Human, All Too Human


About that time it may finally happen, among the sudden illuminations of a still turbulent, still changeable state of health, that the free spirit, ever freer, begins to unveil the mystery of that great separation which until then had waited impenetrable, questionable, almost unapproachable in his memory. Perhaps for a long time he hardly dared ask himself, "Why so apart, so alone? Renouncing everything I admired, even admiration? Why this severity, this suspicion, this hatred of one's own virtues?" But now he dares to ask it loudly, and already hears something like an answer. "You had to become your own master, and also the master of your own virtues. Previously, your virtues were your masters; but they must be nothing more than your tools, along with your other tools. You had to gain power over your For and Against, and learn how to hang them out or take them in, according to your higher purpose.You had to learn that all estimations have a perspective, to learn the displacement, distortion, apparent teleology of horizons, and whatever else is part of perspective; also the bit of stupidity in regard to opposite values and all the intellectual damage that every For or Against exacts in payment. You had to learn to grasp the necessary injustice in every For and Against; to grasp that injustice is inseparable from life, that life itself is determined by perspective and its injustice. Above all you had to see clearly wherever injustice is greatest,where life is developed least, most narrowly, meagerly, rudimentarily, and yet cannot help taking itself as the purpose and measure of things, and for the sake of its preservation picking at and questioning secretly and pettily and incessantly what is higher, greater, and richer. You had to see clearly the problem of hierarchy, and how power and justice and breadth of perspective grow upward together. You had to--." Enough, now the free spirit knows which "thou shalt" he has obeyed, and also what he now can do, what he only now is permitted to do.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Preface - Aphorism #648513 years, 4 months ago 


That is how the free spirit answers himself about that mystery of separation and he ends by generalizing his case, to decide thus about his experience. "As it happened to me," he tells himself, "so must it happen to everyone in whom a task wants to take form and `come into the world."' The secret power and necessity of this task will hold sway within and among his various destinies like an unsuspected pregnancy, long before he has looked the task itself in the eye or knows its name. Our destiny commands us, even when we do not yet know what it is; it is the future which gives the rule to our present. Granted that it is the problem of hierarchy which we may call our problem, we free spirits; only now, in the noonday of our lives, do we understand what preparations, detours, trials, temptations, disguises,were needed before the problem was permitted to rise up before us. We understand how we first had to experience the most numerous and contradictory conditions of misery and happiness in our bodies and souls, as adventurers and circumnavigators of that inner world which is called "human being,"as surveyors of every "higher" and "one above the other"which is likewise called "human being," penetrating everywhere, almost without fear, scorning nothing, losing nothing, savoring everything, cleaning and virtually straining off everything of the coincidental--until we finally could say, we free spirits: "Here is a new problem! Here is a long ladder on whose rungs we ourselves have sat and climbed, and which we ourselves were at one time! Here is a Higher, a Deeper, a Below?us, an enormous long ordering, a hierarchy which we see: here--is our problem!"

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Preface - Aphorism #737913 years, 4 months ago 


No psychologist or soothsayer will have a moment's difficulty in discovering at which place in the development sketched out above the present book belongs (or is placed). But where are there psychologists today? In France, certainly; perhaps in Russia; surely not in Germany. There are sufficient reasons for which the present?day Germans could esteem it an honor to be such; bad enough for a person who is constituted and has become un?German in this respect! This German book, which has known how to find its readers in a wide circle of countries and peoples (it has been on the road for approximately ten years), which must understand some kind of music and flute playing to seduce even unreceptive foreign ears to listen--precisely in Germany has this book been read most negligently, heard most poorly. What is the cause? "It demands too much," has been the reply, "it addresses itself to men who do not know the hardship of crude obligations; it demands fine, cosseted senses; it needs superfluity, superfluity of time, of bright heavens and hearts, of otium12 in the boldest sense--all good things which we Germans of today do not have and therefore cannot give." After such a polite answer, my philosophy counsels me to be silent and inquire no further, especially since in certain cases, as the saying suggests, one remains a philosopher only by--being silent.13

12. leisure
13. A reference to the medieval Latin distich: "o si tacuisses/ Philosophusmansisses."

Nice, Spring, 1886.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Preface - Aphorism #833713 years, 4 months ago 

Human, All Too Human


Of First and Last Things1


Chemistry of concepts and feelings. In almost all respects, philosophical problems today are again formulated as they were two thousand years ago: how can something arise from its opposite--for example, reason from unreason, sensation from the lifeless, logic from the illogical, disinterested contemplation from covetous desire, altruism from egoism, truth from error? Until now, metaphysical philosophy has overcome this difficulty by denying the origin of the one from the other, and by assuming for the more highly valued things some miraculous origin, directly from out of the heart and essence of the "thing in itself."2 Historical philosophy, on the other hand, the very youngest of all philosophical methods, which can no longer be even conceived of as separate from the natural sciences, has determined in isolated cases (and will probably conclude in all of them) that they are not opposites, only exaggerated to be so by the popular or metaphysical view, and that this opposition is based on an error of reason. As historical philosophy explains it, there exists, strictly considered, neither a selfless act nor a completely disinterested observation: both are merely sublimations. In them the basic element appears to be virtually dispersed and proves to be present only to the most careful observer.
All we need, something which can be given us only now, with the various sciences at their present level of achievement, is a chemistry of moral, religious, aesthetic ideas and feelings, a chemistry of all those impulses that we ourselves experience in the great and small interactions of culture and society, indeed even in solitude. What if this chemistry might end with the conclusion that, even here, the most glorious colors are extracted from base, even despised substances? Are there many who will want to pursue such investigations? Mankind loves to put the questions of origin and beginnings out of mind: must one not be almost inhuman to feel in himself the opposite inclination?

1. "Last Things" (die letzten Dinge) refers to eschatology.
2. Ding an sich: the thing in itself, in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781), refers to the existent as it exists independently of our knowledge; a noumenon, a thing of the mind rather than of the senses; that which a thing is when there is no human perception of it, i.e., when it is in "essence" rather than in "appearance."

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #12405113 years, 4 months ago 


Congenital defect of philosophers. All philosophers suffer from the same defect, in that they start with present?day man and think they can arrive at their goal by analyzing him. Instinctively they let "man" hover before them as an aeterna veritas,3 something unchanging in all turmoil, a secure measure of things. But everything the philosopher asserts about man is basically no more than a statement about man within a very limited time span. A lack of historical sense is the congenital defect of all philosophers. Some unwittingly even take the most recent form of man, as it developed under the imprint of certain religions or even certain political events, as the fixed form from which one must proceed. They will not understand that man has evolved, that the faculty of knowledge has also evolved, while some of them even permit themselves to spin the whole world from out of this faculty of knowledge.
Now, everything essential in human development occurred in primeval times, long before those four thousand years with which we are more or less familiar. Man probably hasn't changed much more in these years. But the philosopher sees "instincts" in present-day man, and assumes that they belong to the unchangeable facts of human nature, that they can, to that extent, provide a key to the understanding of the world in general. This entire teleology is predicated on the ability to speak about man of the last four thousand years as if he were eternal, the natural direction of all things in the world from the beginning. But everything has evolved; there are no eternal facts, nor are there any absolute truths. Thus historical philosophizing is necessary henceforth, and the virtue of modesty as well.

3. eternal truth

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #242113 years, 4 months ago