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


We Scholars.


At the risk that moralizing will here too prove to be what it has always been—namely an undismayed montrer ses plaies [to show one's wounds], as Balzac says [Cf. P. J. Stahl, Histoire de Chamfort: sa vie et ses oeuvres. Paris: Lévy, nd.:32.]—I should like to venture to combat a harmful and improper displacement of the order of rank between science and philosophy which is today, quite unnoticed and as if with a perfect good conscience, threatening to become established. In my view it is only from one's experience—experience always means bad experience, does it not?—that one can acquire the right to speak on such a higher question of rank: otherwise one will talk like a blind man about colors or like women and artists against science ("oh this wicked science," their modesty and instinct sighs, "it's always finding out about everything!"—). The Declaration of Independence of the man of science, his emancipation from philosophy, is one of the more subtle after-effects of the democratic form and formlessness of life: the self-glorification and presumption of the scholar now stands everywhere in full bloom and in its finest springtime—which does not mean to say that in this case self-praise smells sweet [Eigenlob lieblich röche: a play on the German saying "Eigenlob stinkt" (self-praise stinks)]. "Away with all masters!"—that is what the plebeian instinct desires here too; and now that science has most successfully resisted theology, whose "hand maid" it was for too long, it is now, with great high spirits and a plentiful lack of understanding, taking it upon itself to lay down laws for philosophy and for once to play the "master"—what am I saying? to play the philosopher itself. My memory—the memory of a man of science, if I may say so!—is full of arrogant naivetés I have heard about philosophy and philosophers from young scientists and old physicians (not to speak of the most cultured and conceited [gebildetsten und eingebildetsten] of all scholars, the philologists and schoolmen, who are both by profession—). Now it was the specialist and jobbing workman who instinctively opposed synthetic undertakings and capacities in general; now the industrious laborer who had got a scent of the otium [leisure] and noble luxury in the philosopher's physical economy and felt wronged and diminished by it. Now it was that color blindness of the utility man who sees in philosophy nothing but a series of refuted systems and a wasteful expenditure which "benefits" nobody. Now a fear of disguised mysticism and a rectification of the frontiers of knowledge leaped out; now a disrespect for an individual philosopher which had involuntarily generalized itself into a disrespect for philosophy. Finally, what I found most frequently among young scholars was that behind the arrogant disdain for philosophy there lay the evil after-effect of a philosopher himself, from whom they had, to be sure, withdrawn their allegiance, without, however, having got free from the spell of his disparaging evaluation of other philosophers—the result being a feeling of ill humor towards philosophy in general. (This is the sort of after-effect which, it seems to me, Schopenhauer, for example, has had on Germany in recent years—with his unintelligent rage against Hegel he succeeded in disconnecting the entire last generation of Germans from German culture, which culture was, all things considered, a high point and divinatory refinement of the historical sense: but Schopenhauer himself was in precisely this respect poor, unreceptive and un-German to the point of genius.) In general and broadly speaking, it may have been above all the human, all too human element, in short the poverty of the most recent philosophy itself, which has been most thoroughly prejudicial to respect for philosophy and has opened the gates to the instinct of the plebeian. For one must admit how completely the whole species of a Heraclitus, a Plato, an Empedocles, and whatever else these royal and splendid hermits of the spirit were called, is lacking in our modern world; and to what degree, in face of such representatives of philosophy as are, thanks to fashion, at present as completely on top as they are completely abysmal (in Germany, for example, the two lions of Berlin, the anarchist Eugen Dühring [Karl Eugen Dühring (1833-1901): German positivist philosopher] and the amalgamist Eduard von Hartmann [Karl Robert Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906): Philosophie des Unbewussten (Philosophy of the Unconscious, 1869)]) a worthy man of science is entitled to feel he is of a better species and descent. It is, in particular, the sight of those hotchpotch-philosophers who call themselves "philosophers of reality" or "positivists" which is capable of implanting a perilous mistrust in the soul of an ambitious young scholar: these gentlemen are at best scholars and specialists themselves, that fact is palpable!—they are one and all defeated men brought back under the sway of science, who at some time or other demanded more of themselves without having the right to this "more" and the responsibility that goes with it—and who now honorably, wrathfully, revengefully represent by word and deed the unbelief in the lordly task and lordliness of philosophy. Finally: how could things be otherwise! Science is flourishing today and its good conscience shines in its face, while that to which the whole of modern philosophy has gradually sunk, this remnant of philosophy, arouses distrust and displeasure when it does not arouse mockery and pity. Philosophy reduced to "theory of knowledge," actually no more than a timid epochism and abstinence doctrine: a philosophy that does not even get over the threshold and painfully denies itself the right of entry—that is philosophy at its last gasp, an end, an agony, something that arouses pity. How could such a philosophy rule!


