THE WILL TO POWER
(Nov. 1887-March 1888)
Of what is great one must either be silent
or speak with greatness. With greatness--that
means cynically and with innocence.
What I relate is the history of the next
two centuries. I describe what is coming,
what can no longer come differently: the
advent of nihilism. This history can be related
even now; for necessity itself is at work
here. This future speaks even now in a hundred
signs, this destiny announces itself everywhere;
for this music of the future all ears are
cocked even now. For some time now, our whole
European culture has been moving as toward
a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that
is growing from decade to decade: restlessly,
violently, headlong, like a river that wants
to reach the end, that no longer reflects,
that is afraid to reflect.
He that speaks here, conversely, has done
nothing so far but reflect: a philosopher
and solitary by instinct, who has found his
advantage in standing aside and outside,
in patience, in procrastination, in staying
behind; as a spirit of daring and experiment
that has already lost its way once in every
labyrinth of the future; as a soothsayer-bird
spirit who looks back when relating what
will come; as the first perfect nihilist
of Europe who, however, has even now lived
through the whole of nihilism, to the end,
leaving it behind, outside himself.
For one should make no mistake about the
meaning of the title that this gospel of
the future wants to bear. "The Will
to Power: Attempt at a Revaluation of All
Values"--in this formulation a countermovement
finds expression, regarding both principle
and task; a movement that in some future
will take the place of this perfect nihilism--but
presupposes it, logically and psychologically,
and certainly can come only after and out
of it. For why has the advent of nihilism
become necessary? Because the values we have
had hitherto thus draw their final consequence;
because nihilism represents the ultimate
logical conclusion of our great values and
ideals--because we must experience nihilism
before we can find out what value these "values"
really had.--We require, sometime, new values.
1 (1885-1886) Toward an Outline
1. Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes
this uncanniest of all guests? Point of departure:
it is an error to consider "social distress"
or "physiological degeneration"
or, worse, corruption, as the cause of nihilism.
Ours is the most decent and compassionate
age. Distress, whether of the soul, body,
or intellect, cannot of itself give birth
to nihilism (i. e., the radical repudiation
of value, meaning, and desirability). Such
distress always permits a variety of interpretations.
Rather: it is in one particular interpretation,
the Christian-moral one, that nihilism is
2. The end of Christianity--at the hands
of its own morality (which cannot be replaced),
which turns against the Christian God (the
sense of truthfulness, developed highly by
Christianity, is nauseated by the falseness
and mendaciousness of all Christian interpretations
of the world and of history; rebound from
"God is truth" to the fanatical
faith "All is false"; Buddhism
3. Skepticism regarding morality is what
is decisive. The end of the moral interpretation
of the world, which no longer has any sanction
after it has tried to escape into some beyond,
leads to nihilism. "Everything lacks
meaning" (the untenability of one interpretation
of the world, upon which a tremendous amount
of energy has been lavished, awakens the
suspicion that all interpretations of the
world are false). Buddhistic tendency, yearning
for Nothing. (Indian Buddhism is not the
culmination of a thoroughly moralistic development;
its nihilism is therefore full of morality
that is not overcome: existence as punishment,
existence construed as error, error thus
as a punishment--a moral valuation.) Philosophical
attempts to overcome the "moral God"
(Hegel, pantheism). Overcoming popular ideals:
the sage; the saint; the poet. The antagonism
of "true" and "beautiful"
4. Against "meaninglessness" on
the one hand, against moral value judgments
on the other: to what extent has all science
and philosophy so far been influenced by
moral judgments? and won't this net us the
hostility of science? Or an antiscientific
mentality? Critique of Spinozism. Residues
of Christian value judgments are found everywhere
in socialistic and positivistic systems.
A critique of Christian morality is still
5. The nihilistic consequences of contemporary
natural science (together with its attempts
to escape into some beyond). The industry
of its pursuit eventually leads to self-disintegration,
opposition, an antiscientific mentality.
Since Copernicus man has been rolling from
the center toward X.*
6. The nihilistic consequences of the ways
of thinking in politics and economics, where
all "principles" are practically
histrionic: the air of mediocrity, wretchedness,
dishonesty, etc. Nationalism. Anarchism,
etc. Punishment. The redeeming class and
human being are lacking--the justifiers.
7. The nihilistic consequences of historiography
and of the "practical historians,"
i. e., the romantics. The position of art:
its position in the modern world absolutely
lacking in originality. Its decline into
gloom. Goethe's allegedly Olympian stance.
8. Art and the preparation of nihilism: romanticism
(the conclusion of Wagner's Nibelungen).
2 (Spring-Fall 1887)
What does nihilism mean? That the highest
values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking;
"why?" finds no answer.
3 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Radical nihilism is the conviction of an
absolute untenability of existence when it
comes to the highest values one recognizes;
plus the realization that we lack the least
right to posit a beyond or an in-itself of
things that might be "divine" or
This realization is a consequence of the
cultivation of "truthfulness"--thus
itself a consequence of the faith in morality.
4 (June 10, 1887)3
What were the advantages of the Christian
1. It granted man an absolute value, as opposed
to his smallness and accidental occurrence
in the flux of becoming and passing away.
2. It served the advocates of God insofar
as it conceded to the world, in spite of
suffering and evil, the character of perfection-including
"freedom": evil appeared full of
3. It posited that man had a knowledge of
absolute values and thus adequate knowledge
precisely regarding what is most important.
4. It prevented man from despising himself
as man, from taking sides against life; from
despairing of knowledge: it was a means of
In sum: morality was the great antidote against
practical and theoretical nihilism.
5 (June 10, 1887)
But among the forces cultivated by morality
was truthfulness: this eventually turned
against morality, discovered its teleology,
its partial perspective--and now the recognition
of this inveterate mendaciousness that one
despairs of shedding becomes a stimulant.
Now we discover in ourselves needs implanted
by centuries of moral interpretation--needs
that now appear to us as needs for untruth;
on the other hand, the value for which we
endure life seems to hinge on these needs.
This antagonism--not to esteem what we know,
and not to be allowed any longer to esteem
the lies we should like to tell ourselves--results
in a process of dissolution.
6 (Spring-Fall 1887)
This is the antinomy:
Insofar as we believe in morality we pass
sentence on existence.
7 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
The supreme values in whose service man should
live, especially when they were very hard
on him and exacted a high puce--these social
values were erected over man to strengthen
their voice, as if they were commands of
God, as 'reality," as the true"
world, as a hope and future world. Now that
the shabby origin of these values is becoming
clear, the universe seems to have lost value,
seems "meaningless"--but that is
only a transitional stage.
The nihilistic consequence (the belief in
valuelessness) as a consequence of moral
valuation: everything egoistic has come to
disgust us (even though we realize the impossibility
of the unegoistic); what is necessary has
come to disgust us (even though we realize
the impossibility of any liberum arbitrium
or intelligible freedom"). We see that
we cannot reach the sphere in which we have
placed our values; but this does not by any
means confer any value on that other sphere
in which we live: on the contrary, we are
weary because we have lost the main stimulus
"In vain so far!"
9 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Pessimism as a preliminary form of nihilism.
10 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Pessimism as strength--in what? in the energy
of its logic, as anarchism and nihilism,
Pessimism as decline--in what? as growing
effeteness, as a sort of cosmopolitan fingering,
as "tout comprendre and historicism.
The critical tension: the extremes appear
and become predominant.
11 (Spring-Fall 1887, rev. Spring-Fall 1888)
The logic of pessimism down to ultimate nihilism:
what is at work in it? The idea of valuelessness,
meaninglessness: to what extent moral valuations
hide behind all other high values.
Conclusion: Moral value judgments are ways
of passing sentence, negations; morality
is a way of turning one's back on the will
Problem: But what is morality?
12 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
Decline of Cosmological Values
( A )
Nihilism as a psychological state will have
to be reached, first, when we have sought
a "meaning" in all events that
is not there: so the seeker eventually becomes
discouraged. Nihilism, then, is the recognition
of the long waste of strength, the agony
of the "in vain," insecurity, the
lack of any opportunity to recover and to
regain composure--being ashamed in front
of oneself, as if one had deceived oneself
all too long.--This meaning could have been:
the "fulfillment" of some highest
ethical canon in all events, the moral world
order; or the growth of love and harmony
in the intercourse of beings; or the gradual
approximation of a state of universal happiness;
or even the development toward a state of
universal annihilation--any goal at least
constitutes some meaning. What all these
notions have in common is that something
is to be achieved through the process--and
now one realizes that becoming aims at nothing
and achieves nothing.-- Thus, disappointment
regarding an alleged aim of becoming as a
cause of nihilism: whether regarding a specific
aim or, universalized, the realization that
all previous hypotheses about aims that concern
the whole "evolution" are inadequate
(man no longer the collaborator, let alone
the center, of becoming).
Nihilism as a psychological state is reached,
secondly, when one has posited a totality,
a systematization, indeed any organization
in all events, and underneath all events,
and a soul that longs to admire and revere
has wallowed in the idea of some supreme
form of domination and administration (--if
the soul be that of a logician, complete
consistency and real dialectic are quite
sufficient to reconcile it to everything).
Some sort of unity, some form of "monism":
this faith suffices to give man a deep feeling
of standing in the context of, and being
dependent on, some whole that is infinitely
superior to him, and he sees himself as a
mode of the deity.--"The well-being
of the universal demands the devotion of
the individual"--but behold, there is
no such universal! At bottom, man has lost
the faith in his own value when no infinitely
valuable whole works through him; i. e.,
he conceived such a whole in order to be
able to believe in his own value.
Nihilism as psychological state has yet a
third and last form.
Given these two insights, that becoming has
no goal and that underneath all becoming
there is no grand unity in which the individual
could immerse himself completely as in an
element of supreme value, an escape remains:
to pass sentence on this whole world of becoming
as a deception and to invent a world beyond
it, a true world. But as soon as man finds
out how that world is fabricated solely from
psychological needs, and how he has absolutely
no right to it, the last form of nihilism
comes into being: it includes disbelief in
any metaphysical world and forbids itself
any belief in a true world. Having reached
this standpoint, one grants the reality of
becoming as the only reality, forbids oneself
every kind of clandestine access to afterworlds
and false divinities--but cannot endure this
world though one does not want to deny it.
What has happened, at bottom? The feeling
of valuelessness was reached with the realization
that the overall character of existence may
not be interpreted by means of the concept
of "aim," the concept of "unity,"
or the concept of "truth." Existence
has no goal or end; any comprehensive unity
in the plurality of events is lacking: the
character of existence is not "true,"
is false. One simply lacks any reason for
convincing oneself that there is a true world.
Briefly: the categories "aim,"
"unity," "being" which
we used to project some value into the world--we
pull out again; so the world looks valueless.
( B )
Suppose we realize how the world may no longer
be interpreted in terms of these three categories,
and that the world begins to become valueless
for us after this insight: then we have to
ask about the sources of our faith in these
three categories. Let us try if it is not
possible to give up our faith in them. Once
we have devaluated these three categories,
the demonstration that they cannot be applied
to the universe is no longer any reason for
devaluating the universe.
Conclusion: The faith in the categories of
reason is the cause of nihilism. We have
measured the value of the world according
to categories that refer to a purely fictitious
Final conclusion: All the values by means
of which we have tried so far to render the
world estimable for ourselves and which then
proved inapplicable and therefore devaluated
the world--all these values are, psychologically
considered, the results of certain perspectives
of utility, designed to maintain and increase
human constructs of domination--and they
have been falsely projected into the essence
of things. What we find here is still the
hyperbolic naivete of man: positing himself
as the meaning and measure of the value of
13 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Nihilism represents a pathological transitional
stage (what is pathological is the tremendous
generalization, the inference that there
is no meaning at all): whether the productive
forces are not yet strong enough, or whether
decadence still hesitates and has not yet
invented its remedies.
Presupposition of this hypothesis: that there
is no truth, that there is no absolute nature
of things nor a "thing-in-itself."
This, too, IS merely nihilism--even the most
extreme nihilism. It places the value of
things precisely in the lack of any reality
corresponding to these values and in their
being merely a symptom of strength on the
part of the value-positers, a simplification
for the sake of life.
14 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Values and their changes are related to increases
in the power of those positing the values.
The measure of unbelief, of permitted "freedom
of the spirit" as an expression of an
increase in power.
"Nihilism" an ideal of the highest
degree of powerfulness of spirit, the over-richest
life--partly destructive, partly ironic.
15 (Spring-Fall 1837)
What is a belief? How does it originate?
Every belief is a considering-something-true.
The most extreme form of nihilism would be
the view that every belief, every considering-something-true,
is necessarily false cause there simply is
no true world. Thus, a perspectival appearance
whose origin lies in us (in so far as we
continually need a narrower, abbreviated,
-That it is the measure of strength to what
extent we can admit to ourselves, without
perishing, the merely apparent character,
the necessity of lies.
To this extent, nihilism, as the denial of
a truthful world, of being, might be a divine
way of thinking.
16 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
If we are "disappointed," it is
at least not regarding life: rather we are
now facing up to all kinds of "desiderata."
With scornful wrath we contemplate what are
called "ideals"; we despise ourselves
only because there are moments when we cannot
subdue that absurd impulse that is called
"idealism." The influence of too
much coddling is stronger than the wrath
of the disappointed.
