Human, All Too Human


Age of comparisons. The less men are bound by their tradition, the greater the internal stirring of motives; the greater, accordingly, the external unrest, the whirling flow of men, the polyphony of strivings. Who today still feels a serious obligation to bind himself and his descendents to one place? Who feels that anything is seriously binding? Just as all artistic styles of the arts are imitated one next to the other, so too are all stages and kinds of morality, customs, cultures.
Such an age gets its meaning because in it the various world views, customs, cultures are compared and experienced next to one another, which was not possible earlier, when there was always a localized rule for each culture, just as all artistic styles were bound to place and time. Now, man's increased aesthetic feeling will decide definitively from among the many forms which offer themselves for comparison. It will let most of them (namely all those that it rejects) die out. Similarly, a selection is now taking place among the forms and habits of higher morality, whose goal can be none other than the downfall of baser moralities. This is the age of comparisons! That is its pride--but also by rights its sorrow. Let us not be afraid of this sorrow! Instead, we will conceive the task that this age sets us to be as great as possible. Then posterity will bless us for it--a posterity that knows it has transcended both the completed original folk cultures, as well as the culture of comparison, but that looks back on both kinds of culture as on venerable antiquities, with gratitude.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2325413 years, 5 months ago 


Possibility of progress. When a scholar of the old culture vows no longer to have anything to do with men who believe in progress, he is right. For the old culture has its greatness and goodness behind it, and an historical education forces one to admit that it can never again be fresh. To deny this requires an intolerable obtuseness or an equally insufferable enthusiasm. But men can consciously decide to develop themselves forward to a new culture, whereas formerly they developed unconsciously and by chance. Now they can create better conditions for the generation of men, their nourishment, upbringing, instruction; they can administer the earth as a whole economically, can weigh the strengths of men, one against the other, and employ them. The new, conscious culture kills the old culture, which, seen as a whole, led an unconscious animal-and-vegetable life; it also kills the distrust of progress: progress is possible. I mean to say, it is premature and almost nonsensical to believe that progress must of necessity come about; but how could one deny that it is possible? Conversely, progress in the sense of the old culture, and by means of it, is not even conceivable. Even if romantic fantasizing still uses the word "progress" about its goals (e.g., completed, original folk cultures) it is in any event borrowing that image from the past: its thinking and imagining in this area lack all originality.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2420913 years, 5 months ago 


Private morality, world morality. Since man no longer believes that a God is guiding the destinies of the world as a whole, or that, despite all apparent twists, the path of mankind is leading somewhere glorious, men must set themselves ecumenical goals, embracing the whole earth. The older morality, namely Kant's 25 demands from the individual those actions that one desires from all men--a nice, naive idea, as if everyone without further ado would know which manner of action would benefit the whole of mankind, that is, which actions were desirable at all. It is a theory like that of free trade, which assumes that a general harmony would have to result of itself, according to innate laws of melioration. Perhaps a future survey of the needs of mankind will reveal it to be thoroughly undesirable that all men act identically; rather, in the interest of ecumenical goals, for whole stretches of human time special tasks, perhaps in some circumstances even evil tasks, would have to be set.
In any event, if mankind is to keep from destroying itself by such a conscious overall government, we must discover first a knowledge of the conditions of culture, a knowledge surpassing all previous knowledge, as a scientific standard for ecumenical goals. This is the enormous task of the great minds of the next century.

25. A reference to the categorical imperative in Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (1788), par. 7: "Always act in such a way that the maxims of your will could function as the basis of a universal law of action:"

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2521713 years, 5 months ago 


Reaction as progress. Sometimes there appear rough, violent, and impetuous spirits, who are nevertheless backward; they conjure up once again a past phase of mankind. They serve as proof that the new tendencies which they are opposing are still not strong enough, that something is lacking there; otherwise, those conjurors would be opposed more effectively. For example, Luther's Reformation proves that in his century all the impulses of freedom of the spirit were still uncertain, delicate, juvenescent. Science could not yet raise her head. Indeed, the whole Renaissance appears like an early spring, which almost gets snowed away. But in our century, too, Schopenhauer's metaphysics proved that the scientific spirit is still not strong enough. Thus, in Schopenhauer's teaching the whole medieval Christian world view and feeling of man could again celebrate a resurrection, despite the defeat, long since achieved, of all Christian dogmas. His teaching is infused with much science, but what rules it is not science but rather the old, well-known "metaphysical need."26 Certainly one of the greatest and quite inestimable benefits we gain from Schopenhauer is that he forces our feeling for a time back to older, powerful forms of contemplating the world and men, to which other paths could not so readily lead us. History and justice benefit greatly. I believe that without Schopenhauer's aid, no one today could so easily do justice to Christianity and its Asian cousins; to attempt to do so based on the Christianity still existing today is impossible. Only after this great achievement of justice, only after we have corrected in such an essential point the historical way of thinking that the Enlightenment brought with it, may we once again carry onward the banner of the Enlightenment, the banner with the three names: Petrarch, Erasmus, Voltaire.27 Out of reaction, we have taken a step forward.28

26. Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea, pt. 2, bk. I, chap. 17: "On the metaphysical need of man."
27. Petrarch (1304-74) represents the Renaissance in this triumvirate; Erasmus (1466-1536), Humanism; and Voltaire (1694-1778), of course, the Enlightenment.
28. Wir haben aus der Reaction einen Fortschritt gemacht. Fortschritt, literally "a step forward," also means "progress." Thus one could translate: "Out of reaction we have made progress."

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2622813 years, 5 months ago 


Substitute for religion. One thinks he is speaking well of philosophy when he presents it as a substitute religion for the people. In spiritual economy, transitional spheres of thought are indeed necessary occasionally, for the transition from religion to scientific contemplation is a violent, dangerous leap, something inadvisable. To that extent, it is right to recommend philosophy. But in the end, one ought to understand that the needs which religion has satisfied, which philosophy is now to satisfy, are not unchangeable: these needs themselves can be weakened and rooted out. Think, for example, of Christian anguish, the sighing about inner depravity, concern about salvation--all of these ideas originate only from errors of reason and deserve not satisfaction, but annihilation. A philosophy can be useful either by satisfying those needs or by eliminating them; for they are acquired needs, temporally limited, based on assumptions that contradict those of science. It is preferable to use art for this transition, for easing a heart overburdened with feelings; those ideas are entertained much less by art than by a metaphysical philosophy. Beginning with art, one can more easily move on to a truly liberating philosophical science.

Friedrich NietzscheHuman, All Too Human: Section One: Of First and Last Things - Aphorism #2719113 years, 5 months ago