The dangers for a philosopher's development are indeed so manifold today that one may doubt whether this fruit can still ripen at all. The scope and the tower-building of the sciences has grown to be enormous, and with this also the probability that the philosopher grows weary while still learning or allows himself to be detained somewhere to become a "specialist"—so he never attains his proper level, the height for a comprehensive look, for looking around, for looking down. Or he attains it too late, when his best time and strength are spent—or impaired, coarsened, degenerated, so his view, his overall judgment does not mean much any more. It may be precisely the sensitivity of his intellectual conscience that leads him to delay somewhere along the way and to be late: he is afraid of the seduction to become a dilettante, a millipede, an insect with a thousand antennae [zum Tausendfuss und Tausend-Fühlhorn], he knows too well that whoever has lost his self-respect cannot command or lead in the realm of knowledge—unless he would like to become a great actor, a philosophical Cagliostro [Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (born Giuseppe Balsamo 1743-95): Italian alchemist and adventurer] and pied piper, in short, a seducer. This is in the end a question of taste, even if it were not a question of conscience. Add to this, by way of once more doubling the difficulties for a philosopher, that he demands of himself a judgment, a Yes or No, not about the sciences but about life and the values of life—that he is reluctant to come to believe that he has a right, or even a duty, to such a judgment, and must seek his way to this right and faith only from the most comprehensive—perhaps most disturbing and destructive—experiences, and frequently hesitates, doubts, and lapses into silence. Indeed, the crowd has for a long time misjudged and mistaken the philosopher, whether for a scientific man and ideal scholar or for a religiously elevated, desensualized, "desecularized" enthusiast and sot of God. And if a man is praised today for living "wisely" or "as a philosopher," it hardly means more than "prudently and apart." Wisdom—seems to the rabble a kind of escape, a means and a trick for getting well out of a wicked game. But the genuine philosopher—as it seems to us, my friends?—lives "unphilosophically" and "unwisely," above all imprudently, and feels the burden and the duty of a hundred attempts and temptations of life—he risks himself constantly, he plays the wicked game .....


Compared to a genius—that is, to one who either begets or gives birth, taking both terms in their most elevated sense—the scholar, the scientific average man, always rather resembles an old maid: like her he is not conversant with the two most valuable functions of man. Indeed, one even concedes to both, to the scholars and to old maids, as it were by way of a compensation, that they are respectable—one stresses their respectability—and yet feels annoyed all over at having to make this concession. Let us look more closely: what is the scientific man? To begin with, a type of man that is not noble, with the virtues of a type of man that is not noble, which is to say, a type that does not dominate and is neither authoritative nor self-sufficient: he has industriousness, patient acceptance of his place in rank and file, evenness and moderation in his abilities and needs, and instinct for his equals and for what they need; for example, that bit of independence and green pasture without which there is no quiet work, that claim to honor and appreciation [Anerkennung] (which first of all presupposes literal recognition [Erkennung] and recognizability [Erkennbarkeit]), that sunshine of a good name, that constant attestation of his value and utility which is needed to overcome again and again the internal mistrust which is the sediment in the hearts of all dependent men and herd animals. The scholar also has, as is only fair, the diseases and bad manners of a type that is not noble: he is rich in petty envy and has lynx eyes for what is base in natures to whose heights he cannot attain. He is familiar, but only like those who let themselves go, not flow; and just before those who flow like great currents he freezes and becomes doubly reserved: his eye becomes like a smooth and reluctant lake with not a ripple of delight or sympathy. The worst and most dangerous thing of which scholars are capable comes from their sense of the mediocrity of their own type—from that Jesuitism of mediocrity which instinctively works at the annihilation of the uncommon man and tries to break every bent bow or, preferably, to unbend it. Unbending—considerately, of course, with a solicitous hand—unbending with familiar pity, that is the characteristic art of Jesuitism which has always known how to introduce itself as a religion of pity. —


