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


Teachers notes and Evaluation notes taken from

Teachers notes:
Morality is as old as humanity, and there have been many different kinds of morality across the millennia. Moral philosophers today lack this historical perspective, and in searching for a “rational foundation” for morality, all they really do is try to justify their own morality. Unable to see outside the perspective of their own morality, they are unable to see the concept of morality itself as problematic and needing to be questioned and justified.

Anything great that we have achieved or become has been the result of a strict obedience in one particular direction over a long period of time. Great art, thinking, and spirituality has occurred through constant and harsh discipline. Only through a kind of enslavement and hardship can we refine ourselves.

Nietzsche asserts that we actually register far less than we think we do. For instance, when we see a tree, we don’t see the detail of every branch and leaf, but only glance at the rough shape of the whole, and from that construct all the smaller details in our head. Similarly when we read a book, we really take in only a few words and then fit those words into what we already think we know. In this sense, Nietzsche suggests, we are all inventors, artists, and liars: our so-called “knowledge” is our own make-believe.

People differ not only in what they think is worth pursuing, but also in what they take to be possession of what they pursue. One man may feel he “possesses” a woman if he can have sex with her, while another feels this possession is only worthwhile if the woman is willing to give up everything for him. This second kind of possession is made the more valuable the more deeply the woman knows the man, so the man must be able to make himself known to her as best he can. Nietzsche also uses examples of charity and education as means of possession. For instance, in educating, the teacher makes the child see the world according to the teacher’s perspective; the teacher thus comes to possess another soul.

Nietzsche bemoans the “slave revolt in morality,” which considered the rich, violent, and sensual to be evil, while considering the poor holy. We have come to see everything healthy, dangerous, and passionate about ourselves as pathological. This morality of the “herd” claims in the name of “happiness” that we should avoid our darker instincts. This may be true for some, but Nietzsche despises moralizers precisely because they generalize on matters that depend greatly on the individual. There have always been more people obeying than commanding, but simply because the majority is suited to submissiveness we should not conclude that this is a general principle that all should obey. Nowadays, those who command are almost ashamed of it, and dare only do so if they do it in the name of God, the law, or the people.

Nietzsche suggests that our moral valuations are based largely on fear. In a community that is safe from external threats, any aggressive members of that community come to be seen as a threat. Thus, our morality condemns all that is lively, preferring the safety of a tamed, mediocre mass. This morality of the “herd” then proclaims itself as the only true morality (other moralities are “immoral”) and as the saviour of the herd.

Nietzsche worries democratic sentiments may tame us and render us all equal in mediocrity with no way out. He calls for a species of “new philosophers” to arise and lead the way out of this longing for peace and mediocrity.

As we have discussed earlier, Nietzsche sees all drives as resting ultimately on the will to power. My beating up my neighbour and my giving my neighbour a gift are both expressions of my will to power; they are both ways in which I can gain a feeling of power over my neighbour. But how is it that two totally opposite deeds can ultimately boil down to the same will? Nietzsche suggests that we learn to sublimate our will to power; we channel it and redirect it in order to give it a refined, more subtle, and higher expression. Beating up my neighbour is about as unsubtle an expression of power as there is; I get a simple and immediate gratification. However, if I resist the urge to beat up my neighbour, and instead give him a gift, I will have sublimated my will to power. Now I will feel my neighbour is in my debt and will have a greater, longer- lasting, and more sublime feeling of power than if I had just beaten him up.

Nietzsche clarifies the importance of sublimation in his suggestion that refinements in art, thinking, and spirituality depend upon a kind of obedience. If one is unable to command, one will be a slave, but if one is unable to obey, one will be a mindless barbarian. True artists submit themselves to all kinds of rigorous laws in order to discipline themselves and their art. Obedience and sublimation go hand in hand; the obedience of artists teaches them to sublimate their will to power so that their feeling of power reaches a climax in the act of creation. Most of us lack the talent and the discipline for truly great art, but for those who can create, what greater feeling of power is there than to know that one is the source of something truly beautiful?

We also see the concept of sublimation present in Nietzsche’s discussion of possession. His example of the man who “possesses” a woman by having sex with her has only the basic non-sublimated animal instincts of lust. The man who wants the woman to give up everything for him wants a more refined feeling of power over the woman. This man also recognises that he can only be certain that the woman is giving up everything for *him,* and not some false conception of him, if she knows him deeply. In order for him to reveal himself deeply to the woman, he must first know himself deeply. Thus, a refined will to power, among other things, encourages self-knowledge.

