allowances for the fact that a great deal of decadence is rife, and that, through such eyes, our world must appear bad and wretched. But these eyes have always seen in the same way, in all ages.

(1) A certain hypersensitiveness, even in morality.

(2) The quantum of bitterness and gloominess, [Pg 59]which pessimism bears with it in its judgments—both together have helped to bring about the preponderance of the other and opposite point of view, that things are not well with our morality.

The fact of credit, of the commerce of the world, and the means of traffic—are expressions of an extraordinarily mild trustfulness in men.... To that may also be added—

(3) The deliverance of science from moral and religious prejudices: a very good sign, though for the most part misunderstood.

In my own way, I am attempting a justification of history.


The second appearance of Buddhism.—Its precursory signs: the increase of pity. Spiritual exhaustion. The reduction of all problems to the question of pleasure and pain. The glory of war which calls forth a counter-stroke. Just as the sharp demarcation of nations generates a counter-movement in the form of the most hearty "Fraternity." The fact that it is impossible for religion to carry on its work any longer with dogma and fables.

The catastrophe of Nihilism will put an end to all this Buddhistic culture.


That which is most sorely afflicted to-day is the instinct and will of tradition: all institutions which owe their origin to this instinct, are opposed [Pg 60]to the tastes of the age.... At bottom, nothing is thought or done which is not calculated to tear up this spirit of tradition by the roots. Tradition is looked upon as a fatality; it is studied and acknowledged (in the form of "heredity"), but people will not have anything to do with it. The extension of one will over long periods of time, the selection of conditions and valuations which make it possible to dispose of centuries in advance—this, precisely, is what is most utterly anti-modern. From which it follows, that disorganising principles give our age its specific character.


"Be simple"—a demand which, when made to us complicated and incomprehensible triers of the heart and reins, is a simple absurdity.... Be natural: but even if we are unnatural—what then?


The means employed in former times in order to arrive at similarly constituted and lasting types, throughout long generations: entailed property and the respect of parents (the origin of the faith in gods and heroes as ancestors).

Now, the subdivision of property belongs to the opposite tendency. The centralisation of an enormous number of, different interests in one soul: which, to that end, must be very strong and mutable.

[Pg 61]


Why does everything become mummery.—The modern man is lacking in unfailing instinct (instinct being understood here to mean that which is the outcome of a long period of activity in the same occupation on the part of one family of men); the incapability of producing anything perfect, is simply the result of this lack of instinct: one individual alone cannot make up for the schooling his ancestors should have transmitted to him.

What a morality or book of law creates: that deep instinct which renders automatism and perfection possible in life and in work.

But now we have reached the opposite point; yes, we wanted to reach it—the most extreme consciousness, through introspection on the part of man and of history: and thus we are practically most distant from perfection in Being, doing, and willing: our desires—even our will to knowledge—shows how prodigiously decadent we are. We are striving after the very reverse of what strong races and strong natures will have—understanding is an end....

That Science is possible in the way in which it is practised to-day, proves that all elementary instincts, the instincts which ward off danger and protect life, are no longer active. We no longer save, we are merely spending the capital of our forefathers, even in the way in which we pursue knowledge.


Nihilistic trait.

(a) In the natural sciences ("purposelessness"), [Pg 62]causality, mechanism, "conformity to law," an interval, a remnant.

(b) Likewise in politics: the individual lacks the belief in his own right, innocence; falsehood rules supreme, as also the worship of the moment.

(d) Likewise in political economy: the abolition of slavery: the lack of a redeeming class, and of one who justifies—the rise of anarchy. "Education"?

(d) Likewise in history: fatalism, Darwinism; the last attempts at reconciling reason and Godliness fail. Sentimentality in regard to the past: biographies can no longer be endured! (Phenomenalism even here: character regarded as a mask; there are no facts.)

(e) Likewise in Art: romanticism and its counter-stroke (repugnance towards romantic ideals and lies). The latter, morally, as a sense of greatest truthfulness, but pessimistic. Pure "artists" (indifference as to the "subject"). (The psychology of the father-confessor and puritanical psychology—two forms of psychological romanticism: but also their counter-stroke, the attempt to maintain a purely artistic attitude towards "men"—but even in this respect no one dares to make the opposite valuation.)


Against the teaching of the influence of environment and external causes: the power coming from inside is infinitely superior; much that appears like influence acting from without is merely the subjection of environment to this inner power.

[Pg 63] Precisely the same environment may be used and interpreted in opposite ways: there are no facts. A genius is not explained by such theories concerning origins.


"Modernity" regarded in the light of nutrition and digestion.

Sensitiveness is infinitely more acute (beneath moral vestments: the increase of pity), the abundance of different impressions is greater than ever. The cosmopolitanism of articles of diet, of literature, newspapers, forms, tastes, and even landscapes. The speed of this affluence is prestissimo; impressions are wiped out, and people instinctively guard against assimilating anything or against taking anything seriously and "digesting" it; the result is a weakening of the powers of digestion. There begin a sort of adaptation to this accumulation of impressions. Man unlearns the art of doing, and all he does is to react to stimuli coming from his environment. He spends his strength, partly in the process of assimilation, partly in defending himself, and again partly in responding to stimuli. Profound enfeeblement of spontaneity:—the historian, the critic, the analyst, the interpreter, the observer, the collector, the reader,—all reactive talents,—all science!

Artificial modification of one's own nature in order to make it resemble a "mirror"; one is interested, but only epidermally: this is systematic coolness, equilibrium, a steady low temperature, [Pg 64] just beneath the thin surface on which warmth, movement, "storm," and undulations play.

Opposition of external mobility to a certain dead heaviness and fatigue.


Where must our modern world be classed—under exhaustion or under increasing strength? Its multiformity and lack of repose are brought about by the highest form of consciousness.


Overwork, curiosity and sympathy—our modern vices.


A contribution to the characterisation of "Modernity."—Exaggerated development of intermediate forms; the decay of types; the break-up of tradition, schools; the predominance of the instincts (philosophically prepared: the unconscious has the greater value) after the appearance of the enfeeblement of will power and of the will to an end and to the means thereto.


A capable artisan or scholar cuts a good figure if he have his pride in his art, and looks pleasantly and contentedly upon life. On the other hand, there is no sight more wretched than that of a cobbler or a schoolmaster who, with the air of a martyr, gives one to understand that he was really [Pg 65]born for something better. There is nothing better than what is good! and that is: to have a certain kind of capacity and to use it. This is virtù in the Italian style of the Renaissance.

Nowadays, when the state has a nonsensically oversized belly, in all fields and branches of work there are "representatives" over and above the real workman: for instance, in addition to the scholars, there are the journalists; in addition to the suffering masses, there is a crowd of jabbering and bragging ne'er-do-wells who "represent" that suffering—not to speak of the professional politicians who, though quite satisfied with their lot, stand up in Parliament and, with strong lungs, "represent" grievances. Our modern life is extremely expensive, thanks to the host of middlemen that infest it; whereas in the city of antiquity, and in many a city of Spain and Italy to-day, where there is an echo of the ancient spirit, the man himself comes forward and will have nothing to do with a representative or an intermediary in the modern style—except perhaps to kick him hence!


The pre-eminence of the merchant and the middleman, even in the most intellectual spheres: the journalist, the "representative," the historian (as an intermediary between the past and the present), the exotic and cosmopolitan, the middleman between natural science and philosophy, the semi-theologians.

[Pg 66]


The men I have regarded with the most loathing, heretofore, are the parasites of intellect: they are to be found everywhere, already, in our modern Europe, and as a matter of fact their conscience is as light as it possibly can be. They may be a little turbid, and savour somewhat of Pessimism, but in the main they are voracious, dirty, dirtying, stealthy, insinuating, light-fingered gentry, scabby—and as innocent as all small sinners and microbes are. They live at the expense of those who have intellect and who distribute it liberally: they know that it is peculiar to the rich mind to live in a disinterested fashion, without taking too much petty thought for the morrow, and to distribute its wealth prodigally. For intellect is a bad domestic economist, and pays no heed whatever to the fact that everything lives on it and devours it.


Modern Mummery

The motleyness of modern men and its charm Essentially a mask and a sign of boredom.

The journalist.

The political man (in the "national swindle").

Mummery in the arts:—

The lack of honesty in preparing and schooling oneself for them (Fromentin);

[Pg 67] The Romanticists (their lack of philosophy and science and their excess in literature);

The novelists (Walter Scott, but also the monsters of the Nibelung, with their inordinately nervous music);

The lyricists.


Virtuosos (Jews).

The popular ideals are overcome, but not yet in the presence of the people:

The saint, the sage, the prophet.


The want of discipline in the modern spirit concealed beneath all kinds of moral finery.—The show-words are: Toleration (for the "incapacity of saying yes or no"); la largeur de sympathie (= a third of indifference, a third of curiosity, and a third of morbid susceptibility); "objectivity" (the lack of personality and of will, and the inability to "love"); "freedom" in regard to the rule (Romanticism); "truth" as opposed to falsehood and lying (Naturalism); the "scientific spirit" (the "human document": or, in plain English, the serial story which means "addition"—instead of "composition"); "passion" in the place of disorder and intemperance; "depth" in the place of confusion and the pell-mell of symbols.


Concerning the criticism of big words.—I am full of mistrust and malice towards what is called [Pg 68]"ideal": this is my Pessimism, that I have recognised to what extent "sublime sentiments" are a source of evil—that is to say, a belittling and depreciating of man.

Every time "progress" is expected to result from an ideal, disappointment invariably follows; the triumph of an ideal has always been a retrograde movement.

Christianity, revolution, the abolition of slavery, equal rights, philanthropy, love of peace, justice, truth: all these big words are only valuable in a struggle, as banners: not as realities, but as show-words, for something quite different (yea, even quite opposed to what they mean!).


The kind of man is known who has fallen in love with the sentence "tout comprendre à est tout pardonner" It is the weak and, above all, the disillusioned: if there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to contemn! It is the philosophy of disappointment, which here swathes itself so humanly in pity, and gazes out so sweetly.

They are Romanticists, whose faith has gone to pot: now they at least wish to look on and see how everything vanishes and fades. They call it l'art pour l'art, "objectivity," etc.


The main symptoms of Pessimism:—Dinners at Magny's; Russian Pessimism (Tolstoy, Dostoiewsky); [Pg 69]æsthetic Pessimism, l'art pour l'art, "description" (the romantic and the anti-romantic Pessimism); Pessimism in the theory of knowledge (Schopenhauer: phenomenalism); anarchical Pessimism; the "religion of pity," Buddhistic preparation; the Pessimism of culture (exoticness, cosmopolitanism); moral Pessimism, myself.


"Without the Christian Faith" said Pascal, "you would yourselves be like nature and history, un monstre et un chaos." We fulfilled this prophecy: once the weak and optimistic eighteenth century had embellished and rationalised man.

Schopenhauer and Pascal.—I none essential point, Schopenhauer is the first who takes up Pascal's movement again: un monstre et un chaos, consequently something that must be negatived ... history, nature, and man himself!

"Our inability to know the truth is the result of our corruption, of our moral decay" says Pascal. And Schopenhauer says essentially the same. "The more profound the corruption of reason is, the more necessary is the doctrine of salvation"—or, putting it into Schopenhauerian phraseology, negation.


Schopenhauer as an epigone (state of affairs before the Revolution):—Pity, sensuality, art, weakness of will, Catholicism of the most intellectual desires—that is, at bottom, the good old eighteenth century.

[Pg 70] Schopenhauer's fundamental misunderstanding of the will (just as though passion, instinct, and desire were the essential factors of will) is typical: the depreciation of the will to the extent of mistaking it altogether. Likewise the hatred of willing: the attempt at seeing something superior—yea, even superiority itself, and that which really matters, in non-willing, in the "subject-being without aim or intention." Great symptom of fatigue or of the weakness of will: for this, in reality, is what treats the passions as master, and directs them as to the way and to the measure....


The undignified attempt has been made to regard Wagner and Schopenhauer as types of the mentally unsound: an infinitely more essential understanding of the matter would have been gained if the exact decadent type which each of them represents had been scientifically and accurately defined.


In my opinion, Henrik Ibsen has become very German. With all his robust idealism and "Will to Truth," he never dared to ring himself free from moral-illusionism which says "freedom," and will not admit, even to itself, what freedom is: the second stage in the metamorphosis of the "Will to Power" in him who lacks it. In the first stage, one demands justice at the hands of those who have power. In the second, one speaks of "freedom," [Pg 71]that is to say, one wishes to "shake oneself free" from those who have power. In the third stage, one speaks of "equal rights"—that is to say, so long as one is not a predominant personality one wishes to prevent one's competitors from growing in power.


The Decline of Protestantism: theoretically and historically understood as a half-measure. Undeniable predominance of Catholicism to-day: Protestant feeling is so dead that the strongest anti-Protestant movements (Wagner's Parsifal, for instance) are no longer regarded as such. The whole of the more elevated intellectuality in France is Catholic in instinct; Bismarck recognised that there was no longer any such thing as Protestantism.


Protestantism, that spiritually unclean and tiresome form of decadence, in which Christianity has known how to survive in the mediocre North, is something incomplete and complexly valuable for knowledge, in so far as it was able to bring experiences of different kinds and origins into the same heads.


What has the German spirit not made out of Christianity! And, to refer to Protestantism again, how much beer is there not still in Protestant Christianity! Can a crasser, more indolent, and more lounging form of Christian belief [Pg 72]be imagined, than that of the average German Protestant?... It is indeed a very humble Christianity. I call it the Homœopathy of Christianity! I am reminded that, to-day, there also exists a less humble sort of Protestantism; it is taught by royal chaplains and anti-Semitic speculators: but nobody has ever maintained that any "spirit" "hovers" over these waters. It is merely a less respectable form of Christian faith, not by any means a more comprehensible one.


Progress.—Let us be on our guard lest we deceive ourselves! Time flies forward apace,—we would fain believe that everything flies forward with it,—that evolution is an advancing development.... That is the appearance of things which deceives the most circumspect. But the nineteenth century shows no advance whatever on the sixteenth: and the German spirit of 1888 is an example of a backward movement when compared with that of 1788.... Mankind does not advance, it does not even exist. The aspect of the whole is much more like that of a huge experimenting workshop where some things in all ages succeed, while an incalculable number of things fail; where all order, logic, co-ordination, and responsibility is lacking. How dare we blink the fact that the rise of Christianity is a decadent movement?—that the German Reformation was a recrudescence of Christian barbarism?—that the Revolution destroyed the instinct for an organisation [Pg 73]of society on a large scale?... Man is not an example of progress as compared with animals: the tender son of culture is an abortion compared with the Arab or the Corsican; the Chinaman is a more successful type—that is to say, richer in sustaining power than the European.

(b) The Last Centuries.


Gloominess and pessimistic influence necessarily follow in the wake of enlightenment. Towards 1770 a falling-off in cheerfulness was already noticeable; women, with that very feminine instinct which always defends virtue, believed that immorality was the cause of it. Galiani hit the bull's eye: he quotes Voltaire's verse:

"Un monstre gai vaut mieux
Qu'un sentimental ennuyeux."

If now I maintain that I am ahead, by a century or two of enlightenment, of Voltaire and Galiani—who was much more profound, how deeply must I have sunk into gloominess! This is also true, and betimes I somewhat reluctantly manifested some caution in regard to the German and Christian narrowness and inconsistency of Schopenhauerian or, worse still, Leopardian Pessimism, and sought the most characteristic form (Asia). But, in order to endure that extreme Pessimism (which here and there peeps out of my Birth of Tragedy), to live alone "without God or morality," [Pg 74]I was compelled to invent a counter-prop for myself. Perhaps I know best why man is the only animal that laughs: he alone surfers so excruciatingly that he was compelled to invent laughter. The unhappiest and most melancholy animal is, as might have been expected, the most cheerful.


In regard to German culture, I have always had a feeling as of decline. The fact that I learned to know a declining form of culture has often made me unfair towards the whole phenomenon of European culture. The Germans always follow at some distance behind: they always go to the root of things, for instance:—

Dependance upon foreigners; Kant—Rousseau, the sensualists, Hume, Swedenborg.

Schopenhauer—the Indians and Romanticism, Voltaire.

Wagner—the French cult of the ugly and of grand opera, Paris, and the flight into primitive barbarism (the marriage of brother and sister).

The law of the laggard (the provinces go to Paris, Germany goes to France).

How is it that precisely Germans discovered the Greek (the more an instinct is developed, the more it is tempted to run for once into its opposite).

Music is the last breath of every culture.


Renaissance and Reformation.—What does the Renaissance prove? That the reign of the [Pg 75]"individual" can be only a short one. The output is too great; there is not even the possibility of husbanding or of capitalising forces, and exhaustion sets in step by step. These are times when everything is squandered, when even the strength itself with which one collects, capitalises, and heaps riches upon riches, is squandered. Even the opponents of such movements are driven to preposterous extremes in the dissipation of their strength: and they too are very soon exhausted, used up, and completely sapped.

In the Reformation we are face to face with a wild and plebeian counterpart of the Italian Renaissance, generated by similar impulses, except that the former, in the backward and still vulgar North, had to assume a religious form—there the concept of a higher life had not yet been divorced from that of a religious one.

Even the Reformation was a movement for individual liberty; "every one his own priest" is really no more than a formula for libertinage. As a matter of fact, the words "Evangelical freedom" would have sufficed—and all instincts which had reasons for remaining concealed broke out like wild hounds, the most brutal needs suddenly acquired the courage to show themselves, everything seemed justified ... men refused to specify the kind of freedom they had aimed at, they preferred to shut their eyes. But the fact that their eyes were closed and that their lips were moistened with gushing orations, did not prevent their hands from being ready to snatch at whatever there was to snatch at, that the belly became the god of the [Pg 76]"free gospel," and that all lusts of revenge and of hatred were indulged with insatiable fury.

This lasted for a while: then exhaustion supervened, just as it had done in Southern Europe; and again here, it was a low form of exhaustion, a sort of general ruere in servitium.... Then the disreputable century of Germany dawned.


Chivalry—the position won by power: its gradual break-up (and partial transference to broader and more bourgeois spheres). In the case of Larochefoucauld we find a knowledge of the actual impulses of a noble temperament—together with the gloomy Christian estimate of these impulses.

The protraction of Christianity through the French Revolution. The seducer is Rousseau; he once again liberates woman, who thenceforward is always represented as ever more interesting—suffering. Then come the slaves and Mrs. Beecher-Stowe. Then the poor and the workmen. Then the vicious and the sick—all this is drawn into the foreground (even for the purpose of disposing people in favour of the genius, it has been customary for five hundred years to press him forward as the great sufferer!). Then comes the cursing of all voluptuousness (Baudelaire and Schopenhauer), the most decided conviction that the lust of power is the greatest vice; absolute certainty that morality and disinterestedness are identical things; that the "happiness of all" is a goal worth [Pg 77]striving after (i.e., Christ's Kingdom of Heaven). We are on the best road to it: the Kingdom of Heaven of the poor in spirit has begun.—Intermediate stages: the bourgeois (as a result of the nouveau riche) and the workman (as a result of the machine).

Greek and French culture of the time of Louis XIV. compared. A decided belief in oneself. A leisure-class which makes things hard for itself and exercises a great deal of self-control. The power of form, the will to form oneself. "Happiness" acknowledged as a purpose. Much strength and energy behind all formality of manners. Pleasure at the sight of a life that is seemingly so easy. The Greeks seemed like children to the French.


The Three Centuries.

Their different kinds of sensitiveness may perhaps be best expressed as follows:—

Aristocracy: Descartes, the reign of reason, evidence showing the sovereignty of the will.

Feminism: Rousseau, the reign of feeling, evidence showing the sovereignty of the senses; all lies.

Animalism: Schopenhauer, the reign of passion, evidence showing the sovereignty of animality, more honest, but gloomy.

The seventeenth century is aristocratic, all for order, haughty towards everything animal, severe in regard to the heart, "austere," and even free from sentiment, "non-German," averse to all that is [Pg 78] burlesque and natural, generalising and maintaining an attitude of sovereignty towards the past for it believes in itself. At bottom it partakes very much of the beast of prey, and practises asceticism in order to remain master. It is the century of strength of will, as also that of strong passion.

The eighteenth century is dominated by woman, it is gushing, spiritual, and flat; but with intellect at the service of aspirations and of the heart, it is a libertine in the pleasures of intellect, undermining all authorities; emotionally intoxicated, cheerful, clear, humane, and sociable, false to itself and at bottom very rascally....

The nineteenth century is more animal, more subterranean, hateful, realistic, plebeian, and on that very account "better," "more honest," more submissive to "reality" of what kind soever, and truer; but weak of will, sad, obscurely exacting and fatalistic. It has no feeling of timidity or reverence, either in the presence of "reason" or the "heart"; thoroughly convinced of the dominion of the desires (Schopenhauer said "Will," but nothing is more characteristic of his philosophy than that it entirely lacks all actual willing). Even morality is reduced to an instinct ("Pity").

Auguste Comte is the continuation of the eighteenth century (the dominion of the heart over the head, sensuality in the theory of knowledge, altruistic exaltation).

The fact that science has become as sovereign as it is to-day, proves how the nineteenth century has emancipated itself from the dominion of ideals. [Pg 79]A certain absence of "needs" and wishes makes our scientific curiosity and rigour possible—this is our kind of virtue.

Romanticism is the counterstroke of the eighteenth century; a sort of accumulated longing for its grand style of exaltation (as a matter of fact, largely mingled with mummery and self-deception: the desire was to represent strong nature and strong passion).

The nineteenth century instinctively goes in search of theories by means of which it may feel its fatalistic, submission to the empire of facts justified. Hegel's success against sentimentality and romantic idealism was already a sign of its fatalistic trend of thought, in its belief that superior reason belongs to the triumphant side, and in its justification of the actual "state" (in the place of "humanity," etc.).—Schopenhauer: we are something foolish, and at the best self-suppressive. The success of determinism, the genealogical derivation of obligations which were formerly held to be absolute, the teaching of environment and adaptation, the reduction of will to a process of reflex movement, the denial of the will as a "working cause"; finally—a real process of re-christening: so little will is observed that the word itself becomes available for another purpose. Further theories: the teaching of objectivity, "will-less" contemplation, as the only road to truth, as also to beauty (also the belief in "genius," in order to have the right to be submissive); mechanism, the determinable rigidity of the mechanical process; so-called "Naturalism," [Pg 80]the elimination of the choosing, directing, interpreting subject, on principle.

Kant, with his "practical reason," with his moral fanaticism, is quite eighteenth century style; still completely outside the historical movement, without any notion whatsoever of the reality of his time, for instance, revolution; he is not affected by Greek philosophy; he is a phantasist of the notion of duty, a sensualist with a hidden leaning to dogmatic pampering.

The return to Kant in our century means a return to the eighteenth century, people desire to create themselves a right to the old ideas and to the old exaltation—hence a theory of knowledge which "describes limits," that is to say, which admits of the option of fixing a Beyond to the domain of reason.

Hegel's way of thinking is not so very far removed from that of Goethe: see the latter on the subject of Spinoza, for instance. The will to deify the All and Life, in order to find both peace and happiness in contemplating them: Hegel looks for reason everywhere—in the presence of reason man may be submissive and resigned. In Goethe we find a kind of fatalism which is almost joyous and confiding, which neither revolts nor weakens, which strives to make a totality out of itself, in the belief that only in totality does everything seem good and justified, and find itself resolved.


The period of rationalism—followed by a period of sentimentality. To what extent does [Pg 81]Schopenhauer come under "sentimentality"? (Hegel under intellectuality?)


The seventeenth century suffers from humanity as from a host of contradictions ("l'amas de contradictions" that we are); it endeavours to discover man, to co-ordinate him, to excavate him: whereas the eighteenth century tries to forget what is known of man's nature, in order to adapt him to its Utopia. "Superficial, soft, humane"—gushes over "humanity."

The seventeenth century tries to banish all traces of the individual in order that the artist's work may resemble life as much as possible. The eighteenth century strives to create interest in the author by means of the work. The seventeenth century seeks art in art, a piece of culture; the eighteenth uses art in its propaganda for political and social reforms.

"Utopia," the "ideal man," the deification of Nature, the vanity of making one's own personality the centre of interest, subordination to the propaganda of social ideas, charlatanism—all this we derive from the eighteenth century.

The style of the seventeenth century: propre exact et libre.

The strong individual who is self-sufficient, or who appeals ardently to God—and that obtrusiveness and indiscretion of modern authors—these things are opposites. "Showing-oneself-off"—what a contrast to the Scholars of Port-Royal!

[Pg 82] Alfieri had a sense for the grand style.

The hate of the burlesque (that which lacks dignity), the lack of a sense of Nature belongs to the seventeenth century.


Against Rousseau.—Alas! man is no longer sufficiently evil; Rousseau's opponents, who say that "man is a beast of prey," are unfortunately wrong. Not the corruption of man, but the softening and moralising of him is the curse. In the sphere which Rousseau attacked most violently, the relatively strongest and most successful type of man was still to be found (the type which still possessed the great passions intact: Will to Power, Will to Pleasure, the Will and Ability to Command). The man of the eighteenth century must be compared with the man of the Renaissance (also with the man of the seventeenth century in France) if the matter is to be understood at all: Rousseau is a symptom of self-contempt and of inflamed vanity—both signs that the dominating will is lacking: he moralises and seeks the cause of his own misery after the style of a revengeful man in the ruling classes.


Voltaire—Rousseau.—A state of nature is terrible; man is a beast of prey: our civilisation is an extraordinary triumph over this beast of prey in nature—this was Voltaires conclusion. He was conscious of the mildness, the refinements, [Pg 83]the intellectual joys of the civilised state; he despised obtuseness, even in the form of virtue, and the lack of delicacy even in ascetics and monks.

The moral depravity of man seemed to pre-occupy Rousseau; the words "unjust," "cruel," are the best possible for the purpose of exciting the instincts of the oppressed, who otherwise find themselves under the ban of the vetitum and of disgrace; so that their conscience is opposed to their indulging any insurrectional desires. These emancipators seek one thing above all: to give their party the great accents and attitudes of higher Nature.


Rousseau; the rule founded on sentiment; Nature as the source of justice; man perfects himself in proportion as he approaches Nature (according to Voltaire, in proportion as he leaves Nature behind). The very same periods seem to the one to demonstrate the progress of humanity and, to the other, the increase of injustice and inequality.

Voltaire, who still understood umanità in the sense of the Renaissance, as also virtù (as "higher culture"), fights for the cause of the "honnêtes gens" "la bonne compagnie" taste, science, arts, and even for the cause of progress and civilisation.

The flare-up occurred towards 1760: On the one hand the citizen of Geneva, on the other le seigneur de Ferney. It is only from that moment and henceforward that Voltaire was the man of [Pg 84]his age, the philosopher, the representative of Toleration and of Disbelief (theretofore he had been merely un bel esprit). His envy and hatred of Rousseau's success forced him upwards.

"Pour 'la canaille' un dieu rémunérateur et vengeur"—Voltaire.

The criticism of both standpoints in regard to the value of civilisation. To Voltaire nothing seems finer than the social invention: there is no higher goal than to uphold and perfect it. L'honnêteté consists precisely in respecting social usage; virtue in a certain obedience towards various necessary "prejudices" which favour the maintenance of society. Missionary of Culture, aristocrat, representative of the triumphant and ruling classes and their values. But Rousseau remained a plebeian, even as hommes de lettres, this was preposterous; his shameless contempt for everything that was not himself.

The morbid feature in Rousseau is the one which happens to have been most admired and imitated. (Lord Byron resembled him somewhat, he too screwed himself up to sublime attitudes and to revengeful rage—a sign of vulgarity; later on, when Venice restored his equilibrium, he understood what alleviates most and does the most good ... l'insouciance.)

In spite of his antecedents, Rousseau is proud of himself; but he is incensed if he is reminded of his origin....

In Rousseau there was undoubtedly some brain trouble; in Voltaire—rare health and lightsomeness. The revengefulness of the sick; his periods [Pg 85]of insanity as also those of his contempt of man, and of his mistrust.

Rousseau's defence of Providence (against Voltaire's Pessimism): he had need of God in order to be able to curse society and civilisation; everything must be good per se, because God had created it; man alone has corrupted man. The "good man" as a man of Nature was pure fantasy; but with the dogma of God's authorship he became something probable and even not devoid of foundation.

Romanticism à la Rousseau: passion ("the sovereign right of passion"); "naturalness"; the fascination of madness (foolishness reckoned as greatness); the senseless vanity of the weak; the revengefulness of the masses elevated to the position of justice ("in politics, for one hundred years, the leader has always been this invalid").


Kant: makes the scepticism of Englishmen, in regard to the theory of knowledge, possible for Germans.

(1) By enlisting in its cause the interest of the German's religious and moral needs: just as the new academicians used scepticism for the same reasons, as a preparation for Platonism (vide Augustine); just as Pascal even used moral scepticism in order to provoke (to justify) the need of belief;

(2) By complicating and entangling it with scholastic flourishes in view of making it more [Pg 86]acceptable to the German's scientific taste in form (for Locke and Hume, alone, were too illuminating, too clear—that is to say, judged according to the German valuing instinct, "too superficial").

Kant: a poor psychologist and mediocre judge of human nature, made hopeless mistakes in regard to great historical values (the French Revolution); a moral fanatic à la Rousseau; with a subterranean current of Christian values; a thorough dogmatist, but bored to extinction by this tendency, to the extent of wishing to tyrannise over it, but quickly tired, even of 'scepticism; and not yet affected by any cosmopolitan thought or antique beauty ... a dawdler and a go-between, not at all original (like Leibnitz, something between mechanism and spiritualism; like Goethe, something between the taste of the eighteenth century and that of the "historical sense" [which is essentially a sense of exoticism]; like German music, between French and Italian music; like Charles the Great, who mediated and built bridges between the Roman Empire and Nationalism—a dawdler par excellence).


In what respect have the Christian centuries with their Pessimism been stronger centuries than the eighteenth—and how do they correspond with the tragic age of the Greeks?

The nineteenth century versus the eighteenth. How was it an heir?—how was it a step backwards from the latter? (more lacking in "spirit" and [Pg 87]in taste)—how did it show an advance on the latter? (more gloomy, more realistic, stronger).


How can we explain the fact that we feel something in common with the Campagna romana? And the high mountain chain?

Chateaubriand in a letter to M. de Fontanes in 1803 writes his first impression of the Campagna romana.

The President de Brosses says of the Campagna romana: "Il fallait que Romulus fût ivre quand il songea à bâtir une ville dans un terrain aussi laid."

Even Delacroix would have nothing to do with Rome, it frightened him. He loved Venice, just as Shakespeare, Byron, and Georges Sand did. Théophile Gautier's and Richard Wagner's dislike of Rome must not be forgotten.

Lamartine has the language for Sorrento and Posilippo.

Victor Hugo raves about Spain, "parce que aucune autre nation n'a moins emprunté à l'antiquité, parce qu'elle n'a subi aucune influence classique."


The two great attempts that were made to overcome the eighteenth century:

Napoleon, in that he called man, the soldier, and the great struggle for power, to life again, and conceived Europe as a political power.

Goethe, in that he imagined a European culture [Pg 88]which would consist of the whole heritage of what humanity had attained to up to his time.

German culture in this century inspires mistrust—the music of the period lacks that complete element which liberates and binds as well, to wit—Goethe.

The pre-eminence of music in the romanticists of 1830 and 1840. Delacroix. Ingres—a passionate musician (admired Gluck, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart), said to his pupils in Rome: "Si je pouvais vous rendre tous musiciens, vous y gagneriez comme peintres"—likewise Horace Vernet, who was particularly fond of Don Juan (as Mendelssohn assures us, 1831); Stendhal, too, who says of himself: "Combien de lieues ne ferais-je pas à pied, et à combien de jours de prison ne me soumetterais-je pas pour entendre Don Juan ou le Matrimonio segreto; et je ne sais pour quelle autre chose je ferais cet effort." He was then fifty-six years old.

The borrowed forms, for instance: Brahms as a typical "Epigone," likewise Mendelssohn's cultured Protestantism (a former "soul" is turned into poetry posthumously ...)

—the moral and poetical substitutions in Wagner, who used one art as a stop-gap to make up for what another lacked.

—the "historical sense," inspiration derived from poems, sagas.

—that characteristic transformation of which G. Flaubert is the most striking example among Frenchmen, and Richard Wagner the most striking example among Germans, shows how the [Pg 89]romantic belief in love and the future changes into a longing for nonentity in 1830-50.


How is it that German music reaches its culminating point in the age of German romanticism? How is it that German music lacks Goethe? On the other hand, how much Schiller, or more exactly, how much "Thekla"[5] is there not in Beethoven!

Schumann has Eichendorff, Uhland, Heine, Hoffman, Tieck, in him. Richard Wagner has Freischütz, Hoffmann, Grimm, the romantic Saga, the mystic Catholicism of instinct, symbolism, "the free-spiritedness of passion" (Rousseau's intention). The Flying Dutchman savours of France, where le ténébreux (1830) was the type of the seducer.

The cult of music, the revolutionary romanticism of form. Wagner synthesises German and French romanticism.

[5] Thekla is the sentimental heroine in Schiller's Wallenstein.TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.


From the point of view only of his value to Germany and to German culture, Richard Wagner is still a great problem, perhaps a German misfortune: in any case, however, a fatality. But what does it matter? Is he not very much more than a German event? It also seems to me that to no country on earth is he less related than to Germany; nothing was prepared there for [Pg 90]his advent; his whole type is simply strange amongst Germans; there he stands in their midst, wonderful, misunderstood, incomprehensible. But people carefully avoid acknowledging this: they are too kind, too square-headed—too German for that. "Credo quia absurdus est": thus did the German spirit wish it to be, in this case too—hence it is content meanwhile to believe everything Richard Wagner wanted to have believed about himself. In all ages the spirit of Germany has been deficient in subtlety and divining powers concerning psychological matters. Now that it happens to be under the high pressure of patriotic nonsense and self-adoration, it is visibly growing thicker and coarser: how could it therefore be equal to the problem of Wagner!


The Germans are not yet anything, but they are becoming something; that is why they have not yet any culture;—that is why they cannot yet have any culture!—They are not yet anything: that means they are all kinds of things. They are becoming something: that means that they will one day cease from being all kinds of things. The latter is at bottom only a wish, scarcely a hope yet. Fortunately it is a wish with which one can live, a question of will, of work, of discipline, a question of training, as also of resentment, of longing, of privation, of discomfort,—yea, even of bitterness,—in short, we Germans will get something out of ourselves, something that has not yet been wanted of us—we want something more!

[Pg 91] That this "German, as he is not as yet"—has a right to something better than the present German "culture"; that all who wish to become something better, must wax angry when they perceive a sort of contentment, an impudent "setting-oneself-at-ease," or "a process of self-censing," in this quarter: that is my second principle, in regard to which my opinions have not yet changed.

(c) Signs of Increasing Strength.


First Principle: everything that characterises modern men savours of decay: but side by side with the prevailing sickness there are signs of a strength and powerfulness of soul which are still untried. The same causes which tend to promote the belittling of men, also force the stronger and rarer individuals upwards to greatness.


General survey: the ambiguous character of our modern world—precisely the same symptoms might at the same time be indicative of either decline or strength. And the signs of strength and of emancipation dearly bought, might in view of traditional (or hereditary) appreciations concerned with the feelings, be misunderstood as indications of weakness. In short, feeling, as a means of fixing valuations, is not on a level with the times.

[Pg 92] Generalised: Every valuation is always backward; it is merely the expression of the conditions which favoured survival and growth in a much earlier age: it struggles against new conditions of existence out of which it did not arise, and which it therefore necessarily misunderstands: it hinders, and excites suspicion against, all that is new.


The problem of the nineteenth century.—To discover whether its strong and weak side belong to each other. Whether they have been cut from one and the same piece. Whether the variety of its ideals and their contradictions are conditioned by a higher purpose: whether they are something higher.—For it might be the prerequisite of greatness, that growth should take place amid such violent tension. Dissatisfaction, Nihilism, might be a good sign.


General survey.—As a matter of fact, all abundant growth involves a concomitant process of crumbling to bits and decay: suffering and the symptoms of decline belong to ages of enormous progress; every fruitful and powerful movement of mankind has always brought about a concurrent Nihilistic movement. Under certain circumstances, the appearance of the extremest form of Pessimism and actual Nihilism might be the sign of a process of incisive and most essential growth, and of mankind's transit into completely new conditions of existence. This is what I have understood.

[Pg 93]



Starting out with a thoroughly courageous appreciation of our men of to-day:—we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by appearance: this mankind is much less effective, but it gives quite different pledges of lasting strength, its tempo is slower, but the rhythm itself is richer. Healthiness is increasing, the real conditions of a healthy body are on the point of being known, and will gradually be created, "asceticism" is regarded with irony. The fear of extremes, a certain confidence in the "right way," no raving: a periodical self-habituation to narrower values (such as "mother-land," "science," etc.).

This whole picture, however, would still be ambiguous: it might be a movement either of increase or decline in Life.


The belief in "progress"—in lower spheres of intelligence, appears as increasing life: but this is self-deception;

in higher spheres of intelligence it is a sign of declining life.

Description of the symptoms.

The unity of the aspect: uncertainty in regard to the standard of valuation.

Fear of a general "in vain."

[Pg 95]



As a matter of fact, we are no longer so urgently in need of an antidote against the first Nihilism: Life is no longer so uncertain, accidental, and senseless in modern Europe. All such tremendous exaggeration of the value of men, of the value of evil, etc., are not so necessary now; we can endure a considerable diminution of this value, we may grant a great deal of nonsense and accident: the power man has acquired now allows of a lowering of the means of discipline, of which the strongest was the moral interpretation of the universe. The hypothesis "God" is much too extreme.


If anything shows that our humanisation is a genuine sign of progress, it is the fact that we no longer require excessive contraries, that we no longer require contraries at all....

We may love the senses; for we have spiritualised them in every way and made them artistic;

We have a right to all things which hitherto have been most calumniated.


The reversal of the order of rank.—Those pious counterfeiters—the priests—are becoming Chandala in our midst:—they occupy the position of the charlatan, of the quack, of the counterfeiter, of the sorcerer: we regard them as corrupters of the will, [Pg 94]as the great slanderers and vindictive enemies of Life, and as the rebels among the bungled and the botched. We have made our middle class out of our servant-caste—the Sudra—that is to say, our people or the body which wields the political power.

On the other hand, the Chandala of former times is paramount: the blasphemers, the immoralists, the independents of all kinds, the artists, the Jews, the minstrels—and, at bottom, all disreputable classes are in the van.

We have elevated ourselves to honourable thoughts,—even more, we determine what honour is on earth,—"nobility." ... All of us to-day are advocates of life.—We Immoralists are to-day the strongest power: the other great powers are in need of us ... we re-create the world in our own image.

We have transferred the label "Chandala" to the priests, the backworldsmen, and to the deformed Christian society which has become associated with these people, together with creatures of like origin, the pessimists, Nihilists, romanticists of pity, criminals, and men of vicious habits—the whole sphere in which the idea of "God" is that of Saviour....

We are proud of being no longer obliged to be liars, slanderers, and detractors of Life....


The advance of the nineteenth century upon the eighteenth (at bottom we good Europeans [Pg 96]are carrying on a war against the eighteenth century):

(1) "The return to Nature" is getting to be understood, ever more definitely, in a way which is quite the reverse of that in which Rousseau used the phrase—away from idylls and operas!

(2) Ever more decided, more anti-idealistic, more objective, more fearless, more industrious, more temperate, more suspicious of sudden changes, anti-revolutionary;

(3) The question of bodily health is being pressed ever more decidedly in front of the health of "the soul": the latter is regarded as a condition brought about by the former, and bodily health is believed to be, at least, the prerequisite to spiritual health.


If anything at all has been achieved, it is a more innocent attitude towards the senses, a happier, more favourable demeanour in regard to sensuality, resembling rather the position taken up by Goethe; a prouder feeling has also been developed in knowledge, and the "reine Thor"[6] meets with little faith.

[6] This is a reference to Wagner's Parsifal. The character as is well known, is written to represent a son of heart's affliction, and a child of wisdom—humble, guileless, loving, pure, and a fool.—TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.


We "objective people."—It is not "pity" that opens up the way for us to all that is most remote and most strange in life and culture; but our [Pg 97]accessibility and ingenuousness, which precisely does not "pity," but rather takes pleasure in hundreds of things which formerly caused pain (which in former days either outraged or moved us, or in the presence of which we were either hostile or indifferent). Pain in all its various phases is now interesting to us: on that account we are certainly not the more pitiful, even though the sight of pain may shake us to our foundations and move us to tears: and we are absolutely not inclined to be more helpful in view thereof.

In this deliberate desire to look on at all pain and error, we have grown stronger and more powerful than in the eighteenth century; it is a proof of our increase of strength (we have drawn closer to the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries). But it is a profound mistake to regard our "romanticism" as a proof of our "beautified souls." We want stronger sensations than all coarser ages and classes have wanted. (This fact must not be confounded with the needs of neurotics and decadents; in their case, of course, there is a craving for pepper —even for cruelty.)

We are all seeking conditions which are emancipated from the bourgeois, and to a greater degree from the priestly, notion of morality (every book which savours at all of priestdom and theology gives us the impression of pitiful niaiserie and mental indigence). "Good company," in fact, finds everything insipid which is not forbidden and considered compromising in bourgeois circles; and the case is the same with books, music, politics, and opinions on women.

[Pg 98]


The simplification of man in the nineteenth century (The eighteenth century was that of elegance, subtlety, and generous feeling).—Not "return to nature"; for no natural humanity has ever existed yet. Scholastic, unnatural, and antinatural values are the rule and the beginning; man only reaches Nature after a long struggle—he never turns his "back" to her.... To be natural means, to dare to be as immoral as Nature is.

We are coarser, more direct, richer in irony towards generous feelings, even when we are beneath them.

