Beyond Good and Evil by Frederich Nietzsche. A user’s guide.

Part 4 of 10 : The Free Spirit

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27 min readJul 5, 2021

Teachers notes and Evaluation notes taken from

Teachers Notes

Nietzsche opens with the suggestion that our knowledge relies on a simplification of the truth that makes it expressible in language and understandable to all. Essentially, then, our will to knowledge is built upon, and is even a refinement of, our will to ignorance.

Philosophers most of all should not pose as defenders of truth or knowledge. The “truths” of philosophers are just their prejudices, and no philosopher has even been “proved” right. Philosophers are at their best when they are questioning themselves and freeing their spirits from their prejudices.

The “free spirits” among us thrive on isolation and independence, though this is a difficult and dangerous life to follow. On one’s own, one faces unknown dangers that no one else will understand. One’s successes and failures are entirely one’s own and cannot be shared. The thoughts of these free spirits are liable to be misinterpreted and dangerously misunderstood by lesser people. Still, free spirits devoted to knowledge will commit themselves to forgoing their independence and mingling with others. In terms of knowledge, the rule is more interesting than the exception.

Nietzsche draws a brief contrast between “pre-moral” societies where the value of an action is found in its consequences, and modern, “moral” societies where the value of an action is found in its origin. Today, we praise or blame an action primarily based on its motives. Nietzsche identifies in this an advance over the “pre-moral” valuation since this “moral” worldview places an emphasis on self- knowledge. However, he also looks beyond our “moral” world to an “extra- moral” world that recognizes that the true value of an action lies beneath the conscious level in the unintentional drives that motivate it. We need to “overcome” morality, recognizing that the intentions and motives for actions are just the surface of a far more complex set of drives that need to be uncovered and analyzed.

After a skeptical onslaught in which Nietzsche questions the value of thought, truth, morality, and pretty much everything else that has served as a basis for philosophy, he suggests that we admit nothing as “real” except our drives, desires, and passions. Thought, for instance, he suggests, is ultimately just the relation of our different drives to one another. Can we, he asks, also explain the workings of the mechanistic, material world using just our drives as data? If just one agent of causation — will — explains all change, we needn’t look for additional causes.

We might interpret the material world not as separate from the organic world, but as a primitive form of the organic world, from which organic life springs. Will does not affect nerves or dead matter, but only other wills. However, if we can trace all our drives back to a fundamental will to power, as Nietzsche proposes, we can then interpret the world and its “intelligible character” based entirely on the will to power.

Nietzsche concludes by returning to the nature of free spirits and profound thinkers. These people often need “masks” to disguise their true nature. Most people are unable to understand them, and so will necessarily understand them differently from what they truly are. In order to be independent, they must constantly test themselves and not allow themselves to become attached to anything, be it other people, their fatherland, science, or even the spirit of detachment itself or the virtues they admire in themselves. Nietzsche identifies the new species of philosophers that he sees coming as “attempters,” free spirits who will shun dogmatism and embrace the hardships of independence of mind and spirit.


Nietzsche’s critique of truth and knowledge in this chapter rests largely on the claim that anything that is made understandable to the majority of people has necessarily been distorted and simplified. Truth and knowledge are thus artificial certainties that people can fall back upon. As Nietzsche suggests in the previous chapter, our “truths” are founded on a bedrock of prejudice.

Because the majority of people remain tied to assumptions and prejudices, they tend to misunderstand truly deep thoughts. We can only understand things on a level that our intellect is capable of handling, and we tend to simplify and caricature ideas that are above us. Thus, Nietzsche suggests, the free spirit must appear “masked” to the masses: people cannot understand such freedom of spirit and so interpret it as something else entirely. This point is particularly apt for Nietzsche, whose writings have been so misunderstood and misinterpreted — notably by the Nazis, who forced a reading of Nietzsche that was quite contrary to his intentions. Nietzsche aims to re-evaluate so many of our assumptions that he is prone to being misinterpreted. Karl Jaspers gives us a clue as to how to read Nietzsche when he says that we should be nowhere satisfied until we have “*also* found the contradiction.”