We have now found a formula for what Nietzsche considers to be good: sublimated will to power. The slave is powerless, the modern European has no will, and the barbarian lacks sublimation. While Nietzsche admires the “healthy” power of the violent barbarian, he admires this power only as an alternative to the impotency of the modern European.

If we contrast what Nietzsche considers worth pursuing with other moralities, we can understand why he so bitterly despises utilitarianism, democracy, and other “taming” forces. The Christian ethic, which is now the only ethic, wants to speak for everyone. *Everyone* should love his or her neighbour, *everyone* should act with the happiness of the greatest number in mind. Nietzsche calls this “herd” morality because it speaks to our herd instincts. It assumes that we are all the same and should all follow the same rules.

In urging us to sublimate our will to power, Nietzsche does not pretend to be speaking to everybody. Some of us were simply born to be mindless slaves, according to Nietzsche, and those people are not his concern. What worries Nietzsche is that the minority that is potentially great has been seduced by the preaching of the herd and has attempted to follow the same rules as everyone else. These rules, Nietzsche claims, exist in large part precisely to keep these freer, more dangerous spirits in line. Democracy is just one more attempt to force us all to be equal.

While it is easy for an atheist reader of Nietzsche to nod passively at his criticisms of Christianity, morality, or mediocrity, it might raise a few eyebrows when he vilifies democracy. After all, most of us have been brought up to think of democracy as a great thing.

This commentary will not attempt a synthesis of Nietzsche and the democratic spirit, and it will not take a side; instead, it will rest content in having highlighted just one way in which Nietzsche’s bold worldview is mightily at odds with everything we presently take for granted.

If anything, the liberal democracies of today would seem far worse to Nietzsche than his own Germany. Our consumer- driven society is fully geared toward making life as easy as possible for everyone. A sublimated will to power is a result of a struggle that demands that we make life as difficult as possible.


[187] Becoming a spiritual leader
Apart from the value of such assertions as ‘there is a categorical imperative in us,’ one can always ask: What does such an assertion indicate about him who makes it? There are systems of morals which are meant to:

(1) justify their author in the eyes of other people;
(2) other systems of morals are meant to tranquilize him, and make him self-satisfied;
(3) with other systems he wants to crucify and humble himself,
(4) with others he wishes to take revenge,
(5) with others to conceal himself,
(6) with others to glorify himself and gave superiority and distinction,
(7) this system of morals helps its author to forget,
(8) that system makes him, or something of him, forgotten,

many a moralist would like to exercise power and creative arbitrariness over mankind, many another, perhaps, Kant especially, gives us to understand by his morals that ‘what is estimable in me, is that I know how to obey — and with you it SHALL not be otherwise than with me!’

In short, systems of morals are only a SIGN-LANGUAGE OF THE EMOTIONS.

Philosophy : “my world” ; the categorical imperative. Think of the creative drives of great artists; Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Picasso, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, Shakespeare. Each representing a powerful, influential school of art or literature. With patrons and sponsors, admirers, followers and imitators. Many being inspired by the divine or the highest ideals. Music, art and poetry also being a ‘language of the emotions’. But the moralist seeks to impose this power and ‘creative arbitrariness’ over mankind.

The connection between art and philosophy is central to Nietzsche’s thinking. Which personal moral system is yours closest to within Nietzsche’s categories?

[188] The Long Bondage of the Spirit
In contrast to laisser-aller, every system of morals is a sort of tyranny against ‘nature’ and also against ‘reason’, that is, however, no objection, unless one should again decree by some system of morals, that all kinds of tyranny and unreasonableness are unlawful.
What is essential and invaluable in every system of morals, is that it is a long constraint.
In order to understand Stoicism, or Port Royal, or Puritanism, one should remember the constraint under which every language has attained to strength and freedom — the metrical constraint, the tyranny of rhyme and rhythm.

How much trouble have the poets and orators of every nation given themselves! — not excepting some of the prose writers of today, in whose ear dwells an inexorable conscientiousness — ‘for the sake of a folly,’ as utilitarian bunglers say, and thereby deem themselves wise — ‘from submission to arbitrary laws,’ as the anarchists say, and thereby fancy themselves ‘free,’ even free-spirited.

