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

Part 7 of 10 : WE SCHOLARS

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31 min readJul 17, 2021

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The main contrast of this chapter is between real philosophers as Nietzsche conceives of them and “philosophical laborers” and scholars. The great success of science and scholarship has encouraged philosophy to subordinate itself to science, concerning itself with the theory of knowledge alone. A real philosopher must be able to rise above all this science, but this becomes increasingly difficult as our body of knowledge grows increasingly larger.

Nietzsche is critical of the sterile, objective spirit of modern scholars. A removal of oneself from one’s work and a craving for generalities can be beneficial in that it helps us make sense of what we already know and thereby helps us to come to terms with and overcome our past.

However, we should not see this objective spirit as an end in itself. Rather, it is a means that can be used by philosophers and artists to create something new, something fertile, abundant.

Nietzsche characterizes true genius as “one who either *begets* or *gives birth,*” and mockingly associates scholars with old maids: neither is “conversant with the two most valuable functions of man.” These scholars are not self-sufficient or creative, they lack self-knowledge and strong passions, and they thrive on a mediocrity that seeks to eliminate everything that is unusual or irregular.

Nietzsche also discusses two kinds of skepticism that he associates with these two different types. The first kind of skepticism, which he associates with mediocrity, is plagued by doubts that inhibit all kinds of action. By reassuring themselves with doubts, these skeptics pursue science and objectivity.

By means of contrast, Nietzsche discusses a different kind of skepticism that he associates with Frederick the Great’s influence. This kind of skepticism is strong-willed and intrepid, never resting content with easy answers but always questioning, seeking, and discovering.

Philosophers, as opposed to “philosophical labourers,” are legislators and creators. While scholars and philosophical labourers seek to clear up the past, philosophers look to the future and say “*thus* it *shall* be.” Because they speak for tomorrow, they are necessarily out of place in the here and now, and are always struggling against the spirit of the present.

Socrates, for instance, rebelled against the aristocratic spirit of his day, showing the nobles by means of his irony that they were just as stupid and weak as he or anybody else. Today, on the contrary, a philosopher would rebel against the democratic spirit of the time, seeking solitude and difference.

For these philosophers, thinking is a light and easy process. Most of us find careful thinking difficult, and therefore serious. Most of us, Nietzsche suggests, don’t have the strength of will to be philosophers. Such great minds need to be bred and cultivated.


Ancient Greek philosophy sat above the sciences. In search of the true nature of the divine, which led to the conclusion that there can be only one God. This was called The ‘God of the Philosophers’. The one God of the People of Israel, who was also the God of Jesus and the early Christians, was viewed by the Greeks as an alien deity of an alien people and so could not command their allegiance. It was therefore necessary to make the argument that the God of Israel is, in fact, the one God conceived by the philosophers.

This contention was essential to the plausibility of both Jewish and Christian witness in the Hellenic world. In 2006, Pope Benedict underscored the crucial importance of Hellenistic philosophy in the development of early Christian theology. That engagement with philosophy is indeed of lasting importance for Christian theology. It is grounded in the teaching in the Gospel of John and in the thought of the apostle Paul. Who affirmed that, by the exercise of clear reason, human beings know of the one God” the one God who is creator of the world and who revealed himself in Jesus Christ, as proclaimed by the apostles.

Nietzsche is saying that the true philosopher, in the original sense of the word, will reveal a new post-christian, post-science ‘God of the philosophers’ — the same way as before. After all, this has a 2,000 year old precedent. The most notable characteristic of a Nietzschean philosopher is that such a philosopher must be a brilliant creator and a legislator, not a dull scientist.

As we saw earlier, Nietzsche dislikes the spirit of objectivity that reigns in scientific research because there is a total absence of will. According to Nietzsche, there is no such thing as an objective standpoint: an interpretation of any fact (and Nietzsche might ask, what is an uninterpreted fact?) is a sign that some will is taking possession of that fact.

A philosopher must not just describe the world, but must also give meaning to the world. Such a creative act is the sign of a strong and sublimated will to power.

To say that a philosopher must “give meaning to the world” hardly gets us beyond the vagueness Nietzsche himself presents us with. This concept might become clearer if we understand it in terms of a sublimated will to power. As we discussed in the previous commentary, sublimation consists of suppressing one’s immediate instincts for domination in order to achieve a more sublime and satisfying feeling of power.

The earlier example was of suppressing the instinct to beat up one’s neighbor, and to gain instead a more sublime feeling of power by putting that neighbor in one’s debt. The creative instinct is an example of an even more deeply sublimated will to power. In creating a work of art, for example, one is interpreting the world in a certain way, and persuading others to share that interpretation. Thus, one is not only exerting power over others, by making them see the world in a certain way, but one is also expressing one’s power over the world by submitting it to one’s own point of view. All acts of creation are acts of interpretation, and all acts of interpretation express a will to power.

