Basic Writings of Nietzsche

After such a cheerful commencement, a serious word would like to be heard; it appeals to the most serious. Take care, philosophers and friends, of knowledge, and beware of martyrdom! Of suffering “for the truth’s sake”! Even of defending yourselves! It spoils all the innocence and fine neutrality of your conscience; it makes you headstrong against objections and red rags; it stupefies, animalizes, and brutalizes when in the struggle with danger, slander, suspicion, expulsion, and even worse consequences of hostility, you have to pose as protectors of truth upon earth—as though “the truth” were such an innocuous and incompetent creature as to require protectors!

French philosopher whom professional philosophers generally accord highest honors is Descartes. Montaigne and Pascal, Voltaire and Rousseau, Bergson and Sartre do not enjoy their greatest vogue among philosophers, and of these only Rousseau has had any considerable influence on the history of philosophy (through Kant and Hegel).

From the practice of wise men.—To become wise, one must wish to have certain experiences and run, as it were, into their gaping jaws. This, of course, is very dangerous; many a wise guy has been swallowed. 301

God’s only excuse is that he does not exist.

How malicious philosophers can be! I know of nothing more venomous than the joke Epicurus permitted himself against Plato and the Platonists; he called them Dionysiokolakes. That means literally—and this is the foreground meaning—“flatterers of Dionysius,” in other words, tyrant’s baggage and lickspittles; but in addition to this he also wants to say, “they are all actors, there is nothing genuine about them” (for Dionysokolax was a popular name for an actor).8 And the latter is really the malice that Epicurus aimed at Plato: he was peeved by the grandiose manner, the mise en scène9 at which Plato and his disciples were so expert—at which Epicurus was not an expert—he, that old schoolmaster from Samos, who sat, hidden away, in his little garden at Athens and wrote three hundred books—who knows? perhaps from rage and ambition against Plato? It took a hundred years until Greece found out who this garden god, Epicurus, had been.—Did they find out?— 8

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.

In fact, however, Nietzsche’s very first book, The Birth, constitutes a declaration of independence from Schopenhauer: while Nietzsche admires him for honestly facing up to the terrors of existence, Nietzsche himself celebrates Greek tragedy as a superior alternative to Schopenhauer’s “Buddhistic negation of the will.” From tragedy Nietzsche learns that one can affirm life as sublime, beautiful, and joyous in spite of all suffering and cruelty.

In the Dionysian dithyramb man is incited to the greatest exaltation of all his symbolic faculties; something never before experienced struggles for utterance—the annihilation of the veil of m?y?, oneness as the soul of the race and of nature itself.

I shall say another word for the most select ears: what I really want from music. That it be cheerful and profound like an afternoon in October. That it be individual, frolicsome, tender, a sweet small woman full of beastliness and charm. I

Kaufmann was nothing if not thorough. He exposed in detail the machinations of Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth to manipulate her brother’s texts, and to enlist him in the very causes that he had consistently denounced. Her crude prejudices, including a heavy dose of anti-Semitism, had nothing in common with her brother’s philosophy.

Knowledge kills action; action requires the veils of illusion: that is the doctrine of Hamlet, not that cheap wisdom of Jack the Dreamer who reflects too much and, as it were, from an excess of possibilities does not get around to action. Not reflection, no—true knowledge, an insight into the horrible truth, outweighs any motive for action, both in Hamlet and in the Dionysian man.

Life is a flat circle.

Punishment.—A strange thing, our punishment! It does not cleanse the criminal, it is no atonement; on the contrary, it pollutes worse than the crime does. The

The body of knowledge keeps increasing at incredible speed, but the literature of nonknowledge grows even faster.

Virtue is knowledge; man sins only from ignorance; he who is virtuous is happy.” In these three basic forms of optimism lies the death of tragedy.

Way to equality.—A few hours of mountain climbing turn a villain and a saint into two rather equal creatures. Exhaustion is the shortest way to equality and fraternity—and liberty is added eventually by sleep. 297

When one is young, one venerates and despises without that art of nuances which constitutes the best gain of life, and it is only fair that one has to pay dearly for having assaulted men and things in this manner with Yes and No.