We are unknown, we knowers, ourselves to ourselves: this has its own good reason. We have never searched for ourselves — how should it then come to pass, that we should ever find ourselves? Rightly has it been said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our treasure is there, where stand the hives of our knowledge. It is to those hives that we are always striving; as born creatures of flight, and as the honey-gatherers of the spirit, we care really in our hearts only for one thing — to bring something “home to the hive!”
As far as the rest of life with its so-called “experiences” is concerned, which of us has even sufficient serious interest? or sufficient time? In our dealings with such points of life, we are, I fear, never properly to the point; to be precise, our heart is not there, and certainly not our ear. Rather like one who, delighting in a divine distraction, or sunken in the seas of his own soul, in whose ear the clock has just thundered with all its force its twelve strokes of noon, suddenly wakes up, and asks himself, “What has in point of fact just struck?” so do we at times rub after- wards, as it were, our puzzled ears, and ask in complete astonishment and complete embarrassment, “Through what have we in point of fact just lived?” further, “Who are we in point of fact?” and count, after they have struck, as I have explained, all the twelve throbbing beats of the clock of our experience, of our life, of our being — ah! — and count wrong in the endeavour. Of necessity we remain strangers to ourselves, we understand ourselves not, in ourselves we are bound to be mistaken, for of us holds good to all eternity the motto, “Each one is the farthest away from himself” — as far as ourselves are concerned we are not “knowers.”
My thoughts concerning the genealogy of our moral prejudices — for they constitute the issue in this polemic — have their first, bald, and provisional expression in that collection of aphorisms entitled Human, all-too-Human, a Book for Free Minds, the writing of which was begun in Sorrento, during a winter which allowed me to gaze over the broad and dangerous territory through which my mind had up to that time wandered. This took place in the winter of 1876-77; the thoughts themselves are older.
They were in their substance already the same thoughts which I take up again in the following treatises: — we hope that they have derived benefit from the long interval, that they have grown riper, clearer, stronger, more complete. The fact, however, that I still cling to them even now, that in the meanwhile they have always held faster by each other, have, in fact, grown out of their original shape and into each other, all this strengthens in my mind the joyous confidence that they must have been originally neither separate disconnected capricious nor sporadic phenomena, but have sprung from a common root from a fundamental “fiat” of knowledge, whose empire reached to the soul’s depth, and that ever grew more definite in its voice, and more definite in its demands. That is the only state of affairs that is proper in the case of a philosopher.
We have no right to be “disconnected”; we must neither err “disconnectedly” nor strike the truth “disconnectedly.” Rather with the necessity with which a tree bears its fruit, so do our thoughts, our values, our Yes’s and No’s and If’s and Whether’s, grow connected and interrelated, mutual witnesses of one will, one health, one kingdom, one sun — as to whether they are to your taste, these fruits of ours? — But what matters that to the trees? What matters that to us, us the philosophers?
Owing to a scrupulosity peculiar to myself, which I confess reluctantly, — it concerns indeed morality, — a scrupulosity, which manifests itself in my life at such an early period, with so much spontaneity, with so chronic a persistence and so keen an opposition to environment, epoch, precedent, and ancestry that I should have been almost entitled to style it my “ȃ priori” — my curiosity and my suspicion felt themselves betimes bound to halt at the question, of what in point of actual fact was the origin of our “Good” and of our “Evil.” Indeed, at the boyish age of thirteen the problem of the origin of Evil already haunted me: at an age “when games and God divide one’s heart,” I devoted to that problem my first childish attempt at the literary game, my first philosophic essay — and as regards my infantile solution of the problem, well, I gave quite properly the honour to God, and made him the father of evil. Did my own “ȃ priori” demand that precise solution from me? that new, immoral, or at least “amoral” “ȃ priori” and that “categorical imperative” which was its voice (but, oh! how hostile to the Kantian article, and how pregnant with problems!), to which since then I have given more and more attention, and indeed what is more than attention. Fortunately I soon learned to separate theological from moral prejudices, and I gave up looking for any supernatural origin of evil. A certain amount of historical and philological education, to say nothing of an innate faculty of psychological discrimination par excellence succeeded in transforming almost immediately my original problem into the following one: — Under what conditions did Man invent for himself those judgments of values, “Good” and “Evil”? And what intrinsic value do they possess in themselves? Have they up to the present hindered or advanced human well-being? Are they a symptom of the distress, impoverishment, and degeneration of Human Life? Or, conversely, is it in them that is manifested the fulness, the strength, and the will of Life, its courage, its self-confidence, its future? On this point I found and hazarded in my mind the most diverse answers, I established distinctions in periods, peoples, and castes, I became a specialist in my problem, and from my answers grew new questions, new investigations, new conjectures, new probabilities; until at last I had a land of my own and a soil of my own, a whole secret world growing and flowering, like hidden gardens of whose existence no one could have an inkling — oh, how happy are we, we finders of knowledge, provided that we know how to keep silent sufficiently long.
My first impulse to publish something of my hypotheses concerning the origin of morality I owe to a clear, well-written, and even precocious little book, in which a perverse and vicious kind of moral philosophy (your real English kind) was definitely presented to me for the first time; and this attracted me — with that magnetic attraction, inherent in that which is diametrically opposed and antithetical to one’s own ideas. The title of that book was The Origin of the Moral Emotions; its author, Dr. Paul Rée; the year of its appearance, 1877. I may almost say that I have never read anything in which every single dogma and conclusion has called forth from me so emphatic a negation as did that book; albeit a negation untainted by either pique or intolerance. I referred accordingly both in season and out of season in the previous works, at which I was then working, to the arguments of that book, not to refute them — for what have I got to do with mere refutations — but substituting, as is natural to a positive mind, for an improbable theory one which is more probable, and occasionally no doubt for one philosophic error another. In that early period I gave, as I have said, the first public expression to those theories of origin to which these essays are devoted, but with a clumsiness which I was the last to conceal from myself, for I was as yet cramped, being still without a special language for these special subjects, still frequently liable to relapse and to vacillation. To go into details, compare what I say in Human, all-too-Human, part i., about the parallel early history of Good and Evil, Aph. 45 (namely, their origin from the castes of the aristocrats and the slaves); similarly, Aph. 136 et seq., concerning the birth and value of ascetic morality; similarly, Aphs. 96, 99, vol. ii., Aph. 89, concerning the Morality of Custom, that far older and more original kind of morality which is toto cœlo different from the altruistic ethics (in which Dr. Rée, like all the English moral philosophers, sees the ethical “Thing-in- itself”); finally, Aph. 92. Similarly, Aph. 26 in Human, all-too-Human, part ii., and Aph. 112, the Dawn of Day, concerning the origin of Justice as a balance between persons of approximately equal power (equilibrium as the hypothesis of all contract, consequently of all law); similarly, concerning the origin of Punishment, Human, all- too-Human, part ii., Aphs. 22, 23, in regard to which the deterrent object is neither essential nor original (as Dr. Rée thinks: — rather is it that this object is only imported, under certain definite conditions, and always as something extra and additional).
