Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil"*

As translated by Walter Kaufmann.

Nietzsche's perspectivism:

The fundamental faith of the metaphysicians is the faith in opposite values. It has not even occurred to the most cautious among them that one might have a doubt right here at the threshold where it was surely most necessary--even if they vowed to themselves, "de omnibus dubitandum."

For one may doubt, first, whether there are any opposites at all, and secondly 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 deception, selfishness, and lust. It might even be possible that what constitutes the values 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. Maybe!

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On the philosopher and the personal:

[In contrast with the 'objective' scientist and scholar] 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.

*

On new versions of the soul:

Let it be permitted to designate by this expression [the soul atomism] 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 ride 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.

*

On the will to power:

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.

*

On the will as a commander:

"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 feelings of delight of his successful executive instruments, the useful "under-wills" or under-souls-- to his feelings of delights as commander. L'effet c'est moi; 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 understand as the doctrine of the relations of supremacy under which the phenomenon of "life" comes to be.

*

On spiritual independence:

Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it even with the best right but without inner constraint 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 in any case, not the least of which is that no one can see how or where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn to piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing one like that comes to grief, 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.--

*

On popular books:

Books for all the world are always foul-smelling books: the smell of small people clings to them. Where the people eat and drinks, even where they venerate, it usually stinks. One should not go to church if one wants to breathe pure air.

*

On tests for independence:

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 remain stuck to one person--not even the most loved--every person is a prison, also a nook. Not to remain stuck to 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 remain stuck to some pity--not even for higher men into whose rare torture and helplessness some accident allowed us to look. Not to remain stuck to 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 remain stuck to one's own detachment, to that voluptuous remoteness and strangeness of the bird who flees ever higher to see ever more below him--the danger of the flier. Not to remain stuck to our own virtues and become as a whole the victim of some detail in us, such as our hospitality, which is the danger of dangers for superior and rich souls who spend themselves lavishly, almost indifferently, and exaggerate the virtue of generosity into a vice. One must know how to conserve oneself: the hardest test of independence.

*

from Part Four Epigrams and Interludes:

The sage as astronomer.--As long as you still experience the stars as something "above you" you lack the eye of knowledge.

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The degree and kind of a man's sexuality reach up into the ultimate pinnacle of his spirit.

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There is no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.

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The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us.

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Whoever fight monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

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Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.

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Poets treat their experiences shamelessly: they exploit them.

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On the usefulness of a morality:

Every morality is, as opposed to laisser aller, a bit of tyranny against "nature"; also against "reason"; but this in itself is no objection, as long as we do not have some other morality which permits us to decree that every kind of tyranny and unreason is impermissible. What is essential and inestimable in every morality is that it constitutes a long compulsion: to understand Stoicism or Port-Royal or Puritanism, one should recall the compulsion under which every language so far has achieved strength and freedom--the metrical compulsion of rhyme and rhythm. . . .

Every artist know how far from any feeling of letting himself go his "most natural" state is--the free ordering, placing, disposing giving form in the moment of "inspiration"--and how strictly and subtly he obeys thousandfold laws precisely then, laws that precisely on account of their hardness and determination defy all formulation through concepts (even the firmest concept is, compared with them, not free of fluctuation, multiplicity, and ambiguity).

What is essential "in heaven and on earth" seems to be, to say it once more, that there should be obedience over a long period of time and in a single direction: given that, something always develops, and has developed, for whose sake it is worth while to live on earth; for example, virtue, art, music, dance, reason, spirituality--something transfiguring, subtle, mad, and divine.

*

On human beings of mixed heritage:

In an age of disintegration that mixes races indiscriminately human beings have in their bodies the heritage of multiple origins, that is, opposite, and often not merely opposite, drives and value standards that fight each other and rarely permit each other any rest. Such human beings of late cultures and refracted lights will on the average be weaker human beings: their most profound desire is that the war they are should come to an end. . . .

But when the opposition and war in such a nature have the effect of one more charm and incentive of life--and if, moreover, in addition to his powerful and irreconciliable drives, a real mastery and subtlety in waging war against oneself, in other words, self-control, self-outwitting, has been inherited or cultivated, too--then those magical, incomprehensible, and unfathomable ones arise, those enigmatic men predestined for victory and seduction, whose most beautiful expression is found in Alcibiades and Caesar, . . . and among artists perhaps Leonardo da Vinci.

*

On the benefit of suffering:

The discipline of suffering, of great suffering--do you not know that only this suffering has created all enhancements of men so far? That tension of the soul in unhappiness which cultivates its strength, its shudders face to face with great ruin, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, persevering, interpreting, and exploiting suffering, and whatever has been granted to it of profundity, secret, mask, spirit, cunning, greatness--was it not granted to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering? In man creature and creator are united: in man there is material, fragment, excess, clay, dirt, nonsense, chaos; but in man there is also creator, form-giver, hammer hardness, spectator divinity, and seventh day: do you understand this contrast? And that your pity is for the "creature in man," for what must be formed, broken, forged, torn, burnt, made incandescent, and purified--that which necessarily must and should suffer? And our pity--do you not comprehend for whom our converse pity is when it resists your pity as the worst of all pamperings and weaknesses?

Thus it is pity versus pity.

But to say it once more: there are higher problems than all problems of pleasure, pain, and pity; and every philosophy that stops with them is a naivete.--


1 comment:

Eshuneutics said...

2Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil."

Yes, yes, yes.