17 (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. 1888)
To what extent Schopenhauer's nihilism still
follows from the same ideal that created
Christian theism.--One felt so certain about
the highest desiderata, the highest values,
the highest perfection that the philosophers
assumed this as an absolute certainty, as
if it were a priori: "God" at the
apex as a given truth. "To become as
God," "to be absorbed into God"--for
thousands of years these were the most naive
and convincing desiderata (but what convinces
is not necessarily true--it is merely convincing:
a note for asses).
One has unlearned the habit of conceding
to this posited ideal the reality of a person;
one has become atheistic. But has the ideal
itself been renounced?--At bottom, the last
metaphysicians still seek in it true "reality,"
the "thing-in-itself" compared
to which everything else is merely apparent.
It is their dogma that our apparent world,
being so plainly not the expression of this
ideal, cannot be "true"--and that,
at bottom, it does not even lead us back
to that metaphysical world as its cause.
The unconditional, representing that highest
perfection, cannot possibly be the ground
of all that is conditional. Schopenhauer
wanted it otherwise and therefore had to
conceive of this metaphysical ground as the
opposite of the ideal--as "evil, blind
will": that way it could be that "which
appears," that which reveals itself
in the world of appearances. But even so
he did not renounce the absoluteness of the
ideal--he sneaked by.-
(Kant considered the hypothesis of "intelligible
freedom" necessary in order to acquit
the ens perfection of responsibility for
the world's being such-and-such-in short,
to account for evil and ills: a scandalous
bit of logic for a philosopher.)
The most universal sign of the modern age:
man has lost dignity in his own eyes to an
incredible extent. For a long time the center
and tragic hero of existence in general;
then at least intent on proving himself closely
related to the decisive and essentially valuable
side of existence--like all metaphysicians
who wish to cling to the dignity of man,
with their faith that moral values are cardinal
values. Those who have abandoned God cling
that much more firmly to the faith in morality.
Every purely moral value system (that of
Buddhism, for example) ends in nihilism:
this to be expected in Europe. One still
hopes to get along with a moralism without
religious background: but that necessarily
leads to nihilism.--In religion the constraint
is lacking to consider ourselves as value-positing.
20 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The nihilistic question "for what?"
is rooted in the old habit of supposing that
the goal must be put up, given, demanded
from outside-by some superhuman authority.
Having unlearned faith in that, one still
follows the old habit and seeks another authority
that can speak unconditionally and command
goals and tasks. The authority of conscience
now steps up front (the more emancipated
one is from theology, the more imperativistic
morality becomes) to compensate for the loss
of a personal authority. Or the authority
of reason. Or the social instinct (the herd).
Or history with an immanent spirit and a
goal within, so one can entrust oneself to
it. One wants to get around the will, the
willing of a goal, the risk of positing a
goal for oneself; one wants to rid oneself
of the responsibility (one would accept fatalism).
Finally, happiness--and, with a touch of
Tartuffe, the happiness of the greatest number.
One says to oneself:
1. a definite goal is not necessary at all,
2. cannot possibly be anticipated.
Just now when the greatest strength of will
would be necessary, it is weakest and least
confident. Absolute mistrust regarding the
organizing strength of the will for the whole.
21 (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. 1888)
The perfect nihilist.--The nihilist's eye
idealizes in the direction of ugliness and
is unfaithful to his memories: it allows
them to drop, lose their leaves; it does
not guard them against the corpselike pallor
that weakness pours out over what is distant
and gone. And what he does not do for himself,
he also does not do for the whole past of
mankind: he lets it drop.
22 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Nihilism. It is ambiguous:
A. Nihilism as a sign of increased power
of the spirit: as active nihilism.
B. Nihilism as decline and recession of the
power of the spirit: as passive nihilism.
23 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Nihilism as a normal condition.
It can be a sign of strength: the spirit
may have grown so strong that previous goals
("convictions," articles of faith)
have become incommensurate (for a faith generally
expresses the constraint of conditions of
existence, submission to the authority of
circumstances under which one flourishes,
grows, gains power). Or a sign of the lack
of strength to posit for oneself, productively,
a goal, a why, a faith.
It reaches its maximum of relative strength
as a violent force of destruction--as active
Its opposite: the weary nihilism that no
longer attacks; its most famous form, Buddhism;
a passive nihilism, a sign of weakness. The
strength of the spirit may be worn out, exhausted,
so that previous goals and values have become
incommensurate and no longer are believed;
so that the synthesis of values and goals
(on which every strong culture rests) dissolves
and the individual values war against each
other: disintegration--and whatever refreshes,
heals, calms, numbs emerges into the foreground
in various disguises, religious or moral,
or political, or aesthetic, etc.
24 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
Nihilism does not only contemplate the "in
vain!" nor is it merely the belief that
everything deserves to perish: one helps
to destroy.--This is, if you will, illogical;
but the nihilist does not believe that one
needs to be logical.--It is the condition
of strong spirits and wills, and these do
not find it possible to stop with the No
of "judgment": their nature demands
the No of the deed. The reduction to nothing
by judgment is seconded by the reduction
to nothing by hand.
25 (Spring-Fall 1887)
On the genesis of the nihilist.--It is only
late that one musters the courage for what
one really knows.'. That I have hitherto
been a thorough-going nihilist, I have admitted
to myself only recently: the energy and radicalism
with which I advanced as a nihilist deceived
me about this basic fact. When one moves
toward a goal it seems impossible that "goal-lessness
as such" is the principle of our faith.
26 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The pessimism of active energy: the question
"for what?" after a terrible struggle,
even victory. That something is a hundred
times more important than the question of
whether we feel well or not: basic instinct
of all strong natures--and consequently also
whether others feel well or not. In sum,
that we have a goal for which one does not
hesitate to offer human sacrifices, to risk
every danger, to take upon oneself whatever
is bad and worst: the great passion.
27 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Causes of nihilism: 1. The higher species
is lacking, i. e., those whose inexhaustible
fertility and power keep up the faith in
man. (One should recall what one owes to
Napoleon: almost all of the higher hopes
of this century.)
2. The lower species ("herd," "mass,"
"society") unlearns modesty and
blows up its needs into cosmic and metaphysical
values. In this way the whole of existence
is vulgarized: in so far as the mass is dominant
it bullies the exceptions, so they lose their
faith in themselves and become nihilists.
All attempts to think up higher types failed
("romanticism"; the artist, the
philosopher; against Carlyle's attempt to
ascribe to them the highest moral values).
The resistance to higher types as a result.
Decline and insecurity of all higher types.
The fight against the genius ("folk
poetry," etc.). Pity for the lowly and
suffering as a measure for the height of
The philosopher is lacking who interprets
the deed and does not merely transpose it.
28 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Main proposition. How complete nihilism is
the necessary consequence of the ideals entertained
Incomplete nihilism; its forms: we live in
the midst of it.
Attempts to escape nihilism without revaluating
our values so far: they produce the opposite,
make the problem more acute.
The ways of self-narcotization.--Deep down:
not knowing whither. Emptiness. Attempt to
get over it by intoxication intoxication
as music; intoxication as cruelty in the
tragic enjoyment of the destruction of the
noblest; intoxication as blind enthusiasm
for single human beings or ages (as hatred,
etc.).--Attempt to work blindly as an instrument
of science: opening one's eyes to the many
small enjoyments; e. g., also in the quest
of knowledge (modesty toward oneself); resignation
to generalizing about oneself, a pathos;
mysticism, the voluptuous enjoyment of eternal
emptiness; art "for its own sake"
("le fait") and "pure knowledge"
as narcotic states of disgust with oneself;
some kind or other of continual work, or
of some stupid little fanaticism; a medley
of all means, sickness owing to general immoderation
(debauchery kills enjoyment).
1. Weakness of the will as a result.
2. Extreme pride and the humiliation of petty
weakness felt in contrast.
30 (Nov. 1887-March 1888; rev. 1888)
The time has come when we have to pay for
having been Christians for two thousand years:
we are losing the center of gravity by virtue
of which we lived; we are lost for a while.
Abruptly we plunge into the opposite valuations,
with all the energy that such an extreme
overvaluation of man has generated in man.
Now everything is false through and through,
mere "words," chaotic, weak, or
a. one attempts a kind of this-worldly solution,
but in the same sense--that of the eventual
triumph of truth, love, and justice (socialism:
"equality of the person");
b. one also tries to hold on to the moral
ideal (with the pre-eminence of what is un-egoistic,
self-denial, negation of the win);
c. one tries to hold on even to the "beyond"--even
if only as some antilogical "x"--but
one immediately interprets it in such a way
that some sort of old-fashioned metaphysical
comfort can be derived from it;
d. one tries to find in events an old-fashioned
divine governance--an order of things that
rewards, punishes, educates, and betters;
e. one still believes in good and evil and
experiences the triumph of the good and the
annihilation of evil as a task (that is English;
typical case: the flathead John Stuart Mill);
f. contempt for what is "natural,"
for desire, for the ego: attempt to understand
even the highest spirituality and art as
the consequence of depersonalization and
g. the church is still permitted to obtrude
into all important experiences and main points
of individual life to hallow them and give
them a higher meaning: we still have the
"Christian state," "Christian
There have been more thoughtful and thought-addicted
ages than ours: ages, e. g., like that in
which the Buddha appeared, when after centuries
of quarrels among sects the people themselves
were as deeply lost in the ravines of philosophic
doctrines as European nations were at times
in the subtleties of religious dogmas. Surely,
one should not let "literature"
and the press seduce us to think well of
the "spirit" of our time: the existence
of millions of spiritists and a Christianity
that goes in for gymnastics of that gruesome
ugliness that characterizes all English inventions
are more instructive.
European pessimism is still in its early
stages--bears witness against itself: it
still lacks that tremendous, yearning rigidity
of expression in which the Nothing is reflected,
once found in India; it is still far too
contrived and too little "organic"-too
much a pessimism of scholars and poets: I
mean, much of it is excogitated and invented,
is "created" and not a "cause."
32 (Summer-Fall 1888)
Critique of pessimism to date.--Resistance
to eudaemonistic considerations as the last
reduction to the question: what does it mean?
The reduction of growing gloom.-
Our pessimism: the world does not have the
value we thought it had. Our faith itself
has so increased our desire for knowledge
that today we have to say this. Initial result:
it seems worth less; that is how it is experienced
initially. It is only in this sense that
we are pessimists; i. e., in our determination
to admit this revaluation to ourselves without
any reservation, and to stop telling ourselves
tales-lies-the old way.
That is precisely how we find the pathos
that impels us to seek new values. In sum:
the world might be far more valuable than
we used to believe; we must see through the
naivete of our ideals, and while we thought
that we accorded it the highest interpretation,
we may not even have given our human existence
a moderately fair value.
What has been deïfied? The value instincts
in the community (that which made possible
its continued existence).
What has been slandered? That which set apart
the higher men from the lower, the desires
that create clefts.
33 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Causes of the advent of pessimism:
1. that the most powerful desires of life
that have the most future have hitherto been
slandered, so a curse weighs on life;
2. that the growing courage and integrity
and the bolder mistrust that now characterize
man comprehend that these instincts are inseparable
from life, and one therefore turns against
3. that only the most mediocre, who have
no feeling at all for this conflict, flourish
while the higher kind miscarries and, as
a product of degeneration, invites antipathy--that
the mediocre on the other hand, when they
pose as the goal and meaning, arouse indignation
(that nobody is able any more to answer any
"for what or who?"
4. that diminution, sensitivity to pain,
restlessness, haste, and hustling grow continually--that
it becomes easier and easier to recognize
this whole commotion, this so-called "civilization,"
and that the individual, faced with this
tremendous machinery, loses courage and submits.
Modern pessimism is an expression of the
uselessness of the modern world--not of the
world of existence.
35 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The "predominance of suffering over
pleasure" or the opposite (hedonism):
these two doctrines are already signposts
For in both of these cases no ultimate meaning
is posited except the appearance of pleasure
But that is how a kind of man speaks that
no longer dares to posit a will, a purpose,
a meaning: for any healthier kind of man
the value of life is certainly not measured
by the standard of these trifles. And suffering
might predominate, and in spite of that a
powerful will might exist, a Yes to life,
a need for thus predominance.
"Life is not worthwhile"; "resignation";
"why the tears?-- a weakly and sentimental
way of thinking. "Un monstre gai vaut
mieux qu'un sentimental ennuyeux.
36 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
The philosophical nihilist is convinced that
all that happens is meaningless and in vain;
and that there ought not to be anything meaningless
and in vain. But whence this: there ought
not to be. From where does one get this "meaning,"
this standard?-- At bottom, the nihilist
thinks that the sight of such a bleak, useless
existence makes a philosopher feel dissatisfied,
bleak, desperate. Such an insight goes against
our finer sensibility as philosophers. It
amounts to the absurd valuation: to have
any right to be, the character of existence
would have to give the philosopher pleasure.
Now it is easy to see that pleasure and displeasure
can only be means in the course of events:
the question remains whether we are at all
able to see the "meaning," the
"aim," whether the question of
meaninglessness or its opposite is not insoluble
37 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The development of pessimism into nihilism.--Denaturalization
of values. Scholasticism of values. Detached
and idealistic, values, instead of dominating
and guiding action, turn against action and
Opposites replace natural degrees and ranks.
