Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays: Volume Two
5:38 h Ideas Lvl 11.93
The essays contained in this volume treat of various subjects. With the exception of perhaps one we must consider all these papers as fragments. Written during the early Seventies, and intended mostly as prefaces, they are extremely interesting, since traces of Nietzsche’s later tenets — like Slave and Master morality, the Superman — can be found everywhere. But they are also very valuable on account of the young philosopher’s daring and able handling of difficult and abstruse subjects. “Truth and Falsity,” and “The Greek Woman” are probably the two essays which will prove most attractive to the average reader.

Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays

Friedrich Nietzsche

Volume Two

Translated by
Maximilian A. Mügge

Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays: Volume Two

Translator’s Preface

The essays contained in this volume treat of various subjects. With the exception of perhaps one we must consider all these papers as fragments. Written during the early Seventies, and intended mostly as prefaces, they are extremely interesting, since traces of Nietzsche’s later tenets — like Slave and Master morality, the Superman — can be found everywhere. But they are also very valuable on account of the young philosopher’s daring and able handling of difficult and abstruse subjects. “Truth and Falsity,” and “The Greek Woman” are probably the two essays which will prove most attractive to the average reader.

In the essay on The Greek State the two tenets mentioned above are clearly discernible, though the Superman still goes by the Schopenhauerian label “genius.” Our philosopher attacks the modern ideas of the “dignity of man” and of the “dignity of labour,” because Existence seems to be without worth and dignity. The preponderance of such illusory ideas is due to the political power nowadays vested in the “slaves.” The Greeks saw no dignity in labour. They saw the necessity of it, and the necessity of slavery, but felt ashamed of both. Not even the labour of the artist did they admire, although they praised his completed work.

If the Greeks perished through their slavery, one thing is still more certain: we shall perish through the lack of slavery. To the essence of Culture slavery is innate. It is part of it. A vast multitude must labour and “slave” in order that a few may lead an existence devoted to beauty and art.

Strife and war are necessary for the welfare of the State. War consecrates and purines the State. The purpose of the military State is the creating of the military genius, the ruthless conqueror, the War-lord. There also exists a mysterious connection between the State in general and the creating of the genius.

In The Greek Woman, Nietzsche, the man who said, “One cannot think highly enough of women,” delineates his ideal of woman. Penelope, Antigone, Electra are his ideal types.

Plato’s dictum that in the perfect State the family would cease to exist, belongs to the most intimate things uttered about the relation between women and the State. The Greek woman as mother had to vegetate in obscurity, to lead a kind of Cranfordian existence for the greater welfare of the body politic. Only in Greek antiquity did woman occupy her proper position, and for this reason she was more honoured than she has ever been since. Pythia was the mouthpiece, the symbol of Greek unity.

On music and words. Music is older, more fundamental than language. Music is an expression of cosmic consciousness. Language is only a gesture-symbolism.

It is true the music of every people was at first allied to lyric poetry; “absolute music” always appeared much later. But that is due to the double nature in the essence of language. The tone of the speaker expresses the basic pleasure and displeasure-sensations of the individual. These form the tonal subsoil common to all languages; they are comprehensible everywhere. Language itself is a super-structure on that subsoil; it is a gesture-symbolism for all the other conceptions which man adds to that subsoil.

The endeavour to illustrate a poem by music is futile. The text of an opera is therefore quite negligible. Modern opera in its music is therefore often only a stimulant or a remembrancer for set, stereotyped feelings. Great music, i.e., Dionysean music, makes us forget to listen to the words.

Homer’s contest. The Greek genius acknowledged strife, struggle, contest to be necessary in this life. Only through competition and emulation will the Common-Wealth thrive. Yet there was no unbridled ambition. Everyone’s individual endeavours were subordinated to the welfare of the community. The curse of present-day contest is that it does not do the same.

In the relation of Schopenhauer’s philosophy to a German culture an amusing and yet serious attack is made on the hollow would-be culture of the German Philistines who after the Franco-Prussian war were swollen with self-conceit, self-sufficiency, and were a great danger to real Culture. Nietzsche points out Schopenhauer’s great philosophy as the only possible means of escaping the humdrum of Philistia with its hypocrisy and intellectual ostrichisation.

The essay on Greek philosophy during the tragic age is a performance of great interest to the scholar. It brims with ideas. The Hegelian School, especially Zeller, has shown what an important place is held by the earlier thinkers in the history of Greek thought and how necessary a knowledge of their work is for all who wish to understand Plato and Aristotle. Diels’ great book: “Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker”, Benn’s, Burnet’s and Fairbanks’ books we may regard as the peristyle through which we enter the temple of Early Greek Philosophy. Nietzsche’s essay then is like a beautiful festoon swinging between the columns erected by Diels and the others out of the marble of facts.

