Beyond Good And Evil

Part Five : On the Natural History of Morals


Moral sensibility is as subtle, late, manifold, sensitive and refined in Europe today as the `science of morals' pertaining to it is still young, inept, clumsy and coarse‑fingered ‑ an interesting contrast which sometimes even becomes visible and incarnate in the person of a moralist. Even the expression `science of morals' is, considering what is designated by it, far too proud, and contrary to good taste: which is always accustomed to choose the more modest expressions. One should, in all strictness, admit what will be needful here for a long time to come, what alone is provisionally justified here: assembly of material, conceptual comprehension and arrangement of a vast domain of delicate value‑feelings and value-distinctions which live, grow, beget and perish ‑ and perhaps attempts to display the more frequent and recurring forms of these living crystallizations ‑ as preparation of a typology of morals. To be sure: one has not been so modest hitherto. Philosophers one and all have, with a strait‑laced seriousness that provokes laughter, demanded something much higher, more pretentious, more solemn of themselves as soon as they have concerned themselves with morality as a science: they wanted to furnish the rational ground of morality ‑ and every philosopher hitherto has believed he has furnished this rational ground of morality itself, however, was taken as 'given'. How far from their clumsy pride was that apparently insignificant task left in dust and mildew, the task of description, although the most delicate hands and senses could hardly be delicate enough for it! It was precisely because moral philosophers knew the facts of morality only somewhat vaguely in an arbitrary extract or as a chance abridgement, as morality of their environment, their class, their church, the spirit of their times, their climate and zone of the earth, for instance ‑ it was precisely because they were ill informed and not even very inquisitive about other peoples, ages and former times, that they did not so much as catch sight of the real problems of morality ‑ for these come into view only if we compare many moralities. Strange though it may sound, in all `science of morals' hitherto the problem of morality itself has been lacking: the suspicion was lacking that there was anything problematic here. What philosophers called `the rational ground of morality' and sought to furnish was, viewed in the proper light, only a scholarly form of faith in the prevailing morality, a new way of expressing it, and thus itself a fact within a certain morality, indeed even in the last resort a kind of denial that this morality ought to be conceived of as a problem ‑ and in any event the opposite of a testing, analysis, doubting and vivisection of this faith. Hear, for example, with what almost venerable innocence Schopenhauer still presented his task, and draw your own conclusions as to how scientific a `science' is whose greatest masters still talk like children and old women: ‑ 'The principle', he says (Fundamental Problems of Ethics),

the fundamental proposition on whose content all philosophers of ethics are actually at one: neminem laede, immo omnes, quantum potes, juva ‑ is actually the proposition of which all the teachers of morals endeavour to furnish the rational ground ... the actual foundation of ethics which has been sought for centuries like the philosopher's stone.

‑ The difficulty of furnishing the rational ground for the above‑quoted proposition may indeed be great ‑ as is well known, Schopenhauer too failed to do it ‑ ; and he who has ever been certain how insipidly false and sentimental this proposition is in a world whose essence is will to power may like to recall that Schopenhauer, although a pessimist, actually ‑ played the flute . . . Every day, after dinner: read his biographers on this subject. And by the way: a pessimist, a world‑denier and God‑denier, who comes to a halt before morality ‑ who affirms morality and plays the flute, affirms laede neminem morality: what? is that actually ‑ a pessimist?


Quite apart from the value of such assertions as `there exists in us a categorical imperative' one can still ask: what does such an assertion say of the man who asserts it? There are moralities which are intended to justify their authors before others; other moralities are intended to calm him and make him content with himself; with others he wants to crucify and humiliate himself; with others he wants to wreak vengeance, with others hide himself, with others transfigure himself and set himself on high; this morality serves to make its author forget, that to make him or something about him forgotten; many moralists would like to exercise power and their creative moods on mankind; others, Kant perhaps among them, give to understand with their morality: `what is worthy of respect in me is that I know how to obey ‑ and things ought to be no different with you!' ‑ in short, moralities too are only a sign-language of the emotions.


