It is my opinion that Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren
Kierkegaard were the first of The Existentialists. Other thinkers, Hegel and Husserl for example,
contributed to existentialism but are not existentialists. Nietzsche
does mark the outer edge of existentialism, but I consider no
other writer as important to the school of thought.
Few other names in philosophy hold such deep meaning
in Western society as Nietzsche. Variously linked by scholars to nihilism,
existentialism, and the Nazis (though he died two decades before National
Socialism took root in Germany) Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most
misunderstood philosophers in history. He embraced no formal school of
philosophy; he was stridently independent. As for the misappropriation
of his works by Nazi sympathizers and others... I believe people will find
support for their ideals in any book.
Nihilism is the complete disregard for all things that
cannot be scientifically proven or demonstrated. Nietzsche did not claim
that nothing exists that cannot be proven, nor that those things should
be disregarded. What Nietzsche did suggest was that many people used religion,
especially Judeo-Christian teachings, as a crutch for avoiding decisive
actions. Nietzsche's contribution to existentialism was the idea that men
must accept that they are part of a material world, regardless of what
else might exist. As part of this world, men must live as if there is nothing
else beyond life. A failure to live, to take risks, is a failure to realize
Revising Never Ends, Nor Should It…
Do not use this site as a study
guide. The Existential Primer is a “living” academic
project, unlike a static text. This primer is only a shallow introduction
to the thinkers profiled. The incomplete nature of this website might result
in misunderstanding the profiled individuals.
These pages are revised often because scholarship is never ending. Consult any citations
included because within them is where you will find the experts.
Read their works!
NOTE: Citations are not in MLA or APA format to prevent “borrowing”
from The Existential Primer. Full lists of citations appear at the end of each page. Present tense is used when referencing a published work, while past tense is favored on these pages because the major figures are… dead. Inline citations take the form (Author p. page) with no year. A title is included if there might be confusion as to the work. Quoted long passages appear indented with the <blockquote> tag and cited in the format:
Author, p. Page
Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Röcken, Prussia, on 15
October 1844. This date was the same as the birth date of Prussian king
Frederick William IV. Friedrich's father Karl Ludwig Nietzsche was a tutor
in the royal court and was quite pleased by the timing of his son's birth.
There was at all events one advantage in the choice of this day to my
birth; my birthday throughout the whole of my childhood was a day of
- from Ecce Homo
Friedrich Nietzsche's life unquestionably trained him for his role as
an "anti-Christian" philosopher. He descended from a long line
of clergymen, including his father, giving him the theological background
to challenge the familiar religious institutions. Biographers indicate
there were at least 20 clergyman in the Nietzsche family within five generations.
His paternal grandfather, Friedrich August Ludwig Nietzsche, was even granted
an honorary doctorate in 1796 for his work Gamaliel, a defense
of Christianity. It was assumed Friedrich would be a minister. As a child,
Nietzsche was called the "little minister" by schoolmates. He
spent much of his time alone, reading the Bible. Nietzsche's father died
in 1849. The young man withdrew deeper into religion.
received a scholarship to Schulpforta, an elite prepatory school with only
200 students, in October 1858. The scholarship was intended to fund Nietzsche's
training for the clergy. His mother, Franziska, and his young sister, Elisabeth,
were dedicated to Friedrich's success, certain of his future.
At the age of 18, Nietzsche lost his faith in traditional religion. His
faith received a fatal blow when he found philosophy. In 1865 Nietzsche
discovered Schopenhauer's World as Will and Idea. The work
forever changed Nietzsche's view of the world. Schopenhauer's philosophy
was rather dark for its time; it became a part of Nietzsche's world-view
as it was well-suited to his nature.
It seemed as if Schopenhauer were addressing me personally. I felt his
enthusiasm, and seemed to see him before me. Every line cried aloud for
renunciation, denial, resignation.
