Nietzsche — Aphorisms, Philology, Schopenhauer, Goethe

63 Instead of forming our students on the Latin models I recommend the Greek, especially Demosthenes . simplicity! This may be seen by a reference to Leopardi, who is perhaps the greatest stylist of the century.

64 “Classical education” . what do people see in it? Something that is useless beyond rendering a period of military service unnecessary and securing a degree![5]

65 When I observe how all countries are now promoting the advancement of classical literature I say to myself, “How harmless it must be!” and then, “How useful it must be!” It brings these countries the reputation of promoting “free culture.” In order that this “freedom” may be rightly estimated, just look at the philologists!

66 Classical education! Yea, if there were only as much paganism as Goethe found and glorified in Winckelmann, even that would not be much. Now, however, that the lying Christendom of our time has taken hold of it, the thing becomes overpowering, and I cannot help expressing my disgust on the point—People firmly believe in witchcraft where this “classical education” is concerned. They, however, who possess the greatest knowledge of antiquity should likewise possess the greatest amount of culture, viz., our philologists; but what is classical about them?

67 Classical philology is the basis of the most shallow rationalism always having been dishonestly applied, it has gradually become quite ineffective. Its effect is one more illusion of the modern man. Philologists are nothing but a guild of sky-pilots who are not known as such . this is why the State takes an interest in them. The utility of classical education is completely used up, whilst, for example, the history of Christianity still shows its power.

68 Philologists, when discussing their science, never get down to the root of the subject . they never set forth philology itself as a problem. Bad conscience? or merely thoughtlessness?

69 We learn nothing from what philologists say about philology: it is all mere tittle-tattle—for example, Jahn’s[6] “The Meaning and Place of the Study of Antiquity in Germany.” There is no feeling for what should be protected and defended: thus speak people who have not even thought of the possibility that any one could attack them.

70 Philologists are people who exploit the vaguely-felt dissatisfaction of modern man, and his desire for “something better,” in order that they may earn their bread and butter. I know them—I myself am one of them.

71 Our philologists stand in the same relation to true educators as the medicine-men of the wild Indians do to true physicians What astonishment will be felt by a later age!

72 What they lack is a real taste for the strong and powerful characteristics of the ancients. They turn into mere panegyrists, and thus become ridiculous.

73 They have forgotten how to address other men; and, as they cannot speak to the older people, they cannot do so to the young.

74 When we bring the Greeks to the knowledge of our young students, we are treating the latter as if they were well-informed and matured men. What, indeed, is there about the Greeks and their ways which is suitable for the young? In the end we shall find that we can do nothing for them beyond giving them isolated details. Are these observations for young people? What we actually do, however, is to introduce our young scholars to the collective wisdom of antiquity. Or do we not? The reading of the ancients is emphasised in this way. My belief is that we are forced to concern ourselves with antiquity at a wrong period of our lives. At the end of the twenties its meaning begins to dawn on one.

75 There is something disrespectful about the way in which we make our young students known to the ancients: what is worse, it is unpedagogical; or what can result from a mere acquaintance with things which a youth cannot consciously esteem! Perhaps he must learn to “_believe_” and this is why I object to it.

76 There are matters regarding which antiquity instructs us, and about which I should hardly care to express myself publicly.

77 All the difficulties of historical study to be elucidated by great examples. Why our young students are not suited to the Greeks. The consequences of philology. Arrogant expectation. Culture-philistinism. Superficiality. Too high an esteem for reading and writing. Estrangement from the nation and its needs. The philologists themselves, the historians, philosophers, and jurists all end in smoke. Our young students should be brought into contact with real sciences. Likewise with real art. In consequence, when they grew older, a desire for real history would be shown.

78 Inhumanity: even in the “Antigone,” even in Goethe’s “Iphigenia.” The want of “rationalism” in the Greeks. Young people cannot understand the political affairs of antiquity. The poetic element: a bad expectation.

79 Do the philologists know the present time? Their judgments on it as Periclean, their mistaken judgments when they speak of Freytag’s[7] genius as resembling that of Homer, and so on; their following in the lead of the litterateurs, their abandonment of the pagan sense, which was exactly the classical element that Goethe discovered in Winckelmann.

80 The condition of the philologists may be seen by their indifference at the appearance of Wagner. They should have learnt even more through him than through Goethe, and they did not even glance in his direction. That shows that they are not actuated by any strong need, or else they would have an instinct to tell them where their food was to be found.

81 Wagner prizes his art too highly to go and sit in a corner with it, like Schumann. He either surrenders himself to the public (“Rienzi”) or he makes the public surrender itself to him. He educates it up to his music. Minor artists, too, want their public, but they try to get it by inartistic means, such as through the Press, Hanslick,[8] &c.

82 Wagner perfected the inner fancy of man . later generations will see a renaissance in sculpture. Poetry must precede the plastic art.

83 I observe in philologists . 1. Want of respect for antiquity. 2. Tenderness and flowery oratory; even an apologetic tone. 3. Simplicity in their historical comments. 4. Self-conceit. 5. Under-estimation of the talented philologists.

84 Philologists appear to me to be a secret society who wish to train our youth by means of the culture of antiquity . I could well understand this society and their views being criticised from all sides. A great deal would depend upon knowing what these philologists understood by the term “culture of antiquity”—If I saw, for example, that they were training their pupils against German philosophy and German music, I should either set about combating them or combating the culture of antiquity, perhaps the former, by showing that these philologists had not understood the culture of antiquity. Now I observe: 1. A great indecision in the valuation of the culture of antiquity on the part of philologists. 2. Something very non-ancient in themselves; something non-free. 3. Want of clearness in regard to the particular type of ancient culture they mean. 4. Want of judgment in their methods of instruction, e.g., scholarship. 5. Classical education is served out mixed up with Christianity.