The singular fact remains, however, that everything of the nature of freedom, elegance, boldness, dance, and masterly certainty, which exists or has existed, whether it be in thought itself, or in administration, or in speaking and persuading, in art just as in conduct, has only developed by means of the tyranny of such arbitrary law, and in all seriousness, it is not at all improbable that precisely this is ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ — and not laisser-aller!

Every artist knows how different from the state of letting himself go, is his ‘most natural’ condition, the free arranging, locating, disposing, and constructing in the moments of ‘inspiration’ — and how strictly and delicately he then obeys a thousand laws, which, by their very rigidness and precision, defy all formulation by means of ideas (even the most stable idea has, in comparison therewith, something floating, manifold, and ambiguous in it).

The essential thing ‘in heaven and in earth’ is, apparently (to repeat it once more), that there should be long OBEDIENCE in the same direction, there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living; for instance, virtue, art, music, dancing, reason, spirituality — anything whatever that is transfiguring, refined, foolish, or divine.

The long bondage of the spirit, the distrustful constraint in the communicability of ideas, the discipline which the thinker imposed on himself to think in accordance with the rules of a church or a court, or conformable to Aristotelian premises, the persistent spiritual will to interpret everything that happened according to a Christian scheme, and in every occurrence to rediscover and justify the Christian God:

- all this violence, arbitrariness, severity, dreadfulness, and unreasonableness, has proved itself the disciplinary means whereby the European spirit has attained its strength, its remorseless curiosity and subtle mobility; granted also that much irrecoverable strength and spirit had to be stifled, suffocated, and spoilt in the process (for here, as everywhere, ‘nature’ shows herself as she is, in all her extravagant and INDIFFERENT magnificence, which is shocking, but nevertheless noble).

That for centuries European thinkers only thought in order to prove something-nowadays, on the contrary, we are suspicious of every thinker who ‘wishes to prove something’ — that it was always settled beforehand what WAS TO BE the result of their strictest thinking, as it was perhaps in the Asiatic astrology of former times, or as it is still at the present day in the innocent, Christian-moral explanation of immediate personal events ‘for the glory of God,’ or ‘for the good of the soul”: -

this tyranny, this arbitrariness, this severe and magnificent stupidity, has EDUCATED the spirit; slavery, both in the coarser and the finer sense, is apparently an indispensable means even of spiritual education and discipline.

One may look at every system of morals in this light: it is ‘nature’ therein which teaches to hate the laisser-aller, the too great freedom, and implants the need for limited horizons, for immediate duties — it teaches the NARROWING OF PERSPECTIVES, and thus, in a certain sense, that stupidity is a condition of life and development.

‘Thou must obey some one, and for a long time; OTHERWISE thou wilt come to grief, and lose all respect for thyself’ -

this seems to me to be the moral imperative of nature, which is certainly neither ‘categorical,’ as old Kant wished (consequently the ‘otherwise’), nor does it address itself to the individual (what does nature care for the individual!), but to nations, races, ages, and ranks; above all, however, to the animal ‘man’ generally, to MANKIND.

Progress was never made by reasonable people, the ‘long bondage of the spirit’ is significant. This seems at odds with Nietzsche’s reputation for saying that ‘God is dead’. But he’s saying that, take that lifelong devotion and dedication away and you lose “a condition of life and development”. Things might go badly.

[191] Descartes was superficial
The old theological problem of ‘Faith’ and ‘Knowledge,’or more plainly, of instinct and reason — the question whether, in respect to the valuation of things, instinct deserves more authority than rationality, which wants to appreciate and act according to motives, according to a ‘Why,’ that is to say, in conformity to purpose and utility — it is always the old moral problem that first appeared in the person of Socrates, and had divided men’s minds long before Christianity.

Socrates himself, following, of course, the taste of his talent — that of a surpassing dialectician — took first the side of reason; and, in fact, what did he do all his life but laugh at the awkward incapacity of the noble Athenians, who were men of instinct, like all noble men, and could never give satisfactory answers concerning the motives of their actions?

In the end, however, though silently and secretly, he laughed also at himself: with his finer conscience and introspection, he found in himself the same difficulty and incapacity.

‘But why’ — he said to himself — ‘should one on that account separate oneself from the instincts! One must set them right, and the reason ALSO — one must follow the instincts, but at the same time persuade the reason to support them with good arguments.’

