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Thread: The best Nietzsche quotes
January 31st, 2009 #1
The best Nietzsche quotes
Since he's still the reigning philosophical heavyweight of our era, and I think more people should be exposed, I thought I'd share my collection of quoted insights with the rest of CA. Condensed and brought together here, in no particular order, for your general entertainment. Deutsch speakers will have to forgive the liberties.
Most of these aphorisms are coming from the book for Free Spirits, but some other texts sneak in from time to time. If you like the style, you might want to check out the Nietzsche Channel or pick up some stuff from your local library. I think the Geneology is the best place to start if you want to get a little heavier with it, but really you can go with anything that grabs you. A lot of times teachers will kick things off with the Birth of Tragedy and break out from there, but one of the nice things about Nietzsche is that he is more accessible and fun than most philosophical writers, so usually wherever you end up starting is good. Just keep a dictionary on hand if you have to and don't be afraid to take it slow. If anyone is into reading/re-reading some of the other materials and see where that goes as an activity or something, I'm sure I could dig up some of the old notes. Or maybe just turn this into a more general aphorism thread. Whatever works
*mildly unforgivable - the paste job just nixed all my italics, but since that will take forever to correct now, I'm just gonna let it ride. Kaufmann and Derrida would not approve, but the interweb is stickin' it to me tonight. Transcribed mainly after the Cambridge translations with a couple exceptions. Anyway, enjoy.
Break it down Old Camel
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Assorted Maxims and Musings
Opinions and fish.-Possessing opinions is like possessing fish, assuming one has a fish pond. One has to go fishing and needs some luck- then one has one's own fish, one's own opinions. I am speaking of live opinions, of live fish. Others are satisfied if they own a cabinet of fossils- and in their heads, "convictions."
Casting One's Skin.- The snake that cannot cast its skin perishes. So too with those minds which are prevented from changing their views: they cease to be minds.
Shadows in the flame.- The flame is not so bright to itself as to those whom it illuminates, so also the wise man.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
Way to equality.
-A few hours of mountain climbing turn a villain and a saint into two rather equal creatures. Exhaustion is the shortest way to equality and fraternity- and liberty is added eventually by sleep.
Never Forget!- The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.
Iron necessity.- Iron necessity is a thing which has been found, in the course of history, to be neither iron nor necessary
In danger.- One is in greatest danger of being run over when one has just got out of the way of a carriage.
Sensuality often hastens the growth of love so much that the roots remain weak and are easily torn up.
The sage as astronomer.-As long as you still experience the stars as something "above you" you lack the eye of knowledge.
Malice is rare.- Most people are far too much occupied with themselves to be malicious.
Traitor's tour de force.— To express to your fellow conspirator the hurtful suspicion that he might be betraying you, and this at the very moment when you are yourself engaged in betraying him, is a tour de force of malice, because it makes the other person aware of himself and forces him to behave very unsuspiciously and openly for a time, giving you, the true traitor, a free hand.
Enemies of truth: Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
The champions of truth.- Truth does not find fewest champions when it is dangerous to speak it, but when it is dull.
Out of life's school of war- That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.
Madness is rare in individuals-but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.
How one tries to improve bad arguments.-Some people throw a bit of their personality after their bad arguments, as if that might straighten their paths and turn them into right and good arguments-just as a man in a bowling alley, after he has let go of the ball, still tries to direct it with gestures.
Whoever does not know how to find the way to his ideal lives more frivolously and impudently than the man without an ideal.
Estranged from the present.- There are great advantages in estranging one's self for once to a large extent from one's age, and being as it were driven back from its shores into the ocean of past views of things. Looking thence towards the coast one commands a view, perhaps for the first time, of its aggregate formation, and when one again approaches the land one has the advantage of understanding it better, on the whole, than those who have never left it.
To live alone one must be a beast or a god... Leaving out the third case: one must be both- a philosopher.
The Skin of the Soul.-As the bones, flesh, entrails, and blood-vessels are enclosed within a skin, which makes the aspect of man endurable, so the emotions and passions of the soul are enwrapped with vanity, - it is the skin of the soul.
Against an enemy. How good bad music and bad reasons sound when one marches against an enemy!
-We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake the same way- not at all or in an interesting manner.
Destination and paths.— Many people are obstinate about the path once it is taken; few people about the destination.
Gold.- All that glitters is not gold. A soft sheen characterizes the most precious metal.
Friends.- Fellowship in joy, and not sympathy in sorrow, makes people friends.
Life no argument.
-We have fixed up a world for ourselves in which we can live- assuming bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content without these articles of faith, nobody now would endure life. But that does not mean that they have been proved. Life is no argument; the conditions of life could include error.