Specifically, Nietzsche suggests that a philosopher should be a creator of values. A great deal of Nietzsche’s writings deal with morality and the way that morality has shaped our history. Different moralities impose different kinds of order on the world. Philosophers who create their own morality will thus create a new world order.

Walter Kaufmann criticizes the simplicity with which Nietzsche presents his position. First, he suggests that all great moral philosophers have created a value system of sorts, and second, he suggests that a legislator of values who does not also do the analysis and scholarly work of the “philosophical labourer” is not a philosopher. This second criticism is more apt than the first: Nietzsche admires ##Napoleon##, a man who set up a new code of laws, but he does not consider Napoleon to be a philosopher. The first criticism is a little weaker, and answering it might give us a clearer sense of what Nietzsche means. Nietzsche is often critical of ##Kant##, who is undeniably responsible for one of the most influential systems of ethics in the modern world. Nietzsche’s complaint is precisely that Kant does not create a new system of values, but rather comes up with reasons for justifying a morality that is already accepted and which he already holds. Nietzsche is quite explicit elsewhere in criticizing moral philosophers for doing very little more than coming up with reasons to justify what they already believe.

The difference, then, between Kant and a philosopher more after Nietzsche’s heart is that Nietzsche’s ideal philosopher is free from the morality of his own day. He is a “man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow” because he creates new values that will influence the future.

As soon as we try to imagine what these philosophers might look like we recognize the vagueness of Nietzsche’s formulation. The only clear example he uses is Socrates, who urged his fellow Athenians toward self-knowledge and a more rational way of thinking that relied on careful definitions as well as a recognition of one’s own ignorance.

But beyond this one example and the vague notion that a philosopher must be creative and not caught up in present-day morality, we are left pretty much in the dark. Perhaps parables like the Judgement of Solomon in the Book of Kings. A new world order based on self-knowledge & newer human insights. ‘Mental health’ is a major new industry which may give birth to a moral system which may seek to impose itself. For example, Carl Jung and his analytical psychology has a profound influence today.

[204] Science plays the philosopher on its own account
At the risk that moralizing may also reveal itself here as that which it has always been- namely, resolutely MONTRER SES PLAIES, according to Balzac — I would venture to protest against an improper and injurious alteration of rank, which quite unnoticed, and as if with the best con- science, threatens nowadays to establish itself in the relations of science and philosophy.

I mean to say that one must have the right out of one’s own EXPERIENCE — experience, as it seems to me, always implies unfortunate experience? — to treat of such an important question of rank, so as not to speak of colour like the blind, or AGAINST science like women and artists (“Ah! this dreadful science!’ sigh their instinct and their shame, ‘it always FINDS THINGS OUT!’).

The declaration of independence of the scientific man, his emancipation from philosophy, is one of the subtler after effects of democratic organization and disorganization: the self- glorification and self-conceitedness of the learned man is now everywhere in full bloom, and in its best springtime — which does not mean to imply that in this case self-praise smells sweet.

Here also the instinct of the populace cries, ‘Freedom from all masters!’ and after science has, with the happiest results, resisted theology, whose ‘hand-maid’ it had been too long, it now proposes in its wantonness and indiscretion to lay down laws for philosophy, and in its turn to play the ‘master’ -what am I saying! to play the PHILOSOPHER on its own account.

My memory — the memory of a scientific man, if you please! — teems with the naivetes of insolence which I have heard about philosophy and philosophers from young naturalists and old physicians (not to mention the most cultured and most conceited of all learned men, the philologists and schoolmasters, who are both the one and the other by profession).

On one occasion it was the specialist and the Jack Horner who instinctively stood on the defensive against all synthetic tasks and capabilities; at another time it was the industrious worker who had got a scent of OTIUM and refined luxuriousness in the internal economy of the philosopher, and felt himself aggrieved and belittled thereby. On another occasion it was the colour-blindness of the utilitarian, who sees nothing in philosophy but a series of REFUTED systems, and an extravagant expenditure which ‘does nobody any good”.

At another time the fear of disguised mysticism and of the boundary-adjustment of knowledge became conspicuous, at another time the disregard of individual philosophers, which had involuntarily extended to disregard of philosophy generally.

In fine, I found most frequently, behind the proud disdain of philosophy in young scholars, the evil after-effect of some particular philosopher, to whom on the whole obedience had been foresworn, without, however, the spell of his scornful estimates of other philosophers having been got rid of — the result being a general ill-will to all philosophy. (Such seems to me, for instance, the after-effect of Schopenhauer on the most modern Germany: by his unintelligent rage against Hegel, he has succeeded in severing the whole of the last generation of Germans from its connection with German culture, which culture, all things considered, has been an elevation and a divining refinement of the HISTORICAL SENSE, but precisely at this point Schopenhauer himself was poor, irreceptive, and un-German to the extent of ingeniousness.)