Every morality is, as opposed to laisser aller, a piece of tyranny against `nature', likewise against `reason': but that can be no objection to it unless one is in possession of some other morality which decrees that any kind of tyranny and unreason is impermissible. The essential and invaluable element in every morality is that it is a protracted constraint: to understand Stoicism or Port‑Royal or Puritanism one should recall the constraint under which every language has hitherto attained strength and freedom ‑ the metrical constraint, the tyranny of rhyme and rhythm. How much trouble the poets and orators of every nation have given themselves! ‑ not excluding a few present‑day prose writers in whose ear there dwells an inexorable conscience ‑ `for the sake of foolishness', as the utilitarian fools say, thinking they are clever ‑ `from subjection to arbitrary laws', as the anarchists say, feeling themselves `free', even free‑spirited. But the strange fact is that all there is or has been on earth of freedom, subtlety, boldness, dance and masterly certainty, whether in thinking itself, or in ruling, or in speaking and persuasion, in the arts as in morals, has evolved only by virtue of the `tyranny of such arbitrary laws'; and, in all seriousness, there is no small probability that precisely this is `nature' and `natural' ‑ and not that laisser aller! Every artist knows how far from the feeling of letting himself go his `natural' condition is, the free ordering, placing, disposing, forming in the moment of `inspiration' ‑ and how strictly and subtly he then obeys thousandfold laws which precisely on account of their severity and definiteness mock all formulation in concepts (even the firmest concept is by comparison something fluctuating, manifold, ambiguous ‑). The essential thing `in heaven and upon earth' seems, to say it again, to be a protracted obedience in one direction: from out of that there always emerges and has always emerged in the long run something for the sake of which it is worthwhile to live on earth, for example virtue, art, music, dance, reason, spirituality ‑ something transfiguring, refined, mad and divine. Protracted unfreedom of spirit, mistrustful constraint in the communicability of ideas, the discipline thinkers imposed on themselves to think within an ecclesiastical or courtly rule or under Aristotelian presuppositions, the protracted spiritual will to interpret all events according to a Christian scheme and to rediscover and justify the Christian God in every chance occurrence ‑ all these violent, arbitrary, severe, gruesome and antirational things have shown themselves to be the means by which the European spirit was disciplined in its strength, ruthless curiosity and subtle flexibility: though admittedly an irreplaceable quantity of force and spirit had at the same time to be suppressed, stifled and spoiled (for here as everywhere `nature' shows itself as it is, in all its prodigal and indifferent magnificence, which is noble though it outrage our feelings). That for thousands of years European thinkers thought only so as to prove something ‑ today, on the contrary, we suspect any thinker who `wants to prove something' ‑ that they always knew in advance that which was supposed to result from the most rigorous cogitation, as used to be the case with Asiatic astrology and is still the case with the innocuous Christian‑moral interpretation of the most intimate personal experiences `to the glory of God' and `for the salvation of the soul' ‑ this tyranny, this arbitrariness, this rigorous and grandiose stupidity has educated the spirit; it seems that slavery, in the cruder and in the more refined sense, is the indispensable means also for spiritual discipline and breeding. Regard any morality from this point of view: it is `nature' in it which teaches hatred of laisser aller, of too great freedom, and which implants the need for limited horizons and immediate tasks ‑ which teaches the narrowing of perspective, and thus in a certain sense stupidity, as a condition of life and growth. 'Thou shalt obey someone and for a long time: otherwise thou shalt perish and lose all respect for thyself'‑ this seems to me to be nature's imperative, which is, to be sure, neither `categorical' as old Kant demanded it should be (hence the 'otherwise'‑), nor addressed to the individual (what do individuals matter to nature!), but to peoples, races, ages, classes, and above all to the entire animal `man', to mankind.


The industrious races find leisure very hard to endure: it was a masterpiece of English instinct to make Sunday so extremely holy and boring that the English unconsciously long again for their week‑ and working‑days ‑ as a kind of cleverly devised and cleverly intercalated fast, such as is also to be seen very frequently in the ancient world (although, as one might expect in the case of southern peoples, not precisely in regard to work ‑). There have to be fasts of many kinds; and wherever powerful drives and habits prevail legislators have to see to it that there are intercalary days on which such a drive is put in chains and learns to hunger again. Seen from a higher viewpoint, entire generations and ages, if they are infected with some moral fanaticism or other, appear to be such intercalated periods of constraint and fasting, during which a drive learns to stoop and submit, but also to purify and intensify itself; certain philosophical sects (for example the Stoa in the midst of the Hellenistic culture, with its air grown rank and overcharged with aphrodisiac vapours) likewise permit of a similar interpretation. ‑  This also provides a hint towards the elucidation of that paradox why it was precisely during Europe's Christian period and only under the impress of Christian value judgements that the sexual drive sublimated itself into love (amour passion).


