Human, All Too Human


The logic of dreams. When we sleep, our nervous system is continually stimulated by various inner causes: almost all the organs secrete and are active; the blood circulates turbulently; the sleeper's position presses certain limbs; his blankets influence sensation in various ways; the stomach digests and disturbs other organs with its movements; the intestines turn; the placement of the head occasions unusual positions of the muscles; the feet, without shoes, their soles not pressing on the floor, cause a feeling of unusualness, as does the different way the whole body is clothed after its daily change and variation, all of this strangeness stimulates the entire system, including even the brain function. And so there are a hundred occasions for the mind to be amazed, and to seek reasons for this stimulation. It is the dream which seeks and imagines the causes for those stimulated feelings--that is, the alleged causes. The man who ties two straps around his feet, for example, may dream that two snakes are winding about his feet. This is at first a hypothesis, then a belief, accompanied by a pictorial idea and elaboration: "These snakes must be the causa12 of that feeling which I, the sleeper, am having"?thus judges the mind of the sleeper. The stimulated imagination turns the recent past, disclosed in this way, into the present. Everyone knows from experience how fast the dreamer can incorporate into his dream a loud sound he hears, bell ringing, for example, or cannon fire, how he can explain it after the fact from his dream, so that he believes he is experiencing first the occasioning factors, and then that sound'13
But how is it that the mind of the dreamer always errs so greatly, while the same mind awake tends to be so sober, careful, and skeptical about hypotheses? Why does he think the first best hypothesis that explains a feeling is enough to believe in it at once? (For when dreaming, we believe in the dream as if it were reality; that is, we take our hypothesis for fully proven.)
I think that man still draws conclusions in his dreams as mankind once did in a waking state, through many thousands of years: the first causa which occurred to the mind to explain something that needed explaining sufficed and was taken for truth. (According to the tales of travelers, savages proceed this way even today.) This old aspect of humanity lives on in us in our dreams, for it is the basis upon which higher reason developed, and is still developing, in every human: the dream restores us to distant states of human culture and gives us a means by which to understand them better. Dream-thought14 is so easy for us now because, during mankind's immense periods of development, we have been so well drilled in just this form of fantastic and cheap explanation from the first, best idea. In this way dreaming is recuperation for a brain which must satisfy by day the stricter demands made on thought by higher culture.
A related occurrence when we are awake can be viewed as a virtual gate and antechamber to the dream. If we close our eyes, the brain produces a multitude of impressions of light and colors, probably as a kind of postlude and echo to all those effects of light which penetrate it by day. Now, however, our reason (in league with imagination) immediately works these plays of color, formless in themselves, into definite figures, forms, landscapes, moving groups. Once again, the actual process is a kind of conclusion from the effect to the cause; as the mind inquires about the origin of these light impressions and colors, it assumes those figures and shapes to be the cause. They seem to be the occasion of those colors and lights, because the mind is used to finding an occasioning cause for every color and every light impression it receives by day, with eyes open. Here, then, the imagination keeps pushing images upon the mind, using in their production the visual impressions of the day--and this is precisely what dream imagination does. That is, the supposed cause is deduced from the effect and imagined after the effect. All this with an extraordinary speed, so that, as with a conjurer, judgment becomes confused, and a sequence can appear to be a synchronism, or even a reversed sequence.
We can infer from these processes, how late a more acute logical thinking, a rigorous application of cause and effect, developed; even now, our functions of reason and intelligence reach back instinctively to those primitive forms of deductions, and we live more or less half our lives in this state. The poet, too, the artist, attributes his moods and states to causes that are in no way the true ones; to this extent he reminds us of an older mankind, and can help us to understand it.

12. cause
13. Cf Freud, Interpretation of Dreams (Standard Edition) V, pp. 23-30.
14. Das Traumdenken.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #1312116 years, 1 month ago 


Resonance. All intense moods bring with them a resonance of related feelings and moods; they seem to stir up memory. Something in us remembers and becomes aware of similar states and their origin. Thus habitual, rapid associations of feelings and thoughts are formed, which, when they follow with lightning speed upon one another, are eventually no longer felt as complexes, but rather as unities. In this sense, one speaks of moral feelings, religious feelings, as if they were all unities; in truth they are rivers with a hundred sources and tributaries. As is so often the case, the unity of the word does not guarantee the unity of the thing.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #147566 years, 1 month ago 


No inside and outside in the world. Just as Democritus15 applied the concepts of above and below to infinite space, where they have no meaning, so philosophers in general apply the concept "inside and outside" to the essence and appearance of the world. They think that with deep feelings man penetrates deep into the inside, approaches the heart of nature. But these feelings are deep only to the extent that they regularly stimulate, almost imperceptibly, certain complicated groups of thoughts, which we call deep. A feeling is deep because we hold the accompanying thought to be deep. But the deep thought can nevertheless be very far from the truth, as is, for example, every metaphysical thought. If one subtracts the added elements of thought from the deep feeling, what remains is intense feeling, which guarantees nothing at all about knowledge except itself, just as strong belief proves only its own strength, not the truth of what is believed.

