Beyond Good and Evil


For us, the falsity of a judgment is still no objection to that judgment - that's where our new way of speaking sounds perhaps most strange. The question is the extent to which it makes demands on life, sustains life, maintains the species, perhaps even creates species. And as a matter of principle we are ready to assert that the falsest judgments (to which a priori synthetic judgments belong) are the most indispensable to us, that without our allowing logical fictions to count, without a way of measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, without a constant falsification of the world through numbers, human beings could not live - that if we managed to give up false judgments, it would amount to a renunciation of life, a denial of life. 2 To concede the fictional nature of the conditions of life means, of course, taking a dangerous stand against the customary feelings about value. A philosophy which dares to do that is for this reason alone already standing beyond good and evil.

2. . . . a priori synthetic judgements: a central claim of Kant's theory of knowledge, these are judgments which do not arise from experience (i.e., they are innate) but which reveal knowledge of experience (like deductively argued mathematically based scientific laws).

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #433713 years, 3 months ago 


What's attractive about looking at all philosophers in part suspiciously and in part mockingly is not that we find again and again how innocent they are - how often and how easily they make mistakes and get lost, in short, how childish and child-like they are - but that they are not honest enough in what they do, while, as a group, they make huge, virtuous noises as soon as the problem of truthfulness is touched on, even remotely. Collectively they take up a position as if they had discovered and arrived at their real opinions through the self-development of a cool, pure, god-like disinterested dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of all ranks, who are more honest than they are and more stupid with their talk of "inspiration"-), while basically they defend with reasons sought out after the fact an assumed principle, an idea, an "inspiration," for the most part some heart-felt wish which has been abstracted and sifted. They are all advocates who do not want to call themselves that. Indeed, for the most part they are even mischievous pleaders for their judgments, which they baptize as "Truths,"- and very remote from the courage of conscience which would admit this, even this, to itself, very remote from that brave good taste which would concede as much, whether to warn an enemy or friend, or whether to mock themselves as an expression of their own high spirits. That equally stiff and well-behaved Tartufferie [hypocrisy] of old Kant with which he enticed us onto the clandestine path of dialectic leading or, more correctly, seducing us to his "categorical imperative"- this dramatic performance makes us discriminating people laugh, for it amuses us in no small way to keep a sharp eye on the sophisticated scheming of the old moralists and preachers of morality.3 Or that sort of mathematical hocus-pocus with which Spinoza presented his philosophy - in the last analysis "the love of his own wisdom," to use the correct and proper word - as if it were armed in metal and masked, in order in this way to intimidate from the start the courage of an assailant who would dare to cast an eye on this invincible virgin and Pallas Athena - how much of his own shyness and vulnerability is betrayed by this masquerade of a solitary invalid!4

3. . . . Kant . . . categorical imperative : the key phrase in Kant's morality, the idea that moral action consists of acting upon a principle which could become a rational moral principle without creating a moral contradiction ("Act so that the maxim [which determines your will] may be capable of becoming a universal law for all rational beings." Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was an enormously influential German Enlightenment philosopher.

4. . . . Spinoza; Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), an important and controversial Dutch philosopher. Pallas Athena : the Greek goddess of wisdom.

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #540113 years, 3 months ago 


Gradually I came to learn what every great philosophy has been up to now, namely, the self-confession of its originator and a form of unintentional and unrecorded memoir, and also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy made up the essential living seed from which on every occasion the entire plant has grown. In fact, when we explain how the most remote metaphysical claims in a philosophy really arose, it's good (and shrewd) for us always to ask first: What moral is it (is he -) aiming at? Consequently, I don't believe that a "drive to knowledge" is the father of philosophy but that knowledge (and misunderstanding) have functioned only as a tool for another drive, here as elsewhere. But whoever explores the basic drives of human beings, in order to see in this very place how far they may have carried their game as inspiring geniuses (or demons and goblins), will find that all drives have already practised philosophy at some time or another - and that every single one of them has all too gladly liked to present itself as the ultimate purpose of existence and the legitimate master of all the other drives. For every drive seeks mastery and, as such, tries to practise philosophy. Of course, with scholars, men of real scientific knowledge, things may be different -"better" if you will - where there may really be something like a drive for knowledge, some small independent clock mechanism or other which, when well wound up, bravely goes on working, without all the other drives of the scholar playing any essential role. The essential "interests" of scholars thus commonly lie entirely elsewhere, for example, in the family or in earning a living or in politics. Indeed, it is almost a matter of indifference whether his small machine is placed on this or on that point in science and whether the "promising" young worker makes a good philologist or expert in fungus or chemist - whether he becomes this or that does not define who he is.5 By contrast, with a philosopher nothing is at all impersonal. And his morality, in particular, bears a decisive and crucial witness to who he is - that is, to the rank ordering in which the innermost drives of his nature are placed relative to each other.

5. Nietzsche's word Wissenschaft , here translated as science , also means scientific scholarship or scientific research methods and activities in general. Its meaning is by no means confined to natural science.

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #634513 years, 3 months ago 


How malicious philosophers can be! I know nothing more poisonous than the joke which Epicurus permitted himself against Plato and the Platonists: he called them Dionysiokolakes. The literal meaning of that, what stands in the foreground, is "flatterers of Dionysus," hence accessories of tyrants and lickspittles.6 But the phrase says still more than that -"they are all actors , with nothing true about them" (for Dionysokolax was a popular description of an actor). And that last part is the real maliciousness which Epicurus hurled against Plato: the magnificent manners which Plato, along with his pupils, understood, the way they stole the limelight - things Epicurus did not understand! - that irritated him, the old schoolmaster from Samos, who sat hidden in his little garden in Athens and wrote three hundred books, who knows, perhaps out of rage and ambition against Plato? - It took a hundred years until Greece came to realize who this garden god Epicurus was.- Did they realize?

6. . . . Dionysus (432 to 367 BC), tyrant of Syracuse.
Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #724413 years, 3 months ago 


In every philosophy there is a point where the "conviction" of the philosopher steps onto the stage, or, to make the point in the language of an old mystery play:

The ass arrived

Beautiful and most valiant.7

7. . . . and most valiant: Nietzsche quotes the Latin: "Adventavit asinus / Pulcher et fortissimus."

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part I - Aphorism #921513 years, 3 months ago