Human, All Too Human


Man Alone with Himself


Enemies of truth. Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.


Topsy-turvy world. We criticize a thinker more sharply when he proposes a tenet that is disagreeable to us; and yet it would be more reasonable to do this when we find his tenet agreeable.


A person of character. It is much more common for a person to appear to have character because he always acts in accord with his temperament, rather than because he always acts in accord with his principles.


The one necessary thing. A person must have one or the other. either a disposition which is easygoing by nature, or else a disposition eased by art and knowledge.


Passion for things. He who directs his passion to things (the sciences, the national good, cultural interests, the arts) takes'.", much of the fire out of his passion for people (even when they represent those things, as statesmen, philosophers, and artier represent their creations).


Calm in action. As a waterfall becomes slower and more floating as it plunges, so the great man of action will act with greater calm than could be expected from his violent desire before the deed.


Not too deep. People who comprehend a matter in all its depth seldom remain true to it forever. For they have brought its depths to the light; and then there is always much to see about it that is bad.


Idealists' delusion. All idealists imagine that the causes they serve are significantly better than the other causes in the world; they do not want to believe that if their cause is to flourish at all, it needs exactly the same foul-smelling manure that all other human undertakings require.


Self-observation. Man is very well defended against himself, against his own spying and sieges; usually he is able to make out no more of himself than his outer fortifications. The actual stronghold is inaccessible to him, even invisible, unless friends and enemies turn traitor and lead him there by a secret path.


The right profession. Men seldom endure a profession if they do not believe or persuade themselves that it is basically more important than all others. Women do the same with their lovers.


Nobility of mind. To a great degree, nobility of mind consists of good nature and lack of distrust, and thus contains precisely that which acquisitive and successful people so like to treat with superiority and scorn.


Destination and paths. Many people are obstinate about the path once it is taken, few people about the destination.


The infuriating thing about an individual way of living. People are always angry at anyone who chooses very individual standards for his life; because of the extraordinary treatment which that man grants to himself, they feel degraded, like ordinary beings.


Privilege of greatness. It is the privilege of greatness to grant supreme pleasure through trifling gifts.


Unwittingly noble. A man's behavior is unwittingly noble if he has grown accustomed never to want anything from men, and always to give to them.


Condition for being a hero. If a man wants to become a hero, the snake must first become a dragon: otherwise he is lacking his proper enemy.


Friend. Shared joy, not compassion, makes a friend.


Using high and low tides. For the purpose of knowledge, one must know how to use that inner current that draws us to a thing, and then the one that, after a time, draws us away from it.


Delight in oneself. "Delight in an enterprise," they say; but in truth it is delight in oneself, by means of an enterprise.


The modest one. He who is modest with people shows his arrogance all the more with things (the city, state, society, epoch, or mankind). That is his revenge.


Envy and jealousy. Envy and jealousy are the pudenda of the human soul. The comparison can perhaps be pursued further.


The most refined hypocrite. To speak about oneself not at all is a very refined form of hypocrisy.


Annoyance. Annoyance is a physical illness that is by no means ended simply by eliminating the cause of the annoyance.


Representatives of truth. The champions of truth are hardest to find, not when it is dangerous to tell it, but rather when it is boring.


More troublesome than enemies. When some reason (e.g., gratitude) obliges us to maintain the appearance of unqualified congeniality with people about whose own congenial behavior we are not entirely convinced, these people torment our imagination much more than do our enemies.


Out in nature. We like to be out in nature so much because it has no opinion about us.


Everyone superior in one thing. In civilized circumstances, everyone feels superior to everyone else in at least one way; this is the basis of the general goodwill, inasmuch as everyone is someone who, under certain conditions, can be of help, and need therefore feel no shame in allowing himself to be helped.


Reasons for consolation. When someone dies, we usually need reasons to be consoled, not so much to soften the force of our pain, as to excuse the fact that we feel consoled so easily.


Loyal to their convictions. The man who has a lot to do usually keeps his general views and opinions almost unchanged; as does each person who works in the service of an idea. He will never test the idea itself any more; he no longer has time for that. Indeed, it is contrary to his interest even to think it possible to discuss it.


Morality and quantity. One man's greater morality, in contrast to another's, often lies only in the fact that his goals are quantitatively larger. The other man is pulled down by occupying himself with small things, in a narrow sphere.


Life as the product of life. However far man may extend himself with his knowledge, however objective he may appear to himself - ultimately he reaps nothing but his own biography.


Iron necessity. Over the course of history, men learn that iron necessity is neither iron nor necessary.


From experience. That something is irrational is no argument against its existence, but rather a condition for it.


Truth.. No one dies of fatal truths nowadays: there are too many antidotes.


Basic insight. There is no pre-established harmony between the furthering of truth and the good of mankind.


Human lot. Whoever thinks more deeply knows that he is always wrong, whatever his acts and judgments.


Truth as Circe. Error has turned animals into men; might truth be capable of turning man into an animal again?


Danger of our culture. We belong to a time in which culture is in danger of being destroyed by the means of culture.


Greatness means: to give a direction. No river is great and bounteous through itself alone, but rather because it takes up so many tributaries and carries them onwards: that makes it great. It is the same with all great minds. All that matters is that one man give the direction, which the many tributaries must then follow; it does not matter whether he is poorly or richly endowed in the beginning.


Weak conscience. Men who talk about their importance for mankind have a weak conscience about their common bourgeois honesty in keeping contracts or promises.


Wanting to be loved. The demand to be loved is the greatest kind of arrogance.


Contempt for people. The least ambiguous sign of a disdain for people is this: that one tolerates everyone else only as a means to his end, or not at all.