Nietzsche was conscripted into the military at the age of 23. While he
had hoped to avoid the draft, he had no such luck. He was not destined
to be in the military however, soon falling (or thrown) from a horse. Nietzsche's
shoulder and chest were injured, possibly torn muscles, and he was released
from service having not yet completed training. Curiously, Nietzsche continued
to idealize the military and its orderly way of life despite not wanting
to serve in the army. His respect for the individual gave way at times
to a need for order.
The University of Basle appointed Nietzsche to a chair when he was 25
years old. As a professor of classical philology, Nietzsche spent his days
lecturing and analyzing Latin and Greek works. He later recalled this as
a most un-heroic contribution to mankind, wishing he had pursued a more
active and socially valuable career, such as medicine. Nietzsche was never
satisfied with his own value, always seeking to be more. It should be noted
that war with Napoleon provided Nietzsche an opportunity to take leave
of the University and join the medical corps. At the time, he stated (paraphrased), "Duty
to Germany comes first," according to biographer Marc Sautet. Nietzsche
had renounced his Prussian citizenship to teach at the University of Basle,
which was in Switzerland.
In 1869, composer Richard Wagner invited Nietzsche to spend
a winter holiday with him in Tribschen. Wagner was living with another
man's wife and was not known for his conformity. Somehow, Wagner appealed
to Nietzsche's sense of adventure. Nietzsche was so taken by Wagner that
he decided his first book would be a tribute to Wagner's music. Unfortunately,
the writing of this work was delayed by war in 1870, when Germany and France
went to war.
Still romanticizing the life of soldiers, Nietzsche went to volunteer
for military service. This time the army refused him due to his poor eyesight,
in addition to his weak upper body. Nietzsche found it possible to serve
as a medic, allowing him as close to medicine as his nature would ever
allow. As he quickly learned, Nietzsche did not like the sight of blood,
and the suffering of others made him ill. He eventually fell ill, possibly
due to stress, and was sent home.
The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music was published
in 1872. With the publication of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche
returned to Baasle to lecture. The work became a subject of ridicule in
academic circles, but the nobility and nationalists loved it. Nietzsche
became a celebrity, a standing he put to work on behalf of his friend Wagner.
The two men were able to convince the government to fund the construction
of the Bayreuth theatre, which would feature Wagner's works.
The Bayreuth was completed in 1876. On 12 August 1876, the Emperor arrived
to hear Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, a work Wagner considered
his masterpiece. To his dismay, Nietzsche found he hated the work. He made
an excuse to depart, and promptly took a vacation to reconsider his opinion
of Wagner's music and Prussian culture in general. At least Nietzsche was
not alone: the long, multi-day performance proved a failure financially
and in terms of attendance. Wagner's public star faded... at least for
Ready to Die
Physically and mentally, Nietzsche collapsed in 1879. He
was certain death was near and even arranged his funeral with his sister's
Promise me that when I die only my friends shall stand about my coffin,
and no inquisitive crowd. See that no priest or anyone else utter falsehoods
at my graveside, when I can no longer protect myself; and let me descend
into my tomb as an honest pagan.
Nietzsche recovered from this primarily emotional collapse, but he knew
he had come close to death. The experience changed Nietzsche for a time.
He enjoyed life and the universe around him. For a time, he was happy.
The books The Dawn of Day and The Joyful Wisdom were
published in the early 1880s, reflecting Nietzsche's new optimism.
His mood came crashing down with a smash... the sound was that of his
heart as it hit bottom. Nietzsche fell in love, but was rejected. The result
was another emotional spiral downward. His only goal was to be completely
alone with his misery. The result of Nietzsche's bitterness was Thus
Spake Zarathustra, published in 1883. Written in anger, the work
presents the ideal man as everything Nietzsche was not. It was the ultimate
paradox of philosophy: the thinker never able to live according to his
beliefs. Still, Zarathustra stood apart as a masterpiece.
The author knew it was a great work.