Hatred against the order of rank. Opposites
suit a plebeian age because easier to comprehend.
The repudiated world versus an artificially
built "true, valuable" one.--Finally:
one discovers of what material one has built
the "true world": and now all one
has left is the repudiated world, and one
adds this supreme disappointment to the reasons
why it deserves to be repudiated.
At this point nihilism is reached: all one
has left are the values that pass judgment--nothing
Here the problem of strength and weakness
1. The weak perish of it;
2. those who are stronger destroy what does
3. those who are strongest overcome the values
that pass judgment.
In sum this constitutes the tragic age.
Recently much mischief has been done with
an accidental and in every way unsuitable
word: everywhere "pessimism" is
discussed, and the question is debated whether
pessmism or optimism is right, as if there
must be answers to that.
One fails to see, although it could hardly
be more obvious, that pessimism is not a
problem but a symptom, that the name should
be replaced by "nihilism," that
the question whether not-to-be is better
than to be is itself a disease, a sign of
decline, an idiosyncrasy.
The nihilistic movement is merely the expression
of physiological decadence.
39 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
To be comprehended: That every kind of decay
and sickness has continually helped to form
overall value judgments; that decadence has
actually gained predominance in the value
judgments that have become accepted; that
we not only have to fight against the consequences
of all present misery of degeneration, but
that all previous decadence is still residual,
i. e., survives. Such a total aberration
of mankind from its basic instincts, such
a total decadence of value judgments--that
is the question mark par excellence, the
real riddle that the animal "man"
poses for the philosopher.
40 (March-June 1888)
The concept of decadence.--Waste, decay,
elimination need not be condemned: they are
necessary consequences of life, of the growth
of life. The phenomenon of decadence is as
necessary as any increase and advance of
life: one is in no position to abolish it.
Reason demands, on the contrary, that we
do justice to it.
It is a disgrace for all socialist systematizers
that they suppose there could be circumstances--social
combinations--in which vice, disease, prostitution,
distress would no longer grow.--But that
means condemning life.--A society is not
free to remain young. And even at the height
of its strength it has to form refuse and
waste materials. The more energetically and
boldly it advances, the richer it will be
in failures and deformities, the closer to
decline.--Age is not abolished by means of
institutions. Neither is disease. Nor vice.
41 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
Basic insight regarding the nature of decadence:
its supposed causes are its consequences.
This changes the whole perspective of moral
The whole moral struggle against vice, luxury,
crime, even disease, appears a naivete and
superfluous: there is no "improvement"
Decadence itself is nothing to be fought:
it is absolutely necessary and belongs to
every age and every people. What should be
fought vigorously is the contagion of the
healthy parts of the organism.
Is this being done? The opposite is done.
Precisely that is attempted in the name of
How are the supreme values held so far, related
to this basic biological question? Philosophy,
religion, morality, art, etc.
(The cure: e. g., militarism, beginning with
Napoleon who considered civilization his
42 (March-June 1888)
The supposed causes of degeneration are its
But the supposed remedies of degeneration
are also mere palliatives against some of
its effects: the "cured" are merely
one type of the degenerates.
Consequences of decadence: vice--the addiction
to vice; sickness, crime-criminality; celibacy-sterility;
hystericism, weakness of the will; alcoholism;
pessimism; anarchism; libertinism (also of
the spirit). The slanderers, underminers,
43 (March-June 1888)
On the concept of decadence.
1. Skepticism is a consequence of decadence,
as is libertinism of the spirit.
2. The corruption of morals is a consequence
of decadence (weakness of the will, need
for strong stimuli).
3. Attempted cures, psychological and moral,
do not change the course of decadence, do
not arrest it, are physiologically naught:
Insight into the great nullity of these presumptuous
"reactions"; they are forms of
narcotization against certain terrible consequences;
they do not eliminate the morbid element;
often they are heroic attempts to annul the
man of decadence and to realize the minimum
of his harmfulness.
4. Nihilism is no cause but merely the logical
result of decadence.
5. The "good" and "bad"
man are merely two types of decadence: in
all basic phenomena they agree.
6. The social question is a consequence of
7. Sicknesses, especially those affecting
nerves and head, are signs that the defensive
strength of the strong natures is lacking;
precisely this is suggested by irritability,
so pleasure and displeasure become foreground
44 (Spring-Summer 1888)
Most general types of decadence:
1. Believing one chooses remedies, one chooses
in fact that which hastens exhaustion; Christianity
is an example (to name the greatest example
of such an aberration of the instincts);
"progress" is another instance.-
2. One loses one's power of resistance against
stimuli--and comes to be at the mercy of
accidents: one coarsens and enlarges one's
disintegration of the will; example: one
whole type of morality, the altruistic one
which talks much of pity--and is distinguished
by the weakness of the personality, so that
it is sounded, too, and like an overstimulated
string vibrates continually--an extreme irritability.-
3. One confuses cause and effect: one fails
to understand decadence as a physiological
condition and mistakes its consequences for
the real cause of the indisposition; example:
all of religious morality.
4. One longs for a condition in which one
no longer suffers: life is actually experienced
as the ground of ills; one esteems unconscious
states, without feeling, (sleep, fainting)
as incomparably more valuable than conscious
ones; from this a method.
45 (March-June 1888)
On the hygiene of the "weak."--Everything
done in weakness fails. Moral: do nothing.
Only there is the hitch that precisely the
strength to suspend activity, not to react,
is sickest of all under the influence of
weakness: one never reacts more quickly and
blindly than when one should not react at
A strong nature manifests itself by waiting
and postponing any reaction: it is as much
characterized by a certain adiaphoria as
weakness is by an involuntary countermovement
and the suddenness and inevitability of "action."--
The will is weak-- and the prescription to
avoid stupidities would be to have a strong
will and to do nothing.--Contradictio.--A
kind of self- destruction; the instinct of
preservation is compromised.--The weak harm
themselves.--That is the type of decadence.
In fact, we find a tremendous amount of reflection
about practices that would lead to impassability.
The instinct is on the right track insofar
as doing nothing is more expedient than doing
All the practices of the orders, the solitary
philosophers, the fakirs are inspired by
the right value standard that a certain kind
of man cannot benefit himself more than by
preventing himself as much as possible from
Means of relief: absolute obedience, machinelike
activity, avoidance of people and things
that would demand instant decisions and actions.
46 (March-June 1888)
Weakness of the will: that is a metaphor
that can prove misleading. For there is no
will, and consequently neither a strong nor
a weak will. The multitude and disgregation
of impulses and the lack of any systematic
order among them result in a "weak will";
their coordination under a single predominant
impulse results in a "strong will":
in the first case it is the oscillation and
the lack of gravity; in the latter, the precision
and clarity of the direction.
47 (March-June 1888)
What is inherited is not the sickness but
sickliness: the lack of strength to resist
the danger of infections, etc., the broken
resistance; morally speaking, resignation
and meekness in face of the enemy.
I have asked myself if all the supreme values
of previous philosophy, morality, and religion
could not be compared to the values of the
weakened, the mentally ill, and neurasthenics:
in a milder form, they represent the same
It is the value of all morbid states that
they show us under a magnifying glass certain
states that are normal--but not easily visible
Health and sickness are not essentially different,
as the ancient physicians and some practitioners
even today suppose. One must not make of
them distinct principles or entities that
fight over the living organism and turn it
into their arena. That is silly nonsense
and chatter that is no good any longer. In
fact, there are only differences in degree
between these two kinds of existence: the
exaggeration, the disproportion, the nonharmony
of the normal phenomena constitute the pathological
state (Claude Bernard).
Just as "evil" can be considered
as exaggeration, disharmony, disproportion,
"the good" may be a protective
diet against the danger of exaggeration,
disharmony, and disproportion.
Hereditary weakness as the dominant feeling:
cause of the supreme values.
N. B. One wants weakness: why? Usually because
one is necessarily weak.
Weakness as a task: weakening the desires,
the feelings of pleasure and displeasure,
the will to power, to a sense of pride, to
want to have and have more; weakening as
meekness; weakening as faith; weakening as
aversion and shame in the face of everything
natural, as negation of life, as sickness
and habitual weakness--weakening as the renunciation
of revenge, of resistance, of enmity and
-The error in treatment: one does not want
to fight weakness with a systeme fortifiant,
but rather with a kind of justification and
moralization; i. e., with an interpretation.-
-Two totally different states confounded:
e. g., the calm of strength, which is essentially
forbearance from reaction (type of the gods
whom nothing moves)--and the calm of exhaustion,.
rigidity to the point of anesthesia. All
philosophic-ascetic procedures aim at the
second, but really intend the former--for
they attribute predicates to the attained
state as if a divine state had been attained.
48 (March-June 1888)
The most dangerous misunderstanding.--One
concept apparently permits no confusion or
ambiguity: that of exhaustion. Exhaustion
can be acquired or inherited--in any case
it changes the aspect of things, the value
As opposed to those who, from the fullness
they represent and feel, involuntarily give
to things and see them fuller, more powerful,
and pregnant with future--who at least are
able to bestow something--the exhausted diminish
and botch all they see--they impoverish the
value: they are harmful.-
About this no mistake seems possible: yet
history contains the gruesome fact that the
exhausted have always been mistaken for the
fullest--and the fullest for the most harmful.
Those poor in life, the weak, impoverish
life; those rich in life, the strong, enrich
it. The first are parasites of life; the
second give presents to it.--How is it possible
to confound these two?
When the exhausted appeared with the gesture
of the highest activity and energy (when
degeneration effected an excess of spiritual
and nervous discharge), they were mistaken
for the rich. They excited fear.--The cult
of the fool is always the cult of those rich
in life, the powerful. The fanatic, the possessed,
the religious epileptic, all eccentrics have
been experienced as the highest types of
power: as divine.
This kind of strength that excites fear was
considered preeminently divine: here was
the origin of authority; here one interpreted,
heard, sought wisdom.--This led to the development,
almost everywhere, of a will to "deify,"
i. e., a will to the typical degeneration
of spirit, body, and nerves: an attempt to
find the way to this higher level of being.
To make oneself sick, mad, to provoke the
symptoms of derangement and ruin-that was
taken for becoming stronger, more superhuman,
more terrible, wiser. One thought that in
this way one became so rich in power that
one could give from one's fullness. Wherever
one adored one sought one who could give.
Here the experience of intoxication proved
misleading. This increases the feeling of
power in the highest degree--therefore, naively
judged, power itself. On the highest rung
of power one placed the most intoxicated,
the ecstatic. (--There are two sources of
intoxication: the over-great fullness of
life and a state of pathological nourishment
of the brain.)
49 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
Acquired, not inherited, exhaustion: (1)
Inadequate nourishment, often from ignorance
about norishment; e. g., among scholars.
(2) Erotic precociousness: the curse in particular
of French youth, above all in Paris, who
emerge into the world from their Lycees botched
and soiled and never free themselves again
from the chain of contemptible inclinations,
ironical and disdainful toward themselves--galley
slaves with all refinements (incidentally,
in most cases already a symptom of the decadence
of race and family, like all hypersensitivity;
also the contagion of the milieu--to let
oneself be determined by one's environment
is decadent). (3) Alcoholism--not the instinct
but the habit, the stupid imitation, the
cowardly or vain assimilation to a dominant
What a blessing a Jew is among Germans! How
much dullness, how blond the head, how blue
the eye; the lack of esprit in face, word,
posture; the lazy stretching-oneself, the
German need for a good rest--not prompted
by overwork but by the disgusting stimulation
and overstimulation through alcoholica.-
Theory of exhaustion.--Vice, the mentally
ill (resp., the artists-), the criminals,
the anarchists--these are not the oppressed
classes but the scum of previous society
of all classes.-
Realizing that all our classes are permeated
by these elements, we understand that modern
society is no "society," no "body,"
but a sick conglomerate of chandalas--a society
that no longer has the strength to excrete.
To what extent sickliness, owing to the symbiosis
goes much deeper:
modern spirituality, = as forms of sickness.
Our science =
51 (March-June 1888)
The state of corruption.--To understand how
all forms of corruption belong together,
without forgetting the Christian corruption
(Pascal as type) as well as the socialist-communist
corruption (a consequence of the Christian--from
the point of view of the natural sciences,
the socialists' conception of the highest
society is the lowest in the order of rank);
also the "beyond" corruption: as
if outside the actual world, that of becoming,
there were another world of being.
Here no terms are permissible: here one has
to eradicate, annihilate, wage war; everywhere
the Christian-nihilistic value standard still
has to be pulled up and fought under every
mask; e. g., in present-day sociology, in
present-day music, in present-day pessimism
(all of them forms of the Christian value
Either the one is true or the other: true
here means elevating the type of man.
The priest, the shepherd of souls, as objectionable
forms of existence. All of education to date,
helpless, untenable, without center of gravity,
stained by the contradiction of values.
52 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
Nature is not immoral when it has no pity
for the degenerate: on the contrary, the
growth of physiological and moral ills among
mankind is the consequence of a pathological
and unnatural morality. The sensibility of
the majority of men is pathological and unnatural.
