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.
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 04:08 AM.
Thinkers as stylists.- Most thinkers write badly, because they communicate not only their thoughts, but also the thinking of them.
Unconcerned, mocking, violent- thus wisdom wants us, she is a woman and always loves only a warrior. Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Signs from dreams.- What one sometimes does not know and feel accurately in waking hours- whether one has a good or a bad conscience as regards some person- is revealed completely and unambiguously by dreams.
Curiosity.- If curiosity did not exist, very little would be done for the good of our neighbor. But curiosity creeps into the houses of the unfortunate and the needy under the name of duty or of pity. Perhaps there is a good deal of curiosity even in the much-vaunted maternal love.
The best joker.- My favorite joke is the one that takes the place of a heavy and rather hesitating idea, and that at once beckons with its finger and winks its eye.
The day's first thought.- The best way to begin a day well is to think, on awakening, whether we cannot give pleasure during the day to at least one person. If this could become a substitute for the religious habit of prayer our fellow-men would benefit by the change.
Remorse.-Never give way to remorse, but immediately say to yourself that would merely mean adding a second stupidity to the first. -If you have done harm, see how you can do good.-If you are punished for your actions, bear the punishment with the feeling that you are doing good-by deterring others from falling prey to the same folly. Every evildoer who is punished may feel that he is a benefactor of humanity.
The danger of our culture.- We belong to a period of which the culture is in danger of being destroyed by the appliances of culture.
-Those who wish to be mediators between two resolute thinkers are marked as mediocre: they lack eyes to see the unparalleled; seeing things as similar and making them the same is the mark of weak eyes.
Those who deny chance.
-No victor believes in chance.
The bite of conscience. The bite of conscience, like the bite of a dog into a stone, is a stupidity.
Help yourself, then everyone will help you. Principle of neighbor-love.
Wit.- The wittiest authors produce a scarcely noticeable smile.
Why one contradicts. One often contradicts an opinion when it is really only the way in which it has been presented that is unsympathetic.
The privilege of greatness.- It is the privilege of greatness to confer intense happiness with insignificant gifts.
Rational thought is interpretation according to a scheme which we cannot escape.
Yes! I know, from where I came!
Insatiable like a flame
Glowing and self-consuming.
Light becomes everything I seize,
Ashes everything I leave:
Flame I am assuredly!
"'Every man has his price.' This is not true. But for every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing. To win over certain people to something, it is only necessary to give it a gloss of love of humanity, nobility, gentleness, self-sacrifice—and there is nothing you cannot get them to swallow. To their souls, these are the icing, the tidbit; other kinds of souls have others."
Faith: not *wanting* to know what is true.
"All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."
"I'm sure they are quite miserable, all these whisperers and smalltime counterfeiters, even though they huddle close together for warmth. But they tell me that this very misery is the sign of their election by the gods, that one beats the dogs one loves best, that this misery is perhaps also a preparation, a test, a kind of training, perhaps even more than that: something for which eventually they will be compensated with tremendous interest—in gold? No, in happiness. They call this bliss."
...I can't see a thing, but I hear all the more. There's a low, cautious whispering in every nook and corner. I have a notion these people are lying. All the sounds are sugary and soft. No doubt you were right; they are transmuting weakness into merit.
Shy, ashamed, awkward, like a tiger whose leap has failed: thus I have often seen you slink aside, you higher men. A throw had failed you. But, you dice-throwers, what does it matter? You have not learned to gamble and jest as one must gamble and jest. Do we not always sit at a big jesting-and-gaming table? And if something great has failed you, does it follow that you yourselves are failures? And if you yourselves are failures, does it follow that man is a failure? But if man is a failure—well then!
One would make a fit little boy stare if
one asked him: "Would you like to
become virtuous?"—but he will open
his eyes wide if asked: "Would you like
to become stronger than your friends?"
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
You have no idea what you are living through; you rush through life as if you were drunk and now and then fall down some staircase. But thanks to your drunkenness you never break a limb; your muscles are too relaxed and your brain too benighted for you to find the stones of these stairs as hard as we do. For us life is more dangerous: we are made of glass; woe unto us if we merely bump ourselves! And all is lost if we fall!
