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Beyond Good and Evil
Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future.


On the Prejudices of Philosophers.


The will to truth that still seduces us to take so many risks, that famous truthfulness of which all philosophers so far have spoken with respect: what questions this will to truth has already laid before us! What strange, wicked, questionable questions! That is a long story even now—and yet it seems as if it has scarcely begun? Is it any wonder that we should finally become suspicious, lose patience, and turn away impatiently? That we should finally learn from this Sphinx to ask questions, too? Who is it really that puts questions to us here? What in us really wants "truth"?— Indeed we came to a long halt at the question about the cause of this will—until we finally came to a complete stop before a still more basic question. We asked about the value of this will. Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance?— The problem of the value of truth came before us—or was it we who came before the problem? Who of us is Oedipus here? Who the Sphinx? It is a rendezvous, it seems, of questions and question marks.— And though it scarcely seems credible, it finally also seems to us as if the problem had never even been put so far—as if we were the first to see it, fix it with our eyes, risk it? For it does involve a risk, and perhaps there is none that is greater.


"How could anything originate out of its opposite? For example, truth out of error? Or the will to truth out of the will to deception? Or selfless action out of self-interest? Or the pure sunlike gaze of the sage out of covetousness? Such origins are impossible; whoever dreams of them is a fool, even worse; the things of the highest value must have another, separate origin of their own—they cannot be derived from this transitory, seductive, deceptive, lowly world, from this turmoil of delusion and desire! Rather from the lap of being, the intransitory, the hidden god, the 'thing-in-itself '—there must be their basis, and nowhere else!"— This way of judging constitutes the typical prejudice by which the metaphysicians of all ages can be recognized; this kind of valuation looms in the background of all their logical procedures; it is on account of this "belief" that they trouble themselves about "knowledge," about something that is finally christened solemnly as "the truth." The fundamental belief of the metaphysicians is the belief in oppositions of values. It has not even occurred to the most cautious among them to raise doubts right here at the threshold where it is surely most necessary: even if they vowed to themselves, "de omnibus dubitandum" ["everything is to be doubted" (Descartes)]. For one may doubt, first, whether there are any opposites at all, and second, whether these popular valuations and opposite values on which the metaphysicians put their seal, are not perhaps merely foreground estimates, only provisional perspectives, perhaps even from some nook, perhaps from below, frog perspectives, as it were, to borrow an expression painters use? For all the value that the true, the truthful, the selfless may deserve, it would still be possible that a higher and more fundamental value for life might have to be ascribed to appearance, the will to deception, self-interest, and desire. It might even be possible that what constitutes the value of these good and revered things is precisely that they are insidiously related, tied to, and involved with these wicked, seemingly opposite things—maybe even one with them in essence. Perhaps!— But who has the will to concern himself with such dangerous Perhapses! For that we have to await the advent of a new species of philosophers, ones whose taste and inclination are somehow different and the reverse of those hitherto—philosophers of the dangerous Perhaps in every sense.— And in all seriousness: I see such new philosophers coming up.


After having kept a sharp eye long enough on the philosophers and looked between their lines, I say to myself: the greatest part of conscious thinking must still be reckoned as instinctive activity, even in the case of philosophical thinking; we have to relearn here, as one has had to relearn about heredity and what is "innate." As the act of birth deserves no consideration in the whole process and procedure of heredity, so "being conscious" is not in any decisive sense the opposite of what is instinctive—most of the conscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly guided and forced into certain channels by his instincts. Behind all logic and its seeming sovereignty of movement, too, there stand valuations, or, more clearly, physiological demands for the preservation of a certain type of life. For example, that the definite should be worth more than the indefinite, and mere appearance worth less than "truth": such estimates might be, in spite of their regulative importance for us, nevertheless mere foreground estimates, a certain kind of niaiserie [Inanity. See footnote to §11] which may be necessary for the preservation of just such beings as we are. Supposing, that is, that not just man is the "measure of things" .....


The falseness of a judgment is for us not necessarily an objection to a judgment; in this respect our new language may sound strangest. The question is to what extent it is life-promoting, life-serving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-cultivating, and we are fundamentally inclined to claim that the falsest judgments (which include the synthetic judgments a priori) are the most indispensable for us, that without accepting the fictions of logic, without measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, without a constant falsification of the world by means of numbers, man could not live—that renouncing false judgments would mean renouncing life and a denial of life. To recognize untruth as a condition of life: that certainly means resisting accustomed value feelings in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil.