Beauty and the personal equation are the two “leitmotive” of Nietzsche’s history of the pre-Socratian philosophers. Especially does he lay stress upon the personal equation, since that is the only permanent item of interest, considering that every “System” crumbles into nothing with the appearance of a new thinker. In this way Nietzsche treats of Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras. There are also some sketches of a draft for an intended but never accomplished continuation, in which Empedocles, Democritus and Plato were to be dealt with.

Probably the most popular of the Essays in this book will prove to be the one on truth and falsity. It is an epistemological rhapsody on the relativity of truth, on “Appearance and Reality,” on “perceptual flux” versus — “conceptual conceit.”

Man’s intellect is only a means in the struggle for existence, a means taking the place of the animal’s horns and teeth. It adapts itself especially to deception and dissimulation.

There are no absolute truths. Truth is relative and always imperfect. Yet fictitious values fixed by convention and utility are set down as truth. The liar does not use these standard coins of the realm. He is hated; not out of love for truth, no, but because he is dangerous.

Our words never hit the essence, the “X” of a thing, but indicate only external characteristics. Language is the columbarium of the ideas, the cemetery of perceptions.

Truths are metaphors, illusions, anthropomorphisms about which one has forgotten that they are such. There are different truths to different beings. Like a spider man sits in the web of his truths and ideas. He wants to be deceived. By means of error he mostly lives; truth is often fatal. When the liar, the story-teller, the poet, the rhapsodist lie to him without hurting him he — loves them! —

The text underlying this translation is that of Vol. I. of the “Taschenausgabe.” One or two obscure passages I hope my conjectures may have elucidated. The dates following the titles indicate the year when these essays were written.

In no other work have I felt so deeply the great need of the science of Signifies with its ultimate international standardisation of terms, as attempted by Eisler and Baldwin. I hope, however, I have succeeded in conveying accurately the meaning of the author in spite of a certain looseness in his philosophical terminology.

The English language is somewhat at a disadvantage through its lack of a Noun-Infinitive. I can best illustrate this by a passage from Parmenides:

χρὴ τὸ λέγειν τε νοεῑν τ’ ἐὸν ἔμμεναι· ἔστι γὰρ εῖναι, μηδὲν δ’ οὐκ ἔστιν· τά σ’ ἐγὼ ψράζεσθαι ἄνωγα.

In his usual masterly manner Diels translates these lines with: “Das Sagen und Denken musz ein Seiendes sein. Denn das Sein existiert, das Nichts existiert nicht; das heisz ich dich wohl zu beherzigen.” On the other hand in Fairbanks’ “version” we read: “It is necessary both to say and to think that being is; for it is possible that being is, and it is impossible that not being is; this is what I bid thee ponder.” In order to avoid a similar obscurity, throughout the paper on “Early Greek Philosophy” I have rendered “das Seiende” (τὸ ἐὸν) with “Existent”, “das Nicht-Seiende” with “Non-Existent”; “das Sein” (εῖναι)with “Being” and “das Nicht-Sein” with “Not-Being.”

I am directly or indirectly indebted for many suggestions to several friends of mine, especially to two of my colleagues, J. Charlton Hipkins, M.A., and R. Miller, B.A., for their patient revision of the whole of the proofs.

M. A. Mügge.

London, July 1911.

The Greek State
Preface to an Unwritten Book (1871)

We moderns have an advantage over the Greeks in two ideas, which are given as it were as a compensation to a world behaving thoroughly slavishly and yet at the same time anxiously eschewing the word “slave”: we talk of the “dignity of man” and of the “dignity of labour.” Everybody worries in order miserably to perpetuate a miserable existence; this awful need compels him to consuming labour; man (or, more exactly, the human intellect) seduced by the “Will” now occasionally marvels at labour as something dignified. However in order that labour might have a claim on titles of honour, it would be necessary above all, that Existence itself, to which labour after all is only a painful means, should have more dignity and value than it appears to have had, up to the present, to serious philosophies and religions. What else may we find in the labour-need of all the millions but the impulse to exist at any price, the same all-powerful impulse by which stunted plants stretch their roots through earthless rocks!

Out of this awful struggle for existence only individuals can emerge, and they are at once occupied with the noble phantoms of artistic culture, lest they should arrive at practical pessimism, which Nature abhors as her exact opposite. In the modern world, which, compared with the Greek, usually produces only abnormalities and centaurs, in which the individual, like that fabulous creature in the beginning of the Horatian Art of Poetry, is jumbled together out of pieces, here in the modern world in one and the same man the greed of the struggle for existence and the need for art show themselves at the same time: out of this unnatural amalgamation has originated the dilemma, to excuse and to consecrate that first greed before this need for art. Therefore; we believe in the “Dignity of man” and the “Dignity of labour.”