Disciples out of disagreement. Whoever has brought men to a state of rage against himself has always acquired a party in his favor, too.


Forgetting one's experiences. It is easy for a man who thinks a lot-and objectively-to forget his own experiences, but not the thoughts that were evoked by them.


Adhering to an opinion. One man adheres to an opinion because he prides himself on having come upon it by himself; another because he has learned it with effort, and is proud of having grasped it: thus both out of vanity.


Shunning the light. The good deed shuns the light as anxiously as the evil deed: the latter fears that, if it is known, pain (as punishment) will follow; the former fears that, if it is known, joy (that pure joy in oneself, which ceases as soon as it includes the satisfaction of one's vanity) will disappear.


The day's length. If a man has a great deal to put in them, a day will have a hundred pockets.


Tyrant-genius. If the soul stirs with an ungovernable desire to assert itself tyranically, and the fire is continually maintained, then even a slight talent (in politicians or artists) gradually becomes an almost irresistible force of nature.


The life of the enemy. Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy's staying alive.


More important. The unexplained, obscure matter is taken as more important than the explained, clear one.


Evaluating services rendered. We evaluate services someone renders us according to the value that person places on them, not according to the value they have for us.


Unhappiness. The distinction that lies in being unhappy (as if to feel happy were a sign of shallowness, lack of ambition, ordinariness) is so great that when someone says, "But how happy you must be!" we usually protest.


Fantasy of fear. The fantasy of fear is that malevolent, apelike goblin which jumps onto man's back just when he already has the most to bear.


Value of insipid opponents. Sometimes we remain true to a cause only because its opponents will not stop being insipid.


Value of a profession. A profession makes us thoughtless: therein lies its greatest blessing. For it is a bulwark, behind which we are allowed to withdraw when qualms and worries of a general kind attack us.


Talent. The talent of some men appears slighter than it is because they have always set themselves tasks that are too great.


Youth. The time of youth is disagreeable, for then it is not possible, or not reasonable, to be productive in any sense.


Goals too great. Who publicly sets himself great goals, and later realizes privately that he is too weak to accomplish them, does not usually have enough strength to revoke those goals publicly, either, and then inevitably becomes a hypocrite.


In the stream. Strong currents draw many stones and bushes along with them; strong minds many stupid and muddled heads.


Danger of intellectual liberation. When a man tries earnestly to liberate his intellect, his passions and desires secretly hope to benefit from it also.


Embodiment of the spirit. When a man thinks much and cleverly, not only his face, but also his body takes on a clever look.


Seeing poorly and hearing poorly. He who sees little, always sees less; he who hears poorly, always hears something more.


Self-enjoyment in vanity. The vain man wants not only to stand out, but also to feel outstanding, and therefore rejects no means to deceive and outwit himself. Not the opinion of others, but his opinion of their opinion is what he cares about.


Vain by way of an exception. When he is physically ill, the man who is usually self-sufficient is vain by way of an exception and responsive to fame and praise. In the proportion that he is losing himself, he must try to regain himself from the outside, using strangers' opinions.>


The "witty" ones. The man who seeks wit has no wit.


Hint for party chiefs. If we can force people to declare themselves publicly for something, we have usually also brought them to the point of declaring themselves for it privately; they want to continue to be perceived as consistent.


Contempt. Man is more sensitive to contempt from others than to contempt from himself.


Rope of gratitude. There are slavish souls who carry their thanks for favors so far that they actually strangle themselves with the rope of gratitude.


Trick of the prophet. In order to predict the behavior of ordinary men, we must assume that they always expend the least possible amount of intellect to free themselves from a disagreeable situation.


The only human right. He who strays from tradition becomes a sacrifice to the extraordinary; he who remains in tradition is its slave. Destruction follows in any case.


Lower than the animal. When man howls with laughter, he surpasses all animals by his coarseness.


Superficial knowledge. He who speaks a bit of a foreign language has more delight in it than he who speaks it well; pleasure goes along with superficial knowledge.


Dangerous helpfulness. There are people who want to make men's lives more difficult for no other reason than afterwards to offer them their prescriptions for making life easier - their Christianity, for example.


Industriousness and conscientiousness. Industriousness and conscientiousness are often antagonists, in that industriousness wants to take the fruits off the tree while still sour, but conscientiousness lets them hang too long, until they drop off the tree and come to nothing.


Suspicion. People whom we cannot tolerate, we try to make suspect.


Lacking the circumstances. Many men wait all their lives for the opportunity to be good in their way.


Want of friends. A want of friends points to envy or arrogance. Many a man owes his friends simply to the fortunate circumstance that he has no cause for envy.


Danger in multiplicity. With one talent the more, one often stands less secure than with one talent the less: as the table stands better on three legs than on four.


Model for others. He who wants to set a good example must add a grain of foolishness to his virtue; then others can imitate and, at the same time, rise above the one being imitated - something which people love.


Being a target. Often, other people's vicious talk about us is not actually aimed at us, but expresses their annoyance or ill humor arising from quite different reasons.


Easily resigned. A man suffers little from unfulfilled wishes if he has trained his imagination to think of the past as hateful.


In danger. When we have just gotten out of the way of a vehicle, we are most in danger of being run over.


The role according to the voice. He who is forced to speak more loudly than is his habit (as in front of someone hard of hearing, or before a large audience) generally exaggerates what he has to communicate.

Some people become conspirators, malicious slanderers, or schemers, merely because their voice is best suited to a whisper.


Love and hatred. Love and hatred are not blind, but are blinded by the fire they themselves carry with them.


