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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom
GA 5

Part I - ii. The Superman

All striving of mankind, as of every living thing, exists for the satisfying, in the very best way, of impulses and instincts implanted by nature. When human beings strive toward morality, justice, knowledge and art, this is done because morality, justice, and so forth, are means by which these human instincts can develop themselves according to their nature. The instincts would atrophy without these means. Now it is a peculiarity of the human being that he forgets this connection between his life needs and his natural impulses, and regards these means for a natural, powerful life as something with unconditional intrinsic value. Man then says that morality, justice, knowledge, and so on, must be attained for their own sakes. They do not have an intrinsic value in that they serve life, but rather that life first receives value when it strives toward these ideal possessions. Man does not exist to live according to his instincts, like an animal, but that he may ennoble his instincts by placing them at the service of higher purposes. In this way man comes to the point where he worships as ideals what he had first created for the satisfaction of his impulses, ideals which first give his life true inspiration. He demands subjugation to ideals which he values more highly than himself. He frees himself from the mother ground of reality and wishes to give his existence a higher meaning and purpose. He invents an unnatural origin for his ideals. He calls them “God's will,” the “eternal, moral laws.” He wishes to strive after “truth for truth's sake,” “virtue for virtue's sake.” He considers himself a good human being only when he has supposedly succeeded in controlling his egotism, that is, his natural instincts, and in following one ideal goal selflessly. For such an idealist, that man is considered ignoble and “evil” who has not attained such self control.

Now all ideals originally stem from natural instincts. Also what Christ considers as virtue, which God has revealed to Him, man has originally discovered as satisfying some instinct or other. The natural origin is forgotten, and the divine imagined and superimposed. A similar situation exists in relation to those virtues which the philosophers and preachers of morality set up.

If mankind had only sound instincts and would determine their ideals according to them, then this theoretical error about the origin of these ideals would not be harmful. The idealists, of course, would have false opinions about the origin of their goals, but in themselves these goals would be sound, and life would have to flourish. But there are unsound instincts which are not directed toward strengthening and fostering life, but rather toward weakening and stunting it. These take control of the so-called theoretical confusion and make it into the practical life purpose. They mislead man into saying, A perfect man is not the one who wants to serve himself and his life, but the one who devotes himself to the realization of an ideal. Under the influence of these instincts, the human being does not merely remain at the point where he erroneously ascribes an unnatural or supernatural origin to his ideals, but he actually makes such ideals part of himself, or takes over from others those which do not serve the necessities of life. He no longer strives to bring to light the forces lying within his own personality, but he lives according to a pattern which has been forced upon him. Whether he takes this goal from a religion or whether he himself determines it on the basis of certain assumptions not lying within his own nature, is of no importance. The philosopher who has in mind a universal purpose for mankind, and from this purpose directs his moral ideals, lays just as many fetters upon human nature as the originator of a religion who says to mankind, This is the goal which God has set for you, and this you must follow. It is also of no importance whether man intends to become an image of God or whether he invents an ideal of the “perfect human being,” and resembles this as much as possible. Only the single human being, and only the impulses and instincts of this single human being are real. Only when he directs his attention to the needs of his own person, can man experience what is good for his life. The single human being does not become “perfect” when he denies himself and resembles a model, but when he brings to reality that within him which strives toward realization. Human activity does not first acquire meaning because it serves an impersonal, external purpose; it has its meaning in itself.

The anti-idealist of course will also see in unsound human activity an instinctive expression of man's primeval instincts. He knows that only out of instinct can the human being accomplish even what is contrary to instinct. But he will of course attack that which is against instinct, just as the doctor attacks a sickness, although the doctor knows that the sickness has arisen out of certain natural causes. Therefore, we may not accuse the anti-idealist by saying, you assert that everything toward which man strives, therefore all ideals as well, have originated naturally; and yet you attack idealism. Indeed, ideals arise just as naturally as sickness, but the healthy human being fights idealism just as he fights sickness. The idealist, however, regards ideals as something which must be cherished and protected.

According to Nietzsche's opinion, the belief that man will become perfect only when he serves “higher” goals is something that must be overcome. Man must recollect and know that he has created ideals only to serve himself. To live according to nature is healthier than to chase after ideals which supposedly do not originate out of reality. The human being who does not serve impersonal goals, but who looks for the purpose and meaning of his existence in himself, who makes his own such virtues as serve the unfoldment of his own power, and the perfection of his own might—Nietzsche values this human being more highly than the selfless idealist.

This it is what he propounds through his Zarathustra. The sovereign individuum which knows that it can live only out of its own nature and which sees its personal goal in a life configuration which fits its own being: for Nietzsche this is the superman, in contrast to the human being who believes that life has been given to him as a gift to serve a purpose lying outside of himself.

Zarathustra teaches the superman, that is, the human being who understands how to live according to nature. He teaches those human beings who regard their virtues as their own creations; he tells them to despise those who value their virtues higher than themselves.

Zarathustra has gone into the loneliness to free himself from humility according to which men bow down before their virtues. He reappears among mankind only when he has learned to despise those virtues which fetter life and do not wish to serve life. He moves lightly like a dancer, for he follows only himself and his will, and disregards the lines which are indicated by the virtues. No longer does the belief rest heavily upon him that it is wrong to follow only himself. Now Zarathustra no longer sleeps in order to dream about ideals; he is a watcher who faces reality in freedom. For him the human being who has lost himself and lies in the dust before his own creations, is like a polluted stream. For him the superman is an ocean which takes this stream into itself without becoming impure. For the superman has found himself; he recognizes himself as the master and creator of his virtues. Zarathustra has experienced grandeur in that all those virtues which are placed above the human being have become repugnant to him.

“What is the greatest which you can experience? It is the hour of great contempt, the hour in which your happiness becomes repugnance, and likewise your intellect and your virtue.”


The wisdom of Zarathustra is not in accord with the thinking of the “modern cultured person.” The latter would like to make all human beings equal. If all strive after only one goal, they say, then there is contentment and happiness upon earth. They require that man should restrain his special, personal wishes, and serve only the whole, the universal happiness. Peace and tranquility will then reign upon earth. If everyone has the same needs, then no one disturbs the orbits of others. The individual should not regard himself and his individual goals, but everyone should live according to their once-determined pattern. All individual living should vanish, and all become part of a universal world order.

“No shepherd and one flock! Everyone desires the same, everyone is equal; he who feels otherwise goes voluntarily into the madhouse.

“‘Formerly all the world was insane,’ say the best of them, and blink.

“People are clever and know all that has happened, so there is no end to their mocking. People still quarrel, but are soon reconciled; otherwise it disturbs the digestion.”

Zarathustra had been a lone-dweller too long to pay homage to such wisdom. He had heard the peculiar tones which sound from within the personality when man stands apart from the noise of the market place where one person merely repeats the words of another. And he would like to shout into the ears of human beings: Listen to the voices which sound forth in each individual among you. For only those voices are in accord with nature which tell; each one of what he alone is capable. An enemy of life, of the rich full life, is the one who allows these voices to resound unheard, and who listens to the common cry of mankind. Zarathustra will not speak to the friends of the equality of all mankind. They can only misunderstand him. For they would believe that his superman is that ideal model which all of them should resemble. But Zarathustra wishes to make no prescriptions of what men should be; he will refer each one only to himself, and will say to him, Depend upon yourself, follow only yourself, put yourself above virtue, wisdom, and knowledge. Zarathustra speaks to those who wish to find themselves, not to a multitude who search for a common goal; his words are intended for those companions who, like him, go their own way. They alone understand him because they know that he does not wish to say, Look, there is the superman, become like him, but, Behold, I have searched for myself; I am as I teach you to be; go likewise and search for your own self; then you have the superman.

“To the one who dwells alone will I sing my song and to the twain-dweller; and unto him who still has ears for the unheard, his heart will I burden with my happiness.”


Two animals, the serpent, the wisest, and the eagle, the proudest, accompany Zarathustra. They are the symbols of his instincts. Zarathustra values wisdom because it teaches the human being to find the hidden paths to reality; it teaches him to know what he needs for life. And Zarathustra also loves pride because pride arouses self-estimation in the human being, through which he comes to regard himself as the meaning and purpose of his existence. Pride does not place his wisdom, his virtue, above his own self, in favor of “higher, more sacred” goals. Still, rather than lose pride Zarathustra would lose wisdom.