There is something in Plato's morality which does not really belong to Plato but is only to be met with in his philosophy, one might say in spite of Plato: namely Socratism, for which he was really too noble. `No one wants to do injury to himself, therefore all badness is involuntary. For the bad man does injury to himself: this he would not do if he knew that badness is bad. Thus the bad man is bad only in consequence of an error; if one cures him of his error, one necessarily makes him ‑ good.' ‑ This way of reasoning smells of the mob, which sees in bad behaviour only its disagreeable consequences and actually judges `it is stupid to act badly'; while it takes `good' without further ado to be identical with `useful and pleasant'. In the case of every utilitarian morality one may conjecture in advance a similar origin and follow one's nose: one will seldom go astray. ‑ Plato did all he could to interpret something refined and noble into his teacher's proposition, above all himself ‑ he, the most intrepid of interpreters, who picked up the whole of Socrates only in the manner of a popular tune from the streets, so as to subject it to infinite and impossible variations: that is, to make it into all his own masks and multiplicities. One might ask in jest, and in Homeric jest at that: what is the Platonic Socrates if not prosthe Platõn opithen to Platõn messē te chimaira?


The old theological problem of `faith' and `knowledge' ‑ or, more clearly, of instinct and reason ‑ that is to say, the question whether in regard to the evaluation of things instinct deserves to have more authority than rationality, which wants to evaluate and act according to reasons, according to a `why?', that is to say according to utility and fitness for a purpose ‑ this is still that old moral problem which first appeared in the person of Socrates and was already dividing the minds of men long before Christianity. Socrates himself, to be sure, had, with the taste appropriate to his talent ‑ that of a superior dialectician ‑ initially taken the side of reason; and what indeed did he do all his life long but laugh at the clumsy incapacity of his noble Athenians, who were men of instinct, like all noble men, and were never able to supply adequate information about the reasons for their actions? Ultimately, however, in silence and secrecy, he laughed at himself too: he found in himself, before his more refined conscience and self‑interrogation, the same difficulty and incapacity. But why, he exhorted himself, should one therefore abandon the instincts! One must help both them and reason to receive their due one must follow the instincts, but persuade reason to aid them with good arguments. This was the actual falsity of that great ironist, who had so many secrets; he induced his conscience to acquiesce in a sort of self‑outwitting: fundamentally he had seen through the irrational aspect of moral judgement. ‑ Plato, more innocent in such things and without the craftiness of the plebeian, wanted at the expenditure of all his strength ‑ the greatest strength any philosopher has hitherto had to expend! ‑ to prove to himself that reason and instinct move of themselves towards one goal, towards the good, towards `God'; and since Plato all theologians and philosophers have followed the same path ‑ that is to say, in moral matters instinct, or as the Christians call it `faith', or as I call it `the herd', has hitherto triumphed. One might have to exclude Descartes, the father of rationalism (and consequently the grandfather of the Revolution), who recognized only the authority of reason: but reason is only an instrument, and Descartes was superficial.


