Beyond Good and Evil

Part Two

The Free Spirit


O sancta simplicitas [blessed simplicity]! Human beings live in such a peculiarly simple and counterfeit way! Once a man develops eyes to see this wonder, he cannot check his amazement! How bright and free and light and simple we have made everything around us! How we have learned to give our senses free license for everything superficial, our thinking a divine craving for wanton leaps and erroneous conclusions! How we have learned ways, right from the start, to maintain our ignorance in order to enjoy a hardly conceivable freedom, safety, carelessness, heartiness, and merriment in life - in order to enjoy life. And only on this now firm granite foundation of ignorance could scientific knowledge up to now rise up, the will to know on the foundation of a much more powerful will, the will not to know, to uncertainty, to what is not true! Not as its opposite, but - as its refinement! For if language, here as elsewhere, does not cast off its clumsiness and continues to speak about opposites, where there are only degrees and many subtleties of gradation, and similarly if inveterate Tartufferie [hypocrisy] in morality, which nowadays belongs to our invincible "flesh and blood," turns the words even of us knowledgeable people around in our mouths, - here and there we understand that and laugh about how it’s precisely the best scientific knowledge that most wants to hold us in this simplified, completely artificial, appropriately created, and appropriately falsified world, - how it loves error, voluntarily and involuntarily, because, as something alive - it loves life!

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part II - Aphorism #24107610 years, 6 months ago 


After such a cheerful start, I’d like you to not to miss hearing a serious word: it’s directed at the most serious people. Be careful, you philosophers and friends of knowledge - protect yourself from martyrdom! From suffering "for the sake of the truth"! Even from defending yourselves! That corrupts all the innocence and refined neutrality in your consciences. It makes you stubborn against objections and red rags; it dulls your minds, brutalizes you, and puts you in a daze when, in the struggle with danger, malice, suspicion, expulsion, and even dirtier consequences of your hostility, you finally have to play out your role as the defenders of truth on earth, as though "the truth" were such a harmless and clumsy character as to require defenders! And as for you, you knights with the sorrowful countenances, my good gentlemen, you spiritual loafers and cobweb spinners! Ultimately you yourselves know well enough that it really doesn’t matter if you are the ones who are right. You also know that up to now no philosopher has been right and that a more praiseworthy truthfulness could lie in every small question mark which you set after your favourite words and cherished doctrines (and occasionally after yourselves), than in all the ceremonial gestures and trump cards before prosecutors and courts of justice! Better to stand aside! Run off to some secluded place! And retain your mask and your subtlety, so that people confuse you with someone else - or fear you a little! And for my sake don’t forget the garden, the garden with the golden trellis! And have people around you who are like a garden - or like music over water in the evening, when the day is already becoming a memory. Choose good solitude, the free, high-spirited, easy solitude, which gives you also a right to remain, in some sense or other, still good yourselves! How poisonous, how crafty, how bad every long war makes us, when it does not let us fight with open force! How personal a long fear makes us, a long attention on our enemies, on potential enemies! These social outcasts, these men long persecuted and wickedly hunted down - as well as the compulsory recluses, the Spinozas or Giordano Brunos1 - in the end always become, maybe under a spiritual masquerade and perhaps without realizing it themselves, sophisticated avengers and makers of poisons (just dig into the foundation of Spinoza’s ethics and theology) - to say nothing of the foolishness of moral indignation, which in a philosopher is the unmistakable sign that his philosophical humour has run away from him. The martyrdom of a philosopher, his "sacrifice for the truth," brings forcefully to light how much of the agitator and actor he contains within himself. And if people have looked at him with only an artistic curiosity up to this point, then, in the case of several philosophers, we can naturally understand the dangerous wish to see him also in his degeneration (degenerated into a "martyr," into a brawler on the stage and in tribunals). But with such a wish, people must be clear about what they are going to see in every case - only a satyr play, only a farcical epilogue, only continuing proof that the long, real tragedy is over, assuming that every philosophy in its origin was a long tragedy.

1. . . . Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an Italian philosopher who defended the theories of Copernicus (among other things), was burned at the stake for heresy.
Spinoza : Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), a Dutch philosopher, was constantly attacked for his heretical views.
Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part II - Aphorism #25152310 years, 6 months ago 
<p>26</p><p>Every special human being strives instinctively for his own castle and secrecy, where he is <i>saved</i> from the crowd, the many, the majority, where he can forget the rule-bound "people," for he is an exception to them - but for the single case where he is pushed by an even stronger instinct straight against these rules, as a person who seeks knowledge in a great and exceptional sense. Anyone who, in his intercourse with human beings, does not, at one time or another, shimmer with all the colours of distress - green and gray with disgust, surfeit, sympathy, gloom, and loneliness - is certainly not a man of higher taste. But provided he does not take all this weight and lack of enthusiasm freely upon himself, always keeps away from it, and stays, as mentioned, hidden, quiet, and proud in his castle, well, one thing is certain: he is not made for, not destined for, knowledge. For if he were, he would one day have to say to himself, "The devil take my good taste! The rule-bound man is more interesting than the exception - than I am, the exception!"- and he would make his way <i>down</i> , above all, "inside." The study of the <i>average</i> man - long, serious, and requiring much disguise, self-control, familiarity, bad company - all company is bad company except with one’s peers - that constitutes a necessary part of the life story of every philosopher, perhaps the most unpleasant, foul-smelling part, the richest in disappointments. But if he’s lucky, as is appropriate for a fortunate child of knowledge, he encounters real shortcuts and ways of making his task easier - I’m referring to the so-called cynics, those who, as cynics, simply recognize the animal, the meanness, the "rule-bound man" in themselves and, in the process, still possess that degree of intellectual quality and urge to have to talk about themselves and people like them <i>before witnesses</i>; - now and then they even wallow in books, as if in their very own dung. Cynicism is the single form in which common souls touch upon what honesty is, and the higher man should open his ears to every cruder and more refined cynicism and think himself lucky every time a shameless clown or a scientific satyr announces himself directly in front of him. There are even cases where enchantment gets mixed into the disgust: for example, in those places where, by some vagary of nature, genius is bound up with such an indiscreet billy-goat and ape - as in the Abbé Galiani, the most profound, sharp-sighted, and perhaps also the foulest man of his century - he was much deeper than Voltaire and consequently a good deal quieter.<sup>2</sup> More frequently it happens that, as I’ve intimated, the scientific head is set on an ape’s body, a refined and exceptional understanding in a common soul - among doctors and moral physiologists, for example, that’s not an uncommon occurrence. And where anyone speaks without bitterness and quite harmlessly of men as a belly with two different needs and a head with one, everywhere someone constantly sees, looks for, and <i>wants</i> to see only hunger, sexual desires, and vanity, as if these were the real and only motivating forces in human actions, in short, wherever people speak "badly" of human beings - not even <i>in a nasty way</i> - there the lover of knowledge should pay fine and diligent attention; he should, in general, direct his ears to wherever people talk without indignation. For the indignant man and whoever is always using his own teeth to tear himself apart or lacerate himself (or, as a substitute for that, the world, or God, or society) may indeed, speaking morally, stand higher than the laughing and self-satisfied satyr, but in every other sense he is the more ordinary, the more trivial, the more uninstructive case. And no one <i>lies</i> as much as the indignant man.</p><div class="footnote">2. <i>. . . Galiani</i>: Ferdinand Galiani (1728-1787), an Italian philosopher.<br><i>Voltaire</i>: pen name of Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778), a very important and famous French Enlightenment writer.<p></p></div>
Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part II - Aphorism #26138910 years, 6 months ago 


It is difficult to be understood, particularly when one thinks and lives gangastrotogati [like the flow of the river Ganges], among nothing but people who think and live differently, namely kurmagati [like the movements of a tortoise] or, in the best cases "following the gait of frogs" mandeikagati - I’m simply doing everything to make myself difficult to be understood? - and people should appreciate from their hearts the good will in some subtlety of interpretation. But so far as "good friends" are concerned, those who are always too comfortable and believe they have a particular right as friends to a life of comfort, one does well to start by giving them a recreation room and playground of misunderstanding: - so one has to laugh - or else to get rid of them altogether, these good friends - and also to laugh!