The Greeks did not require such conceptual hallucinations, for among them the idea that labour is a disgrace is expressed with startling frankness; and another piece of wisdom, more hidden and less articulate, but everywhere alive, added that the human thing also was an ignominious and piteous nothing and the “dream of a shadow.” Labour is a disgrace, because existence has no value in itself; but even though this very existence in the alluring embellishment of artistic illusions shines forth and really seems to have a value in itself, then that proposition is still valid that labour is a disgrace — a disgrace indeed by the fact that it is impossible for man, fighting for the continuance of bare existence, to become an artist. In modern times it is not the art-needing man but the slave who determines the general conceptions, the slave who according to his nature must give deceptive names to all conditions in order to be able to live. Such phantoms as the dignity of man, the dignity of labour, are the needy products of slavedom hiding itself from itself. Woful time, in which the slave requires such conceptions, in which he is incited to think about and beyond himself! Cursed seducers, who have destroyed the slave’s state of innocence by the fruit of the tree of knowledge! Now the slave must vainly scrape through from one day to another with transparent lies recognisable to every one of deeper insight, such as the alleged “equal rights of all” or the so-called “fundamental rights of man,” of man as such, or the “dignity of labour.” Indeed he is not to understand at what stage and at what height dignity can first be mentioned — namely, at the point, where the individual goes wholly beyond himself and no longer has to work and to produce in order to preserve his individual existence.

And even on this height of “labour” the Greek at times is overcome by a feeling, that looks like shame. In one place Plutarch with earlier Greek instinct says that no nobly born youth on beholding the Zeus in Pisa would have the desire to become himself a Phidias, or on seeing the Hera in Argos, to become himself a Polyklet; and just as little would he wish to be Anacreon, Philetas or Archilochus, however much he might revel in their poetry. To the Greek the work of the artist falls just as much under the undignified conception of labour as any ignoble craft. But if the compelling force of the artistic impulse operates in him, then he must produce and submit himself to that need of labour. And as a father admires the beauty and the gift of his child but thinks of the act of procreation with shamefaced dislike, so it was with the Greek. The joyful astonishment at the beautiful has not blinded him as to its origin which appeared to him, like all “Becoming” in nature, to be a powerful necessity, a forcing of itself into existence. That feeling by which the process of procreation is considered as something shamefacedly to be hidden, although by it man serves a higher purpose than his individual preservation, the same feeling veiled also the origin of the great works of art, in spite of the fact that through them a higher form of existence is inaugurated, just as through that other act comes a new generation. The feeling of shame seems therefore to occur where man is merely a tool of manifestations of will infinitely greater than he is permitted to consider himself in the isolated shape of the individual.

Now we have the general idea to which are to be subordinated the feelings which the Greek had with regard to labour and slavery. Both were considered by them as a necessary disgrace, of which one feels ashamed, as a disgrace and as a necessity at the same time. In this feeling of shame is hidden the unconscious discernment that the real aim needs those conditional factors, but that in that need lies the fearful and beast-of-prey-like quality of the Sphinx Nature, who in the glorification of the artistically free culture-life so beautifully stretches forth her virgin-body. Culture, which is chiefly a real need for art, rests upon a terrible basis: the latter however makes itself known in the twilight sensation of shame. In order that there may be a broad, deep, and fruitful soil for the development of art, the enormous majority must, in the service of a minority, be slavishly subjected to life’s struggle, to a greater degree than their own wants necessitate. At their cost, through the surplus of their labour, that privileged class is to be relieved from the struggle for existence, in order to create and to satisfy a new world of want.

Accordingly we must accept this cruel sounding truth, that slavery is of the essence of Culture; a truth of course, which leaves no doubt as to the absolute value of Existence. This truth is the vulture, that gnaws at the liver of the Promethean promoter of Culture. The misery of toiling men must still increase in order to make the production of the world of art possible to a small number of Olympian men. Here is to be found the source of that secret wrath nourished by Communists and Socialists of all times, and also by their feebler descendants, the white race of the “Liberals,” not only against the arts, but also against classical antiquity. If Culture really rested upon the will of a people, if here inexorable powers did not rule, powers which are law and barrier to the individual, then the contempt for Culture, the glorification of a “poorness in spirit,” the iconoclastic annihilation of artistic claims would be more than an insurrection of the suppressed masses against drone-like individuals; it would be the cry of compassion tearing down the walls of Culture; the desire for justice, for the equalization of suffering, would swamp all other ideas. In fact here and there sometimes an exuberant degree of compassion has for a short time opened all the flood gates of Culture-life; a rainbow of compassionate love and of peace appeared with the first radiant rise of Christianity and under it was born Christianity’s most beautiful fruit, the gospel according to St John. But there are also instances to show that powerful religions for long periods petrify a given degree of Culture, and cut off with inexorable sickle everything that still grows on strongly and luxuriantly. For it is not to be forgotten that the same cruelty, which we found in the essence of every Culture, lies also in the essence of every powerful religion and in general in the essence of power, which is always evil; so that we shall understand it just as well, when a Culture is shattering, with a cry for liberty or at least justice, a too highly piled bulwark of religious claims. That which in this “sorry scheme” of things will live (i.e., must live), is at the bottom of its nature a reflex of the primal-pain and primal-contradiction, and must therefore strike our eyes — “an organ fashioned for this world and earth” — as an insatiable greed for existence and an eternal self-contradiction, within the form of time, therefore as Becoming. Every moment devours the preceding one, every birth is the death of innumerable beings; begetting, living, murdering, all is one. Therefore we may compare this grand Culture with a blood-stained victor, who in his triumphal procession carries the defeated along as slaves chained to his chariot, slaves whom a beneficent power has so blinded that, almost crushed by the wheels of the chariot, they nevertheless still exclaim: “Dignity of labour!” “Dignity of Man!” The voluptuous Cleopatra-Culture throws ever again the most priceless pearls, the tears of compassion for the misery of slaves, into her golden goblet. Out of the emasculation of modern man has been born the enormous social distress of the present time, not out of the true and deep commiseration for that misery; and if it should be true that the Greeks perished through their slavedom then another fact is much more certain, that we shall perish through the lack of slavery. Slavedom did not appear in any way objectionable, much less abominable, either to early Christianity or to the Germanic race. What an uplifting effect on us has the contemplation of the mediæval bondman, with his legal and moral relations, — relations that were inwardly strong and tender, — towards the man of higher rank, with the profound fencing-in of his narrow existence — how uplifting! — and how reproachful!