What provokes one to look at all philosophers half suspiciously, half mockingly, is not that one discovers again and again how innocent they are—how often and how easily they make mistakes and go astray, in short, their childishness and childlikeness—but that they are not honest enough in their work: although they make a lot of virtuous noise when the problem of truthfulness is touched even remotely. They all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic (as opposed to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest and doltish—they talk about "inspiration" ["Inspiration"]—): while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed a kind of "inspiration" ["Eingebung"], most often a desire of the heart that has been filtered and made abstract that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact:—they are all advocates who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudices which they baptize "truths"—and very far from having the courage of the conscience that admits this, precisely this, to itself; very far from having the good taste of the courage which also lets this be known, whether to warn an enemy or friend, or, from exuberance, to mock itself. The equally stiff and decorous Tartuffery [like the hypocritical priest who is the eponymous hero of Molière's 1664 comedy Tartuffe.] of the old Kant as he lures us on the dialectical bypaths that lead to his "categorical imperative"—really lead astray and seduce—this spectacle makes us smile, as we are fastidious and find it quite amusing to watch closely the subtle tricks of old moralists and preachers of morals. Or consider the hocus-pocus of mathematical form with which Spinoza clad his philosophy—really "the love of his wisdom," to render that word fairly and squarely—in mail and mask, to strike terror at the very outset into the heart of any assailant who should dare to glance at that invincible maiden and Pallas Athena:—how much personal timidity and vulnerability this masquerade of a sick hermit betrays!


Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious mémoires; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown. Indeed, if one would explain how the abstrusest metaphysical claims of a philosopher really came about, it is always well (and wise) to ask first: at what morality does all this (does he—) aim? Accordingly, I do not believe that a "drive for knowledge" is the father of philosophy; but rather that another drive has, here as elsewhere employed knowledge (and mis-knowledge!) as a mere instrument. But anyone who considers the basic drives of man to see to what extent they may have been at play just here as in inspiring spirits (or demons and kobolds—), will find that all of them have done philosophy at some time—and that every single one of them would like only too well to represent just itself as the ultimate purpose of existence and the legitimate master [Herrn] of all the other drives. For every drive is domineering [herrschsüchtig]: and as such it attempts to philosophize.— To be sure: among scholars who are really scientific men things may be different—"better," if you like—, there you may really find something like a drive for knowledge, some small independent clockwork that, once well wound, works on vigorously without any essential participation from all the other drives of the scholar. The real "interests" of the scholar therefore lie usually somewhere else, in his family, say, or in making money, or in politics; indeed, it is almost a matter of total indifference whether his little machine is placed at this or that spot in science, and whether the "promising" young worker turns himself into a good philologist or an expert on fungi or a chemist:—it does not characterize him that he becomes this or that. In the philosopher conversely, there is nothing whatever that is impersonal; and above all his morality bears decided and decisive witness to who he is—that is, in what order of rank the innermost drives of his nature stand in relation to each other.


How malicious philosophers can be! I know of nothing more venomous than the joke Epicurus permitted himself against Plato and the Platonists: he called them Dionysiokolakes. That means, literally and the foreground meaning, "flatterers of Dionysus," hence, tyrant's baggage and lickspittles; but in addition to this it also wants to say, "they are all actors, there is nothing genuine about them" (for Dionysokolax was a popular name for an actor). And the latter is really the malice that Epicurus aimed at Plato: he was peeved by the grandiose manner, the theatricality [Sich-in-Scene-Setzen: playing to the gallery] at which Plato and his disciples were so expert—at which Epicurus was not an expert! he, the old schoolmaster from Samos, who sat tucked away in his little garden in Athens and wrote three hundred books, who knows? perhaps from rage and ambition against Plato?— It took a hundred years until Greece found out who this garden god Epicurus had been.— Did they find out? —


There is a point in every philosophy when the philosopher's "conviction" steps onto the stage—or to use the language of an ancient Mystery:

adventavit asinus
pulcher et fortissimus.

[The ass entered / beautiful and most brave. From the 13th century song "Orientis partibus"; quoted in Nietzsche's copy of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg's Vermischte Schriften (Miscellaneous Writings). Göttingen: Dieterich, 1867:5, 327 (cf. Göttingen: Dieterich, 1844:5, 327).]