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part II - Aphorism #27137410 years, 6 months ago 


The most difficult thing about translating from one language into another is the tempo of its style, which is rooted in the character of the race - physiologically speaking, in the average tempo of its "metabolism." There are honestly intended translations which, as involuntarily coarse versions of the original, are almost misrepresentations, simply because its brave and cheerful tempo, which springs over and neutralizes everything dangerous in things and words, cannot be translated. A German is almost incapable of presto [quick tempo] in his language and thus, as you can reasonably infer, is also incapable of many of the most delightful and most daring nuances of free and free-spirited thinking. Just as the buffoon and satyr are foreign to him, in body and conscience, so Aristophanes and Petronius are untranslatable for him. Everything solemn, slow moving, ceremonially massive, all lengthy and boring varieties in style are developed among the Germans in a lavish diversity. You must forgive me for the fact that even Goethe’s prose, with its mixture of stiffness and daintiness, is no exception, as a mirror image of the "good old time" to which it belongs, and as an expression of German taste in an age when there still was a "German taste," a rococo taste in moribus et artibus [in customs and the arts].3 Lessing is an exception, thanks to his play-actor’s nature, which understood a great deal and knew how to do many things. He was not the translator of Bayle for nothing and was happy to take refuge in Diderot’s or Voltaire’s company - and even happier among the Roman writers of comic drama. In tempo, Lessing also loved free-spiritedness, the flight from Germany. But how could the German language - even in the prose of a Lessing - imitate the tempo of Machiavelli, who in his Prince allows one to breathe the fine dry air of Florence and cannot not help presenting the most serious affairs in a boisterous allegrissimo [very quick tempo], perhaps not without a malicious artistic feeling about what a contrast he was risking - long, difficult, hard, dangerous ideas, and a galloping tempo and the very best, most high-spirited of moods.4 Finally, who could even venture a German translation of Petronius, who was the master of the presto - more so than any great musician so far - in invention, ideas, words. Ultimately what is so important about all the swamps of the sick, nasty world, even "the ancient world," when someone like him has feet of wind, drive, and breath, the liberating scorn of a wind which makes everything healthy, as he makes everything run! And so far as Aristophanes is concerned, that transfiguring, complementary spirit for whose sake we excuse all Hellenism for having existed, provided that we have understood in all profundity everything that needs to be forgiven and transfigured; - I don’t know what allows me to dream about Plato’s secrecy and sphinx-like nature more than that petit fait [small fact], which fortunately has been preserved, that under the pillow on his death bed people found no "Bible," nothing Egyptian, Pythagorean, or Platonic - but something by Aristophanes. How could even a Plato have endured life - a Greek life, to which he said no - without an Aristophanes!-

3. Aristophanes (456-386 BC), foremost writer of Old Comedy in classical Athens;
Petronius (27-66 AD), a famous Roman satirist.
Goethe: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Germany’s greatest man of letters and literary artist.

4. . . . Lessing: Gotthold Ehraim Lessing (1729-1781), an important German dramatist.
Bayle : Marie Henri Bayle (1783-1842), a well-known French novelist who wrote under the pen name Stendhal.
Diderot : Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher and writer, a major figure in the Enlightenment.
Machiavelli: Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), Italian diplomat, dramatist, and political philosopher.

Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil: Part II - Aphorism #28230310 years, 6 months ago