“Free spirits” are so called because they do not allow themselves to be tied down to any of the certainties or “truths” that are based on prejudice. They engage in a radical skepticism that drives them to question everything. We get a good sense of what this skepticism might entail in Nietzsche’s discussion of an “extra-moral” worldview. Our current morality is based on origins and intentions, so that we say a certain action is good or bad depending on the spirit in which it was performed. Nietzsche sees a simplification of the facts in the way this position assumes that our intentions are simple and transparent. Quite to the contrary, he suggests that our outward intentions are a mere surface that covers up a great deal of unconscious motivation. (For instance, one person’s kindness to another might be motivated by an unconscious desire on the first person’s part to make herself feel superior to the other.)

Late in the chapter, Nietzsche asserts that the new breed of free-spirited philosophers will be “attempters” (or “experimenters,” depending on the translation). This title may be meant as a contrast to Nietzsche’s earlier labelling of philosophy-to-date as dogmatism. While previous philosophers have built up complex systems meant to justify underlying prejudices, these “attempters” will be remarkable for their flexibility and their careful evasion of all prejudice. They will constantly be juggling new ideas, never discarding them for their unattractiveness, but always greeting them with an open mind. We find Nietzsche giving an example of this experimentalism with his discussion of the will to power.

Nietzsche suggests that if we can identify one efficient cause that can explain all phenomena, we are better off than if we need to rely on many different causes. Nietzsche suspects that the will to power can serve as this one efficient cause, and he suggests that we test this hypothesis experimentally. He believes that all human behaviour is dictated by this will, so that, for instance, thought is not an ideally rational and disinterested activity, but is rather a struggle between different drives within the thinker. That I think one thing rather than another is merely a sign that one drive is dominant over another inside me. If this will to power also governs our drive for reproduction and nutrition, we could see it as motivating the whole cycle of life on this planet. Further, he suggests that the will to power isn’t present only in living things, but can also be found in dead matter. Rocks and water simply lack the organisation and cohesion of a human body, and so lack a focused will to power, but even there the will to power is operating.

Nietzsche is far from careful or precise in what he means by all this, but his discussion of the will to power is only meant to show how his “experimental method” could be carried out: this is not meant to be an instance of it. Of course, Nietzsche falls into the frustrating habit of most philosophers of suggesting that we can work out the details but never bothering to do the detail work himself. Instead, he remains on the level of generalities, a level that is always more prone to error. While Nietzsche’s “experiment” may rest upon a bold and ingenious exercise of creativity, it lacks the rigour and detail that the experimental method of science calls for.

24. The Granite-like foundation of ignorance
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!

It is to be hoped, indeed, that LANGUAGE, here as elsewhere, will not get over its awkwardness, and that it will continue to talk of opposites where there are only degrees and many refinements of gradation; it is equally to be hoped that the incarnated Tartuffery of morals, which now belongs to our unconquerable ‘flesh and blood,’ will turn the words round in the mouths of us discerning ones.

Here and there we understand it, and laugh at the way in which precisely the best knowledge seeks most to retain us in this SIMPLIFIED, thoroughly artificial, suitably imagined, and suitably falsified world: at the way in which, whether it will or not, it loves error, because, as living itself, it loves life! an imagined and falsified world — which is only possible with the suspension of disbelief, naiveity, child-like innocence, and deliberate ignorance.

Nietzsche opens with the suggestion that our knowledge relies on a simplification of the truth that makes it expressible in language and understandable to all. Essentially, then, our will to knowledge is built upon, and is even a refinement of, our will to ignorance. Stage acting is about maintaining ‘the suspension of disbelief’ — the better the performance, the more we love it. Life then is simply a blissfully ignorant, glorious farce. Maybe so. Maybe we do live in a make-believe world. But what is to be gained by saying this?

25. Do not seek martyrdom
After such a cheerful commencement, a serious word would fain be heard; it appeals to the most serious minds.

Take care, ye philosophers and friends of knowledge, and beware of martyrdom! Of suffering ‘for the truth’s sake’! even in your own defense!It spoils all the innocence and fine neutrality of your conscience;it makes you headstrong against objections and red rags; it stupefies, animalizes, and brutalises, when in the struggle with danger, slander, suspicion, expulsion, and even worse consequences of enmity, 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! and you of all people, ye knights of the sorrowful countenance, Messrs Loafers and Cobweb-spinners of the spirit!

