Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes

On Philosophy and the Philosopher
Nietzsche On Truth
The Value of Suffering
….More to come








On Philosophy and the Philosopher

I profit from a philosopher only insofar as he can be an example. (Untimely Meditations III)

That educating philosopher of whom I dreamed would, I came to think, not only discover the central force, he would also know how to prevent its acting destructively on the other forces: his educational task would, it seemed to me, be to mold the whole man into a living solar and planetary system and to understand its higher laws of motion. (Untimely Meditations III)

Your true educators and formative teachers reveal to you what the real raw material of your being is, something quite ineducable, yet in any case accessible only with difficulty, bound, paralyzed: your educators can be only your liberators. (Untimely Meditations III)

Philosophy divorced itself from science when it inquired which knowledge of the world and life could help man to live most happily. This occurred in the Socratic schools: out of a concern for happiness man tied off the veins of scientific investigation- and does so still today. (Human, All Too Human)

That meditating on things human, all too human (or, as the learned phrase goes, “psychological observation”) is one of the means by which man can ease life’s burden; that by exercising this art, one can secure presence of mind in difficult situations and entertainment amid boring surroundings; indeed, that from the thorniest and unhappiest phases of one’s own life one can pluck maxims and feel a bit better thereby: this was believed, known–in earlier centuries. (Human, All Too Human)

The educating environment wants to make each man unfree by always presenting him with the smallest number of possibilities. His educators treat the individual as if he were something new, to be sure, but as if he ought to become a repetition. If man first appears to be something unknown, never before existing, he should be made into something known, preexisting. What is called good character in a child is the manifestation of its being bound by the preexisting. By placing itself on the side of bound spirits, the child first demonstrates its awakening public spirit. On the basis of this public spirit, it will later be useful to its state or class. (Human, All too Human)

The Don Juan of knowledge no philosopher or poet has yet succeeded in discovering him. He is wanting in love for the things he recognizes, but he possesses wit, a lust for the hunting after knowledge, and the intrigues in connection with it, and he, finds enjoyment in all these, even up to the highest and most distant stars of knowledge until at last there is nothing left for him to pursue but the absolutely injurious side of knowledge, just as the drunkard who ends by drinking absinthe and nitric acid. That is why last of all he feels a longing for hell, for this is the final knowledge which seduces him. Perhaps even this would disappoint him, as all things do which one knows! (The Dawn)

It is not sufficient to prove a case, we must also tempt or raise men to it : hence the wise man must learn to convey his wisdom ; and often in such a manner that it may sound like foolishness. (The Dawn)

I have gradually come to see daylight in regard to the most general defect in our methods of education and training : nobody learns, nobody teaches, nobody wishes, to endure solitude. (The Dawn)

In respect to seeking work for the sake of the pay, almost all men are alike at present in civilized countries; to all of them work is a means, and not itself the end ; on which account they are not very select in the choice of the work, provided it yields an abundant profit. But still there are rarer men who would rather perish than work without delight in their labour: the fastidious people, difficult to satisfy, whose object is not served by an abundant profit, unless the work itself be the reward of all rewards. Artists and contemplative men of all kinds belong to this rare species of human beings. (The Gay Science)

He who knows that he is profound strives for clearness; he who would like to appear profound to the multitude strives for obscurity. The multitude thinks everything profound of which it cannot see the bottom ; it is so timid and goes so unwillingly into the water. (The Gay Science)

We hear only the questions to which we are capable of finding an answer. (The Gay Science)

Life has not deceived me! On the contrary, from year to year I find it richer, more desirable and more mysterious-from the day on which the great liberator broke my fetters, the thought that life may be an experiment of the thinker-and not a duty, not a fatality, not a deceit!-And knowledge itself may be for others something different; for example, a bed of ease, or the path to a bed of ease, or an entertainment, or a course of idling,-for me it is a world of dangers and victories, in which even the heroic sentiments have their arena and dancing-floor. “Life as a means to knowledge”-with this principle in one’s heart, one can not only be brave, but can even live joyfully and laugh joyfully ! And who could know how to laugh well and live well, who did not first understand the full significance of war and victory? (The Gay Science)

We do not belong to those who only get their thoughts from books, or at the prompting of books,-it is our custom to think in the open air, walking, leaping, climbing, or dancing on lonesome mountains by preference, or close to the sea, where even the paths become thoughtful. Our first question concerning the value of a book, a man, or a piece of music is : Can it walk? or still better: Can it dance? (The Gay Science)

What good is a book that does not even carry us beyond all books? (The Gay Science)

Every art and every philosophy may be regarded as a healing and helping appliance in the service of growing, struggling life: they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. (The Gay Science)

Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

I have moved from the house of the scholars and I even banged the door behind me. My soul sat hungry at their table too long; I am not, like them, trained to pursue knowledge as if it were nut-cracking. I love freedom and the air over the fresh earth; rather would I sleep on ox hides than on their decorums and respectabilities. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

True philosophers reach for the future with a creative hand and everything that is and was becomes a means, a tool, a hammer for them. Their “knowing” is creating, their creating is a legislating, their will to truth is – will to power. (Beyond Good and Evil)

