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


The Free Spirit.


O sancta simplicitas! [O holy simplicity!] In what strange simplification and falsification man lives! One can never cease wondering once one has acquired eyes for this marvel! How we have made everything around us clear and free and easy and simple! how we have been able to give our senses a passport to everything superficial, our thoughts a divine desire for wanton leaps and wrong inferences! how from the beginning we have contrived to retain our ignorance in order to enjoy an almost inconceivable freedom, lack of scruple and caution, heartiness, and gaiety of life, in order to enjoy life! And only on this now solid, granite foundation of ignorance could knowledge rise so far, the will to knowledge on the foundation of a far more powerful will, the will to no knowledge, to uncertainty, to the untruth! Not as its opposite, but rather—as its refinement! Even if language, here as elsewhere, will not get over its awkwardness, and will continue to talk of opposites where there are only degrees and many subtleties of gradation; even if the inveterate Tartuffery [like the hypocritical priest who is the eponymous hero of Molière's 1664 comedy Tartuffe.] of morals, which now belongs to our unconquerable "flesh and blood," infects the words even of those of us who know better: here and there we understand it and laugh at the way in which precisely science at its best seeks most to keep us in this simplified, thoroughly artificial, suitably constructed and suitably falsified world, at the way in which, willy-nilly, it loves error, because, being alive—it loves life!


After such a cheerful commencement, a serious word would like to be heard; it appeals to the most serious. Take care, philosophers and friends, of knowledge, and beware of martyrdom! Of suffering "for the truth's sake"! Even of defending yourselves! Spoils all the innocence and fine neutrality of your conscience, makes you headstrong against objections and red rags, it stupefies, animalizes, and brutalizes when in the struggle with danger, slander, suspicion, expulsion, and even worse consequences of hostility, you have to pose as protectors of truth upon earth:—as though "the truth" were such an innocuous and incompetent creature as to require protectors! and you of all people, you knights of the most sorrowful countenances, my dear idlers and cobweb-spinners of the mind! After all, you know well enough that it cannot be of any consequence if you of all people are proved right, you know that no philosopher so far has been proved right, and that there might be a more laudable truthfulness in every little question mark that you place after your special words and favorite doctrines (and occasionally after yourselves) than in all the solemn gestures and trumps before accusers and law courts! Rather, go away! Flee into concealment! And have your masks and subtlety, that you may be mistaken for what you are not! Or feared a little! And don't forget the garden, the garden with golden trelliswork! And have people around you who are like a garden—or like music over the waters at evening, when the day is turning into memory:—choose the good solitude, the free, playful, light solitude that gives you, too, the right, to remain good in some sense! How poisonous, how crafty, how bad, does every long war make one, that cannot be waged in the open! How personal does a long fear make one, long watching of enemies, of possible enemies! These outcasts of society, these long-pursued, wickedly persecuted ones—also enforced hermits, the Spinozas or Giordano Brunos always come in the end, even under the most spiritual masquerade, perhaps without being themselves aware of it, sophisticated vengeance-seekers and poison-brewers (let someone lay bare the foundation of Spinoza's ethics and theology!)—not to mention the foolishness of moral indignation, which is the unfailing sign in a philosopher that his philosophical sense of humor has left him. The martyrdom of the philosopher, his "sacrifice for the sake of truth," forces into the light whatever of the agitator and actor lurks in him; and if one has so far contemplated him only with artistic curiosity, with regard to many a philosopher it is easy to understand the dangerous desire to see him also in his degeneration (degenerated into a "martyr," into a stage- and tribunal-bawler). Only, that it is necessary with such a wish to be clear what spectacle one will see in any case:—merely a satyr play, merely an epilogue farce, merely the continued proof that the long, actual tragedy is at an end: assuming that every philosophy, in its genesis, was a long tragedy. —