This was the real FALSENESS of that great and mysterious ironist; he brought his conscience up to the point that he was satisfied with a kind of self-outwitting: in fact, he perceived the irrationality in the moral judgment. —

Plato, more innocent in such matters, and without the craftiness of the plebeian, wished to prove to himself, at the expenditure of all his strength — the greatest strength a philosopher had ever expended — that reason and instinct lead spontaneously to one goal, to the good, to ‘God”; and since Plato, all theologians and philosophers have followed the same path — which means that in matters of morality, instinct (or as Christians call it, ‘Faith,’ or as I call it, ‘the herd’) has hitherto triumphed.

Unless one should make an exception in the case of Descartes, the father of rationalism (and consequently the grandfather of the Revolution), who recognized only the authority of reason: but reason is only a tool, and Descartes was superficial.

[192] We see and hear badly
Whoever has followed the history of a single science, finds in its development a clue to the understanding of the oldest and commonest processes of all ‘knowledge and cognisance”: there, as here, the premature hypotheses, the fictions, the good stupid will to ‘belief,’ and the lack of distrust and patience are first developed — our senses learn late, and never learn completely, to be subtle, reliable, and cautious organs of knowledge. Our eyes find it easier on a given occasion to produce a picture already often produced, than to seize upon the divergence and novelty of an impression: the latter requires more force, more ‘morality.’

It is difficult and painful for the ear to listen to anything new; we hear strange music badly. When we hear another language spoken, we involuntarily attempt to form the sounds into words with which we are more familiar and conversant — it was thus, for example, that the Germans modified the spoken word ARCUBALISTA into ARMBRUST (cross-bow).

Our senses are also hostile and averse to the new; and generally, even in the ‘simplest’ processes of sensation, the. emotions DOMINATE — such as fear, love, hatred, and the passive emotion of indolence. -

As little as a reader nowadays reads all the single words (not to speak of syllables) of a page — he rather takes about five out of every twenty words at random, and ‘guesses’ the probably appropriate sense to them — just as little do we see a tree correctly and completely in respect to its leaves, branches, colour, and shape; we find it so much easier to fancy the chance of a tree.

Even in the midst of the most remarkable experiences, we still do just the same; we fabricate the greater part of the experience, and can hardly be made to contemplate any event, EXCEPT as ‘inventors’ thereof.

All this goes to prove that from our fundamental nature and from remote ages we have been — ACCUSTOMED TO LYING.

Or, to express it more politely and hypocritically, in short, more pleasantly — one is much more of an artist than one is aware of.

In an animated conversation, I often see the face of the person with whom I am speaking so clearly and sharply defined before me, according to the thought he expresses, or which I believe to be evoked in his mind, that the degree of distinctness far exceeds the STRENGTH of my visual faculty — the delicacy of the play of the muscles and of the expression of the eyes MUST therefore be imagined by me. Probably the person put on quite a different expression, or none at all.

[194] The difference among men
The difference among men does not manifest itself only in the difference of their lists of desirable things — in their regarding different good things as worth striving for, and being disagreed as to the greater or less value, the order of rank, of the commonly recognized desirable things:

- it manifests itself much more in what they regard as actually HAVING and POSSESSING a desirable thing.

As regards a woman, for instance, the control over her body and her sexual gratification serves as an amply sufficient sign of ownership and possession to the more modest man; another with a more suspicious and ambitious thirst for possession, sees the ‘questionableness,’ the mere apparentness of such ownership, and wishes to have finer tests in order to know especially whether the woman not only gives herself to him, but also gives up for his sake what she has or would like to have — only THEN does he look upon her as ‘possessed.’

A third, however, has not even here got to the limit of his distrust and his desire for possession: he asks himself whether the woman, when she gives up everything for him, does not perhaps do so for a phantom of him; he wishes first to be thoroughly, indeed, profoundly well known; in order to be loved at all he ventures to let himself be found out. Only then does he feel the beloved one fully in his possession, when she no longer deceives herself about him, when she loves him just as much for the sake of his devilry and concealed insatiability, as for his goodness, patience, and spirituality.

One man would like to possess a nation, and he finds all the higher arts of Cagliostro and Catalina suitable for his purpose. Another, with a more refined thirst for possession, says to himself: ‘One may not deceive where one desires to possess’ — he is irritated and impatient at the idea that a mask of him should rule in the hearts of the people: ‘I must, therefore, MAKE myself known, and first of all learn to know myself!’