It seems increasingly clear to me that the philosopher, being necessarily a person of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, has, in every age, been and has needed to be at odds with his today: his enemy has always been the ideal of today. So far, all these extraordinary patrons of humanity who are called philosophers…have found that their task, their harsh, unwanted, undeniable task (though in the end, the greatness of their task) lay in being the bad conscience of their age. In applying a vivisecting knife directly to the chest of the virtues of the age, they gave away their own secret: to know anew greatness in humanity, a new, untraveled path to human greatness. Every time they have done this, they have shown how much hypocrisy and laziness, how much letting yourself go and letting go of yourself, how many lies are hidden beneath the most highly honored type of their present-day morality, and how much virtue is out of date. Every time, they have said: “We need to go there, out there, out where you feel least at home today.” (Beyond Good and Evil)

Where, then, must we reach with our hopes? Toward new philosophers; there is no choice; toward spirits strong and original enough to provide the stimuli for opposite valuations and to revalue and invert “eternal values;” toward forerunners, toward men of the future who in the present tie the knot and constraint that forces the will of millennia upon new tracks. To teach man the future of man as his will, as dependent on a human will, and to prepare great ventures and over-all attempts of discipline and cultivation by way of putting an end to that gruesome dominion of nonsense and accident that has so far been called “history”—the nonsense of the “greatest number” is merely its ultimate form: at some time new types of philosophers and commanders will be necessary for that, and whatever has existed on earth of concealed, terrible, and benevolent spirits, will look pale and dwarfed by comparison. It is the image of such leaders that we envisage: may I say this out loud, you free spirits? (Beyond Good and Evil)

Learning transforms us, it acts like all other forms of nourishment that do not just “preserve” –: as physiologists know. (Beyond Good and Evil)

A philosopher: this is a person who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thoughts as if from outside, from above and below, as if by his type of events and lightning bolts; who is perhaps a storm himself, pregnant with new lightning; a fatal person in whose vicinity things are always rumbling, growling, gaping, and acting in uncanny ways. A philosopher: oh, a being who is frequently running away from himself, frequently afraid of himself, – but too curious not to ‘come to’ again – always back to himself. (Beyond Good and Evil)

For this alone is fitting for a philosopher. We have no right to isolated acts of any kind: we may not make isolated errors or hit upon isolated truths. Rather do our ideas, our values, our yeas and nays, our ifs and buts, grow out of us with the necessity with which a tree bears fruit—related and each with an affinity to each, and evidence of one will, one health, one soil, one sun. (On the Genealogy of Morals)

In such a case as this, embarrassing in many ways, my view is—and it is a typical case—that one does best to separate an artist from his work, not taking him as seriously as his work. He is, after all, only the precondition of his work, the womb, the soil, sometimes the dung and manure on which, out of which, it grows—and therefore in most cases something one must forget if one is to enjoy the work itself. (On the Genealogy of Morals)

I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity. (Twilight of the Idols)

To live alone one must be a beast or a god, says Aristotle. Leaving out the third case: one must be both – a philosopher (Twilight of the Idols)

Do not let yourself be deceived: great intellects are sceptical. Zarathustra is a sceptic. The strength, the freedom which proceed from intellectual power, from a superabundance of intellectual power, manifest themselves as scepticism. Men of fixed convictions do not count when it comes to determining what is fundamental in values and lack of values. Men of convictions are prisoners. They do not see far enough, they do not see what is below them: whereas a man who would talk to any purpose about value and non-value must be able to see five hundred convictions beneath him–and behind him….A mind that aspires to great things, and that wills the means thereto, is necessarily sceptical. Freedom from any sort of conviction belongs to strength, and to an independent point of view (The Antichrist)

Scholars who at bottom do little nowadays but thumb books—philologists, at a moderate estimate, about 200 a day—ultimately lose entirely their capacity to think for themselves. When they don’t thumb, they don’t think. They respond to a stimulus (a thought they have read) whenever they think—in the end, they do nothing but react. Scholars spend all of their energies on saying Yes and No, on criticism of what others have thought—they themselves no longer think. (Ecce Homo)

Early in the morning, when day breaks, when all is fresh, in the dawn of one’s strength—to read a book at such a time is simply depraved! (Ecce Homo)

I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous—a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite. (Ecce Homo)

The strength of those who attack can be measured in a way by the opposition they require: every growth is indicated by the search for a mighty opponent—or problem; for a warlike philosopher challenges problems, too, to single combat. (Ecce Homo)

Those who can breathe the air of my writings know that it is an air of the heights, a strong air. One must be made for it. Otherwise there is no small danger that one may catch cold in it. The ice is near, the solitude tremendous—but how calmly all things lie in the light! How freely one breathes! How much one feels beneath oneself! Philosophy, as I have so far understood and lived it, means living voluntarily among ice and high mountains—seeking out everything strange and questionable in existence, everything so far placed under a ban by morality. (Ecce Homo)


Nietzsche On Truth

Conviction is the belief that in some point of knowledge one possesses absolute truth. Such a belief presumes, then, that absolute truths exist; likewise, that the perfect methods for arriving at them have been found; finally, that every man who has convictions makes use of these perfect methods. (Human, All Too Human)

