From charlesreid1


Beyond Good and Evil represents, to me, the penultimate scientific Nietzsche book. I say this because, in so much of the book, he is addressing the concept of truth, summarizing our traditional conception of how it works, and questioning our adherence to traditional moral and religious views of good and evil. This involves much questioning of authority, pointedly showing the paradox of "truth," and generally just explaining all the different ways people can deceive themselves.

The very first section sets the tone: Nietzsche says, "Granted that we want the truth: why not rather untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance?" This is a bold question - and shows exactly what he aims to do with the book, which is, turn our traditional notions of truth, untruth, certainty, knowledge, and belief on their heads, and point the way toward a higher, more rational route.

In a large sense, this is what Nietzsche is all about - questioning traditional values, pointing out the illogical, irrational, inconsistent behaviors that society blindly accepts, and pull the bricks out of the old system.

But in an even larger sense, this is the struggle in which our society is perpetually locked - this struggle between, on the one hand, the forces that seek to question the established order and strive toward something higher and more rational (Team Nietzsche), and on the other, the forces that strive for the status quo, maintain the established order (Team Church).


Prejudices of Philosophers

Granted that we want the truth: why not rather untruth? And uncertainty? Even ignorance?

- Section 1

For example, that the certain is worth more than the uncertain, that illusion is less valuable than "truth": such valuations, in spite of their regulative importance for us, might notwithstanding be only superficial valuations... Supposing, in effect, that man is not just the "measure of things..."

- Section 3

The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it... The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing; and we are fundamentally inclined to maintian that the falsest opinions (to which the syntehtci judgements a priori belong), are the most indispensable to us... without a comparison of reality with the purely imagined world of the absolute and immutable, without a constant counterfeiting of the world by means of numbers, man could not live... To recognize untruth as a condition of life: that is certainly to impugn the traditional ideas of value in a dangerous manner,and a philosophy which ventures to do so, has thereby alone placed itself beyond good and evil.

- Section 4

Accordingly, I do not believe that an "impulse to knowledge" is the father of philosophy; but that another impulse, here as elsewhere, has only made use of knowledge (and mistaken knowledge!) as an instrument.

- Section 6

To be sure, in the case of scholars, in the case of really scientific men, it may be otherwise - "better," if you will; there may really be such a thing as an "impulse to knowledge," some kind of small, independent clockwork, which, when well wound up, works away industriously to that end, without the rest of the scholarly impulses taking any material part therein.

- Section 6

But this is an old and everlasting story... as soon as ever a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical impulse itself, the most spiritual Will to Power, the will to "creation of the world," the will to the causa prima.

- Section 9

He was proud of having DISCOVERED a new faculty in man, the faculty of synthetic judgment a priori. Granting that he deceived himself in this matter; the development and rapid flourishing of German philosophy depended nevertheless on his pride, and on the eager rivalry of the younger generation to discover if possible something—at all events "new faculties"—of which to be still prouder!—But let us reflect for a moment—it is high time to do so. "How are synthetic judgments a priori POSSIBLE?" Kant asks himself—and what is really his answer? "BY MEANS OF A MEANS (faculty)"—but unfortunately not in five words, but so circumstantially, imposingly, and with such display of German profundity and verbal flourishes, that one altogether loses sight of the comical niaiserie allemande involved in such an answer.

- Section 11

All the young theologians of the Tubingen institution went immediately into the groves—all seeking for "faculties." And what did they not find—in that innocent, rich, and still youthful period of the German spirit, to which Romanticism, the malicious fairy, piped and sang, when one could not yet distinguish between "finding" and "inventing"!...

Enough, however—the world grew older, and the dream vanished.

- Section 11

"By means of a means (faculty)"—he had said, or at least meant to say. But, is that—an answer? An explanation? Or is it not rather merely a repetition of the question? How does opium induce sleep? "By means of a means (faculty)," namely the virtus dormitiva, replies the doctor in Moliere,

Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva, Cujus est natura sensus assoupire.

But such replies belong to the realm of comedy, and it is high time to replace the Kantian question, "How are synthetic judgments a PRIORI possible?" by another question, "Why is belief in such judgments necessary?"—in effect, it is high time that we should understand that such judgments must be believed to be true, for the sake of the preservation of creatures like ourselves; though they still might naturally be false judgments! Or, more plainly spoken, and roughly and readily—synthetic judgments a priori should not "be possible" at all; we have no right to them; in our mouths they are nothing but false judgments. Only, of course, the belief in their truth is necessary, as plausible belief and ocular evidence belonging to the perspective view of life.

- Section 11

thanks chiefly to the Pole Boscovich: he and the Pole Copernicus have hitherto been the greatest and most successful opponents of ocular evidence. For while Copernicus has persuaded us to believe, contrary to all the senses, that the earth does NOT stand fast, Boscovich has taught us to abjure the belief in the last thing that "stood fast" of the earth—the belief in "substance," in "matter," in the earth-residuum, and particle-atom: it is the greatest triumph over the senses that has hitherto been gained on earth.

