Human all too human: 28. Ill famed words

Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human

Read the introduction here

You can read the aphorism I discuss here in English and German below the main article.

My take on it.

The words optimism and pessimism are now useless. The only optimist is one that defends the perfect world of God, and wat thinker believes in a God. The pessimist can only attack the theologians by proclaiming that the world is bad, but who attacks theologians nowadays? Besides the theology and the struggle against it, the world is not good and not bad, only humans(optimist/pessimist) can be “good and bad”, and these words might not be used in the right way here3. We must get rid of the idea of a good and bad world.

In one sentence:

Heathens and saints are bad and human, the world is neutral.

Synopsis, quote from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it

Away with those overused words optimism and pessimism! There is not much use for them anymore. The words optimism and pessimism are now useless. Only the chatterboxes (Schwätzer1) uses it. Why would you be an optimist unless he had a God to defend who must have created the best of worlds if he himself be goodness and perfection, but who needs the hypothesis of a God? The only optimist is one that defends the perfect world of God and what thinker believes in a God. But there is no need for the pessimist if we are not interested in harassing the defenders of god, the theologians, or the theologizing philosophers and forcefully defending the opposite point of view: that evil reigns, that pain is greater than pleasure, that the world is a bungled piece of work, the manifestation of an ill-will to life. The pessimist can only attack the theologians by proclaiming that the world is bad, but who attacks theologians nowadays? But who still bothers about the theologians now— except the theologians? Apart from all theology and its contentions2, Besides the theology and the struggle against it,  it is quite clear that the world is not good and not bad the world is not good and not bad, (to say nothing of its being the best or the worst), and that the terms ” good ” and ” bad ” have only significance with respect to man, only humans can be and indeed, perhaps, they are not justified even here in the way they are usually employed; “good and bad”, and these words might3 not been used in the right way here. We must get rid of the idea of a good and bad world.

1Schwätzer (From the original text): rattler, chatterbox, chatterer, windbag, gasbag, gossip

2 Zimmern and Harvey translated “Bekämpfung“ with contention and antagonism, you can also translate it with argument or disagreement. In Zimmern and Harveys words: the theologians have a disagreement: “Apart from all theology and its contentions”. I assume the theology disagree with the disbelievers. The other translators made that clearer despite that Zimmern and Harvey were more correct/literal in their translations.  Hollingale translates it as: “Disregarding theology and opposition to theology “, Handwerk translate it as: “Apart from all theology and struggle against it”, and the Dutch translation does it in a similar way, they all explain it.

3Good and bad…are not justified even here in the way they are usually employed“ At this moment I don’t know what Nietzsche means with “usually employed”, what is the normal situation you use the words good and bad and why can you not use it in this situation?


Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I translated by Helen Zimmern 1909

  1. ILL-FAMED WORDS.—Away with those wearisomely hackneyed terms Optimism and Pessimism ! For the occasion for using them becomes less and less from day to day ; only the chatterboxes still find them so absolutely necessary. For why in all the world should any one wish to be an optimist unless he had a God to defend who must have created the best of worlds if he himself be goodness and perfection,—what thinker, however, still needs the hypothesis of a God ? But every occasion for a pessimistic confession of faith is also lacking when one has no interest in being annoyed at the advocates of God (the theologians, or the theologising philosophers), and in energetically defending the opposite view, that evil reigns, that pain is greater than pleasure, that the world is a bungled piece of work, the manifestation of an ill-will to life. But who still bothers about the theologians now— except the theologians ? Apart from all theology and its contentions, it is quite clear that the world is not good and not bad (to say nothing of its being the best or the worst), and that the terms ” good ” and ” bad ” have only significance with respect to man, and indeed, perhaps, they are not justified even here in the way they are usually employed ; in any case we must get rid of both the calumniating and the glorifying conception of the world.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Verrufene Worte. – Weg mit den bis zum Ueberdruss verbrauchten Wörtern Optimismus und Pessimismus! Denn der Anlass, sie zu gebrauchen, fehlt von Tag zu Tage mehr: nur die Schwätzer haben sie jetzt noch so unumgänglich nöthig. Denn wesshalb in aller Welt sollte jemand Optimist sein wollen, wenn er nicht einen Gott zu vertheidigen hat, welcher die beste der Welten geschaffen haben muss, falls er selber das Gute und Vollkommene ist, – welcher Denkende hat aber die Hypothese eines Gottes noch nöthig? – Es fehlt aber auch jeder Anlass zu einem pessimistischen Glaubensbekenntniss, wenn man nicht ein Interesse daran hat, den Advocaten Gottes, den Theologen oder den theologisirenden Philosophen ärgerlich zu werden und die Gegenbehauptung kräftig aufzustellen: dass das Böse regiere, dass die Unlust grösser sei, als die Lust, dass die Welt ein Machwerk, die Erscheinung eines bösen Willens zum Leben sei. Wer aber kümmert sich jetzt noch um die Theologen – ausser den Theologen? – Abgesehen von aller Theologie und ihrer Bekämpfung liegt es auf der Hand, dass die Welt nicht gut und nicht böse, geschweige denn die beste oder die schlechteste ist, und dass diese Begriffe “gut” und “böse” nur in Bezug auf Menschen Sinn haben, ja vielleicht selbst hier, in der Weise, wie sie gewöhnlich gebraucht werden, nicht berechtigt sind: der schimpfenden und verherrlichenden Weltbetrachtung müssen wir uns in jedem Falle entschlagen.

Sources:

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.

  1. Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
  2. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
  3. Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
  4. Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it  here
  5. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
  6. Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here

 

 

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