He who cannot reflect upon the position of affairs in Society without melancholy, who has learnt to conceive of it as the continual painful birth of those privileged Culture-men, in whose service everything else must be devoured — he will no longer be deceived by that false glamour, which the moderns have spread over the origin and meaning of the State. For what can the State mean to us, if not the means by which that social-process described just now is to be fused and to be guaranteed in its unimpeded continuance? Be the sociable instinct in individual man as strong as it may, it is only the iron clamp of the State that constrains the large masses upon one another in such a fashion that a chemical decomposition of Society, with its pyramid-like super-structure, is bound to take place. Whence however originates this sudden power of the State, whose aim lies much beyond the insight and beyond the egoism of the individual? How did the slave, the blind mole of Culture, originate? The Greeks in their instinct relating to the law of nations have betrayed it to us, in an instinct, which even in the ripest fulness of their civilisation and humanity never ceased to utter as out of a brazen mouth such words as: “to the victor belongs the vanquished, with wife and child, life and property. Power gives the first right and there is no right, which at bottom is not presumption, usurpation, violence.”

Here again we see with what pitiless inflexibility Nature, in order to arrive at Society, forges for herself the cruel tool of the State — namely, that conqueror with the iron hand, who is nothing else than the objectivation of the instinct indicated. By the indefinable greatness and power of such conquerors the spectator feels, that they are only the means of an intention manifesting itself through them and yet hiding itself from them. The weaker forces attach themselves to them with such mysterious speed, and transform themselves so wonderfully, in the sudden swelling of that violent avalanche, under the charm of that creative kernel, into an affinity hitherto not existing, that it seems as if a magic will were emanating from them.

Now when we see how little the vanquished trouble themselves after a short time about the horrible origin of the State, so that history informs us of no class of events worse than the origins of those sudden, violent, bloody and, at least in one point, inexplicable usurpations: when hearts involuntarily go out towards the magic of the growing State with the presentiment of an invisible deep purpose, where the calculating intellect is enabled to see an addition of forces only; when now the State is even contemplated with fervour as the goal and ultimate aim of the sacrifices and duties of the individual: then out of all that speaks the enormous necessity of the State, without which Nature might not succeed in coming, through Society, to her deliverance in semblance, in the mirror of the genius. What discernments does the instinctive pleasure in the State not overcome! One would indeed feel inclined to think that a man who looks into the origin of the State will henceforth seek his salvation at an awful distance from it; and where can one not see the monuments of its origin — devastated lands, destroyed cities, brutalised men, devouring hatred of nations! The State, of ignominiously low birth, for the majority of men a continually flowing source of hardship, at frequently recurring periods the consuming torch of mankind — and yet a word, at which we forget ourselves, a battle cry, which has filled men with enthusiasm for innumerable really heroic deeds, perhaps the highest and most venerable object for the blind and egoistic multitude which only in the tremendous moments of State-life has the strange expression of greatness on its face!