85 It is now no longer a matter of surprise to me that, with such teachers, the education of our time should be worthless. I can never avoid depicting this want of education in its true colours, especially in regard to those things which ought to be learnt from antiquity if possible, for example, writing, speaking, and so on.

86 The transmission of the emotions is hereditary: let that be recollected when we observe the effect of the Greeks upon philologists.

87 Even in the best of cases, philologists seek for no more than mere “rationalism” and Alexandrian culture—not Hellenism.

88 Very little can be gained by mere diligence, if the head is dull. Philologist after philologist has swooped down on Homer in the mistaken belief that something of him can be obtained by force. Antiquity speaks to us when it feels a desire to do so, not when we do. 89 The inherited characteristic of our present-day philologists . a certain sterility of insight has resulted, for they promote the science, but not the philologist.

90 The following is one way of carrying on classical studies, and a frequent one: a man throws himself thoughtlessly, or is thrown, into some special branch or other, whence he looks to the right and left and sees a great deal that is good and new. Then, in some unguarded moment, he asks himself: “But what the devil has all this to do with me?” In the meantime he has grown old and has become accustomed to it all; and therefore he continues in his rut—just as in the case of marriage.

91 In connection with the training of the modern philologist the influence of the science of linguistics should be mentioned and judged; a philologist should rather turn aside from it . the question of the early beginnings of the Greeks and Romans should be nothing to him . how can they spoil their own subject in such a way?

92 A morbid passion often makes its appearance from time to time in connection with the oppressive uncertainty of divination, a passion for believing and feeling sure at all costs: for example, when dealing with Aristotle, or in the discovery of magic numbers, which, in Lachmann’s case, is almost an illness.

93 The consistency which is prized in a savant is pedantry if applied to the Greeks.

94 (THE GREEKS AND THE PHILOLOGISTS.) THE GREEKS. THE PHILOLOGISTS are . render homage to beauty, babblers and triflers, develop the body, ugly-looking creatures, speak clearly, stammerers, are religious transfigurers filthy pedants, of everyday occurrences, are listeners and observers, quibblers and scarecrows, have an aptitude for the unfitted for the symbolical, symbolical, are in full possession of ardent slaves of the State, their freedom as men, can look innocently out Christians in disguise, into the world, are the pessimists of philistines. thought.

95 Bergk’s “History of Literature”: Not a spark of Greek fire or Greek sense.

96 People really do compare our own age with that of Pericles, and congratulate themselves on the reawakening of the feeling of patriotism: I remember a parody on the funeral oration of Pericles by G. Freytag,[9] in which this prim and strait-laced “poet” depicted the happiness now experienced by sixty-year-old men.—All pure and simple caricature! So this is the result! And sorrow and irony and seclusion are all that remain for him who has seen more of antiquity than this.

97 If we change a single word of Lord Bacon’s we may say . infimarum Graecorum virtutum apud philologos laus est, mediarum admiratio, supremarum sensus nullus.

98 How can anyone glorify and venerate a whole people! It is the individuals that count, even in the case of the Greeks.

99 There is a great deal of caricature even about the Greeks . for example, the careful attention devoted by the Cynics to their own happiness.

100 The only thing that interests me is the relationship of the people considered as a whole to the training of the single individuals . and in the case of the Greeks there are some factors which are very favourable to the development of the individual. They do not, however, arise from the goodwill of the people, but from the struggle between the evil instincts. By means of happy inventions and discoveries, we can train the individual differently and more highly than has yet been done by mere chance and accident. There are still hopes . the breeding of superior men.

101 The Greeks are interesting and quite disproportionately important because they had such a host of great individuals. How was that possible? This point must be studied.

102 The history of Greece has hitherto always been written optimistically.

103 Selected points from antiquity: the power, fire, and swing of the feeling the ancients had for music (through the first Pythian Ode), purity in their historical sense, gratitude for the blessings of culture, the fire and corn feasts. The ennoblement of jealousy: the Greeks the most jealous nation. Suicide, hatred of old age, of penury. Empedocles on sexual love.

104 Nimble and healthy bodies, a clear and deep sense for the observation of everyday matters, manly freedom, belief in good racial descent and good upbringing, warlike virtues, jealousy in the [Greek: aristeyein], delight in the arts, respect for leisure, a sense for free individuality, for the symbolical. 105 The spiritual culture of Greece an aberration of the amazing political impulse towards [Greek: aristeyein]. The [Greek: polis] utterly opposed to new education; culture nevertheless existed.

106 When I say that, all things considered, the Greeks were more moral than modern men what do I mean by that? From what we can perceive of the activities of their soul, it is clear that they had no shame, they had no bad conscience. They were more sincere, open-hearted, and passionate, as artists are; they exhibited a kind of child-like naivete. It thus came about that even in all their evil actions they had a dash of purity about them, something approaching the holy. A remarkable number of individualities: might there not have been a higher morality in that? When we recollect that character develops slowly, what can it be that, in the long run, breeds individuality? Perhaps vanity, emulation? Possibly. Little inclination for conventional things.

107 The Greeks as the geniuses among the nations. Their childlike nature, credulousness. Passionate. Quite unconsciously they lived in such a way as to procreate genius. Enemies of shyness and dulness. Pain. Injudicious actions. The nature of their intuitive insight into misery, despite their bright and genial temperament. Profoundness in their apprehension and glorifying of everyday things (fire, agriculture). Mendacious, unhistorical. The significance of the [Greek: polis] in culture instinctively recognised, favourable as a centre and periphery for great men (the facility of surveying a community, and also the possibility of addressing it as a whole). Individuality raised to the highest power through the [Greek: polis]. Envy, jealousy, as among gifted people.

108 The Greeks were lacking in sobriety and caution. Over-sensibility, abnormally active condition of the brain and the nerves; impetuosity and fervour of the will.