For wisdom which is not accompanied by pride does not regard itself as the work of man. The one who lacks pride and self-esteem, believes his wisdom has come to him as a gift from heaven. Such a one says, Man is a fool, and he has only as much wisdom as the heavens wish to grant him.

“And should my wisdom abandon me—Oh, it loves to fly away—may my pride then still fly with my foolishness”


The human spirit must pass through three metamorphoses until he finds himself. This is Zarathustra's teaching. At first the spirit is reverent. He calls that virtue which weighs him down. He lowers himself in order to raise his virtue. He says, All wisdom comes from God, and I must follow God's paths. God imposes the most difficult upon me to test my power, whether it proves itself to be strong and patient in its endurance. Only the one who is patient is strong. I will obey, says the spirit at this level, and will carry out the commandments of the world-spirit, without asking the meaning of these commandments. The spirit feels the pressure which a higher power exerts upon it. The spirit does not take its own paths, but the paths of him he serves.

The time arrives when the spirit becomes aware that no God speaks to him. Then he wishes to be free, and to become master of his own world. He searches after a thread of direction for his destiny. He no longer asks the world spirit how he should arrange his own life. Rather, he strives after a firm command, after a sacred “you shall.” He looks for a yardstick by which he can measure the worth of things. He searches for a sign of differentiation between good and evil. There must be a rule for my life which is not dependent on me, on my own will: so speaks the spirit at this level. To this rule will I submit myself. I am free, the spirit means to say, but only free to obey such a rule.

At this level, the spirit conquers. It becomes like the child at play, who does not ask, How shall I do this or that, but who merely carries out his own will, who follows only his own self. “The spirit now demands his own will; he who is lost in the world has now won his own world.”

“I named for you three metamorphoses of the spirit: How the spirit became a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last, a child. Thus spake Zarathustra.”


What do the wise desire who place virtue above man? asks Zarathustra. They say, Only he who has done his duty, he who has followed the sacred “thou shalt,” can have peace of soul. Man shall be virtuous so that he may dream of fulfilled duty, about fulfilled ideals, and feel no pangs of conscience. The virtuous say that a man with pangs of conscience resembles one who is asleep and whose rest is disturbed by bad dreams.

“Few know it, but one must have all virtues to sleep well. Do I bear false witness, do I commit adultery?

“Do I lust after my neighbor's wife? All this is incompatible with good sleep.

“Peace with God and with thy neighbor: this is what good sleep needs. And peace also with thy neighbor's devil! Otherwise it will haunt you at night.”

The virtuous person does not do what his impulse tells him, but what produces his peace of soul. He lives so that he may peacefully dream about life. It is even more pleasant for him when his sleep, which he calls peace of soul is disturbed by no dreams. This means that it is most pleasant for the virtuous person when from some source or other he receives rules for his actions, and for the rest, he can enjoy his peace. “His wisdom is called, Wake, in order to sleep well. And indeed, if life had no meaning, and I should have to choose nonsense, to me this would be the most worthy nonsense to choose,” says Zarathustra.

For Zarathustra also there was a time when he believed that a spirit dwelling outside of the world, a God, had created the world. Zarathustra imagined him to be an unsatisfied, suffering God. To create satisfaction for himself, to free himself from his suffering, God created the world; Zarathustra thought this, once upon a time. But he learned to understand that this is an illusion which he himself had created. “O you brothers, this God whom I created, was the work of a man and illusion of man, like all gods!” Zarathustra has learned to use his senses and to observe the world. And he becomes satisfied with the world; no longer do his thoughts sweep into the world beyond. Formerly he was blind, and could not see the world. For this reason he looked for salvation outside of the world. But Zarathustra has learned to see and to recognize that the world has meaning in itself.

“My ego taught me a new pride, which I teach mankind: not to hide the head in the sand of celestial things, but to carry it freely, a terrestrial head, which carries meaning for the earth.”


The idealists have split man into body and soul, have divided all existence into idea and reality. And they have made the soul, the spirit, the idea, into something especially valuable in order that they may despise the reality, the body all the more. But Zarathustra says, There is but one reality, but one body, and the soul is only something in the body, the ideal is only something in reality. Body and soul of man are a unity; body and spirit spring from one root. The spirit is there only because a body is there, which has strength to develop the spirit in itself. As the plant unfolds the blossom from itself, so the body unfolds the spirit from itself.

“Behind your thinking and your feeling, my brother stands a mighty master, an unknown wise one: he is called self. He lives within your body, he is your body.”

The one with a sense for reality searches for the spirit, for the soul, in and about the real. He looks for intellect in the real; only he who considers reality as lacking in spirituality, as merely “natural,” as “coarse”—he gives the spirit, the soul a special existence. He makes reality merely the dwelling place of the spirit. But such a one also lacks the sense for the perception of the spirit itself. Only because he does not see the spirit in the reality does he search for it elsewhere.

“There is more intelligence in your body than in your best wisdom.”

“The body is one great intelligence, a plurality with one meaning, a war and a peace, a herd and a shepherd.

“An instrument of your body is also your small intelligence, my brother, which you call spirit, a small instrument and a toy of your great intelligence.”

He is a fool who would tear the blossom from the plant and believe the broken blossom will still develop into fruit. He is also a fool who would separate the spirit from nature and believe such a separated spirit can still create.

Human beings with sick instincts have undertaken the separation of spirit and body. A sick instinct can only say, My kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom of a sound instinct is only this world.


But what ideals have they not created, these despisers of reality! If we look them in the eye, these ideals of the ascetics, who say, Turn your gaze away from this world, and look toward the other world, what then is the meaning of these ascetic ideals? With this question, and the suppositions with which he answers them, Nietzsche has let us look into the very depths of his heart, left unsatisfied by the more modern Western culture. (Genealogie der Moral, Section 3)

When an artist like Richard Wagner, for example, becomes a follower of the ascetic ideal during his last period of creativity, this does not have too much significance. The artist places his entire life above his creations. He looks down from above upon his realities. He creates realities which are not his reality. “A Homer would not have created an Achilles, nor Goethe a Faust, if Homer had been an Achilles, or if Goethe had been a Faust.” (Genealogy, 3rd Section, ¶ 4). Now when such an artist once begins to take his own existence seriously, wishes to change himself and his personal opinion into reality, it is no wonder when something very unreal arises. Richard Wagner completely reversed his knowledge about his art when he became familiar with Schopenhauer's philosophy. Previously, he considered music as a means of expression which required something to which it gives expression—the drama. In his Opera and Drama, written in 1851, he says that the greatest error into which one can fall with regard to the opera is,

“That a means of expression (the music) is made the purpose, but the purpose of expression (the drama) is made the means.”

He professed another opinion after he had come to know Schopenhauer's teaching about music. Schopenhauer is of the opinion that through music, the essence of the thing itself speaks to us. The eternal Will, which lives in all things, becomes embodied in all other arts only through images, through the ideas; music is no mere picture of the will: the will reveals itself in it directly. What appears to us in all our reflections only as image, the eternal ground of all existence, the will, Schopenhauer believed he heard directly in the sound of music. A message from the other world is brought to Schopenhauer by music. This point of view affected Richard Wagner. Thus he lets music no longer be a means of expression of real human passions as they are embodied in drama, but as a “sort of mouthpiece for the intrinsic essence of things, a telephone from the other world.” Richard Wagner now no longer believed in expressing reality in tones; “henceforth he talked not only music, this ventriloquist of God, but he talked metaphysics: no wonder that one day he talked ascetic ideals.” (Genealogy, 3rd Section, ¶ 5).

If Richard Wagner had merely changed his opinion about the significance of music, then Nietzsche would have had no reason to approach him. At most Nietzsche could then say, Besides his art works Wagner has also created all sorts of wrong theories about art. But that during the last period of his creativity Wagner embodied in his an works the Schopenhauer belief in the world beyond, that he utilized his music to glorify the flight from reality, this was distasteful to Nietzsche.

The Case of Wagner means nothing when it is a question of the significance of the glorification of the world beyond at the expense of this world, when it is a question of the significance of ascetic ideals. Artists do not stand on their own feet. As Richard Wagner is dependent upon Schopenhauer, so “at all times were the artists valets to a morality, a philosophy or a religion.”

It is quite different when the philosophers represent a contempt of reality, of ascetic ideals. They do this out of a deep instinct.