Our haute volée, the society consisting of our rich and leisured men, is more natural: people hunt each other, the love of the sexes is a kind of sport in which marriage is both a charm and an obstacle; people entertain each other and live for the sake of pleasure; bodily advantages stand in the first rank, and curiosity and daring are the rule.

Our attitude towards knowledge is more natural; we are innocent in our absolute spiritual debauchery, we hate pathetic and hieratic manners, we delight in that which is most strictly prohibited, we should scarcely recognise any interest in knowledge if we were bored in acquiring it.

Our attitude to morality is also more natural. Principles have become a laughing-stock; no one dares to speak of his "duty," unless in irony. But a helpful, benevolent disposition is highly valued. (Morality is located in instinct and the rest is [Pg 99]despised. Besides this there are few points of honour.)

Our attitude to politics is more natural: we see problems of power, of the quantum of power, against another quantum. We do not believe in a right that does not proceed from a power which is able to uphold it. We regard all rights as conquests.

Our valuation of great men and things is more natural: we regard passion as a privilege; we can conceive of nothing great which does not involve a great crime; all greatness is associated in our minds with a certain standing-beyond-the-pale in morality.

Our attitude to Nature is more natural: we no longer love her for her "innocence," her "reason," her "beauty," we have made her beautifully devilish and "foolish." But instead of despising her on that account, since then we have felt more closely related to her and more familiar in her presence. She does not aspire to virtue: we therefore respect her.

Our attitude towards Art is more natural: we do not exact beautiful, empty lies, etc., from her; brutal positivism reigns supreme, and it ascertains things with perfect calm.

In short: there are signs showing that the European of the nineteenth century is less ashamed of his instincts; he has gone a long way towards acknowledging his unconditional naturalness and immorality, without bitterness: on the contrary, he is strong enough to endure this point of view alone.

To some ears this will sound as though corruption had made strides: and certain it is that man has not drawn nearer to the "Nature" which Rousseau [Pg 100]speaks about, but has gone one step farther in the civilisation before which Rousseau stood in horror. We have grown stronger, we have drawn nearer to the seventeenth century, more particularly to the taste which reigned towards its close (Dancourt, Le Sage, Renard).


Culture versus Civilisation.—The culminating stages of culture and civilisation lie apart: one must not be led astray as regards the fundamental antagonism existing between culture and civilisation. From the moral standpoint, great periods in the history of culture have always been periods of corruption; while on the other hand, those periods in which man was deliberately and compulsorily tamed ("civilisation") have always been periods of intolerance towards the most intellectual and most audacious natures. Civilisation desires something different from what culture strives after: their aims may perhaps be opposed....


What I warn people against: confounding the instincts of decadence with those of humanity;

Confounding the dissolving means of civilisation and those which necessarily promote decadence, with culture;

Confounding debauchery, and the principle, "laisser aller," with the Will to Power (the latter is the exact reverse of the former).

[Pg 101]


The unsolved problems which I set anew: the problem of civilisation, the struggle between Rousseau and Voltaire about the year 1760. Man becomes deeper, more mistrustful, more "immoral," stronger, more self-confident—and therefore "more natural"; that is "progress." In this way, by a process of division of labour, the more evil strata and the milder and tamer strata of society get separated: so that the general facts are not visible at first sight.... It is a sign of strength, and of the self-control and fascination of the strong, that these stronger strata possess the arts in order to make their greater powers for evil felt as something "higher" As soon as there is "progress" there is a transvaluation of the strengthened factors into the "good."


Man must have the courage of his natural instincts restored to him.—

The poor opinion he has of himself must be destroyed (not in the sense of the individual, but in the sense of the natural man ...)—

The contradictions in things must be eradicated, after it has been well understood that we were responsible for them—

Social idiosyncrasies must be stamped out of existence (guilt, punishment, justice, honesty, freedom, love, etc. etc.)—

An advance towards "naturalness": in all political questions, even in the relations between parties, even in merchants', workmen's, or contractors' [Pg 102]parties, only questions of power come into play:— "what one can do" is the first question, what one ought to do is only a secondary consideration.


Socialism—or the tyranny of the meanest and the most brainless,—that is to say, the superficial, the envious, and the mummers, brought to its zenith,—is, as a matter, of fact, the logical conclusion of "modern ideas" and their latent anarchy: but in the genial atmosphere of democratic well-being the capacity for forming resolutions or even for coming to an end at all, is paralysed. Men follow—but no longer their reason. That is why socialism is on the whole a hopelessly bitter affair: and there is nothing more amusing than to observe the discord between the poisonous and desperate faces of present-day socialists—and what wretched and nonsensical feelings does not their style reveal to us!—and the childish lamblike happiness of their hopes and desires. Nevertheless, in many places in Europe, there may be violent hand-to-hand struggles and irruptions on their account: the coming century is likely to be convulsed in more than one spot, and the Paris Commune, which finds defenders and advocates even in Germany, will seem to have been but a slight indigestion compared with what is to come. Be this as it may, there will always be too many people of property for socialism ever to signify anything more than an attack of illness: and these people of property are like one man with one faith, "one must possess something in [Pg 103]order to be some one." This, however, is the oldest and most wholesome of all instincts; I should add: "one must desire more than one has in order to become more." For this is the teaching which life itself preaches to all living things: the morality of Development. To have and to wish to have more, in a word, Growth—that is life itself. In the teaching of socialism "a will to the denial of life" is but poorly concealed: botched men and races they must be who have devised a teaching of this sort. In fact, I even wish a few experiments might be made to show that in a socialistic society, life denies itself, and itself cuts away its own roots. The earth is big enough and man is still unexhausted enough for a practical lesson of this sort and demonstratio ad absurdum—even if it were accomplished only by a vast expenditure of lives—to seem worth while to me. Still, Socialism, like a restless mole beneath the foundations of a society wallowing in stupidity, will be able to achieve something useful and salutary: it delays "Peace on Earth" and the whole process of character-softening of the democratic herding animal; it forces the European to have an extra supply of intellect,—that is to say, craft and caution, and prevents his entirely abandoning the manly and warlike qualities,—it also saves Europe awhile from the marasmus femininus which is threatening it.


The most favourable obstacles and remedies of modernity:

[Pg 104] (1) Compulsory military service with real wars in which all joking is laid aside.

(2) National thick-headedness (which simplifies and concentrates).

(3) Improved nutrition (meat).

(4) Increasing cleanliness and wholesomeness in the home.

(5) The predominance of physiology over theology, morality, economics, and politics.

(6) Military discipline in the exaction and the practice of one's "duty" (it is no longer customary to praise).


I am delighted at the military development of Europe, also at the inner anarchical conditions: the period of quietude and "Chinadom" which Galiani prophesied for this century is now over. Personal and manly capacity, bodily capacity recovers its value, valuations are becoming more physical, nutrition consists ever more and more of flesh. Fine men have once more become possible. Bloodless sneaks (with mandarins at their head, as Comte imagined them) are now a matter of the past. The savage in every one of us is acknowledged, even the wild animal. Precisely on that account, philosophers will have a better chance. —Kant is a scarecrow!


I have not yet seen any reasons to feel discouraged. He who acquires and preserves a [Pg 105]strong will, together with a broad mind, has a more favourable chance now than ever he had. For the plasticity of man has become exceedingly great in democratic Europe: men who learn easily, who readily adapt themselves, are the rule: the gregarious animal of a high order of intelligence is prepared. He who would command finds those who must obey: I have Napoleon and Bismarck in mind, for instance. The struggle against strong and unintelligent wills, which forms the surest obstacle in one's way, is really insignificant Who would not be able to knock down these "objective" gentlemen with weak wills, such as Ranke and Renan!


Spiritual enlightenment is an unfailing means of making men uncertain, weak of will, and needful of succour and support; in short, of developing the herding instincts in them. That is why all great artist-rulers, hitherto (Confucius in China, the Roman Empire, Napoleon, Popedom—at a time when they had the courage of their worldliness and frankly pursued power) in whom the ruling instincts, that had prevailed until their time, culminated, also made use of the spiritual enlightenment—or at least allowed it to be supreme (after the style of the Popes of the Renaissance). The self-deception of the masses on this point, in every democracy for instance, is of the greatest possible value: all that makes men smaller and more amenable is pursued under the title "progress."

[Pg 106]


The highest equity and mildness as a condition of weakness (the New Testament and the early Christian community—manifesting itself in the form of utter foolishness in the Englishmen, Darwin and Wallace). Your equity, ye higher men, drives you to universal suffrage, etc.; your "humanity" urges you to be milder towards crime and stupidity. In the end you will thus help stupidity and harmlessness to conquer.

Outwardly: Ages of terrible wars, insurrections, explosions. Inwardly: ever more and more weakness among men; events take the form of excitants. The Parisian as the type of the European extreme.

Consequences: (1) Savages (at first, of course, in conformity with the culture that has reigned hitherto); (2) Sovereign individuals (where powerful barbarous masses and emancipation from all that has been, are crossed). The age of greatest stupidity, brutality, and wretchedness in the masses, and in the highest individuals.


An incalculable number of higher individuals now perish: but he who escapes their fate is as strong as the devil. In this respect we are reminded of the conditions which prevailed in the Renaissance.


How are Good Europeans such as ourselves distinguished from the patriots? In the first place, [Pg 107]we are atheists and immoralists, but we take care to support the religions and the morality which we associate with the gregarious instinct: for by means of them, an order of men is, so to speak, being prepared, which must at some time or other fall into our hands, which must actually crave for our hands.

Beyond Good and Evil,—certainly; but we insist upon the unconditional and strict preservation of herd-morality.

We reserve ourselves the right to several kinds of philosophy which it is necessary to learn: under certain circumstances, the pessimistic kind as a hammer; a European Buddhism might perhaps be indispensable.

We should probably support the development and the maturation of democratic tendencies; for it conduces to weakness of will: in "Socialism" we recognise a thorn which prevents smug ease.

Attitude towards the people.. Our prejudices; we pay attention to the results of cross-breeding.

Detached, well-to-do, strong: irony concerning the "press" and its culture. Our care: that scientific men should not become journalists. We mistrust any form of culture that tolerates news-paper reading or writing.

We make our accidental positions (as Goethe and Stendhal did), our experiences, a foreground, and we lay stress upon them, so that we may deceive concerning our backgrounds. We ourselves wait and avoid putting our heart into them. They serve us as refuges, such as a wanderer might require and use—but we avoid feeling at home in them. [Pg 108]We are ahead of our fellows in that we have had a disciplina voluntatis. All strength is directed to the development of the will, an art which allows us to wear masks, an art of understanding beyond the passions (also "super-European" thought at times).

This is our preparation before becoming the law-givers of the future and the lords of the earth; if not we, at least our children. Caution where marriage is concerned.


The twentieth century.—The Abbé Galiani says somewhere: "La prévoyance est la cause des guerres actuelles de l'Europe. Si l'on voulait se donner la peine de ne rien prévoir, tout le monde serait tranquille, et je ne crois pas qu'on serait plus malheureux parce qu'on ne ferait pas la guerre." As I in no way share the unwarlike views of my deceased friend Galiani, I have no fear whatever of saying something beforehand with the view of conjuring in some way the cause of wars.

A condition of excessive consciousness, after the worst of earthquakes: with new questions.


It is the time of the great noon, of the most appalling enlightenment: my particular kind of Pessimism: the great starting-point.

(1) Fundamental contradiction between civilisation and the elevation of man.

[Pg 109] (2) Moral valuations regarded as a history of lies and the art of calumny in the service of the Will to Power (of the will of the herd, which rises against stronger men).

(3) The conditions which determine every elevation in culture (the facilitation of a selection being made at the cost of a crowd) are the conditions of all growth.

(4). The multiformity of the world as a question of strength, which sees all things in the perspective of their growth. The moral Christian values to be regarded as the insurrection and mendacity of slaves (in comparison with the aristocratic values of the ancient world).

[Pg 110]
[Pg 111]





All the beauty and sublimity with which we have invested real and imagined things, I will show to be the property and product of man, and this should be his most beautiful apology. Man as a poet, as a thinker, as a god, as love, as power. Oh, the regal liberality with which he has lavished gifts upon things in order to impoverish himself and make himself feel wretched! Hitherto, this has been his greatest disinterestedness, that he admired and worshipped, and knew how to conceal from himself that he it was who had created what he admired.

[Pg 112]

[Pg 113]

1. Concerning the Origin of Religions.


The origin of religion.—Just as the illiterate man of to-day believes that his wrath is the cause of his being angry, that his mind is the cause of his thinking, that his soul is the cause of his feeling, in short, just as a mass of psychological entities are still unthinkingly postulated as causes; [Pg 114]so, in a still more primitive age, the same phenomena were interpreted by man by means of personal entities. Those conditions of his soul which seemed strange, overwhelming, and rapturous, he regarded as obsessions and bewitching influences emanating from the power of some personality. (Thus the Christian, the most puerile and backward man of this age, traces hope, peace, and the feeling of deliverance to a psychological inspiration on the part of God: being by nature a sufferer and a creature in need of repose, states of happiness, peace, and resignation, perforce seem strange to him, and seem to need some explanation.) Among intelligent, strong, and vigorous races, the epileptic is mostly the cause of a belief in the existence of some foreign power; but all such examples of apparent subjection—as, for instance, the bearing of the exalted man, of the poet, of the great criminal, or the passions, love and revenge—lead to the invention of supernatural powers. A condition is made concrete by being identified with a personality, and when this condition overtakes anybody, it is ascribed to that personality. In other words: in the psychological concept of God, a certain state of the soul is personified as a cause in order to appear as an effect.

The psychological logic is as follows: when the feeling of power suddenly seizes and overwhelms a man,—and this takes place in the case of all the great passions,—a doubt arises in him concerning his own person: he dare not think himself the cause of this astonishing sensation—and thus [Pg 115]he posits a stronger person, a Godhead as its cause. In short, the origin of religion lies in the extreme feelings of power, which, being strange, take men by surprise: and just as the sick man, who feels one of his limbs unaccountably heavy, concludes that another man must be sitting on it, so the ingenuous homo religiosus, divides himself up into several people. Religion is an example of the "altération de la personalité." A sort of fear and sensation of terror in one's own presence.... But also a feeling of inordinate rapture and exaltation. Among sick people, the sensation of health suffices to awaken a belief in the proximity of God.


Rudimentary psychology of the religious man:—All changes are effects; all effects are effects of will (the notion of "Nature" and of "natural law," is lacking); all effects presuppose an agent. Rudimentary psychology: one is only a cause oneself, when one knows that one has willed something.

Result: States of power impute to man the feeling that he is not the cause of them, that he is not responsible for them: they come without being willed to do so—consequently we cannot be their originators: will that is not free (that is to say, the knowledge of a change in our condition which we have not helped to bring about) requires a strong will.

Consequence of this rudimentary psychology: Man has never dared to credit himself with his [Pg 116]strong and startling moods, he has always conceived them as "passive," as "imposed upon him from outside": Religion is the offshoot of a doubt concerning the entity of the person, an altération of the personality: in so far as everything great and strong in man was considered superhuman and foreign, man belittled himself,—he laid the two sides, the very pitiable and weak side, and the very strong and startling side apart, in two spheres, and called the one "Man" and the other "God."

And he has continued to act on these lines; during the period of the moral idiosyncrasy he did not interpret his lofty and sublime moral states as "proceeding from his own will" or as the "work" of the person. Even the Christian himself divides his personality into two parts, the one a mean and weak fiction which he calls man, and the other which he calls God (Deliverer and Saviour).

Religion has lowered the concept "man"; its ultimate conclusion is that all goodness, greatness, and truth are superhuman, and are only obtainable by the grace of God.


One way of raising man out of his self-abasement, which brought about the decline of the point of view that classed all lofty and strong states of the soul, as strange, was the theory of relationship. These lofty and strong states of the soul could at least be interpreted as the influence of our forebears; we belonged to each other, we were [Pg 117] irrevocably joined; we grew in our own esteem, by acting according to the example of a model known to us all.

There is an attempt on the part of noble families to associate religion with their own feelings of self-respect. Poets and seers do the same thing; they feel proud that they have been worthy,—that they have been selected for such association,—they esteem it an honour, not to be considered at all as individuals, but as mere mouthpieces (Homer).

Man gradually takes possession of the highest and proudest states of his soul, as also of his acts and his works. Formerly it was believed that one paid oneself the greatest honour by denying one's own responsibility for the highest deeds one accomplished, and by ascribing them to—God. The will which was not free, appeared to be that which imparted a higher value to a deed: in those days a god was postulated as the author of the deed.


Priests are the actors of something which is supernatural, either in the way of ideals, gods, or saviours, and they have to make people believe in them; in this they find their calling, this is the purpose of their instincts; in order to make it as credible as possible, they have to exert themselves to the utmost extent in the art of posing; their actor's sagacity must, above all, aim at giving them a clean conscience, by means of which, alone, it is possible to persuade effectively.

[Pg 118]


The priest wishes to make it an understood thing, that he is the highest type of man, that he rules,—even over those who wield the power,—that he is indispensable and unassailable,—that he is the strongest power in the community, not by any means to be replaced or undervalued.

Means thereto: he alone is cultured; he alone is the man of virtue; he alone has sovereign power over himself: he alone is, in a certain sense, God, and ultimately goes back to the Godhead; he alone is the middleman between God and others; the Godhead administers punishment to every one who puts the priest at a disadvantage, or who thinks in opposition to him.

Means thereto: Truth exists. There is only one way of attaining to it, and that is to become a priest. Everything good, which relates either to order, nature, or tradition, is to be traced to the wisdom of the priests. The Holy Book is their work. The whole of nature is only a fulfilment of the maxims which it contains. No other source of goodness exists than the priests. Every other kind of perfection, even the warrior's, is different in rank from that of the priests.

Consequence: If the priest is to be the highest type, then the degrees which lead to his virtues must be the degrees of value among men. Study, emancipation from material things, inactivity, impassibility, absence of passion, solemnity;—the opposite of all this is found in the lowest type of man.

[Pg 119] The priest has taught a kind of morality which conduced to his being considered the highest type of man. He conceives a type which is the reverse of his own: the Chandala. By making these as contemptible as possible, some strength is lent to the order of castes. The priest's excessive fear of sensuality also implies that the latter is the most serious threat to the order of castes (that is to say, order in general).... Every "free tendency" in puncto puncti overthrows the laws of marriage.


The philosopher considered as the development of the priestly type:—He has the heritage of the priest in his blood; even as a rival he is compelled to fight with the same weapons as the priest of his time;—he aspires to the highest authority.

What is it that bestows authority upon men who have no physical power to wield (no army, no arms at all ...)? How do such men gain authority over those who are in possession of material power, and who represent authority? (Philosophers enter the lists against princes, victorious conquerors, and wise statesmen.)

They can do it only by establishing the belief that they are in possession of a power which is higher and stronger—God. Nothing is strong enough: every one is in need of the mediation and the services of priests. They establish themselves as indispensable intercessors. The conditions of their existence are: (1) That people believe in the absolute superiority of their god, in fact believe [Pg 120]in their god; (2) that there is no other access, no direct access to god, save through them. The second condition alone gives rise to the concept "heterodoxy"; the first to the concept "disbelievers" (that is to say, he who believes in another god).


A Criticism of the Holy Lie.—That a lie is allowed in pursuit of holy ends 'is a principle which belongs to the theory of all priestcraft, and the object of this inquiry is to discover to what extent it belongs to its practice.

But philosophers, too, whenever they intend taking over the leadership of mankind, with the ulterior motives of priests in their minds, have never failed to arrogate to themselves the right to lie: Plato above all. But the most elaborate of lies is the double lie, developed by the typically Arian philosophers of the Vedanta: two systems, contradicting each other in all their main points, but interchangeable, complementary, and mutually expletory, when educational ends were in question. The lie of the one has to create a condition in which the truth of the other can alone become intelligible....

How far does the holy lie of priests and philosophers go?—The question here is, what hypotheses do they advance in regard to education, and what are the dogmas they are compelled to invent in order to do justice to these hypotheses?

First: they must have power, authority, and absolute credibility on their side.

[Pg 121] Secondly: they must have the direction of the whole of Nature, so that everything affecting the individual seems to be determined by their law.

Thirdly: their domain of power must be very extensive, in order that its control may escape the notice of those they subject: they must know the penal code of the life beyond—of the life "after death,"—and, of course, the means whereby the road to blessedness may be discovered. They have to put the notion of a natural course of things out of sight, but as they are intelligent and thoughtful people, they are able to promise a host of effects, which they naturally say are conditioned by prayer or by the strict observance of their law. They can, moreover, prescribe a large number of things which are exceedingly reasonable —only they must not point to experience or empiricism as the source of this wisdom, but to revelation or to the fruits of the "most severe exercises of penance."

The holy lie, therefore, applies principally to the purpose of an action (the natural purpose, reason, is made to vanish: a moral purpose, the observance of some law, a service to God, seems to be the purpose): to the consequence of an action (the natural consequence is interpreted as something supernatural, and, in order to be on surer ground, other incontrollable and supernatural consequences are foretold).

In this way the concepts good and evil are created, and seem quite divorced from the natural concepts: "useful," "harmful," "life-promoting," "life-retarding,"—indeed, inasmuch as another life [Pg 122]is imagined, the former concepts may even be antagonistic to Nature's concepts of good and evil. In this way, the proverbial concept "conscience" is created: an inner voice, which, though it makes itself heard in regard to every action, does not measure the worth of that action according to its results, but according to its conformity or non-conformity to the "law."

The holy lie therefore invented: (1) a god who punishes and rewards, who recognises and carefully observes the law-book of the priests, and who is particular about sending them into the world as his mouthpieces and plenipotentiaries; (2) an After Life, in which, alone, the great penal machine is supposed to be active—to this end the immortality of the soul was invented; (3) a conscience in man, understood as the knowledge that good and evil are permanent values—that God himself speaks through it, whenever its counsels are in conformity with priestly precepts; (4) Morality as the denial of all natural processes, as the subjection of all phenomena to a moral order, as the interpretation of all phenomena as the effects of a moral order of things (that is to say, the concept of punishment and reward), as the only power and only creator of all transformations; (5) Truths given, revealed, and identical with the teaching of the priests: as the condition to all salvation and happiness in this and the next world.

In short: what is the price paid for the improvement supposed to be due to morality?—The unhinging of reason, the reduction of all motives to fear and hope (punishment and reward); dependence [Pg 123] upon the tutelage of priests, and upon a formulary exactitude which is supposed to express a divine will; the implantation of a "conscience" which establishes a false science in the place of experience and experiment: as though all one had to do or had not to do were predetermined—a kind of contraction of the seeking and striving spirit;—in short: the worst mutilation of man that can be imagined, and it is pretended that "the good man" is the result.

Practically speaking, all reason, the whole heritage of intelligence, subtlety, and caution, the first condition of the priestly canon, is arbitrarily reduced, when it is too late, to a simple mechanical process: conformity with the law becomes a purpose in itself, it is the highest purpose; Life no longer contains any problems;—the whole conception of the world is polluted by the notion of punishment; —Life itself, owing to the fact that the priests life is upheld as the non plus ultra of perfection, is transformed into a denial and pollution of life;—the concept "God" represents an aversion to Life, and even a criticism and a contemning of it. Truth is transformed in the mind, into priestly prevarication; the striving after truth, into the study of the Scriptures, into the way to become a theologian.


A criticism of the Law-Book of Manu.—The whole book is founded upon the holy lie. Was it the well-being of humanity that inspired the whole of this system? Was this kind of man, [Pg 124]who believes in the interested nature of every action, interested or not interested in the success of this system? The desire to improve mankind—whence comes the inspiration to this feeling? Whence is the concept improvement taken?

We find a class of men, the sacerdotal class, who consider themselves the standard pattern, the highest example and most perfect expression of the type man. The notion of "improving" mankind, to this class of men, means to make mankind like themselves. They believe in their own superiority, they will be superior in practice: the cause of the holy lie is The Will to Power....

Establishment of the dominion: to this end, ideas which place a non plus ultra of power with the priesthood are made to prevail. Power acquired by lying was the result of the recognition of the fact that it was not already possessed physically, in a military form.... Lying as a supplement to power—this is a new concept of "truth."

It is a mistake to presuppose unconscious and innocent development in this quarter—a sort of self-deception. Fanatics are not the discoverers of such exhaustive systems of oppression.... Cold-blooded reflection must have been at work here; the same sort of reflection which Plato showed when he worked out his "State"—"One must desire the means when one desires the end." Concerning this political maxim, all legislators have always been quite clear.

We possess the classical model, and it is specifically Arian: we can therefore hold the most[Pg 125]gifted and most reflective type of man responsible for the most systematic lie that has ever been told.... Everywhere almost the lie was copied, and thus Avian influence corrupted the world....


Much is said to-day about the Semitic spirit of the New Testament: but the thing referred to is merely priestcraft,—and in the purest example of an Arian law-book, in Manu, this kind of "Semitic spirit"—that is to say, Sacerdotalism, is worse than anywhere else.

The development of the Jewish hierarchy is not original: they learnt the scheme in Babylon—it is Arian. When, later on, the same thing became dominant in Europe, under the preponderance of Germanic blood, this was in conformity to the spirit of the ruling race: a striking case of atavism. The Germanic middle ages aimed at a revival of the Arian order of castes.

Mohammedanism in its turn learned from Christianity the use of a "Beyond" as an instrument of punishment.

The scheme of a permanent community, with priests at its head—this oldest product of Asia's great culture in the domain of organisation—naturally provoked reflection and imitation in every way.—Plato is an example of this, but above all, the Egyptians.


Moralities and religions are the principal means by which one can modify men into whatever one [Pg 126]; provided one is possessed of an overflow of creative power, and can cause one's will to prevail over long periods of time.


If one wish to see an affirmative Arian religion which is the product of a ruling class, one should read the law-book of Manu. (The deification of the feeling of power in the Brahmin: it is interesting to note that it originated in the warrior-caste, and was later transferred to the priests.)

If one wish to see an affirmative religion of the Semitic order, which is the product of the ruling class, one should read the Koran or the earlier portions of the Old Testament. (Mohammedanism, as a religion for men, has profound contempt for the sentimentality and prevarication of Christianity, ... which, according to Mohammedans, is a woman's religion.)

If one wish to see a negative religion of the Semitic order, which is the product of the oppressed class, one should read the New Testament (which, according to Indian and Arian points of view, is a religion for the Chandala).

If one wish to see a negative Arian religion, which is the product of the ruling classes, one should study Buddhism.

It is quite in the nature of things that we have no Arian religion which is the product of the oppressed classes; for that would have been a contradiction: a race of masters is either paramount or else it goes to the dogs.

[Pg 127]


Religion, per se, has nothing to do with morality; yet both offshoots of the Jewish religion are essentially moral religions—which prescribe the rules of living, and procure obedience to their principles by means of rewards and punishment.


Paganism—Christianity.—Paganism is that which says yea to all that is natural, it is innocence in being natural, "naturalness." Christianity is that which says no to all that is natural, it is a certain lack of dignity in being natural; hostility to Nature.

"Innocent":—Petronius is innocent, for instance. Beside this happy man a Christian is absolutely devoid of innocence. But since even the Christian status is ultimately only a natural condition, the term "Christian" soon begins to mean the counterfeiting of the psychological interpretation.


The Christian priest is from the root a mortal enemy of sensuality: one cannot imagine a greater contrast to his attitude than the guileless, slightly awed, and solemn attitude, which the religious rites of the most honourable women in Athens maintained in the presence of the symbol of s[Pg 128]ex. In all non-ascetic religions the procreative act is the secret per se: a sort of symbol of perfection and of the designs of the future: re-birth, immortality.


Our belief in ourselves is the greatest fetter, the most telling spur, and the strongest pinion. Christianity ought to have elevated the innocence of man to the position of an article of belief—men would then have become gods: in those days believing was still possible.


The egregious lie of history: as if it were the corruption of Paganism that opened the road to Christianity. As a matter of fact, it was the enfeeblement and moralisation of the man of antiquity. The new interpretation of natural functions, which made them appear like vices, had already gone before!


Religions are ultimately wrecked by the belief in morality. The idea of the Christian moral God becomes untenable,—hence "Atheism,"—as though there could be no other god.

Culture is likewise wrecked by the belief in morality. For when the necessary and only possible conditions of its growth are revealed, nobody will any longer countenance it (Buddhism).

[Pg 129]


The physiology of Nihilistic religions.—All in all, the Nihilistic religions are systematised histories of sickness described in religious and moral terminology.

In pagan cultures it is around the interpretation of the great annual cycles that the religious cult turns; in Christianity it is around a cycle of paralytic phenomena.


This Nihilistic religion gathers together all the decadent elements and things of like order which it can find in antiquity, viz.:—

(a) The weak and the botched (the refuse of the ancient world, and that of which it rid itself with most violence).

(b) Those who are morally obsessed and anti-pagan.

(c) Those who are weary of politics and indifferent (the blasé Romans), the denationalised, who know not what they are.

(d) Those who are tired of themselves—who are happy to be party to a subterranean conspiracy.


Buddha versus Christ.—Among the Nihilistic religions, Christianity and Buddhism may always be sharply distinguished. Buddhism is the expression of a fine evening, perfectly sweet and mild—it is a sort of gratitude towards all that [Pg 130]lies hidden, including that which it entirely lacks, viz., bitterness, disillusionment, and resentment. Finally it possesses lofty intellectual love; it has got over all the subtlety of philosophical contradictions, and is even resting after it, though it is precisely from that source that it derives its intellectual glory and its glow as of a sunset (it originated in the higher classes).

Christianity is a degenerative movement, consisting of all kinds of decaying and excremental elements: it is not the expression of the downfall of a race, it is, from the root, an agglomeration of all the morbid elements which are mutually attractive and which gravitate to one another.... It is therefore not a national religion, not determined by race: it appeals to the disinherited everywhere; it consists of a foundation of resentment against all that is successful and dominant: it is in need of a symbol which represents the damnation of everything successful and dominant. It is opposed to every form of intellectual movement, to all philosophy: it takes up the cudgels for idiots, and utters a curse upon all intellect. Resentment against those who are gifted, learned, intellectually independent: in all these it suspects the element of success and domination.


In Buddhism this thought prevails: "All passions, everything which creates emotions and leads to blood, is a call to action"—to this extent alone are its believers warned against evil. [Pg 131]For action has no sense, it merely binds one to existence. All existence, however, has no sense. Evil is interpreted as that which leads to irrationalism: to the affirmation of means whose end is denied. A road to nonentity is the desideratum, hence all emotional impulses are regarded with horror. For instance: "On no account seek after revenge! Be the enemy of no one!"—The Hedonism of the weary finds its highest expression here. Nothing is more utterly foreign to Buddhism than the Jewish fanaticism of St. Paul: nothing could be more contrary to its instinct than the tension, fire, and unrest of the religious man, and, above all, that form of sensuality which sanctifies Christianity with the name "Love." Moreover, it is the cultured and very intellectual classes who find blessedness in Buddhism: a race wearied and besotted by centuries of philosophical quarrels, but not beneath all culture as those classes were from which Christianity sprang.... In the Buddhistic ideal, there is essentially an emancipation from good and evil: a very subtle suggestion of a Beyond to all morality is thought out in its teaching, and this Beyond is supposed to be compatible with perfection,—the condition being, that even good actions are only needed pro tem., merely as a means,—that is to say, in order to be free from all action.


How very curious it is to see a Nihilistic religion such as Christianity, sprung from, and in keeping with, a decrepit and worn-out people, who have [Pg 132]outlived all strong instincts, being transferred step by step to another environment—that is to say, to a land of young people, who have not yet lived at all. The joy of the final chapter, of the fold and of the evening, preached to barbarians and Germans! How thoroughly all of it must first have been barbarised, Germanised! To those who had dreamed of a Walhalla: who found happiness only in war!—A supernational religion preached in the midst of chaos, where no nations yet existed even.


The only way to refute priests and religions is this: to show that their errors are no longer beneficent—that they are rather harmful; in short, that their own "proof of power" no longer holds good....



Christianity as an historical reality should not be confounded with that one root which its name recalls. The other roots, from which it has sprung, are by far the more important. It is an unprecedented abuse of names to identify such manifestations of decay and such abortions as the "Christian Church," "Christian belief," and "Christian life," with that Holy Name. What did Christ deny?—Everything which to-day is called Christian.

[Pg 133]


The whole of the Christian creed—all Christian "truth," is idle falsehood and deception, and is precisely the reverse of that which was at the bottom of the first Christian movement.

All that which in the ecclesiastical sense is Christian, is just exactly what is most radically anti-Christian: crowds of things and people appear instead of symbols, history takes the place of eternal facts, it is all forms, rites, and dogmas instead of a "practice" of life. To be really Christian would mean to be absolutely indifferent to dogmas, cults, priests, church, and theology.

The practice of Christianity is no more an impossible phantasy than the practice of Buddhism is: it is merely a means to happiness.


Jesus goes straight to the point, the "Kingdom of Heaven" in the heart, and He does not find the means in duty to the Jewish Church; He even regards the reality of Judaism (its need to maintain itself) as nothing; He is concerned purely with the inner man.

Neither does He make anything of all the coarse forms relating to man's intercourse with God: He is opposed to the whole of the teaching of repentance and atonement; He points out how man ought to live in order to feel himself "deified," and how futile it is on his part to hope to live properly by showing repentance and contrition [Pg 134]for his sins. "Sin is of no account" is practically his chief standpoint.

Sin, repentance, forgiveness,—all this does not belong to Christianity ... it is Judaism or Paganism which has become mixed up with Christ's teaching.


The Kingdom of Heaven is a state of the heart (of children it is written, "for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven"): it has nothing to do with superterrestrial things. The Kingdom of God "cometh," not chronologically or historically, not on a certain day in the calendar; it is not something which one day appears and was not previously there; it is a "change of feeling in the individual," it is something which may come at any time and which may be absent at any time....


The thief on the cross;—When the criminal himself, who endures a painful death, declares: "the way this Jesus suffers and dies, without a murmur of revolt or enmity, graciously and resignedly, is the only right way," he assents to the gospel; and by this very fact he is in Paradise....


Jesus bids us:—not to resist, either by deeds or in our heart, him who ill-treats us;

[Pg 135] He bids us admit of no grounds for separating ourselves from our wives;

He bids us make no distinction between foreigners and fellow-countrymen, strangers and familiars;

He bids us show anger to no one, and treat no one with contempt;—give alms secretly; not to desire to become rich;—not to swear;—not to stand in judgment;—become reconciled with our enemies and forgive offences;—not to worship in public.

"Blessedness" is nothing promised: it is here, with us, if we only wish to live and act in a particular way.


Subsequent Additions;—The whole of the prophet- and thaumaturgist-attitudes and the bad temper; while the conjuring-up of a supreme tribunal of justice is an abominable corruption (see Mark vi. 11: "And whosoever shall not receive you.... Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha," etc.). The "fig tree" (Matt. xxi. 18, 19): "Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away."


The teaching of rewards and punishments has become mixed up with Christianity in a way which is quite absurd; everything is thereby spoilt. [Pg 136]In the same way, the practice of the first ecclesia militans, of the Apostle Paul and his attitude, is put forward as if it had been commanded or predetermined.

The subsequent glorification of the actual life and teaching of the first Christians: as if everything had been prescribed beforehand and had been only a matter of following directions——And as for the fulfilment of scriptural prophecies: how much of all that is more than forgery and cooking?


Jesus opposed a real life, a life in truth, to ordinary life: nothing could have been more foreign to His mind than the somewhat heavy nonsense of an "eternal Peter,"—of the eternal duration of a single person. Precisely what He combats is the exaggerated importance of the "person": how can He wish to immortalise it?

He likewise combats the hierarchy within the community; He never promises a certain proportion of reward for a certain proportion of deserts: how can He have meant to teach the doctrine of punishment and reward in a Beyond?


Christianity is an ingenuous attempt at bringing about a Buddhistic movement in favour of peace, sprung from the very heart of the resenting masses ... but transformed by Paul into a mysterious pagan cult, which was ultimately able to accord [Pg 137]with the whole of State organisation ... and which carries on war, condemns, tortures, conjures, and hates.

Paul bases his teaching upon the need of mystery felt by the great masses capable of religious emotions: he seeks a victim, a bloody phantasmagoria, which may be equal to a contest with the images of a secret cult: God on the cross, the drinking of blood, the unio mystica with the "victim."

He seeks the prolongation of life after death (the blessed and atoned after-life of the individual soul) which he puts in causal relation with the victim already referred to (according to the type of Dionysos, Mithras, Osiris).

He feels the necessity of bringing notions of guilt and sin into the foreground, not a new practice of life (as Jesus Himself demonstrated and taught), but a new cult, a new belief, a belief in a miraculous metamorphosis ("Salvation" through belief).

He understood the great needs of the pagan worlds and he gave quite an absolutely arbitrary picture of those two plain facts, Christ's life and death. He gave the whole a new accent, altering the equilibrium everywhere ... he was one of the most active destroyers of primitive Christianity.

The attempt made on the life of priests and theologians culminated, thanks to Paul, in a new priesthood and theology—a ruling caste and a Church.

The attempt made to suppress the fussy importance of the "person," culminated in the belief in the eternal "personality" (and in the anxiety concerning "eternal salvation" ...), and in the [Pg 138]most paradoxical exaggeration of individual egoism.

This is the humorous side of the question—tragic humour: Paul again set up on a large scale precisely what Jesus had overthrown by His life. At last, when the Church edifice was complete, it even sanctioned the existence of the State.


The Church is precisely that against which Jesus inveighed—and against which He taught His disciples to fight.


A God who died for our sins, salvation through faith, resurrection after death—all these things are the counterfeit coins of real Christianity, for which that pernicious blockhead Paul must be held responsible.

The life which must serve as an example consists in love and humility; in the abundance of hearty emotion which does not even exclude the lowliest; in the formal renunciation of all desire of making its rights felt; in conquest, in the sense of triumph over oneself; in the belief in salvation in this world, despite all sorrow, opposition, and death; in forgiveness and the absence of anger and contempt; in the absence of a desire to be rewarded; in the refusal to be bound to anybody; abandonment to all that is most spiritual and intellectual[Pg 139];—in fact, a very proud life controlled by the will of a servile and poor life.

Once the Church had allowed itself to take over all the Christian practice, and had formally sanctioned the State,—that kind of life which Jesus combats and condemns,—it was obliged to lay the sense of Christianity in other things than early Christian ideals—that is to say, in the faith in incredible things, in the ceremonial of prayers, worship, feasts, etc. etc. The notions "sin," "forgiveness," "punishment," "reward"—everything, in fact, which had nothing in common with, and was quite absent from, primitive Christianity, now comes into the foreground.

An appalling stew of Greek philosophy and Judaism; asceticism; continual judgments and condemnations; the order of rank, etc.


Christianity has, from the first, always transformed the symbolical into crude realities:

(1) The antitheses "true life" and "false life" were misunderstood and changed into "life here" and "life beyond."

(2) The notion "eternal life," as opposed to the personal life which is ephemeral, is translated into "personal immortality";

(3) The process of fraternising by means of sharing the same food and drink, after the Hebrew-Arabian manner, is interpreted as the "miracle of transubstantiation."

(4) "Resurrection" which was intended to [Pg 140]mean the entrance to the "true life," in the sense of being intellectually "born again," becomes an historical contingency, supposed to take place at some moment after death;

(5) The teaching of the Son of man as the "Son of God,"—that is to say, the life-relationship between man and God,—becomes the "second person of the Trinity," and thus the filial relationship of every man—even the lowest—to God, is done away with;

(6) Salvation through faith (that is to say, that there is no other way to this filial relationship to God, save through the practice of life taught by Christ) becomes transformed into the belief that there is a miraculous way of atoning for all sin; though not through our own endeavours, but by means of Christ:

For all these purposes, "Christ on the Cross" had to be interpreted afresh. The death itself would certainly not be the principal feature of the event ... it was only another sign pointing to the way in which one should behave towards the authorities and the laws of the world—that one was not to defend oneself—this was the exemplary life.


Concerning the psychology of Paul.—The important fact is Christ's death. This remains to be explained .... That there may be truth or error in an explanation never entered these people's heads: one day a sublime possibility strikes them, "His death might mean so and so" [Pg 141] —and it forthwith becomes so and so. An hypothesis is proved by the sublime ardour it lends to its discoverer....

"The proof of strength": i.e., a thought is demonstrated by its effects ("by their fruits," as the Bible ingenuously says); that which fires enthusiasm must be true,—what one loses one's blood for must be true—

In every department of this world of thought, the sudden feeling of power which an idea imparts to him who is responsible for it, is placed to the credit of that idea:—and as there seems no other way of honouring an idea than by calling it true, the first epithet it is honoured with is the word true. ... How could it have any effect otherwise? It was imagined by some power: if that power were not real, it could not be the cause of anything.... The thought is then understood as inspired: the effect it causes has something of the violent nature of a demoniacal influence—

A thought which a decadent like Paul could not resist and to which he completely yields, is thus "proved" true!!!

All these holy epileptics and visionaries did not possess a thousandth part of the honesty in self-criticism with which a philologist, nowadays, reads a text, or tests the truth of an historical event.... Beside us, such people were moral cretins.


It matters little whether a thing be true, provided it be effective: total absence of intellectual uprightness. [Pg 142]Everything is good, whether it be lying, slander, or shameless "cooking," provided it serve to heighten the degree of heat to the point at which people "believe."

We are face to face with an actual school for the teaching of the means wherewith men are seduced to a belief: we see systematic contempt for those spheres whence contradiction might come (that is to say, for reason, philosophy, wisdom, doubt, and caution); a shameless praising and glorification of the teaching, with continual references to the fact that it was God who presented us with it—that the apostle signifies nothing—that no criticism is brooked, but only faith, acceptance; that it is the greatest blessing and favour to receive such a doctrine of salvation; that the state in which one should receive it, ought to be one of the profoundest thankfulness and humility....