Finally, ye know sufficiently well that it cannot be of any consequence if YE just carry your point; ye know that hitherto no philosopher has carried his point, and that there might be a more laudable truthfulness in every little interrogative mark which you place after your special words and favourite doctrines (and occasionally after yourselves) than in all the solemn pantomime and trumping games before accusers and law courts! Rather go out of the way! Flee into concealment! And have your masks and your ruses, that ye may be mistaken for what you are, or somewhat feared! And pray, don’t forget the garden, the garden with golden trellis-work! And have people around you who are as a garden — or as music on the waters at eventide, when already the day becomes a memory.

Choose the GOOD solitude, the free, wanton, lightsome solitude, which also gives you the right still to remain good in any sense whatsoever!

How poisonous, how crafty, how bad, does every long war make one, which cannot be waged openly by means of force! How PERSONAL does a long fear make one, a long watching of enemies, of possible enemies! These pariahs of society, these long-pursued, badly-persecuted ones — also the compulsory recluses, the Spinozas or Giordano Brunos — always become in the end, even under the most intellectual masquerade, and perhaps without being themselves aware of it, refined vengeance-seekers and poison-Brewers (just lay bare the foundation of Spinoza’s ethics and theology!), not to speak of the stupidity of moral indignation, which is the unfailing sign in a philosopher that the sense of philosophical humour has left him.

The martyrdom of the philosopher, his ‘sacrifice for the sake of truth,’ forces into the light whatever of the agitator and actor lurks in him; and if one has hitherto contemplated him only with artistic curiosity, with regard to many a philosopher it is easy to understand the dangerous desire to see him also in his deterioration (deteriorated into a ‘martyr,’ into a stage-and- tribune-bawler).

Only, that it is necessary with such a desire to be clear WHAT spectacle one will see in any case — merely a satyric play, merely an epilogue farce, merely the continued proof that the long, real tragedy IS AT AN END, supposing that every philosophy has been a long tragedy in its origin.

Philosophers most of all should not pose as defenders of truth or knowledge. The “truths” of philosophers are just their prejudices, and no philosopher has even been “proved” right. Philosophers are at their best when they are questioning themselves and freeing their spirits from their prejudices. Do not sit in a jar of philosopher’s vinegar and become pickled. Keep smiling, joking and laughing.

26. The indignant man is a liar
Every select man strives instinctively for a citadel and a privacy, where he is FREE from the crowd, the many, the majority — where he may forget ‘men who are the rule,’ as their exception; — exclusive only of the case in which he is pushed straight to such men by a still stronger instinct, as a discerner in the great and exceptional sense.

Whoever, in intercourse with men, does not occasionally glisten in all the green and grey colours of distress, owing to disgust, satiety, sympathy, gloominess, and solitariness, is assuredly not a man of elevated tastes; supposing, however, that he does not voluntarily take all this burden and disgust upon himself, that he persistently avoids it, and remains, as I said, quietly and proudly hidden in his citadel, one thing is then certain: he was not made, he was not predestined for knowledge.

For as such, he would one day have to say to himself: ‘The devil take my good taste! but ‘the rule’ is more interesting than the exception — than myself, the exception!’ And he would go DOWN, and above all, he would go ‘inside.’

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.

If he is fortunate, however, as a favourite child of knowledge should be, he will meet with suitable auxiliaries who will shorten and lighten his task; I mean so-called cynics, those who simply recognize the animal, the commonplace and ‘the rule’ in themselves, and at the same time have so much spirituality and ticklishness as to make them talk of themselves and their like BEFORE WITNESSES — sometimes they wallow, even in books, as on their own dung-hill.

Cynicism is the only form in which base souls approach what is called honesty; and the higher man must open his ears to all the coarser or finer cynicism, and congratulate himself when the clown becomes shameless right before him, or the scientific satyr speaks out.

There are even cases where enchantment mixes with the disgust — namely, where by a freak of nature, genius is bound to some such indiscreet billy-goat and ape, as in the case of the Abbe Galiani, the profoundest, acutest, and perhaps also filthiest man of his century — he was far profounder than Voltaire, and consequently also, a good deal more silent.