Schopenhauer betrayed this instinct through the description which he gives of the creating and enjoying of a work of art. “That the work of art makes the understanding of ideas, in which the aesthetic enjoyment consists, so much easier, depends not merely upon the fact that through emphasis of the material and discarding of the immaterial, art represents the things more clearly and more characteristically, but it depends much more upon the fact that the complete silence of the will, necessary for the objective understanding of the nature of things, is achieved with most certainty through the fact that the object looked upon does not lie at all within the realm of things which are capable of a relationship to will.” (Additions to the third book of Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, The World as Will and Reflection, Chapter 30) “When an outer circumstance or an inner soul mood lifts us suddenly out of the endless stream of willing, then knowledge takes away the slavish service of the will when attention is no longer directed to the motive of willing, but comprehends the things free from their relationship to will, that is, without interest, without subjectivity, considers them purely objectively, completely surrendered to them insofar as they are mere representations, not insofar as they are motives; then is begun the painless state which Epicurus praised as the highest good and as the state of the gods. Then, during that moment, we are freed from the contemptible pressure of the will; we celebrate the sabbath of the will's hard labor, the wheel of Ixion stands still.” Ibid. ¶ 38)

This is a description of a type of aesthetic enjoyment which appears only with philosophers. Nietzsche contrasts this with another description “which a real spectator and artist has made—Stendhal,” who calls the beautiful une promesse de bonheur. Schopenhauer would like to exclude all will interest, all real life, when it is a question of the observation of a work of art, and would enjoy it only with the spirit; Stendhal sees in the work of art a promise of happiness, therefore, an indication for life, and sees the value of art in this connection of art with life.

Kant demanded that a beautiful work of art should please without interest: that is, that the work of art lift us out of the reality of life and give us purely spiritual enjoyment.

What does the philosopher look for in artistic enjoyment? Escape from reality. The philosopher wants to be transferred into an atmosphere foreign to reality, through works of art. Thereby he betrays his basic instinct. The philosopher feels most satisfied during those moments when he can be freed from reality. His attitude toward aesthetic enjoyment proves that he does not love this reality.

In their theories the philosophers do not tell us what the spectator whose interests are turned toward life, demands of a work of art, but only what is of interest to themselves. And for the philosopher the turning away from life is very useful. He does not wish to have his hidden thought paths crossed by reality. Thinking flourishes better when the philosopher turns away from life. Then it is no wonder when this philosophical basic instinct becomes a mood almost hostile to life. We find that such a soul mood is cultivated by the majority of philosophers. And a very close connection exists between the fact that the philosopher develops and elaborates his own antipathy toward life into a teaching, and the fact that all men acknowledge such a teaching. Schopenhauer did this. He found that the noise of the world disturbed his thought work. He felt that one could meditate about reality better when one escaped from this reality. At the same time, he forgot that all thinking about reality has value only when it springs from this reality. He did not observe that the withdrawing of the philosopher from reality can occur only when the philosophical thoughts which have arisen out of this separation from life can be of higher service to life. When the philosopher wishes to force the basic instinct, which is only of value to him as a philosopher, upon the whole of mankind, then he becomes an enemy to life.

The philosopher who does not regard the flight from the world as a means of creating thoughts friendly to the world, but as a purpose, as a goal in itself, can only create worthless things. The true philosopher flees from reality on the one hand, only that he may penetrate deeper into it on the other. But it is conceivable that this basic instinct can easily mislead the philosopher into considering the flight from the world as such to be valuable. Then the philosopher becomes a representative of world negation. He teaches a turning away from life, the ascetic ideal. He finds that “A certain asceticism, a hard and joyous renunciation of the best will, belongs to the favorable conditions of highest spirituality, as well as to their most natural consequences. So from the beginning it is not surprising if the ascetic ideal is never treated, particularly by the philosophers, without some objections.” (Genealogy, Part III, ¶ 9)


The ascetic ideals of the priests have another origin. What develops in the philosopher as the luxuriant grow of an impulse he considers justified, forms the basic ideal of the working and creating of the priest. The priest sees error in the surrender of the human being to real life; he demands that one respect this life less in face of another life, which is directed by higher than merely natural forces. The priest denies that real life has meaning in itself, and he challenges the idea that this meaning is given to it through an inoculation of a higher will. He sees life in the temporal as imperfect, and he places opposite to it an eternal, perfect life. The priest teaches a turning away from the temporal and entering into the eternal, the unchangeable. As especially significant of the way of thinking of the priest, I would like to quote a few sentences from the famous book, Die Deutsche Theologie, German Theology, which stems from the fourteenth century, and about which Luther says that from no other book, with the exception of the Bible, and the writings of St. Augustine, has he learned more about what God, Christ, and man are, than from this. Schopenhauer also finds that the spirit of Christianity is expressed more perfectly and more powerfully in this book than elsewhere. After the writer, who is unknown to us, has explained that all things of the world are imperfect and incomplete, in contrast to the perfect, “which in itself and in its essence comprehended all things and decided all things, and without which, and outside of which no true being exists, and in which all things have their being,” he continues that man can penetrate into this being only if he has lost all “creaturedom, creationdom, egodom, selfdom, and everything similar,” nullifying them in himself. What has flowed out of the perfect, and what the human being recognizes as his real world, is described in the following way: “That is no true being, and has no being other than in the perfect, but it is an accident or a radiance, and an illusion which is no being, or has no being other than in the fire from which the radiance streams, or in the sun, or in the light. The book says, as do belief, and truth, sin is nothing but that the creature turns away from the unchangeable good and turns toward the changeable, that is, that it turns away from the perfect to the incomplete and imperfect, and most of all to itself. Now note, If this creature takes on something good as existence, life, knowledge, understanding, possession, in short, all those things which one calls good, and thinks that they are good, or that it itself is good or that good belongs to it, or stems from it, just as often as this happens, so often does it turn itself away. In what way did the devil do anything different—or what was his fall and turning away—than that he thought he was something, and that that something was his, and also that something belonged to him? This acceptance, and his ‘I’ and his ‘me,’ his ‘to me,’ and his ‘mine’—all this was his turning away and his fall. Thus it is still ... For all that one considers good or would call good, belongs to no one, except to the eternal, true Good, who is God alone, and he who takes possession of it does wrong, and is against God.” (Chapters 1, 2, 4, of German Theology, 3rd edition)

These sentences express the attitude of every priest. They express the particular character of the priesthood. And this character is exactly the opposite of that which Nietzsche describes as the more valuable, more worthy of life. The more highly valued type of man wants to be everything that he is, through himself alone; he wants all that he considers good and calls good to belong to no one but himself.

But this mediocre attitude is no exception. It is one of “the most widespread, oldest facts that exist. Read from a distant star, perhaps, the writing of our earth existence would lead to the conclusion that the earth is the really ascetic star, a corner of dissatisfied, proud, disagreeable creatures who cannot free themselves from a deep dissatisfaction with themselves, with the earth, and with all life.” (Genealogy, Part III, ¶ 11) For this reason, the ascetic priest is a necessity, since the majority of human beings suffer from an “obstruction and fatigue” of life-forces because they suffer from reality. The ascetic priest is the comforter and physician of those who suffer from life. He comforts them by saying to them, This life from which you are suffering is not the real life; for those who suffer from this life, the true life is much more easily attainable than for the healthy, who depend upon this life and surrender themselves to it. Through such expressions the priest breeds contempt for, and betrayal of the real life. He finally brings forth the state of mind which says that to obtain the true life, the real life must be denied. In the spreading of this mood, the ascetic priest seeks his strength. Through the training of this soul mood, he eliminates a great danger which threatens the healthy, the strong, the ego-conscious, from the unhappy, the suppressed, the broken-down. The latter hate the healthy and the happy in body and soul, who take their strength from nature. This hatred, which must express itself, is that the weak wage a continuous war of annihilation against the strong. This the priest tries to suppress. Therefore, he represents the strong as those who lead a life which is worthless and unworthy of human beings, and, on the other hand, asserts that true life is obtainable only by those who were hurt by the earth life. “The ascetic priest must be accepted by us as the predestined saviour, shepherd, and champion of the sick herd; in this way we understand his tremendous historic mission for the first time. The domination over the sufferers is his kingdom. His instinct directs him toward it. In this he finds his own special art, his mastery, his form of happiness.” (Genealogy, Part III, ¶ 15)

It is no wonder that such a way of thinking finally leads to the fact that its followers not only despise life, but work directly toward its destruction. If it is said to man that only the sufferer, the weak, can really attain a higher life, then in the end the suffering, the weakness will be sought. To bring pain to oneself, to kill the will within oneself completely, will become the goal of life. The victims of this soul-mood are the saints. “Complete chastity and denial of all pleasure are for him who strives toward real holiness; throwing away of all possessions, desertion of every dwelling, of all dependents, deep, complete loneliness, spent in profound, silent reflection, with voluntary penitence and frightful, slow self-torture, to the complete mortification of the will, which finally dies voluntarily by hunger, or by walking toward crocodiles, by throwing oneself from sacred mountain heights in the Himalayas, by being buried alive, or by throwing oneself under the wheels of the Juggernaut driven among the statues of the idols, accompanied by the song, jubilation and dance of the Bajadere,” these are the ultimate fruits of the ascetic state of mind. (Schopenhauer, Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, World as Will and Representation, ¶ 68).

