Human all too human: 34. For tranquillity.

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.

  1. Life is a bitch, but I can imagine a better one.

DSCF8639Is our philosophy now a tragedy? is truth hostile to life and improvement? Can we live in a lie, or is death better? Because, there is no “must do”, our way of seeing the world has destroyed morality. Our knowledge only excepts pleasure and pain, benefit, and injury as grounds for action, but how do they work with the truth? Our preferences or dislikes make wrong assessments and determine with it our pleasure and pain. Human life is one big lie, and no one can escape this without cursing his past and finding his present motives, like honor, worthless and the ideals that drive him seem ridiculous. Is there only despair left with a philosophy of destruction? I think this is determined by the temperament of man. I can imagine a life that is less affected by emotions and it would slowly lose it’s bad habits through the influence of knowledge.  Finally, you could live amongst men and on selves without praise, reproach, or agitation, feasting one’s eyes, as if it were a play, upon much of which one was formerly afraid. No more emphasis and attention on the thought that one is nature or more than nature. You need a more positive stance in life and not the qualities of old dogs and people chained for too long. You need people that live for knowledge and can live with less and ignore common values and practices. This person like to share this pleasure and lifestyle, it’s probably the only thing he can share to his detriment. But if more is asked of him he will point to his brother, the free man of action, with a slight scorn because his freedom is a particular one.   


Text from the translation by Helen Zimmern and my take on it

But does not our philosophy thus become a tragedy ? Does not truth become hostile to life, to improvement? Is our philosophy now a tragedy, is truth hostile to life and improvement? A question seems to weigh upon our tongue and yet hesitate to make itself heard : whether one can consciously remain in untruthfulness? or, supposing one were obliged to do this, would not death be preferable? One question remains: can we live in a lie, or is death better? For there is no longer any ” must “; morality, in so far as it had any ” must ” or ” shalt, has been destroyed by our mode of contemplation, just as religion has been destroyed. Because there is no “must do”, our way of seeing the world has destroyed morality like the church before. Knowledge can only allow pleasure and pain, benefit and injury to subsist as motives; but how will these motives agree with the sense of truth? Knowledge only excepts pleasure and pain, benefit, and injury as grounds for action, but how do they work with the truth? They also contain errors (for, as already said, inclination and aversion, and their very incorrect determinations, practically regulate our pleasure and pain). But these have errors too, as said before, preference or aversion make wrong assessments and determine with it our pleasure and pain.   The whole of human life is deeply immersed in untruthfulness; the individual cannot draw it up out of this well, without thereby taking a deep dislike to his whole past, Human life is one big lie, and no one can escape this without cursing his past,   without finding his present motives —those of honor, for instance—inconsistent, and without opposing scorn and disdain to the passions which conduce to happiness in the future. and  finding his present motives, like honor, worthless and the ideals that drive him seem ridiculous- Is it true that there remains but one sole way of thinking which brings after it despair as a personal experience, as a theoretical result, a philosophy of dissolution, disintegration, and self-destruction? Is there only despair left with a philosophy of destruction? I believe that the decision with regard to the after- effects of the knowledge will be given through the temperament of a man; I think this is determined by the temperament of man. I could imagine another after-effect, just as well as that one described, which is possible in certain natures, by means of which a life would arise much simpler, freer from emotions than is the present one, I can imagine a life that is less affected by emotions so that though at first, indeed, the old motives of passionate desire might still have strength from old hereditary habit, they would gradually become weaker under the influence of purifying knowledge. and it would slowly lose it’s bad habits through the influence of knowledge.  One would live at last amongst men, and with one’s self as with Nature without praise, reproach, or agitation, feasting one’s eyes, as if it were a play, upon much of which one was formerly afraid. Finally, you could live amongst men and on selves without praise, reproach, or agitation, feasting one’s eyes, as if it were a play, upon much of which one was formerly afraid. One would be free from the emphasis, and would no longer feel the goading, of the thought that one is not only nature or more than nature. No more emphasis and attention on the thought that one is nature or more than nature Certainly, as already remarked, a good temperament would be necessary for this, an even, mild, and naturally joyous soul, a disposition which would not always need to be on its guard against spite and sudden outbreaks, and would not convey in its utterances anything of a grumbling or sudden nature, As mentioned before you need a more positive stance in life,—those well-known vexatious qualities of old dogs and men who have been long chained up. and not the qualities of old dogs and people chained for too long. On the contrary, a man from whom the ordinary fetters of life have so far fallen that he continues to live only for the sake of ever better knowledge must be able to renounce without envy and regret: much, indeed almost everything that is precious to other men, he must regard as the all- sufficing and the most desirable condition; the free, fearless soaring over men, customs, laws, and the traditional valuations of things. You need people that live for knowledge and can live with less and ignore common values and practices. The joy of this condition he imparts willingly, and he has perhaps nothing else to impart,—wherein, to be sure, there is more privation and renunciation. This person like to share this pleasure and lifestyle, it’s probably the only thing he can share to his detriment. If, nevertheless, more is demanded from him, he will point with a friendly shake of his head to his brother, the free man of action, and will perhaps not conceal a little derision, for as regards this ” freedom ” it is a very peculiar case. But if more is asked of him he will point to his brother, the free man of action, with a slight scorn because about his freedom is a particular one.   