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.

And whenever anyone speaks without bitterness, or rather quite innocently, of man as a belly with two requirements, and a head with one; whenever any one sees, seeks, and WANTS to see only hunger, sexual instinct, and vanity as the real and only motives of human actions; in short, when any one speaks ‘badly’ — and not even ‘ill’ — of man, then ought the lover of knowledge to hearken attentively and diligently; he ought, in general, to have an open ear wherever there is talk without indignation.

For the indignant man, and he who perpetually tears and lacerates himself with his own teeth (or, in place of himself, the world, God, or society), may indeed, morally speaking, stand higher than the laughing and self-satisfied satyr, but in every other sense he is the more ordinary, more indifferent, and less instructive case. And no one is such a LIAR as the indignant man.

29. It is the business of the very few to be independent
It 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!

The “free spirits” among us thrive on isolation and independence, though this is a difficult and dangerous life to follow. On one’s own, one faces unknown dangers that no one else will understand. One’s successes and failures are entirely one’s own and cannot be shared. The thoughts of these free spirits are liable to be misinterpreted and dangerously misunderstood by lesser people. Still, free spirits devoted to knowledge will commit themselves to forgoing their independence and mingling with others. In terms of knowledge, the rule is more interesting than the exception. To step back from everyday morality is a perilous move. To stand as one-of-a-kind. Aloof. Do not expect to be welcomed back to the fold.

30. Our deepest insights must — and should — appear as follies
Our deepest insights must — and should — appear as follies and under certain circumstances as crimes, when they come unauthorizedly to the ears of those who are not disposed and predestined for them.

The exoteric and the esoteric, as they were formerly distinguished by philosophers — among the Indians, as among the Greeks, Persians, and Mussulmans, in short, wherever people believed in gradations of rank and NOT in equality and equal rights

— are not so much in contradistinction to one another in respect to the exoteric class, standing without, and viewing, estimating, measuring, and judging from the outside, and not from the inside; the more essential distinction is that the class in question views things from below upwards

— while the esoteric class views things FROM ABOVE DOWNWARDS. There are heights of the soul from which tragedy itself no longer appears to operate tragically; and if all the woe in the world were taken together, who would dare to decide whether the sight of it would NECESSARILY seduce and constrain to sympathy, and thus to a doubling of the woe? …

That which serves the higher class of men for nourishment or refreshment, must be almost poison to an entirely different and lower order of human beings. The virtues of the common man would perhaps mean vice and weakness in a philosopher; it might be possible for a highly developed man, supposing him to degenerate and go to ruin, to acquire qualities thereby alone, for the sake of which he would have to be honoured as a saint in the lower world into which he had sunk.

There are books which have an inverse value for the soul and the health according as the inferior soul and the lower vitality, or the higher and more powerful, make use of them. In the former case they are dangerous, disturbing, unsettling books, in the latter case they are herald-calls which summon the bravest to THEIR bravery. 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.

[32] An inversion in perspective
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; but pretty much as in China at present, where the distinction or disgrace of a child redounds to its parents, the retro-operating power of success or failure was what induced men to think well or ill of an action.

Let us call this period the PRE-MORAL period of mankind; the imperative, ‘Know thyself!’ was then still unknown.

In the last ten thousand years, on the other hand, on certain large portions of the earth, one has gradually got so far, that one no longer lets the consequences of an action, but its origin, decide with regard to its worth: a great achievement as a whole, an important refinement of vision and of criterion, the unconscious effect of the supremacy of aristocratic values and of the belief in ‘origin,’ the mark of a period which may be designated in the narrower sense as the MORAL one:the first attempt at self-knowledge is thereby made.

Instead of the consequences, the origin — what an inversion of perspective! And assuredly an inversion effected only after long struggle and wavering! 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.

The intention as the sole origin and antecedent history of an action: under the influence of this prejudice moral praise and blame have been bestowed, and men have judged and even philosophized almost up to the present day. Is it not possible, however, that the necessity may now have arisen of again making up our minds with regard to the reversing and fundamental shifting of values, owing to a new self-consciousness and acuteness in man

— is it now possible that we may be standing on the threshold of a period which to begin with, would be distinguished negatively as ULTRA-MORAL: 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?