This way of thinking has arisen out of the suffering of life, and it directs its weapons against life. When the healthy person, filled with joy of life, is infected by it, then it destroys the sound, strong instincts within him. Nietzsche's work towers above this in that in face of this teaching he brings out the value of another point of view for the healthy, for those of well-being. May the malformed, the ruined, find their salvation in the teaching of the ascetic priests; Nietzsche will gather the healthy about him, and will give them advice which will please them more than all ideals which are inimical to life.


The ascetic ideal is implanted in the guardians of modern science also. Of course, this science boasts that it has thrown all old beliefs overboard, and that it holds fast only to reality. It will consider nothing valid which cannot be counted, calculated, weighed, seen or grasped. That through this “one degrades existence to a slavish exercise in arithmetic and a game for mathematicians,” is of indifference to the modern scholar. (Fröhliche Wissenschaft, Joyful Science, ¶ 373). Such a scholar does not ascribe to himself the right to interpret the happenings of the world, which pass before his senses and his intellect, so that he can control them with his thinking. He says, Truth must be independent of my art of interpretation, and it is not up to me to create truth; instead, I must allow the world to dictate truth to me through world phenomena.

The point to which this modern science finally comes when it contains within itself all arranging of world phenomena, has been expressed by Richard Wahle, a follower of this science, in a book which has just appeared: Das Ganze der Philosophie und ihr Ende, The Totality of Philosophy and its End. “What can the spirit who peers into this world-house and turns over the questions about the nature and goal of happenings, find as an answer at last? It has happened that as he stood so apparently in opposition to the world surrounding him, he became disentangled, and in a flight from all events, merged with all events. He no longer ‘knew’ the world. He said, I am not sure that those who know exist; perhaps there are simply events. They occur, of course, in such a way that the concept of a knowing could develop prematurely and without justification, and ‘concepts’ have sprouted up to bring light into these events, but they are will-o-the-wisps, souls of the desires for knowing, pitiful postulates of an empty form of knowledge, saying nothing in their evidence. Unknown factors must hold sway in the transitions. Darkness was spread over their nature. Events are the veil of the nature of truth.”

That the human personality, out of its own capacities can instill meaning into the happenings of reality, and can supplement the unknown factors which rule in the transitions of events: modern scholars do not think at all about this. They do not want to interpret the flight from appearances by ideals which stem from their own personality. They want merely to observe and describe the appearances, but not interpret them. They want to remain with the factual, and will not allow the creative fantasy to make a dismembered picture of reality.

When an imaginative natural scientist, for example, Ernst Haeckel, out of the results of individual observations, formulates a total picture of the evolution of organic life on earth, then these fanatics of factuality throw themselves upon him, and accuse him of transgression against truth. The pictures which he sketched about life in nature, they cannot see with their eyes or touch with their hands. They prefer the impersonal judgment to that which is colored by the spirit of the personality. They would prefer to exclude the personality completely from their observations.

It is the ascetic ideal which controls the fanatics of factuality. They would like a truth beyond the personal individual judgment. What the human being can “imagine into” things, does not concern these fanatics. “Truth” to them is something absolutely perfect—a God; man should discover it, should surrender to it, but should not create it. At present, the natural scientists and the historians are enthused by the same spirit of ascetic ideals. Everywhere they enumerate in order to describe facts, and nothing more. All arranging of facts is forbidden. All personal judgment is to be suppressed.

Atheists are also found among these modern scholars. But these atheists are freer spirits than their contemporaries who believe in God. The existence of God cannot be proven by means of modern science. Indeed, one of the brilliant minds of modern science, DuBois-Reymond, expressed himself thus about the acceptance of a “world-soul:” before the natural scientist decides upon such an acceptance he demands “That somewhere in the world, there be shown to him, bedded in nerve ganglia and nourished with warm, arterial blood under the correct pressure, a bundle of cell ganglia and nerve fibers, depending in size on the spiritual capacity of the soul.” (Grenzen des Naturerkennens, Limits of Natural Science, page 44). Modern science rejects the belief in God because this belief cannot exist beside their belief in “objective truth.” This “objective truth,” however, is nothing but a new God who has been victorious over the old one. “Unqualified, honest atheism (and we breathe only its air; we, the most intellectual human being of this age) does not stand in opposition to that (ascetic) ideal to the extent that it appears to; rather, it is one of its final phases of evolution, one of its ultimate forms, one of its logical consequences. It is the awe-inspiring catastrophe of a two thousand year training in truth, which finally forbids itself the lie of the belief in God.” (Genealogy, Part III, ¶ 27). Christ seeks truth in God because He considers God the source of all truth. The modern atheist rejects the belief in God because his god, his ideal of truth, forbids him this belief. In God the modern spirit sees a human creation; in “truth” he sees something which has come into being by itself without any human interference. The really “free spirit” goes still further. He asks, “What is the meaning of all will for truth?” Why truth? For all truth arises in that man ponders over the appearance of the world, and formulates thoughts about things. Man himself is the creator of truth. The “free spirit” arrives at the awareness of his own creation of truth. He no longer regards truth as something to which he subordinates himself; he looks upon it as his own creation.


People endowed with weak, malformed instincts of perception do not dare to attach meaning to world appearances out of the concept-forming power of their personality. They wish the “laws of nature” to stand before their senses as actual facts. A subjective world-picture, formed by the instrumentality of the human mind, appears worthless to them. But the mere observation of world events presents us with only a disconnected, not a detailed world picture. To the mere observer of things, no object, no event, appears more important, more significant than another. When we have considered it, the rudimentary organ of an organism which perhaps appears to have no significance for the evolution of life, stands there with exactly the same demand upon our attention as does the most noble part of the organism, so long as we look merely at the actual facts. Cause and effect are appearances following upon each other, which merge into each other without being separated by anything, so long as we merely observe them. Only when with our thinking, we begin to separate the appearances which have merged into each other, and relate them to each other intellectually, does a regular connection become visible. Thinking alone explains one appearance as cause and another as effect. We see a raindrop fall upon the earth and produce a groove. A being which is unable to think will not see cause and effect here, but only a sequence of appearances. A thinking being isolates the appearances, relates the isolated facts, and labels the one factor as cause, the other as effect. Through observation the intellect is stimulated to produce thoughts and to fuse these thoughts with the observed facts into a meaningful world-picture. Man does this because he wishes to control the sum of his observations with his thoughts. A thought-vacuum before him presses upon him like an unknown power. He opposes this power and conquers it by making it conceivable. All counting, weighing and calculating of appearances also comes about for the same reason. It is the will to power which lives itself out in this impulse for knowledge. (I have represented a process of knowledge in detail in my two writings, Wahrheit und Wissenschaft, Truth and Science, and Die Philosophie der Freiheit, The Philosophy of Freedom.)

The dull, weak intellect does not want to admit to himself that it is he himself who interprets the appearances as expression of his striving toward power. He considers his interpretation also as an actual fact. And he asks, How does a man come to find such an actual fact in reality? He asks, for example, How is it that the intellect can recognize cause and effect in two appearances, one following upon the other? All theorists of knowledge, from Locke, Hume, Kant, down to the present time, have occupied themselves with this question. The subtleties which they have applied to this examination, have remained unfruitful. The explanation is given in the striving of the human intellect toward power. The question is not at all, Are judgments, thoughts about appearances, possible? but, Does the human intellect need such judgments? He needs them, hence he uses them, not because they are possible. It depends upon this: “To understand that for the sake of the preservation of creatures like ourselves such judgments must be believed to be true, though naturally they still may be false judgments!” (Jenseits von Gut und Böse, Beyond Good and Evil, ¶ 11) “And fundamentally we are inclined to assert that the most erroneous judgments are the most indispensable for us; that man could not live without belief in logical fiction, without measuring reality by the purely invented world of the unconditional, likening one's self to one's self, without a constant falsification of the world through number; that renunciation of false judgments would be a renunciation of life, a negation of life.” (Ibid, ¶ 4). Whoever regards this saying as a paradox, should remind himself how fruitful is the use of geometry in relation to reality, although nowhere in the world are really geometric, regular lines, planes, etc., to be found.