On the whole, speaking generally, it may just have been the humanness, all- too-humanness of the modern philosophers themselves, in short, their contemptibleness, which has injured most radically the reverence for philosophy and opened the doors to the instinct of the populace.

Let it but be acknowledged to what an extent our modern world diverges from the whole style of the world of Heraclitus, Plato, Empedocles, and whatever else all the royal and magnificent anchorites of the spirit were called, and with what justice an honest man of science MAY feel himself of a better family and origin, in view of such representatives of philosophy, who, owing to the fashion of the present day, are just as much aloft as they are down below — in Germany, for instance, the two lions of Berlin, the anarchist Eugen Duhring and the amalgamist Eduard von Hartmann.

It is especially the sight of those hotch-potch philosophers, who call themselves ‘realists,’ or ‘positivists,’ which is calculated to implant a dangerous distrust in the soul of a young and ambitious scholar those philosophers, at the best, are themselves but scholars and specialists, that is very evident! All of them are persons who have been vanquished and BROUGHT BACK AGAIN under the dominion of science, who at one time or another claimed more from themselves, without having a right to the ‘more’ and its responsibility

- and who now, creditably, rancorously, and vindictively, represent in word and deed, DISBELIEF in the master-task and supremacy of philosophy

After all, how could it be otherwise? Science flourishes nowadays and has the good conscience clearly visible on its countenance, while that to which the entire modern philosophy has gradually sunk, the remnant of philosophy of the present day, excites distrust and displeasure, if not scorn and pity Philosophy reduced to a ‘theory of knowledge,’ no more in fact than a diffident science of epochs and doctrine of forbearance a philosophy that never even gets beyond the threshold, and rigorously DENIES itself the right to enter — that is philosophy in its last throes, an end, an agony, something that awakens pity. How could such a philosophy — RULE!

205. The philosophers is just another specialist
The dangers that beset the evolution of the philosopher are, in fact, so manifold nowadays, that one might doubt whether this fruit could still come to maturity. The extent and towering structure of the sciences have increased enormously, and therewith also the probability that the philosopher will grow tired even as a learner, or will attach himself somewhere and ‘specialize’ so that he will no longer attain to his elevation, that is to say, to his superspection, his circumspection, and his DESPECTION [a looking down; a despising].

Or he gets aloft too late, when the best of his maturity and strength is past, or when he is impaired, coarsened, and deteriorated, so that his view, his general estimate of things, is no longer of much importance. It is perhaps just the refinement of his intellectual conscience that makes him hesitate and linger on the way, he dreads the temptation to become a dilettante, a millepede, a milleantenna, he knows too well that as a discerner, one who has lost his self-respect no longer commands, no longer LEADS, unless he should aspire to become a great play-actor, a philosophical Cagliostro and spiritual rat-catcher — in short, a misleader.

This is in the last instance a question of taste, if it has not really been a question of conscience. To double once more the philosopher’s difficulties, there is also the fact that he demands from himself a verdict, a Yea or Nay, not concerning science, but concerning life and the worth of life — he learns unwillingly to believe that it is his right and even his duty to obtain this verdict, and he has to seek his way to the right and the belief only through the most extensive (perhaps disturbing and destroying) experiences, often hesitating, doubting, and dumbfounded.

In fact, the philosopher has long been mistaken and confused by the multitude, either with the scientific man and ideal scholar, or with the religiously elevated, desensualized, desecularized visionary and God- intoxicated man; and even yet when one hears anybody praised, because he lives ‘wisely,’ or ‘as a philosopher,’ it hardly means anything more than ‘prudently and apart.’

Wisdom: that seems to the populace to be a kind of flight, a means and artifice for withdrawing successfully from a bad game;

but the GENUINE philosopher — does it not seem so to US, my friends? — lives ‘unphilosophically’ and ‘unwisely,’ above all, IMPRUDENTLY, and feels the obligation and burden of a hundred attempts and temptations of life — he risks HIMSELF constantly, he plays THIS bad game.

206. The Genius
In relation to the genius, that is to say, a being who either ENGENDERS or PRODUCES — both words understood in their fullest sense — the man of learning, the scientific average man, has always something of the old maid about him; for, like her, he is not conversant with the two principal functions of man. To both, of course, to the scholar and to the old maid, one concedes respectability, as if by way of indemnification — in these cases one emphasises the respectability — and yet, in the compulsion of this concession, one has the same admixture of vexation.

Let us examine more closely: what is the scientific man?
Firstly, a commonplace type of man, with commonplace virtues: that is to say, a non-ruling, non-authoritative, and non- self-sufficient type of man; he possesses industry, patient adaptableness to rank and file, equability and moderation in capacity and requirement; he has the instinct for people like himself, and for that which they require — for instance: the portion of independence and green meadow without which there is no rest from labour, the claim to honour and consideration (which first and foremost presupposes recognition and recognisability), the sunshine of a good name, the perpetual ratification of his value and usefulness, with which the inward DISTRUST which lies at the bottom of the heart of all dependent men and gregarious animals, has again and again to be overcome.

