Human all too human: 31. The illogical necessary

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.

It makes a thinker mad that humans need to be illogical, but it is necessary for all valuable things we do. Only the naïve thinks we can become all rational, but we would lose a lot if we would. Even the most rational man needs nature or with other words: irrationality.

In one sentence:

The things that are valuable, come from irrationality.

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

The thing that can make a thinker mad is the knowledge that we humans need to be illogical and that much good comes from it. It makes a thinker made that humans need to be illogical, It is so firmly rooted in the passions, in language, in art, in religion, and generally in everything that gives value to life, that it cannot be withdrawn without thereby hopelessly injuring these beautiful things. but it is necessary for all valuable things we do. Only the too naïve person can think that man can be rational, but if we would come close to this goal we would lose a lot. Only the naïve thinks we can become all rational, but we would lose a lot if we would. Even the most rational man has need of nature again from time to time, i.e. his illogical fundamental attitude towards all things. Even the most rational man needs nature or with other words: irrationality.


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

  1. THE ILLOGICAL NECESSARY.—One of those things that may drive a thinker into despair is the recognition of the fact that the illogical is necessary for man, and that out of the illogical comes much that is good. It is so firmly rooted in the passions, in language, in art, in religion, and generally in everything that gives value to life, that it cannot be withdrawn without thereby hopelessly injuring these beautiful things. It is only the all-too-naïve people who can believe that the nature of man can be changed into a purely logical one ; but if there were degrees of proximity to this goal, how many things would not have to be lost on this course ! Even the most rational man has need of nature again from time to time, i.e. his illogical fundamental attitude towards all things.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Das Unlogische nothwendig. – Zu den Dingen, welche einen Denker in Verzweifelung bringen können, gehört die Erkenntniss, dass das Unlogische für den Menschen nöthig ist, und dass aus dem Unlogischen vieles Gute entsteht. Es steckt so fest in den Leidenschaften, in der Sprache, in der Kunst, in der Religion und überhaupt in Allem, was dem Leben Werth verleiht, dass man es nicht herausziehen kann, ohne damit diese schönen Dinge heillos zu beschädigen. Es sind nur die allzu naiven Menschen, welche glauben können, dass die Natur des Menschen in eine rein logische verwandelt werden könne; wenn es aber Grade der Annäherung an dieses Ziel geben sollte, was würde da nicht Alles auf diesem Wege verloren gehen müssen! Auch der vernünftigste Mensch bedarf von Zeit zu Zeit wieder der Natur, das heisst seiner unlogischen Grundstellung zu allen Dingen.

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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