Saturday, January 22, 2005

Nietzsche on the Philosopher as Outsider

It seems to me more and more that the philosopher, as a NECESSARY man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, has always found himself, and always had to find himself, in oppposition to his today: the ideal of the day was always his enemy. ...

Today, conversely, when only the herd animal is honored and dispenses honors in Europe, and when "equality of rights" could all too easily be converted into an equality in violating rights--by that I mean, into a common war on all that is rare, strange, or privileged, on the higher man, the higher soul, the higher duty, the higher responsibility, and on the wealth of creative power and mastery--today the concept of "greatness" entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being capable of being different, standing alone, and having to live independently; and the philosopher will betray something of his own ideal when he posits: "He shall be the greatest who can be the loneliest, the most hidden, the most deviating, the human being beyond good and evil, the master of his virtues, he that is overrich in will. Precisely this should be called GREATNESS: to be capable of being as manifold as whole, as wide as full." And to ask this once more: today--is greatness POSSIBLE? ...

from BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL (212), transl. Walter Kaufmann
(as hereafter)


Revaluation of All Values

This book belongs to the very few. Perhaps not one of them is even living yet. Maybe they will be the readers who understand my ZARATHUSTRA: how COULD I mistake myself for one of those for whom there are ears even now? Only the day after tomorrow belongs to me. Some are born posthumously.

The conditions under which I am understood, and then of NECESSITY--I know them only too well. One must be honest in matters of the spirit to the point of hardness before one can even endure my seriousness and my passion. One must be skilled in living on mountains--seeing the wretched ephemeral babble of politics and national self-seeking BENEATH oneself. One must have become indifferent; one must never ask if the truth is useful or if it may prove our undoing. [One must have] The predilection of strength for questions for which no one today has the courage; [One must have] the courage for the FORBIDDEN; [One must have] the predestination to the labyrinth. [One must have] An experience of seven solitudes. [One must have] New ears for new music. New eyes for what is most distant. [One must have] A new conscience for truths that have so far remained mute. AND the will to the economy of the great style: keeping our strength, our ENTHUSIASM in harness. [One must have] Reverence for oneself; love of oneself; unconditional freedom before oneself.

Well then! Such men alone are my readers, my right readers, my predestined readers: what matter the rest? The rest--that is merely mankind. One must be above mankind in strength, in LOFTINESS of soul--in contempt.

from the preface to THE ANTICHRIST. (Editorial additions by T.J.White)


...As for your principle that truth is always on the side of the more difficult, I admit this in part. However, it is difficult to believe that 2 times 2 is NOT 4; does that make it true? On the other hand, is it really so difficult simply to accept everything that one has been brought up on and that has gradually struck deep roots--what is considered truth in the circle of one's relatives and of many good men, and what, moreover, really comforts and elevates man? Is that more difficult than to strike new paths, fighting the habitual, experiencing the insecurity of independence and the frequent wavering of one's feelings and even one's conscience, proceeding often without any consolation, but ever with the eternal goal of the true, the beautiful, and the good? Is it decisive after all that we arrive at THAT view of God, world, and reconciliation which makes us feel most comfortable? Rather, is not the result of his inquiries something wholly indifferent to the true inquirer? Do we after all seek rest, peace, and pleasure in our inquiries? No, only truth--even if it be the most abhorrent and ugly. Still one last question: if we had believed from childhood that all salvation issued from someone other than Jesus--say, from Mohammed--is it not certain that we should have experienced the same blessings? ...Faith does not offer the least support for a proof of objective truth. Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire. ...*

from his LETTER TO HIS SISTER (1865)

*He was quoting Heine: "If you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then enquire. ..." (Letter to his sister, 1817)


THE CRIMINAL AND WHAT IS RELATED TO HIM. The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick. He lacks the wilderness, a somehow freer and more dangerous environment and form of existence, where everything that is weapons and armor in the instinct of the strong human being has its rightful place. His VIRTUES are ostracized by society; the most vivid drives with which he is endowed soon grow together with the depressing affects--with suspicion, fear, and dishonor. Yet this is almost the recipe for physiological degeneration. Whoever must do secretly, with long suspense, caution, and cunning, what he can do best and would most like to do, becomes anemic; and because he always harvests only danger, persecution, and calamity from his instincts, his attitude to these instincts is reversed too, and he comes to experience them fatalistically. It is our society, our tame, mediocre, emasculated society, in which a natural human being, who comes from the mountains or from the adventures of the sea necessarily degenerates into a criminal. Or almost necessarily; for there are cases in which such a man proves stronger than society: the Corsican, Napoleon, is the most famous case.

The testimony of Dostoevski is relevant to this problem--Dostoevski, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life, even more than my discovery of Stendhal. This PROFOUND human being, who was ten times right in his low estimate of the superficial Germans, lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia--hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society--and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil.

Let us generalize the case of the criminal: let us think of men so constituted that, for one reason or another, they lack public approval and know that they are not felt to be beneficial or useful--that Chandala feeling that one is not considered equal, but an outcast, unworthy, contaminating. All men so constituted have a subterranean hue to their thoughts and actions; everything about them becomes paler than in those whose existence is touched by daylight. Yet almost all forms of existence which we consider distinguished today once lived in this half tomblike atmosphere: the scientific character, the artist, the genius, the free spirit, the actor, the merchant, the great discoverer. As long as the priest was considered the supreme type, EVERY valuable type of human being was devalued. The time will come, I promise, when the priest will be considered the lowest type, OUR Chandala, the most mendacious, the most indecent kind of human being.

I call attention to the fact that even now--under the mildest regimen of morals which has ever ruled on earth, or at least in Europe--every deviation, every long, all-too-long sojourn below, every unusual or opaque form of existence, brings one closer to that type which is perfected in the criminal. All innovators of the spirit must for a time bear the pallid and fatal mark of the Chandala on their foreheads--NOT because they are considered that way by others, but because they themselves feel the terrible cleavage which separates them from everything that is customary or reputable. Almost every genius knows, as one stage of his development, the "Catilinarian existence"--a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything which already IS, which no longer BECOMES. Catiline--the form of pre-existence of EVERY Caesar.