We have, however, to consider the Greeks, with regard to the unique sun-height of their art, as the “political men in themselves,” and certainly history knows of no second instance of such an awful unchaining of the political passion, such an unconditional immolation of all other interests in the service of this State-instinct; at the best one might distinguish the men of the Renascence in Italy with a similar title for like reasons and by way of comparison. So overloaded is that passion among the Greeks that it begins ever anew to rage against itself and to strike its teeth into its own flesh. This bloody jealousy of city against city, of party against party, this murderous greed of those little wars, the tiger-like triumph over the corpse of the slain enemy, in short, the incessant renewal of those Trojan scenes of struggle and horror, in the spectacle of which, as a genuine Hellene, Homer stands before us absorbed with delight — whither does this naïve barbarism of the Greek State point? What is its excuse before the tribunal of eternal justice? Proud and calm, the State steps before this tribunal and by the hand it leads the flower of blossoming womanhood: Greek society. For this Helena the State waged those wars — and what grey-bearded judge could here condemn? —

Under this mysterious connection, which we here divine between State and art, political greed and artistic creation, battlefield and work of art, we understand by the State, as already remarked, only the cramp-iron, which compels the Social process; whereas without the State, in the natural bellum omnium contra omnes Society cannot strike root at all on a larger scale and beyond the reach of the family. Now, after States have been established almost everywhere, that bent of the bellum omnium contra omnes concentrates itself from time to time into a terrible gathering of war-clouds and discharges itself as it were in rare but so much the more violent shocks and lightning flashes. But in consequence of the effect of that bellum, — an effect which is turned inwards and compressed, — Society is given time during the intervals to germinate and burst into leaf, in order, as soon as warmer days come, to let the shining blossoms of genius sprout forth.

In face of the political world of the Hellenes, I will not hide those phenomena of the present in which I believe I discern dangerous atrophies of the political sphere equally critical for art and society. If there should exist men, who as it were through birth are placed outside the national-and State-instincts, who consequently have to esteem the State only in so far as they conceive that it coincides with their own interest, then such men will necessarily imagine as the ultimate political aim the most undisturbed collateral existence of great political communities possible, which they might be permitted to pursue their own purposes without restriction. With this idea in their heads they will promote that policy which will offer the greatest security to these purposes; whereas it is unthinkable, that they, against their intentions, guided perhaps by an unconscious instinct, should sacrifice themselves for the State-tendency, unthinkable because they lack that very instinct. All other citizens of the State are in the dark about what Nature intends with her State-instinct within them, and they follow blindly; only those who stand outside this instinct know what they want from the State and what the State is to grant them. Therefore it is almost unavoidable that such men should gain great influence in the State because they are allowed to consider it as a means, whereas all the others under the sway of those unconscious purposes of the State are themselves only means for the fulfilment of the State-purpose. In order now to attain, through the medium of the State, the highest furtherance of their selfish aims, it is above all necessary, that the State be wholly freed from those awfully incalculable war-convulsions so that it may be used rationally; and thereby they strive with all their might for a condition of things in which war is an impossibility. For that purpose the thing to do is first to curtail and to enfeeble the political separatisms and factions and through the establishment of large equipoised State-bodies and the mutual safeguarding of them to make the successful result of an aggressive war and consequently war itself the greatest improbability; as on the other hand they will endeavour to wrest the question of war and peace from the decision of individual lords, in order to be able rather to appeal to the egoism of the masses or their representatives; for which purpose they again need slowly to dissolve the monarchic instincts of the nations. This purpose they attain best through the most general promulgation of the liberal optimistic view of the world, which has its roots in the doctrines of French Rationalism and the French Revolution, i.e., in a wholly un-Germanic, genuinely neo-Latin shallow and unmetaphysical philosophy. I cannot help seeing in the prevailing international movements of the present day, and the simultaneous promulgation of universal suffrage, the effects of the fear of war above everything else, yea I behold behind these movements, those truly international homeless money-hermits, as the really alarmed, who, with their natural lack of the State-instinct, have learnt to abuse politics as a means of the Exchange, and State and Society as an apparatus for their own enrichment. Against the deviation of the State-tendency into a money-tendency, to be feared from this side, the only remedy is war and once again war, in the emotions of which this at least becomes obvious, that the State is not founded upon the fear of the war-demon, as a protective institution for egoistic individuals, but in love to fatherland and prince, it produces an ethical impulse, indicative of a much higher destiny. If I therefore designate as a dangerous and characteristic sign of the present political situation the application of revolutionary thought in the service of a selfish State-less money-aristocracy, if at the same time I conceive of the enormous dissemination of liberal optimism as the result of modern financial affairs fallen into strange hands, and if I imagine all evils of social conditions together with the necessary decay of the arts to have either germinated from that root or grown together with it, one will have to pardon my occasionally chanting a Pæan on war. Horribly clangs its silvery bow; and although it comes along like the night, war is nevertheless Apollo, the true divinity for consecrating and purifying the State. First of all, however, as is said in the beginning of the “Iliad,” he lets fly his arrow on the mules and dogs. Then he strikes the men themselves, and everywhere pyres break into flames. Be it then pronounced that war is just as much a necessity for the State as the slave is for society, and who can avoid this verdict if he honestly asks himself about the causes of the never-equalled Greek art-perfection?