In short, we believe that the intention is only a sign or symptom, which first requires an explanation — a sign, moreover, which has too many interpretations, and consequently hardly any meaning in itself alone: 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.

The surmounting of morality, in a certain sense even the self-mounting of morality — let that be the name for the long-secret labour which has been reserved for the most refined, the most upright, and also the most wicked consciences of today, as the living touchstones of the soul.

The urge to strike back at something which injures you is a primitive almost reflex action. Nietzsche observes that to stay your hand and seek the origin or intention is a good example of aristocratic morality at work. This makes sense, but it required a massive inversion in perspective. And a massive interruption of our basic instincts. But we disguise our intentions; to deceive ourselves and to deceive others. Here comes a quantum leap in perspective and this is where Nietzsche gets interesting.

The ‘intention’ we ascribe to others is a prejudice of ours — we cannot read someone else’s mind — we are morally inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt — in the case of a child or a pet animal for example. But in the case of adults this morality is easily deceived by someone with a hidden motive. It is a very dubious system.

Nietzsche argues that apparent ’intention’ needs to be overcome and a new inversion in perspective is called for where the hidden motives of ‘unintended consequences’ can be explored by the most refined and the most wicked consciences. Criminal pleas are standardised with the defence lawyer saying “ You just have to say bla, bla, bla and you’ll get off” — this reveals the gaping flaws in this prejudice. But it is accepted. The benefit of the doubt is always given.

[34] Lighter and Darker shades?
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, which would fain allure us into surmises concerning a deceptive principle in the ‘nature of things.’

He, however, who makes thinking itself, and consequently ‘the spirit,’ responsible for the falseness of the world — an honourable exit, which every conscious or unconscious advocatus dei avails himself of — 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? and what guarantee would it give that it would not continue to do what it has always been doing?

In all seriousness, the innocence of thinkers has something touching and respect- inspiring in it, which even nowadays permits them to wait upon consciousness with the request that it will give them HONEST answers: for example, whether it be ‘real’ or not, and why it keeps the outer world so resolutely at a distance, and other questions of the same description. The belief in ‘immediate certainties’ is a MORAL NAIVETE which does honour to us philosophers; but — we have now to cease being ‘MERELY moral’ men!

Apart from morality, such belief is a folly which does little honour to us! If in middle-class life an ever ready distrust is regarded as the sign of a ‘bad character,’ and consequently as an imprudence, here among us, beyond the middle-class world and its Yeas and Nays, what should prevent our being imprudent and saying: the philosopher has at length a RIGHT to ‘bad character,’ as the being who has hitherto been most befooled on earth — he is now under OBLIGATION to distrustfulness, to the wickedest squinting out of every abyss of suspicion.

— Forgive me the joke of this gloomy grimace and turn of expression; for I myself have long ago learned to think and estimate differently with regard to deceiving and being deceived, and 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.

So much must be conceded: there could have been no life at all except upon the basis of perspective estimates and semblances; and if, with the virtuous enthusiasm and stupidity of many philosophers, one wished to do away altogether with the ‘seeming world’ — well, granted that YOU could do that, — at least nothing of your ‘truth’ would thereby remain!

Indeed, what is it that forces us in general to the supposition that there is an essential opposition of ‘true’ and ‘false’? Is it not enough to suppose degrees of seemingness, and as it were lighter and darker shades and tones of semblance — different valeurs, as the painters say?

Why might not the world WHICH CONCERNS US — be a fiction? And to any one who suggested: ‘But to a fiction belongs an originator?’ — might it not be bluntly replied: WHY? May not this ‘belong’ also belong to the fiction? Is it not at length permitted to be a little ironical towards the subject, just as towards the predicate and object? Might not the philosopher elevate himself above faith in grammar? All respect to governesses, but is it not time that philosophy should renounce governess-faith?

[36] Nothing else
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 — for thinking is only a relation of these impulses to one another:- are we not permitted to make the attempt and to ask the question whether this which is ‘given’ does not SUFFICE, by means of our counterparts, for the understanding even of the so-called mechanical (or ‘material’) world?

