Human all too human: 35. Advantages of psychological observations.

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.

Chapter two, The history of the moral sentiments.

  1. Write maxims and life is easier.

DSC_1727Thinking about our human behavior can make life easier, if you do this it will make you more aware, even in difficult situations it will give you guidelines and make you feel better. This was once common knowledge but is now forgotten? It is clearly visible in Europe, not so much in literature and philosophical writings, because they are the works of exceptional individuals, but in the judgments on public events and personalities by the people, especially the lack of psychological analysis is noticeable in every rank of society where there is a lot of talk about men but not much about man. Why do we not talk or read more about this rich and harmless subject? Almost no one reads La Rochefoucault or similar books with maxims1, and even rarer are the ones that not blame these writers. But even these exceptional people that read it have a hard time finding all the pleasure in these maxims because they have never tried to make them themselves. Without this path of studying and polishing it will look easier than it is, and he will find therefore les pleasure in reading these maxims. So, they look like people who praise because they cannot love, and are very ready to admire, but still more ready to run away. 

1 A short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct.


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

SECOND DIVISION – The History of the moral sentiments.

That reflection on the human, all-too-human—or, according to the learned expression, psychological observation—is one of the means by which one may lighten the burden of life, Thinking about our human behavior can make live easier,  that exercise in this art produces presence of mind in difficult circumstances, if exercised it will make you more aware, in the midst of tiresome surroundings, even that from the most thorny and unpleasant periods of one’s own life one may gather maxims and thereby feel a little better: even in difficult situations it will give you rules and make you feel better. all this was believed, was known in former centuries. Why was it forgotten by our century, This was ones common knowledge but is now forgotten? when in Germany at least, even in all Europe, the poverty of psychological observation betrays itself by many signs? Not exactly in novels, tales, and philosophical treatises,—they are the work of exceptional individuals, It is clearly visible in Europe, not so much in literature and philosophical writings because they are the works of exceptional individuals, —rather in the judgments on public events and personalities ; but in the judgments on public events and personalities, but above all there is a lack of the art of psychological analysis and summing-up in every rank of society, especially the lack of psychological analysis is noticeable in every rank of society in which a great deal is talked about men, but nothing about man. where there is a lot of talk about men but not much about man. Why do we allow the richest and most harmless subject of conversation to escape us ? Why are not the great masters of psychological maxims more read ? Why do we not talk or read about this rich and harmless subject? For, without any exaggeration, the educated man in Europe who has read La Rochefoucauld and his kindred in mind and art, is rarely found, and still more rare is he who knows them and does not blame them. Almost no one reads La Rochefoucault or similar books, and even rarer are the ones that not blame these writers. It is probable, however, that even this exceptional reader will find much less pleasure in them than the form of this artist should afford him ; for even the clearest head is not capable of rightly estimating the art of shaping and polishing maxims unless he has really been brought up to it and has competed in it. But even these exceptional readers have a hard time finding all the pleasure in there maxims because they have never tried to make them themselves. Without this practical teaching one deems this shaping and polishing to be easier than it is ; one has not a sufficient perception of fitness and charm. For this reason the present readers of maxims find in them a comparatively small pleasure, hardly a mouthful of pleasantness, Without this path it looks easier than it is and he will find therefore les pleasure in reading these maxims. so that they resemble the people who generally look at cameos, who praise because they cannot love, and are very ready to admire, but still more ready to run away. So they look like people who praise because they cannot love, and are very ready to admire, but still more ready to run away.


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

SECOND DIVISION – The History Of The Moral Sentiments.