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

  1. FOR TRANQUILLITY.—But does not our philosophy thus become a tragedy ? Does not truth become hostile to life, to improvement ? A question seems to weigh upon our tongue and yet hesitate to make itself heard : whether one can consciously remain in untruthfulness ? or, supposing one were obliged to do this, would not death be preferable ? For there is no longer any ” must ” ; morality, in so far as it had any ” must ” or ” shalt, has been destroyed by our mode of contemplation, just as religion has been destroyed. Knowledge can only allow pleasure and pain, benefit and injury to subsist as motives ; but how will these motives agree with the sense of truth ? They also contain errors (for, as already said, inclination and aversion, and their very incorrect determinations, practically regulate our pleasure and pain). The whole of human life is deeply immersed in untruthfulness ; the individual cannot draw it up out of this well, without thereby taking a deep dislike to his whole past, without finding his present motives —those of honour, for instance—inconsistent, and without opposing scorn and disdain to the passions which conduce to happiness in the future. Is it true that there remains but one sole way of thinking which brings after it despair as a personal experience, as a theoretical result, a philosophy of dissolution, disintegration, and self-destruction ? I believe that the decision with regard to the after- effects of the knowledge will be given through the temperament of a man ; I could imagine another after-effect, just as well as that one described, which is possible in certain natures, by means of which a life would arise much simpler, freer from emotions than is the present one, so that though at first, indeed, the old motives of passionate desire might still have strength from old hereditary habit, they would gradually become weaker under the influence of purifying knowledge. One would live at last amongst men, and with one’s self as with Nature without praise, reproach, or agitation, feasting one’s eyes, as if it were a play, upon much of which one was formerly afraid. One would be free from the emphasis, and would no longer feel the goading, of the thought that one is not only nature or more than nature. Certainly, as already remarked, a good temperament would be necessary for this, an even, mild, and naturally joyous soul, a disposition which would not always need to be on its guard against spite and sudden outbreaks, and would not convey in its utterances anything of a grumbling or sudden nature,—those well-known vexatious qualities of old dogs and men who have been long chained up. On the contrary, a man from whom the ordinary fetters of life have so far fallen that he continues to live only for the sake of ever better knowledge must be able to renounce without envy and regret : much, indeed almost everything that is precious to other men, he must regard as the all- sufficing and the most desirable condition ; the free, fearless soaring over men, customs, laws, and the traditional valuations of things. The joy of this condition he imparts willingly, and he has perhaps nothing else to impart,—wherein, to be sure, there is more privation and renunciation. If, nevertheless, more is demanded from him, he will point with a friendly shake of his head to his brother, the free man of action, and will perhaps not conceal a little derision, for as regards this ” freedom ” it is a very peculiar case.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