He who has followed the history of an individual science will find in its evolution a clue to the comprehension of the oldest and most common processes of all `knowledge and understanding': in both cases it is the premature hypotheses, the fictions, the good stupid will to `believe', the lack of mistrust and patience which are evolved first ‑ it is only late, and then imperfectly, that our senses learn to be subtle, faithful, cautious organs of understanding. It is more comfortable for our eye to react to a particular object by producing again an image it has often produced before than by retaining what is new and different in an impression: the latter requires more strength, more `morality'. To hear something new is hard and painful for the ear; we hear the music of foreigners badly. When we hear a foreign language we involuntarily attempt to form the sounds we hear into words which have a more familiar and homely ring: thus the Germans, for example, once heard arcubalista and adapted it into Armbrust. The novel finds our senses, too, hostile and reluctant; and even in the case of the `simplest' processes of the senses, the emotions, such as fear, love, hatred, and the passive emotions of laziness, dominate. -  As little as a reader today reads all the individual words (not to speak of the syllables) of a page ‑ he rather takes about five words in twenty haphazardly and `conjectures' their probable meaning ‑ just as little do we see a tree exactly and entire with regard to its leaves, branches, colour, shape; it is so much easier for us to put together an approximation of a tree. Even when we are involved in the most uncommon experiences we still do the same thing: we fabricate the greater pan of the experience and can hardly be compelled not to contemplate some event as its `inventor'. All this means: we are from the very heart and from the very first ‑ accustomed to lying. Or, to express it more virtuously and hypocritically, in short more pleasantly: one is much more of an artist than one realizes. In a lively conversation I often see before me the face of the person with whom I am speaking so clearly and subtly determined by the thought he is expressing or which I believe has been called up in him that this degree of clarity far surpasses the power of my eyesight ‑ so that the play of the muscles and the expression of the eyes must have been invented by me. Probably the person was making a quite different face or none whatever.


Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris agit: but also the other way round. That which we experience in dreams, if we experience it often, is in the end just as much a part of the total economy of our soul as is anything we `really' experience: we are by virtue of it richer or poorer, feel one need more or one need fewer, and finally are led along a little in broad daylight and even in the most cheerful moments of our waking spirit by the habits of our dreams. Suppose someone has often flown in his dreams and finally as soon as he starts dreaming becomes conscious of a power and art of flying as if it were a privilege he possessed, likewise as his personal and enviable form of happiness: such a man as believes he can realize any arc and angle with the slightest impulse, as knows the feeling of a certain divine frivolity, a `going up' without tension or constraint, a `going down' without condescension or abasement - without gravity! ‑ how should the man who knew such dream-experiences and dream‑habits not find at last that the word `happiness' had a different colour and definition in his waking hours too! How should he not have a different kind of ‑ desire for happiness? `Soaring rapture' as the poets describe it must seem to him, in comparison with this `flying', too earthy, muscular, violent, too `grave'.


The diversity of men is revealed not only in the diversity of their tables of what they find good, that is to say in the fact that they regard diverse goods worth striving for and also differ as to what is more or less valuable, as to the order of rank of the goods they all recognize ‑ it is revealed even more in what they regard as actually having and possessing what they find good. In regard to a woman, for example, the more modest man.counts the simple disposal of her body and sexual gratification as a sufficient and satisfactory sign of having, of possession; another, with a more jealous and demanding thirst for possession, sees the `question‑mark', the merely apparent quality of such a having and requires subtler tests, above all in order to know whether the woman not only gives herself to him but also gives up for his sake what she has or would like to have ‑ : only thus does she count to him as `possessed'. A third, however, is not done with jealousy and desire for having even then; he asks himself whether, when the woman gives up everything for him, she does not perhaps do so for a phantom of him: he demands that she know him to the very heart before she is able to love him at all, he dares to let himself be unravelled ‑ . He feels that his beloved is fully in his possession only when she no longer deceives herself about him but loves him as much for his devilry and hidden insatiability as she does for his goodness, patience and spirituality. One would like to possess a people: and all the higher arts of a Cagliostro and Catiline seem to him right for that end. Another, with a more refined thirst for possession, says to himself‑ `one may not deceive where one wants to possess' ‑ he is irritated and dissatisfied at the idea that it is a mask of him which rules the hearts of the people: 'so I must let myself be known and, first of all, know myself!' Among helpful and charitable people one almost always finds that clumsy deceitfulness which first adjusts and adapts him who is to be helped: as if, for example, he `deserved' help, desired precisely their help, and would prove profoundly grateful, faithful and submissive to them in return for all the help he had received with these imaginings they dispose of those in need as if they were possessions, and are charitable and helpful at all only from a desire for possessions. They are jealous if one frustrates or anticipates them when they want to help. Parents involuntarily make of their child something similar to themselves they call it `education' ‑ and at the bottom of her heart no mother doubts that in her child she has borne a piece of property, no father disputes his right to subject it to his concepts and values. Indeed, in former times (among the ancient Germans, for instance) it seemed proper for fathers to possess power of life or death over the newborn and to use it as they thought fit. And as formerly the father, so still today the teacher, the class, the priest, the prince unhesitatingly see in every new human being an opportunity for a new possession. From which it follows . . .