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, in which everything still lies locked in a mighty unity, which afterwards branches off and develops itself in organic processes (naturally also, refines and debilitates)

— as a kind of instinctive life in which all organic functions, including self-regulation, assimilation, nutrition, secretion, and change of matter, are still synthetically united with one another — as a PRIMARY FORM of life?

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

Not to assume several kinds of causality, so long as the attempt to get along with a single one has not been pushed to its furthest extent (to absurdity, if I may be allowed to say so): that is a morality of method which one may not repudiate nowadays
— it follows ‘from its definition,’ as mathematicians say.
The question is ultimately whether we really recognize the will as OPERATING, whether we believe in the causality of the will; if we do so — and fundamentally our belief IN THIS is just our belief in causality itself

— we MUST make the attempt to posit hypothetically the causality of the will as the only causality.

‘Will’ can naturally only operate on ‘will’

— and not on ‘matter’ (not on ‘nerves,’ for instance) : in short, the hypothesis must be hazarded, whether will does not operate on will wherever ‘effects’ are recognized

— and 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, and that the solution of the problem of generation and nutrition — it is one problem — could also be found therein: one would thus have acquired the right to define ALL active force unequivocally as WILL TO POWER. The world seen from within, the world defined and designated according to its ‘intelligible character’— it would simply be ‘Will to Power,’ and nothing else.

[40] Everything that is profound loves the mask:
The profoundest things have a hatred even of figure and likeness. Should not the CONTRARY only be the right disguise for the shame of a God to go about in? A question worth asking! — it would be strange if some mystic has not already ventured on the same kind of thing.

There are proceedings of such a delicate nature that it is well to overwhelm them with coarseness and make them unrecognizable; there are actions of love and of an extravagant magnanimity after which nothing can be wiser than to take a stick and thrash the witness soundly: one thereby obscures his recollection.

Many a one is able to obscure and abuse his own memory, in order at least to have vengeance on this sole party in the secret: shame is inventive. They are not the worst things of which one is most ashamed: there is not only deceit behind a mask — there is so much goodness in craft.

I could imagine that a man with something costly and fragile to conceal, would roll through life clumsily and rotundly like an old, green, heavily-hooped wine-cask: the refinement of his shame requiring it to be so.

A man who has depths in his shame meets his destiny and his delicate decisions upon paths which few ever reach, and with regard to the existence of which his nearest and most intimate friends may be ignorant; his mortal danger conceals itself from their eyes, and equally so his regained security.

Such a hidden nature, which instinctively employs speech for silence and concealment, and is inexhaustible in evasion of communication, DESIRES and insists that a mask of himself shall occupy his place in the hearts and heads of his friends; and supposing he does not desire it, his eyes will some day be opened to the fact that there is nevertheless a mask of him there — and that it is well to be so.
Every profound spirit needs a mask; nay, more, around every profound spirit there continually grows a mask, owing to the constantly false, that is to say, SUPERFICIAL interpretation of every word he utters, every step he takes, every sign of life he manifests.

[41] The best test of independence
One must subject oneself to one’s own tests that one is destined for independence and command, and do so at the right time. One must not avoid one’s tests, although they constitute perhaps the most dangerous game one can play, and are in the end tests made only before ourselves and before no other judge.

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

Not to cleave to a fatherland, be it even the most suffering and necessitous — it is even less difficult to detach one’s heart from a victorious fatherland.

Not to cleave to a sympathy, be it even for higher men, into whose peculiar torture and helplessness chance has given us an insight.

Not to cleave to a science, though it tempt one with the most valuable discoveries, apparently specially reserved for us.

Not to cleave to one’s own liberation, to the voluptuous distance and remoteness of the bird, which always flies further aloft in order always to see more under it — the danger of the flier.

Not to cleave to our own virtues, nor become as a whole a victim to any of our specialties, to our ‘hospitality’ for instance, which is the danger of dangers for highly developed and wealthy souls, who deal prodigally, almost indifferently with themselves, and push the virtue of liberality so far that it becomes a vice
One must know how TO CONSERVE ONESELF — the best test of independence.