  1. Zur Beruhigung.- Aber wird so unsere Philosophie nicht zur Tragödie? Wird die Wahrheit nicht dem Leben, dem Besseren feindlich? Eine Frage scheint uns die Zunge zu beschweren und doch nicht laut werden zu wollen: ob man bewusst in der Unwahrheit bleiben könne? oder, wenn man diess müsse, ob da nicht der Tod vorzuziehen sei? Denn ein Sollen giebt es nicht mehr; die Moral, insofern sie ein Sollen war, ist ja durch unsere Betrachtungsart ebenso vernichtet wie die Religion. Die Erkenntniss kann als Motive nur Lust und Unlust, Nutzen und Schaden bestehen lassen: wie aber werden diese Motive sich mit dem Sinne für Wahrheit auseinandersetzen? Auch sie berühren sich ja mit Irrthümern (insofern, wie gesagt, Neigung und Abneigung und ihre sehr ungerechten Messungen unsere Lust und Unlust wesentlich bestimmen). Das ganze menschliche Leben ist tief in die Unwahrheit eingesenkt; der Einzelne kann es nicht aus diesem Brunnen herausziehen, ohne dabei seiner Vergangenheit aus tiefstem Grunde gram zu werden, ohne seine gegenwärtigen Motive, wie die der Ehre, ungereimt zu finden und den Leidenschaften, welche zur Zukunft und zu einem Glück in derselben hindrängen, Hohn und Verachtung entgegenzustellen. Ist es wahr, bliebe einzig noch eine Denkweise übrig, welche als persönliches Ergebniss die Verzweifelung, als theoretisches eine Philosophie der Zerstörung nach sich zöge? – Ich glaube, die Entscheidung über die Nachwirkung der Erkenntniss wird durch das Temperament eines Menschen gegeben: ich könnte mir eben so gut, wie jene geschilderte und bei einzelnen Naturen mögliche Nachwirkung, eine andere denken, vermöge deren ein viel einfacheres, von Affecten reineres Leben entstünde, als das jetzige ist: so dass zuerst zwar die alten Motive des heftigeren Begehrens noch Kraft hätten, aus alter vererbter Gewöhnung her, allmählich aber unter dem Einflusse der reinigenden Erkenntniss schwächer würden. Man lebte zuletzt unter den Menschen und mit sich wie in der Natur, ohne Lob, Vorwürfe, Ereiferung, an Vielem sich wie an einem Schauspiel weidend, vor dem man sich bisher nur zu fürchten hatte. Man wäre die Emphasis los und würde die Anstachelung des Gedankens, dass man nicht nur Natur oder mehr als Natur sei, nicht weiter empfinden. Freilich gehörte hierzu, wie gesagt, ein gutes Temperament, eine gefestete, milde und im Grunde frohsinnige Seele, eine Stimmung, welche nicht vor Tücken und plötzlichen Ausbrüchen auf der Hut zu sein brauchte und in ihren Aeusserungen Nichts von dem knurrenden Tone und der Verbissenheit an sich trüge, – jenen bekannten lästigen Eigenschaften alter Hunde und Menschen, die lange an der Kette gelegen haben. Vielmehr muss ein Mensch, von dem in solchem Maasse die gewöhnlichen Fesseln des Lebens abgefallen sind, dass er nur deshalb weiter lebt, um immer besser zu erkennen, auf Vieles, ja fast auf Alles, was bei den anderen Menschen Werth hat, ohne Neid und Verdruss verzichten können, ihm muss als der wünschenswertheste Zustand jenes freie, furchtlose Schweben über Menschen, Sitten, Gesetzen und den herkömmlichen Schätzungen der Dinge genügen. Die Freude an diesem Zustande theilt er gerne mit und er hat vielleicht nichts Anderes mitzutheilen, – worin freilich eine Entbehrung, eine Entsagung mehr liegt. Will man aber trotzdem mehr von ihm, so wird er mit wohlwollendem Kopfschütteln auf seinen Bruder hinweisen, den freien Menschen der That, und vielleicht ein Wenig Spott nicht verhehlen: denn mit dessen “Freiheit” hat es eine eigene Bewandtniss.

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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