  1. ADVANTAGES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL OBSERVATION.—That reflection on the human, all-too-human—or,according to the learned expression, psychological observation—is one of the means by which one may lighten the burden of life, that exercise in this art produces presence of mind in difficult circumstances, in the midst of tiresome surroundings, even that from the most thorny and unpleasant periods of one’s own life one may gather maxims and thereby feel a little better: all this was believed, was known in former centuries. Why was it forgotten by our century, when in Germany at least, even in all Europe, the poverty of psychological observation betrays itself by many signs? Not exactly in novels, tales, and philosophical treatises,—they are the work of exceptional individuals,—rather in the judgments on public events and personalities ; but above all there is a lack of the art of psychological analysis and summing-up in every rank of society, in which a great deal is talked about men, but nothing about man. Why do we allow the richest and most harmless subject of conversation to escape us ? Why are not the great masters of psychological maxims more read ? For, without any exaggeration, the educated man in Europe who has read La Rochefoucauld and his kindred in mind and art, is rarely found, and still more rare is he who knows them and does not blame them. It is probable, however, that even this exceptional reader will find much less pleasure in them than the form of this artist should afford him ; for even the clearest head is not capable of rightly estimating the art of shaping and polishing maxims unless he has really been brought up to it and has competed in it. Without this practical teaching one deems this shaping and polishing to be easier than it is ; one has not a sufficient perception of fitness and charm. For this reason the present readers of maxims find in them a comparatively small pleasure, hardly a mouthful of pleasantness, so that they resemble the people who generally look at cameos, who praise because they cannot love, and are very ready to admire, but still more ready to run away.

Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80

Zweites Hauptstück, zur Geschichte der moralischen Empfindungen.

  1. Vortheile der psychologischen Beobachtung. – Dass das Nachdenken über Menschliches, Allzumenschliches – oder wie der gelehrtere Ausdruck lautet: die psychologische Beobachtung – zu den Mitteln gehöre, vermöge deren man sich die Last des Lebens erleichtern könne, dass die Uebung in dieser Kunst Geistesgegenwart in schwierigen Lagen und Unterhaltung inmitten einer langweiligen Umgebung verleihe, ja dass man den dornenvollsten und unerfreulichsten Strichen des eigenen Lebens Sentenzen abpflücken und sich dabei ein Wenig wohler fühlen könne: das glaubte man, wusste man – in früheren Jahrhunderten. Warum vergass es dieses Jahrhundert, wo wenigstens in Deutschland, ja in Europa, die Armuth an psychologischer Beobachtung durch viele Zeichen sich zu erkennen giebt? Nicht gerade in Roman, Novelle und philosophischer Betrachtung, – diese sind das Werk von Ausnahmemenschen; schon mehr in der Beurtheilung öffentlicher Ereignisse und Persönlichkeiten: vor Allem aber fehlt die Kunst der psychologischen Zergliederung und Zusammenrechnung in der Gesellschaft aller Stände, in der man wohl viel über Menschen, aber gar nicht über den Menschen spricht. Warum doch lässt man sich den reichsten und harmlosesten Stoff der Unterhaltung entgehen? Warum liest man nicht einmal die grossen Meister der psychologischen Sentenz mehr? – denn, ohne jede Uebertreibung gesprochen: der Gebildete in Europa, der La Rochefoucauld und seine Geistes- und Kunstverwandten gelesen hat, ist selten zu finden; und noch viel seltener Der, welcher sie kennt und sie nicht schmäht. Wahrscheinlich wird aber auch dieser ungewöhnliche Leser viel weniger Freude an ihnen haben, als die Form jener Künstler ihm geben sollte; denn selbst der feinste Kopf ist nicht vermögend, die Kunst der Sentenzen-Schleiferei gebührend zu würdigen, wenn er nicht selber zu ihr erzogen ist, in ihr gewetteifert hat. Man nimmt, ohne solche practische Belehrung, dieses Schaffen und Formen für leichter als es ist, man fühlt das Gelungene und Reizvolle nicht scharf genug heraus. Desshalb haben die jetzigen Leser von Sentenzen ein verhältnissmässig unbedeutendes Vergnügen an ihnen, ja kaum einen Mund voll Annehmlichkeit, so dass es ihnen ebenso geht, wie den gewöhnlichen Betrachtern von Kameen: als welche loben, weil sie nicht lieben können und schnell bereit sind zu bewundern, schneller aber noch, fortzulaufen.

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

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s