In reality I had set my heart at that time on something much more important than the nature of the theories of myself or others concerning the origin of morality (or, more precisely, the real function from my view of these theories was to point an end to which they were one among many means). The issue for me was the value of morality, and on that subject I had to place myself in a state of abstraction, in which I was almost alone with my great teacher Schopenhauer, to whom that book, with all its passion and inherent contradiction (for that book was also a polemic), turned for present help as though he were still alive. The issue was, strangely enough, the value of the “unegoistic” instincts, the instincts of pity, self-denial, and self-sacrifice which Schopenhauer had so persistently painted in golden colours, deified and etherealised, that eventually they appeared to him, as it were, high and dry, as “intrinsic values in themselves,” on the strength of which he uttered both to Life and to himself his own negation. But against these very instincts there voiced itself in my soul a more and more fundamental mistrust, a scepticism that dug ever deeper and deeper: and in this very instinct I saw the great danger of mankind, its most sublime temptation and seduction — seduction to what? to nothingness? — in these very instincts I saw the beginning of the end, stability, the exhaustion that gazes backwards, the will turning against Life, the last illness announcing itself with its own mincing melancholy: I realised that the morality of pity which spread wider and wider, and whose grip infected even philosophers with its disease, was the most sinister symptom of our modern European civilisation; I realised that it was the route along which that civilisation slid on its way to — a new Buddhism? — a European Buddhism?— Nihilism? This exaggerated estimation in which modern philosophers have held pity, is quite a new phenomenon: up to that time philosophers were absolutely unanimous as to the worthlessness of pity. I need only mention Plato, Spinoza, La Rochefoucauld, and Kant — four minds as mutually different as is possible, but united on one point; their contempt of pity.
This problem of the value of pity and of the pity-morality (I am an opponent of the modern infamous emasculation of our emotions) seems at the first blush a mere isolated problem, a note of interrogation for itself; he, however, who once halts at this problem, and learns how to put questions, will experience what I experienced: — a new and immense vista unfolds itself before him, a sense of potentiality seizes him like a vertigo, every species of doubt, mistrust, and fear springs up, the belief in morality, nay, in all morality, totters, — finally a new demand voices itself. Let us speak out of this new demand: we need a critique of moral values, the value of these values is for the first time to be called into question — and for this purpose a knowledge is necessary of the conditions and circumstances out of which these values grew, and under which they experienced their evolution and their distortion (morality as a result, as a symptom, as a mask, as Tartuffism, as disease, as a misunderstanding; but also morality as a cause, as a remedy, as a stimulant, as a fetter, as a drug), especially as such a knowledge has neither existed up to the present time nor is even now generally desired. The value of these “values” was taken for granted as an indisputable fact, which was beyond all question. No one has, up to the present, exhibited the faintest doubt or hesitation in judging the “good man” to be of a higher value than the “evil man,” of a higher value with regard specifically to human progress, utility, and prosperity generally, not forgetting the future. What? Suppose the converse were the truth! What? Suppose there lurked in the “good man” a symptom of retrogression, such as a danger, a temptation, a poison, a narcotic, by means of which the present battened on the future! More comfortable and less risky perhaps than its opposite, but also pettier, meaner! So that morality would really be saddled with the guilt, if the maximum potentiality of the power and splendour of the human species were never to be attained? So that really morality would be the danger of dangers?
Enough, that after this vista had disclosed itself to me, I myself had reason to search for learned, bold, and industrious colleagues (I am doing it even to this very day). It means traversing with new clamorous questions, and at the same time with new eyes, the immense, distant, and completely unexplored land of morality — of a morality which has actually existed and been actually lived! and is this not practically equivalent to first discovering that land? If, in this context, I thought, amongst others, of the aforesaid Dr. Rée, I did so because I had no doubt that from the very nature of his questions he would be compelled to have recourse to a truer method, in order to obtain his answers. Have I deceived myself on that score? I wished at all events to give a better direction of vision to an eye of such keenness and such impartiality. I wished to direct him to the real history of morality, and to warn him, while there was yet time, against a world of English theories that culminated in the blue vacuum of heaven. Other colours, of course, rise immediately to one’s mind as being a hundred times more potent than blue for a genealogy of morals: — for instance, grey, by which I mean authentic facts capable of definite proof and having actually existed, or, to put it shortly, the whole of that long hieroglyphic script (which is so hard to decipher) about the past history of human morals. This script was unknown to Dr. Rée; but he had read Darwin: — and so in his philosophy the Darwinian beast and that pink of modernity, the demure weakling and dilettante, who “bites no longer,” shake hands politely in a fashion that is at least instructive, the latter exhibiting a certain facial expression of refined and good-humoured indolence, tinged with a touch of pessimism and exhaustion; as if it really did not pay to take all these things — I mean moral problems — so seriously. I, on the other hand, think that there are no subjects which pay better for being taken seriously; part of this payment is, that perhaps eventually they admit of being taken gaily. This gaiety, indeed, or, to use my own language, this joyful wisdom, is a payment; a payment for a protracted, brave, laborious, and burrowing seriousness, which, it goes without saying, is the attribute of but a few. But on that day on which we say from the fullness of our hearts, “Forward! our old morality too is fit material for Comedy,” we shall have discovered a new plot, and a new possibility for the Dionysian drama entitled The Soul’s Fate — and he will speedily utilise it, one can wager safely, he, the great ancient eternal dramatist of the comedy of our existence.