Made an enemy to one's advantage. Men who are unable to make their merit completely clear to the world seek to awaken an intense enmity towards themselves. Then they have the comfort of thinking that this stands between their merit and its recognition-and that other people assume the same thing, which is of great advantage to their own importance.


Confession. We forget our guilt when we have confessed it to another, but usually the other person does not forget it.


Self-sufficiency. The golden fleece of self-sufficiency protects against thrashings, but not against pin-pricks.


Shadow in the flame. The flame is not so bright to itself as to those on whom it shines: so too the wise man.


Our own opinions. The first opinion that occurs to us when we are suddenly asked about a matter is usually not our own, but only the customary one, appropriate to our caste, position, or parentage; our own opinions seldom swim near the surface.


Origin of courage. The ordinary man is courageous and invulnerable like a hero when he does not see the danger, when he has no eyes for it. Conversely, the hero's one vulnerable spot is on his back; that is, where he has no eyes.


Danger in the doctor. A man is either born for his doctor, or else he perishes by his doctor.


Magical vanity. He who has boldly prophesied the weather three times and has been successful, believes a bit, at the bottom of his heart, in his own prophetic gift. We do not dispute what is magical or irrational when it flatters our self-esteem.


Profession. A profession is the backbone of life.


Danger of personal influence. He who feels that he exercises a great inner influence on another must leave him quite free rein, indeed must look with favor on his occasional resistance and even bring it about: otherwise he will inevitably make himself an enemy.


Giving the heir his due. Whoever has established something great with a selfless frame of mind takes care to bring up heirs. It is the sign of a tyrannical and ignoble nature to see one's opponents in all the possible heirs of one's work and to live in a state of self-defense against them.


A little knowledge. A little knowledge is more successful than complete knowledge: it conceives things as simpler than they are, thus resulting in opinions that are more comprehensible and persuasive.


Not suited to be a party member. He who thinks much is not suited to be a party member: too soon, he thinks himself through and beyond the party.


Bad memory. The advantage of a bad memory is that, several times over, one enjoys the same good things for the first time.


Causing oneself pain. Inconsiderate thinking is often the sign of a discordant inner state which craves numbness.


Martyr. The disciple of a martyr suffers more than the martyr.


Residual vanity. The vanity of some people, who should not need to be vain, is the left-over and full-grown habit stemming from that time when they still had no right to believe in themselves, and only acquired their belief from others, by begging it in small change.


Punctum saliens of passion. He who is about to fall into a state of anger or violent love reaches a point where his soul is full like a vessel; but it needs one more drop of water: the good will to passion (which is generally also called the bad will). Only this little point is necessary; then the vessel runs over.


Bad-tempered thought. People are like piles of charcoal in the woods. Only when young people have stopped glowing, and carbonized, as charcoal does, do they become useful. As long as they smolder and smoke they are perhaps more interesting, but useless, and all too often troublesome.

Mankind unsparingly uses every individual as material to heat its great machines; but what good are the machines when all individuals (that is, mankind) serve only to keep them going? Machines that are their own end — is that the umana commedia?


The hour-hand of life. Life consists of rare, isolated moments of the greatest significance, and of innumerably many intervals, during which at best the silhouettes of those moments hover about us. Love, springtime, every beautiful melody, mountains, the moon, the sea - all these speak completely to the heart but once, if in fact they ever do get a chance to speak completely. For many men do not have those moments at all, and are themselves intervals and intermissions in the symphony of real life.


To set against or set to work. We often make the mistake of actively opposing a direction, or party, or epoch, because we coincidentally get to see only its superficial side, its stunted aspect, or the inescapable "faults of its virtues" - perhaps because we ourselves have participated to a large degree in them. Then we turn our back on them and seek an opposite direction; but it would be better to look for the strong, good sides, or to develop them in ourselves. To be sure, it takes a stronger gaze and a better will to further that which is evolving and imperfect, rather than to penetrate its imperfection and reject it.


Modesty. True modesty (that is, the knowledge that we are not our own creations) does exist, and it well suits the great mind, because he particularly can comprehend the thought of his complete lack of responsibility (even for whatever good he creates). One does not hate the great man's immodesty because he is feeling his strength, but rather because he wants to feel it primarily by wounding others, treating them imperiously and watching to see how much they can stand. Most often, this actually proves that he lacks a secure sense of his strength, and makes men doubt his greatness. To this extent, cleverness would strongly advise against immodesty.


The first thought of the day. The best way to begin each day well is to think upon awakening whether we could not give at least one person pleasure on this day. If this practice could be accepted as a substitute for the religious habit of prayer, our fellow men would benefit by this change.


Arrogance as the last means of comfort. If a man accounts for a misfortune, or his intellectual inadequacies, or his illness by seeing them as his predetermined fate, his ordeal, or mysterious punishment for something he had done earlier, he is thereby making his own nature interesting, and imagining himself superior to his fellow men. The proud sinner is a familiar figure in all religious sects.


Growth of happiness. Near to the sorrow of the world, and often upon its volcanic earth, man has laid out his little gardens of happiness; whether he approaches life as one who wants only knowledge from existence, or as one who yields and resigns himself, or as one who rejoices in a difficulty overcome-everywhere he will find some happiness sprouting up next to the trouble. The more volcanic the earth, the greater the happiness will be-but it would be ludicrous to say that this happiness justified suffering per se.


The street of one's ancestors. It is reasonable to develop further the talent that one's father or grandfather worked hard at, and not switch to something entirely new; otherwise one is depriving himself of the chance to attain perfection in some one craft. Thus the saying: "Which street should you take? - that of your ancestors."


Vanity and ambition as educators. So long as a man has not yet become the instrument of the universal human good, ambition may torment him; but if he has achieved that goal, if of necessity he is working like a machine for the good of all, then vanity may enter; it will humanize him in small matters, make him more sociable, tolerable, considerate, once ambition has completed the rough work (of making him useful).


