The Gay Science

10

A Species of Atavism. I like best to think of the rare men of an age as suddenly emerging after-shoots of past cultures, and of their persistent strength: like the atavism of a people and its civilisation: - there is thus still something in them to think of! They now seem strange, rare, and extraordinary: and he who feels these forces in himself has to foster them in face of a different, opposing world; he has to defend them, honour them, and rear them to maturity: and he either becomes a great man thereby, or a deranged and eccentric person, if he does not altogether break down betimes. Formerly these rare qualities were usual, and were consequently regarded as common: they did not distinguish people. Perhaps they were demanded and presupposed; it was impossible to become great with them, for indeed there was also no danger of becoming insane and solitary with them. It is principally in the old-established families and castes of a people that such after-effects of old impulses present themselves, while there is no probability of such atavism where races, habits, and valuations change too rapidly. For the tempo of the evolutional forces in peoples implies just as much as in music; for our case an andante of evolution is absolutely necessary, as the tempo of a passionate and slow spirit: and the spirit of conserving families is certainly of that sort.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #108916 years, 9 months ago 

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Consciousness. Consciousness is the last and latest development of the organic, and consequently also the most unfinished and least powerful of these developments. Innumerable mistakes originate out of consciousness, which, "in spite of fate," as Homer says, cause an animal or a man to break down earlier than might be necessary. If the conserving bond of the instincts were not very much more powerful, it would not generally serve as a regulator: by perverse judging and dreaming with open eyes, by superficiality and credulity, in short, just by consciousness, mankind would necessarily have broken down: or rather, without the former there would long ago have been nothing more of the latter! Before a function is fully formed and matured, it is a danger to the organism: all the better if it be then thoroughly tyrannised over! Consciousness is thus thoroughly tyrannised over - and not least by the pride in it! It is thought that here is the quintessence of man; that which is enduring, eternal, ultimate, and most original in him! Consciousness is regarded as a fixed, given magnitude! Its growth and intermittences are denied! It is accepted as the "unity of the organism "! - This ludicrous overvaluation and misconception of consciousness has as its result the great utility that a too rapid maturing of it has thereby been hindered. Because men believed that they already possessed consciousness, they gave themselves very little trouble to acquire it and even now it is not otherwise! It is still an entirely new problem just dawning on the human eye, and hardly yet plainly recognisable: to embody knowledge in ourselves and make it instinctive, a problem which is only seen by those who have grasped the fact that hitherto our errors alone have been embodied in us, and that all our consciousness is relative to errors !

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #1114566 years, 9 months ago 

12

The Goal of Science. What? The ultimate goal of science is to create the most pleasure possible to man, and the least possible pain? But what if pleasure and pain should be so closely connected that he who wants the greatest possible amount of the one must also have the greatest possible amount of the other, that he who wants to experience the "heavenly high jubilation," * must also be ready to be "sorrowful unto death"?* And it is so, perhaps! The Stoics at least believed it was so, and they were consistent when they wished to have the least possible pleasure, in order to have the least possible pain from life. (When one uses the expression: The virtuous man is the happiest," it is as much the sign-board of the school for the masses, as a casuistic subtlety for the subtle.) At present also ye have still the choice: either the least possible pain, in short painlessness and after all, socialists and politicians of all parties could not honourably promise more to their people, or the greatest possible amount of pain, as the price of the growth of a fullness of refined delights and enjoyments rarely tasted hitherto! If ye decide for the former, if ye therefore want to depress and minimise man's capacity for pain, well, ye must also depress and minimise his capacity for enjoyment. In fact, one can further the one as well as the other goal by science! Perhaps science is as yet best known by its capacity for depriving man of enjoyment, and making him colder, more statuesque, and more Stoical. But it might also turn out to be the great pain-bringer! And then, perhaps, its counteracting force would be discovered simultaneously, its immense capacity for making new sidereal worlds of enjoyment beam forth !

* Allusions to the song of Clara in Goethe's "Egmont" TR.
Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #1213876 years, 9 months ago 