He who contemplates war and its uniformed possibility, the soldier’s profession, with respect to the hitherto described nature of the State, must arrive at the conviction, that through war and in the profession of arms is placed before our eyes an image, or even perhaps the prototype of the State. Here we see as the most general effect of the war-tendency an immediate decomposition and division of the chaotic mass into military castes, out of which rises, pyramid-shaped, on an exceedingly broad base of slaves the edifice of the “martial society.” The unconscious purpose of the whole movement constrains every individual under its yoke, and produces also in heterogeneous natures as it were a chemical transformation of their qualities until they are brought into affinity with that purpose. In the highest castes one perceives already a little more of what in this internal process is involved at the bottom, namely the creation of the military genius — with whom we have become acquainted as the original founder of states. In the case of many States, as, for example, in the Lycurgian constitution of Sparta, one can distinctly perceive the impress of that fundamental idea of the State, that of the creation of the military genius. If we now imagine the military primal State in its greatest activity, at its proper “labour,” and if we fix our glance upon the whole technique of war, we cannot avoid correcting our notions picked up from everywhere, as to the “dignity of man” and the “dignity of labour” by the question, whether the idea of dignity is applicable also to that labour, which has as its purpose the destruction of the “dignified” man, as well as to the man who is entrusted with that “dignified labour,” or whether in this warlike task of the State those mutually contradictory ideas do not neutralise one another. I should like to think the warlike man to be a means of the military genius and his labour again only a tool in the hands of that same genius; and not to him, as absolute man and non-genius, but to him as a means of the genius — whose pleasure also can be to choose his tool’s destruction as a mere pawn sacrificed on the strategist’s chessboard — is due a degree of dignity, of that dignity namely, to have been deemed worthy of being a means of the genius. But what is shown here in a single instance is valid in the most general sense; every human being, with his total activity, only has dignity in so far as he is a tool of the genius, consciously or unconsciously; from this we may immediately deduce the ethical conclusion, that “man in himself,” the absolute man possesses neither dignity, nor rights, nor duties; only as a wholly determined being serving unconscious purposes can man excuse his existence.

Plato’s perfect State is according to these considerations certainly something still greater than even the warm-blooded among his admirers believe, not to mention the smiling mien of superiority with which our “historically” educated refuse such a fruit of antiquity. The proper aim of the State, the Olympian existence and ever-renewed procreation and preparation of the genius, — compared with which all other things are only tools, expedients and factors towards realisation — is here discovered with a poetic intuition and painted with firmness. Plato saw through the awfully devastated Herma of the then-existing State-life and perceived even then something divine in its interior. He believed that one might be able to take out this divine image and that the grim and barbarically distorted outside and shell did not belong to the essence of the State: the whole fervour and sublimity of his political passion threw itself upon this belief, upon that desire — and in the flames of this fire he perished. That in his perfect State he did not place at the head the genius in its general meaning, but only the genius of wisdom and of knowledge, that he altogether excluded the inspired artist from his State, that was a rigid consequence of the Socratian judgment on art, which Plato, struggling against himself, had made his own. This more external, almost incidental gap must not prevent our recognising in the total conception of the Platonic State the wonderfully great hieroglyph of a profound and eternally to be interpreted esoteric doctrine of the connection between State and Genius. What we believed we could divine of this cryptograph we have said in this preface.

The Greek Woman
(Fragment, 1871)

Just as Plato from disguises and obscurities brought to light the innermost purpose of the State, so also he conceived the chief cause of the position of the Hellenic Woman with regard to the State; in both cases he saw in what existed around him the image of the ideas manifested to him, and of these ideas of course the actual was only a hazy picture and phantasmagoria. He who according to the usual custom considers the position of the Hellenic Woman to be altogether unworthy and repugnant to humanity, must also turn with this reproach against the Platonic conception of this position; for, as it were, the existing forms were only precisely set forth in this latter conception. Here therefore our question repeats itself: should not the nature and the position of the Hellenic Woman have a necessary relation to the goals of the Hellenic Will?

Of course there is one side of the Platonic conception of woman, which stands in abrupt contrast with Hellenic custom: Plato gives to woman a full share in the rights, knowledge and duties of man, and considers woman only as the weaker sex, in that she will not achieve remarkable success in all things, without however disputing this sex’s title to all those things. We must not attach more value to; this strange notion than to the expulsion of the artist out of the ideal State; these are side-lines daringly mis-drawn, aberrations as it were of the hand otherwise so sure and of the so calmly contemplating eye which at times under the influence of the deceased master becomes dim and dejected; in this mood he exaggerates the master’s paradoxes and in the abundance of his love gives himself satisfaction by very eccentrically intensifying the latter’s doctrines even to foolhardiness.