Philosophical novices. If we have just partaken of a philosopher's wisdom, we go through the streets feeling as if we had been transformed and had become great men; for we encounter only people who do not know this wisdom, and thus we have to deliver a new, unheard-of judgment about everything; because we have acknowledged a book of laws, we also think we now have to act like judges.


Pleasing by displeasing. People who prefer to be noticed, and thereby displease, desire the same thing as those who do not want to be noticed, and want to please, only to a much greater degree and indirectly, by means of a step that seems to be distancing them from their goal. Because they want to have influence and power, they display their superiority, even if it is felt as disagreeable: for they know that the man who has finally gained power pleases in almost everything he does and says, that even when he displeases, he seems nevertheless to be pleasing.

Both the free spirit and the true believer want power, too, in order to use it to please; if they are threatened because of their doctrines with a dire fate, persecution, prison, or execution, they rejoice at the thought that this will enable their doctrines to be engraved and branded upon mankind; although it is delayed acting, they accept it as a painful but potent means to attain power after all.


Casus belli and the like. The prince who discovers a casus belli for an earlier decision to wage war against his neighbor is like a father who imposes a mother upon his child, to be henceforth accepted as such. And are not almost all publicly announced motives for our actions such imposed mothers?


Passions and rights. No one speaks more passionately about his rights than the man who, at the bottom of his heart, doubts them. In drawing passion to his side, he wants to deaden reason and its doubts: he thus gains a good conscience, and, along with it, success with his fellow men.


The renouncing man's trick. He who protests against marriage, in the manner of Catholic priests, will seek to understand it in its lowest, most vulgar sense. Likewise, he who refuses the respect of his contemporaries will conceive it in a base way; he thus makes his renunciation of it and the fight against it easier for himself.

Incidentally, he who denies himself much in large matters will easily indulge himself in small matters. It is conceivable that the man who is above the applause of his contemporaries is nevertheless unable to refuse himself the satisfaction of little vanities.


The age of arrogance. The true period of arrogance for talented men comes between their twenty-sixth and thirtieth year; it is the time of first ripeness, with a good bit of sourness still remaining. On the basis of what one feels inside himself, one demands from other people, who see little or nothing of it, respect and humility; and because these are not at first forthcoming, one takes vengeance with a glance, an arrogant gesture, or a tone of voice. This a fine ear and eye will recognize in all the products of those years, be they poems, philosophies, or paintings and music. Older, experienced men smile about it, and remember with emotion this beautiful time of life, in which one is angry at his lot of having to be so much and seem so little. Later, one really seems to be more but the faith in being much has been lost, unless one remains throughout his life vanity's hopeless fool.


Deceptive and yet firm. When walking around the top of an abyss, or crossing a deep stream on a plank, we need a railing, not to hold onto (for it would collapse with us at once), but rather to achieve the visual image of security. Likewise, when we are young, we need people who unconsciously offer us the service of that railing; it is true that they would not help us if we really were in great danger and wanted to lean on them; but they give us the comforting sensation of protection nearby (for example, fathers, teachers, friends, as we generally know all three).


Learning to love. We must learn to love, learn to be kind, and this from earliest youth; if education or chance give us no opportunity to practice these feelings, our soul becomes dry and unsuited even to understanding the tender inventions of loving people. Likewise, hatred must be learned and nurtured, if one wishes to become a proficient hater: otherwise the germ for that, too, will gradually wither.


Ruins as decoration. People who go through many spiritual changes retain some views and habits from earlier stages, which then jut out into their new thinking and acting like a bit of inexplicable antiquity and gray stonework, often ornamenting the whole region.


Love and respect. 'o Love desires; fear avoids. That is why it is impossible, at least in the same time span, to be loved and respected by the same person. For the man who respects another, acknowledges his power; that is, he fears it: his condition is one of awe." But love acknowledges no power, nothing that separates, differentiates, ranks higher or subordinates. Because the state of being loved carries with it no respect, ambitious men secretly or openly balk against it.


Prejudice in favor of cold people. People who catch fire rapidly quickly become cold, and are therefore by and large unreliable. Therefore, all those who are always cold, or act that way, benefit from the prejudice that they are especially trustworthy, reliable people: they are being confused with those others who catch fire slowly and burn for a long time.


What is dangerous about free opinions. The casual entertainment of free opinions is like an itch; giving in to it, one begins to rub the area; finally there is an open, aching wound; that is, the free opinion finally begins to disturb and torment us in our attitude to life, in our human relationships.


Desire for deep pain. When it has gone, passion leaves behind a dark longing for itself, and in disappearing throws us one last seductive glance. There must have been a kind of pleasure in having been beaten with her whip. In contrast, the more moderate feelings appear flat; apparently we still prefer a more violent displeasure to a weak pleasure.


Annoyance with others and the world. When, as happens so often, we let our annoyance out on others, while we are actually feeling it about ourselves, we are basically trying to cloud and delude our judgment; we want to motivate our annoyance a posteriori by the oversights and inadequacies of others, so we can lose sight of ourselves.

Religiously strict people, who judge themselves without mercy, are also those who have most often spoken ill of mankind in general. There has never been a saint who reserves sins to himself and virtues to others: he is as rare as the man who, following Buddha's precept, hides his goodness from people and lets them see of himself only what is bad.


Cause and effect confused. Unconsciously we seek out the principles and dogmas that are in keeping with our temperament, so that in the end it looks as if the principles and dogmas had created our character, given it stability and certainty, while precisely the opposite has occurred. It seems that our thinking and judging are to be made the cause of our nature after the fact, but actually our nature causes us to think and judge one way or the other.