You want to live "according to nature"? Oh you noble Stoics, what deceptive words these are! Imagine a being like nature, wasteful beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without purpose and consideration, without mercy and fairness, fertile and desolate and uncertain at the same time; imagine indifference itself as a power—how could you live according to this indifference? Living—is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature? Is not living estimating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And supposing your imperative "live according to nature" meant at bottom as much as "live according to life"—how could you not do that? Why make a principle of what you yourselves are and must be?— In truth, the matter is altogether different: while you pretend rapturously to read the canon of your law in nature, you want something opposite, you strange actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to impose and incorporate your morality, your ideal onto nature, even onto nature, you demand that it be nature "according to the Stoa," and you would like all existence to exist only after your own image—as an immense eternal glorification and universalization of Stoicism! For all your love of truth, you have forced yourselves so long, so persistently, so rigidly and hypnotically to see nature falsely, namely stoically, that you are no longer able to see it differently—and some abysmal arrogance finally still inspires you with the insane hope that because you know how to tyrannize yourselves—Stoicism is self-tyranny—, nature, too, lets itself be tyrannized: is not the Stoic—a piece of nature? ..... But this is an old, eternal story: what formerly happened with the Stoics still happens today, as soon as any philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image, it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the most spiritual will to power, to the "creation of the world," to the causa prima [first cause].


The eagerness and subtlety—I might even say, shrewdness— with which the problem of "the real and the apparent world" is today attacked all over Europe makes one think and listen; and anyone who hears nothing in the background except a "will to truth," certainly does not have the sharpest of ears. In rare and particular instances it may really be the case that such a will to truth, some extravagant and adventurous courage, a metaphysician's ambition to hold a hopeless position, may participate and ultimately prefer even a handful of "certainty" to a entire wagonload of beautiful possibilities; there may actually be puritanical fanatics of conscience who even prefer to lie down and die on a certain nothing than an uncertain something. But this is nihilism and the sign of a despairing, mortally weary soul: however courageous the gestures of such a virtue may look. It seems, however, to be otherwise with stronger and livelier thinkers who are still eager for life. When they side against appearance, and speak of "perspective," with a new arrogance; when they rank the credibility of their own bodies about as low as the credibility of the visual evidence that "the earth stands still," and thus, apparently in good humor, let their securest possession go (for in what does one at present believe more firmly than in one's body?)—who knows if they are not trying at bottom to win back something that was formerly an even securer possession, something of the ancient domain of the faith of former times, perhaps the "immortal soul," perhaps "the old God," in short, ideas by which one could live better, that is to say, more vigorously and cheerfully than by "modern ideas"? There is mistrust of these modern ideas in this attitude, a disbelief in all that has been constructed yesterday and today; there is perhaps some slight admixture of satiety and scorn, unable to endure any longer the bric-a-brac of concepts of the most diverse origin, which is the form in which so-called positivism offers itself on the market today; a disgust of the more fastidious taste at the village-fair motleyness and patchiness of all these reality-philosophasters [allusion to Eugen Dühring, German positivist philosopher] in whom there is nothing new or genuine, except this motleyness. In this, it seems to me, we should agree with these skeptical anti-realists and knowledge microscopists of today: their instinct, which repels them from modern reality, is unrefuted—what do their retrograde bypaths concern us! The main thing about them is not that they wish to "go back": but that they wish to get—away. A little more strength, flight, courage, and artistic power: and they would want to rise—and not return! —


lt seems to me that today attempts are made everywhere to divert attention from the actual influence Kant exerted on German philosophy, and especially to ignore prudently the value he set upon himself. Kant was first and foremost proud of his table of categories; with that in his hand he said: "This is the most difficult thing that could ever be undertaken on behalf of metaphysics."— Let us only understand this "could be"! He was proud of having discovered a new faculty in man, the faculty for synthetic judgments a priori. Suppose he deceived himself in this matter; the development and rapid flourishing of German philosophy depended nevertheless on his pride, and on the eager rivalry of the younger generation to discover, if possible, something still prouder—at all events "new faculties"!— But let us reflect; it is high time to do so. "How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?" Kant asked himself—and what really is his answer? "By virtue of a faculty": but unfortunately not in five words, but so circumstantially, venerably, and with such a display of German profundity and curlicues that people simply failed to note the comical niaiserie allemande [German inanity. See footnote below.] involved in such an answer. People were actually beside themselves with delight over this new faculty, and the jubilation reached its climax when Kant further discovered a moral faculty in man—for at that time the Germans were still moral and not yet addicted to "Realpolitik" ["reality politics" (of Otto von Bismarck (1815-98))].— The honeymoon of German philosophy arrived; all the young theologians of the Tubingen seminary went into the bushes—all looking for "faculties." And what did they not find—in that innocent, rich, and still youthful period of the German spirit, to which romanticism, the malignant fairy, piped and sang, when one could not yet distinguish between "finding" and "inventing"! Above all, a faculty for the "surprasensible": Schelling christened it intellectual intuition, and thus gratified the most heartfelt cravings of the Germans, whose cravings were at bottom pious. One can do no greater wrong to the whole of this exuberant and enthusiastic movement, which was really youthfulness, however boldly it disguised itself in hoary and senile concepts, than to take it seriously or worse, to treat it with moral indignation; enough, one grew older—the dream vanished. A time came when people scratched their heads: they still scratch them today. One had been dreaming, and first and foremost—old Kant. "By virtue of a faculty"—he had said, or at least meant. But is that an answer? An explanation? Or is it not rather merely a repetition of the question? How does opium induce sleep? "By virtue of a faculty," namely the virtus dormitiva, replies the doctor in Moliere,