The learned man, as is appropriate, has also maladies and faults of an ignoble kind: he is full of petty envy, and has a lynx-eye for the weak points in those natures to whose elevations he cannot attain. He is confiding, yet only as one who lets himself go, but does not FLOW; and precisely before the man of the great current he stands all the colder and more reserved — his eye is then like a smooth and irresponsive lake, which is no longer moved by rapture or sympathy.

The worst and most dangerous thing of which a scholar is capable results from the instinct of mediocrity of his type, from the Jesuitism of mediocrity, which labours instinctively for the destruction of the exceptional man, and endeavours to break — or still better, to relax — every bent bow To relax, of course, with consideration, and naturally with an indulgent hand — to RELAX with confiding sympathy that is the real art of Jesuitism, which has always understood how to introduce itself as the religion of sympathy.

207. The annoying personality vacuum
However gratefully one may welcome the OBJECTIVE spirit — and who has not been sick to death of all subjectivity and its confounded IPSISIMOSITY! — in the end, however, one must learn caution even with regard to one’s gratitude, and put a stop to the exaggeration with which the unselfing and depersonalizing of the spirit has recently been celebrated, as if it were the goal in itself, as if it were salvation and glorification — as is especially accustomed to happen in the pessimist school, which has also in its turn good reasons for paying the highest honours to ‘disinterested knowledge’ The objective man, who no longer curses and scolds like the pessimist, the IDEAL man of learning in whom the scientific instinct blossoms forth fully after a thousand complete and partial failures, is assuredly one of the most costly instruments that exist, but his place is in the hand of one who is more powerful.

He is only an instrument, we may say, he is a MIRROR — he is no ‘purpose in himself’ The objective man is in truth a mirror accustomed to prostration before everything that wants to be known, with such desires only as knowing or ‘reflecting’ implies — he waits until something comes, and then expands himself sensitively, so that even the light footsteps and gliding-past of spiritual beings may not be lost on his surface and film.

Whatever ‘personality’ he still possesses seems to him accidental, arbitrary, or still oftener, disturbing, so much has he come to regard himself as the passage and reflection of outside forms and events. He calls up the recollection of ‘himself ‘ with an effort, and not infrequently wrongly, he readily confounds himself with other persons, he makes mistakes with regard to his own needs, and here only is he unrefined and negligent Perhaps he is troubled about the health, or the pettiness and confined atmosphere of wife and friend, or the lack of companions and society — indeed, he sets himself to reflect on his suffering, but in vain!

His thoughts already rove away to the MORE GENERAL case, and tomorrow he knows as little as he knew yesterday how to help himself

He does not now take himself seriously and devote time to himself he is serene, NOT from lack of trouble, but from lack of capacity for grasping and dealing with HIS trouble

The habitual complaisance with respect to all objects and experiences, the radiant and impartial hospitality with which he receives everything that comes his way, his habit of inconsiderate good-nature, of dangerous indifference as to Yea and Nay: alas! there are enough of cases in which he has to atone for these virtues of his! — and as man generally, he becomes far too easily the CAPUT MORTUUM of such virtues.

Should one wish love or hatred from him — I mean love and hatred as God, woman, and animal understand them — he will do what he can, and furnish what he can. But one must not be surprised if it should not be much — if he should show himself just at this point to be false, fragile, questionable, and deteriorated.

His love is constrained, his hatred is artificial, and rather UNN TOUR DE FORCE, a slight ostentation and exaggeration. He is only genuine so far as he can be objective; only in his serene totality is he still ‘nature’ and ‘natural.’

His mirroring and eternally self-polishing soul no longer knows how to affirm, no longer how to deny; he does not command; neither does he destroy. ‘JE NE MEPRISE PRESQUE RIEN’ — he says, with Leibniz: let us not overlook nor undervalue the PRESQUE! Neither is he a model man; he does not go in advance of any one, nor after, either; he places himself generally too far off to have any reason for espousing the cause of either good or evil. If he has been so long confounded with the PHILOSOPHER, with the Caesarian trainer and dictator of civilization, he has had far too much honour, and what is more essential in him has been overlooked — he is an instrument, something of slave, though certainly the sublimest sort of slave, but nothing in himself — PRESQUE RIEN!

The objective man is an instrument, a costly, easily injured, easily tarnished measuring instrument and mirroring apparatus, which is to be taken care of and respected; but he is no goal, not outgoing nor upgoing, no complementary man in whom the REST of existence justifies itself, no termination — and still less a commencement, an engendering, or primary cause, nothing hardy, powerful, self-centred, that wants to be master; but rather only a soft, inflated, delicate, movable potter’s- form, that must wait for some kind of content and frame to ‘shape’ itself thereto — for the most part a man without frame and content, a ‘selfless’ man. Consequently, also, nothing for women, IN PARENTHESI.

