Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

German Philosopher and Classical Philologist,wrote critical texts on Religion, Morality, Contemporary Culture, Philosophy and Science, most influential in Existentialism and Post-Modernism

"A joke is an epigram on the death of a feeling. "

"A living being seeks, above all, to discharge its strength. Life is will to power. "

"A matter that becomes clear ceases to concern us. "

"A nation is a detour of nature to arrive at six or seven great men - and then get around them. "

"A person's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play. "

"A very popular error - having the courage of one's convictions. Rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack upon one's convictions. "

"Against war it may be said that it makes the victor stupid and the vanquished revengeful. "

"All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses. "

"All ideals are dangerous, since they denigrate and stigmatize what is actual. They are poisons, which, however, as occasional medicaments, are indispensable."

"All naturalism in morality, that is all healthy morality, is dominated by an instinct of life - some commandment of life is fulfilled through a certain canon of ‘shall’ and ‘shall not’, some hindrance and hostile element on life’s road is thereby removed. Anti-natural morality, that is virtually every morality that has hitherto been taught, reverenced and preached, turns on the contrary precisely against the instincts of life - it is a now secret, now loud and impudent condemnation of these instincts. By saying ‘God sees into the heart’ it denies the deepest and the highest desires of life and takes God for the enemy of life. "

"All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting. "

"All truths that are kept silent become poisonous. "

"Although we live under the assumption that we think - it is more likely that we are being thought. "

"An educator never say what he himself thinks, but only that which he thinks it is good for those whom he is educating to hear. "

"And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."

"Arrogance in persons of merit affronts us more than arrogance in those without merit: merit itself is an affront."

"Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the deification of existence. "

"Art is the proper task of life, art is life's metaphysical exercise... Art is worth more than truth. "

"Art raises its head where creeds relax. "

"As soon as we are shown the existence of something old in a new thing, we are pacified. "

"Belief in truth begins with doubting all that has hitherto been believed to be true. "

"But what after all are man’s truths? They are his irrefutable errors. "

"By morality the individual is taught to become a function of the herd, and to ascribe to himself value only as a function... Morality is the herd instinct in the individual."

"Every high degree of power always involves a corresponding degree of freedom from good and evil. "

"Every master has but one disciple, and that one becomes unfaithful to him, for he too is destined for mastership."

"Every word is a prejudice. "

"For the mediocre it is happiness to be mediocre. "

"Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves. "

"God, as representing objective values, is our master. If, however, God is dead, the effect is exhilarating ...our sea lies open again."

"Granted that nothing is ‘given’ as real except our world of desires and passions that we can rise or sink to no other ‘reality’ than the reality of our drives - for thinking is only the relationship of these drives to one another. "

"Great indebtedness does not make men grateful, but vengeful. "

"Great intellects are skeptical. "

"He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either. "

"He who denies his own vanity usually possesses it in so brutal a form that he instinctively shuts his eyes to avoid the necessity of despising himself... The most vulnerable and yet most unconquerable of things is human vanity; nay, through being wounded its strength increases and can grow to giant proportions. "

"He who lives by fighting with an enemy has an interest in preservation of the enemy's life. "

"Hope, in reality, is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man. "

"I have often asked myself whether I am not more heavily obligated to the hardest years of my life than to any others. As my inmost nature teaches me, whatever is necessary as seen from the heights and in the sense of a great economy is also the useful par excellence: one should not only bear it, one should love it. Amor fati: that is my inmost nature. And as for my long sickness, do I not owe it indescribably more than I owe to my health? I owe it a higher health, one which is made stronger by whatever does not kill it. I also owe my philosophy to it. Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit... Only great pain, that long, slow pain in which we are burned with green wood, as it were - pain which takes its time - only this forces us philosophers to descend into our ultimate depths and to put away all trust, all good-naturedness, all that would veil, all mildness, all that is medium - things in which formerly we may have found our humanity. I doubt that such pain makes us "better," but I know that it makes us more profound. "

"I looked for great men, but all I found were the apes of their ideals. "

"Idleness is the parent of all psychology."

"If only those actions are moral... which are performed out of freedom of will, then there are no moral actions. "

"Immature is the love of the youth, and immature his hatred of man and earth. His mind and the wings of his spirit are still tied down and heavy. "

"Learning from one's enemies is the best way to love them. "

"Let the young soul look back upon its life and ask: What up to now have you truly loved, what has raised up your soul, what ruled it and at the same time made it happy? Line up these objects of reverence before you, and perhaps by their sequence they will yield to you a basic law of your true self. Compare them and see how they form a ladder on which you have so far climbed up toward yourself."

"Liberal institutions straightway cease from being liberal the moment they are soundly established. "

"Life is a well of joy; but for those out of whom an upset stomach speaks, which is the father of melancholy, all wells are poisoned. "

"Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. "

"Many people wait throughout their whole lives for the chance to be good in their own fashion."

"Moral contempt is a far greater indignity and insult than any kind of crime. "

"Life is an instinct for growth, for survival, for the accumulation of forces, for power. "

"Man is much more sensitive to the contempt of others than to self-contempt. "