Why is it that mankind is corrupt morally
and physiologically?-The body perishes when
an organ is altered. The right of altruism
cannot be derived from physiology; nor can
the right to help and to an equality of lots:
these are prizes for the degenerate and underprivileged.
There is no solidarity in a society in which
there are sterile, unproductive, and destructive
elements--which, incidentally? will have
descendants even more degenerate than they
53 (March-June 1888)
Even the ideals of science can be deeply,
yet completely unconsciously influenced by
decadence: our entire sociology is proof
of that. The objection to it is that from
experience it knows only the form of the
decay of society, and inevitably it takes
its own instincts of decay for the norms
of sociological judgment.
In these norms the life that is declining
in present-day Europe formulates its social
ideals: one cannot tell them from the ideals
of old races that have outlived themselves.-
The herd instinct, then--a power that has
now become sovereign--is something totally
different from the instinct of an aristocratic
society: and the value of the units determines
the significance of the sum.--Our entire
sociology simply does not know any other
instinct than that of the herd, i. e., that
of the sum of zeroes--where every zero has
"equal rights," where it is virtuous
to be zero.-
The valuation that is today applied to the
different forms of society is entirely identical
with that which assigns a higher value to
peace than to war: but this judgment is antibiological,
is itself a fruit of the decadence of life.--Life
is a consequence of war, society itself a
means to war.--As a biologist, Mr. Herbert
Spencer is a decadent; as a moralist, too
(he considers the triumph of altruism a desideratum!
54 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
It is my good fortune that after whole millennia
of error and confusion I have rediscovered
the way that leads to a Yes and a No.
I teach the No to all that makes weak--that
I teach the Yes to all that strengthens,
that stores up strength, that justifies the
feeling of strength.
So far one has taught neither the one nor
the other: virtue has been taught, mortification
of the self, pity, even the negation of life.
All these are the values of the exhausted.
Prolonged reflection on the physiology of
exhaustion forced me to ask to what extent
the judgments of the exhausted had penetrated
the world of values.
My result was as surprising as possible,
even for me who was at home in many a strange
world: I found that all of the supreme value
judgments--all that have come to dominate
mankind, at least that part that has become
tame--can be derived from the judgments of
Under the holiest names I pulled up destructive
tendencies; one has called God what weakens,
teaches weakness, infects with weakness.--I
found that the "good man" is one
of the forms in which decadence affirms itself.
That virtue of which Schopenhauer still taught
that it is the supreme, the only virtue,
and the basis of all virtues--precisely pity
I recognized as more dangerous than any vice.
To cross as a matter of principle selection
in the species and its purification of refuse--that
has so far been called virtue par excellence.-
One should respect fatality--that fatality
that says to the weak: perish!-
One has called it God--that one resisted
fatality, that one--corrupted mankind and
made it rot.-- One should not use the name
of God in vain.-
The race is corrupted--not by its vices but
by its ignorance; it is corrupted because
it did not recognize exhaustion as exhaustion:
mistakes about physiological states are the
source of all ills.-
Virtue is our greatest misunderstanding.
Problem: How did the exhausted come to make
the laws about values? Put differently: How
did those come to power who are the last.--How
did the instinct of the human animal come
to stand on its head?-
55 (June 10, 1887)31
Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate
ones but by extreme positions of the opposite
kind. Thus the belief in the absolute immorality
of nature, in aim- and meaninglessness, is
the psychologically necessary affect once
the belief in God and an essentially moral
order becomes untenable. Nihilism appears
at that point, not that the displeasure at
existence has become greater than before
but because one has come to mistrust any
"meaning" in suffering, indeed
in existence. One interpretation has collapsed;
but because it was considered the interpretation
it now seems as if there were no meaning
at all in existence, as if everything were
That this "in vain" constitutes
the character of present-day nihilism remains
to be shown. The mistrust of our previous
valuations grows until it becomes the question:
"Are not all 'values' lures that draw
out the comedy without bringing it closer
to a solution?" Duration "in vain,"
without end or aim, is the most paralyzing
idea, particularly when one understands that
one is being fooled and yet lacks the power
not to be fooled.
Let us think this thought in its most terrible
form: existence as it is, without meaning
or aim, yet recurring inevitably without
any finale of nothingness: "the eternal
recurrence." This is the most extreme
form of nihilism: the nothing (the "meaningless"),
The European form of Buddhism: the energy
of knowledge and strength compels this belief.
It is the most scientific of all possible
hypotheses. We deny end goals: if existence
had one it would have to have been reached.
So one understands that an antithesis to
pantheism is attempted here: for "everything
perfect, divine, eternal" also compels
a faith in the "eternal recurrence."
Question: does morality make impossible *is
pantheistic affirmation of all things, too?
At bottom, it is only the moral god that
has been overcome. Does it make sense to
conceive a god "beyond good and evil"?
Would a pantheism in this sense be possible?
Can we remove the idea of a goal from the
process and then affirm the process in spite
of this?-This would be the case if something
were attained at every moment within this
process--and always the same. Spinoza reached
such an affirmative position in so far as
every moment has a logical necessity, and
with his basic instinct, which was logical,
he felt a sense of triumph that the world
should be constituted that way.
But his case is only a single case. Every
basic character trait that is encountered
at the bottom of every event, that finds
expression in every event, would have to
lead every individual who experienced it
as his own basic character trait to welcome
every moment of universal existence with
a sense of triumph. The crucial point would
be that one experienced this basic character
trait in oneself as good, valuable--with
It was morality that protected life against
despair and the leap into nothing, among
men and classes who were violated and oppressed
by men: for it is the experience of being
powerless against men, not against nature,
that generates the most desperate embitterment
against existence. Morality treated the violent
despots, the doers of violence, the "masters"
in general as the enemies against whom the
common man must be protected, which means
first of all encouraged and strengthened.
Morality consequently taught men to hate
and despise most profoundly what is the basic
character trait of those who rule: their
will to power. To abolish, deny, and dissolve
this morality--that would mean looking at
the best-hated drive with an opposite feeling
and valuation. If the suffering and oppressed
lost the faith that they have the right to
despise the will to power, they would enter
the phase of hopeless despair. This would
be the case if this trait were essential
to life and it could be shown that even in
this will to morality this very "will
to power" were hidden, and even this
hatred and contempt were still a will to
power. The oppressed would come to see that
they were on the same plain with the oppressors,
without prerogative, without higher rank.
Rather the opposite! There is nothing to
life that has value, except the degree of
power-assuming that life itself is the will
to power. Morality guarded the underprivileged
against nihilism by assigning to each an
infinite value, a metaphysical value, and
by placing each in an order that did not
agree with the worldly order of rank and
power: it taught resignation, meekness, etc.
Supposipg that the faith in this morality
would perish, then the underprivileged would
no longer have their comfort--and they would
This perishing takes the form of self-destruction--the
instinctive selection of that which must
destroy. Symptoms of this selfdestruction
of the underprivileged: self-vivisection,
poisoning, intoxication, romanticism, above
all the instinctive need for actions that
turn the powerful into mortal enemies (as
it were, one breeds one's own hangmen); the
will to destruction as the will of a still
deeper instinct, the instinct of self-destruction,
the will for nothingness.
Nihilism as a symptom that the underprivileged
have no comfort left; that they destroy in
order to be destroyed; that without morality
they no longer have any reason to "resign
themselves" --that they place themselves
on the plain of the opposite principle and
also want power by compelling the powerful
to become their hangmen. This is the European
form of Buddhism--saying No after all existence
has lost its "meaning."
It is not that "distress" has grown:
on the contrary. "God, morality, resignation,"
were remedies on terribly low rungs of misery:
active nihilism appears in relatively much
more favorable conditions. The feeling that
morality has been overcome presupposes a
fair degree of spiritual culture, and this
in turn that one is relatively well off.
A certain spiritual weariness that, owing
to the long fight of philosophical opinions,
has reached the most hopeless skepticism
regarding all philosophy, is another sign
of the by no means low position of these
nihilists. Consider the situation in which
the Buddha appeared. The doctrine of the
eternal recurrence would have scholarly presuppositions
(as did the Buddha's doctrine; e. g., the
concept of causality, etc.).
What does "underprivileged" mean?
Above all, physiologically--no longer politically.
The unhealthiest kind of man in Europe (in
all classes) furnishes the soil for this
nihilism: they will experience the belief
in the eternal recurrence as a curse, struck
by which one no longer shrinks from any action;
not to be extinguished passively but to extinguish
everything that is so aim- and meaningless,
although this is a mere convulsion, a blind
rage at the insight that everything has been
for eternities--even this moment of nihilism
and lust for destruction.--It is the value
of such a crisis that it purlfies, that it
pushes together related elements to perish
of each other, that it assigns common tasks
to men who have opposite ways of thinking--and
it also brings to light the weaker and less
secure among them and thus promotes an order
of rank according to strength, from the point
of view of health: those who command are
recognized as those who command, those who
obey as those who obey. Of course, outside
every existing social order.
Who will prove to be the strongest in the
course of this? The most moderate; those
who do not require any extreme articles of
faith; those who not only concede but love
a fair amount of accidents and nonsense;
those who can think of man with a considerable
reduction of his value without becoming small
and weak on that account: those richest in
health who are equal to most misfortunes
and therefore not so afraid of misfortunes--human
beings who are sure of their power and represent
the attained strength of humanity with conscious
How would such a human being even think of
the eternal recurrence?
56 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
- Periods of European Nihilism
The period of unclarity, of all kinds of
tentative men who would conserve the old
without letting go of the new.
The period of clarity: one understands that
the old and the new are basically opposite,
the old values born of declining and the
new ones of ascending life--that all the
old ideals are hostile to life (born of decadence
and agents of decadence, even if in the magnificent
Sunday-clothes of morality). We understand
the old and are far from strong enough for
The period of the three great affects: contempt,
The period of catastrophe: the advent of
a doctrine that sifts men--driving the weak
to decisions, and the strong as well--
II. HISTORY OF EUROPEAN NIHILISM
My friends, it was hard for us when we were
young: we suffered youth itself like a serious
sickness. That is due to the time into which
we have been thrown--a time of extensive
inner decay and disintegration, a time that
with all its weaknesses, and even with its
best strength, opposes the spirit of youth.
Disintegration characterizes this time, and
thus uncertainty: nothing stands firmly on
its feet or on a hard faith in itself; one
lives for tomorrow, as the day after tomorrow
is dubious. Everything on our way is slippery
and dangerous, and the ice that still supports
us has become thin: all of us feel the warm,
uncanny breath of the thawing wind; where
we still walk, soon no one will be able to
If this is not an age of decay and declining
vitality, it is at least one of headlong
and arbitrary experimentation:--and it is
probable that a superabundance of bungled
experiments should create an overall impression
as of decay--and perhaps even decay itself.
Toward a History of the Modern Eclipse
The state nomads (civil servants, etc.):
without home. The decline of the family.
The "good man" as a symptom of
exhaustion. Justice as will to power (breeding).
Lasciviousness and neurosis. Black music:
whither refreshing music? The anarchist.
Contempt for man, nausea. Deepest difference:
whether hunger or overabundance becomes creative?
The former generates the ideals of romanticism.
Nordic unnaturalness. The need for alcoholica:
the "distress" of the workers.
The slow emergence and rise of the middle
and lower classes (including the lower kind
of spirit and body), of which one finds many
preludes before the French Revolution-and
it--would have taken place without the Revolution,
too--on the whole, then, the predominance
of the herd over all shepherds and bellwethers--
1. eclipse of the spirit (the fusion of a
Stoic and a frivolous appearance of happiness,
characteristic of noble cultures, decreases;
one lets much suffering be seen and heard
that one formerly bore and hid);
2. moral hypocrisy (a way of wishing to distinguish
oneself not by means of morality, but by
means of the herd virtues: pity, consideration,
moderation, which are not recognized and
honored outside the herd ability);
3. a really great amount of shared suffering
(pity) and joy (the pleasure in large-scale
associations found in all herd animals --"community
spirit," "Fatherland," everything
in which the individual does not count).
61 (Summer-Fall 1883)
Our time, with its aspiration to remedy and
prevent accidental distresses and to wage
preventive war against disagreeable possibilities,
is a time of the poor. Our "rich"--are
poorest of all. The true purpose of all riches
62 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Critique of modern man (his moralistic mendaciousness)
:~A -the "good man" corrupted and
seduced by bad institutions (tyrants and
priests);-reason as authority;-history as
overcoming of errors;-the future as progress;-the
Christian state ("the Lord of hosts");-the
Christian sex impulse (or marriage); -the
kingdom of "justice" (the cult
The romantic pose of modern man:-the noble
man (Byron, Victor Hugo, George Sand);-noble
indignation;-consecration through passion
(as true "nature");-siding with
the oppressed and underprivileged: motto
of the historians and novelists;-the Stoics
of duty,-selflessness as art and knowledge,-altruism
as the most mendacious form of egoism (utilitarianism),
most sentimental egoism.
All this is eighteenth century. What, on
the other hand, has not been inherited from
it: insouciance, cheerfulness, elegance,
brightness of the spirit. The tempo of the
spirit has changed; the enjoyment of refinement
and clarity of the spirit has given place
to the enjoyment of color, harmony, mass,
reality, etc. Sensualism in matters of the
spirit. In short, it is the eighteenth century
63 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
On the whole, a tremendous quantum of humaneness
has been attained in present-day mankind.
