The Gay Science


Dignity of Folly. Several millenniums further on in the path of the last century! - and in everything that man does the highest prudence will be exhibited: but just thereby prudence will have lost all its dignity. It will then, sure enough, be necessary to be prudent, but it will also be so usual and common, that a more fastidious taste will feel this necessity as vulgarity. And just as a tyranny of truth and science would be in a position to raise the value of falsehood, a tyranny of prudence could force into prominence a new species of nobleness. To be noble that might then mean, perhaps, to be capable of follies.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #2081011 years, 5 months ago 


To the Teachers of Unselfishness. The virtues of a man are called good, not in respect to the results they have for himself, but in respect to the results which we expect therefrom for ourselves and for society: - we have all along had very little unselfishness, very little "non-egoism" in our praise of the virtues! For otherwise it could not but have been seen that the virtues (such as diligence, obedience, chastity, piety, justice) are mostly injurious to their possessors, as impulses which rule in them too vehemently and ardently, and do not want to be kept in coordination with the other impulses by the reason. If you have a virtue, an actual, perfect virtue (and not merely a kind of impulse towards virtue!) - you are its victim! But your neighbour praises your virtue precisely on that account! One praises the diligent man though he injures his sight, or the originality and freshness of his spirit, by his diligence; the youth is honoured and regretted who has "worn himself out by work," because one passes the judgment that "for society as a whole the loss of the best individual is only a small sacrifice! A pity that this sacrifice should be necessary! A much greater pity it is true, if the individual should think differently, and regard his preservation and development as more important than his work in the service of society!" And so one regrets this youth, not on his own account, but because a devoted instrument, regardless of a self-so-called "good man," has been lost to society by his death. Perhaps one further considers the question, whether it would not have been more advantageous for the interests of society if he had laboured with less disregard of himself, and had preserved himself longer - indeed one readily admits an advantage therefrom, but one esteems the other advantage, namely, that a sacrifice has been made, and that the disposition of the sacrificial animal has once more been obviously endorsed - as higher and more enduring. It is accordingly, on the one part, the instrumental character in the virtues which is praised when the virtues are praised, and on the other part the blind, ruling impulse in every virtue which refuses to let itself be kept within bounds by the general advantage to the individual; in short, what is praised is the unreason in the virtues, in consequence of which the individual allows himself to be transformed into a function of the whole. The praise of the virtues is the praise of something which is privately injurious to the individual; it is praise of impulses which deprive man of his noblest self-love, and the power to take the best care of himself. To be sure, for the teaching and embodying of virtuous habits a series of effects of virtue are displayed, which make it appear that virtue and private advantage are closely related, and there is in fact such a relationship! Blindly furious diligence, for example, the typical virtue of an instrument, is represented as the way to riches and honour, and as the most beneficial antidote to tedium and passion: but people are silent concerning its danger, its greatest dangerousness. Education proceeds in this manner throughout: it endeavours, by a series of enticements and advantages, to determine the individual to a certain mode of thinking and acting, which, when it has become habit, impulse and passion, rules in him and over him, in opposition to his ultimate advantage, but "for the general good." How often do I see that blindly furious diligence does indeed create riches and honours, but at the same time deprives the organs of the refinement by virtue of which alone an enjoyment of riches and honours is possible; so that really the main expedient for combating tedium and passion, simultaneously blunts the senses and makes the spirit refractory towards new stimuli! (The busiest of all ages - our age - does not know how to make anything out of its great diligence and wealth, except always more and more wealth, and more and more diligence; there is even more genius needed for laying out wealth than for acquiring it! Well, we shall have our "grandchildren"!) If the education succeeds, every virtue of the individual is a public utility, and a private disadvantage in respect to the highest private end - probably some psycho-aesthetic stunting, or even premature dissolution. One should consider successively from the same standpoint the virtues of obedience, chastity, piety, and justice. The praise of the unselfish, self-sacrificing, virtuous person - he, consequently, who does not expend his whole energy and reason for his own conservation, development, elevation, furtherance and augmentation of power, but lives as regards himself unassumingly and thoughtlessly, perhaps even indifferently or ironically, this praise has in any case not originated out of the spirit of unselfishness! The "neighbour" praises unselfishness because he profits by it! If the neighbour were "unselfishly" disposed himself, he would reject that destruction of power, that injury for his advantage, he would thwart such inclinations in their origin, and above all he would manifest his unselfishness just by not giving it a good name! The fundamental contradiction in that morality which at present stands in high honour is here indicated: the motives to such a morality are in antithesis to its principle! That with which this morality wishes to prove itself, refutes it out of its criterion of what is moral! The maxim, "Thou shalt renounce thyself and offer thyself as a sacrifice," in order not to be inconsistent with its own morality, could only be decreed by a being who himself renounced his own advantage thereby, and who perhaps in the required self-sacrifice of individuals brought about his own dissolution. As soon, however, as the neighbour (or society) recommended altruism on account of its utility, the precisely antithetical proposition, "Thou shalt seek thy advantage even at the expense of everybody else," was brought into use: accordingly, "thou shalt," and "thou shalt not," are preached in one breath!