109 “Invariably to see the general in the particular is the distinguishing characteristic of genius,” says Schopenhauer. Think of Pindar, &c.—“[Greek: Sophrosynae],” according to Schopenhauer, has its roots in the clearness with which the Greeks saw into themselves and into the world at large, and thence became conscious of themselves. The “wide separation of will and intellect” indicates the genius, and is seen in the Greeks. “The melancholy associated with genius is due to the fact that the will to live, the more clearly it is illuminated by the contemplating intellect, appreciates all the more clearly the misery of its condition,” says Schopenhauer. Cf. the Greeks.

110 The moderation of the Greeks in their sensual luxury, eating, and drinking, and their pleasure therein; the Olympic plays and their worship . that shows what they were. In the case of the genius, “the intellect will point out the faults which are seldom absent in an instrument that is put to a use for which it was not intended.” “The will is often left in the lurch at an awkward moment: hence genius, where real life is concerned, is more or less unpractical—its behaviour often reminds us of madness.”

111 We contrast the Romans, with their matter-of-fact earnestness, with the genial Greeks! Schopenhauer: “The stern, practical, earnest mode of life which the Romans called gravitas presupposes that the intellect does not forsake the service of the will in order to roam far off among things that have no connection with the will.”

112 It would have been much better if the Greeks had been conquered by the Persians instead of by the Romans.

113 The characteristics of the gifted man who is lacking in genius are to be found in the average Hellene—all the dangerous characteristics of such a disposition and character.

114 Genius makes tributaries of all partly-talented people: hence the Persians themselves sent their ambassadors to the Greek oracles.

115 The happiest lot that can fall to the genius is to exchange doing and acting for leisure; and this was something the Greeks knew how to value. The blessings of labour! Nugari was the Roman name for all the exertions and aspirations of the Greeks. No happy course of life is open to the genius, he stands in contradiction to his age and must perforce struggle with it. Thus the Greeks . they instinctively made the utmost exertions to secure a safe refuge for themselves (in the polis). Finally, everything went to pieces in politics. They were compelled to take up a stand against their enemies . this became ever more and more difficult, and at last impossible.

116 Greek culture is based on the lordship of a small class over four to nine times their number of slaves. Judged by mere numbers, Greece was a country inhabited by barbarians. How can the ancients be thought to be humane? There was a great contrast between the genius and the breadwinner, the half-beast of burden. The Greeks believed in a racial distinction. Schopenhauer wonders why Nature did not take it into her head to invent two entirely separate species of men. The Greeks bear the same relation to the barbarians “as free-moving or winged animals do to the barnacles which cling tightly to the rocks and must await what fate chooses to send them”—Schopenhauer’s simile.

117 The Greeks as the only people of genius in the history of the world. Such they are even when considered as learners; for they understand this best of all, and can do more than merely trim and adorn themselves with what they have borrowed, as did the Romans. The constitution of the polis is a Phoenician invention, even this has been imitated by the Hellenes. For a long time they dabbled in everything, like joyful dilettanti. Aphrodite is likewise Phoenician. Neither do they disavow what has come to them through immigration and does not originally belong to their own country.

118 The happy and comfortable constitution of the politico-social position must not be sought among the Greeks . that is a goal which dazzles the eyes of our dreamers of the future! It was, on the contrary, dreadful; for this is a matter that must be judged according to the following standard: the more spirit, the more suffering (as the Greeks themselves prove). Whence it follows, the more stupidity, the more comfort. The philistine of culture is the most comfortable creature the sun has ever shone upon: and he is doubtless also in possession of the corresponding stupidity.

119 The Greek polis and the [Greek: aien aristeyein] grew up out of mutual enmity. Hellenic and philanthropic are contrary adjectives, although the ancients flattered themselves sufficiently. Homer is, in the world of the Hellenic discord, the pan-Hellenic Greek. The [Greek: “agon”] of the Greeks is also manifested in the Symposium in the shape of witty conversation.

120 Wanton, mutual annihilation inevitable: so long as a single polis wished to exist—its envy for everything superior to itself, its cupidity, the disorder of its customs, the enslavement of the women, lack of conscience in the keeping of oaths, in murder, and in cases of violent death. Tremendous power of self-control: for example in a man like Socrates, who was capable of everything evil.

121 Its noble sense of order and systematic arrangement had rendered the Athenian state immortal—The ten strategists in Athens! Foolish! Too big a sacrifice on the altar of jealousy.

122 The recreations of the Spartans consisted of feasting, hunting, and making war . their every-day life was too hard. On the whole, however, their state is merely a caricature of the polls, a corruption of Hellas. The breeding of the complete Spartan—but what was there great about him that his breeding should have required such a brutal state!

123 The political defeat of Greece is the greatest failure of culture; for it has given rise to the atrocious theory that culture cannot be pursued unless one is at the same time armed to the teeth. The rise of Christianity was the second greatest failure: brute force on the one hand, and a dull intellect on the other, won a complete victory over the aristocratic genius among the nations. To be a Philhellenist now means to be a foe of brute force and stupid intellects. Sparta was the ruin of Athens in so far as she compelled Athens to turn her entire attention to politics and to act as a federal combination.

124 There are domains of thought where the ratio will only give rise to disorder, and the philologist, who possesses nothing more, is lost through it and is unable to see the truth . e.g. in the consideration of Greek mythology. A merely fantastic person, of course, has no claim either . one must possess Greek imagination and also a certain amount of Greek piety. Even the poet does not require to be too consistent, and consistency is the last thing Greeks would understand.

125 Almost all the Greek divinities are accumulations of divinities . we find one layer over another, soon to be hidden and smoothed down by yet a third, and so on. It scarcely seems to me to be possible to pick these various divinities to pieces in a scientific manner, for no good method of doing so can be recommended: even the poor conclusion by analogy is in this instance a very good conclusion.