Chain-Thinkers.- To him who has thought a great deal, every new thought that he hears or reads at once assumes the form of a chain.
It is terrible to die of thirst in the ocean. Do you have to salt your truth so heavily that it does not even-quench thirst any more?
The formula of my happiness A Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal.
Doors.- In everything that is learned or experienced, the child, just like the man, sees doors; but for the former they are places to go to, for the latter to go through.
Once the decision has been made, close your ear even to the best counter argument: sign of a strong character. Thus an occasional will to stupidity.
How Rhythm Beautifies.- Rhythm casts a veil over reality; it causes various artificiality's of speech and obscurities of thought; by the shadow it throws upon thought it sometimes conceals it, and sometimes brings it into prominence. As shadow is necessary to beauty, so the "dull" is necessary to lucidity. Art makes the aspect of life endurable by throwing over it the veil of obscure thought.
One begins to mistrust very clever people when they become embarrassed.
What does it matter if I remain right. I am much too right. And he who laughs best today will also laugh last.
A gauge for wisdom.- The growth of wisdom may be gauged exactly by the diminution of ill-temper.
Luxury.- The love of luxury is rooted in the depths of a man's heart: it shows that the superfluous and immoderate is the sea wherein his soul prefers to float.
From the mother. Everyone carries in himself an image of woman derived from the mother; by this he is determined to revere women generally, or to hold them in low esteem, or to be generally indifferent to them.
Vanity Enriches.- How poor would be the human mind without vanity! Thus, however, it resembles a well-stocked and constantly replenished bazaar which attracts buyers of every kind. There they can find almost everything, obtain almost everything, provided that they bring the right sort of coin, namely admiration.
A man's maturity-consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.
In the end one loves one's desire and not what is desired.
How to have all men against you.-If anyone dared to say now, "Whoever is not for me, is against me," he would immediately have all men against him.-This does our time honor.
There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.
In music the passions enjoy themselves.
Danger in happiness.-"Now everything redouds to my best, now I love every destiny-Who feels like being my destiny?"
Corruption. The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
Talents.- In such a highly developed humanity as the present, each individual naturally has access to many talents. Each has an inborn talent, but only in a few is that degree of toughness, endurance, and energy born and trained that he really becomes a talent, becomes what he is,- that is, that he discharges it in works and actions.
All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.
Our own opinions.- The first opinion that occurs to us when we are suddenly asked about anything is not usually our own, but only the current opinion belonging to our caste, position, or family; our own opinions seldom float on the surface.
The best author.- The best author will be he who is ashamed to become one.
Free nature.- We are so fond of being out among Nature, because it has no opinions about us.
-A need is considered the cause of the origin in truth, it is often merely an effect of what did originate.
The disappointed one speaks. I searched for great human beings; I always found only the apes of their ideals.
Whoever reaches his ideal transcends it eo ipso.
Women's friendships.- Women can enter into friendship with a man perfectly well; but in order to maintain it the aid of a little physical antipathy is perhaps required.
Tourists-They climb mountains like animals, stupid and sweating; one has forgotten to tell them that there are beautiful views on the way up.
Public education.- In large States public education will always be extremely mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is at best only mediocre.
When taking leave is needed-From what you would know and measure, you must take leave, at least for a time. Only after having left town, you see how high its towers rise above the houses.
Antithesis.-Antithesis is the narrow gate through which error is fondest of sneaking to the truth.
The most dangerous party member. In every party there is one member who, by his all-too-devout pronouncement of the party principles, provokes the others to apostasy.
Forbidden generosity.-There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it away to imaginary beings.
-The certain prospect of death could sweeten every life with a precious and fragrant drop of levity- and now you strange apothecary souls have turned it into an ill-tasting drop of poison that makes the whole of life repulsive.
Positive and negative- This thinker needs nobody to refute him, for that he suffices himself.
The lawyers defending a criminal are rarely artists enough to turn the beautiful terribleness of his deed to his advantage
What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal.
End and goal.-Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal; and yet as long as the melody has not reached its end, it also hasn't reached its goal. A parable.
Sense of truth.-I think well of all skepticism to which I may reply "Let us try it." But I no longer want to hear anything of all those things and questions which do not permit experiments. This is the limit of my "sense of truth" for there courage has lost its rights.
Man's lot.- He who thinks most deeply knows that he is always in the wrong, however he may act and decide.
Readers of aphorisms. The worst readers of aphorisms are the author's friends if they are intent on guessing back from the general to the particular instance to which the aphorism owes its origin; for with such pot-peeking they reduce the author's whole effort to nothing; so that they deservedly gain, not a philosophic outlook or instruction, but-at best, or at worst-nothing more than the satisfaction of vulgar curiosity.