quia est in eo virtus dormitiva,
cujus est natura sensus assoupire.
["Because it contains a dormative virtue, / whose nature is to put the senses to sleep." Moliere (née Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, French actor and dramatist, 1622-73): Le Malade imaginaire.]

But such replies belong in comedy, and it is high time to replace the Kantian question, "How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?" by another question, "Why is belief in such judgments necessary?"—and to comprehend that such judgments must be believed to be true, for the sake of the preservation of creatures like ourselves; though they might, of course, be false judgments for all that! Or to speak more clearly and coarsely: synthetic judgments a priori should not "be possible" at all: we have no right to them, in our mouths they are nothing but false judgments. Only, of course, the belief in their truth is necessary, as a foreground belief and visual evidence belonging to the perspective optics of life.— Finally, to call to mind the enormous influence that "German philosophy"—its right to quotation marks is, I hope, understood?—has exercised throughout the whole of Europe, there is no doubt that a certain virtus dormitiva had a share in it: it was a delight to the noble idlers, the virtuous, the mystics, artists, three-quarter Christians, and political obscurantists of all nations, to find, thanks to German philosophy, an antidote to the still predominant sensualism which overflowed from the last century into this, in short—"sensus assoupire" .....

["niaiserie allemande" (German inanity) in Nietzsche's Library:

"niaiserie allemande"

Prosper Mérimée, Lettres à une inconnue. Précédées d'une étude sur Mérimée par H. Taine. Vol. 1. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1874, 328:

"[Goethe's Wilhelm Meister] est un étrange livre, où les plus belles choses du monde alternent avec les enfantillages les plus ridicules. Dans tout ce qu’a fait Goethe, il y a un mélange de génie et de niaiserie allemande des plus singuliers: se moquait — il de lui-même ou des autres?" ([Goethe's Wilhelm Meister] is a strange book, where the most beautiful things in the world alternate with the most ridiculous childish behavior. In everything Goethe produces, there is the most remarkable mixture of genius and German inanity: poking fun at — himself or others?)

"Deutscher Niaiserie"

Arthur Schopenhauer, "Kritik der Kantischen Philosophie." In: Arthur Schopenhauer's sämmtliche Werke. Hrsg. von Julius Frauenstädt. Bd. 2, 1: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Erster Band. Vier Bücher, nebst einem Anhange, der die Kritik der Kantischen Philosophie enthält. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1873, 508:

"Jedoch die größte Frechheit im Auftischen haaren Unsinns, im Zusammenschmieren sinnleerer, rasender Wortgeflechte, wie man sie bis dahin nur in Tollhäuser vernommen hatte, trat endlich im Hegel auf und wurde das Werkzeug der plumpesten allgemeinen Mystifikation, die je gewesen, mit einem Erfolg, welcher der Nachwelt fabelhaft erscheinen und ein Denkmal Deutscher Niaiserie bleiben wird." (However, the greatest piece of impertinence in dishing out sheer nonsense, in combination with frantic tangles of meaningless words, the likes of which had been heard up to then only in madhouses, finally appeared in Hegel, and became the tool of the crudest general mystification that has ever been, with a result that will appear fabulous to posterity and remain a monument to German niaiserie.)]


