Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Nihilism or Not?  

Recommended Resource:
http://thomas-open.usc.edu/nietzsche/

 

Overview:
Nihilism,
Existentialism,
Interpretivism


1.         God is dead. (Gay Science 125)

2.         Whither is God? I will tell you. We have killed him - you and I. (Gay Science 125)

3.         The tremendous event is still on it's way, still traveling - it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars - and yet they have done it themselves. (Gay Science 125)

4.         How much must collapse now that this faith has been undermined because it was built upon this faith, propped up by it, grown into it; for example, the whole of our European morality. (Gay Science 343).

5.         My objection against the whole of sociology in England and France remains that it knows from experience only the forms of decay, and with perfect innocence accepts its instincts of decay as the norm of sociological value judgments.  The decline of life, the decrease in the power to organize, that is to tear open clefts, subordinate and superordinate -- all this has been formulated as the ideal in contemporary sociology. (Twilight of Idols)

6.         Duration in vain' without end or aim is the most paralyzing idea...." (Will to Power 55)

7.         If the world had a goal it must have been reached. (Will to Power 1063)

8.         "Disinterested contemplation" ... is a rank absurdity. (237)

9.         All seeing is essentially perspective, and so is all knowing. (237)

10.      [S]o little do we see a tree exactly and completely as to its leaves, branches, colors and forms. It is so much easier to imagine an approximation of a tree. ... We invent the largest part of the thing experienced and can hardly be compelled not to observe some process with the eyes of an "inventor". All this wants to say that we are from time immemorial accustomed to lying. Or to say it more virtuously and slyly, hence pleasantly: we are much greater artists than we know. (237-238)

The Linguistic
and Psychological
Bases of Thought

1.         For all its detachment and freedom from emotion, our science is still the dupe of linguistic habits; it has never got rid of those changelings called "subjects." The atom is one such changeling, another is the Kantian "thing-in-itself." (241)

2.         But no such agent exists; there is no "being" behind the doing, acting, becoming; the "doer" has simply been added to the deed by the imagination - the doing is everything. (241)

3.         A thought comes when "it" will and not when "I" will. Thus it is a falsification of the evidence to say that the subject "I" conditions the predicate "think." (241)

4.         It is thought, to be sure, but that this "it" should be that old famous "I" is, to put it mildly, only a supposition, an assertion. Above all it is not an "immediate certainty." ... Our conclusion is here formulated out of our grammatical custom: "Thinking is an activity; every activity presumes something which is active, hence ...." (241)

5.         And when we mix up this world of symbols with the world of things as though the symbols existed "in themselves," then we are merely doing once more what we have always done: we are creating myths. (243)

6.         Even behind logic and its apparent sovereignty of development stand value judgments, or, to speak more plainly, physiological demands for preserving a certain type of life. (242)

7.         Gradually I have come to realize what every great philosophy up to now has been: the personal confession of its originator, a type of involuntary and unawares memoirs. (242)

8.         [S]omeone might come along who, with opposite intention and interpretive skill, might read out of the same phenomena quite another thing: a tyrannical, inconsiderate, relentless enforcement of claims to power. ... Let us admit that this, too, would be only an interpretation -- and you will be eager enough to make this objection! Well, all the better! (243)

Consciousness,
Conscience, and other Afflictions

1.         [H]ow wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. (243)

2.         The intellect, as a means for the preservation of the individual, unfolds its chief powers in simulation; for this is the means by which the weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves .... (243)

3.         Every concept originates through our equating what is unequal. No leaf ever wholly equals another, and the concept "leaf" is formed through an arbitrary abstraction from these individual differences, through forgetting the distinctions; and now it gives rise to the idea that there is something besides the leaves which would be "leaf" ...