However gratefully one may go to welcome an objective spirit—and who has not been sick to death of everything subjective and its accursed ipsissimosity [Ipsissimosität: coinage from ipsissima, "very own"]!—in the end one has to learn to be cautious with one's gratitude too and put a stop to the exaggerated way in which the depersonalization of the spirit is today celebrated as redemption and transfiguration, as if it were the end in itself: as is usually the case within the pessimist school, which also has good reason to accord the highest honors to "disinterested knowledge." The objective man who no longer scolds or curses as the pessimist does, the ideal scholar in whom the scientific instinct, after thousandfold total and partial failure, for once comes to full bloom, is certainly one of the most precious instruments there are: but he belongs in the hand of one who is mightier. He is only an instrument, let us say a mirror—he is not an "end in himself." The objective man is in fact a mirror: accustomed to submitting to whatever wants to be known, lacking any other pleasure than that provided by knowledge, by "mirroring" he waits until something comes along and then gently spreads himself out, so that not even the lightest footsteps and the fluttering of ghostly beings shall be lost on his surface and skin. Whatever still remains to him of his "own person" seems to him accidental, often capricious, more often disturbing: so completely has he become a passage and reflection of forms and events not his own. He finds it an effort to think about "himself," and not infrequently he thinks about himself mistakenly; he can easily confuse himself with another, he fails to understand his own needs and is in this respect alone unsubtle and negligent. Perhaps he is troubled by his health or by the pettiness and stuffiness of his wife and friends, or by a lack of companions and company yes, he forces himself to reflect on his troubles: but in vain! Already his thoughts are roaming, off to a more general case, and tomorrow he will know as little how to help himself as he did yesterday. He no longer knows how to take himself seriously, nor does he have the time for it: he is cheerful, not because he has no troubles but because he has no fingers and facility for dealing with his troubles. His habitual going out to welcome everything and every experience, the sunny and ingenuous hospitality with which he accepts all he encounters, his inconsiderate benevolence, his perilous unconcernedness over Yes and No: alas, how often he has to suffer for these his virtues!—and as a human being in general he can all too easily become the caput mortuum [dross] of these virtues. If love and hatred are demanded of him, I mean love and hatred as God, woman and animal understand them—: he will do what he can and give what he can. But one ought not to be surprised if it is not very much—if he proves spurious, brittle, questionable and soft. His love and his hatred are artificial and more of a tour de force, a piece of vanity and exaggeration. For he is genuine only when he can be objective: only in his cheerful totalism can he remain "nature" and "natural." His mirroring soul, forever polishing itself, no longer knows how to affirm or how to deny; he does not command, neither does he destroy. "Je ne méprise presque rien" ["I despise almost nothing"]—he says with Leibniz: one should not overlook or underestimate the presque [almost]. Nor is he an exemplar; he neither leads nor follows; he sets himself altogether too far off to have any reason to take sides between good and evil. When he was for so long confused with the philosopher, with the Caesarian cultivator and Gewaltmensch of culture, he was done much too great honor and what is essential in him was overlooked—he is an instrument, something of a slave, if certainly the sublimest kind of slave, but in himself he is nothing—presque rien! The objective man is an instrument, a precious, easily damaged and tarnished measuring instrument and reflecting apparatus which ought to be respected and taken good care of; but he is not an end, a termination and ascent, a complementary man in whom the rest of existence is justified, a conclusion—and even less a beginning, a begetting and first cause, something solid, powerful and based firmly on itself that wants to be master: but rather only a delicate, empty, elegant, flexible mold which has first to wait for some content and substance so as "to form" itself by it—as a rule a man without substance or content, a "selfless" man. Consequently nothing for women either, in parenthesi. —


When a philosopher today gives us to understand that he is not a skeptic—I hope the foregoing account of the objective spirit has brought this out?—all the world is offended to hear it; thereafter he is regarded with a certain dread, there is so much one would like to ask him ... indeed, among timid listeners, of whom there are nowadays a very great number, he is henceforth considered dangerous. It is as if, in his rejection of skepticism, they seemed to hear some evil, menacing sound from afar, as if some new explosive were being tested somewhere, a dynamite of the spirit, perhaps a newly discovered Russian nihiline [Nihilin, a play on Anilin (aniline, a posionous chemical)], a pessimism bonae voluntatis [of good will] which does not merely say No, will No, but—dreadful thought! does No. Against this kind of "good will"—a will to the actual active denial of life—there is today confessedly no better sedative and soporific than skepticism, the gentle, gracious, lulling poppy skepticism; and even Hamlet is prescribed by the doctors of our time against the "spirit" and its noises under the ground. "Are our ears not already filled with nasty sounds?" says the skeptic as a friend of sleep and almost as a kind of security police: "this subterranean No is terrible! Be quiet, you pessimistic moles!" For the skeptic, that delicate creature, is all too easily frightened; his conscience is schooled to wince at every No, indeed even at a hard decisive Yes, and to sense something like a sting. Yes! and No!