As for materialistic atomism, it is one of the best refuted theories there are, and in Europe perhaps no one in the learned world is now so unscholarly as to attach serious significance to it for convenient household use (as an abbreviation of the means of expression) thanks chiefly to the Dalmatian Boscovich and the Pole Copernicus have been the greatest and most successful opponents of visual evidence so far. For while Copernicus has persuaded us to believe, contrary to all the senses, that the earth does not stand fast, Boscovich has taught us to abjure the belief in the last part of the earth that "stood fast"—the belief in "substance," in "matter," in the earth-residuum and particle-atom; it is the greatest triumph over the senses that has been gained on earth so far.— One must, however, go still further, and also declare war, relentless war unto death, against the "atomistic need" which still leads a dangerous afterlife in places where no one suspects it, just like the more celebrated "metaphysical need": one must also, first of all, give the finishing stroke to that other and more calamitous atomism which Christianity has taught best and longest, the soul atomism. Let it be permitted to designate by this expression the belief which regards the soul as something indestructible, eternal, indivisible, as a monad, as an atomon: this belief ought to be expelled from science! Between ourselves, it is not at all necessary to get rid of "the soul" at the same time, and thus to renounce one of the most ancient and venerable hypotheses—as happens frequently to clumsy naturalists who can hardly touch on "the soul" without immediately losing it. But the way is open for new versions and refinements of the soul-hypothesis; and such conceptions as "mortal soul," and "soul as subjective multiplicity," and "soul as social structure of the drives and affects" want henceforth to have citizens' rights in science. When the new psychologist puts an end to the superstitions which have so far flourished with almost tropical luxuriance around the idea of the soul, he practically exiles himself into a new desert and a new suspicion—it is possible that the older psychologists had a merrier and more comfortable time of it; eventually, however, he knows that he is thereby also condemned to invention [Erfinden]—and—who knows?—perhaps to discovery [Finden]. —


Physiologists should think before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength—life itself is will to power—: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results.— In short, here as everywhere else, let us beware of superfluous teleological principles!—one of which is the instinct of self-preservation (we owe it to Spinoza's inconsistency—). Thus method, which must be essentially economy of principles, demands it.


It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world-explanation; but insofar as it is based on belief in the senses, it is regarded as more, and for a long time to come must be regarded as more—namely, as an explanation. Eyes and fingers speak in its favor, visual evidence and palpableness do, too: this strikes an age with fundamentally plebeian tastes as fascinating, persuasive, and convincing—after all, it follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternally popular sensualism. What is clear, what is "explained"? Only what can be seen and felt—every problem has to be pursued to that point. Conversely, the charm of the Platonic way of thinking, which was a noble way of thinking, consisted precisely in resistance to obvious sense-evidence—perhaps among men who enjoyed even stronger and more demanding senses than our contemporaries, but who knew how to find a higher triumph in remaining masters of their senses: and this by means of pale, cold, gray concept nets which they threw over the motley whirl of the senses—the mob of the senses, as Plato said [Laws, 689 a-b]. [Cf. Gustav Teichmüller, Die wirkliche und die scheinbare Welt: Neue Grundlegung der Metaphysik. Breslau: Koebner, 1882:15.] In this overcoming of the world, and interpreting of the world in the manner of Plato, there was an enjoyment different from that which the physicists of today offer us, likewise the Darwinists and anti-teleologists among the workers in physiology, with their principle of the "smallest possible force" and the greatest possible stupidity. "Where man cannot find anything to see or to grasp, he has no further business"—that is certainly an imperative different from the Platonic one, but it may be the right imperative for a tough, industrious race of machinists and bridge-builders of the future, who have nothing but rough work to do.


To study physiology with a clear conscience, one must insist that the sense organs are not phenomena in the sense of idealistic philosophy; as such they could not be causes! Sensualism, therefore, at least as a regulative hypothesis, if not as a heuristic principle.— What? And others even say that the external world is the work of our organs? But then our body, as a part of this external world, would be the work of our organs! But then our organs themselves would be—the work of our organs! It seems to me that this is a complete reductio ad absurdum [reduction to an absurdity (contradiction)]: assuming that the concept of a causa sui [cause of itself] is something fundamentally absurd. Consequently, is the external world not the work of our organs—?