The Jews ‑ a people `born for slavery' as Tacitus and the whole ancient world says, `the chosen people' as they themselves say and believe ‑ the Jews achieved that miracle of inversion of values thanks to which life on earth has for a couple of millennia acquired a new and dangerous fascination ‑ their prophets fused `rich', `godless', `evil', `violent', `sensual' into one and were the first to coin the word `world' as a term of infamy. It is in this inversion of values (with which is involved the employment of the word for `poor' as a synonym of `holy' and `friend') that the significance of the Jewish people resides: with them there begins the slave revolt in morals.


It is to be inferred that there exist countless dark bodies close to the sun ‑ such as we shall never see. This is, between ourselves, a parable; and a moral psychologist reads the whole starry script only as a parable and sign‑language by means of which many things can be kept secret.


One altogether misunderstands the beast of prey and man of prey (Cesare Borgia for example), one misunderstands `nature', so long as one looks for something `sick' at the bottom of these healthiest of all tropical monsters and growths, or even for an inborn `hell' in them‑: as virtually all moralists have done hitherto. It seems, does it not, that there exists in moralists a hatred for the jungle and the tropics? And that the `tropical man' has to be discredited at any cost, whether as the sickness and degeneration of man or as his own hell and self-torment? But why? For the benefit of `temperate zones'? The benefit of temperate men? Of the `moral'? Of the mediocre? This for the chapter `Morality as Timidity'.


All these moralities which address themselves to the individual person, for the promotion of his `happiness' as they say what are they but prescriptions for behaviour in relation to the degree of perilousness in which the individual person lives with himself; recipes to counter his passions, his good and bad inclinations in so far as they have will to power in them and would like to play the tyrant; great and little artifices and acts of prudence to which there clings the nook‑and‑cranny odour of ancient household remedies and old‑woman wisdom; one and all baroque and unreasonable in form ‑ because they address themselves to `all', because they generalize where generalization is impermissible ‑ speaking unconditionally one and all, taking themselves for unconditional, flavoured with more than one grain of salt, indeed tolerable only, and occasionally even tempting, when they learn to smell overspiced and dangerous, to smell above all of `the other world': all this is, from an intellectual point of view, of little value and far from constituting `science', not to speak of `wisdom', but rather, to say it again and to say it thrice, prudence, prudence, prudence, mingled with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity ‑ whether it be that indifference and statuesque coldness towards the passionate folly of the emotions which the Stoics advised and applied; or that no‑more‑laughing and no‑more‑weeping of Spinoza, that destruction of the emotions through analysis and vivisection which he advocated so naively; or that depression of the emotions to a harmless mean at which they may be satisfied, the Aristotelianism of morals; even morality as enjoyment of the emotions in a deliberate thinning down and spiritualization through the symbolism of art, as music for instance, or as love of God or love of man for the sake of God ‑ for in religion the passions again acquire civic rights, assuming that . . .; finally, even that easygoing and roguish surrender to the emotions such as Hafiz and Goethe taught, that bold letting fall of the reins, that spiritual‑physical licentia morum in the exceptional case of wise old owls and drunkards for whom there is `no longer much risk in it'. This too for the chapter `Morality as Timidity'.


