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Friedrich Nietzsche on Morality and Superiority

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8 months ago

Friedrich Nietzsche said:

“And what fine instruments of observation we have in our senses! This nose, for example, of which not one philosopher has yet spoken in reverence and gratitude, is nevertheless actually the most delicate instrument we have at our command: it can register minimal differences in movement which even the spectroscope fails to register. We possess science nowadays precisely to the extent that we decided to accept the evidence of the senses--when we were still learning to sharpen them, arm them, think them through to the end. The rest is abortion and not-yet-science: to wit, metaphysics, theology, psychology, theory of knowledge. Or the science of forms, the theory of signs: like logic and that applied logic, mathematics. Reality is nowhere to be found in them, not even as a problem; nor does the question arise as to what actual value a sign-convention like logic has.

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.

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 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 wroth 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.’--Ten years later one comprehends that all this, too--was still youth.

A man whose sense of shame has some profundity encounters his destinies and delicate decisions, too, on paths which few ever reach and of whose mere existence his closest intimates must not know: his mortal danger is concealed from their eyes, and so is his regained sureness of life. Such a concealed man who instinctively needs speech for silence and for burial in silence 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 well. Every profound spirit needs a mask: even more, around every profound spirit a mask is growing continually, owing to the constantly false, namely shallow, interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life he gives.

Not to remain stuck to a 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.

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

A man’s maturity-consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.

A people is a detour of nature to get to six or seven great men.--Yes, and then to get around them.

Whoever fights 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.

What a time experiences as evil is usually an untimely echo of what was formerly experienced as good--the atavism of a more ancient ideal.

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

In the end one loves one’s desire and not what is desired.

‘Not that you lied to me, but that I no longer believe you, has shaken me’

‘I don’t like him.’--Why?-- ‘I am not equal to him.’-- Has any human being ever answered that way?”






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Painting: Le Massacre des Innocents by Nicolas Poussin

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