If this writing be obscure to any individual, and jar on his ears, I do not think that it is necessarily I who am to blame. It is clear enough, on the hypothesis which I presuppose, namely, that the reader has first read my previous writings and has not grudged them a certain amount of trouble: it is not, indeed, a simple matter to get really at their essence. Take, for instance, my Zarathustra; I allow no one to pass muster as knowing that book, unless every single word therein has at some time wrought in him a profound wound, and at some time exercised on him a profound enchantment: then and not till then can he enjoy the privilege of participating reverently in the halcyon element, from which that work is born, in its sunny brilliance, its distance, its spaciousness, its certainty. In other cases the aphoristic form produces difficulty, but this is only because this form is treated too casually. An aphorism properly coined and cast into its final mould is far from being “deciphered” as soon as it has been read; on the contrary, it is then that it first requires to be expounded — of course for that purpose an art of exposition is necessary. The third essay in this book provides an example of what is offered, of what in such cases I call exposition: an aphorism is prefixed to that essay, the essay itself is its commentary. Certainly one quality which nowadays has been best forgotten — and that is why it will take some time yet for my writings to become readable — is essential in order to practise reading as an art — a quality for the exercise of which it is necessary to be a cow, and under no circumstances a modern man! — rumination.
Sils-Maria, Upper Engadine,
Those English psychologists, who up to the present are the only philosophers who are to be thanked for any endeavour to get as far as a history of the origin of morality — these men, I say, offer us in their own personalities no paltry problem; — they even have, if I am to be quite frank about it, in their capacity of living riddles, an advantage over their books — they themselves are interesting! These English psychologists — what do they really mean? We always find them voluntarily or involuntarily at the same task of pushing to the front the partie honteuse of our inner world, and looking for the efficient, governing, and decisive principle in that precise quarter where the intellectual self-respect of the race would be the most reluctant to find it (for example, in the vis inertiœ of habit, or in forgetfulness, or in a blind and fortuitous mechanism and association of ideas, or in some factor that is purely passive, reflex, molecular, or fundamentally stupid) — what is the real motive power which always impels these psychologists in precisely this direction? Is it an instinct for human disparagement somewhat sinister, vulgar, and malignant, or perhaps incomprehensible even to itself? or perhaps a touch of pessimistic jealousy, the mistrust of disillusioned idealists who have become gloomy, poisoned, and bitter? or a petty subconscious enmity and rancour against Christianity (and Plato), that has conceivably never crossed the threshold of consciousness? or just a vicious taste for those elements of life which are bizarre, painfully paradoxical, mystical, and illogical? or, as a final alternative, a dash of each of these motives; — a little vulgarity, a little gloominess, a little anti-Christianity, a little craving for the necessary piquancy?
But I am told that it is simply a case of old frigid and tedious frogs crawling and hopping around men and inside men, as if they were as thoroughly at home there, as they would be in a swamp.
I am opposed to this statement, nay, I do not believe it: and if, in the impossibility of knowledge, one is permitted to wish, so do I wish from my heart that just the converse metaphor should apply, and that these analysts with their psychological microscopes should be, at bottom, brave, proud, and magnanimous animals who know how to bridle both their hearts and their smarts, and have specifically trained themselves to sacrifice what is desirable what is true, any truth in fact, even the simple, bitter, ugly, repulsive, unchristian, and immoral truths — for there are truths of that description.
All honour, then, to the noble spirits who would fain dominate these historians of morality. But it is certainly a pity that they lack the historical sense itself, that they themselves are quite deserted by all the beneficent spirits of history. The whole train of their thought runs, as was always the way of old-fashioned philosophers, on thoroughly unhistorical lines: there is no doubt on this point. The crass ineptitude of their genealogy of morals is immediately apparent when the question arises of ascertaining the origin of the idea and judgment of “good.” “Man had originally,” so speaks their decree, “praised and called ‘good’ altruistic acts from the standpoint of those on whom they were conferred, that is, those to whom they were useful; subsequently the origin of this praise was forgotten, and altruistic acts, simply because, as a sheer matter of habit, they were praised as good, came also to be felt as good — as though they contained in themselves some intrinsic goodness.” The thing is obvious: — this initial derivation contains already all the typical and idiosyncratic traits of the English psychologists — we have “utility,” “forgetting,” “habit,” and finally “error,” the whole assemblage forming the basis of a system of values, on which the higher man has up to the present prided himself as though it were a kind of privilege of man in general. This pride must be brought low, this system of values must lose its values: is that attained?
Now the first argument that comes ready to my hand is that the real homestead of the concept “good” is sought and located in the wrong place: the judgment “good” did not originate among those to whom goodness was shown. Much rather has it been the good themselves, that is, the aristocratic, the powerful, the high-stationed, the high-minded, who have felt that they themselves were good, and that their actions were good, that is to say of the first order, in contradistinction to all the low, the low-minded, the vulgar, and the plebeian. It was out of this pathos of distance that they first arrogated the right to create values for their own profit, and to coin the names of such values: what had they to do with utility? The standpoint of utility is as alien and as inapplicable as it could possibly be, when we have to deal with so volcanic an effervescence of supreme values, creating and demarcating as they do a hierarchy within themselves: it is at this juncture that one arrives at an appreciation of the contrast to that tepid temperature, which is the presupposition on which every combination of worldly wisdom and every calculation of practical expediency is always based — and not for one occasional, not for one exceptional instance, but chronically. The pathos of nobility and distance, as I have said, the chronic and despotic esprit de corps and fundamental instinct of a higher dominant race coming into association with a meaner race, an “under race,” this is the origin of the antithesis of good and bad.
(The masters’ right of giving names goes so far that it is permissible to look upon language itself as the expression of the power of the masters: they say “this is that, and that,” they seal finally every object and every event with a sound, and thereby at the same time take possession of it.) It is because of this origin that the word “good” is far from having any necessary connection with altruistic acts, in accordance with the superstitious belief of these moral philosophers. On the contrary, it is on the occasion of the decay of aristocratic values, that the antitheses between “egoistic” and “altruistic” presses more and more heavily on the human conscience — it is, to use my own language, the herd instinct which finds in this antithesis an expression in many ways. And even then it takes a considerable time for this instinct to become sufficiently dominant, for the valuation to be inextricably dependent on this antithesis (as is the case in contemporary Europe); for to-day the prejudice is predominant, which, acting even now with all the intensity of an obsession and brain disease, holds that “moral,” “altruistic,” and “désintéressé” are concepts of equal value.