Inasmuch as ever since there have been human beings there have also been human herds (family groups, communities, tribes, nations, states, churches), and always very many who obey compared with the very small number of those who command ‑ considering, that is to say, that hitherto nothing has been practised and cultivated among men better or longer than obedience, it is fair to suppose that as a rule a need for it is by now innate as a kind of formal conscience which commands: 'thou shaft unconditionally do this, unconditionally not do that', in short 'thou shaft'. This need seeks to be satisfied and to fill out its form with a content; in doing so it grasps about wildly, according to the degree of its strength, impatience and tension, with little discrimination, as a crude appetite, and accepts whatever any commander ‑ parent, teacher, law, class prejudice, public opinion ‑ shouts in its ears. The strange narrowness of human evolution, its hesitations, its delays, its frequent retrogressions and rotations, are due to the fact that the herd instinct of obedience has been inherited best and at the expense of the art of commanding. If we think of this instinct taken to its ultimate extravagance there would be no commanders or independent men at all; or, if they existed, they would suffer from a bad conscience and in order to be able to command would have to practise a deceit upon themselves: the deceit, that is, that they too were only obeying. This state of things actually exists in Europe today: I call it the moral hypocrisy of the commanders. They know no way of defending themselves against their bad conscience other than to pose as executors of more ancient or higher commands (commands of ancestors, of the constitution, of justice, of the law or even of God), or even to borrow herd maxims from the herd's way of thinking and appear as `the first servant of the people' for example, or as `instruments of the common good'. On the other hand, the herd‑man in Europe today makes himself out to be the only permissible kind of man and glorifies the qualities through which he is tame, peaceable and useful to the herd as the real human virtues: namely public spirit, benevolence, consideration, industriousness, moderation, modesty, forbearance, pity. In those cases, however, in which leaders and bell‑wethers are thought to be indispensable, there is attempt after attempt to substitute for them an adding‑together of clever herd‑men: this, for example, is the origin of all parliamentary constitutions. All this notwithstanding, what a blessing, what a release from a burden becoming intolerable, the appearance of an unconditional commander is for this herd‑animal European, the effect produced by the appearance of Napoleon is the latest great witness ‑ the history of the effect of Napoleon is almost the history of the higher happiness this entire century has attained in its most valuable men and moments.


The man of an era of dissolution which mixes the races together and who therefore contains within him the inheritance of a diversified descent, that is to say contrary and often not merely contrary drives and values which struggle with one another and rarely leave one another in peace ‑ such a man of late cultures and broken lights will, on average, be a rather weak man: his fundamental desire is that the war which he is should come to an end; happiness appears to him, in accord with a sedative (for example Epicurean or Christian) medicine and mode of thought, pre‑eminently as the happiness of repose, of tranquillity, of satiety, of unity at last attained, as a `Sabbath of Sabbaths', to quote the holy rhetorician Augustine, who was himself such a man. ‑ If, however, the contrariety and war in such a nature should act as one more stimulus and enticement to life ‑ and if, on the other hand, in addition to powerful and irreconcilable drives, there has also been inherited and cultivated a proper mastery and subtlety in conducting a war against oneself, that is to say self‑control, self‑outwitting: then there arise those marvellously in-comprehensible and unfathomable men, those enigmatic men predestined for victory and the seduction of others, the fairest examples of which are Alcibiades and Caesar (‑ to whom I should like to add that first European agreeable to my taste, the Hohenstaufen Friedrich II), and among artists perhaps Leonardo da Vinci. They appear in precisely the same ages as those in which that rather weak type with his desire for rest comes to the fore: the two types belong together and originate in the same causes.