—that is to him contrary to morality; on the other hand, he likes his virtue to enjoy a noble continence, perhaps by saying after Montaigne "What do I know?" ["Que sais-je?": the motto of the Essays (1580) of Michel de Montaigne (1533-92)] Or after Socrates: "I know that I know nothing." Or: "Here I do not trust myself, here no door stands open to me." Or: "If it did stand open, why go straight in?" Or: "What is the point of hasty hypotheses? To make no hypothesis at all could well be a part of good taste. Do you absolutely have to go straightening out what is crooked? Absolutely have to stop up every hole with oakum? Is there not plenty of time? Does time not have time? Oh you rogues, are you unable to wait? Uncertainty too has its charms, the sphinx too is a Circe, Circe too was a philosopher."— Thus does a skeptic console himself; and it is true he stands in need of some consolation. For skepticism is the most spiritual expression of a certain complex physiological condition called in ordinary language nervous debility and sickliness; it arises whenever races or classes long separated from one another are decisively and suddenly crossed. In the new generation, which has as it were inherited varying standards and values in its blood, all is unrest, disorder, doubt, experiment; the most vital forces have a retarding effect, the virtues themselves will not let one another grow and become strong, equilibrium, center of balance, upright certainty are lacking in body and soul. But that which becomes most profoundly sick and degenerates in such hybrids is the will: they no longer have any conception of independence of decision, of the valiant feeling of pleasure in willing—even in their dreams they doubt the "freedom of the will." Our Europe of today, the scene of a senselessly sudden attempt at radical class—and consequently race-mixture, is as a result skeptical from top to bottom, now with that agile skepticism which springs impatiently and greedily from branch to branch, now gloomily like a cloud overcharged with question marks and often sick to death of its will! Paralysis of will: where does one not find this cripple sitting today! And frequently so dressed up! How seductively dressed up! There is the loveliest false finery available for this disease; and that most of that which appears in the shop windows today as "objectivity," "scientificality," "l'art pour l'art," "pure will-less knowledge" is merely skepticism and will-paralysis dressed up—for this diagnosis of the European sickness I am willing to go bail. Sickness of will is distributed over Europe unequally: it appears most virulently and abundantly where culture has been longest, indigenous it declines according to the extent to which "the barbarian" still—or again—asserts his rights under the loose-fitting garment of Western culture. In present-day France, consequently, as one can as easily deduce as actually see, the will is sickest; and France, which has always possessed a masterly adroitness in transforming even the most fateful crises of its spirit into something charming and seductive, today really demonstrates its cultural ascendancy over Europe as the school and showcase for all the fascinations of skepticism. The strength to will, and to will one thing for a long time, is somewhat stronger already in Germany, and stronger again in the north of Germany than in the center of Germany; considerably stronger in England, Spain and Corsica, there in association with dullness, here with hardness of head—not to speak of Italy, which is too young to know what it wants and first has to prove whether it is capable of willing—but strongest of all and most astonishing in that huge empire-in-between, where Europe as it were flows back into Asia, in Russia. There the strength to will has for long been stored up and kept in reserve, there the will is waiting menacingly—uncertain whether it is a will to deny or a will to affirm—in readiness to discharge itself, to borrow one of the physicists' favorite words. It may need not only wars in India and Asian involvements to relieve Europe of the greatest danger facing it, but also internal eruptions, the explosion of the empire into small fragments, and above all the introduction of the parliamentary imbecility, including the obligation upon everyone to read his newspaper at breakfast. I do not say this, because I desire it: the reverse would be more after my heart I mean such an increase in the Russian threat that Europe would have to resolve to become equally threatening, namely to acquire a single will by means of a new caste dominating all Europe, a protracted terrible will of its own which could set its objectives thousands of years ahead—so that the long-drawn-out comedy of its petty states and the divided will of its dynasties and democracies should finally come to an end. The time for petty politics is past: the very next century will bring with it the struggle for mastery over the whole earth—the compulsion to grand politics.