126 At what a distance must one be from the Greeks to ascribe to them such a stupidly narrow autochthony as does Ottfried Muller![10] How Christian it is to assume, with Welcker,[11] that the Greeks were originally monotheistic! How philologists torment themselves by investigating the question whether Homer actually wrote, without being able to grasp the far higher tenet that Greek art long exhibited an inward enmity against writing, and did not wish to be read at all.

127 In the religious cultus an earlier degree of culture comes to light a remnant of former times. The ages that celebrate it are not those which invent it, the contrary is often the case. There are many contrasts to be found here. The Greek cultus takes us back to a pre-Homeric disposition and culture. It is almost the oldest that we know of the Greeks—older than their mythology, which their poets have considerably remoulded, so far as we know it—Can this cult really be called Greek? I doubt it: they are finishers, not inventors. They preserve by means of this beautiful completion and adornment.

128 It is exceedingly doubtful whether we should draw any conclusion in regard to nationality and relationship with other nations from languages. A victorious language is nothing but a frequent (and not always regular) indication of a successful campaign. Where could there have been autochthonous peoples! It shows a very hazy conception of things to talk about Greeks who never lived in Greece. That which is really Greek is much less the result of natural aptitude than of adapted institutions, and also of an acquired language. 129 To live on mountains, to travel a great deal, and to move quickly from one place to another . in these ways we can now begin to compare ourselves with the Greek gods. We know the past, too, and we almost know the future. What would a Greek say, if only he could see us!

130 The gods make men still more evil; this is the nature of man. If we do not like a man, we wish that he may become worse than he is, and then we are glad. This forms part of the obscure philosophy of hate—a philosophy which has never yet been written, because it is everywhere the pudendum that every one feels.

131 The pan-Hellenic Homer finds his delight in the frivolity of the gods; but it is astounding how he can also give them dignity again. This amazing ability to raise one’s self again, however, is Greek. 1

32 What, then, is the origin of the envy of the gods? people did not believe in a calm, quiet happiness, but only in an exuberant one. This must have caused some displeasure to the Greeks; for their soul was only too easily wounded: it embittered them to see a happy man. That is Greek. If a man of distinguished talent appeared, the flock of envious people must have become astonishingly large. If any one met with a misfortune, they would say of him: “Ah! no wonder! he was too frivolous and too well off.” And every one of them would have behaved exuberantly if he had possessed the requisite talent, and would willingly have played the role of the god who sent the unhappiness to men.

133 The Greek gods did not demand any complete changes of character, and were, generally speaking, by no means burdensome or importunate . it was thus possible to take them seriously and to believe in them. At the time of Homer, indeed, the nature of the Greek was formed . flippancy of images and imagination was necessary to lighten the weight of its passionate disposition and to set it free.

134 Every religion has for its highest images an analogon in the spiritual condition of those who profess it. The God of Mohammed . the solitariness of the desert, the distant roar of the lion, the vision of a formidable warrior. The God of the Christians . everything that men and women think of when they hear the word “love”. The God of the Greeks: a beautiful apparition in a dream.

135 A great deal of intelligence must have gone to the making up of a Greek polytheism . the expenditure of intelligence is much less lavish when people have only one God.

136 Greek morality is not based on religion, but on the polis. There were only priests of the individual gods; not representatives of the whole religion . i.e., no guild of priests. Likewise no Holy Writ.

137 The “lighthearted” gods . this is the highest adornment which has ever been bestowed upon the world—with the feeling, How difficult it is to live! 138 If the Greeks let their “reason” speak, their life seems to them bitter and terrible. They are not deceived. But they play round life with lies: Simonides advises them to treat life as they would a play; earnestness was only too well known to them in the form of pain. The misery of men is a pleasure to the gods when they hear the poets singing of it. Well did the Greeks know that only through art could even misery itself become a source of pleasure, vide tragoediam.

139 It is quite untrue to say that the Greeks only took this life into their consideration—they suffered also from thoughts of death and Hell. But no “repentance” or contrition.

140 The incarnate appearance of gods, as in Sappho’s invocation to Aphrodite, must not be taken as poetic licence . they are frequently hallucinations. We conceive of a great many things, including the will to die, too superficially as rhetorical.

141 The “martyr” is Hellenic: Prometheus, Hercules. The hero-myth became pan-Hellenic: a poet must have had a hand in that!

142 How realistic the Greeks were even in the domain of pure inventions! They poetised reality, not yearning to lift themselves out of it. The raising of the present into the colossal and eternal, e.g., by Pindar.

143 What condition do the Greeks premise as the model of their life in Hades? Anaemic, dreamlike, weak . it is the continuous accentuation of old age, when the memory gradually becomes weaker and weaker, and the body still more so. The senility of senility . this would be our state of life in the eyes of the Hellenes.

144 The naive character of the Greeks observed by the Egyptians.

145 The truly scientific people, the literary people, were the Egyptians and not the Greeks. That which has the appearance of science among the Greeks, originated among the Egyptians and later on returned to them to mingle again with the old current. Alexandrian culture is an amalgamation of Hellenic and Egyptian . and when our world again founds its culture upon the Alexandrian culture, then….[12]

146 The Egyptians are far more of a literary people than the Greeks. I maintain this against Wolf. The first grain in Eleusis, the first vine in Thebes, the first olive-tree and fig-tree. The Egyptians had lost a great part of their mythology.

147 The unmathematical undulation of the column in Paestum is analogous to the modification of the tempo: animation in place of a mechanical movement.