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #21177711 years, 5 months ago 


L'Ordre du Jour pour le Roi. The day commences: let us begin to arrange for this day the business and fetes of our most gracious lord, who at present is still pleased to repose. His Majesty has bad weather today: we shall be careful not to call it bad; we shall not speak of the weather, but we shall go through today's business somewhat more ceremoniously and make the fetes somewhat more festive than would otherwise be necessary. His Majesty may perhaps even be sick: we shall give the last good news of the evening at breakfast, the arrival of M. Montaigne, who knows how to joke so pleasantly about his sickness, - he suffers from stone. We shall receive several persons (persons! what would that old inflated frog, who will be among them, say, if he heard this word! "I am no person," he would say, "but always the thing itself ") and the reception will last longer than is pleasant to anybody; a sufficient reason for telling about the poet who wrote over his door, "He who enters here will do me an honour; he who does not - a favour." - That is, forsooth, saying a discourteous thing in a courteous manner! And perhaps this poet is quite justified on his part in being discourteous; they say that his rhymes are better than the rhymester. Well, let him still make many of them, and withdraw himself as much as possible from the world: and that is doubtless the significance of his well-bred rudeness! A prince, on the other hand, is always of more value than his "verse," even when - but what are we about? We gossip, and the whole court believes that we have already been at work and racked our brains: there is no light to be seen earlier than that which burns in our window. - Hark! Was that not the bell? The devil! The day and the dance commence, and we do not know our rounds! We must then improvise, - all the world improvises its day. Today, let us for once do like all the world! - And therewith vanished my wonderful morning dream, probably owing to the violent strokes of the tower-clock, which just then announced the fifth hour with all the importance which is peculiar to it. It seems to me that on this occasion the God of dreams wanted to make merry over my habits, - it is my habit to commence the day by arranging it properly, to make it endurable for myself, and it is possible that I may often have done this too formally, and too much like a prince.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #2287711 years, 5 months ago 