To what extent the new warlike age upon which we Europeans have obviously entered may perhaps also be favorable to the evolution of a new and stronger species of skepticism: on that question I should like for the moment to speak only in a parable which amateurs of German history will easily understand. That unscrupulous enthusiast for tall handsome grenadiers who, as King of Prussia [Frederick William I (1688-1740): reigned 1713-40], brought into existence a military and skeptical genius—and therewith at bottom that new type of German which has just triumphantly emerged—the questionable mad father of Frederick the Great, himself had on one point the grasp and lucky clutch of genius: he knew what was then lacking in Germany and which deficiency was a hundred times more alarming and pressing than any deficiency in culture or social polish—his antipathy for the youthful Frederick was the product of a deep instinctual fear. Men were lacking; and he suspected, with the bitterest vexation, that his own son was not enough of a man. In that he was deceived: but who would not have been deceived in his place? He saw his son lapse into the atheism, the esprit, the pleasure-seeking frivolity of ingenious Frenchmen—he saw in the background the great blood-sucker, the spider skepticism, he suspected the incurable wretchedness of a heart which is no longer hard enough for evil or for good, of a broken will which no longer commands, can no longer command. But in the meantime there grew up in his son that more dangerous and harder new species of skepticism—who knows to what extent favored by precisely the father's hatred and the icy melancholy of a will sent into solitude?—the skepticism of audacious manliness, which is related most closely to genius for war and conquest and which first entered Germany in the person of the great Frederick. This skepticism despises and yet grasps to itself; it undermines and takes into possession; it does not believe but retains itself; it gives perilous liberty to the spirit but it keeps firm hold on the heart; it is the German form of skepticism which, as a continuation of Frederick-ism intensified into the most spiritual domain, for a long time brought Europe under the dominion of the German spirit and its critical and historical mistrust. Thanks to the indomitably strong and tough masculinity of the great German philologists and critical historians (who, seen aright, were also one and all artists in destruction and disintegration), there became established, gradually and in spite of all the romanticism in music and philosophy, a new conception of the German spirit in which the trait of manly skepticism decisively predominated: whether as intrepidity of eye, as bravery and sternness of dissecting hand, or as tenacious will for perilous voyages of discovery, for North Pole expeditions of the spirit beneath desolate and dangerous skies. There may be good reason for warm-blooded and superficial humanitarians to cross themselves before precisely this spirit: cet esprit fataliste, ironique, méphistophélique [that fatalistic, ironic, Mephistophelian spirit] Michelet calls it, not without a shudder. But if one wishes to appreciate what a mark of distinction is this fear of the "man" in the German spirit through which Europe was awoken from its "dogmatic slumber," [Immanuel Kant's statement that reading David Hume had awakened him from his dogmatic slumber] one might like to recall the earlier conception which it had to overcome—and how it is not very long since a masculinized woman could, with unbridled presumption, venture to commend the Germans to Europe's sympathy as gentle, good-hearted, weak-willed and poetic dolts [an allusion to the French novelist Germaine Necker, Madame de Staël (1766-1817), whose De l'Allemagne (On Germany) appeared in 1813]. One should at last have a sufficiently profound comprehension of Napoleon's astonishment when he caught sight of Goethe: it betrays what had for centuries been thought was meant by the "German spirit." "Voilà un homme! [This is a man!]"—which is to say: "But that is a man! And I had expected only a German!" — [Goethe, Unterredung mit Napoleon (Conversation with Napoleon) 1808, Skizze (2. Oktober 1808): "Nachdem er mich aufmerksam angeblickt, sagte er: 'Vous êtes un homme.' Ich verbeuge mich." (After looking at me attentively, he said: "Vous êtes un homme." I bow.) Annalen oder Tag und Jahres-Hefte von 1749 bis Ende 1822.]