148 The desire to find something certain and fixed in aesthetic led to the worship of Aristotle: I think, however, that we may gradually come to see from his works that he understood nothing about art, and that it is merely the intellectual conversations of the Athenians, echoing in his pages, which we admire. 149 In Socrates we have as it were lying open before us a specimen of the consciousness out of which, later on, the instincts of the theoretic man originated: that one would rather die than grow old and weak in mind. 150 At the twilight of antiquity there were still wholly unchristian figures, which were more beautiful, harmonious, and pure than those of any Christians: e.g., Proclus. His mysticism and syncretism were things that precisely Christianity cannot reproach him with. In any case, it would be my desire to live together with such people. In comparison with them Christianity looks like some crude brutalisation, organised for the benefit of the mob and the criminal classes. Proclus, who solemnly invokes the rising moon. 151 With the advent of Christianity a religion attained the mastery which corresponded to a pre-Greek condition of mankind: belief in witchcraft in connection with all and everything, bloody sacrifices, superstitious fear of demoniacal punishments, despair in one’s self, ecstatic brooding and hallucination, man’s self become the arena of good and evil spirits and their struggles.

152 All branches of history have experimented with antiquity . critical consideration alone remains. By this term I do not mean conjectural and literary-historical criticism.

153 Antiquity has been treated by all kinds of historians and their methods. We have now had enough experience, however, to turn the history of antiquity to account without being shipwrecked on antiquity itself. 154 We can now look back over a fairly long period of human existence . what will the humanity be like which is able to look back at us from an equally long distance? which finds us lying intoxicated among the debris of old culture! which finds its only consolation in “being good” and in holding out the “helping hand,” and turns away from all other consolations!–Does beauty, too, grow out of the ancient culture? I think that our ugliness arises from our metaphysical remnants . our confused morals, the worthlessness of our marriages, and so on, are the cause. The beautiful man, the healthy, moderate, and enterprising man, moulds the objects around him into beautiful shapes after his own image. 155 Up to the present time all history has been written from the standpoint of success, and, indeed, with the assumption of a certain reason in this success. This remark applies also to Greek history: so far we do not possess any. It is the same all round, however: where are the historians who can survey things and events without being humbugged by stupid theories? I know of only one, Burckhardt. Everywhere the widest possible optimism prevails in science. The question: “What would have been the consequence if so and so had not happened?” is almost unanimously thrust aside, and yet it is the cardinal question. Thus everything becomes ironical. Let us only consider our own lives. If we examine history in accordance with a preconceived plan, let this plan be sought in the purposes of a great man, or perhaps in those of a sex, or of a party. Everything else is a chaos.—Even in natural science we find this deification of the necessary. Germany has become the breeding-place of this historical optimism; Hegel is perhaps to blame for this. Nothing, however, is more responsible for the fatal influence of German culture. Everything that has been kept down by success gradually rears itself up: history as the scorn of the conqueror; a servile sentiment and a kneeling down before the actual fact—“a sense for the State,” they now call it, as if that had still to be propagated! He who does not understand how brutal and unintelligent history is will never understand the stimulus to make it intelligent. Just think how rare it is to find a man with as great an intelligent knowledge of his own life as Goethe had . what amount of rationality can we expect to find arising out of these other veiled and blind existences as they work chaotically with and in opposition to each other? And it is especially naive when Hellwald, the author of a history of culture, warns us away from all “ideals,” simply because history has killed them off one after the other.

156 To bring to light without reserve the stupidity and the want of reason in human things . that is the aim of our brethren and colleagues. People will then have to distinguish what is essential in them, what is incorrigible, and what is still susceptible of further improvement. But “Providence” must be kept out of the question, for it is a conception that enables people to take things too easily. I wish to breathe the breath of this purpose into science. Let us advance our knowledge of mankind! The good and rational in man is accidental or apparent, or the contrary of something very irrational. There will come a time when training will be the only thought. 157 Surrender to necessity is exactly what I do not teach—for one must first know this necessity to be necessary. There may perhaps be many necessities; but in general this inclination is simply a bed of idleness. 158 To know history now means . to recognise how all those who believed in a Providence took things too easily. There is no such thing. If human affairs are seen to go forward in a loose and disordered way, do not think that a god has any purpose in view by letting them do so or that he is neglecting them. We can now see in a general way that the history of Christianity on earth has been one of the most dreadful chapters in history, and that a stop must be put to it. True, the influence of antiquity has been observed in Christianity even in our own time, and, as it diminishes, so will our knowledge of antiquity diminish also to an even greater extent. Now is the best time to recognise it: we are no longer prejudiced in favour of Christianity, but we still understand it, and also the antiquity that forms part of it, so far as this antiquity stands in line with Christianity.

159 Philosophic heads must occupy themselves one day with the collective account of antiquity and make up its balance-sheet. If we have this, antiquity will be overcome. All the shortcomings which now vex us have their roots in antiquity, so that we cannot continue to treat this account with the mildness which has been customary up to the present. The atrocious crime of mankind which rendered Christianity possible, as it actually became possible, is the guilt of antiquity. With Christianity antiquity will also be cleared away.—At the present time it is not so very far behind us, and it is certainly not possible to do justice to it. It has been availed of in the most dreadful fashion for purposes of repression, and has acted as a support for religious oppression by disguising itself as “culture.” It was common to hear the saying, “Antiquity has been conquered by Christianity.” This was a historical fact, and it was thus thought that no harm could come of any dealings with antiquity. Yes, it is so plausible to say that we find Christian ethics “deeper” than Socrates! Plato was easier to compete with! We are at the present time, so to speak, merely chewing the cud of the very battle which was fought in the first centuries of the Christian era—with the exception of the fact that now, instead of the clearly perceptible antiquity which then existed, we have merely its pale ghost; and, indeed, even Christianity itself has become rather ghostlike. It is a battle fought after the decisive battle, a post-vibration. In the end, all the forces of which antiquity consisted have reappeared in Christianity in the crudest possible form: it is nothing new, only quantitatively extraordinary.