Every choice human being strives instinctively for a citadel and a secrecy where he is freed from the crowd, the multitude, the majority, where he may forget the rule of "humanity," being their exception:—apart from the one case in which he is pushed straight to such men by an even stronger instinct, as a seeker after knowledge in the great and exceptional sense. Anyone who, in interaction with men, does not occasionally shimmer in all the colors of distress, green and gray with disgust, satiety, sympathy, gloominess, loneliness, is certainly not a man of higher taste; supposing, however, that he does not take all this burden and disgust upon himself voluntarily, that he persistently avoids it, and remains, as I said, quietly and proudly hidden in his citadel, one thing is certain: he was not made, he was not predestined, for knowledge. For if he were, he would one day have to say to himself: "To hell with my good taste! but the rule is more interesting than the exception—than I, the exception!"—and he would go down, and above all, he would go "inside." The long and serious study of the average man, and consequently much disguise, self-overcoming, familiarity, bad contact—all contact is bad contact except with one's equals—: this constitutes a necessary part of the life history of every philosopher, perhaps the most disagreeable, odious, and disappointing part. If he is fortunate, however, as a favorite child of knowledge should be, he will encounter suitable shortcuts and helps for his task—I mean so-called cynics, those who simply recognize the animal, the commonplace, and "the rule" in themselves, and at the same time still have that degree of spirituality and that itch which makes them talk of themselves and their kind before witnesses:—sometimes they even wallow in books, as in their own dung. Cynicism is the only form in which common souls approach honesty; and the higher man must listen closely to every coarse or subtle cynicism, and congratulate himself when a clown without shame or a scientific satyr speaks out precisely in front of him. There are even cases where enchantment mixes with the disgust—namely, where by a freak of nature genius is tied to some such indiscreet billygoat and ape, as in the case of the Abbé Galiani, the profoundest, most clear-sighted, and perhaps also filthiest man of his century—he was far profounder than Voltaire and consequently also a good deal more taciturn. [Ferdinando Galiani (1728-87): Italian economist. Nietzsche read Lettres de l'Abbé Galiani a Madam d'Épinay, Voltaire, Diderot, Grimm, le Baron d'Holbach, Morellet, Suart, D'Alembert, Marmontel, la Vicomtesse de Belsunce, etc. Publiées d'après les Éditions originales augmentées des variantes, de nombreuses notes et d'un index avec notice biographique par Eugène Asse. Édition couronnée par l'Académie française. Tomes 1-2. Paris: G. Charpentier, 1882.] It happens more frequently, as has been implied, that a scientific head is placed on an ape's body, a subtle exceptional brain above a common soul—an occurrence by no means rare, especially among doctors and physiologists of morality. And whenever anyone speaks without bitterness, quite innocently, of man as a belly with two different requirements, and a head with one; whenever anyone sees, seeks, and wants to see only hunger, sexual desire, and vanity as the real and only motives of human actions; in short, when anyone speaks "badly" about man—and not even wickedly—, the lover of knowledge should listen subtly and diligently, he should altogether have an open ear wherever people talk without indignation. For the indignant and whoever, with his own teeth, perpetually tears and lacerates himself (or as a substitute, the world, or God, or society) may indeed, morally speaking, stand higher than the laughing and self-satisfied satyr, but in every other sense they are a more ordinary, more trivial, more uninstructive case. And no one lies as much as the indignant do.—


It is hard to be understood, especially when one thinks and lives gangasrotagati [as the current of the Ganges moves] among men who think and live differently, namely kurmagati [as the tortoise moves] or at best "the way frogs walk," mandukagati—am I doing all I can to make myself hard to understand, too?—and one should be cordially grateful for the good will to some subtlety of interpretation. But as for "good friends," who are always too lazy and think that as friends they have a right to relax, one does well to grant them from the outset some leeway and playground for misunderstanding:—then one can even laugh;—or get rid of them altogether, these good friends—and laugh about that, too! [Cf. Julius Jolly: "Eine Reise nach Ostindien. IV. Calcutta." Deutsche Rundschau, Vol. 40, July-Sept. 1884:107-127 (121).]