In the second place, quite apart from the fact that this hypothesis as to the genesis of the value “good” cannot be historically upheld, it suffers from an inherent psychological contradiction. The utility of altruistic conduct has presumably been the origin of its being praised, and this origin has become forgotten: — But in what conceivable way is this forgetting possible? Has perchance the utility of such conduct ceased at some given moment? The contrary is the case. This utility has rather been experienced every day at all times, and is consequently a feature that obtains a new and regular emphasis with every fresh day; it follows that, so far from vanishing from the consciousness, so far indeed from being forgotten, it must necessarily become impressed on the consciousness with ever-increasing distinctness. How much more logical is that contrary theory (it is not the truer for that) which is represented, for instance, by Herbert Spencer, who places the concept “good” as essentially similar to the concept “useful,” “purposive,” so that in the judgments “good” and “bad” mankind is simply summarising and investing with a sanction its unforgotten and unforgettable experiences concerning the “useful-purposive” and the “mischievous-non-purposive.” According to this theory, “good” is the attribute of that which has previously shown itself useful; and so is able to claim to be considered “valuable in the highest degree,” “valuable in itself.” This method of explanation is also, as I have said, wrong, but at any rate the explanation itself is coherent, and psychologically tenable.
The guide-post which first put me on the right track was this question — what is the true etymological significance of the various symbols for the idea “good” which have been coined in the various languages? I then found that they all led back to the same evolution of the same idea — that everywhere “aristocrat,” “noble” (in the social sense), is the root idea, out of which have necessarily developed “good” in the sense of “with aristocratic soul,” “noble,” in the sense of “with a soul of high calibre,” “with a privileged soul” — a development which invariably runs parallel with that other evolution by which “vulgar,” “plebeian,” “low,” are made to change finally into “bad.” The most eloquent proof of this last contention is the German word “schlecht” itself: this word is identical with “schlicht” — (compare “schlechtweg” and “schlechterdings”) — which, originally and as yet without any sinister innuendo, simply denoted the plebeian man in contrast to the aristocratic man. It is at the sufficiently late period of the Thirty Years’ War that this sense becomes changed to the sense now current. From the standpoint of the Genealogy of Morals this discovery seems to be substantial: the lateness of it is to be attributed to the retarding influence exercised in the modern world by democratic prejudice in the sphere of all questions of origin. This extends, as will shortly be shown, even to the province of natural science and physiology, which prima jacie is the most objective. The extent of the mischief which is caused by this prejudice (once it is free of all trammels except those of its own malice), particularly to Ethics and History, is shown by the notorious case of Buckle: it was in Buckle that that plebeianism of the modern spirit, which is of English origin, broke out once again from its malignant soil with all the violence of a slimy volcano, and with that salted, rampant, and vulgar eloquence with which up to the present time all volcanoes have spoken.
With regard to our problem, which can justly be called an intimate problem, and which elects to appeal to only a limited number of ears: it is of no small interest to ascertain that in those words and roots which denote “good” we catch glimpses of that arch-trait, on the strength of which the aristocrats feel themselves to be beings of a higher order than their fellows. Indeed, they call themselves in perhaps the most frequent instances simply after their superiority in power (e.g. “the powerful,” “the lords,” “the commanders”), or after the most obvious sign of their superiority, as for example “the rich,” “the possessors” (that is the meaning of arya; and the Iranian and Slav languages correspond). But they also call themselves after some characteristic idiosyncrasy; and this is the case which now concerns us. They name themselves, for instance, “the truthful”: this is first done by the Greek nobility whose mouthpiece is found in Theognis, the Megarian poet. The word ἐσθλος, which is coined for the purpose, signifies etymologically “one who is” who has reality, who is real, who is true; and then with a subjective twist, the “true,” as the “truthful”: at this stage in the evolution of the idea, it becomes the motto and party cry of the nobility, and quite completes the transition to the meaning “noble,” so as to place outside the pale the lying, vulgar man, as Theognis conceives and portrays him — till finally the word after the decay of the nobility is left to delineate psychological noblesse, and becomes as it were ripe and mellow. In the word κακός as in δειλός (the plebeian in contrast to the ἀγαθός) the cowardice is emphasised. This affords perhaps an inkling on what lines the etymological origin of the very ambiguous ἀγαθός is to be investigated. In the Latin malus (which I place side by side with μέλας) the vulgar man can be distinguished as the dark-coloured, and above all as the black-haired (“hic niger est”), as the pre-Aryan inhabitants of the Italian soil, whose complexion formed the clearest feature of distinction from the dominant blondes, namely, the Aryan conquering race: — at any rate Gaelic has afforded me the exact analogue — Fin (for instance, in the name Fin-Gal), the distinctive word of the nobility, finally — good, noble, clean, but originally the blonde-haired man in contrast to the dark black-haired aboriginals. The Celts, if I may make a parenthetic statement, were throughout a blonde race; and it is wrong to connect, as Virchow still connects, those traces of an essentially dark-haired population which are to be seen on the more elaborate ethnographical maps of Germany with any Celtic ancestry or with any admixture of Celtic blood: in this context it is rather the pre-Aryan population of Germany which surges up to these districts. (The same is true substantially of the whole of Europe: in point of fact, the subject race has finally again obtained the upper hand, in complexion and the shortness of the skull, and perhaps in the intellectual and social qualities. Who can guarantee that modern democracy, still more modern anarchy, and indeed that tendency to the “Commune,” the most primitive form of society, which is now common to all the Socialists in Europe, does not in its real essence signify a monstrous reversion — and that the conquering and master race — the Aryan race, is not also becoming inferior physiologically?) I believe that I can explain the Latin bonus as the “warrior”: my hypothesis is that I am right in deriving bonus from an older duonus (compare bellum-duellum = duen-lum, in which the word duonus appears to me to be contained). Bonus accordingly as the man of discord, of variance, “entzweiung” (duo), as the warrior: one sees what in ancient Rome “the good” meant for a man. Must not our actual German word gut mean “the godlike, the man of godlike race”? and be identical with the national name (originally the nobles’ name) of the Goths?
The grounds for this supposition do not appertain to this work.