That this is not felt generally is itself
a proof: we have become so sensitive concerning
small states of distress that we unjustly
ignore what has been attained.
Here one must make allowance for the existence
of much decadence, and seen with such eyes
our world has to look wretched and miserable.
But such eyes have at all times seen the
1. a certain overirritation even of the moral
2. the quantum of embitterment and eclipse
that pessimism carries into judgments: these
two together account for the predominance
of the opposite notion, that our morality
is in a bad way.
The fact of credit, of worldwide trade, of
the means of transportation--here a tremendous
mild trust in man finds expression.--Another
contributing factor is
3. the emancipation of science from moral
and religious purposes: a very good sign
that, however, is usually misunderstood.
In my own way I attempt a justification of
64 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The second Buddhism. The nihilistic catastrophe
that finishes Indian culture.--Early signs
of it: The immense increase of pity. Spiritual
weariness. The reduction of problems to questions
of pleasure and displeasure. The war glory
that provokes a counterstroke. Just as national
demarcation provokes a countermovement, the
most cordial "fraternity." The
impossibility for religion to go on working
with dogmas and fables.
65 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
What is attacked deep down today is the instinct
and the will of tradition: all institutions
that owe their origins to this instinct violate
the taste of the modern spirit---At bottom,
nothing is thought and done without the purpose
of eradicating this sense for tradition.
One considers tradition a fatality; one studies
it, recognizes it (as "heredity"),
but one does not want it. The tensing of
a will over long temporal distances, the
selection of the states and valuations that
allow one to dispose of future centuries
--precisely this is antimodern in the highest
degree. Which goes to show that it is the
disorganizing principles that give our age
66 (Spring-Fall 1887)
"Be simple!"--for us complicated
and elusive triers of the reins a demand
that is a simple stupidity.--Be natural!
But how if one happens to be "unnatural"?
The former means for obtaining homogeneous,
enduring characters for long generations:
unalienable landed property, honoring the
old (origin of the belief in gods and heroes
Now the breaking up of landed property belongs
to the opposite tendency: newspapers (in
place of daily prayers), railway, telegraph.
Centralization of a tremendous number of
different interests in a single soul, which
for that reason must be very strong and protean.
68 (March-June 1888)
Why everything turns into histrionics.--Modern
man lacks: the sure instinct (consequence
of a long homogeneous form of activity of
one kind of man); the inability to achieve
anything perfect is merely a consequence
of this: as an individual one can never make
up for lost schooling.
That which creates a morality, a code of
laws: the profound instinct that only automatism
makes possible perfection in life and creation.
But now we have reached the opposite point;
indeed, we wanted to reach it: the most extreme
consciousness, man's ability to see through
himself and history. With this we are practically
as far as possible from perfection in being,
doing, and willing: our desire, even our
will for knowledge is a symptom of a tremendous
decadence. We strive for the opposite of
that which strong races, strong natures want--understanding
is an ending.-
That science is possible in this sense that
is cultivated today is proof that all elementary
instincts, life's instincts of self-defense
and protection, no longer function. We no
longer collect, we squander the capital of
our ancestors, even in the way in which we
69 (1885-1886) Nihilistic Traits
a. In the natural sciences ("meaninglessness");
causalism, mechanism. "Lawfulness"
an entr'acte, a residue.
b. Ditto in politics: one lacks the faith
in one's right, innocence; mendaciousness
rules and serving the moment.
c. Ditto in economics: the abolition of slavery.
The lack of a redeeming class, one that justifies-advent
of anarchism. "Education"?
d. Ditto in history: fatalism, Darwinism;
the final attempts to read reason and divinity
into it fail. Sentimentality in face of the
past; one could not endure a biography!--
(Here, too, phenomenalism: character as a
mask; there are no facts.)
e. Ditto in art: romanticism and its counterstroke
(aversion against romantic ideals and lies).
The latter, moral as a sense of greater truthfulness,
but pessimistic. Pure "artists"
(indifferent toward content). (Father-confessor
psychology and puritan psychology, two forms
of psychological romanticism: but even its
counterproposal, the attempt to adopt a purely
artistic attitude toward man--even there
the opposite valuation is not yet ventured!)
Against the doctrine of the influence of
the milieu and external causes: the force
within is infinitely superior; much that
looks like external influence is merely its
adaptation from within. The very same milieus
can be interpreted and exploited in opposite
ways: there are no facts.--A genius is not
explained in terms of such conditions of
71 (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. Spring-Fall 1888)
"Modernity" in the perspective
of the metaphor of nourishment and digestion.-
Sensibility immensely more irritable (--dressed
up moralistically: the increase in pity--);
the abundance of disparate impressions greater
than ever: cosmopolitanism in foods, literatures,
newspapers, forms, tastes, even landscapes.
The tempo of this influx prestissimo; the
impressions erase each other; one instinctively
resists taking in anything, taking anything
deeply, to "digest" anything; a
weakening of the power to digest results
from this. A kind of adaptation to this flood
of impressions takes place: men unlearn spontaneous
action, they merely react to stimuli from
outside. They spend their strength partly
in assimilating things, partly in defense,
partly in opposition. Profound weakening
of spontaneity: the historian, critic, analyst,
the interpreter, the observer, the collector,
the reader-all of them reactive talents--all
Artificial change of one's nature into a
"mirror"; interested but, as it
were, merely epidermically interested; a
coolness on principle, a balance, a fixed
low temperature closely underneath the thin
surface on which warmth, movement, "tempest,"
and the play of waves are encountered.
Opposition of external mobility and a certain
deep heaviness and weariness.
72 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
Where does our modern world belong--to exhaustion
or ascent?--Its manifoldness and unrest conditioned
by the attainment of the highest level of
73 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Overwork, curiosity and sympathy--our modern
74 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Toward a characterization of "modernity."--Overabundant
development of intermediary forms; atrophy
of types; traditions break off, schools;
the overlordship of the instincts
(prepared philosophically: the unconscious
worth more) after the will power, the willing
of end and means, has been weakened.
An able craftsman or scholar cuts a fine
figure when he takes pride in his art and
looks on life content and satisfied. But
nothing looks more wretched than when a shoemaker
or schoolmaster gives us to understand with
a suffering mien that he was really born
for something better. There is nothing better
than what is good-- and good is having some
ability and using that to create, Tuchtigkeit
or virtu in the Italian Renaissance sense.
Today, in our time when the state has an
absurdly fat stomach, there are in all fields
and departments, in addition to the real
workers, also "representatives";
e. g., besides the scholars also scribblers,
besides the suffering classes also garrulous,
boastful peter-do-wells who "represent"
this suffering, not to speak of the professional
politicians who are well off while "representing"
distress with powerful lungs before a parliament.
Our modern life is extremely expensive owing
to the large number of intermediaries; in
an ancient city, on the other hand, and,
echoing that, also in many cities in Spain
and Italy, one appeared oneself and would
have given a hoot to such modern representatives
and intermediaries--or a kick!
76 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The predominance of dealers and intermediaries
in spiritual matters, too: the scribbler,
the "representative," the historian
(who fuses past and present), the exotician
and cosmopolitan, the intermediaries between
science and philosophy, the semitheologians.
Nothing to date has nauseated me more than
the parasites of the spirit: in our unhealthy
Europe one already finds them everywhere--and
they have the best conscience in the world.
Perhaps a little dim, a little air pessimiste,
but in the main voraclous, dirty, dirtying,
creeping in, nestling, thievish, scurvy--and
as innocent as all little sinners and microbes.
They live off the fact that other people
have spirit and squander it: they know that
it is of the very essence of the rich spirit
to squander itself carelessly, without petty
caution, from day to day.--For the spirit
is a bad householder and pays no heed to
how everybody lives and feeds on it.
The colorfulness of modern man and its charm.
Essentially concealment and satiety.
The politician (in "the nationalist
Histrionics in the arts:
lack of probity in prior training and schooling
the romantics (lack of philosophy and science
and superabundance of literature);
the novelists (Walter Scott, but also the
Nibelungen monsters along with the most nervous
the Iyric poets.
Popular ideals overcome, but not yet in the
eyes of the people: the saint, the sage,
79 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The modern spirit's lack of discipline, dressed
up in all sorts of moral fashions.--The showy
words are: tolerance (for "the incapacity
for Yes and No"); la largeur de sympathie
( = one-third indifference, one-third curiosity,
one-third pathological irritability); "objectivity"
(lack of personality, lack of will, incapacity
for "love"); "freedom"
versus rules (romanticism); "truth"
versus forgery and lies (naturalism); being
"scientific" (the "document
hurnain": in other words, the novel
of colportage and addition in place of composition);
"passion" meaning disorder and
immoderation; "depth" meaning confusion,
the profuse chaos of symbols.
80 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
Toward a critique of the big words.--I am
full of suspicion and malice against what
they call "ideals": this is my
pessimism, to have recognized how the "higher
feelings" are a source of misfortune
and man's loss of value.
One is deceived every time one expects "progress"
from an ideal; every time so far the victory
of the ideal has meant a retrograde movement.
Christianity, the revolution, the abolition
of slavery, equal rights, philanthropy, love
of peace, justice, truth: all these big words
have value only in a fight, as flags: not
as realities but as showy words for something
quite different (indeed, opposite!)
One knows the kind of human being who has
fallen in love with the motto, tout comprendre
c'est tout pardonner. It is the weak, it
is above all the disappointed: if there is
something to be forgiven in all, perhaps
there is also something to be despised in
all. It is the philosophy of disappointment
that wraps itself so humanely in pity and
These are romantics whose faith flew the
coop: now they at least want to watch how
everything passes and goes. They call it
l'art pour l'art, "objectivity,"
82 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Chief symptoms of pessimism: the diners chez
Maguy; Russian pessimism (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky);
aesthetic pessimism, l'art pour l'art, "description"
(romantic and antiromantic pessimism); epistemological
pessimism (Schopenhauer, phenomenalism-);
anarchistic pessimism; the "religion
of pity," Buddhistic premovement; cultural
pessimism (exoticism, cosmopolitanism); moralistic
pessimism: I myself.
83 (Spring-Fall 1887)
"Without the Christian faith,"
Pascal thought, "you, no less than nature
and history, will become for yourselves un
monstre et un chaos." This prophecy
we have furfilled, after the feeble-optimistic
eighteenth century had prettified and rationalized
Schopenhauer and Pascal.--In an important
sense, Schopenhauer is the first to take
up again the movement of Pascal: un rnonstre
et un chaos, consequently something to be
negated.-- History, nature, man himself.
"Our inability to know the truth is
the consequence of our corruption, our moral
decay"; thus Pascal. And thus, at bottom,
Schopenhauer. "The deeper the corruption
of reason, the more necessary the doctrine
of salvation"--or, in Schopenhauer's
84 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Schopenhauer as throwback (state before the
revolution): Pity, sensuality, art, weakness
of the will, catholicism of spiritual cravings--that
is good eighteenth century au fond.
Schopenhauer's basic misunderstanding of
the will (as if craving, instinct, drive
were the essence of will) is typical: lowering
the value of the will to the point of making
a real mistake. Also hatred against willing;
attempt to see something higher, indeed that
which is higher and valuable, in willing
no more, in "being a subject without
aim and purpose" (in the "pure
subject free of will"). Great symptom
of the exhaustion or the weakness of the
will: for the will is precisely that which
treats cravings as their master and appoints
to them their way and measure.
85 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
The unworthy attempt has been made to see
Wagner and Schopenhauer as types of mental
illness: one would gain an incomparably more
essential insight by making more precise
scientifically the type of decadence both
Your Henrik Ibsen has become very clear to
me. For all his robust idealism and "will
to truth" he did not dare to liberate
himself from the illusionism of morality
that speaks of freedom without wishing to
admit to itself what freedom is: the second
stage in the metamorphosis of the "will
to power"--for those who lack freedom.
On the first stage one demands justice from
those who are in power. On the second, one
speaks of "freedom--that is, one wants
to get away from those in power. On the third,
one speaks of "equal rights"--that
is, as long as one has not yet gained superiority
one wants to prevent one's competitors from
growing in power.
87 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Decline of Protestantism: understood as a
halfway house both theoretically and historically.
Actual superiority of Catholicism; the feeling
of Protestantism extinguished to such an
extent that the strongest anti-Protestant
movements are no longer experienced as such
(for example, Wagner's Parsifal). All of
the higher regions of the spirit in France
are Catholic in their instincts; Bismarck
realizes that Protestantism simply doesn't
exist any more.
88 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Protestantism, that spiritually unclean and
boring form of decadence in which Christianity
has been able so far to preserve itself in
the mediocre north: valuable for knowledge
as something complex and a halfway house,
in so far as it brought together in the same
heads experiences of different orders and
89 (March-June 1888)
How did the German spirit transform Christianity!--And
to stick to Protestantism: how much beer
there is in Protestant Christianity! Can
one even imagine a spiritually staler, lazier,
more comfortably relaxed form of the Christian
faith than that of the average Protestant
That's what I call a modest version of Christianity!