You should have eyes that always seek an enemy—your war you shall wage—for your thoughts. And if your thought be vanquished, then your honesty should still find cause for triumph. You should love peace as a means to new wars [...] to you I do not recommend peace but victory. To you I do not recommend work but struggle. War and courage have accomplished more great things than love of neighbor. Not your pity but your courage has so far saved the unfortunate [...] Your love of life shall be love of your highest hope; and your highest hope shall be the highest thought of life. Your highest thought, however, you should receive as a command from me: man is something that shall be overcome.
Why doesn't Man see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.
Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.
Isn't humanity's faith in God, a lack of faith in humanity?
Condition for being a hero.— If a man wants to become a hero, the snake must first become a dragon: otherwise he is lacking his proper enemy.
That faith makes blessed under certain circumstances, that blessedness does not make of a fixed idea a true idea, that faith moves no mountains but puts mountains where there are none—a quick walk through a madhouse enlightens one sufficiently about this. Not, to be sure, a priest: for he denies instinctively that sickness is sickness, that the madhouse is a madhouse.
Only thoughts reached by walking have value.
Calm in action.— As a waterfall becomes slower and more floating as it plunges, so the great man of action will act with greater calm than could be expected from his violent desire before the deed.
The slow arrow of beauty.— The noblest kind of beauty is that which does not transport us suddenly, which does not make stormy and intoxicating impressions (such a kind easily arouses disgust), but that which slowly filters into our minds, which we take away with us almost unnoticed, and which we encounter again in our dreams; but which, however, after having long lain modestly on our hearts, takes entire possession of us, fills our eyes with tears and our hearts with longing. What is it that we long for at the sight of beauty? We long to be beautiful, we fancy it must bring much happiness with it. But that is a mistake.
Getting oneself heard well.— One has to know, not only how to play well, but also how to get oneself heard well. The lyre in the hands of the greatest master will emit only a chirp if the room is too big; and then the master sounds no better than any bungler.
Against originality.— When art dresses itself in the most worn-out material it is most easily recognized as art.
The key.—A man of significance may set great store by an idea and all the insignificant laugh and mock at him for it: to him it is a key to hidden treasure-chambers, while to them it is no more than a piece of old iron.
Author's paradoxes.— The so-called paradoxes of an author to which a reader takes exception very often stand not at all in the author's book but in the reader's head.
Dark and too bright side by side.— Writers who do not know how to express their thoughts clearly in general, will in particular prefer to select the strongest, most exaggerated terms and superlatives: this produces an effect as of torchlights along confusing forest paths.
Uncompleted thoughts.— Just as youth and childhood have value in themselves (as much as the prime of life) and are not to be considered a mere transition or bridge, so too do unfinished thoughts have their own value. Thus we must not pester a poet with subtle interpretations, but should take pleasure in the uncertainty of his horizon, as if the road to various other thoughts were still open. We stand on the threshold; we wait as if a treasure were being dug up; it is as if a lucky trove of profundity were about to be found. The poet anticipates something of the thinker's pleasure in finding a central thought and in doing so makes us covetous, so that we snatch at it. But it flutters past over our heads, showing the loveliest butterfly wings—and yet it slips away from us.
Joy in age.— The thinker or artist whose better self has fled into his works feels an almost malicious joy when he sees his body and spirit slowly broken into and destroyed by time; it is as if he were in a corner, watching a thief at work on his safe, all the while knowing that it is empty and that all his treasures have been rescued.
Resonance.— All intense moods bring with them a resonance of related feelings and moods; they seem to stir up memory. Something in us remembers and becomes aware of similar states and their origin. Thus habitual, rapid associations of feelings and thoughts are formed, which, when they follow with lightning speed upon one another, are eventually no longer felt as complexes, but rather as unities. In this sense, one speaks of moral feelings, religious feelings, as if they were all unities; in truth they are rivers with a hundred sources and tributaries. As is so often the case, the unity of the word does not guarantee the unity of the thing.
Twofold kind of equality.— The craving for equality can be expressed either by the wish to draw all others down to one's level (by belittling, excluding, tripping them up) or by the wish to draw oneself up with everyone else (by appreciating, helping, taking pleasure in others' success).
When paradoxes are appropriate.— At times, one can win clever people over to a principle merely by presenting it in the form of an outrageous paradox.
Courtesies.— We count the courtesies shown to us by unpopular people as offenses.
Making them wait.— A sure way to provoke people and to put evil thoughts into their heads is to make them wait a long time. This gives rise to immorality.