There are still harmless self-observers who believe that there are "immediate certainties"; for example, "I think," or as the superstition of Schopenhauer put it, "I will"; as though knowledge here got hold of its object purely and nakedly as "the thing in it self," without any falsification on the part of either the subject or the object. But that "immediate certainty," as well as "absolute knowledge" and the "thing in itself," involve a contradictio in adjecto [contradiction in terms]. I shall repeat a hundred times; we really ought to free ourselves from the seduction of words! Let the people suppose that knowledge means knowing things entirely; the philosopher must say to himself: "When I analyze the process that is expressed in this sentence, 'I think,' I find a whole series of daring assertions that would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to prove—for example, that it is I who think, that there must necessarily be something that thinks, that thinking is an activity and operation on the part of a being who is thought of as a cause, that there is an 'ego,' and, finally, that it is already determined what is to be designated by thinking—that I know what thinking is. For if I had not already decided within myself what it is, by what standard could I determine whether that which is just happening is not perhaps 'willing' or 'feeling'? In short, the assertion 'I think' assumes that I compare my state at the present moment with other states of myself which I know, in order to determine what it is; on account of this retrospective connection with further 'knowledge,' it has, at any rate, no immediate certainty for me."— In place of the "immediate certainty" in which the people may believe in the case at hand, the philosopher thus finds a series of metaphysical questions presented to him, truly searching questions of the intellect; to wit: "From where do I get the concept of thinking? Why do I believe in cause and effect? What gives me the right to speak of an ego, and even of an ego as cause, and finally of an ego as the cause of thought?" Whoever ventures to answer these metaphysical questions at once by an appeal to a sort of intuitive perception, like the person who says, "I think, and know that this, at least, is true, actual, and certain"—will encounter a smile and two question marks from a philosopher nowadays. "Sir," the philosopher will perhaps give him to understand, "it is probable that you are not mistaken; but why insist on the truth?" —


With regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasizing a small terse fact, which these superstitious minds hate to concede—namely, that a thought comes when "it" wishes, and not when "I" wish, so that it is a falsification of the facts of the case to say that the subject "I" is the condition of the predicate "think." It thinks: but that this "it" is precisely the famous old "ego" is, to put it mildly, only a supposition, an assertion, and assuredly not an "immediate certainty." After all, one has even gone too far with this "it thinks"—even the "it" contains an interpretation of the process, and does not belong to the process itself. One infers here according to the grammatical habit "thinking is an activity; every activity requires an agent; consequently—." It was pretty much according to the same schema that the older atomism sought, besides the operating "power," that lump of matter in which it resides and out of which it operates, the atom; more rigorous minds, however, learned at last to get along without this "earth-residuum," and perhaps some day we shall accustom ourselves, including the logicians, to get along without the little "it" (which is all that is left of the honest little old ego).


It is certainly not the least charm of a theory that it is refutable; it is precisely thereby that it attracts subtler minds. It seems that the hundred-times-refuted theory of a "free will" owes its persistence to this charm alone—: again and again someone comes along who feels he is strong enough to refute it.


Philosophers are accustomed to speak of the will as if it were the best-known thing in the world; indeed, Schopenhauer has given us to understand that the will alone is really known to us, absolutely and completely known, without subtraction or addition. But again and again it seems to me that in this case, too, Schopenhauer only did what philosophers are in the habit of doing—he adopted a popular prejudice and exaggerated it. Willing seems to me to be above all something complicated, something that is a unit only as a word—and it is precisely in this one word that the popular prejudice lurks, which has defeated the always inadequate caution of philosophers. So let us for once be more cautious, let us be "unphilosophical"—, let us say: in all willing there is, first, a plurality of sensations, namely, the sensation of the state "away from which" the sensation of the state "towards which," the sensation of this "from" and "towards" themselves, and then also an accompanying muscular sensation, which, even without our putting into motion "arms and legs," begins its action by force of habit as soon as we "will" anything. Therefore just as sensations (and indeed many kinds of sensation) are to be recognized as ingredients of the will, so, secondly, should thinking also: in every act of the will there is a ruling thought—let us not imagine it possible to sever this thought from the "willing," as if any will would then remain over! Third, the will is not only a complex of sensation and thinking, but it is above all an affect, and specifically the affect of the command. That which is termed "freedom of the will" is essentially the affect of superiority in relation to him who must obey: "I am free, 'he' must obey"—this consciousness is inherent in every will; and equally so the straining of the attention, the straight look that fixes itself exclusively on one aim, the unconditional evaluation that "this and nothing else is necessary now," the inward certainty that obedience will be rendered—and whatever else belongs to the position of the commander. A man who wills—, commands something within himself that renders obedience, or that he believes renders obedience. But now let us notice what is strangest about the will—this manifold thing for which the people have only one word: inasmuch as in the given circumstances we are at the same time the commanding and the obeying parties, and as the obeying party we know the sensations of constraint, impulsion, pressure, resistance and motion, which usually begin immediately after the act of will, inasmuch as, on the other hand, we are accustomed to disregard this duality, and to deceive ourselves about it by means of the synthetic concept "I," a whole series of erroneous conclusions, and consequently of false evaluations of the will itself, has become attached to the act of willing—to such a degree that he who wills believes sincerely that willing suffices for action. Since in the great majority of cases there has been exercise of will only when the effect of the command—that is, obedience; that is, the action—was to be expected, the appearance has translated itself into the feeling, as if there were a necessity of effect. In short, he who wills believes with a fair amount of certainty that will and action are somehow one; he ascribes the success, the carrying out of the willing, to the will itself, and thereby enjoys an increase of the sensation of power which accompanies all success. "Freedom of the will"—that is the expression for the complex state of delight of the person exercising volition, who commands and at the same time identifies himself with the executor of the order—who, as such, enjoys also the triumph over obstacles, but thinks within himself that it was really his will itself that overcame them. In this way the person exercising volition adds the feeling of delight of his successful executive instruments, the useful "under-wills" or under-souls—indeed, our body is but a social structure composed of many souls—to his feelings of delight as commander. L'effet c'est moi [I am the effect]: what happens here is what happens in every well-constructed and happy commonwealth; namely, the governing class identifies itself with the successes of the commonwealth. In all willing it is absolutely a question of commanding and obeying, on the basis, as already said, of a social structure composed of many "souls." Hence a philosopher should claim the right to include willing as such within the sphere of morals—morals being understood as the doctrine of the relations of supremacy under which the phenomenon of "life" comes to be. —