When the dull, weak intellect understands that all judgments about things stem from within him, are all produced by him, and are fused with the observations, then he does not have the courage to use these judgments unreservedly. He says, judgments of this kind cannot transmit knowledge of the “true essence” of things to us. Therefore, this “true essence” remains excluded from our knowledge.

The weak intellect tries in still another way to prove that no security can be attained through human knowledge. He says, The human being sees, hears, touches things and events. Thereby he perceives impressions of his sense organs. When he perceives a color, a sound, then he can only say, My eye, my ear are determined in a certain way to perceive color and tone. Man perceives nothing outside of himself except a determination, a modification of his own organs. In perceiving, his eyes, his ears, etc., become stimulated to feel in a certain way; they are placed in a certain condition. The human being perceives this condition of his own organs as colors, tones, odors, etc. In all perceiving, the human being perceives only his own conditions. What he calls the outer world is composed only of his own conditions; therefore, in a real sense it is his work. He does not know the things which cause him to spin the outer world out of himself; he only knows the effects upon his organs. In this light, the world appears like a dream which is dreamed by the human being, and is occasioned by something unknown.

When this thought is brought to its consequential conclusion, it brings with it the following afterthought. Man knows only his own organs, insofar as he perceives them; they are parts of his world of perception. And man becomes conscious of his own self only to the extent that he spins pictures of the world out of himself. He perceives dream pictures, and in the midst of these dream pictures, an “I,” by which these dream pictures pass; every dream picture appears to be an accompaniment of this “I.” One can also say that each dream picture appears in the midst of the dream world, always in relation to this “I.” This “I” clings to these dream pictures as determination, as characteristic: Consequently, as a determination of dream pictures, it is a dream-like being itself. J. G. Fichte sums up this point of view in these words: “What develops through this knowing, and out of this knowing, is but a knowing. But all knowing is merely reflection, and something is always demanded of it which conforms to the picture. This demand cannot be satisfied by knowledge; and a system of knowledge is necessarily a system of mere pictures, without any reality, without significance, and without purpose.” For Fichte, “all reality” is a wonderful “dream without a life, which is being dreamed about, without a spirit who dreams.” It is a dream “which is connected with itself in a dream.” (Bestimmung des Menschen, Mission of Man, 2nd Book)

What meaning has this whole chain of thoughts? A weak intellect, which does not dare to give meaning to the world out of himself, looks for this meaning in the world of observations. Of course, he cannot find it there because mere observation is void of thoughts.

A strong, productive intellect uses his world of concepts to interpret the observations. The weak, unproductive intellect declares himself to be too powerless to do this, and says, I can find no sense in the appearances of the world; they are mere pictures which pass by me. The meaning of existence, therefore, must be looked for outside, beyond the world of appearances. Because of this, the world of appearances, that is, the human reality, is explained as a dream, an illusion, a Nothing, and “the true being” of appearances is searched for in a “thing in itself,” for which no observation, no knowledge is sufficient, that is, about which the knower can form no idea. Therefore, for the knower, this “true being” is a completely empty thought, the thought about a Nothing. For those philosophers who speak about the “thing in itself,” a dream is a world of appearances. But this Nothing they regard as the “true being” of the world of appearances. The whole philosophical movement which speaks about the “thing in itself,” and which, in more modern times, leans mainly upon Kant, is the belief in this Nothing; it is philosophical nihilism.


When the strong spirit looks for the cause of a human action and achievement, he will always find it in the will power of the individual personality. But the human being with a weak, timid intellect will not admit this. He doesn't feel himself sufficiently strong to make himself master and guide of his own actions. He interprets the impulses which guide him as the commandments of another power. He does not say, I act as I want to act, but he says, I act according to a law which I must obey. He does not wish to command himself; he wishes to obey. At one level of their development, human beings see their impulses to action as commandments of God; at another level, they believe that they are aware of a voice inside them, which commands them. In the latter case they do not dare to say, It is I myself who command; they assert, In me a higher will expresses itself. One person is of the opinion that it is his conscience which speaks to him in each individual case, and tells him how he should act, while another asserts that a categorical imperative commands him. Let us hear what J. G. Fichte says: “Something simply will happen because something just must happen; conscience now demands of me that it happen, and simply for this reason I am here; I am to realize it, and for that I have intellect. I am to achieve it, and for that I have strength.” (Ibid, Third Book) I mention J. G. Fichte's sayings with great pleasure because he maintained with iron consequence his opinion of the “weak and malformed.” He maintained it to the very end. One can only realize where this opinion finally leads when one looks for it where it was thought through to the end; one cannot depend upon those who are incomplete thinkers, who think each thought only to the middle.

The fount of knowledge is not sought in individual personalities by those who think in the above mentioned way, but beyond personality in a “will in itself.” Just this “will in itself” shall speak to the individual as “God's voice,” as the “voice of conscience,” as categorical imperative, and so on. This is to be the universal leader of human actions, and the fount of all morality, and is also to determine the purpose of moral actions. “I say that it is the commandment to action itself which gives me a purpose through itself. It is the same in me which urges me to think that I should act in such a way, urges me to believe that out of these actions something will result; it opens the view to another world.” “As I live in obedience, at the same time I live in the reflection of its purposes; I live in the better world which it promises me.” (Ibid, Third Book) He who thinks thus, will not set a goal for himself; he will allow himself to be led to a goal by the higher will which he obeys. He will free himself from his own will, and will make himself into an instrument for “higher” purposes in words which express the highest; achievements of obedience and humility known to him. Fichte described the abandonment to this “eternal Will in itself.” “Lofty, living Will, which no name names and no concept encompasses, may I raise my soul to you, for you and I are not separated. Your voice sounds within me; mine resounds in you; and all my thoughts, when they are true and good, are thought within you. In you, the incomprehensible, I become comprehensible to myself, and the world becomes perfectly comprehensible to me. All problems of my existence are solved, and the most complete harmony arises within my spirit” ... “I veil my countenance before you. I lay my hand upon my mouth. As you yourself are, and as you appear to yourself, I can never understand, as certainly as I never could become you. After I have lived a thousand thousand spirit lives, I shall comprehend you as little as I do now in this hut upon earth.” (Ibid, Third Book)

Where this will is finally to lead man, the individual cannot know. Therefore the one who believes in this will confesses that he knows nothing about the final purposes of his actions. For such a believer in a higher will, the goals which the individual sets for himself, are not “true goals.” Therefore, in place of the positive individual goals created by the individuum, he places a final purpose for the whole of mankind, the thought content of which, however, is a Nothing. Such a believer is a moral nihilist. He is caught in the worst kind of ignorance imaginable. Nietzsche wanted to deal with this type of ignorance in a special section of his incompleted work, Der Wille zur Macht, The Will to Power.

We find the praise of moral nihilism again in Fichte's Bestimmung des Menschen, Destiny of Man (Third Book): “I shall not attempt what is denied me by the very Being of Limitations, and I shall not attempt what would avail me nothing. What you yourself are, I do not care to know. But your relationships and your connections with me, the Specific, and toward everything Specific, lie open before my eyes; may I become what I must become, and all this surrounds me in more brilliant clarity than the consciousness of my own existence. You create within me the knowledge of my duty, of my destiny, in the order of intelligent beings; how, I know not, nor do I need to know. You know, and you recognize what I think and what I will; how you can know it, through what act you achieve this consciousness, I understand nothing. Yes, I know very well that the concept of an act and of a special act of consciousness is valid only for me, but not for you, Infinite Being. You govern because you will that my free obedience has consequences to all eternity; the act of your willing I do not understand, and only know that it is not similar to mine. Your act and your will itself is a deed. But the way you work is exactly opposite to that way which I alone am able to understand. You live and you are because you know, will, and effectuate, ever present in the limited intellect, but you are not as I conceive a being to be through eternities.”

Nietzsche places opposite to moral nihilism those goals which the creating individual will places before itself. Zarathustra calls to the teachers of the gospel of submission:

“These teachers of the gospel of submission. Everywhere where there is smallness and sickness and dirt, there they creep like lice, and only my disgust prevents me from crushing them under foot.

“Attend! This is my gospel for their ears: I am Zarathustra, the godless, who asks, Who is more godless than I, that I may rejoice in his teaching?