The most significant word however that Plato as a Greek could say on the relation of woman to the State, was that so objectionable demand, that in the perfect State, the Family was to cease. At present let us take no account of his abolishing even marriage, in order to carry out this demand fully, and of his substituting solemn nuptials arranged by order of the State, between the bravest men and the noblest women, for the attainment of beautiful offspring. In that principal proposition however he has indicated most distinctly — indeed too distinctly, offensively distinctly — an important preparatory step of the Hellenic Will towards the procreation of the genius. But in the customs of the Hellenic people the claim of the family on man and child was extremely limited: the man lived in the State, the child grew up for the State and was guided by the hand of the State. The Greek Will took care that the need of culture could not be satisfied in the seclusion of a small circle. From the State the individual has to receive everything in order to return everything to the State. Woman accordingly means to the State, what sleep does to man. In her nature lies the healing power, which replaces that which has been used up, the beneficial rest in which everything immoderate confines itself, the eternal Same, by which the excessive and the surplus regulate themselves. In her the future generation dreams. Woman is more closely related to Nature than man and in all her essentials she remains ever herself. Culture is with her always something external, a something which does not touch the kernel that is eternally faithful to Nature, therefore the culture of woman might well appear to the Athenian as something indifferent, yea — if one only wanted to conjure it up in one’s mind, as something ridiculous. He who at once feels himself compelled from that to infer the position of women among the Greeks as unworthy and all too cruel, should not indeed take as his criterion the “culture” of modern woman and her claims, against which it is sufficient just to point out the Olympian women together with Penelope, Antigone, Elektra. Of course it is true that these are ideal figures, but who would be able to create such ideals out of the present world? — Further indeed is to be considered what sons these women have borne, and what women they must have been to have given birth to such sons! The Hellenic woman as mother had to live in obscurity, because the political instinct together with its highest aim demanded it. She had to vegetate like a plant, in the narrow circle, as a symbol of the Epicurean wisdom λάθε βυώσας. Again, in more recent times, with the complete disintegration of the principle of the State, she had to step in as helper; the family as a makeshift for the State is her work; and in this sense the artistic aim of the State had to abase itself to the level of a domestic art. Thereby it has been brought about, that the passion of love, as the one realm wholly accessible to women, regulates our art to the very core. Similarly, home-education considers itself so to speak as the only natural one and suffers State-education only as a questionable infringement upon the right of home-education: all this is right as far as the modern State only is concerned. — With that the nature of woman withal remains unaltered, but her power is, according to the position which the State takes up with regard to women, a different one. Women have indeed really the power to make good to a certain extent the deficiencies of the State — ever faithful to their nature, which I have compared to sleep. In Greek antiquity they held that position, which the most supreme will of the State assigned to them: for that reason they have been glorified as never since. The goddesses of Greek mythology are their images: the Pythia and the Sibyl, as well as the Socratic Diotima are the priestesses out of whom divine wisdom speaks. Now one understands why the proud resignation of the Spartan woman at the news of her son’s death in battle can be no fable. Woman in relation to the State felt herself in her proper position, therefore she had more dignity than woman has ever had since. Plato who through abolishing family and marriage still intensifies the position of woman, feels now so much reverence towards them, that oddly enough he is misled by a subsequent statement of their equality with man, to abolish again the order of rank which is their due: the highest triumph of the woman of antiquity, to have seduced even the wisest!

As long as the State is still in an embryonic condition woman as mother preponderates and determines the grade and the manifestations of Culture: in the same way as woman is destined to complement the disorganised State. What Tacitus says of German women: inesse quin etiam sanctum aliquid et providum putant, nec aut consilia earum aspernantur aut responsa neglegunt, applies on the whole to all nations not yet arrived at the real State. In such stages one feels only the more strongly that which at all times becomes again manifest, that the instincts of woman as the bulwark of the future generation are invincible and that in her care for the preservation of the species Nature speaks out of these instincts very distinctly. How far this divining power reaches is determined, it seems, by the greater or lesser consolidation of the State: in disorderly and more arbitrary conditions, where the whim or the passion of the individual man carries along with itself whole tribes, then woman suddenly comes forward as the warning prophetess. But in Greece too there was a never slumbering care that the terribly overcharged political instinct might splinter into dust and atoms the little political organisms before they attained their goals in any way. Here the Hellenic Will created for itself ever new implements by means of which it spoke, adjusting, moderating, warning: above all it is in the Pythia, that the power of woman to compensate the State manifested itself so clearly, as it has never done since. That a people split up thus into small tribes and municipalities, was yet at bottom whole and was performing the task of its nature within its faction, was assured by that wonderful phenomenon the Pythia and the Delphian oracle: for always, as long as Hellenism created its great works of art, it spoke out of one mouth and as one Pythia. We cannot hold back the portentous discernment that to the Will individuation means much suffering, and that in order to reach those individuals It needs an enormous step-ladder of individuals. It is true our brains reel with the consideration whether the Will in order to arrive at Art, has perhaps effused Itself out into these worlds, stars, bodies, and atoms: at least it ought to become clear to us then, that Art is not necessary for the individuals, but for the Will itself: a sublime outlook at which we shall be permitted to glance once more from another position.

