260

As the result of a stroll though the many more sophisticated and cruder moral systems which up to this point have ruled or still rule on earth, I found certain characteristics routinely return with each other, bound up together, until finally two basic types revealed themselves to me and a fundamental difference sprang up. There is master morality and slave morality - to this I immediately add that in all higher and mixed cultures attempts at a mediation between both moralities make an appearance as well, even more often, a confusion and mutual misunderstanding between the two, in fact, sometimes their harsh juxtaposition - even in the same man, within a single soul. Distinctions in moral value have arisen either among a ruling group, which was happily conscious of its difference with respect to the ruled - or among the ruled, the slaves and dependent people of every degree. In the first case, when it's the masters who establish the idea of the good, the elevated and proud conditions of the soul emotionally register as the distinguishing and defining order of rank. The noble man separates his own nature from that of people in whom the opposite of such exalted and proud states expresses itself. He despises them. We should notice at once that in this first kind of morality the opposites "good" and "bad" mean no more than "noble" and "despicable" - the opposition between "good" and "evil" has another origin. The despised one is the coward, the anxious, the small, the man who thinks about narrow utility, also the suspicious man with his inhibited look, the self-abasing man, the species of human dogs who allow themselves to be mistreated, the begging flatterer, above all, the liar: - it is a basic belief of all aristocrats that the common folk are liars. "We tellers of the truth" - that's what the nobility called themselves in ancient Greece. It's evident that distinctions of moral worth everywhere were first applied to men and later were established for actions; hence, it is a serious mistake when historians of morality take as a starting point questions like "Why was the compassionate action praised?" The noble kind of man experiences himself as a person who determines value and does not need to have other people's approval. He makes the judgment "What is harmful to me is harmful in itself." He understands himself as something which in general first confers honour on things, as someone who creates values. Whatever he recognizes in himself he honours. Such a morality is self-glorification. In the foreground stands the feeling of fullness, the power which wants to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of riches which wants to give and deliver: - the noble man also helps the unfortunate, however not, or hardly ever, from pity, but more in response to an impulse which the excess of power produces. The noble man honours the powerful man in himself and also the man who has power over himself, who understands how to speak and how to keep silent, who takes delight in dealing with himself severely and toughly and respects, above all, severity and toughness. "Wotan set a hard heart in my breast," it says in an old Scandinavian saga: that's how poetry emerged, with justice, from the soul of a proud Viking. A man of this sort is simply proud of the fact that he has not been made for pity. That's why the hero of the saga adds a warning, "In a man whose heart is not hard when he is still young the heart will never become hard." Noble and brave men who think this way are furthest removed from that morality which sees the badge of morality in pity or actions for others or désintéressement [disinterestedness]. The belief in oneself, pride in oneself, a fundamental hostility and irony against "selflessness" belong to noble morality, just as much as an easy contempt and caution before feelings of pity and the "warm heart." Powerful men are the ones who understand how to honour; that is their art, their realm of invention. The profound reverence for age and for ancestral tradition - all justice stands on this double reverence - the belief and the prejudice favouring forefathers and working against newcomers are typical in the morality of the powerful, and when, by contrast, the men of "modern ideas" believe almost instinctively in "progress" and the "future" and increasingly lack any respect for age, then in that attitude the ignoble origin of these "ideas" already reveals itself well enough. However, a morality of the rulers is most alien and embarrassing to present taste because of the severity of its basic principle that man has duties only with respect to those like him, that man should act towards those beings of lower rank, towards everything strange, at his own discretion, or "as his heart dictates," and, in any case, "beyond good and evil." Here pity and things like that may belong. The capacity for and obligation to a long gratitude and to a long revenge - both only within the circle of one's peers - the sophistication in paying back again, the refined idea in friendship, a certain necessity to have enemies (as, so to speak, drainage ditches for the feelings of envy, quarrelsomeness, and high spirits - basically in order to be capable of being a good friend): all those are typical characteristics of a noble morality, which, as indicated, is not the morality of "modern ideas" and which is thus nowadays difficult to sympathize with, as well as difficult to dig up and expose. Things are different with the second type of moral system, slave morality. Suppose the oppressed, depressed, suffering, and unfree people, those ignorant of themselves and tired out, suppose they moralize: what will be the common feature of their moral estimates of value? Probably a pessimistic suspicion directed at the entire human situation will express itself, perhaps a condemnation of man, along with his situation. The gaze of a slave is not well disposed towards the virtues of the powerful; he possesses scepticism and mistrust; he has a subtlety of mistrust against everything "good" which is honoured in it - he would like to persuade himself that even happiness is not genuine there. By contrast, those characteristics will be pulled forward and flooded with light which serve to mitigate existence for those who suffer: here respect is given to pity, to the obliging hand ready to help, to the warm heart, to patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness - for these are here the most useful characteristics and almost the only means to endure the pressure of existence. Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility. Here is the focus for the origin of that famous opposition of "good" and "evil": - people sense power and danger within evil, a certain terror, subtlety, and strength, which does not permit contempt to spring up. According to slave morality, the "evil" man thus inspires fear; according to master morality, it is precisely the "good" man who inspires and desires to inspire fear, while the "bad" man will be felt as despicable. This opposition reaches its peak when, in accordance with the consequences of slave morality, finally a trace of disregard is also attached to the "good" of this morality - it may be light and benevolent - because within the way of thinking of the slave the good man must definitely be the harmless man: he is good natured, easy to deceive, perhaps a bit stupid, a bonhomme [good fellow]. Wherever slave morality gains predominance the language reveals a tendency to bring the words "good" and "stupid" into closer proximity. A final basic difference: the longing for freedom, the instinct for happiness, and the refinements of the feeling for freedom belong just as necessarily to slave morality and morals as art and enthusiasm in reverence and in devotion are the regular symptoms of an aristocratic way of thinking and valuing. From this we can without further ado understand why love as passion - which is our European specialty - must clearly have a noble origin: as is well known, its invention belongs to the Provencal knightly poets, those splendidly inventive men of the "gay saber" [gay science] to whom Europe owes so much - almost its very self.

Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil
Part IX - Aphorism # 260

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