The proof by pleasure. An agreeable opinion is accepted as true: this is the proof by pleasure (or, as the church says, the proof by strength), that all religions are so proud of, whereas they ought to be ashamed. If the belief did not make us happy, it would not be believed: how little must it then be worth! (Human, All Too Human)

Sorrow is knowledge. How gladly one would exchange the false claims of priests–that there is a God who demands the Good from us, who is guardian and witness of each act, each moment, each thought, who loves us and wants the best for us in every misfortune—how gladly one would exchange these claims for truths which would be just as salutary, calming, and soothing as those errors! But there are no such truths; at the most, philosophy can oppose those errors with other metaphysical fictions (basically also untruths). But the tragic thing is that we can no longer believe those dogmas of religion and metaphysics, once we have the rigorous method of truth in our hearts and heads, and yet on the other hand, the development of mankind has made us so delicate, sensitive, and ailing that we need the most potent kind of cures and comforts—hence arises the danger that man might bleed to death from the truth he has recognized. Byron expressed this in his immortal lines: Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth, the tree of knowledge is not that of life. (Human, All Too Human)

Furthermore, if an opinion makes us glad, it must be true; if its effect is good, it in itself must be good and true. Here one is attributing to the effect the predicate “gladdening,” “good,” in the sense of the useful, and providing the cause with the same predicate “good,” but now in the sense of the logically valid. The reversal of the proposition is: if a thing cannot prevail and maintain itself, it must be wrong; if an opinion tortures and agitates, it must be false. The free spirit, who comes to know all too well the error of this sort of deduction and has to suffer from its consequences, often succumbs to the temptation of making contrary deductions, which are in general naturally just as false: if a thing cannot prevail, it must be good; if an opinion troubles and disturbs, it must be true. (Human, All too Human)

Basic insight. There is no pre-established harmony between the furthering of truth and the good of mankind. (Human, All Too Human)

Most men tolerate life without grumbling too much and believe thus in the value of existence, but precisely because everyone wills himself alone and stands his ground alone, and does not step out of himself as do those exceptional men, everything extrapersonal escapes his notice entirely, or seems at the most a faint shadow. Thus the value of life for ordinary, everyday man is based only on his taking himself to be more important than the world. The great lack of fantasy from which he suffers keeps him from being able to empathize with other beings, and he therefore participates in their vicissitudes and suffering as little as possible. On the other hand, whoever would be truly able to participate in it would have to despair about the value of life; if he were able to grasp and feel mankind’s overall consciousness in himself, he would collapse with a curse against existence–for mankind, as whole, has no goals and consequently, considering the whole affair, man cannot find his comfort and support in it, but rather his despair. (Human, All Too Human)

Conviction is the belief that in some point of knowledge one possesses absolute truth. Such a belief presumes, then, that absolute truths exist; likewise, that the perfect methods for arriving at them have been found; finally, that every man who has convictions makes use of these perfect methods. All three assertions prove at once that the man of convictions is not the man of scientific thinking; he stands before us still in the age of theoretical innocence, a child, however grownup he might be otherwise. But throughout thousands of years, people have lived in such childlike assumptions, and from out of them mankind’s mightiest sources of power have flowed. The countless people who sacrificed themselves for their convictions thought they were doing it for absolute truth. All of them were wrong: probably no man has ever sacrificed himself for truth… It is not the struggle of opinions that has made history so violent, but rather the struggle of belief in opinions, that is, the struggle of convictions. If only all those people who thought so highly of their conviction, who sacrificed all sorts of things to it and spared neither their honor, body nor life in its service, had devoted only half of their strength to investigating by what right they clung to this or that conviction, how they had arrived at it, then how peaceable the history of mankind would appear! How much more would be known! (Human, All Too Human)

That which we now call the world is the result of a number of errors and fantasies, which came about gradually in the overall development of organic beings, fusing with one another, and now handed down to us as a collected treasure of our entire past–a treasure: for the value of our humanity rests upon it. (Human, All too Human)

All human life is sunk deep in untruth; the individual cannot pull it out of this well without growing profoundly annoyed with his entire past, without finding his present motives (like honor) senseless, and without opposing scorn and disdain to the passions that urge one on to the future and to the happiness in it. If this is true, is there only one way of thought left, with despair as a personal end and a philosophy of destruction as a theoretical end? I believe that a man’s temperament determines the aftereffect of knowledge; although the aftereffect described above is possible in some natures, I could just as well imagine a different one, which would give rise to a life much more simple, more free of affects than the present one. (Human, All Too Human)

Enemies of truth . Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. (Human, All Too Human)