“I am Zarathustra, the godless; where do I find my equal? All those are my equals who determine their will out of themselves, and who push all submission away from themselves.”


The strong personality which creates goals is disdainful of the execution of them. The weak personality, on the other hand, carries out only what the Divine Will, the “voice of conscience” or the “categorical imperative” says Yes to. That which is in accordance with this Yes, the weak person describes as good, that which is contrary to this Yes, it describes as evil. The strong personality cannot acknowledge this “good and evil,” for he does not acknowledge that power from which the weak person allows his “good and evil” to be determined. What the strong person wills is for him good; he carries it through in spite of all opposing powers. What disturbs him in this execution, he tries to overcome. He does not believe that an “Eternal Will” guides the decisions of all individual wills toward a great harmony, but he believes that all human development comes out of the will-impasses of the individual personalities, and that an eternal war is waged between the expressions of individual wills, in which the stronger will always conquers the weaker.

The strong personality who lays down his own laws and sets his own goals, is described by the weaker and less courageous as evil, as sinful. He arouses fear, for he breaks through traditional ways; he calls that worthless which the weak person is accustomed to call valuable, and he invents the new, the previously unknown, which he describes as valuable. “Each individual action, each individual way of thinking causes shuddering; it is almost impossible to estimate exactly what those more uncommon, more select, more criminal spirits must have suffered in the course of history so that they were always regarded as bad, as dangerous, yes, even so that they themselves considered themselves in this light. Under the domination of custom, all originality of every kind has evoked a bad conscience. Up to this very time the heaven of the most admirable has become more darkened than it would have had to be.” (Morgenröte, Dawn, p. 9)

The truly free spirit makes original decisions immediately; the unfree spirit decides in accordance with his background. “Morality is nothing more (specifically, nothing more!) than obedience to customs of whatever nature these may be; but customs are the traditional way of acting and evaluating.” (Ibid, p. 9). It is this tradition which is interpreted by the moralists as “eternal will,” as “categorical imperative.” But every tradition is the result of natural impulses, of lives of individuals, of entire tribes, nations, and so on. It is also the product of natural causes, for example, the condition of the weather in specific localities. The free spirit explains that he does not feel himself bound by such tradition. He has his individual drives and impulses, and feels that these are not less justified than those of others. He transforms these impulses into action as a cloud sends rain to the earth's surface when causes for this exist. The free spirit takes his stand opposite to what tradition considers to be good and evil. He creates his own good and evil for himself.

“When I came to men, I found them sitting there on an old presumption: they all assumed that they had long known what was good and evil for man.

“All debating about virtue seemed to them an old, worn-out affair, and he who wanted to sleep well, still spoke about good and evil before going to sleep.

“This sleepiness I disturbed by my teaching; what is good and what is evil, nobody knows; then let it be the creator.

“But that is he who creates man's goal and who gives meaning to the earth and to the future. It is he who first brings it about that there is something good and evil.” (Zarathustra, 3rd Part, From the Old and New Tablets)

Besides this, when the free spirit acts according to tradition, he does this because he adopts the traditional motives, and because he does not consider it necessary in certain cases to put something new in place of the traditional.


The strong person seeks his life's task in working out his creative self. This self-seeking differentiates him from the weak person who, in the selfless surrender to that which he calls “good,” sees morality. The weak preach selflessness as the highest virtue, but their selflessness is only the consequence of their lack of creative power. If they had any creative self they would then have wished to manifest it. The strong person loves war because he needs war to manifest his creation in opposition to those powers hogstile to him.

“Your enemy you shall seek, your war you shall wage, and as for your thoughts, if they succumb, then shall your very uprightness nevertheless attain triumph over their collapse!

“You shall love peace as a means to a new war, and a short peace more than a long one.

“I do not challenge you to work, but to fight. I do not challenge you to peace, but to victory. Your work be your struggle! Your peace be a victory!

“You say that the good circumstance may even sanctify war, but I say to you, it is the ‘good’ war which sanctifies every circumstance.

“War and courage have accomplished more great things than love for one's neighbor. Until now, not your sympathy but your courage has saved the unfortunate.” (Zarathustra, 1st Part, About War and People of War)

The creative person acts without mercy and without regard for those who oppose. He has no cognizance of the virtue of those who suffer, namely, of sympathy. Out of his own power come his impulses to creativity, not out of his feelings for another's suffering. That power may conquer, for this he fights, not that suffering and weakness may be cared for. Schopenhauer has described the whole world as a hospital, and asked that the actions springing out of sympathy for suffering be considered as the highest virtue. Thereby he has expressed the morality of Christendom in another form than the latter itself has done. He who creates, though, does not feel himself destined to render these nursing services. The efficient ones, the healthy, cannot exist for the sake of the weak, the sick. Sympathy weakens power, courage, and bravery.

Sympathy seeks to maintain just what the strong wishes to overcome, that is, the weakness, the suffering. The victory of the strong over the weak is the meaning of all human as well as of all natural development. “Life in its essence is a usurping, a wounding, an overcoming of the strange, of all that is misfit and weak. Life is the suppressing, the hardening and forcing through of one's own forms, the embodying, and, in the least and mildest, the erupting in boils.” (Jenseits van Gut und Böse, Beyond Good and Evil, ¶ 259).

“And do you not wish to be a dealer of destiny and unmerciful? How else can you be mine or conquer with me?”

“And if your hardness will not strike as lightning and cleave and cut, how then can you ever create with me?

“For the creators are hard, and it must seem to you a blessing to press your hand upon the millennia as if upon wax.

“A blessing to inscribe upon the will of millennia as if upon bronze, harder than bronze, more precious than bronze. Entirely hard is the most precious alone.

“This new tablet, O my brothers, I raise above you, thou shalt become hard.” (Zarathustra, 3rd Part, From the Old and New Tablets)

The free spirit makes no demands upon sympathy. He would have to ask the one who would pity him, Do you consider me as weak, that I cannot bear my suffering by myself? For him, each expression of sympathy is humiliating. Nietzsche shows this aversion of the strong person toward sympathy in the fourth part of Zarathustra. In his wanderings Zarathustra arrives in a valley which is called “Snake Death.” No living beings are found here. Only a kind of ugly green snake comes here in order to die. The “most ugly human being” has found this valley. He does not wish to be seen by anyone because of his ugliness. In this valley he sees no one besides God, but even His countenance he cannot bear. The consciousness that God's gaze has penetrated into all these regions becomes a burden for him. For this reason he has killed God, that is, he has killed the belief in God within himself. He has become an atheist because of his ugliness. When Zarathustra sees this human being, he is overcome by what he believed he had destroyed within himself forever: that is, sympathy for the most frightful ugliness. This becomes a temptation for Zarathustra, but very soon he rejects the feeling of sympathy and again becomes hard. The most ugly man says to him, “Your hardness honors my ugliness. I am too rich in ugliness to be able to bear the sympathy of any human being. Sympathy humiliates.”

He who requires sympathy cannot stand alone, and the free spirit wishes to stand completely on his own.


The weak are not content with pointing to the natural will to power as the cause of human actions. They do not merely seek for natural connections in human development, but they seek for the relationship of human action to what they call the “will in itself,” the eternal, moral world order. They accuse the one who acts contrary to this world order. And they also are not satisfied to evaluate an action according to its natural consequences, but they claim that a guilty action also draws with it moral consequences, i.e., punishment. They consider themselves guilty if their actions are not in accord with the moral world order; they turn away in horror from the fount of evil in themselves, and they call this feeling bad conscience. The strong personality, on the other hand, does not consider all these concepts valid. He is concerned only with the natural consequences of actions. He asks, Of what value for life is my way of acting? Is it in accord with what I have willed? The strong cannot grieve when an action goes wrong, when the result does not accord with his intentions. But he does not blame himself. For he does not measure his way of acting by supernatural yardsticks. He knows that he has acted thus in accord with his natural impulses, and at most he can regret that these are not better. It is the same with his judgment regarding the actions of others. A moral evaluation of actions he does not grant. He is an amoralist.

What tradition considers to be evil the amoralist looks upon as the outstreaming of human instincts, in fact, as good. He does not consider punishment as morally necessary but merely as a means of eradicating instincts of certain human beings which are harmful to others. According to the opinion of the amoralist, society does not punish for this reason but because it has “moral right” to expiate the guilt, and because it proves itself stronger than the individual who has instincts which are antagonistic to the whole. The power of society stands against the power of the individual. This is the natural connection between an “evil” action of the individual and the justification of society, leading to the punishment of the individual. It is the will to power, namely, the acting of these instincts present in the majority of human beings, which expresses itself in the administration of justice in society. Thus, each punishment is the victory of a majority over an individual. Should the individual be victorious over society, then his action must be considered good, and that of others, evil. The arbitrary right expresses only what society recognizes as the best basis of their will to power.