This work stands alone. Do not let us mention the poets in the same
breath; nothing perhaps had ever been produced out of such a superabundance
of strength. If all the spirit and goodness of every great soul were
collected together, the whole could not create a single one of Zarathustra's
No matter what Nietzsche might have thought, the book was a failure. His
publisher would not print the entire work, so the author paid for the printing.
Forty copies were sold and seven were given away. Nietzsche's great work
mattered only to the writer. It mattered a lot to Nietzsche -- the work
would dominate his thoughts for the remainder of his career. Yet even his
friends and supporters found the work odd, at best.
While pondering the ignorance of the critics, his sister left Nietzsche.
She had been his friend and companion for most of his life, so the loss
was very painful. Worse, she married an anti-Semite, a man Nietzsche despised.
Contrary to popular myth, Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite -- just a nationalistic
Prussian in his early years. His sister begged Nietzsche to move with her
and her husband to Paraguay with the intention of forming a commune. Nietzsche
would do nothing of the sort.
The Last Collapse
Nietzsche's final collapse came in 1889. On 3 January 1889,
Nietzsche spotted a coach driver beating his horse. Nietzsche considered
this cruel, and rushed the man. He did not reach the coach, collapsing.
He was taken back to his apartment, but he had collapsed mentally. He was
later found by friends, playing the piano with his elbows, singing wildly.
Friedrich was taken to an asylum, but was quickly reprieved by his mother,
who took him home. She did not agree with her son's works, but loved him
nonetheless. She cared for him like a child, as he was incoherent and reduced
to an infantile state. His mother died in 1897, and Nietzsche's care fell
to his sister, now living in Weimar.
Elisabeth took it upon herself to get her brother's works published. She
did an excellent job promoting him, and he rose again in public opinion.
Near death and incoherent, Nietzsche became the leading German thinker.
Finally, Nietzsche seemed oddly at peace, though not aware of his fate.
On one occasion he found his sister crying. "Lisbeth, why do you cry?
Are we not happy?" he is reported to have asked. His sister also recorded
an incident when Nietzsche overheard a discussion of books. "I too
have written some good books," Nietzsche told the room... then faded
back into silence. Nietzsche died in 1900, apparently unaware of his former
1844 October 15
Born in Röcken, Saxony, to Karl and Franziska Nietzsche. The family
is important, with a long history in the church clergy.
Father, Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, dies. Friedrich Nietzsche later blames
both himself and, to a greater degree, the Revolution of 1848.
The King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, tours Naumburg, where
Nietzsche now lives. Nietzsche, raised to respect the power of the
church, shows nearly equal respect for the king.
Receives a scholarship to Schulpforta, an elite school with only
200 students. Nietzsche is expected to become a clergyman, as was his
father, grandfather, numerous uncles, and other relatives.
Passes the Schulpforta exit exams and enrolls as a theology and classics
(philology) student at the University of Bonn.
Forms close friendship with composer Richard Wagner.
Offered the chair of classics at University of Basel, in Switzerland,
based upon published works.
Receives doctorate from a Leipzig university.
1871 January 18
The German Empire is formed.
The Birth of Tragedy is published. Nietzsche is 27.
Most scholars consider the work sloppy, while the nobility are impressed.
The work is a promotion of Richard Wagner, some believe, more than
a serious study of philology.
The first volume of Untimely Meditations is published,
a direct attack of Friedrich David Strauss.
Year of Crisis: European Economic Depression. Many banks failed,
resulting in businesses closing and families loving all their money.
Communism and socialism became increasingly popular ideas. Nietzsche
steadfastly supports authoritarian power -- Otto von Bismark.
Publishes a second volume of Untimely Meditations.
The third volume of Untimely Meditations is published: Schopenhauer
1876 August 12
The Bayreuth theatre opens. Nietzsche and Wagner had convinced the
German Reich to fund the theatre's construction. The guests include
nobility, as well as Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. This moment marks a
break with Wagner... the concerts are a disappointment for Nietzsche
-- and the Reich, which withdraws financial support.