The resentment which the lowly feel against all those in high places, is continually turned to account: the fact that this teaching is revealed to them as the reverse of the wisdom of the world, against the power of the world, seduces them to it. This teaching convinces the outcasts and the botched of all sorts and conditions; it promises blessedness, advantages, and privileges to the most insignificant and most humble men; it fanaticises the poor, the small, and the foolish, and fills them with insane vanity, as though they were the meaning and salt of the earth.

Again, I say, all this cannot be sufficiently contemned, we spare ourselves a criticism of the [Pg 143]teaching; it is sufficient to take note of the means it uses in order to be aware of the nature of the phenomenon one is examining. It identified itself with virtue, it appropriated the whole of the fascinating power of virtue, shamelessly, for its own purposes ... it availed itself of the power of paradox, and of the need, manifested by old civilisation, for pepper and absurdity; it amazed and revolted at the same time; it provoked persecutions and ill-treatment.

It is the same kind of well-thought-out meanness with which the Jewish priesthood established their power and built up their Church....

One must be able to discern: (1) that warmth of passion "love" (resting on a base of ardent sensuality); (2) the thoroughly ignoble character of Christianity:—the continual exaggeration and verbosity;—the lack of cool intellectuality and irony;—the unmilitary character of all its instincts;—the priestly prejudices against manly pride, sensuality, the sciences, the arts.


Paul: seeks power against ruling Judaism,—his attempt is too weak.... Transvaluation of the notion "Jew": the "race" is put aside: but that means denying the very basis of the whole structure. The "martyr," the "fanatic," the value of all strong belief. Christianity is the form of decay of the old world, after the latter's collapse, and it is characterised by the fact that it brings all the most sickly and unhealthy elements and needs to the top.

[Pg 144]

Consequently other instincts had to step into the foreground, in order to constitute an entity, a power able to stand alone—in short, a condition of tense sorrow was necessary, like that out of which the Jews had derived their instinct of self-preservation....

The persecution of Christians was invaluable for this purpose.

Unity in the face of danger; the conversion of the masses becomes the only means of putting an end to the persecution of the individual. (The notion "conversion" is therefore made as elastic as possible.)


The Christian Judaic life: here resentment did not prevail. The great persecutions alone could have driven out the passions to that extent—as also the ardour of love and hate.

When the creatures a man most loves are sacrificed before his eyes for the sake of his faith, that man becomes aggressive; the triumph of Christianity is due to its persecutors.

Asceticism is not specifically Christian: this is what Schopenhauer misunderstood. It only shoots up in Christianity, wherever it would have existed without that religion.

Melancholy Christianity, the torture and torment of the conscience, also only a peculiarity of a particular soil, where Christian values have taken root: it is not Christianity properly speaking. Christianity has absorbed all the different kinds of diseases which grow from morbid soil: one could [Pg 145]refute it at one blow by showing that it did not know how to resist any contagion. But that precisely is the essential feature of it. Christianity is a type of decadence.


The reality on which Christianity was able to build up its power consisted of the small dispersed Jewish families, with their warmth, tenderness, and peculiar readiness to help, which, to the whole of the Roman Empire, was perhaps the most incomprehensible and least familiar of their characteristics; they were also united by their pride at being a "chosen people," concealed beneath a cloak of humility, and by their secret denial of all that was uppermost and that possessed power and splendour, although there was no shade of envy in their denial. To have recognised this as a power, to have regarded this blessed state as communicable, seductive, and infectious even where pagans were concerned—this constituted Paul's genius: to use up the treasure of latent energy and cautious happiness for the purposes of "a Jewish Church of free confession," and to avail himself of all the Jewish experience, their propaganda, and their expertness in the preservation of a community under a foreign power—this is what he conceived to be his duty. He it was who discovered that absolutely unpolitical and isolated body of paltry people, and their art of asserting themselves and pushing themselves to the front, by means of a host of acquired virtues which are [Pg 146]made to represent the only forms of virtue ("the self-preservative measure and weapon of success of a certain class of man").

The principle of love comes from the small community of Jewish people: a very passionate soul glows here, beneath the ashes of humility and wretchedness: it is neither Greek, Indian, nor German. The song in praise of love which Paul wrote is not Christian; it is the Jewish flare of that eternal flame which is Semitic. If Christianity has done anything essentially new in a psychological sense, it is this, that it has increased the temperature of the soul among those cooler and more noble races who were at one time at the head of affairs; it discovered that the most wretched life could be made rich and invaluable, by means of an elevation of the temperature of the soul....

It is easily understood that a transfer of this sort could not take place among the ruling classes: the Jews and Christians were at a disadvantage owing to their bad manners—spiritual strength and passion, when accompanied by bad manners, only provoke loathing (I become aware of these bad manners while reading the New Testament). It was necessary to be related both in baseness and sorrow with this type of lower manhood in order to feel anything attractive in him.... The attitude a man maintains towards the New Testament is a test of the amount of taste he may have for the classics (see Tacitus); he who is not revolted by it, he who does not feel honestly and deeply that he is in the presence of a sort of fœda superstitio when reading it, and who does not draw [Pg 147]his hand back so as not to soil his fingers—such a man does not know what is classical. A man must feel about "the cross" as Goethe did.[1]

[1] Vieles kann ich ertragen. Die meisten beschwerlichen Dinge
Duld' ich mit ruhigem Mut, wie es ein Gott mir gebeut.
Wenige sind mir jedoch wie Gift und Schlange zuwider;
Viere: Rauch des Tabaks, Wanzen, und Knoblauch und
Goethe's Venetian Epigrams, No. 67.

Much can I bear. Things the most irksome
I endure with such patience as comes from a god.
Four things, however, repulse me like venom:—Tobacco
smoke, garlic, bugs, and the cross.


The reaction of paltry people:—Love provides the feeling of highest power. It should be understood to what extent, not man in general, but only a certain kind of man is speaking here.

"We are godly in love, we shall be 'the children of God'; God loves us and wants nothing from us save love"; that is to say: all morality, obedience, and action, do not produce the same feeling of power and freedom as love does;—a man does nothing wicked from sheer love, but he does much more than if he were prompted by obedience and virtue alone.

Here is the happiness of the herd, the communal feeling in big things as in small, the living sentiment of unity felt as the sum of the feeling of life. Helping, caring for, and being useful, constantly kindle the feeling of power; visible success, the [Pg 148]expression of pleasure, emphasise the feeling of power; pride is not lacking either, it is felt in the form of the community, the House of God, and the "chosen people."

As a matter of fact, man has once more experienced an "altération" of his personality: this time he called his feeling of love—God. The awakening of such a feeling must be pictured; it is a sort of ecstasy, a strange language, a "Gospel"—it was this newness which did not allow man to attribute love to himself—he thought it was God leading him on and taking shape in his heart. "God descends among men," one's neighbour is transfigured and becomes a God (in so far as he provokes the sentiment of love), Jesus is the neighbour, the moment He is transfigured in thought into a God, and into a cause provoking the feeling of power.


Believers are aware that they owe an infinite amount to Christianity, and therefore conclude that its Founder must have been a man of the first rank.... This conclusion is false, but it is typical of the reverents. Regarded objectively, it is, in the first place, just possible that they are mistaken concerning the extent of their debt to Christianity: a man's convictions prove nothing concerning the thing he is convinced about, and in religions they are more likely to give rise to suspicions.... Secondly, it is possible that the debt owing to Christianity is not due to its Founder at all, but to the whole structure, the [Pg 149]whole thing—to the Church, etc. The notion "Founder" is so very equivocal, that it may stand even for the accidental cause of a movement: the person of the Founder has been inflated in proportion as the Church has grown: but even this process of veneration allows of the conclusion that, at one time or other, this Founder was something exceedingly insecure and doubtful—in the beginning.... Let any one think of the free and easy way in which Paul treats the problem of the personality of Jesus, how he almost juggles with it: some one who died, who was seen after His death,—some one whom the Jews delivered up to death—all this was only the theme—Paul wrote the music to it.


The founder of a religion may be quite insignificant—a wax vesta and no more!


Concerning the psychological problem of Christianity.—The driving forces are: resentment, popular insurrection, the revolt of the bungled and the botched. (In Buddhism it is different: it is not born of resentment. It rather combats resentment because the latter leads to action!)

This party, which stands for freedom, understands that the abandonment of antagonism in thought and deed is a condition of distinction and preservation. Here lies the psychological difficulty which has stood in the way of Christianity being [Pg 150]understood: the force which created it, urges to a struggle against itself.

Only as a party standing for peace and innocence can this insurrectionary movement hope to be successful: it must conquer by means of excessive mildness, sweetness, softness, and its instincts are aware of this. The feat was to deny and condemn the force, of which man is the expression, and to press the reverse of that force continually to the fore, by word and deed.


The pretence of youthfulness.—It is a mistake to imagine that, with Christianity, an ingenuous and youthful people rose against an old culture; the story goes that it was out of the lowest levels of society, where Christianity flourished and shot its roots, that the more profound source of life gushed forth afresh: but nothing can be understood of the psychology of Christianity, if it be supposed that it was the expression of revived youth among a people, or of the resuscitated strength of a race. It is rather a typical form of decadence, of moral-softening and of hysteria, amid a general hotch-potch of races and people that had lost all aims and had grown weary and sick. The wonderful company which gathered round this master-seducer of the populace, would not be at all out of place in a Russian novel: all the diseases of the nerves seem to give one another a rendezvous in this crowd—the absence of a known duty, the feeling that [Pg 151]everything is nearing its end, that nothing is any longer worth while, and that contentment lies in dolce far niente.

The power and certainty of the future in the Jew's instinct, its monstrous will for life and for power, lies in its ruling classes; the people who upheld primitive Christianity are best distinguished by this exhausted condition of their instincts. On the one hand, they are sick of everything; on the other, they are content with each other, with themselves and for themselves.


Christianity regarded as emancipated Judaism (just as a nobility which is both racial and indigenous ultimately emancipates itself from these conditions, and goes in search of kindred elements....).

(1) As a Church (community) on the territory of the State, as an unpolitical institution.

(2) As life, breeding, practice, art of living.

(3) As a religion of sin (sin committed against God, being the only recognised kind, and the only cause of all suffering), with a universal cure for it. There is no sin save against God; what is done against men, man shall not sit in judgment upon, nor call to account, except in the name of God. At the same time, all commandments (love): everything is associated with God, and all acts are performed according to God's will. Beneath this arrangement there lies exceptional intelligence (a very narrow life, such as that led by the Esquimaux, [Pg 152] can only be endured by most peaceful and indulgent people: the Judæo-Christian dogma turns against sin in favour of the "sinner").


The Jewish priesthood understood how to present everything it claimed to be right as a divine precept, as an act of obedience to God, and also to introduce all those things which conduced to preserve Israel and were the conditions of its existence (for instance: the large number of "works": circumcision and the cult of sacrifices, as the very pivot of the national conscience), not as Nature, but as God.

This process continued; within the very heart of Judaism, where the need of these "works" was not felt (that is to say, as a means of keeping a race distinct), a priestly sort of man was pictured, whose bearing towards the aristocracy was like that of "noble nature"; a sacerdotalism of the soul, which now, in order to throw its opposite into strong relief, attaches value, not to the "dutiful acts" themselves, but to the sentiment....

At bottom, the problem was once again, how to make a certain kind of soul prevail: it was also a popular insurrection in the midst of a priestly people—a pietistic movement coming from below (sinners, publicans, women, and children). Jesus of Nazareth was the symbol of their sect. And again, in order to believe in themselves, they were in need of a theological transfiguration: they require nothing less than "the Son of God" in [Pg 153]order to create a belief for themselves. And just as the priesthood had falsified the whole history of Israel, another attempt was made, here, to alter and falsify the whole history of mankind in such a way as to make Christianity seem like the most important event it contained. This movement could have originated only upon the soil of Judaism, the main feature of which was the confounding of guilt with sorrow and the reduction of all sin to sin against God. Of all this, Christianity is the second degree of power.


The symbolism of Christianity is based upon that of Judaism, which had already transfigured all reality (history, Nature) into a holy and artificial unreality—which refused to recognise real history, and which showed no more interest in a natural course of things.


The Jews made the attempt to prevail, after two of their castes—the warrior and the agricultural castes, had disappeared from their midst.

In this sense they are the "castrated people": they have their priests and then—their Chandala....

How easily a disturbance occurs among them—an insurrection of their Chandala. This was the origin of Christianity.

Owing to the fact that they had no knowledge of warriors except as their masters, they introduced [Pg 154]enmity towards the nobles, the men of honour, pride, and power, and the ruling classes, into their religion: they are pessimists from indignation....

Thus they created a very important and novel position: the priests in the van of the Chandala—against the noble classes....

Christianity was the logical conclusion of this movement: even in the Jewish priesthood, it still scented the existence of the caste, of the privileged and noble minority—it therefore did away with priests.

Christ is the unit of the Chandala who removes the priest ... the Chandala who redeems himself....

That is why the French Revolution is the lineal descendant and the continuator of Christianity— it is characterised by an instinct of hate towards castes, nobles, and the last privileges.


The "Christian Ideal" put on the stage with Jewish astuteness—these are the fundamental psychological forces of its "nature":—

Revolt against the ruling spiritual powers;

The attempt to make those virtues which facilitate the happiness of the lowly, a standard of all values—in fact, to call God that which is no more than the self-preservative instinct of that class of man possessed of least vitality;

Obedience and absolute abstention from war and resistance, justified by this ideal;

[Pg 155] The love of one another as a result of the love of God.

The trick: The denial of all natural mobilia, and their transference to the spiritual world beyond ... the exploitation of virtue and its veneration for wholly interested motives, gradual denial of virtue in everything that is not Christian.


The profound contempt with which the Christian was treated by the noble people of antiquity, is of the same order as the present instinctive aversion to Jews: it is the hatred which free and self-respecting classes feel towards those who wish to creep in secretly, and who combine an awkward bearing with foolish self-sufficiency.

The New Testament is the gospel of a completely ignoble species of man; its pretensions to highest values—yea, to all values, is, as a matter of fact, revolting—even nowadays.


How little the subject matters! It is the spirit which gives the thing life! What a quantity of stuffy and sick-room air there is in all that chatter about "redemption," "love," "blessedness," "faith," "truth," "eternal life"! Let any one look into a really pagan book and compare the two; for instance, in Petronius, nothing at all is done, said, desired, and valued, which, according to a bigoted Christian estimate, is not sin, or even deadly sin. And yet how happy one feels with the purer air, the [Pg 156]superior intellectuality, the quicker pace, and the free overflowing strength which is certain of the future! In the whole of the New Testament there is not one bouffonnerie: but that fact alone would suffice to refute any book....


The profound lack of dignity with which all life, which is not Christian, is condemned: it does not suffice them to think meanly of their actual opponents, they cannot do with less than a general slander of everything that is not themselves.... An abject and crafty soul is in the most perfect harmony with the arrogance of piety, as witness the early Christians.

The future: they see that they are heavily paid for it.... Theirs is the muddiest kind of spirit that exists. The whole of Christ's life is so arranged as to confirm the prophecies of the Scriptures: He behaves in such wise in order that they may be right....


The deceptive interpretation of the words, the doings, and the condition of dying people; the natural fear of death, for instance, is systematically confounded with the supposed fear of what is to happen "after death." ...


The Christians have done exactly what the Jews did before them. They introduced what they [Pg 157]conceived to be an innovation and a thing necessary to self-preservation into their Master's teaching, and wove His life into it They likewise credited Him with all the wisdom of a maker of proverbs—in short, they represented their everyday life and activity as an act of obedience, and thus sanctified their propaganda.

What it all depends upon, may be gathered from Paul: it is not much. What remains is the development of a type of saint, out of the values which these people regarded as saintly.

The whole of the "doctrine of miracles," including the resurrection, is the result of self-glorification on the part of the community, which ascribed to its Master those qualities it ascribed to itself, but in a higher degree (or, better still, it derived its strength from Him....)


The Christians have never led the life which Jesus commanded them to lead, and the impudent fable of the "justification by faith," and its unique and transcendental significance, is only the result of the Church's lack of courage and will in acknowledging those "works" which Jesus commanded.

The Buddhist behaves differently from the non-Buddhist; but the Christian behaves as all the rest of the world does, and possesses a Christianity of ceremonies and states of the soul.

The profound and contemptible falsehood of Christianity in Europe makes us deserve the contempt of the Arabs, Hindoos, and Chinese....

[Pg 158] Let any one listen to the words of the first German statesman, concerning that which has preoccupied Europe for the last forty years.


"Faith" or "works"?—But that the "works," the habit of particular works may engender a certain set of values or thoughts, is just as natural as it would be unnatural for "works" to proceed from mere valuations. Man must practise, not how to strengthen feelings of value, but how to strengthen action: first of all, one must be able to do something.... Luther's Christian Dilettantism. Faith is an asses' bridge. The background consists of a profound conviction on the part of Luther and his peers, that they are enabled to accomplish Christian "works," a personal fact, disguised under an extreme doubt as to whether all action is not sin and devil's work, so that the worth of life depends upon isolated and highly-strained conditions of inactivity (prayer, effusion, etc.).—Ultimately, Luther would be right: the instincts which are expressed by the whole bearing of the reformers are the most brutal that exist. Only in turning absolutely away from themselves, and in becoming absorbed in the opposite of themselves, only by means of an illusion ("faith") was existence endurable to them.


"What was to be done in order to believe?"—an absurd question. That which is wrong with [Pg 159]Christianity is, that it does none of the things that Christ commanded.

It is a mean life, but seen through the eye of contempt.


The entrance into the real life—a man saves his own life by living the life of the multitude.


Christianity has become something fundamentally different from what its Founder wished it to be. It is the great anti-pagan movement of antiquity, formulated with the use of the life, teaching, and "words" of the Founder of Christianity, but interpreted quite arbitrarily, according to a scheme embodying profoundly different needs: translated into the language of all the subterranean religions then existing.

It is the rise of Pessimism (whereas Jesus wished to bring the peace and the happiness of the lambs): and moreover the Pessimism of the weak, of the inferior, of the suffering, and of the oppressed.

Its mortal enemies are (1) Power, whether in the form of character, intellect, or taste, and "worldliness"; (2) the "good cheer" of classical times, the noble levity and scepticism, hard pride, eccentric dissipation, and cold frugality of the sage, Greek refinement in manners, words, and form. Its mortal enemy is as much the Roman as the Greek.

[Pg 160] The attempt on the part of anti-paganism to establish itself on a philosophical basis, and to make its tenets possible: it shows a taste for the ambiguous figures of antique culture, and above all for Plato, who was, more than any other, an anti-Hellene and Semite in instinct.... It also shows a taste for Stoicism, which is essentially the work of Semites ("dignity" is regarded as severity, law; virtue is held to be greatness, self-responsibility, authority, greatest sovereignty over oneself—this is Semitic.) The Stoic is an Arabian sheik wrapped in Greek togas and notions.


Christianity only resumes the fight which had already been begun against the classical ideal and noble religion.

As a matter of fact, the whole process of transformation is only an adaptation to the needs and to the level of intelligence of religious masses then existing:—those masses which believed in Isis, Mithras, Dionysos, and the "great mother," and which demanded the following things of a religion: (1) hopes of a beyond, (2) the bloody phantasmagoria of animal sacrifice (the mystery), (3) holy legend and the redeeming deed, (4) asceticism, denial of the world, superstitious "purification," (5) a hierarchy as a part of the community. In short, Christianity everywhere fitted the already prevailing and increasing anti-pagan tendency—those cults which Epicurus combated,—or more exactly, those [Pg 161]religions proper to the lower herd, women, slaves, and ignoble classes.

The misunderstandings are therefore the following:—

(1) The immortality of the individual;

(2) The assumed existence of another world;

(3) The absurd notion of punishment and expiation in the heart of the interpretation of existence;

(4) The profanation of the divine nature of man, instead of its accentuation, and the construction of a very profound chasm, which can only be crossed by the help of a miracle or by means of the most thorough self-contempt;

(5) The whole world of corrupted imagination and morbid passion, instead of a simple and loving life of action, instead of Buddhistic happiness attainable on earth;

(6) An ecclesiastical order with a priesthood, theology, cults, and sacraments; in short, everything that Jesus of Nazareth combated;

(7) The miraculous in everything and everybody, superstition too: while precisely the trait which distinguished Judaism and primitive Christianity was their repugnance to miracles and their relative rationalism.


The psychological pre-requisites:—Ignorance and lack of culture,—the sort of ignorance which has unlearned every kind of shame: let any one imagine those impudent saints in the heart of Athens;

[Pg 162] The Jewish instinct of a chosen people: they appropriate all the virtues, without further ado, as their own, and regard the rest of the world as their opposite; this is a profound sign of spiritual depravity;

The total lack of real aims and real duties, for which other virtues are required than those of the bigot—the State undertook this work for them: and the impudent people still behaved as though they had no need of the State. "Except ye become as little children" —oh, how far we are from this psychological ingenuousness!


The Founder of Christianity had to pay dearly for having directed His teaching at the lowest classes of Jewish society and intelligence. They understood Him only according to the limitations of their own spirit. ... It was a disgrace to concoct a history of salvation, a personal God, a personal Saviour, a personal immortality, and to have retained all the meanness of the "person," and of the "history" of a doctrine which denies the reality of all that is personal and historical.

The legend of salvation takes the place of the symbolic "now" and "all time," of the symbolic "here" and "everywhere"; and miracles appear instead of the psychological symbol.


Nothing is less innocent than the New Testament. The soil from which it sprang is known.

[Pg 163] These people, possessed of an inflexible will to assert themselves, and who, once they had lost all natural hold on life, and had long existed without any right to existence, still knew how to prevail by means of hypotheses which were as unnatural as they were imaginary (calling themselves the chosen people, the community of saints, the people of the promised land, and the "Church"): these people made use of their pia fraus with such skill, and with such "clean consciences," that one cannot be too cautious when they preach morality. When Jews step forward as the personification of innocence, the danger must be great. While reading the New Testament a man should have his small fund of intelligence, mistrust, and wickedness constantly at hand.

People of the lowest origin, partly mob, outcasts not only from good society, but also from respectable society; grown away from the atmosphere of culture, and free from discipline; ignorant, without even a suspicion of the fact that conscience can also rule in spiritual matters; in a word—the Jews: an instinctively crafty people, able to create an advantage, a means of seduction out of every conceivable hypothesis of superstition, even out of ignorance itself.


I regard Christianity as the most fatal and seductive lie that has ever yet existed—as the greatest and most impious lie: I can discern the [Pg 164]last sprouts and branches of its ideal beneath every form of disguise, I decline to enter into any compromise or false position in reference to it—I urge people to declare open war with it.

The morality of paltry people as the measure of all things: this is the most repugnant kind of degeneracy that civilisation has ever yet brought into existence. And this kind of ideal is hanging still, under the name of "God," over men's heads!!


However modest one's demands may be concerning intellectual cleanliness, when one touches the New Testament one cannot help experiencing a sort of inexpressible feeling of discomfort; for the unbounded cheek with which the least qualified people will have their say in its pages, in regard to the greatest problems of existence, and claim to sit in judgment on such matters, exceeds all limits. The impudent levity with which the most unwieldy problems are spoken of here (life, the world, God, the purpose of life), as if they were not problems at all, but the most simple things which these little bigots know all about!!!


This was the most fatal form of insanity that has ever yet existed on earth:—when these little lying abortions of bigotry begin laying claim to the words "God," "last judgment," "truth," [Pg 165]"love," "wisdom," "Holy Spirit," and thereby distinguishing themselves from the rest of the world; when such men begin to transvalue values to suit themselves, as though they were the sense, the salt, the standard, and the measure of all things; then all that one should do is this: build lunatic asylums for their incarceration. To persecute them was an egregious act of antique folly: this was taking them too seriously; it was making them serious.

The whole fatality was made possible by the fact that a similar form of megalomania was already in existence, the Jewish form (once the gulf separating the Jews from the Christian-Jews was bridged, the Christian-Jews were compelled to employ those self-preservative measures afresh which were discovered by the Jewish instinct, for their own self-preservation, after having accentuated them); and again through the fact that Greek moral philosophy had done everything that could be done to prepare the way for moral-fanaticism, even among Greeks and Romans, and to render it palatable.... Plato, the great importer of corruption, who was the first who refused to see Nature in morality, and who had already deprived the Greek gods of all their worth by his notion "good" was already tainted with Jewish bigotry (in Egypt?).


These small virtues of gregarious animals do not by any means lead to "eternal life": to put [Pg 166]them on the stage in such a way, and to use them for one's own purpose is perhaps very smart; but to him who keeps his eyes open, even here, it remains, in spite of all, the most ludicrous performance. A man by no means deserves privileges, either on earth or in heaven, because he happens to have attained to perfection in the art of behaving like a good-natured little sheep; at best, he only remains a dear, absurd little ram with horns—provided, of course, he does not burst with vanity or excite indignation by assuming the airs of a supreme judge.

What a terrible glow of false colouring here floods the meanest virtues—as though they were the reflection of divine qualities!

The natural purpose and utility of every virtue is systematically hushed up; it can only be valuable in the light of a divine command or model, or in the light of the good which belongs to a beyond or a spiritual world. (This is magnificent!—As if it were a question of the salvation of the soul: but it was a means of making things bearable here with as many beautiful sentiments as possible.)


The law, which is the fundamentally realistic formula of certain self-preservative measures of a community, forbids certain actions that have a definite tendency to jeopardise the welfare of that community: it does not forbid the attitude of mind which gives rise to these actions—for in the [Pg 167]pursuit of other ends the community requires these forbidden actions, namely, when it is a matter of opposing its enemies. The moral idealist now steps forward and says: "God sees into men's hearts: the action itself counts for nothing; the reprehensible attitude of mind from which it proceeds must be extirpated ..." In normal conditions men laugh at such things; it is only in exceptional cases, when a community lives quite beyond the need of waging war in order to maintain itself, that an ear is lent to such things. Any attitude of mind is abandoned, the utility of which cannot be conceived.

This was the case, for example, when Buddha appeared among a people that was both peaceable and afflicted with great intellectual weariness.

This was also the case in regard to the first Christian community (as also the Jewish), the primary condition of which was the absolutely unpolitical Jewish society. Christianity could grow only upon the soil of Judaism—that is to say, among a people that had already renounced the political life, and which led a sort of parasitic existence within the Roman sphere of government, Christianity goes a step farther: it allows men to "emasculate" themselves even more; the circumstances actually favour their doing so.—Nature is expelled from morality when it is said, "Love ye your enemies": for Nature's injunction, "Ye shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy," has now become senseless in the law (in instinct); now, even the love a man feels for his neighbour must first be based upon something (a sort of love [Pg 168]of God). God is introduced everywhere, and utility is withdrawn; the natural origin of morality is denied everywhere: the veneration of Nature, which lies in acknowledging a natural morality, is destroyed to the roots....

Whence comes the seductive charm of this emasculate ideal of man? Why are we not disgusted by it, just as we are disgusted at the thought of a eunuch?... The answer is obvious: it is not the voice of the eunuch that revolts us, despite the cruel mutilation of which it is the result; for, as a matter of fact, it has grown sweeter.... And owing to the very fact that the "male organ" has been amputated from virtue, its voice now has a feminine ring, which, formerly, was not to be discerned.

On the other hand, we have only to think of the terrible hardness, dangers, and accidents to which a life of manly virtues leads—the life of a Corsican, even at the present day, or that of a heathen Arab (which resembles the Corsican's life even to the smallest detail: the Arab's songs might have been written by Corsicans)—in order to perceive how the most robust type of man was fascinated and moved by the voluptuous ring of this "goodness" and "purity." ... A pastoral melody ... an idyll ... the "good man": such things have most effect in ages when tragedy is abroad.


With this, we have realised to what extent the "idealist" (the ideal eunuch) also proceeds from a [Pg 169]definite reality and is not merely a visionary.... He has perceived precisely that, for his kind of reality, a brutal injunction of the sort which prohibits certain actions has no sense (because the instinct which would urge him to these actions is weakened, thanks to a long need of practice, and of compulsion to practise). The castrator formulates a host of new self-preservative measures for a perfectly definite species of men: in this sense he is a realist. The means to which he has recourse for establishing his legislation, are the same as those of ancient legislators: he appeals to all authorities, to "God," and he exploits the notions "guilt and punishment"—that is to say, he avails himself of the whole of the older ideal, but interprets it differently; for instance: punishment is given a place in the inner self (it is called the pang of conscience).

In practice this kind of man meets with his end the moment the exceptional conditions favouring his existence cease to prevail—a sort of insular happiness, like that of Tahiti, and of the little Jews in the Roman provinces. Their only natural foe is the soil from which they spring: they must wage war against that, and once more give their offensive and defensive passions rope in order to be equal to it: their opponents are the adherents of the old ideal (this kind of hostility is shown on a grand scale by Paul in relation to Judaism, and by Luther in relation to the priestly ascetic ideal). The mildest form of this antagonism is certainly that of the first Buddhists; perhaps nothing has given rise to so much work, as the enfeeblement and [Pg 170] discouragement of the feeling of antagonism. The struggle against resentment almost seems the Buddhist's first duty; thus only is his peace of soul secured. To isolate oneself without bitterness, this presupposes the existence of a surprisingly mild and sweet order of men,—saints....


The Astuteness of moral castration.—How is war waged against the virile passions and valuations? No violent physical means are available; the war must therefore be one of ruses, spells, and lies—in short, a "spiritual war."

First recipe: One appropriates virtue in general, and makes it the main feature of one's ideal; the older ideal is denied and declared to be the reverse of all ideals. Slander has to be carried to a fine art for this purpose.

Second recipe: A type of man is set up as a general standard; and this is projected into all things, behind all things, and behind the destiny of all things—as God.

Third recipe: The opponents of one's ideal are declared to be the opponents of God; one arrogates to oneself a right to great pathos, to power, and a right to curse and to bless.

Fourth recipe: All suffering, all gruesome, terrible, and fatal things are declared to be the results of opposition to ones ideal—all suffering is punishment even in the case of one's adherents (except it be a trial, etc.).

Fifth recipe: One goes so far as to regard Nature as the reverse of one's ideal, and the lengthy [Pg 171]sojourn amid natural conditions is considered a great trial of patience—a sort of martyrdom; one studies contempt, both in one's attitudes and one's looks towards all "natural things."

Sixth recipe: The triumph of anti-naturalism and ideal castration, the triumph of the world of the pure, good, sinless, and blessed, is projected into the future as the consummation, the finale, the great hope, and the "Coming of the Kingdom of God."

I hope that one may still be allowed to laugh at this artificial hoisting up of a small species of man to the position of an absolute standard of all things?


What I do not at all like in Jesus of Nazareth and His Apostle Paul, is that they stuffed so much into the heads of paltry people, as if their modest virtues were worth so much ado. We have had to pay dearly for it all; for they brought the most valuable qualities of both virtue and man into ill repute; they set the guilty conscience and the self-respect of noble souls at loggerheads, and they led the braver, more magnanimous, more daring, and more excessive tendencies of strong souls astray—even to self-destruction.


In the New Testament, and especially in the Gospels, I discern absolutely no sign of a "Divine" voice: but rather an indirect form of the most [Pg 172]subterranean fury, both in slander and destructiveness—one of the most dishonest forms of hatred. It lacks all knowledge of the qualities of a higher nature. It makes an impudent abuse of all kinds of plausibilities, and the whole stock of proverbs is used up and foisted upon one in its pages. Was it necessary to make a God come in order to appeal to those publicans and to say to them, etc. etc.?

Nothing could be more vulgar than this struggle with the Pharisees, carried on with a host of absurd and unpractical moral pretences; the mob, of course, has always been entertained by such feats. Fancy the reproach of "hypocrisy!" coming from those lips! Nothing could be more vulgar than this treatment of one's opponents—a most insidious sign of nobility or its reverse....


Primitive Christianity is the abolition of the State: it prohibits oaths, military service, courts of justice, self-defence or the defence of a community, and denies the difference between fellow-countrymen and strangers, as also the order of castes.

Christs example; He does not withstand those who ill-treat Him; He does not defend Himself; He does more, He "offers the left cheek" (to the demand: "Tell us whether thou be the Christ?" He replies: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven"). He forbids His disciples to defend Him; He calls attention to [Pg 173]the fact that He could get help if He wished to, but will not.

Christianity also means the abolition of society, it prizes everything that society despises, its very growth takes place among the outcasts, the condemned, and the leprous of all kinds, as also among "publicans," "sinners," prostitutes, and the most foolish of men (the "fisher folk "); it despises the rich, the scholarly, the noble, the virtuous, and the "punctilious." ...


The war against the noble and the powerful, as it is waged in the New Testament, is reminiscent of Reynard the Fox and his methods: but plus the Christian unction and the more absolute refusal to recognise one's own craftiness.


The Gospel is the announcement that the road to happiness lies open for the lowly and the poor—that all one has to do is to emancipate one's self from all institutions, traditions, and the tutelage of the higher classes. Thus Christianity is no more than the typical teaching of Socialists.

Property, acquisitions, mother-country, status and rank, tribunals, the police, the State, the Church, Education, Art, militarism: all these are so many obstacles in the way of happiness, so many mistakes, snares, and devil's artifices, on which the Gospel passes sentence—all this is typical of socialistic doctrines.

Behind all this there is the outburst, the [Pg 174]explosion, of a concentrated loathing of the "masters,"—the instinct which discerns the happiness of freedom after such long oppression.... (Mostly a symptom of the fact that the inferior classes have been treated too humanely, that their tongues already taste a joy which is forbidden them.... It is not hunger that provokes revolutions, but the fact that the mob have contracted an appetite en mangeant....)


Let the New Testament only be read as a book of seduction: in it virtue is appropriated, with the idea that public opinion is best won with it,—and as a matter of fact it is a very modest kind of virtue, which recognises only the ideal gregarious animal and nothing more (including, of course, the herdsmen): a puny, soft, benevolent, helpful, and gushingly-satisfied kind of virtue which to the outside world is quite devoid of pretensions,—and which separates the "world" entirely from itself. The crassest arrogance which fancies that the destiny of man turns around it, and it alone, and that on the one side the community of believers represents what is right, and on the other the world represents what is false and eternally to be reproved and rejected. The most imbecile hatred of all things in power, which, however, never goes so far as to touch these things. A kind of inner detachment which, outwardly, leaves everything as it was (servitude and slavery; and knowing how to convert everything into a means of serving God and virtue).

[Pg 175]


Christianity is possible as the most private form of life; it presupposes the existence of a narrow, isolated, and absolutely unpolitical society—it belongs to the conventicle. On the other hand, a "Christian State," "Christian politics," are pieces of downright impudence; they are lies, like, for instance, a Christian leadership of an army, which in the end regards "the God of hosts" as chief of the staff. Even the Papacy has never been able to carry on politics in a Christian way...; and when Reformers indulge in politics, as Luther did, it is well known that they are just as ardent followers of Machiavelli as any other immoralists or tyrants.


Christianity is still possible at any moment. It is not bound to any one of the impudent dogmas that have adorned themselves with its name: it needs neither the teaching of the personal God, nor of sin, nor of immortality, nor of redemption, nor of faith; it has absolutely no need whatever of metaphysics, and it needs asceticism and Christian "natural science" still less. Christianity is a method of life, not a system of belief. It tells us how we should behave, not what we should believe.

He who says to-day: "I refuse to be a soldier," "I care not for tribunals," "I lay no claim to the services of the police," "I will not do anything that disturbs the peace within me: [Pg 176]and if I must suffer on that account, nothing can so well maintain my inward peace as suffering"—such a man would be a Christian.


Concerning the history of Christianity.—Continual change of environment: Christian teaching is thus continually changing its centre of gravity. The favouring of low and paltry people.... The development of Caritas.... The type "Christian" gradually adopts everything that it originally rejected (and in the rejection of which it asserted its right to exist). The Christian becomes a citizen, a soldier, a judge, a workman, a merchant, a scholar, a theologian, a priest, a philosopher, a farmer, an artist, a patriot, a politician, a prince ... he re-enters all those departments of active life which he had forsworn (he defends himself, he establishes tribunals, he punishes, he swears, he differentiates between people and people, he contemns, and he shows anger). The whole life of the Christian is ultimately exactly that life from which Christ preached deliverance.... The Church is just as much a factor in the triumph of the Antichrist, as the modern State and modern Nationalism.... The Church is the barbarisation of Christianity.


Among the powers that have mastered Christianity are: Judaism (Paul); Platonism (Augustine); The cult of mystery (the teaching of salvation, [Pg 177]the emblem of the "cross"); Asceticism (hostility towards "Nature," "Reason," the "senses,"—the Orient ...).


Christianity is a denaturalisation of gregarious morality: under the power of the most complete misapprehensions and self-deceptions. Democracy is a more natural form of it, and less sown with falsehood. It is a fact that the oppressed, the low, and whole mob of slaves and half-castes, will prevail.

First step: they make themselves free—they detach themselves, at first in fancy only; they recognise each other; they make themselves paramount.

Second step: they enter the lists, they demand acknowledgment, equal rights, "Justice."

Third step: they demand privileges (they draw the representatives of power over to their side).

Fourth step: they alone want all power, and they have it.

There are three elements in Christianity which must be distinguished: (a) the oppressed of all kinds, (b) the mediocre of all kinds, (c) the dissatisfied and diseased of all kinds. The first struggle against the politically noble and their ideal; the second contend with the exceptions and those who are in any way privileged (mentally or physically); the third oppose the natural instinct of the happy and the sound.

Whenever a triumph is achieved, the second [Pg 178]element steps to the fore; for then Christianity has won over the sound and happy to its side (as warriors in its cause), likewise the powerful (interested to this extent in the conquest of the crowd)—and now it is the gregarious instinct, that mediocre nature which is valuable in every respect, that now gets its highest sanction through Christianity. This mediocre nature ultimately becomes so conscious of itself (gains such courage in regard to its own opinions), that it arrogates to itself even political power....

Democracy is Christianity made natural: a sort of "return to Nature," once Christianity, owing to extreme anti-naturalness, might have been overcome by the opposite valuation. Result: the aristocratic ideal begins to lose its natural character ("the higher man," "noble," "artist," "passion," "knowledge"; Romanticism as the cult of the exceptional, genius, etc. etc.).


When the "masters" may also become Christians.—It is of the nature of a community (race, family, herd, tribe) to regard all those conditions and aspirations which favour its survival, as in themselves valuable; for instance: obedience, mutual assistance, respect, moderation, pity—as also, to suppress everything that happens to stand in the way of the above.

It is likewise of the nature of the rulers (whether they are individuals or classes) to patronise and applaud those virtues which make [Pg 179]their subjects amenable and submissive—conditions and passions which may be utterly different from their own.

The gregarious instinct and the instinct of the rulers sometimes agree in approving of a certain number of qualities and conditions,—but for different reasons: the first do so out of direct egoism, the second out of indirect egoism.

The submission to Christianity on the part of master races is essentially the result of the conviction that Christianity is a religion for the herd, that it teaches obedience: in short, that Christians are more easily ruled than non-Christians. With a hint of this nature, the Pope, even nowadays, recommends Christian propaganda to the ruling Sovereign of China.

It should also be added that the seductive power of the Christian ideal works most strongly upon natures that love danger, adventure, and contrasts; that love everything that entails a risk, and wherewith a non plus ultra of powerful feeling may be attained. In this respect, one has only to think of Saint Theresa, surrounded by the heroic instincts of her brothers:—Christianity appears in those circumstances as a dissipation of the will, as strength of will, as a will that is Quixotic.

3. Christian Ideals.


War against the Christian ideal, against the doctrine of "blessedness" and "salvation" as the aims of life, against the supremacy of the fools, of the pure in heart, of the suffering and of the botched!

When and where has any man, of any note at all, resembled the Christian ideal?—at least in the eyes of those who are psychologists and triers of the heart and reins. Look at all Plutarch's heroes!


Our claim to superiority: we live in an age of Comparisons; we are able to calculate as men have never yet calculated; in every way we are history become self-conscious. We enjoy things in a different way; we suffer in a different way: our instinctive activity is the comparison of an enormous variety of things. We understand everything; we experience everything, we no longer have a hostile feeling left within us. However disastrous the results may be to ourselves, our plunging and almost lustful inquisitiveness, attacks, unabashed, the most dangerous of subjects....

"Everything is good"—it gives us pain to say "nay" to anything. We suffer when we feel that we are sufficiently foolish to make a definite stand against anything.... At bottom, it is we scholars who to-day are fulfilling Christ's teaching most thoroughly.


We cannot suppress a certain irony when we contemplate those who think they have overcome Christianity by means of modern natural science. Christian values are by no means overcome by [Pg 181]such people. "Christ on the cross" is still the most sublime symbol—even now....


The two great Nihilistic movements are: (a) Buddhism, (b) Christianity. The latter has only just about reached a state of culture in which it can fulfil its original object,—it has found its level,—and now it can manifest itself without disguise.....


We have re-established the Christian ideal, it now only remains to determine its value.

(1) Which values does it deny? What does the ideal that opposes it stand for?—Pride, pathos of distance, great responsibility, exuberant spirits, splendid animalism, the instincts of war and of conquest; the deification of passion, revenge, cunning, anger, voluptuousness, adventure, knowledge—the noble ideal is denied: the beauty, wisdom, power, pomp, and awfulness of the type man: the man who postulates aims, the "future" man (here Christianity presents itself as the logical result of Judaism).

(2) Can it be realised?—Yes, of course, when the climatic conditions are favourable—as in the case of the Indian ideal. Both neglect the factor work.—It separates a creature from a people, a state, a civilised community, and jurisdiction; it rejects education, wisdom, the cultivation of good manners, acquisition and commerce; it cuts adrift [Pg 182]everything which is of use and value to men—by means of an idiosyncrasy of sentiment it isolates a man. It is non-political, anti-national, neither aggressive nor defensive,—and only possible within a strictly-ordered State or state of society, which allows these holy parasites to flourish at the cost of their neighbours.....