13

The Theory of the Sense of Power. We exercise our power over others by doing them good or by doing them ill - that is all we care for! Doing ill to those on whom we have to make our power felt; for pain is a far more sensitive means for that purpose than pleasure: - pain always asks concerning the cause, while pleasure is inclined to keep within itself and not look backward. Doing good and being kind to those who are in any way already dependent on us (that is, who are accustomed to think of us as their raison d'etre] ; we want to increase their power, because we thus increase our own; or we want to show them the advantage there is in being in our power - they thus become more contented with their position, and more hostile to the enemies of our power and readier to contend with them. If we make sacrifices in doing good or in doing ill, it does not alter the ultimate value of our actions; even if we stake our life in the cause, as martyrs for the sake of our church, it is a sacrifice to our longing for power, or for the purpose of conserving our sense of power. He who under these circumstances feels that he "is in possession of truth," how many possessions does he not let go, in order to preserve this feeling. What does he not throw overboard, in order to keep himself "up," - that is to say, above the others who lack the truth. Certainly the condition we are in when we do ill is seldom so pleasant, so purely pleasant, as that in which we practise kindness, - it is an indication that we still lack power, or it betrays i11-humour at this defect in us; it brings with it new dangers and uncertainties as to the power we already possess, and clouds our horizon by the prospect of revenge, scorn, punishment and failure. Perhaps only those most susceptible to the sense of power, and eager for it, will prefer to impress the seal of power on the resisting individual, - those to whom the sight of the already subjugated person as the object of benevolence is a burden and a tedium. It is a question how a person is accustomed to season his life; it is a matter of taste whether a person would rather have the slow or the sudden, the safe or the dangerous and daring increase of power - he seeks this or that seasoning always according to his temperament. An easy booty is something contemptible to proud natures; they have an agreeable sensation only at the sight of men of unbroken spirit who could be enemies to them, and similarly, also, at the sight of all not easily accessible possession; they are often hard toward the sufferer, for he is not worthy of their effort or their pride, but they show themselves so much the more courteous towards their equals, with whom strife and struggle would in any case be full of honour, if at any time an occasion for it should present itself. It is under the agreeable feelings of this perspective that the members of the knightly caste have habituated themselves to exquisite courtesy toward one another. Pity is the most pleasant feeling in those who have not much pride, and have no prospect of great conquests:  the easy booty and that is what every sufferer is - is for them an enchanting thing. Pity is said to be the virtue of the gay lady.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #1314206 years, 9 months ago 

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What is called Love. The lust of property, and love: what different associations each of these ideas evoke! - and yet it might be the same impulse twice named: on the one occasion disparaged from the standpoint of those already possessing (in whom the impulse has attained something of repose, who are now apprehensive for the safety of their "possession"); on the other occasion viewed from the standpoint of the unsatisfied and thirsty, and therefore glorified as "good." Our love of our neighbour, is it not a striving after new property? And similarly our love of knowledge, of truth; and in general all the striving after novelties? We gradually become satiated with the old and securely possessed, and again stretch out our hands; even the finest landscape in which we live for three months is no longer certain of our love, and any kind of more distant coast excites our covetousness: the possession for the most part becomes smaller through possessing. Our pleasure in ourselves seeks to maintain itself by always transforming something new into ourselves, - that is just possessing. To become satiated with a possession, that is to become satiated with ourselves. (One can also suffer from excess, even the desire to cast away, to share out, may assume the honourable name of "love." ) When we see any one suffering, we willingly utilise the opportunity then afforded to take possession of him; the beneficent and sympathetic man, for example, does this; he also calls the desire for new possession awakened in him, by the name of "love," and has enjoyment in it, as in a new acquisition suggesting itself to him. The love of the sexes, however, betrays itself most plainly as the striving after possession: the lover wants the unconditioned, sole possession of the person longed for by him; he wants just as absolute power over her soul as over her body; he wants to be loved solely, and to dwell and rule in the other soul as what is highest and most to be desired. When one considers that this means precisely to exclude all the world from a precious possession, a happiness, and an enjoyment; when one considers that the lover has in view the impoverishment and privation of all other rivals, and would like to become the dragon of his golden hoard, as the most inconsiderate and selfish of all "conquerors " and exploiters; when one considers finally that to the lover himself, the whole world besides appears indifferent, colourless, and worthless, and that he is ready to make every sacrifice, disturb every arrangement, and put every other interest behind his own, one is verily surprised that this ferocious lust of property and injustice of sexual love should have been glorified and deified to such an extent at all times; yea, that out of this love the conception of love as the antithesis of egoism should have been derived, when it is perhaps precisely the most unqualified expression of egoism. Here, evidently, the non-possessors and desirers have determined the usage of language, there were, of course, always too many of them. Those who have been favoured with much possession and satiety, have, to be sure, dropped a word now and then about the "raging demon," as, for instance, the most lovable and most beloved of all the Athenians Sophocles; but Eros always laughed at such revilers, they were always his greatest favourites. There is, of course, here and there on this terrestrial sphere a kind of sequel to love, in which that covetous longing of two persons for one another has yielded to a new desire and covetousness, to a common, higher thirst for a superior ideal standing above them: but who knows this love? Who has experienced it? Its right name is friendship.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #1426066 years, 9 months ago