Resigns teaching position in Basle due to poor health.
Publishes Assorted Opinions and Maxims: Against Illusion.
This work marks Nietzsche's break from Birth of Tragedy,
a work he admits was, at least in part, too idealistic.
Declared "everything recurs" while at Sils Maria, Switzerland.
This idea is not original, but Nietzsche receives accolades for this
Publishes The Gay Science.
Starts work on Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
1883 February 13
Richard Wagner dies.
Completes draft of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Publishes Beyond Good and Evil. Nietzsche considers
the book a companion to Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Only 114
copies are sold in six months.
The Genealogy of Morals is published, a sequel to Beyond
Good and Evil.
Writes The Case of Wagner, Twilight of the Idols,
and The Anti-Christ.
1888 September 30
Formulates the "Law Against Christianity" for The
1889 January 3
Suffers a mental breakdown after seeing a coachman beat his horse.
Nietzsche rushed to challenge the man, but collapsed.
Nietzsche joins his mother in Naumburg, where she cares for him for
the next seven years.
Nietzsche's mother, Franziska, dies. His sister Elizabeth becomes
his caregiver. Elizabeth sees that her brothers works are collected
and published. Amazingly, they are a success!
1900 August 25
Dies famous. His sister's efforts made his a celebrity in Germany
shortly before his death.
Walter Kaufmann has noted that the major existentialists share a preoccupation
with dread and death.
If we consider this striking preoccupation with failure, dread, and
death one of the essential characteristics of existentialism, Nietzsche
can no longer be included in this movement. The theme of suffering recurs
often in his work, and he, too, concentrates attention on aspects of
life which were often ignored in the nineteenth century; but he makes
much less of dread and death than of man's cruelty, resentment, and hypocrisy
-- of the immorality that struts around masked as morality.
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 21
In the story of existentialism, Nietzsche occupies a central place: Jaspers, Heidegger,
and Sartre are unthinkable without him, and the conclusion
of Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus sounds like
a distant echo of Nietzsche.
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 21
While I do consider Nietzsche among The Existentialists, unlike
others contributing so much to the ideas explored by existentialism, I
recognize that he is indeed on the edges of this school of philosophy.
It is important to recognize that many scholars consider Nietzsche outside
of existentialism and defend this view quite logically. Again, I turn to
Kaufmann for one of the best descriptions of Nietzsche's roles in both
literature and philosophy.
Existentialism suggests only a single facet of Nietzsche's multifarious
influence, and to call him an existentialist means in all likelihood
an insufficient appreciation of his full significance. To be sure, his
name is linked legitimately with the names of Jaspers, Heidegger, and
Sartre; but it is linked no less legitimately with the names of Nicolai
Hartmann and Max Scheler, and with Spengler, and with Freud and Adler,
and with Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse, with Stefan George no less than
with Rilke, and with Shaw and Gide as well as with Malraux. Almost everyone
of these writers saw something different in him
Existentialism without Nietzsche would be almost like Thomism without
Aristotle; but to call Nietzsche an existentialist is a little like calling
Aristotle a Thomist
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 22
Nevertheless, his father was a minister; a long line of clergymen lay
behind each of his parents; and he himself remained a preacher to the
end. He attacked Christianity because there was so much of its moral
spirit in him.... With perhaps one disastrous exception, Nietzsche remained
pious and Puritan, chaste as a statue, to the last: therefore his assault
on Puritanism and piety. How he longed to be a sinner, this incorrigible
- The Story of Philosophy; Durant, p. 402-3
To be sure, Nietzsche was, no less than Kierkegaard, an apostle of passion
and a critic of hypocrisy, but he did not extol passion at the expense
of reason, and he repudiated Christianity not because he considered it
too rational but because he considered it the archenemy of reason; and
his caustic critique of faith, both in the Antichrist and elsewhere,
reads like a considered censure of Kierkegaard among others.
- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 19
Will to Power
According to Wm S. Sahakian's History of Philosophy,
Nietzsche developed a philosophy based upon his extrapolation of Charles
Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Nietzsche believed that the Judeo-Christian
morality ran counter to the natural instincts of human nature. Accordingly,
Nietzsche sought to replace these values with a philosophy advocating the
maximum development and expression of animalistic instincts. The primary
human instinct, according to Nietzsche, was the "Will to Power." By
advocating this philosophy, Nietzsche was rejecting the belief that sympathy
was the proper and natural -- via societal pressures -- foundation for
moral systems. In effect, Nietzsche abandoned the theory of Darwin that
humans had developed a sympathetic society to ensure survival.
Professor Sahakian views the ethics of power developed by Nietzsche as
rejecting the social instinct praised by Darwin, replacing social drive
with egoism and individualism. The ethics of power are derived from Nietzsche's
belief that the strongest of the human species desire not only to survive,
but to gain power over others. The best human instinct is the Will
to Power in this ethical system. Watching young boys play, for
example, Nietzsche would observe each wanted to lead the group, until a
strong leader emerged from within this micro society.
The Master Morality was first explored by Nietzsche in
his work Thus Spake Zarathustra, published between 1883 and
1885. In the story, Zarathustra teaches people are the Superman, an idealized
person who defines his own morality.
Nietzsche's fictional Superman rejects faith and immortality, assuming
that either "God is dead," or that the Creator is no longer active
in human development. By rejecting faith, this Superman and his ideal society
become responsible for their own morality. Curiously, Nietzsche concluded
that no person had yet reached such a level, noting that even the greatest
of men is "all-too-human."
Master Morality, Slave Morality
Nietzsche hypothesized moral systems developed from within
a society. The societal systems, and their cultures, were examined in Genealogy
of Morals, published in 1887. In this book, Nietzsche discussed
the Master Morality of aristocratic cultures, such as the Roman
Empire, and the Slave Morality of Jewish communities. Nietzsche
recognized that the two cultures were actually components of one greater
society / culture, but the moral systems were markedly different.
The aristocratic class, or ruling class, became leaders through their
naturally superior abilities and stronger aggressive instincts, according
to Nietzsche. This has improperly led to a belief that Nietsche thought
a race could be naturally superior; his only claim was the individuals
can be born superior. As proof, slaves could become citizens and even senators
in Rome. These natural leaders, according to Nietzsche, would highly value
sexuality based upon Darwin's theories that the strong wish to procreate
and continue their power.
Another mark of the ruling class would be an acceptance of aggression
and the use of force. As these rulers express power openly, they view the
pursuit of power and the defense of self as honorable. For this reason,
Nietzsche speculated that these leaders would not hold a grudge against
enemies. In fact, they would not view competitors for power as enemies,
but rather as opponents in a great game of human ability. These rulers
welcome competition, believing that it builds character and teaches valuable
lessons. After a battle, they study their failures and openly admit the
strengths of others. Nietzsche wrote that such leaders do not see a right
and wrong, only a superior and inferior combatant.
In stark contrast to the ruling class, the subservient populations embrace
a moral code based upon a mythical equality of individuals. Knowing this,
the aristocrats claim to acknowledge this equality in various empty manners
-- such as equality under the law, which applies seldom in reality. The
subservient, slave class eventually realizes that life cannot be equal,
so a religion is developed promising that they are actually superior to
those in power on earth.
Nietzsche hypothesized the slave class embraced democracy and the principle
of equality in order to bring the naturally superior class down to their
own level. Sin and evil are artificial constructs, created by the slaves
and adopted by the leaders of this class, who often become leaders in the
aristocratic class -- proving they do not believe in this religious myth.
The slaves demean sex, human desire, and teach humility instead of respect
for power and authority. Nietzsche believed this was a repression of resentments.
