Part Nine

What is Noble?


Every enhancement in the type "man" up to this point has been the work of an aristocratic society - and that's how it will always be, over and over again: a society which believes in a long scale of rank ordering and differences in worth between man and man and which, in some sense or other, requires slavery. Without the pathos of distance, the sort which grows out of the deeply rooted difference between the social classes, out of the constant gazing outward and downward of the ruling caste on the subjects and work implements, and out of their equally sustained practice of obedience and command, holding down and holding at a distance, that other more mysterious pathos would have no chance of growing at all, that longing for an ever new widening of distances inside the soul itself, the development of ever higher, rarer, more distant, more expansive, more comprehensive states, in short, simply the enhancement in the type "man," the constant "self-conquest of man," to cite a moral formula in a supra-moral sense. Of course, where the history of the origins of aristocratic society is concerned (and thus the precondition for that raising of the type "man"-), we should not surrender to humanitarian illusions: truth is hard. So without further consideration, let's admit to ourselves how up to this point every higher culture on earth has started! People with a still natural nature, barbarians in every dreadful sense of the word, predatory men still in possession of an unbroken power of the will and a desire for power, threw themselves on weaker, more civilized, more peaceful, perhaps trading or cattle-raising races, or on old, worn cultures, in which at that very moment the final forces of life were flaring up in a dazzling fireworks display of spirit and corruption. At the start the noble caste has always been the barbarian caste: its superiority has lain not primarily in physical might but in spiritual power - it has been a matter of more complete human beings (which at every level also means "more complete beasts").

Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil
Part IX - Aphorism # 257

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