What is most difficult to render from one language into another is the tempo of its style, which has its basis in the character of the race, or to speak more physiologically, in the average tempo of its "metabolism." There are well-intended translations that, as involuntary vulgarizations, are almost falsifications of the original merely because its bold and merry tempo (which leaps over and obviates all dangers in things and words) could not be translated. A German is almost incapable of presto in his language; thus also as may be reasonably inferred, of many of the most delightful and daring nuances of free, free-spirited thought. And just as the buffo [comic actor, buffoon] and satyr are foreign to him in body and conscience, so Aristophanes and Petronius are untranslatable for him. Everything ponderous, viscous, and solemnly clumsy, all long-winded and boring types of style are developed in profuse variety among German—forgive me the fact that even Goethe's prose, in its mixture o stiffness and elegance, is no exception, being a reflection of the "good old time" to which it belongs, and a reflection of German taste at a time when there still was a "German taste": a rococo taste in moribus et artibus [in morals and arts]. Lessing is an exception, owing to his histrionic nature which understood much and understood how to do many things: he was not the translator of Bayle [Pierre Bayle (1647-1706): Historical and Critical Dictionary (1697)] for nothing and liked to flee to the neighborhood of Diderot and Voltaire, and better yet, that of the Roman comedy writers:—in tempo, too, Lessing loved freethinking and escape from Germany. But how could the German language, even in the prose of a Lessing, imitate the tempo of Machiavelli, who in his Principe [The Prince] lets us breathe the dry, refined air of Florence and cannot help presenting the most serious matters in a boisterous allegrissimo [extremely brisk and lively manner]: perhaps not without a malicious artistic sense of the contrast he risks—long, difficult, hard, dangerous thoughts and the tempo of the gallop and the very best, most mischievous mood. Who, finally, could dare a German translation of Petronius, who, more than any great musician so far, was a master of presto in invention, ideas, and words:—what do all the swamps of the sick, wicked world, even the "old world," matter in the end, if one has the feet of the wind as he did, the rush, the breath, the liberating scorn of a wind that makes everything healthy by making everything run! And as for Aristophanes, that transfiguring, complementary spirit for whose sake one forgives everything Hellenic for having existed, provided one has understood in its full profundity what needs to be forgiven and transfigured here:—there is nothing that has caused me to meditate more on Plato's secrecy [Verborgenheit] and sphinx nature than the happily preserved petit fait [small fact] that under the pillow of his deathbed, no "Bible," nor anything Egyptian, Pythagorean, or Platonic was found—but rather Aristophanes. How could even Plato have endured life—a Greek life he repudiated—without an Aristophanes! —


Independence is for the very few:—it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it even with the best right to it, but without needing it, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring to the point of recklessness. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some Minotaur of conscience. Assuming such a person perishes, this happens so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it nor sympathize:—and he cannot go back any longer! nor can he go back to the pity of men! — —


Our highest insights must—and should!—sound like follies and in some circumstances like crimes when they are heard without permission by those who are not predisposed and predestined for them. The difference between the exoteric and the esoteric, distinguished by earlier philosophers, among the Indians as among the Greeks, Persians, and Muslims, in short, wherever one believed in an order of rank and not in equality and equal rights—does not so much consist in the fact that one who is exoteric comes from outside and sees, estimates, measures, and judges from the outside, not the inside: what is much more essential is that one who is exoteric sees things from below—one who is esoteric looks down from above. There are heights of the soul from which even tragedy ceases to look tragic; and rolling together all the woe of the world—who could dare to decide whether its sight would necessarily seduce us and compel us to feel pity and thus redouble this woe? ... What serves the higher type of man as nourishment or refreshment must be almost poison for a very different and inferior type. The virtues of the common man might perhaps signify vices and weaknesses in a philosopher; it could be possible that a man of a higher type, when degenerating and perishing, might only at that point acquire qualities that would require those in the lower world into which he had sunk to begin to venerate him like a saint. There are books that have opposite values for soul and health, depending on whether the lower soul, the lower vitality, or the higher and more vigorous ones turn to them: in the former case, these books are dangerous and lead to crumbling and disintegration, in the latter, heralds' cries that call the bravest to their courage. Books for all the world are always foul-smelling books: the odor of little people clings to them. Wherever the masses [das Volk] eat and drink, even where they venerate, it usually stinks. One should not go to church if one wants to breathe clean air. — —