I love him who is ashamed when the dice fall in his favour and who then asks: Am I then a cheat? for he wants to perish.
Against trusting people.— People who give us their complete trust believe that they therefore have a right to our own. This conclusion is false: rights are not won by gifts.
Vanity of the tongue.— Whether a man hides his bad qualities and vices or confesses them openly, his vanity wants to gain an advantage by it in both cases: just note how subtly he distinguishes between those he will hide his bad qualities from and those he will face honestly and candidly.
Motive for attack.— We attack not only to hurt a person, to conquer him, but also, perhaps, simply to become aware of our own strength.
Most ugly.— It is to be doubted whether a well-traveled man has found anywhere in the world regions more ugly than in the human face.
In dull society.— No one thanks the witty man for the courtesy of adapting himself to a society in which it is not courteous to display wit.
The friend's secret.— There will be but few people who, when at a loss for topics of conversation, will not reveal the more secret affairs of their friends.
The inhibited one.— Men who do not feel secure in social situations take every opportunity to demonstrate superiority over an intimate to whom they are superior; this they do publicly, before the company—by teasing, for example.
Indication of alienation.— The clearest sign that two people hold alienated views is that each says ironic things to the other, but neither of the two feels the other's irony.
Arrogance of the meritorious.— Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive.
The danger in our own voice.— Sometimes in the course of conversation the sound of our own voice disconcerts us and misleads us into making assertions which in no way correspond to our opinions.
Clashing vanities.— Two people with equally great vanity retain a bad impression of one another after they meet, because each one was so busy with the impression he wanted to elicit in the other that the other made no impression on him; finally both notice that their efforts have failed and blame the other for it.
When it is advisable to be wrong.— It is good to accept accusations without refuting them, even when they do us wrong, if the accuser would see an even greater wrong on our part were we to contradict him, or indeed refute him. In this way, of course, one can always be in the wrong, and always gain one's point, and, finally, with the best conscience in the world, become the most intolerable tyrant and pest; and what is true of the individual can also occur in whole classes of society.
Primeval states echoed in speech.— In the way men make assertions in present-day society, one often hears an echo of the times when they were better skilled in arms than in anything else; sometimes they handle assertions as poised archers their weapons; sometimes one thinks he hears the whir and clatter of blades; and with some men an assertion thunders down like a heavy cudgel.
Reading aloud.— Whoever reads dramatic poetry aloud makes discoveries about his own character. He finds his voice more natural for certain moods and scenes than for others—for everything pathetic or for the farcical, for example; whereas in his usual life, he may not have had the opportunity to indicate pathos or farce.
A comedy scene which occurs in life.— Someone thinks of a clever opinion about a matter in order to expound it in company. Now, in a comedy we would hear and see how he sets all sails to get to the point, and tries to steer the company to where he can make his remark; how he continually pushes the conversation toward one destination, sometimes losing his direction, finding it again, finally reaching the moment; his breath almost fails him—then someone from the company takes his words out of his mouth. What will he do? Oppose his own opinion?
Trick.— A man who wishes to demand something difficult from another man must not conceive of the matter as a problem, but rather simply lay out his plan, as if it were the only possibility; when an objection or contradiction glimmers in the eye of his opponent, he must know how to break off the conversation quickly, leaving him no time.
Pangs of conscience after parties.— Why do we feel pangs of conscience after ordinary parties? Because we have taken important matters lightly; because we have discussed people with less than complete loyalty, or because we were silent when we should have spoken; because we did not on occasion jump up and run away; in short, because we behaved at the party as if we belonged to it.
One is judged wrongly.— He who listens to how he is judged will always be annoyed. For we are sometimes judged wrongly even by those who are closest to us ( "who know us best"). Even good friends release their annoyance in an envious word; and would they be our friends if they knew us completely?— The judgment of disinterested people hurts a great deal, because it sounds so uninhibited, almost objective. But if we notice that an enemy knows one of our secret characteristics as well as we know ourselves—how great our annoyance is then!
Tyranny of the portrait.— Artists and statesmen, who quickly put together the whole picture of a person or event from individual characteristics, are usually unjust, in that they demand afterwards that the event or person really must be the way they painted it; they virtually demand that a person be as gifted, cunning, or unjust as he is in their imagination.