- Section 11

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 thereof.

- Section 13

It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that natural philosophy is only a world-exposition and world-arrangement (according to us, if I may say so!) and NOT a world-explanation; but in so far as it is based on belief in the senses, it is regarded as more, and for a long time to come must be regarded as more—namely, as an explanation. It has eyes and fingers of its own...

- Section 14 follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternal popular sensualism. What is clear, what is "explained"? Only that which can be seen and felt—one must pursue every problem thus far. Obversely, however, the charm of the Platonic mode of thought, which was an ARISTOCRATIC mode, consisted precisely in RESISTANCE to obvious sense-evidence...

- Section 14

"Where there is nothing more to see or to grasp, there is also nothing more for men to do"—that is certainly an imperative different from the Platonic one, but it may notwithstanding be the right imperative for a hardy, laborious race of machinists and bridge-builders of the future, who have nothing but ROUGH work to perform.

- Section 14

But then our organs themselves would be the work of our organs! It seems to me that this is a complete REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM, if the conception CAUSA SUI is something fundamentally absurd. Consequently, the external world is NOT the work of our organs—?

- Section 15

"When I analyze the process that is expressed in the sentence, 'I think,' I find a whole series of daring assertions, the argumentative proof of which would be difficult, perhaps impossible: for instance, that it is I who think, that there must necessarily be something that thinks, that thinking is an activity and operation on the part of a being who is thought of as a cause, that there is an 'ego,' and finally, that it is already determined what is to be designated by thinking—that I KNOW what thinking is. For if I had not already decided within myself what it is, by what standard could I determine whether that which is just happening is not perhaps 'willing' or 'feeling'?

- Section 16

"Sir," the philosopher will perhaps give him to understand, "it is improbable that you are not mistaken, but why should it be the truth?"

- Section 18

But it again and again seems to me that in this case Schopenhauer also only did what philosophers are in the habit of doing—he seems to have adopted a POPULAR PREJUDICE and exaggerated it.

- Section 19

Therefore, just as sensations (and indeed many kinds of sensations) are to be recognized as ingredients of the will, so, in the second place, thinking is also to be recognized;

- Section 19

Their thinking is, in fact, far less a discovery than a re-recognizing, a remembering, a return and a home-coming to a far-off, ancient common-household of the soul, out of which those ideas formerly grew: philosophizing is so far a kind of atavism of the highest order.

- Section 20

I beg of him to carry his "enlightenment" a step further, and also put out of his head the contrary of this monstrous conception of "free will": I mean "non-free will," which is tantamount to a misuse of cause and effect. One should not wrongly MATERIALISE "cause" and "effect," as the natural philosophers do (and whoever like them naturalize in thinking at present), according to the prevailing mechanical doltishness which makes the cause press and push until it "effects" its end; one should use "cause" and "effect" only as pure CONCEPTIONS, that is to say, as conventional fictions for the purpose of designation and mutual understanding,—NOT for explanation. In "being-in-itself" there is nothing of "casual-connection," of "necessity," or of "psychological non-freedom"; there the effect does NOT follow the cause, there "law" does not obtain. It is WE alone who have devised cause, sequence, reciprocity, relativity, constraint, number, law, freedom, motive, and purpose; and when we interpret and intermix this symbol-world, as "being-in-itself," with things, we act once more as we have always acted—MYTHOLOGICALLY. The "non-free will" is mythology; in real life it is only a question of STRONG and WEAK wills.

- Section 21

Let me be pardoned, as an old philologist who cannot desist from the mischief of putting his finger on bad modes of interpretation, but "Nature's conformity to law," of which you physicists talk so proudly, as though—why, it exists only owing to your interpretation and bad "philology." It is no matter of fact, no "text," but rather just a naively humanitarian adjustment and perversion of meaning, with which you make abundant concessions to the democratic instincts of the modern soul!

- 22

and who should, nevertheless, end by asserting the same about this world as you do, namely, that it has a "necessary" and "calculable" course, NOT, however, because laws obtain in it, but because they are absolutely LACKING, and every power effects its ultimate consequences every moment. Granted that this also is only interpretation—and you will be eager enough to make this objection?—well, so much the better.

- 22

The Free Spirit

O sancta simplicitiatas! In what strange simplification and falsification man lives! One can never cease wondering when once one has got eyes for beholding 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 godlike desire for wanton pranks and wrong inferences!—how from the beginning, we have contrived to retain our ignorance in order to enjoy an almost inconceivable freedom, thoughtlessness, imprudence, heartiness, and gaiety—in order to enjoy life! And only on this solidified, granite-like foundation of ignorance could knowledge rear itself hitherto, the will to knowledge on the foundation of a far more powerful will, the will to ignorance, to the uncertain, to the untrue! Not as its opposite, but—as its refinement!