When one is young, one venerates and despises without that art of nuance which constitutes life's greatest prize, and it is only fair that one has to pay dearly for having assaulted men and things in this manner with Yes and No. Everything is arranged so that the worst of tastes, the taste for the unconditional, should be cruelly fooled and abused until a man learns to put a little art into his feelings and rather to risk trying even what is artificial: as the real artists of life do. The wrathful and reverent attitudes characteristic of youth do not seem to permit themselves any rest until they have forged men and things in such a way that these attitudes may be vented on them:—after all, youth in itself has something of forgery and deception. Later, when the young soul, tortured by all kinds of disappointments, finally turns suspiciously against itself, still hot and wild, even in its suspicion and pangs of conscience: how angry it is with itself now, how it tears itself to pieces, impatiently, how it takes revenge for its long self-delusion, just as if it had been a deliberate blindness! In this transition one punishes oneself with mistrust against one's own feelings; one tortures one's own enthusiasm with doubts, indeed, one experiences even a good conscience as a danger, as if it were a way of wrapping oneself in veils and the exhaustion of subtler honesty; and above all one takes sides, takes sides on principle, against "youth."— A decade later: one comprehends that all this, too—was youth!


During the longest period of human history—so-called prehistorical times—the value or disvalue of an action was derived from its consequences: the action itself was considered as little as its origin, it was rather the way a distinction or disgrace still reaches back today from a child to its parents, in China, it was the retroactive force of success or failure that led men to think well or ill of an action. Let us call this period the pre-moral period of mankind: the imperative "know thyself!" was as yet unknown. In the last ten thousand years, however, one has reached the point, step by step, in a few large regions on the earth, where it is no longer the consequences but the origin of an action that one allows to decide its value: on the whole this is a great event which involves a considerable refinement of vision and standards, the unconscious aftereffect of the rule of aristocratic values and the faith in "descent," the sign of a period that one may call moral in the narrower sense: it involves the first attempt at self-knowledge. Instead of the consequences, the origin: indeed a reversal of perspective! And certainly a reversal achieved only after long struggles and vacillations! To be sure: a calamitous new superstition, an odd narrowness of interpretation, thus become dominant: the origin of an action was interpreted in the most definite sense as origin in an intention; one came to agree that the value of an action lay in the value of the intention. The intention as the whole origin and prehistory of an action: almost to the present day this prejudice dominated moral praise, blame, judgment, and philosophy on earth.— But today—shouldn't we have reached the necessity of once more resolving on a reversal and fundamental shift in values, owing to another self-examination of man, another growth in profundity—do we not stand at the threshold of a period which should be designated negatively, to begin with, as extra-moral: today, is not the suspicion growing, at least among us immoralists, that the decisive value of an action lies precisely in what is unintentional in it, while everything about it that is intentional, everything about it that can be seen, known, "conscious," still belongs to its surface and skin—which, like every skin, betrays something but conceals even more? In short, we believe that the intention is merely a sign and symptom that still requires interpretation, moreover, a sign that means too much and therefore, taken by itself alone, almost nothing—that morality in the traditional sense, the morality of intentions, was a prejudice, precipitate and perhaps provisional, something on the order of astrology and alchemy, but in any case something that must be overcome. The overcoming of morality, in a certain sense even the self-overcoming of morality: let this be the name for that long secret work which has been saved up for the finest and most honest, also the most malicious, consciences of today, as living touchstones of the soul. —


There is no other way: the feelings of devotion, self-sacrifice for one's neighbor, the whole morality of self-denial must be questioned mercilessly and taken to court: no less than the aesthetics of "contemplation devoid of all interest" which is used today as a seductive guise for the emasculation of art, to give it a good conscience. There is too much charm and sugar in these feelings of "for others," of "not for myself," for us not to need to become doubly suspicious at this point and to ask: "are these not perhaps—seductions?"— That they please those who have them and those who enjoy their fruits, and also the mere spectator—this does not yet constitute an argument in their favor but rather invites caution. So let us be cautious!