Above all, there is no exception (though there are opportunities for exceptions) to this rule, that the idea of political superiority always resolves itself into the idea of psychological superiority, in those cases where the highest caste is at the same time the priestly caste, and in accordance with its general characteristics confers on itself the privilege of a title which alludes specifically to its priestly function. It is in these cases, for instances, that “clean” and “unclean” confront each other for the first time as badges of class distinction; here again there develops a “good” and a “bad,” in a sense which has ceased to be merely social. Moreover, care should be taken not to take these ideas of “clean” and “unclean” too seriously, too broadly, or too symbolically: all the ideas of ancient man have, on the contrary, got to be understood in their initial stages, in a sense which is, to an almost inconceivable extent, crude, coarse, physical, and narrow, and above all essentially unsymbolical. The “clean man” is originally only a man who washes himself, who abstains from certain foods which are conducive to skin diseases, who does not sleep with the unclean women of the lower classes, who has a horror of blood — not more, not much more! On the other hand, the very nature of a priestly aristocracy shows the reasons why just at such an early juncture there should ensue a really dangerous sharpening and intensification of opposed values: it is, in fact, through these opposed values that gulfs are cleft in the social plane, which a veritable Achilles of free thought would shudder to cross. There is from the outset a certain diseased taint in such sacerdotal aristocracies, and in the habits which prevail in such societies — habits which, averse as they are to action, constitute a compound of introspection and explosive emotionalism, as a result of which there appears that introspective morbidity and neurasthenia, which adheres almost inevitably to all priests at all times: with regard, however, to the remedy which they themselves have invented for this disease — the philosopher has no option but to state, that it has proved itself in its effects a hundred times more dangerous than the disease, from which it should have been the deliverer. Humanity itself is still diseased from the effects of the naïvetés of this priestly cure. Take, for instance, certain kinds of diet (abstention from flesh), fasts, sexual continence, flight into the wilderness (a kind of Weir-Mitchell isolation, though of course without that system of excessive feeding and fattening which is the most efficient antidote to all the hysteria of the ascetic ideal); consider too the whole metaphysic of the priests, with its war on the senses, its enervation, its hair-splitting; consider its self-hypnotism on the fakir and Brahman principles (it uses Brahman as a glass disc and obsession), and that climax which we can understand only too well of an unusual satiety with its panacea of nothingness (or God: — the demand for a unio mystica with God is the demand of the Buddhist for nothingness. Nirvana — and nothing else!). In sacerdotal societies every element is on a more dangerous scale, not merely cures and remedies, but also pride, revenge, cunning, exaltation, love, ambition, virtue, morbidity: — further, it can fairly be stated that it is on the soil of this essentially dangerous form of human society, the sacerdotal form, that man really becomes for the first time an interesting animal, that it is in this form that the soul of man has in a higher sense attained depths and become evil — and those are the two fundamental forms of the superiority which up to the present man has exhibited over every other animal.
The reader will have already surmised with what ease the priestly mode of valuation can branch off from the knightly aristocratic mode, and then develop into the very antithesis of the latter: special impetus is given to this opposition, by every occasion when the castes of the priests and warriors confront each other with mutual jealousy and cannot agree over the prize. The knightly-aristocratic “values” are based on a careful cult of the physical, on a flowering, rich, and even effervescing healthiness, that goes considerably beyond what is necessary for maintaining life, on war, adventure, the chase, the dance, the tourney — on everything, in fact, which is contained in strong, free, and joyous action. The priestly-aristocratic mode of valuation is — we have seen — based on other hypotheses: it is bad enough for this class when it is a question of war! Yet the priests are, as is notorious, the worst enemies — why? Because they are the weakest. Their weakness causes their hate to expand into a monstrous and sinister shape, a shape which is most crafty and most poisonous. The really great haters in the history of the world have always been priests, who are also the cleverest haters — in comparison with the cleverness of priestly revenge, every other piece of cleverness is practically negligible. Human history would be too fatuous for anything were it not for the cleverness imported into it by the weak — take at once the most important instance. All the world’s efforts against the “aristocrats,” the “mighty,” the “masters,” the “holders of power,” are negligible by comparison with what has been accomplished against those classes by the Jews — the Jews, that priestly nation which eventually realised that the one method of effecting satisfaction on its enemies and tyrants was by means of a radical transvaluation of values, which was at the same time an act of the cleverest revenge. Yet the method was only appropriate to a nation of priests, to a nation of the most jealously nursed priestly revengefulness. It was the Jews who, in opposition to the aristocratic equation (good = aristocratic = beautiful = happy = loved by the gods), dared with a terrifying logic to suggest the contrary equation, and indeed to maintain with the teeth of the most profound hatred (the hatred of weakness) this contrary equation, namely, “the wretched are alone the good; the poor, the weak, the lowly, are alone the good; the suffering, the needy, the sick, the loathsome, are the only ones who are pious, the only ones who are blessed, for them alone is salvation — but you, on the other hand, you aristocrats, you men of power, you are to all eternity the evil, the horrible, the covetous, the insatiate, the godless; eternally also shall you be the unblessed, the cursed, the damned!” We know who it was who reaped the heritage of this Jewish transvaluation. In the context of the monstrous and inordinately fateful initiative which the Jews have exhibited in connection with this most fundamental of all declarations of war, I remember the passage which came to my pen on another occasion (Beyond Good and Evil, Aph. 195) — that it was, in fact, with the Jews that the revolt of the slaves begins in the sphere of morals; that revolt which has behind it a history of two millennia, and which at the present day has only moved out of our sight, because it — has achieved victory.
But you understand this not? You have no eyes for a force which has taken two thousand years to achieve victory? — There is nothing wonderful in this: all lengthy processes are hard to see and to realise. But this is what took place: from the trunk of that tree of revenge and hate, Jewish hate, — that most profound and sublime hate, which creates ideals and changes old values to new creations, the like of which has never been on earth, — there grew a phenomenon which was equally incomparable, a new love, the most profound and sublime of all kinds of love; — and from what other trunk could it have grown? But beware of supposing that this love has soared on its upward growth, as in any way a real negation of that thirst for revenge, as an antithesis to the Jewish hate! No, the contrary is the truth! This love grew out of that hate, as its crown, as its triumphant crown, circling wider and wider amid the clarity and fulness of the sun, and pursuing in the very kingdom of light and height its goal of hatred, its victory, its spoil, its strategy, with the same intensity with which the roots of that tree of hate sank into everything which was deep and evil with increasing stability and increasing desire. This Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate gospel of love, this “Redeemer” bringing salvation and victory to the poor, the sick, the sinful — was he not really temptation in its most sinister and irresistible form, temptation to take the tortuous path to those very Jewish values and those very Jewish ideals? Has not Israel really obtained the final goal of its sublime revenge, by the tortuous paths of this “Redeemer,” for all that he might pose as Israel’s adversary and Israel’s destroyer? Is it not due to the black magic of a really great policy of revenge, of a far-seeing, burrowing revenge, both acting and calculating with slowness, that Israel himself must repudiate before all the world the actual instrument of his own revenge and nail it to the cross, so that all the world — that is, all the enemies of Israel — could nibble without suspicion at this very bait? Could, moreover, any human mind with all its elaborate ingenuity invent a bait that was more truly dangerous? Anything that was even equivalent in the power of its seductive, intoxicating, defiling, and corrupting influence to that symbol of the holy cross, to that awful paradox of a “god on the cross,” to that mystery of the unthinkable, supreme, and utter horror of the self-crucifixion of a god for the salvation of man? It is at least certain that sub hoc signo Israel, with its revenge and transvaluation of all values, has up to the present always triumphed again over all other ideals, over all more aristocratic ideals.