On Music and Words
(Fragment, 1871)

What we here have asserted of the relationship between language and music must be valid too, for equal reasons concerning the relationship of Mime to Music. The Mime too, as the intensified symbolism of man’s gestures, is, measured by the eternal significance of music, only a simile, which brings into expression the innermost secret of music but very superficially, namely on the substratum of the passionately moved human body. But if we include language also in the category of bodily symbolism, and compare the drama, according to the canon advanced, with music, then I venture to think, a proposition of Schopenhauer will come into the clearest light, to which reference must be made again later on. “It might be admissible, although a purely musical mind does not demand it, to join and adapt words or even a clearly represented action to the pure language of tones, although the latter, being self-sufficient, needs no help; so that our perceiving and reflecting intellect, which does not like to be quite idle, may meanwhile have light and analogous occupation also. By this concession to the intellect man’s attention adheres even more closely to music, by this at the same time, too, is placed underneath that which the tones indicate in their general metaphorless language of the heart, a visible picture, as it were a schema, as an example illustrating a general idea … indeed such things will even heighten the effect of music.” (Schopenhauer, Parerga, II., “On the Metaphysics of the Beautiful and Æsthetics,” § 224.) If we disregard the naturalistic external motivation according to which our perceiving and reflecting intellect does not like to be quite idle when listening to music, and attention led by the hand of an obvious action follows better — then the drama in relation to music has been characterised by Schopenhauer for the best reasons as a schema, as an example illustrating a general idea: and when he adds “indeed such things will even heighten the effect of music” then the enormous universality and originality of vocal music, of the connection of tone with metaphor and idea guarantee the correctness of this utterance. The music of every people begins in closest connection with lyricism and long before absolute music can be thought of, the music of a people in that connection passes through the most important stages of development. If we understand this primal lyricism of a people, as indeed we must, to be an imitation of the artistic typifying Nature, then as the original prototype of that union of music and lyricism must be regarded: the duality in the essence of language, already typified by Nature. Now, after discussing the relation of music to metaphor we will fathom deeper this essence of language.

In the multiplicity of languages the fact at once manifests itself, that word and thing do not necessarily coincide with one another completely, but that the word is a symbol. But what does the word symbolise? Most certainly only conceptions, be these now conscious ones or as in the greater number of cases, unconscious; for how should a word-symbol correspond to that innermost nature of which we and the world are images? Only as conceptions we know that kernel, only in its metaphorical expressions are we familiar with it; beyond that point there is nowhere a direct bridge which could lead us to it. The whole life of impulses, too, the play of feelings, sensations, emotions, volitions, is known to us — as I am forced to insert here in opposition to Schopenhauer — after a most rigid self-examination, not according to its essence but merely as conception; and we may well be permitted to say, that even Schopenhauer’s “Will” is nothing else but the most general phenomenal form of a Something otherwise absolutely indecipherable. If therefore we must acquiesce in the rigid necessity of getting nowhere beyond the conceptions we can nevertheless again distinguish two main species within their realm. The one species manifest themselves to us as pleasure-and-displeasure-sensations and accompany all other conceptions as a never-lacking fundamental basis. This most general manifestation, out of which and by which alone we understand all Becoming and all Willing and for which we will retain the name “Will” has now too in language its own symbolic sphere: and in truth this sphere is equally fundamental to the language, as that manifestation is fundamental to all other conceptions. All degrees of pleasure and displeasure — expressions of one primal cause unfathomable to us — symbolise themselves in the tone of the speaker: whereas all the other conceptions are indicated by the gesture-symbolism of the speaker. In so far as that primal cause is the same in all men, the tonal subsoil is also the common one, comprehensible beyond the difference of language. Out of it now develops the more arbitrary gesture-symbolism which is not wholly adequate for its basis: and with which begins the diversity of languages, whose multiplicity we are permitted to consider — to use a simile — as a strophic text to that primal melody of the pleasure-and-displeasure-language. The whole realm of the consonantal and vocal we believe we may reckon only under gesture-symbolism: consonants and vowels without that fundamental tone which is necessary above all else, are nothing but positions of the organs of speech, in short, gestures — ; as soon as we imagine the word proceeding out of the mouth of man, then first of all the root of the word, and the basis of that gesture-symbolism, the tonal subsoil, the echo of the pleasure-and-displeasure-sensations originate. As our whole corporeality stands in relation to that original phenomenon, the “Will,” so the word built out of its consonants and vowels stands in relation to its tonal basis.

This original phenomenon, the “Will,” with its scale of pleasure-and-displeasure-sensations attains in the development of music an ever more adequate symbolic expression: and to this historical process the continuous effort of lyric poetry runs parallel, the effort to transcribe music into metaphors: exactly as this double-phenomenon, according to the just completed disquisition, lies typified in language.

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