Whatever philosophical standpoint one may adopt today: from every point of view the erroneousness of the world in which we think we live is the surest and firmest fact that we can lay eyes on:—we find reasons upon reasons for it, which would like to lure us to speculations about a deceptive principle in "the essence of things." But whoever holds that our thinking itself, hence "the intellect," is responsible for the falseness of the world—an honorable way out which is chosen by every conscious or unconscious advocatus dei [advocate of God]—: whoever takes this world, along with space, time, form, movement, to be falsely inferred: anyone like that would at least have ample reason to learn to be suspicious at long last of all thinking: wouldn't thinking have put over on us the biggest hoax yet? and what guarantee would there be that it would not continue to do what it has always done? In all seriousness: the innocence of our thinkers is somehow touching and evokes reverence, when today they still step before consciousness with the request that it should please give them honest answers; for example whether it is "real," and why it so resolutely keeps the external world at a distance, and other questions of that kind. The faith in "immediate certainties" is a moral naïveté that does honor to us philosophers: but—we should not be "merely moral" men after all! Apart from morality, this faith is a stupidity that does us little honor! In bourgeois life ever-present distrust may be considered a sign of "bad character" and hence classified as imprudent: here, among us, beyond the bourgeois world and its Yes's and No's—what should prevent us from being imprudent and saying: a philosopher virtually has a right to "bad character," as the being who so far has always been most made a fool of on earth—today he has a duty to distrust, to squint maliciously out of every abyss of suspicion.— Forgive me the joke of this somber caricature and tone [Wendung]: for a long time now, I myself have learned to think differently about deceiving and being deceived, learned to assess them differently, and I keep in reserve at least a couple of ripostes for the blind rage with which the philosophers resist being deceived. Why not? It is no more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than appearance; it is even the worst proved assumption there is in the world. Let us at least admit this much: there would be no life at all if not on the basis of perspectivist assessments and appearances; and if, with the virtuous enthusiasm and clumsiness of some philosophers, one wanted to abolish the "apparent world" altogether, well, supposing you could do that, then at least nothing would be left of your "truth" either! Indeed, what forces us at all to assume that there is an essential difference between "true" and "false"? Is it not sufficient to assume degrees of apparentness and, as it were, lighter and darker shadows and shades of appearance—different valeurs [values], to use the language of painters? Why should the world that concerns us—, not be a fiction? And if somebody asked, "but to a fiction there surely belongs an author?"—shouldn't one answer simply: why? Doesn't this "belongs" perhaps belong to the fiction, too? Is it not permitted to be a bit ironical about the subject no less than the predicate and object? Shouldn't the philosopher be able to rise above faith in grammar? All due respect for governesses—but hasn't the time come for philosophy to renounce the faith of governesses? — [Cf. Eugen Dühring, Der Werth des Lebens: eine philosophische Betrachtung. Breslau: Trewendt, 1865:170-71.]


O Voltaire! O humaneness! O nonsense! There is something about "truth," about the search for truth; and when a human being is too human about it—"il ne cherche le vrai que pour faire le bien" ["he seeks the true only to do the good"]—I bet he finds nothing! [A loose quote from Voltaire's "Épître à un Homme." Cf. Albert Delatour, "La vie et les travaux d'Adam Smith." In: La Revue générale. Littéraire, politique et artistique. 3e année (No. 23). Décembre 1, 1885. Nr. 50, 464-67 (466f.). See Nietzsche's Library. New Sources of Nietzsche's Reading: Albert Delatour.]


Suppose nothing else were "given" as real except our world of desires and passions, and we could not get down, or up, to any other "reality" besides the reality of our drives—for thinking is merely an interrelation [Verhalten] of these drives to each other—: is it not permitted to perform an experiment and to ask the question whether this "given" would not be sufficient for also understanding on the basis of this kind of thing the so-called mechanistic (or "material") world? I do not mean as a deception, as "appearance," a "representation" (in the Berkeleian or Schopenhauerian sense), but as holding the same rank of reality that our affect has—as a more primitive form of the world of affects in which everything still lies contained in a powerful unity before it undergoes ramifications and developments in the organic process (and, as is only fair, pampered and weakened, too—), as a kind of instinctive life in which all organic functions, along with self-regulation, assimilation, nourishment, excretion, metabolism, are still synthetically linked with one another—as a pre-form of life. In the end, not only is it permitted to perform this experiment: the conscience of method demands it. Not to assume several kinds of causality until the experiment of making do with a single one has been pushed to its utmost limit (—to the point of nonsense, if I may say so): that is a moral of method which one may not shirk today—it follows "from its definition," as a mathematician would say. The question is ultimately whether we really recognize the will as efficient, whether we believe in the causality of the will: if we do—and at bottom our faith in this is nothing less than our faith in causality itself—, then we must perform the experiment of positing the causality of the will hypothetically as the only one. "Will," of course, can have an effect only upon "will"— and not upon "matter" (not upon "nerves" for example—): in short, one has to risk the hypothesis whether will has an effect upon will wherever "effects" are recognized—and whether all mechanical occurrences are, insofar as a force is active in them, will force [Willenskraft], effects of will.— Suppose, finally, we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one basic form of the will—namely, of the will to power, as my proposition has it—; suppose all organic functions could be traced back to this will to power and one could also find in it the solution to the problem of procreation and nourishment—it is one problem—then one would have gained the right to designate all efficient force unequivocally as: will to power. The world viewed from inside, the world defined and described by its "intelligible character"—it would be simply "will to power" and nothing else. —