“But why do you talk of nobler ideals? Let us submit to the facts; that the people have triumphed — or the slaves, or the populace, or the herd, or whatever name you care to give them — if this has happened through the Jews, so be it! In that case no nation ever had a greater mission in the world’s history. The ‘masters’ have been done away with; the morality of the vulgar man has triumphed. This triumph may also be called a blood-poisoning (it has mutually fused the races) — I do not dispute it; but there is no doubt but that this intoxication has succeeded. The ‘redemption’ of the human race (that is, from the masters) is progressing; swimmingly; everything is obviously becoming Judaised, or Christianised, or vulgarised (what is there in the words?). It seems impossible to stop the course of this poisoning through the whole body politic of mankind — but its tempo and pace may from the present time be slower, more delicate, quieter, more discreet — there is time enough. In view of this context has the Church nowadays any necessary purpose? Has it, in fact, a right to live? Or could man get on without it? Quœritur. It seems that it fetters and retards this tendency, instead of accelerating it. Well, even that might be its utility. The Church certainly is a crude and boorish institution, that is repugnant to an intelligence with any pretence at delicacy, to a really modern taste. Should it not at any rate learn to be somewhat more subtle? It alienates nowadays, more than it allures. Which of us would, forsooth, be a freethinker if there were no Church? It is the Church which repels us, not its poison — apart from the Church we like the poison.” This is the epilogue of a freethinker to my discourse, of an honourable animal (as he has given abundant proof), and a democrat to boot; he had up to that time listened to me, and could not endure my silence, but for me, indeed, with regard to this topic there is much on which to be silent.
The revolt of the slaves in morals begins in the very principle of resentment becoming creative and giving birth to values — a resentment experienced by creatures who, deprived as they are of the proper outlet of action, are forced to find their compensation in an imaginary revenge. While every aristocratic morality springs from a triumphant affirmation of its own demands, the slave morality says “no” from the very outset to what is “outside itself,” “different from itself,” and “not itself:” and this “no” is its creative deed. This volte-face of the valuing standpoint — this inevitable gravitation to the objective instead of back to the subjective — is typical of “resentment”: the slave-morality requires as the condition of its existence an external and objective world, to employ physiological terminology, it requires objective stimuli to be capable of action at all — its action is fundamentally a reaction. The contrary is the case when we come to the aristocrat’s system of values: it acts and grows spontaneously, it merely seeks its antithesis in order to pronounce a more grateful and exultant “yes” to its own self; — its negative conception, “low,” “vulgar,” “bad,” is merely a pale late-born foil in comparison with its positive and fundamental conception (saturated as it is with life and passion), of “we aristocrats, we good ones, we beautiful ones, we happy ones.”
When the aristocratic morality goes astray and commits sacrilege on reality, this is limited to that particular sphere with which it is not sufficiently acquainted — a sphere, in fact, from the real knowledge of which it disdainfully defends itself. It misjudges, in some cases, the sphere which it despises, the sphere of the common vulgar man and the low people: on the other hand, due weight should be given to the consideration that in any case the mood of contempt, of disdain, of superciliousness, even on the supposition that it falsely portrays the object of its contempt, will always be far removed from mat degree of falsity which will always characterise the attacks — in effigy, of course — of the vindictive hatred and revengefulness of the weak in onslaughts on their enemies. In point of fact, there is in contempt too strong an admixture of nonchalance, of casualness, of boredom, of impatience, even of personal exultation, for it to be capable of distorting its victim into a real caricature or a real monstrosity. Attention again should be paid to the almost benevolent nuances which, for instance, the Greek nobility imports into all the words by which it distinguishes the common people from itself; note how continuously a kind of pity, care, and consideration imparts its honeyed flavour, until at last almost all the words which are applied to the vulgar man survive finally as expressions for “unhappy,” “worthy of pity” (compare δειλο, δείλαιος, πονηρός, μοχθηρός; the latter two names really denoting the vulgar man as labour-slave and beast of burden) — and how, conversely, “bad,” “low,” “unhappy” have never ceased to ring in the Greek ear with a tone in which “unhappy” is the predominant note: this is a heritage of the old noble aristocratic morality, which remains true to itself even in contempt (let philologists remember the sense in which ὀιζυρός, ἄνολβος, τλήμων, δυστυχεῑν, ξυμφορά used to be employed. The “well-born” simply felt themselves the “happy”; they did not have to manufature their happiness artificially through looking at their enemies, or in cases to talk and lie themselves into happiness (as is the custom with all resentful men); and similarly, complete men as they were, exuberant with strength, and consequently necessarily energetic, they were too wise to dissociate happiness from action — activity becomes in their minds necessarily counted as happiness (that is the etymology of εὖ πρἆττειν) — all in sharp contrast to the “happiness” of the weak and the oppressed, with their festering venom and malignity, among whom happiness appears essentially as a narcotic, a deadening, a quietude, a peace, a “Sabbath,” an enervation of the mind and relaxation of the limbs, — in short, a purely passive phenomenon. While the aristocratic man lived in confidence and openness with himself (γενναῐος, “noble-born,” emphasises the nuance “sincere,” and perhaps also “naïf”), the resentful man, on the other hand, is neither sincere nor naïf, nor honest and candid with himself. His soul squints; his mind loves hidden crannies, tortuous paths and backdoors, everything secret appeals to him as his world, his safety, his balm; he is past master in silence, in not forgetting, in waiting, in provisional self-depreciation and self-abasement. A race of such resentful men will of necessity eventually prove more prudent than any aristocratic race, it will honour prudence on quite a distinct scale, as, in fact, a paramount condition of existence, while prudence among aristocratic men is apt to be tinged with a delicate flavour of luxury and refinement; so among them it plays nothing like so integral a part as that complete certainty of function of the governing unconscious instincts, or as indeed a certain lack of prudence, such as a vehement and valiant charge, whether against danger or the enemy, or as those ecstatic bursts of rage, love, reverence, gratitude, by which at all times noble souls have recognised each other. When the resentment of the aristocratic man manifests itself, it fulfils and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction, and consequently instills no venom: on the other hand, it never manifests itself at all in countless instances, when in the case of the feeble and weak it would be inevitable. An inability to take seriously for any length of time their enemies, their disasters, their misdeeds — that is the sign of the full strong natures who possess a superfluity of moulding plastic force, that heals completely and produces forgetfulness: a good example of this in the modern world is Mirabeau, who had no memory for any insults and meannesses which were practised on him, and who was only incapable of forgiving because he forgot. Such a man indeed shakes off with a shrug many a worm which would have buried itself in another; it is only in characters like these that we see the possibility (supposing, of course, that there is such a possibility in the world) of the real “love of one’s enemies.” What respect for his enemies is found, forsooth, in an aristocratic man — and such a reverence is already a bridge to love! He insists on having his enemy to himself as his distinction. He tolerates no other enemy but a man in whose character there is nothing to despise and much to honour! On the other hand, imagine the “enemy” as the resentful man conceives him — and it is here exactly that we see his work, his creativeness; he has conceived “the evil enemy,” the “evil one,” and indeed that is the root idea from which he now evolves as a contrasting and corresponding figure a “good one,” himself — his very self!