So long as the utility which dominates moral value‑judgements is solely that which is useful to the herd, so long as the object is solely the preservation of the community and the immoral is sought precisely and exclusively in that which seems to imperil the existence of the community: so long as that is the case there can be no `morality of love of one's neighbour'. Supposing that even there a constant little exercise of consideration, pity, fairness, mildness, mutual aid was practised, supposing that even at that stage of society all those drives are active which are later honourably designated `virtues' and are finally practically equated with the concept `morality': in that era they do not yet by any means belong to the domain of moral valuations ‑ they are still extra‑moral. An act of pity, for example, was during the finest age of Rome considered neither good nor bad, neither moral nor immoral; and even if it was commended, this commendation was entirely compatible with a kind of involuntary disdain, as soon, that is, as it was set beside any action which served the welfare of the whole, of the res publica. Ultimately `love of one's neighbour' is always something secondary, in part conventional and arbitrarily illusory, when compared with fear of one's neighbour Once the structure of society seems to have been in general fixed and made safe from external dangers, it is this fear of one's neighbour which again creates new perspectives of moral valuation. There are certain strong and dangerous drives, such as enterprisingness, foolhardiness, revengefulness, craft, rapacity, ambition, which hitherto had not only to be honoured from the point of view of their social utility ‑ under different names, naturally, from those chosen here ‑ but also mightily developed and cultivated (because they were constantly needed to protect the community as a whole against the enemies of the community as a whole); these drives are now felt to be doubly dangerous ‑ now that the diversionary outlets for them are lacking ‑ and are gradually branded as immoral and given over to calumny. The antithetical drives and inclinations now come into moral honour; step by step the herd instinct draws its conclusions. How much or how little that is dangerous to the community, dangerous to equality, resides in an opinion, in a condition or emotion, in a will, in a talent, that is now the moral perspective: here again fear is the mother of morality. When the highest and strongest drives, breaking passionately out, carry the individual far above and beyond the average and lowlands of the herd conscience, the self‑confidence of the community goes to pieces, its faith in itself, its spine as it were, is broken: consequently it is precisely these drives which are most branded and calumniated. Lofty spiritual independence, the will to stand alone, great intelligence even, are felt to be dangerous; everything that raises the individual above the herd and makes his neighbour quail is henceforth called evil; the fair, modest, obedient, self‑effacing disposition, the mean and average in desires, acquires moral names and honours. Eventually, under very peaceful conditions, there is less and less occasion or need to educate one's feelings in severity and sternness; and now every kind of severity, even severity in justice, begins to trouble the conscience; a stern and lofty nobility and self‑responsibility is received almost as an offence and awakens mistrust, `the lamb', even more `the sheep', is held in higher and higher respect. There comes a point of morbid mellowing and over‑tenderness in the history of society at which it takes the side even of him who harms it, the criminal, and does so honestly and wholeheartedly. Punishment: that seems to it somehow unfair ‑ certainly the idea of `being punished' and `having to punish' is unpleasant to it, makes it afraid. `Is it not enough to render him harmless? why punish him as well? To administer punishment is itself dreadful!' with this question herd morality, the morality of timidity, draws its ultimate conclusion. Supposing all danger, the cause of fear, could be abolished, this morality would therewith also be abolished: it would no longer be necessary, it would no longer regard itself as necessary! ‑ He who examines the conscience of the present‑day European will have to extract from a thousand moral recesses and hiding‑places always the, same imperative, the imperative of herd timidity: `we wish hat there will one day no longer be anything to fear!' One day everywhere in Europe the will and way to that day is now called `progress'.


Let us straight away say once more what we have already said a hundred times: for ears today offer such truths ‑ our truths no ready welcome. We know well enough how offensive it sounds when someone says plainly and without metaphor that man is an animal; but it will be reckoned almost a crime in us that precisely in regard to men of `modern ideas' we constantly employ the terms `herd', `herd instinct', and the like. But what of that! we can do no other: for it is precisely here that our new insight lies. We have found that in all principal moral judgements Europe has become unanimous, including the lands where Europe's influence predominates: one manifestly knows in Europe what Socrates thought he did not know, and what that celebrated old serpent once promised to teach ‑ one `knows' today what is good and evil. Now it is bound to make a harsh sound and one not easy for ears to hear when we insist again and again: that which here believes it knows, that which here glorifies itself with its praising and blaming and calls itself good, is the instinct of the herd‑animal man: the instinct which has broken through and come to predominate and prevail over the other instincts and is coming to do so more and more in proportion to the increasing physiological approximation and assimilation of which it is the symptom. Morality is in Europe today herd‑animal morality ‑ that is to say, as we understand the thing, only one kind of human morality beside which, before which, after which many other, above all higher, moralities are possible or ought to be possible. But against such a `possibility', against such an `ought', this morality defends itself with all its might: it says, obstinately and stubbornly, `I am morality itself, and nothing is morality besides me!' ‑ indeed, with the aid of a religion which has gratified and flattered the sublimest herd‑animal desires, it has got to the point where we discover even in political and social institutions an increasingly evident expression of this morality: the democratic movement inherits the Christian. But that the tempo of this movement is much too slow and somnolent for the more impatient, for the sick and suffering of the said instinct, is attested by the ever more frantic baying, the ever more undisguised fang‑baring of the anarchist dogs which now rove the streets of European culture: apparently the reverse of the placidly industrious democrats and revolutionary ideologists, and even more so of the stupid philosophasters and brotherhood fanatics who call themselves socialists and want a `free society', they are in fact at one with them all in their total and instinctive hostility towards every form of society other than that of the autonomous herd (to the point of repudiating even the concepts `master' and `servant' ‑ ni dieu ni maître says a socialist formula ‑ ); at one in their tenacious opposition to every special claim, every special right and privilege (that is to say, in the last resort to every right: for when everyone is equal no one will need any `rights' ‑ ); at one in their mistrust of punitive justice (as if it were an assault on the weaker, an injustice against the necessary consequence of all previous society ‑ ); but equally at one in the religion of pity, in sympathy with whatever feels, lives, suffers (down as far as the animals, up as far, as `God' ‑ the extravagance of `pity for God' belongs in a democratic era ‑ ); at one, one and all, in the cry and impatience of pity, in mortal hatred for suffering in general, in their almost feminine incapacity to remain spectators of suffering, to let suffer; at one in their involuntary gloom and sensitivity, under whose spell Europe seems threatened with a new Buddhism; at one in their faith in the morality of mutual pity, as if it were morality in itself and the pinnacle, the attained pinnacle of man, the sole hope of the future, the consolation of the present and the great redemption from all the guilt of the past ‑ at one, one and all, in their faith in the community as the saviour, that is to say in the herd, in `themselves' . . .