Supposing, then, that in the image of the philosophers of the future some trait provokes the question whether they will not have to be skeptics in the sense last suggested, this would still designate only something about them—and not them themselves. They might with equal justification let themselves be called critics; and they will certainly be experimenters. Through the name with which I have ventured to baptize them I have already expressly emphasized experiment and the delight in experiment: was this because, as critics body and soul, they like to employ experiment in, a new, perhaps wider, perhaps more dangerous sense? Will they, in their passion for knowledge, have to go further with audacious and painful experiments than the tender and pampered taste of a democratic century can approve of?— There can be no doubt that these coming men will want to dispense least with those serious and not indubious qualities which distinguish the critic from the skeptic: I mean certainty in standards of value, conscious employment of a unity of method, instructed courage, independence and ability to justify oneself; indeed, they confess to taking a pleasure in negating and dissecting and to a certain self-possessed cruelty which knows how to wield the knife with certainty and deftness even when the heart bleeds. They will be harder (and perhaps not always only against themselves) than humane men might wish, they will not consort with "truth" so as to be "pleased" by it or "elevated" and "inspired"—they will rather be little disposed to believe that truth of all things should be attended by such pleasures. They will smile, these stern spirits, if someone should say in their presence: "This thought elevates me: how should it not be true?" Or: "This work delights me: how should it not be beautiful?" Or: "This artist enlarges me: how should he not be great?"—perhaps they will have not only a smile but a feeling of genuine disgust for all such fawning enthusiasm, idealism, feminism, hermaphroditism, and he who could penetrate into the secret chambers of their hearts would hardly discover there the intention of reconciling "Christian feelings" with "classical taste" and perhaps even with "modern parliamentarianism" (as such a conciliatory spirit is said to exist even among philosophers in our very uncertain and consequently conciliatory century). Critical discipline and every habit conducive to cleanliness and severity in things of the spirit will be demanded by these philosophers not only of themselves: they could even display them as their kind of decoration—none the less they still do not want to be called critics on that account. It seems to them no small insult to philosophy when it is decreed, as is so happily done today: "Philosophy itself is criticism and critical science—and nothing whatever besides!" This evaluation of philosophy may enjoy the applause of every positivist in France and Germany (and it might possibly have flattered the heart and taste of Kant: one should recall the titles of his principal works): our new philosophers will still say: critics are the philosophers' instruments and for that reason very far from being philosophers themselves! Even the great Chinaman of Königsberg [Immanuel Kant] was only a great critic. —


I insist that philosophical laborers and men of science in general should once and for all cease to be confused with philosophers—that on precisely this point "to each his own" should be strictly applied, and not much too much given to the former, much too little to the latter. It may be required for the education of a philosopher that he himself has also once stood on all those steps on which his servants, the scientific laborers of philosophy, remain standing—must remain standing; he himself must perhaps have been critic and skeptic and dogmatist and historian and, in addition, poet and collector and traveler and reader of riddles and moralist and seer and "free spirit" and practically everything, so as to traverse the whole range of human values and value-feelings and be able to gaze from the heights into every distance, from the depths into every height, from the nook-and-comer into every broad expanse with manifold eyes and a manifold conscience. But all these are only preconditions of his task: this task itself demands something different—it demands that he create values. Those philosophical laborers after the noble exemplar of Kant and Hegel have to take some great fact of evaluation—that is to say, former assessments of value, creations of value which have become dominant and are for a while called "truths"—and identify them and reduce them to formulas, whether in the realm of logic or of politics (morals) or of art. It is the duty of these scholars to take everything that has hitherto happened and been valued, and make it clear, distinct, intelligible and manageable, to abbreviate everything long, even "time" itself, and to subdue the entire past: a tremendous and wonderful task in the service of which every subtle pride, every tenacious will can certainly find satisfaction. Actual philosophers, however, are commanders and law givers: they say "thus it shall be!," it is they who determine the Wherefore and Whither of mankind, and they possess for this task the preliminary work of all the philosophical laborers, of all those who have subdued the past—they reach for the future with creative hand, and everything that is or has been becomes for them a means, an instrument, a hammer. Their "knowing" is creating, their creating is a law-giving, their will to truth is—will to power.— Are there such philosophers today? Have there been such philosophers? Must there not be such philosophers? ....