(3) It has now become the will to be happy—and nothing else! "Blessedness" stands for something self-evident, that no longer requires any justification—everything else (the way to live and let live) is only a means to an end....

But what follows is the result of a low order of thought, the fear of pain, of defilement, of corruption, is great enough to provide ample grounds for allowing everything to go to the dogs.... This is a poor way of thinking, and is the sign of an exhausted race; we must not allow ourselves to be deceived. ("Become as little children." Natures of the same order: Francis of Assisi, neurotic, epileptic, visionary, like Jesus.)


The higher man distinguishes himself from the lower by his fearlessness and his readiness to challenge misfortune: it is a sign of degeneration when eudemonistic values begin to prevail (physiological fatigue and enfeeblement of will-power). Christianity, with its prospect of "blessedness," is the typical attitude of mind of a suffering and impoverished species of man. Abundant strength will be active, will suffer, and will go under: to it [Pg 183]the bigotry of Christian salvation is bad music and hieratic posing and vexation.


Poverty, humility, and chastity are dangerous and slanderous ideals; but like poisons, which are useful cures in the case of certain diseases, they were also necessary in the time of the Roman Empire.

All ideals are dangerous: because they lower and brand realities; they are all poisons, but occasionally indispensable as cures.


God created man, happy, idle, innocent, and immortal: our actual life is a false, decadent, and sinful existence, a punishment.... Suffering, struggle, work, and death are raised as objections against life, they make life questionable, unnatural—something that must cease, and for which one not only requires but also has—remedies!

Since the time of Adam, man has been in an abnormal state: God Himself delivered up His Son for Adam's sin, in order to put an end to the abnormal condition of things: the natural character of life is a curse; to those who believe in Him, Christ restores normal life: He makes them happy, idle, and innocent. But the world did not become fruitful without labour; women do not bear children without pain; illness has not ceased: believers are served just as badly as unbelievers in this respect. All that has happened [Pg 184]is, that man is delivered from death and sin—two assertions which allow of no verification, and which are therefore emphasised by the Church with more than usual heartiness. "He is free from sin,"—not owing to his own efforts, not owing to a vigorous struggle on his part, but redeemed by the death of the Saviour,—consequently, perfectly innocent and paradisaical.

Actual life is nothing more than an illusion (that is to say, a deception, an insanity). The whole of struggling, fighting, and real existence—so full of light and shade, is only bad and false: everybody's duty is to be delivered from it.

"Man, innocent, idle, immortal, and happy"—this concept, which is the object of the "most supreme desires," must be criticised before anything else. Why should guilt, work, death, and pain (and, from the Christian point of view, also knowledge ...) be contrary to all supreme desires?—The lazy Christian notions: "blessedness," "innocence," "immortality."


The eccentric concept "holiness" does not exist—"God" and "man" have not been divorced from each other. "Miracles" do not exist—such spheres do not exist: the only one to be considered is the "intellectual" (that is to say, the symbolically-psychological). As decadence: a counterpart to "Epicureanism." ... Paradise according to Greek notions was only "Epicurus' Garden."

[Pg 185] A life of this sort lacks a purpose: it strives after nothing;—a form of the "Epicurean gods"—there is no longer any reason to aim at anything,—not even at having children:—everything has been done.


They despised the body: they did not reckon with it: nay, more—they treated it as an enemy. It was their delirium to think that a man could carry a "beautiful soul" about in a body that was a cadaverous abortion.... In order to inoculate others with this insanity they had to present the concept "beautiful soul" in a different way, and to transvalue the natural value, until, at last, a pale, sickly, idiotically exalted creature, something angelic, some extreme perfection and transfiguration was declared to be the higher man.


Ignorance in matters psychological.—The Christian has no nervous system;—contempt for, and deliberate and wilful turning away from, the demands of the body, and the naked body; it is assumed that all this is in keeping with man's nature, and must perforce work the ultimate good of the soul;—all functions of the body are systematically reduced to moral values; illness itself is regarded as determined by morality, it is held to be the result of sin, or it is a trial or a state of salvation, through which man becomes more perfect than he could become in a state [Pg 186]of health (Pascal's idea); under certain circumstances, there are wilful attempts at inducing illness.


What in sooth is this struggle "against Nature" on the part of the Christian? We shall not, of course, let ourselves be deceived by his words and explanations. It is Nature against something which is also Nature. With many, it is fear; with others, it is loathing; with yet others, it is the sign of a certain intellectuality, the love of a bloodless and passionless ideal; and in the case of the most superior men, it is love of an abstract Nature—these try to live up to their ideal. It is easily understood that humiliation in the place of self-esteem, anxious cautiousness towards the passions, emancipation from the usual duties (whereby, a higher notion of rank is created), the incitement to constant war on behalf of enormous issues, habituation to effusiveness of feelings—all this goes to constitute a type: in such a type the hypersensitiveness of a perishing body preponderates; but the nervousness and the inspirations it engenders are interpreted differently. The taste of this kind of creature tends either (1) to subtilise, (2) to indulge in bombastic eloquence, or (3) to go in for extreme feelings. The natural inclinations do get satisfied, but they are interpreted in a new way; for instance, as "justification before God," "the feeling of redemption through grace," every undeniable feeling of pleasure becomes (interpreted in this way!) pride, voluptuousness, [Pg 187]etc. General problem: what will become of the man who slanders and practically denies and belittles what is natural? As a matter of fact, the Christian is an example of exaggerated self-control: in order to tame his passions, he seems to find it necessary to extirpate or crucify them.


Man did not know himself physiologically throughout the ages his history covers; he does not even know himself now. The knowledge, for instance, that man has a nervous system (but no "soul") is still the privilege of the most educated people. But man is not satisfied, in this respect, to say he does not know. A man must be very superior to be able to say: "I do not know this,"—that is to say, to be able to admit his ignorance.

Suppose he is in pain or in a good mood, he never questions that he can find the reason of either condition if only he seeks.... In truth, he cannot find the reason; for he does not even suspect where it lies.... What happens?... He takes the result of his condition for its cause; for instance, if he should undertake some work (really undertaken because his good mood gave him the courage to do so) and carry it through successfully: behold, the work itself is the reason of his good mood.... As a matter of fact, his success was determined by the same cause as that which brought about his good mood—that is to say, the happy co-ordination of physiological powers and functions.

[Pg 188] He feels bad: consequently he cannot overcome a care, a scruple, or an attitude of self-criticism.... He really fancies that his disagreeable condition is the result of his scruple, of his "sin," or of his "self-criticism."

But after profound exhaustion and prostration, a state of recovery sets in. "How is it possible that I can feel so free, so happy? It is a miracle; only a God could have effected this change."—Conclusion: "He has forgiven my sin." ...

From this follow certain practices: in order to provoke feelings of sinfulness and to prepare the way for crushed spirits it is necessary to induce a condition of morbidity and nervousness in the body. The methods of doing this are well known. Of course, nobody suspects the causal logic of the fact: the maceration of the flesh is interpreted religiously, it seems like an end in itself, whereas it is no more than a means of bringing about that morbid state of indigestion which is known as repentance (the "fixed idea" of sin, the hypnotising of the hen by-means of the chalk-line "sin").

The mishandling of the body prepares the ground for the required range of "guilty feelings"—that is to say, for that general state of pain which demands an explanation....

On the other hand, the method of "salvation" may also develop from the above: every dissipation of the feelings, whether prayers, movements, attitudes, or oaths, has been provoked, and exhaustion follows; very often it is acute, or it [Pg 189]appears in the form of epilepsy. And behind this condition of deep somnolence there come signs of recovery—or, in religious parlance, "Salvation."


Formerly, the conditions and results of physiological exhaustion were considered more important than healthy conditions and their results, and this was owing to the suddenness, fearfulness, and mysteriousness of the former. Men were terrified by themselves, and postulated the existence of a higher world. People have ascribed the origin of the idea of two worlds—one this side of the grave and the other beyond it—to sleep and dreams, to shadows, to night, and to the fear of Nature: but the symptoms of physiological exhaustion should, above all, have been considered.

Ancient religions have quite special methods of disciplining the pious into states of exhaustion, in which they must experience such things.... The idea was, that one entered into a new order of things, where everything ceases to be known.—The semblance of a higher power....


Sleep is the result of every kind of exhaustion; exhaustion follows upon all excessive excitement....

In all pessimistic religions and philosophies there is a yearning for sleep; the very notion "sleep" is deified and worshipped.

In this case the exhaustion is racial; sleep [Pg 190]regarded psychologically is only a symbol of a much deeper and longer compulsion to rest.... In praxi it is death which rules here in the seductive image of its brother sleep....


The whole of the Christian training in repentance and redemption may be regarded as a folie circulaire arbitrarily produced; though, of course, it can be produced only in people who are predisposed to it—that is to say, who have morbid tendencies in their constitutions.


Against remorse and its purely psychical treatment.—To be unable to have done with an experience is already a sign of decadence. This reopening of old wounds, this wallowing in self-contempt and depression, is an additional form of disease; no "salvation of the soul" ever results from it, but only a new kind of spiritual illness....

These "conditions of salvation" of which the Christian is conscious are merely variations of the same diseased state—the interpretation of an attack of epilepsy by means of a particular formula which is provided, not by science, but by religious mania.

When a man is ill his very goodness is sickly.... By far the greatest portion of the psychical apparatus which Christianity has used, is now classed among the various forms of hysteria and epilepsy.

[Pg 191] The whole process of spiritual healing must be remodelled on a physiological basis: the "sting of conscience" as such is an obstacle in the way of recovery—as soon as possible the attempt must be made to counterbalance everything by means of new actions, so that there may be an escape from the morbidness of self-torture.... The purely psychical practices of the Church and of the various sects should be decried as dangerous to the health. No invalid is ever cured by prayers or by the exorcising of evil spirits: the states of "repose" which follow upon such methods of treatment, by no means inspire confidence, in the psychological sense....

A man is healthy when he can laugh at the seriousness and ardour with which he has allowed himself to be hypnotised to any extent by any detail in his life—when his remorse seems to him like the action of a dog biting a stone—when he is ashamed of his repentance.

The purely psychological and religious practices, which have existed hitherto, only led to an alteration in the symptoms: according to them a man had recovered when he bowed before the cross, and swore that in future he would be a good man.... But a criminal, who, with a certain gloomy seriousness cleaves to his fate and refuses to malign his deed once it is done, has more spiritual health.... The criminals with whom Dostoiewsky associated in prison, were all, without exception, unbroken natures,—are they not a hundred times more valuable than a "broken-spirited" Christian?

[Pg 192] (For the treatment of pangs of conscience I recommend Mitchell's Treatment.[2])

[2] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.—In The New Sydenham Society's Lexicon of Medicine and the Allied Sciences, the following description of Mitchell's treatment is to be found: "A method of treating cases of neurasthenia and hysteria ... by removal from home, rest in bed, massage twice a day, electrical excitation of the muscles, and excessive feeding, at first with milk."


A pang of conscience in a man is a sign that his character is not yet equal to his deed. There is such a thing as a pang of conscience after good deeds: in this case it is their unfamiliarity, their incompatibility with an old environment.


Against remorse.—I do not like this form of cowardice in regard to one's own actions, one must not leave one's self in the lurch under the pressure of sudden shame or distress. Extreme pride is much more fitting here. What is the good of it all in the end! No deed gets undone because it is regretted, no more than because it is "forgiven" or "expiated." A man must be a theologian in order to believe in a power that erases faults: we immoralists prefer to disbelieve in "faults." We believe that all deeds, of what kind soever, are identically the same at root; just as deeds which turn against us may [Pg 193]be useful from an economical point of view, and even generally desirable. In certain individual cases, we admit that we might well have been spared a given action; the circumstances alone predisposed us in its favour. Which of us, if favoured by circumstances, would not already have committed every possible crime?... That is why one should never say: "Thou shouldst never have done such and such a thing," but only: "How strange it is that I have not done such and such a thing hundreds of times already!"—As a matter of fact, only a very small number of acts are typical acts and real epitomes of a personality, and seeing what a small number of people really are personalities, a single act very rarely characterises a man. Acts are mostly dictated by circumstances; they are superficial or merely reflex movements performed in response to a stimulus, long before the depths of our beings are affected or consulted in the matter. A fit of temper, a gesture, a blow with a knife: how little of the individual resides in these acts!—A deed very often brings a sort of stupor or feeling of constraint in its wake: so that the agent feels almost spellbound at its recollection, or as though he belonged to it, and were not an independent creature. This mental disorder, which is a form of hypnotism, must be resisted at all costs: surely a single deed, whatever it be, when it is compared with all one has done, is nothing, and may be deducted from the sum without making the account wrong. The unfair interest which society manifests in controlling the whole of our lives [Pg 194]in one direction, as though the very purpose of its existence were to cultivate a certain individual act, should not infect the man of action: but unfortunately this happens almost continually. The reason of this is, that every deed, if followed by unexpected consequences, leads to a certain mental disturbance, no matter whether the consequences be good or bad. Behold a lover who has been given a promise, or a poet while he is receiving applause from an audience: as far as intellectual torpor is concerned, these men are in no way different from the anarchist who is suddenly confronted by a detective bearing a search warrant.

There are some acts which are unworthy of us: acts which, if they were regarded as typical, would set us down as belonging to a lower class of man. The one fault that has to be avoided here, is to regard them as typical. There is another kind of act of which we are unworthy: exceptional acts, born of a particular abundance of happiness and health; they are the highest waves of our spring tides, driven to an unusual height by a storm—an accident: such acts and "deeds" are also not typical. An artist should never be judged according to the measure of his works.


A. In proportion as Christianity seems necessary to-day, man is still wild and fatal....

B. In another sense, it is not necessary, but extremely dangerous, though it is captivating and [Pg 195]seductive, because it corresponds with the morbid character of whole classes and types of modern humanity, ... they simply follow their inclinations when they aspire to Christianity—they are decadents of all kinds.

A and B must be kept very sharply apart. In the case of A, Christianity is a cure, or at least a taming process (under certain circumstances it serves the purpose of making people ill: and this is sometimes useful as a means of subduing savage and brutal natures). In the case of B, it is a symptom of illness itself, it renders the state of decadence more acute; in this case it stands opposed to a corroborating system of treatment, it is the invalid's instinct standing against that which would be most salutary to him.


On one side there are the serious, the dignified, and reflective people: and on the other the barbarous, the unclean, and the irresponsible beasts: it is merely a question of taming animals—and in this case the tamer must be hard, terrible, and awe-inspiring, at least to his beasts.

All essential requirements must be imposed upon the unruly creatures with almost brutal distinctness—that is to say, magnified a thousand times.

Even the fulfilment of the requirement must be presented in the coarsest way possible, so that it may command respect, as in the case of the spiritualisation of the Brahmins.

[Pg 196]

The struggle with the rabble and the herd. If any degree of tameness and order has been reached, the chasm separating these purified and regenerated people from the terrible remainder must have been bridged....

This chasm is a means of increasing self-respect in higher castes, and of confirming their belief in that which they represent—hence the Chandala. Contempt and its excess are perfectly correct psychologically—that is to say, magnified a hundred times, so that it may at least be felt.


The struggle against brutal instincts is quite different from the struggle against morbid instincts; it may even be a means of overcoming brutality by making the brutes ill. The psychical treatment practised by Christianity is often nothing more than the process of converting a brute into a sick and therefore tame animal.

The struggle against raw and savage natures must be a struggle with weapons which are able to affect such natures: superstitions and such means are therefore indispensable and essential.


Our age, in a certain sense, is mature (that is to say, decadent), just as Buddha's was.... That is why a sort of Christianity is possible without all the absurd dogmas (the most repulsive offshoots of ancient hybridism).

[Pg 197]


Supposing it were impossible to disprove Christianity, Pascal thinks, in view of the terrible possibility that it may be true, that it is in the highest degree prudent to be a Christian. As a proof of how much Christianity has lost of its terrible nature, to-day we find that other attempt to justify it, which consists in asserting, that even if it were a mistake, it nevertheless provides the greatest advantages and pleasures for its adherents throughout their lives:—it therefore seems that this belief should be upheld owing to the peace and quiet it ensures—not owing to the terror of a threatening possibility, but rather out of fear of a life that has lost its charm. This hedonistic turn of thought, which uses happiness as a proof, is a symptom of decline: it takes the place of the proof resulting from power or from that which to the Christian mind is most terrible—namely, fear. With this new interpretation, Christianity is, as a matter of fact, nearing its stage of exhaustion. People are satisfied with a Christianity which is an opiate, because they no longer have the strength to seek, to struggle, to dare, to stand alone, nor to take up Pascal's position and to share that gloomily brooding self-contempt, that belief in human unworthiness, and that anxiety which believes that it "may be damned." But a Christianity the chief object of which is to soothe diseased nerves, does not require the terrible solution consisting of a "God on the cross"; that [Pg 198]is why Buddhism is secretly gaining ground all over Europe.


The humour of European culture: people regard one thing as true, but do the other. For instance, what is the use of all the art of reading and criticising, if the ecclesiastical interpretation of the Bible, whether according to Catholics or Protestants, is still upheld!


No one is sufficiently aware of the barbarity of the notions among which we Europeans still live. To think that men have been able to believe that the "Salvation of the soul" depended upon a book!... And I am told that this is still believed.

What is the good of all scientific education, all criticism and all hermeneutics, if such nonsense as the Church's interpretation of the Bible has not yet turned the colours of our bodies permanently into the red of shame?


Subject for reflection: To what extent does the fatal belief in "Divine Providence"—the most paralysing belief for both the hand and the understanding that has ever existed—continue to prevail; to what extent have the Christian hypothesis and interpretation of Life continued their lives [Pg 199]under the cover of terms like "Nature," "Progress," "perfectionment," "Darwinism," or beneath the superstition that there is a certain relation between happiness and virtue, unhappiness and sin? That absurd belief in the course of things, in "Life" and in the "instinct of Life"; that foolish resignation which arises from the notion that if only every one did his duty all would go well—all this sort of thing can only have a meaning if one assumes that there is a direction of things sub specie boni. Even fatalism, our present form of philosophical sensibility, is the result of a long belief in Divine Providence, an unconscious result: as though it were nothing to do with us how everything goes! (As though we might let things take their own course; the individual being only a modus of the absolute reality.)


It is the height of psychological falsity on the part of man to imagine a being according to his own petty standard, who is a beginning, a "thing-in-itself," and who appears to him good, wise, mighty, and precious; for thus he suppresses in thoughts all the causality by means of which every kind of goodness, wisdom, and power comes into existence and has value. In short, elements of the most recent and most conditional origin were regarded not as evolved, but as spontaneously generated and "things-in-themselves," and perhaps as the cause of all things.... Experience teaches us that, in every case in which a man has [Pg 200]elevated himself to any great extent above the average of his fellows, every high degree of power always involves a corresponding degree of freedom from Good and Evil as also from "true" and "false," and cannot take into account what goodness dictates: the same holds good of a high degree of wisdom—in this case goodness is just as much suppressed as truthfulness, justice, virtue, and other popular whims in valuations. In fact, is it not obvious that every high degree of goodness itself presupposes a certain intellectual myopia and obtuseness? as also an inability to distinguish at a great distance between true and false, useful and harmful?—not to mention the fact that a high degree of power in the hands of the highest goodness might lead to the most baleful consequences ("the suppression of evil"). In sooth it is enough to perceive with what aspirations the "God of Love" inspires His believers: they ruin mankind for the benefit of "good men." In practice, this same God has shown Himself to be a God of the most acute myopia, devilry, and impotence, in the face of the actual arrangement of the universe, and from this the value of His conception may be estimated. Knowledge and wisdom can have no value in themselves, any more than goodness can: the goal they are striving after must be known first, for then only can their value or worthlessness be judged—a goal might be imagined which would make excessive wisdom a great disadvantage (if, for instance, complete deception were a prerequisite to the enhancement of life; likewise, if goodness [Pg 201]were able to paralyse and depress the main springs of the great passions)....

Taking our human life as it is, it cannot be denied that all "truth," "goodness," "holiness," and "Godliness" in the Christian sense, have hitherto shown themselves to be great dangers—even now mankind is in danger of perishing owing to an ideal which is hostile to life.


Let any one think of the loss which all human institutions suffer, when a divine and transcendental, higher sphere is postulated which must first sanction these institutions! By recognising their worth in this sanction alone (as in the case of marriage, for instance) their natural dignity is reduced, and under certain circumstances denied.... Nature is spitefully misjudged in the same ratio as the anti-natural notion of a God is held in honour. "Nature" then comes to mean no more than "contemptible," "bad." ...

The fatal nature of a belief in God as the reality of the highest moral qualities: through it, all real values were denied and systematically regarded as valueless. Thus Anti-Nature ascended the throne. With relentless logic the last step was reached, and this was the absolute demand to deny Nature.


By pressing the doctrine of disinterestedness and love into the foreground, Christianity by no [Pg 202]means elevated the interests of the species above those of the individual. Its real historical effect, its fatal effect, remains precisely the increase of egotism, of individual egotism, to excess (to the extreme which consists in the belief in individual immortality). The individual was made so important and so absolute, by means of Christian values, that he could no longer be sacrificed, despite the fact that the species can only be maintained by human sacrifices. All "souls" became equal before God: but this is the most pernicious of all valuations! If one regards individuals as equals, the demands of the species are ignored, and a process is initiated which ultimately leads to its ruin. Christianity is the reverse of the principle of selection. If the degenerate and sick man ("the Christian") is to be of the same value as the healthy man ("the pagan"), or if he is even to be valued higher than the latter, as Pascal's view of health and sickness would have us value him, the natural course of evolution is thwarted and the unnatural becomes law.... In practice this general love of mankind is nothing more than deliberately favouring all the suffering, the botched, and the degenerate: it is this love that has reduced and weakened the power, responsibility, and lofty duty of sacrificing men. According to the scheme of Christian values, all that remained was the alternative of self-sacrifice, but this vestige of human sacrifice, which Christianity conceded and even recommended, has no meaning when regarded in the light of rearing a whole species. The prosperity of the species is by no means affected by [Pg 203]the sacrifice of one individual (whether in the monastic and ascetic manner, or by means of crosses, stakes, and scaffolds, as the "martyrs" of error). What the species requires is the suppression of the physiologically botched, the weak and the degenerate: but it was precisely to these people that Christianity appealed as a preservative force, it simply strengthened that natural and very strong instinct of all the weak which bids them protect, maintain, and mutually support each other. What is Christian "virtue" and "love of men," if not precisely this mutual assistance with a view to survival, this solidarity of the weak, this thwarting of selection? What is Christian altruism, if it is not the mob-egotism of the weak which divines that, if everybody looks after everybody else, every individual will be preserved for a longer period of time?... He who does not consider this attitude of mind as immoral, as a crime against life, himself belongs to the sickly crowd, and also shares their instincts.... Genuine love of mankind exacts sacrifice for the good of the species—it is hard, full of self-control, because it needs human sacrifices. And this pseudo-humanity which is called Christianity, would fain establish the rule that nobody should be sacrificed.


Nothing could be more useful and deserves more promotion than systematic Nihilism in action.—As I understand the phenomena of Christianity and pessimism, this is what they say: "We [Pg 204]are ripe for nonentity, for us it is reasonable not to be." This hint from "reason" in this case, is simply the voice of selective Nature.

On the other hand, what deserves the most rigorous condemnation, is the ambiguous and cowardly infirmity of purpose of a religion like Christianity,—or rather like the Church,—which, instead of recommending death and self-destruction, actually protects all the botched and bungled, and encourages them to propagate their kind.

Problem: with what kind of means could one lead up to a severe form of really contagious Nihilism—a Nihilism which would teach and practise voluntary death with scientific conscientiousness (and not the feeble continuation of a vegetative sort of life with false hopes of a life after death)?

Christianity cannot be sufficiently condemned for having depreciated the value of a great cleansing Nihilistic movement (like the one which was probably in the process of formation), by its teaching of the immortality of the private individual, as also by the hopes of resurrection which it held out: that is to say, by dissuading people from performing the deed of Nihilism which is suicide.... In the latter's place it puts lingering suicide, and gradually a puny, meagre, but durable life; gradually a perfectly ordinary, bourgeois, mediocre life, etc.


Christian moral quackery.—Pity and contempt succeed each other at short intervals, and at the sight of them I feel as indignant as if I were in [Pg 205]the presence of the most despicable crime. Here error is made a duty—a virtue, misapprehension has become a knack, the destructive instinct is systematised under the name of "redemption"; here every operation becomes a wound, an amputation of those very organs whose energy would be the prerequisite to a return of health. And in the best of cases no cure is effected; all that is done is to exchange one set of evil symptoms for another set.... And this pernicious nonsense, this systematised profanation and castration of life, passes for holy and sacred; to be in its service, to be an instrument of this art of healing—that is to say, to be a priest, is to be rendered distinguished, reverent, holy, and sacred. God alone could have been the Author of this supreme art of healing; redemption is only possible as a revelation, as an act of grace, as an unearned gift, made by the Creator Himself.

Proposition I.: Spiritual healthiness is regarded as morbid, and creates suspicion....

Proposition II.: The prerequisites of a strong, exuberant life—strong desires and passions—are reckoned as objections against strong and exuberant life.

Proposition III.: Everything which threatens danger to man, and which can overcome and ruin him, is evil—and should be torn root and branch from his soul.

Proposition IV.: Man converted into a weak creature, inoffensive to himself and others, crushed by humility and modesty, and conscious of his weakness,—in fact, the "sinner,"—this is the [Pg 206]desirable type, and one which one can produce by means of a little spiritual surgery....


What is it I protest against? That people should regard this paltry and peaceful mediocrity, this spiritual equilibrium which knows nothing of the fine impulses of great accumulations of strength, as something high, or possibly as the standard of all things.

Bacon of Verulam says: Infimarum virtutum apud vulgus laus est, mediarum admiratio, supremarum sensus nullus. Christianity as a religion, however, belongs to the vulgus: it has no feeling for the highest kind of virtus.


Let us see what the "genuine Christian" does of all the things which his instincts forbid him to do:—he covers beauty, pride, riches, self-reliance, brilliancy, knowledge, and power with suspicion and mud—in short, all culture: his object is to deprive the latter of its clean conscience.


The attacks made upon Christianity, hitherto, have been not only timid but false. So long as Christian morality was not felt to be a capital crime against Life, its [Pg 207]apologists had a good time. The question concerning the mere "truth" of Christianity—whether in regard to the existence of its God, or to the legendary history of its origin, not to speak of its astronomy and natural science—is quite beside the point so long as no inquiry is made into the value of Christian morality. Are Christian morals worth anything, or are they a profanation and an outrage, despite all the arts of holiness and seduction with which they are enforced? The question concerning the truth of the religion may be met by all sorts of subterfuges; and the most fervent believers can, in the end, avail themselves of the logic used by their opponents, in order to create a right for their side to assert that certain things are irrefutable—that is to say, they transcend the means employed to refute them (nowadays this trick of dialectics is called "Kantian Criticism").


Christianity should never be forgiven for having ruined such men as Pascal. This is precisely what should be combated in Christianity, namely, that it has the will to break the spirit of the strongest and noblest natures. One should take no rest until this thing is utterly destroyed:—the ideal of mankind which Christianity advances, the demands it makes upon men, and its "Nay" and "Yea" relative to humanity. The whole of the remaining absurdities, that is to say, Christian fable, Christian cobweb-spinning in ideas and principles, and Christian theology, do not concern us; they might be a thousand times more absurd [Pg 208]and we should not raise a finger to destroy them. But what we do stand up against, is that ideal which, thanks to its morbid beauty and feminine seductiveness, thanks to its insidious and slanderous eloquence, appeals to all the cowardices and vanities of wearied souls,—and the strongest have their moments of fatigue,—as though all that which seems most useful and desirable at such moments—that is to say, confidence, artlessness, modesty, patience, love of one's like, resignation, submission to God, and a sort of self-surrender—were useful and desirable per se; as though the puny, modest abortion which in these creatures takes the place of a soul, this virtuous, mediocre animal and sheep of the flock—which deigns to call itself man, were not only to take precedence of the stronger, more evil, more passionate, more defiant, and more prodigal type of man, who by virtue of these very qualities is exposed to a hundred times more dangers than the former, but were actually to stand as an ideal for man in general, as a goal, a measure—the highest desideratum. The creation of this ideal was the most appalling temptation that had ever been put in the way of mankind; for, with it, the stronger and more successful exceptions, the lucky cases among men, in which the will to power and to growth leads the whole species "man" one step farther forward, this type was threatened with disaster. By means of the values of this ideal, the growth of such higher men would be checked at the root. For these men, owing to their superior demands and duties, readily accept a [Pg 209]more dangerous life (speaking economically, it is a case of an increase in the costs of the undertaking coinciding with a greater chance of failure). What is it we combat in Christianity? That it aims at destroying the strong, at breaking their spirit, at exploiting their moments of weariness and debility, at converting their proud assurance into anxiety and conscience-trouble; that it knows how to poison the noblest instincts and to infect them with disease, until their strength, their will to power, turns inwards, against themselves—until the strong perish through their excessive self-contempt and self-immolation: that gruesome way of perishing, of which Pascal is the most famous example.

[Pg 210]



1. The Origin of Moral Valuations.


This is an attempt at investigating morality without being affected by its charm, and not without some mistrust in regard to the beguiling beauty of its attitudes and looks. A world which we can admire, which is in keeping with our capacity for worship—which is continually demonstrating itself—in small things or in large: this is the Christian standpoint which is common to us all.

But owing to an increase in our astuteness, in our mistrust, and in our scientific spirit (also through a more developed instinct for truth, which again is due to Christian influence), this interpretation has grown ever less and less tenable for us.

The craftiest of subterfuges: Kantian criticism. The intellect not only denies itself every right to interpret things in that way, but also to reject the interpretation once it has been made. People are satisfied with a greater demand upon their credulity and faith, with a renunciation of all [Pg 211]right to reason concerning the proof of their creed, with an intangible and superior "Ideal" (God) as a stop-gap.

The Hegelian subterfuge, a continuation of the Platonic, a piece of romanticism and reaction, and at the same time a symptom of the historical sense of a new power: "Spirit" itself is the "self-revealing and self-realising ideal": we believe that in the "process of, development" an ever greater proportion of this ideal is being manifested—thus the ideal is being realised, faith is vested in the future into which all its noble needs are projected and in which they are being worshipped.

In short:—

(1) God is unknowable to us and not to be demonstrated by us (the concealed meaning behind the whole of the epistemological movement);

(2) God may be demonstrated, but as something evolving, and we are part of it, as our pressing desire for an ideal proves (the concealed meaning behind the historical movement).

It should be observed that criticism is never levelled at the ideal itself, but only at the problem which gives rise to a controversy concerning the ideal—that is to say, why it has not yet been realised, or why it is not demonstrable in small things as in great.


It makes all the difference: whether a man recognises this state of distress as such owing to [Pg 212]a passion or to a yearning in himself, or whether it comes home to him as a problem which he arrives at only by straining his thinking powers and his historical imagination to the utmost.

Away from the religious and philosophical points of view we find the same phenomena. Utilitarianism (socialism and democracy) criticises the origin of moral valuations, though it believes in them just as much as the Christian does. (What guilelessness! As if morality could remain when the sanctioning deity is no longer present! The belief in a "Beyond" is absolutely necessary, if the faith in morality is to be maintained.)

Fundamental problem: whence comes this almighty power of Faith? Whence this faith in morality? (It is betrayed by the fact that even the fundamental conditions of life are falsely interpreted in favour of it: despite our knowledge of plants and animals. "Self-preservation": the Darwinian prospect of a reconciliation of the altruistic and egotistic principles.)


An inquiry into the origin of our moral valuations and tables of law has absolutely nothing to do with the criticism of them, though people persist in believing it has; the two matters lie quite apart, notwithstanding the fact that the knowledge of the pudenda origo of a valuation does diminish its prestige, and prepares the way to a critical attitude and spirit towards it.

[Pg 213] What is the actual worth of our valuations and tables of moral laws? What is the outcome of their dominion? For whom? In relation to what?—answer: for Life. But what is Life? A new and more definite concept of what "Life" is, becomes necessary here. My formula of this concept is: Life is Will to Power.

What is the meaning of the very act of valuing? Does it point back to another, metaphysical world, or does it point down? (As Kant believed, who lived in a period which preceded the great historical movement.) In short: what is its origin? Or had it no human "origin"?—Answer: moral valuations are a sort of explanation, they constitute a method of interpreting. Interpretation in itself is a symptom of definite physiological conditions, as also of a definite spiritual level of ruling judgments. What is it that interprets?—Our passions.


All virtues should be looked upon as physiological conditions: the principal organic functions, more particularly, should be considered necessary and good. All virtues are really refined passions and elevated physiological conditions.

Pity and philanthropy may be regarded as the developments of sexual relations,—justice as the development of the passion for revenge,—virtue as the love of resistance, the will to power,—honour as an acknowledgment of an equal, or of an equally powerful, force.

[Pg 214]


Under "Morality" I understand a system of valuations which is in relation with the conditions of a creature's life.


Formerly it was said of every form of morality, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." I say of every form of morality: "It is a fruit, and from it I learn the Soil out of which it grew."


I have tried to understand all moral judgments as symptoms and a language of signs in which the processes of physiological prosperity or the reverse, as also the consciousness of the conditions of preservation and growth, are betrayed—a mode of interpretation equal in worth to astrology, prejudices, created by instincts (peculiar to races, communities, and different stages of existence, as, for instance, youth or decay, etc.).

Applying this principle to the morality of Christian Europe more particularly, we find that our moral values are signs of decline, of a disbelief in Life, and of a preparation for pessimism.

My leading doctrine is this: there are no moral phenomena, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena. The origin of this interpretation itself lies beyond the pale of morality.

What is the meaning of the fact that we have [Pg 215]imagined a contradiction in existence? This is of paramount importance: behind all other valuations those moral valuations stand commandingly. Supposing they disappear, according to what standard shall we then measure? And then of what value would knowledge be, etc. etc.???


A point of view: in all valuations there is a definite purpose: the preservation of an individual, a community, a race, a state, a church, a belief, or a culture.—Thanks to the fact that people forget that all valuing has a purpose, one and the same man may swarm with a host of contradictory valuations, and therefore with a host of contradictory impulses. This is the expression of disease in man as opposed to the health of animals, in which all the instincts answer certain definite purposes.

This creature full of contradictions, however, has in his being a grand method of acquiring knowledge: he feels the pros and cons, he elevates himself to Justice—that is to say, to the ascertaining of principles beyond the valuations good and evil.

The wisest man would thus be the richest in contradictions, he would also be gifted with mental antennæ wherewith he could understand all kinds of men; and with it all he would have his great moments, when all the chords in his being would ring in splendid unison—the rarest of accidents even in us! A sort of planetary movement.

[Pg 216]


"To will" is to will an object. But "object," as an idea, involves a valuation. Whence do valuations originate? Is a permanent norm, "pleasant or painful," their basis?

But in an incalculable number of cases we first of all make a thing painful, by investing it with a valuation.

The compass of moral valuations: they play a part in almost every mental impression. To us the world is coloured by them.

We have imagined the purpose and value of all things: owing to this we possess an enormous fund of latent power, but the study of comparative values teaches us that values which were actually opposed to each other have been held in high esteem, and that there have been many tables of laws (they could not, therefore, have been worth anything per se).

The analysis of individual tables of laws revealed the fact that they were framed (often very badly) as the conditions of existence for limited groups of people, to ensure their maintenance.

Upon examining modern men, we found that there are a large number of very different values to hand, and that they no longer contain any creative power—the fundamental principle: "the condition of existence" is now quite divorced from the moral values. It is much more superfluous and not nearly so painful. It becomes an arbitrary matter. Chaos.

Who creates the goal which stands above mankind [Pg 217]kind and above the individual? Formerly morality was a preservative measure: but nobody wants to preserve any longer, there is nothing to preserve. Thus we are reduced to an experimental morality, each must postulate a goal for himself.


What is the criterion of a moral action? (1) Its disinterestedness, (2) its universal acceptation, etc. But this is parlour-morality. Races must be studied and observed, and, in each case, the criterion must be discovered, as also the thing it expresses: a belief such as: "This particular attitude or behaviour belongs to the principal condition of our existence." Immoral means "that which brings about ruin." Now all societies in which these principles were discovered have met with their ruin: a few of these principles have been used and used again, because every newly established community required them; this was the case, for instance, with "Thou shalt not steal." In ages when people could not be expected to show any marked social instinct (as, for instance, in the age of the Roman Empire) the latter was, religiously speaking, directed towards the idea of "spiritual salvation," or, in philosophical parlance, towards "the greatest happiness." For even the philosophers of Greece did not feel any more for their p????.


The necessity of false values.—A judgment may be refuted when it is shown that it was [Pg 218]conditioned: but the necessity of retaining it is not thereby cancelled. Reasons can no more eradicate false values than they can alter astigmatism in a man's eyes.

The need of their existence must be understood: they are the result of causes which have nothing to do with reasoning.


To see and reveal the problem of morality seems to me to be the new task and the principal thing of all. I deny that this has been done by moral philosophies heretofore.


How false and deceptive men have always been concerning the fundamental facts of their inner world! Here to have no eye; here to hold one's tongue, and here to open one's mouth.


There seems to be no knowledge or consciousness of the many revolutions that have taken place in moral judgments, and of the number of times that "evil" has really and seriously been christened "good" and vice versa. I myself pointed to one of these transformations with the words "Sittlichkeit der Sitte."[3] Even conscience [Pg 219]has changed its sphere: formerly there was such a thing as a gregarious pang of conscience.

[3] The morality of custom.


A. Morality as the work of Immorality.

1. In order that moral values may attain to supremacy, a host of immoral forces and passions must assist them.

2. The establishment of moral values is the work of immoral passions and considerations.

B. Morality as the work of error.

C. Morality gradually contradicts itself. Requital—Truthfulness, Doubt, ?p???, Judging. The "Immorality" of belief in morality.

The steps:—

1. Absolute dominion of morality: all biological phenomena measured and judged according to its values.

2. The attempt to identify Life with morality (symptom of awakened scepticism: morality must no longer be regarded as the opposite of Life); many means are sought—even a transcendental one.

3. The opposition of Life and Morality. Morality condemned and sentenced by Life.

D. To what extent was morality dangerous to Life?

(a) It depreciated the joy of living and the gratitude felt towards Life, etc.

[Pg 220] (b) It checked the tendency to beautify and to ennoble Life.

(c) It checked the knowledge of Life.

(d) It checked the unfolding of Life, because it tried to set the highest phenomena thereof at variance with itself.

E. Contra-account: the usefulness of morality to Life.

(1) Morality may be a preservative measure for the general whole, it may be a process of uniting dispersed members: it is useful as an agent in the production of the man who is a "tool."

(2) Morality may be a preservative measure mitigating the inner danger threatening man from the direction of his passions: it is useful to "mediocre people."

(3) Morality may be a preservative measure resisting the life-poisoning influences of profound sorrow and bitterness: it is useful to the "sufferers."

(4) Morality may be a preservative measure opposed to the terrible outbursts of the mighty: it is useful to the "lowly."


It is an excellent thing when one can use the expressions "right" and "wrong" in a definite, narrow, and "bourgeois" sense, as for instance in the sentence: "Do right and fear no one";[4]—that is to say, to [Pg 221]do one's duty, according to the rough scheme of life within the limit of which a community exists.—Let us not think meanly of what a few thousand years of morality have inculcated upon our minds.

[4] "Thue Recht und scheue Niemand."


Two types of morality must not be confounded: the morality with which the instinct that has remained healthy defends itself from incipient decadence, and the other morality by means of which this decadence asserts itself, justifies itself, and leads downwards.

The first-named is usually stoical, hard, tyrannical (Stoicism itself was an example of the sort of "drag-chain" morality we speak of); the other is gushing, sentimental, full of secrets, it has the women and "beautiful feelings" on its side (Primitive Christianity was an example of this morality).


I shall try to regard all moralising, with one glance, as a phenomenon—also as a riddle. Moral phenomena have preoccupied me like riddles. To-day I should be able to give a reply to the question: why should my neighbour's welfare be of greater value to me than my own? and why is it that my neighbour himself should value his welfare differently from the way in which [Pg 222]I value it—that is to say, why should precisely my welfare be paramount in his mind? What is the meaning of this "Thou shalt," which is regarded as "given" even by philosophers themselves?

The seemingly insane idea that a man should esteem the act he performs for a fellow-creature, higher than the one he performs for himself, and that the same fellow-creature should do so too (that only those acts should be held to be good which are performed with an eye to the neighbour and for his welfare) has its reasons—namely, as the result of the social instinct which rests upon the valuation, that single individuals are of little importance although collectively their importance is very great. This, of course, presupposes that they constitute a community with one feeling and one conscience pervading the whole. It is therefore a sort of exercise for keeping one's eyes in a certain direction; it is the will to a kind of optics which renders a view of one's self impossible.

My idea: goals are wanting, and these must be individuals. We see the general drift: every individual gets sacrificed and serves as a tool. Let any one keep his eyes open in the streets—is not every one he sees a slave? Whither? What is the purpose of it all?


How is it possible that a man can respect himself only in regard to moral values, that he [Pg 223]subordinates and despises everything in favour of good, evil, improvement, spiritual salvation, etc.? as, for instance, Henri Fréd. Amiel. What is the meaning of the moral idiosyncrasy?—I mean this both in the psychological and physiological sense, as it was, for instance, in Pascal. In cases, then, in which other great qualities are not wanting; and even in the case of Schopenhauer, who obviously valued what he did not and could not have ...—is it not the result of a merely mechanical moral interpretation of real states of pain and displeasure? is it not a particular form of sensibility which does not happen to understand the cause of its many unpleasurable feelings, but thinks to explain them with moral hypotheses? In this way an occasional feeling of well-being and strength always appears under the optics of a "clean conscience," flooded with light through the proximity of God and the consciousness of salvation.... Thus the moral idiosyncratist has (1) either acquired his real worth in approximating to the virtuous type of society: "the good fellow," "the upright man"—a sort of medium state of high respectability: mediocre in all his abilities, but honest, conscientious, firm, respected, and tried, in all his aspirations; (2) or, he imagines he has acquired that worth, simply because he cannot otherwise understand all his states—he is unknown to himself; he therefore interprets himself in this fashion.—Morality is the only scheme of interpretation by means of which this type of man can tolerate himself:—is it a form of vanity?