A homoeopathy of Christianity is what I call
One reminds me that today we also encounter
an immodest Protestantism--that of the court
chaplains and anti-Semitic speculators: but
nobody has claimed yet that any "spirit"
whatever "moved" on the faces of
these waters.--That is merely a more indecent
form of Christianity, by no means more sensible.
90 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
Progress.--Let us not be deceived! Time marches
forward; we'd like to believe that everything
that is in it also marches forward--that
the development is one that moves forward.
The most level-headed are led astray by this
illusion. But the nineteenth century does
not represent progress over the sixteenth;
and the German spirit of 1888 represents
a regress from the German spirit of 1788.
"Mankind" does not advance, it
does not even exist. The overall aspect is
that of a tremendous experimental laboratory
in which a few successes are scored, scattered
throughout all ages, while there are untold
failures, and all order, logic, union, and
obligingness are lacking. How can we fail
to recognize that the ascent of Christianity
is a movement of decadence?-That the German
Reformation is a recrudescence of Christian
barbarism?-That the Revolution destroyed
the instinct for a grand organization of
Man represents no progress over the animal:
the civilized tenderfoot is an abortion compared
to the Arab and Corsican; the Chinese is
a more successful type, namely more durable,
than the European.
91 (1888) On German Pessimism
The eclipse, the pessimistic coloring, comes
necessarily in the wake of the Enlightenment.
Around 1770 the decline of cheerfulness began
to be noticed; women, with that feminine
instinct which always sides with virtue,
supposed that immorality was the cause. Galiani
hit the nail on the head: he cites Voltaire's
Un monstre gai vaut mieux
Qu'un sentimental ennuyeux.
When I believe now that I am a few centuries
ahead in Enlightenment not only of Voltaire
but even of Galiani, who was far profounder--how
far must I have got in the increase of darkness!
And this is really the case, and I bewared
in time, with some sort of regret, of the
German and Christian narrowness and inconsequence
of pessimism a la Schopenhauer or, worse,
Leopardi, and sought out the most quintessential
forms (Asia). But in order to endure this
type of extreme pessimism (it can be perceived
here and there in my Birth of Tragedy) and
to live alone "without God and morality"
I had to invent a counterpart for myself.
Perhaps I know best why man alone laughs:
he alone suffers so deeply that he had to
invent laughter. The unhappiest and most
melancholy animal is, as fitting, the most
Regarding German culture, I have always had
the feeling of decline. This fact, that I
first became acquainted with a type in decline,
has often made me unfair to the whole phenomenon
of European culture. The Germans always come
after the others, much later: they are carrying
something in the depths; e. g.,-
Dependence on other countries; e. g., Kant-Rousseau,
Sensualists, Hume, Swedenborg.
Schopenhauer-Indians and romanticism, Voltaire.
Wagner-French cult of the gruesome and of
grand opera, Paris and the flight into primeval
states (marriage with the sister).
--The law of the latecomers (province to
Paris, Germany to France). Why the Germans
of all people discovered the Greek spirit
(the more one develops a drive, the more
attractive does it become to plunge for once
into its opposite).
Music is swan song.
93 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
Renaissance and Reformation.-What does the
Renaissance prove? That the reign of the
individual has to be brief. The squandering
is too great; the very possibility of collecting
and capitalizing is lacking; and exhaustion
follows immediately. These are times when
everything is spent, when the very strength
is spent with which one collects, capitalizes,
and piles riches upon riches.- Even the opponents
of such movements are forced into an absurd
waste of energy; they, too, soon become exhausted,
In the Reformation we possess a wild and
vulgar counterpart to the Italian Renaissance,
born of related impulses; only in the retarded
north, which had remained coarse, they had
to don a religious disguise; for there the
concept of the higher life had not yet detached
itself from that of the religious life.
Through the Reformation, too, the individual
sought freedom; "everybody his own priest"
is also a mere formula of libertinage. In
truth, one word was enough--"evangelical
freedom"--and all instincts that had
reason to remain hidden broke out like wild
dogs, the most brutal requirements suddenly
acquired the courage to face themselves,
and everything seemed justified.--One was
careful not to understand what liberty one
had really meant at bottom; one shut one's
eyes before oneself.--But shutting one's
eyes and moistening one's lips with enthusiastic
orations did not prevent one's hands from
grasping whatever could be grabbed, and the
belly became the god of the "free evangel,"
and all the cravings of revenge and envy
satisfied themselves with insatiable rage.-
This took a while; then exhaustion set in,
just as it had in the south of Europe--and
here, too, a vulgar kind of exhaustion, a
general were in servitium.-- The indecent
century of Germany arrived.-
Chivalry as the conquered position of power:
its gradual breaking up (and in part transition
into what is more spread out, bourgeois).
In La Rochefoucauld we find a consciousness
of the true motive springs of noblesse of
the mind--and a view of these motive springs
that is darkened by Christianity.
The French Revolution as the continuation
of Christianity. Rousseau is the seducer:
he again unfetters woman who is henceforth
represented in an ever more interesting manner--as
suffering. Then the slaves and Mrs. Beecher-
Stowe. Then the poor and the workers. Then
the vice addicts and the sick--all this is
moved into the foreground
(even to develop sympathy for the genius
one no longer knows any other way for the
past five hundred years than to represent
him as the bearer of great suffering!). Next
come the curse on voluptuousness (Baudelaire
and Schopenhauer); the most decided conviction
that the lust to rule is the greatest vice;
the perfect certainty that morality and disinterestedness
are identical concepts and that the "happiness
of all" is a goal worth striving for
(i. e., the kingdom of heaven of Christ).
We are well along on the way: the kingdom
of heaven of the poor in spirit has begun.--
Intermediary stages: the bourgeois (a parvenu
on account of money) and the worker (on account
of the machine).
Comparison of Greek culture and that of the
French in the age of Louis XIV. Decided faith
in oneself. A leisure class whose members
make things difficult for themselves and
exercise much self-overcoming. The power
of form, the will to give form to oneself.
"Happiness" admitted as a goal.
Much strength and energy behind the emphasis
on forms. The delight in looking at a life
that seems so easy.--To the French, the Greeks
looked like children.
95 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The Three Centuries
Their different sensibilities are best expressed
Aristocratism: Descartes, rule of reason,
testimony of the sovereignty of the will;
Feminism: Rousseau, rule of feeling, testimony
of the sovereignty of the senses, mendacious;
Animalism: Schopenhauer, rule of craving,
testimony of the sovereignty of animality,
more honest but gloomy.
The seventeenth century is aristocratic,
imposes order, looks down haughtily upon
the animalic, is severe against the heart,
not cozy, without sentiment, "un-German,"
averse to what is burlesque and what is natural,
inclined to generalizations and sovereign
confronted with the past--for it believes
in itself. Much beast of prey au fond, much
ascetic habit to remain master. The century
of strong will; also of strong passion.
The eighteenth century is dominated by woman,
given to enthusiasm, full of esprit, shallow,
but with a spirit in the service of what
is desirable, of the heart, libertine in
the enjoyment of what is most spiritual,
and undermines all authorities; intoxicated,
cheerful, clear, humane, false before itself,
much canaille au fond, sociable.-
The nineteenth century is more animalic and
subterranean, uglier, more realistic and
vulgar, and precisely for that reason "better,"
"more honest," more submissive
before every kind of "reality,"
truer; but weak in will, but sad and full
of dark cravings, but fatalistic. Not full
of awe and reverence for either "reason"
or "heart"; deeply convinced of
the rule of cravings (Schopenhauer spoke
of "will"; but nothing is more
characteristic of his philosophy than the
absence of all genuine willing). Even morality
reduced to one instinct ("pity").
Auguste Comte is a continuation of the eighteenth
century (domination of coeur over la tête,
sensualism in the theory of knowledge, altruistic
That science has become sovereign to such
a degree proves how the nineteenth century
has rid itself of the domination of ideals.
A certain frugality of desire makes possible
our scientific curiosity and severity--which
is our kind of virtue.-
Romanticism is an echo of the eighteenth
century; a kind of piled-high desire for
its enthusiasm in the grand style (as a matter
of fact, a good deal of histrionics and self-deception:
one wanted to represent strong natures and
The nineteenth century looks instinctively
for theories that seem to justify its fatalistic
submission to matters of fact. Already Hegel's
success against "sentimentality"
and romantic idealism was due to his fatalistic
way of thinking, to his faith in the greater
reason on the side of the victorious, to
his justification of the actual "state"
(in place of "mankind," etc.).-
Schopenhauer: we are something stupid and,
at best, even something that cancels itself.
Success of determinism, of the genealogical
derivation of obligations that had formerly
been considered absolute, the doctrine of
milieu and adaptation, the reduction of will
to reflexes, the denial of the will as an
"efficient cause"; finally--a real
rechristening: one sees so little will that
the word becomes free to designate something
else. Further theories: the doctrine of objectivity--"will-
less" contemplation--as the only road
to truth; also to beauty (--also the faith
in the "genius" to justify a right
to submission); mechanism, the calculable
rigidity of the mechanical process; the alleged
"naturalism," elimination of the
choosing, judging, interpreting subject as
Kant, with his "practical reason"
and his moral fanaticism is wholly eighteenth
century; still entirely outside the historical
movement; without any eye for the actuality
of his time, e. g., Revolution; untouched
by Greek philosophy; fanciful visionary of
the concept of duty; sensualist with the
backdrop of the pampering of dogmatism.-
The movement back to Kant in our century
is a movement back to the eighteenth century:
one wants to regain a right to the old ideals
and the old enthusiasm--for that reason an
epistemology that "sets boundaries,"
which means that it permits one to posit
as one may see fit a beyond of reason.-
Hegel's way of thinking is not far different
from Goethe's: one needs only to listen to
Goethe about Spinoza. Will to deify the universe
and life in order to find repose and happiness
in contemplation and in getting to the bottom
of things; Hegel seeks reason everywhere--before
reason one may submit and acquiesce. In Goethe
a kind of almost joyous and trusting fatalism
that does not revolt, that does not flag,
that seeks to form a totality out of himself,
in the faith that only in the totality everything
redeems itself and appears good and justified.
96 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Period of the Enlightenment--followed by
the period of sentimentality. To what extent
Schopenhauer belongs to "sentimentality"
(Hegel to spirituality).
97 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The seventeenth century suffers of man as
of a sum of contradictions ("l'âmes
de contradictions" that we are); it
seeks to discover, order, excavate man--while
the eighteenth century seeks to forget what
is known of man's nature in order to assimilate
him to its utopia. "Superficial, tender,
humane"--enthusiastic about "man"-
The seventeenth century seeks to erase the
tracks of the individual to make the work
look as similar to life as possible. The
eighteenth uses the work in an attempt to
arouse interest in the author. The seventeenth
century seeks in art--art, a piece of culture;
the eighteenth uses art to make propaganda
for reforms of a social and political nature.
"Utopia," the "ideal man,"
the deïfication of nature, the vanity of
posing, the subordination to propaganda for
social goals, charlatanism--these are our
gifts from the eighteenth century.
The style of the seventeenth century: propre,
exact et libre.
The strong individual, self-aufficient or
zealously occupied before God--and this modern
obtrusiveness of authors who all but leap
out at you--these furnish some contrast.
"To perform" --compare that with
the scholars of Port-Royal.
Alfieri had a sense for grand style.
Hatred of the burlesque (undignified), lack
of a sense for nature belong to the seventeenth
98 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Against Rousseau.- Unfortunately, man is
no longer evil enough; Rousseau's opponents
who say "man is a beast of prey"
are unfortunately wrong. Not the corruption
of man but the extent to which he has become
tender and moralized is his curse.
Precisely in the sphere that Rousseau fought
most violently one could find the relatively
still strong and well-turned-out type of
man (those in whom the grand affects were
still unbroken: will to power, will to enjoyment,
will and capacity to command). The man of
the eighteenth century has to be compared
with the man of the Renaissance (also with
the man of the seventeenth century in France),
so that one feels what is at stake: Rousseau
is a symptom of self-contempt and heated
vanity--both signs that the domineering will
is lacking: he moralizes and, as a man of
rancor, seeks the cause of his wretchedness
in the ruling classes.
99 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Against Rousseau.--The state of nature is
terrible, man is a beast of prey; our civilization
represents a tremendous triumph over this
beast-of-prey nature: thus argued Voltaire.
He felt the mitigation, the subtleties, the
spiritual joys of the civilized state; he
despised narrowmindedness, also in the form
of virtue, and the lack of delicatesse, also
among ascetics and monks.
The moral reprehensibility of man seemed
to preoccupy Rousseau; with the words "unjust"
and "cruel" one can best stir up
the instincts of the oppressed who otherwise
smart under the ban of the vetitum and disfavor,
so their conscience advises them against
rebellious cravings. Such emancipators seek
one thing above all: to give their party
the grand accents and poses of the higher
100 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Rousseau: the rule based on feeling; nature
as the source of justice; man perfects himself
to the extent to which he approaches nature
(according to Voltaire, to the extent to
which he moves away from nature). The very
same epochs are for one ages of the progress
of humanity; for the other, times when injustice
and inequality grow worse.
