Human, All Too Human


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.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism #63318513 years, 4 months ago 


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.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism #63419413 years, 4 months ago 


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.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism #63522613 years, 4 months ago 


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.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism #63619513 years, 4 months ago 


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; 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.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism #63721213 years, 4 months ago