208. The Dominion of the World
When a philosopher nowadays makes known that he is not a skeptic — I hope that has been gathered from the foregoing description of the objective spirit? — people all hear it impatiently; they regard him on that account with some apprehension, they would like to ask so many, many questions … indeed among timid hearers, of whom there are now so many, he is henceforth said to be dangerous.

With his repudiation of skepticism, it seems to them as if they heard some evil- threatening sound in the distance, as if a new kind of explosive were being tried somewhere, a dynamite of the spirit, perhaps a newly discovered Russian NIHILINE, a pessimism BONAE VOLUNTATIS, that not only denies, means denial, but-dreadful thought! PRACTISES denial.

Against this kind of ‘good-will’ — a will to the veritable, actual negation of life — there is, as is generally acknowledged nowadays, no better soporific and sedative than skepticism, the mild, pleasing, lulling poppy of skepticism; and Hamlet himself is now prescribed by the doctors of the day as an antidote to the ‘spirit,’ and its underground noises. ‘Are not our ears already full of bad sounds?’ say the skeptics, as lovers of repose, and almost as a kind of safety police; ‘this subterranean Nay is terrible! Be still, ye pessimistic moles!’ The skeptic, in effect, that delicate creature, is far too easily frightened; his conscience is schooled so as to start at every Nay, and even at that sharp, decided Yea, and feels something like a bite thereby.

Yea! and Nay! — they seem to him opposed to morality; he loves, on the contrary, to make a festival to his virtue by a noble aloofness, while perhaps he says with Montaigne: ‘What do I know?’ Or with Socrates: ‘I know that I know nothing.’ Or: ‘Here I do not trust myself, no door is open to me.’ Or: ‘Even if the door were open, why should I enter immediately?’ Or: ‘What is the use of any hasty hypotheses? It might quite well be in good taste to make no hypotheses at all. Are you absolutely obliged to straighten at once what is crooked? to stuff every hole with some kind of oakum? Is there not time enough for that? Has not the time leisure? Oh, ye demons, can ye not at all WAIT? The uncertain also has its charms, the Sphinx, too, is a Circe, and Circe, too, was a philosopher.’ — Thus does a skeptic console himself; and in truth he needs some consolation.

For skepticism is the most spiritual expression of a certain many-sided physiological temperament, which in ordinary language is called nervous debility and sickliness; it arises whenever races or classes which have been long separated, decisively and suddenly blend with one an- other. In the new generation, which has inherited as it were different standards and valuations in its blood, everything is disquiet, derangement, doubt, and tentativeness; the best powers operate restrictively, the very virtues prevent each other growing and becoming strong, equilibrium, ballast, and perpendicular stability are lacking in body and soul.

That, however, which is most diseased and degenerated in such nondescripts is the WILL; they are no longer familiar with independence of decision, or the courageous feeling of pleasure in willing — they are doubtful of the ‘freedom of the will’ even in their dreams

Our present-day Europe, the scene of a senseless, precipitate attempt at a radical blending of classes, and CONSEQUENTLY of races, is therefore skeptical in all its heights and depths, sometimes exhibit- ing the mobile skepticism which springs impatiently and wantonly from branch to branch, sometimes with gloomy aspect, like a cloud over-charged with interrogative signs — and often sick unto death of its will!

Paralysis of will, where do we not find this cripple sitting nowadays! And yet how bedecked oftentimes’ How seductively ornamented!

There are the finest gala dresses and disguises for this disease, and that, for instance, most of what places itself nowadays in the show-cases as ‘objectiveness,’ ‘the scientific spirit,’ ‘L’ART POUR L’ART,’ and ‘pure voluntary knowledge,’ is only decked-out skepticism and paralysis of will -

I am ready to answer for this diagnosis of the European disease — The disease of the will is diffused unequally over Europe, it is worst and most varied where civilization has longest prevailed, it decreases according as ‘the barbarian’ still — or again — asserts his claims under the loose drapery of Western culture

It is therefore in the France of today, as can be readily disclosed and comprehended, that the will is most infirm, and France, which has always had a masterly aptitude for converting even the portentous crises of its spirit into something charming and seductive, now manifests em- phatically its intellectual ascendancy over Europe, by being the school and exhibition of all the charms of skepticism

The power to will and to persist, moreover, in a resolution, is already somewhat stronger in Germany, and again in the North of Germany it is stronger than in Central Germany, it is considerably stronger in England, Spain, and Corsica, associated with phlegm in the former and with hard skulls in the latter — not to mention Italy, which is too young yet to know what it wants, and must first show whether it can exercise will,

but it is strongest and most surprising of all in that immense middle empire where Europe as it were flows back to Asia — namely, in Russia

There the power to will has been long stored up and accumulated, there the will — uncertain whether to be negative or affirmative — waits threateningly to be discharged (to borrow their pet phrase from our physicists) Perhaps not only Indian wars and complications in Asia would be necessary to free Europe from its greatest danger, but also internal subversion, the shattering of the empire into small states, and above all the introduction of parliamentary imbecility, together with the obligation of every one to read his newspaper at breakfast.