Voltaire still comprehended umanita in the
Renaissance sense; also virtu (as "high
culture"); he tights for the cause of
the "honnetes gens" and "de
la bonne compagnie," the cause of taste,
of science, of the arts, of progress itself
The fight began around 1760: the citizen
of Geneva and le seigneur de Ferney. Only
from that moment on Voltaire becomes the
man of his century, the philosopher, the
representative of tolerance and unbelief
(till then merely un bel esprit). Envy and
hatred of Rousseau's success impelled him
forward, "to the heights."
Pour "la canaille" un dieu rémunerateur
et vengeur- Voltaire.
Critique of both points of view in regard
to the value of civilization. The social
invention is for Voltaire the most beautiful
there is: there is no higher goal than to
maintain and perfect it; precisely this is
honnêteté, to respect social conventions;
virtue as obedience to certain necessary
"prejudices" in favor of the preservation
of "society." Missionary of culture,
aristocrat, representative of the victorious,
ruling classes and their valuations. But
Rousseau remained a plebeian, also as homme
de lettres; that was unheard of; his impudent
contempt of all that was not he himself.
What was sick in Rousseau was admired and
imitated most. (Lord Byron related to him;
also worked himself up into sublime poses
and into vindictive rancor; sign of "meanness";
later attained balance through Venice and
comprehended what produces more ease and
Rousseau is proud in regard to what he is,
in spite of his origins; but he is beside
himself when one reminds him of it.-
Rousseau, beyond a doubt, mentally disturbed;
in Voltaire an uncommon health and light
touch. The rancor of the sick; the periods
of his insanity also those of his contempt
of man and his mistrust.
The defense of providence by Rousseau (against
the pessimism of Voltaire): he needed God
in order to be able to cast a curse upon
society and civilization; everything had
to be good in itself because God had created
it; only man has corrupted men. The "good
man" as the natural man was pure fantasy;
but with the dogma of God's authorship it
seemed probable and well-founded.
Romanticism a la Rousseau: passion ("the
sovereign right of passion"); "naturalness";
the fascination of madness (folly included
in greatness); the absurd vanity of the weak
man; the rancor of the mob as judge ("for
a hundred years now, a sick man has been
accepted as a leader in politics").
101 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Kant: makes the epistemological skepticism
of the English possible for Germans:
1. by enlisting for it the sympathy of the
moral and religious needs of the Germans;
just as the later philosophers of the Academy
used skepticism for the same reason, as a
preparation for Platonism (vice Augustin);
and as Pascal used even moralistic skepticism
in order to excite the need for faith ("to
2. by scholastically involuting and curlicueing
it and thus making it acceptable for the
German taste regarding scientific form (for
Locke and Hume in themselves were too bright,
too clear, i. e., judged according to German
value instincts, "too superficial"-)
Kant: inferior in his psychology and knowledge
of human nature; way off when it comes to
great historical values (French Revolution);
a moral fanatic a la Rousseau; a subterranean
Christianity in his values; a dogmatist through
and through, but ponderously sick of this
inclination, to such an extent that he wished
to tyrannize it, but also weary right away
of skepticism; not yet touched by the slightest
breath of cosmopolitan taste and the beauty
of antiquity--a delayer and mediator, nothing
original (just as Leibniz mediated and built
a bridge between mechanism and spiritualism,
as Goethe did between the taste of the eighteenth
century and that of the "historical
(which is essentially a sense for the exotic),
as German music did between French and Italian
music, as Charlemagne did between imperium
Romanum and nationalism--delayers par excellence.
102 (Spring-Fall 1887)
In how far the Christian centuries with their
pessimism were stronger centuries than the
eighteenth century--like the tragic era of
The nineteenth century vis-a-vis the eighteenth
century. In what respects heir--in what respects
a regression (poorer in "spirit"
and taste)--in what respects progress (darker,
more realistic, stronger).
What does it mean that we have such a feeling
for the campagna Romana? And for high mountain
ranges? What is the meaning of our nationalism?
Chateaubriand in 1803, in a letter to M.
de Fontanes, gives the first impression of
the campagna Romana.
President de Grosses says of the campagna
Romana: "il fallait que Romulus fut
ivre, quand il songea a batir une ville dans
un terrain aussi laid."
Delacroix, too, did not like Rome, it frightened
him. He was enthusiastic about Venice, like
Shakespeare, like Byron, like George Sand.
This aversion to Rome also in Theoph. Gautier--and
in Rich. Wagner.
Lamartine has found language for Sorrent
Victor Hugo was enthusiastic about Spain,
"parce que aucune autre nation n'a moins
emprunte' a l'antiquite', parce qu'elle n'a
subi aucune influence classique.''
104 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
The two great tentative ones, made to overcome
the eighteenth century:
Napoleon, by awakening again the man, the
soldier, and the great fight for power-conceiving
Europe as a political unit;
Goethe, by imagining a European culture that
would harvest the full inheritance of attained
German culture of this century arouses mistrust-in
music this full, redeeming and binding element
of Goethe is lacking- The Austrians have
remained German only by virtue of their music.
The preponderance of music in the romantics
of 1839 and 1840. Delacroix. Ingres, a passionate
musician (cult of Gluck, Haydn, Beethoven,
Mozart), said to his students in Rome, "si
je pouvais vous rendre tous musicians, vous
y gagneriez comme peintres"; also Horace
Vernet, with a special passion for Don Giovanni
(as Mendelssohn testifies, 1831); also Stendhal,
who said of himself: Combien de lieues ne
ferais-je pas a pied, et combien de jours
de prison ne me soumetterais-je pas pour
entendre Don Juan ou le Matromonio segreto:
et je ne sais pour queue autre chose je ferais
cet eport. At that time he was 56.
Borrowed forms; e. g., Brahms as typical
"epigone"; Mendelssohn's educated
Protestantism, ditto (an earlier "soul"
is recaptured poetically-)
-moral and poetical substitutions in Wagner,
one art as stopgap for deficiencies in the
-the "historical sense," inspiration
from poetry and ancient sagas
-that typical transformation of which G.
Flaubert offers the clearest example among
the French and Richard Wagner among the Germans,
in which the romantic faith in love and the
future is transformed into the desire for
the nothing, 1830 into 1850.
106 (Nov. 1887-March 1888)
Why does German music culminate in the period
romanticism? Why is Goethe missing in German
music? How much Schiller--more precisely,
how much "Thekla"--there is in
Schumann has in himself Eichendorff, Uhland,
Heine, Hoffmann, Tieck. Richard Wagner has
Freischutz, Hoffmann, Grimm, the romantic
saga, the mystical catholicism of instinct,
symbolism, the "libertinism of passion"
(Rousseau's intent). The Flying Dutchman
tastes of France, where le tene'breux was
the type of the seducer in 1830.
Cult of music, of the revolutionary romanticism
of form. Wagner sums up romanticism, German
as well as French-
Estimated merely for his value for Germany
and German culture, Richard Wagner remains
a great question mark, perhaps a German misfortune,
in any case a destiny: but what does it matter?
Isn't he very much more than merely a German
event? It even seems to me that there is
no place where he belongs less than Germany:
nothing was prepared for him there; his whole
type remains simply strange among Germans,
odd, uncomprehended, incomprehensible But
one is careful not to admit this to oneself:
for that one is too kindly, too square, too
German. "Credo quia absurdus est":
that is what the German spirit wants and
also wanted in this case--and so it believes
for the present whatever Wagner wanted people
to believe about him. The German spirit has
at all times lacked subtlety and divination
in psychologicis. Today, under the high pressure
of fatherlandism and self-admiration, it
is visibly thickening and becoming coarser:
how should it be capable of coping with the
problem of Wagner!-
So far, the Germans are nothing, but they
will become something; thus they have no
culture yet-thus they cannot have any culture
yet. That is my proposition: let those who
cannot help it take offense.--So far they
are nothing: that means, they are all sorts
of things. They will become something: that
means, they will stop some day being all
sorts of things. The latter is at bottom
a mere wish, scarcely a hope; fortunately,
a wish on which one can live, a matter of
will, of work, of discipline, of breeding,
as well as a matter of annoyance, of desire,
of missing something, of discomfort, even
of embitterment-in brief, we Germans desire
something from ourselves that has not yet
been desired from us--we desire something
That this "German as he is not yet"
deserves something better than today's German
"Bildung"; that all who are "in
the process of becoming" must be furious
when they perceive some satisfaction in this
area, an impertinent "retiring on one's
laurels" or "selfcongratulation":
that is my second proposition on which I
also have not yet changed my mind.
Principle: There is an element of decay in
everything that characterizes modern man:
but close beside this sickness stand signs
of an untested force and powerfulness of
the soul. The same reasons that produce the
increasing smallness of man drive the stronger
and rarer individuals up to greatness.
110 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Overall insight: the ambiguous character
of our modern world _the very same symptoms
could point to decline and to strength. And
the signs of strength, of the attainment
of majority, could be misconstrued as weakness
on the basis of traditional (residual) negative
emotional valuations. In brief, our feelings,
as feelings about values, are not up to date.
To generalize: feelings about values are
always behind the times; they express conditions
of preservation and growth that belong to
times long gone by; they resist new conditions
of existence with which they cannot cope
and which they necessarily misunderstand:
thus they inhibit and arouse suspicion against
what is new.-
111 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The problem of the nineteenth century. Whether
its strong and weak sides belong together?
Whether it is all of one piece? Whether the
diverseness of its ideals and their mutual
inconsistency are due to a higher aim: as
something higher.---For it could be the precondition
of greatness to grow to such an extent in
violent tension. Dissatisfaction, nihilism
could be a good sign.
112 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Overall insight.-Actually, every major growth
is accompanied by a tremendous crumbling
and passing away: suffering, the symptoms
of decline belong in the times of tremendous
advances; every fruitful and powerful movement
of humanity has also created at the same
time a nihilistic movement. It could be the
sign of a crucial and most essential growth,
of the transition to new conditions of existence,
that the most extreme form of pessimism,
genuine nihilism, would come into the world.
This I have comprehended.
( A )
To begin with a full and cordial tribute
to contemporary humanity: not to be deceived
by appearances--this type of humanity is
less striking but gives far better warranties
of duration; its tempo is slower, but the
beat is much richer. Health is increasing,
the actual conditions for a strong body get
recognized and are slowly created, "asceticism"
ironice. One shrinks from extremes; a certain
confidence in the "right road''; no
enthusing; temporary acclimatization to narrower
values (like "fatherland," like
Still, this whole picture would remain ambiguous:
it could be an ascending but also a descending
movement of life.
( B )
Faith in "progress"-in the lower
spheres of intelligence it appears as ascending
life; but this is self-deception; in the
higher spheres of intelligence as decending
Description of the symptoms.
Unity of point of view: uncertainty about
standards of value. Fear of a general "in
114 (June 10,1887)
Actually, we have no longer such need of
an antidote to the first nihilism: life in
our Europe is no longer that uncertain, capricious,
absurd. Such a tremendous increase in the
value of man, the value of trouble, etc.,
is not so needful now; we can take a significant
decrease of this value, we may concede much
absurdity and caprice: the power man has
attained now permits a demotion of the means
of breeding of which the moral interpretation
was the strongest. "God"' is far
too extreme a hypothesis.
115 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
If anything signifies our humanization--a
genuine and actual progress--it is the fact
that we no longer require excessive oppositions,
indeed no opposites at all-- we may love
the senses, we have spiritualized and made
them artistic in every degree; we have a
right to all those things which were most
maligned until now."
116 (Jan.-Fall 1888)
The inversion of the order of rank.-The pious
counterfeiters, the priests, among us become
chandalas--they replace the charlatans, quacks,
counterfeiters, and wizards; we consider
them corrupters of the will, great slanderers
of life on which they wish to revenge themselves,
rebels among the underprivileged. We have
turned the caste of senants, the Sudras,
into our middle class, our "Volk"
["people"], those who make political
On the other hand, the chandala of former
times is at the top: foremost, those who
blaspheme God, the immoralists, the nomads
of every type, the artists, Jews, musicians--at
bottom, all disreputable classes of men-
We have raised ourselves to the level of
honorable thoughts; even more, we determine
honor on earth, "nobility"--All
of us are today advocates of life.--We immoralists
are today the strongest power: the other
great powers need us--we construe the world
in our image-
We have transferred the concept of the "chandala"
to the priests, teachers of a beyond, and
the Christian society that is grown together
with them, as well as all who are of the
same origin, the pessimists, nihilists, romantics
of pity, criminals, vice addicts-- the whole
sphere in which the concept of "God"
is imagined as a savior-
We are proud of no longer having to be liars,
slanderers, men who cast suspicion on life-
117 (Spring-Fall 1887)
Progress of the nineteenth century against
the eighteenth (--at bottom we good Europeans
wage a war against the eighteenth century--):
1. "Return to nature" understood
more and more decisively in the opposite
sense from Rousseau's. Away from idyl and
2. more and more decisively anti-idealistic,
more concrete, more fearless, industrious,
moderate, suspicious against sudden changes,
3. more and more decisively the question
concerning the health of the body is put
ahead of that of "the soul": the
latter being understood as a state consequent
upon the former, and the former at the very
least as a precondition of the health of
If anything at all has been achieved, it
is a more innocuous relation to the senses,
a more joyous, benevolent, Goethean attitude
toward sensuality; also a prouder feeling
regarding the search for knowledge, so that
the "pure fool" is not given much
119 (Spring-Fall 1887; rev. 1888)
We who are "objective."-It is not
"pity" that opens the gates to
the most distant and strange types of being
and culture to us, but rather our accessibility
and lack of partiality that does not empathize
with or share suffering but on the contrary
takes delight in a hundred things that formerly
led people to suffer (feel outraged or deeply
moved, or prompted hostile and cold looks-).