Intoxicated by the blossoms’ fragrance. The ship of mankind, it is thought, has an ever greater draft, the more it is laden; it is believed that the deeper man thinks, the more delicate his feelings; the higher he esteems himself, the farther his distance from the other animals (the more he appears as the genius among animals), the nearer he will come to the true essence of the world and knowledge of it. This he does indeed through science, but he thinks he does it more through his religions and arts. These are, to be sure, a flower of civilization, but by no means nearer to the root of the world than is its stem. One does not understand the essence of things through art and religion, although nearly everyone is of that opinion. Error has made man so deep, delicate, inventive as to bring forth such blossoms as religions and arts. Pure knowledge would have been incapable of it. Whoever revealed to us the essence of the world would disappoint us all most unpleasantly. It is not the world as a thing in itself, but the world as idea (as error) that is so rich in meaning, deep, wonderful, pregnant with happiness and unhappiness. This conclusion leads to a philosophy of the logical denial of the world, which, by the way, can be combined just as well with a practical affirmation of the world as with its opposite. (Human, All too Human)

Truth in itself is no power at all, in spite of all that flattering rationalists are in the habit of saying to the contrary. Truth must either attract power to its side, or else side with power, for otherwise it will perish again and again. This has already been sufficiently demonstrated, and more than sufficiently ! (The Dawn)

Even if we were mad enough to consider all our opinions as truth, we should nevertheless not wish them alone to exist. I cannot see why we should ask for an autocracy and omnipotence of truth : it is sufficient for me to know that it is a great power. Truth, however, must meet with opposition and be able to fight, and we must be able to rest from it at times in falsehood otherwise truth will grow tiresome, powerless, and insipid, and will render us equally so. (The Dawn)

How many are there who still come to the conclusion : ” Life would be intolerable were there no God ! ” Or, as is said in idealistic circles : ” Life would be intolerable if its ethical signification were lacking.” Hence there must be a God or an ethical signification of existence ! In reality the case stands thus : He who is accustomed to conceptions of this sort does not desire a life without them, hence these conceptions are necessary for him and his preservation but what a presumption it is to assert that everything necessary for my preservation must exist in reality. As if my preservation were really necessary! What if others held the contrary opinion? If they did not care to live under the conditions of these two articles of faith, and did not regard life as worth living if they were realised ! And that is the present position of affairs. (The Dawn)

Make it a rule never to withhold or conceal from yourself anything that may be thought against your own thoughts. Vow it ! This is the essential requirement of honest thinking. You must undertake such a campaign against yourself every day. A victory and a conquered position are no longer your concern, but that of truth and your defeat also is no longer your concern. (The Dawn)

Perhaps nobody yet has been truthful enough about what “truthfulness” is. (Beyond Good and Evil)

Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir. (Beyond Good and Evil)

But this is an ancient, eternal story: what formerly happened with the Stoics still happens today, too, as soon as any philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise. Philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the most spiritual will to power, to the “creation of the world”. (Beyond Good and Evil)

What provokes one to look at all philosophers half suspiciously, half mockingly, is not that one discovers again and again how innocent they are—how often and how easily they make mistakes and go astray; in short, their childishness and childlikeness—but that they are not honest enough in their work, although they all make a lot of virtuous noise when the problem of truthfulness is touched even remotely. They all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic (as opposed to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest and doltish—and talk of “inspiration”); while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed a kind of “inspiration”—most often a desire of the heart that has been filtered and made abstract—that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact. They are all advocates who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudices which they baptize “truths” (Beyond Good and Evil)

It is no more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than mere appearance; it is even the worst proved assumption there is in the world. (Beyond Good and Evil)

Whatever philosophical standpoint one may adopt today, from every point of view the erroneousness of the world in which we think we live is the surest and firmest fact that we can lay eyes on. (Beyond Good and Evil)

The will to truth which will still tempt us to many a venture, that famous truthfulness of which all philosophers so far have spoken with respect—what questions has this will to truth not laid before us! What strange, wicked, questionable questions… Who is it really that puts questions to us here? What in us really wants “truth”? Indeed we came to a long halt at the question about the cause of this will—until we finally came to a complete stop before a still more basic question. We asked about the value of this will. Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth? and uncertainty? even ignorance? (Beyond Good and Evil)

Something might be true while being harmful and dangerous in the highest degree. Indeed, it might be a basic characteristic of existence that those who would know it completely would perish, in which case the strength of a spirit should be measured according to how much of the “truth” one could still barely endure—or to put it more clearly, to what degree one would require it to be thinned down, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified. But there is no doubt at all that the evil and unhappy are more favored when it comes to the discovery of certain parts of truth, and that the probability of their success here is greater. (Beyond Good and Evil)

Indeed, what forces us at all to suppose that there is an essential opposition of “true” and “false”? Is it not sufficient to assume degrees of apparentness and, as it were, lighter and darker shadows and shades of appearance—different “values,” to use the language of painters? Why couldn’t the world that concerns us—be a fiction? And if somebody asked, “but to a fiction there surely belongs an author?”—couldn’t one answer simply: why? Doesn’t this “belongs” perhaps belong to the fiction, too? (Beyond Good and Evil)

The falseness of a judgment is for us not necessarily an objection to a judgment; in this respect our new language may sound strangest. The question is to what extent it is life-promoting, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-cultivating… To recognize untruth as a condition of life—that certainly means resisting accustomed value feelings in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil. (Beyond Good and Evil)

What are man’s truths ultimately? Merely his irrefutable errors. (The Gay Science)