160 What severs us for ever from the culture of antiquity is the fact that its foundations have become too shaky for us. A criticism of the Greeks is at the same time a criticism of Christianity; for the bases of the spirit of belief, the religious cult, and witchcraft, are the same in both—There are many rudimentary stages still remaining, but they are by this time almost ready to collapse. This would be a task . to characterise Greek antiquity as irretrievably lost, and with it Christianity also and the foundations upon which, up to the present time, our society and politics have been based. 161 Christianity has conquered antiquity—yes; that is easily said. In the first place, it is itself a piece of antiquity, in the second place, it has preserved antiquity, in the third place, it has never been in combat with the pure ages of antiquity. Or rather: in order that Christianity itself might remain, it had to let itself be overcome by the spirit of antiquity—for example, the idea of empire, the community, and so forth. We are suffering from the uncommon want of clearness and uncleanliness of human things; from the ingenious mendacity which Christianity has brought among men. 162 It is almost laughable to see how nearly all the sciences and arts of modern times grow from the scattered seeds which have been wafted towards us from antiquity, and how Christianity seems to us here to be merely the evil chill of a long night, a night during which one is almost inclined to believe that all is over with reason and honesty among men. The battle waged against the natural man has given rise to the unnatural man.

163 With the dissolution of Christianity a great part of antiquity has become incomprehensible to us, for instance, the entire religious basis of life. On this account an imitation of antiquity is a false tendency . the betrayers or the betrayed are the philologists who still think of such a thing. We live in a period when many different conceptions of life are to be found: hence the present age is instructive to an unusual degree; and hence also the reason why it is so ill, since it suffers from the evils of all its tendencies at once. The man of the future . the European man.

164 The German Reformation widened the gap between us and antiquity: was it necessary for it to do so? It once again introduced the old contrast of “Paganism” and “Christianity”; and it was at the same time a protest against the decorative culture of the Renaissance—it was a victory gained over the same culture as had formerly been conquered by early Christianity. In regard to “worldly things,” Christianity preserved the grosser views of the ancients. All the nobler elements in marriage, slavery, and the State are unchristian. It required the distorting characteristics of worldliness to prove itself.

165 The connection between humanism and religious rationalism was emphasised as a Saxonian trait by Kochly: the type of this philologist is Gottfried Hermann.[13]

166 I understand religions as narcotics: but when they are given to such nations as the Germans, I think they are simply rank poison.

167 All religions are, in the end, based upon certain physical assumptions, which are already in existence and adapt the religions to their needs . for example, in Christianity, the contrast between body and soul, the unlimited importance of the earth as the “world,” the marvellous occurrences in nature. If once the opposite views gain the mastery—for instance, a strict law of nature, the helplessness and superfluousness of all gods, the strict conception of the soul as a bodily process—all is over. But all Greek culture is based upon such views.

168 When we look from the character and culture of the Catholic Middle Ages back to the Greeks, we see them resplendent indeed in the rays of higher humanity; for, if we have anything to reproach these Greeks with, we must reproach the Middle Ages with it also to a much greater extent. The worship of the ancients at the time of the Renaissance was therefore quite honest and proper. We have carried matters further in one particular point, precisely in connection with that dawning ray of light. We have outstripped the Greeks in the clarifying of the world by our studies of nature and men. Our knowledge is much greater, and our judgments are more moderate and just. In addition to this, a more gentle spirit has become widespread, thanks to the period of illumination which has weakened mankind—but this weakness, when turned into morality, leads to good results and honours us. Man has now a great deal of freedom: it is his own fault if he does not make more use of it than he does; the fanaticism of opinions has become much milder. Finally, that we would much rather live in the present age than in any other is due to science, and certainly no other race in the history of mankind has had such a wide choice of noble enjoyments as ours—even if our race has not the palate and stomach to experience a great deal of joy. But one can live comfortably amid all this “freedom” only when one merely understands it and does not wish to participate in it—that is the modern crux. The participants appear to be less attractive than ever . how stupid they must be! Thus the danger arises that knowledge may avenge itself on us, just as ignorance avenged itself on us during the Middle Ages. It is all over with those religions which place their trust in gods, Providences, rational orders of the universe, miracles, and sacraments, as is also the case with certain types of holy lives, such as ascetics; for we only too easily conclude that such people are the effects of sickness and an aberrant brain. There is no doubt that the contrast between a pure, incorporeal soul and a body has been almost set aside. Who now believes in the immortality of the soul! Everything connected with blessedness or damnation, which was based upon certain erroneous physiological assumptions, falls to the ground as soon as these assumptions are recognised to be errors. Our scientific assumptions admit just as much of an interpretation and utilisation in favour of a besotting philistinism—yea, in favour of bestiality—as also in favour of “blessedness” and soul-inspiration. As compared with all previous ages, we are now standing on a new foundation, so that something may still be expected from the human race. As regards culture, we have hitherto been acquainted with only one complete form of it, i.e., the city-culture of the Greeks, based as it was on their mythical and social foundations; and one incomplete form, the Roman, which acted as an adornment of life, derived from the Greek. Now all these bases, the mythical and the politico-social, have changed; our alleged culture has no stability, because it has been erected upon insecure conditions and opinions which are even now almost ready to collapse.—When we thoroughly grasp Greek culture, then, we see that it is all over with it. The philologist is thus a great sceptic in the present conditions of our culture and training . that is his mission. Happy is he if, like Wagner and Schopenhauer, he has a dim presentiment of those auspicious powers amid which a new culture is stirring.

169 Those who say: “But antiquity nevertheless remains as a subject of consideration for pure science, even though all its educational purposes may be disowned,” must be answered by the words, What is pure science here! Actions and characteristics must be judged; and those who judge them must stand above them: so you must first devote your attention to overcoming antiquity. If you do not do that, your science is not pure, but impure and limited . as may now be perceived.