[44] We Opposite Ones
Need I say expressly after all this that they will be free,VERY free spirits, these philosophers of the future — as certainly also they will not be merely free spirits, but something more, higher, greater, and fundamentally different, which does not wish to be misunderstood and mistaken?

But while I say this, I feel under OBLIGATION almost as much to them as to ourselves (we free spirits who are their heralds and forerunners), to sweep away from ourselves altogether a stupid old prejudice and misunderstanding, which, like a fog, has too long made the conception of ‘free spirit’ obscure.

In every country of Europe, and the same in America, there is at present something which makes an abuse of this name a very narrow, prepossessed, enchained class of spirits, who desire almost the opposite of what our intentions and instincts prompt — not to mention that in respect to the NEW philosophers who are appearing, they must still more be closed windows and bolted doors.

Briefly and regrettably, they belong to the LEVELLERS, these wrongly named ‘free spirits’ — as glib-tongued and scribe-fingered slaves of the democratic taste and its ‘modern ideas’ all of them men without solitude, without personal solitude, blunt honest fellows to whom neither courage nor honourable conduct ought to be denied, only, they are not free, and are ludicrously superficial, especially in their innate partiality for seeing the cause of almost ALL human misery and failure in the old forms in which society has hitherto existed — a notion which happily inverts the truth entirely!

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.

We opposite ones, however, who have opened our eye and conscience to the question how and where the plant ‘man’ has hitherto grown most vigorously, believe that this has always taken place under the opposite conditions, that for this end the dangerousness of his situation had to be increased enormously, his inventive faculty and dissembling power (his ‘spirit’) had to develop into subtlety and daring under long oppression and compulsion, and his Will to Life had to be increased to the unconditioned Will to Power -

We believe that severity, violence, slavery, danger in the street and in the heart, secrecy, stoicism, tempter’s art and devilry of every kind, -that everything wicked, terrible, tyrannical, predatory, and serpentine in man, serves as well for the elevation of the human species as its opposite we do not even say enough when we only say THIS MUCH, and in any case we find ourselves here, both with our speech and our silence, at the OTHER extreme of all modern ideology and gregarious desirability, as their antipodes perhaps?

What wonder that we ‘free spirits’ are not exactly the most communicative spirits? that we do not wish to betray in every respect WHAT a spirit can free itself from, and WHERE perhaps it will then be driven? And as to the import of the dangerous formula, ‘Beyond Good and Evil,’ with which we at least avoid confusion, we ARE something else than ‘libres-penseurs,’ ‘linen pensatori’ ‘free-thinkers,’ and whatever these honest advocates of ‘modern ideas’ like to call themselves.

Having been at home, or at least guests, in many realms of the spirit, having escaped again and again from the gloomy, agreeable nooks in which preferences and prejudices, youth, origin, the accident of men and books, or even the weariness of travel seemed to confine us, full of malice against the seductions of dependency which he concealed in honours, money, positions, or exaltation of the senses, grateful even for distress and the vicissitudes of illness, because they always free us from some rule, and its ‘prejudice,’ grateful to the God, devil, sheep, and worm in us, inquisitive to a fault, investigators to the point of cruelty, with unhesitating fingers for the intangible, with teeth and stomachs for the most indigestible, ready for any business that requires sagacity and acute senses, ready for every adventure, owing to an excess of ‘free will’, with anterior and posterior souls, into the ultimate intentions of which it is difficult to pry, with foregrounds and backgrounds to the end of which no foot may run, hidden ones under the mantles of light, appropriators, although we resemble heirs and spendthrifts, arrangers and collectors from morning till night, misers of our wealth and our full-crammed drawers, economical in learning and forgetting, inventive in scheming, sometimes proud of tables of categories, sometimes pedants, sometimes night-owls of work even in full day, yea, if necessary, even scarecrows — and it is necessary nowadays, that is to say, 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! And perhaps ye are also something of the same kind, ye coming ones?
ye NEW philosophers?



Daytona Platinum

Mature student of literature, politics, philosophy. I’ve edited and published some ‘bitesize’ Nietzsche on medium and am now studying Shelley.