Unrecognized honesty.— If someone quotes himself in conversation ("I used to say " "I always say "), this gives the impression of arrogance, whereas it more often stems from precisely the opposite source, or at least from an honesty that does not wish to embellish or adorn the moment with ideas that belong to a previous moment.
On the altar of reconciliation.— There are circumstances when one obtains an object from a person only by offending him and antagonizing him; this feeling of having an enemy torments the man so that he gladly seizes the first sign of a milder mood to bring about reconciliation, and on the altar of this reconciliation sacrifices the object which was earlier of such great importance to him that he did not want to give it up at any price.
Behavior when praised.— When good friends praise a talented man's nature, he often appears pleased about it out of politeness and good will, but in truth it is a matter of indifference to him. His real nature is quite sluggish about it, and cannot be dragged one step out of the sun or shade in which it lies; but men want to give joy by praising, and we would sadden them if we did not take pleasure in their praise.
Miscalculating in society.— One person wants to be interesting by virtue of his judgments, another by his likes and dislikes, a third by his acquaintances, a fourth by his isolation—and all of them are miscalculating. For the person for whom they are putting on the spectacle thinks that he himself is the only spectacle that counts.
Tactics in conversation.— After a conversation with someone, one is best disposed towards his partner in conversation if he had the opportunity to display to him his own wit and amiability in its full splendor. Clever men who want to gain someone's favor use this during a conversation, giving the other person the best opportunities for a good joke and the like. One could imagine an amusing conversation between two very clever people, both of whom want to gain the other's favor and therefore toss the good conversational opportunities back and forth, neither one accepting them—so that the conversation as a whole would proceed without wit or amiability because each one was offering the other the opportunity to demonstrate wit and amiability.
Releasing ill humor.— The man who fails at something prefers to attribute the failure to the bad will of another rather than to chance. His injured sensibility is relieved by imagining a person, not a thing, as the reason for his failure. For one can avenge oneself on people, but one must choke down the injuries of coincidence. Therefore, when a prince fails at something, his court habitually points out to him a single person as the alleged cause, and sacrifices this person in the interest of all the courtiers; for the prince's ill humor would otherwise be released on them all, since he can, of course, take no vengeance on Dame Fortune herself.
War.— One can say against war that it makes the victor stupid and the vanquished malicious. In favor of war, one can say that it barbarizes through both these effects and thus makes man more natural; war is the winter or hibernation time of culture, mankind emerges from it stronger for good and evil.
New opinions in an old house.— The overturning of opinions does not immediately follow upon the overturning of institutions: the novel opinions continue, rather, to live on for a long time in the deserted and by now uncomfortable house of their predecessors, and even keep it in good condition because they have nowhere else to live.
Innocent corruption.— In all institutions that are not open to the biting air of public criticism an innocent corruption flourishes like a fungus (as, for example, in learned bodies and senates).
The modest one.— He who is modest with people shows his arrogance all the more with things (the city, state, society, epoch, or mankind). That is his revenge.
Envy and jealousy.— Envy and jealousy are the private parts of the human soul. The comparison can perhaps be pursued further.
The most refined hypocrite.— To speak about oneself not at all is a very refined form of hypocrisy.
Greatness means: to give a direction.— No river is great and bounteous through itself alone, but rather because it takes up so many tributaries and carries them onwards: that makes it great. It is the same with all great minds. All that matters is that one man give the direction, which the many tributaries must then follow; it does not matter whether he is poorly or richly endowed in the beginning.
The day's length.— If a man has a great deal to put into it, a day can have a hundred pockets.
The life of the enemy.— Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy's staying alive.
More important.— The unexplained, obscure matter is taken as more important than the explained, clear one.
Goals too great.— He who publicly sets himself great goals, and later realizes privately that he is too weak to accomplish them, does not usually have enough strength to revoke those goals publicly, either, and then inevitably becomes a hypocrite.
Hint for party chiefs.— If we can force people to declare themselves publicly for something, we have usually also brought them to the point of declaring themselves for it privately; they want to continue to be perceived as consistent.
Rope of gratitude.— There are slavish souls who carry their thanks for favors so far that they actually strangle themselves with the rope of gratitude.
Model for others.— He who wants to set a good example must add a grain of foolishness to his virtue; then others can imitate and, at the same time, rise above the one being imitated—something which people love.