[Pg 224]


The predominance of moral values.—The consequence of this predominance: the corruption of psychology, etc.; the fatality which is associated with it everywhere. What is the meaning of this predominance? What does it point to?

To a certain greater urgency of saying nay or yea definitely in this domain. All sorts of imperatives have been used in order to make moral values appear as if they were for ever fixed:—they have been enjoined for the longest period of time: they almost appear to be instinctive, like inner commands. They are the expression of society's preservative measures, for they are felt to be almost beyond question. The practice—that is to say, the utility of being agreed concerning superior values, has attained in this respect to a sort of sanction. We observe that every care is taken to paralyse reflection and criticism in this department—look at Kant's attitude! not to speak of those who believe that it is immoral even to prosecute "research" in these matters.


My desire is to show the absolute homogeneity of all phenomena, and to ascribe to moral differentiations but the value of perspective; to show that all that which is praised as moral is essentially the same as that which is immoral, and was only [Pg 225]made possible, according to the law of all moral development—that is to say, by means of immoral artifices and with a view to immoral ends—just as all that which has been decried as immoral is, from the standpoint of economics, both superior and essential; and how development leading to a greater abundance of life necessarily Involves progress in the realm of immorality. "Truth," that is the extent to which we allow ourselves to comprehend this fact.


But do not let us fear: as a matter of fact, we require a great deal of morality, in order to be immoral in this subtle way; let me speak in a parable:—

A physiologist interested in a certain illness, and an invalid who wishes to be cured of that same illness, have not the same interests. Let us suppose that the illness happens to be morality,—for morality is an illness,—and that we Europeans are the invalid: what an amount of subtle torment and difficulty would arise supposing we Europeans were, at once, our own inquisitive spectators and the physiologist above-mentioned! Should we under these circumstances earnestly desire to rid ourselves of morality? Should we want to? This is of course irrespective of the question whether we should be able to do so—whether we can be cured at all?

[Pg 226]

2. The Herd.


Whose will to power is morality?—The common factor of all European history since the time of Socrates is the attempt to make the moral values dominate all other values, in order that they should not be only the leader and judge of life, but also: (1) knowledge, (2) Art, (3) political and social aspirations. "Amelioration" regarded as the only duty, everything else used as a means thereto (or as a force distributing, hindering, and endangering its realisation, and therefore to be opposed and annihilated ...).—A similar movement to be observed in China and India.

What is the meaning of this will to power on the part of moral values, which has played such a part in the world's prodigious evolutions?

Answer:—Three powers lie concealed behind it; (1) The instinct of the herd opposed to the strong and the independent; (2) the instinct of all sufferers and all abortions opposed to the happy and well-constituted; (3) the instinct of the mediocre opposed to the exceptions.—Enormous advantage of this movement, despite the cruelty, falseness, and narrow-mindedness which has helped it along (for the history of the struggle of morality with the fundamental instincts of life is in itself the greatest piece of immorality that has ever yet been witnessed on earth ...).

[Pg 227]


The fewest succeed in discovering a problem behind all that which constitutes our daily life, and to which we have become accustomed throughout the ages—our eye does not seem focussed for such things: at least, this seems to me to be the case in so far as our morality is concerned.

"Every man should be the preoccupation of his fellows"; he who thinks in this way deserves honour: no one ought to think of himself.

"Thou shalt": an impulse which, like the sexual impulse, cannot fathom itself, is set apart and is not condemned as all the other instincts are—on the contrary, it is made to be their standard and their judge!

The problem of "equality," in the face of the fact that we all thirst for distinction: here, on the contrary, we should demand of ourselves what we demand of others. That is so tasteless and obviously insane; but—it is felt to be holy and of a higher order. The fact that it is opposed to common sense is not even noticed.

Self-sacrifice and self-abnegation are considered distinguishing, as are also the attempt to obey morality implicitly, and the belief that one should be every one's equal in its presence.

The neglect and the surrender of Life and of well-being is held to be distinguished, as are also the complete renunciation of individual valuations and the severe exaction from every one of the same sacrifice. "The value of an action is once [Pg 228]and for all fixed: every individual must submit to this valuation."

We see: an authority speaks—who speaks?—We must condone it in human pride, if man tried to make this authority as high as possible, for he wanted to feel as humble as he possibly could by the side of it. Thus—God speaks!

God was necessary as an unconditional sanction which has no superior, as a "Categorical Imperator": or, in so far as people believed in the authority of reason, what was needed was a "unitarian metaphysics" by means of which this view could be made logical.

Now, admitting that faith in God is dead: the question arises once more: "who speaks?" My answer, which I take from biology and not from metaphysics, is: "the gregarious instinct speaks." This is what desires to be master: hence its "thou shalt!"—it will allow the individual to exist only as a part of a whole, only in favour of the whole, it hates those who detach themselves from everything—it turns the hatred of all individuals against him.


The whole of the morality of Europe is based upon the values which are useful to the herd: the sorrow of all higher and exceptional men is explained by the fact that everything which distinguishes them from others reaches their consciousness in the form of a feeling of their own smallness and egregiousness. It is the virtues of modern men which are the causes of pessimistic [Pg 229]gloominess; the mediocre, like the herd, are not troubled much with questions or with conscience—they are cheerful. (Among the gloomy strong men, Pascal and Schopenhauer are noted examples.)

The more dangerous a quality seems to the herd, the more completely it is condemned.


The morality of truthfulness in the herd. "Thou shalt be recognisable, thou shalt express thy inner nature by means of clear and constant signs—otherwise thou art dangerous: and supposing thou art evil, thy power of dissimulation is absolutely the worst thing for the herd. We despise the secretive and those whom we cannot identify.—Consequently thou must regard thyself as recognisable, thou mayest not remain concealed from thyself, thou mayest not even believe in the possibility of thy ever changing." Thus, the insistence upon truthfulness has as its main object the recognisability and the stability of the individual. As a matter of fact, it is the object of education to make each gregarious unit believe in a certain definite dogma concerning the nature of man: education first creates this dogma and thereupon exacts "truthfulness."


Within the confines of a herd or of a community—that is to say, inter pares, the over-estimation of truthfulness is very reasonable. A man [Pg 230]must not allow himself to be deceived—and consequently he adopts as his own personal morality that he should deceive no one!—a sort of mutual obligation among equals! In his dealings with the outside world caution and danger demand that he should be on his guard against deception: the first psychological condition of this attitude would mean that he is also on his guard against his own people. Mistrust thus appears as the source of truthfulness.


A criticism of the virtues of the herd.—Inertia is active: (1) In confidence, because mistrust makes suspense, reflection, and observation necessary. (2) In veneration, where the gulf that separates power is great and submission necessary: then, so that fear may cease to exist, everybody tries to love and esteem, while the difference in power is interpreted as a difference of value: and thus the relationship to the powerful no longer has anything revolting in it. (3) In the sense of truth. What is truth? Truth is that explanation of things which causes us the smallest amount of mental exertion (apart from this, lying is extremely fatiguing). (4) In sympathy. It is a relief to know one's self on the same level with all, to feel as all feel, and to accept a belief which is already current; it is something passive beside the activity which appropriates and continually carries into practice the most individual rights of valuation (the latter process allows of no repose). (5) In [Pg 231] impartiality and coolness of judgment: people scout the strain of being moved, and prefer to be detached and "objective." (6) In uprightness: people prefer to obey a law which is to hand rather than to create a new one, rather than to command themselves and others: the fear of commanding—it is better to submit than to rebel. (7) In toleration: the fear of exercising a right or of enforcing a judgment.


The instinct of the herd values the juste milieu and the average as the highest and most precious of all things: the spot where the majority is to be found, and the air that it breathes there. In this way it is the opponent of all order of rank; it regards a climb from the level to the heights in the same light as a descent from the majority to the minority. The herd regards the exception, whether it be above or beneath its general level, as something which is antagonistic and dangerous to itself. Their trick in dealing with the exceptions above them, the strong, the mighty, the wise, and the fruitful, is to persuade them to become guardians, herdsmen, and watchmen—in fact, to become their head-servants: thus they convert a danger into a thing which is useful. In the middle, fear ceases: here a man is alone with nothing; here there is not much room even for misunderstandings; here there is equality; here a man's individual existence is not felt as a reproach, but as the right existence; here [Pg 232]contentment reigns supreme. Mistrust is active only towards the exceptions; to be an exception is to be a sinner.


If, in compliance with our communal instincts, we make certain regulations for, ourselves and forbid certain acts, we do not of course, in common reason, forbid a certain kind of "existence," nor a certain attitude of mind, but only a particular application and development of this "existence" and "attitude of mind." But then the idealist of virtue, the moralist, comes along and says: "God sees into the human heart! What matters it that ye abstain from certain acts: ye are not any better on that account!" Answer: Mr. Longears and Virtue-Monger, we do not want to be better at all, we are quite satisfied with ourselves, all we desire is that we should not harm one another—and that is why we forbid certain actions when they take a particular direction—that is to say, when they are against our own interests: but that does not alter the fact that when these same actions are directed against the enemies of our community—against you, for instance—we are at a loss to know how to pay them sufficient honour. We educate our children up to them; we develop them to the fullest extent. Did we share that "god-fearing" radicalism which your holy craziness recommends, if we were green-horns enough to condemn the source of those forbidden "acts" by condemning the "heart" and the "attitude of mind" which recommends them, [Pg 233]that would mean condemning our very existence, and with it its greatest prerequisite—an attitude of mind, a heart, a passion which we revere with all our soul. By our decrees we prevent this attitude of mind from breaking out and venting itself in a useless way—we are prudent when we prescribe such laws for ourselves; we are also moral in so doing.... Have you no idea—however vague—what sacrifices it has cost us, how much self-control, self-subjection, and hardness it has compelled us to exercise? We are vehement in our desires; there are times when we even feel as if we could devour each other.... But the "communal spirit" is master of us: have you observed that this is almost a definition of morality?


The weakness of the gregarious animal gives rise to a morality which is precisely similar to that resulting from the weakness of the decadent man: they understand each other; they associate with each other (the great decadent religions always rely upon the support of the herd). The gregarious animal, as such, is free from all morbid characteristics, it is in itself an invaluable creature; but it is incapable of taking any initiative; it must have a "leader"—the priests understand this.... The state is not subtle, not secret enough; the art of "directing consciences" slips its grasp. How is the gregarious animal infected with illness by the priest?

[Pg 234]


The hatred directed against the privileged in body and spirit: the revolt of the ugly and bungled souls against the beautiful, the proud, and the cheerful. The weapons used: contempt of beauty, of pride, of happiness: "There is no such thing as merit," "The danger is enormous: it is right that one should tremble and feel ill at ease," "Naturalness is evil; it is right to oppose all that is natural—even 'reason'" (all that is antinatural is elevated to the highest place).

It is again the priests who exploit this condition, and who win the "people" over to themselves. "The sinner" over whom there is more joy in heaven than over "the just person." This is the struggle against "paganism" (the pang of conscience, a measure for disturbing the harmony of the soul).

The hatred of the mediocre for the exceptions, and of the herd for its independent members. (Custom actually regarded as "morality.") The revulsion of feeling against "egotism": that only is worth anything which is done "for another." "We are all equal";—against the love of dominion, against "dominion" in general;—against privilege;—against sectarians, free-spirits, and sceptics;—against philosophy (a force opposing mechanical and automatic instincts); in philosophers themselves—"the categorical imperative," the essential nature of morality, "general and universal."

[Pg 235]


The qualities and tendencies which are praised: peacefulness, equity, moderation, modesty, reverence, respectfulness, bravery, chastity, honesty, fidelity, credulity, rectitude, confidence, resignation, pity, helpfulness, conscientiousness, simplicity, mildness, justice, generosity, leniency, obedience, disinterestedness, freedom from envy, good nature, industry.

We must ascertain to what extent such qualities are conditioned as means to the attainment of certain desires and ends (often an "evil" end); or as results of dominating passions (for instance, intellectuality): or as the expressions of certain states of need—that is to say, as preservative measures (as in the case of citizens, slaves, women, etc.).

In short, every one of them is not considered "good" for its own sake, but rather because it approximates to a standard prescribed either by "society" or by the "herd," as a means to the ends of the latter, as necessary for their preservation and enhancement, and also as the result of an actual gregarious instinct in the individual; these qualities are thus in the service of an instinct which is fundamentally different from these states of virtue. For the herd is antagonistic, selfish, and pitiless to the outside world; it is full of a love of dominion and of feelings of mistrust, etc.

In the "herdsman" this antagonism comes to the fore he must have qualities which are the reverse of those possessed by the herd.

[Pg 236] The mortal enmity of the herd towards all order of rank: its instinct is in favour of the leveller (Christ). Towards all strong individuals (the sovereigns) it is hostile, unfair, intemperate, arrogant, cheeky, disrespectful, cowardly, false, lying, pitiless, deceitful, envious, revengeful.


My teaching is this, that the herd seeks to maintain and preserve one type of man, and that it defends itself on two sides—that is to say, against those which are decadents from its ranks (criminals, etc.), and against those who rise superior to its dead level. The instincts of the herd tend to a stationary state of society; they merely preserve. They have no creative power.

The pleasant feelings of goodness and benevolence with which the just man fills us (as opposed to the suspense and the fear to which the great innovating man gives rise) are our own sensations of personal security and equality: in this way the gregarious animal glorifies the gregarious nature, and then begins to feel at ease. This judgment on the part of the "comfortable" ones rigs itself out in the most beautiful words—and thus "morality" is born. Let any one observe, however, the hatred of the herd for all truthful men.


Let us not deceive ourselves! When a man hears the whisper of the moral imperative in his [Pg 237]breast, as altruism would have him hear it, he shows thereby that he belongs to the herd. When a man is conscious of the opposite feelings,—that is to say, when he sees his danger and his undoing in disinterested and unselfish actions,—then he does not belong to the herd.


My philosophy aims at a new order of rank: not at an individualistic morality.[5] The spirit of the herd should rule within the herd—but not beyond it: the leaders of the herd require a fundamentally different valuation for their actions, as do also the independent ones or the beasts of prey, etc.

[5] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE—Here is a broad distinction between Nietzsche and Herbert Spencer.

3. General Observations Concerning Morality.


Morality regarded as an attempt at establishing human pride.—The "Free-Will" theory is anti-religious. Its ultimate object is to bestow the right upon man to regard himself as the cause of his highest states and actions: it is a form of the growing feeling of pride.

Man feels his power his "happiness"; as they say: there must be a will behind these states[Pg 238]—otherwise they do not belong to him. Virtue is an attempt at postulating a modicum of will, past or present, as the necessary antecedent to every exalted and strong feeling of happiness: if the will to certain actions is regularly present in consciousness, a sensation of power may be interpreted as its result. This is a merely psychological point of view, based upon the false assumption that nothing belongs to us which we have not consciously willed. The whole of the teaching of responsibility relies upon the ingenuous psychological rule that the will is the only cause, and that one must have been aware of having willed in order to be able to regard one's self as a cause.

Then comes the counter-movement—that of the moral-philosophers. These men still labour under the delusion that a man is responsible only for what he has willed. The value of man is then made a moral value: thus morality becomes a causa prima; for this there must be some kind of principle in man, and "free will" is posited as prima causa. The arrière pensée is always this: If man is not a causa prima through his will, he must be irresponsible,—therefore he does not come within the jurisdiction of morals,—virtue or vice is automatic and mechanical....

In short: in order that man may respect himself he must be capable of becoming evil.


Theatricalness regarded as the result of "Free Will" morality. It is a step in the development [Pg 239]of the feeling of power itself to believe one's self to be the author of one's exalted moments (of one's perfection) and to have willed them....

(Criticism: all perfect action is precisely unconscious and not deliberate; consciousness is often the expression of an imperfect and often morbid constitution. Personal perfection regarded as determined by will, as an act of consciousness, as reason with dialectics, is a caricature, a sort of self-contradiction.... Any degree of consciousness renders perfection impossible. ... A form of theatricalness.)


The moral hypothesis, designed with a view to justifying God, said: evil must be voluntary (simply in order that the voluntariness of goodness might be believed in); and again, all evil and suffering have an object which is salvation.

The notion "guilt" was considered as something which had no connection at all with the ultimate cause of existence, and the notion "punishment" was held to be an educating and beneficent act, consequently an act proceeding from a good God.

The absolute dominion of moral valuations over all others: nobody doubted that God could not be evil and could do no harm—that is to say, perfection was understood merely as moral perfection.


How false is the supposition that an action must depend upon what has preceded it in [Pg 240]consciousness! And morality has been measured in the light of this supposition, as also criminality....

The value of an action must be judged by its results, say the utilitarians: to measure it according to its origin involves the impossibility of knowing that origin.

But do we know its results? Five stages ahead, perhaps. Who can tell what an action provokes and sets in motion? As a stimulus? As the spark which fires a powder-magazine? Utilitarians are simpletons.... And finally, they would first of all have to know what is useful; here also their sight can travel only over five stages or so.... They have no notion of the great economy which cannot dispense with evil.

We do not know the origin or the results: has an action, then, any value?

We have yet the action itself to consider: the states of consciousness that accompany it, the yea or nay which follows upon its performance: does the value of an action lie in the subjective states which accompany it? (In that case, the value of music would be measured according to the pleasure or displeasure which it occasions in us ... which it gives to the composer. ...) Obviously feelings of value must accompany it, a sensation of power, restraint, or impotence—for instance, freedom or lightsomeness. Or, putting the question differently: could the value of an action be reduced to physiological terms? could it be the expression of completely free or constrained life?—Maybe its biological value is expressed in this way....

[Pg 241] If, then, an action can be judged neither in the light of its origin, nor its results, nor its accompaniments in consciousness, then its value must be x unknown....


It amounts to a denaturalisation of morality, to separate an action from a man; to direct hatred or contempt against "sin"; to believe that there are actions which are good or bad in themselves.

The re-establishment of "Nature": an action in itself is quite devoid of value; the whole question is this: who performed it? One and the same "crime" may, in one case, be the greatest privilege, in the other infamy. As a matter of fact, it is the selfishness of the judges which interprets an action (in regard to its author) according as to whether it was useful or harmful to themselves (or in relation to its degree of likeness or unlikeness to them).


The concept "reprehensible action" presents us with some difficulties. Nothing in all that happens can be reprehensible in itself: one would not dare to eliminate it completely; for everything is so bound up with everything else, that to exclude one part would mean to exclude the whole.

A reprehensible action, therefore, would mean a reprehensible world as a whole....

And even then, in a reprehensible world even reprehending would be reprehensible.... And the consequence of an attitude of mind that [Pg 242] condemns everything, would be the affirmation of everything in practice.... If Becoming is a huge ring, everything that forms a part of it is of equal value, is eternal and necessary.—In all correlations of yea and nay, of preference and rejection, love and hate, all that is expressed is a certain point of view, peculiar to the interests of a certain type of living organism: everything that lives says yea by the very fact of its existence.


Criticism of the subjective feelings of value.—Conscience. Formerly people argued: conscience condemns this action, therefore this action is reprehensible. But, as a matter of fact, conscience condemns an action because that action has been condemned for a long period of time: all conscience does is to imitate. It does not create values. That which first led to the condemnation of certain actions, was not conscience: but the knowledge of (or the prejudice against) its consequences.... The approbation of conscience, the feeling of well-being, of "inner peace," is of the same order of emotions as the artist's joy over his work—it proves nothing.... Self-contentment proves no more in favour of that which gives rise to it, than its absence can prove anything against the value of the thing which fails to give rise to it. We are far too ignorant to be able to judge of the value of our actions: in this respect we lack the ability to regard things objectively. Even when we condemn an action, we do not do so as judges, [Pg 243]but as adversaries.... When noble sentiments accompany an action, they prove nothing in its favour: an artist may present us with an absolutely insignificant thing, though he be in the throes of the most exalted pathos during its production. It were wiser to regard these sentiments as misleading: they actually beguile our eye and our power, away from criticism, from caution and from suspicion, and the result often is that we make fools of ourselves ... they actually make fools of us.


We are heirs to the conscience-vivisection and self-crucifixion of two thousand years: in these two practices lie perhaps our longest efforts at becoming perfect, our mastery, and certainly our subtlety; we have affiliated natural propensities with a heavy conscience.

An attempt to produce an entirely opposite state of affairs would be possible: that is to say, to affiliate all desires of a beyond, all sympathy with things which are opposed to the senses, the intellect, and nature—in fact, all the ideals that have existed hitherto (which were all anti-worldly), with a heavy conscience.


The great crimes in psychology:—

(1) That all pain and unhappiness should have been falsified by being associated with what is wrong (guilt). (Thus pain was robbed of its innocence.)

[Pg 244] (2) That all strong emotions (wantonness, voluptuousness, triumph, pride, audacity, knowledge, assurance, and happiness in itself) were branded as sinful, as seductive, and as suspicious.

(3) That feelings of weakness, inner acts of cowardice, lack of personal courage, should have decked themselves in the most beautiful words, and have been taught as desirable in the highest degree.

(4) That greatness in man should have been given the meaning of disinterestedness, self-sacrifice for another's good, for other people; that even in the scientist and the artist, the elimination of the individual personality is presented as the cause of the greatest knowledge and ability.

(5) That love should have been twisted round to mean submission (and altruism), whereas it is in reality an act of appropriation or of bestowal, resulting in the last case from a superabundance in the wealth of a given personality. Only the wholest people can love; the disinterested ones, the "objective" ones, are the worst lovers (just ask the girls!). This principle also applies to the love of God or of the "home country": a man must be able to rely absolutely upon himself. (Egotism may be regarded as the pre-eminence of the ego, altruism as the pre-eminence of others.)

(6) Life regarded as a punishment (happiness as a means of seduction); the passions regarded as devilish; confidence in one's self as godless.

The whole of psychology is a psychology of obstacles, a sort of barricade built out of fear; on the one hand we find the masses (the botched and bungled, [Pg 245]the mediocre) defending themselves, by means of it, against the strong (and finally destroying them in their growth ...); on the other hand, we find all the instincts with which these classes are best able to prosper, sanctified and alone held in honour by them. Let anyone examine the Jewish priesthood.


The vestiges of the depreciation of Nature through moral transcendence: The value of disinterestedness, the cult of altruism; the belief in a reward in the play of natural consequences; the belief in "goodness" and in genius itself, as if the one, like the other, were the result of disinterestedness; the continuation of the Church's sanction of the life of the citizen; the absolutely deliberate misunderstanding of history (as a means of educating up to morality) or pessimism in the attitude taken up towards history (the latter is just as much a result of the depreciation of Nature, as is that pseudo-justification of history, that refusal to see history as the pessimist sees it).


"Morality for its own sake"—this is an important step in the denaturalisation of morals: in itself it appears as a final value. In this phase religion has generally become saturated with it: as, for instance, in the case of Judaism. It likewise goes through a phase in which it separates itself from [Pg 246]religion, and in which no God is "moral" enough for it: it then prefers the impersonal ideal.... This is how the case stands at present.

"Art for Art's sake": this is a similarly dangerous principle: by this means a false contrast is lent to things—it culminates in the slander of reality ("idealising" into the hateful). When an ideal is severed from reality, the latter is debased, impoverished, and calumniated. "Beauty for Beauty's sake," "Truth for Truth's sake," "Goodness for Goodness' sake"—these are three forms of the evil eye for reality.

Art, knowledge, and morality are means: instead of recognising a life-promoting tendency in them, they have been associated with the opposite of Life—with "God"—they have also been regarded as revelations of a higher world, which here and there transpires through them....

"Beautiful" and "ugly," "true" and "false," "good" and "evil"—these things are distinctions and antagonisms which betray the preservative and promotive measures of Life, not necessarily of man alone, but of all stable and enduring organisms which take up a definite stand against their opponents. The war which thus ensues is the essential factor: it is a means of separating things, leading to stronger isolation....


Moral naturalism: The tracing back of apparently independent and supernatural values to [Pg 247]their real "nature"—that is to say, to natural immorality, to natural "utility," etc.

Perhaps I may designate the tendency of these observations by the term moral naturalism: my object is to re-translate the moral values which have apparently become independent and unnatural into their real nature—that is to say, into their natural "immorality."

N.B.—Refer to Jewish "holiness" and its natural basis. The case is the same in regard to the moral law which has been made sovereign, emancipated from its real feature (until it is almost the opposite of Nature).

The stages in the denaturalisation of morality (or so-called "Idealisation"):—

First it is a road to individual happiness,

then it is the result of knowledge,

then it is a Categorical Imperative,

then it is a way to Salvation,

then it is a denial of the will to live.

(The gradual progress of the hostility of morality to Life.)


The suppressed and effaced Heresy in morality.—Concepts: paganism, master-morality, virtù.


My problem: What harm has mankind suffered hitherto from morals, as also from its own morality? Intellectual harm, etc.

[Pg 248]


Why are not human values once more deposited nicely in the rut to which they alone have a right—as routinary values? Many species of animals have already become extinct; supposing man were also to disappear, nothing would be lacking on earth. A man should be enough of a philosopher to admire even this "nothing" (Nil admirari).


Man, a small species of very excitable animals, which—fortunately—has its time. Life in general on earth is a matter of a moment, an incident, an exception that has no consequence, something which is of no importance whatever to the general character of the earth; the earth itself is, like every star, a hiatus between two nonentities, an event without a plan, without reason, will, or self-consciousness—the worst kind of necessity—foolish necessity.... Something in us rebels against this view; the serpent vanity whispers to our hearts, "All this must be false because it is revolting.... Could not all this be appearance? And man in spite of all, to use Kant's words"——

4. How Virtue Is Made to Dominate.


Concerning the ideal of the moralist.—In this treatise we wish to speak of the great politics of [Pg 249]virtue. We wrote it for the use of all those who are interested, not so much in the process of becoming virtuous as in that of making others virtuous—in how virtue is made to dominate. I even intend to prove that in order to desire this one thing—the dominion of virtue—the other must be systematically avoided; that is to say, one must renounce all hopes of becoming virtuous. This sacrifice is great: but such an end is perhaps a sufficient reward for such a sacrifice. And even greater sacrifices!... And some of the most famous moralists have risked as much. For these, indeed, had already recognised and anticipated the truth which is to be revealed for the first time in this treatise: that the dominion of virtue is absolutely attainable only by the use of the same means which are employed in the attainment of any other dominion, in any case not by means of virtue itself....

As I have already said, this treatise deals with the politics of virtue: it postulates an ideal of these politics; it describes it as it ought to be, if anything at all can be perfect on this earth. Now, no philosopher can be in any doubt as to what the type of perfection is in politics; it is, of course, Machiavellianism. But Machiavellianism which is pur, sans mélange, cru, vert, dans toute sa force, dans toute son âpreté, is superhuman, divine, transcendental, and can never be achieved by man—the most he can do is to approximate it. Even in this narrower kind of politics—in the politics of virtue—the ideal never seems to have been realised. Plato, too, only bordered upon it. [Pg 250]Granted that one have eyes for concealed things, one can discover, even in the most guileless and most conscious moralists (and this is indeed the name of these moral politicians and of the founders of all newer moral forces), traces showing that they too paid their tribute to human weakness. They all aspired to virtue on their own account—at least in their moments of weariness; and this is the leading and most capital error on the part of any moralist—whose duty it is to be an immoralist in deeds. That he must not exactly appear to be the latter, is another matter. Or rather it is not another matter: systematic self-denial of this kind (or, expressed morally: dissimulation) belongs to, and is part and parcel of, the moralist's canon and of his self-imposed duties: without it he can never attain to his particular kind of perfection. Freedom from morality and from truth when enjoyed for that purpose which rewards every sacrifice: for the sake of making morality dominate—that is the canon. Moralists are in need of the attitudes of virtue, as also of the attitudes of truth; their error begins when they yield to virtue, when they lose control of virtue, when they themselves become moral or true. A great moralist is, among other things, necessarily a great actor; his only danger is that his pose may unconsciously become a second nature, just like his ideal, which is to keep his esse and his operari apart in a divine way; everything he does must be done sub specie boni—a lofty, remote, and exacting ideal! A divine ideal! And, as a matter of fact, they say that [Pg 251]the moralist thus imitates a model which is no less than God Himself: God, the greatest Immoralist in deeds that exists, but who nevertheless understands how to remain what He is, the good God....


The dominion of virtue is not established by means of virtue itself; with virtue itself, one renounces power, one loses the Will to Power.


The victory of a moral ideal is achieved by the same "immoral" means as any other victory: violence, lies, slander, injustice.


He who knows the way fame originates will be suspicious even of the fame virtue enjoys.


Morality is just as "immoral" as any other thing on earth; morality is in itself a form of immorality.

The great relief which this conviction brings. The contradiction between things disappears, the unity of all phenomena is saved——


There are some who actually go in search of what is immoral. When they say: "this is [Pg 252]wrong," they believe it ought to be done away with or altered. On the other hand, I do not rest until I am quite clear concerning the immorality of any particular thing which happens to come under my notice. When I discover it, I recover my equanimity.


A. The ways which lead to power: the presentation of the new virtue under the name of an old one,—the awakening of "interest" concerning it ("happiness" declared to be its reward, and vice versâ),—artistic slandering of all that stands in its way,—the exploitation of advantages and accidents with the view of glorifying it,—the conversion of its adherents into fanatics by means of sacrifices and separations,—symbolism on a grand scale.

B. Power attained: (1) Means of constraint of virtue; (2) seductive means of virtue; (3) the (court) etiquette of virtue.


By what means does a virtue attain to power?—With precisely the same means as a political party: slander, suspicion, the undermining of opposing virtues that happen to be already in power, the changing of their names, systematic persecution and scorn; in short, by means of acts of general "immorality."

How does a desire behave towards itself in [Pg 253]order to become a virtue?—A process of rechristening; systematic denial of its intentions; practice in misunderstanding itself; alliance with established and recognised virtues; ostentatious enmity towards its adversaries. If possible, too, the protection of sacred powers must be purchased; people must also be intoxicated and fired with enthusiasm; idealistic humbug must be used, and a party must be won, which either triumphs or perishes—one must be unconscious and naïf.


Cruelty has become transformed and elevated into tragic pity, so that we no longer recognise it as such. The same has happened to the love of the sexes which has become amour-passion; the slavish attitude of mind appears as Christian obedience; wretchedness becomes humility; the disease of the nervus sympathicus, for instance, is eulogised as Pessimism, Pascalism, or Carlylism, etc.


We should begin to entertain doubts concerning a man if we heard that he required reasons in order to remain respectable: we should, in any case, certainly avoid his society. The little word "for" in certain cases may be compromising; sometimes a single "for" is enough to refute one. If we should hear, in course of time, that such-and-such an aspirant for virtue was in need of bad reasons in order to remain respectable, it would not [Pg 254]conduce to increasing our respect for him. But he goes further; he comes to us, and tells us quite openly: "You disturb my morality, with your disbelief, Mr. Sceptic; so long as you cannot believe in my bad reasons,—that is to say, in my God, in a disciplinary Beyond, in free will, etc.,—you put obstacles in the way of my virtue.... Moral, sceptics must be suppressed: they prevent the moralisation of the masses."


Our most sacred convictions, those which are permanent in us concerning the highest values, are judgments emanating from our muscles.


Morality in the valuation of races and classes.—In view of the fact that the passions and fundamental instincts in every race and class express the means which enable the latter to preserve themselves (or at least the means which have enabled them to live for the longest period of time), to call them "virtuous" practically means:

That they change their character, shed their skins, and blot out their past.

It means that they should cease from differentiating themselves from others.

It means that they are getting to resemble each other in their needs and aspirations—or, more exactly, that they are declining....

It means that the will to one kind of morality [Pg 255]is merely the tyranny of the particular species, which is adapted to that kind of morality, over other species: it means a process of annihilation or general levelling in favour of the prevailing species (whether it be to render the non-prevailing species harmless, or to exploit them); the "Abolition of Slavery"—a so-called tribute to "human dignity"; in truth, the annihilation of a fundamentally different species (the undermining of its values and its happiness).

The qualities which constitute the strength of an opposing race or class are declared to be the most evil and pernicious things it has: for by means of them it may be harmful to us (its virtues are slandered and rechristened).

When a man or a people harm us, their action constitutes an objection against them: but from their point of view we are desirable, because we are such as can be useful to them.

The insistence upon spreading "humaneness" (which guilelessly starts out with the assumption that it is in possession of the formula "What is human") is all humbug, beneath the cover of which a certain definite type of man strives to attain to power: or, more precisely, a very particular kind of instinct—the gregarious instinct. "The equality of men": this is what lies concealed behind the tendency of making ever more and more men alike as men.

The "interested nature" of the morality of ordinary people. (The trick was to elevate the great passions for power and property to the positions of protectors of virtue.)

[Pg 256] To what extent do all kinds of business men and money-grabbers—all those who give and take credit—find it necessary to promote the levelling of all characters and notions of value? the commerce and the exchange of the world leads to, and almost purchases, virtue.

The State exercises the same influence, as does also any sort of ruling power at the head of officials and soldiers; science acts in the same way, in order that it may work in security and economise its forces. And the priesthood does the same.

Communal morality is thus promoted here, because it is advantageous; and, in order to make it triumph, war and violence are waged against immorality—with what "right"? Without any right whatsoever; but in accordance with the instinct of self-preservation. The same classes avail themselves of immorality when it serves their purpose to do so.


Observe the hypocritical colour which all civil institutions are painted, just as if they were the offshoots of morality—for instance: marriage, work, calling, patriotism, the family, order, and rights. But as they were all established in favour of the most mediocre type of man, to protect him from exceptions and the need of exceptions, one must not be surprised to find them sown with lies.

[Pg 257]


Virtue must be defended against its preachers: they are its worst enemies. For they teach virtue as an ideal for all; they divest virtue of the charm which consists in its rareness, its inimitableness, its exceptional and non-average character—that is to say, of its aristocratic charm. A stand must also be made against those embittered idealists who eagerly tap all pots and are satisfied to hear them ring hollow: what ingenuousness—to demand great and rare things, and then to declare, with anger and contempt of one's fellows, that they do not exist!—It is obvious, for instance, that a marriage is worth only as much as those are worth whom it joins—that is to say, that on the whole it is something wretched and indecent: no priest or registrar can make anything else of it.

Virtue[6] has all the instincts of the average man against it: it is not profitable, it is not prudent, and it isolates. It is related to passion, and not very accessible to reason; it spoils the character, the head, and the senses—always, of course, subject to the medium standard of men; it provokes hostility towards order, and towards the lies which are concealed beneath all order, all institutions, and all reality—when seen in the light of its pernicious influence upon others, it is the worst of vices.

[Pg 258] I recognise virtue in that: (1) it does not insist upon being recognised; (2) it does not presuppose the existence of virtue everywhere, but precisely something else; (3) it does not suffer from the absence of virtue, but regards it rather as a relation of perspective which throws virtue into relief: it does not proclaim itself; (4) it makes no propaganda; (5) it allows no one to pose as judge because it is always a personal virtue; (6) it does precisely what is generally forbidden: virtue as I understand it is the actual vetitum within all gregarious legislation; (7) in short, I recognise virtue in that it is in the Renaissance style—virtù—free from all moralic acid....

[6] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.—Virtue is used here, of course, in the sense of "the excellence of man," not in the sense of the Christian negative virtue.


In the first place[7] Messrs. Virtue-mongers, you have no superiority over us; we should like to make you take modesty a little more to heart: it is wretched personal interests and prudence which suggest your virtue to you. And if you had more strength and courage in your bodies you would not lower yourselves thus to the level of virtuous nonentities. You make what you can of yourselves: partly what you are obliged to make,—that is to say, what your circumstances force you to make,—partly what suits your pleasure and seems useful to you. But if you do only what is in keeping with your inclinations, or what necessity exacts from you,[Pg 260]59 or what is useful to you, you ought neither to praise yourselves nor let others praise you!... One is a thoroughly puny kind of man when one is only virtuous: nothing should mislead you in this regard! Men who have to be considered at all, were never such donkeys of virtue: their inmost instinct, that which determined their quantum of power, did not find its reckoning thus: whereas with your minimum amount of power nothing can seem more full of wisdom to you than virtue. But the multitude are on your side: and because you tyrannise over us, we shall fight you....

[7] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.—Here Nietzsche returns to Christian virtue which is negative and moral.


A virtuous man is of a lower species because, in the first place, he has no "personality," but acquires his value by conforming with a certain human scheme which has been once and for ever fixed. He has no independent value: he may be compared; he has his equals, he must not be an individual.

Reckoning up the qualities of the good man, why is it they appear pleasant to us? Because they urge us neither to war, to mistrust, to caution, to the accumulating of forces, nor to severity: our laziness, our good nature, and our levity, have a good time. This, our feeling of well-being, is what we project into the good man in the form of a quality, in the form of a valuable possession.

[Pg 260]


Under certain circumstances, virtue is merely a venerable form of stupidity: who could blame you for it? And this form of virtue has not been outlived even to-day. A sort of honest peasant-simplicity, which is possible, however, in all classes of society, and which one cannot meet with anything else than a respectful smile, still thinks to-day that everything is in good hands—that is to say, in "God's hands": and when it supports this proposition with that same modest assurance as that with which it would assert that two and two are four, we others naturally refrain from contradiction.

Why disturb this pure foolery? Why darken it with our cares concerning man, people, goals, the future? Even if we wished to do so, we shouldn't succeed. In all things these people see the reflection of their own venerable stupidity and goodness (in them the old God—deus myops— still lives); we others see something else in everything: our problematic nature, our contradictions, our deeper, more painful, and more suspicious wisdom.


He who finds a particular virtue an easy matter, ultimately laughs at it. Seriousness cannot be maintained once virtue is attained. As soon as a man has reached virtue, he jumps out of it—whither? Into devilry.

Meanwhile, how intelligent all our evil tendencies [Pg 261]and impulses have become! What an amount of inquisitiveness torments them! They are all fishhooks of knowledge!


The idea is to associate vice with something so terrible that at last one is obliged to run away from it in order to be rid of its associations. This is the well-known case of Tannhäuser. Tannhäuser, brought to his wits' end by Wagnerian music, cannot endure life any longer even in the company of Mrs. Venus: suddenly virtue begins to have a charm for him; a Thuringian virgin goes up in price, and what is even worse still, he shows a liking for Wolfram von Eschenbach's melody....


The Patrons of Virtue.—Lust of property, lust of power, laziness, simplicity, fear; all these things are interested in virtue; that is why it stands so securely.


Virtue is no longer believed in; its powers of attraction are dead; what is needed is some one who will once more bring it into the market in the form of an outlandish kind of adventure and of dissipation. It exacts too much extravagance and narrow-mindedness from its believers to allow of conscience not being against it to-day. Certainly, for people, without either consciences or scruples, [Pg 262]this may constitute its new charm: it is now what it has never been before—a vice.


Virtue is still the most expensive vice: let it remain so!


Virtues are as dangerous as vices, in so far as they are allowed to rule over one as authorities and laws coming from outside, and not as qualities one develops one's self. The latter is the only right way; they should be the most personal means of defence and most individual needs—the determining factors of precisely our existence and growth, which we recognise and acknowledge independently of the question whether others grow with us with the help of the same or of different principles. This view of the danger of the virtue which is understood as impersonal and objective also holds good of modesty: through modesty many of the choicest intellects perish. The morality of modesty is the worst possible softening influence for those souls for which it is pre-eminently necessary that they become hard betimes.


The domain of morality must be reduced and limited step by step; the names of the instincts which are really active in this sphere must be drawn into the light of day and honoured, after [Pg 263] have lain all this time in the concealment of hypocritical names of virtue. Out of respect for one's "honesty," which makes itself heard ever more and more imperiously, one ought to unlearn the shame which makes one deny and "explain away" all natural instincts. The extent to which one can dispense with virtue is the measure of one's strength; and a height may be imagined where the notion "virtue" is understood in such a way as to be reminiscent of virtù—the virtue of the Renaissance—free from moralic acid. But for the moment—how remote this ideal seems!

The reduction of the domain of morality is a sign of its progress. Wherever, hitherto, thought has not been guided by causality, thinking has taken a moral turn.


After all, what have I achieved? Let us not close our eyes to this wonderful result: I have lent new charms to virtue—it now affects one in the same way as something forbidden. It has our most subtle honesty against it, it is salted in the "cum grano salis" of the scientific pang of conscience. It savours of antiquity and of old fashion, and thus it is at last beginning to draw refined people and to make them inquisitive—in short, it affects us like a vice. Only after we have once recognised that everything consists of lies and appearance, shall we have again earned the right to uphold this most beautiful of all fictions—virtue. There will then remain no further reason to deprive ourselves of it: only when we have shown [Pg 264]virtue to be a form of immorality do we again justify it,—it then becomes classified, and likened, in its fundamental features, to the profound and general immorality of all existence, of which it is then shown to be a part. It appears as a form of luxury of the first order, the most arrogant, the dearest, and rarest form of vice. We have robbed it of its grimaces and divested it of its drapery; we have delivered it from the importunate familiarity of the crowd; we have deprived it of its ridiculous rigidity, its empty expression, its stiff false hair, and its hieratic muscles.


And is it supposed that I have thereby done any harm to virtue?... Just as little as anarchists do to princes. Only since they have been shot at, have they once more sat securely on their thrones.... For thus it has always been and will ever be: one cannot do a thing a better service than to persecute it and to run it to earth.... This—I have done.

5. The Moral Ideal.

A. A Criticism of Ideals.


It were the thing to begin this criticism in suchwise as to do away with the word "Ideal": a criticism of desiderata.