Among helpful and charitable people, one almost always finds the awkward craftiness which first gets up suitably him who has to be helped, as though, for instance, he should ‘merit’ help, seek just THEIR help, and would show himself deeply grateful, attached, and subservient to them for all help.

With these conceits, they take control of the needy as a property, just as in general they are charitable and helpful out of a desire for property. One finds them jealous when they are crossed or forestalled in their charity.

Parents involuntarily make something like themselves out of their children — they call that ‘education”; no mother doubts at the bottom of her heart that the child she has borne is thereby her property, no father hesitates about his right to HIS OWN ideas and notions of worth.

Indeed, in former times fathers deemed it right to use their discretion concerning the life or death of the newly born (as among the ancient Germans). And like the father, so also do the teacher, the class, the priest, and the prince still see in every new individual an unobjectionable opportunity for a new possession. The consequence is …

Truths which are foolish to deny. Power wants to possess. Countries have territories and these too used to be referred to as ‘possessions’.

[195] The chosen people
The Jews — a people ‘born for slavery,’ as Tacitus and the whole ancient world say of them; ‘the chosen people among the nations,’ as they themselves say and believe — the Jews performed the miracle of the inversion of valuations, by means of which life on earth obtained a new and dangerous charm for a couple of millenniums. Their prophets fused into one the expressions ‘rich,’ ‘godless,’ ‘wicked,’ ‘violent,’ ‘sensual,’ and for the first time coined the word ‘world’ as a term of reproach.

In this inversion of valuations (in which is also included the use of the word ‘poor’ as synonymous with ‘saint’ and ‘friend’) the significance of the Jewish people is to be found; it is with THEM that the SLAVE-INSURRECTION IN MORALS commences.

Before going off on one’s own moral 2021 outburst at this point. Remember he is referring to the ancient Roman perspective and how the arrival of Jesus Christ distorted the meaning of certain words which marked the Christian transformation of moral values. Nietzsche has many perspectives on the Jews most of which are positive.

[198] Happy Clappy
All the systems of morals which address themselves with a view to their ‘happiness,’ as it is called, what else are they but suggestions for behaviour adapted to the degree of DANGER from themselves in which the individuals live;

recipes for their passions, their good and bad propensities, insofar as such have the Will to Power and would like to play the master; small and great expediencies and elaborations, permeated with the musty odour of old family medicines and old-wife wisdom;

all of them grotesque and absurd in their form — because they address themselves to ‘all,’ because they generalize where generalization is not authorized; all of them speaking unconditionally, and taking themselves unconditionally; all of them flavoured not merely with one grain of salt, but rather endurable only, and sometimes even seductive, when they are over-spiced and begin to smell dangerously, especially of ‘the other world.’

That is all of little value when estimated intellectually, and is far from being ‘science,’ much less ‘wisdom”; but, repeated once more, and three times repeated, it is expediency, expediency, expediency, mixed with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity — whether it be the indifference and statuesque coldness towards the heated folly of the emotions, which the Stoics advised and fostered; or the no- more-laughing and no-more-weeping of Spinoza, the destruction of the emotions by their analysis and vivisection, which he recommended so naively

; or the lowering of the emotions to an innocent mean at which they may be satisfied, the Aristotelianism of morals; or even morality as the enjoyment of the emotions in a voluntary attenuation and spiritualization by the symbolism of art, perhaps as music, or as love of God, and of mankind for God’s sake — for in religion the passions are once more enfranchised, provided that … ;

or, finally, even the complaisant and wanton surrender to the emotions, as has been taught by Hafis and Goethe, the bold letting-go of the reins, the spiritual and corporeal licentia morum in the exceptional cases of wise old codgers and drunkards, with whom it ‘no longer has much danger.’- This also for the chapter: ‘Morals as Timidity.’

[199] Gregarious europeans
Inasmuch as in all ages, as long as mankind has existed,there have also been human herds (family alliances, communities, tribes, peoples, states, churches), and always a great number who obey in proportion to the small number who command

— in view, therefore, of the fact that obedience has been most practiced and fostered among mankind hitherto, one may reasonably suppose that, generally speaking, the need thereof is now innate in every one, as a kind of FORMAL CONSCIENCE which gives the command ‘Thou shalt unconditionally do something, unconditionally refrain from something’, in short, ‘Thou shalt”.