170 To overcome Greek antiquity through our own deeds: this would be the right task. But before we can do this we must first know it!–There is a thoroughness which is merely an excuse for inaction. Let it be recollected how much Goethe knew of antiquity: certainly not so much as a philologist, and yet sufficient to contend with it in such a way as to bring about fruitful results. One should not even know more about a thing than one could create. Moreover, the only time when we can actually recognise something is when we endeavour to make it. Let people but attempt to live after the manner of antiquity, and they will at once come hundreds of miles nearer to antiquity than they can do with all their erudition.—Our philologists never show that they strive to emulate antiquity in any way, and thus their antiquity remains without any effect on the schools. The study of the spirit of emulation (Renaissance, Goethe), and the study of despair. The non-popular element in the new culture of the Renaissance: a frightful fact! 171 The worship of classical antiquity, as it was to be seen in Italy, may be interpreted as the only earnest, disinterested, and fecund worship which has yet fallen to the lot of antiquity. It is a splendid example of Don Quixotism; and philology at best is such Don Quixotism. Already at the time of the Alexandrian savants, as with all the sophists of the first and second centuries, the Atticists, &c., the scholars are imitating something purely and simply chimerical and pursuing a world that never existed. The same trait is seen throughout antiquity . the manner in which the Homeric heroes were copied, and all the intercourse held with the myths, show traces of it. Gradually all Greek antiquity has become an object of Don Quixotism. It is impossible to understand our modern world if we do not take into account the enormous influence of the purely fantastic. This is now confronted by the principle . there can be no imitation. Imitation, however, is merely an artistic phenomenon, i.e., it is based on appearance . we can accept manners, thoughts, and so on through imitation; but imitation can create nothing. True, the creator can borrow from all sides and nourish himself in that way. And it is only as creators that we shall be able to take anything from the Greeks. But in what respect can philologists be said to be creators! There must be a few dirty jobs, such as knackers’ men, and also text-revisers: are the philologists to carry out tasks of this nature?

172 What, then, is antiquity now, in the face of modern art, science, and philosophy? It is no longer the treasure-chamber of all knowledge; for in natural and historical science we have advanced greatly beyond it. Oppression by the church has been stopped. A pure knowledge of antiquity is now possible, but perhaps also a more ineffective and weaker knowledge.—This is right enough, if effect is known only as effect on the masses; but for the breeding of higher minds antiquity is more powerful than ever. Goethe as a German poet-philologist; Wagner as a still higher stage: his clear glance for the only worthy position of art. No ancient work has ever had so powerful an effect as the “Orestes” had on Wagner. The objective, emasculated philologist, who is but a philistine of culture and a worker in “pure science,” is, however, a sad spectacle. 173 Between our highest art and philosophy and that which is recognised to be truly the oldest antiquity, there is no contradiction: they support and harmonise with one another. It is in this that I place my hopes. 174 The main standpoints from which to consider the importance of antiquity: 1. There is nothing about it for young people, for it exhibits man with an entire freedom from shame. 2. It is not for direct imitation, but it teaches by which means art has hitherto been perfected in the highest degree. 3. It is accessible only to a few, and there should be a _police des moeurs,_ in charge of it—as there should be also in charge of bad pianists who play Beethoven. 4. These few apply this antiquity to the judgment of our own time, as critics of it; and they judge antiquity by their own ideals and are thus critics of antiquity. 5. The contract between the Hellenic and the Roman should be studied, and also the contrast between the early Hellenic and the late Hellenic.—Explanation of the different types of culture.

175 The advancement of science at the expense of man is one of the most pernicious things in the world. The stunted man is a retrogression in the human race: he throws a shadow over all succeeding generations The tendencies and natural purpose of the individual science become degenerate, and science itself is finally shipwrecked: it has made progress, but has either no effect at all on life or else an immoral one.

176 Men not to be used like things! From the former very incomplete philology and knowledge of antiquity there flowed out a stream of freedom, while our own highly developed knowledge produces slaves and serves the idol of the State.

177 There will perhaps come a time when scientific work will be carried on by women, while the men will have to create, using the word in a spiritual sense: states, laws, works of art, &c. People should study typical antiquity just as they do typical men: i.e., imitating what they understand of it, and, when the pattern seems to lie far in the distance, considering ways and means and preliminary preparations, and devising stepping-stones.

178 The whole feature of study lies in this: that we should study only what we feel we should like to imitate; what we gladly take up and have the desire to multiply. What is really wanted is a progressive canon of the ideal model, suited to boys, youths, and men. 179 Goethe grasped antiquity in the right way . invariably with an emulative soul. But who else did so? One sees nothing of a well-thought-out pedagogics of this nature: who knows that there is a certain knowledge of antiquity which cannot be imparted to youths! The puerile character of philology: devised by teachers for pupils.

180 The ever more and more common form of the ideal: first men, then institutions, finally tendencies, purposes, or the want of them. The highest form: the conquest of the ideal by a backward movement from tendencies to institutions, and from institutions to men.

181 I will set down in writing what I no longer believe—and also what I do believe. Man stands in the midst of the great whirlpool of forces, and imagines that this whirlpool is rational and has a rational aim in view: error! The only rationality that we know is the small reason of man: he must exert it to the utmost, and it invariably leaves him in the lurch if he tries to place himself in the hands of “Providence.” Our only happiness lies in reason; all the remainder of the world is dreary. The highest reason, however, is seen by me in the work of the artist, and he can feel it to be such: there may be something which, when it can be consciously brought forward, may afford an even greater feeling of reason and happiness: for example, the course of the solar system, the breeding and education of a man. Happiness lies in rapidity of feeling and thinking: everything else is slow, gradual, and stupid. The man who could feel the progress of a ray of light would be greatly enraptured, for it is very rapid. Thinking of one’s self affords little happiness. But when we do experience happiness therein the reason is that we are not thinking of ourselves, but of our ideal. This lies far off; and only the rapid man attains it and rejoices. An amalgamation of a great centre of men for the breeding of better men is the task of the future. The individual must become familiarised with claims that, when he says Yea to his own will, he also says Yea to the will of that centre—for example, in reference to a choice, as among women for marriage, and likewise as to the manner in which his child shall be brought up. Until now no single individuality, or only the very rarest, have been free: they were influenced by these conceptions, but likewise by the bad and contradictory organisation of the individual purposes.