That individual philosophical concepts are not anything capricious or autonomously evolving, but grow up in connection and relationship with each other; that, however suddenly and arbitrarily they seem to appear in the history of thought, they nevertheless belong just as much to a system as all the members of the fauna of a continent—is betrayed in the end also by the fact that the most diverse philosophers keep filling in a definite fundamental scheme of possible philosophies. Under an invisible spell, they always revolve once more in the same orbit; however independent of each other they may feel themselves with their critical or systematic wills, something within them leads them, something impels them in a definite order, one after the other—to wit, the innate systematic structure and relationship of their concepts. Their thinking is, in fact, far less a discovery than a recognition, a remembering, a return and a homecoming to a remote, primordial, an inclusive household of the soul, out of which those concepts grew original:—philosophizing is to this extent a kind of atavism of the highest order. The strange family resemblance of all Indian, Greek, and German philosophizing is explained easily enough. Where there is affinity of languages, it cannot fail, owing to the common philosophy of grammar—I mean, owing to the unconscious domination and guidance by similar grammatical functions—that everything is prepared at the outset for a similar development and sequence of philosophical systems; just as the way seems barred against certain other possibilities of world-interpretation. It is highly probable that philosophers within the domain of the Ural-Altaic languages (where the concept of the subject is least developed) look otherwise "into the world," and will be found on paths of thought different from those of the Indo-Germanic peoples and the Muslims: the spell of certain grammatical functions is ultimately also the spell of physiological valuations and racial conditions.— So much by way of rejecting Locke's superficiality regarding the origin of ideas.


The causa sui [cause of itself] is the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far, it is a sort of rape and perversion of logic; but the extravagant pride of man has managed to entangle itself profoundly and frightfully with just this nonsense. The desire for "freedom of the will" in the superlative metaphysical sense, which still holds sway, unfortunately, in the minds of the half-educated; the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one's actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui and, with more than Munchhausen's audacity, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness. Suppose someone were thus to see through the boorish simplicity of this celebrated concept of "free will" and put it out of his head altogether, l beg of him to carry his "enlightenment" a step further, and so put out of his head the contrary of this monstrous conception of "free will": I mean "unfree will," which amounts to a misuse of cause and effect. One should not wrongly reify "cause" and "effect" as the natural scientists do (and whoever, like them, now "naturalizes" in his thinking—), according to the prevailing mechanical doltishness which makes the cause press and push until it "effects" its end; one should use "cause" and "effect" only as pure concepts, that is to say, as conventional fictions for the purpose of designation and communication—not for explanation. In the "in itself" there is nothing of "causal connections," of "necessity," or of "psychological non-freedom"; there the effect does not follow the cause, there is no rule of "law." It is we alone who have devised cause, sequence, for-each-other, relativity, constraint, number, law, freedom, motive, and purpose; and when we project and mix this symbol world into things as if it existed "in itself," we act once more as we have always acted, namely mythologically. The "unfree will" is mythology: in real life it is only a matter of strong and weak wills.— It is almost always a symptom of what is lacking in himself when a thinker senses in every "causal connection" and "psychological necessity" something of constraint, need, compulsion to obey, pressure, and unfreedom; it is suspicious to have such feelings—that person betrays himself. And in general, if I have observed correctly, the "unfreedom of the will" is regarded as a problem from two entirely opposite standpoints, but always in a profoundly personal manner: some will not give up their "responsibility," their belief in themselves, the personal right to their merits at any price (the vain races belong to this class—); others, on the contrary, do not wish to be answerable for anything, or blamed for anything, and owing to an inward self-contempt, seek to shift the blame for themselves somewhere else. The latter, when they write books, are in the habit today of taking the side of criminals; a sort of socialist pity is their most attractive disguise. And as a matter of fact, the fatalism of the weak-willed embellishes itself surprisingly when it can pose as "la religion de la souffrance humaine": that is its "good taste." ["The religion of human suffering." From the last line of Paul Bourget's novel, Un crime d'amour. Paris: Lemerre, 1886, 298-299: "Et il éprouva qu'une chose venait de naître en lui, avec laquelle il pourrait toujours trouver des raisons de vivre et d'agir: la religion de la souffrance humaine." (And he felt that a thing had just been born in him, with which he could always find reasons for living and acting: the religion of human suffering.)]