This need tries to satisfy itself and to fill its form with a content, according to its strength, impatience, and eagerness, it at once seizes as an omnivorous appetite with little selection, and accepts whatever is shouted into its ear by all sorts of commanders — parents, teachers, laws, class prejudices, or public opinion.

The extraordinary limitation of human development, the hesitation, protractedness, frequent retrogression, and turning thereof, is attributable to the fact that the herd-instinct of obedience is transmitted best, and at the cost of the art of command.

If one imagine this instinct increasing to its greatest extent, commanders and independent individuals will finally be lacking altogether, or they will suffer inwardly from a bad conscience, and will have to impose a deception on themselves in the first place in order to be able to command just as if they also were only obeying. This condition of things actually exists in Europe at present — I call it the moral hypocrisy of the commanding class.

They know no other way of protecting themselves from their bad conscience than by playing the role of executors of older and higher orders (of predecessors, of the constitution, of justice, of the law, or of God himself), or they even justify themselves by maxims from the current opinions of the herd, as ‘first servants of their people,’ or ‘instruments of the public weal”.

On the other hand, the gregarious European man nowadays assumes an air as if he were the only kind of man that is allowable, he glorifies his qualities, such as public spirit, kindness, deference, industry, temperance, modesty, indulgence, sympathy, by virtue of which he is gentle, endurable, and useful to the herd, as the peculiarly human virtues.

In cases, however, where it is believed that the leader and bell-wether cannot be dispensed with, attempt after attempt is made nowadays to replace commanders by the summing together of clever gregarious men all representative constitutions, for example, are of this origin.

In spite of all, what a blessing, what a deliverance from a weight becoming unendurable, is the appearance of an absolute ruler for these gregarious Europeans — of this fact the effect of the appearance of Napoleon was the last great proof the history of the influence of Napoleon is almost the history of the higher happiness to which the entire century has attained in its worthiest individuals and periods.

In today’s terms Nietzsche may prefer Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, over the clever gregarious democratic leaders of the other European powers; where there is plenty of moral hypocrisy to go around. Nietzsche admired the Emperor Ceasar and Napoleon, presumably, for their militaristic ambitions.

[201] Fear is the mother of morals
As long as the utility which determines moral estimates is only gregarious utility, as long as the preservation of the community is only kept in view, and the immoral is sought precisely and exclusively in what seems dangerous to the maintenance of the community, there can be no ‘morality of love to one’s neighbour.’

Granted even that there is already a little constant exercise of consideration, sympathy, fairness, gentleness, and mutual assistance, granted that even in this condition of society all those instincts are already active which are latterly distinguished by honourable names as ‘virtues,’ and eventually almost coincide with the conception ‘morality”: in that period they do not as yet belong to the domain of moral valuations — they are still ULTRA-MORAL.

A sympathetic action, for instance, is neither called good nor bad, moral nor immoral, in the best period of the Romans; and should it be praised, a sort of resentful disdain is compatible with this praise, even at the best, directly the sympathetic action is compared with one which contributes to the welfare of the whole, to the RESPUBLICA.

After all, ‘love to our neighbour’ is always a secondary matter, partly conventional and arbitrarily manifested in relation to our FEAR OF OUR NEIGHBOUR. After the fabric of society seems on the whole established and secured against external dangers, it is this fear of our neighbour which again creates new perspectives of moral valuation.

Certain strong and dangerous instincts, such as the love of enterprise, foolhardiness, revengefulness, astuteness, rapacity, and love of power, which up till then had not only to be honoured from the point of view of general utility — under other names, of course, than those here given — but had to be fostered and cultivated (because they were perpetually required in the common danger against the common enemies), are now felt in their dangerousness to be doubly strong — when the outlets for them are lacking — and are gradually branded as immoral and given over to calumny.

The contrary instincts and inclinations now attain to moral honour, the gregarious instinct gradually draws its conclusions. How much or how little dangerousness to the community or to equality is contained in an opinion, a condition, an emotion, a disposition, or an endowment — that is now the moral perspective, here again fear is the mother of morals. It is by the loftiest and strongest instincts, when they break out passionately and carry the individual far above and beyond the average, and the low level of the gregarious conscience, that the self-reliance of the community is destroyed, its belief in itself, its backbone, as it were, breaks, consequently these very instincts will be most branded and defamed.

“Whoever controls the people’s fears becomes master of their souls”
— Niccolò Machiavelli

The lofty independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, and even the cogent reason, are felt to be dangers, everything that elevates the individual above the herd, and is a source of fear to the neighbour, is henceforth called EVIL, the tolerant, unassuming, self-adapting, self-equalizing disposition, the MEDIOCRITY of desires, attains to moral distinction and honour.