And what decides us on this almost unconscious comedy? Laziness and convenience, and not least the vain desire to be considered consistent through and through, uniform both in character and thought: for this earns us respect, brings us trust and power.


Age and truth. Young people love what is interesting and odd, no matter how true or false it is. More mature minds love what is interesting and odd about truth. Fully mature intellects, finally, love truth, even when it appears plain and simple, boring to the ordinary person; for they have noticed that truth tends to reveal its highest wisdom in the guise of simplicity.


People as bad poets. Just as bad poets, in the second half of a line, look for a thought to fit their rhyme, so people in the second half of their lives, having become more anxious, look for the actions, attitudes, relationships that suit those of their earlier life, so that everything will harmonize outwardly. But then they no longer have any powerful thought to rule their life and determine it anew; rather, in its stead, comes the intention of finding a rhyme.


Boredom and play. Need forces us to do the work whose product will quiet the need; we are habituated to work by the ever-new awakening of needs. But in those intervals when our needs are quieted and seem to sleep, boredom overtakes us. What is that? It is the habit of working as such, which now asserts itself as a new, additional need; the need becomes the greater, the greater our habit of working, perhaps even the greater our suffering from our needs. To escape boredom, man works either beyond what his usual needs require, or else he invents play, that is, work that is designed to quiet no need other than that for working in general. He who is tired of play, and has no reason to work because of new needs, is sometimes overcome by the longing for a third state that relates to play as floating does to dancing, as dancing does to walking, a blissful, peaceful state of motion: it is the artist's and philosopher's vision of happiness.


Instruction from pictures. If we consider a series of pictures of ourselves from the time of childhood to that of manhood, we are agreeably surprised to find that the man resembles the child more than the adolescent: probably corresponding to this occurrence, then, there has been a temporary alienation from our basic character, now overcome again by the man's collected, concentrated strength. This perception agrees with the one that all those strong influences of our passions, our teachers, or political events, which pull us about in our adolescence, later seem to be reduced to a fixed measure. Certainly, they continue to live and act in us, but our basic feeling and basic thinking have the upper hand; these influences are used as sources of power, but no longer as regulators, as happens in our twenties. Thus man's thinking and feeling appear again more in accord with that of his childhood years-and this inner fact is expressed in the external one mentioned above.


Voice of the years. The tone adolescents use to speak, praise, blame, or invent displeases older people because it is too loud and yet at the same time muffled and unclear, like a tone in a vault, which gains resonance because of the emptiness. For most of what adolescents think has not flowed out of the fullness of their own nature, but rather harmonizes and echoes what is thought, spoken, praised, or blamed around them. But because the feelings (of inclination and disinclination) reverberate in them much more strongly than the reasons for these feelings, there arises, when they give voice to their feeling again, that muffled, ringing tone that indicates the absence or paucity of reasons. The tone of the more mature years is rigorous, sharply punctuated, moderately loud, but like everything clearly articulated, it carries very far. Finally, old age often brings a certain gentleness and indulgence to the sound and seems to sugar it: of course, in some cases it makes it sour, too.


Backward and anticipating people. The unpleasant personality who is full of mistrust, who reacts with envy to his competitors' and neighbors' successes, who flares up violently at divergent opinions, is showing that he belongs to an earlier stage of culture, and is thus a relic. For the way in which he interacts with people was proper and appropriate for the conditions of an age when rule by force prevailed: he is a backward person. A second personality, who shares profusely in others' joy, who wins friends everywhere, who is touched by everything that grows and evolves, who enjoys other people's honors and successes, and makes no claim to the privilege of alone knowing the truth, but instead is full of modest skepticism-he is an anticipator who is reaching ahead towards a higher human culture. The unpleasant personality grows out of times when the unhewn foundation of human intercourse had still to be laid; the other lives on its highest floors, as far away as possible from the wild animal that rages and howls locked up in the cellars, beneath the foundations of culture.


Comfort for hypochondriacs. When a great thinker is temporarily subjected to hypochondriacal self-torments, he may say to comfort himself: "This parasite is feeding and growing from your great strength; if that strength were less, you would have less to suffer." The statesman may speak likewise when his jealousy and vengeful feelings, in short, the mood of a bellum omnium contra omnes, for which he as a nation's representative must necessarily have a great gift, occasionally intrude into his personal relations and make his life difficult.


Alienated from the present. There are great advantages in for once removing ourselves distinctly from our time and letting ourselves be driven from its shore back into the ocean of former world views. Looking at the coast from that perspective, we survey for the first time its entire shape, and when we near it again, we have the advantage of understanding it better on the whole than do those who have never left it.


Sowing and reaping on personal inadequacies. People like Rousseau know how to use their weaknesses, deficiencies, or vices as if they were the fertilizer of their talent. When Rousseau laments the depravity and degeneration of society as the unpleasant consequence of culture, this is based on his personal experience, whose bitterness makes his general condemnation so sharp, and poisons the arrows he shoots. He is relieving himself first as an individual, and thinks that he is seeking a cure that will directly benefit society, but that will also indirectly, and by means of society, benefit him too.


A philosophical frame of mind. Generally we strive to acquire one emotional stance, one viewpoint for all life situations and events: we usually call that being of a philosophical frame of mind. But rather than making oneself uniform, we may find greater value for the enrichment of knowledge by listening to the soft voice of different life situations; each brings its own views with it. Thus we acknowledge and share the life and nature of many by not treating ourselves like rigid, invariable, single individuals.