Love and hatred.— Love and hatred are not blind, but are blinded by the fire they themselves carry with them.
Made an enemy to one's advantage.— Men who are unable to make their merit completely clear to the world seek to awaken an intense enmity towards themselves. Then they have the comfort of thinking that this stands between their merit and its recognition—and that other people assume the same thing, which is of great advantage to their own importance.
Confession.— We forget our guilt when we have confessed it to another, but usually the other person does not forget it.
Origin of courage.— The ordinary man is courageous and invulnerable like a hero when he does not see the danger, when he has no eyes for it. Conversely, the hero's one vulnerable spot is on his back; that is, where he has no eyes.
Magical vanity.— He who has boldly prophesied the weather three times and has been successful, believes a bit, at the bottom of his heart, in his own prophetic gift. We do not dispute what is magical or irrational when it flatters our self-esteem.
Growth of happiness.— Near to the sorrow of the world, and often upon its volcanic earth, man has laid out his little gardens of happiness; whether he approaches life as one who wants only knowledge from existence, or as one who yields and resigns himself, or as one who rejoices in a difficulty overcome—everywhere he will find some happiness sprouting up next to the trouble—and the more volcanic the earth, the greater the happiness will be—but it would be ludicrous to say that with this happiness suffering is justified.
Fantasy of fear.— The fantasy of fear is that malevolent, apelike kobold which jumps onto man's back just when he already has the most to bear.
In the stream.— Strong currents draw many stones and bushes along with them; strong minds many stupid and muddled heads.
Self-enjoyment in vanity.— The vain man wants not so much to predominate as to feel himself predominant; that is why he disdains no means of self-deception and self-outwitting. What he treasures is not the opinion of others but his own opinion of their opinion.
Superficial knowledge.— He who speaks a bit of a foreign language has more delight in it than he who speaks it well; pleasure goes along with superficial knowledge.
The hour-hand of life.— Life consists of rare, isolated moments of the greatest significance, and of innumerably many intervals, during which at best the silhouettes of those moments hover about us. Love, springtime, every beautiful melody, mountains, the moon, the sea—all these speak completely to the heart but once, if in fact they ever do get a chance to speak completely. For many men do not have those moments at all, and are themselves intervals and intermissions in the symphony of real life
Passions and rights.— No one speaks more passionately about his rights than the man who, at the bottom of his heart, doubts them. In drawing passion to his side, he wants to deaden reason and its doubts: he thus gains a good conscience, and, along with it, success with his fellow men.
Deceptive and yet firm.— When walking around the top of an abyss, or crossing a deep stream on a plank, we need a railing, not to hold onto—for it would collapse with us at once—but rather to achieve the visual image of security, just as when we are young we need people who unconsciously offer us the service of that railing; it is true that they would not help us if we really were in great danger and wanted to lean on them, but they give us the comforting sensation of protection nearby (for example, fathers, teachers, friends, as we generally know all three).
Learning to love.— We must learn to love, learn to be kind, and this from earliest youth; if education or chance give us no opportunity to practice these feelings, our soul becomes dry and unsuited even to understanding the tender inventions of loving people. Likewise, hatred must be learned and nurtured, if one wishes to become a proficient hater: otherwise the germ for that, too, will gradually wither.
Love and respect.— Love desires; fear avoids. That is why it is impossible, at least in the same time span, to be loved and respected by the same person. For the man who respects another, acknowledges his power; that is, he fears it: his condition is one of awe. But love acknowledges no power, nothing that separates, differentiates, ranks higher or subordinates. Because the state of being loved carries with it no respect, ambitious men secretly or openly balk against it.
Prejudice in favor of cold people.— People who catch fire rapidly quickly become cold, and are therefore by and large unreliable. Therefore, all those who are always cold, or act that way, benefit from the prejudice that they are especially trustworthy, reliable people: they are being confused with those others who catch fire slowly and burn for a long time.
Age and truth.— Young people love what is interesting and odd, no matter how true or false it is. More mature minds love what is interesting and odd about truth. Fully mature intellects, finally, love truth, even when it appears plain and simple, boring to the ordinary person; for they have noticed that truth tends to reveal its highest wisdom in the guise of simplicity.