[Pg 265]


Only the fewest amongst us are aware of what is involved, from the standpoint of desirability, in every "thus should it be, but it is not," or even "thus it ought to have been": such expressions of opinion involve a condemnation of the whole course of events. For there is nothing quite isolated in the world: the smallest thing bears the largest on its back; on thy small injustice the whole nature of the future depends; the whole is condemned by every criticism which is directed at the smallest part of it. Now granting that the moral norm—even as Kant understood it—is never completely fulfilled, and remains like a sort of Beyond hanging over reality without ever falling down to it; then morality would contain in itself a judgment concerning the whole, which would still, however, allow of the question: whence does it get the right thereto? How does the part come to acquire this judicial position relative to the whole? And if, as some have declared, this moral condemnation of, and dissatisfaction with, reality, is an ineradicable instinct, is it not possible that this instinct may perhaps belong to the ineradicable stupidities and immodesties of our species?—But in saying this, we are doing precisely what we deprecate; the point of view of desirability and of unauthorised fault-finding is part and parcel of the whole character of worldly phenomena just as every injustice and imperfection is—it is our very notion of "perfection" which is never gratified. Every instinct which desires to [Pg 266]be indulged gives expression to its dissatisfaction with the present state of things: how? Is the whole perhaps made up of a host of dissatisfied parts, which all have desiderata in their heads? Is the "course of things" perhaps "the road hence? the road leading away from reality "—that is to say, eternal dissatisfaction in itself? Is the conception of desiderata perhaps the essential motive-power of all things? Is it—deus?


It seems to me of the utmost importance that we should rid ourselves of the notion of the whole, of an entity, and of any kind of power or form of the unconditioned. For we shall never be able to resist the temptation of regarding it as the supreme being, and of christening it "God." The "All" must be subdivided; we must unlearn our respect for it, and reappropriate that which we have lent the unknown and an imaginary entity, for the purposes of our neighbour and ourselves. Whereas, for instance, Kant said: "Two things remain for ever worthy of honour" (at the close of his Practical Reason)—to-day we should prefer to say: "Digestion is more worthy of honour." The concept, "the All," will always give rise to the old problems, "How is evil possible?" etc. Therefore, there is no "All", there is no great sensorium or inventarium or power-magazine.


A man as he ought to be: this sounds to me in just as bad taste as: "A tree as it ought to be."

[Pg 267]


Ethics: or the "philosophy of desirability."—"Things ought to be otherwise," "things ought to become different": dissatisfaction would thus seem the heart of ethics.

One could find a way out of it, first, by selecting only those states in which one is free from emotion; secondly, by grasping the insolence and stupidity of the attitude of mind: for to desire that something should be otherwise than it is, means to desire that everything should be different—it involves a damaging criticism of the whole. But life itself consists in such desiring!

To ascertain what exists, how it exists seems an ever so much higher and more serious matter than every "thus should it be," because the latter, as a piece of human criticism and arrogance, appears to be condemned as ludicrous from the start. It expresses a need which would fain have the organisation of the world correspond with our human well-being, and which directs the will as much as possible towards the accomplishment of that relationship.

On the other hand, this desire, "thus it ought to be," has only called forth that other desire, "what exists?" The desire of knowing what exists, is already a consequence of the question, "how? is it possible? Why precisely so?" Our wonder at the disagreement between our desires and the course of the world has led to our learning to know the course of the world. Perhaps the matter stands differently: maybe the expression, [Pg 268]"thus it ought to be," is merely the utterance of our desire to overcome the world——


To-day when every attempt at determining how man should be—is received with some irony, when we adhere to the notion that in spite of all one only becomes what one is(in spite of all—that is to say, education, instruction, environment, accident, and disaster), in the matter of morality we have learnt, in a very peculiar way, how to reverse the relation of cause and effect. Nothing perhaps distinguishes us more than this from the ancient believers in morality. We no longer say, for instance, "Vice is the cause of a man's physical ruin," and we no longer say, "A man prospers with virtue because it brings a long life and happiness." Our minds to-day are much more inclined to the belief that vice and virtue are not causes but only effects. A man becomes a respectable member of society because he was a respectable man from the start—that is to say, because he was born in possession of good instincts and prosperous propensities.... Should a man enter the world poor, and the son of parents who are neither economical nor thrifty, he is insusceptible of being improved—that is to say, he is only fit for the prison or the madhouse.... To-day we are no longer able to separate moral from physical degeneration: the former is merely a complicated symptom of the latter; a man is necessarily bad just as he is necessarily ill.... Bad: this word here stands [Pg 269]for a certain lack of capacity which is related physiologically with the degenerating type—for instance, a weak will, an uncertain and many-sided personality, the inability to resist reacting to a stimulus and to control one's self, and a certain constraint resulting from every suggestion proceeding from another's will. Vice is not a cause; it is an effect. ... Vice is a somewhat arbitrary-epitome of certain effects resulting from physiological degeneracy. A general proposition such as that which Christianity teaches, namely, "Man is evil," would be justified provided one were justified in regarding a given type of degenerate man as normal. But this may be an exaggeration. Of course, wherever Christianity prospers and prevails, the proposition holds good: for then the existence of an unhealthy soil—of a degenerate territory—is demonstrated.


It is difficult to have sufficient respect for man, when one sees how he understands the art of fighting his way, of enduring, of turning circumstances to his own advantage, and of overthrowing opponents; but when he is seen in the light of his desires, he is the most absurd of all animals. It is just as if he required a playground for his cowardice, his laziness, his feebleness, his sweetness, his submissiveness, where he recovers from his strong virile virtues. Just look at man's "desiderata" and his "ideals." Man, when he desires, tries to recover from that which is [Pg 270]eternally valuable in him, from his deeds; and then he rushes into nonentity, absurdity, valuelessness, childishness. The intellectual indigence and lack of inventive power of this resourceful and inventive animal is simply terrible. The "ideal" is at the same time the penalty man pays for the enormous expenditure which he has to defray in all real and pressing duties.—Should reality cease to prevail, there follow dreams, fatigue, weakness: an "ideal" might even be regarded as a form of dream, fatigue, or weakness. The strongest and the most impotent men become alike when this condition overtakes them: they deify the cessation of work, of war, of passions, of suspense, of contrasts, of "reality "—in short, of the struggle for knowledge and of the trouble of acquiring it.

"Innocence" to them is idealised stultification; "blessedness" is idealised idleness; "love," the ideal state of the gregarious animal that will no longer have an enemy. And thus everything that lowers and belittles man is elevated to an ideal.


A desire magnifies the thing desired; and by not being realised it grows—the greatest ideas are those which have been created by the strongest and longest desiring. Things grow ever more valuable in our estimation, the more our desire for them increases: if "moral values" have become the highest values, it simply shows that the moral ideal is the one which has been realised least (and [Pg 271]thus it represented the Beyond to all suffering, as a road to blessedness). Man, with ever-increasing ardour, has only been embracing clouds: and ultimately called his desperation and impotence "God."


Think of the naïveté of all ultimate "desiderata"—when the "wherefore" of man remains unknown.


What is the counterfeit coinage of morality? First of all we should know what "good and evil" mean. That is as good as wishing to know why man is here, and what his goal or his destiny is. And that means that one would fain know that man actually has a goal or a destiny.


The very obscure and arbitrary notion that humanity has a general duty to perform, and that, as a whole, it is striving towards a goal, is still in its infancy. Perhaps we shall once more be rid of it before it becomes a "fixed idea." ... But humanity does not constitute a whole: it is an indissoluble multiplicity of ascending and descending organisms—it knows no such thing as a state of youth followed by maturity and then age. But its strata lie confused and superimposed—and in a few thousand years [Pg 272]there may be even younger types of men than we can point out to-day. Decadence, on the other hand, belongs to all periods of human history: everywhere there is refuse and decaying matter, such things are in themselves vital processes; for withering and decaying elements must be eliminated.

Under the empire of Christian prejudice this question was never put at all: the purpose of life seemed to lie in the salvation of the individual soul; the question whether humanity might last for a long or a short time was not considered. The best Christians longed for the end to come as soon as possible;—concerning the needs of the individual, there seemed to be no doubt whatsoever. ... The duty of every individual for the present was identical with what it would be in any sort of future for the man of the future: the value, the purpose, the limit of values was for ever fixed, unconditioned, eternal, one with God.... What deviated from this eternal type was impious, diabolic, criminal.

The centre of gravity of all values for each soul lay in that soul itself: salvation or damnation! The salvation of the immortal soul! The most extreme form of personalisation.... For each soul there was only one kind of perfection; only one ideal, only one road to salvation.... The most extreme form of the principle of equal rights, associated with an optical magnification of individual importance to the point of megalomania [Pg 273]... Nothing but insanely important souls, revolving round their own axes with unspeakable terror....


Nobody believes in these assumed airs of importance any longer to-day: and we have sifted our wisdom through the sieve of contempt. Nevertheless the optical habit survives, which would fain measure the value of man by his proximity to a certain ideal maw. at bottom the personalisation view is upheld as firmly as that of the equality of rights as regards the ideal. In short: people seem to think that they know what the ultimate desideratum is in regard to the ideal man....

But this belief is merely the result of the exceedingly detrimental influence of the Christian ideal, as anybody can discover for himself every time he carefully examines the "ideal type." In the first place, it is believed that the approach to a given "type" is desirable; secondly, that this particular type is known; thirdly, that every deviation from this type is a retrograde movement, a stemming of the spirit of progress, a loss of power and might in man.... To dream of a state of affairs in which this perfect man will be in the majority: our friends the Socialists and even Messrs. the Utilitarians have not reached a higher level than this. In this way an aim seems to have crept into the evolution of man: at any rate the belief in a certain progress towards an ideal is the only shape in which an aim is [Pg 274] conceived in the history of mankind to-day. In short: the coming of the "Kingdom of God" has been placed in the future, and has been given an earthly, a human meaning—but on the whole the faith in the old ideal is still maintained....


The more concealed forms of the cult of Christian, moral ideals.—The insipid and cowardly notion "Nature" invented by Nature-enthusiasts (without any knowledge whatsoever of the terrible, the implacable, and the cynical element in even "the most beautiful" aspects), is only a sort of attempt at reading the moral and Christian notion of "humanity" into Nature;—Rousseau's concept of Nature, for instance, which took for granted that "Nature" meant freedom, goodness, innocence, equity, justice, and Idylls, was nothing more at bottom than the cult of Christian morality. We should collect passages from the poets in order to see what they admired, in lofty mountains, for instance. What Goethe had to do with them—why he admired Spinoza. Absolute ignorance concerning the reasons of this cult....

The insipid and cowardly concept "Man" à la Comte and Stuart Mill, is at times the subject of a cult.... This is only the Christian moral ideal again under another name.... Refer also to the freethinkers—Guyau for example.

The insipid and cowardly concept "Art" which is held to mean sympathy with all suffering and with everything botched and bungled (the same [Pg 275] thing happens to history, cf. Thierry): again it is the cult of the Christian moral ideal.

And now, as to the whole socialistic ideal: it is nothing but a blockheaded misunderstanding of the Christian moral ideal.


The origin of the ideal. The examination of the soil out of which it grows.

A. Starting out from those "æsthetic" mental states during which the world seems rounder, fuller, and more perfect: we have the pagan ideal with its dominating spirit of self-affirmation (people give of their abundance). The highest type: the classical ideal—regarded as an expression of the successful nature of all the more important instincts. In this classical ideal we find the grand style as the highest style. An expression of the "will to power" itself. The instinct which is most feared dares to acknowledge itself.

B. Starting out from the mental states in which the world seemed emptier, paler, and thinner, when "spiritualisation" and the absence of sensuality assume the rank of perfection, and when all that is brutal, animal, direct, and proximate is avoided (people calculate and select): the "sage," "the angel"; priestliness = virginity = ignorance, are the physiological ideals of such idealists: the anæmic ideal. Under certain circumstances this anæmic ideal may be the ideal of such natures as [Pg 276]represent paganism (thus Goethe sees his "saint" in Spinoza).

C. Starting out from those mental states in which the world seemed more absurd, more evil, poorer, and more deceptive, an ideal cannot even be imagined or desired in it (people deny and annihilate); the projection of the ideal into the sphere of the anti-natural, anti-actual, anti-logical; the state of him who judges thus (the "impoverishment" of the world as a result of suffering: people take, they no longer bestow): the anti-natural ideal.

(The Christian ideal is a transitional form between the second and the third, now inclining more towards the former type, and anon inclining towards the latter.)

The three ideals: A. Either a strengthening of Life (paganism,) or B. an impoverishment of Life (anæmia), or C. a denial of Life (anti-naturalism). The state of beatitude in A. is the feeling of extreme abundance; in B. it is reached by the most fastidious selectiveness; in C. it is the contempt and the destruction of Life.


A. The consistent type understands that even evil must not be hated, must not be resisted, and that it is not allowable to make war against one's self; that it does not suffice merely to accept the pain which such behaviour brings in its train; that one lives entirely in positive feelings; that one takes the side of one's opponents in word [Pg 277] and deed; that by means of a superfœtation of peaceful, kindly, conciliatory, helpful, and loving states, one impoverishes the soil of the other states, ... that one is in need of unremitting practice. What is achieved thereby?—The Buddhistic type, or the perfect cow.

This point of view is possible only where no moral fanaticism prevails—that is to say, when evil is not hated on its own account, but because it opens the road to conditions which are painful (unrest, work, care, complications, dependence).

This is the Buddhistic point of view: there is no hatred of sin, the concept "sin," in fact, is entirely lacking.

B. The inconsistent type. War is waged against evil—there is a belief that war waged for Goodness' sake does not involve the same moral results or affect character in the same way as war generally does (and owing to which tendencies it is detested as evil). As a matter of fact, a war of this sort carried on against evil is much more profoundly pernicious than any sort of personal hostility; and generally, it is "the person" which reassumes, at least in fancy, the position of opponent (the devil, evil spirits, etc.). The attitude of hostile observation and spying in regard to everything which may be bad in us, or hail from a bad source, culminates in a most tormented and most anxious state of mind: thus "miracles," rewards, ecstasy, and transcendental solutions of the earth-riddle now became desirable. ... The Christian type: or the perfect bigot.

[Pg 278] C. The stoical type. Firmness, self-control, imperturbability, peace in the form of the rigidity of a will long active—profound quiet, the defensive state, the fortress, the mistrust of war—firmness of principles; the unity of knowledge and will; great self-respect. The type of the anchorite. The perfect blockhead.


An ideal which is striving to prevail or to assert itself endeavours to further its purpose (a) by laying claim to a spurious origin; (b) by assuming a relationship between itself and the powerful ideals already existing; (c) by means of the thrill produced by mystery, as though an unquestionable power were manifesting itself; (d) by the slander of its opponents' ideals; (e) by a lying teaching of the advantages which follow in its wake, for instance: happiness, spiritual peace, general peace, or even the assistance of a mighty God, etc.—Contributions to the psychology of the idealists: Carlyle, Schiller, Michelet.

Supposing all the means of defence and protection, by means of which an ideal survives, are discovered, is it thereby refuted? It has merely availed itself of the means of which everything lives and grows—they are all "immoral."

My view: all the forces and instincts which are the source of life are lying beneath the ban of morality: morality is the life-denying instinct. Morality must be annihilated if life is to be emancipated.

[Pg 279]


To avoid knowing himself is the prudence of the idealist. The idealist: a creature who has reasons for remaining in the dark concerning himself, and who is also clever enough to remain in the dark concerning these reasons also.


The tendency of moral evolution.—Every one's desire is that there should be no other teaching and valuation of things than those by means of which he himself succeeds. Thus the fundamental tendency of the weak and mediocre of all times, has been to enfeeble the strong and to reduce them to the level of the weak: their chief weapon in this process was the moral principle. The attitude of the strong towards the weak is branded as evil; the highest states of the strong become bad bywords.

The struggle of the many against the strong, of the ordinary against the extraordinary, of the weak against the strong: meets with one of its finest interruptions in the fact that the rare, the refined, the more exacting, present themselves as the weak, and repudiate the coarser weapons of power.


(1) The so-called pure instinct for knowledge of all philosophers is dictated to them by their moral "truths," and is only seemingly independent.

(2) The "Moral Truths," "thus shall things be [Pg 280]done," are mere states of consciousness of an instinct which has grown tired, "thus and thus are things done by us." The "ideal" is supposed to re-establish and strengthen an instinct; it flatters man to feel he can obey when he is only an automaton.


Morality as a means of seduction.—"Nature is good; for a wise and good God is its cause. Who, therefore, is responsible for the 'corruption of man'? Tyrants and seducers and the ruling classes are responsible—they must be wiped out": this is Rousseau's logic (compare with Pascals logic, which concludes by an appeal to original sin).

Refer also to Luther's logic, which is similar. In both cases a pretext is sought for the introduction of an insatiable lust of revenge as a moral and religious duty. The hatred directed against the ruling classes tries to sanctify itself ... (the "sinfulness of Israel" is the basis of the priest's powerful position).

Compare this with Pauls logic, which is similar. It is always under the cover of God's business that these reactions appear, under the cover of what is right, or of humanity, etc. In the case of Christ the rejoicings of the people appear as the cause of His crucifixion. It was an anti-priestly movement from the beginning. Even in the anti-Semitic movement we find the same trick: the opponent is overcome with moral condemnations, and those who attack him pose as retributive Justice.

[Pg 281]


The incidents of the fight: the fighter tries to transform his opponent into the exact opposite of himself—imaginatively, of course. He tries to believe in himself to such an extent that he may have the courage necessary for the "good Cause" (as if he were the good Cause); as if reason, taste, and virtue were being assailed by his opponents.... The belief of which he is most in need, as the strongest means of defence and attack, is the belief in himself, which, however, knows how to misinterpret itself as a belief in 1God. He never pictures the advantages and the uses of victory, but only understands victory for the sake of victory—for God's sake. Every small community (or individual), finding itself involved in a struggle, strives to convince itself of this: "Good taste, good judgment, and virtue are ours." War urges people to this exaggerated self-esteem....


Whatever kind of eccentric ideal one may have (whether as a "Christian," a "free-spirit," an "immoralist," or a German Imperialist), one should try to avoid insisting upon its being the ideal; for, by so doing, it is deprived of all its privileged nature. One should have an ideal as a distinction; one should not propagate it, and thus level one's self down to the rest of mankind.

How is it, that in spite of this obvious fact, the majority of idealists indulge in propaganda for [Pg 282]their ideal, just as if they had no right to it unless the majority acquiesce therein?—For instance, all those plucky and insignificant girls behave in this way, who claim the right to study Latin and mathematics. What is it urges them to do this? I fear it is the instinct of the herd, and the terror of the herd: they fight for the "emancipation of woman," because they are best able to achieve their own private little distinction by fighting for it under the cover of a charitable movement, under the banner bearing the device "For others."

The cleverness of idealists consists in their persistently posing as the missionaries and "representatives" of an ideal: they thus "beautify" themselves in the eyes of those who still believe in disinterestedness and heroism. Whereas real heroism consists, not in fighting under the banner of self-sacrifice, submission, and disinterestedness, but in not fighting at all.... "I am thus; I will be thus—and you can go to the devil!"


Every ideal assumes love, hate, reverence, and contempt. Either positive feeling is theprimum mobile, or negative feeling is. Hatred and contempt are the primum mobile in all the ideals which proceed from resentment.

B. A Criticism of the "Good Man" of the Saint, etc.


The "good man" Or, hemiplegia of virtue.—In the opinion of every strong and natural man, [Pg 283]love and hate, gratitude and revenge, goodness and anger, affirmative and negative action, belong to each other. A man is good on condition that he knows how to be evil; a man is evil, because otherwise he would not know how to be good. Whence comes the morbidness and ideological unnaturalness which repudiates these compounds—which teaches a sort of one-sided efficiency as the highest of all things? Whence this hemiplegia of virtue, the invention of the good man? The object seems to be to make man amputate those instincts which enable him to be an enemy, to be harmful, to be angry, and to insist upon revenge.... This unnaturalness, then, corresponds to that dualistic concept of a wholly good and of a wholly bad creature (God, Spirit, Man); in the first are found all the positive, in the second all the negative forces, intentions, and states. This method of valuing thus believes itself to be "idealistic"; it never doubts that in its concept of the "good man," it has found the highest desideratum. When aspiring to its zenith it fancies a state in which all evil is wiped out, and in which only good creatures have actually remained over. It does not therefore regard the mutual dependence of the opposites good and evil as proved. On the contrary, the latter ought to vanish, and the former should remain. The first has a right to exist, the second ought not to be with us at all.... What, as a matter of fact, is the reason of this desire? In all ages, and particularly in the Christian age, much labour has been spent in trying to reduce men to this one-sided activity: [Pg 284]and even to-day, among those who have been deformed and weakened by the Church, people are not lacking who desire precisely the same thing with their "humanisation" generally, or with their "Will of God," or with their "Salvation of the Soul." The principal injunction behind all these things is, that man should no longer do anything evil, that he should under no circumstances be harmful or desire harm. The way to arrive at this state of affairs is to amputate all hostile tendencies, to suppress all the instincts of resentment, and to establish "spiritual peace" as a chronic disease.

This attitude of mind, in which a certain type of man is bred, starts out with this absurd hypothesis: good and evil are postulated as realities which are in a state of mutual contradiction (not as complementary values, which they are), people are advised to take the side of the good, and it is insisted upon that a good man resists and forswears evil until every trace of it is uprooted—but with this valuation Life is actually denied, for in all its instincts Life has both yea and nay. But far from understanding these facts, this valuation dreams rather of returning to the wholeness, oneness, and strengthfulness of Life: it actually believes that a state of blessedness will be reached when the inner anarchy and state of unrest which result from these opposed impulses is brought to an end.—It is possible that no more dangerous ideology, no greater mischief in the science of psychology, [Pg 285]has ever yet existed, as this will to good: the most repugnant type of man has been reared, the man who is not free, the bigot; it was taught that only in the form of a bigot could one tread the path which leads to God, and that only a bigot's life could be a godly life.

And even here, Life is still in the right—Life that knows not how to separate Yea from Nay: what is the good of declaring with all one's might that war is an evil, that one must harm no one, that one must not act negatively? One is still waging a war even in this, it is impossible to do otherwise! The good man who has renounced all evil, and who is afflicted according to his desire with the hemiplegia of virtue, does not therefore cease from waging war, or from making enemies, or from saying "nay" and doing "nay." The Christian, for instance, hates "sin"!—and what on earth is there which he does not call "sin"! It is precisely because of his belief in a moral antagonism between good and evil, that the world for him has grown so full of hatefulness and things that must be combated eternally. The "good man" sees himself surrounded by evil, and, thanks to the continual onslaughts of the latter, his eye grows more keen, and in the end discovers traces of evil in every one of his acts. And thus he ultimately arrives at the conclusion, which to him is quite logical, that Nature is evil, that man is corrupted, and that being good is an act of grace (that is to say, it is impossible to man when he stands alone). In short: he denies Life, he sees how "good," as the highest value, condemns Life.... And thus his ideology concerning good and evil [Pg 286]ought to strike him as refuted. But one cannot refute a disease. Therefore he is obliged to conceive another life!...


Power, whether in the hands of a god or of a man, is always understood to consist in the ability to harm as well as to help. This is the case with the Arabs and with the Hebrews, in fact with all strong and well-constituted races.

The dualistic separation of the two powers is fatal.... In this way morality becomes the poisoner of life.


A criticism of the good man.—Honesty, dignity, dutifulness, justice, humanity, loyalty, uprightness, clean conscience—is it really supposed that, by means of these fine-sounding words, the qualities they stand for are approved and affirmed for their own sake? Or is it this, that qualities and states indifferent in themselves have merely been looked at in a light which lends them some value? Does the worth of these qualities lie in themselves, or in the use and advantages to which they lead (or to which they seem to lead, to which they are expected to lead)?

I naturally do not wish to imply that there is any opposition between the ego and the alter in the judgment: the question is, whether it is the results of these qualities, either in regard to him who possesses them or in regard to environment, [Pg 287]society, "humanity," which lend them their value; or whether they have a value in themselves.... In other words: is it utility which bids men condemn, combat, and deny the opposite qualities (duplicity, falseness, perversity, lack of self-confidence, inhumanity)? Is the essence of such qualities condemned, or only their consequences? In other words: were it desirable that there should exist no men at all possessed of such qualities? In any case, this is believed.... But here lies the error, the shortsightedness, the monocularity of narrow egoism.

Expressed otherwise: would it be desirable to create circumstances in which the whole advantage would be on the side of the just—so that all those with opposite natures and instincts would be discouraged and would slowly become extinct?

At bottom, this is a question of taste and of æsthetics: should we desire the most honourable types of men—that is to say, the greatest bores—alone to subsist? the rectangular, the virtuous, the upright, the good-natured, the straightforward, and the "blockheads"?

If one can imagine the total suppression of the huge number constituting the "others," even the just man himself ceases from having a right to exist,—he is, in fact, no longer necessary,—and in this way it is seen that coarse utility alone could have elevated such an insufferable virtue to a place of honour.

Desirability may lie precisely on the other side. It might be better to create conditions in which the "just man" would be reduced to the humble [Pg 288]position of a "useful instrument"—an "ideal gregarious animal," or at best a herdsman: in short, conditions in which he would no longer stand in the highest sphere, which requires other qualities.


The "good man" as a tyrant—Mankind has always repeated the same error: it has always transformed a mere vital measure into the measure and standard of life;—instead of seeking the standard in the highest ascent of life, in the problem of growth and exhaustion, it takes the preservative measures of a very definite kind of life, and uses them to exclude all other kinds of life, and even to criticise Life itself and to select from among its forms. That is to say, man ultimately forgets that measures are a means to an end, and gets to like them for themselves: they take the place of a goal in his mind, and even become the standard of goals to him—that is to say, a given species of man regards his means of existence as the only legitimate means, as the means which ought to be imposed upon all, as "truth," "goodness," "perfection": the given species, in fact, begins to tyrannise. ... It is a form of faith, of instinct, when a certain species of man does not perceive that his kind has been conditioned, when he does not understand his relation to other species. At any rate, any species of men (a people or a race) seems to be doomed as soon as it becomes tolerant, grants equal rights, and no longer desires to be master.

[Pg 289]


"All good people are weak: they are good because they are not strong enough to be evil," said the Latuka chieftain Comorro to Baker.


"Disasters are not to the faint-hearted," is a Russian proverb.


Modest, industrious, benevolent, and temperate: thus you would that men were?—that good men were? But such men I can only conceive as slaves, the slaves of the future.


The metamorphoses of slavery; its disguise in the cloak of religion; its transfiguration through morality.


The ideal slave (the "good man").—He who cannot regard himself as a "purpose," and who cannot give himself any aim whatsoever, instinctively honours the morality of unselfishness. Everything urges him to this morality: his prudence, his experience, and his vanity. And even faith is a form of self-denial.


Atavism: delightful feeling, to be able to obey unconditionally for once.


[Pg 290]

Industry, modesty, benevolence, temperance, are just so many obstacles in the way of sovereign sentiments, of great ingenuity, of an heroic purpose, of noble existence for one's self.


It is not a question of going ahead (to that end all that is required is to be at best a herdsman, that is to say, the prime need of the herd), it is rather a matter of getting along alone, of being able to be another.


We must realise all that has been accumulated as the result of the highest moral idealism: how almost all other values have crystallised round it. This shows that it has been desired for a very long time and with the strongest passions—and that it has not yet been attained: otherwise it would have disappointed everybody (that is to say, it would have been followed by a more moderate valuation).

The saint as the most powerful type of man: this ideal it is which has elevated the value of moral perfection so high. One would think that the whole of science had been engaged in proving that the moral man is the most powerful and most godly.—The conquest of the senses and the passions—everything inspired terror;—the unnatural seemed to the spectators to be supernatural and transcendental....

[Pg 291]


Francis of Assisi: amorous and popular, a poet who combats the order of rank among souls, in favour of the lowest. The denial of spiritual hierarchy—"all alike before God."

Popular ideals: the good man, the unselfish man, the saint, the sage, the just man. O Marcus Aurelius!


I have declared war against the anæmic Christian ideal (together with what is closely I related to it), not because I want to annihilate it, but only to put an end to its tyranny and clear the way for other ideals, for more robust ideals.... The continuance of the Christian ideal belongs to the most desirable of desiderata: if only for the sake of the ideals which wish to take their stand beside it and perhaps above it—they must have opponents, and strong ones too, in order to grow strong themselves. That is why we immoralists require the power of morality, our instinct of self-preservation insists upon our opponents maintaining their strength—all it requires is to become master of them.

C. Concerning the Slander of the so-called Evil Qualities.


Egoism and its problem! The Christian gloominess of La Rochefoucauld, who saw egoism [Pg 292]in everything, and imagined that he had therefore reduced the worth of things and virtues! In opposition to him, I first of all tried to show that nothing else could exist save egoism,—that in those men whose ego is weak and thin, the power to love also grows weak,—that the greatest lovers are such owing to the strength of their ego,—that love is an expression of egoism, etc. As a matter of fact, the false valuation aims at the interest of those who find it useful, whom it helps—in fact, the herd; it fosters a pessimistic mistrust towards the basis of Life; it would fain undermine the most glorious and most well-constituted men (out of fear); it would assist the lowly to have the upper hand of their conquerors; it is the cause of universal dishonesty, especially in the most useful type of men.


Man is an indifferent egoist: even the cleverest regards his habits as more important than his advantage.


Egoism! But no one has yet asked: what is the ego like? Everybody is rather inclined to see all egos alike. This is the result of the slave theory, of universal suffrage, and of "equality."


The behaviour of a higher man is the result of a very complex set of motives: any word such as "pity" betrays nothing of this complexity. The [Pg 293]most important factor is the feeling, "who am I? who is the other relative to me?"—Thus the valuing spirit is continually active.


To think that the history of all moral phenomena may be simplified, as Schopenhauer thought,—that is to say, that pity is to be found at the root of every moral impulse that has ever existed hitherto,—is to be guilty of a degree of nonsense and ingenuousness worthy only of a thinker who is devoid of all historical instincts and who has miraculously succeeded in evading the strong schooling in history which the Germans, from Herder to Hegel, have undergone.


My "pity."—This is a feeling for which I can find no adequate term: I feel it when I am in the presence of any waste of precious capabilities, as, for instance, when I contemplate Luther: what power and what tasteless problems fit for back-woodsmen! (At a time when the brave and light-hearted scepticism of a Montaigne was already possible in France!) Or when I see some one standing below where he might have stood, thanks to the development of a set of perfectly senseless accidents. Or even when, with the thought of man's destiny in my mind, I contemplate with horror and contempt the whole system of modern European politics, which is creating the circumstances [Pg 294]and weaving the fabric of the whole future of mankind. Yes, to what could not "mankind" attain, if——! This is my "pity"; despite the fact that no sufferer yet exists with whom I sympathise in this way.


Pity is a waste of feeling, a moral parasite which is injurious to the health, "it cannot possibly be our duty to increase the evil in the world." If one does good merely out of pity, it is one's self and not one's neighbour that one is succouring. Pity does not depend upon maxims, but upon emotions. The suffering we see infects us; pity is an infection.


There is no such thing as egoism which keeps within its bounds and does not exceed them—consequently, the "allowable," the "morally indifferent" egoism of which some people speak, does not exist at all.

"One is continually promoting the interests of one's 'ego' at the cost of other people "; "Living consists in living at the cost of others"—he who has not grasped this fact, has not taken the first step towards truth to himself.


The "subject" is a piece of fiction: the ego of which every one speaks when he blames egoism, does not exist at all.

[Pg 295]


Our "ego"—which is not one with the unitary controlling force of our beings!—is really only an imagined synthesis; therefore there can be no "egoistic" actions.


Since all instincts are unintelligent, utility cannot represent a standpoint as far as they are concerned. Every instinct, when it is active, sacrifices strength and other instincts into the bargain: in the end it is stemmed, otherwise it would be the end of everything owing to the waste it would bring about. Thus: that which is "unegoistic," self-sacrificing, and imprudent is nothing in particular —it is common to all the instincts; they do not consider the welfare of the whole ego (because they simply do not think!), they act counter to our interests, against the ego: and often for the ego—innocent in both cases!


The origin of moral values.—Selfishness has as much value as the physiological value of him who possesses it. Each individual represents the whole course of Evolution, and he is not, as morals teach, something that begins at his birth. If he represent the ascent of the line of mankind, his value is, in fact, very great; and the concern about his maintenance and the promoting of his growth may even be extreme. (It is the concern about the [Pg 296]promise of the future in him which gives the well-constituted individual such an extraordinary right to egoism.) If he represent descending development, decay, chronic sickening, he has little worth: and the greatest fairness would have him take as little room, strength, and sunshine as possible from the well-constituted. In this case society's duty is to suppress egoism (for the latter may sometimes manifest itself in an absurd, morbid, and seditious manner): whether it be a question of the decline and pining away of single individuals or of whole classes of mankind. A morality and a religion of "love," the curbing of the self-affirming spirit, and a doctrine encouraging patience, resignation, helpfulness, and co-operation in word and deed may be of the highest value within the confines of such classes, even in the eyes of their rulers: for it restrains the feelings of rivalry, of resentment, and of envy,—feelings which are only too natural in the bungled and the botched,—and it even deifies them under the ideal of humility, of obedience, of slave-life, of being ruled, of poverty, of illness, and of lowliness. This explains why the ruling classes (or races) and individuals of all ages have always upheld the cult of unselfishness, the gospel of the lowly and of "God on the Cross."

The preponderance of an altruistic way of valuing is the result of a consciousness of the fact that one is botched and bungled. Upon examination, this point of view turns out to be: "I am not worth much," simply a psychological valuation; more plainly still: it is the feeling of impotence, of the lack of the great self-asserting [Pg 297] impulses of power (in muscles, nerves, and ganglia). This valuation gets translated, according to the particular culture of these classes, into a moral or religious principle (the pre-eminence of religious or moral precepts is always a sign of low culture): it tries to justify itself in spheres whence, as far as it is concerned, the notion "value" hails. The interpretation by means of which the Christian sinner tries to understand himself, is an attempt at justifying his lack of power and of self-confidence: he prefers to feel himself a sinner rather than feel bad for nothing: it is in itself a symptom of decay when interpretations of this sort are used at all. In some cases the bungled and the botched do not look for the reason of their unfortunate condition in their own guilt (as the Christian does), but in society: when, however, the Socialist, the Anarchist, and the Nihilist are conscious that their existence is something for which some one must be guilty, they are very closely related to the Christian, who also believes that he can more easily endure his ill ease and his wretched constitution when he has found some one whom he can hold responsible for it. The instinct of revenge and resentment appears in both cases here as a means of enduring life, as a self-preservative measure, as is also the favour shown to altruistic theory and practice. The hatred of egoism, whether it be one's own (as in the case of the Christian), or another's (as in the case of the Socialists), thus appears as a valuation reached under the predominance of revenge; and also as an act of prudence on the part of the preservative instinct of the suffering, in the form [Pg 298]of an increase in their feelings of co-operation and unity.... At bottom, as I have already suggested, the discharge of resentment which takes place in the act of judging, rejecting, and punishing egoism (one's own or that of others) is still a self-preservative measure on the part of the bungled and the botched. In short: the cult of altruism is merely a particular form of egoism, which regularly appears under certain definite physiological circumstances.

When the Socialist, with righteous indignation, cries for "justice," "rights," "equal rights," it only shows that he is oppressed by his inadequate culture, and is unable to understand why he suffers: he also finds pleasure in crying;—if he were more at ease he would take jolly good care not to cry in that way: in that case he would seek his pleasure elsewhere. The same holds good of the Christian: he curses, condemns, and slanders the "world"—and does not even except himself. But that is no reason for taking him seriously. In both cases we are in the presence of invalids who feel better for crying, and who find relief in slander.


Every society has a tendency to reduce its opponents to caricatures,—at least in its own imagination,—as also to starve them. As an example of this sort of caricature we have our "criminal." In the midst of the Roman and aristocratic order of values, the Jew was reduced [Pg 299]to a caricature. Among artists, "Mrs. Grundy and the bourgeois" become caricatures; while among pious people it is the heretics, and among aristocrats, the plebeian. Among immoralists it is the moralist. Plato, for instance, in my books becomes a caricature.


All the instincts and forces which morality praises, seem to me to be essentially the same as those which it slanders and rejects: for instance, justice as will to power, will to truth as a means in the service of the will to power.


The turning of man's nature inwards. The process of turning a nature inwards arises when, owing to the establishment of peace and society, powerful instincts are prevented from venting themselves outwardly, and strive to survive harmlessly inside in conjunction with the imagination. The need of hostility, cruelty, revenge, and violence is reverted, "it steps backwards"; in the thirst for knowledge there lurks both the lust of gain and of conquest; in the artist, the powers of dissimulation and falsehood find their scope; the instincts are thus transformed into demons with whom a fight takes place, etc.


Falsity.—Every sovereign instinct makes the others its instruments, its retainers and its sycophants: [Pg 300]it never allows itself to be called by its more hateful name: and it brooks no terms of praise in which it cannot indirectly find its share. Around every sovereign instinct all praise and blame in general crystallises into a rigorous form of ceremonial and etiquette. This is one of the causes of falsity.

Every instinct which aspires to dominion, but which finds itself under a yoke, requisitions all the most beautiful names and the most generally accepted values to strengthen it and to support its self-esteem, and this explains why as a rule it dares to come forward under the name of the "master" it is combating and from whom it would be free (for instance, under the domination of Christian values, the desires of the flesh and of power act in this way). This is the other cause of falsity.

In both cases complete ingenuousness reigns: the falseness never even occurs to the mind of those concerned. It is the sign of a broken instinct when man sees the motive force and its "expression" ("the mask") as separate things—it is a sign of inner contradiction and is much less formidable. Absolute innocence in bearing, word, and passion, a "good conscience" in falseness, and the certainty wherewith all the grandest and most pompous words and attitudes are appropriated—all these things are necessary for victory.

In the other case: that is to say, when extreme clearsightedness is present, the genius of the actor is needful as well as tremendous discipline in self-control, [Pg 301]if victory is to be achieved. That is why priests are the cleverest and most conscious hypocrites; and then come princes, in whom their position in life and their antecedents account for a certain histrionic gift. Society men and diplomatists come third, and women fourth.

The fundamental thought: Falsity seems so deep, so many-sided, and the will is directed so inexorably against perfect self-knowledge and accurate self-classification, that one is very probably right in supposing that Truth and the will to truth are perhaps something quite different and only disguises. (The need of faith is the greatest obstacle in the way of truthfulness.)


"Thou shalt not tell a falsehood": people insist upon truthfulness. But the acknowledgment of facts (the refusal to allow one's self to be lied to) has always been greatest with liars: they actually recognised the reality of this popular "truthfulness." There is too much or too little being said continually: to insist upon people's exposing themselves with every word they say, is a piece of naïveté.

People say what they think, they are "truthful"; but only under certain circumstances: that is to say, provided they be understood (inter pares), and understood with good will into the bargain (once more inter pares). One conceals one's self in the presence of the unfamiliar: and he who would attain to something, says what he would fain have [Pg 302]people think about him, but not what he thinks. ("The powerful man is always a liar.")**


The great counterfeit coinage of Nihilism concealed beneath an artful abuse of moral values:—

(a) Love regarded as self-effacement; as also pity.

(b) The most impersonal intellect ("the philosopher") can know the truth, "the true essence and nature of things."

(c) Genius, great men are great, because they do not strive to further their own interests: the value of man increases in proportion as he effaces himself.

(d) Art as the work of the "pure free-willed subject"; misunderstanding of "objectivity."

(e) Happiness as the object of life: virtue as a means to an end.

The pessimistic condemnation of life by Schopenhauer is a moral one. Transference of the gregarious standards into the realm of metaphysics.

The "individual" lacks sense, he must therefore have his origin in "the thing in itself" (and the significance of his existence must be shown to be "error"); parents are only an "accidental cause."—The mistake on the part of science in considering the individual as the result of all past life instead of the epitome of all past life, is now becoming known.

[Pg 303]


1. Systematic falsification of history, so that it may present a proof of the moral valuation:

(a) The decline of a people and corruption. (b) The rise of a people and virtue. (c) The zenith of a people ("its culture") regarded as the result of high moral excellence.

2. Systematic falsification of great men, great creators, and great periods. The desire is to make faith that which distinguishes great men: whereas carelessness in this respect, scepticism, "immorality," the right to repudiate a belief, belongs to greatness (Cæsar, Frederick the Great, Napoleon; but also Homer, Aristophanes, Leonardo, Goethe). The principal fact—their "free will"—is always suppressed.


A great lie in history; as if the corruption of the Church were the cause of the Reformation! This was only the pretext and self-deception of the agitators—very strong needs were making themselves felt, the brutality of which sorely required a spiritual dressing.


Schopenhauer declared high intellectuality to be the emancipation from the will: he did not wish to recognise the freedom from moral prejudices which is coincident with the emancipation [Pg 304]of a great mind; he refused to see what is the typical immorality of genius; he artfully contrived to set up the only moral value he honoured—self-effacement, as the one condition of highest intellectual activity: "objective" contemplation. "Truth," even in art, only manifests itself after the withdrawal of the will....

Through all moral idiosyncrasies I see a fundamentally different valuation. Such absurd distinctions as "genius" and the world of will, of morality and immorality, I know nothing about at all. The moral is a lower kind of animal than the immoral, he is also weaker; indeed—he is a type in regard to morality, but he is not a type of his own. He is a copy; at the best, a good copy—the standard of his worth lies without him. I value a man according to the quantum of power and fullness of his will: not according to the enfeeblement and moribund state thereof. I consider that a philosophy which teaches the denial of will is both defamatory and slanderous.... I test the power of a will according to the amount of resistance it can offer and the amount of pain and torture it can endure and know how to turn to its own advantage; I do not point to the evil and pain of existence with the finger of reproach, but rather entertain the hope that life may one day be more evil and more full of suffering than it has ever been.