"What? Doesn't this mean, to speak in the vernacular: God is refuted, but the devil is not—?" On the contrary! On the contrary, my friends! And, who the devil forces you to speak in the vernacular! —


What has happened recently, in the broad daylight of modern times, regarding the French Revolution, that gruesome and, judged from close up, superfluous farce—noble and enthusiastic spectators from all over Europe have been interpreting it from afar for so long and so passionately according to their own indignation and enthusiasm, that the text has disappeared under the interpretation: thus a noble posterity could once again misunderstand the entire past and in that way alone make it tolerable to look at.— Or rather: hasn't this happened already? haven't we ourselves been—this "noble posterity"? And isn't now precisely the moment when, insofar as we comprehend this—it is all over?


Nobody is very likely to consider a doctrine true merely because it makes people happy or virtuous: except perhaps the dear "idealists" who become effusive about goodness, truth, beauty and allow all kinds of motley, crude, and good-natured desiderata [Wünschbarkeiten] to swim around in utter confusion in their pond. Happiness and virtue are no arguments. But we like to forget, even thoughtful spirits among us, that making unhappy and evil are no counterarguments. Something might be true: even if it were also harmful and dangerous in the highest degree; indeed, it might be part of a basic characteristic of existence that those who would know it completely would perish—in which case the strength of a spirit should be measured according to how much of the "truth" one could still barely endure or to put it more clearly, to what degree one would require it to be diluted, shrouded, sweetened, blunted, falsified. But there is no doubt at all that the evil and unhappy are more favored when it comes to the discovery of certain parts of truth and the probability of their success is greater; not to mention the evil who are happy—a species that the moralists have kept silent about. Perhaps hardness and cunning furnish more favorable conditions for the origin of strong, independent spirits and philosophers than that gentle, refined, conciliatory good-naturedness and art of taking things lightly which people prize, and prize rightly, in a scholar. Assuming first of all that the concept "philosopher" is not restricted to the philosopher who writes books—or even makes books of his philosophy!— A final trait for the image of the free-spirited philosopher is furnished by Stendhal whom, considering German taste, I do not want to fail to stress:—for it goes against German taste. "Pour être bon philosophe" says this last great psychologist, "il faut être sec, clair, sans illusion. Un banquier, qui a fait fortune, a une partie du caractère requis pour faire des découvertes en philosophie, c'est-à-dire pour voir clair dans ce qui est." ["To be a good philosopher, one must be dry, clear, without illusion. A banker who has made a fortune has one character trait that is needed for making discoveries in philosophy, that is to say, for seeing clearly into what is." See Stendhal's 10-24-1829 letter to Sutton Sharpe, in Corréspondance inédites, précedée d'une introduction par Prosper Mérimée. Paris: Lévy, 1855, vol. 2:87. The letter includes an article—intended for Revue de Paris but never published—that served as a response to Prosper Duvergier de Hauranne's critique of De l'Amour: "Quel courage ne faut-il pas pour se battre [....] 5° Contre l'opinion des femmes: la philosophie allemande cherche toujours à émouvoir le coeur et à éblouir l'imagination par des images d'une beauté céleste. Pour être bon philosophe, il faut être sec, clair, sans illusion. Un banquier qui a fait fortune a une partie du caractère requis pour faire des découvertes en philosophie, c'est-à-dire pour voir clair dans ce qui est." An excerpt from Duvergier: "Take the two volumes of De l'Amour; certainly the most bizarre that M. de Stendhal has written. If at the tenth page, you do not throw it down in vexation, you will be surprised on reaching the end how much it has stirred your imagination." — Prosper Duvergier de Hauranne, Le Globe 10-24-1829.]