I do not say this as one who desires it, in my heart I should rather prefer the contrary — I mean such an increase in the threatening attitude of Russia, that Europe would have to make up its mind to become equally threatening — namely, TO ACQUIRE ONE WILL, by means of a new caste to rule over the Continent, a persistent, dreadful will of its own, that can set its aims thousands of years ahead; so that the long spun-out comedy of its petty-statism, and its dynastic as well as its democratic many-willed-ness, might finally be brought to a close.

The time for petty politics is past; the next century will bring the struggle for the dominion of the world — the COMPULSION to great politics.

The next century hosted two World Wars. 9 million were to die in WW1 and 85 million in WW2. Nietzsche’s prediction is breathtaking.

[209] Big, handsome grenadiers
As to how far the new warlike age on which we Europeans have evidently entered may perhaps favour the growth of another and stronger kind of skepticism, I should like to express myself preliminarily merely by a parable, which the lovers of German history will already understand.

That unscrupulous enthusiast for big, handsome grenadiers (who, as King of Prussia, brought into being a military and skeptical genius — and therewith, in reality, the new and now triumphantly emerged type of German), the problematic, crazy father of Frederick the Great, had on one point the very knack and lucky grasp of the genius: he knew what was then lacking in Germany, the want of which was a hundred times more alarming and serious than any lack of culture and social form — his ill-will to the young Frederick resulted from the anxiety of a profound instinct.

MEN WERE LACKING; and he suspected, to his bitterest regret, that his own son was not man enough. There, however, he deceived himself; but who would not have deceived himself in his place? He saw his son lapsed to atheism, to the ESPRIT, to the pleasant frivolity of clever Frenchmen — he saw in the background the great bloodsucker, the spider skepticism; he suspected the incurable wretchedness of a heart no longer hard enough either for evil or good, and of a broken will that no longer commands, is no longer ABLE to command.

Meanwhile, however, there grew up in his son that new kind of harder and more dangerous skepticism — who knows TO WHAT EXTENT it was encouraged just by his father’s hatred and the icy melancholy of a will condemned to solitude? — the skepticism of daring manliness, which is closely related to the genius for war and conquest, and made its first entrance into Germany in the person of the great Frederick.

This skepticism despises and nevertheless grasps; it undermines and takes possession; it does not believe, but it does not thereby lose itself; it gives the spirit a dangerous liberty, but it keeps strict guard over the heart. It is the GERMAN form of skepticism, which, as a continued Fredericianism, risen to the highest spirituality, has kept Europe for a considerable time under the dominion of the German spirit and its critical and historical distrust Owing to the insuperably strong and tough masculine character of the great German philologists and historical critics (who, rightly estimated, were also all of them artists of destruction and dissolution), a NEW conception of the German spirit gradually established itself — in spite of all Romanticism in music and philosophy — in which the leaning towards masculine skepticism was decidedly prominent whether, for instance, as fearlessness of gaze, as courage and sternness of the dissecting hand, or as resolute will to dan- gerous voyages of discovery, to spiritualized North Pole expeditions under barren and dangerous skies.

There may be good grounds for it when warm-blooded and superficial humanitarians cross themselves before this spirit, CET ES- PRIT FATALISTE, IRONIQUE, MEPHISTOPHELIQUE, as Michelet calls it, not without a shudder. But if one would realize how characteristic is this fear of the ‘man’ in the German spirit which awakened Europe out of its ‘dogmatic slumber,’ let us call to mind the former conception which had to be overcome by this new one — and that it is not so very long ago that a masculinized woman could dare, with unbridled presumption, to recommend the Germans to the interest of Europe as gentle, goodhearted, weak-willed, and poetical fools. Finally, let us only understand profoundly enough Napoleon’s astonishment when he saw Goethe it re- veals what had been regarded for centuries as the ‘German spirit’ ‘VOILA UN HOMME!’ — that was as much as to say

‘But this is a MAN! And I only expected to see a German!’

Supposing, then, that in the picture of the philosophers of the future, some trait suggests the question whether they must not perhaps be skeptics in the last-mentioned sense, something in them would only be designated thereby — and not they themselves.

With equal right they might call themselves critics, and assuredly they will be men of experiments. By the name with which I ventured to baptize them, I have already expressly emphasized their attempting and their love of attempting is this because, as critics in body and soul, they will love to make use of experiments in a new, and perhaps wider and more dangerous sense?