Thus knowledge became a piece of life itself, and hence a continually growing power — until eventually knowledge collided with those primeval basic errors: two lives, two powers, both in the same human being. A thinker is now that being in whom the impulse for truth and those life-preserving errors clash for their first fight, after the impulse for truth has proved to be also a life-preserving power. Compared to the significance of this fight, everything else is a matter of indifference: the ultimate question about the conditions of life has been posed here, and we confront the first attempt to answer this question by experiment. To what extent can truth endure incorporation? That is the question; that is the experiment. (The Gay Science)

Over immense periods of time the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggle for themselves and their progeny. (The Gay Science)

The proof by “pleasure” is a proof of “pleasure–nothing more; why in the world should it be assumed that true judgments give more pleasure than false ones, and that, in conformity to some pre-established harmony, they necessarily bring agreeable feelings in their train?–The experience of all disciplined and profound minds teaches the contrary. Man has had to fight for every atom of the truth, and has had to pay for it almost everything that the heart, that human love, that human trust cling to. Greatness of soul is needed for this business: the service of truth is the hardest of all services. (The Antichrist)

It is now a good while since I first proposed for consideration the question whether convictions are not even more dangerous enemies to truth than lies. This time I desire to put the question definitely: is there any actual difference between a lie and a conviction? All the world believes that there is; but what is not believed by all the world! (The Antichrist)

The will to truth requires a critique—let us thus define our own task—the value of truth must for once be experimentally called into question. (On the Genealogy of Morals)

The truthful man, in the audacious and ultimate sense presupposed by the faith in science, thereby affirms another world than that of life, nature, and history; and insofar as he affirms this ‘other world,’ does this not mean that he has to deny its antithesis, this world, our world? … It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science—and we men of knowledge of today, we godless men and anti-metaphysicians, we, too, still derive our flame from the fire ignited by a faith millennia old, the Christian faith, which was also Plato’s, that God is truth, that truth is divine.—But what if this belief is becoming more and more unbelievable, if nothing turns out to be divine any longer unless it be error, blindness, lies—if God himself turns out to be our longest lie? (On the Genealogy of Morals)

“Will to truth,” you who are wisest call that which impels you and fills you with lust? A will to the thinkability of all beings: this I call your will. You want to make all being thinkable, for you doubt with well-founded suspicion that it is already thinkable. But it shall yield and bend for you. Thus your will wants it. It shall become smooth and serve the spirit as its mirror and reflection. That is your whole will, you who are wisest: a will to power—when you speak of good and evil too, and of valuations. You still want to create the world before which you can kneel: that is your ultimate hope and intoxication. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie. (Twilight of the Idols)

How much truth does a spirit endure, how much truth does it dare? More and more that became for me the real measure of value. Error is not blindness, error is cowardice. Every attainment, every step forward in knowledge, follows from courage, from hardness against oneself, from cleanliness in relation to oneself. I do not refute ideals, I merely put on gloves before them. (Ecce Homo)



“I am impassioned for independence; I sacrifice all for it… And am tortured more by the smallest strings than others are by chains.”

The man who would not belong in the mass needs only to cease being comfortable with himself; he should follow his conscience which shouts at him: “Be yourself! You are not really all that which you do, think, and desire now”. (Untimely Meditations III)

A traveler who had seen many countries, peoples and several of the earth’s continents was asked what attribute he had found in men everywhere. He said: “They have a propensity for laziness.” To others, it seems that he should have said: “They are all fearful. They hide themselves behind customs and opinions.” In his heart every man knows quite well that, being unique, he will be in the world only once and that there will be no second chance for his oneness to coalesce from the strangely variegated assortment that he is: he knows it but hides it like a bad conscience–why? From fear of his neighbor, who demands conformity and cloaks himself with it. But what is it that forces the individual to fear his neighbor, to think and act like a member of a herd, and to have no joy in himself? Modesty, perhaps, in a few rare cases. For the majority it is idleness, inertia, in short that propensity for laziness of which the traveler spoke. He is right: men are even lazier than they are fearful, and fear most of all the burdensome nuisance of absolute honesty and nakedness. (Untimely Meditations III)

When the great thinker despises human beings, he despises their laziness: for it is on account of their laziness that men seem like manufactured goods, unimportant, and unworthy. (Untimely Meditations III)

Where there have been powerful societies, governments, religions, public opinions, in short wherever there has been tyranny, there the solitary philosopher has been hated; for philosophy offers an asylum to a man into which no tyranny can force its way, the inward cave, the labyrinth of the heart: and that annoys the tyrants. (Untimely Meditations III)

History teaches us that that part of a people maintains itself best whose members generally share a vital public spirit, due to the similarity of their long-standing, incontrovertible principles, that is, of their common faith. In their case, good, sound custom strengthens them; they are taught to subordinate the individual, and their character is given solidity, at first innately and later through education. The danger in these strong communities, founded on similar, steadfast individual members, is an increasing, inherited stupidity, which follows all stability like a shadow. In such communities, spiritual progress depends on those individuals who are less bound, much less certain, and morally weaker; they are men who try new things, and many different things. (Human, All Too Human)