Because Nietzsche sees in human action only an outstreaming of instincts, and these latter differ according to different people, it seems necessary to him that their actions also be different. For this reason, Nietzsche is a decided opponent of the democratic premise, equal rights and equal duties for all. Human beings are dissimilar; for this reason their rights and duties also must be dissimilar. The natural course of world history will always point out strong and weak, creative and uncreative human beings. And the strong will always be destined to determine the goals of the weak. Yes, still more: the strong will make use of the weak as the means toward a certain goal, that is, to serve as slaves. Nietzsche naturally does not speak about the “moral” right of the strong to keep slaves. “Moral” rights he does not acknowledge. He is simply of the opinion that the overcoming of the weak by the strong, which he considers as the principle of all life, must necessarily lead toward slavery.

It is also natural that those overcome will rebel against the overcomer. When this rebellion cannot express itself through a deed it will at least express itself in feeling, and the expression of this feeling is revenge, which dwells steadily in the hearts of those who in some way or other have been overcome by those more fortunately endowed. Nietzsche regards the modern social democratic movement as a streaming forth of this revenge. For him, the victory of this movement would be a raising of the deformed, poorly endowed to the disadvantage of those better equipped. Nietzsche strove for exactly the opposite: the cultivation of the strong, self-dominant personality. And he hates the urge to equalize everything and to allow the sovereign individuality to disappear in the ocean of universal mediocrity.

Not that each shall have the same and enjoy the same, says Nietzsche, but each should have and enjoy what he can attain by his own personal effort.


What the human being is worth depends only upon the value of his instincts. By nothing else can the value of the human being be determined. One speaks about the worth of work, or the value of work, or that work shall ennoble the human being. But in itself work has absolutely no value. Only through the fact that it serves man does it gain a value. Only insofar as work presents itself as a natural consequence of human inclinations, is it worthy of the human being. He who makes himself the servant of work, lowers himself. Only the human being who is unable to determine his own worth for himself, tries to measure this worth by the greatness of his work, of his achievement. It is characteristic of the democratic bourgeoisie of modern times that in the evaluation of the human being they let themselves be guided by his work. Even Goethe is not free from this attitude. He lets his Faust find the full satisfaction in the consciousness of work well done.


Art also has value, according to Nietzsche's opinion, only when it serves the life of the individual human being. And in this Nietzsche is a representative of the opinion of the strong personality, and rejects everything that the weak instincts express about art. All German aesthetes represent the point of view of the weak instincts. Art should represent the “infinite” in the “finite,” the “eternal” in the “temporal,” and the “idea” in the “reality.” For Schelling, as an example, all sensual beauty is but a reflection of that infinite beauty which we can never perceive with our senses. The work of art is never there for the sake of itself, nor is beautiful through what it is, but only because it reflects the idea of the beautiful. The sense picture is only a means of expression, only the form for a supersensible content, and Hegel calls the beautiful, “the sense filled appearance of the Idea.” Similar thoughts also can be found among other German aesthetes. For Nietzsche, art is a life-fostering element, and only when this is the case, has it justification. The one who cannot bear life as he directly perceives it, transforms it according to his requirements, and thereby creates a work of art. And what does the one who enjoys it demand from the work of art? He demands heightening of his joy of life, the strengthening of his life forces, satisfaction of his requirements, which reality does not do for him. But in the work of art, when his senses are directed toward the real, he will not see any reflection of the divine or of the superearthy. Let us hear how Nietzsche describes the impression Bizet's Carmen made upon him: “I become a better man when Bizet speaks to me. Also a better musician, a better listener. Is it at all possible to listen still better? I continue to bury my ears beneath this music; I hear its wellsprings. It seems to me that I experience its development, its evolving. I tremble in face of dangers which accompany any daring adventure. I am delighted with happy fortunes for which Bizet is not responsible. And, strange, fundamentally I do not think about it, nor do I even know how much I ponder about it. For, meanwhile, entirely different thoughts run through my head. Has one noticed that music frees the spirit, gives wings to the thoughts, that one becomes more of a philosopher, the more one becomes a musician, that the grey heavens of abstraction are lighted by flashes of lightning, that the light is strong enough for all the tracery of things, the large problems near enough for grasping, and the world is seen as from a mountain? I have just defined philosophical pathos. And, inadvertently, answers fall into my lap, a small hail of ice and wisdom, of solved problems. Where am I? Bizet makes me fruitful. All good makes me fruitful. I have no other gratitude, I also have no other measure for that which is good.” (Case of Wagner, ¶ 1.) Since Richard Wagner's music did not make such an impression upon him, Nietzsche rejected it: “My objections to Wagner's music are physiological objections. ... As a fact, my petit fait vrai is that I no longer breathe easily when this music first begins to work upon me; that soon my foot becomes angry with it and revolts: it desires to beat, dance, march. It demands first of all from the music the pleasures which lie in good walking, striding dancing. But doesn't my stomach also protest? My heart? My circulation? Do not my intestines also grieve? Do I not become unknowingly hoarse? And so I ask myself, ‘What does my entire body really want from this music?’ I believe that it seeks levitation. It is as if all animal functions become accelerated through these light, bold, abandoned, self-sure rhythms; as if the brazen, leaden life would lose its weight through the golden tender flow of oily melodies. My melancholy heaviness could rest in the hide and seek and in the abysses of perfection; but for that I need music.” (Nietzsche contra Wagner)

At the beginning of his literary career Nietzsche deceived himself about what his instincts demanded from art, and thus at that time he was a disciple of Wagner. He had allowed himself to be lead astray into idealism through the study of Schopenhauer's philosophy. He believed in idealism for a certain time, and conjured up before himself artistic needs, ideal needs. Only in the further course of his life did he notice that all idealism was exactly contrary to his impulses. Now he became more honest with himself. He expressed only what he himself felt. And this could only lead to the complete rejection of Wagner's music, which as a mark of Wagner's last working aim, assumed an ever more ascetic character, as mentioned above.

The aesthetes who demand that art make the ideal tangible, that it materialize the divine, in this field present an opinion similar to the philosophical nihilist in the field of knowledge and morality. In the objects of art they search for a beyond which, before the sense of reality, dissolves itself into a nothingness. There is also an aesthetic nihilism.

This stands in contrast to the aestheticism of the strong personality, which sees in art a reflection of reality, a higher reality, which man would rather enjoy than the commonplace.


Nietzsche places two types of human beings opposite each other: the weak and the strong. The first type looks for knowledge as an objective fact, which should stream from the outer world into his spirit. He allows himself to have his good and evil dictated by an “eternal world will” or a “categorical imperative.” He identifies each action as sin which is not determined by this world will, but only by the creative self-will, a sin which must entail a moral punishment. The weak would like to prescribe equal rights for all human beings, and to determine the worth of the human being according to an outer yardstick. He would finally see in art a reflection of the divine, a message from the beyond. The strong, on the contrary, sees in all knowledge an expression of the will to power. Through knowledge he attempts to make all things conceivable, and, as a consequence, to make them subject to himself. He knows that he himself is the creator of truth, and that no one but himself can create his good and his evil. He regards the actions of human beings as the consequences of natural impulses, and lets them count as natural events which are never regarded as sins and do not warrant a moral judgment. He looks for the value of a man in the efficiency of the latter's instincts. A human being with instincts of health, spirit, beauty, perseverance, nobility he values higher than one with instincts of weakness, ugliness or slavery. He values a work of art according to the degree to which it enhances his forces.

Nietzsche understands this latter type of man to be his superman. Until now, such supermen could come about only through the coalescing of accidental conditions. To make their development into the conscious goal of mankind is the intention of Zarathustra. Until now, one saw the goal of human development in various ideas. Here Nietzsche considers a change of perception to be necessary. “The more valuable type has been described often enough, but as a happy fortune, as an exception, never as consciously willed. Moreover, he specifically is most feared; until now he was almost the most terrible one; and out of the terror the reverse type was willed, bred, achieved: the domestic animal, the herd animal, the sick animal man—the Christ.” (Antichrist, ¶ 3.)

Zarathustra's wisdom is to teach about the superman, toward which that other type was only a transition.