The method of this man is quite contrary to that of the aristocratic man, who conceives the root idea “good” spontaneously and straight away, that is to say, out of himself, and from that material then creates for himself a concept of “bad”! This “bad” of aristocratic origin and that “evil” out of the cauldron of unsatisfied hatred — the former an imitation, an “extra,” an additional nuance; the latter, on the other hand, the original, the beginning, the essential act in the conception of a slave-morality — these two words “bad” and “evil,” how great a difference do they mark, in spite of the fact that they have an identical contrary in the idea “good.” But the idea “good” is not the same: much rather let the question be asked, “Who is really evil according to the meaning of the morality of resentment?” In all sternness let it be answered thus: — just the good man of the other morality, just the aristocrat, the powerful one, the one who rules, but who is distorted by the venomous eye of resentfulness, into a new colour, a new signification, a new appearance. This particular point we would be the last to deny: the man who learnt to know those “good” ones only as enemies, learnt at the same time not to know them only as “evil enemies,” and the same men who inter pares were kept so rigorously in bounds through convention, respect, custom, and gratitude, though much more through mutual vigilance and jealousy inter pares, these men who in their relations with each other find so many new ways of manifesting consideration, self-control, delicacy, loyalty, pride, and friendship, these men are in reference to what is outside their circle (where the foreign element, a foreign country, begins), not much better than beasts of prey, which have been let loose. They enjoy there freedom from all social control, they feel that in the wilderness they can give vent with impunity to that tension which is produced by enclosure and imprisonment in the peace of society, they revert to the innocence of the beast-of-prey conscience, like jubilant monsters, who perhaps come from a ghostly bout of murder, arson, rape, and torture, with bravado and a moral equanimity, as though merely some wild student’s prank had been played, perfectly convinced that the poets have now an ample theme to sing and celebrate. It is impossible not to recognise at the core of all these aristocratic races the beast of prey; the magnificent blonde brute, avidly rampant for spoil and victory; this hidden core needed an outlet from time to time, the beast must get loose again, must return into the wilderness — the Roman, Arabic, German, and Japanese nobility, the Homeric heroes, the Scandinavian Vikings, are all alike in this need. It is the aristocratic races who have left the idea “Barbarian” on all the tracks in which they have marched; nay, a consciousness of this very barbarianism, and even a pride in it, manifests itself even in their highest civilisation (for example, when Pericles says to his Athenians in that celebrated funeral oration, “Our audacity has forced a way over every land and sea, rearing everywhere imperishable memorials of itself for good and for evil”). This audacity of aristocratic races, mad, absurd, and spasmodic as may be its expression; the incalculable and fantastic nature of their enterprises, — Pericles sets in special relief and glory the ‘ραθυμία of the Athenians, their nonchalance and contempt for safety, body, life, and comfort, their awful joy and intense delight in all destruction, in all the ecstasies of victory and cruelty, — all these features become crystallised, for those who suffered thereby in the picture of the “barbarian,” of the “evil enemy,” perhaps of the “Goth” and of the “Vandal.” The profound, icy mistrust which the German provokes, as soon as he arrives at power, — even at the present time, — is always still an aftermath of that inextinguishable horror with which for whole centuries Europe has regarded the wrath of the blonde Teuton beast (although between the old Germans and ourselves there exists scarcely a psychological, let alone a physical, relationship). I have once called attention to the embarrassment of Hesiod, when he conceived the series of social ages, and endeavoured to express them in gold, silver, and bronze. He could only dispose of the contradiction, with which he was confronted, by the Homeric world, an age magnificent indeed, but at the same time so awful and so violent, by making two ages out of one, which he henceforth placed one behind the other — first, the age of the heroes and demigods, as that world had remained in the memories of the aristocratic families, who found therein their own ancestors; secondly, the bronze age, as that corresponding age appeared to the descendants of the oppressed, spoiled, ill-treated, exiled, enslaved; namely, as an age of bronze, as I have said, hard, cold, terrible, without feelings and without conscience, crushing everything, and bespattering everything with blood. Granted the truth of the theory now believed to be true, that the very essence of all civilisation is to train out of man, the beast of prey, a tame and civilised animal, a domesticated animal, it follows indubitably that we must regard as the real tools of civilisation all those instincts of reaction and resentment, by the help of which the aristocratic races, together with their ideals, were finally degraded and overpowered; though that has not yet come to be synonymous with saying that the bearers of those tools also represented the civilisation. It is rather the contrary that is not only probable — nay, it is palpable to-day: these bearers of vindictive instincts that have to be bottled up, these descendants of all European and non-European slavery, especially of the pre-Aryan population — the people, I say, represent the decline of humanity! These “tools of civilisation” are a disgrace to humanity, and constitute in reality more of an argument against civilisation, more of a reason why civilisation should be suspected. One may be perfectly justified in being always afraid of the blonde beast that lies at the core of all aristocratic races, and in being on one’s guard: but who would not a hundred times prefer to be afraid, when one at the same time admires, than to be immune from fear, at the cost of being perpetually obsessed with the loathsome spectacle of the distorted, the dwarfed, the stunted, the envenomed? And is that not our fate? What produces to-day our repulsion towards “man”? — for we suffer from “man,” there is no doubt about it. It is not fear; it is rather that we have nothing more to fear from men; it is that the worm “man” is in the foreground and pullulates; it is that the “tame man,” the wretched mediocre and unedifying creature, has learnt to consider himself a goal and a pinnacle, an inner meaning, an historic principle, a “higher man”; yes, it is that he has a certain right so to consider himself, in so far as he feels that in contrast to that excess of deformity, disease, exhaustion, and effeteness whose odour is beginning to pollute present-day Europe, he at any rate has achieved a relative success, he at any rate still says “yes” to life.