15. Greek philosopher, 460?-370? B.C.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #157176 years, 1 month ago 


Appearance and the thing-in-itself. Philosophers tend to confront life and experience (what they call the world of appearance) as they would a painting that has been revealed once and for all, depicting with unchanging constancy the same event. They think they must interpret this event correctly in order to conclude something about the essence which produced the painting, that is, about the thing-in-itself, which always tends to be regarded as the sufficient reason16 for the world of appearance. Conversely, stricter logicians, after they had rigorously established the concept of the metaphysical as the concept of that which is unconditioned and consequently unconditioning, denied any connection between the unconditioned (the metaphysical world) and the world we are familiar with. So that the thing-in-itself does not appear in the world of appearances, and any conclusion about the former on the basis of the latter must be rejected. 17 But both sides overlook the possibility that that painting--that which to us men means life and experience--has gradually evolved, indeed is still evolving, and therefore should not be considered a fixed quantity, on which basis a conclusion about the creator (the sufficient reason) may be made, or even rejected. Because for thousands of years we have been looking at the world with moral, aesthetic, and religious claims, with blind inclination, passion, or fear, and have indulged ourselves fully in the bad habits of illogical thought, this world has gradually become so strangely colorful, frightful, profound, soulful; it has acquired color, but we have been the painters: the human intellect allowed appearance to appear, and projected its mistaken conceptions onto the things. Only late, very late, does the intellect stop to think: and now the world of experience and the thing-in-itself seem so extraordinarily different and separate that it rejects any conclusion about the latter from the former, or else, in an awful, mysterious way, it demands the abandonment of our intellect, of our personal will in order to come to the essential by becoming essential.18 On the other hand, other people have gathered together all characteristic traits of our world of appearances (that is, our inherited idea of the world, spun out of intellectual errors) and, instead of accusing the intellect, have attacked the essence of things for causing this real, very uncanny character of the world, and have preached salvation from being. 19
The steady and arduous progress of science, which will ultimately celebrate its greatest triumph in an ontogeny of thought, will deal decisively with all these views. Its conclusion might perhaps end up with this tenet: That which we now call the world is the result of a number of errors and fantasies, which came about gradually in the overall development of organic beings, fusing with one another, and now handed down to us as a collected treasure of our entire past--a treasure: for the value of our humanity rests upon it. From this world of idea strict science can, in fact, release us only to a small extent (something we by no means desire), in that it is unable to break significantly the power of ancient habits of feeling. But it can illuminate, quite gradually, step by step, the history of the origin of that world as idea--and lift us, for moments at least, above the whole process. Perhaps we will recognize then that the thing-in-itself deserves a Homeric laugh 20 in that it seemed to be so much, indeed everything, and is actually empty, that is, empty of meaning.

16. Ontological principle that every existent, every objective reality, has a ground of existence (Critique of Pure Reason A201 A783, B246, B811 ). Thus, that the metaphysical world is the explanation of the existence of the world of appearances. Schopenhauer's earliest essay (1813) is "The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason." Cf. E. F. J. Payne's translation (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court Publishing Co., 1974).
17. A reference to Kant.
18. wesenhaft
19 A reference to Schopenhauer.
20. A loud, inexhaustible laugh; cf. Iliad 1.599, or Odyssey 7.326, 20.346.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #169226 years, 1 month ago 


Metaphysical explanations. A young person appreciates metaphysical explanations because they show him something highly meaningful in matters he found unpleasant or despicable. If he is dissatisfied with himself, his feeling is relieved if he can recognize in that which he so disapproves of in himself the innermost riddle of the world or its misery. To feel less responsible, and at the same time to find things more interesting: that is the twofold benefit which he owes to metaphysics. Later, of course, he comes to distrust the whole method of metaphysical explanation; then perhaps he understands that those same effects are to be obtained just as well and more scientifically in another way; he understands that physical and historical explanations bring about at least as much that feeling of irresponsibility, and that his interest in life and its problems is kindled perhaps even more thereby.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #176846 years, 1 month ago