Forgive me as an old philologist who cannot desist from the malice of putting his finger on bad modes of interpretation: but "nature's conformity to law," of which you physicists talk so proudly as though— —why, it exists only owing to your interpretation and bad "philology"—it is no matter of fact, no "text," but rather only a naively humanitarian emendation and perversion of meaning, with which you make abundant concessions to the democratic instincts of the modern soul! "Everywhere equality before the law; nature is no different in that respect, no better off than we are": a fine instance of ulterior motivation, in which the plebeian antagonism to everything privileged and autocratic as well as a second and more refined atheism are disguised once more. "Ni Dieu, ni maitre" ["Neither God nor Master." Title of a journal edited by French communist and revolutionary Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-81), et. al.: Ni Dieu ni Maître. Paris: 1880-81.]—that is what you, too, want; and therefore "cheers for the law of nature"!—is it not so? But as said above, that is interpretation, not text; and somebody might come along who, with opposite intentions and modes of interpretation, could read out of the same "nature" and with regard to the same phenomena rather the tyrannically inconsiderate and relentless enforcement of claims of power—an interpreter who would picture the unexceptional and unconditional aspects of all "will to power" so vividly that almost every word, even the word "tyranny" itself, would eventually sound unsuitable, or a weakening and attenuating metaphor—being too human—but he might, nevertheless, end by asserting the same about this world as you do, namely, that it has a "necessary" and "calculable" course, not because laws obtain in it, but because they are absolutely lacking, and every power draws its ultimate consequences at every moment. Supposing that this also is only interpretation—and you will be eager enough to make this objection?—well then, so much the better. —


All psychology so far has got stuck in moral prejudices and fears; it has not dared to descend into the depths. To understand it as morphology and the doctrine of the development of the will to power, as I do—nobody has yet come close to doing this even in thought— insofar as it is permissible to recognize in what has been written so far a symptom of what has so far been kept silent. The power of moral prejudices has penetrated deeply into the most spiritual world, which would seem to be the coldest and most devoid of presuppositions, and has obviously operated in an injurious, inhibiting, blinding, and distorting manner. A proper physio-psychology has to contend with unconscious resistance in the heart of the investigator, it has "the heart" against it: even a doctrine of the reciprocal dependence of the "good" and the "wicked" drives, causes (as refined immorality) distress and aversion in a still hale and hearty conscience—still more so, a doctrine of the derivation of good impulses from wicked ones. If, however, a person should regard even the affects of hatred, envy, covetousness, and the lust to rule as conditions of life, as factors which, fundamentally and essentially must be present in the general economy of life (and must, there, be further enhanced if life is to be further enhanced)—he will suffer from such a view of things as from seasickness. And yet even this hypothesis is far from being the strangest and most painful in this immense and almost new domain of dangerous insights:—and there are in fact a hundred good reasons why everyone should keep away from it who—can! On the other hand: if one has once drifted there with one's bark, well! All right! Let us clench our teeth! Let us open our eyes and keep our hand firm on the helm! We sail right over morality, we crush, we destroy perhaps the remains of our own morality by daring to make our voyage there—but what matter are we! Never yet did a profounder world of insight reveal itself to daring travelers and adventurers, and the psychologist who thus "makes a sacrifice"—it is not the sacrifizio dell' intelletto [sacrifice of the intellect], on the contrary!—will at least be entitled to demand in return that psychology shall be recognized again as the queen of the sciences, for whose service and preparation the other sciences exist. For psychology is now again the path to the fundamental problems.

Published Works | Beyond Good and Evil | On the Prejudices of Philosophers© The Nietzsche Channel