- 24

ye have at last to play your last card as protectors of truth upon earth—as though "the Truth" were such an innocent and incompetent creature as to require protectors!

- Section 25

The long and serious study of the AVERAGE man—and consequently much disguise, self-overcoming, familiarity, and bad intercourse (all intercourse is bad intercourse except with one's equals):—that constitutes a necessary part of the life-history of every philosopher; perhaps the most disagreeable, odious, and disappointing part.

- Section 26

I mean so-called cynics... sometimes they wallow, even in books, as on their own dung-hill.

- Section 26

It happens more frequently, as has been hinted, that a scientific head is placed on an ape's body, a fine exceptional understanding in a base soul, an occurrence by no means rare, especially among doctors and moral physiologists.

- Section 26

t is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it, even with the best right, but without being OBLIGED to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life in itself already brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes isolated, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing such a one comes to grief, it is so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it, nor sympathize with it. And he cannot any longer go back! He cannot even go back again to the sympathy of men!

- Section 29

Books for the general reader are always ill-smelling books, the odour of paltry people clings to them. Where the populace eat and drink, and even where they reverence, it is accustomed to stink. One should not go into churches if one wishes to breathe PURE air.

- Section 30

Throughout the longest period of human history—one calls it the prehistoric period—the value or non-value of an action was inferred from its CONSEQUENCES; the action in itself was not taken into consideration, any more than its origin

- Section 32

To be sure, an ominous new superstition, a peculiar narrowness of interpretation, attained supremacy precisely thereby: the origin of an action was interpreted in the most definite sense possible, as origin out of an INTENTION; people were agreed in the belief that the value of an action lay in the value of its intention.

- Section 32

nowadays when, at least among us immoralists, the suspicion arises that the decisive value of an action lies precisely in that which is NOT INTENTIONAL, and that all its intentionalness, all that is seen, sensible, or "sensed" in it, belongs to its surface or skin—which, like every skin, betrays something, but CONCEALS still more?

- Section 32

that morality, in the sense in which it has been understood hitherto, as intention-morality, has been a prejudice, perhaps a prematureness or preliminariness, probably something of the same rank as astrology and alchemy, but in any case something which must be surmounted.

- Section 33

At whatever standpoint of philosophy one may place oneself nowadays, seen from every position, the ERRONEOUSNESS of the world in which we think we live is the surest and most certain thing our eyes can light upon: we find proof after proof thereof

- Section 34

he who regards this world, including space, time, form, and movement, as falsely DEDUCED, would have at least good reason in the end to become distrustful also of all thinking; has it not hitherto been playing upon us the worst of scurvy tricks?

- Section 34

O Voltaire! O humanity! O idiocy! There is something ticklish in "the truth," and in the SEARCH for the truth; and if man goes about it too humanely—"il ne cherche le vrai que pour faire le bien"—I wager he finds nothing!

- Section 35

I keep at least a couple of pokes in the ribs ready for the blind rage with which philosophers struggle against being deceived. Why NOT? It is nothing more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than semblance; it is, in fact, the worst proved supposition in the world.

- Section 34

Supposing that nothing else is "given" as real but our world of desires and passions, that we cannot sink or rise to any other "reality" but just that of our impulses

- Section 35

I do not mean as an illusion, a "semblance," a "representation" (in the Berkeleyan and Schopenhauerian sense), but as possessing the same degree of reality as our emotions themselves—as a more primitive form of the world of emotions,

- Section 35

In the end, it is not only permitted to make this attempt, it is commanded by the conscience of LOGICAL METHOD.

- Section 36

whether all mechanical action, inasmuch as a power operates therein, is not just the power of will, the effect of will. Granted, finally, that we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one fundamental form of will—namely, the Will to Power, as my thesis puts it; granted that all organic functions could be traced back to this Will to Power,

- Section 36

It is willingly forgotten, however, even on the part of thoughtful minds, that to make unhappy and to make bad are just as little counter-arguments.

- Section 39

Should not the CONTRARY only be the right disguise for the shame of a God to go about in? A question worth asking!

- Section 40

Not to cleave to any person, be it even the dearest—every person is a prison and also a recess.

- Section 41

for all philosophers hitherto have loved their truths. But assuredly they will not be dogmatists.

- Section 43

"Good" is no longer good when one's neighbour takes it into his mouth. And how could there be a "common good"! The expression contradicts itself; that which can be common is always of small value. In the end things must be as they are and have always been—the great things remain for the great, the abysses for the profound, the delicacies and thrills for the refined, and, to sum up shortly, everything rare for the rare.