We, who have a different faith ‑ we, to whom the democratic movement is not merely a form assumed by political organization in decay but also a form assumed by man in decay, that is to say in diminishment, in process of becoming mediocre and losing his value: whither must the direct our hopes? ‑ Towards new philosophers, we have no other choice; towards spirits strong and original enough to make a start on antithetical evaluations and to revalue and reverse `eternal values'; towards heralds and forerunners, towards men of the future who in the present knot together the constraint which compels the will of millennia on to new paths. To teach man the future of man as his will, as dependent on a human will, and to prepare for great enterprises and collective experiments in discipline and breeding so as to make an end of that gruesome dominion of chance and nonsense that has hitherto been called `history' ‑ the nonsense of the `greatest number' is only its latest form for that a new kind of philosopher and commander will some time be needed, in face of whom whatever has existed on earth of hidden, dreadful and benevolent spirits may well look pale and dwarfed. It is the image of such leaders which hovers before our eyes ‑ may I say that aloud, you free spirits?

The circumstances one would have in part to create, in part to employ, to bring them into existence; the conjectural paths and tests by virtue of which a soul could grow to such height and power it would feel compelled to these tasks; a revaluation of values under whose novel pressure and hammer a conscience would be steeled, a heart transformed to brass, so that it might endure the weight of such a responsibility; on the other hand, the need for such leaders, the terrible danger they might not appear or might fail or might degenerate ‑ these are our proper cares and concerns, do you know that, you free spirits? These are the heavy, remote thoughts and thunder clouds that pass across our life's sky. There are few more grievous pains than once to have beheld, divined, sensed, how an extraordinary man missed his way and degenerated: but he who has the rare eye for the collective danger that `man' himself may degenerate, he who, like us, has recognized the tremendous fortuitousness which has hitherto played its game with the future of man ‑ a game in which no hand, not even a `finger of God' took any part! ‑ he who has divined the fatality that lies concealed in the idiotic guilelessness and blind confidence of `modern ideas', even more in the whole of Christian‑European morality: he suffers from a feeling of anxiety with which no other can be compared ‑ for he comprehends in a single glance all that which, given a favourable accumulation and intensification of forces and tasks, could be cultivated out of man, he knows with all the knowledge of his conscience how the greatest possibilities in man are still unexhausted and how often before the type man has been faced with strange decisions and new paths ‑ he knows even better from his most painful memories against what wretched things an evolving being of the highest rank has hitherto usually been shattered and has broken off, sunk and has itself become wretched. The collective degeneration of man down to that which the socialist dolts and blockheads today see as their `man of the future' ‑ as their ideal! ‑ this degeneration and diminution of man to the perfect herd animal (or, as they say, to the man of the `free society'), this animalization of man to the pygmy animal of equal rights and equal pretensions is possible, there is no doubt about that! He who has once thought this possibility through to the end knows one more kind of disgust than other men do ‑ and perhaps also a new task! . . .

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