In the fire of contempt. It is a new step towards independence, once a man dares to express opinions that bring disgrace on him if he entertains them; then even his friends and acquaintances begin to grow anxious. The man of talent must pass through this fire, too; afterwards he is much more his own person.


Sacrifice. If there is a choice, a great sacrifice will be preferred to a small one, because we compensate ourselves for a great sacrifice with self-admiration, and this is not possible with a small one.


Love as a device. Whoever wants really to get to know something new (be it a person, an event, or a book) does well to take up this new thing with all possible love, to avert his eye quickly from, even to forget, everything about it that he finds inimical, objectionable, or false. So, for example, we give the author of a book the greatest possible head start, and, as if at a race, virtually yearn with a pounding heart for him to reach his goal. By doing this, we penetrate into the heart of the new thing, into its motive center: and this is what it means to get to know it. Once we have got that far, reason then sets its limits; that overestimation, that occasional unhinging of the critical pendulum, was just a device to entice the soul of a matter out into the open.


To think too well or too ill of the world. Whether we think too well or too ill of things, we will always gain the advantage of reaping a greater pleasure: if our preconceived opinion is too good we are generally investing things (experiences) with more sweetness than they actually possess. If a preconceived opinion is overly negative, it leads to a pleasant disappointment: what was pleasurable in those things in and of themselves is increased through the pleasure of our surprise.

Incidentally, a morose temperament will experience the opposite in both cases.


Profound people. Those people whose strength lies in the profundity of their impressions (they are generally called "profound people") are relatively controlled and decisive when anything sudden happens: for in the first moment the impression was still shallow; only later does it become profound. But long-foreseen, anticipated things or people excite such natures most, and make them almost incapable of maintaining presence of mind when their wait is over.


Traffic with one's higher self. Everyone has his good day, when he finds his higher self; and true humanity demands that we judge someone only when he is in this condition, and not in his workdays of bondage and servitude. We should, for example, assess and honor a painter according to the highest vision he was able to see and portray. But people themselves deal very differently with this, their higher self, and often act out the role of their own self, to the extent that they later keep imitating what they were in those moments. Some regard their ideal with shy humility and would like to deny it: they fear their higher self because, when it speaks, it speaks demandingly. In addition, it has a ghostly freedom of coming or staying away as it wishes; for that reason it is often called a gift of the gods, while actually everything else is a gift of the gods (of chance): this, however, is the man himself.


Solitary people. Some people are so used to solitude with themselves that they never compare themselves to others, but spin forth their monologue of a life in a calm, joyous mood, holding good conversations with themselves, even laughing. But if they are made to compare themselves with others, they tend to a brooding underestimation of their selves: so that they have to be forced to learn again from others to have a good, fair opinion of themselves. And even from this learned opinion they will always want to detract or reduce something.

Thus one must grant certain men their solitude, and not be silly enough, as often happens, to pity them for it.


Without melody. There are people for whom a constant inner repose and a harmonious ordering of all their capabilities is so characteristic that any goal-directed activity goes against their grain. They are like a piece of music consisting entirely of sustained harmonious chords, with no evidence of even the beginning of a structured, moving melody. At any movement from the outside, their boat at once gains a new equilibrium on the sea of harmonic euphony. Modern people are usually extremely impatient on meeting such natures, who do not become anything though it may not be said that they are not anything. In certain moods, however, their presence evokes that rare question: why have melody at all? Why are we not satisfied when life mirrors itself peacefully in a deep lake?

The Middle Ages was richer in such natures than we are. How seldom do we now meet a person who can keep living so peacefully and cheerfully with himself even amidst the turmoil, saying to himself like Goethe: "The best is the deep quiet in which I live and grow against the world, and harvest what they cannot take from me by fire or sword.."'


Life and experience. If one notices how some individuals know how to treat their experiences (their insignificant everyday experiences) so that these become a plot of ground that bears fruit three times a year; while others (and how many of them!) are driven through the waves of the most exciting turns of fate, of the most varied currents of their time or nation, and yet always stay lightly on the surface, like cork: then one is finally tempted to divide mankind into a minority (minimality) of those people who know how to make much out of little and a majority of those who know how to make a little out of much; indeed, one meets those perverse wizards who, instead of creating the world out of nothing, create nothing out of the world.


Seriousness in play. At sunset in Genoa, I heard from a tower a long chiming of bells: it kept on and on, and over the noise of the backstreets, as if insatiable for itself, it rang out into the evening sky and the sea air, so terrible and so childish at the same time, so melancholy. Then I thought of Plato's words and felt them suddenly in my heart: all in all, nothing human is worth taking very seriously; nevertheless...


On convictions and justice. To carry out later, in coolness and sobriety, what a man promises or decides in passion: this demand is among the heaviest burdens oppressing mankind. To have to acknowledge for all duration the consequences of anger, of raging vengeance, of enthusiastic devotion-this can incite a bitterness against these feelings all the greater because everywhere, and especially by artists, precisely these feelings are the object of idol worship. Artists cultivate the esteem for the passions, and have always done so; to be sure, they also glorify the frightful satisfactions of passion, in which one indulges, the outbursts of revenge that have death, mutilation, or voluntary banishment as a consequence, and the resignation of the broken heart. In any event, they keep alive curiosity about the passions; it is as if they wished to say: without passions you have experienced nothing at all.

Because we have vowed to be faithful, even, perhaps, to a purely imaginary being, a God, for instance; because we have given our heart to a prince, a party, a woman, a priestly order, an artist, or a thinker, in the state of blind madness that enveloped us in rapture and let those beings appear worthy of every honor, every sacrifice: are we then inextricably bound? Were we not deceiving ourselves then? Was it not a conditional promise, under the assumption (unstated, to be sure) that those beings to whom we dedicated ourselves really are the beings they appeared to be in our imaginations? Are we obliged to be faithful to our errors, even if we perceive that by this faithfulness we do damage to our higher self?