- Section 43

What they would fain attain with all their strength, is the universal, green-meadow happiness of the herd, together with security, safety, comfort, and alleviation of life for every one, their two most frequently chanted songs and doctrines are called "Equality of Rights" and "Sympathy with All Sufferers"—and suffering itself is looked upon by them as something which must be DONE AWAY WITH.

- Section 44

inasmuch as we are the born, sworn, jealous friends of SOLITUDE, of our own profoundest midnight and midday solitude—such kind of men are we, we free spirits!

- Section 44

The Religious Mood

Why Atheism nowadays? "The father" in God is thoroughly refuted; equally so "the judge," "the rewarder." Also his "free will": he does not hear—and even if he did, he would not know how to help. The worst is that he seems incapable of communicating himself clearly; is he uncertain?—This is what I have made out (by questioning and listening at a variety of conversations) to be the cause of the decline of European theism; it appears to me that though the religious instinct is in vigorous growth,—it rejects the theistic satisfaction with profound distrust.

- Section 53

To sacrifice God for nothingness—this paradoxical mystery of the ultimate cruelty has been reserved for the rising generation; we all know something thereof already.

- Section 55

Apophthegms and Interludes

"Knowledge for its own sake"—that is the last snare laid by morality: we are thereby completely entangled in morals once more.

- Section 64

Love to one only is a barbarity, for it is exercised at the expense of all others. Love to God also!

- Section 67

"I did that," says my memory. "I could not have done that," says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually—the memory yields.

- Section 68

He who attains his ideal, precisely thereby surpasses it.

- Section 73

Many a peacock hides his tail from every eye—and calls it his pride.

- Section 73A

A thing that is explained ceases to concern us—What did the God mean who gave the advice, "Know thyself!" Did it perhaps imply "Cease to be concerned about thyself! become objective!"—And Socrates?—And the "scientific man"?

- Section 80

It is terrible to die of thirst at sea. Is it necessary that you should so salt your truth that it will no longer—quench thirst?

- Section 81

The same emotions are in man and woman, but in different TEMPO, on that account man and woman never cease to misunderstand each other.

- Section 85

One begins to distrust very clever persons when they become embarrassed.

- Section 88

Dreadful experiences raise the question whether he who experiences them is not something dreadful also.

- Section 89

Who has not, at one time or another—sacrificed himself for the sake of his good name?

- Section 92

The maturity of man—that means, to have reacquired the seriousness that one had as a child at play.

- Section 94

To be ashamed of one's immorality is a step on the ladder at the end of which one is ashamed also of one's morality.

- Section 95

THE DISAPPOINTED ONE SPEAKS—"I listened for the echo and I heard only praise."

- Section 99

Discovering reciprocal love should really disenchant the lover with regard to the beloved. "What! She is modest enough to love even you? Or stupid enough? Or—or—-"

- Section 102

Our vanity is most difficult to wound just when our pride has been wounded.

- Section 111

To him who feels himself preordained to contemplation and not to belief, all believers are too noisy and obtrusive; he guards against them.

- Section 112

The immense expectation with regard to sexual love, and the coyness in this expectation, spoils all the perspectives of women at the outset.

- Section 114

Where there is neither love nor hatred in the game, woman's play is mediocre.

- Section 115

A nation is a detour of nature to arrive at six or seven great men.—Yes, and then to get round them.

- Section 126

The more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more must you allure the senses to it.

- Section 128

The devil has the most extensive perspectives for God; on that account he keeps so far away from him:—the devil, in effect, as the oldest friend of knowledge.

- Section 129

What a person IS begins to betray itself when his talent decreases,—when he ceases to show what he CAN do. Talent is also an adornment; an adornment is also a concealment.

- Section 130

He who cannot find the way to HIS ideal, lives more frivolously and shamelessly than the man without an ideal.

- Section 133

The one seeks an accoucheur (midwife) for his thoughts, the other seeks some one whom he can assist: a good conversation thus originates.

- Section 136

In intercourse with scholars and artists one readily makes mistakes of opposite kinds: in a remarkable scholar one not infrequently finds a mediocre man; and often, even in a mediocre artist, one finds a very remarkable man.

- Section 137

We do the same when awake as when dreaming: we only invent and imagine him with whom we have intercourse—and forget it immediately.

- Section 138

He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.

- Section 146

To seduce their neighbour to a favourable opinion, and afterwards to believe implicitly in this opinion of their neighbour—who can do this conjuring trick so well as women?

- Section 148

Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.

- Section 156

One MUST repay good and ill; but why just to the person who did us good or ill?

- Section 159

Poets act shamelessly towards their experiences: they exploit them.

- Section 161

"Our fellow-creature is not our neighbour, but our neighbour's neighbour":—so thinks every nation.

- Section 162

Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice.

- Section 168

One loves ultimately one's desires, not the thing desired.

- Section 175

The vanity of others is only counter to our taste when it is counter to our vanity.

- Section 176

The Natural History of Morals