Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human
Read the introduction here
You can read the aphorism I discuss here in English an German below the main article.
Synopsis, quote from the translation by Helen Zimmern (1909) and my take on it
As Democritus1 transferred applied2 the concepts ” above ” and ” below ” to endless space where they have no sense, so philosophers in general have transferred Applied the concepts ” Internal ” and ” External ” to the essence and appearance of the world; Philosophers think that with deep internal feelings you can reach the “essence” of our nature. But these deep feelings are only deep if they are accompanied by hardly noticeable thoughts that we call “deep thoughts”, a feeling is deep because we think that the accompanying thought is deep. But these deep thoughts can be far from the truth for instance, every metaphysical one. If we take away the thoughts or words from the deep feeling we had, we are left with this deep feeling without any insight. as strong faith proves only its strength and not the truth of what is believed in.
In one sentence:
Deep feelings are empty without words that are often empty to.
1Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace, around 460 BC, although some thought it was 490 BC. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a passing and partial resemblance to the 19th-century understanding of atomic structure that has led some to regard Democritus as more of a scientist than other Greek philosophers; however, their ideas rested on very different bases. Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus is said to have been disliked so much by Plato that the latter wished all of his books burned. He was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle. Many consider Democritus to be the “father of modern science”. None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work. (Wikipedia)
2The German word “übertrug“ is in most translations translated as transferred but Handwerk translated it as extended and the Dutch version as “toepaste” that you translate in English as applied. It’s just a small difference between transferring, extending and applying and it has little influence on the whole aphorism. English is not my first languish, so I don’t know the full extent of the word transferred but it sounds like moved. In the second part of this first sentence: “transferred the concepts ” Internal ” and ” External ” to the essence and appearance of the world” I much rather use the word applied or extend.
Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I translated by Helen Zimmern 1909
- NO INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL IN THE WORLD.—As Democritus transferred the concepts ” above ” and ” below ” to endless space where they have no sense, so philosophers in general have transferred the concepts ” Internal ” and ” External ” to the essence and appearance of the world ; they think that with deep feelings one can penetrate deeply into the internal and approach the heart of Nature. But these feelings are only deep in so far as along with them, barely noticeable, certain complicated groups of thoughts, which we call deep, are regularly excited ; a feeling is deep because we think that the accompanying thought is deep. But the ” deep ” thought can nevertheless be very far from the truth, as, for instance, every metaphysical one ; if one take away from the deep feeling the commingled elements of thought, then the strong feeling remains, and this guarantees nothing for knowledge but itself, just as strong faith proves only its strength and not the truth of what is believed in.
Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80
- Kein Innen und Aussen in der Welt. – Wie Demokrit die Begriffe Oben und Unten auf den unendlichen Raum übertrug, wo sie keinen Sinn haben, so die Philosophen überhaupt den Begriff “Innen und Aussen” auf Wesen und Erscheinung der Welt; sie meinen, mit tiefen Gefühlen komme man tief in’s Innere, nahe man sich dem Herzen der Natur. Aber diese Gefühle sind nur insofern tief, als mit ihnen, kaum bemerkbar, gewisse complicirte Gedankengruppen regelmässig erregt werden, welche wir tief nennen; ein Gefühl ist tief, weil wir den begleitenden Gedanken für tief halten. Aber der tiefe Gedanke kann dennoch der Wahrheit sehr fern sein, wie zum Beispiel jeder metaphysische; rechnet man vom tiefen Gefühle die beigemischten Gedankenelemente ab, so bleibt das starke Gefühl übrig, und dieses verbürgt Nichts für die Erkenntniss, als sich selbst, ebenso wie der starke Glaube nur seine Stärke, nicht die Wahrheit des Geglaubten beweist.
I will read a Dutch translation that is based on the work of researchers Colli and Montinari. I also use a translation from R.J.Hollingdale and the Gary Handwerk translation from the Colli-Montinari edition. Both are more modern than the copyright free translation I use here. This is a translation from 1909 by Helen Zimmern, who knew Nietzsche personally, but there was no critical study of Nietzsche’s work done back then and this translation suffers from that. The same goes for the translation from Alexander Harvey. My German is not good enough to pretend that I can translate it better than the professionals do but I will use the original as a referee.
- Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it here
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
- Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here