Everything profound loves a mask; the most profound things even have a hatred for image and parable. Might not nothing less than the antithesis be the proper disguise for the shame of a god walking abroad? A questionable question: it would be odd if some mystic had not already risked something to that effect in his mind. There are occurrences of such a delicate nature that one does well to cover them up with some rudeness to conceal them; there are actions of love and extravagant generosity after which nothing is more advisable than to take a stick and give the eyewitness a sound thrashing: that would cloud his memory. Some know how to cloud and abuse their own memory in order to have their revenge at least against this sole confidant:—shame is inventive. It is not the worst things that cause the worst shame: there is not only guile behind a mask—there is so much graciousness [Güte] in cunning. I could imagine that a human being who had to guard something precious and vulnerable might roll through life, rude and round as an old green wine cask with heavy hoops: the refinement of his shame would want it that way. A man whose shame is profund encounters even his destinies and delicate decisions on paths which few ever reach and whose mere existence his neighbors and closest intimates must not know: his mortal danger [Lebensgefahr] is concealed from their eyes, and so is his regained sureness of life [Lebens-Sicherheit]. Such a concealed man who instinctively needs speech for silence and to be silent and who is inexhaustible in his evasion of communication, wants and sees to it that a mask of him roams in his place through the hearts and heads of his friends; and supposing he did not want it, he would still realize some day that in spite of that a mask of him is there—and that this is good. Every profound spirit needs a mask: even more, around every profound spirit a mask is continually growing, owing to the constantly false, namely shallow, interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life that he gives. —


One has to test oneself to see that one is destined for independence and command; and do it at the right time. One should not dodge one's tests, though they may be the most dangerous game one could play and are tests that are taken in the end before no witness or judge but ourselves. Not to be dependent on a person: not even the most beloved—every person is a prison, also a nook. Not to be dependent on a fatherland: not even if it suffers most and needs help most—it is less difficult to sever one's heart from a victorious fatherland. Not to be dependent on some pity: not even for higher men into whose rare torture and helplessness some accident allowed us to look. Not to be dependent on a science: even if it should lure us with the most precious finds that seem to have been saved up precisely for us. Not to be dependent on one's own detachment, on that voluptuous remoteness and strangeness of the bird who flies ever higher to see ever more below him:—the danger of the flier. Not to be dependent on our own virtues and become as a whole the victim of some detail in us, for example our hospitality: which is the danger of dangers for superior and rich souls who spend themselves lavishly, almost indifferently, and practice the virtue of liberality until it is a vice. One must know how to conserve oneself: the greatest test of independence.


A new species of philosophers is coming up: I venture to baptize them with a name that is not free of danger. As I unriddle them, insofar as they allow themselves to be unriddled—for it belongs to their nature to want to remain riddles at some point—, these philosophers of the future may have a right, it might also be a wrong, to be called experimenters [Versucher, i.e. attempters]. This name itself is in the end a mere attempt [Versuch] and, if you will, a temptation [Versuchung].


Are these coming philosophers new friends of "truth"? Probably so: for all philosophers so far have loved their truths. But they will certainly not be dogmatists. It must offend their pride, also their taste, if their truth is supposed to be a truth for everyman, too: which has so far been the secret wish and ulterior meaning of all dogmatic endeavors. "My judgment is my judgment": no one else is easily entitled to it—as a philosopher of the future might say. One must shed the bad taste of wanting to agree with the many. "Good" is no longer good when one's neighbor mouths it. And how could there possibly be a "common good"! The term contradicts itself: whatever can be common always has little value. In the end it must be as it is and always has been: great things remain for the great, abysses for the profound, tenderness and shudders for the refined, and, in brief, all that is rare for the rare. —