Suffering in all its nuances has become interesting
for us: in this respect we are certainly
not fuller of pity, even when we are shaken
by the sight of suffering and moved to tears:
we do not by any means for that reason feel
In this voluntary desire to contemplate all
sorts of distress and transgressions we have
become stronger and more vigorous than the
eighteenth century was; it is a proof of
our increase in vigor (we have come closer
to the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries.).
But it is a profound misunderstanding to
construe our "romanticism" as a
proof that our "souls" have become
We desire strong sensations as all coarser
ages and social strata do.--This should be
distinguished from the needs of those with
weak nerves and the decadents: they have
a need for pepper, even for cruelty-
All of us seek states in which bourgeois
morality no longer has any say, and priestly
morality even less (--every book to which
some of the air of pastors and theologians
still clings gives us the impression of a
pitiable niaiserie and poverty.--"Good
society" consists of those whom at bottom
nothing interests except what is forbidden
in bourgeois society and gives a bad reputation:
the same applies to books, music, politics,
and the estimation of woman.
120 (Spring-Fall 1887)
How man has become more natural in the nineteenth
century (the eighteenth century is that of
elegance, refinement, and sentiments genereux).--Not
"return to nature"--for there has
never yet been a natural humanity. The scholasticism
of un- and antinatural values is the rule,
is the beginning; man reaches nature only
after a long struggle--he never "returns"
to Nature: i. e., daring to be immoral like
We are coarser, more direct, full of irony
against generous feelings even when we succumb
More natural is our first society, that of
the rich, the leisure class: they hunt each
other, love between the sexes is a kind of
sport in which marriage furnishes an obstacle
and a provocation; they amuse themselves
and live for pleasure; they esteem physical
advantages above all, are curious and bold.
More natural is our attitude to the search
for knowledge: we possess libertinage of
the spirit in all innocence, we hate pompous
and hieratical manners, we delight in what
is most forbidden, we should hardly know
any longer of any interest of knowledge if
the way to it were paved with boredom.
More natural is our attitude toward morality.
Principles have become ridiculous; nobody
permits himself any longer to speak without
irony of his "duty." But a helpful,
benevolent disposition is esteemed (morality
is found in an instinct, and the rest is
spurned. In addition a few concepts of points
More natural is our position in politicis:
we see problems of power, of one quantum
of power against another. We do not believe
in any right that is not supported by the
power of enforcement: we feel all rights
to be conquests.
More natural is our estimation of great human
beings and great things: we consider passion
a privilege, we consider nothing great unless
it includes a great crime; we conceive all
being-great as a placing-oneself-outside
as far as morality is concerned.
More natural is our attitude toward nature:
we no longer love it on account of its "innocence,"
"reason," or "beauty";
we have made it nicely "devilish"
and "dumb." But instead of despising
it on that account, we have felt more closely
related to it ever since, more at home in
it. It does not aspire to virtue, and for
that we respect nature.
More natural is our attitude toward art:
we do not demand beautiful illusory lies
from it, etc.; brutal positivism reigns,
recognizing facts without becoming excited.
In summa: there are signs that the European
of the nineteenth century is less ashamed
of his instincts; he has taken a goodly step
toward admitting to himself his unconditional
naturalness, i. e., his immorality, without
becoming embittered--on the contrary, strong
enough to endure only this sight.
This sounds to some ears as if corruption
had progressed-- and it is certain that man
has not come dose to that "nature"
of which Rousseau speaks but has progressed
another step in civilization, which Rousseau
abhorred. We have become stronger: we have
again come closer to the seventeenth century,
especially to the taste of its end
(Dancourt, Lesage, Regnard).
Culture contra civilization.-The high points
of culture and civilization do not coincide:
one should not be deceived about the abysmal
antagonism of culture and civilization. The
great moments of culture were always, morally
speaking, times of corruption; and conversely,
the periods when the taming of the human
animal ("civilization") was desired
and enforced were times of intolerance against
the boldest and most spiritual natures. Civilization
has aims different from those of culture--perhaps
they are even opposite-
122 (January-Fall 1888)
What I warn against: the instincts of decadence
should not be confused with humaneness; the
means of civilization, which lead to disintegration
and necessarily to decadence, should not
be confused with culture; the libertinage,
the principle of "laisser aller,"
should not be confused with the will to power
(--which is the counterprinciple).
123 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The unfinished problems I pose anew: the
problem of civilization, the fight between
Rousseau and Voltaire around 1760. Man becomes
more profound, mistrustful, "immoral,"
stronger, more confident of himself--and
to this extent "more natural":
this is "progress."--At the same
time, in accordance with a kind of division
of labor, the strata that have become more
evil are separated from those that have become
milder and tamer-so that the overall fact
is not noticed immediately.--It is characteristic
of strength, of the self-control and fascination
of strength, that these stronger strata possess
the art of making others experience their
progress in evil as something higher. It
is characteristic of every "progress"
that the strengthened elements are reinterpreted
124 (Spring-Fall 1887)
To give men back the courage to their natural
To check their self-underestimation (not
that of man as an individual but that of
man as nature-)-
To remove antitheses from things after comprehending
that we have projected them there-
To remove the idiosyncrasies of society from
existence (guilt, punishment, justice, honesty,
freedom, love, etc.)-
Progress toward "naturalness":
in all political questions, also in the relations
of parties, even of commercial, workers',
and employers' parties, questions of power
are at stake--"what one can do,"
and only after that what one ought to do.
Socialism--as the logical conclusion of the
tyranny of the least and the dumbest, i.
e., those who are superficial, envious, and
three-quarters actors-is indeed entailed
by "modern ideas" and their latent
anarchism; but in the tepid air of democratic
well-being the capacity to reach conclusions,
or to finish, weakens. One follows --but
one no longer sees what follows. Therefore
socialism is on the whole a hopeless and
sour affair; and nothing offers a more amusing
spectacle than the contrast between the poisonous
and desperate faces cut by today's socialists--and
to what wretched and pinched feelings their
style bears witness!--and the harmless lambs'
happiness of their hopes and desiderata.
Nevertheless, in many places in Europe they
may yet bring off occasional coups and attacks:
there will be deep "rumblings"
in the stomach of the next century, and the
Paris commune, which has its apologists and
advocates in Germany, too, was perhaps no
more than a minor indigestion compared to
what is coming. But there will always be
too many who have possessions for socialism
to signify more than an attack of sickness--and
those who have possessions are of one mind
on one article of faith: "one must possess
something in order to be something."
But this is the oldest and healthiest of
all instincts: I should add, "one must
want to have more than one has in order to
become more." For this is the doctrine
preached by life itself to all that has life:
the morality of development. To have and
to want to have more--growth, in one word--that
is life itself. In the doctrine of socialism
there is hidden, rather badly, a "will
to negate life"; the human beings or
races that think up such a doctrine must
be bungled. Indeed, I should wish that a
few great experiments might prove that in
a socialist society life negates itself,
cuts off its own roots. The earth is large
enough and man still sufficiently unexhausted;
hence such a practical instruction and demonstratio
ad absurdum would not strike me as undesirable,
even if it were gained and paid for with
a tremendous expenditure of human lives.
In any case, even as a restless mole under
the soil of a society that wallows in stupidity,
socialism will be able to be something useful
and therapeutic: it delays "peace on
earth" and the total mollification of
the democratic herd animal; it forces the
Europeans to retain spirit, namely cunning
and cautious care, not to abjure manly and
warlike virtues altogether, and to retain
some remnant of spirit, of clarity, sobriety,
and coldness of the spirit- it protects Europe
for the time being from the marasmus femininus
that threatens it.
126 (Spring-Fall 1887)
The most favorable inhibitions and remedies
1. universal military service with real wars
in which the time for joking is past;
2. national bigotry (simplifies, concentrates);
3. improved nutrition (meat);
4. increasing cleanliness and healthfulness
5. hegemony of physiology over theology,
moralism, economics, and politics;
6. military severity in the demand for and
handling of one's"obligations"
(one does not praise any more-).
I am glad about the military development
of Europe; also of the internal states of
anarchy: the time of repose and Chinese ossification,
which Galiani predicted for this century,
is over. Personal manly virtu of the body,
is regaining value, estimation becomes more
physical, nutrition meatier. Beautiful men
are again becoming possible. Pallid hypocrisy
(with mandarins at the top, as Comte dreamed)
is over. The barbarian in each of us is affirmed;
also the wild beast. Precisely for that reason
philosophers have a future.--Kant is a scarecrow,
I have as yet found no reason for discouragement.
Whoever has preserved, and bred in himself,
a strong will, together with an ample spirit,
has more favorable opportunities than ever.
For the trainability of men has become very
great in this democratic Europe; men who
learn easily and adapt themselves easily
are the rule: the herd animal, even highly
intelligent, has been prepared. Whoever can
command finds those who must obey: I am thinking,
e. g., of Napoleon and Bismarck. The rivalry
with strong and unintelligent wills, which
is the greatest obstacle, is small. Who doesn't
topple these "objective" gentlemen
with weak wills, like Rancle or Renan!
Spiritual enlightenment is an infallible
means for making men unsure, weaker in will,
so they are more in need of company and support--in
short, for developing the herd animal in
man. Therefore all great artists of government
so far (Confucius in China, the imperium
Romanum, Napoleon, the papacy at the time
when it took an interest in power and not
merely in the world), in the places where
the dominant instincts have culminated so
far, also employed spiritual enlightenment--at
least let it have its way (like the popes
of the Renaissance). The self-deception of
the mass concerning this point, e. g., in
every democracy, is extremely valuable: making
men smaller and more governable is desired
The highest equity and mildness as a state
of weakening (the New Testament and the original
Christian community--apparent as complete
betisel in the Englishmen, Darwin and Wallace).
Your equity, you higher natures, impels you
toward suffrage universel, etc.; your "humanity,"
toward mildness confronted with crime and
stupidity. In the long run you thus make
stupidity and the unscrupulous victorious:
comfort and stupidity--the mean.
Externally: age of tremendous wars, upheavals,
Internally: ever greater weakness of man,
events as excitants. The Parisian as the
Consequences: (1) barbarians (at first, of
course, below the form of culture so far
[e. g., Duhring]); (2) sovereign individuals
(where masses of barbarian force are crossed
with a lack of all restraint regarding whatever
has been). Age of the greatest stupidity,
brutality, and the masses, and of the highest
Innumerable individuals of a higher type
now perish: but whoever gets away is strong
as the devil. Similar to the situation at
the time of the Renaissance.
Good Europeans that we are--what distinguishes
us above the men of fatherlands?-First, we
are atheists and immoralists, but for the
present we support the religions and moralities
of the herd instinct: for these prepare a
type of man that must one day fall into our
hands, that must desire our hands.
Beyond good and evil--but we demand that
herd morality should be held sacred unconditionally.
We hold in reserve many types of philosophy
which need to be taught: possibly, the pessimistic
type, as a hammer; a European Buddhism might
perhaps be indispensable.
We probably support the development and maturing
of democratic institutions: they enhance
weakness of the will: in socialism we see
a thorn that protects against comfortableness.
Position toward peoples. Our preferences;
we pay attention to the results of interbreeding.
Apart, wealthy, strong: irony at the expense
of the "press" and its culture.
Worry lest scholars become journalistic.
We feel contemptuous of every kind of culture
that is compatible with reading, not to speak
of writing for, newspapers.
We take our accidental positions (like Goethe,
Stendhal), our experiences, as foreground
and stress them to deceive about our depths.
We ourselves are waiting and beware of staking
our hearts on them. They serve us as hostels
for a night, which a wanderer needs and accepts--we
beware of settling down.
We are ahead of our fellow men in possessing
a disciplina voluntaris. All strength applied
to development of strength of the will, an
art that permits us to wear masks, an art
of understanding beyond the affects (also
to think in a "supra-European"
way, at times).
Preparation for becoming the legislators
of the future, the masters of the earth,
at least our children. Basic concern with
The twentieth century.--Abbe Galiani once
said: 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. Since I do not by
any means share the unwarlike views of my
friend Galiani, I am not afraid of predicting
a few things and thus, possibly, of conjuring
up the cause of wars.
A tremendous stock-taking after the most
terrible earth quake: with new questions.
This is the time of the great noon, of the
most terrible clearing up: my type of pessimism--great
point of departure.
I. Basic contradiction in civilization and
the enhancement of man.
II. Moral valuations as a history of lies
and the art of slander in the service of
a will to power (the herd will that rebels
against the human beings who are stronger).
III. The conditions of every enhancement
of culture (making possible a selection at
the expense of a mass) are the conditions
of all growth.
IV. The multiple ambiguity of the world as
a question of strength that sees all things
in the perspective of its growth. Moral-Christian
value judgments as slaves' rebellion and
slaves' mendaciousness (against the aristocratic
values of the ancient world). How far does
art reach down into the essence of strength?