A minority of religious leaders are either true believers or individuals
seeking power, but unable to admit this due to their own repressed natures.
Nietzsche theorized that while time might be infinite,
the possible combinations of happenings was statistically limited. Therefore,
some events were bound to repeat. He went further by suggesting that even
material objects would be recreated by nature, due to the limited number
of possibilities. These cosmic cycles were called Eternal Recurrence by
Nietzsche, a consoling substitute for immortality.
The Birth of Tragedy
In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere
only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence... and loathing seizes
him. The Birth of Tragedy, ch. 7 (1872)
Human, All Too Human
Because men really respect only that which was founded of old and has
developed slowly, he who wants to live on after his death must take care
not only of his posterity but even more of his past. Assorted Opinions
and Maxims, aph. 307 (published as first supplement to Human,
All Too Human, 1879)
The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather
a condition of it. Human, All Too Human, aph. 332 (1878)
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. Human,
All Too Human, aph. 332 (1878)
Thus Spake Zarathustra
Once spirit was God, then it became man, and now it is even becoming mob. Thus
Spoke Zarathustra, part 1, "Of Reading and Writing" (1883)
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful! Thus
Spoke Zarathustra, part 2, ch. 29 (1883)
These people abstain, it is true: but the bitch Sensuality glares enviously
out of all they do. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 1, "Of
He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living
creatures. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 2, "Of Self-Overcoming" (1883)
You may have enemies whom you hate, but not enemies whom you despise.
You must be proud of your enemy: then the success of your enemy shall be
your success too. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, part 1, "Of
War and Warriors" (1883)
Beyond Good and Evil
Almost everything we call "higher culture" is based on the spiritualization
and intensification of cruelty -- this is my proposition.... That which
constitutes the painful voluptuousness of tragedy is cruelty; that which
produces a pleasing effect in so-called tragic pity, indeed fundamentally
in everything sublime up to the most highest and most refined thrills of
metaphysics, derives its sweetness solely from the ingredient of cruelty
mixed in with it. Beyond Good and Evil, aph. 229 (1886)
It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through
many a bad night. Beyond Good and Evil, ch. 4, aph. 157 (1886)
There is in general good reason to suppose that in several respects the
gods could all benefit from instruction by us human beings. We humans are
-- more humane. Beyond Good and Evil, aph. 295 (1886)
On the Genealogy of Morals
All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible; it
concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement; it strengthens
the power of resistance. The Genealogy of Morals, essay 2,
aph. 14 (1887)
Oh, how much is today hidden by science! Oh, how much it is expected to
hide! The Genealogy of Morals, essay 3, "What Do Ascetic
Ideals Mean?" aph. 23 (1887)
Everyone who has ever built anywhere a "new heaven" first found
the power thereto in his own hell. The Genealogy of Morals,
Essay 3, aph. 10 (1887)
The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also
to hate his friends. Ecce Homo, Foreword (1888)
I know my fate. One day there will be associated with my name the recollection
of something frightful -- of a crisis like no other before on earth, of
the profoundest collision of conscience, of a decision evoked against everything
that until then had been believed in, demanded, sanctified. I am not a
man I am dynamite. Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny" (1888)
After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash
my hands. Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny" (1888)
Twilight of the Idols
The moment Germany rises as a great power, France gains a new importance
as a cultural power. Twilight of the Idols, "What the
Germans Lack," aph. 4 (1889)
The Germans -- once they were called the nation of thinkers: do they still
think at all? Nowadays the Germans are bored with intellect, the Germans
mistrust intellect, politics devours all seriousness for really intellectual
things -- Deutschland, Deutschland üuber alles was, I fear, the end of
German philosophy. Twilight of the Idols, "What the Germans
Lack," aph. 1 (1889)
The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous,
also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely
for this reason that they honor life, because it brings against them its
most formidable weapons. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions
of an Untimely Man," aph. 17 (1889)
When one does away with oneself one does the most estimable thing possible:
one thereby almost deserves to live. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions
of an Untimely Man," aph. 36 (1889)
As regards the celebrated "struggle for life," it seems to me
for the present to have been rather asserted than proved. It does occur,
but as the exception; the general aspect of life is not hunger and distress,
but rather wealth, luxury, even absurd prodigality -- where there is a
struggle it is a struggle for power. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions
of an Untimely Man," aph. 14 (1889)
Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naïvety rests all aesthetics,
it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second:
nothing is ugly but degenerate man -- the domain of aesthetic judgment
is therewith defined. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions
of an Untimely Man," aph. 20 (1889)
To live alone one must be an animal or a god -- says Aristotle. There
is yet a third case: one must be both -- a philosopher. Twilight
of the Idols, "Maxims and Arrows," aph. 3 (1889)
Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity. Twilight
of the Idols, "What the Germans Lack," aph. 2 (1889)
I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar. Twilight
of the Idols, "'Reason' in Philosophy," aph. 5 (1889)
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death of
one's own free choice, death at the proper time, with a clear head and
with joyfulness, consummated in the midst of children and witnesses: so
that an actual leave-taking is possible while he who is leaving is still
there. Twilight of the Idols, "Expeditions of an Untimely
Man," aph. 36 (1889)
What is good? -- All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to
power, power itself in man. The Anti-Christ, aph. 2 (1895)
The "kingdom of Heaven" is a condition of the heart -- not something
that comes "upon the earth" or "after death." The
Anti-Christ, aph. 34 (1895)
The anarchist and the Christian have a common origin. The Anti-Christ,
aph. 57 (1895)
Wherever there are walls I shall inscribe this eternal accusation against
Christianity upon them -- I can write in letters which make even the blind
see... I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic
depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is
sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty -- I call it the one
immortal blemish of mankind... The Anti-Christ, aph. 62 (1895)
Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain. The Anti-Christ,
aph. 48 (1895) Nietzsche refers to Schiller's Maid of Orleans, act 3, sc.
6: "Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain."
The word "Christianity" is already a misunderstanding -- in
reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross. The
Anti-Christ, aph. 39 (1895)
The Will to Power
I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it
endures and knows how to turn to its advantage. The Will to Power,
book 2, note 362 (1888)
Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary
extreme positions. The Will to Power, aph. 55 (1888)
The idealist is incorrigible: if he is thrown out of his heaven he makes
an ideal of his hell. Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, no.
The strongest knowledge (that of the total unfreedom of the human will)
is nonetheless the poorest in successes: for it always has the strongest
opponent, human vanity. Assorted Opinions and Maxims, aph.
The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose
thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw. The Wanderer
and His Shadow, aph. 278 (1880)
To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many
fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled -- because a
right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise
it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance. The
Wanderer and His Shadow, aph. 251 (1880)
Existence really is an imperfect tense that never becomes a present. The
Use and Abuse of History, sct. 1 (1874)
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. Daybreak, aph. 262 (1881)
The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take
away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile
the whole. Assorted Opinions and Maxims, aph. 137 (1879)
Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living
being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species. The
Gay Science, aph. 109 (rev. ed., 1887)
Only the most acute and active animals are capable of boredom.-- A theme
for a great poet would be God's boredom on the seventh day of creation. The
Wanderer and His Shadow, aph. 56 (1880)
What is wanted -- whether this is admitted or not -- is nothing less than
a fundamental remoulding, indeed weakening and abolition of the individual:
one never tires of enumerating and indicating all that is evil and inimical,
prodigal, costly, extravagant in the form individual existence has assumed
hitherto, one hopes to manage more cheaply, more safely, more equitably,
more uniformly if there exist only large bodies and their members. Daybreak,
aph. 132 (1881)