182 Education is in the first place instruction in what is necessary, and then in what is changing and inconstant. The youth is introduced to nature, and the sway of laws is everywhere pointed out to him; followed by an explanation of the laws of ordinary society. Even at this early stage the question will arise: was it absolutely necessary that this should have been so? He gradually comes to need history to ascertain how these things have been brought about. He learns at the same time, however, that they may be changed into something else. What is the extent of man’s power over things? This is the question in connection with all education. To show how things may become other than what they are we may, for example, point to the Greeks. We need the Romans to show how things became what they were.

183 If, then, the Romans had spurned the Greek culture, they would perhaps have gone to pieces completely. When could this culture have once again arisen? Christianity and Romans and barbarians: this would have been an onslaught: it would have entirely wiped out culture. We see the danger amid which genius lives. Cicero was one of the greatest benefactors of humanity, even in his own time. There is no “Providence” for genius; it is only for the ordinary run of people and their wants that such a thing exists: they find their satisfaction, and later on their justification. 184 Thesis: the death of ancient culture inevitable. Greek culture must be distinguished as the archetype; and it must be shown how all culture rests upon shaky conceptions. The dangerous meaning of art: as the protectress and galvanisation of dead and dying conceptions; history, in so far as it wishes to restore to us feelings which we have overcome. To feel “historically” or “just” towards what is already past, is only possible when we have risen above it. But the danger in the adoption of the feelings necessary for this is very great . let the dead bury their dead, so that we ourselves may not come under the influence of the smell of the corpses.

THE DEATH OF THE OLD CULTURE. 1. The signification of the studies of antiquity hitherto pursued: obscure; mendacious. 2. As soon as they recognise the goal they condemn themselves to death . for their goal is to describe ancient culture itself as one to be demolished. 3. The collection of all the conceptions out of which Hellenic culture has grown up. Criticism of religion, art, society, state, morals. 4. Christianity is likewise denied. 5. Art and history—dangerous. 6. The replacing of the study of antiquity which has become superfluous for the training of our youth. Thus the task of the science of history is completed and it itself has become superfluous, if the entire inward continuous circle of past efforts has been condemned. Its place must be taken by the science of the future. 185 “Signs” and “miracles” are not believed; only a “Providence” stands in need of such things. There is no help to be found either in prayer or asceticism or in “vision.” If all these things constitute religion, then there is no more religion for me. My religion, if I can still apply this name to something, lies in the work of breeding genius . from such training everything is to be hoped. All consolation comes from art. Education is love for the offspring; an excess of love over and beyond our self-love. Religion is “love beyond ourselves.” The work of art is the model of such a love beyond ourselves, and a perfect model at that.

186 The stupidity of the will is Schopenhauer’s greatest thought, if thoughts be judged from the standpoint of power. We can see in Hartmann how he juggled away this thought. Nobody will ever call something stupid—God.

187 This, then, is the new feature of all the future progress of the world . men must never again be ruled over by religious conceptions. Will they be any worse? It is not my experience that they behave well and morally under the yoke of religion; I am not on the side of Demopheles[14] The fear of a beyond, and then again the fear of divine punishments will hardly have made men better.

188 Where something great makes its appearance and lasts for a relatively long time, we may premise a careful breeding, as in the case of the Greeks. How did so many men become free among them? Educate educators! But the first educators must educate themselves! And it is for these that I write.

189 The denial of life is no longer an easy matter: a man may become a hermit or a monk—and what is thereby denied! This conception has now become deeper . it is above all a discerning denial, a denial based upon the will to be just; not an indiscriminate and wholesale denial.

190 The seer must be affectionate, otherwise men will have no confidence in him . Cassandra.

191 The man who to-day wishes to be good and saintly has a more difficult task than formerly . in order to be “good,” he must not be so unjust to knowledge as earlier saints were. He would have to be a knowledge-saint: a man who would link love with knowledge, and who would have nothing to do with gods or demigods or “Providence,” as the Indian saints likewise had nothing to do with them. He should also be healthy, and should keep himself so, otherwise he would necessarily become distrustful of himself. And perhaps he would not bear the slightest resemblance to the ascetic saint, but would be much more like a man of the world. 192 The better the state is organised, the duller will humanity be. To make the individual uncomfortable is my task! The great pleasure experienced by the man who liberates himself by fighting. Spiritual heights have had their age in history; inherited energy belongs to them. In the ideal state all would be over with them.

193 The highest judgment on life only arising from the highest energy of life. The mind must be removed as far as possible from exhaustion. In the centre of the world-history judgment will be the most accurate; for it was there that the greatest geniuses existed. The breeding of the genius as the only man who can truly value and deny life. Save your genius! shall be shouted unto the people: set him free! Do all you can to unshackle him. The feeble and poor in spirit must not be allowed to judge life.

194 _I dream of a combination of men who shall make no concessions, who shall show no consideration, and who shall be willing to be called “destroyers”: they apply the standard of their criticism to everything and sacrifice themselves to truth. The bad and the false shall be brought to light! We will not build prematurely: we do not know, indeed, whether we shall ever be able to build, or if it would not be better not to build at all. There are lazy pessimists and resigned ones in this world—and it is to their number that we refuse to belong!_


5 thoughts on “Nietzsche — Aphorisms, Philology, Schopenhauer, Goethe”

      1. I think a lot of the philosophical types online here tend to be very quiet – they are around, but not very ‘active’ with communication.

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