For whoever proceeds on his own path meets nobody: this is the feature of one’s “own path.” No one comes to help him in his task: he must face everything quite alone — danger, bad luck, wickedness, foul weather. He goes his own way; and, as is only right, meets with bitterness and occasional irritation because he pursues this “own way”. (The Dawn)

All actions may be referred back to valuations, and all valuations are either one’s own or adopted, the latter being by far the more numerous. Why do we adopt them? Through fear, i.e. we think it more advisable to pretend that they are our own, and so well do we accustom ourselves to do so that it at last becomes second nature to us. A valuation of our own, which is the appreciation of a thing in accordance with the pleasure or displeasure it causes us and no one else, is something very rare indeed! (The Dawn)

A young man can be most surely corrupted when he is taught to value the likeminded more highly than the differently minded. (The Dawn)

“This is my way; where is yours?”—thus I answered those who asked me “the way.” For the way—that does not exist. (The Gay Science)

Education proceeds in this manner throughout: it endeavors, by a series of enticements and advantages, to determine the individual to a certain mode of thinking and acting, which, when it has become habit, impulse and passion, rules in him and over him, in opposition to his ultimate advantage, but ” for the general good.” (The Gay Science)

It is sufficient that his life is right in his own eyes, and maintains its right,-the life which calls to each of us : ” Be a man, and do not follow me-but yourself! Yourself!” Our life, also ought to maintain its right in our own eyes! We also are to grow and blossom out of ourselves, free and fearless, in innocent selfishness! (The Gay Science)

“He who seeks, easily gets lost. All loneliness is guilt”—thus speaks the herd. And you have long belonged to the herd. The voice of the herd will still be audible in you. And when you will say, “I no longer have a common conscience with you,” it will be a lament and an agony. Behold, this agony itself was born of the common conscience, and the last glimmer of that conscience still glows on your affliction. But do you want to go the way of your affliction, which is the way to yourself? Then show me your right and your strength to do so. Are you a new strength and a new right? A first movement? A self-propelled wheel? Can you compel the very stars to revolve around you? (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

But wherever I found the living, there I heard also the speech on obedience. Whatever lives, obeys. And this is the second point: he who cannot obey himself is commanded. That is the nature of the living. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you know of that? The dew falls on the grass when the night is most silent.” And I answered: “They mocked me when I found and went my own way; and in truth my feet were trembling then. And thus they spoke to me: ‘You have forgotten the way, now you have also forgotten how to walk.’ ” Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What matters their mockery? You are one who has forgotten how to obey: now you shall command. Do you not know who is most needed by all? He that commands great things… This is what is most unforgivable in you: you have the power, and you do not want to rule.” And I answered: “I lack the lion’s voice for commanding.” Then it spoke to me again as a whisper: “It is the stillest words that bring on the storm. Thoughts that come on doves’ feet guide the world. (The Gay Science)

Virtue to them is that which makes modest and tame: with that they have turned the wolf into a dog and man himself into man’s best domestic animal. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

For as long as there have been people, there have been herds of people as well (racial groups, communities, tribes, folk, states, churches), and a very large number of people who obey compared to relatively few who command. So, considering the fact that humanity has been the best and most long-standing breeding ground for the cultivation of obedience so far, it is reasonable to suppose that the average person has an innate need to obey as a type of formal conscience that commands: “Thou shalt unconditionally do something, unconditionally not do something,” in short: “Thou shalt.” This need tries to satisfy itself and give its form a content, so, like a crude appetite, it indiscriminately grabs hold and accepts whatever gets screamed into its ear by some commander or another – a parent, teacher, the law, class prejudice, public opinion – according to its strength, impatience, and tension. (Beyond Good and Evil)

For his part, the herd man of today’s Europe gives himself the appearance of being the only permissible type of man and glorifies those characteristics that make him tame, easy-going and useful to the herd as the true human virtues, namely: public spirit, goodwill, consideration, industry, moderation, modesty, clemency, and pity. (Beyond Good and Evil)

The total degeneration of humanity down to what today’s socialist fools and nitwits see as their “man of the future” – as their ideal! – this degeneration and diminution of humanity into the perfect herd animal (or, as they say, into man in a “free society”), this brutalizing process of turning humanity into stunted little animals with equal rights and equal claims is no doubt possible! (Beyond Good and Evil)

For this is how things are: the diminution and leveling of European man constitutes our greatest danger, for the sight of him makes us weary.—We can see nothing today that wants to grow greater, we suspect that things will continue to go down, down, to become thinner, more good-natured, more prudent, more comfortable, more mediocre, more indifferent…there is no doubt that man is getting “better” all the time. Here precisely is what has become a fatality for Europe—together with the fear of man we have also lost our love of him, our reverence for him, our hopes for him, even the will to him. The sight of man now makes us weary—what is nihilism today if it is not that?—We are weary of man. (On the Genealogy of Morals)

All the sick and sickly instinctively strive after a herd organization as a means of shaking off their dull displeasure and feeling of weakness…For one should not overlook this fact: the strong are as naturally inclined to separate as the weak are to congregate. (On the Genealogy of Morals)


The Value of Suffering

Meister Eckhart also knows: “The beast that bears you fastest to perfection is suffering.” (Untimely Meditations III)