In their passion for knowledge, will they have to go further in daring and painful attempts than the sensitive and pampered taste of a democratic century can approve of? — There is no doubt these coming ones will be least able to dispense with the serious and not unscrupulous qualities which distinguish the critic from the skeptic I mean the certainty as to standards of worth, the conscious employment of a unity of method, the wary courage, the standing-alone, and the capacity for self-responsibility, indeed, they will avow among themselves a DELIGHT in denial and dissection, and a certain considerate cruelty, which knows how to handle the knife surely and deftly, even when the heart bleeds They will be STERNER (and perhaps not always towards themselves only) than humane people may desire, they will not deal with the ‘truth’ in order that it may ‘please’ them, or ‘elevate’ and ‘inspire’ them — they will rather have little faith in ‘TRUTH’ bringing with it such revels for the feelings.

They will smile, those rigourous spirits, when any one says in their presence ‘That thought elevates me, why should it not be true?’ or ‘That work enchants me, why should it not be beautiful?’ or ‘That artist enlarges me, why should he not be great?’ Perhaps they will not only have a smile, but a genuine disgust for all that is thus rapturous, idealistic, feminine, and hermaphroditic, and if any one could look into their inmost hearts, he would not easily find therein the intention to reconcile ‘Christian sentiments’ with ‘antique taste,’ or even with ‘modern parliamentarism’ (the kind of reconciliation necessarily found even among philosophers in our very uncertain and consequently very conciliatory century).

Critical discipline, and every habit that conduces to purity and rigour in intellectual matters, will not only be demanded from themselves by these philosophers of the future, they may even make a display thereof as their special adornment — nevertheless they will not want to be called critics on that account.

It will seem to them no small indignity to philosophy to have it decreed, as is so welcome nowadays, that ‘philosophy itself is criticism and critical science — and nothing else whatever!’

Though this estimate of philosophy may enjoy the approval of all the Positivists of France and Germany (and possibly it even flattered the heart and taste of KANT: let us call to mind the titles of his principal works), our new philosophers will say, notwith- standing, that critics are instruments of the philosopher, and just on that account, as instruments, they are far from being philosophers themselves!
Even the great Chinaman of Konigsberg was only a great critic.

211. Real philosophers create values
I insist upon it that people finally cease confounding philosophical workers, and in general scientific men, with philosophers — that precisely here one should strictly give ‘each his own,’ and not give those far too much, these far too little.

It may be necessary for the education of the real philosopher that he himself should have once stood upon all those steps upon which his servants, the scientific workers of philosophy, remain standing, and MUST remain standing he himself must perhaps have been critic, and dogmatist, and historian, and besides, poet, and collector, and traveler, and riddle-reader, and moralist, and seer, and ‘free spirit,’ and almost everything, in order to traverse the whole range of human values and estimations, and that he may BE ABLE with a variety of eyes and consciences to look from a height to any distance, from a depth up to any height, from a nook into any expanse.

But all these are only preliminary conditions for his task; this task itself demands something else — it requires him TO CREATE VALUES.

The philosophical workers, after the excellent pattern of Kant and Hegel, have to fix and formalize some great existing body of valuations — that is to say, former DETERMINATIONS OF VALUE, creations of value, which have become prevalent, and are for a time called ‘truths’ — whether in the domain of the LOGICAL, the POLITICAL (moral), or the ARTISTIC. It is for these investigators to make whatever has happened and been esteemed hitherto, conspicuous, conceivable, in- telligible, and manageable, to shorten everything long, even ‘time’ itself, and to SUBJUGATE the entire past: an immense and wonderful task, in the carrying out of which all refined pride, all tenacious will, can surely find satisfaction.


They determine first the Whither and the Why of mankind, and thereby set aside the previous labour of all philosophical workers, and all subjugators of the past — they grasp at the future with a creative hand, and whatever is and was, becomes for them thereby a means, an instrument, and a hammer.

Their ‘knowing’ is CREATING, their creating is a law-giving, their will to truth is — WILL TO POWER.

- Are there at present such philosophers? Have there ever been such philosophers? MUST there not be such philosophers some day? …

[212] Is Greatness possible nowadays?
It is always more obvious to me that the philosopher, as a man INDISPENSABLE for the morrow and the day after the morrow, has ever found himself, and HAS BEEN OBLIGED to find himself, in contradiction to the day in which he lives; his enemy has always been the ideal of his day. Hitherto all those extraordinary furtherers of humanity whom one calls philosophers — who rarely regarded themselves as lovers of wisdom, but rather as disagreeable fools and dangerous interrogators — have found their mission, their hard, involuntary, imperative mission (in the end, however, the greatness of their mission), in being the bad conscience of their age.