4.         [T]ruths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are ... (244)

5.         I take bad conscience to be a deep-seated malady to which man succumbed under the pressure of the most profound transformation he ever underwent - the one that made him once and for all a sociable and pacific creature. (245)

6.         All instincts that are not allowed free play turn inward. (245)

7.         Man ... invented bad conscience in order to hurt himself, after the blocking of the more natural outlet of his cruelty. (246)

8.         Also [conscience is] the generator of the greatest and most disastrous of maladies, of which humanity has not to this day been cured: his sickness of himself, brought on by the violent severance from his animal past .... (245)

The Will to Power

1.         Assuming, finally, that we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctual life as the development and ramification of one basic form of will (the will to power, as I hold); assuming that one could trace back all the organic functions to this will to power, including the solution to the problem of generation and nutrition (they are one problem) -- if this were done, we should be justified in defining all effective energy unequivocally as will to power. (249)

2.         Life itself is assimilation, injury, violation of the foreign and the weaker, suppression, hardness, the forcing of one's forms upon something else, ingestion and -- at least in its mildest form - exploitation. (249)

3.         That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no ground for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs. And if the lambs say among themselves: 'these birds of prey are evil; and whoever is least like a bird of prey, but rather its opposite, a lamb - would he not be good?' there is no reason to find fault with this institution of an ideal." (Genealogy of Morals 13)

4.         The slave revolt in morals begins by rancor turning creative and giving birth to values - the rancor of beings who, deprived of the direct outlet of action, compensate by an imaginary vengeance. All truly noble morality grows out of triumphant self-affirmation. Slave ethics, on the other hand, begins by saying no to an "outside" and "other" a non-self, and that no is its creative act. (250)

5.         [T]he rancorous person is neither truthful nor ingenuous nor honest and forthright with himself. (250) 

6.         Their happiness is purely passive and takes the form of drugged tranquility. (250)

7.         [Religions] side with the defectives . . . they confirm the rights of all those who suffer from life as though it were a disease; they would like to render invalid and impossible any other sentiment besides theirs. (251)

8.         [Religion] in physiological terms is hypnosis - the attempt to achieve for man something approximating the hibernation of certain animal species. (251)

The  Decadence
of Contemporary
Culture, the
Existential Problem, and the Overman

1.         For seventeen years I have never tired of calling attention to the despiritualizing influence of our current science and industry. (252)

2.         The same new conditions which will, on the average, bring about an equalization and mediocratization of man, a useful hardworking adaptable herd-animal of many uses, are also disposed in the highest degree to the creation of exceptional men of most dangerous and fascinating quality. (252)

3.         The democratization of Europe is at the same time an involuntary arrangement for the training of tyrants. (253)

4.         Courage also slays dizziness at the edge of abysses: and where does man not stand at the edge of abysses? Is not seeing always -- seeing abysses? (254)

5.         Must not whatever can happen have happened, have been done, have passed by before? (255)

6.         "And this slow spider, which crawls in the moonlight, and this moonlight itself, and I and you in the gateway, whispering together, whispering of eternal things -- must not all of us have been here before? And return and walk in that other lane, out there, before us, in this long dreadful lane -- must we not eternally return?" (255)

7.         Duration 'in vain' without end or aim is the most paralyzing idea. (Will to Power 55)

8.         Courage, however, is the best slayer - courage which attacks: which slays even death itself, for it says, "Was that life?  Well then! Once more!"

9.         [The Overman is] the truly exuberant, alive and world affirming man who does not merely resign himself to and learn to get along with all that was and is, but who want everything as it was and is back again, back forever and ever, insatiably calling da capo, not only to himself but to the whole spectacle and performance .... (256)

10.      What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad?  Everything that is born of weakness... the weak and the failures will perish: first principle of our love of man. And they shall be given every possible assistance. (The Antichrist)

11.      This world of pure fiction is vastly inferior insofar as [it] falsifies, devalues, and negates reality. Once the concept of 'nature' had been invented as the opposite of God', 'natural' had to become a synonym of 'reprehensible': this world of fiction is rooted in hatred of the natural" (The Antichrist).

12.      A man in this state transforms things until they mirror his power -- until they are reflections of his perfection. This having to transform into perfection is art. (258)

13.      What [Goethe] wanted was totality; he fought the mutual exclusiveness of reason, sense, feeling, and will (preached with the most abhorrent scholasticism by Kant); he disciplined himself to wholeness; he created himself. (259)