The zenith of intellectuality, according to Schopenhauer, was to arrive at the knowledge that all is to no purpose—in short, to recognise what the good man already does instinctively.... [Pg 305]He denies that there can be higher states of intellectuality—he regards his view as a non plus ultra.... Here intellectuality is placed much lower than goodness; its highest value (as art, for instance) would be to lead up to, and to advise the adoption of, morality, the absolute predominance of moral values.

Next to Schopenhauer I will now characterise Kant: there was nothing Greek in Kant; he was quite anti-historical (cf. his attitude in regard to the French Revolution) and a moral fanatic (see Goethe's words concerning the radically evil element in human nature[8]). Saintliness also lurked somewhere in his soul.... I require a criticism of the saintly type.

Hegel's value: "Passion."

Herbert Spencer's tea-grocer's philosophy: total absence of an ideal save that of the mediocre man.

[Pg 306] Fundamental instinct of all philosophers, historians, and psychologists: everything of value in mankind, art, history, science, religion, and technology must be shown to be morally valuable and morally conditioned, in its aim, means, and result. Everything is seen in the light of this highest value; for instance, Rousseau's question concerning civilisation, "Will it make man grow better?"—a funny question, for the reverse is obvious, and is a fact which speaks in favour of civilisation.

[8] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.—This is doubtless a reference to a passage in a letter written by Goethe to Herder, on 7th June 1793, from the camp at Marienborn, near Mainz, in which the following words occur:—"Dagegen hat aber auch Kant seinen philosophischen Mantel, nachdem er ein langes Menschenleben gebraucht hat, ihn von mancherlei sudelhaften Vorurteilen zu reinigen, freventlich mit dem Schandfleck des radikalen Bösen beschlabbert, damit doch auch Christen herbeigelockt werden den Saum zu küssen?—("Kant, on the other hand, after he had tried throughout his life to keep his philosophical cloak unsoiled by foul prejudices, wantonly dirtied it in the end with the disreputable stain of the 'radical evil' in human nature, in order that Christians too might be lured into kissing its hem.") From this passage it will be seen how Goethe had anticipated Nietzsche's view of Kant; namely, that he was a Christian in disguise.


Religious morality.—Passion, great desire; the passion for power, love, revenge, and property: the moralists wish to uproot and exterminate all these things, and "purify" the soul by driving them out of it.

The argument is: the passions often lead to disaster—therefore, they are evil and ought to be condemned. Man must wring himself free from them, otherwise he cannot be a good man....

This is of the same nature as: "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out." In this particular case when, with that "bucolic simplicity," the Founder of Christianity recommended a certain practice to His disciples, in the event of sexual excitement, the result would not be only the loss of a particular member, but the actual castration of the whole of the man's character.... And the same applies to the moral mania, which, instead of insisting upon the control of the passions, sues for [Pg 307]their extirpation. Its conclusion always is: only the emasculated man is a good man.

Instead of making use of and of economising the great sources of passion, those torrents of the soul which are often so dangerous, overwhelming, and impetuous, morality—this most shortsighted and most corrupted of mental attitudes—would fain make them dry up.


Conquest over the passions?—No, not if this is to mean their enfeeblement and annihilation. They must be enlisted in our service: and to this end it may be necessary to tyrannise them a good deal (not as individuals, but as communities, races, etc.). At length we should trust them enough to restore their freedom to them: they love us like good servants, and willingly go wherever our best interests lie.


Intolerance on the part of morality is a sign of man's weakness: he is frightened of his own "immorality," he must deny his strongest instincts, because he does not yet know how to use them. Thus the most fruitful quarters of the globe remain uncultivated longest: the power is lacking that might become master here....


There are some very simple peoples and men who believe that continuous fine weather would be [Pg 308]a desirable thing: they still believe to-day in rebus moralibus, that the "good man" alone and nothing else than the "good man" is to be desired, and that the ultimate end of man's evolution will be that only the good man will remain on earth (and that it is only to that end that all efforts should be directed). This is in the highest degree an uneconomical thought; as we have already suggested, it is the very acme of simplicity, and it is nothing more than the expression of the agreeableness which the "good man" creates (he gives rise to no fear, he permits of relaxation, he gives what one is able to take).

With a more educated eye one learns to desire exactly the reverse—that is to say, an ever greater dominion of evil, man's gradual emancipation from the narrow and aggravating bonds of morality, the growth of power around the greatest forces of Nature, and the ability to enlist the passions in one's service.


The whole idea of the hierarchy of the passions: as if the only right and normal thing were to be led by reason—whereas the passions are abnormal, dangerous, half-animal, and moreover, in so far as their end is concerned, nothing more than desires for pleasure....

Passion is deprived of its dignity (1) as if it only manifested itself in an unseemly way and were not necessary and always the motive force, [Pg 309](2) inasmuch as it is supposed to aim at no high purpose—merely at pleasure....

The misinterpretation of passion and reason, as if the latter were an independent entity, and not a state of relationship between all the various passions and desires; and as though every passion did not possess its quantum of reason....


How it was that, under the pressure of the dominion of an ascetic and self-effacing morality, it was precisely the passions—love, goodness, pity, even justice, generosity, and heroism, which were necessarily misunderstood?

It is the richness of a personality, the fullness of it, its power to flow over and to bestow, its instinctive feeling of ease, and its affirmative attitude towards itself, that creates great love and great sacrifices: these passions proceed from strong and godlike personalism as surely as do the desire to be master, to obtrude, and the inner certainty that one has a right to everything. The opposite views, according to the most accepted notions, are indeed common views; and if one does not stand firmly and bravely on one's legs, one has nothing to give, and it is perfectly useless to stretch out one's hand either to protect or to support others....

How was it possible to transform these instincts to such an extent that man could feel that to be of value which is directed against himself, so that he could sacrifice himself for another self! O the [Pg 310] psychological baseness and falseness which hitherto has laid down the law in the Church and in Church-infected philosophy!

If man is thoroughly sinful, then all he can do is to hate himself. As a matter of fact, he ought not to regard even his fellows otherwise than he does himself; the love of man requires a justification, and it is found in the fact that God commanded it.—From this it follows that all the natural instincts of man (to love, etc.) appear to him to be, in themselves, prohibited; and that he re-acquires a right to them only after having denied them as an obedient worshipper of God. ... Pascal, the admirable logician of Christianity, went as far as this! let any one examine his relations to his sister. "Not to make one's self loved," seemed Christian to him.


Let us consider how dearly a moral canon such as this ("an ideal") makes us pay. (Its enemies are—well? The "egoists.")

The melancholy astuteness of self-abasement in Europe (Pascal, La Rochefoucauld)—inner enfeeblement, discouragement, and self-consumption of the non-gregarious man.

The perpetual process of laying stress upon mediocre qualities as being the most valuable (modesty in rank and file, Nature converted into an instrument).

Pangs of conscience associated with all that [Pg 311]is self-glorifying and original: thus follows the unhappiness—the gloominess of the world from the standpoint of stronger and better-constituted men!

Gregarious consciousness and timorousness transferred to philosophy and religion.

Let us leave the psychological impossibility of a purely unselfish action out of consideration!


My ultimate conclusion is, that the real man represents a much higher value than the "desirable" man of any ideal that has ever existed hitherto; that all "desiderata" in regard to mankind have been absurd and dangerous dissipations by means of which a particular kind of man has sought to establish his measures of preservation and of growth as a law for all; that every "desideratum" of this kind which has been made to dominate has reduced man's worth, his strength, and his trust in the future; that the indigence and mediocre intellectuality of man becomes most apparent, even to-day, when he reveals a desire; that man's ability to fix values has hitherto been developed too inadequately to do justice to the actual, not merely to the "desirable," worth of man; that, up to the present, ideals have really been the power which has most slandered man and power, the poisonous fumes which have hung over reality, and which have seduced men to yearn for nonentity....

[Pg 312]

D. A Criticism of the Words: Improving, Perfecting, Elevating.


The standard according to which the value of moral valuations is to be determined.

The fundamental fact that has been overlooked: The contradiction between "becoming more moral" and the elevation and the strengthening of the type man.

Homo natura: The "will to power."


Moral values regarded as values of appearance and compared with physiological values.


Reflecting upon generalities is always retrograde: the last of the "desiderata" concerning men, for instance, have never been regarded as problems by philosophers. They always postulate the "improvement" of man, quite guilelessly, as though by means of some intuition they had been helped over the note of interrogation following the question, why necessarily "improve!" To what extent is it desirable that man should be more virtuous, or more intelligent, or happier! Granting that nobody yet knows the "wherefore?" of mankind, all such desiderata have no sense whatever; and if one aspires to one of them[Pg 313]—who knows?—perhaps one is frustrating the other. Is an increase of virtue compatible with an increase of intelligence and insight? Dubito: only too often shall I have occasion to show that the reverse is true. Has virtue, as an end, in the strict sense of the word, not always been opposed to happiness hitherto? And again, does it not require misfortune, abstinence, and self-castigation as a necessary means? And if the aim were to arrive at the highest insight, would it not therefore be necessary to renounce all hope of an increase in happiness, and to choose danger, adventure, mistrust, and seduction as a road to enlightenment?... And suppose one will have happiness; maybe one should join the ranks of the "poor in spirit."


The wholesale deception and fraud of so-called moral improvement.

We do not believe that one man can be another if he is not that other already—that is to say, if he is not, as often happens, an accretion of personalities or at least of parts of persons. In this case it is possible to draw another set of actions from him into the foreground, and to drive back "the older man." ... The man's aspect is altered, but not his actual nature.... It is but the merest factum brutum that any one should cease from performing certain actions, and the fact allows of the most varied interpretations. Neither does it always follow therefrom that the habit of performing a certain action is entirely arrested, [Pg 314]nor that the reasons for that action are dissipated. He whose destiny and abilities make him a criminal never unlearns anything, but is continually adding to his store of knowledge: and long abstinence acts as a sort of tonic on his talent.... Certainly, as far as society is concerned, the only interesting fact is that some one has ceased from performing certain actions; and to this end society will often raise a man out of those circumstances which make him able to perform those actions: this is obviously a wiser course than that of trying to break his destiny and his particular nature. The Church,—which has done nothing except to take the place of, and to appropriate, the philosophic treasures of antiquity,—starting out from another standpoint and wishing to secure a "soul" or the "salvation" of a soul, believes in the expiatory power of punishment, as also in the obliterating power of forgiveness: both of which supposed processes are deceptions due to religious prejudice—punishment expiates nothing, forgiveness obliterates nothing; what is done cannot be undone. Because some one forgets something it by no means proves that something has been wiped out.... An action leads to certain consequences, both among men and away from men, and it matters not whether it has met with punishment, or whether it has been "expiated," "forgiven," or "obliterated," it matters not even if the Church meanwhile canonises the man who performed it. The Church believes in things that do not exist, it believes in "Souls"; it believes in "influences" that do not exist—in divine [Pg 315]influences; it believes in states that do not exist, in sin, redemption, and spiritual salvation: in all things it stops at the surface and is satisfied with signs, attitudes, words, to which it lends an arbitrary interpretation. It possesses a method of counterfeit psychology which is thought out quite systematically.


"Illness makes men better," this famous assumption which is to be met with in all ages, and in the mouth of the wizard quite as often as in the mouth and maw of the people, really makes one ponder. In view of discovering whether there is any truth in it, one might be allowed to ask whether there is not perhaps a fundamental relationship between morality and illness? Regarded as a whole, could not the "improvement of mankind"—that is to say, the unquestionable softening, humanising, and taming which the European has undergone within the last two centuries—be regarded as the result of a long course of secret and ghastly suffering, failure, abstinence, and grief? Has illness made "Europeans" "better"? Or, put into other words, is not our modern soft-hearted European morality, which could be likened to that of the Chinese, perhaps an expression of physiological deterioration?... It cannot be denied, for instance, that wherever history shows us "man" in a state of particular glory and power, his type is always dangerous, impetuous, and boisterous, and cares [Pg 316]little for humanity; and perhaps, in those cases in which it seems otherwise, all that was required was the courage or subtlety to see sufficiently below the surface in psychological matters, in order even in them to discover the general proposition: "the more healthy, strong, rich, fruitful, and enterprising a man may feel, the more immoral he will be as well." A terrible thought, to which one should on no account give way. Provided, however, that one take a few steps forward with this thought, how wondrous does the future then appear! What will then be paid for more dearly on earth, than precisely this very thing which we are all trying to promote, by all means in our power—the humanising, the improving, and the increased "civilisation" of man? Nothing would then be more expensive than virtue: for by means of it the world would ultimately be turned into a hospital: and the last conclusion of wisdom would be, "everybody must be everybody else's nurse." Then we should certainly have attained to the "Peace on earth," so long desired! But how little "joy we should find in each other's company"! How little beauty, wanton spirits, daring, and danger! So few "actions" which would make life on earth worth living! Ah! and no longer any "deeds"! But have not all the great things and deeds which have remained fresh in the memory of men, and which have not been destroyed by time, been immoral in the deepest sense of the word?...

[Pg 317]


The priests—and with them the half-priests or philosophers of all ages—have always called that doctrine true, the educating influence of which was a benevolent one or at least seemed so—that is to say, tended to "improve." In this way they resemble an ingenuous plebeian empiric and miracle-worker who, because he had tried a certain poison as a cure, declared it to be no poison. "By their fruits ye shall know them"—that is to say, "by our truths." This has been the reasoning of priests until this day. They have squandered their sagacity, with results that have been sufficiently fatal, in order to make the "proof of power" (or the proof "by the fruits ") pre-eminent and even supreme arbiter over all other forms of proof. "That which makes good must be good; that which is good cannot lie"—these are their inexorable conclusions—"that which bears good fruit must consequently be true; there is no other criterion of truth." ...

But to the extent to which "improving" acts as an argument, deteriorating must also act as a refutation. The error can be shown to be an error, by examining the lives of those who represent it: a false step, a vice can refute.... This indecent form of opposition, which comes from below and behind—the doglike kind of attack, has not died out either. Priests, as psychologists, never discovered anything more interesting than spying out the secret vices of their adversaries—they prove Christianity by looking about for the world's [Pg 318]filth. They apply this principle more particularly to the greatest on earth, to the geniuses: readers will remember how Goethe has been attacked on every conceivable occasion in Germany (Klopstock and Herder were among the first to give a "good example" in this respect—birds of a feather flock together).


One must be very immoral in order to make people moral by deeds. The moralist's means are the most terrible that have ever been used; he who has not the courage to be an immoralist in deeds may be fit for anything else, but not for the duties of a moralist.

Morality is a menagerie; it assumes that iron bars may be more useful than freedom, even for the creatures it imprisons; it also assumes that there are animal-tamers about who do not shrink from terrible means, and who are acquainted with the use of red-hot iron. This terrible species, which enters into a struggle with the wild animal, is called "priests."


Man, incarcerated in an iron cage of errors, has become a caricature of man; he is sick, emaciated, ill-disposed towards himself, filled with a loathing of the impulses of life, filled with a mistrust of all that is beautiful and happy in life—in fact, he is a wandering monument of misery. How shall we ever succeed in vindicating this [Pg 319] phenomenon—this artificial, arbitrary, and recent miscarriage—the sinner—which the priests have bred on their territory?


In order to think fairly of morality, we must put two biological notions in its place: the taming of the wild beasts, and the rearing of a particular species.

The priests of all ages have always pretended that they wished to "improve" ... But we, of another persuasion, would laugh if a lion-tamer ever wished to speak to us of his "improved" animals. As a rule, the taming of a beast is only achieved by deteriorating it: even the moral man is not a better man; he is rather a weaker member of his species. But he is less harmful....


What I want to make clear, with all the means in my power, is:—

(a) That there is no worse confusion than that which confounds rearing and taming: and these two things have always been confused.... Rearing, as I understand it, is a means of husbanding the enormous powers of humanity in such a way that whole generations may build upon the foundations laid by their progenitors—not only outwardly, but inwardly, organically, developing from the already existing stem and growing stronger....

(b) That there is an exceptional danger in believing that mankind as a whole is developing [Pg 320]and growing stronger, if individuals are seen to grow more feeble and more equally mediocre. Humanity—mankind—is an abstract thing: the object of rearing, even in regard to the most individual cases, can only be the strong man (the man who has no breeding is weak, dissipated, and unstable).

6. Concluding Remarks Concerning the Criticism of Morality.


These are the things I demand of you—however badly they may sound in your ears: that you subject moral valuations themselves to criticism. That you should put a stop to your instinctive moral impulse—which in this case demands submission and not criticism—with the question: "why precisely submission?" That this yearning for a "why?"—for a criticism of morality should not only be your present form of morality, but the sublimest of all moralities, and an honour to the age you live in. That your honesty, your will, may give an account of itself, and not deceive you: "why not?"—Before what tribunal?


The three postulates:—

All that is ignoble is high (the protest of the "vulgar man").

All that is contrary to Nature is high (the protest of the physiologically botched).

[Pg 321] All that is of average worth is high (the protest of the herd, of the "mediocre").

Thus in the history of morality a will to power finds expression, by means of which, either the slaves, the oppressed, the bungled and the botched, those that suffer from themselves, or the mediocre, attempt to make those valuations prevail which favour their existence.

From a biological standpoint, therefore, the phenomenon Morality is of a highly suspicious nature. Up to the present, morality has developed at the cost of: the ruling classes and their specific instincts, the well-constituted and beautiful natures, the independent and privileged classes in all respects.

Morality, then, is a sort of counter-movement opposing Nature's endeavours to arrive at a higher type. Its effects are: mistrust of life in general (in so far as its tendencies are felt to be immoral), —hostility towards the senses (inasmuch as the highest values are felt to be opposed to the higher instincts),—Degeneration and self-destruction of "higher natures," because it is precisely in them that the conflict becomes conscious.


Which values have been paramount hitherto?

Morality as the leading value in all phases of philosophy (even with the Sceptics). Result: this world is no good, a "true world" must exist somewhere.

What is it that here determines the highest [Pg 322]value? What, in sooth, is morality? The instinct of decadence; it is the exhausted and the disinherited who take their revenge in this way and play the masters....

Historical proof: philosophers have always been decadents and always in the pay of Nihilistic religions.

The instinct of decadence appears as the will to power. The introduction of its system of means: its means are absolutely immoral.

General aspect: the values that have been highest hitherto have been a special instance of the will to power; morality itself is a particular instance of immorality.


Why the Antagonistic Values always succumbed.

1. How was this actually possible! Question: why did life and physiological well-constitutedness succumb everywhere? Why was there no affirmative philosophy, no affirmative religion?

The historical signs of such movements: the pagan religion. Dionysos versus the Christ. The Renaissance. Art.

2. The strong and the weak: the healthy and the sick; the exception and the rule. There is no doubt as to who is the stronger....

General view of history; Is man an exception in the history of life on this account?—An objection to Darwinism. The means wherewith the weak succeed in ruling have become: instincts, "humanity," "institutions." ...

3. The proof of this rule on the part of the [Pg 323]weak is to be found in our political instincts, in our social values, in our arts, and in our science.


The instincts of decadence have become master of the instincts of ascending life.... The will to nonentity has prevailed over the will to life!

Is this true? is there not perhaps a stronger guarantee of life and of the species in this victory of the weak and the mediocre?—is it not perhaps only a means in the collective movement of life, a mere slackening of the pace, a protective measure against something even more dangerous?

Suppose the strong were masters in all respects, even in valuing: let us try and think what their attitude would be towards illness, suffering, and sacrifice! Self-contempt on the part of the weak would be the result: they would do their utmost to disappear and to extirpate their kind. And would this be desirable?—should we really like a world in which the subtlety, the consideration, the intellectuality, the plasticity—in fact, the whole influence of the weak—was lacking?[9] ...

[Pg 324] We have seen two "wills to power" at war (in this special case we had a principle: that of agreeing with the one that has hitherto succumbed, and of disagreeing with the one that has hitherto triumphed): we have recognised the "real world" as a "world of lies" and morality as a form of immorality. We do not say "the stronger is wrong."

We have understood what it is that has determined the highest values hitherto, and why the latter should have prevailed over the opposite value: it was numerically the stronger.

If we now purify the opposite value of the infection, the half-heartedness, and the degeneration, with which we identify it, we restore Nature to the throne, free from moralic acid.

[9] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.—We realise here the great difference between Nietzsche and those who draw premature conclusions from Darwinism. There is no brutal solution of modern problems in Nietzsche's philosophy. He did not advocate anything so ridiculous as the total suppression of the weak and the degenerate. What he wished to resist and to overthrow was their supremacy, their excessive power. He felt that there was a desirable and stronger type which was in need of having its hopes, aspirations, and instincts upheld in defiance of Christian values.


Morality, a useful error; or, more clearly still, a necessary and expedient lie according to the greatest and most impartial of its supporters.


One ought to be able to acknowledge the truth up to that point where one is sufficiently elevated no longer to require the disciplinary school of moral error.—When one judges life morally, it disgusts one.

Neither should false personalities be invented; one should not say, for instance, "Nature is cruel." It is precisely when one [Pg 325]perceives that there is no such central controlling and responsible force that one is relieved!

Evolution of man. A. He tried to attain to a certain power over Nature and over himself. (Morality was necessary in order to make man triumph in his struggle with Nature and "wild animals.")

B. If power over Nature has been attained, this power can be used as a help in our development: Will to Power as a self-enhancing and self-strengthening principle.


Morality may be regarded as the illusion of a species, fostered with the view of urging the individual to sacrifice himself to the future, and seemingly granting him such a very great value, that with that self-consciousness he may tyrannise over, and constrain, other sides of his nature, and find it difficult to be pleased with himself.

We ought to be most profoundly thankful for what morality has done hitherto: but now it is no more than a burden which may prove fatal. Morality itself in the form of honesty urges us to deny morality.


To what extent is the self-destruction of morality still a sign of its own strength? We Europeans have within us the blood of those who were ready to die for their faith; we have taken morality [Pg 326]frightfully seriously, and there is nothing which we have not, at one time, sacrificed to it. On the other hand, our intellectual subtlety has been reached essentially through the vivisection of our consciences. We do not yet know the "whither" towards which we are urging our steps, now that we have departed from the soil of our forebears. But it was on this very soil that we acquired the strength which is now driving us from our homes in search of adventure, and it is thanks to that strength that we are now in mid-sea, surrounded by untried possibilities and things undiscovered—we can no longer choose, we must be conquerors, now that we have no land in which we feel at home and in which we would fain "survive." A concealed "yea" is driving us forward, and it is stronger than all our "nays." Even our strength no longer bears with us in the old swampy land: we venture out into the open, we attempt the task. The world is still rich and undiscovered, and even to perish were better than to be half-men or poisonous men. Our very strength itself urges us to take to the sea; there where all suns have hitherto sunk we know of a new world....

[Pg 327]



1. General Remarks.


Let us rid ourselves of a few superstitions which heretofore have been fashionable among philosophers!


Philosophers are prejudiced against appearance, change, pain, death, the things of the body, the senses, fate, bondage, and all that which has no purpose.

In the first place, they believe in: absolute knowledge, (2) in knowledge for its own sake,

(3) in virtue and happiness as necessarily related,

(4) in the recognisability of men's acts. They are led by instinctive determinations of values, in which former cultures are reflected (more dangerous cultures too).


What have philosophers lacked! (1) A sense of history, (2) a knowledge of physiology, (3) a [Pg 328]goal in the future.—The ability to criticise without irony or moral condemnation.


Philosophers have had (1) from times immemorial a wonderful capacity for the contradictio in adjecto, (2) they have always trusted concepts as unconditionally as they have mistrusted the senses: it never seems to have occurred to them that notions and words are our inheritance of past ages in which thinking was neither very clear nor very exact.

What seems to dawn upon philosophers last of all: that they must no longer allow themselves to be presented with concepts already conceived, nor must they merely purify and polish up those concepts; but they must first make them, create them, themselves, and then present them and get people to accept them. Up to the present, people have trusted their concepts generally, as if they had been a wonderful dowry from some kind of wonderland: but they constitute the inheritance of our most remote, most foolish, and most intelligent forefathers. This piety towards that which already exists in us is perhaps related to the moral element in science. What we needed above all is absolute scepticism towards all traditional concepts (like that which a certain philosopher may already have possessed—and he was Plato, of course: for he taught the reverse).

[Pg 329]


Profoundly mistrustful towards the dogmas of the theory of knowledge, I liked to look now out of this window, now out of that, though I took good care not to become finally fixed anywhere, indeed I should have thought it dangerous to have done so—though finally: is it within the range of probabilities for an instrument to criticise its own fitness? What I noticed more particularly was, that no scientific scepticism or dogmatism has ever arisen quite free from all arrières pensées—that it has only a secondary value as soon as the motive lying immediately behind it is discovered.

Fundamental aspect: Kant's, Hegel's, Schopenhauer's, the sceptical and epochistical, the historifying and the pessimistic attitudes—all have a moral origin. I have found no one who has dared to criticise the moral valuations, and I soon turned my back upon the meagre attempts that have been made to describe the evolution of these feelings (by English and German Darwinians).

How can Spinoza's position, his denial and repudiation of the moral values, be explained? (It was the result of his Theodicy!)


Morality regarded as the highest form of protection.—Our world is either the work and expression (the modus) of God, in which case it must be in the highest degree perfect (Leibnitz's [Pg 330]conclusion ...),—and no one doubted that he knew what perfection must be like,—and then all evil can only be apparent (Spinoza is more radical, he says this of good and evil), or it must be a part of God's high purpose (a consequence of a particularly great mark of favour on God's part, who thus allows man to choose between good and evil: the privilege of being no automaton; "freedom," with the ever-present danger of making a mistake and of choosing wrongly.... See Simplicius, for instance, in the commentary to Epictetus).

Or our world is imperfect; evil and guilt are real, determined, and are absolutely inherent to its being; in that case it cannot be the real world: consequently knowledge can only be a way of denying the world, for the latter is error which may be recognised as such. This is Schopenhauer's opinion, based upon Kantian first principles. Pascal was still more desperate: he thought that even knowledge must be corrupt and false—that revelation is a necessity if only in order to recognise that the world should be denied....


Owing to our habit of believing in unconditional authorities, we have grown to feel a profound need for them: indeed, this feeling is so strong that, even in an age of criticism such as Kant's was, it showed itself to be superior to the need for criticism, and, in a certain sense, was able to subject the whole work of critical acumen, and to convert it to its own use. It proved its [Pg 331]superiority once more in the generation which followed, and which, owing to its historical instincts, naturally felt itself drawn to a relative view of all authority, when it converted even the Hegelian philosophy of evolution (history rechristened and called philosophy) to its own use, and represented history as being the self-revelation and self-surpassing of moral ideas. Since Plato, philosophy has lain under the dominion of morality. Even in Plato's predecessors, moral interpretations play a most important rôle (Anaximander declares that all things are made to perish as a punishment for their departure from pure being; Heraclitus thinks that the regularity of phenomena is a proof of the morally correct character of evolution in general).


The progress of philosophy has been hindered most seriously hitherto through the influence of moral arrières-pensées.


In all ages, "fine feelings" have been regarded as arguments, "heaving breasts" have been the bellows of godliness, convictions have been the "criteria" of truth, and the need of opposition has been the note of interrogation affixed to wisdom. This falseness and fraud permeates the whole history of philosophy. But for a few respected sceptics, no instinct for intellectual Uprightness is to be found anywhere. Finally, Kant [Pg 332]guilelessly sought to make this thinker's corruption scientific by means of his concept, "practical reason". He expressly invented a reason which, in certain cases, would allow one not to bother about reason—that is to say, in cases where the heart's desire, morality, or "duty" are the motive power.


Hegel: his popular side, the doctrine of war and of great men. Right is on the side of the victorious: he (the victorious man) stands for the progress of mankind. His is an attempt at proving the dominion of morality by means of history.

Kant: a kingdom of moral values withdrawn from us, invisible, real.

Hegel: a demonstrable process of evolution, the actualisation of the kingdom of morality.

We shall not allow ourselves to be deceived either in Kant's or Hegel's way:—We no longer believe, as they did, in morality, and therefore have no philosophies to found with the view of justifying morality. Criticism and history have no charm for us in this respect: what is their charm, then?


The importance of German philosophy (Hegel,) the thinking out of a kind of pantheism which would not reckon evil, error, and suffering as arguments against godliness. This grand initiative was misused by the powers that were (State, [Pg 333]etc.) to sanction the rights of the people that happened to be paramount.

Schopenhauer appears as a stubborn opponent of this idea; he is a moral man who, in order to keep in the right concerning his moral valuation, finally becomes a denier of the world. Ultimately he becomes a "mystic."

I myself have sought an æsthetic justification of the ugliness in this world. I regarded the desire for beauty and for the persistence of certain forms as a temporary preservative and recuperative measure: what seemed to me to be fundamentally associated with pain, however, was the eternal lust of creating and the eternal compulsion to destroy.

We call things ugly when we look at them with the desire of attributing some sense, some new sense, to what has become senseless: it is the accumulated power of the creator which compels him to regard what has existed hitherto as no longer acceptable, botched, worthy of being suppressed—ugly!


My first solution of the problem: Dionysian wisdom. The joy in the destruction of the most noble thing, and at the sight of its gradual undoing, regarded as the joy over what is coming and what lies in the future, which triumphs over actual things, however good they may be. Dionysian: temporary identification with the principle of life (voluptuousness of the martyr included).

My innovations. The Development of Pessimism: [Pg 334]intellectual pessimism; moral criticism, the dissolution of the last comfort. Knowledge, a sign of decay, veils by means of an illusion all strong action; isolated culture is unfair and therefore strong.

(1) My fight against decay and the increasing weakness of personality. I sought a new centrum.

(2) The impossibility of this endeavour is recognised.

(3) I therefore travelled farther along the road of dissolution—and along it I found new sources of strength for individuals. We must be destroyers!—I perceived that the state of dissolution is one in which individual beings are able to arrive at a kind of perfection not possible hitherto, it is an image and isolated example of life in general. To the paralysing feeling of general dissolution and imperfection, I opposed the Eternal Recurrence.


People naturally seek the picture of life in that philosophy which makes them most cheerful—that is to say, in that philosophy which gives the highest sense of freedom to their strongest instinct. This is probably the case with me.


German philosophy, as a whole,—Leibnitz, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, to mention the greatest,—is the most out-and-out form of [Pg 335]romanticism and home-sickness that has ever yet existed: it is a yearning for the best that has ever been known on earth. One is at home nowhere; that which is ultimately yearned after is a place where one can somehow feel at home; because one has been at home there before, and that place is the Greek world! But it is precisely in that direction that airbridges are broken down—save, of course, the rainbow of concepts! And the latter lead everywhere, to all the homes and "fatherlands" that ever existed for Greek souls! Certainly, one must be very light and thin in order to cross these bridges! But what happiness lies even in this desire for spirituality, almost for ghostliness! With it, how far one is from the "press and bustle" and the mechanical boorishness of the natural sciences, how far from the vulgar din of "modern ideas"! One wants to get back to the Greeks via the Fathers of the Church, from North to South, from formulæ to forms; the passage out of antiquity—Christianity—is still a source of joy as a means of access to antiquity, as a portion of the old world itself, as a glistening mosaic of ancient concepts and ancient valuations. Arabesques, scroll-work, rococo of scholastic abstractions—always better, that is to say, finer and more slender, than the peasant and plebeian reality of Northern Europe, and still a protest on the part of higher intellectuality against the peasant war and insurrection of the mob which have become master of the intellectual taste of Northern Europe, and which had its leader in a man as great and unintellectual as Luther:—in [Pg 336]this respect German philosophy belongs to the Counter-Reformation, it might even be looked upon as related to the Renaissance, or at least to the will to Renaissance, the will to get ahead with the discovery of antiquity, with the excavation of ancient philosophy, and above all of pre-Socratic philosophy—the most thoroughly dilapidated of all Greek temples! Possibly, in à few hundred years, people will be of the opinion that all German philosophy derived its dignity from this fact, that step by step it attempted to reclaim the soil of antiquity, and that therefore all demands for "originality" must appear both petty and foolish when compared with Germany's higher claim to having refastened the bonds which seemed for ever rent—the bonds which bound us to the Greeks, the highest type of "men" ever evolved hitherto. To-day we are once more approaching all the fundamental principles of the cosmogony which the Greek mind in Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Democritus, and Anaxagoras, was responsible for. Day by day we are growing more Greek; at first, as is only natural, the change remains confined to concepts and valuations, and we hover around like Greasing spirits: but it is to be hoped that some day our body will also be involved! Here lies (and has always lain) my hope for the German nation.


I do not wish to convert anybody to philosophy: it is both necessary and perhaps desirable that the [Pg 337]philosopher should be a rare plant. Nothing is more repugnant to me than the scholarly praise of philosophy which is to be found in Seneca and Cicero. Philosophy has not much in common with virtue. I trust I may be allowed to say that even the scientific man is a fundamentally different person from the philosopher. What I most desire is, that the genuine notion "philosopher" should not completely perish in Germany. There are so many incomplete creatures in Germany already who would fain conceal their ineptitude beneath such noble names.


I must set up the highest ideal of a philosopher. Learning is not everything! The scholar is the sheep in the kingdom of learning; he studies because he is told to do so, and because others have done so before him.


The superstition concerning philosophers: They are confounded with men of science. As if the value of things were inherent in them and required only to be held on to tightly! To what extent are their researches carried on under the influence of values which already prevail (their hatred of appearance of the body, etc.)? Schopenhauer concerning morality (scorn of Utilitarianism). Ultimately the confusion goes so far that Darwinism is regarded as philosophy, and thus at the present day power has gone over to the men of science. Even Frenchmen like Taine prosecute [Pg 338]research, or mean to prosecute research, without being already in possession of a standard of valuation. Prostration before "facts" of a kind of cult. As a matter of fact, they destroy the existing valuations.

The explanation of this misunderstanding. The man who is able to command is a rare phenomenon; he misinterprets himself. What one wants to do, above all, is to disclaim all authority and to attribute it to circumstances. In Germany the critic's estimations belong to the history of awakening manhood. Lessing, etc. (Napoleon concerning Goethe). As a matter of fact, the movement is again made retrograde owing to German romanticism: and the fame of German philosophy relies upon it as if it dissipated the danger of scepticism and could demonstrate faith. Both tendencies culminate in Hegel: at bottom, what he did was to generalise the fact of German criticism and the fact of German romanticism,—a kind of dialectical fatalism, but to the honour of intellectuality, with the actual submission of the philosopher to reality. The critic prepares the way: that is all!

With Schopenhauer the philosopher's mission dawns; it is felt that the object is to determine values; still under the dominion of eudemonism. The ideal of Pessimism.


Theory and practice.—This is a pernicious distinction, as if there were an instinct of knowledge, [Pg 339]which, without inquiring into the utility or harmfulness of a thing, blindly charged at the truth; and then that, apart from this instinct, there were the whole world of practical interests.

In contradiction of this, I try to show what instincts are active behind all these pure theorists,—and how the latter, as a whole, under the dominion of their instincts, fatally make for something which to their minds is "truth," to their minds and only to their minds. The struggle between systems, together with the struggle between epistemological scruples, is one which involves very special instincts (forms of vitality, of decline, of classes, of races, etc.).

The so-called thirst for knowledge may be traced to the lust of appropriation and of conquest: in obedience to this lust the senses, memory, and the instincts, etc., were developed. The quickest possible reduction of the phenomena, economy, the accumulation of spoil from the world of knowledge (i.e. that portion of the world which has been appropriated and made manageable)....

Morality is therefore such a curious science, because it is in the highest degree practical: the purely scientific position, scientific uprightness, is thus immediately abandoned, as soon as morality calls for replies to its questions. Morality says: I require certain answers—reasons, arguments; scruples may come afterwards, or they may not come at all.

"How must one act?" If one considers that one is dealing with a supremely evolved type—a type which has been "dealt with" for countless thousands of years, and in which everything has become instinct, expediency, automatism, fatality, the urgency of this moral question seems rather funny.

"How must one act?" Morality has always been a subject of misunderstanding: as a matter of fact, a certain species, which was constituted to act in a certain way, wished to justify itself by making its norm paramount.

"How must one act?" this is not a cause, but an effect. Morality follows, the ideal comes first....

On the other hand, the appearance of moral scruples (or in other words, the coming to consciousness of the values which guide action) betray a certain morbidness; strong ages and people do not ponder over their rights, nor over the principles of action, over instinct or over reason. Consciousness is a sign that the real morality—that is to say, the certainty of instinct which leads to a definite course of action—is going to the dogs.... Every time a new world of consciousness is created, the moralists are signs of a lesion, of impoverishment and of disorganisation. Those who are deeply instinctive fear bandying words over duties: among them are found pyrrhonic opponents of dialectics and of knowableness in general.... A virtue is refuted with a "for." ...

[Pg 341] Thesis: The appearance of moralists belongs to periods when morality is declining.

Thesis: The moralist is a dissipator of moral instincts, however much he may appear to be their restorer.

Thesis: That which really prompts the action of a moralist is not a moral instinct, but the instincts of decadence, translated into the forms of morality (he regards the growing uncertainty of the instincts as corruption).

Thesis: The instincts of decadence which, thanks to moralists, wish to become master of the instinctive morality of stronger races and ages, are:—

(1) The instincts of the weak and of the botched;

(2) The instincts of the exceptions, of the anchorites, of the unhinged, of the abortions of quality or of the reverse;

(3) The instincts of the habitually suffering, who require a noble interpretation of their condition, and who therefore require to be as poor physiologists as possible.


The humbug of the scientific spirit.—One should not affect the spirit of science, when the time to be scientific is not yet at hand; but even the genuine investigator has to abandon vanity, and has to affect a certain kind of method which is not yet seasonable. Neither should we falsify things and thoughts, which we have arrived at differently, by means of a false arrangement of deduction and dialectics. It is thus that Kant in his "morality" falsifies his inner tendency to psychology; a more modern example of the same thing is Herbert Spencer's Ethics. A man should neither conceal nor misrepresent the facts concerning the way in which he conceived his [Pg 342] thoughts. The deepest and most inexhaustible books will certainly always have something of the aphoristic and impetuous character of Pascal's Pensées. The motive forces and valuations have lain long below the surface; that which comes uppermost is their effect.

I guard against all the humbug of a false scientific spirit:—

(1) In respect of the manner of demonstration, if it does not correspond to the genesis of the thoughts;

(2) In respect of the demands for methods which, at a given period in science, may be quite impossible;

(3) In respect of the demand for objectivity for cold impersonal treatment, where, as in the case of all valuations, we describe ourselves and our intimate experiences in a couple of words. There are ludicrous forms of vanity, as, for instance, Sainte-Beuve's. He actually worried himself all his life because he had shown some warmth or passion either "pro" or "con," and he would fein have lied that fact out of his life.


"Objectivity" in the philosopher: moral indifference in regard to one's self, blindness in regard to either favourable or fetal circumstances. Unscrupulousness in the use of dangerous means; perversity and complexity of character considered as an advantage and exploited.

My profound indifference to myself: I refuse [Pg 343]to derive any advantage from my knowledge, nor do I wish to escape any disadvantages which it may entail.—I include among these disadvantages that which is called the perversion of character; this prospect is beside the point: I use my character, but I try neither to understand it nor to change it—the personal calculation of virtue has not entered my head once. It strikes me that one closes the doors of knowledge as soon as one becomes interested in one's own personal case—or even in the "Salvation of one's soul"!... One should not take one's morality too seriously, nor should one forfeit a modest right to the opposite of morality....

A sort of heritage of morality is perhaps presupposed here: one feels that one can be lavish with it and fling a great deal of it out of the window without materially reducing one's means. One is never tempted to admire "beautiful souls," one always knows one's self to be their superior. The monsters of virtue should be met with inner scorn; déniaiser la vertu—Oh, the joy of it!

One should revolve round one's self, have no desire to be "better" or "anything else" at all than one is. One should be too interested to omit throwing the tentacles or meshes of every morality out to things.


Concerning the psychology of philosophers. They should be psychologists—this was possible only from the nineteenth century onwards—and no longer little Jack Homers, who see three or four [Pg 344] feet in front of them, and are almost satisfied to burrow inside themselves. We psychologists of the future are not very intent on self-contemplation: we regard it almost as a sign of degeneration when an instrument endeavours "to know itself":[10] we are instruments of knowledge and we would fain possess all the precision and ingenuousness of an instrument—consequently we may not analyse or "know" ourselves. The first sign of a great psychologist's self-preservative instinct: he never goes in search of himself, he has no eye, no interest, no inquisitiveness where he himself is concerned.... The great egoism of our dominating will insists on our completely shutting our eyes to ourselves, and on our appearing "impersonal," "disinterested"!—Oh to what a ridiculous degree we are the reverse of this!

We are no Pascals, we are not particularly interested in the "Salvation of the soul," in our own happiness, and in our own virtue.—We have neither enough time nor enough curiosity to be so concerned with ourselves. Regarded more deeply, the case is again different, we thoroughly mistrust all men who thus contemplate their own navels: because introspection seems to us a degenerate form of the psychologist's genius, as a note of interrogation affixed to the psychologist's instinct: just as a painter's eye is degenerate which is actuated by the will to see for the sake of seeing.

[10] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.—Goethe invariably inveighed against the "gnoti seauton" of the Socratic school; he was of the opinion that an animal which tries to see its inner self must be sick.

[Pg 345]

2. A Criticism of Greek Philosophy.


The apparition of Greek philosophers since the time of Socrates is a symptom of decadence; the anti-Hellenic instincts become paramount.

The "Sophist" is still quite Hellenic—as are also Anaxagoras, Democritus, and the great Ionians; but only as transitional forms. The polis loses its faith in the unity of its culture, in its rights of dominion over every other polis.... Cultures, that is to say, "the gods," are exchanged, and thus the belief in the exclusive prerogative of the deus autochthonus is lost. Good and Evil of whatever origin get mixed: the boundaries separating good from evil gradually vanish.... This is the "Sophist." ...