The Characteristics of Corruption. Let us observe the following characteristics in that condition of society from time to time necessary, which is designated by the word "corruption." Immediately upon the appearance of corruption anywhere, a motley superstition gets the upper hand, and the hitherto universal belief of a people becomes colourless and impotent in comparison with it; for superstition is freethinking of the second rank, he who gives himself over to it selects certain forms and formulae which appeal to him, and permits himself a right of choice. The superstitious man is always much more of a "person," in comparison with the religious man, and a superstitious society will be one in which there are many individuals, and a delight in individuality. Seen from this standpoint superstition always appears as a progress in comparison with belief, and as a sign that the intellect becomes more independent and claims to have its rights. Those who reverence the old religion and the religious disposition then complain of corruption, they have hitherto also determined the usage of language, and have given a bad repute to superstition, even among the freest spirits. Let us learn that it is a symptom of enlightenment. Secondly, a society in which corruption takes a hold is blamed for effeminacy: for the appreciation of war, and the delight in war, perceptibly diminish in such a society, and the conveniences of life are now just as eagerly sought after as were military and gymnastic honours formerly. But one is accustomed to overlook the fact that the old national energy and national passion, which acquired a magnificent splendour in war and in the tourney, has now transferred itself into innumerable private passions, and has merely become less visible; indeed in periods of "corruption" the quantity and quality of the expended energy of a people is probably greater than ever, and the individual spends it lavishly, to such an extent as could not be done formerly - he was not then rich enough to do so ! And thus it is precisely in times of "effeminacy" that tragedy runs at large in and out of doors, it is then that ardent love and ardent hatred are born, and the flame of knowledge flashes heavenward in full blaze. Thirdly, as if in amends for the reproach of superstition and effeminacy, it is customary to say of such periods of corruption that they are milder, and that cruelty has then greatly diminished in comparison with the older, more credulous, and stronger period. But to this praise I am just as little able to assent as to that reproach: I only grant so much, namely, that cruelty now becomes more refined, and its older forms are henceforth counter to the taste; but the wounding and torturing by word and look reaches its highest development in times of corruption, it is now only that wickedness is created, and the delight in wickedness. The men of the period of corruption are witty and calumnious; they know that there are yet other ways of murdering than by the dagger and the ambush, they know also that all that is well said is believed in. Fourthly, it is when "morals decay" that those beings who one calls tyrants first make their appearance; they are the forerunners of the individual, and as it were early matured firstlings. Yet a little while, and this fruit of fruits hangs ripe and yellow on the tree of a people, and only for the sake of such fruit did this tree exist! When the decay has reached its worst, and likewise the conflict of all sorts of tyrants, there always arises the Caesar, the final tyrant, who puts an end to the exhausted struggle for sovereignty, by making the exhaustedness work for him. In his time the individual is usually most mature, and consequently the "culture" is highest and most fruitful, but not on his account nor through him: although the men of highest culture love to flatter their Caesar by pretending that they are his creation. The truth, however, is that they need quietness externally, because they have disquietude and labour internally. In these times bribery and treason are at their height: for the love of the ego, then first discovered, is much more powerful than the love of the old, used-up, hackneyed "fatherland"; and the need to be secure in one way or other against the frightful fluctuations of fortune, opens even the nobler hands, as soon as a richer and more powerful person shows himself ready to put gold into them. There is then so little certainty with regard to the future; people live only for the day: a psychical condition which enables every deceiver to play an easy game, people of course only let themselves be misled and bribed "for the present," and reserve for themselves futurity and virtue. The individuals, as is well known, the men who only live for themselves, provide for the moment more than do their opposites, the gregarious men, because they consider themselves just as incalculable as the future; and similarly they attach themselves willingly to despots, because they believe themselves capable of activities and expedients, which can neither reckon on being understood by the multitude, nor on finding favour with them, - but the tyrant or the Caesar understands the right of the individual even in his excesses, and has an interest in speaking on behalf of a bolder private morality, and even in giving his hand to it. For he thinks of himself, and wishes people to think of him what Napoleon once uttered in his classical style - "I have the right to answer by an eternal "thus I am' to everything about which complaint is brought against me. I am apart from all the world, I accept conditions from nobody. I wish people also to submit to my fancies, and to take it quite as a simple matter, if I should indulge in this or that diversion." Thus spoke Napoleon once to his wife, when she had reasons for calling in question the fidelity of her husband. - The times of corruption are the seasons when the apples fall from the tree: I mean the individuals, the seed-bearers of the future, the pioneers of spiritual colonisation, and of a new construction of national and social unions. Corruption is only an abusive term for the harvest time of a people.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #23137911 years, 5 months ago 


Different Dissatisfactions. The feeble and as it were feminine dissatisfied people, have ingenuity for beautifying and deepening life; the strong dissatisfied people - the masculine persons among them to continue the metaphor - have ingenuity for improving and safeguarding life. The former show their weakness and feminine character by willingly letting themselves be temporarily deceived, and perhaps even by putting up with a little ecstasy and enthusiasm on a time, but on the whole they are never to be satisfied, and suffer from the incurability of their dissatisfaction; moreover they are the patrons of all those who manage to concoct opiate and narcotic comforts, and on that account are averse to those who value the physician higher than the priest, they thereby encourage the continuance of actual distress! If there had not been a surplus of dissatisfied persons of this kind in Europe since the time of the Middle Ages, the remarkable capacity of Europeans for constant transformation would perhaps not have originated at all; for the claims of the strong dissatisfied persons are too gross, and really too modest to resist being finally quieted down. China is an instance of a country in which dissatisfaction on a grand scale and the capacity for transformation have died out for many centuries; and the Socialists and state-idolaters of Europe could easily bring things to Chinese conditions and to a Chinese "happiness," with their measures for the amelioration and security of life, provided that they could first of all root out the sicklier, tenderer, more feminine dissatisfaction and Romanticism which are still very abundant among us. Europe is an invalid who owes her best thanks to her incurability and the eternal transformations of her sufferings; these constant new situations, these equally constant new dangers, pains, and make-shifts, have at last generated an intellectual sensitiveness which is almost equal to genius, and is in any case the mother of all genius.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #24169611 years, 5 months ago