But being gifted or being compelled are contemptible words designed to enable one to ignore an inner admonition, that is to say on the great man; he least of all lets himself be given gifts or be compelled–he knows as well as any little man how to take life easily and how soft the bed is on which he could lie down if his attitude towards himself and his fellow men were that of the majority: for the objective of all human arrangements is through distracting one’s thoughts to cease to be aware of life. Why does he desire the opposite–to be aware precisely of life, that is to say to suffer from life–so strongly? Because he realizes that he is in danger of being cheated out of himself, and that a kind of agreement exists to kidnap him out of his own cave. Then he bestirs himself, pricks up his ears, and resolves: “I will remain my own!” It is a dreadful resolve; only gradually does he grasp that fact. For now he will have to descend into the depths of existence with a string of curious questions on his lips: why do I live? what lesson have I to learn from life? how do I become what I am and why do I suffer from being what I am? He torments himself, and sees how no one else does as he does, but how the hands of his fellow men are, rather, passionately stretched out to the fantastic events portrayed in the theater of politics, or how they strut about in a hundred masquerades, as youths, men, graybeards, fathers, citizens, priests, officials, merchants, mindful solely of their comedy and not at all of themselves. To the question: “To what end do you live?” they would all quickly reply with pride: “To become a good citizen, or scholar, or statesman”–and yet they are something that can never become something else, and why are they precisely this? And not, alas, something better? (Untimely Meditations III)

Something similar also happens in the individual. There is rarely a degeneration, a truncation, or even a vice or any physical or moral loss without an advantage somewhere else. (Human, All Too Human)

The state of sick men who have suffered long and terribly from the torture inflicted upon them by their illness, and whose reason has nevertheless not been in any way affected, is not without a certain amount of value in our search for knowledge quite apart from the intellectual benefits which follow upon every profound solitude and every sudden and justified liberation from duties and habits. The man who suffers severely looks forth with terrible calmness from his state of suffering upon outside things : all those little lying enchantments, by which things are usually surrounded when seen through the eye of a healthy person, have vanished from the sufferer. (The Dawn)

You refuse to be dissatisfied with yourselves or to suffer from yourselves, and this you call your moral tendency ! Very well ; another may perhaps call it your cowardice ! One thing, however, is certain, and that is that you will never take a trip round the world (and you yourselves are this world), and you will always remain in yourselves an accident and a clod on the face of the earth ! Do you fancy that we who hold different views from you are merely exposing ourselves out of pure folly to the journey through our own deserts, swamps, and glaciers, and that we are voluntarily choosing grief and disgust with ourselves…? (The Dawn)

The Goal of Science.-What? The ultimate goal of science is to create the most pleasure possible to man, and the least possible pain? But what if pleasure and pain should be so closely connected that he who wants the greatest possible amount of the one must also have the greatest possible amount of the other (The Gay Science)

At present also you have still the choice: either the least possible pain, in short painlessness-and after all, socialists and politicians of all parties could not honorably promise more to their people,-or the greatest possible amount of pain, as the price of the growth of a fullness of refined delights and enjoyments rarely tasted until now! If you decide for the former, if you therefore want to depress and minimize man’s capacity for pain, well, you must also depress and minimize his capacity for enjoyment (The Gay Science)

The poison by which the weaker nature is destroyed is strengthening to the strong individual-and he does not call it poison. (The Gay Science)

Indeed, from the bottom of my soul I am gratefully disposed to all my misery and sickness, and to whatever is imperfect in me, because such things leave me a hundred back-doors through which I can escape from permanent habits. (The Gay Science)

Wisdom in Pain.-In pain there is as much wisdom as in pleasure: like the latter it is one of the best self-preservatives of a species. Were it not so, pain would long ago have been done away with ; that it is hurtful is no argument against it, for to be hurtful is its very essence. In pain I hear the commanding call of the ship’s captain : ” Take in sail!” ” Man,” the bold seafarer, must have learned to set his sails in a thousand different ways, otherwise he could not have sailed long, for the ocean would soon have swallowed him up. (The Gay Sciene)

There is a personal necessity for misfortune; that terror, want, impoverishment, midnight watches, adventures, hazards and mistakes are as necessary to me and to you as their opposites…to speak mystically, the path to one’s own heaven always leads through the voluptuousness of one’s own hell. (The Gay Science)

Ah, how little you know of the happiness of man, you comfortable and good-natured ones !-for happiness and misfortune are brother and sister, and twins, who grow tall together, or, as with you, remain small together! (The Gay Science)

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves. Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

But it is with man as it is with the tree. The more he aspires to the height and light, the more strongly do his roots strive earthward, downward, into the dark, the deep—into evil. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

You should have eyes that always seek an enemy—your enemy. And some of you hate at first sight. Your enemy you shall seek, your war you shall wage—for your thoughts. And if your thought be vanquished, then your honesty should still find cause for triumph in that. You should love peace as a means to new wars—and the short peace more than the long. To you I do not recommend work but struggle. To you I do not recommend peace but victory. Let your work be a struggle. Let your peace be a victory! (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