Finally, under very peaceful circumstances, there is always less opportunity and necessity for training the feelings to severity and rigour, and now every form of severity, even in justice, begins to disturb the conscience, a lofty and rigorous nobleness and self-responsibility almost offends, and awakens distrust, ‘the lamb,’ and still more ‘the sheep,’ wins respect.

There is a point of diseased mellowness and effeminacy in the history of society, at which society itself takes the part of him who injures it, the part of the CRIMINAL, and does so, in fact, seriously and honestly. To punish, appears to it to be somehow unfair — it is certain that the idea of ‘punishment’ and ‘the obligation to punish’ are then painful and alarming to people.

‘Is it not sufficient if the criminal be rendered HARMLESS? Why should we still punish? Punishment itself is terrible!’ — with these questions gregarious morality, the morality of fear, draws its ultimate conclusion. If one could at all do away with danger, the cause of fear, one would have done away with this morality at the same time, it would no longer be necessary, it WOULD NOT CONSIDER ITSELF any longer necessary! -

Whoever examines the conscience of the present-day European, will always elicit the same imperative from its thousand moral folds and hidden recesses, the imperative of the timidity of the herd ‘we wish that some time or other there may be NOTHING MORE TO FEAR!’ Some time or other — the will and the way THERETO is nowadays called ‘progress’ all over Europe.

[202] Ye have become like Gods
Let us at once say again what we have already said a hundred times,for people’s ears nowadays are unwilling to hear such truths — OUR truths.

We know well enough how offensive it sounds when any one plainly, and without metaphor, counts man among the animals, but it will be accounted to us almost a CRIME, that it is precisely in respect to men of ‘modern ideas’ that we have constantly applied the terms ‘herd,’ ‘herd-instincts,’ and such like expressions.

Democracy reduces each of us to the status of a herding animal. To say it out loud is offensive but we should be mindful of it ; Democracy degrades human beings. Voting patterns, for example, tend to be tribal in modern democratic states which is why proportional voting was introduced.

What avail is it? We cannot do otherwise, for it is precisely here that our new insight is. We have found that in all the principal moral judgments, Europe has become unanimous, including likewise the countries where European influence prevails in Europe people evidently KNOW what Socrates thought he did not know, and what the famous serpent of old once promised to teach

— they ‘know’ today what is good and evil.

It must then sound hard and be distasteful to the ear, when we always insist that that which here thinks it knows, that which here glorifies itself with praise and blame, and calls itself good, is the instinct of the herding human animal, the instinct which has come and is ever coming more and more to the front, to preponderance and supremacy over other instincts, according to the increasing physiological approximation and resemblance of which it is the symptom.

MORALITY IN EUROPE AT PRESENT IS HERDING-ANIMAL MORALITY, and therefore, as we understand the matter, only one kind of human morality, beside which, before which, and after which many other moralities, and above all HIGHER moralities, are or should be possible.

Against such a ‘possibility,’ against such a ‘should be,’ however, this morality defends itself with all its strength, it says obstinately and inexorably ‘I am morality itself and nothing else is morality!’ Indeed, with the help of a religion which has humoured and flattered the sublimest desires of the herding-animal, things have reached such a point that we always find a more visible expression of this morality even in political and social arrangements:

the DEMOCRATIC movement is the inheritance of the Christian movement. That its TEMPO, however, is much too slow and sleepy for the more impatient ones, for those who are sick and distracted by the herding-instinct, is indicated by the increasingly furious howling, and always less disguised teeth- gnashing of the anarchist dogs, who are now roving through the highways of European culture.