People as bad poets.— Just as bad poets, in the second half of a line, look for a thought to fit their rhyme, so people in the second half of their lives, having become more anxious, look for the actions, attitudes, relationships that suit those of their earlier life, so that everything will harmonize outwardly. But then they no longer have any powerful thought to rule their life and determine it anew; rather, in its stead, comes the intention of finding a rhyme.
In the fire of contempt.— It is a new step towards independence, once a man dares to express opinions that bring disgrace on him if he entertains them; then even his friends and acquaintances begin to grow anxious. The man of talent must pass through this fire, too; afterwards he is much more his own person.
Sacrifice.— If there is a choice, a great sacrifice will be preferred to a small one, because we compensate ourselves for a great sacrifice with self-admiration, and this is not possible with a small one.
To think too well or too ill of the world.— Whether we think too well or too ill of things, we will always gain the advantage of reaping a greater pleasure: if our preconceived opinion is too good we are generally investing things (experiences) with more sweetness than they actually possess. If a preconceived opinion is overly negative, it leads to a pleasant disappointment: what was pleasurable in those things in and of themselves is increased through the pleasure of our surprise.— Incidentally, a morose temperament will experience the opposite in both cases.
Solitary people.— Some people are so used to solitude with themselves that they never compare themselves to others, but spin forth their monologue of a life in a calm, joyous mood, holding good conversations with themselves, even laughing. But if they are made to compare themselves with others, they tend to a brooding underestimation of their selves: so that they have to be forced to learn again from others to have a good, fair opinion of themselves. And even from this learned opinion they will always want to detract or reduce something.— Thus one must grant certain men their solitude, and not be silly enough, as often happens, to pity them for it.
To the disappointed of philosophy.— If you have hitherto believed that life was one of the highest value and now see yourselves disappointed, do you at once have to reduce it to the lowest possible price?
Against fantasists.— The fantasist denies reality to himself, the liar does so only to others.
Interpreting by dreams.— That which we sometimes do not know or feel precisely while awake—whether we have a good or a bad conscience towards a particular person—the dream informs us of without any ambiguity.
Making plans.— To make plans and project designs brings with it many good sensations; and whoever had the strength to be nothing but a forger of plans his whole life long would be a very happy man: but he would occasionally have to take a rest from this activity by carrying out a plan—and then comes the vexation and the sobering up.
Shutting his mouth.— When his work opens its mouth, the author has to shut his.
In favor of critics.— Insects sting, not from malice, but because they want to live. It is the same with critics—they desire our blood, not our pain.
Error of philosophers.— The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the building: posterity discovers it in the bricks with which he built and which are then often used again for better building: in the fact, that is to say, that that building can be destroyed and nonetheless possess value as material.
In parting.— Not how one soul comes close to another but how it moves away shows me their kinship and how much they belong together.
Night and music.— The ear, the organ of fear, could have evolved as greatly as it has only in the night and twilight of obscure caves and woods, in accordance with the mode of life of the age of timidity, that is to say the longest human age there has ever been: in bright daylight the ear is less necessary. That is how music acquired the character of an art of night and twilight.
The demon of power.— Not necessity, not desire—no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything—health, food, a place to live, entertainment—they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied. Take everything from them and satisfy this, and they are almost happy—as happy as men and demons can be
What laws betray.— It is a serious mistake to study the penal code of a people as if it gave expression to the national character. The laws do not betray what a people are but rather what seems to them foreign, strange, uncanny, outlandish.
Different types of dangerous lives.— You have no idea what you are living through; you rush through life as if you were drunk and now and then fall down some staircase. But thanks to your drunkenness you never break a limb: your muscles are too relaxed and your brain too benighted for you to find the stones of these stairs as hard as we do! For us life is more dangerous: we are made of glass—woe unto us if we merely bump ourselves! And all is lost if we fall!
Thoughts.— Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings—always darker, emptier, simpler.
What we do.— What we do is never understood but always only praised or censured.
What makes one heroic?— Going out to meet at the same time one's highest suffering and one's highest hope.
The devotion of the greatest is to encounter risk and danger, and play dice for death.
I caught this insight on the way and quickly seized the rather poor words that were closest to hand to pin it down lest it fly away again. And now it has died of these arid words and shakes and flaps in them - and I hardly know any more when I look at it how I could ever have felt so happy when I caught this bird.
Last edited by Jasonwclark; January 31st, 2009 at 10:59 PM.