But the worst enemy you can encounter will always be you, yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caves and woods. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself. And your way leads past yourself and your seven devils. You will be a heretic to yourself and a witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and a villain. You must wish to consume yourself in your own flame: how could you wish to become new unless you had first become ashes! Lonely one, you are going the way of the creator: you would create a god for yourself out of your seven devils. Lonely one, you are going the way of the lover: yourself you love, and therefore you despise yourself, as only lovers despise. The lover would create because he despises. What does he know of love who did not have to despise precisely what he loved! Go into your loneliness with your love and with your creation, my brother; and only much later will justice limp after you. With my tears go into your loneliness, my brother. I love him who wants to create over and beyond himself and thus perishes. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

Creation—that is the great redemption from suffering, and life’s growing light. But that the creator may be, suffering is needed and much change. Indeed, there must be much bitter dying in your life, you creators. Thus are you advocates and justifiers of all impermanence. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

The statue lay in the mud of your contempt; but precisely this is its law, that out of contempt life and living beauty come back to it. It rises again with more godlike features, seductive through suffering; and verily, it will yet thank you for having overthrown it, O you overthrowers. This counsel, however, I give to kings and churches and everything that is weak with age and weak in virtue: let yourselves be overthrown—so that you may return to life, and virtue return to you. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

To you I must now go down! Before my highest mountain I stand and before my longest wandering; to that end I must first go down deeper than ever I descended—deeper into pain than ever I descended, down into its blackest flood. Thus my destiny wants it. Well, I am ready. Whence come the highest mountains? I once asked. Then I learned that they came out of the sea. The evidence is written in their rocks and in the walls of their peaks. It is out of the deepest depth that the highest must come to its height. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

The great epochs of our lives come when we gather the courage to reconceive our evils as what is best in us. (Beyond Good and Evil)

The discipline of suffering, of great suffering – don’t you know that this discipline has been the sole cause of every enhancement in humanity so far? The tension that breeds strength into the unhappy soul, its shudder at the sight of great destruction, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, surviving, interpreting, and exploiting unhappiness, and whatever depth, secrecy, whatever masks, spirit, cunning, greatness it has been given: – weren’t these the gifts of suffering, of the disciple of great suffering? (Beyond Good and Evil)

How much one is able to endure: distress, want, bad weather, sickness, toil, solitude. Fundamentally one can cope with everything else, born as one is to a subterranean life of struggle; one emerges again and again into the light, one experiences again and again one’s golden hour of victory—and then one stands forth as one was born, unbreakable, tensed, ready for new, even harder, remoter things, like a bow that distress only serves to draw tauter. (On the Genealogy of Morals)

Today, when suffering is always brought forward as the principal argument against existence, as the worst question mark, one does well to recall the ages in which the opposite opinion prevailed because men were unwilling to refrain from making suffer and saw in it an enchantment of the first order, a genuine seduction to life. Perhaps in those days—the delicate may be comforted by this thought—pain did not hurt as much as it does now. (On the Genealogy of Morals)

This secret self-ravishment, this artists’ cruelty, this delight in imposing a form upon oneself as a hard, recalcitrant, suffering material and in burning a will, a critique, a contradiction, a contempt, a No into it, this uncanny, dreadfully joyous labor of a soul voluntarily at odds with itself that makes itself suffer out of joy in making suffer—eventually this entire active “bad conscience”—you will have guessed it—as the womb of all ideal and imaginative phenomena, also brought to light an abundance of strange new beauty and affirmation, and perhaps beauty itself.—After all, what would be “beautiful” if the contradiction had not first become conscious of itself, if the ugly had not first said to itself: “I am ugly”? (On the Genealogy of Morals)

…whoever has at some time built a “new heaven” has found the power to do so only in his own hell.” (On the Genealogy of Morals)

Out of life’s school of war: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger. (Twilight of the Idols)

Our attitude to the “internal enemy” is no different: here too we have spiritualized hostility; here too we have come to appreciate its value. The price of fruitfulness is to be rich in internal opposition; one remains young only as long as the soul does not stretch itself and desire peace. Nothing has become more alien to us than that desideratum of former times, “peace of soul,” the Christian desideratum; there is nothing we envy less than the moralistic cow and the fat happiness of the good conscience. One has renounced the great life when one renounces war. (Twilight of the Idols)

The most spiritual human beings, if we assume that they are the most courageous, also experienced by far the most painful tragedies: but just for that reason they honor life because it pits its greatest opposition against them. (Twilight of the Idols)

Danger alone points us with our own resources: our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong. First principle: one must need to be strong – otherwise one will never become strong. (Twilight of the Idols)

I took myself in hand, I made myself healthy again: the condition for this—every physiologist would admit that—is that one be healthy at bottom. A typically morbid being cannot become healthy, much less make itself healthy. For a typically healthy person, conversely, being sick can even become an energetic stimulus for life, for living more. This, in fact, is how that long period of sickness appears to me now: as it were, I discovered life anew, including myself; I tasted all good and even little things, as others cannot easily taste them—I turned my will to health, to life, into a philosophy. (Ecce Homo)

Pain is not considered an objection to life: “If you have no more happiness to give me, well then! you still have suffering.” (Ecce Homo)