Nietzsche calls this wisdom, Dionysian. It is wisdom which is not given to man from without; it is a self-created wisdom. The Dionysian wise one does not search; he creates. He does not stand as a spectator outside of the world he wishes to know; he becomes one with his knowledge. He does not search after a God; what he can still imagine to himself as divine is only himself as the creator of his own world. When this condition extends to all forces of the human organism, the result is the Dionysian human being, who cannot misunderstand a suggestion; he overlooks no sign of emotions; he has the highest level of understanding and divining instinct, just he possesses the art of communication in the highest degree. He enters into everything, into every emotion; he transforms himself continually. In contrast to the Dionysian wise one, stands the mere observer, who believes himself to be always outside his objects of knowledge, as an objective suffering spectator. The Apollonian stands opposite to the Dionysian human being. The Apollonian is he who, “above all, keeps the eye very active so that it receives the power of vision.” Visions, pictures of things which stand beyond the reality of mankind: the Apollonian spirit strives for these, and not for that wisdom created by himself.


The Apollonian wisdom has the character of earnestness. It feels the domination of the Beyond, which it only pictures, as a heavy weight, as an opposing power. The, Apollonian wisdom is serious for it believes itself to be in possession of a message from the Beyond, even if this is only transmitted through pictures and visions. The Apollonian spirit wanders about, heavily laden with his knowledge, for he carries a burden which stems from another world. And he takes on the expression of dignity because, confronted with the annunciation of the infinite, all laughter must be stilled.

But this laughing is characteristic of the Dionysian spirit. The latter knows that all he calls wisdom is only his own wisdom, invented by him to make his life; easier. This one thing alone shall be his wisdom: namely, a means which permits him to say Yes to life. To the Dionysian human being, the spirit of heaviness is repellent, because it does not lighten life, but oppresses it. The self-created wisdom is a merry wisdom, for he who creates his own burden, creates one which he can also carry easily. With this self-created wisdom, the Dionysian spirit moves lightly through the world like a dancer.

“But that I am good to wisdom, and often too good, is because she reminds me so very much of life itself. She has the eye of life, her laughter and even her golden fishing rod; how can I help it that the two are so alike? Into your eye I gazed recently, O Life: gold I saw flickering in your eyes of night! My heart stood still before such joy. A golden boat I saw flickering on the waters of night, a sinking, drinking, ever-winking, golden, rocking boat!

“Upon my foot, so wild to dance, you cast a glance, a laughing questioning, a melting, rocking glance. Twice only you shook your castanet with tiny hands. Thereupon, my foot rocked with urge to dance.

“My heels arched themselves, my toes listened to understand you. Indeed, the dancer carries his ear—in his toes!” (Zarathustra – 2nd and 3rd Parts. “The Dance Song.”)


Since the Dionysian spirit draws out of himself all impulses for his actions and obeys no external power, he is a free spirit. A free spirit follows only his own nature. Now of course in Nietzsche's works one speaks about instincts as the impulses of the free spirit. I believe that here under one name Nietzsche has collected a whole range of impulses requiring a consideration which goes more into individual differentiations. Nietzsche calls instincts those impulses for nourishment and self preservation present in animals, as well as the highest impulses of human nature, for example, the urge toward knowledge, the impulse to act according to moral standards, the drive to refresh oneself through works of art, and so on. Now, of course, all these impulses are forms of expression of one and the same fundamental force, but they do represent different levels in the development of this power. The moral instincts, for example, are a special level of instinct. Even if it is only admitted that they are but higher forms of sensory instinct, nevertheless they do appear in a special form within man's existence. This shows itself in that it is possible for man to carry out actions which cannot be led back to sensory instincts directly, but only to those impulses which can be defined as higher forms of instinct. The human being himself creates impulses for his own actions, which are not to be derived from his own sensory impulses, but only from conscious thinking. He puts individual purposes before himself, but he puts these before himself consciously, and there is a great difference whether he follows an instinct which arose unconsciously and only afterward was taken into consciousness, or whether he follows a thought which he produced from the very beginning with full consciousness. When I eat because my impulse for nourishment drives me to it, this is something essentially different from my solving a mathematical problem. But the conceptual grasp of world phenomena presents a special form of general perceptability. It differentiates itself from mere sensory perception. For the human being, the higher forms of development of the life of instinct are just as natural as the lower. If both of them are not in harmony, then he is condemned to unfreedom. The case may be that a weak personality, with entirely healthy sense instincts, has but weak spiritual instincts. Then of course he will develop his own individuality in regard to the life of senses, but he will draw the thought impulses of his actions from tradition. Disharmony can develop between both worlds of impulses. The sense impulses press toward a living out of one's own personality; the spiritual impulses are fettered to outer authority. The spiritual life of such a personality will be tyrannized by the sensuous, the sensuous life by the spiritual instincts. This is because both powers do not belong together, and have not grown out of a single state of being. Therefore, to the really free personality belongs not only a soundly developed individualized life of sense impulses, but also the capacity to create for himself the thought impulses for life. Only that man is entirely free who can produce thoughts out of himself which can lead to action, and in my book, Die Philosophie der Freiheit, The Philosophy of Freedom, I have called the capacity to produce pure thought motives for action, “moral fantasy.” Only the one who has this moral fantasy is really free, because the human being must act in accordance with conscious motives. And when he cannot produce the latter out of himself, then he must let himself be given them by outer authority or by tradition, which speaks to him in the form of the voice of conscience. A man who abandons himself merely to sensual instincts, acts like an animal; a human being who places his sensuous instincts under another's thoughts, acts unfreely; only the human being who creates for himself his own moral goals, acts in freedom. Moral fantasy is lacking in Nietzsche's teaching. The one who carries Nietzsche's thoughts to their conclusion must necessarily come to this insight. But in any case, it is an absolute necessity that this insight be added to Nietzsche's world conception. Otherwise one could always object to his conception thus: Indeed the Dionysian man is no slave to tradition or to the “will beyond,” but he is a slave of his own instincts.

Nietzsche looked toward the original, essential personality of the human being. He tried to separate this essential personality from the cloak of the impersonal in which it had been veiled by a world conception hostile to reality. But he did not come to the point where he differentiated the levels of life within the personality itself. Therefore he underestimated the significance of consciousness for the human personality. “Consciousness is the last and most recent development of the organic, and consequently the least prepared and the weakest. Out of consciousness come innumerable errors, which bring it about that an animal, a human being, disintegrates earlier than otherwise would be necessary—collapses ‘over his destiny,’ as Homer says. If the preserved union of instincts were not so overwhelmingly powerful, if, on the whole it did not serve as a regulator, mankind would go to pieces because of their confused judgment, spinning fantasies with open eyes through their superficiality and gullibility. In short, just because of their consciousness, mankind must be destroyed,” says Nietzsche (Fröhliche Wissenschaft, Joyful Science, ¶ 11.)

Indeed, this is entirely admitted, but it does not affect the truth that the human being is free only insofar as he can create within his consciousness thought motives for his actions.

But the contemplation of thought motives leads still further. It is a fact based upon experience, that these thought motives which the human being produces out of himself, nevertheless manifest an overall consistency to a certain degree in single individuals. Also, when the individual human being creates thoughts in complete freedom out of himself, these correspond in a certain way with the thoughts of other human beings. For this reason, the free person is justified in assuming that harmony in human society enters of its own accord when society consists of sovereign individualities. With this opinion he can confront the defender of unfreedom, who believes that the actions of a majority of human beings only accord with each other when they are guided by an external power toward a common goal. For this reason the free spirit is most certainly not a disciple of that opinion which would allow the animal instincts to reign in complete freedom, and hence would do away with all law and order. Moreover, he demands complete freedom for those who do not merely wish to follow their animal instincts, but who are able to create their own moral impulses, their own good and evil.

Only he who has not penetrated Nietzsche so far as to be able to form the ultimate conclusions of his world conception, granted that Nietzsche himself has not formed them, can see in him a human being who, “with a certain stylized pleasure, has found the courage to unveil what perhaps lurked hidden in some of the most secret depths of the souls of flagrant criminal types.” (Ludwig Stein, Friedrich Nietzsches Weltanschauung und ihre Gefahren, Friedrich Nietzsche's World Conception and its Dangers, p. 5.) Still today the average education of a German professor has not reached the point of being able to differentiate between the greatness of a personality and his small errors. Otherwise, one could not observe that such a professor's criticism is directed toward just these small errors. I believe that true education accepts the greatness of a personality and corrects small errors, or brings incompleted thoughts to conclusion.