In putting the vivisector’s knife to the breast of the very VIRTUES OF THEIR AGE, they have betrayed their own secret; it has been for the sake of a NEW greatness of man, a new untrodden path to his aggrandizement. They have always disclosed how much hypocrisy, indolence, self-indulgence, and self-neglect, how much falsehood was concealed under the most venerated types of contemporary morality, how much virtue was OUTLIVED, they have always said ‘We must remove hence to where YOU are least at home’ In the face of a world of ‘modern ideas,’ which would like to confine every one in a corner, in a ‘specialty,’ a philosopher, if there could be philosophers nowadays, would be compelled to place the greatness of man, the conception of ‘greatness,’ precisely in his comprehensiveness and multifariousness, in his all-roundness, he would even determine worth and rank according to the amount and variety of that which a man could bear and take upon himself, according to the EXTENT to which a man could stretch his responsibility Nowadays the taste and virtue of the age weaken and attenuate the will, nothing is so adapted to the spirit of the age as weakness of will consequently, in the ideal of the philosopher, strength of will, sternness, and capacity for prolonged resolution, must specially be included in the conception of ‘greatness’, with as good a right as the opposite doctrine, with its ideal of a silly, renouncing, humble, selfless humanity, was suited to an opposite age — such as the sixteenth century, which suffered from its accumulated energy of will, and from the wildest torrents and floods of selfishness In the time of Socrates, among men only of worn-out instincts, old conservative Athenians who let themselves go — ‘for the sake of happiness,’ as they said, for the sake of pleasure, as their conduct indicated — and who had continually on their lips the old pompous words to which they had long forfeited the right by the life they led, IRONY was perhaps necessary for greatness of soul, the wicked Socratic assurance of the old physician and plebeian, who cut ruthlessly into his own flesh, as into the flesh and heart of the ‘noble,’ with a look that said plainly enough ‘Do not dissemble before me! here — we are equal!’ At present, on the contrary, when throughout

Europe the herding- animal alone attains to honours, and dispenses honours, when ‘equality of right’ can too readily be transformed into equality in wrong — I mean to say into general war against everything rare, strange, and priv- ileged, against the higher man, the higher soul, the higher duty, the higher responsibility, the creative plenipotence and lordliness — at present it belongs to the conception of. ‘greatness’ to be noble, to wish to be apart, to be capable of being different, to stand alone, to have to live by personal initiative, and the philosopher will betray something of his own ideal when he asserts ‘He shall be the greatest who can be the most solitary, the most concealed, the most divergent, the man beyond good and evil, the master of his virtues, and of super-abundance of will; precisely this shall be called GREATNESS: as diversified as can be entire, as ample as can be full.’ And to ask once more the question: Is greatness POSSIBLE — nowadays?

[213] People born to a high station
It is difficult to learn what a philosopher is, because it cannot be taught: one must ‘know’ it by experience — or one should have the pride NOT to know it. The fact that at present people all talk of things of which they CANNOT have any experience, is true more especially and unfortunately as concerns the philosopher and philosophical matters: — the very few know them, are permitted to know them, and all popular ideas about them are false.

Thus, for instance, the truly philosophical combination of a bold, exuberant spirituality which runs at presto pace, and a dialectic rigour and necessity which makes no false step, is unknown to most thinkers and scholars from their own experience, and therefore, should any one speak of it in their presence, it is incredible to them.

They conceive of every necessity as troublesome, as a painful compulsory obedience and state of constraint; thinking itself is regarded by them as something slow and hesitating, almost as a trouble, and often enough as ‘worthy of the SWEAT of the noble’ — but not at all as something easy and divine, closely related to dancing and exuberance!

‘To think’ and to take a matter ‘seriously,’ ‘arduously’ — that is one and the same thing to them; such only has been their ‘experience.’ — Artists have here perhaps a finer intuition; they who know only too well that precisely when they no longer do anything ‘arbitrarily,’ and everything of necessity, their feeling of freedom, of subtlety, of power, of creatively fixing, disposing, and shaping, reaches its climax — in short, that necessity and ‘freedom of will’ are then the same thing with them.

There is, in fine, a gradation of rank in psychical states, to which the gradation of rank in the problems corresponds; and the highest problems repel ruthlessly every one who ventures too near them, without being predestined for their solution by the loftiness and power of his spirituality.

Of what use is it for nimble, everyday intellects, or clumsy, honest mechanics and empiricists to press, in their plebeian ambition, close to such problems, and as it were into this ‘holy of holies’ — as so often happens nowadays!

But coarse feet must never tread upon such carpets: this is provided for in the primary law of things; the doors remain closed to those intruders, though they may dash and break their heads thereon.

People have always to be born to a high station, or, more definitely, they have to be BRED for it: a person has only a right to philosophy — taking the word in its higher significance — in virtue of his descent; the ancestors, the ‘blood,’ decide here also.

Many generations must have prepared the way for the coming of the philosopher; each of his virtues must have been separately acquired, nurtured, transmitted, and embodied; not only the bold, easy, delicate course and current of his thoughts, but above all the readiness for great responsibilities, the majesty of ruling glance and contemning look, the feeling of separation from the multitude with their duties and virtues, the kindly patronage and defence of whatever is misunderstood and calumniated, be it God or devil, the delight and practice of supreme justice, the art of commanding, the amplitude of will, the lingering eye which rarely admires, rarely looks up, rarely loves….



Daytona Platinum

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