More and more it seems to me that the philosopher, being of necessity a man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, has always found himself, and had to find himself, in contradiction to today: his enemy was ever the ideal of today. So far all these extraordinary furtherers of man whom one calls philosophers, though they themselves have rarely felt like friends of wisdom but rather like disagreeable fools and dangerous question marks, have found their task, their hard, unwanted, inescapable task, but eventually also the greatness of their task, in being the bad conscience of their time. By applying the knife vivisectionally to the chest of the very virtues of their time, they betrayed what was their own secret: to know of a new greatness of man, of a new untrodden way to his enhancement. Every time they exposed how much hypocrisy, comfortableness, letting oneself go and letting oneself drop [Sich-gehen-lassen und Sich-fallen lassen], how many lies lay hidden under the best honored type of their contemporary morality, how much virtue was outlived. Every time they said: "We must get there, that way, where you today are least at home." Facing a world of "modern ideas" that would banish everybody into a corner and "specialty," a philosopher—if today there could be philosophers—would be compelled to find the greatness of man, the concept of "greatness," precisely in his range and multiplicity, in his wholeness in manifoldness. He would even determine value and rank in accordance with how much and how many things one could bear and take upon himself, how far one could extend his responsibility. Today the taste of the time and the virtue of the time weakens and thins down the will; nothing is as timely as weakness of the will. In the philosopher's ideal, therefore, precisely strength of the will, hardness, and the capacity for long-range decisions must belong to the concept of "greatness"—with as much justification as the opposite doctrine and the ideal of a dumb, renunciatory, humble, selfless humanity was suitable for an opposite age, one that suffered, like the sixteenth century, from its accumulated energy of will and from the most savage floods and tidal waves of selfishness. In the age of Socrates, among men of fatigued instincts, among the conservatives of ancient Athens who let themselves go—"toward happiness," as they said; toward pleasure, as they acted—and who all the while still mouthed the ancient pompous words to which their lives no longer gave them any right, irony may have been required for greatness of soul, that Socratic sarcastic assurance of the old physician and plebeian who cut ruthlessly into his own flesh, as he did into the flesh and heart of the "noble," with a look that said clearly enough: "Don't dissemble in front of me! Here—we are equal." Today, conversely, when only the herd animal receives and dispenses honors in Europe, when "equality of rights" could all too easily be changed into equality in violating rights—I mean, into a common war on all that is rare, strange, privileged, the higher man, the higher soul, the higher duty, the higher responsibility, and the abundance of creative power and masterfulness—today the concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently. And the philosopher will betray something of his own ideal when he posits: "He shall be greatest who can be loneliest, the most concealed, the most deviant, the human being beyond good and evil, the master of his virtues, he that is overrich in will. Precisely this should be called greatness: being capable of being as manifold as whole, as ample as full." And to ask it once more: today—is greatness possible?


What a philosopher is, is hard to learn, because it cannot be taught: one has to "know" it from experience—or one ought to be sufficiently proud not to know it. But that nowadays all the world talks of things of which it cannot have experience is most and worst evident in respect of philosophers and the philosophical states of mind—very few know them or are permitted to know them, and all popular conceptions of them are false. Thus, for example, that genuinely philosophical combination of a bold exuberant spirituality which runs presto and a dialectical severity and necessity which never takes a false step is to most thinkers and scholars unknown from experience and consequently, if someone should speak of it in their presence, incredible. They imagine every necessity as a state of distress, as a painful compelled conformity and constraint; and thought itself they regard as something slow, hesitant, almost as toil and often as "worthy of the sweat of the noble"—and not at all as something easy, divine, and a closest relation of high spirits and the dance! "Thinking" and "taking something seriously," giving it "weighty consideration"—to them these things go together: that is the only way they have "experienced" it. Artists may here have a more subtle scent: they know only too well that it is precisely when they cease to act "voluntarily" and do everything of necessity that their feeling of freedom, subtlety, fullness of power, creative placing, disposing, shaping reaches its height—in short, that necessity and "freedom of will" are then one in them. In the last resort there exists an order of rank of states of soul with which the order of rank of problems accords; and the supreme problems repel without mercy everyone who ventures near them without being, through the elevation and power of his spirituality, predestined to their solution. Of what avail is it if nimble commonplace minds or worthy clumsy mechanicals and empiricists crowd up to them, as they so often do today, and with their plebeian ambition approach as it were this "court of courts"! But coarse feet may never tread such carpets: that has been seen to in the primal law of things; the doors remain shut against such importunates, though they may batter and shatter their heads against them! For every elevated world one has to be born or, expressed more clearly, bred for it: one has a right to philosophy—taking the word in the grand sense—only by virtue of one's origin; one's ancestors, one's "blood" are the decisive thing here too. Many generations must have worked to prepare for the philosopher; each of his virtues must have been individually acquired, tended, inherited, incorporated, and not only the bold, easy, delicate course and cadence of his thoughts but above all the readiness for great responsibilities, the lofty glance that rules and looks down, the feeling of being segregated from the mob and its duties and virtues, the genial protection and defense of that which is misunderstood and calumniated, be it god or devil, the pleasure in and exercise of grand justice, the art of commanding, the breadth of will, the slow eye which seldom admires, seldom looks upward, seldom loves ....

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