No-there is no law, no obligation of that kind; we must become traitors, act unfaithfully, forsake our ideals again and again. We do not pass from one period of life to another without causing these pains of betrayal, and without suffering from them in turn. Should we have to guard ourselves against the upsurging of our feeling in order to avoid these pains? Would not the world then become too bleak, too ghostly for us? We want rather to ask ourselves whether these pains at a change of conviction are necessary, or whether they do not depend on an erroneous opinion and estimation. Why do we admire the man who remains faithful to his conviction and despise the one who changes it? I fear the answer must be that everyone assumes such a change is caused only by motives of baser advantage or personal fear. That is, we believe fundamentally that no one changes his opinions as long as they are advantageous to him, or at least as long as they do him no harm. But if that is the case, it bears bad testimony to the intellectual meaning of all convictions. Let us test how convictions come into being and observe whether they are not vastly overrated: in that way it will be revealed that the change of convictions too is in any case measured by false standards and that until now we have tended to suffer too much from such changes.


Conviction is the belief that in some point of knowledge one possesses absolute truth. Such a belief presumes, then, that absolute truths exist; likewise, that the perfect methods for arriving at them have been found; finally, that every man who has convictions makes use of these perfect methods. All three assertions prove at once that the man of convictions is not the man of scientific thinking; he stands before us still in the age of theoretical innocence, a child, however grownup he might be otherwise. But throughout thousands of years, people have lived in such childlike assumptions, and from out of them mankind's mightiest sources of power have flowed. The countless people who sacrificed themselves for their convictions thought they were doing it for absolute truth. All of them were wrong: probably no man has ever sacrificed himself for truth; at least, the dogmatic expression of his belief will have been unscientific or half-scientific. But actually one wanted to be right because one thought he had to be right. To let his belief be torn from him meant perhaps to put his eternal happiness in question. With a matter of this extreme importance, the "will" was all too audibly the intellect's prompter. Every believer of every persuasion assumed he could not be refuted; if the counterarguments proved very strong, he could still always malign reason in general and perhaps even raise as a banner of extreme fanaticism the "credo quia absurdum est." It is not the struggle of opinions that has made history so violent, but rather the struggle of belief in opinions, that is, the struggle of convictions. If only all those people who thought so highly of their conviction, who sacrificed all sorts of things to it and spared neither their honor, body nor life in its service, had devoted only half of their strength to investigating by what right they clung to this or that conviction, how they had arrived at it, then how peaceable the history of mankind would appear! How much more would be known! All the cruel scenes during the persecution of every kind of heretic would have been spared us for two reasons: first, because the inquisitors would above all have inquired within themselves, and got beyond the arrogant idea that they were defending the absolute truth; and second, because the heretics themselves would not have granted such poorly established tenets as those of all the sectarians and "orthodox" any further attention, once they had investigated them.


Stemming from the time when people were accustomed to believe that they possessed absolute truth is a deep discomfort with all skeptical and relativistic positions on any questions of knowledge; usually we prefer to surrender unconditionally to a conviction held by people of authority (fathers, friends, teachers, princes), and we have a kind of troubled conscience if we do not do so. This inclination is understandable and its consequences do not entitle us to violent reproaches against the development of human reason. But eventually the scientific spirit in man must bring forth that virtue of cautious restraint, that wise moderation that is better known in the realm of practical life than in the realm of theoretical life, and that Goethe, for example, portrayed in his Antonio, as an object of animosity for all Tassos, that is, for those unscientific and also passive natures. The man of conviction has in himself a right not to understand the man of cautious thinking, the theoretical Antonio; the scientific man, on the other hand, has no right to scold him for this; he makes allowances for him and knows besides that, in certain cases, the man will cling to him as Tasso finally does to Antonio.


If one has not passed through various convictions, but remains caught in the net of his first belief, he is in all events, because of just this unchangeability, a representative of backward cultures; in accordance with this lack of education (which always presupposes educability), he is harsh, injudicious, unteachable, without gentleness, eternally suspect, a person lacking scruples, who reaches for any means to enforce his opinion because he simply cannot understand that there have to be other opinions. In this regard, he is perhaps a source of power, and even salutary in cultures grown too free and lax, but only because he powerfully incites opposition: for in that way the new culture's more delicate structure, which is forced to struggle with him, becomes strong itself.


Essentially, we are still the same people as those in the period of the Reformation-and how should it be otherwise? But we no longer allow ourselves certain means to gain victory for our opinion: this distinguishes us from that age and proves that we belong to a higher culture. These days, if a man still attacks and crushes opinions with suspicions and outbursts of rage, in the manner of men during the Reformation, he clearly betrays that he would have burnt his opponents, had he lived in other times, and that he would have taken recourse to all the means of the Inquisition, had he lived as an opponent of the Reformation. In its time, the Inquisition was reasonable, for it meant nothing other than the general martial law which had to be proclaimed over the whole domain of the church, and which, like every state of martial law, justified the use of the extremest means, namely under the assumption (which we no longer share with those people) that one possessed truth in the church and had to preserve it at any cost, with any sacrifice, for the salvation of mankind. But now we will no longer concede so easily that anyone has the truth; the rigorous methods of inquiry have spread sufficient distrust and caution, so that we experience every man who represents opinions violently in word and deed as any enemy of our present culture, or at least as a backward person. And in fact, the fervor about having the truth counts very little today in relation to that other fervor, more gentle and silent, to be sure, for seeking the truth, a search that does not tire of learning afresh and testing anew.