On the other hand, the "philosopher" is the reactionary: he insists upon the old virtues. He sees the reason of decay in the decay of institutions: he therefore wishes to revive old institutions;—he sees decay in the decline of authority: he therefore endeavours to find new authorities (he travels abroad, explores foreign literature and exotic religions....);—he will reinstate the ideal polis, after the concept "polis" has become superannuated (just, as the Jews kept themselves together as a "people" after they had fallen into slavery). They become interested in all tyrants: their desire is to re-establish virtue with "force majeure".

[Pg 346] Gradually everything genuinely Hellenic is held responsible for the state of decay (and Plato is just as ungrateful to Pericles, Homer, tragedy, and rhetoric as the prophets are to David and Saul). The downfall of Greece is conceived as an objection to the fundamental principles of Hellenic culture: the profound error of philosophers—Conclusion: the Greek world perishes. The cause thereof: Homer, mythology, ancient morality, etc.

The anti-Hellenic development of philosophers' valuations:—the Egyptian influence ("Life after death" made into law....);—the Semitic influence (the "dignity of the sage," the "Sheik");—the Pythagorean influence, the subterranean cults, Silence, means of terrorisation consisting of appeals to a "Beyond," mathematics: the religious valuation consisting of a sort of intimacy with a cosmic entity;—the sacerdotal, ascetic, and transcendental influences;—the dialectical influence,—I am of opinion that even Plato already betrays revolting and pedantic meticulousness in his concepts!—Decline of good intellectual taste: the hateful noisiness of every kind of direct dialectics seems no longer to be felt.

The two decadent tendencies and extremes run side by side: (a) the luxuriant and more charming kind of decadence which shows a love of pomp and art, and (b) the gloomy kind, with its religious and moral pathos, its stoical self-hardening tendency, its Platonic denial of the senses, and its preparation of the soil for the coming of Christianity.

[Pg 347]


To what extent psychologists have been corrupted by the moral idiosyncrasy!—Not one of the ancient philosophers had the courage to advance the theory of the non-free will (that is to say, the theory that denies morality);—not one had the courage to identify the typical feature of happiness, of every kind of happiness **("pleasure"), with the will to power: for the pleasure of power was considered immoral;—not one had the courage to regard virtue as a result of immorality (as a result of a will to power) in the service of a species (or of a race, or of a polis); for the will to power was considered immoral.

In the whole of moral evolution, there is no sign of truth: all the conceptual elements which come into play are fictions; all the psychological tenets are false; all the forms of logic employed in this department of prevarication are sophisms. The chief feature of all moral philosophers is their total lack of intellectual cleanliness and self-control: they regard "fine feelings" as arguments: their heaving breasts seem to them the bellows of godliness.... Moral philosophy is the most suspicious period in the history of the human intellect.

The first great example: in the name of morality and under its patronage, a great wrong was committed, which as a matter of fact was in every respect an act of decadence. Sufficient stress cannot be laid upon this fact, that the great Greek philosophers not only represented [Pg 348] the decadence of every kind of Greek ability, but also made it contagious.... This "virtue" made wholly abstract was the highest form of seduction; to make oneself abstract means to turn one's back on the world.

The moment is a very remarkable one: the Sophists are within sight of the first criticism of morality, the first knowledge of morality:—they classify the majority of moral valuations (in view of their dependence upon local conditions) together;—they lead one to understand that every form of morality is capable of being upheld dialectically: that is to say, they guessed that all the fundamental principles of a morality must be sophistical—a proposition which was afterwards proved in the grandest possible style by the ancient philosophers from Plato onwards (up to Kant);—they postulate the primary truth that there is no such thing as a "moral per se," a "good per se," and that it is madness to talk of "truth" in this respect.

Wherever was intellectual uprightness to be found in those days?

The Greek culture of the Sophists had grown out of all the Greek instincts; it belongs to the culture of the age of Pericles as necessarily as Plato does not: it has its predecessors in Heraclitus, Democritus, and in the scientific types of the old philosophy; it finds expression in the elevated culture of Thucydides, for instance. And—it has ultimately shown itself to be right: every step in the science of epistemology and morality has confirmed the attitude of the Sophists.... Our [Pg 349]modern attitude of mind is, to a great extent, Heraclitean, Democritean, and Protagorean ... to say that it is Protagorean is even sufficient: because Protagoras was in himself a synthesis of the two men Heraclitus and Democritus.

(Plato: a great Cagliostro,—let us think of how Epicurus judged him; how Timon, Pyrrho's friend, judged him——Is Plato's integrity by any chance beyond question?... But we at least know what he wished to have taught as absolute truth—namely, things which were to him not even relative truths: the separate and immortal life of "souls.")


The Sophists are nothing more, nor less than realists: they elevate all the values and practices which are common property to the rank of values—they have the courage, peculiar to all strong intellects, which consists in knowing their immorality....

Is it to be supposed that these small Greek independent republics, so filled with rage and envy that they would fain have devoured each other, were led by principles of humanity and honesty? Is Thucydides by any chance reproached with the words he puts into the mouths of the Athenian ambassadors when they were treating with the Melii anent the question of destruction or submission? Only the most perfect Tartuffes could have been able to speak of virtue in the midst of that dreadful strain—or if not Tartuffes, at least detached philosophers, anchorites, exiles, and fleers [Pg 350]from reality.... All of them, people who denied things in order to be able to exist.

The Sophists were Greeks: when Socrates and Plato adopted the cause of virtue and justice, they were Jews or I know not what. Grote's tactics in the defence of the Sophists are false: he would like to raise them to the rank of men of honour and moralisers—but it was their honour not to indulge in any humbug with grand words and virtues.


The great reasonableness underlying all moral education lay in the fact that it always attempted to attain to the certainty of an instinct: so that neither good intentions nor good means, as such, first required to enter consciousness. Just as the soldier learns his exercises, so should man learn how to act in life. In truth this unconsciousness belongs to every kind of perfection: even the mathematician carries out his calculations unconsciously....

What, then, does Socrates' reaction mean, which recommended dialectics as the way to virtue, and which was charmed when morality was unable to justify itself logically? But this is precisely what proves its superiority—without unconsciousness it is worth nothing!

In reality it means the dissolution of Greek instincts, when demonstrability is posited as the first condition of personal excellence in virtue. All these great "men of virtue" and of words are themselves types of dissolution.

[Pg 351] In practice, it means that moral judgments have been torn from the conditions among which they grew and in which alone they had some sense, from their Greek and Græco-political soil, in order to be denaturalised under the cover of being made sublime. The great concepts "good" and "just" are divorced from the first principles of which they form a part, and, as "ideas" become free, degenerate into subjects for discussion. A certain truth is sought behind them; they are regarded as entities or as symbols of entities: a world is invented where they are "at home," and from which they are supposed to hail.

In short: the scandal reaches its apotheosis in Plato.... And then it was necessary to invent the perfectly abstract man also:—good, just, wise, and a dialectician to boot—in short, the scarecrow of the ancient philosopher: a plant without any soil whatsoever; a human race devoid of all definite ruling instincts; a virtue which "justifies" itself with reasons. The perfectly absurd "individual" per se! the highest form of Artificiality....

Briefly, the denaturalisation of moral values resulted in the creation of a degenerate type of man—"the good man," "the happy man," "the wise man."—Socrates represents a moment of the most profound perversity in the history of values.


Socrates.—This veering round of Greek taste in favour of dialectics is a great question. What [Pg 352]really happened then? Socrates, the roturier who was responsible for it, was thus able to triumph over a more noble taste, the taste of the noble:—the mob gets the upper hand along with dialectics. Previous to Socrates dialectic manners were repudiated in good society; they were regarded as indecent; the youths were Warned against them. What was the purpose of this display of reasons? Why demonstrate? Against others one could use authority. One commanded, and that sufficed. Among friends, inter pares, there was tradition—also a form of authority: and last but not least, one understood each other. There was no room found for dialectics. Besides, all such modes of presenting reasons were distrusted. All honest things do not carry their reasons in their hands in such fashion. It is indecent to show all the five fingers at the same time. That which can be "demonstrated" is little worth. The instinct of every party-speaker tells him that dialectics excites mistrust and carries little conviction. Nothing is more easily wiped away than the effect of a dialectician. It can only be a last defence. One must be in an extremity; it is necessary to have to extort one's rights; otherwise one makes no use of dialectics. That is why the Jews were dialecticians, Reynard the Fox was a dialectician, and so was Socrates. As a dialectician a person has a merciless instrument in his hand: he can play the tyrant with it; he compromises when he conquers. The dialectician leaves it to his opponent to demonstrate that he is not an idiot; he is made furious [Pg 353]and helpless, while the dialectician himself remains calm and still possessed of his triumphant reasoning powers—he paralyses his opponent's intellect.—The dialectician's irony is a form of mob-revenge: the ferocity of the oppressed lies in the cold knife-cuts of the syllogism....

In Plato, as in all men of excessive sensuality and wild fancies, the charm of concepts was so great, that he involuntarily honoured and deified the concept as a form of ideal. Dialectical intoxication: as the consciousness of being able to exercise control over one's self by means of it—as an instrument of the Will to Power.


The problem of Socrates.—The two antitheses: the tragic and the Socratic spirits—measured according to the law of Life.

To what extent is the Socratic spirit a decadent phenomenon? to what extent are robust health and power still revealed by the whole attitude of the scientific man, his dialectics, his ability, and his severity? (the health of the plebeian; whose malice, esprit frondeur, whose astuteness, whose rascally depths, are held in check by his cleverness; the whole type is "ugly").

Uglification: self-derision, dialectical dryness, intelligence in the form of a tyrant against the "tyrant" (instinct). Everything in Socrates is exaggeration, eccentricity, caricature; he is a buffoon with the blood of Voltaire in his veins. [Pg 354] He discovers a new form of agon; he is the first fencing-master in the superior classed of Athens; he stands for nothing else than the highest form of cleverness: he calls it "virtue" (he regarded it as a means of salvation; he did not choose to be clever, cleverness was de rigueur); the proper thing is to control one's self in suchwise that one enters into a struggle not with passions but with reasons as one's weapons (Spinoza's stratagem—the unravelment of the errors of passion);—it is desirable to discover how every one may be caught once he is goaded into a passion, and to know how illogically passion proceeds; self-mockery is practised in order to injure the very roots of the feelings of resentment.

It is my wish to understand which idiosyncratic states form a part of the Socratic problem: its association of reason, virtue, and happiness. With this absurd doctrine of the identity of these things it succeeded in charming the world: ancient philosophy could not rid itself of this doctrine....

Absolute lack of objective interest: hatred of science: the idiosyncrasy of considering one's self a problem. Acoustic hallucinations in Socrates: morbid element. When the intellect is rich and independent, it most strongly resists preoccupying itself with morality. How is it that Socrates is a moral-maniac?—Every "practical" philosophy immediately steps into the foreground in times of distress. When morality and religion become the chief interests of a community, they are signs of a state of distress.

[Pg 355]


Intelligence, clearness, hardness, and logic as weapons against the wildness of the instincts. The latter must be dangerous and must threaten ruin, otherwise no purpose can be served by developing intelligence to this degree of tyranny. In order to make a tyrant of intelligence the instincts must first have proved themselves tyrants. This is the problem. It was a very timely one in those days. Reason became virtue—virtue equalled happiness.

Solution: Greek philosophers stand upon the same fundamental fact of their inner experiences as Socrates does; five feet from excess, from anarchy and from dissolution—all decadent men. They regard him as a doctor: Logic as will to power, as will to control self, as will to "happiness." The wildness and anarchy of Socrates' instincts is a sign of decadence, as is also the superfœtation of logic and clear reasoning in him. Both are abnormities, each belongs to the other. Criticism. Decadence reveals itself in this concern about "happiness" (i.e. about the "salvation of the soul"; i.e. to feel that one's condition is a danger). Its fanatical interest in "happiness" shows the pathological condition of the subconscious self: it was a vital interest. The alternative which faced them all was: to be reasonable or to perish. The morality of Greek philosophers shows that they felt they were in danger.

[Pg 356]


Why everything resolved itself into mummery.—Rudimentary psychology, which only considered the conscious lapses of men (as causes), which regarded "consciousness" as an attribute of the soul, and which sought a will behind every action (i.e. an intention), could only answer "Happiness" to the question: "What does man desire?" (it was impossible to answer "Power," because that would have been immoral);—consequently behind all men's actions there is the intention of attaining to happiness by means of them. Secondly: if man as a matter of fact does not attain to happiness, why is it? Because he mistakes the means thereto.—What is the unfailing means of acquiring happiness? Answer: virtue.—Why virtue? Because virtue is supreme rationalness, and rationalness makes mistakes in the choice of means impossible: virtue in the form of reason is the way to happiness. Dialectics is the constant occupation of virtue, because it does away with passion and intellectual cloudiness.

As a matter of fact, man does not desire "happiness." Pleasure is a sensation of power: if the passions are excluded, those states of the mind are also excluded which afford the greatest sensation of power and therefore of pleasure. The highest rationalism is a state of cool clearness, which is very far from being able to bring about that feeling of power which every kind of exaltation involves....

The ancient philosophers combat everything [Pg 357]that intoxicates and exalts—everything that impairs the perfect coolness and impartiality of the mind.... They were consistent with their first false principle: that consciousness was the highest, the supreme state of mind, the prerequisite of perfection—whereas the reverse is true....

Any kind of action is imperfect in proportion as it has been willed or conscious. The philosophers of antiquity were the greatest duffers in practice, "because they condemned themselves" theoretically to dufferdom,.... In practice everything resolved itself into theatricalness: and he who saw through it, as Pyrrho did, for instance, thought as everybody did—that is to say, that in goodness and uprightness "paltry people" were far superior to philosophers.

All the deeper natures of antiquity were disgusted at the philosophers of virtue; all people saw in them was brawlers and actors. (This was the judgment passed on Plato by Epicurus and Pyrrho.)

Result: In practical life, in patience, goodness, and mutual assistance, paltry people were above them:—this is something like the judgment Dostoiewsky or Tolstoy claims for his muzhiks: they are more philosophical in practice, they are more courageous in their way of dealing with the exigencies of life....


A criticism of the philosopher.—Philosophers and moralists merely deceive themselves when they [Pg 358]imagine that they escape from decadence by opposing it. That lies beyond their wills: and however little they may be aware of the fact, it is generally discovered, subsequently that they were among the most powerful promoters of decadence.

Let us examine the philosophers of Greece—Plato, for instance. He it was who separated the instincts from the polis, from the love of contest, from military efficiency, from art, beauty, the mysteries, and the belief in tradition and in ancestors.... He was the seducer of the nobles: he himself seduces through the roturier Socrates.... He denied all the first principles of the "noble Greek" of sterling worth; he made dialectics an everyday practice, conspired with the tyrants, dabbled in politics for the future, and was the example of a man whose instincts were the example of a man whose instincts were most perfectly separated from tradition. He is profound and passionate in everything that is anti-Hellenic....

One after the other, these great philosophers represent the typical forms of decadence: the moral and religious idiosyncrasy, anarchy, nihilism, (?d?af???a), cynicism, hardening principles, hedonism, and reaction.

The question of "happiness," of "virtue," and of the "salvation of the soul," is the expression of physiological contradictoriness in these declining natures: their instincts lack all balance and purpose.

[Pg 359]


To what extent do dialectics and the faith in reason rest upon moral prejudices? With Plato we are as the temporary inhabitants of an intelligible world of goodness, still in possession of a bequest from former times: divine dialectics taking its root in goodness leads to everything good (it follows, therefore, that it must lead "backwards"). Even Descartes had a notion of the fact that, according to a thoroughly Christian and moral attitude of mind, which includes a belief in a good God as the Creator of all things, the truthfulness of God guarantees the judgments of our senses for us. But for this religious sanction and warrant of our senses and our reason, whence should we obtain our right to trust in existence? That thinking must be a measure of reality,—that what cannot be the subject of thought, cannot exist,—is a coarse non plus ultra of a moral blind confidence (in the essential principle of truth at the root of all things); this in itself is a mad assumption which our experience contradicts every minute. We cannot think of anything precisely as it is....


The real philosophers of Greece are those which came before Socrates (with Socrates something changes). They are all distinguished men, they take their stand away from the people and from usage; they have travelled; they are earnest [Pg 360]to the point of sombreness, their eyes are calm, and they are not unacquainted with the business of state and diplomacy. They anticipated all the great concepts which coming sages were to have concerning things in general: they themselves represented these concepts, they made systems out of themselves. Nothing run give a higher idea of Greek intellect than this sudden fruitfulness in types, than this involuntary completeness in the drawing up of all the great possibilities of the philosophical ideal. I can see only one original figure in those that came afterwards: a late arrival but necessarily the last—Pyrrho the nihilist. His instincts were opposed to the influences which had become ascendant in the mean-time the Socratic school, Plato, and the artistic optimism of Heraclitus. (Pyrrho goes back to Democritus via Protagoras....)


Wise weariness: Pyrrho. To live humbly among the humble. Devoid of pride. To live in the vulgar way; to honour and believe what every one believes. To be on one's guard against science and intellect, and against everything that puffs one out. ... To be simply patient in the extreme, careless and mild;—?p??e?a or, better still, p?a?t??. A Buddhist for Greece, bred amid the tumult of the Schools; born alter his time; weary; an example of the protest of weariness against the eagerness of dialecticians; the incredulity of the tired man in regard [Pg 3611]to the importance of everything. He had seen Alexander; he had seen the Indian penitents. To such late-arrivals and creatures of great subtlety, everything lowly, poor, and idiotic, is seductive. It narcoticises: it gives them relaxation (Pascal). On the other hand, they mix with the crowd, and get confounded with the rest. These weary creatures need warmth.... To overcome contradiction; to do away with contests; to have no will to excel in any way; to deny the Greek instincts (Pyrrho lived with his sister, who was a midwife.) To rig out wisdom in such a way that it no longer distinguishes; to give it the ragged mantle of poverty; to perform the lowest offices, and to go to market and sell sucking-pigs.... Sweetness, clearness, indifference; no need of virtues that require attitudes; to be equal to all even in virtue: final conquest of one's self, final indifference.

Pyrrho and Epicurus;—two forms of Greek decadence; they are related in their hatred of dialectics and all theatrical virtues. These two things together were then called philosophy; Pyrrho and Epicurus intentionally held that which they loved in low esteem; they chose common and even contemptible names for it, and they represented a state in which one is neither ill, healthy, lively, nor dead.... Epicurus was more naïf, more idyllic, more grateful; Pyrrho had more experience of the world, had travelled more, and was more nihilistic. His life was a protest against the great doctrine of Identity (Happiness = Virtue = Knowledge). The proper way of living is not promoted by science: wisdom does not make [Pg 362]"wise." ... The proper way of living does not desire happiness, it turns away from happiness....


The war against the "old faith," as Epicurus waged it, was, strictly speaking, a struggle against pre-existing Christianity—the struggle against a world then already gloomy, moralised, acidified throughout with feelings of guilt, and grown old and sick.

Not the "moral corruption" of antiquity, but precisely its moral infectedness was the prerequisite which enabled Christianity to become its master. Moral fanaticism (in short: Plato) destroyed paganism by transvaluing its values and poisoning its innocence. We ought at last to understand that what was then destroyed was higher than what prevailed! Christianity grew on the soil of psychological corruption, and could only take root in rotten ground.


Science: as a disciplinary measure or as an instinct—I see a decline of the instincts in Greek philosophers: otherwise they could not have been guilty of the profound error of regarding the conscious state as the more valuable state. The intensity of consciousness stands in the inverse ratio to the ease and speed of cerebral transmission. Greek philosophy upheld the opposite view, which is always the sign of weakened instincts.

[Pg 363] We must, in sooth, seek perfect life there where it is least conscious (that is to say, there where it is least aware of its logic, its reasons, its means, its intentions, and its utility). The return to the facts of common sense, the facts of the common man and of "paltry people." Honesty and intelligence stored up for generations of people who are quite unconscious of their principles, and who even have some fear of principles. It is not reasonable to desire a reasoning virtue. ... A philosopher is compromised by such a desire.


When morality—that is to say, refinement, prudence, bravery, and equity—have been stored up in the same way, thanks to the moral efforts of a whole succession of generations, the collective power of this hoard of virtue projects its rays even into that sphere where honesty is most seldom present—the sphere of intellect. When a thing becomes conscious, it is the sign of a state of ill-ease in the organism; something new has got to be found, the organism is not satisfied or adapted, it is subject to distress, suspense, and it is hypersensitive—precisely all this is consciousness....

Gennius lies in the instincts; goodness does too. One only acts perfectly when one acts instinctively. Even from the moral point of view all thinking which is conscious is merely a process of groping, and in the majority of cases an attack on morality. Scientific honesty is always sacrificed [Pg 364]when a thinker begins to reason: let any one try the experiment: put the wisest man in the balance, and then let him discourse upon morality....

It could also be proved that the whole of a man's conscious thinking shows a much lower standard of morality than the thoughts of the same man would show if they were led by his instincts.


The struggle against Socrates, Plato, and all the Socratic schools, proceeds from the profound instinct that man is not made better when he is shown that virtue may be demonstrated or based upon reason.... This in the end is the niggardly fact, it was the agonal instinct in all these born dialecticians, which drove them to glorify their personal abilities as the highest of all qualities, and to represent every other form of goodness as conditioned by them. The anti-scientific spirit of all this "philosophy": it will never admit that it is not right.


This is extraordinary. From its very earliest beginnings, Greek philosophy carries on a struggle against science with the weapons of a theory of knowledge, especially of scepticism; and why is this? It is always in favour of morality.... (Physicists and medical men are hated.) Socrates, Aristippus, the Megarian school, the Cynics, Epicurus and Pyrrho—a general onslaught upon [Pg 365]knowledge in favour of morality.... (Hatred of dialectics also.) There is still a problem to be solved: they approach sophistry in order to be rid of science. On the other hand, the physicists are subjected to such an extent that, among their first principles, they include the theory of truth and of real being: for instance, the atom, the four elements (juxtaposition of being, in order to explain its multiformity and its transformations). Contempt of objectivity in interests is taught: return to practical interest, and to the personal utility of all knowledge....

The struggle against science is directed at: (1) its pathos (objectivity); (2) its means (that is to say, at its utility); (3) its results (which are considered childish). It is the same struggle which is taken up later on by the Church in the name of piety: the Church inherited the whole arsenal of antiquity for her war with science. The theory of knowledge played the same part in the affair as it did in Kant's or the Indians' case. There is no desire whatever to be troubled with it, a free hand is wanted for the "purpose" that is envisaged.

Against what powers are they actually defending themselves? Against dutifulness, against obedience to law, against the compulsion of going hand in hand—I believe this is what is called Freedom....

This is how decadence manifests itself: the instinct of solidarity is so degenerate that solidarity itself gets to be regarded as tyranny: no authority or solidarity is brooked, nobody any longer [Pg 366]desires to fall in with the rank and file, and to adopt its ignobly slow pace. The slow movement which is the tempo of science is generally hated, as are also the scientific man's indifference in regard to getting on, his long breath, and his impersonal attitude.


At bottom, morality is hostile to science: Socrates was so already too—and the reason is, that science considers certain things important which have no relation whatsoever to "good" and "evil," and which therefore reduce the gravity of our feelings concerning "good" and "evil." What morality requires is that the whole of a man should serve it with all his power: it considers it waste on the part of a creature that can ill afford waste, when a man earnestly troubles his head about stars or plants. That is why science very quickly declined in Greece, once Socrates had inoculated scientific work with the disease of morality. The mental attitudes reached by a Democritus, a Hippocrates, and a Thucydides, have not been reached a second time.—


The problem of the philosopher and of the scientific man.—The influence of age; depressing habits (sedentary study à la Kant; over-work; inadequate nourishment of the brain; reading). A more essential question still: is it not already perhaps a symptom of decadence when thinking tends to establish generalities?

[Pg 367] Objectivity regarded as the disintegration of the will (to be able to remain as detached as possible ...). This presupposes a tremendous adiaphora in regard to the strong passions: a kind of isolation, an exceptional position, opposition to the normal passions.

Type: desertion of home-country emigrants go ever greater distances afield; growing exoticism; the voice of the old imperative dies away;—and the continual question "whither?" ("happiness") is a sign of emancipation from forms of organisation, a sign of breaking loose from everything.

Problem: is the man of science more of a decadent symptom than the philosopher?—as a whole scientific man is not, cut loose from everything, only a part of his being is consecrated exclusively to the service of knowledge and disciplined to maintain a special attitude and point of view; in his department he is in need of all the virtues of a strong race, of robust health, of great severity, manliness and intelligence. He is rather a symptom of the great multiformity of culture than of the effeteness of the latter. The decadent scholar is a bad scholar. Whereas the decadent philosopher has always been reckoned hitherto as the typical philosopher.


Among philosophers, nothing is more rare than intellectual uprightness: they perhaps say the very reverse, and even believe it. But the prerequisite of all their work is, that they can only admit of [Pg 368]certain truths; they know what they have to prove; and the fact that they must be agreed as to these "truths" is almost what makes them recognise one another as philosophers. There are, for instance, the truths of morality. But belief in morality is not a proof of morality: there are cases—and the philosopher's case is one in point—when a belief of this sort is simply a piece of immorality.


What is the retrograde factor in a philosopher?—He teaches that the qualities which he happens to possess are the only qualities that exist, that they are indispensable to those who wish to attain to the "highest good" (for instance, dialectics with Plato). He would have all men raise themselves, gradatim, to his type as the highest. He despises what is generally esteemed—by him a gulf is cleft between the highest priestly values and the values of the world. He knows what is true, who God is, what every one's goal should be, and the way thereto.... The typical philosopher is thus an absolute dogmatist;—if he requires scepticism at all it is only in order to be able to speak dogmatically of his principal purpose.


When the philosopher is confronted with his rival—science, for instance, he becomes a sceptic; then he appropriates a form of knowledge which he denies to the man of science; he goes hand in [Pg 369] hand with the priest so that he may not be suspected of atheism or materialism; he considers an attack made upon himself as an attack upon morals, religion, virtue, and order—he knows how to bring his opponents into ill repute by calling them "seducers" and "underminers": then he marches shoulder to shoulder with power.

The philosopher at war with other philosophers:—he does his best to compel them to appear like anarchists, disbelievers, opponents of authority. In short, when he fights, he fights exactly like a priest and like the priesthood.

3. The Truths and Errors of Philosophers.


Philosophy defined by Kant: "The science of the limitations of reason"!!


According to Aristotle, Philosophy is the art of discovering truth. On the other hand, the Epicurians, who availed themselves of Aristotle's sensual theory of knowledge, retorted in ironical opposition to the search for truth: "Philosophy is the art of Life."


The three great naïvetés:—

Knowledge as a means of happiness (as if ...);

[Pg 370]

Knowledge as a means to virtue (as if ...);

Knowledge as a means to the "denial of Life"—inasmuch as it leads to disappointment—(as if ...).


As if there were a "truth" which one could by some means approach!


Error and ignorance are fatal.—The assumption that truth has been found and that ignorance and error are at an end, constitutes one of the most seductive thoughts in the world. Granted that it be generally accepted, it paralyses the will to test, to investigate, to be cautious, and to gather experience: it may even be regarded as criminal—that is to say, as a doubt concerning truth....

"Truth" is therefore more fatal than error and ignorance, because it paralyses the forces which lead to enlightenment and knowledge. The passion for idleness now stands up for "truth" ("Thought is pain and misery!"), as also do order, rule, the joy of possession, the pride of wisdom—in fact, vanity.—it is easier to obey than to examine; it is more gratifying to think "I possess the truth," than to see only darkness in all directions; ... but, above all, it is reassuring, it lends confidence, and alleviates life—it "improves" the character inasmuch as it reduces mistrust." Spiritual peace," "a quiet conscience"—these things [Pg 371]are inventions which are only possible provided "Truth be found."—"By their fruits ye shall know them." ... "Truth" is the truth because it makes men better.... The process goes on: all goodness and all success is placed to the credit of "truth."

This is the proof by success: the happiness, contentment, and the welfare of a community or of an individual, are now understood to be the result of the belief in morality.... Conversely: failure is ascribed to a lack of faith.


The causes of error lie just as much in the good as in the bad will of man:—in an incalculable number of cases he conceals reality from himself, he falsifies it, so that he may not suffer from his good or bad will. God, for instance, is considered the shaper of man's destiny; he interprets his little lot as though everything were intentionally sent to him for the salvation of his soul,—this act of ignorance in "philology," which to a more subtle intellect would seem unclean and false, is done, in the majority of cases, with perfect good faith. Goodwill, "noble feelings," and "lofty states of the soul" are just as underhand and deceptive in the means they use as are the passions love, hatred, and revenge, which morality has repudiated and declared to be egotistic.

Errors are what mankind has had to pay for most dearly: and taking them all in all, the errors which have resulted from goodwill are those which [Pg 372]have wrought the most harm. The illusion which makes people happy is more harmful than the illusion which is immediately followed by evil results: the latter increases keenness and mistrust, and purifies, the understanding; the former merely narcoticises....

Fine feelings and noble impulses ought, speaking physiologically, to be classified with the narcotics: their abuse is followed by precisely the same results as the abuse of any other opiate—weak nerves.


Error is the most expensive luxury that man can indulge in: and if the error happen to be a physiological one, it is fatal to life. What has mankind paid for most dearly hitherto? For its "truths ": for every one of these were errors in physiologicis>....


Psychological confusions: the desire for belief is confounded with the "will to truth" (for instance, in Carlyle). But the desire for disbelief has also been confounded with the "will to truth" (a need of ridding one's self of a belief for a hundred reasons: in order to carry one's point against certain "believers"). What is it that inspires Sceptics? The hatred of dogmatists—or a need of repose, weariness as in Pyrrho's case.

The advantages which were expected to come from truth, were the advantages resulting from a belief in it: for, in itself, truth could have been [Pg 373]thoroughly painful, harmful, and even fatal. Likewise truth was combated only on account of the advantages which a victory over it would provide—for instance, emancipation from the yoke of the ruling powers.

The method of truth was not based upon motives of truthfulness, but upon motives of power, upon the desire to be superior.

How is truth proved? By means of the feeling of increased power,—by means of utility,—by means of indispensability,—in short, by means of its advantages (that is to say, hypotheses concerning what truth should be like in order that it may be embraced by us). But this involves prejudice: it is a sign that truth does not enter the question at all....

What is the meaning of the "will to truth," for instance in the Goncourts? and in the naturalists?—A criticism of "objectivity."

Why should we know: why should we not prefer to be deceived?... But what was needed was always belief—and not truth.... Belief is created by means which are quite opposed to the method of investigation: it even depends upon the exclusion of the latter.


A certain degree of faith suffices to-day to give us an objection to what is believed—it does more, it makes us question the spiritual healthiness of the believer.

[Pg 374]


Martyrs.—To combat anything that is based upon reverence, opponents must be possessed of both daring and recklessness, and be hindered by no scruples.... Now, if one considers that for thousands of years man has sanctified as truths only those things which were in reality errors, and that he has branded any criticism of them with the hall-mark of badness, one will have to acknowledge, however reluctantly, that a goodly amount of immoral deeds were necessary in order to give the initiative to an attack—I mean to reason.... That these immoralists have always posed as the "martyrs of truth" should be forgiven them: the truth of the matter is that they did not stand up and deny owing to an instinct for truth; but because of a love of dissolution, criminal scepticism, and the love of adventure. In other cases it is personal rancour which drives them into the province of problems—they only combat certain points of view in order to be able to carry their point against certain people. But, above all, it is revenge which has become scientifically useful—the revenge of the oppressed, those who, thanks to the truth that happens to be ruling, have been pressed aside and even smothered....

Truth, that is to say the scientific method, was grasped and favoured by such as recognised that it was a useful weapon of war—an instrument of destruction....

In order to be honoured as opponents, they [Pg 375]were moreover obliged to use an apparatus similar to that used by those whom they were attacking: they therefore brandished the concept "truth" as absolutely as their adversaries did—they became fanatics at least in their poses, because no other pose could be expected to be taken seriously. What still remained to be done was left to persecution, to passion, and the uncertainty of the persecuted—hatred waxed great, and the first impulse began to die away and to leave the field entirely to science. Ultimately all of them wanted to be right in the same absurd way as their opponents.... The word "conviction," "faith," the pride of martyrdom—these things are most unfavourable to knowledge. The adversaries of truth finally adopt the whole subjective manner of deciding about truth,—that is to say, by means of poses, sacrifices, and heroic resolutions,—and thus prolong the dominion of the anti-scientific method. As martyrs they compromise their very own deed.


The dangerous distinction between "theoretical" and "practical" in Kant for instance, but also in the ancient philosophers:—they behave as if pure intellectuality presented them with the problems of science and metaphysics;—they behave as if practice should be judged by a measure of its own, whatever the judgment of theory may be.

Against the first tendency I set up my [Pg 376]psychology of philosophers: their strangest calculations and "intellectuality" are still but the last pallid impress of a physiological fact; spontaneity is absolutely lacking in them, everything is instinct, everything is intended to follow a certain direction from the first....

Against the second tendency I put my question: whether we know another method of acting correctly, besides that of thinking correctly; the last case is action, the first presupposes thought Are we possessed of a means whereby we can judge of the value of a method of life differently from the value of a theory: through induction or comparison?... Guileless people imagine that in this respect we are better equipped, we know what is "good"—and the philosophers are content to repeat this view. We conclude that some sort of faith is at work in this matter, and nothing more....

"Men must act; consequently rules of conduct are necessary"—this is what even the ancient Sceptics thought. The urgent need of a definite decision in this department of knowledge is used as an argument in favour of regarding something as true!...

"Men must not act"—said their more consistent brothers, the Buddhists, and then thought out a mode of conduct which would deliver man from the yoke of action....

To adapt one's self, to live as the "common man" lives, and to regard as right and proper what he regards as right: this is submission to the gregarious instinct. One must carry one's courage [Pg 377]and severity so far as to learn to consider such submission a disgrace. One should not live according to two standards!... One should not separate theory and practice!...


Of all that which was formerly held to be true, not one word is to be credited. Everything which was formerly disdained as unholy, forbidden, contemptible, and fatal—all these flowers now bloom on the most charming paths of truth.

The whole of this old morality concerns us no longer: it contains not one idea which is still worthy of respect. We have outlived it—we are no longer sufficiently coarse and guileless to be forced to allow ourselves to be lied to in this way.... In more polite language: we are too virtuous for it.... And if truth in the old sense were "true" only because the old morality said "yea" to it, and had a right to say "yea" to it: it follows that no truth of the past can any longer be of use to us.... Our criterion of truth is /certainly not morality: we refute an assertion when we show that it is dependent upon morality and is inspired by noble feelings.


All these values are empirical and conditioned. But he who believes in them and who honours them, refuses to acknowledge this aspect of them. [Pg 378]All philosophers believe in these values, and one form their reverence takes is the endeavour to make a priori truths out of them. The falsifying nature of reverence....

Reverence is the supreme test of intellectual honesty, but in the whole history of philosophy there is no such thing as intellectual honesty,—but the "love of goodness ..."

On the one hand, there is an absolute lack of method in testing the value of these values; secondly, there is a general disinclination either to test them or to regard them as conditioned at all.—All anti-scientific instincts assembled round moral values in order to keep science out of this department....

4. Concluding Remarks in the Criticism of Philosophy.


Why philosophers are slanderers.—The artful and blind hostility of philosophers towards the senses—what an amount of mob and middle-class qualities lie in all this hatred!

The crowd always believes that an abuse of which it feels the harmful results, constitutes an objection to the thing which happens to be abused: all insurrectionary movements against principles, whether in politics or agriculture, always follow a line of argument suggested by this ulterior motive: the abuse must be shown to be necessary to, and, inherent in, the principle.

[Pg 379] It is a woeful history: mankind looks for a principle, from the standpoint of which he will be able to contemn man—he invents a world in order to be able to slander and throw mud at this world: as a matter of fact, he snatches every time at nothing, and construes this nothing as "God," as "Truth," and, in any case, as judge and detractor of this existence....

If one should require a proof of how deeply and thoroughly the actually barbarous needs of man, even in his present state of tameness and "civilisation," still seek gratification, one should contemplate the "leitmotifs" of the whole of the evolution of philosophy:—a sort of revenge upon reality, a surreptitious process of destroying the values by means of which men live, a dissatisfied soul to which the conditions of discipline is one of torture, and which takes a particular pleasure in morbidly severing all the bonds that bind it to such a condition.

The history of philosophy is the story of a secret and mad hatred of the prerequisities of Life, of the feelings which make for the real values of Life, and of all partisanship in favour of Life. Philosophers have never hesitated to affirm a fanciful world, provided it contradicted this world, and furnished them with a weapon wherewith they could calumniate this world. Up to the present, philosophy has been the grand school of slander: and its power has been so great, that even to-day our science, which pretends to be the advocate of Life, has accepted the fundamental position of slander, and treats this world as [Pg 380]"appearance," and this chain of causes as though it were only phenomenal. What is the hatred which is active here?

I fear that it is still the Circe of philosophers—Morality, which plays them the trick of compelling them to be ever slanderers.... They believed in moral "truths," in these they thought they had found the highest values; what alternative had they left, save that of denying existence ever more emphatically the more they got to know about it?... For this life is immoral.... And it is based upon immoral first principles: and morality says nay to Life.

Let us suppress the real world: and in order to do this, we must first suppress the highest values current hitherto—morals.... It is enough to show that morality itself is immoral, in the same sense as that in which immorality has been condemned heretofore. If an end be thus made to the tyranny of the former values, if we have suppressed the "real world," a new order of values must follow of its own accord.

The world of appearance and the world of lies: this constitutes the contradiction. The latter hitherto has been the "real world," "truth," "God." This is the one which we still have to suppress.

The logic of my conception:

(1) Morality as the highest value (it is master of all the phases of philosophy, even of the Sceptics). Result: this world is no good, it is not the "real world."

(2) What is it that determines the highest value here? What, in sooth, is morality?—It is [Pg 381]the instinct of decadence; it is the means whereby the exhausted and the degenerate revenge themselves. Historical proof: philosophers have always been decadents ... in the service of nihilistic religions.

(3) It is the instinct of decadence coming to the fore as will to power. Proof: the absolute immorality of the means employed by morality throughout its history.

General aspect: the values which have been highest hitherto constitute a specific case of the will to power; morality itself is a specific case of immorality.


The principal innovations: Instead of "moral values," nothing but naturalistic values. Naturalisation of morality.

In the place of "sociology," a doctrine of the forms of dominion.

In the place of "society," the complex whole of culture, which is my chief interest (whether in its entirety or in parts).

In the place of the "theory of knowledge," a doctrine which laid down the value of the passions (to this a hierarchy of the passions would belong: the passions transfigured; their superior rank, their "spirituality").

In the place of "metaphysics" and religion, the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence (this being regarded as a means to the breeding and selection of men).

[Pg 382]


My precursors: Schopenhauer. To what extent I deepened pessimism, and first brought its full meaning within my grasp, by means of its most extreme opposite.

Likewise: the higher Europeans, the pioneers of great politics.

Likewise: the Greeks and their genesis.


I have named those who were unconsciously my workers and precursors. But in what direction may I turn with any hope of finding my particular kind of philosophers themselves, or at least my yearning for new philosophers? In that direction, alone, where a noble attitude of mind prevails, an attitude of mind which believes in slavery and in manifold orders of rank, as the prerequisites of any high degree of culture. In that direction, alone, where a creative attitude of mind prevails, an attitude of mind which does not regard the world of happiness and repose, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths" as an end to be desired, and which, even in peace, honours the means which lead to new wars; an attitude of mind which would prescribe laws for the future, which for the sake of the future would treat everything that exists to-day with harshness and even tyranny; a daring and "immoral" attitude of mind, which would wish to see both the good and the evil qualities in man developed to their fullest extent, [Pg 383]because it would feel itself able to put each in its right place—that is to say, in that place in which each would need the other. But what prospect has he of finding what he seeks, who goes in search of philosophers to-day? Is it not probable that, even with the best Diogenes-lantern in his hand, he will wander about by night and day in vain? This age is possessed of the opposite instincts. What it wants, above all, is comfort; secondly, it wants publicity and the deafening din of actors' voices, the big drum which appeals to its Bank-Holiday tastes; thirdly, that every one should lie on his belly in utter subjection before the greatest of all lies—which is "the equality of men"—and should honour only those virtues which make men equal and place them in equal positions. But in this way, the rise of the philosopher, as I understand him, is made completely impossible—despite the fact that many may regard the present tendencies as rather favourable to his advent. As a matter of fact, the whole world mourns, to-day, the hard times that philosophers used to have, hemmed in between the fear of the stake, a guilty conscience, and the presumptuous wisdom of the Fathers of the Church: but the truth is, that precisely these conditions were ever so much more favourable to the education of a mighty, extensive, subtle, rash, and daring intellect than the conditions prevailing to-day. At present another kind of intellect, the intellect of the demagogue, of the actor, and perhaps of the beaver- and ant-like scholar too, finds the best possible conditions for its development. But even [Pg 384]for artists of a superior calibre the conditions are already far from favourable: for does not every one of them, almost, perish owing to his want of discipline? They are no longer tyrannised over by an outside power—by the tables of absolute values enforced by a Church or by a monarch: and thus they no longer learn to develop their "inner tyrant," their will. And what holds good of artists also holds good, to a greater and more fatal degree, of philosophers. Where, then, are free spirits to be found to-day? Let any one show me a free spirit to-day!


Under "Spiritual freedom" I understand something very definite: it is a state in which one is a hundred times superior to philosophers and other disciples of "truth" in one's severity towards one's self, in one's uprightness, in one's courage, and in one's absolute will to say nay even when it is dangerous to say nay. I regard the philosophers that have appeared heretofore as contemptible libertines hiding behind the petticoats of the female "Truth."