Need I still say expressly after all this that they, too, will be free, very free spirits, these philosophers of the future—though just as certainly they will not be merely free spirits but something more, higher, greater, and thoroughly different that does not want to be misunderstood and mistaken for something else? But in saying this, I feel, almost as much as to them as to ourselves who are their heralds and precursors, we free spirits!—the obligation to sweep away a stupid old prejudice and misunderstanding about the lot of us, which for all too long has clouded the concept "free spirit" like a fog. In all the countries of Europe and in America now as well, there is something that abuses this name, a very narrow, imprisoned, enchained type of spirit who wants just about the opposite of what accords with our intentions and instincts—not to mention that they must assuredly be closed windows and bolted doors to these new philosophers who are coming up. They belong, briefly and sadly, among the levelers, these falsely named "free spirits"—being eloquent and prolifically scribbling slaves of the democratic taste and its "modern ideas": they are all human beings without solitude, without their own solitude, clumsy well-behaved fellows whom one should not deny either courage or respectable decency, it's just that they are unfree and ridiculously superficial, above all in their basic inclination to see, roughly, the cause of all human misery and failure in the forms of the old society as it has existed so far: which is a way of standing truth happily upon its head! What they would like to strive for with all their powers is the universal green-pasture happiness of the herd, with security, lack of danger, comfort, and an easier life for everyone; the two songs and doctrines which they repeat most often are "equality of rights" and "sympathy for all that suffers"—and suffering itself they take for something that must be abolished. We opposite men, having opened an eye and a conscience to the question where and how the plant "man" has so far grown most vigorously to a height, we think that this has happened every time under the opposite conditions, that to this end the dangerousness of his situation must first grow to the point of enormity, his power of invention and disguise (his "spirit"—) had to develop under prolonged pressure and constraint into refinement and audacity, his life-will had to be enhanced into an unconditional power-will:—we think that hardness, violence, slavery, danger in the alley and the heart, life in hiding [Verborgenheit], stoicism, the art of the tempter [Versucherkunst] and devilry of every kind, that everything evil, terrible, tyrannical, like beasts of prey and snake-like in man serves the enhancement of the species "man" as much as its opposite does:—indeed, we do not even say enough when we say only that much, and at any rate we are at this point, in what we say and keep silent about, at the other end from all modern ideology and herd desiderata [Heerden-Wünschbarkeit]: as their antipodes perhaps? Is it any wonder that we "free spirits" are not exactly the most communicative spirits? that we do not want to betray in every particular from what a spirit can liberate himself and to what he may then be driven? And as for the meaning of the dangerous formula "beyond good and evil," with which we at least guard against being mistaken for others: we are something different from "libres-penseurs," "liberi pensatori," "Freidenker," [French, Italian and German for: "free-thinkers"] and whatever else all these honorable advocates of "modern ideas" like to call themselves. At home, or at least having been guests, in many countries of the spirit; having escaped again and again from the musty agreeable nooks into which predilection and prejudice [Vorliebe und Vorhass], youth, origin, the accidents of people and books or even exhaustion from wanderings seemed to have banished us; full of malice against the lures of dependence that lie hidden in honors, or money, or offices, or enthusiasms of the senses; grateful even to need and vacillating sickness because they always released us from some rule and its "prejudice," grateful to god, devil, sheep, and worm in us, curious to the point of vice, investigators to the point of cruelty, with uninhibited fingers for the unfathomable, with teeth and stomach for what is most indigestible, ready for every craft that requires a sense of acuteness and acute senses, ready for every venture, thanks to an excess of "free will," with fore- and back-souls into whose ultimate intentions nobody can look so easily, with fore- and backgrounds which no foot is likely to traverse to the end, concealed under cloaks of light, conquerors despite our resemblance to heirs and wastrels, organizers and collectors from morning till late, misers of our riches and our crammed drawers, economical in learning and forgetting, inventive in schemata, occasionally proud of tables of categories, occasionally pedants, occasionally night owls of work even in broad daylight; yes, when it is necessary even scarecrows—and today it is necessary: namely, insofar as we are born, sworn, jealous friends of solitude, of our own most profound, most midnight, most midday solitude:—that is the type of man we are, we free spirits! and perhaps you have something of this, too, you who are coming? you new philosophers? —

Published Works | Beyond Good and Evil | The Free Spirit© The Nietzsche Channel