Incidentally, the methodical search for truth itself results from those times when convictions were feuding among themselves. If the individual had not cared about his "truth," that is, about his being right in the end, no method of inquiry would exist at all; but, given the eternal struggle of various individuals' claims to absolute truth, man proceeded step by step, in order to find irrefutable principles by which the justice of the claims could be tested and the argument settled. At first decisions were made according to authorities, later the ways and means with which the ostensible truth had been found were mutually criticized; in between, there was a period when the consequences of the opposing tenet were drawn and perhaps experienced as harmful and saddening; this was to result in everyone's judging that the opponent's conviction contained an error. Finally, the thinkers' personal struggle sharpened their methods so much that truths could really be discovered, and the aberrations of earlier methods were exposed to everyone's eye.


All in all, scientific methods are at least as important as any other result of inquiry; for the scientific spirit is based on the insight into methods, and were those methods to be lost, all the results of science could not prevent a renewed triumph of superstition and nonsense. Clever people may learn the results of science as much as they like, one still sees from their conversation, especially from their hypotheses in conversation, that they lack the scientific spirit. They do not have that instinctive mistrust of the wrong ways of thinking, a mistrust which, as a consequence of long practice, has put its roots deep into the soul of every scientific man. For them it is enough to find any one hypothesis about a matter; then they get fired up about it and think that puts an end to it. For them, to have an opinion means to get fanatical about it and cherish it in their hearts henceforth as a conviction. If a matter is unexplained, they become excited at the first notion resembling an explanation that enters their brain; this always has the worst consequences, especially in the realm of politics.

Therefore everyone should have come to know at least one science in its essentials; then he knows what method is, and how necessary is the most extreme circumspection. This advice should be given to women particularly, who are now the hopeless victims of all hypotheses, especially those which give the impression of being witty, thrilling, invigorating, or energizing. In fact, if one looks closer, one notices that the majority of all educated people still desire convictions and nothing but convictions from a thinker, and that only a slight minority want certainty. The former want to be forcibly carried away, in order to thus increase their own strength; the latter few have that matter-of-fact interest that ignores personal advantage, even the above-mentioned increase of strength. Wherever the thinker behaves like a genius, calling himself one, and looking down like a higher being who deserves authority, he is counting on the class in the overwhelming majority. To the extent that that kind of genius keeps up the heat of convictions and awakens distrust of the cautious and modest spirit of science, he is an enemy of truth, however much he may believe he is its suitor.


To be sure, there is also quite another category of genius, that of justice; and I can in no way see fit to esteem that kind lower than any philosophical, political, or artistic genius. It is its way to avoid with hearty indignation everything which blinds and confuses our judgment about things; thus it is an enemy of convictions, for it wants to give each thing its due, be it living or dead, real or fictive-and to do so it must apprehend it clearly. Therefore it places each thing in the best light and walks all around it with an attentive eye. Finally it will even give its due to its opponent, to blind or shortsighted "conviction" (as men call it; women call it "faith")-for the sake of truth.


Out of passions grow opinions; mental sloth lets these rigidify into convictions.

However, if one feels he is of a free, restlessly lively mind, he can prevent this rigidity through constant change; and if he is on the whole a veritable thinking snowball, then he will have no opinions at all in his head, but rather only certainties and precisely measured probabilities.

But we who are of a mixed nature, sometimes aglow with fire and sometimes chilled by intellect, we want to kneel down before justice, as the only goddess whom we recognize above us. Usually the fire in us makes us unjust, and in the sense of that goddess, impure; never may we touch her hand in this condition; never will the grave smile of her pleasure lie upon us. We honor her as our life's veiled Isis;21 ashamed, we offer her our pain as a penance and a sacrifice, when the fire burns us and tries to consume us. It is the intellect that saves us from turning utterly to burnt-out coals; here and there it pulls us away from justice's sacrificial altar, or wraps us in an asbestos cocoon. Redeemed from the fire, we then stride on, driven by the intellect, from opinion to opinion, through the change of sides, as noble traitors to all things that can ever be betrayed-and yet with no feeling of guilt.


The wanderer. He who has come only in part to a freedom of reason cannot feel on earth otherwise than as a wanderer-though not as a traveler towards a final goal, for this does not exist. But he does want to observe, and keep his eyes open for everything that actually occurs in the world; therefore he must not attach his heart too firmly to any individual thing; there must be something wandering within him, which takes its joy in change and transitoriness. To be sure, such a man will have bad nights, when he is tired and finds closed the gates to the city that should offer him rest; perhaps in addition, as in the Orient, the desert reaches up to the gate; predatory animals howl now near, now far; a strong wind stirs; robbers lead off his pack-animals. Then for him the frightful night sinks over the desert like a second desert, and his heart becomes tired of wandering. If the morning sun then rises, glowing like a divinity of wrath, and the city opens up, he sees in the faces of its inhabitants perhaps more of desert, dirt, deception, uncertainty, than outside the gates-and the day is almost worse than the night. So it may happen sometimes to the wanderer; but then, as recompense, come the ecstatic mornings of other regions and days. Then nearby in the dawning light he already sees the bands of muses dancing past him in the mist of the mountains. Afterwards, he strolls quietly in the equilibrium of his forenoon soul, under trees from whose tops and leafy corners only good and bright things are thrown down to him, the gifts of all those free spirits who are at home in mountain, wood, and solitude, and who are, like him, in their sometimes merry, sometimes contemplative way, wanderers and philosophers. Born out of the mysteries of the dawn, they ponder how the day can have such a pure, transparent, transfigured and cheerful face between the hours of ten and twelve-they seek the philosophy of the forenoon.

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