Apparently in opposition to the peacefully industrious democrats and Revolution-ideologues, and still more so to the awkward philosophasters and fraternity- visionaries who call themselves Socialists and want a ‘free society,’ those are really at one with them all in their thorough and instinctive hostility to every form of society other than that of the AUTONOMOUS herd (to the extent even of repudiating the notions ‘master’ and ‘servant’ — ni dieu ni maitre, says a socialist formula);

at one in their tenacious opposition to every special claim, every special right and privilege (this means ultimately opposition to EVERY right, for when all are equal, no one needs ‘rights’ any longer); at one in their distrust of punitive justice (as though it were a violation of the weak, unfair to the NECESSARY consequences of all former society);

but equally at one in their religion of sympathy, in their compassion for all that feels, lives, and suffers (down to the very animals, up even to ‘God’ — the extravagance of ‘sympathy for God’ belongs to a democratic age)

; altogether at one in the cry and impatience of their sympathy, in their deadly hatred of suffering generally, in their almost feminine incapacity for witnessing it or ALLOWING it; at one in their involuntary beglooming and heart-softening, under the spell of which Europe seems to be threatened with a new Buddhism; at one in their belief in the morality of MUTUAL sympathy, as though it were morality in itself, the climax, the ATTAINED climax of mankind, the sole hope of the future, the consolation of the present, the great discharge from all the obligations of the past; altogether at one in their belief in the community as the DELIVERER, in the herd, and therefore in ‘themselves.’

[203] Universal degeneracy
We, who hold a different belief — we, who regard the democratic movement, not only as a degenerating form of political organization, but as equivalent to a degenerating, a waning type of man, as involving his mediocrising and depreciation: where have WE to fix our hopes?

In NEW PHILOSOPHERS — there is no other alternative: in minds strong and original enough to initiate opposite estimates of value, to transvalue and invert ‘eternal valuations”; in forerunners, in men of the future, who in the present shall fix the constraints and fasten the knots which will compel millenniums to take NEW paths.

To teach man the future of humanity as his WILL, as depending on human will, and to make preparation for vast hazardous enterprises and collective attempts in rearing and educating, in order thereby to put an end to the frightful rule of folly and chance which has hitherto gone by the name of ‘history’ (the folly of the ‘greatest number’ is only its last form)

— for that purpose a new type of philosopher and commander will some time or other be needed, at the very idea of which everything that has existed in the way of occult, terrible, and benevolent beings might look pale and dwarfed.

The image of such leaders hovers before OUR eyes: — is it lawful for me to say it aloud, ye free spirits? The conditions which one would partly have to create and partly utilise for their genesis; the presumptive methods and tests by virtue of which a soul should grow up to such an elevation and power as to feel a CONSTRAINT to these tasks; a transvaluation of values, under the new pressure and hammer of which a conscience should be steeled and a heart transformed into brass, so as to bear the weight of such responsibility; and on the other hand the necessity for such leaders, the dreadful danger that they might be lacking, or miscarry and degenerate:

— these are OUR real anxieties and glooms, ye know it well, ye free spirits! these are the heavy distant thoughts and storms which sweep across the heaven of OUR life. There are few pains so grievous as to have seen, divined, or experienced how an exceptional man has missed his way and deteriorated; but he who has the rare eye for the universal danger of ‘man’ himself DETERIORATING, he who like us has recognized the extraordinary fortuitousness which has hitherto played its game in respect to the future of mankind

— a game in which neither the hand, nor even a ‘finger of God’ has participated! — he who divines the fate that is hidden under the idiotic unwariness and blind confidence of ‘modern ideas,’ and still more under the whole of Christo-European morality suffers from an anguish with which no other is to be compared.

He sees at a glance all that could still BE MADE OUT OF MAN through a favourable accumulation and augmentation of human powers and arrangements; he knows with all the knowledge of his conviction how unexhausted man still is for the greatest possibilities, and how often in the past the type man has stood in presence of mysterious decisions and new paths: — he knows still better from his painfulest recollections on what wretched obstacles promising developments of the highest rank have hitherto usually gone to pieces, broken down, sunk, and become contemptible.

The UNIVERSAL DEGENERACY OF MANKIND to the level of the ‘man of the future’ — as idealized by the socialistic fools and shallow-pates — this degeneracy and dwarfing of man to an absolutely gregarious animal (or as they call it, to a man of ‘free society’), this brutalising of man into a pigmy with equal rights and claims, is undoubtedly POSSIBLE! He who has thought out this possibility to its ultimate conclusion knows ANOTHER loathing unknown to the rest of mankind — and perhaps also a new MISSION!

The reference to the serpentine in mankind is striking. Nietzsche is using potent Biblical language to warn us about something, about a dangerous and new moral perspective. The “War to end all Wars” would indeed come soon after Nietzsche’s death. And also the Russian Revolution where Bolsheviks turned on the gentry because they were regarded as a degenerate class. The ability to sense such shocking things decades beforehand, is a big reason why Nietzsche is a fascinating thinker and historical figure.



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

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