Quotes

The Wisest Men of All Ages

About life, the wisest men of all ages have come to the same conclusion: it is no good. Always and everywhere one has heard the same sound from their mouths—a sound full of doubt, full of melancholy, full of weariness of life, full of resistance to life. Even Socrates said, as he died: “To live—that means to be sick a long time: I owe Asclepius the Savior a rooster.” Even Socrates was tired of life. What does that prove? What does it demonstrate? At one time, one would have said (and it has been said loud enough by our pessimists): “At least something must be true here! The consensus of the sages must show us the truth.” Shall we still talk like that today? May we? “At least something must be sick here,” we retort. These wisest men of all ages—they should first be scrutinized closely. Were they all perhaps shaky on their legs? tottery? decadent? late? Could it be that wisdom appears on earth as a raven, attracted by a little whiff of carrion?

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols.

Standard
Quotes

Our Greatness is Also Our Lack of Compassion

To be harmful with what is best in us.— At times, our strengths propel us so far forward that we can no longer endure our weaknesses and perish from them. We may even foresee this outcome without wishing to have it otherwise. Thus we become hard against everything in us that desires consideration, and our greatness is also our lack of compassion.

Such an experience, for which we must pay in the end with our lives, is a parable for the whole effect of great human beings on others and on their age: precisely with what is best in them, with what only they can do, they destroy many who are weak, unsure, still in the process of becoming, of striving; and thus they are harmful. It can even happen that, everything considered they are only harmful because what is best in them is accepted and absorbed by those alone whom it affects like a drink that is too strong: they lose their understanding and their selfishness and become so intoxicated that they are bound to break their limbs on all the false paths on which their intoxication leads them astray.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Aph. 28

Standard
Quotes

Living According to Nature

“You want to live ‘according to nature’? O you noble Stoics, what fraudulent words! Think of a being such as nature is, prodigal beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without aims or intentions, without mercy or justice, at once fruitful and barren and uncertain; think of indifference itself as a power—how could you live according to such indifference? To live—is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature? Is living not valuating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And even if your imperative ‘live according to nature’ meant at bottom the same thing as ‘live according to life’ —how could you not do that? Why make a principle of what you yourselves are and must be?—The truth of it is, however, quite different: while you rapturously pose as deriving the canon of your law from nature, you want something quite the reverse of that, you strange actors and self-deceivers! Your pride wants to prescribe your morality, your ideal, to nature, yes to nature itself, and incorporate them in it; you demand that nature should be nature ‘according to the Stoa’ and would like to make all existence exist only after your own image—as a tremendous eternal glorification and universalization of Stoicism! All your love of truth not withstanding, you have compelled yourselves for so long and with such persistence and hypnotic rigidity to view nature falsely, namely Stoically, you are no longer capable of viewing it in any other way—and hypnotic rigidity to view nature it in any other way—and some abysmal arrogance infects you at last with the Bedlamite hope that, because you know how to tyrannize over yourselves—Stoicism is self-tyranny—nature too can be tyrannized over: for is the Stoic not a piece of nature? . . . But this is an old and never-ending story: what formerly happened with the Stoics still happens today as soon as a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image, it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical drive itself, the most spiritual will to power, to ‘creation of the world’, to causa prima.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

Standard