What is Genius?- To aspire to a lofty aim and to will the means to that aim.
A criminal is frequently not equal to his deed: he makes it smaller and slanders it.
After a great victory-What is best about a great victory is that it rids the victor of fear of defeat. "Why not also lose for once?" he says to himself; "now that I am rich enough for that."
The conditions are lacking.- Many people wait all their lives for the opportunity to be good in their own way.
Proteus-Nature.- Through love women actually become what they appear to be in the imagination of their lovers.
Mastery.- We have reached mastery when we neither mistake nor hesitate in the achievement.
Intellectual order of precedence.- You rank far below others when you try to establish the exception and they the rule.
Original.- Original minds are distinguished not by being the first to see a new thing, but by seeing the old, well-known thing, which is seen and overlooked by every one, as something new. The first discoverer is usually that quite ordinary and unintellectual visionary- chance.
The thought of suicide is a powerful comfort: it helps one through many a dreadful night.
Collective Intellect.- A good author possesses not only his own intellect, but also that of his friends.
The equilibrium of friendship.- The right equilibrium of friendship in our relation to other men is sometimes restored when we put a few grains of wrong on our own side of the scales.
Marriage as a long conversation. When marrying, one should ask oneself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this woman into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but the most time during the association belongs to conversation.
"All truth is simple" Is that not doubly a lie?
One is best punished for one's virtues.
Losses.- There are some losses which communicate to the soul a sublimity in which it ceases from wailing, and wanders about silently, as if in the shade of some high and dark cypresses.
Against embarrassment.-The best way to relieve and calm very embarrassed people is to give them decided praise.
Under peaceful conditions a warlike man sets upon himself.
If one has character one also has one's typical experience, which recurs repeatedly.
Philosophically minded.- We usually endeavor to acquire one attitude of mind, one set of opinions for all situations and events in life- it is mostly called being philosophically minded. But for the acquisition of knowledge it may be of greater importance not to make ourselves thus uniform, but to hearken to the low voice of the different situations in life; these bring their own opinions with them. We thus take an intelligent interest in the life and nature of many persons by not treating ourselves as rigid, persistent single individuals.
Requisite for disputation.- He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the head of dispute.
Jokes. A joke is the epigram on the death of a feeling.
Unintentionally noble.- A person behaves with unintentional nobleness when he has accustomed himself to seek naught from others and always to give to them.
I want, once and for all, not to know many things. Wisdom sets limits to knowledge too.
Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.
What do you consider most humane?-To spare someone shame.
What? Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or is God merely a mistake of man's?
Dreams.-On the rare occasions when our dreams succeed and achieve perfection-most dreams are bungled- they are symbolic chains of scenes and images in place of a narrative poetic language; they circumscribe our experiences or expectations or situations with such poetic boldness and decisiveness that in the morning we are always amazed at ourselves when we remember our dreams. We use up too much artistry in our dreams-and therefore often are impoverished during the day.
The good four. Honest with ourselves and with whatever is friend to us; courageous toward the enemy; generous toward the vanquished; polite-always that is how the four cardinal virtues want us.
-A strange thing, our punishment! It does not cleanse the criminal, it is no atonement; on the contrary, it pollutes worse than the crime does.
Not the intensity but the duration of high feelings makes high men.
The path of our ancestors.- It is sensible when a person develops still further in himself the talent upon which his father or grandfather spent much trouble, and does not shift to something entirely new; otherwise he deprives himself of the possibility of attaining perfection in any one craft. That is why the proverb says, "Which road shouldst thou ride?- That of thine ancestors."
A profession.- A profession is the backbone of life.
The limits of human love.- A man who has declared that another is an idiot and a bad companion, is angry when the latter eventually proves himself to be otherwise.
The value of insipid opponents. At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.
Never in vain.- In the mountains of truth you never climb in vain. Either you already reach a higher point to-day, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher to-morrow.
Posthumous men- I, for example- are understood worse than timely ones, but heard better. More precisely we are never understood-hence our authority.
The survival of the parents.- The undissolved dissonances in the relation of the character and sentiments of the parents survive in the nature of the child and make up the history of its inner sufferings.
The will to overcome an affect is ultimately only the will of another, or of several other, affects.
Good memory.- Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good.
-Laughter means: being schadenfroh*, but with a good conscious. *signifies taking a mischievous delight in the discomfort of another person
How courageous people are won over.-Courageous people are persuaded to a course of action by representing it as more dangerous than it really is.
Being deep and appearing deep.
-Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.
Last edited by Jasonwclark; February 3rd, 2009 at 03:08 AM. Reason: spelling