Human, All Too Human


Pneumatic explanation of nature. Metaphysics explains nature's scriptures as if pneumatically, the way the church and its scholars used to explain the Bible. It takes a lot of intelligence to apply to nature the same kind of strict interpretive art that philologists today have created for all books: with the intention simply to understand what the scripture wants to say, but not to sniff out, or even presume, a double meaning. Just as we have by no means overcome bad interpretive art in regard to books, and one still comes upon vestiges of allegorical and mystical interpretation in the best?educated society, so it stands too in regard to nature--in fact much worse.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #87356 years, 1 month ago 


Metaphysical world. It is true, there might be a metaphysical world; one can hardly dispute the absolute possibility of it. We see all things by means of our human head, and cannot chop it off, though it remains to wonder what would be left of the world if indeed it had been cut off. This is a purely scientific problem, and not very suited to cause men worry. But all that has produced metaphysical assumptions and made them valuable, horrible, pleasurable to men thus far is passion, error, and self-deception. The very worst methods of knowledge, not the very best, have taught us to believe in them. When one has disclosed these methods to be the foundation of all existing religions and metaphysical systems, one has refuted them. That other possibility still remains, but we cannot begin to do anything with it, let alone allow our happiness, salvation, and life to depend on the spider webs of such a possibility. For there is nothing at all we could state about the metaphysical world except its differentness, a differentness inaccessible and incomprehensible to us. It would be a thing with negative qualities.
No matter how well proven the existence of such a world might be, it would still hold true that the knowledge of it would be the most inconsequential of all knowledge, even more inconsequential than the knowledge of the chemical analysis of water must be to the boatman facing a storm.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #910626 years, 1 month ago 


The harmlessness of metaphysics in the future. As soon as the origins of religion, art, and morality have been described, so that one can explain them fully without resorting to the use of metaphysical intervention at the beginning and along the way, then one no longer has as strong an interest in the purely theoretical problem of the "thing in itself" and "appearance.."6 For however the case may be, religion, art, and morality do not enable us to touch the "essence of the world in itself." We are in the realm of idea,7 no "intuition"8 can carry us further. With complete calm we will let physiology and the ontogeny of organisms and concepts determine how our image of the world can be so very different from the disclosed essence of the world.

6. Erscheinung (see n.2 to this section).
7. Vorstellung. Often translated as "representation." Schopenhauer himself used "idea.".
8. A reference to Schopenhauer.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #107566 years, 1 month ago 


Language as an alleged science. The importance of language for the development of culture lies in the fact that, in language, man juxtaposed to the one world another world of his own, a place which he thought so sturdy that from it he could move the rest of the world from its foundations and make himself lord over it. To the extent that he believed over long periods of time in the concepts and names of things as if they were aeternae veritates,9 man has acquired that pride by which he has raised himself above the animals: he really did believe that in language he had knowledge of the world. 10 The shaper of language was not so modest as to think that he was only giving things labels; rather, he imagined that he was expressing the highest knowledge of things with words; and in fact, language is the first stage of scientific effort. Here, too, it is the belief in found truth from which the mightiest sources of strength have flowed. Very belatedly (only now) is it dawning on men that in their belief in language they have propagated a monstrous error. Fortunately, it is too late to be able to revoke the development of reason, which rests on that belief.
Logic, too, rests on assumptions that do not correspond to anything in the real world, e.g., on the assumption of the equality of things, the identity of the same thing at different points of time; but this science arose from the opposite belief (that there were indeed such things in the real world). So it is with mathematics, which would certainly not have originated if it had been known from the beginning that there is no exactly straight line in nature, no real circle, no absolute measure.

9. eternal truths
10. Cf. Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lie in the Extra-Moral Sense" (1873)

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #118906 years, 1 month ago 


Dream and culture. Memory is that function of the brain which is most greatly impaired by sleep--not that it relaxes entirely, but it is brought back to a state of imperfection, as it might have been in everyone, when awake and by day, during mankind's primeval age. 11 Arbitrary and confused as it is, it continually mistakes things on the basis of the most superficial similarities; but it was the same arbitrariness and confusion with which the tribes composed their mythologies, and even now travelers regularly observe how greatly the savage inclines to forgetfulness, how, after he strains his memory briefly, his mind begins to stagger about, and he produces lies and nonsense simply because he is weary. But all of us are like the savage when we dream. Faulty recognitions and mistaken equations are the basis of the poor conclusions which we are guilty of making in dreams, so that when we recollect a dream clearly, we are frightened of ourselves, because we harbor so much foolishness within.
The utter clarity of all dream-ideas, which presupposes an unconditional belief in their reality, reminds us once again of the state of earlier mankind in which hallucinations were extraordinarily frequent, and sometimes seized whole communities, whole nations simultaneously. Thus, in our sleep and dreams, we go through the work of earlier mankind once more.

11. Cf. Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams. In an addendum to the fifth edition of this work 1919 Freud refers to Nietzsche's concept of the dream as a means to knowledge of man's archaic heritage, "of what is psychically innate in him." (Standard Edition, V, p 549).

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #127846 years, 1 month ago