I cannot refrain at this juncture from uttering a sigh and one last hope. What is it precisely which I find intolerable? That which I alone cannot get rid of, which makes me choke and faint? Bad air! Bad air! That something misbegotten comes near me; that I must inhale the odour of the entrails of a misbegotten soul! — That excepted, what can one not endure in the way of need, privation, bad weather, sickness, toil, solitude? In point of fact, one manages to get over everything, born as one is to a burrowing and battling existence; one always returns once again to the light, one always lives again one’s golden hour of victory — and then one stands as one was born, unbreakable, tense, ready for something more difficult, for something more distant, like a bow stretched but the tauter by every strain. But from time to time do ye grant me — assuming that “beyond good and evil” there are goddesses who can grant — one glimpse, grant me but one glimpse only, of something perfect, fully realised, happy, mighty, triumphant, of something that still gives cause for fear! A glimpse of a man that justifies the existence of man, a glimpse of an incarnate human happiness that realises and redeems, for the sake of which one may hold fast to the belief in man! For the position is this: in the dwarfing and levelling of the European man lurks our greatest peril, for it is this outlook which fatigues — we see to-day nothing which wishes to be greater, we surmise that the process is always still backwards, still backwards towards something more attentuated, more inoffensive, more cunning, more comfortable, more mediocre, more indifferent, more Chinese, more Christian — man, there is no doubt about it, grows always “better” — the destiny of Europe lies even in this — that in losing the fear of man, we have also lost the hope in man, yea, the will to be man. The sight of man now fatigues. — What is present-day Nihilism if it is not that? — We are tired of man.
But let us come back to it; the problem of another origin of the good — of the good, as the resentful man has thought it out — demands its solution. It is not surprising that the lambs should bear a grudge against the great birds of prey, but that is no reason for blaming the great birds of prey for taking the little lambs. And when the lambs say among themselves, “Those birds of prey are evil, and he who is as far removed from being a bird of prey, who is rather its opposite, a lamb, — is he not good?” then there is nothing to cavil at in the setting up of this ideal, though it may also be that the birds of prey will regard it a little sneeringly, and perchance say to themselves, “We bear no grudge against them, these good lambs, we even like them: nothing is tastier than a tender lamb.” To require of strength that it should not express itself as strength, that it should not be a wish to overpower, a wish to overthrow, a wish to become master, a thirst for enemies and antagonisms and triumphs, is just as absurd as to require of weakness that it should express itself as strength. A quantum of force is just such a quantum of movement, will, action — rather it is nothing else than just those very phenomena of moving, willing, acting, and can only appear otherwise in the misleading errors of language (and the fundamental fallacies of reason which have become petrified therein), which understands, and understands wrongly, all working as conditioned by a worker, by a “subject.” And just exactly as the people separate the lightning from its flash, and interpret the latter as a thing done, as the working of a subject which is called lightning, so also does the popular morality separate strength from the expression of strength, as though behind the strong man there existed some indifferent neutral substratum, which enjoyed a caprice and option as to whether or not it should express strength. But there is no such substratum, there is no “being” behind doing, working, becoming; “the doer” is a mere appanage to the action. The action is everything. In point of fact, the people duplicate the doing, when they make the lightning lighten, that is a “doing-doing”; they make the same phenomenon first a cause, and then, secondly, the effect of that cause. The scientists fail to improve matters when they say, “Force moves, force causes,” and so on. Our whole science is still, in spite of all its coldness, of all its freedom from passion, a dupe of the tricks of language, and has never succeeded in getting rid of that superstitious changeling “the subject” (the atom, to give another instance, is such a changeling, just as the Kantian “Thing-in-itself”). What wonder, if the suppressed and stealthily simmering passions of revenge and hatred exploit for their own advantage their belief, and indeed hold no belief with a more steadfast enthusiasm than this — “that the strong has the option of being weak, and the bird of prey of being a lamb.” Thereby do they win for themselves the right of attributing to the birds of prey the responsibility for being birds of prey: when the oppressed, downtrodden, and overpowered say to themselves with the indictive guile of weakness. “Let us be otherwise than the evil, namely, good! and good is every one who does not oppress, who hurts no one, who does not attack, who does not pay back, who hands over revenge to God, who holds himself, as we do, in hiding; who goes out of the way of evil, and demands, in short, little from life; like ourselves the patient, the meek, the just,” — yet all this, in its cold and unprejudiced interpretation, means nothing more than “once for all, the weak are weak; it is good to do nothing for which we are not strong enough”; but this dismal state of affairs, this prudence of the lowest order, which even insects possess (which in a great danger are fain to sham death so as to avoid doing “too much”), has, thanks to the counterfeiting and self-deception of weakness, come to masquerade in the pomp of an ascetic, mute, and expectant virtue, just as though the very weakness of the weak — that is, forsooth, its being, its working, its whole unique inevitable inseparable reality — were a voluntary result, something wished, chosen, a deed, an act of merit. This kind of man finds the belief in a neutral, free-choosing “subject” necessary from an instinct of self-preservation, of self-assertion, in which every lie is fain to sanctify itself. The subject (or, to use popular language, the soul) has perhaps proved itself the best dogma in the world simply because it rendered possible to the horde of mortal, weak, and oppressed individuals of every kind, that most sublime specimen of self-deception, the interpretation of weakness as freedom, of being this, or being that, as merit.